Mar 12

City Council Scorecard: Rob Ford loses control of the TTC

Toronto Council Scorecard

March 6, 2012: Google Docs (Best View) - Download (PDF)  - Download (PNG)

Last night, the mayor of Toronto lost control of the city’s biggest budget item. He no longer wields influence over the Toronto Transit Commission.

The new TTC board remains much of the same as the old one: the four councillors who voted not to fire Gary Webster remain in place. Karen Stintz is still chair and Peter Milczyn is likely to be Interim Vice Chair. Joining them will be Josh Colle, Glenn De Baeremaeker and Raymond Cho.

While some will buy into the narrative this happened because of a council opposition that’s drunk with power and bears a personal dislike for the mayor, I have to see it differently: what we saw yesterday was a necessary shift following a series of rejected compromises and aborted deals. A majority of council would have preferred to work within the status quo to achieve the transit direction set out and approved by council in February, but a combination of stubbornness and spite made that impossible.

In addition to being a political body that democratically makes decisions, Council is also responsible for ensuring that those decisions are carried out. To that end, dissolving the existing TTC board and replacing it with one more in tune with council’s approved direction was the only responsible move.

The New Vote

TOCouncil Scorecard March 6 2012- New Votes

The Vote Added:

The existence of EX16.8 was a stroke of luck for council’s opposition. Had the item not coincidentally appeared on the Executive Committee’s agenda a few weeks ago, Stintz would have been forced to call yet another special council meeting in order to get an item relating to the composition of the TTC board on the agenda. Since this item — it originally was just supposed to add some citizen members to the board — was already due to come before council, councillors were able to piggyback their plans on top of it.

The process worked very similarly to what we saw with the TCHC board a year ago. With a majority vote of 29-15, council dissolved the existing board and kicked off a process to appoint seven councillors onto a replacement board. They also voted to add four citizen members at a later date.

The mayor was ill-prepared to counter this motion. Never has his team looked so disorganized and out-of-their-depth on the council floor. Michael Thompson was chosen as the guy who would move a counter-motion, suggesting that the TTC instead be made up of all citizen members with no representation from councillors. Thompson spoke at length about how this would de-politicize transit planning and provide new expertise to the operations of the TTC.

This lame strategy never had a chance of getting anywhere near majority support. To further complicate matters, Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday and Councillor David Shiner — both Ford-allies — moved their own conflicting motions.

The alternative motions were ultimately irrelevant, as Stintz’s motion to dissolve came before council first and passed by a huge margin. Even stalwarts like Cesar Palacio and Gary Crawford supported it. Giorgio Mammoliti’s thumb barely made an appearance all day. The mayor, it seemed, had given up.

Trend Watch

With her full-term voting percentage dropping below 70%, Councillor Jaye Robinson is now firmly in “mighty middle” territory. She should feel more at home there.

The mayor needs to start finding some common ground with middle-of-the-road stalwarts Josh Matlow and Josh Colle — their voting records lately are looking more lefty and less middle.

It’s important to note that the new TTC board is still heavy with councillors with very Ford-friendly voting records. Despite her recent characterization as a tool of the left, Karen Stintz has voted with Ford 87% of the time. John Parker is a 92% stalwart. Peter Milczyn beats them both at 95%. Of the other four, Josh Colle and Raymond Cho are hardly flag-waving leftists. Under any other circumstance, this would be considered a very balanced board.

Hell, I can prove it mathematically. Average out the full-term Ford Nation scores of the seven councillors on the new TTC board and here’s what you get: 50.3%.


Questions about the Council Scorecard? Read my notes on methodology. Also, you can email me.

Feb 12

City Council Scorecard: Adding up the transit vote

Toronto Council Scorecard

February 23, 2012: Google Docs (Best View) - Download (PDF)  - Download (PNG)

Council has actually met three separate times in February, but only one of those meetings resulted in a vote worth recording on the City Council Scorecard. Aside from a couple of integrity commissioner issues that — while fun to watch — didn’t go anywhere, February’s regular council meeting was fairly quiet. If arguments in the chamber got contentious, it was probably because momentum was building behind-the-scenes for the special council meeting held on February 8 that saw the mayor’s transit vision smashed with a procedural hammer.

