Happy Halloween, mwwwwwahhhaahha! Today’s Newsstand is chock-full of great costume ideas to amaze your friends with. In the news: calling it an early day at Nathan Phillips Scare, ombudsman gets to keep hanging around, provincial municipalities are too secretive, Mayor Ford and the downtown casino, and holiday shopping.
Halloween: it’s just like any other day for the bloodsuckers down at City Hall, eh? They pretend to be something other than what they are, get free handouts, and go door to door making demands of the taxpayers—no, that would be a really lazy piece of satire. We prefer to just point out that council has voted to end early today so that councillors can spend time trick-or-treating with their kids and giving out candy. As councillor David Shiner (Ward 24, Willowdale) pointed out, City staff aren’t allowed to take Halloween off if they choose to, so why should council?
Last night, city council also voted to extend ombudsman Fiona Crean’s contract by two years. This is less than half of the five-year term she is currently serving or the five-year extension proposed by councillor Gord Perks (Ward 14, Parkdale-High Park). Still, since her current contract does not end until next year, it means that she will at least be here until Ford’s current term as mayor ends.
This might not come as a surprise to many people, but Ontario’s municipalities can reportedly be too secretive. André Marin, the province’s ombudsman, has concluded in a report released yesterday that some municipalities violate the provincial “Sunshine Law,” which is supposed to ensure transparency and open meetings in all appropriate cases. The problem, it seems, is that there really are no consequences for violating this law. Toronto has its own ombudsman (see above), so Marin’s office does not have jurisdiction here, but, oh, it must be nice to live somewhere that the municipal politicians being watched by the ombudsman don’t get to vote on whether or not to extend the term of the ombudsman.
Mayor Ford is looking pretty keen on a downtown casino. In an email his office sent to his council allies, a downtown casino is touted as good for jobs and City revenues. The talking points in the email address a number of ideas from city manager Joe Pennachetti’s recent report on the matter, including how a downtown casino would bring a rise in problem gambling along with it. Here, the email tells councillors to just point out that more people would benefit from the employment at a casino then would be affected by a gambling addiction. It is good to know that Ford’s camp has taken the time to really look at all the complex social and personal issues around gambling, the false promise that anyone can win a better life, and the challenges of living with addiction—then boiled it all down to a sucks-to-be-you sentiment.
Easter Eaton Bunny is coming to town. This upcoming Easter Sunday (the long weekend in March), the Eaton Centre will be open for five hours. The mall is exempt from laws that forbid retailers from opening on statutory holidays because it is a “tourist destination.” The City could be removing that restriction for all stores sometime soon. Talking about Easter before Halloween is even over—that is scary. BOO!