Posts Tagged: ron moeser


26
Mar 12

The week that was: Ford loses major transit vote as Sheppard gets LRT

Council Scorecard: Transit Votes

While I was out: Rob Ford experienced yet another spectacular defeat on the floor of council. True to form, the mayor refused to endorse any workable revenue plan for building his beloved Sheppard subway – even the one that came from his council allies. Instead, Ford stuck with what the political strategy that has sustained him since he was first elected councillor over a decade ago: yelling and losing.

Here’s how it happened.

SUNDAY

March 18, 2012

Rob Ford devotes much of the time on his crazy boring radio show toward the transit discussion. As recapped by OpenFile Toronto’s David Hains, the mayor and his co-host Councillor Paul Ainslie hit all the same notes you’d expect: people want subways; St. Clair’s a disaster; all glory to the private sector; and the power of repeating the word subways endlessly.

Notably, Ford and stalwart Ainslie agree that the Sheppard Subway should be funded with “creative financing because people don’t like taxes.” This attitude would continue throughout the week, and sink any remaining chance Ford had of winning the council vote.

MONDAY

March 19, 2012

With the special council meeting just two days away, subway advisor and noted dentist Gordon Chong again makes public his opinion that the mayor must support new tolls and taxes if he wants to see a subway extension on Sheppard Avenue. Ford continues to ignore the advice of the man he picked to make the case for subways in Toronto.

Meanwhile, many of the swing vote councillors begin to make their opinions known. Councillor Josh Colle tells reporters he’s just looking for some kind of indication of where the mayor will get the money to build subways. “A pie graph would be nice, just something that would show where the source of funding would come from.”

But the mayor’s “plan,” even presented as a pie chart, would prove unconvincing. It’d end up looking a lot like this:

Ford's Subway Plan: As A Pie Chart (Artist's Representation)

Ford's Subway Plan: As A Pie Chart (Artist's Representation)

TUESDAY

March 20, 2012

More mighty middle voices tip their hat toward the LRT plan. Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon tells the Toronto Sun’s Don Peat that she’ll be supporting light rail because “Nothing has been concretely brought forward and I don’t see a [subway] plan.” Councillor Ana Bailão also hints that she’ll be a light rail vote.

In a bit of a surprise, Councillor Ron Moeser joins the group of councillors supporting the expert panel’s recommendation for LRT. Moeser has been battling an illness for several months that has caused him to miss virtually all council votes relating to transit. His support for the mayor had been widely assumed, but the mayor may have pushed things too far with the Scarborough councillor.

At this point, a majority of councillors have firmly pledged their support for light rail on Sheppard.

WEDNESDAY

March 21, 2012

Council begins its session by endorsing the use of Skype as a means for Professor Eric Miller to take questions from councillors. Miller was the lead on the expert panel that ultimately recommended the light rail plan. After much debate, Skype finds strong bipartisan support, though the mayor objects.

Soon after, battle lines are drawn. Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker moves the motion that will support the panel’s recommendations. As a counter, budget chief and Scarborough Councillor Mike Del Grande proposes what we’ve all been waiting for: new revenue tools to fund transit.

Del Grande’s motion includes a levy on non-residential parking spaces, and seeks to raise $100 million per year for transit funding. The proposal is rightly criticized for being light on detail and short on scope. Those kinds of revenues would only fund about 300 metres of subway construction every year.

But, still, the motion is welcome news, acknowledging that even the most thrifty of suburban councillors have recognized the need to build public transit with public money. Del Grande finds support from most of council’s right-wing, but is stymied when the mayor — stubbornly, foolishly, inexplicably — refuses to lend his support to the plan.

Del Grande would end up attempting to withdraw the motion the next day. Without Rob Ford’s support, he knew it was doomed.

In another bit of procedural pettiness, Ford’s allies end the day with a good old-fashioned filibuster. The plan, which nobody expects to work, is to run out the clock and force a continuation to Thursday, with the hope that they can use the time to convince some councillors to support them.

THURSDAY

March 22, 2012

Having exhausted all his remaining options, Ford pulls out a would-be trump card: a loud and rambling speech in which he uses the word “subways” repeatedly. The point, buried in amongst the repetition, was to convince council to delay any decision until after the release of the federal and provincial budgets. The mayor appears to actually believe that those governments – both of whom are in full-on austerity mode – may announce billions of dollars in transit funding for Toronto.

As has become their custom, council mostly ignores the mayor.

The vote happens shortly after lunch, with the results breaking down mostly as expected. With 24 votes in favour, council supports the recommendations of the expert panel for light rail on Sheppard. Nineteen councillors stand opposed. Notably, Giorgio Mammoliti, who had promised on Wednesday that he would fight against the light rail plan on behalf of his constituents, ends up missing the vote on Thursday.

