Being fired for being honest
February 21, 2012 3:20 PM   Subscribe

Gary Webster is the general manager for the Toronto Transit Commission. Last year, Mayor Rob Ford (previously), after cancelling the Transit City light rail expansion in favour of a subway into Toronto's east end (also previously), asked Webster to prepare a report on the viability of such a subway line. Webster did so, and gave his honest opinion, which was that the Sheppard subway was not economically viable. Ford buried the report, and after the Toronto Star discovered its existence, Ford then requested that Webster speak to City Council about the pros and cons of subways and light rail. Webster advised against subways as City Council overruled Ford and reinstated a light rail-based transit plan. Ford's allies on the Toronto Transit Commission then petitioned for a special meeting to fire Webster (despite severance clauses that could cost the city more than a million dollars). They voted 5-4 to fire Gary Webster this afternoon. (Torontoist's liveblog of the meeting.)
posted by mightygodking (89 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is just petty vegence.
posted by PinkMoose at 3:22 PM on February 21, 2012


Never get anywhere in politics speaking the truth, man. First rule.
posted by absalom at 3:24 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Never get anywhere in politics speaking the truth, man.

Gary Webster isn't a politician. He's a civil servant and an engineer.
posted by mightygodking at 3:25 PM on February 21, 2012 [42 favorites]


Well, Ford is an idiot when it comes to other transportation issues, too. commentary.
posted by entropone at 3:26 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Man every time I think about how much better Canada has it politically I am reminded of Rob Ford.
posted by graventy at 3:26 PM on February 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


From the CBC story: In a motion describing "termination without just cause," the transit commission voted 5-4 to fire Webster, who has worked at the service for 36 years, just two weeks after he expressed open defiance to a subway plan championed by Mayor Rob Ford.

Well, that sure is something to have in your world class city council minutes. Yep, go on record as firing someone without just cause. I guess paying $5000,000 to $1 million for the privilege of satisfying your pique is the kind of no-calorie gravy that the Fords want to keep.
posted by maudlin at 3:27 PM on February 21, 2012 [13 favorites]


Christ, what an asshole.
posted by zennish at 3:27 PM on February 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


Webster is going to walk away with a giant pile of cash and land wherever he wants: this is just Toronto cutting off its nose to spite its face.
posted by mek at 3:28 PM on February 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


Seriously, how did this dude get elected? I thought Toronto was a pretty liberal city.
posted by zennish at 3:28 PM on February 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thirty-six years, a month per year in lieu of severance for skilled directors, so three years' pay at minimum -- Ford's not helping his own budget fight, is he?
posted by Capt. Renault at 3:28 PM on February 21, 2012


zennish, Toronto has trended rightward for awhile now; Conservative MPs sweeping the GTA was the source of the Harper majority.
posted by mek at 3:29 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey, you guys elected this d-bag.

You don't like it, move here to Calgary. Tonnes of jobs and light rail is undergoing massive expansion. And we have Nenshi.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 3:30 PM on February 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


Seriously, how did this dude get elected?

Mostly because of not-terribly vigilant suburban voters who thought no politician would lie about waste at City Hall. They're learning now that whether Ford is stupid or malicious, it makes no difference. His approval rating is plummeting.
posted by mightygodking at 3:30 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey, you guys elected this d-bag.
I didn't, and neither did just about anyone else reading or commenting in this thread. He didn't even get a majority of the votes.
posted by maudlin at 3:31 PM on February 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Evidence not wanted: "The expected firing of Gary Webster is part of a disturbing trend among so-called conservatives to shun facts."
posted by mek at 3:32 PM on February 21, 2012 [11 favorites]


He was also elected because the (lower-case "l") liberal vote was split between two other candidates, neither of whom would yield and unite the left.
posted by Gridlock Joe at 3:34 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Seriously, how did this dude get elected?

