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politics

Why Rob Ford’s Budget Proposal Is As Irrelevant As He Is

The key feature of the mayor's budget plan: spend more money than you're willing to raise.

Rob Ford at a press conference on November 5.

Rob Ford has some serious problems with Toronto’s draft 2014 operating budget. When City staff unveiled their recommendations the mayor denounced the property tax increase it includes and stalked out of the room, followed by a press stampede that the Lion King‘s Scar could not have engineered better. Unsurprisingly, the first round of articles about the budget orbited around Ford—focused on his reaction rather than the content of the budget itself—and his claim that a 2.5 per cent residential property tax increase was evidence of a returning gravy train, one that had picked up steam in the week that had elapsed since council had stripped him of most powers.

This, to be clear, is false: Joe Pennachetti, the City’s top civil servant, told reporters that “there was no impact with respect to the mayor’s role” and even if you aren’t inclined to believe him, the suggestion that staff would be able to substantially revise a $9.6 billion budget in six days is preposterous. Toronto’s budgets take months to write, weeks to finalize, and days to format and print.

Compounding this proclamation of ignorance (whether willful or not), Ford maintains that Torontonians can only bear a 1.75 per cent property tax increase, and that it is entirely possible to reach this target without cutting services and while simultaneously reducing revenues. This too is preposterous. The primary conflict here is not between Rob Ford’s 1.75 per cent property tax increase and the 2.5 per cent increase recommended by staff, but between Rob Ford and reality.

Here is why City staff’s numbers add up, and Ford’s do not.


HOW THE BUDGET WORKS


The 2012 budget process was historic for its acrimony. In the summer of 2011 hundreds of citizens pulled all-nighters to give deputations before assembled councillors, defending municipal services that the mayor and his executive committee deemed expendable. To those residents, however, the services slated for cuts—including libraries, homeless shelters, and the student nutrition fund—were essential. In the end, council overruled the mayor and saved many services; the margin was one vote.

The 2012 process highlighted several important features of our operating budget. Because the City faces annual inflation and cost of living increases for employees, and because 90 per cent of its services are provincially mandated, achieving the mayor’s hoped-for 10 per cent cut was effectively impossible. As part of the 2012 budget, council passed a 2.5 per cent residential property tax increase, one which the mayor proposed and supported. That increase reflected, and was necessitated by, an important fact about our budget: every year it comes with an inconvenient but unavoidable funding gap. (Though the City’s costs automatically go up each year because of inflation, property taxes do not—council needs to decide to increase them.)

This year’s proposed 2.5 per cent property tax increase breaks down into three main parts:

property tax breakdown

First is the maintenance of existing services, which requires a 1.4 per cent property tax increase.

Second is 0.6 per cent, to pay for some enhanced services. For instance, over the past two years the police force has not brought on any new officers, and so this year plans include hiring 200. Also on the list: some new firefighters, more shelter beds, and some other relatively small-ticket items. The lion’s share of the money will go to the police enhancements, which Rob Ford has endorsed.

The third element of the property tax increase is 0.5 per cent which council has already voted on, to help pay for the Scarborough subway. (This, if you’re wondering, is not negotiable: because of the wording of the motion that’s already been passed, council is not allowed to reduce services elsewhere in the City in order to accommodate the subway extension. In other words, even if council did muster some new political interest in cutting services, it couldn’t use the savings to pay for the Scarborough subway.)


HOW ROB FORD THINKS THE BUDGET WORKS


It is unclear how Ford arrived at his 1.75 per cent property tax increase rate (other than “sounds good”) but he first shared his commitment to it on his radio program in April. Since then, however, council endorsed a multi-year, 1.6 per cent property tax hike to fund the Scarborough subway extension—a subway that Ford ardently, desperately supports—beginning with the 0.5 per cent property tax increase in 2014.

While the mayor was quick to take credit for the Scarborough subway extension, he has not embraced the responsibility to pay for it with the same kind of enthusiasm. After the subway vote Ford began claiming that his 1.75 per cent property tax increase would include the new 0.5 per cent subway tax, without noting that he was effectively reducing his own proposal to just a 1.25 per cent increase, much less explaining how he would pull that off.

Ford also wants to curb revenue streams, which puts further pressure on the budget. Most important to him is cutting the land transfer tax, which he wants to reduce by 10 per cent. (Senior financial staff say this would be imprudent.) In addition, he opposes the proposed $5.25 Metropass hike, likening it to a vehicle registration tax on transit users. (It is true that transit riders are overburdened in Toronto: since council has cut the TTC’s subsidy under Ford, increased fares are used to fill the transit budget gap.) The impact of these two decisions would be $43 million.

There is a total $62 million gap between what the mayor says the public is willing to pay and the list of things he wants to do, equivalent to an additional 2.5 per cent residential property tax increase:

rob ford budget gap FINAL

Here is the key point: Rob Ford has not specified what services he would cut, or what new sources of revenue he might find, in order to make up for the added pressure his wishlist would put on the budget. Right now he is just proposing that the City spend more than it brings in, which is both diametrically opposed to his self-proclaimed fiscal conservatism and prohibited by law.


WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES?


During the budget committee meeting at which the draft budget was unveiled, Doug Ford (he’s a member of the committee) was aghast that City staff were unable to find an additional $19 million to finance the difference between the mayor’s desired 1.75 per cent property tax increase and their proposed 2.5 per cent increase. (Important note: this $19 million is just the difference between the two property tax rates, to cover the base budget, potential service enhancements, and the Scarborough subway. It would not cover the mayor’s additional hopes to cut the land transfer tax and freeze Metropass prices.)

In the absence of a plan for generating new revenue, what’s needed is a decrease on the expenditure side of the equation. Doug indicated that in a $9.6 billion budget, it should be easy to find this money. It is not.