FRIDAY

March 23, 2012

The fallout from the vote comes quick and looks obvious. The mayor declares, yet again, that his election campaign begins today. The plan is to foster so much support for subways that he gets yet another strong mandate from voters in 2014. By Sunday – on his still-boring radio show – the mayor will even go as far as floating the idea of running a slate of Ford-supporting candidates in wards across the city, in the hopes of ridding council of those who oppose him.

This brings to mind two immediate questions:

  1. Would any legitimate candidate actually want to be part of a slate backed by a mayor with a terrible approval rating and a record of refusing to work with his allies to accomplish anything?
  2. If Ford’s going to be in full-on campaign mode for the next two years, then who the hell is running the city?

Ford’s stubbornness on this issue has made for even more alienation. Councillors like Jaye Robinson, Peter Milczyn and David Shiner went as far as to publicly question the mayor’s leadership on the transit file. Their comments were tinged with the kind of frustration that comes about when a mayor refuses to support a revenue tool that he recently championed in an editorial. It’s the same frustration that comes when someone ignores advice from everyone, even in the face of overwhelming reason and common sense.

It’s the kind of frustration that comes when the guy you’re trying to help ends up spitting in your face.

Despite protests from the mayor and his brother, this chapter of the Rob Ford mayoralty appears to be over. There’s little chance the province will re-open the subways debate and even less chance that more money materializes for subway construction. As was originally endorsed by Mayor David Miller and council, Toronto will see light rail transit built on Sheppard, Eglinton, Finch and the Scarborough RT corridor. Transit City lives again.


12
Jan 12

In 2011, Council’s middle got less mushy, more lefty

A selection of middle-ish councillors and how their voting patterns changed over the last six months of 2011.

As a follow-up to this week’s City Council Scorecard Update, here’s a look at how various on-the-fence councillors saw their overall “Ford Nation” score shift between June and December. Remember that the June meeting was the last one before things really got heated — after it came Pride, Jarvis, the Core Service Review, the marathon Executive Committee meeting and a handful of 911 calls.

Of the eleven councillors listed above — all of whom float in the council “middle” to varying degrees — only two grew closer to the mayor’s agenda through the latter half of the year. Of the two, Councillor Moeser is more inscrutable — and quiet — so his motivations are harder to pin down. (But he clearly decided to embrace this administration in a big bear hug.) Councillor Berardinetti, on the other hand, seemingly made a conscious choice to double down on her support for Team Ford, and has been very public in her role as a flagbearer for the administration.

The remaining nine councillors on the list all backed off from Rob Ford as the budget process began. Some, like Gloria Lindsay Luby, Mary-Margaret McMahon and Ana Bailão, saw their score drop precipitously as council started voting on cuts to service.

James Pasternak’s eight point drop is probably the biggest surprise. As a new councillor, he positioned himself as a guy with a decidedly right-of-centre approach. And unlike some of the other councillors on the list, he hasn’t had any high profile public disagreements with Ford policy. But in recent months he’s shown himself to be open to independent thinking and, more importantly, independent voting. It will be interesting to see if the trend continues.

How does council as a whole look?

For the sake of completion, I’ve also compiled the same table as above showing data for all 45 members of council. There’s not a whole lot to glean from this — does it really matter that, for example, Giorgio Mammoliti’s Ford Nation score dropped from 100% to 97%? — but, really, it’s not like it’s possible to have too many charts or anything.

Does any of this matter?

For a few reasons, I think it does. First, the eleven councillors listed at the top of this post make up, under the broadest definition, council’s middle. They’re the guys you need to call if you’re trying to swing an issue in a certain direction. That so many of them are trending solidly away from the mayor’s agenda is important.

Second, one of the big knocks against the whole idea of Rob Ford as Mayor of Toronto was that he’d never be able to command enough support at council to pass anything. Howard Moscoe famously said that Ford wouldn’t be able to pass gas at council, much less get his agenda through.

That Ford and his team have managed to broker the support they have is a hugely significant political achievement for this administration. But it’s fragile. Teetering on the edge. All it’ll take is one good push.

Lastly, we’re heading into a council budget debate in a week’s time that has real potential to be a total catastrophe for Rob Ford. He was already handed several defeats in September when council voted on various Core Service Review considerations. He lost seven whipped votes during that meeting. He could lose a hell of a lot more next week.

It’s a good bet that a lot of people are doing a lot of scrambling right now to ensure the council votes are in place to get the 2012 budget through without serious alteration. For those of us watching, January 17 is shaping up to be one hell of a show.


7
Sep 11

City Council Scorecard: How to save the Port Lands

Let’s try to save the world with spreadsheets. Again. If the people of Toronto want to stop the mayor and his brother from seizing control of the Port Lands and pushing forward with a new vision controlled by private developers, we need five votes.

As with the Jarvis vote in July, the above is a best-guess breakdown of how councillors will vote on item EX9.6 when it comes before council on September 21. Again, it’s important to remember that this isn’t written in stone — some councillors could very well change their mind. Some councillors may even hit the wrong button when voting. It happens.

