Sep 11

Six Years of Budget Balancing Strategies: Rob Ford’s 2012 approach presents false choice

For the last six years, City Council has dealt with each budget shortfall with a mixture of surplus funds, new revenue projections, property tax increases, investment income and spending cuts/efficiencies. The 2012 approach under Mayor Rob Ford has been different.

Update: I’ve made a minor edit to the chart above to clarify how the implementation of the Land Transfer Tax & Vehicle Registration Tax changed the city’s financial situation. Quick summary: in 2008, both new taxes combined to take about $175 million in budget pressure off the city’s books. That new money was folded into expected revenues for future years, but LTT revenues tend to surpass staff estimates, resulting in extra cash in 2009, 2010 and especially 2011.

Through this Core Service Review process, the (growing) group of councillors opposed to Mayor Rob Ford’s fiscal strategy has continuously complained about a lack of information. While Budget Chief Mike Del Grande and assorted hangers-on have been quick to cite a figure of $774 million as the opening “pressure” for 2012, they’ve been less forthcoming with revenue figures that will significantly reduce that pressure.

Increased revenues from the Land Transfer Tax in 2011 alone look to total almost $80 million. And remaining surplus dollars from the 2010 and 2011 budget years could total another $100 million or more. Add in potential investment revenues, dividends from Toronto Hydro, assessment growth and other miscellaneous revenue lines and that big scary $774 million figure looks to drop down to something a lot more manageable.

The chart above reveals why this revenue information is so critical: each year, that opening pressure figure — which, it should be noted, was bigger in 2010 than it is this year — is brought down through a variety of strategies. Yes, there are spending cuts and efficiencies — Rob Ford’s favourite things — but also other revenues. Each year — until this one — the budget has been balanced without apocalyptic talk of slashing childcare, closing libraries and decimating public services or else raising property taxes by 35%.

That’s a false choice. It’s one that ignores the balancing strategies used over the past five years that have kept the city moving forward.

A note on sustainability

Critics would point to the chart above and say that the budget balancing strategies employed by Mayor David Miller, Budget Chief Shelley Carroll and the rest of the the left on council were largely unsustainable, short-term fixes, relying too heavily on reserves and other one-time funding sources.

And, for the most part, that’s true.

That said, if you believe — as even right-leaning councillors like Giorgio Mammoliti and Doug Ford seem to these days — that the city’s structural deficit is due in part to the province, who reneged on its responsibilities for supporting things like transit, child care and welfare, then one-time strategies tend to be the best Toronto can hope for these days. Unless the province comes to the table and commits to uploading more transit costs, a truly sustainable 2012 budget — one that doesn’t completely destroy the kind of public services that contribute to the economic viability of our city — is nearly impossible to achieve.

An Alternate Path

That doesn’t mean, however, that there aren’t paths Toronto can take toward fiscal independence.

  • A service review process and efficiency study — like the one we’ve just been through — was a good idea, but the timeline needed to be longer. Set annual goals to increase across-the-board efficiency and work with management to achieve them. You’ll save more money this way than you will with layoffs.
  • Set a long-term path forward for residential and commercial property tax rates. A multi-year strategy to put the average residential tax levy on par with, say, Markham would bring in vastly more revenue. Commercial rates should continue to decrease relative to residential. Review tax increase deferral and cancellation policies for seniors and disabled residents to ensure we’re not kicking anyone out on the street.
  • Consult with Metrolinx on their upcoming revenue strategy to ensure that a fair percentage of revenue from road tolls — an inevitability in this province — go toward transit operating costs, in addition to capital.
  • Review parking rates and increase them in downtown, high demand areas. Think like the private sector.
  • Look at new revenue sources, including a City of Toronto sales tax. Big cities across the world have one, and they’re not dying because of it. We keep hearing about the necessity of hard choices: here’s one.

The key is to think long-term and not to rush toward slash-and-burn fixes. More than any other level of government, municipal public services are directly tied to economic success. We can’t afford to risk that.

Aug 11

Ford For Toronto on NewsTalk 1010

Councillor Josh Matlow’s debuted his new radio show “The City” on Sunday, airing right in the middle of your dial on NewsTalk 1010. He was gracious enough to ask me to stop by for a quick segment to discuss my City Council Scorecard. These four minutes — which I shared with Matlow, Giorgio Mammoliti and Shelley Carroll — mark my radio debut. I think it went okay.