Remember that process for the 2012 budget, with that substantial public pushback against proposed service cuts? At the final city council vote, the services that wound up being saved were worth about $19 million. Using that list, here’s an example of the cuts council would need to make to achieve the mayor’s property tax goal:

  • End TTC Wheel Trans service for dialysis patients ($5 million)
  • Cut additional funds from Toronto Public Library ($3.9 million)
  • Eliminate some social service and health program grants ($2.3 million)
  • Close three homeless shelters ($1.97 million)
  • Reduce child care subsidy ($1.72 million)
  • End free registered programs for children and youth in Priority Centres ($1.3 million)
  • End programming at five school pools ($683,500)
  • Reduce child care programming ($670,000)
  • End mechanical leaf collection in suburbs ($510,000)
  • Eliminate three positions in the Toronto Environmental Office ($323,000)
  • Reduce ice rink arena programming ($260,000)

That’s not quite $19 million, but it’s close. And those are not easy decisions to make. Keep in mind that these were the final items on the table proposed for cutting after a year of research and debate. Mayoral bluster aside, cutting municipal programs is difficult, in large part because so many services are mandated, and the ones that are not are demonstrably valued by residents.

To answer Doug Ford’s question: the mayor already tried to cut the relevant amount from the budget and was overturned by his colleagues in the wake of massive public opposition.


THE ROB FORD PROBLEM


There are many reasons to oppose Rob Ford. You may have seen some of them in the news recently. But there is an essential, inescapable truth that goes beyond his behaviour: Rob Ford’s arguments, and his math, do not add up. They do not add up when he falsely claims he has saved a billion dollars, and they certainly don’t add up on a back-of-the-napkin budget proposal that promises the impossible. Perhaps this is because of his liberal relationship with truth-telling, or maybe it is because he fundamentally does not understand how the institution he leads actually works.

Stripped of his powers, the mayor is reduced to his ability to shout—which is, to be fair, considerable. But his message does not merit real consideration. If anything, treating it seriously worsens our understanding of Toronto’s finances. The sooner we recognize that the mayor’s dishonesty and misdirection is not limited to his personal life but extends to his policies, the sooner we can move on to a meaningful discussion of what we’d like to see in the budget—and the sooner the budget can be about Toronto and not Rob Ford.

Comments

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    The Ford Show is always a rerun: make up numbers, promise not to cut services, reject math showing numbers are nonsense (and then cut services).

    • Toronto_Bro

      Always a rerun?–Does that mean he’ll be re-elected?

      • Ish Kabibble

        Re-elected? God help us!

        • John Istheman

          YES! I sure do hope he will be reelected. We need to remove the people that are currently there and put people who understand money.

          • dsmithhfx

            The only thing Rob Ford understands about money is how to throw ours away.

          • John Istheman

            Well that is completely silly. He was elected because the people wanted someone to clean up the spending spree. Then when he cut budgets the rebellion started.

          • dsmithhfx

            Nah, he was elected because of the garbage strike. Most expensive mistake the voters of this city ever made, now showing on late night comedy and YouTube.

          • OgtheDim

            Given Rob never read a budget report until Towhey said he had to…….

  • OgtheDim

    I think calling Ford’s ideas a plan or a proposal is being generous. There is, to the best of my knowledge, nothing down on paper. He has been asked for specifics, but has not provided anything other then talk. Until he does, he can be safely ignored.

  • vampchick21

    i think he truly does not understand how anything works, despite his claim that his father’s former position of MPP makes him an expert. He simply does not grasp it, has never grasped it (his councillor years were wasted on bitching about pennies and voting no on everything) and never actually will grasp it. In fact, I will go so far as to say beyond glad handing and bitching about pennies he has no real interest in the job.

    • HotDang

      You’d almost think his brain had been wrecked by substance abuse.

      • rich1299

        Oh I think there’s more going on than just some dead brain cells from all his drinking. After all the guy thinks taking responsibility for his actions is limited to acknowledging he did them and most definitely doesn’t involve accepting the consequences.

        It seems Ford always expects to get whatever he wants without him having to do anything to get it. Like the private sector lining up, in his head only of course, to pay for building subways for the city. Also in his use of city paid mayor’s office staff as his personal servants even going so far as having them come over to his home to change the batteries in his own children’s toys!

        If Rob Ford doesn’t personally enjoy something he just doesn’t do it, and math just isn’t as much fun for Ford as campaigning.

        • torontothegreat

          “going so far as having them come over to his home to change the batteries in his own children’s toys!”

          Is this true? I would LOVE to see the source for this.

          • Testu

            It’s in the ITO, originally from police interviews with his staff. It’s been reported on by the Star, Globe, Post, and the Sun. I’m pretty sure they’ve all referenced it. Here for example: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/what-toronto-police-learned-from-interviews-with-rob-fords-staffers/article15434289/

            “Mr. Nejatian said the mayor would sometimes call him late at night to ask him to change his light bulbs, or to help his wife with the computer. Mr. Fickel said he also received similar requests: to change batteries in the mayor’s children’s toys, buy cigarettes, or Diet Coke for the mayor’s wife.”

          • torontothegreat

            I’ve completely missed that, thanks for the link :)

      • luganman

        i beg to differ. I seriously think he is not that sharp. This is not sniping by me . I truly believe it.

    • playtheguitar

      Rob Ford never smiles brighter than when he is knee-deep in glad handing with the public. When confronted by the realities of having an important job, he mostly looks miserable, harried and impatient, and that’s on a good day. It appears that it’s the IDEA of being mayor that he loves and not the details of the job, which he misunderstands, or makes up as he goes along.

      • http://www.iterativearts.com bud latanville

        It sounds like you’re saying he’d make a great mascot for some sports team… :)

      • luganman

        which is precisely why he devoted so much time to coaching football

    • bobloblawbloblawblah

      He’s never really been that interested in the job. he just wants to be in charge, because it’s more fun to shout at people than it is just to be the guy on the sidelines who bellyaches about spending on bunny suits and retirement parties. There’s a guy like this at every company: the loudmouth who thinks he should be in charge because he wants to be in charge.

      • luganman

        normally these guys are kept away from ANY power

        • vampchick21

          Mommy pushed him into it.

          • Doug Earl

            Dougie pushed him into it.

          • dsmithhfx

            Anything to get him out of the basement!

      • OgtheDim

        I would point out that the retirement party was a pretty bad idea, and Kyle Rae, less then gracious in accepting criticism at the best of times, was particularly patrician in his answers.

        • dsmithhfx

          Kyle and Adam G. gift-wrapped the election, DM signed the card.