From that special February 8 meeting, the vote added to this month’s scorecard represents the most significant defeat of Rob Ford’s administration. I’ve made that claim several times before — and each time it was true! — but this is a serious major-league defeat for Rob Ford. The council he’s supposed to be leading basically told him that he wasn’t allowed to make decisions on transit.

The New Vote

Council Scorecard: February 23, 2012 (New Votes)

The vote added:

  • CC17.1, Motion 3a as moved by TTC Chair Karen Stintz, pushed council to endorse what they had already endorsed in 2009 (and several other times): light rail on Finch West & Eglinton. The second part of her motion, which also passed, will see an expert panel report back to council with options for Sheppard. While no one wanted to say it, this is the vote that brings back Transit City. It passed — after two re-votes because councillors kept hitting the wrong button — by a final and decisive margin of 25-18.

Trend Watch

What’s most notable about the chart is how bad 2012 has been for Rob Ford. Only 20 of 44 councillors have sided with the mayor more than 50% of the time on major items this year. And the gap is only widening: going by the same metrics I was using last year, only three councillors — Gloria Lindsay Luby, James Pasternak and Jaye Robinson — fit the profile of the “mushy middle” based on their 2012 votes, and they were all reliable Ford supporters through the first nine months of this term. Everyone else has either supported the mayor on virtually every item or come out in strong opposition.

Ford has lost most of the sway he had over votes through 2011. Opposition councillors are now able to round up 23 votes without too much hassle. That threshold has been crossed. And there’s no going back unless the mayor starts compromising.

The thing to watch going forward is whether we’ll find a scenario where 30 votes will go against Ford. A consistent bloc of 30 councillors — controlling two-thirds of the chamber  — would effectively neuter any positional power Ford has as mayor. It’d be a whole different ballgame.

The path to 30 isn’t easy. Take the 25 votes who went against Ford on the transit item, then add Gloria Lindsay Luby, who was absent from the vote, to make 26. From there, the best bets would be councillors like Peter Milczyn — who bravely opposed the mayor on the Gary Webster firing –, Gary Crawford, Michael Thompson, and basically anyone else with a Liberal Party membership or a stated interest in the arts, the environment or sensible urban planning.

It’s not straightforward, but it’s doable. And every uncompromising and bullheaded decision made by the mayor’s office only makes it more doable.


Questions about the Council Scorecard? Read my notes on methodology. Also, you can email me.

Jan 12

City Council Scorecard: The night Rob Ford lost big

Toronto Council Scorecard

January 17, 2012: Google Docs (Best View) - Download (PDF)  - Download (PNG)

There’s no other way to say it: last night, Rob Ford lost. After two months of spinning his budget as a smart and reasonable approach to improving the city’s financial situation, council quickly and decisively voted to overrule the mayor on a variety of items, adding millions of dollars back into the operating budget to preserve services that were on the chopping block.

This result wasn’t driven by a few lucky motions, but rather by a coordinated approach by a majority of councillors working against the mayor’s agenda. The strategy included careful messaging designed to court middle-aligned councillors, who would end up leading the charge for preserving programs and services. For those involved, the result of yesterday’s meeting was a foregone conclusion.

In the end, what was supposed to be a fractious three-day debate on a contentious budget wrapped up in less than twelve hours. After losing a number of key votes, the mayor was left to give a subdued — and short — press conference, wherein he did his best to save face, claiming he had had a positive impact on the budget, even if the outcome wasn’t what he wanted.

These results are important not only because they stave off what would have been some pretty devastating cuts to city programs, but also because they put the city into unprecedented political territory. Council has now shown a willingness to ignore and overturn key mayoral directives. The question going forward isn’t whether Rob Ford will be a good mayor or a bad mayor, but whether Rob Ford will be relevant at all to the important day-to-day decisions that matter in Toronto.