Like this, but replace "Can't someone else do it?" with "Stop The Gravy Train."
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:36 PM on February 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


The problem is that voters don't have the attention spans to rememb

OOO! LOOK! BLUE CAR!
posted by Mister Fabulous at 3:37 PM on February 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


I wonder if Ford requested his firing from his Blackberry, while driving. (And possibly flipping off constituents.)
posted by Dark Messiah at 3:38 PM on February 21, 2012


Ford talked a lot of bluster about hundreds of millions of dollars of waste and gravy, numbers he basically made up. There wasn't a charismatic opposing candidate after Giambrone got caught cheating on his girlfriend, and Ford's bluster was enough to get him in. Anyone who paid attention to council in the last decade knew what an idiot and a blowhard Ford was, but few people pay attention. I think most people now realize what's going on as every bit of news is more disgusting than the last, and hope he won't get another term. I just hope the city is recognisable when the next election comes along.
posted by yellowbinder at 3:38 PM on February 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


I wonder if Ford and the councillors who voted to fire Webster would be willing to give up a chunk of salary each to make up for the $500,000 shortfall. I'm a taxpayer: show me some respect.
posted by maudlin at 3:38 PM on February 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


Democracy in action. I've been reading a lot about Napoleon recently. He would not have put up with such bullshit. On the other hand, he did invade Russia.
posted by philip-random at 3:39 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Good god, the stuff this guy says about AIDS and GLBT issues is appalling.
Ford stated that "(AIDS) is very preventable," and that "if you are not doing needles and you are not gay, you wouldn't get AIDS probably, that's bottom line."
And then
Again sparking controversy during a March 2008 debate at City Hall, Ford said, "Those Oriental people work like dogs. They work their hearts out ... that's why they're successful in life. ... I'm telling you, Oriental people, they're slowly taking over, because there's no excuses for them. They're hard, hard workers." He drew criticism for those remarks from Mayor David Miller, budget chief Shelley Carroll and other councillors.
AUUUGH what it's like the vicious pettiness is just the icing on the idiotic and racist cake. Mister Webster, I hope you get all the money. All of it, sir.
posted by zennish at 3:41 PM on February 21, 2012


mightygodking: I realize this. Sadly, it seems to me civil service - especially at the highest levels - are basically subject to the whims of politicians which makes them inherently political positions. The state of North American politics baffles and depresses me.
posted by absalom at 3:47 PM on February 21, 2012


Absolutely shameful. Rob Ford, Norm Kelly, Cesar Palacio, Vince Crisanti, Frank DiGiorgio and Denzil Minnan-Wong are clueless bullies.
posted by chococat at 3:48 PM on February 21, 2012


Isn't "democracy" the greatest? I'm reaching the point where I can't even follow municipal politics in detail anymore because I immediately descend into apoplectic sputtering rage. Bleargggh!!!!
posted by Go Banana at 3:50 PM on February 21, 2012


> I just hope the city is recognisable when the next election comes along.

I'm as pessimistic as the next guy, but I think we're watching the thrashing death throes of Ford's mayoralty. The only thing he's good at is throwing fits about stuff he doesn't like, which served him passably well as a councilor, but not as mayor.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:50 PM on February 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


I sent futile email on the weekend knowing it would be futile. Fuck, maybe I should actually go out and campaign for a candidate next time so I don't feel so useless.
posted by maudlin at 3:52 PM on February 21, 2012


I'd be very surprised if you'll find anyone here who will defend Ford. He's an idiot who somehow hoodwinked folks into thinking he was the common man and was going to cut all this fat from city services only to 'find' upon election there was no fat to trim.

Basically, at this point, everyone other than people who read the Sun hope he'll ride out his time with minimal damage or otherwise implode - certainly not impossible the way he and his brother have been going - before his term is up.
posted by stinkycheese at 3:54 PM on February 21, 2012


In their defense, even if he does sue them, it will only cost the equivalent of about 3 meters of subway track.
posted by cacofonie at 3:55 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ford is a fucking embarrassment to this city. A petty, small (not literally, of course) man.
posted by modernnomad at 4:00 PM on February 21, 2012


Rob Ford, Norm Kelly, Cesar Palacio, Vince Crisanti, Frank DiGiorgio and Denzil Minnan-Wong are clueless bullies.

How did I know that Denzil Minnan-Wong would be on that list? My brain just formed his name without having to actually read the words.
posted by Capt. Renault at 4:00 PM on February 21, 2012


I hope those 4 who voted against this are quickly replaced -- clearly they do not have the mayor's interests at heart!
posted by mazola at 4:03 PM on February 21, 2012


Hey, you guys elected this d-bag.