    • luganman

      or aptitude

    • Lloyd_Davis

      He also claims to have business experience that makes him an expert. But it’s hard to discount the rumblings that he was the VP in charge of paper clips at Deco.

      • dsmithhfx

        I wonder if he had them gold-plated.

  • wklis

    Rob Ford would make a good 311 operator. However, I do not expect a mayor to fill potholes or collect the garbage for me. A CEO reads reports, researches, directs, and makes sure people are doing their job.

    The Ford brothers are like the Roman emperors. Diverting attention away from their problems and shortcomings by giving the public bread and circuses.

    • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

      He’d make a good 311 operator? He doesn’t know how the city government works, and he couldn’t do anything for a caller that couldn’t be done by shouting (i.e. most things).

      Edit: …on second thought, if 311 operators were only meant to make callers feel they’d been listened to, and not actually *change* anything, he would be.

    • dsmithhfx

      How many 311 operators (or for that matter, any other municipal employees) do you think would be allowed to be chronically late and leave early to pursue some hobby (such as coaching and/or scoring drugs), frequently drunk on the job, and publicly ridicule, bully, abuse and assault co-workers?

    • luganman

      except that it;s Rob’s f-ups that are the circuses not sure about the bread

  • KRoberts

    Not only does he not understand, but he refuses to learn – it’s a dangerous combination.

    • HotDang

      Rob is too busy skipping off work to buy drugs to learn things.

  • Robby Breadner

    Great article David. Thank you. The silver lining in all of this is Rob Ford’s antics may have aroused the sleeping electorate who have been painfully dormant. What a fantastic idea to think Torontonians may actually treat city politics with same engagement as other interests such as nightlife, dining sports or the arts. Rob Ford has made it interesting and much easier to pick a side. Bring on the election.

  • emeraldeyes24

    WHAT gravy train? There’s no gravy in this budget – it is, well, compared to what he would do, maintaining the status quo. I cannot see the end of this irresponsible, pathological man (can’t bring myself to call him a Mayor) soon enough. Anyone who votes for him needs psychological evaluation too~ let’s see, polls show that his supporters have less education, and possibly some of the same personality traits that he displays. Ahh, it’s a Democracy so they are assured the Constitutional right to vote; we just need to ensure that Torontonians care enough about the next election whenever that may be, to get out and VOTE!

  • Nathan Kelly

    I think we’ve clearly established that presenting a fact-based, well-reasoned argument in line with reality has little to no effect on Ford and the baffling people who continue to support him.

  • Tor

    Only if the public sector emoloyees would be aligned to the privaye sector: do more each year for the same or less pay

    • OgtheDim

      Can’t do that until we know what we really need to do.

      Ford ain’t going there.

    • HotDang

      In the private sector people’s salaries do not stay the same or get reduced every year. Most folks I know have never had a pay cut and get at least a meager raise most years.

      • tyrannosaurus_rek

        During the recent recession a small company I had previously worked for cut everyone’s pay by 30% and let go of anyone who had a problem with that (at Christmas, to make it worse). The private sector isn’t all banks and insurance firms with a hundred vice presidents.

        • torontothegreat

          …and if you had been in a union you most likely would have had your pay protected. Allowing you to spend more money, which makes the recession go away faster.

  • John Istheman

    Excellent article. First one in months that actually deals with facts and does not waste space discussing mayor Ford’s personal life.

    • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

      What he’s done on public time isn’t his “personal life”—it’s a major part of the reason he’s unfit for office, and thus entirely appropriate to discuss.

      • John Istheman

        Facts are facts. No mayor could live up to the insanity he has had to face in the past 3 years. No person could. Only a few more months and when he is reelected with a majority I will rejoice. In the meantime. Buy a can of soup and drop it off at our local fire station. People are starving in Toronto.

        • ExcessOfConstraint

          Everything that Ford has had to face in the last 3 months is HIS fault. There is no merit in how he’s handled it (poorly, BTW) when he’s the one who created it.

        • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

          —Mayors of larger cities with bigger problems aren’t doing crack. They, evidently, can; facts are facts.
          —Majorities don’t mean anything in Toronto mayoral elections.
          —The article explains how duly elected councillors *rejected* Ford’s attempt to cut the student nutrition fund in 2012. People *are* starving in Toronto; the can of soup only feeds your conscience.

        • OgtheDim

          Look, James Garner, we all know you are trolling, but at least try to sound like you give a darn about Toronto in your first few posts with a new alias. BTW, the passive aggressive stuff on the Women’s Post is what gives you away.

          • John Istheman

            I have no idea what you are implying. I am not that bright. troll? I do love James Garner. At least when I watched with my dad many many years ago.

            People have problems. But they work on them and get better. This is one of the greatest things about Canada. But they never ever are treated like Rob Ford has been. He OBVIOUSLY has a problem. But since when do Canadians spit sarcasm rather than lend a hand?

            There is a huge spending problem. Not just at city hall but the entire world. City hall should cut ALL programs by 3% immediately.

            Try this instead of calling me names. Do 1 good thing today. Just one.

          • OgtheDim

            You said the exact same thing when I called you on using that name 2 years ago in the Globe.

            Anyhoo……

            Some of us believe that smoking crack precludes you from being mayor.

          • John Istheman

            I am sorry. I have just begun. I have never written anything in the Globe. I’m new!! WOohooo.

            I understand your pain. Really I do. But there has to be a balance in society between the law and opinion.

            Just because you do not like it that he has smoked crack does not give you the right to attack him publicly.

            Ill try to explain this differently.

            If you went to Chinatown and bought an apple. Took 2 bites and found a worm inside. What would you do? You would go back to the store and say – “What the hell! Theres a worm in my apple” They will offer you a) new apple or b) money back.

            You won’t sit on the steps screaming — these guys sell wormy apples!!! over and over.

            YES YES I KNOW – Mayor of Toronto is different.

            NO ITS NOT!!

            Over 300,000 people decided that we want this wormy apple. There are no laws broken. He is fulfilling his work duties. He is doing his job.

            In 9 months you can exchange your apple. But don’t be surprised if its a pear.