New Votes

The votes added, all of which were individual motions on item EX14.1 — the 2012 Capital and Operating Budgets:

  • Motion 1, as moved by Councillor Josh Colle, was the centrepiece strategic move of the day. Colle moved to take about $15 million from the 2011 operating surplus — which stands at more than $150 million and will be higher when all is said and done — to preserve TTC service, restore daycare funding, prevent pool closures and retain a number other services. The full text of the motion is here. This motion was engineered so that it could receive enough support to pass, and it did, with votes from councillors Gloria Lindsay Luby, Chin Lee and James Pasternak making the difference. It passed 23-21, sinking any hope the mayor’s team had left of emerging from this process with their pride intact.
  • Motion 5, moved by the aforementioned Lindsay Luby, killed what would have been a foolhardy plan to charge two bucks to use all public pools (indoor and outdoor) in Toronto — read all about it. The scheme would have required new staff to operate, and any revenues would have been tempered by the huge cost required to set up and maintain payment infrastructure. Still, this was another narrow vote.
  • Motion 6 came from Mary-Margaret McMahon, who has fashioned herself as a staunch environmentalist. Her motion preserved three positions at the Toronto Environmental Office that were on the chopping block. It also asked that the city continue to implement its Climate Change Action Plan. (Full text.) Her motion won with support from executive committee members Michelle Berardinetti and Jaye Robinson.
  • Motion 9 served as the motion that stopped the library board from having to make near-impossible cuts to its operating budget. As moved my Raymond Cho (full text), this vote saw 22 councillors recognize that, really, Toronto’s library system has been run really damn well for almost a decade now. (Of note: Pasternak abstained because of a conflict of interest.)
  • Motion 21a revealed just how willing council was to tinker with Ford’s budget. Council voted 23-21 to maintain the Live Green Toronto Community Animators program (text), which sees people work within communities to create greenspace and promote environmental initiatives. Ford-ally Gary Crawford along with Robinson were the difference-makers on this item.
  • Lastly, Motion 21b was Ford’s sole major victory — the mayor also lost numerous other minor votes, including a bid by Karen Stintz to kill the city’s partnership with TDSB for community pools — as Mihvec was unable to muster enough support to stave off consideration of contracting out custodial services at Facilities Management and Real Estate Services.

All told, Ford was on the losing end of  five of six major votes related to his 2012 budget. Council grew the mayor’s operating budget by about $20 million.

Trend Watch

As was inevitable, Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon has fallen below the 30% threshold and is now in the “opposition” category.

James Pasternak and Jaye Robinson both saw their Ford Nation percentage decline. Because she’s on the executive committee, I expect Robinson to continually hover around her current level. Pasternak, on the other hand, is likely only a few votes away from statistically joining the ranks of the “mighty middle.”

And, yeah, the biggest trend coming out of yesterday’s meeting? Council’s middle earned that “mighty” label. There was nothing mushy about them.

Batting Average

The mayor hit a sad 17% yesterday on major votes. For this term overall, his success rate is just over 60%.


Questions about the Council Scorecard? Read my notes on methodology. Also, you can email me.

Nov 11

City Council Scorecard: Voting to take out the trash

Toronto Council Scorecard

November 24, 2011: Google Docs (Best View) - Download (PDF)  - Download (PNG)

A bit delayed this month because despite all the hoopla over animals and garbage, the October council meeting actually ended up being fairly uneventful. Especially when compared to the September special meeting, which was full of dramatic and close votes.

Have no fear, though: things are about to ramp up again. We’re just about to enter the 2012 budget season — all this core service review stuff is little more than a pre-show — where everything is likely to descend into outright chaos.

But first, let’s wrap up October by adding the vote on the contracting out of solid waste — a major Rob Ford campaign promise — to the City Council Scorecard.

New Vote

The vote added:

  • CC13.5 awarded, amongst other things, the contract for solid waste collection in District 2 to Green For Life, an upstart player in the waste collection industry with a lightly checkered past and a bid that some felt was suspiciously low. Council voted 32-12 earlier this year to put the contract out to tender and, given that GFL’s bid was ruled compliant, it would have put Council in a legally dicey position had they rejected the bid. Also of note: we learned this morning with the release of Council’s agenda for next week that GFL entered into a process to acquire Turtle Island Recycling Corporation — the holder of the contract for waste collection in District 1 — on July 28, 2011, several months prior to this vote. As a result of their successful acquisition, GFL will control solid waste pick-up for half of Toronto as of next August.

