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

Does vote on public health nurses reveal the real Rob Ford?

The Toronto Star’s Daniel Dale has more on Monday’s totally baffling Executive Committee decision to defer indefinitely a recommendation that the city accept, at no cost, two additional public health nurses, courtesy of the provincial government:

Council’s budget committee had recommended that the city accommodate the nurses by increasing the health budget by $170,000, all of which would come from the province. At Monday’s executive committee meeting, Ford asked, “How are we going to pay for these two public health nurses on an ongoing basis?”

Told by a health official that the provincial funding would continue on an ongoing basis, Ford said only, “I just want to defer this indefinitely, then.”

via Health minister criticizes Ford’s rejection of nurses – thestar.com.

Ontario Minister of Health Deb Matthews criticized the decision, noting that Toronto is the only municipality thus far to reject the province’s offer for more public health funding.

Despite sticking to a promise to record every vote made at City Council — including routine motions to provide extensions on speaking time — votes at Executive Committee are not recorded. So far, and to their credit, it’s been reported that Councillors Denzil Minnan-Wong, Mike Del Grande, Norm Kelly and Peter Milczyn voted against the mayor’s deferral motion.

Since Ford’s taken office, there’s been an effort to soften his image, portraying him less as a curmudgeon with extreme libertarian tendencies and more as a curmudgeon who, sure, is conservative but who also loves this city and if council would just join hands and work with the mayor maybe we’d all be better off.

But what if this vote — and his similar negative vote on a motion that saw the city accept $100,000 of provincial money for STI screening — reveals the real Rob Ford? Did voters really elect this mayor in the hopes that he would reject needed funds for things like public health, all in the name of ideology?

Jun 11

Public Health Nurses? No fun

The Toronto Star kicked off the week with a bizarre article by Robyn Doolittle, grouping together a collection of existing city bylaws that Ford is seeking to repeal and positing that the ultimate outcome might be a city that’s more fun:

Toronto: The Town of No Fun. The City of Rules.

Well, that might be changing thanks to Rob Ford, “Mayor of Fun,” as Councillor Michael Thompson jokingly dubbed him during a recent interview.

Before Ford came to office in December, this was the city that sent you a bill for $60 on your birthday.

Since repealing that vehicle registration fee, the mayor has talked about scrapping numerous regulations, which critics of the previous city hall regime would claim represent a nanny-state mentality.

via Will Mayor Ford put some fun into rule-obsessed Toronto? – thestar.com.

Among other things, Doolittle lists the following as things that might get in the way of fun:

  • Vehicle Registration Fee
  • Rules against cutting down trees
  • Obstructing sidewalks
  • Ban on bottled water sales in city buildings
  • The five cent plastic bag fee

The city certainly has some bylaws in place that are too restrictive — the requirement to have a paid duty police officer at a neighbourhood barbecue, for example — but it seems quite the reach to equate Rob Ford’s lazy libertarian approach to government with any kind of policy that might lead to fun.

Rob Ford dismantles government because he dislikes government. Most of the restrictions Doolittle lists were put in place as environmental safeguards. If a more fun city is the end result of their elimination, it’s not by design. It’s just collateral.

Case in point: Soon after this article was published, Rob Ford’s Executive Committee voted to defer indefinitely item BU12.7. The small item would have made an net-zero adjustment to the 2011 Approved Operating Budget of Toronto Public Health to account for the addition of two permanent public health nurses, paid for entirely by the provincial Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

Free nurses working in the city! No cost to the Toronto taxpayer! Not happening, says the Mayor. Because nurses and public health are, I guess, not fun.