You don't like it, move here to Calgary. Tonnes of jobs and light rail is undergoing massive expansion. And we have Nenshi.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 6:30 PM on February 21 [2 favorites −] Favorite added! [!]


It's tempting, but ... the winter. I don't know if I could face it. My ancestors are from the temperate Maritimes and southern Ontario is already a bit cold for my blood.
posted by jb at 4:11 PM on February 21, 2012


Really takes some doing in Stephen Harper's Canada to be the biggest douchebag in Canadian politics, but there's no one who holds a candle to the Ford boys. Even John Baird sidles by and says, hoo-boy, that's some reeking bullshit right there, fellas!

Toronto deserves so much better.

(And anyone reading this thread who thinks the Ford regime represents a serious change in the sociopolitical make-up of downtown Toronto is just plain wrong - in much the same way Rudy Giuliani didn't indicate a long-term rightward tilt for NYC. Politics operates on weird algorithms sometimes, and it came up snake eyes for Toronto in 2009.)
posted by gompa at 4:16 PM on February 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


This is right on the heels of the settlement of Local 416's contract. There was no way they were going to go back on strike and further erode their public support so the Local very publicly offered a zero percent increase in wages over the life of the contract. I was talking to the negotiating committee on the weekend and they were amazed to walk away with 6% over four years. And union bashing is pretty easy pickings for the right wing; he seems to have no grasp of basic economics.
posted by saucysault at 4:17 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Who turned on Fact Sphere again? C'mon, cop to it, we'll find out who you are eventually.
posted by Slackermagee at 4:19 PM on February 21, 2012


Toronto has trended rightward for awhile now; Conservative MPs sweeping the GTA was the source of the Harper majority.

No, it's vote-splitting. Ford got less than Smitherman and Pantalone combined; a lot of Conservative MPs in Toronto were elected with 60% of the voters way to the left of the Tories.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 4:27 PM on February 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Never get anywhere in politics speaking the truth, man. First rule.

I'm a municipal planner and I've been told in no uncertain terms by my Director that I'll be fired if I ever make a recommendation based on politics as opposed to best practices or professional judgement.

It's complete bullshit that staff get canned based on not siding with a politician. That staff be consistent and professional is really the whole point.
posted by jimmythefish at 4:35 PM on February 21, 2012 [9 favorites]


a lot of Conservative MPs in Toronto were elected with 60% of the voters way to the left of the Tories.

Which has always been the case, except this time they got enough votes to win. In other words...Toronto is trending rightward (along with the rest of Ontario).
posted by rocket88 at 4:35 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is what happens when the stupidest guy in the room calls the shots.
posted by ovvl at 4:42 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm terribly sorry.

Terribly, terribly sorry.

...and yet, at long last as an Albertan I can finally point my finger at the GTA and say:

ha ha!

God I've been waiting.

This is, of course, why we are all doomed. So, sorry for that too.
posted by aramaic at 4:49 PM on February 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Funny that people aren't looking at contractors who would build the subway, or developers who bought up parcels along the route as the ultimate source of all this, but are blaming stupidity-- rather than cupidity-- on the part of their politicians, instead.
posted by jamjam at 4:55 PM on February 21, 2012


I love this stuff as spectator sport. Last week I sat the entire day in the clamshell watching the special meeting. The place was packed, overwhelmingly by people in opposition to Ford's approach to transit planning in Toronto. Whenever I'm hanging around City Hall I see many of the same activists. Their work makes this an interesting time in Toronto. The all-night budget deputations last fall were inspiring.

Michelle Berardinetti and Jaye Robinson are first time councillors who sit on Ford's executive committee. They seem like they would fit more comfortably in what is known as council's mushy middle. I'd like to see them publicly resign from the executive, exhibit some of the integrity of Stintz and Parker. Otherwise they should be seen as endorsing decision making through late night visits to Tim Hortons, rule by intimidation, lack of respect for public servants and wasteful spending in support of personal pride and ego.
posted by TimTypeZed at 5:01 PM on February 21, 2012


This is the low point of the Ford administration so far, and the first move that puts it definitively beyond the pale in terms of good governance. Rob Ford has lots of terrible ideas - fully burying the Eglinton line not least among them. But he was elected, and has a mandate to pursue his ideas, if he can get them through counsel. What I don't think he has a right to do is fire city staff who provide advice that does not conform to his political platform. It's an outrage, and an attack on the independence of all public servants and the impartiality and quality of the advice that staff provide. It's a disgrace. And so, now, is Ford.
posted by Dasein at 5:06 PM on February 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


