Posts Tagged: giorgio ammolliti

Aug 11

Ignoring Giorgio: Pay no attention to the magician’s assistant

It’s clear at this point that Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti’s primary role is to serve as lovely assistant to the magicians in the mayor’s office. He’s the one waving his arms provocatively and strutting across the stage while our magical mayor takes a hacksaw to an audience member, cutting her in half. We get so caught up looking at Giorgio that we don’t notice that the magic is, well, a trick, and that what we think is being performed in front of us is all part of a grand illusion.

The feet dangling out the end of the box belong to someone else — it’s so obvious that the truth almost screams at us — but we don’t care, because there’s Giorgio ranting about communists, filming lesbians and doing council research at strip clubs. And we can’t look away.

It’s hard to know how self-aware Mammoliti really is. The Toronto Star, in an A-level feature by reporter Daniel Dale, made it clear that — at least to some degree — the councillor knows what he’s doing. “There’s always a strategy. Anybody who thinks I just blurt things out, they’re dreaming in technicolour,” said the councillor. “I think about everything I say.”

And, ignoring the spectral appearance of the lady-that-doth-protest-too-much, let’s grant him that. Let’s work under the assumption that Giorgio Mammoliti is in on the joke. This creates a challenging situation for those of us who like to comment on City Hall matters, because by focusing too much on Giorgio-tinged antics we could become unwitting suckers, and we hate being being suckers. It also puts us in a situation where we can’t ever be sure if we’re hearing actual policy, blessed by the mayor’s office, or slightly-deranged ramblings. This would be less of a problem if Mammoliti was some fringe councillor with no responsibilities, but the guy is deep within the mayor’s inner circle and currently overseeing task forces on everything from childcare to homelessness.

It’s enough to make your head spin. So let’s simplify. Let’s stick to the facts. Giorgio Mammoliti, last week, created a Facebook group dubbed “Save the City…Support the Ford Administration.” A whole bunch of things happened rather quickly after the group’s creation, but ultimately we ended at a point where Mammoliti had dubbed all critics of the mayor as communists. This culminated with a hit on Josh Matlow’s NewsTalk 1010 show, where Mammoliti and the leader of the Ontario Communist Party debated municipal issues. I should pause to note here that none of this is hyperbole or comic exaggeration.

The communist story dominated the week, with the Facebook group, abandoned by the councillor two days after he started it, falling into anarchy. In my opinion, this exchange, where Mammoliti responds earnestly to a hilarious thread regarding the Emery Village flagpole, was the best thing to come out of it. Aside from that, the social networking group is an interesting phenomenon if only for the glimpses it gives us into the minds of some (fringe?) members of Ford Nation.

In sum: They believe there are too many library branches. They have a bitter attitude toward unions and believe they must be punished. They’re enamoured with the idea that bike licensing could be a solid revenue generator and would improve behaviour. They’re relatively convinced that a significant percentage of poverty and homelessness is due to laziness or entitlement. And, underlying it all, there’s a sense that government — even a government like this one, which is essentially controlled by someone they support — is inherently incompetent and undeserving of the tax money it receives.

That is, I suppose, the flip side of the coin represented by the voices I’ve been spotlighting through the Toronto Spoke feature. Some of these views represent a fringe element, of course, but to dismiss them outright would be too akin to the response we’ve seen from the mayor and other councillors when asked about the marathon executive meeting. These are the arguments that progressives need to keep in mind as they move forward in this ongoing battle for hearts-and-minds. This is the thing to focus on.

In other words: keep your eye on the contents of the box and the guy with the saw. Ignore the assistant, the choreography and the flashing lights. Because this ain’t magic — it’s something else entirely.

Jul 11

Giorgio Mammoliti: Toronto’s Michele Bachmann?