          • OgtheDim

            Nah…we know all about you.

            Have fun.

            The rest of us will get on dealing with reality.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            Actually, doing crack is against the law. So are driving drunk and distracted driving. And uttering death threats. And don’t forget the conflict of interest – while not a crime per se, it’s still a broken law.

            And he hasn’t been fulfilling his work duties. He’s frequently absent from council meetings, or arrives late or leaves early. He picks and chooses when he wants to represent the city and when he wants to be a private citizen without any obligations or expectations. As head of council he’s also largely failed to set the agenda and work with the whole of council to achieve goals, compromising where necessary.

            So you’re defending a criminal, absentee mayor. Would you have defended Miller under these circumstances?

          • John Istheman

            Getting tired so I will keep this brief.

            I believe in the law. I am unbendable in my belief of the law.

            If he had been convicted on ANY of these I would not be here writing today.

            I am defending the law. Not opinion. Not childish rants or photos and videos. The law.

            If (I can’t believe I am saying this) Adam Vaughan were to be in the same circumstance I would defend his right.

            That is the problem here. You cannot shame a person into doing the right thing. Screaming and yelling at a 3 year old won’t make him eat the damn veggies. I know I tried!

            But in the next election YOU can make a difference by letting every person you meet how you feel. That is the law!! You have that right!!!

          • ExcessOfConstraint

            “Just because you do not like it that he has smoked crack does not give you the right to attack him publicly.”

            Yes, it does, to be actually correct.

          • Astin44

            But what if the store told you “too bad” about the apple? What if they admitted that it was their apple, it had worms, they knew it had worms, they were really embarrassed about the worm, apologized, and then said, “but hey, that was in the past, and there’s nothing they can do about it”, and did nothing to fix the damage?

            Then what would you do? Would you say, “Well, that’s fine, they’re only human after all.” and leave? What if this was the 4th or 5th time they’d sold a wormy apple and admitted it? What if they lied about all this until you presented proof?

            Would you keep shopping there? What if lots of other people shopped there, unaware of the worm problem? Would you make an effort to inform them? Would you try to get the place to clean up its act? If it refused, would you work to shut it down? Would you stand outside and yell “THESE GUYS SELL WORMY APPLES!” until they refunded your money or cleaned up their act?

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            John Istheman is like the guy who comes up to you and says you should wait until next season to buy a replacement apple, then tells you he hopes it’s just as wormy.

          • John Istheman

            Ok part 1.

            If they sold me a product and did nothing to fix the damage I would use the law. That is what is it for.

            I would make them aware of their choices. Return money or new apple. If they failed to take either choice I would use the next legal option. Small claims court.

            I would use the system our ancestors have provided to take action. Yelling”THESE GUYS SELL WORMY APPLES!” until they refunded your money or cleaned up their act won’t work!!! You know why??

            They don’t speak english. (just kidding, sort of)

            If no one take legal action then they will continue to do as they please.

            The problem your team has is it’s impatient and immature. You want to pull down the wall and scream defiance. Then be thanked for your efforts, regardless of the fact that the wall crushed our rights.

          • luganman

            and by extension a newspaper wrote that they had seen a video of you smoking crack and you hadn’t you would sue them for libel but you had and you denied it and lied until the truth was proven only then do you admit it ? yes finally. ordinarily when this happens the elected official steps down in disgrace

          • John Istheman

            Oh don’t get me wrong. I think he should have taken a leave of absence until 2014. Gone to rehab. Lost some weight. Spent some quality time with his family somewhere out of Toronto. Say … Florida.

            But I do not agree that he should be forced to. My issue and that of thousands of people in Toronto is that unless he is charged with a crime, and he can legally be removed from office then its his right to do what he wants.

            Next mayor can take a few days and pass a motion that would allow council under defined circumstances to censor and even disbar a mayor, but until then, lets not trample on the rights of office.

          • torontothegreat

            You would pay $200+ in court fees to sue for an apple worth $0.59 cents?

            You’re a bright one!

          • John Istheman

            oioioioi You are a bright one. OgtheDim these are you friends?

            Using small words.

            IT was an analogy.

            The point I was making is that laws matter. That is what makes a government strong.

          • torontothegreat

            Stating that your analogy was an analogy, doesn’t make your analogy any more analogous.

            To use smaller words, it’s wormy-apples and purple skyscrapers

          • rich1299

            I read two posts from you before I realized you’re just a troll and have read no more, after all life is too short to waste on such people.

          • John Istheman

            Why do people keep calling me a troll. I’m super good looking, bath often and speak 4 languages. Strange.

          • dsmithhfx

            James Garner, Jack Bauer, Princeton Grad, Ann Murray…

          • John Istheman

            Actually. Uneducated. No money for school. Had to get a job instead. Did go back for a few years but alas not paper.

            I hate Ann Murray music with nearly the same passion as you guys hate Rob Ford. Meanest thing someone on these tubes has every called me.

        • vampchick21

          Are….are you insane???????

          • John Istheman

            Far from it. Are you? You use an incredible amount of questions marks.

          • vampchick21

            Because as well all know, question marks in an internet posting are a clear marker of insanity, it’s in all the textbooks right next to hairy knuckles=werewolf. Other than that, clearly you are insane, you support Rob Ford blindly, thinking he actually is capable of his job. He’s not. Never has been. Never will be.

          • John Istheman

            Actually I don’t follow anyone blindly. Rather than respond as you do. Name calling and sarcasm. I will try to explain.

            Listen carefully.

            When you gang up on a person no matter what he has done, you are taking the law in your own hands. This is not acceptable in Canada.

            When you call a sick person a name. You are being a bully.

            I am far from a werewolf. Hairy a bit yes. Now do something nice to balance out the anger you are feeling. Go to Sobeys and buy one of those 10@ homeless bags. Write Rob Fords name on it. You will feel better after that.

          • vampchick21

            All I can really do here is shake my head at how pathetic your stance is. Seriously.

          • John Istheman

            Thank you. Have great day citizen.

          • vampchick21

            It’ll get better the second you depart.

          • John Istheman

            Thank you again! You just reminded me of a great memory.