Matt Elliott on “The City” "Matt Elliott on “The City”"

Download MP3

Matlow’s show is certainly worth a listen. He plans to have two councillors on with him every week, discussing a mix of city-wide issues and local stories. Next week’s show will see budget chief Mike Del Grande on with Sarah Doucette. “The City” airs live every Sunday from 1 to 3 p.m., or you can download the podcast.

Jul 11

Despite what Mammoliti says, there’s no reason to defund Pride

So Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti is making the media rounds, talking excitedly about the great footage he shot at the Saturday Dyke March that will, he says, make for a slam-dunk case for withholding this year’s Pride funding.

What’s on the tape? The Toronto Star’s Robyn Doolittle has the details:

The 17-minutes of tape, which Mammoliti plans to edit down, shows about 30 parade marchers expressing pro-Palestinian opinions. Some carry a “Free Palestine” banner. Others call for a boycott of Israeli products. Others chant “End the occupation.” Some are not marching in the parade, but are standing at the sidelines.

via Pride funding in jeopardy after Mammoliti video gets rise from City – thestar.com.

Quick sidebar: I love that he plans to “edit down” his footage. He should use iMovie. Add some transitions — star wipes — and background music. Really make a show of it.

So, okay, he’s got footage of 30 or so people doing politicized things as part of a Pride event. Is that enough to justify withholding Pride funding? I’d argue that it isn’t. In fact, I would argue that the City of Toronto, as an agency that entered into a good faith agreement with Pride Toronto to provide money and services for the week-long event, has no grounds to even consider withholding funding for Pride 2011. Money was committed and Pride Toronto displayed Toronto’s logo as an event supporter. The only condition of the deal — that no participant violate the City’s anti-discrimination policy — was most assuredly upheld. To renege on the deal at this point isn’t just bad politics — it’s bad business.

But let’s ignore all that and focus on Mammoliti’s arguments. To have even a shred of credibility on this issue, he needs to prove a couple of things. First, that Pride Toronto was derelict in their duty by allowing these participants to march. Second, that Queers Against Israeli Apartheid broke their word and participated in an official Pride event, despite promises that they would not.

Based on the facts we have at hand, neither appears to be true. The group that marched on Saturday was “Dykes and Trans People for Palestine.” QuAIA’s actions were limited to dropping a banner at the Sunday Pride parade, something they seem to be very proud of. While the group that marched on Saturday did express solidarity with QuAIA, it’s ludicrous to the point of insanity to expect that any event organizer can or should be held accountable for the behaviour of every single person in attendance. That would be like holding the Leafs responsible for the behaviour of their fans at hockey games.

Jun 11

Mammoliti on Jarvis Lanes: “Everybody has the right to use the road”

During the 2009 debate over the removal of the reversible fifth lane on Jarvis Street — which, of course, led to the Jarvis Street Bike Lanes — Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti stood on the floor of City Council and gave an impassioned — if slightly confusing at times — speech supporting the narrowing of Jarvis Street. Specifically, he said that lower speeds will be good for businesses along the stretch. He praised Councillor Kyle Rae for his work bringing the project forward, and scolded councillors who were critical of the plan. “Get off your rear ends,” he told opposition councillors. “When someone goes down to party on [a narrowed and revitalized] Jarvis Street, they’re going to say what a wonderful street Jarvis is.”

He calls for the end of the oft-fiery debate between “the rights of drivers and cyclists,” telling council that “he doesn’t like that argument because I think everybody has the right to use the road.”

YouTube user HOOFandCYCLE was kind enough to post video of Mammoliti’s remarks. I’ve also transcribed the speech below. Any errors are my own.

Madame Speaker, I want to give some examples of what I would consider human nature, I guess. And that is… — when many of us go to restaurants we tend to look into the restaurant and tend to wonder how busy it might be and how popular it might be. And we tend to go into the restaurants — if we don’t know them quite well — that are loaded with people. The ones that seem to be busy. The ones that seem to be a little crazy.

The ones that are empty we usually say, “Well, the food might not be very good here. And I don’t think I’m going to take the chance.”

When we go to shows and concerts, we usually go to concerts that are the busiest with the most people — blah blah blah blah blah

Night clubs? Lineups out the door? Those are the ones we choose to go in because there must be something special with respect to this nightclub and the amount of people that must be going through.

(Another Councillor asks “What’s the point?”)

My point is — that I’m trying to make — is, that for some reason, the busier the street, the more popular it becomes. The slower a street, with respect with how people move through, the more popular it becomes.