Trend Watch

Not a lot to read into with this vote. Given council’s legal position and the fact that this is one of those things that Ford can legitimately claim a mandate, there was no way this vote was going to see a different result.

More interesting was a motion by Ana Bailão, who moved that council defer making a decision on the contract until the November council meeting, to allow for more consultation with the union and a more through examination of the bid. Her motion failed 20-22, with Raymond Cho, Chin Lee, Mary-Margaret McMahon Josh Matlow and the 16 councillors who ultimately voted against the contract in support.

Bailão continues to chart away from the mayor and his agenda, which seems to be making some unhappy. The Sun’s Sue-Ann Levy savaged her in a column after the vote. Bailão should be proud.

Batting Average

Ford’s council batting average ticks up as a result of this victory, after plunging in September with a series of defeats on items relating to the core service review. But this was always a gimme. Regardless of the social or economic cost in the long-term, voters wanted some revenge for the 2009 public worker strike. In this, I guess they have it. What happens next is anyone’s guess.


Questions about the Council Scorecard? Read my notes on methodology. Also, you can email me.

Oct 11

City Council Scorecard: How many library service hours will your councillor cut?

Update: The Library Board has decided to consider these reductions at their November meeting, which should allow time for both some kind of consultation process and, of course, a bunch of angry emails from residents.

At Torontoist, Steve Kupferman has got his hands on a document detailing proposed cuts to library service. Staff prepared the document as a response to Mayor Ford’s push to have all departments cut their budgets by 10% for 2012.

Rob Ford once claimed that closing a library on a Sunday would constitute a major service cut. To that end, it would sure seem crazy to try to pass off a reduction of 382 service hours a week as an “efficiency” or “adjustment.”

These cuts are being considered as I write this by an all-new library board, now chaired by steadfast Ford ally Paul Ainslie. If approved, they’ll ultimately go before council as part of the 2012 budget debate.

TPL staff were kind enough to group the proposed reductions by ward and councillor, which let me make this:

The full list, separated by branch, is available over at Torontoist.

Oct 11

City Council Scorecard Update: Team Ford looks shaky with Port Lands & Service Review votes

Toronto Council Scorecard

October 2, 2011: Download (PDF) - Download (PNG) - Google Docs

This one’s big. I’ve added new votes to the City Council Scorecard, covering items from the regular city council meeting on September 21 and the special meeting related to the Core Service Review on September 26. Of the ten votes added, the mayor came out on the losing end of five of them. One councillor, Gloria Lindsay Luby, saw her Ford Nation percentage — the metric that tells us how often councillors vote with the mayor on major items — drop from 87.5% to 68% over these two council meetings. Most councillors also saw their Fordiness level drop, with two members of Ford’s Executive Committee — Michael Thompson and David Shiner — dropping out of the 100% loyalist club on votes relating to the Christmas Bureau and Community Environment Days, respectively.

It’s possible to both overstate and understate the impact of these numbers.

New Votes

The votes added:

