NOW’S Election PICKS a ward by ward voters’ GUIDE

Rating: NNNNNSo Tooker Gomberg ain't that respectable. And Mel is? If our choice is between two short Jewish guys who.

Rating: NNNNN

So Tooker Gomberg ain’t that respectable. And Mel is? If our choice is between two short Jewish guys who like to act out to get our attention, then Gomberg is our man. It was this newcomer to Toronto who gave us the mayoralty campaign we so desperately needed, who didn’t allow Mel to just hand over matters to his main bagmen while he waited for his certain coronation. Mel has been taking us for granted, but Gomberg has been offering up environmental, housing and social policy.He gave us a great campaign, and in return we offer him our endorsement.

City council


Forgotten Rexdale is an ethnically and racially diverse and complicated community that desperately needs a strong voice at City Hall. Stodgy incumbent Bruce Sinclair doesn’t cut it any more. Long-time school trustee Suzan Hall is the obvious challenger. But she’s too wishy-washy on key issues like user fees and transit fare hikes for our liking. Grassroots anti-poverty activist Murphy Browneis the bold choice here. She’s railed against target policing, supports affordable housing, child care and transit.


Incumbent Elizabeth Brown, a Tory, scores well with eco-activists but voted with the right wing of council on almost every other issue, including user fees, police and public transit. Her main challenger, Rob Ford, son of the former Tory MPP for the area, is worse. Which brings us to late entry Arnold Minors, a race relations consultant who was bounced hard from the police services board for comparing the force to an occupying army a few years back. Just the kind of firecracker needed at City Hall


Incumbent Doug Holyday, former mayor of Etobicoke, fancies himself council’s fiscal watchdog. But we think he’s just a goof. He’s taken a regressive stand on all major issues. The only consolation is that he hasn’t played a major role in Mel’s world over the past three years. That could change, however, with the right-wing dance card thinning out. The challenger here, Nicholas Florio, a sheet-metal worker and tenant, opposes the Adams Mine plan and user fees. He also slags the copper chopper and wants an independent audit of police spending. Vote Florio.


Incumbents Mario Giansanteand Gloria Lindsay Luby voted the same way on most of the major issues, including the Adams Mine. Giansante is a Liberal and Luby a Tory who has the mayor’s quick-fixer, Jeff Lyons, on her team. Both fail miserably on eco issues. The usually low-key Giansante has been shameless in his attempts to win publicity. But he’s as straightforward as they come. And maybe a little less likely to toe the Mel line. Hold your nose and vote for the Grit here.


Lefties on council like Blake Kinahan, although he frequently voted against them. He’s slipped a little recently, but eco-activists praise his work on smog and other green issues. He was behind the plot to oust lefty darling Howard Moscoe as TTC chair. Tsk, tsk. But he’s better than challenger Peter Milczyn, a Tory who has the backing of the mayor and his friends. Luckily for Kinahan, Milczyn will be fighting Brian Flynn, the flaky former Etobicoke councillor and shopping-cart recycler, for right-wing votes. Go, Blake, go.ETOBICOKE-LAKESHORE (WARD 6)

As progressive as they come in these parts, Irene Jones is a tireless constituency worker and, except for supporting community-action policing, is fairly consistent on city-wide issues. She voted against the Adams Mine and opposed budget cuts to health programs for children and seniors. We need this NDPer back to offset the rest of the right-wing nutbars in the west end.


Yeah, we’d like to see wingy council performance artiste George Mammoliti go down. And it’s not because he eats up his council office allowance like socialite Marlen Coupland blows her clothes budget. It’s Mammoliti’s ridiculous grandstanding against nudists at Hanlan’s Point and raves on city property, as well as his support for the Adams Mine dump. The problem is, the lone alternative gives us the jitters. Liberal Satpal Banga sounds OK — supports rent controls, opposes the Adams Mine and police endorsements. But when we quiz her on TTC fares, she says she wouldn’t rule out hiking them. And when we ask how she would have voted on same-sex spousal benefits — which Mammoliti didn’t support when he was at Queen’s Park — she says she wouldn’t support them either. Ouch. We’re stumped. Leave the space blank. Proceed to school trustee.