In fact, I believe that if traffic is at a standstill, then businesses actually thrive on those streets. A prime example of that — you remember Yonge Street? Years ago? How congested it was? How you could not move on Yonge Street? The store owners on Yonge Street absolutely loved it. They didn’t want the traffic to go through quickly. They felt that that contributed to their success.

And around the world, that is the case. That, in fact, if you attempt to slow down traffic — in whatever manner — it becomes more popular for the pedestrian who does a lot of shopping. And it becomes a lot more popular for cyclists — yes, it does.

And why don’t we want to take a page from some of the successful cities that have learned from their experiences? That’s all that some of us are saying here. I’m saying it because I believe in that model. I think it actually does create business.

Jarvis, if you drive down, is very fast. Somebody has mentioned — I think it was Councillor McConnell who mentioned it in her speech — that traffic is actually very fast, at times, on Jarvis. And it’s time to slow it down.

So you slow it down by proposing to remove a lane, and, yes, you slow it down as well for people to pay attention to others that are using that street and sidewalks. Whether it’s pedestrians or the cyclists that now will be using Jarvis.

When we all go for our license, and the privilege of having a vehicle license — whether that’s car, or a bicycle license — one of the first things you’re taught about is cyclists. Use your rearview mirrors, watch our for cyclists, be careful. You’re at fault even if the cyclist does something wrong. You’re at fault.

And so, now the debate becomes the debate between the difference in rights between someone who is driving a vehicle and the cyclists. That’s what I’ve been hearing. And I don’t like that argument because I think everybody has the right to use the road.

And I said it it earlier when I stood that cyclists don’t have any other options. They can only use the road. They can’t use the sidewalks. So what is the debate about today — seriously? Some have pointed out that it costs money, and saying that perhaps we should be fixing other roads before this one. Is that the argument today?

Or is the argument about a fundamental logic that you don’t like cyclists on the road? Why don’t we be honest about that if it is?

Now Councillor Rae has worked this into his equation and he must be patted on the back for doing that. And it takes work to put this into any equation. To try and get lanes — cycle lanes — in your communities is a hard task. So might it be that some other councillors don’t want to work as hard, and when they find somebody doing [something] they want to hide behind policy and say, “It’s because of the policy. We shouldn’t be straying from it. How dare we do that?”

Get up off your rear ends and do the same thing.

And if it isn’t about bike lanes, do something else. Take on your own pet project. And don’t just sit at City Hall and try to change people’s minds and create scenarios in the back rooms. Spend some time in your communities and change the flavour of your communities. Councillor Rae is suggesting to change the flavour on Jarvis — and it will.

And then when everyone wants to go down to party on Jarvis, they’re going to say what a wonderful street Jarvis is. It’s so wonderful. At that point, who’s going to be around to remind everyone that perhaps it was the local councillor that changed the way things are done. Perhaps it’s someone who actually stood up and actually cared for his community and cared for the voices — yes, the voices — that I hear everyday.

So when Councillor Holyday stands up and says he’s in Etobicoke and he never sees any cyclists, well — I do. And I think most of us do who are in the West district. And I don’t know where [Holday is] coming from.

Perhaps the cyclists that aren’t there get the feeling that the politicians don’t want them there. And that’s probably why they’re not using our streets. I say something different — I say let’s make sure that we try to get them out there as well.

It’s not just about the Humber River [trail], as someone pointed out, it’s also about encouraging people to use the roads. Encouraging them and wanting them to do it, and not saying they’re excluded because [other councillors] believe some policy needs to be changed or [that] maybe we should be fixing another road somewhere in Scarborough before we do something like this.


Less than a year after making these remarks and voting to approve installation of the bike lanes, Mammoliti reversed course. As part of his abortive campaign for mayor, he told The Toronto Star’s Robyn Doolittle “When I’m the mayor of the City of Toronto, if they succeed with these bike lanes, I will take them down — and that will be the first thing that I do.”

Mammoliti, now one of the most loyal Ford supporters on Council, will undoubtedly vote to remove the Jarvis Street bike lanes when the item comes before council at next month’s meeting.

He has yet to offer a credible explanation for why he changed his mind.

Jun 11

Mammoliti, other councillors face serious audit requests

After making waves with a pretty-damn-serious request for an audit of Mayor Rob Ford’s campaign expenses, Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler turned up the dial last week, debuting a new advocacy group — Fair Elections Toronto — and launching eight additional requests for campaign audits against several councillors and defeated council candidates.

