Toronto City Hall Is In Shambles

Opinion | May 1, 2012

Left or right, you’re likely not happy with what’s going on (or not going on) at City Hall right now.

The ideas get crazier and crazier.  Reducing speeds on the roads to 20 km per hour?  Well, if the moon was made of cheese, would you take a bite?

Oh, sorry, maybe that last joke went over some people’s heads.

Will Ferrell used to do a great impersonation of legendary baseball commentator, Harry Caray, and he’d ask ridiculous, non-sensical questions like, “If the moon was made of cheese, would you take a bite?”

When I saw the suggestion that speeds on some of Toronto’s streets should be reduced to 20 km per hour, I immediately thought of Harry Caray.

Then I thought of the Seinfeld episode where Lloyd Braun suggests “Everybody in New York City should wear a name tag!”

It conjured up images of “Every child in the world holding hands, and singing.”

It was the stupidest idea I’ve heard as far as I’ve been following municipal politics, and there have been some pretty stupid ideas!

Never before in our city has the LEFT been fighting the RIGHT so hard, and vice versa.

But we’re at the point now where the two sides are spiting eachother simply for the sake of spite itself, and standing in the way of progress.

Rob Ford, like him or not, is in charge of running this city.  But the left aren’t giving him an inch of leeway, and they’re jumping on every single thing he does or says, without even having time to think about whether they agree.

I’m of the opinion that if David Miller were to have made certain proposals that Rob Ford brought forth, the left would have remained quiet.

People are looking beyond Rob Ford, the politician, and are looking at Rob Ford, the man.  People are taking issue with his weight, his appearance, his voice, and his demeanor.  Anti-Ford lobbyists are looking at anything they can, but it’s not getting us anywhere!

I’m a huge follower of politics; municipal, provincial, federal, and my favorite – international.

I often muse that the discrepancy between the rich and poor (or right and left) in the United States is unparalleled, and that country is about to make a decision on their future that will affect the world as we know it for generations to come.  But when I look in my own backyard here in Toronto, I see some of the same things.

When was the last time we saw such a fight between the left and right?

Every issue in our city comes down to this – poltical-left versus political-right.

Certain things have become symbols of left and right!

Car = right, Bicycle = left

Subway = right, LRT = left

Is there any middle-ground left at all?

And is there any hope of ever reconciling?

This left-verus-right fight stalemate reminds me, yet again, of American politics, where the house spites the senate, the senate blocks the house, the house begets the senate, and the senate disses the house.  One political group controls the house, the other the senate, and all they do is block each other’s moves.  Nothing ever gets done, and all they do is talk about the next election, as if that’s been the end game all along.

This recent nonsense about reducing speed limits by 20 km per hour (in some areas, that would mean limits would be 20 km per hour), is the latest example of the left-versus-right and the ridiculousness that comes out of the fight.

It’s nothing short of radical, and radicalism is not present when a healthy, functioning government is in place.

I have to ask – is this really a good, honest, suggestion?  Did the person who ordered this study really think this was something realistic?  Or is this just more fuel on the fire at City Hall?  Is this just more anti-Ford propaganda?

I know people don’t like Rob Ford, I understand.  His response, when asked about the possibility of speed limits being reduced to 20 km per hour, was that the idea was “Nuts, Nuts, Nuts.  NO!”

A more likeable politician might have responded, “We’re always interested in exploring ways to protect our residents – all residents, and this is something my staff and I will take under advisement.  But at first glance, it does seem pretty drastic, doesn’t it?  Nevertheless, we’ll have a look.”

Isn’t that better?

Would people be happier if Rob Ford was nicer….or less rude/annoying/fat?  Isn’t that what this is about – his personality?

If David Miller said, “Nuts, Nuts, Nuts,” would people attack him too?

If Rob Ford was 180 pounds, spoke quietly, and went out of his way to be polite, would his policies be met with such opposition?