Matt Taibbi has an awesome feature in this month’s issue of Rolling Stone detailing the unlikely political career of Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann. The whole article is online, and I highly recommend you read it — there are some echoes of Municipal Election 2010 on page three of the article, when Taibbi writes about the difference between “being mocked and being taken seriously” — but the reason I’m pointing this out today is for the article’s reference to a time wherein the famously anti-gay Bachmann was caught hiding in some bushes outside a gay rights rally:

Bachmann’s obsession with gay culture led her to bizarre behavioral extremes. In April 2005, after the State Senate refused to even vote on her constitutional amendment, she hid in the bushes outside the State Capitol during a gay-rights rally. A photo shows Bachmann, only the top of her Stepford head visible, crouched alone in an extreme catcher’s squat behind the Capitol shrubbery. She later insisted she wasn’t hiding at all, but resting because her heels hurt.

via Michele Bachmann’s Holy War | Rolling Stone Politics.

Here’s the photo.

Sounds like a ridiculous only-in-America scenario, but then this weekend Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti was discovered playing the same kind of paranoid witch-hunt game, when revellers at Saturday’s Dyke March caught him standing, stone-faced, holding his camcorder while the parade marched down Church Street. He was on a mission, apparently, to discover and capture anti-semitic elements who might appear in the crowds at the parade.

The Toronto Star’s Chloé Fedio:

Giorgio Mammoliti and his camcorder want to axe city funding for Pride Week.

The city councillor says he captured an anti-Israeli group chanting the controversial phrase “Israeli Apartheid” during Saturday’s Dyke Parade.

“I see this as cockiness, I see this as a slap in the face to City Hall and I see this as a slap in the face to taxpayers in this city,” Mammoliti said after the parade. “This councillor does not want them to get funded this year. I will be seeing whether the mayor agrees with me.”

via Councillor urges end to Pride funding after filming Dyke March –

This whole Queers Against Israeli Apartheid battle is so very tiring. City Council voted last year voted to withhold funding to Pride Toronto until after the parade, to ensure compliance with their anti-discrimination policy. The idea was that this measure would keep QuAIA out of the parade. City staff later ruled that, in fact, QuAIA didn’t violate their anti-discrimination policy, which threw a wrench into the whole deal. But then QuAIA promised to not march in this year’s parade. A promise which they appear to have kept, despite members of some other groups apparently picking up their cause.

I’m sure Mammoliti has some lovely video of someone saying the words “Israel Apartheid” at the Dyke March or waving a Palestinian flag, but none of that even begins to disqualify Pride from receiving their city grant. Unless parade organizers are found to have knowingly allowed a group to participate in the parade whose message violates the City of Toronto’s anti-discrimination policy, council has no grounds to withdraw committed funds.

What’s worse is that, at the heart of things, the City and Pride Toronto have a business relationship. The City provides a small amount of grant funds and in-kind support to allow for Pride Week events and, in turn, the city gets a ton of return on investment in the form of tourist dollars and cultural activity. It’s a win for everyone.

Councillor Mammoliti’s actions — and, to be fair, this is not even in the top five most ridiculous things he’s ever done — threaten that business relationship. If the councillor and the mayor want to kill Pride, they should just be honest about it.

“Grassroots Community”

The Star’s David Rider has more from our favourite councillor in his (very good) article about the fall-out from Ford’s decision not to attend Pride. Talking to Rider, Giorgio defends the mayor’s absence:

“I haven’t heard from anybody in the grassroots community say that the Pride community is right,” said Mammoliti (Ward 7, York West). “If anything they’re saying that they’re irritated by what the Pride community is saying.

“Some people chose to make it political and the reality is we have bigger things to talk about, like where are we going to get our money for 2012, to deal with our $700 million deficit?”

via Ford and the ‘family values’ case for gay rights | Toronto Star.

Okay, two questions:

First, who are the ‘grassroots community?’ Can I be included with the grassroots community? Why do their opinions matter more than others?

Second, if we’re looking at ways to improve the city’s overall fiscal condition, large cultural events that boost the desirability of Toronto to outsiders are surely not a bad place to start, right?