            It was when I was dating my wife. She was at university in the US and I was working in Toronto. Just as I would hang up she would say something else. We would then play a game of you hang up first – no you hang up!.

            Thank you vampchick21. Made my day. I will STFU now.

          • vampchick21

            Good. F.O.

        • dsmithhfx

          “No mayor could live up to the insanity he has had to face in the past 3 years.”

          But enough about his family…

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    Off with you, troll.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    “So many 506 streetcars run on empty. I take it everyday to go to my work place.”

    There are no empty 506s downtown during rush hour, and too often full cars are short-turned at Bay to send them back to pick up more people bound for downtown in the morning.

    The rest of your post seems to assume the bulk of the city budget is going to welfare recipients, rather than services such as the police and TTC.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    It looks like the Ford Nation brain trust has arrived to blame everything on the poor and unionized.

    • OgtheDim

      The Fordistas are in retreat on the Sun and Globe and Mail.

      • vampchick21

        instead they’ve come here. So many people seem to get all angry when presented with rational facts!

    • John Istheman
      • tyrannosaurus_rek

        An essay from someone who doesn’t value free speech and dissent, uses American spelling while extolling Canadian values (sans aforementioned speech and disagreement), and thinks using the on-the-record words of an admitted alcoholic and crack smoker to parody him is “bullying”, and that even being associated with that parody is inexcusable?

        Notable for its absence: any condemnation of crack smoking and drunken stupors. You know, actual criminal behaviour.

        • Nick

          Yeah, not to mention completely dishonouring the office of mayor by lying about the existence of a crack video for about 6 months (and not really apologize for it), furtive (and still unexplained behaviour) with Sandro Lisi involving manilla envelopes and gas station drops, calling the media “maggots” (or was that Doug Ford?). And Mr. John Istheman, as tyrannousaurus_rek points out, most of those quotes Ford himself. That’s why he deserves opprobium and durst I say it ridicule.

          • John Istheman

            Every time you ridicule the mayor you insult yourself. If you wish to be productive, find out why they are delaying Porter Air. A real potential multi million boost to our cities economy and “city officials” are delaying and trying to cancel!!!

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            Deflection and distraction doesn’t change anything.

          • Nick

            Being critical (which is what I am, although this does tend towards scorn) of Ford’s appalling behaviour and less than stellar fiscal record doesn’t insult me in any way. Such criticism is required in a properly functioning democracy. That we have this one is probably why council is delaying Porter ramming its expansion plans through (there split is about 47-45 for people for an against having jets on our increasingly beautiful waterfront)!!!

        • John Istheman

          While I freely admit my lack of writing skills, I am certain of one thing. You did not get the point of my post. I will try to be clearer. 8 months of bashing is unacceptable. At the same time the office is what I am fighting for. The law of our city and country should not be bent to suit any purpose. Had he been convicted or charged of one offence,. I would not be here.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            You act as if he’s done nothing wrong. Eight months of lying to council, the press, and the public is unacceptable. Smoking crack is unacceptable. Associating with drug dealers and gang members is unacceptable. Being involved in extortion and perhaps even murder is unacceptable. Being drunk in public is unacceptable. Dangerous driving is unacceptable. Groping unconsenting women is unacceptable. Being too intoxicated to meet the prime minister (the piece of shit that he is) and asked to leave an event is unacceptable.

            Holding someone accountable is not “bashing” or bullying. Despite what you might think, the ballot box is not the only lawful form of political expression in this country, and a court conviction is not the only judgement that matters.

    • bobloblawbloblawblah

      Incredible the number of knuckle draggers posting on this article. Of course, it’s quite likely the same guy with a few different handles.

  • OgtheDim

    A few things:

    a) Councillors wages are a miniscule fraction of a $10 billion operating budget.

    b) do not assume those who are disparaging Ford are happy with how money is spent

    c) If you think that the increase in TTC staff is going to go to more ticket takers, you really need to get out more

    d) swearing doesn’t impress – I’m not a 9 year old

    e) you want to cut down Christmas lights? oooooookkkkkkkk Mr. Grinch, but lets maybe consider not paying for yellow slickered pylons instead. 10 cops cost us about $1 million.

    (see some of us are looking within the budget)

  • OgtheDim

    “If you can’t afford to take care of a child then you shouldn’t have one.”

    We don’t means test for being a parent. Not our values.

    Consider moving to a place that supports that idea – the Sci-Fi section of your local book store.

  • OgtheDim

    Are you going to cut the cops wages 33%?

    • dsmithhfx

      The ones who have been tailing our Robbie and recording his every drug buy, drunk drive and tree piss? You betcha!

  • worstmayorever

    If you can’t do math and don’t find reality welcome, just stay out of the conversation and don’t vote. You’re abdicating your responsibility as a citizen why you replace facts with prejudiced impressions.

  • flavourcountry

    Typical conservative-Libertarian, pull-yerself-up-by-yer-bootstraps point of view. Can’t see past your own privileged lifestyle, can’t put others who might be in need ahead of you and think you’ve worked harder than you have.

    You had 3 jobs. Woot. Sounds like you’re more than qualified to slash subsidized childcare.

    I guess no one else knows how to budget and scrape by, then? Unemployed freeloaders who wants to not work to just scrape by, I would assume. Probably some junkie trash who milks the system for their fix, while doing nothing in return….wait, We’re talking about Rob Ford, aren’t we?

  • flavourcountry

    Grrrr swearies angry

  • nomoremicrophones

    Council is unable to impose a 33% cut without the Ministry of Labour stepping in. There is a contract with the workers, as represented by their union. Changing that contract has consequences. Council is, of course, free to direct the City staff to negotiate a much stricter agreement next time bargaining comes around.

    • Doug Earl

      Then Rob can have a strike of his own.

  • luganman

    5 dollars /hr. for everybody!!!

  • playtheguitar

    Which ways of saving money within the existing budget did Rob Ford, with a year between budgets, come up with? NONE. His brother Doug, who is vice chair of the budget committee? NONE. Rob’s preoccupation with reducing revenues prevented him from imaging useful suggestions. Not sure what angry robot Doug Ford’s excuse is. Why don’t you ask him?