Come on, Canadians. Us liberals in America tell ourselves "well, if things get too bad, we can try to move to Canada. They're more enlightened up there." Your politics being taken over by right-wingers is a sign of dark days indeed. Kick those fucks to the curb.
posted by zardoz at 5:06 PM on February 21, 2012


Toronto ≠ Canada
posted by unSane at 5:08 PM on February 21, 2012


No, it's vote-splitting. Ford got less than Smitherman and Pantalone combined

It was extremely close, though. A hypothetical Smitherman-Pantalone Frankenstein would only have won by about 3,000 votes. The margin was close enough that the initial results had Ford ahead of the combined total of the other two; either way, vote-splitting was obviously not nearly as much of an issue as everyone thought it would be in the run-up to election day.

As for this decision, I can't begin to communicate how angry and outraged I am. I think the only reason I didn't start throwing furniture at the office today was because I got so angry during the special session of city council that I had to force myself not to watch any video or listen to any audio of the proceedings today--not that any were available, as far as I know. Never mind the fact that three full hours of the meeting were "in-camera," aka private and secret.

Thwarted by his inability to waste $2 billion trying to bury an LRT line that neither needs to be buried nor makes a whole lot of engineering sense to do so (never mind that there's no environmental assessment for it!), Rob Ford apparently decided he had to settle for wasting $500k instead by burning a civil servant who's devoted a significant portion of his life to the TTC, and oh by the way HAD A CONTRACT THAT EXPIRED NEXT YEAR. After years of running the TTC, what was so urgent about Webster's reign that he needed to be fired immediately, and at great cost?

You usually don't expect your villains to actually twirl their mustaches and perform their evil tasks in the most obviously hateful way possible, and yet that's exactly what's happened here. The only reason his administration hasn't been worse for Toronto is because he's so awful about forming any sort of consensus that he can't get huge parts of his agenda through, like massive spending cuts to nearly all city services (though many city departments had to cut their budgets by roughly 10% nonetheless) and a waterfront plan so buffoonish it would've been comical had it not also threatened to derail a carefully worked-out plan, funded and supported by all three levels of government for years and supported by the various waterfront communities.

But mustache-twirling evil is obviously dangerous in its own way, too. Rob Ford an his allies on the TTC board took the only avenue of retaliation open to them, not for any apparent political gain or because it'll suddenly make their "subway" plan a reality again (though maybe that's what they're hoping). It seems like they didn't because there was no way they couldn't fire Karen Stintz, the TTC chair they installed and expected to kowtow to their demands, without the support of council. But council can't do anything about Webster, and so Webster gets the boot--$500k richer, and with his reputation untouched. Toronto, on the other hand, has sent a message to civil servants anywhere: anyone with an independent spirit and a devotion to doing the right thing, as opposed to whatever the mayor wants, is persona non grata where this administration is concerned.

Funny that people aren't looking at contractors who would build the subway, or developers who bought up parcels along the route as the ultimate source of all this, but are blaming stupidity-- rather than cupidity-- on the part of their politicians, instead.

Except years of building subways to far-flung areas of the city show that the idea of "build it and they will come" doesn't actually work. In a TTC report that was squelched by Rob Ford, the expected development that would bring jobs and housing to Sheppard never materialized. Downsview is still largely a wasteland. And if the Spadina extension to Vaughan turns the interchange/parking lot complex of Highways 400 and 7 into a bustling urban centre, I'll eat my hat. And then yours. And then all the hats in existence.

So the developers who would love to build on land made more desirable because there's a subway underneath? They've had plenty of chances already, and where are they? Not building very much, apparently.
posted by chrominance at 5:14 PM on February 21, 2012 [10 favorites]


Torontoist’s Hamutal Dotan, via this excellent blog post at Ford for Toronto: "Rob Ford either doesn’t understand the basic principles of good governance, or he doesn’t care to be guided by them." (via Margaret Atwood for mayor of Toronto)

If this is a multiple choice question, my answer is "Yes."
posted by peagood at 5:16 PM on February 21, 2012


On the plus side, stupidity like this is going to mean that Rob Ford is a one-term mayor.