Self-preservationist Peter LiPreti has done little for his neediest constituents in the Jane-Finch corridor and has been on the wrong side of almost every progressive issue (although he did oppose user fees). We’ve got our reservations about Anthony Perruzza, too. The former North York councillor and MPP was part of that dubious NDP gang at Queen’s Park that voted against same-sex rights. More recently, he’s worked for do-nothing councillor Maria Augimeri, which isn’t a resume highlight either. But he’s against target policing and did get needed money to refurbish the York Woods Library Theatre when he was an MPP. Dump LiPreti. Go with Perruzza and demand action.


After all these years in politics, few know what makes Maria Augimeri tick. She votes like an NDPer, has arts and culture types and CUPE supporting her, but has largely deserted the NDP caucus on council to concentrate on constituency work. Panders to the Italian vote. Still, she’s better than newcomers Frank Aceto and Liberal Mary Cicogna.


Long-time North York councillor Michael Feldman is a Mel yes-man. Pick an issue — Adams Mine, target policing, opposition to raves and the tenant defence fund — and Feldman’s been there for Curly. York University student Daniel Radin, who’s been working for the Greater Toronto Tenants Association, is hoping to win over the large number of apartment dwellers in the ward. He’s got union backing and, among other things, supports a transit fare freeze. He also opposes target policing.


Frances Nunziata, the tiny former York mayor has, dare we say it, come a long way. She gets high marks for tenant protection and her vote against Adams Mine, was good on raves and supported Barb Hall last time. Not the most articulate of politicos, she continues to beat the law-and-order drum in down-and-out York but has been isolated enough by Mel’s people to vote like an independent. Challenger Mike Washuck, who tossed his gloves into the ring late, has been invisible.


An ex-con (Mario Gentile), a former Mel toady (Frank Di Giorgio), a first-timer (Lorenzo Zeppieri) and a school trustee for the Catholic board (Sal Piccininni) make up the mix here. With all due respect to Piccininni, who runs a gold course when he’s not dealing with trustee duties, not much of a choice here. Go directly to trustee races on your ballot.


David Miller can be wooden. But we’re glad this former Bay Street lawyer and great NDP hope is on our side. His eagle eye caught that murky “unavoidable costs” clause in the Adams Mine contract that was pulled by Mel and ultimately killed the deal. Parkdale would be hard-pressed to find a more credible advocate on council. Except for supporting community-action policing, he’s been consistently progressive. If he sends Adams Mine shill Bill Saundercook packing, we’ll be expecting a lot more from Miller in his second megacity term.


Incumbent Chris Korwin-Kuczynski just hasn’t made a mark. He has a spotty record, supporting the tenant defence fund, the elimination of user fees and a TTC budget freeze. But he also cozied up to Mel’s suburban posse too often, opposing raves, supporting Adams Mine, the Olympics and community-action policing. With the exit of so many right-wingers, Mel may have to finally tap him for a prestige post. KK on the police services board, or chair of the TTC? Scary. There are three other candidates in the ward. Go with former Parkdale Village Residents Association chair John Colautti. He’s an NDPer running as an independent. And although he’s earned the wrath of some local tenants for his crusade to upgrade substandard rooming houses, he says he was only trying to force landlords to improve the buildings by having them licensed, and that nobody was displaced.


He’s the Yogi Bear of council — a big, cuddly smartass. On a council where the left’s motto was all too often “Kick me — can I have another, please, Mel?” Howard Moscoe gave as good as he got. He managed to hold onto his TTC chair, despite a vicious campaign to knock him off. But more importantly, he scrapped to prevent TTC budget cuts and fare hikes. (Now push for the gas tax, Howie!) Add to that a consistent progressive voting record (alas, he voted for community-action policing) and he’s the clear choice here.