Steve Kupferman with Torontoist:

A group calling itself Fair Elections Toronto is asking for audits of four sitting councillors, whom they accuse of having violated campaign finance laws during the 2010 municipal election.

Comprised of about 25 members and led by activist and Toronto Public Library Board vice-chair Adam Chaleff-Freudenthaler, Fair Elections Toronto alleges that Giorgio Mammoliti (Ward 7, York West), James Pasternak (Ward 10, York Centre), Michael Thompson (Ward 37, Scarborough Centre), and Doug Ford (Ward 2, Etobicoke North) all improperly classified expenses incurred during their campaigns as being for “fundraising functions,” in amounts ranging from $4,000 to $17,000.

via Doug Ford, Giorgio Mammoliti, and Other Councillors Facing Calls for Campaign Audits – Torontoist.

The most serious allegations fall against Mammoliti, who is accused of exceeding spending limits by more than 50%. If, over the course of the audit process, it is determined that the Mammoliti campaigning knowingly overspent — listing non-fundraising expenses as fundraising expenses, which are exempt from the limit — he could very well be removed from office.

Knowingly overspending in an election campaign isn’t just a minor administrative error. It’s tantamount to cheating.

The Star’s Daniel Dale has more on the Mammoliti situation:

“When you file an audited financial statement without a name and a date or a title for each one of the expenses claimed, it really stretches my willingness to believe it was a good-faith error,” Chaleff-Freudenthaler said.

Mammoliti said he had done “everything according to the law.” And he lashed out at Chaleff-Freudenthaler and his colleagues.

“We’ve got no concerns at all,” Mammoliti said, “except the fact that we think this is a bit of a conspiracy going on with a few individuals wanting to get to the right-leaning councillors. That’s not really what this structure was put together for. So we’re looking at actually suing the individuals that are doing this.”

via Mammoliti alleges ‘conspiracy’ over audit requests – thestar.com.

When your first line of defence against an allegation is to claim that there’s a conspiracy against you, you know you’re in deep trouble. (A much better line of defence for Mammoliti would have been to produce details, including a date and location, of the fundraising event in question. But maybe that would just be playing into the conspiracists’ hands.)

Fair Elections Toronto’s biggest challenge through this process will be to convince skeptics that their actions are not politically-motivated. That all the sitting councillors targeted for audit happen to be allied with the mayor is difficult to ignore.

But either way, these allegations are serious regardless of motivation. Municipal elections are tooth-and-nail, grassroots efforts, where every dollar spent and every vote cast matters. Allegations that Councillor James Pasternak overspent by a mere $2,500 may seem trivial, for example, until you consider that he won Ward 10 by only 382 votes, garnering less than 20% of the popular vote. A hundred fewer signs or flyers and that race could have easily gone a different way.

Those claiming that these allegations are politically-motivated also have to contend with the fact that Fair Elections Toronto seems sincerely devoted to the idea of reforming the Municipal Elections Act. The Reform page on their site outlines four changes to the Act that would improve accountability and fairness, and justifies the necessity of the current round of audit requests:

Litigating complaints against candidates who, we allege, broke election laws is only the first step in bringing fair elections to Toronto. Fundamental changes need to be made to the Municipal Elections Act to increase accountability and transparency, eliminate the gray areas that candidates systemically exploit, and better reflect the realities of big city elections. As the City of Toronto’s Auditor General reported following the 2006 election, 29 of 45 councillors broke election laws in one way or another. While we have only filed audit requests on the four councillors we believe gained a material advantage from Municipal Elections Act violations, we believe that the culture of non-compliance that was identified in 2006 remains today.

via Reform | Fair Elections Toronto.

Regardless of outcome, the audit process and legal proceedings are expected to drag out for quite some time.

May 11

Mammoliti pretends city can withhold Pride funding if QuAIA participates

On Tuesday, the city’s Executive Committee — after a really awkward and largely unnecessary meeting — decided to accept the City Manager’s report that the phrase “Queers Against Israeli Apartheid” does not violate the city’s anti-discrimination policy. Despite rumours and threats, Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti did not move some kind of ridiculous and hard-to-enforce motion that would require Pride Toronto to write a letter promising that QuAIA would not take part in the parade.

Afterwards, Mammoliti played tough with his warnings, as reported by the Toronto Sun’s Don Peat:

“If QuAIA surfaces and does their thing and if Pride doesn’t attempt to squash them, then I will be moving forward, as some others, to hold the funding,” Mammoliti said.