Rob Ford wanted to “eliminate waste” at City Hall, but the issue isn’t the lack of waste – it’s the fact that people can’t agree what waste is!  Take today’s report about the lack of funding to fight bed bugs.  (Read the comments!)

It revealed that $5,000,000 “helps” 200 people.  Really?  Isn’t that a little wasteful?  $25,000 per person?  I’d LOVE to see how that money was spent!  But how long until the political-left are complaining that the city isn’t doing enough to help fight the good fight?

I feel as though many people thought Rob Ford would find a line item in the budget that was $200 Million for candy-apples, he’d wave his magic wand, and the “waste” would be gone.  But the true “waste,” for the political-right, is spending $5 Million to help 200 people with bed bugs, while for the political-left, it’s a tax rebate to a small business.

Neither the left, nor the right, is blameless in this laborious trench warfare at City Hall.

And before you accuse me of being biased and taking sides, have a look at this ridiculous right-wing email I received today:

Time we fight back against LRTs – with a traffic slowdown on Eglinton Avenue May 3

If Karen Stintz, Josh Matlow, and Metrolinx don’t understand the kind of traffic jam they are going to create for us the next ten years, we have to show them.

Let us organize a traffic slowdown on Eglinton Avenue East during rush hour. Starting at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday May 3, we have columns of cars and large trucks going west on Eglinton Avenue from Don Mills Road at about 20 kilometers an hour side by side. And when the light turns green at the next intersection, we count to 15 before moving to allow pedestrians to cross safely to the other side. This fits right in with Toronto’s medical officer of health’s new safety plan to reduce the speed limit. We should help all we can to reduce traffic accidents. 20 kilometers and hour is almost as good as staying home in bed. The column of cars and trucks will proceed this way all the way to Keele Street where they will turn around (slowly and carefully) and proceed east back to Don Mills Road and will repeat this process until 11:00 a.m. Let us hope and pray that not too many of these vehicles will break down along their route.

At the other end of Eglinton Avenue West, at Keele Street, the other half of the group of concerned businessmen (the ones living west of Yonge St), will approach Yonge Street with their cars and large trucks in the same fashion and proceed all the way to Don Mills Road where they will turn around (slowly and carefully) and repeat the process by proceeding west back to Keele Street until 11:00 a.m.

The beauty of this plan is that it will give backstabber Karen Stintz and Josh the newshound Matlow a chance to experience a real St. Clair type of a disaster. And we will continue to repeat this traffic slowdown every couple of weeks until someone wakes up and notices us.

Metrolinx calls the LRT a transit solution! They’ve got to be kidding! It’s a traffic nightmare of St. Clair proportions and we must stop them. How could a Provincial agency ignore all the traffic experts and their own extensive previous studies to unanimously endorse a plan that would have been appropriate in the 19th Century? And let us organize the next Provincial election starting right now!

And now: More reasons why we must fight: Here is an e-mail I received from a former school trustee who has to work with Josh Matlow, who is now proposing a motion on May 8 to the city Council for more subways for downtown, but the same guy who orchestrated to screw us with a streetcar LRT on Sheppard  and Finch Avenues, (and soon everywhere else): “I worked with Josh Matlow before @ the TDSB; he is an interesting guy…more interested to be “seen and heard” in the media than doing the right thing!  His newly rebuild school, North Toronto CI, is poorly managed and the TDSB lost a lot of $$$ + land to the developer.  When Josh was at the TDSB, there were very few trustees who would work with Josh; he was also sanctioned by the trustees for breaching confidential files; hence, few of us talk or send him files to discuss or review.

I am not surprised by anything Josh Matlow does as he is interested in getting his “name” out there!” So let us all go out there to slow traffic in Matlow and Stintz’s wards on May 3 real early in rush hour when it hurts the most. Get all your friends involved.

Karl Haab

This contradicts the very first rule that all of us leaned in Kindergarten: two wrongs don’t make a right.

This is just more radicalism, except it’s coming from the right and not the left (for a change – sorry, there is my bias showing…).