  • EX9.6 — The item relating to the revitalization of the Lower Don Lands & Port Lands. What a saga this was. A more charitable blogger would describe this “consensus” outcome as a win for all involved, but that blogger isn’t me. This was a huge, resounding loss for the mayor, his brother and the strategists working behind the scenes who are doing what they can to come up with a list of publicly-owned assets to sell. Because the mayor’s side blinked before this item could go to council in its original form, I’ve scored the result differently than other votes, using a snazzy purple. It doesn’t count either way toward the overall Ford Nation percentages.
  • PW7.9, Motion 2 — Earlier this month, as part of what would appear to be a thorough quest to rid Toronto of the pedestrian and cycling infrastructure that bothers him on his drive to work, Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong called for a review of the scramble intersection at Yonge & Dundas. The request for a study was tacked on to Minnan-Wong’s downtown traffic study — something worth being wary of — and was made without consulting the local councillor beforehand. This is becoming a pattern. Motion 2 was an amendment by Councillor Gord Perks that asked  that the city not bother with a study of the pedestrian scramble. It failed.
  • EX10.1, Motion 3A — Councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby had a public break-up with the Ford administration last week, voting against several items relating to the Core Service Review. She also moved several amendments that resulted in some of the mayor’s most significant losses yet. This motion by Luby exempted any consideration of privatizing the Toronto Parking Authority — a revenue-generating asset — from this year’s budget process. Her motion carried, despite an attempt to whip the vote down by the mayor’s staff, and the TPA is saved. Hard to say whether the outcome was borne out of a desire to maintain TPA revenues or simply because councillors know how much their residents value cheap parking.
  • EX10.1, Motion 3B — Another Luby motion, this reversed a KPMG recommendation that would see the elimination of the Public Realm Neighbourhood Improvement Program. The program is a big hit with local businesses and neighbourhood groups, and little analysis was done to measure the potential economic drawbacks from killing the program. A very closed vote — once again whipped by the mayor — that saw Team Ford lose due to renegade runs by James Pasternak and Frank Di Giorgio.
  • EX10.1, Motion 6A — It’s not easy to get politicians to vote against seniors or kids. This motion by Josh Matlow preserved the Toronto Youth Cabinet and the Toronto Seniors Forum, both of which had been targeted for cuts. They’re both committees that allow underrepresented populations to engage themselves further in policy and politics. It’s worth noting that the initial wording of Matlow’s motion was stronger — it stipulated that the two committees should be saved outright — but was later made softer, so that now the future of both groups will be considered by the budget committee. This was also a whipped vote, with the mayor overturned thanks to rebel button pushes by Gary Crawford, Michelle Berardinetti and Frank Di Giorgio.
  • EX10.1, Motion 7A — This Ana Bailão motion saved Community Environment Days from the chopping block. They were identified as non-core by the KPMG study, and have been criticized in the past for being forums for councillors to promote themselves in their community. But they also bring in tonnes of recyclables and hazardous waste, which might otherwise get dumped on the street somewhere. As above, the vote was whipped, but Pasternak and — surprisingly — David Shiner went against the cheat sheet.
  • EX10.1, Motion 11 — Councillor Mary Fragedakis’ attempt to save Christmas — or, at least, the publicly-funded bureau that distributes gifts to the needy in December — failed on a 25-20 vote, despite a somewhat-surprising show of support from Ford ally Michael Thompson. Apparently the city will seek to continue the work of the Christmas bureau through partnerships with not-for-profit groups.
  • EX10.1, Motion 16A — This amendment by Councillor Maria Augimeri would have protected the Hardship Fund — a set of social supports available to low-income residents, created in the face of provincial cutbacks to welfare and other social programs in the Harris era — from further consideration as a 2012 budget cut. It barely passed, 23-22, with Councillor Jaye Robinson in dissent.
  • EX10.1, Recommendation 2B — KPMG recommend the city look at selling off — or closing — the three theatres it owns. Council opted to move forward with that recommendation in a close vote. Councillor Gary Crawford was later unveiled as the new chair of a task force dedicated to determining the future of these theatres.
  • EX10.1, Recommendation 7 — In another KPMG recommendation, the consulting firmed suggested that the city stop planting so many damn trees. (We’ve been told they don’t employ anybody.) The city had a rather ambitious plan to expand the tree canopy across the city — something that not only can work to make people happier but can also reduce the risk of illness — but councillors opted to pare it back with this recommendation in a close vote. (Note: Based on a previous vote relating to this item, I’m pretty sure Councillor Raymond Cho’s vote on this item was a mistake. If anyone can confirm, let me know and I’ll add a footnote.)

Trend Watch

The big news is the general downward trend, as the mayor’s council support gets nibbled away. As mentioned, Councillor Lindsay Luby dropped 19.5 points, falling below the arbitrary 70% threshold, so I’ve switched her from the blue team to the orange team. Middle Councillor Josh Matlow dropped 12%, while Mary-Margaret McMahon dropped 14%. Ana Bailão dropped eight points. While Rob Ford, all in all, still seems pretty effective at marshalling support amongst right-leaning councillors, the centrist bloc — which started the term sympathetic to the mayor’s agenda — has rapidly jumped off the bandwagon.

How to overstate this: Rob Ford is totally screwed. There’s no way he can maintain control of council going forward. A day of reckoning is at hand.