Mel has been doing everything in his power to help Milton Berger against Anne Johnston, but the choice couldn’t be clearer. Berger is lazy, voted against everything progressive and in 20-plus years in politics has barely made a blip, except for a time in the mid-90s when he figured prominently in that garbage scandal that saw Mario Gentile go to jail. Vote Johnston.


Betty Disero, another councillor from the “so much promise and so little to show for it” category, contends with flea market manager Romolo Cimaroli. Disero boasts a bit of a confounding voting record. She voted to ship garbage to Kirkland Lake and supports the Olympics. But she also voted against recreational user fees and supported more funds for waste reduction. Cimaroli, a former parks and rec employee in North York, would be an alternative, except he seems to be running because of a personal long-standing animosity toward Disero. Sorry, he’s all we’ve got.


Tory Rob Davis has the ritzy folk and cops on his side. NDPer Joe Mihevc has his ties in the Jewish, black and ethnic communities going for him. Davis is bright, but the complaints about his not being accessible persist. He sits on the TTC board and has been good on tenant issues, but can be a bit of an unpleasant surprise at times. Mihevc, on the other hand, has been conscientious and dedicated. A thinker. He deserves to be re-elected.


Incumbent Michael Walker, a Tory-turned-maverick, faces pet-food chain owner and newcomer Jim Walker, a Tory-turned-monkey-wrench — at least where this race is concerned. Walker, Jim has talked about bringing a “reasonable and credible voice” to council, a reference, apparently, to Walker, Michael’s role as council shit-disturber and all-around Mel bug. It’s clear, however, that the mayor’s people are behind his candidacy. And that the “groundswell” Walker, Jim claims prompted him to run comes from a clutch of dog-owners in the ward who want to undo a bylaw that’s restricting dogs to leashes in parks. Just how low will the mayor’s office stoop? Vote Walker, Michael.


John Filion’s not perfect. He supports user fees and community-action policing but has been a lot more reflective than most North York Mel drones. As chair of the board of health, Filion called for an outright ban on smoking in restaurants (on which the mayor compromised), pushed to require eateries to post the findings of city health inspections and has called for new bylaws to crack down on substandard retirement homes. However, he has been criticized by tenant activists for compromising on a North York development that replaced 424 housing units with 1,000 units — only 249 of them rental units, the rest condos. But he did support the tenant defence fund and opposed the Adams Mine. His challenger, former North York councillor Ron Summers, wasn’t always in Mel’s pocket but he certainly hasn’t done anything that would suggest he’d be more progressive than Filion. Why chance it?


David Shiner, the incumbent, is everything you’d expect from one of Mel’s North York go-boys. He talks a good game when it comes to controlling development and building communities in his upwardly mobile backyard in Willowdale, where the Sheppard subway looms large, but he parrots the line coming out of the mayor’s office on garbage, police, public transit, you name it. Perennial also-ran Bernadette Michaael, Shiner’s only challenger, is a retired real estate rep, area volunteer and fledgling poet who’s made recycling the focus of her campaign. She may be too flaky for Willowdale voters but may be the person to vote for here, if only to send a message to Shiner.


Planning and transportation issues are first and foremost on the agenda of incumbent Joanne Flint, who hasn’t had to work particularly hard to keep the well-to-do Bayview types in her ward happy. A Tory, she supported establishing a defence fund for tenants but was a no-show at council when it came time to vote on holding the line on the TTC budget and getting rid of targeted policing. She also voted for the Adams Mine and the Olympics. Her only opponent, U of T student John Cameron, missed the first all-candidates meeting and hasn’t run a very visible campaign since. Flip a coin.


Former North York councillor Don Yuill is attempting a comeback against incumbent Jane Pitfield. Both are Tories. Yuill, though, did nothing to distinguish himself while in office. Instead, he won a reputation for being lazy and too close to developers. Pitfield, meanwhile, is herself irking residents over plans to revive the Leslie extension. She gets kudos, though, for voting in favour of a tenants defence fund and against the Adams Mine. Her shortcomings on transit and police aside, the good residents of East York should be able to keep her honest if she strays too far right. With reservations, she’s the choice here.