Also, Ford isn't getting anything through council. The waterfront plan was a watershed moment - the first time council stood up to the every whim of the Fords. The compromise that was brokered was actually quite excellent - the same basic plan, sped up. With respect to the budget, it was inevitable that reality would destroy Ford's rhetorical plans, but it was still nice to see. This subway debate is going to do lasting damage to Ford's credibility, and to his ability to rally centrists, because fair-minded Torontonians aren't going to like this, and people aren't going to vote to re-elect a mayor who's shown himself to be a petty, vindictive, ideological bully.
posted by Dasein at 5:31 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, you say that Dasien, but remember your southern north american friends who elected Bush II for a second term. Never underestimate the stupidity of voters.
posted by dejah420 at 5:46 PM on February 21, 2012


Ugh. It's true. But then Bush won re-election on a campaign of fear and hatred. I'd like to think we have a little less of that in Toronto.
posted by Dasein at 5:49 PM on February 21, 2012


I don't know if people here understand just how much the downtown core loathes Ford. I would be stupefied if he were to somehow get elected to a second term. I mean, he's already an international source of jokes at this point over the whole Marg Delahunty fracas, and that was even before this subway stuff really got started.
posted by stinkycheese at 5:54 PM on February 21, 2012


A brief recent history of subways in Toronto:
"Toronto has the best transit system in North America."
"Mike Harris fills in the hole."
"Mel Lastman builds a subway to nowhere."
"Rob Ford."
posted by ovvl at 5:55 PM on February 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


Then again, we did elect Mel Lastman as mayor twice, so...
posted by stinkycheese at 5:56 PM on February 21, 2012


Oh, you say that Dasien, but remember your southern north american friends who elected Bush II for a second term. Never underestimate the stupidity of voters.

Rob Ford's approval rating (of people with opinions) has gone from 65% approval to 47% approval in less than a year.

George W Bush's approval rating was 65% in June of 2003, a month after "Mission Accomplished", and didn't drop below 47% until August of 2005, a couple of weeks before Hurricane Katrina.

Rob Ford managed that drop in less than half that time. Not that I'd ever want to underestimate the shortsightedness and greed of suburban voters.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 6:05 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


As a (sadly, former) Montrealer, I hate to see us bested in the category of "worst mayor ever," but...

And, unfortunately, I don't think it's impossible for The Ford Bros to once again marshal the Toronto Sun/talk radio-led forces of "die Yuppie Annex scum" in from the 'burbs to secure another term, especially as the tactical/strategic stupidity of the David Millers et. al of Hogtown can always be counted on.
posted by docgonzo at 6:19 PM on February 21, 2012


how bureaucracy makes public transport decisions.
  1. Ensure that the closest the decision maker gets to actual public transport is by being delayed at a level crossing. Any empathy or understanding with the travelling public must be eliminated.
  2. Commission a brutally expensive study with either vague, narrow or far too broad terms of reference
  3. Ignore, or shelve study until election campaign
  4. Criticize study's author
  5. If two options are being considered - choose the worse option. Cost has no bearing - just the worse option. An expensive white elephant that serves only a few people and is totally unworkable is far better than something someone else can claim credit for - given that the time of construction will exceed the length of time in office.
Note that no politician is actually allowed to leave office knowing that they have done anything constructive for public transport. It's a pledge they sign.
posted by mattoxic at 6:22 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


chrominance writes "Toronto, on the other hand, has sent a message to civil servants anywhere: anyone with an independent spirit and a devotion to doing the right thing, as opposed to whatever the mayor wants, is persona non grata where this administration is concerned."

Ford and his type would see this as a desirable outcome.
posted by Mitheral at 6:28 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Another thing I think it's important to mention -- and a fact that gobsmacks me whenever I consider it -- is that provincial government (which, by many accounts, is broke; and by all accounts has to devote an increasingly large proportion of its budget to healthcare costs guaranteed to an increasingly aged population) has been sitting around for years waiting to dole out BILLIONS in public funds to the City of Toronto and the TTC to build more public transit.
posted by docgonzo at 6:33 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


If this doesn't get resolved soon, the right thing might be for the province to upload the TTC - and possibly transit in the rest of the GTA - to Metrolinx to run a proper system and create and fund long-term plans.
posted by Dasein at 6:36 PM on February 21, 2012


They're learning now that whether Ford is stupid or malicious, it makes no difference.