How to understate this: Nothing really changed. Rob Ford still got the most critical parts of the service review past council, not to mention the new user fee policy and voluntary separation program. They’ve still got the votes when they need them.

The pivotal change we’re likely to see coming out of this is a note of caution coming from the mayor’s office. Whereas the last few months have been marked by a series of chest-beating displays of power, they’d be smart to tread more softly from here on out, as they’re really only one wavering ally away from losing votes on key items.

Batting Average

For those who love baseball — or are even vaguely familiar with the idea of baseball — I’ve added a ‘batting average’ stat to the full version of the scorecard. This lays out, as a percentage, how successful the mayor has been at winning major votes. The mayor’s batting average stands at 70%. (Or, if you’re so inclined, .700.) Prior to the September council meetings, it was 80%.


Questions about the Council Scorecard? Read my notes on methodology. Also, you can email me.

Sep 11

City Council Scorecard: How to save the Port Lands

Let’s try to save the world with spreadsheets. Again. If the people of Toronto want to stop the mayor and his brother from seizing control of the Port Lands and pushing forward with a new vision controlled by private developers, we need five votes.

As with the Jarvis vote in July, the above is a best-guess breakdown of how councillors will vote on item EX9.6 when it comes before council on September 21. Again, it’s important to remember that this isn’t written in stone — some councillors could very well change their mind. Some councillors may even hit the wrong button when voting. It happens.

The first column above refers to item EX45.15, considered by council way back in the halcyon days of Mayor David Miller. It represents the only noted instance I can find in recent history of right-wing councillors attempting to slow or stop work by Waterfront Toronto. In this instance, which took place at the July 6, 2010 meeting of council, Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong rose and asked for an amendment on an item related to the Don Mouth Naturalization and Waterfront Toronto’s plan for the Lower Don Lands, a parcel of land within what the larger Port Lands area.

Minnan-Wong’s amendment called for two things: first, that Waterfront Toronto “submit to Council, a Business and Implementation Plan for the Lower Don Lands with priority for Phase 1 (Don River Mouth), addressing capital costs, revenue and expenditures, funding, project phasing and land management.” That language is similar to what we saw in the report associated with the Port Lands item that came before Executive Committee yesterday. The second thing Minnan-Wong asked for was that “no further funding of consultants and studies be undertaken until the funding sources and Business and Implementation Plan are approved by Council.” I’ve included the voting results from the second part of his amendment in the chart above.

More notes on methodology: Councillors who are on the Executive Committee will all presumably vote with the mayor at the upcoming Council Session. The only exception could be Jaye Robinson, who was notably absent when the vote took place in Committee Room 1 yesterday. Watch her closely. Councillors close to or at 100% “Ford Nation” percentage are virtual locks to support this Ford-driven motion, though I’ve left Gary Crawford as a question mark as a long-shot hope. I’m working off the assumption that the traditional left-leaning bloc will all vote against the item, which seems pretty safe. Both Josh Matlow and Mary Margaret-McMahon have tweeted their support for Waterfront Toronto, the latter enthusiastically so.

So, what next? Email or call the councillors identified as undecided or potential swing votes. Their contact information is below. Your voice is especially important if you live in their ward. (But if you don’t, and happen to know someone who does, spend some time informing them of the issue and ask them to contact their councillor.) Consider contacting neighbourhood associations, ratepayer groups and local BIAs as well, and ask them how they feel about a new mall opening up in the Port Lands and the impact that will have on small-scale retail space in the city. CodeBlueTO has a great letter you can use as a starting point for your communications. If you get concrete word on how any councillor plans to vote, please let me know so I can update this chart.