The gay ghetto councillor, Kyle Rae, has been acclaimed. No point in complaining about his being a buddy to local developers while cracking down on squeegees. Maybe he’ll pick his friends more carefully next term.


We didn’t endorse Pam McConnell in 97, preferring the more experienced Jack Layton-Peter Tabuns ticket. McConnell won anyway, and has worked quietly on issues like child poverty. She’s the city’s outside workers’ and NDP choice here. Yes, she did support community-action policing, but she opposed the Adams Mine. Now, if she could only get a little more fired up — like she did when senior citizen Milton Berger told her to stay in the kitchen.


It boggles the mind that Case Ootes could ascend to deputy mayor of a city of 2 million after coming in well behind ward-mate Michael Prue with a mere 8,608 votes in East York last time. But Mel got the non-threatening stuffed suit he was looking for to chair council meetings. Ootes has stuck with the mayor on everything of note. He’s been rewarded by having the mayor’s machine pull out all the stops to get him re-elected. Unlike other great comedy duos, however, this is one act we’d like to break up. Former Toronto District School Board chair Gail Nyberg’s the strategic choice here. She’s got the city workers endorsement and, compared to Ootes, she’s progressive enough.


Shut out of the power posts on council right from the opening bell, it’s been a frustrating three years for Jack Layton. Until the Adams Mine debate, everybody was wondering what the marquee lefty was waiting for. Why was he laying off Mel? He certainly didn’t owe the mayor anything. While his environmental task force made laudable recommendations, only a trickle of funding has been made available so far. And Layton’s had only marginal success tackling the homeless crisis. Still, he was working behind the scenes, raising the alarm on issues like a weak sewer-use bylaw that polluting industries were trying to finesse out of staff. He was at his best pounding his fist in outrage during the council debate on the Adams Mine.


No contest here. It’s lovable former East York mayor and megacity foe Michael Prue over challengers Paul Fernandes and John Simmon. Prue has fallen off the radar screen and hasn’t quite taken up the leadership role expected among NDPers on council. He’s cast some peculiar votes in the process, including against eliminating recreational user fees and in favour of the Olympics and targeted policing. It’s as if he’s trying to get on Mel’s good side. Still, Prue rates on tenant, garbage and transit issues. Needs to be more active and vocal.


Ding, dong, Tom Jakobek’s dead. Or is he? For a guy who’s splitting local politics to cut costs at East General Hospital, he’s still managed to prescribe misery for Sandra Bussin. He’s thrown his ward muscle behind perennial school board trustee David Moll in hopes of knocking off his ward rival. We wondered how the rookie Bussin would hold up under Jakobek’s shadow when she first won her seat. But she’s shown she can deftly play his game of wily ward politics and maintain a fairly consistent progressive record to boot. (Alas, she did support community-action policing.) If she can fend off Moll here, she will finally be safe to venture out of her backyard and take a more active role on citywide issues.


Former Mel operative, North York councillor and amalgamation promoter Paul Sutherland goes up against three political novices, one of whom is running to toughen the Young Offenders Act. Yes, it’s hard to find anyone up here who straddles a left-of-centre view of the world. But there is Daniel Georgescu, a computer technician and former union leader in his native Romania. He’s made affordable housing, improved public transit and tenant issues the main planks in his campaign. Mark your ballot for this long shot.


Incumbent councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong is your typical golf-playing, cigar-aficionado young Tory type. He’s been concentrating more on his immigration law practice than on his councillor duties. Of those lining up against him, public school trustee Kim Scott, a Liberal, seems to have the most promise. She’s not ideal but doesn’t believe the tax freeze should come at the expense of services. That’s good enough to make her a more viable choice.


The one good thing we have to say about Gerry Altobello is that he voted for the tenant defence fund. Other than that, he has a dismal voting record. Frankly, we can’t figure out how he got to City Hall in the first place. The scary thing is, he could get re-elected. He’s in a two-way race with Russell Worrick, a professional mediator who supports tenants rights and opposes user fees.