The decision means the status quo stays in place but allows councillors the option of going after funding if the group takes place, Mammoliti said.

Council agreed last yeart to withhold Pride funding until after the parade in case QuAIA participated.

via Pride Toronto clears city hurdle | Toronto & GTA | News | Toronto Sun.

Except that isn’t true. The motion councillors agreed to last year said this:

City Council direct that funding for Pride Toronto be paid after the parade and be conditional upon Pride Toronto requiring all registered participants to comply with the City of Toronto’s Anti-Discrimination Policy.

Notice that the motion says nothing specific about QuAIA whose message, it’s been ruled, does not violate the city’s anti-discrimination policy.

Without an additional motion or a change to the city’s anti-discrimination policy, my read on this is that the city has no recourse to deny Pride Toronto its funding this year, even if QuAIA participates.

May 11

The Cover of QuAIA: Why is Rob Ford avoiding Pride events?

In a few hours, the city’s executive committee will discuss EX6.21, “Compliant with the City of Toronto’s Anti-Discriminaion Policy.” By definition, this item amounts to little more than a staff recommendation that the executive committee receive a city report “for information.” In practice, however, this items presents an opportunity for someone — likely Giorgio Mammoliti — to attempt to pull city funding for this year’s Pride event.

This all stems from the potential participation of the Queers Against Israeli Apartheid group. Though they’ve promised not to march in the parade this year, the Toronto Sun’s Don Peat reports that, for Mammoliti, that’s not good enough:

Mammoliti vowed that if the group takes part in Pride — and they’re is outrage — he will move to strip the city’s portion of funding.

“If the group shows up and people get upset in the city then it becomes a political decision on whether or not the funding should continue,” he added.

Ask if he’s worried he and Ford will be accused of being homophobic if they try to stop Pride funding, Mammoliti shrugged.

“It’s not about being homophobic, it’s about taking care of taxpayers’ dollars and where they should be going, they shouldn’t be going to help spread hatred,” he said.

via Pride funding controversy heats up | Home | Toronto Sun.

The whole thing is ridiculous, of course. Whatever your feelings on QuAIA and their message, the city doesn’t get to dictate a cultural group’s actions and associations simply because they feel like it. A $128,000 cultural grant isn’t much of a ransom when you consider the millions upon millions of economic activity the city would forfeit if Pride disappeared from the city’s event calendar.

The issue was dead the moment staff ruled that the phrase “Israeli Apartheid” didn’t violate the city’s anti-discrimination policy.

The far more interesting story in all of this is the mayor’s continued disregard for the city’s gay community. In addition to his checkered voting record at council, in recent weeks Ford has skipped two major Pride-related events. And before apologists pull out the argument that says the mayor is busy and can’t be expected to attend every event in this city, it must be pointed out that both these events took place at City Hall. A token appearance would have required the mayor only to make a short trip from his office.

The first snub was bad but somewhat forgivable. Taking place on a Monday evening, the “Proud of Toronto” ceremony was part of the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia. There were no major meetings at City Hall that day, so it’s possible the mayor was tied up in another part of the city.

It’s the second snub, coming the day after, that’s less defensible. Taking place during the lunch break on the first day of last week’s City Council meeting, this short event saw the raising of a flag on the roof of City Hall by PFLAG — the Parents & Friends of Lesbians & Gays. The headline speaker was Brian Burke, the General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs and father of the late Brendan Burke.

The event seemed a natural fit for our mayor. Restrained, respectful, and tangentially related to a major sports team, it’s challenging to even come up with reasons why he wouldn’t make an appearance. Toronto is not a city with a large anti-gay voting bloc, and even for those social conservatives that do exist, where are they going to take their support? The mayor loses no political capital with his base by showing up, shaking hands, and posing for a quick photo.

Calling someone homophobic is a harsh accusation in this day and age, and probably too weighty for this set of circumstances. But the mayor’s actions — or lack thereof — have given the label far more plausibility than it should have. It’s time for the mayor to stop hiding behind the pretenses of the QuAIA controversy and make at least a token gesture to the queer community in this city.

A leisurely downtown stroll during Pride week would be a good place to start. But, oh, he says he might be busy that day.