Contact information for councillors

Councillor James Pasternak (Ward 10 – York Centre)

Phone: 416-392-1371

Email: councillor_pasternak@toronto.ca

 Councillor Josh Colle (Ward 15 – Eglinton-Lawrence)

Phone: 416-392-4027

Email: councillor_colle@toronto.ca

Councillor Ana Baiḷo (Ward 18 РDavenport)

Phone: 416-392-7012

Email: councillor_bailao@toronto.ca

Councillor Jaye Robinson (Ward 25 – Don Valley West)

Phone: 416-395-6408

Email: councillor_robinson@toronto.ca

Councillor Gary Crawford (Ward 36 – Scarborough Southwest)

Phone: 416-392-4052

Email: councillor_crawford@toronto.ca

Councillor Chin Lee (Ward 41 – Scarborough-Rouge River)

Phone: 416-392-1375

Email: councillor_lee@toronto.ca

Councillor Ron Moeser (Ward 44 – Scarborough East)

Phone: 416-392-1373

Email: councillor_moeser@toronto.ca

Jul 11

City Council Scorecard Update: Jarvis Lanes and Public Health Nurses

Toronto Council Scorecard

July 19, 2011 Update: Download (PDF) - Download (PNG) - Google Docs

July’s Council meeting was a feisty three-day affair with a strong emphasis on an issue I’ve already written about at length: the Jarvis Street bike lanes. I’ve included the key voting result from that item in this month’s scorecard, along with an item relating to the acceptance of two provincially-funded public health nurses. While it was the former that captured the city’s attention, the latter is probably more interesting in that it provides a very clear glimpse at existing ideological voting lines within Toronto City Council.

New Votes

City Council Scorecard - July 19, 2011 New VotesThe votes added:

  • PW5.1, Motion 7A — Moved by Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, this was the most explicit “Save Jarvis” motion. It read as follows: “That the Jarvis Street bicycle lanes be retained and the traffic signal improvements to accommodate left turns for the Gerrard Street East intersection be implemented no later than July 31, 2011, as recommended by Toronto Transportation Services.” It should be noted that, without explanation, several councillors who voted in favour of installing the lanes in 2009 flip-flopped on their position, voting now to remove them. Councillor Josh Matlow said afterward that he voted incorrectly on this item, and should have been recorded in the affirmative. But I’ve decided to institute a policy: the scorecard will always reflect actual, recorded votes, regardless of intent.
  • MM10.9 — A member motion moved by Councillor John Filion, this item required a tough-to-find two-thirds majority to pass. It would have seized and allowed a new debate on an earlier item, deferred by Rob Ford’s Executive Committee, regarding two provincially-funded public health nurse positions. Ford had deferred the item in a bizarre decision not to accept the funds. This 21-21 result gives a clear indication of the current ideological lines at City Hall. I’ll highlight, too, that three councillors — Ford-supporters Karen Stintz, Jaye Robinson and James Pasternak — are conspicuous in their ‘absent’ votes on this item.

Trend Watch

After crossing the 75% threshold, Councillor Ron Moeser has now officially joined the ‘Ford Nation’ faction on council. The Scarborough politician had shown early signs of independence, voting against pivotal motions like designating the TTC an essential service, but in recent months has been a more reliable vote for the mayor’s office.

Of the remaining ‘mushy middle’ councillors, Chin Lee and Josh Colle tend to swing toward Ford Nation more often than not, while Mary-Margaret McMahon and Ana Bailāo have been edging toward the left. Josh Matlow, fittingly, is at a dead-even 50%. Maybe, for him, the truth is in the middle.


Questions about the Council Scorecard? Read my notes on methodology. Also, you can email me.

For those who have noticed that this document is getting progressively harder to read as it grows, take solace: things are happening. Stay tuned.

Jun 11

City Council Scorecard: How to save the Jarvis bike lanes

On May 25, 2009, a very different-looking Toronto City Council considered PW24.15, “Jarvis Street Streetscape Improvements – Class Environmental Assessment Study.” This item ultimately led to the installation of the controversial Jarvis Street bike lanes.

In the coming weeks, thanks to a motion by Councillor John Parker on PW5.1 “Bikeway Network – 2011 Update”, council will once again debate Jarvis Street, its role in the city, and whether it should continue to be of use to the 900+ cyclists who ride the route daily. While the exact nature of that debate is still a bit unclear — Public Works Chair Denzil Minnan-Wong would appear to favour the return of the reversible fifth lane, but the cost may be prohibitive — cycling advocates within the city have already begun a campaign to Save Jarvis Street.

But given the divisive nature of council and Mayor Rob Ford’s effectiveness when it comes to gathering support for major issues, the question has to be asked: Can the Jarvis lanes be saved? Is there any realistic hope of Rob Ford and company not getting their way?