How is an organized traffic protest going to help things?

Look, I don’t agree with the political-left, and I never will.

The traffic study from Dr. David McKeown was absolutely pathetic, and the highlight had to be when he suggested “special lanes that would allow cyclists to turn in front of traffic.”

Oh yeah – that’s a great idea!

Having cyclists turn in front of traffic?  THAT will surely produce fewer accidents!

That’s like allowing cute bunny-rabits to cover themselves in honey and walk in front of hungry wolves…

But do I think a planned traffic-slowing tactic is the answer?  No, I don’t.

Nor do I agree with the political mud-slinging above that calls Mr. Matlow’s integrity into question, via anonymous hearsay that could likely never be verified.  If the political-left take issue with these comments about Mr. Matlow, then they should consider that maybe, just maybe, Rob Ford being fat doesn’t affect his ability to oversee the City of Toronto.

Last week, we saw the provincial government make progress when Dalton McGuinty adopted the NDP’s “tax the rich” policy so that the rest of his own policies would be passed.

Can’t we see the same thing at the municipal level?

Or is all hope lost?

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  1. Anonymous

    at 8:08 am

    Yes, City Hall is a mess, and the left are spiting Ford just for the sake of it. This is why you have opportunitists/backstabbers/hypocrites like Karen Stintz who is whoring herself out to get attention and will stop at nothing to eventually run for Mayor and seize power. I know that she said that she won’t run for the Mayorlty, but mark my words, everything that this woman does is selfish, opportunistic, hypocritical, and is all for eventually getting the Mayor’s job.

    Going back to City politics, I honestly think that reform of how municipal politics is done/structured is in order. Like you said, whether you like it or not, Rob Ford was elected in a landslide, and even now, his approval rating (outside of the leftist city core) is around 60%. So why is it with such high support do we have a mayor that essentially can’t do anything, and only has one vote? The reason is unlike Provincial and Federal politics, municipal politicians are not tied to a political party and do not run on a platform tied to their said party.

    Let’s be honest. Most people don’t even take municipal politics seriously, let alone electing for their Councillor/Mayor. For those that do, they mostly just focus on electing for the mayor, and go “whatever” when selecting their Councillor, errorneously (or at least misled into) thinking that the Mayor has more power than he/she actually has. If we adopted or at least revamped municipal politics to be more in line with Provincial/Municipal politics, this wouldn’t happen.

  2. Graham

    at 8:43 am

    Wait, is it Friday? I hope so cause I’m looking forward to the weekend!

    That letter is hilarious. The proposed reduction in speed to 20 or 30 km/h is for local roads, not major arterial roads like Eglinton Ave. I disagree with the idea of dropping Eglinton to 40 km/h though. And what’s the point, if there isn’t enforcement? People will drive at the speed the road is designed for.

    You have to love the media though. I was watching Breakfast Television (I know, I know) the morning the report came out and well it was being discussed, they showed clips of the 401. Misleading just a bit. Of course, during rush hour getting 20 or 30 km/h on the 401 would probably be a pleasant surprise.

  3. Joe Q.

    at 9:35 am

    Every issue in our city comes down to this – poltical-left versus political-right.

    Many people (myself included) would say that much of this comes from the attitude adopted by the mayor when he was elected.

    As for the traffic-clogging protest down Eglinton, I’d have more sympathy for the author of that e-mail if he appeared to know what he was talking about — because the stretch of Eglinton he plans to clog with traffic (Keele to Don Mills) is precisely the section where the Eglinton LRT will run underground, and in Scarborough, where it is slated to run above-ground, there is a city-owned right-of-way and no traffic lanes will need to be removed (though a few left-turn lanes will probably be blocked).

