Every Sunday, Mayor Rob Ford and his brother, Doug, host The City, a two-hour talk show on Newstalk 1010. We listen so you don't have to.
We wait all weekend for this, folks: The City, with Rob and Doug. I know I’m ready. I’ve got my “Ford for Mayor” magnet, notes from old shows, and a mayoral chew toy for my cat, Hobbes. Ready or not, here we go.
1:07: The show starts on a sombre note, as Rob and Doug express their condolences to the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. The show is often filled with glib and ill-considered moments, but this is not one of them.
1:08: Doug says that, on a happier note, thousands of Torontonians just completed the Toronto Yonge Street 10K run that morning, and he singles out Toronto Sun City Hall columnist Sue-Ann Levy for congratulations. Doug doesn’t mention the four councillors who participated: Kristyn Wong Tam (Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale), Mary Fragedakis (Ward 29, Toronto-Danforth), Jaye Robinson (Ward 25, Don Valley West), and TTC Chair Karen Stintz (Ward 16, Eglinton-Lawrence). Raccoon Nation would like to congratulate them, too.
1:10: Rob does classic Rob: “The Leafs are in the playoffs, the Leafs are in the playoffs, the Leafs are in the playoffs…Batten down the hatches, folks.”
1:12: Matthew Corrin, the CEO of local health-conscious fast-food chain Freshii, joins the show. Rob and Doug get Freshii wraps, which they dig into. Doug’s assistant Amin Massoudi provides a photo on Twitter.
1:13: Worth noting is that Corrin offered to take the Nathan Phillips Square rinkside restaurant space and donate Freshii’s profits to the City. Of course, in the finest display of City Hall’s sophistry, Hero Burger won that battle. This detail goes unmentioned.
1:20: Rob and Doug ask Corrin about his education. He says he’s embarrassed that he failed business school, and that his Mom would be surprised to learn this. Rob and Doug take turns making fun of each other’s education. Rob brings up what sounds like Doug’s failed attempt at firefighting school, then Doug comes back with a reference to how Rob didn’t complete his first year at Carleton, which Doug refers to as “Football 101.”
1:22: Rob is eating a healthy Freshii wrap. He says it’s amazing. Corrin mentions it has quinoa, among other ingredients. The people want quinoa, folks. Quinoa, quinoa, quinoa.
1:38: Councillor Michael Thompson (Ward 37, Scarborough Centre), whom Rob has nicknamed “Big Dog,” joins the show. Just like last week, the song “Who Let the Dogs Out” accompanies Thompson, and the Fords howl in delight. NOW’s Jonathan Goldsbie captured the audio from last week’s singalong here.
1:44: Thompson argues that the Ford era marks the first time that the City of Toronto is working with private industry to create a better business environment. It’s true that the City does this, but it’s not a new thing. For Ford or his allies to claim he’s the first one to involve private business in running the City requires either a very low opinion of Ford’s predecessors, a very high opinion of Ford, or some combination thereof.
1:48: Rob does some mayorsplaining, in an attempt to enlist people to run in the next municipal election: “I encourage people [to run for office], I’ve always encouraged people—especially females. We need more females in politics. And it seems everyone says, ‘Oh, it’s male-dominated.’ Well, call me. Call me at home—233-6934, 416-233-6934—and [we'll] go for a coffee, and explain how politics works.”
Perhaps a good place to start encouraging women to get into politics would be to try calling them “women” rather than “females.” Or avoid condescension: rather than saying you’ll explain the alchemy of politics, mention that you’d be happy to have a conversation about what you’ve learned and listen to ideas about how City Hall can be made better and more accessible for others.
Perhaps you could mention the Toronto Regional Champion Campaign—whose launch you failed to attend during a City Hall lunch break—where young women can get political mentorship from councillors.
Or there’s Women in Toronto Politics, whose organizer, Steph Guthrie, observed on Twitter that it’s ironic for someone to offer to explain how City Hall works when, like Ford, they openly admit to never having read the handbook for their job. (At his conflict of interest hearing, Ford testified that he figured he didn’t need to, because his dad was an MPP.)
Or you could try to have more than one woman (out of 13) on your Executive Committee, to broaden perspectives on important issues. Or, you could try not calling former mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson crazy after she alleges you grabbed her butt at a function.
Rob Ford genuinely means well and wants to help people in his own way, which would be great if the world worked on intentions alone. But he just doesn’t get it, and we’re worse off for it.
1:51: Doug reads a list of municipal tax rate increases across the country, and Rob is aghast. “Oh my God,” he exclaims as Doug mentions Calgary’s 5.5 per cent increase. Not mentioned: This puts a dent in the theory that tax increases necessarily slow growth, because Calgary is doing quite well for itself, thank you very much. Put in neo-conservative terms, the Laffer Curve is bi-directional, so don’t make @ECONOMISTHULK smash you, okay, Mr. Mayor?
1:52: Rob announces that property tax rates will only rise 1.75 per cent in next year’s budget, and that the Land Transfer Tax will be reduced by 10 per cent. It’s hard to know what this guarantee is worth. Last year he promised a 1.75 per cent increase and wound up with 2 per cent, and there’s little appetite on council for cutting the LTT. Council would need to find around $35 million in cuts or extra revenue to make Ford’s goal happen.
2:00 Doug says that the Ford administration is investing $90 million in bike infrastructure—twice what the Miller administration invested. This is true: the capital works plan for 2013-2022 does budget that amount for cycling. However, this money is allocated to developing 100km in off-street paths, 80km in on-street connections, and 8,000 bicycle parking spaces. Given that Toronto under Ford has experienced a net loss of on-street bike lanes, it’s fair to wonder about these plans. It’s one thing to make a promise, but it’s another to follow through.
2:48: The show has been boring for a while, but now we get callers. Kirk calls in and says that Scarborough has been betrayed, because it doesn’t have the subway line it was promised in the 1980s. Rob guarantees Scarborough will get subways—if not during this term, then when he’s re-elected. As Metro’s Matt Elliott wondered on Twitter the other day: at what point does optimism meet delusion?
2:49: Doug says the folks in Scarborough know when they’re getting shafted with second-tier transit, and can see through this gosh-darned LRT plan. He calls out Scarborough councillors Glenn De Baeremaeker (Ward 28, Scarborough Centre), Chin Lee (Ward 41, Scarborough-Rouge River), and Raymond Cho (Ward 42, Scarborough-Rouge River) for voting against subways for Scarborough. Rob mutters “shame” multiple times during Doug’s rant, likely to spite the Grid‘s David Topping.
2:52: On revenue tools for new transit infrastructure, Rob says the easy thing to do is to raise taxes. In fact, it seems easier to promise to never raise taxes and then blame your opponents when you don’t have any money to deliver the transit you said you would. But you know, whatevs.
3:00: Doug says “God bless Ford Nation,” and we are dismissed from our weekly sermon.
The show was mostly boring, with a couple of highlights. To that end, it was much like how council functions, albeit manifested through the id-like bluntess that makes the Fords the Fords.
Four out of five cups of coffee. And God bless you for reading, Raccoon Nation.