Jul 11

The annotated Rob Ford: notes on the mayor’s interview with CP24 (VIDEO)

The mayor was on CP24 this past Friday for a rare sit-down interview. Unfortunately, the journalist sitting down with Rob Ford was one-time mayoral candidate and aspiring softball pitcher Stephen LeDrew, who didn’t give the mayor much in the way of challenging questions.

Still, Ford’s statements on a variety of important issues are notable for the number of outright falsehoods and misperceptions they contain. Standing on the shoulders of giants like The Grid’s Edward Keenan, who ran a Fact Check column relating to this interview on Friday afternoon, I’ve put together an edited version of the mayor’s interview, pointing out the moments where he departed from the truth.

I call it the annotated Rob Ford. You can watch it below.

Some notes:

First, this is a six-minute edit of a twenty-minute interview. The editing process by its very nature removes context. To be objective, readers should also watch the full version of the interview at CP24 before they make any conclusions.

00:00:35 — The top three priorities identified by Toronto residents comes from Page 4 of KPMG’s summary of the Core Service Review Public Consultation process. Note also that the item given the least priority was “Fair and affordable taxes.”

00:00:55 — The KMPG report lists “Detailed analysis of services to identify efficiency and effectiveness opportunities” as “Out of Scope” on page four of the introductory document. The report does note that an efficiency study could take place at a later date, as a separate report.

00:01:22 — The KPMG report to the Public Works & Infrastructure Committee lists Solid Waste Management Services as having a net budget of 0 on page 12.

00:01:25 — Council voted to send an RFQ out to tender for solid waste collection (and a few other services) west of Yonge Street at the May Council meeting. The quotations will come back to Council for approval, probably early next year.

00:01:29 — Edward Keenan, writing for The Grid: “The right to strike in Canada is considered a constitutionally protected right (as it is in every other large democracy in the world), and contracting out garbage collection does not take away anyone’s right to form a union, bargain collectively or go on strike.”

00:01:42 — See note for 00:00:35.

00:02:17 — Quote is from the Toronto Star. David Rider recently dredged up the quote and discussed its ramifications.

00:02:43 — In fact, most of the grants Ford dismisses as unjustifiable are for programs that help needy people. They include organizations like the Rexdale Women’s Centre, the Crime Prevention Association of Toronto and the New Canadian Community Centre. The Toronto Star’s Daniel Dale has a partial list.

00:03:00 — The City of Toronto’s own website for the Toronto Atmospheric Fund is probably the best resource for information on the fund, its history and the benefits it brings to Toronto.

00:03:28 — Per KPMG’s report to the Public Works & Infrastrucutre Committee on page 39: “Consider reducing snow plowing and snow removal standards on residential streets.”

00:03:48 — The only scenario in which Ford’s claim makes sense is if we include some of the new off-road recreational paths that are to be added as part of the plan, but those serve an entirely different purpose than on-road bike lanes. The Agenda Item History for the 2011 Bike Plan is available online and details which lanes were added and which were removed. The Plan does float the idea of new lanes, notably on Richmond or Adelaide Street, but those are only being studied at this point.

00:04:09 – See page 17 of the 2011 Bike Plan Staff Report for details on traffic levels on Jarvis Street before and after installation of the bike lanes. You can also read my FAQ on Jarvis Street.

00:04:33 — It’s not true at the moment, at least. If Ford enthusiastically supports separated bike lanes on Richmond Street, for example, his statement would have more weight.

00:04:44 — It really isn’t true. See note for 00:03:48.

00:04:55 — As per “Mayor Ford votes against all community grants” in the Toronto Star.

00:05:15 — Ford skipped both the traditional Pride flag-raising kicking off the event, which took place steps from his office. He was touring the Air Canada Centre at the time. He also skipped an earlier flag-raising held by the Parents & Friends of Lesbians & Gays, which was presided over by Leafs GM Brian Burke.

00:05:40 — Per the Toronto Star’s “Ford expected to plow surplus into 2011 budget” by Robyn Doolittle: “Mayor Rob Ford is planning to use the city’s one-time surplus to help balance his 2011 budget, avoiding unpopular service cuts and delivering on a property tax freeze, say members of the executive and budget committees.”


Apr 11

City Hall Secrecy

The Toronto Sun’s Don Peat reports on a funny exchange between Gord Perks and city staff after he and Shelley Carroll were ejected from a media briefing relating to today’s garbage announcement. Apparently councillors were allowed to send a staffer, but were not permitted to attend themselves:

[City spokesperson Jackie] DeSouza and [general manger of Solid Waste Services Geoff] Rathbone then went to talk privately. When they came back, DeSouza said if Perks stayed, they would have to call off the briefing.

“It’s not fair that we told other councillors that they can’t come,” she said.

Perks agreed, partly.

“No, you’re right, it’s not fair you told councillors that they can’t come,” he said.

via Councillors booted from garbage briefing | Toronto & GTA | News | Toronto Sun.

It’s a weird situation — shouldn’t councillors be briefed before the media?

Feb 11

A leader’s responsibility to talk to the media

At Spacing, John Lorinc writes a brutal open letter to Ford’s press secretary regarding the mayor’s total evasiveness with the media since he took office:

We are told by official sources that Toronto’s mayor is, indeed, Rob Ford. But he is nowhere to be seen, and he says nothing. He will not publicly defend, much less champion, the policy positions that swept him into office, and this despite years of service as an extraordinarily outspoken city councilor who rarely shied away from a microphone or camera. We are forced to run to brother Doug to get a taste of the mayor’s positions. But he’s an unsatisfying and, frankly, unqualified surrogate.

via LORINC: One Question for Adrienne Batra, Mayor Rob Ford’s press secretary « Spacing Toronto.

I touched on this before. I agree fully with Lorinc that Ford’s attitude towards the media is insulting and totally incongruous with his “I’m here for you” public service image. That the Mayor of Toronto has refused to speak with the most widely read newspaper in Toronto since last summer is something that should bother a lot of people.

Still, though, as much as I love Lorinc for writing this, I tend to side more with Rob Granatstein’s view. At this point in Canadian political culture, there does not seem to be a big downside to ducking or avoiding the media. In fact, being elusive allows politicians to better control their message. Similarly, being really open with the media doesn’t seem to lead to great things either: only more scrutiny.

Don’t get me wrong: this is a very sad state of affairs. I wish there was a way to change things. But until there is, I can’t fault Adrienne Batra for playing it this way.

Jan 11

Talking to the media is for suckers

David Nickle with InsideToronto:

[T]he Ford administration has so far been marked by a distinct absence of regular media availability – as was his mayoralty campaign, conducted more over YouTube and automated telephone calls than anything involving direct access.

via InsideToronto Article: THE CITY: Mayor Ford engages in the pursuit of accountability.

Call it the Stephen Harper strategy. For whatever reason, avoiding the media has been a very successful move of late for politicians. Their popularity doesn’t suffer and they get to control their message through media releases. Plus, when the hard-to-reach politicians finally DO grant an interview the outlets slobber all over themselves and ask softball questions because they’re so grateful jut to have access for once.

It sounds like I’m whining but I don’t think I am. I’m… lamenting, maybe. Honestly it’s been such a successful strategy for some conservative politicians that progressive politicians might as well imitate the behaviour and start freezing out the media too.