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What’s on Council’s Agenda: July 2014

Here's what city council will be debating at this month's meeting.

In which we highlight key items from the month’s city council meeting. You can also watch it live.

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Tuesday and Wednesday, council will convene for its first regular meeting since Mayor Rob Ford’s return from rehab. Two items that had been deferred due to Ford’s absence will be on the table, as will a new motion put forward in response to the mayor’s actions on his first day back at City Hall.

Council will be debating whether to…

Ensure that press gallery members are actually allowed in press conferences:
Ford held an invitation-only “press conference” on June 30, his first day back at the office. The mayor allowed selected media outlets into the unnecessarily small room where the event was held, barring dues-paying members of the City Hall press gallery—and even the gallery’s president, David Nickle—from attending. As is often the case, Ford also took no questions. (This was followed by his holding an interview in which he said some fairly awful things.) In response to this, Councillor Paula Fletcher (Ward 30, Toronto-Danforth) has a motion that would ensure no accredited press gallery members be excluded from media conferences held at City Hall or any other City facility. It’s a walk-on item, and so will require a two-thirds majority if it’s to be debated at this meeting. (If it fails to get two-thirds, the motion will get bumped into the regular committee process next month.)

Renew Ombudsman Fiona Crean’s contract:
Council will consider reappointing Toronto’s first ombudsman, Fiona Crean, for an additional five-year term. Crean, who was appointed to her post in 2008, has been the subject of Ford’s scorn in the past, primarily because she’s written reports that have called attention to various failures of and deficiencies in the City’s practices. In September 2012, Crean censured Ford’s office for interfering with civic appointments; the following month, Ford led council in a vote to extend Crean’s contract by two years instead of the mandated five.

Condemn the mayor for Rob-o-calls targeting another councillor:
This item pertains to integrity commissioner Janet Leiper’s finding that the mayor contravened the municipal Code of Conduct when he sent out a robocall message to Scarborough residents last year. In the recorded message, Ford excoriated Councillor Paul Ainslie (Ward 43, Scarborough East) for his vote against subways, subways, subways for Scarborough, and accused him of ignoring his constituents. Ainslie filed a complaint, and council is expected to adopt the integrity commissioner’s findings and request that Ford apologize to Ainslie in writing and on the council floor.

Penalize Giorgio Mammoliti for an improper fundraiser:
Certain members of council are keeping Janet Leiper busy. The integrity commissioner has found that Mammoliti (Ward 7, York West) violated the municipal Code of Conduct by improperly accepting donations at a fundraiser his office organized last spring with the help of a third-party event company. Tickets to the dinner and dance went for $500 each, and more than 200 people showed up, including lobbyists, companies doing business with the City or in Ward 7, family members, and members of Mammoliti’s staff—some of whom worked during City work hours on organizing the event. Mammoliti accepted a gift of $80,000 from the event organizer, which Leiper found to be a clear breach of the Code. She is recommending that council dock Mammoliti’s pay for three months, amounting to $26,350—a great deal for Mammo, who stands to walk away from this fiasco with $53,650.

Pursue more equitable transit access:
Over the past year, there has been a push to make transit more affordable for low-income Torontonians. A number of reports have been adopted directing City staff to figure out how this might be achieved, but so far no comprehensive policy framework has been developed to guide their work. The executive committee has therefore recommended that council commission a report on potential fare equity policies, to be considered by the end of 2015.

Permit some new, giant LED billboards:
Allvision Canada want to position four massive LED billboards along Metrolinx-owned railway corridors adjacent to Highway 401 and Highway 427. This is not the first time Allvision has attempted to erect electronic billboards next to busy highways: in 2012 they proposed placing a number of similarly large signs along the Gardiner Expressway, despite the fact that LED billboards are a distraction to drivers and are bright enough that they can disrupt sleep for residents who live within view of them. City staff recommended that the City turn down this request; that recommendation was overturned at the committee level by councillors.

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