Each week, we round up the latest news, views, and rumours from City Hall.
Get out of my dreams and off of my lawn
Our mayor's superhuman ability to create trouble where there is none manifested itself yet again this week, when he angrily confronted a Toronto Star reporter who was investigating a story behind his house, allegedly cocking his fist and charging him down. The exact details of what happened have been speculated on ad nauseum online and in the press (including by NOW's own Joshua Errett), and we have little to add except this: out of the disturbingly long list of Rob Ford's ridiculous overreactions, this one seems the most understandable. Compared to calling 911 when a TV comedian shows up on your driveway and flipping off a mother for asking you not use your cellphone in the car, freaking out when a man shows up announced and starts taking pictures behind your house is at least conceivably something a non-Ford human would do.
That said, how many of these ridiculous gaffes could have been prevented if the mayor had a security team? And what, again, is his argument for not having one?
Fords' integrity questioned again
The mayor and his brother will soon find themselves on the wrong end of an investigation by the city's integrity commissioner, this time stemming from comments they made on their radio show last Sunday about the medical officer of health. Councillor John Filion (Willowdale) took issue with the Ford brothers' suggestion that Dr. David McKeown should be fired or have his salary cut for recommending speed limits be lowered in order to encourage active transportation, and is asking the commissioner to determine if the pair broke council's code of conduct.
If no retraction is forthcoming from the Fords the worst they can expect is a slap on the wrist, as council tends to take the commissioner's rulings less than seriously.
- The Eglinton Crosstown LRT will bring a lot of pain before any gain: the northbound Allen expressway will likely be shut down for a year and the Yonge and Eglinton intersection will be torn up to make way for its construction
- Internal TTC audits released Monday revealed a litany of concerns, including a lack of oversight on construction projects, insufficiently trained drivers, and $10,000 in unaccounted for donut purchases
- The mayor played down reports he plans to freeze property taxes in 2014, telling reporters Monday he campaigned on inflationary increases only
What do you get when you combine TTC chair Karen Stintz, a food blogger, two writers, a transit expert and several bottles of wine? A damn good read, particularly if you want some candid insight about the recent LRT wars at City Hall. In this post on Corey Mintz's Porkosity blog, Stintz dines with Jonathan Goldsbie, Steve Munro, and Robyn Doolitle, and opens up about her defection from team Ford, as well as her thoughts for the mayoral race in 2014.
MEETINGS, MOTIONS, AND MINUTES
The board of health voted to have staff work on a plan to bring 30 km/h speed limits and other traffic calming measures to neighbourhoods foolish (or safety-conscious) enough to want them, on a pilot project basis. The medical officer of health had floated lowering speeds on streets city-wide to encourage walking and cycling, but the idea didn't get much traction.
COUNCILLOR OF THE WEEK
In a week admittedly devoid of competition, Councillor Adam Vaughan (Trinity Spadina) takes home the honours for refusing to get drawn into #Fencegate, telling reporters he couldn't care less about the Rob Ford vs Daniel Dale tilt because he "has a city to run." Cathartic for those of use who are increasingly inclined to declare a pox on both the Star's and Mayor Ford's house. (For the record, we will not going near Ford's house)
CITY SOUND BITE
"Nothing takes your health away quite like being killed by an automobile."
- Hard to argue with Councillor Gord Perks (Parkdale-High Park), making the case at Monday's board of health meeting for why the medical officer of health should have the authority to make speed limit recommendations
NEXT WEEK'S AGENDA
The budget committee will be debating on the final 2011 budget numbers, which despite all the doom and gloom spouted during the budget process turned out much healthier than expected. The $292 million surplus is good news, but expect a lot of visiting left-wing councillors to show up and demand to know why finance staff was so off with its projections. Some will no doubt ask that money be put back into services that were cut.
In a testament to the ongoing dearth of big ideas on the agenda at City Hall these days, the most interesting motions on council's plate are a scattering of pet projects from councillors: Councillor Josh Matlow is proposing a working group to consider road tolls for transit construction, Councillor James Pasternak wants to create a City of Toronto credit card, Councillor Adam Vaughan wants to exempt councillors from jury duty, and Councillor Mark Grimes wants to bring a gun show back to Exhibition Place.