  • markfrancis228

    Mayor Ford is pushing the impossible in order to be able to claim down the road that Council failed without him. Real simple. Most people never do the math. They often only choose what they believe from want they want most to hear.

    • tyrannosaurus_rek

      He was pushing for this number before his long-delayed admission of smoking crack, so it would seem his plan was for council to fail with him.

  • bobloblawbloblawblah

    “Council should impose a 33% cut on obscene union wages,”

    Ummm, there’s this thing called a contract. it’s legally binding, so Council can’t just cut wages without getting smacked with a huge lawsuit. I’m sure a bright and shining light like yourself knows that though.

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    Efficiencies? Really? Play something new; we’ve already danced to this.

  • OgtheDim

    What proposals?

    Seriously, what is Rob proposing?

    He picked a number out of his brain and is fighting for that number.

    He is not discussing what should be cut.

    He is not discussing what should not be done anymore.

    So, really, Ford’s not discussing efficiencies.

    He’s fighting for a number.

    That’s not real solutions.

  • OgtheDim

    Oh I think you underestimate the importance of defending a record during an election. It is really easy to target something when you are running from the outside against an unified opposition. What Ford will have to do is both target that something and defend his behaviour and defend his record. Now, try doing that with 2-3 other people who have real plans to save money, and 1 person from the unified left.

    Ford’s chances of getting in are slim to none.

    • tyrannosaurus_rek

      I think you underestimate Ford’s ability to ignore his behaviour and twist his record into all victories, and play the victim of a media/left-wing council conspiracy. He’d also have to show up at a debate, but he doesn’t like preaching to anyone but his own choir.

      • Lloyd_Davis

        Progressive and centre-left voters can’t afford to be complacent and assume that the guy is done like dinner. But nor should they just take for granted that he’ll going to find a way to win. It’s not certain that he’ll have the services of Nick Kouvalis and others who ran his very effective 2010 campaign. If the right-of-centre vote should be split, polls suggest he loses support — he’s not necessarily the first choice of conservative-leaning voters anymore. One also wonders how many votes he got from those who simply couldn’t stomach Smitherman. They won’t be fooled twice. I don’t see his re-election as a fait accompli, though I wouldn’t make any big bets against it.

      • John Istheman

        You overestimate Ford. He is just trying to get things done.

      • OgtheDim

        If he’s in the running, there will be one debate.

        If he shows up to more, he’s toast.

        Questions from the floor -

        “So, Mr. Mayor, why did you lie about using crack?”

        • John Istheman

          Absolutely.

          For him to win he needs to talk facts. Stick to policy.

          Repeat repeat repeat.

          His mistake from the first day was to discuss everything in the media. He is just not smart enough to handle on the spot questions. He gets flustered and people take advantage of that.

          I have the same problem.

          I don;t mean to say media should have no access. But controlled access. Be in charge.

          I have every confidence that he will win. I just hope that he will be able to take real steps to manage the $$ that is pouring out of our city.

          • dsmithhfx

            “His mistake from the first day was to discuss everything in the media.”

            Hardly. He has spent the election and the past three years playing hide and seek with the media, refusing to provide his daily schedule or answer questions, either ignoring them or spewing outright lies. He shows up for work late and leaves early, and the police have documented his extra curricular activities as consisting largely of secret meetings with his drug dealer, ducking into crack houses, and getting plastered on the job.

            He hasn’t saved any money (as I outlined in another post, he’s lost us about a billion dollars on the Scarborough subway alone — and get ready for some serious tax hikes for that baby), in fact he’s accomplished absolutely nothing except make Toronto an international laughing stock.

            If you think that’s good for business, go have some more of what Rob’s smoking.

          • John Istheman

            Control.

            I was refering to control. This has been his problem.

            His personal issues are his.

            He did not lose us a cent he got Toronto a subway. 23 other councillor voted with him – including Karen Stinz. Subways are forever. Ask New York about LRT and the true costs of repair and replacement.

          • torontothegreat

            “He did not lose us a cent he got Toronto a subway”

            Now read this back to yourself, really slowly. After you’re done that, reconsider this statement in the same way:

            “Subways are forever”

          • nottheendoftheworld

            Ask any city in the world with a population over 800K, and they’ll tell you they’re building LRT.

            Outside of NYC or London’s downtown core, the trains run above ground, which is also LRT.

            Subways are not forever, but the lies told about them through the ford team seem to be.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            Without regular press access to elected officials, an informed electorate is impossible and democracy starts to crumble. But you already know this, that’s why you and the rest of the Right advocate it.

          • John Istheman

            I don’t know that I would consider myself right or left. More centre. That used to be called a Liberal.

            A mayor needs to address the media. Needs to be available and open to questions.

            But not everyday. Not every opportunity. Controlled access means that hard questions get real thought. A deflected unanswered question reflects just as poorly as a lie or an outright refusal.

            Unfortunately. This did not happen. Hope he learns. We need a policy of fiscal responsibility and it appears he is the only councillor with that vision.

            As I said above. Unfortunately.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            Fiscal responsibility? Ford?

            He cancelled a paid-for-by-the-province transit plan (the act of cancelling it incurred tens of millions of dollars in penalty fees) and fought to replace it with a paid-for-by-Toronto-taxpayers (and a tax hike) subway that won’t break even for decades and decades, if ever.

            He declared every department had to cut budgets by an arbitrary 10% – except the police, despite that department being one of the biggest (if not the biggest) spender, and in spite of declining crime rates.

            He screamed bloody murder about the VRT, but two years after killing it replaced it with a different tax of nearly the same dollar value.

            I don’t believe Rob Ford could figure out how to break a $20 bill, that’s how clueless he is when it comes to money.

          • John Istheman

            1. Subways last for centuries. LRT rot. Ask Chicogo and New York and Tokyo. Subways last. Ask London, New York and Paris. 24 other people voted including Karen Stinz because it makes sense. Long term.

            2. Math is although declining crime rates increase population and fix cost inflation.

            3. VRT etc. I think he got stuck with too many cuts too fast.

            4. You don’t spend your life surrounded by money and not have a little of that rub off. The fact is he is pointed in the right direction. None of the other councillors are.

            Can you imagine? This is the best we have. That is the real sad truth.