The first column above refers to item EX45.15, considered by council way back in the halcyon days of Mayor David Miller. It represents the only noted instance I can find in recent history of right-wing councillors attempting to slow or stop work by Waterfront Toronto. In this instance, which took place at the July 6, 2010 meeting of council, Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong rose and asked for an amendment on an item related to the Don Mouth Naturalization and Waterfront Toronto’s plan for the Lower Don Lands, a parcel of land within what the larger Port Lands area.

Minnan-Wong’s amendment called for two things: first, that Waterfront Toronto “submit to Council, a Business and Implementation Plan for the Lower Don Lands with priority for Phase 1 (Don River Mouth), addressing capital costs, revenue and expenditures, funding, project phasing and land management.” That language is similar to what we saw in the report associated with the Port Lands item that came before Executive Committee yesterday. The second thing Minnan-Wong asked for was that “no further funding of consultants and studies be undertaken until the funding sources and Business and Implementation Plan are approved by Council.” I’ve included the voting results from the second part of his amendment in the chart above.

More notes on methodology: Councillors who are on the Executive Committee will all presumably vote with the mayor at the upcoming Council Session. The only exception could be Jaye Robinson, who was notably absent when the vote took place in Committee Room 1 yesterday. Watch her closely. Councillors close to or at 100% “Ford Nation” percentage are virtual locks to support this Ford-driven motion, though I’ve left Gary Crawford as a question mark as a long-shot hope. I’m working off the assumption that the traditional left-leaning bloc will all vote against the item, which seems pretty safe. Both Josh Matlow and Mary Margaret-McMahon have tweeted their support for Waterfront Toronto, the latter enthusiastically so.

So, what next? Email or call the councillors identified as undecided or potential swing votes. Their contact information is below. Your voice is especially important if you live in their ward. (But if you don’t, and happen to know someone who does, spend some time informing them of the issue and ask them to contact their councillor.) Consider contacting neighbourhood associations, ratepayer groups and local BIAs as well, and ask them how they feel about a new mall opening up in the Port Lands and the impact that will have on small-scale retail space in the city. CodeBlueTO has a great letter you can use as a starting point for your communications. If you get concrete word on how any councillor plans to vote, please let me know so I can update this chart.

Contact information for councillors

Councillor James Pasternak (Ward 10 – York Centre)

Phone: 416-392-1371

Email: councillor_pasternak@toronto.ca

 Councillor Josh Colle (Ward 15 – Eglinton-Lawrence)

Phone: 416-392-4027

Email: councillor_colle@toronto.ca

Councillor Ana Baiḷo (Ward 18 РDavenport)

Phone: 416-392-7012

Email: councillor_bailao@toronto.ca

Councillor Jaye Robinson (Ward 25 – Don Valley West)

Phone: 416-395-6408

Email: councillor_robinson@toronto.ca

Councillor Gary Crawford (Ward 36 – Scarborough Southwest)

Phone: 416-392-4052

Email: councillor_crawford@toronto.ca

Councillor Chin Lee (Ward 41 – Scarborough-Rouge River)

Phone: 416-392-1375

Email: councillor_lee@toronto.ca

Councillor Ron Moeser (Ward 44 – Scarborough East)

Phone: 416-392-1373

Email: councillor_moeser@toronto.ca


11
Mar 11

Council’s middle gets organized

Robyn Doolittle at the Toronto Star obtained a copy of the Team Ford “cheat sheet” (or “recommended voting strategy” if you prefer) handed out on Wednesday morning. She produces only a low-resolution version in her article, but it’s clear that the strategy during this week’s regular meeting was to refer all items to committees to prevent the possibility of a filibuster strategy on the TCHC item.

MM5.1, a motion by Josh Matlow and seconded by Josh Colle regarding council salaries, was a recommended ‘No to waiving referral’ vote which is interesting only in the sense that Josh Colle has seemingly tried to play nice with the mayor’s office. (He ultimately voted in favour of dissolving the TCHC board on Wednesday night.)

Doolittle also indicates that some of the fence-sitting councillors are looking at forming their own voting bloc:

So far, this [middle] group has swung right, but that may be changing. These middle-of-the-road councillors have been organizing their own bloc, “the mighty middle,” in hopes of ending the voting pattern.

Right now Ford holds a majority. There are 15 on the hard left and 22 on the hard right. The mayor’s vote tips the scales. If the “mighty middle” comes together and even one of those Ford supporters drifts centre the bloc would be broken.

“Some of us are talking. Let’s just say we’re going to be more organized going forward,” said Councillor Josh Colle (Eglinton Lawrence).

via Ford hands out cheat sheet to his team – thestar.com.

Doolittle pegs the number of ‘middle’ councillors at seven, which I guess would be Colle, Matlow, Mary-Margaret McMahon, Ron Moeser, Ana Bailão, Chin Lee and Raymond Cho. I’d argue that Raymond Cho is pretty firmly on the opposition at this point.

Cho, Bailão & Matlow voted against the mayor on Wednesday night. Moeser was absent. The rest voted for.