  4. Hayley

    at 9:46 am

    I love your real estate blogging but this ignorant diatribe contributes nothing to the debate. If you think a Medical Officer of Health is representative of the “left” (say what you like about it but civil servants are non partisan, this one’s job is to advocate for our health, not keep our traffic moving, and it’s the job of politicians to take or discard their advice. This situation is an example of the system working exactly as it should) and that some ninnies trying to organize a traffic protest are representative of the “right” (there are far bigger ninnies with much more power and credibility doing things that are far more damaging to the city) then I think you are not paying very close attention to what’s going on. Please do your research before posting stuff like this again. Better yet, stick to real estate.

    1. blog daddy

      at 12:26 pm

      Hayley, I feel so bad for you. The world is so perfect in your naive eyes! You don’t think some civil servants are left, and some are right? Oh wow, I feel so bad for you. You don’t read that letter from Karl Haab and think this is from the right? A letter that bashes Stintz & Matlow and goes after left-wing ideas – this isn’t RIGHT to you? What’s next? Do you think that Adam Vaughan, Paula Fletcher, and Gord Parks aren’t left eiether? Wake up! I feel so bad for you. You were probably that girl in high school that refused to look at a copy of tomorrow’s test obtained by one of the ‘bad kids,’ and told everybody “I get my marks the honest way.” Good for you. David, why do you allow this trash to be posted? This girl has no clue what she’s talking about. She either works for city hall, or is left-leaning herself.

      1. David Fleming

        at 12:38 pm

        @ blog daddy

        I allow this ‘garbage’ on my blog because it’s not garbage; it’s an opinion, just like mine, and it’s what makes this blog work. I want to hear from everybody, on every topic, left or right, right or wrong. I approve about 99.9% of all comments (literally one in a thousand, I delete), and I only delete a comment if it’s full of swear-words and offers nothing, or if it’s a vicious personal attack on me (I said ‘vicious,’ as most personal attacks on me are approved, and there are MANY!).

        I don’t agree with Hayley, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to delete her comment. I hope you see this the way I do.

    2. Mad Max

      at 12:32 pm


      You clearly have no comprehension of how the real, adult world, works. Civil servants non-partisan? What in the hell are you talking about?! Do you think maybe there is a reason that it is common practice in Ottawa for senior ranking civil servants to resign/be fired during a change of political administrations? Secondly, what is a ninnie? Is that slang for ‘nincompoop’ or something? Straight up 1920’s vocab on you, its the cat’s pajamas!!

      Your recommendation for research (for David to read) is a link to Wikipedia!! You see the humour in that I hope. And really, and advanced stop line?

      I would suggest you do a little research into how the world works, better yet, stick to Andrea Horwath’s and/or Oprah’s blogs.


    3. Joe Q.

      at 2:16 pm

      The proposed traffic protest is in opposition to the LRT (which will run underground between Black Creek and the Don Valley), not speed-limit changes

  5. Anonymous

    at 12:06 pm

    The Medical Officer is not indicative of the left, but the people who would agree with this are most likely left wing councillors.

    As for civil servants in the city being non-partisan; oh please. Everyone fits somewhere on the political spectrum. Just because municipal politicians don’t identify themselves with a certain political party when they are elected doesn’t mean that they do not fit on that spectrum. That’s precisely what is wrong with municipal politics in my opinion.

    The only person who is arguably non-partisan in all of this is that hypocrite/backstabber Karen Stintz. That woman goes with the flow and will do/say anything to get exposure and get support/votes.

  6. Chris

    at 1:17 pm

    This blog post is just factually incorrect. You claim that the “left” on council would oppose something just because it was supported by Rob Ford. That’s completely false. Example: Rob Ford supported separated bike lanes on Sherbourne. Everyone supported that! On the other hand, some opposed the removal of bike lanes on Jarvis.

    And using the idea that the speed-limit lowering idea is a stupid left wing idea is just wrong. This is the result of a report trying to objectively find a way to reduce pedestrian deaths. I would claim that this report is correct; however I also think that people value going along streets faster more than a marginal reduction in pedestrian and cyclist deaths. Personally though, I don’t think it is speed limits being too low that slows driver’s down, it has to do with more cars being on the road than there should be. It’s kind of irrelevant what the speed limit is when you are stuck behind a row of 30 other cars at a stoplight.

