Posts Tagged: giorgio mammoliti

Apr 11

Pride and Prejudice and Revisionist History

Since last week’s announcement from Queers Against Israeli Apartment stating that they would not march in this year’s Pride parade, some have advanced the idea that we shouldn’t trust QuAIA or Pride because they pulled a tricky bait-and-switch last year, where Pride temporarily banned the controversial group, accepted the city’s money, then unbanned QuAIA and allowed them into the parade.

The National Post’s Matt Gurney is guilty of doing this an incredible THREE times over the course of the last week: here, here, and finally here.

Even the mayor is mistaken about the nature of the motion council adopted last year, as reported in My Town Crier by Kris Scheuer.

If the organization doesn’t participate, then Ford said that Pride Toronto can still get a city grant of about $125,000.

“Last year council agreed if they don’t (participate), they (Pride) will get their money after the parade. That’s what we agreed on,” the mayor said at an April 15 media scrum. “If (Queers Against Israeli Apartheid) does march in the parade (Pride) won’t get their money.”

via Funding fracas – TownNEWS – – the online home of Toronto’s Town Crier Group of Community Newspapers.

For the record, there is no such agreement in place. There never was. Council has never even considered a motion that would specifically ban QuAIA from the parade.

Two items came before council last year related to this issue, both moved by Giorgio Mammoliti. First, he attempted to ensure that Pride Toronto enforced the City of Toronto’s anti-discrimination policy if it wanted to continue to receive city funds. When that got punted to the executive committee and then ruled redundant after Pride announced they would tighten review standards for parade participants, Mammoliti later moved a second motion that made Pride’s funding contingent on their being compliant with the city’s anti-discrimination policy — the city would only deliver funds after the parade. This passed 36-1.

This is why the news last week that staff had ruled that the phrase ‘Israel Apartheid’ did not violate the anti-discrimination policy was so important. It makes the motion irrelevant, at least as far as QuAIA goes. Without adopting a new motion that explicitly bans QuAIA, Council has no grounds to deny Pride funding this year, even if the group does march.

Apr 11

Team Ford loses vote, takes ball home

Confusion marked the end of today’s city council meeting, coming after a morning where everybody was best friends and also a little bit Jamaican. The drama began when the Executive Committee motion that would change the make-up of the city’s boards and agencies was amended by left-wing councillors. Surprisingly, these amendments were passed by council despite the Fords and Mammoliti attempting to whip the vote.

The Globe & Mail’s Patrick White:

Mr. Vaughan’s amendment, which passed 24-19, sets minimum sizes for all municipal boards, commissions and corporations at 11 members, including at least three city councillors. It spoiled a motion spearheaded by the executive committee, a group heavily stacked with Ford loyalists, that would have shrunk the boards of several cultural organizations down to nine and trimmed the number of councillors on the city’s library board to one from three.

A hush of disbelief fell over council chambers after the vote as Mr. Ford and his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, huddled over a screen displaying the names of council members who sided against them.

via A victory for left-leaning bloc of Toronto council – The Globe and Mail.

White also quotes Vaughan after-the-fact: “That was our best day yet.”

Unfortunately, Vaughan’s amendment had an unintended consequence, in that it applied too broadly. Under the wording, even BIAs and arena boards would require representation from three city councillors.

After losing the vote, Team Ford got vindictive and refused to allow the item to be re-opened so that it could be amended to fix the error. A two-thirds majority was required to bring the item before council again — the vote was lost 26-17, as reported by Jonathan Goldsbie. Which would seem to indicate that there are roughly 17 hardcore ready-whip votes available.

Giorgio Mammoliti then embarrassed himself in interviews, pulling the ‘I meant to do that’ card and claiming that this will, I guess, serve as a lesson to left-wing councillors not to mess with the executive committee’s agenda items:

“In an attempt by Vaughan to detract from the mayor’s agenda, I think he’s increased the value of the agenda,” Mr. Mammoliti said. “I think next time they stand up and try to move a motion, just for the sake of moving a motion, they are going to think twice because this has really backfired on them.”

Yeah, that makes sense.

Mar 11

A ploy named sue: Lawsuits over lawsuits over lawsuits

This story of lawsuits over lawsuits over lawsuits gets complicated fast. Let’s start with Daniel Dale at the Toronto Star:

Deputy mayor Doug Holyday personally sued the city to challenge a controversial 2008 council decision to use taxpayer money to cover two councillors’ campaign-related legal fees. He said he was willing to take a financial hit to stand up for an important principle.

