Our hopes abide in Coach Ford

By Frank Touby –

It was probably more disgust than anger that energized Toronto voters to bring down the David Miller regime. When a message like “Stop the Gravy Train” resonates so broadly across the city, it’s a clear sign that city council’s majority has abused its power and succumbed to arrogance.

The self-importance of so many of Miller’s council adherents manifests not only in the pay boosts they gave themselves while their constituents were overburdened by higher costs, but also in the junkets where they indulged themselves.

There is rarely a valid reason for a city councillor to charge taxpayers for a trip outside city limits, not to mention to another province or another nation. Yet we had many gallivanting on the public purse all over the world. Their jobs are here, not there.

The city is dirtier, creakier in infrastructure, more expensive and more oppressive than before Miller swept into office with a cleansing broom as his ironic symbol.

Bylaw officers crouch behind every corner, it seems, waiting to snag and fine a 1-minute-overtime parking offender, or a dog-walker in the wrong place, or a garbage bag with a bit of paper in it. All in the desperate money-grab to fund the legions of additional staff Miller hired, and to help build a lavish transportation legacy he hopes will bear his name even as our main transportation needs remain unserved.

Being a city councillor isn’t an easy job if it’s done right. It should occupy much of the person’s waking hours. It’s a service to the public—a job that hurts—and the element of sacrifice is key to adequate performance.

Not everyone who can collect enough votes to be elected deserves too be.

As a city councillor, Rob Ford notably served his constituents—and often those of other councillors.

While Mayor Rob Ford isn’t as presentable as Miller, being the city’s top official isn’t a beauty title. What counts is how he runs things and to whom he listens. Thus far he’s showing breadth in his selections of people.

A few members from the Miller train wreck have openly sidelined themselves from this popularly elected regime, which to some degree has negated voices from Downtown.

But look at how they wasted their dominance at council: historic buildings remain unprotected, roads are full of potholes, they made the city ugly with dumb-ass “street furniture” and home trash bins that can’t be concealed in many Downtown residences. And they angered the suburbs which, let’s face it, shouldn’t be part of the same political entity. Freedom of information was compromised.

The insanity of an amalgamated Toronto was Mike Harris’ doing—aided by Tim Hudak and his wife Deb Hutton. So before jumping on the neocon bandwagon and further helping oligopoly corporations (including big unions) at the expense of the public, Ford needs to continue getting his bearings.

In opposition he was often intemperate in his comments about certain fellow councillors. That has been moderated as he goes forward and he knows firsthand how to build and coach a team.

Ford still needs to orient himself regarding positions he proclaimed while in opposition. Being an advocate of free enterprise doesn’t mean one is blind to the fact that business does nothing out of goodness or charity. Especially big business. And that’s fine. Business is out solely to make money—or get tax-deductible public relations points—which is as it should be.

Oligopoly unions are as inimical to the public good as big corporations. So it’s sensible to bring some outside competition to balance those fiefdoms.

But selling public assets to balance a budget is a dangerous neocon trap. Their aim is to break government and foster the myth that business best serves the public when it’s free to rampage. Speaking of that, how’s your ISP and cellphone company treating you?