He's both, actually.
posted by orange swan at 6:40 PM on February 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ford and his type would see this as a desirable outcome.

I haven't yet discounted the possibility that Ford and company planned this all along: lose their subway plan, but replace the TTC GM with a drooling idiot who then runs the commission into the ground, thus paving the way for privatizing the entire transit system. And maybe, somewhere in there, tearing out all the streetcar tracks.
posted by chrominance at 6:41 PM on February 21, 2012


I just got back from a trip to Saint John and Halifax. Everyone loves talking about how bad their mayors are. It brings people together; it seems everyone has a lousy mayor these days. (Yes, yes, Calgary, we know. Except you.)

But for one - and this is a rare experience for a Torontonian - people in other cities are suddenly interested in our local matters. Well, one, in specific: What the fuck is going on with Rob Ford?

I wish I had an answer. Every time it seems like we've gone through the looking glass once and for all, we go down another. It's getting like Inception in here.
posted by bicyclefish at 6:45 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


The thing about Team Ford is that they think they're being Machiavellian but they are so bone stupid they generally can't pull it off. The likely next move is that the rest of council will remove these morons from the TTC commission; they should have done it when they restored Transit City but underestimated the depths of venality to which this gang of weasels would descend.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 7:06 PM on February 21, 2012


Crazy as it might seem to anyone who pays attention, Ford could be elected to a second term. I've sat in council chambers and watched a group of English as a Second Language students, mostly East African women in their 20s, go into a tizzy when handed business cards by Rob Ford. Everyone who might run against him is another boring politician, talking about boring policy things. Rob Ford is a cartoon character, saying the same six things over and over again, promising tax cuts and subways for everyone.

He's master of the big lie, and much of our media play along. Tonight on CP24, in response to today's decision, they're asking people coming off the subway how the TTC should change. Already the decision is being framed not as a political decision that might represent an abuse of power but as a management change that might see the trains running faster and the stations becoming cleaner.

If, as is happening now, Ford alienates enough councillors that he becomes ineffectual and increasingly erratic, then we'll probably only need to deal with him for one term. But if many councillors who should know better try to work with him, as they did in the first year, they give him an apparent legitimacy that could deliver the suburbs to him again.
posted by TimTypeZed at 7:29 PM on February 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


“We don’t recommend spending the money you don’t have on an asset you don’t need” — Gary Webster.

Travelling on the Bloor-Danforth line, it's standing room only when the train leaves the first station. The Sheppard line? I don't think I've ever had anyone sit next to me. It's half full, at best.
posted by scruss at 7:31 PM on February 21, 2012


I've sat in council chambers and watched a group of English as a Second Language students, mostly East African women in their 20s, go into a tizzy when handed business cards by Rob Ford.

A guy I know took Rob Ford up on the offer he made to a Globe journalist after the last election - he said, if you didn't vote for me, call me and tell me why. The guy calls Rob Ford, mayor-elect of a city of 2.5 million, leaves him a voicemail. Rob Ford called him back three times, left him three voicemails trying to connect.
posted by Dasein at 7:35 PM on February 21, 2012


Quoth the Star: "Among the five Ford loyalists, Di Giorgio praised Webster. But, amid jeers from the public, he said: 'Excellence in bureaucracy isn’t defined like excellence in private enterprise … . Excellence in a bureaucracy … is the ability to put forth the positions that are consistent with those adopted by the mayor,' he said."

Christ, what assholes.

Maybe someone should remind Rob Ford that he is the Mayor in a weak-mayor, strong-council system. That someone should maybe be the Council (now a majority against Ford), and it should give him and his spineless cronies the boot from any committee or position of power.
posted by parudox at 7:41 PM on February 21, 2012


"Ford's allies..."

It always astonishes me that there is enough stupidity in the GTA that those two words can ever be put together.

[/GravyTrain]
posted by Dodecadermaldenticles at 8:10 PM on February 21, 2012


docgonzo: provincial government has been sitting around for years waiting to dole out BILLIONS in public funds to the City of Toronto and the TTC to build more public transit.

That's not really true. The Provincial Government killed Transit City in all but name before Ford ever got elected.

chrominance: Except years of building subways to far-flung areas of the city show that the idea of "build it and they will come" doesn't actually work. In a TTC report that was squelched by Rob Ford, the expected development that would bring jobs and housing to Sheppard never materialized.