He won. But now, more than a year after he filed the lawsuit, he is asking council to use taxpayer money to cover most of his own legal fees.

via Holyday wants city aid to pay for lawsuit against city –

Here’s what I can gather: Current councillor Giorgio Mammoliti and former councillor Adrian Heaps successfully defended themselves against allegations related to their campaigns following the 2006 election. (Heaps was actually sued for libel by Michelle Berardinetti, who went on to defeat him in the 2010 election.) City Council, ignoring the advice of the City Solicitor, voted to pay for these legal costs. Doug Holyday got mad about this and brought his own lawsuit against the city, alleging that it was improper for the city to pay for legal costs related to things that happened when Heaps and Mammoliti were acting as candidates, not councillors. He won.

Now Holyday is asking that the city reimburse him for his legal bills. The bills he racked up suing the city over his belief that they had wrongly paid legal bills.

It gets weirder: The Toronto Party, a weird right-wing organization that ran a slate of candidates in the fall (none of whom did very well), in response to Holyday’s request, is now threatening to sue the city if they pay Holyday’s legal bills.

The Toronto Party, which has used its website as a platform to rail against this kind of thing repeatedly, also released a newsletter in February asking for donations to cover its own legal costs. (Left column.) So you can help pay their legal bills, if you want to contribute to this twisted Hall of Mirrors.

In short: a political organization is threatening to sue a councillor if he persuades the city to reimburse him for money he spent suing the city over their reimbursement of legal expenses for councillors. Someone should probably diagram all of this.

Mar 11

Pleasure Island

David Rider talks to Giorgio Mammoliti, who is once again pushing the idea that there should be a Red Light District on Toronto Island:

“To put it in an area away from the city might make some sense, and the islands fit the bill,” he said. “The industry exists and we’re not making a penny from it . . . I haven’t raised it with the mayor and his people yet, but I will.”

Asked if a red light district would take away from the island’s wholesome family vibe, he responded: “I’m not sure how wholesome it is with the whole nude beach,” referring to clothing-optional Hanlan’s Point Beach. “If you look hard enough, you’ll find somebody without pants on.”

via Mammoliti renews push for Toronto Island brothels –

I don’t believe he has ever been to Toronto Island.

If we’re going to look at a Red Light District, maybe it should be located near Mammoliti’s giant flag pole.

Mar 11

Memo to Councillors: Stop the gravy train, turn off data roaming

Councillor expense reports for 2010 were posted online yesterday, which of course immediately led to no less than four articles in the Toronto Sun by Reporter Don Peat. All of them are boring. Kelly Grant at the Globe & Mail at least has a bit of fun with it, noting the handwritten outrage on Mayor Ford’s staff cellphone bill which I found hilarious last night. The Toronto Star’s David Rider gets points for actually uncovering something newsworthy in this whole exercise, pointing out that Case Ootes’ office paid for another candidate’s election expenses. I move that we dissolve the TCHC board in light of these allegations.

The item that most concerned me looking through these numbers, however, was just how much of the city pays to Rogers, Bell and Telus through ever-escalating smartphone bills. I get that communication is a critical part of being a city councillor — and I’d never advocate they use something as outdated as a GoldsbiePhone — but the number of times the city got stuck with huge data and roaming overages is crazy.

Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti's office paid more than $1500 in charges for international data roaming last year. Above is a section from his March 2010 invoice.

For example: Giorgio Mammoliti, who is the worst offender, spent $16,140.50 in ‘Telecom charges’ over the course of the year. This represents nearly half of all his office expenses in 2010. (For comparison’s sake, the average councillor seemed to spend about $2,000 on Telecom charges  last year.)

In March, Councillor Mammoliti used 7MB of cellular data while roaming in the U.S. This cost $234.60. In December, he used 6.7MB of data, costing another $202. His former Executive Assistant, Anthony Cesario, used 13.4MB of international data in January and 20.7MB in May. These two overages cost a combined $1,021.65.

For those not well-versed in the language of nerd, these are very small amounts of data — representing a few emails or webpages in most cases. Yes, this is insane. The absurdly high rates we pay for international data both here and in the United States has been called legal theft.