May 11

Berardinetti doing all she can to fly under the radar

One of the opposition’s many victories at council last week came on Thursday, when councillors voted 18 to 17 to use ultraviolet light technology at the Ashbridges Bay treatment plant. Staff had recommended the city use the same chlorine process they use at other treatment facilities which, plainly, sucks for the environment.

Though Giorgio Mammoliti gave the item his trademark thumbs down, it still passed narrowly. Helped along by the ten councillors who were absent at the time of the vote — six of whom would, presumably, have sided with the mayor and Mammoliti’s thumb –, the deciding vote came from a somewhat unlikely source.

The Toronto Sun’s Don Peat:

While Ford and his loyalists tried to sway the vote, a member of his own executive committee, Councillor Michelle Berardinetti, cast the deciding vote for the costlier option.

Berardinetti told the Sun Friday she felt the UV technology made sense.

“Is it a notch up? I think that it is,” she said.

But knowing now that she was the deciding vote, Berardinetti, a budget committee member, said she probably would have voted differently.

via City opts for costlier, cleaner way to treat water | Toronto & GTA | News | Toronto Sun. [Emphasis added.]

First: What kind of politician admits to the media that their vote on an important environmental measure would have been different, had said politician known the measure was actually going to pass?

Second: I hope the residents of Ward 35 are proud of their councillor, who stands by her principles but only when she’s pretty sure her vote won’t make a difference.

Third, and confidential to Berardinetti: From what we’ve seen, we rather like your principles. I understand that the politician calculations you’re making hinge on a number of things — the mayor’s huge support among your constituents, your husband’s electoral future, and the committee seats you’ve been given by the mayor’s office — but why even hold the office if not to stand up for what you believe in?

May 11

VIDEO: Giorgio Mammoliti on Drag Queens

During today’s council meeting, Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti rose to speak on item EX5.3, the elimination of citizen advisory committees. After submitting a motion that would refer the item to the mayor’s office for independent consideration, Rob Ford’s self-professed “quarterback” was questioned by Councillor Gord Perks. And then this happened:

The drag queen visit in question happened last week, as part of the awareness campaign for the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, which was celebrated Monday with a ceremony at City Hall. Mammoliti did not attend.

Apr 11

“Vaughan amendment” wreaks havoc on city boards and agencies

Motion to Reconsider Item 2011.EX4.7
The recorded votes on Gloria Lindsay Luby’s motion to reconsider Adam Vaughan’s amendment. 29 votes were needed to re-open the item.

By most accounts — including mine –, council’s left-wing opposition won a major victory last week when they successfully passed an amendment to an Executive Committee motion that would have eliminated some council positions on several of the city’s boards and agencies. The amendment, moved by Adam Vaughan, called for a minimum membership of 11 on all such boards, including three members of council and one designate of the mayor. This passed 24-19, despite a Mammoliti thumbs down.

The victory was marked by a clerical error, as it was realized it applied far too broadly — to neighbourhood BIAs and arena boards other such things. Gloria Lindsay Luby moved that Council reconsider the amendment to fix the area, but Mammoliti again whipped the vote and her motion failed. (See above.)

And so today we have an unfortunate briefing note from staff relating to the matter, that attempts to make sense of the logistics of filling an incredible 319 newly-created positions on 107 of the city’s boards. Of these, 103 of the positions are to be filled by the mayor or his designates, 169 are to be councillors nominated by the striking committee and approved by council, and 47 are trapped in a mysterious void. No one is sure who is supposed to fill these positions, or how they should be appointed.

For his part, Mammoliti has been spinning this as a good thing. He told InsideToronto’s David Nickle that he is “certainly looking forward to sitting on the Dundas Square BIA,” which is not a thing that actually exists. There’s also something about ‘gravy googles’:

“I’m certainly looking forward to sitting on the Dundas Square BIA,” said Mammoliti. “So in an attempt by Vaughan to detract from the mayor’s agenda, I think he’s increased the value of the agenda.”

Mammoliti said “The gravy goggles will come on and we’ll wear them in the appointments we get on these other agencies, boards and commissions.”

via InsideToronto Article: Debate focuses on size of boards, councillor commitments.

I assume the gravy googles he refers to would be worn to identify and then eliminate gravy. They would probably not be goggles made of literal gravy. (Viscosity would be a problem, and also the optics.)

It’s challenging to determine reasons why councillors would vote against Luby’s motion to re-open the item and fix the mistake, aside from vindictiveness and spite. Appointing more than 300 new board members across the city certainly doesn’t fit with the mayor’s “small government” mandate.