That's not really true either. Development anticipating the Sheppard subway preceded completion by 20 years. At best, it is just really really hard to tell if development and transit expansion can be well correlated..


Rob Ford is an idiot, that's undisputed. Even a stopped 24-hour clock is right once a day though. Some more indisputable things: our existing subway lines are great; almost nothing else about the TTC is functioning particularly well at all. St. Clair is just ridiculous!

(Note's on St. Clair.. A lot of the problems represent a lack of imagination and poor management. Like, why doesn't transit get true priority signalling? Why do they stop streetcars during street festivals? When they are running shuttle buses because of rail issues, why aren't they using the right of way?)


I don't know about Metrolinx... The stupidity of the Air Rail Link (and it's $20 fare) have me thinking they are not much better than Rob Ford himself..
posted by Chuckles at 8:22 PM on February 21, 2012


There's a long, glorious history of Canadian dumping on Toronto but in this case I just have to say:

Sorry T.O., you deserve better.

p.s. Calgary's story is awesome but we have a pretty good mayor here in Van as well.
posted by Cosine at 8:39 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


$20 isn't unreasonable for a highspeed rail link to the airport. It's something like £15 ($30) to go from Heathrow to Paddington in London, UK.

For those of us with more patience than cents, there is still the express bus out of Kipling Station - straight up, no stops. Which at $2.60 a ride is still cheaper than the "cheap" option of getting from Heathrow to the middle of London (something over £4).
posted by jb at 9:30 PM on February 21, 2012


Oh, and as far as I know, the airport express out of Kipling isn't an extra $2.60, it's included in the basic TTC fare.
posted by jb at 9:31 PM on February 21, 2012


I wish I could offer Greg Webster a job at the San Francisco MTA. We could use someone like him running things down here.
posted by spitefulcrow at 9:43 PM on February 21, 2012


Don't be surprised if the neuter the Airport Express TTC bus to make the stupid train thing more attractive.
posted by Chuckles at 10:11 PM on February 21, 2012


Webster's dismissal came in, as stated above, an in camera meeting. Ford is taking a lot of heat for undertaking this behind closed doors with public and media excluded from seeing what happened. One especially harsh critic, a city councillor, said, “These in-camera meetings, there’s more corruption and skullduggery going on in there than I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Oh wait, that was Councillor Rob Ford while running for mayor, eighteen months ago. Carry on.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:30 PM on February 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Honestly, this man makes Lastman look like an insightful, moderate politician. Yes, I hated Mel's politics, and most of his plans were absurd (moose? really, fiberglass *moose*?? And the African quote? And the Olympic Bid madness?) and futile, but the man loved the city dearly and was preposterously proud to be Mayor. He was a classic populist booster, and he hated unions, but he wasn't actively trying to harm the city.

Ford hates Toronto. He obviously hates everything about this place, and he only lives here because he can be a little tinpot god who's allowed to smear shit all over the city every day.

His supporters want subways because they keep pesky transit users out of the way of their cars: their idea of the perfect downtown core is a cluster of office towers surrounded by parking lots.
posted by jrochest at 11:58 PM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Toronto has a conservative white businessman as mayor, and Calgary has a progressive muslim mayor with an academic background. It's like a Freaky Friday of municipal politics.
posted by sixohsix at 5:25 AM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Which has always been the case, except this time they got enough votes to win. In other words...Toronto is trending rightward (along with the rest of Ontario).

Actually, in Toronto, what you had was support shifting from the Liberals to the NDP, perhaps because the latter was viewed as a more viable opposition. In a few cases, it was enough to make the NDP win the seat, but usually, it just made the Liberals lose the seat.

That's not a rightward trend.

posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:15 AM on February 22, 2012


*headdesk*
Northwest Toronto businesses are warning Premier Dalton McGuinty that any transit construction along Finch Avenue could spark a legal blockade similar to the injunction that delayed the St. Clair right-of-way by more than a year.

The caution marks an apparent policy reversal for the local business improvement association, which embraced light-rail in the transit-starved region of the city just four years ago. ...