Mammoliti wasn’t the only councillor to face these kinds of ridiculous fees. Peter Milczyn was billed $77.92 for 9MB of data use in January. Mark Grimes was dinged $81.08 in fees in September. (He also spent $50 on Picture & Video Messages.) Shelley Carroll saw a $279 data charge in December, while Ron Moeser faced a $153 data roaming fee the same month.

Several councillors also paid per-text-message fees, instead of signing up for a bundle plan, which is significantly cheaper.

This doesn’t add up to a ton of money when you look a things in terms of a ten billion dollar operating budget, but it is probably something the city could stand to look into. At the very least, ensuring that councillors are on sensible monthly billing plans that don’t result in continued overages would be a worthwhile move. There’s not a lot the city can do in terms of the high cost of US/international data, but a quick workshop explaining how damn expensive those rates are and showing councillors how to disable data roaming might help.

Another fun IT-type note on councillor expenses, illustrating if nothing else the eclectic nature of this political body: Someone in Denzil Minnan-Wong’s office has a 3G-enabled iPad, while Anthony Peruzza still bills the city five bucks a month so his assistant can have a pager.

Mar 11

Ex-TCHC board member Mammoliti: in my defence, I skipped all the morning meetings

In an interview with the Toronto Star’s Daniel Dale, Giorgio Mammoliti, who sat on the TCHC Board from 2001 until recently, embarrasses the hell out of himself in a weird attempt to disassociate himself from the ongoing scandal:

“The mayor wants a change at the board,” he said, “and I agree with the mayor that there should be a change at the board. I never asked for the board to go, I just agreed with the mayor.”

via Mammoliti: I was a ‘responsible’ TCHC board member –

Translation: I just agree with the mayor on everything!

“A lot of this stuff that’s coming forward never even came to the board. So it’s not all the board’s responsibility,” Mammoliti said. “But — they oversee it. And when you oversee it, and there’s a change, as the mayor’s proposing to do, then that’s why I support the change.”

Translation: It wasn’t my responsibility but the mayor thinks the new board should take responsibility and I always agree with the mayor. Even though I filed a human rights complaint against him once.

This is the best part, though:

The fixtures deal, the auditor reported, was split into small increments to avoid board oversight. Mammoliti offered another reason he might never have heard about it: committees sometimes met by telephone at 8 a.m., when he was busy with his family.

“It could’ve been discussed in the morning meetings, I don’t know. I never partook in those early morning meetings because I’ve gotta take my daughter to school,” he said.

Translation: I’m not responsible for anything because the meetings were held way too early in the morning.

Feb 11

Budget debate at City Hall

Cityslikr, over at All Fired Up In the Big Smoke, has clearly spent far too much time in City Hall committee rooms the past couple of months. His post predicting the events of today’s budget debate is terrifyingly clairvoyant:

Councillor Mammoliti will rise often and patronizingly tell dissenting councillors that he understands where they’re coming from (he doesn’t) and implore them to just trust him and his newest, bestest friend, the mayor. Councillor Thompson will talk and talk and talk, sounding as if he’s not totally in the mayor’s corner but will invariably vote with him every time. Fingers crossed that councillors Palacio and DiGiorgio aren’t inclined to try and match councillors Mammoliti and Thompson verbosity for verbosity as, well, actually, let them talk. We’ll need time for the occasional pee break. Councillor Milczyn will counter every criticism of the budget with examples of atrocities committed under the Miller regime.

via Buckle Up! It’s Budget Debate Time. « All Fired Up In The Big Smoke.

He knows these people far too well.

Postscript: I included his bit about Giorgio Mammoliti because he is, for my money, the most ridiculous councillor. His list of “DID YOU KNOW?” facts is staggering. Councillor Paula Fletcher gets flagged all the time for once being leader of the Manitoba Communist Party and being married to the President of the Toronto & York Region Labour Council, but DID YOU KNOW that Mammoliti used to be head of CUPE Local 767? Or that he was an MPP for Bob Rae’s NDP government? That he opposed same-sex marriage? That he changed his name from ‘George’ to ‘Giorgio’ in 2002? That, while serving on David Miller’s Executive Committee, he filed a human rights complaint against Rob Ford, and tried to get his son to run against Ford for the Ward 2 council seat? The guy’s wikipedia page is a goldmine of intrigue.