Whatever happened to moderate Scarberia councillor Brian Ashton, on whom you could always count for a few swing votes? Remarkably, he never broke with Mel on the major issues. Was it because the chair of the economic development committee was too cushy? User fees, garbage north, community-action policing — he voted for them. He also opposed the tenant defence fund. He’ll win here hands down against unknown Robert Scott, who’s been involved with the Tories. Neither gets our vote.


Incumbent Lorenzo Berardinetti is just another sleepy Scarborough councillor who finds comfort in Mel’s arms. Sure, he supported the tenant defence fund. But he’s been on the wrong side of every other major vote. Go with social worker and humanist candidate Colleen Mills here. The humanist platform calls for, among other things, better local representation, new affordable housing stock, way more waste diversion from landfill than Mel’s proposing and increased child-care funding.


Incumbent Brad Duguid will be hard to beat here. He has a reputation for being a moderate. But his voting record sure doesn’t substantiate that. He’s voted with Mel across the board. Activist Angela Bischoff, mayoral candidate Tooker Gomberg’s partner, was a late entry here. If you’re looking for a candidate with a strong social conscience and a commitment to a greener city, she’s got the bona fides.


Sharene Shaw burst onto the amalgamated city scene when she unexpectedly copped a seat on the police services board. She’s done a disappearing act since being bumped out of that job, except to try to get back on the mayor’s good side by voting for the Adams Mine, against transit initiatives and for targeted policing. It has not won Shaw, a woman of colour, many friends in the more ethnically diverse part of her ward, where low-income families concerned about social service cuts and police harassment say the councillor has been inaccessible. Enter Sunshine Smith, a registered nurse who helped start a breakfast program in the area and is pushing for decent playgrounds, tax breaks for seniors and a race relations policy for the city. She offers a ray of hope here.


Would-be pugilist Mike Tzekas, who once threatened to drop his ward rival Norm Kelly in front of his wife, and slung insults at another Scarborough councillor, Sherene Shaw, is obviously lacking the decorum to hold office. His voting record isn’t all that great either. Sure, he voted against the Adams Mine and for the tenant defence fund, but we suspect crass political opportunism as the motivation. Kelly, the former Liberal MP, on the other hand, is just a right-wing nutbar who’s been on the Mel side of everything. It’s up to Manna Wong, an assistant to NDP MPP Marilyn Churley for the past 10 years, to come up the middle and drop both these bozos.


Penny-pincher Bas Balkissoon stands out as perhaps the most stridently conservative of the council contingent from Scarborough. He managed to parlay his support for the mayor at every turn into a seat on the budget committee. Even his former supporters are shaking their heads and complaining about his newfound caginess. Challenger Mike Thomas, a public school trustee and constituency worker for council loose cannon Mike Tzekas, has seen enough of what Tory cuts have done to education to provide a more balanced approach. He spent time on the T.O. scene as a former constituency worker with ex-politico Kay Gardner as well.


Repeat: councillor Raymond Cho has got to go. Except in those rare moments when he supported the tenant defence fund and broke with Mel on the Adams Mine, Cho could be counted on to go with the flock. The clear alternative choice here is York University students federation president Horace Dockery.


David Soknacki is acclaimed here. He won a by-election last year. He has been a long-time supporter and friend of Tory Scarborough MPP Steve Gilchrist. Do we need to say more?


Sheila White, a former Mel aide and now an NDP media flack at Queen’s Park, was a last-minute entry to take on incumbent Ron Moeser here. The mayor and White are not on speaking terms these days and they would probably disagree on most issues. It will be a tough haul for White. She’s still stinging from her hard-fought second-place showing in last year’s by-election against Soknacki. No doubt, White would be a strong progressive voice for Scarborough. Moeser, who was conveniently absent for the Adams Mine vote, is about as right-wing as they come on council.

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