In a 2008 newsletter, the Emery Village BIA said a virtually identical project to the current one would “translate into more efficient transportation into and out of the area, increasing the magnetism of Emery Village as a place to live, work, shop, worship and do business.”

Local councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, who sits on the BIA’s board, is now arguing in favour of a subway rather than an LRT. His position appears to have led to an about-face at the BIA. ...

Opposing councillors say the BIA is being sold on a fantasy plan.

“There is no plan for a Finch subway,” said Councillor Maria Augimeri, a TTC commissioner. “The mayor’s office can’t figure out how to pay for a subway on Sheppard, never mind one on Finch. It’s a facile argument.”

But the BIA chair said that opting for an imperfect LRT plan would be shortsighted.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily a fantasy,” she said. “Unfortunately sometimes you have to play the wait-and-see game.”
posted by maudlin at 1:20 PM on February 22, 2012


New York, run by the lowest common denominator.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 1:35 PM on February 22, 2012


screw the BIA - they are just a bunch of shopowners who may never even go to Finch West.

The people who LIVE there should have the real say.

/disclaimer: I don't live in Finch West, but I did live near there and travel along Finch/Steeles every day for 4 years
posted by jb at 3:56 PM on February 22, 2012


I wish I could offer Greg Webster a job at the San Francisco MTA.

He'd get shitcanned after pointing out what a waste of money the Central Subway project is.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 5:03 PM on February 22, 2012


Steve Munro has the "secret" Sheppard subway report that Royson James wrote about in the Star last week. The report is only 11 pages long:
I suspect that it is only part of an even larger report because this material only covers one big question: why are the assumptions from the Network 2011 study done back in 1986 no longer valid? There is no discussion of construction costs, project financing, or any comparison of alternative schemes.
posted by maudlin at 5:20 PM on February 22, 2012


except this time they got enough votes to win. In other words...Toronto is trending rightward (along with the rest of Ontario).

Rest of Ontario... yes, trending right for the moment. For Toronto...um, no. Cast your mind back to when Mike Harris forced Toronto to amalgamate with the immediately surrounding bedroom communities - Etobicoke, North York, Willowdale, Scarberia, etc. Suddenly you have these right-leaning 'burbs countering the left-leaning city core. Ford's recent victory has proven what a clever bit of gerrymandering that turned out to be.

(Credit must also go to the well-organized national right-wing machine behind Ford's victory. Richard Ciano, one-half of the strategy team that helped heave this buffoon into the mayor's chair , is now president of the Ontario PC party, who hope that he can fabricate a gravy train for them too)

Re TTC... it's a sad fact that substantial traffic and transit improvements in Toronto haven't been undertaken for maybe 20+ years. Every time the need for transit improvement is highlighted, the current governments scramble to form yet another toothless, underfunded reorganization that effectively kicks the problem forward another 5 years. MetroLinx. The Big Move.Transit City. Blah blah blah.

The biggest problem is that Toronto is traditionally hated by the Rest Of Canada, who also usually elect the federal government, hence the feds won't put in anywhere near their reasonable share of transit funding for Toronto. I believe Canada has the lowest federal support for public transit, per capita, than any other industrialized nation.
posted by Artful Codger at 7:14 PM on February 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


At least financially, Webster comes out ahead as he will be paid well past his planned retirement date. I wonder what kind of talent they will be able to recruit to replace him though? Someone I know that was fired "without cause" as CEO of a public service organisation because they wouldn't play along to get along turned out to be nearly irreplaceable. The organisation went through several hiring committees and eventually had to settle for someone who did not have the qualifications or experience.
posted by saucysault at 3:43 AM on February 24, 2012


> The organisation went through several hiring committees and eventually had to settle for someone who did not have the qualifications or experience.

That kind of sounds like a description of Toronto's last mayoral election.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:14 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Richard Ciano, one-half of the strategy team that helped heave this buffoon into the mayor's chair ,

Note that other half of that team, even when defending Ford and calling out Ford's critics for unfair tactics, still makes Hizzoner sound like an idiot.

And lest outsiders think the only thing on Mayor Flounder's plate these days is fighting with his council, sacking career civil servants who have dared to present findings he dislikes, and trying the province's patience, he has also today lost a legal battle to prevent an investigation of his 2010 campaign expenses. Probably because these inquests cost money, and, y'know, respect for taxpayers.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:35 PM on February 24, 2012


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