          • torontothegreat

            1. Myth – http://stevemunro.ca/?p=8249

            2. Makes not a lick of sense.

            3. He campaigned on cutting gravy and finding efficiencies. He lied. Period.

            4. If you truly believe that, you’ve never been around rich kids before.

            5. This is not even close to the best we have.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            1. Utter nonsense. Every single aspect of a subway needs maintenance and eventually serious overhauls. Look at our own for example: frequent track replacements, frequent signal replacements, Union and Pape being rebuilt because they’re too small, a new fleet of vehicles to replace the old “rotting” ones, the periodic addition of modern conveniences (such as wifi), accessibility infrastructure for stations built without a thought to people in mobility devices. If “subways last for centuries” it’s because of constant and costly maintenance.

            2. This is barely coherent, but I’m guessing you’re trying to say the declining crime rate is an illusion of population growth. But that isn’t true, as different types of crimes have declined at different rates – take homicide for example: the number of people murdered each year in this city hasn’t significantly changed in more than a decade. All of this with the TPS’ dismal case closure rate.

            3. He didn’t “get stuck” with these cuts, he campaigned for them and pushed for them his first few months in office and celebrated when they were passed.

            4. The stereotype is the exact opposite, and Rob Ford embodies it: no concept of how money works, even basic things like revenue and inflation.

            Saying he’s the best doesn’t make it true.

          • John Istheman

            1. Utter nonsense. Our Subway system was designed and built in the 1950′s They have been maintained and very little upgrading has been done since. Minor in the grand scheme. Subways make sense because they are underground. The technology is really not that important, except to say that one must plan these type of infrastructure projects 50 years at a time. Hell I expect to see some type of hyperloop in 50 years. Here learn something. http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/green-living/free-ride-the-five-best-mass-transit-systems-worldwide/1095?image=0

            2. Sorry. Not the most eloquent writer. Another good book to read that relates what I am trying to say better than I could. Since peaking in 1991, the crime rate in Canada has been on a slow downward slide. Canada’s crime rate continued to fall last year, with the homicide rate dropping to the lowest level in 46 years. But our police do not just catch the bad guys. In a city as large as this keeping it moving and safe takes more officers than we have. Lack of training is beginning to show – Sammy Yatim is just one example we know of.

            3. Poorly said. He made many cuts to services and as in any political world concession sometimes have to be made. Real world.

            4. Let me just say it this way. The fish are all going upstream when they should be going down stream. Toronto has the same problem as Greece but doesnt know it yet.

            5. See Above. If a few more fish were going in the right direction then I would be right there.

          • OgtheDim

            LOL…ur not from around her are you James.

            Otherwise you might have noticed the nightly early closure of the Yonge line that has been going on for about 5 years now.

            The only thing that lasts longer in an underground train system in comparison to an above ground one is the walls – and guess what they have been replacing North of Eglinton.

            Rail beds last the same – about 40 years.

            Oh, and next time you look at a streetcar, notice how much underneath it looks like other trains.

            Cause, that’s what it, LRT and subways all are………trains.

          • John Istheman

            John.

            Not been on a TTC subway since I had Joe Carter hit that ball out of the park.

            From what I have read – subways are more efficient, less costly to maintain, move more people and run UNDERGROUND.

            Just seems logical. That and the fact that London, Paris, Tokyo, and New York favor them over LRT. Like I said long term it seems to be the better option. Especially as land is valuable.

            Let me tell you. Tokyo subways are a dream. Restaurants and shop in every station. Clean. But packed like sardines from 4-6 pm.

            I would expect the reason the vote was so close 24-20 was because of the reasons both of us listed.

          • OgtheDim

            “Subways last for centuries.”

            May I remind you that we will, in about 4 years, be enjoying a few months long shut down of the Yonge line from south of Eglinton to (I think) Rosedale.

          • John Istheman

            Og?

            Why do people keep calling me James? Seriously. I don’t get it.

          • dsmithhfx

            Yes you do.

          • John Istheman

            OK James who.

            Because I have only started this project Nov 25th. I have never posted on Twitter or any of these blogs before.

          • dsmithhfx

            What project is that?

          • John Istheman

            Why to get Rob Ford reelected! http://robford4mayor.com/

            Full disclosure. Not being paid. Of my own free will. No I am not insane. Well a little.

          • dsmithhfx

            Is posting here under a new nick part of the project? Seeing’s how ‘JG’ got banned over at the Globe. ‘Cause, your reputation precedes you. But it is sporting of you to keep popping up. Please, carry on.

          • nottheendoftheworld

            He used the media to his full advantage in order to get elected, and to divide the city into left and right, and into taxpayer and um…other. No turning his back on it now.

          • OgtheDim

            some of the right

        • nottheendoftheworld

          “I didn’t lie, i just wasn’t asked the right questions.”

          Ford’s m.o. is to simply accuse the questioner of similar indiscretions, and magically, people buy it, and accept that he’s the victim. I hope that he gets spit-roasted on all of his claims of victory, and leave the personal stuff aside … incredible as it is, it’s really not required.

  • goodjobs

    didnt ford trumpet that he got the best labor deals in history? cant pick and choose now

  • Norton

    Thats nice that you think we can just cut transit lines. Regardless of whether or not a streetcar or bus is mostly empty, the one or two passengers it is moving are tax paying citizens who deserve the same right to traverse this city as anyone with a car. Its part of having a functioning and prosperous society. Those people riding that bus might be going to a job where they serve you. maybe they are a 911 operator, or a paramedic. just because you cant afford to drive, or dont want to drive should not mean that your stranded in the very city you pay taxes in. everyone should have the same right to move about the city at any time of day or night. and because we are a relatively wealthy city its reasonable that the cost of that is shared by us all. If you have a problem with how our system works, then move. no one is forcing you to live here.