Combining data from the 2009 vote and trends from my City Council Scorecard, an answer to that question does seem to emerge. And that answer is: maybe. But there are still a number of blanks that need to be filled in.

DISCLAIMER: This is highly speculative. For novelty purposes only.

Surprisingly, seven councillors who are currently hardline Ford supporters voted in favour of the bike plan on Jarvis Street in 2009. Joining them in support was Councillor Ron Moeser, who leans conservative but tends to vote more with his conscience than with the whip. The 2009 vote passed 28-16, with 1 absent. (I’ve included a breakdown of that vote at the bottom of this post. Just for the hell of it.)

Making a bunch of assumptions based on current voting patterns — along with some statements councillors have made since this issue resurfaced, e.g. Mary-Margaret McMahon’s comment on Twitter –, council currently breaks down with 17 in favour of keeping the Jarvis lanes, 15 opposed and 13 unknown votes. Six of the uncommitted councillors need to break for maintaining the status quo for the Jarvis lanes to win the day.

Of the unknowns, Councillors Mammoliti, Nunziata, Kelly, Palacio & Grimes are likely to flip-flop on their earlier position and support the removal of the lanes. It’s hypocritical and barely justifiable, but that won’t be enough to stop them.

Of the remaining eight, the best bets for cycling advocates are Councillors Matlow, Bailão, Colle, Moeser, Robinson and Di Giorgio. The first three will be significantly easier to convince than the last three, who might trot out the argument that, following the results of the 2010 election, Council has a democratic mandate to remove the Jarvis bike lanes.

It all adds up to a very tough-looking fight. The next council meeting is set for July 12.

If anyone has any information on voting intentions for the councillors I’ve identified as unknown — or if I’ve got a ‘likely’ vote wrong — please let me know and I’ll update the chart. I can be reached via email or on Twitter at @FordForToronto.

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Jun 11

City Council Scorecard Update: Selling TCHC homes

Toronto Council Scorecard

June 20, 2011 Update: Download (PDF)Download (PNG)Google Docs

Last week’s council meeting was light on major decisions, as some of the hyped-up media items (shark fin soup and a second NHL team, for example) were deferred without much debate. The only new addition to this month’s City Council Scorecard is the item regarding the sale of 22 TCHC homes.

New Votes

The vote added:

  • EX6.5 — As written, this vote referred only to the sale of 22 single-family homes owned by the TCHC, located mostly in downtown wards. Several of the houses are currently vacant, waiting very costly repairs. There was a lot of discussion as to how many of the homes listed are actually eligible for sale under various provincial and municipal regulations. Regardless, the debate council had on this item was only nominally about the listed homes. (Council has often sold TCHC properties in the past. Here’s an example from last summer.) Opposition councillors seemed more concerned with the precedent set by the sale — especially considering Case Ootes’ recommendation to sell another 900 homes — and the belief amongst Ford-allied councillors that selling properties represents a scaleable solution to Toronto’s housing problem. As such, even after speaking at length with concerns about the sale, several left-wing councillors — including Kristyn Wong-Tam, Sarah Doucette, John Filion and Glenn de Baearemaeker — ultimately supported the sale. Notably, Councillor Adam Vaughan drew some flack from the mayor’s team for sitting out the vote in protest.

Trend Watch

I didn’t deem it notable enough to include in the Scorecard, but a vote on an amendment moved by Councillor Raymond Cho on the same item was interesting. Defeated on a tie vote of 22-22, the amendment would “[urge] the Federal and Provincial governments to immediately fund an ongoing and sustainable social housing renovation and repair program so that social housing repair needs in Toronto are met and the backlog eliminiated. [sic]

In other words: tell the provincial and federal governments that they’ve kind of screwed us over with this downloading-of-responsibilities thing.

Voting for it included the left-wing of council (minus Shelley Carroll, who missed the meeting due to an out-of-town funeral, and — oddly — Maria Augimeri), the ‘middle’ group of councillors, and Gloria Lindsay Luby and James Pasternak.


Questions about the Council Scorecard? Read my notes on methodology. Also, you can email me.