    And another thing, NO, people do not dislike Rob Ford because of his weight. He is a divisive, utterly incompetent politician. I actually think he uses the fact that he is obese to his political advantage, to garner sympathy for himself when some people inevitably bring it up. He then uses those people who do bring it up to paint all his opponents as biased against his weight. See the notorious “fat fuck” video to see what I mean.

  7. Daniel

    at 1:44 pm

    David you can’t win this argument.

    Anybody who rides a bicycle is going to be put-off with this blog post. And anybody who is left-leaning is going to say there is no such thing.

    The last guy commented that nobody at City Hall votes against Rob Ford because he’s Rob Ford, when this has been well documented for the last eight months. Read a friggin’ newspaper for once in your life instead of just reading blogs and online drivel (this blog notwithstanding, of coruse! 🙂 ). People write what they believe and try and pass it off as FACT, which is what the naysayers have done in this comment section.

  8. lui

    at 12:07 pm

    I got a email from Vaughn office regarding my complaints about graffiti being more active in my area,he sent a letter back its the property owner is responsible for cleaning it,but they are cleaning it or painting it over at their expense and days later its tagged again.He said its a “freedom of expression” by “artist” so the city cant do anything about it….well how about banning stores from carrying this specialize paint.Duh……

  9. Sarah

    at 11:06 am

    Okay. I sit on the other side of the political spectrum here. I am a, what was it?, lefty, (chai)latte drinking, pinko. I pay my taxes though – I thought us commie pinkos were all about taxation.

    In short, I think that yes, Rob Ford would have fewer detractors if he were more polite – or at least more sympathetic. There are better ways to approach service cuts than the way he chose.

    I do not agree with the movement that seems to be all about disagreeing with him for disagreement’s sake and I hate it when people malign his weight because it has ABSOLUTELY NO bearing on his ability to run a city, but I also think he brought a divisive attitude with him when he came into office so I don’t think he’s totally blameless on this one.

    The reality is that the city has been in financial trouble and cuts needed to be made because the city of Toronto is on planet Earth in the early 21st century. Cuts are the way of things these days.

    If Mayor Ford had simply declared this rather than sharing his opinions that he was cutting “waste” that many people in the city felt were valuable services, people would probably be a little less angry with him. If he acknowledged that these services mattered to someone, even if they didn’t matter to him, he probably could have snuck through a couple of things we would otherwise have made a fuss about under the guise of “financial necessity”.

    But instead he has made a point of being constantly belligerent over the past two years. He’s fluffed off interviews on CBC, he’s outright refused to attend Pride despite a year’s notice, he’s refused to rein in his brother on comments about libraries. And he’s taken the attitude that people who disagree with him are part of the “gravy train” rather than people with valid perspectives that just happen to oppose him.

    In short, he’s done his best to alienate a whole lot of hardworking Torontonians. Somedays I figure he must be doing it on purpose because he’s been in politics way too long to not know how this works.

    I think that if he’d been less divisive, he might have his subways by now because he is right when he says that people like them. If he’d figured out a way to actually pay for them like he said he would, I’d have been happy to see them happen.

    Instead he has a mess and we’re all spinning our wheels – whatever type of wheels we choose to use.

    1. David Fleming

      at 11:54 am

      @ Sarah

      “Cuts needed to be made because the city of Toronto is on planet earth in the early 21st century.”

      It can’t be said any simpler than that! Is any country/city/province/state/district increasing spending these days?

      1. Krupo

        at 11:28 pm

        And yet Ford reduced Miller’s surplus by $100 million. 😛

        Also, to the guy who called out Ford’s election win, let’s consider his main opponent: Mr. Ornge-E-Health-the-other-fiasco Smitherman??

        Yeah, wild.

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