  • Jim

    How much did Rob Ford save Toronto? If it wasn’t a billion, was it half a billion? That is still pretty good. Toronto has to cut costs. As we all know, the big plan for the DRL is going to get released next April. It is Ford’s plan. It needs to be financed. Ford is the guy who is going to make it happen. It needs to be a subway from Sherway Gardens (and hookup with Bloor) to Don Mills and Markham. He made the Scarborough Subway happen. He did not buckle under to the “let’s see what we can do on the cheap to replace an existing mess with another mess” – he said “let’s do the right thing for the future and for the people of ALL of TO and figure out how to finance the right thing”. On another point, the TO Library system needs to partner with someone like Tim Horton’s and make it a place for kids that need breakout rooms to collaborate and learn, etc. They need to support things like day care. The traditional library is dead. Let’s make use of these properties. There is no problem with folks in hard times, who sneak into Libraries to stay warm and read the daily paper, but the mission statement for libraries needs to get modernized and become relevant again.

    • dsmithhfx

      Ford did not make the Scarborough subway extension happen. Others brought forward the proposal, and he swooped in to take credit for a bad idea. The unfunded-by-a-billion-dollars extension proposal destroyed a fully-funded LRT shovel-ready plan and delays transit improvements to Scarborough for years. Also, metrolinx would have paid operating costs for the LRT going forward. The subway extension, assuming it ever gets built, will suck a huge operating cost subsidy out of the TTC budget, starving the entire system of badly-needed improvements to infrastructure and service levels. Not all of Ford’s ideas are bad. But at a stroke, he has wiped out at least double anything he managed to save taxpayers over the past three years: Rob Ford didn’t save us a billion dollars; he wasted a billion dollars to buy votes in Scarborough.

    • tyrannosaurus_rek

      You’re delusional.

      • dsmithhfx

        Jim is JG et al…

  • Dinah Might

    “spending their days drinking and harassing taxpayers”…. sounds like a typical day for the Mayor, really…

  • Doug Earl

    And this says it all. Great article.

  • Lloyd_Davis

    Always entertained by the self-styled Horatio Algers who actually bear more resemblance to Walter Mitty.

  • torontothegreat

    While you may have learned to budget, you clearly have no idea how to invest.

  • vampchick21

    I agree re: uploading back to the Province. Especially since municipal revenue tools are very limited.

    • rich1299

      Its happened to a degree, its a big part of the reason Miller’s gross budget, which includes transfers from other levels of gov’t, increased so much over Lastman’s gross budget when Harris/Eves were Premiers. But there’s still a long way to go and not a dime of provincial costs should be paid by the city through property taxes, though it often makes sense for these services to be delivered at the municipal level.

  • torontothegreat

    You don’t offset the nature of inflation with cutting costs year to year. That is the most insane (non) financial advice I’ve ever heard.

    The fact that Ford(s) call themselves international business men is laughable. If they were 1/10th the business men they claim to be, they would have increased revenue, not decreased operating costs. If they did this in the private sector, investors would be running. In the private sector, the goal is to MAKE money, not keep slashing costs until your business can barely run – that’s a sign of a failing company.

    • torontothegreat

      And I forgot that he also increased future debt. Again, investors would be running like they are on fire…

  • rich1299

    Has it never occurred to you that people on social assistance might not have always needed it? Many people go from well paying jobs to EI to welfare or if ill/injured to ODSP and/or homelessness and would have had all the usual things usual people have before they they lost their job and were unable to find a new one or were unable to work any longer. Why should they sell off everything they own just to appease people like yourself? How do you suppose they’re going to find a job these days without a computer or phone?

    Besides which all low income people have is their social network and staying connected to it is a vital survival strategy. So many people with mental health problems end up homeless in large part because their social network is significantly smaller than healthier people and the extreme length of time to get on to ODSP which unlike welfare might pay your rent but not much else like food, clothes, and laundry. No one can survive on welfare without additional help of some sort and that takes a good social network. A person unable to work due to illness or injury can take well over 1 year to get on ODSP. If they don’t have that good social network to survive on welfare, like a lot of people with mental illness don’t, they will end up homeless.

    Its extremely rare for someone on social assistance of whatever kind to have never worked previously in their lives and the majority of those would be people with severe health problems from birth.

  • John Istheman

    I am far from the lowest common denominator. He got elected and will get reelected because he is the only one there who understand we HAVE to stop wasting money.

    • dsmithhfx

      Nobody wastes money like an addict. Ignore that at your peril, James.

      • John Istheman

        Your not the first person to call me Jame. Who on earth is James?

        41 councilors all swimming in one direction. 2-3 going in the right direction.

    • tyrannosaurus_rek

      Whether you’re a troll or not I don’t care, but everything you’ve said here about yourself screams “lowest common denominator” – you don’t take the TTC but claim to be an expert on it, you didn’t finish school, and you believe in policy-based evidence rather than evidence-based policy.

      You’re bending over backwards to defend an admitted crack smoker with a terrible decade-long council track record, each defence more spurious than the last, because you bought the lie that he must know what he’s doing because he was born into a rich family.

      If you aren’t a troll you need to stop and look at the facts. If you are a troll, you need to work on your character, because he isn’t convincing or consistent.

      • John Istheman

        I can live with that. Lowest common denominator. I like the sound of it.

        It would mean no complications. What you see is what you get. Reduced.

        I don’t defend Rob Ford’s issues. I think he needs help.

        I think our city needs help.

        That is why I am here!

        • dsmithhfx

          There’s no denying Rob Ford made his personal issues our issues. That’s why we can’t afford to have him, and/or his brother back.

          • John Istheman

            Well you will be disappointed then as they will both be back. Might be frustrating. Frustrating enough to get you off your butt and working for adam vaughan or his ilk?

  • dsmithhfx

    Fordian ‘math’ shows David Miller ‘saved’ twice as much ($2B) as Ford claims he ‘saved’: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/11/30/rob_ford_might_have_been_outsaved_by_david_miller_james.html

  • tjecon

    Re-elect Rob Ford! The only politician in Canada not on the take!

    • dsmithhfx

      When Rob Ford uses city employees as his personal servants, changing light bulbs in his house and batteries in his kids’ toys, and fetching his booze — he is on the take!

  • tjecon

    Who are you? David Miller or Wynne?

  • dsmithhfx

    I want a mayor who comes to work sober and on time, tells his boss where he is and what he’s doing, and doesn’t sneak off in the middle of the day to meet his drug dealer in a gas station washroom. Rob Ford can’t do that.