Of all the behind-the-scenes schemin' by Ford & Co. to avoid another embarrassing loss on the transit file at Monday's meeting of council, the plot to recruit Shelley Carroll to take over as TTC chair was a real headscratcher.
Yes, that would be the same Shelley Carroll that served as former mayor David Miller's budget chief and is among those on council the Fordists like to vilify as "lefties" or "communists" when they can't muster a cogent argument on a given issue.
Centrist Carroll ended up declining Giorgio Mammoliti's nomination to sit on the TTC board. A slate of seven councillors put forward by Karen Stintz, who was reappointed chair, won the day - bouncing the five Fordists who'd conspired to off TTC chief general manager Gary Webster a couple of weeks back.
But there would be a few tense moments in between.
For a while there, it looked like Carroll, was seriously considering a run at Stintz's job, only taking her name out of the mix of candidates to sit on the TTC seconds before the vote.
Whether Carroll would have had the votes to topple Stintz is debatable. The mayor's forces could only muster 19 against 25 for Stintz - 18 if you count the fact Maria Augimeri mistakenly voted for the eventual Ford-backed candidate, Peter Milczyn.
But a Carroll versus Stintz run-off would have set up an interesting dynamic, that's for sure.
Here's Carroll in her own words on the drama.
On the mayor's efforts to lobby her:
"That was a first for me so I have some insight now into the pressure he's been placing on some of the first-term councillors. He wouldn't take ‘no' for an answer. What was really driving it was sticking it to Karen Stintz. And I don't want to stick it to Karen Stintz.
On the nuts and bolts of her conversations with the mayor and his staff:
Mayor: "C'mon, you should do this."
Carroll: "Well that's actually not the way I work. I work with a team."
Mayor: "Forget the team. They'll come back. Principles? Forget your principles."
On the political lesson for the mayor:
"The mayor and his staff keep thinking, that, ‘Oh shit we're going to lose, let's compromise,' is compromising, is consensus-building. If you wanna pull the council together, you gotta pick the people who will then proceed to go knocking on other doors, not say, ‘OK, what's in it for me.'"
What lefties have learned about the mayor from their coalescing with the right on the transit file:
"We're not going to wake him [Ford] up. The fact is he likes where he is. He's just going back to Councillor Ford mode - it's me against the universe. He likes that position. The trick now is going to be to get those [councillors] who didn't spend a decade watching him work in that mode, understand that mode.
"He says he goes to peoples houses to fix things for them. He goes to have a conversation in which he first makes them feel that they are powerless. Makes them angry and then says, ‘I will fix everything and you and me together will have power.' That's his whole thing."
On a possible deal at council's special meeting March 21 to extend the Sheppard subway line two stops to Victoria Park and go with LRTs from there:
"Here and there all over this planet there are famous interchanges where transit systems have one really stupid connection because somebody made a political deal. One hundred years later people are going into Holborn station in London and saying, ‘Why is that (expletive deleted) hallway so long? Why do I have to get on a people mover and get up here and go over there. Who's idea was that?'
"All the mode changes you need to area employment parks in York Region and downtown Toronto are all sitting right there in the Don Mills centre. Why would you add a mode change 1,000 metres away at Victoria Park? If the mayor's subway were really about the Scarborough rider, he'd start listening to transportation planners."
(Editor's note: Carroll thinks there will be more votes than the 25 cast to back LRTs at the special meeting of council on February 8.)
On what recent defeats on the transit file will mean for the future for the Ford administration:
"They're beginning to sound like a losing McCain campaign. I think when he says, ‘Well, luckily on the things we said we were going to do we're already done," it's code for, ‘Ok, we're done.'
"He could make it possible for us to work. He's got one big opportunity left and that's mid-term [when striking committee appointments to council committees are made]. ‘Balance things now, buddy. Do it.' If he doesn't he's going to have a problem. He really just becomes that guy down the hall."