August 21, 2010

Political Primer - The Municipal Dick & Jane

Let's revisit the Rob Ford thing from a purely hypothetical standpoint. Let's not fuss over whether or not he's the guy you want to sit next to a banquet, or have show up in your driveway to drive your kid to soccer. Forget all that.

Because none of that matters. What matters is that Toronto City Council is made up of 44 councilors, and a mayor. And that mayor vote is worth exactly *one* vote. Same as the other 44.

So. Let's pretend Toronto has to handle some big problems. What has to happen is that most of the people in that chambers have to get along, agree, understand, learn, debate and come to the best possible consensus. On every nitpicking little thing. Consensus.

Love him or hate him, Rob Ford is not a consensus builder. And no matter how popular the rhetoric is that flows out of him (sound bites that can be turned into chants rarely make for good political policy), if he can't provide sound, researched decision making, nobody is going to waste an iota of political capital supporting him.

Getting elected as mayor is one thing; developing a rapport with a council, who likewise have managed to get elected, is something else. It's not like in school when the teacher made you captain and you got to pick your team.

Ford, to my best reading on him the past few years, has spent all of his time shooting the people around him. Some of them deserve to be shot, politically speaking. No doubt about it. The public does dumb things inside that voting booth. But as a strategist? He's a dummy. Things that are taking place in municipalities right now were decided 10, 20 years ago. Zoning and building, infrastructure, budgeting - all that unsexy stuff that actually impacts you - has to be decided by who is sitting in that room full of cushy chairs. If you put people in those chairs who are battling each other - and embattled on every other front - you jeopardize where you live, and your children's future.

I'm on the record as having little regard for most politicians. I'm old enough to have seen the warp take place in too many, and I'm too tired to try to understand why good people vote for poor representation. I'm not cognizant of all that is going on in Toronto's 44 wards, but I do know that a good mayoral candidate will spark people to run who believe in his or her message, and want to be at that table to be part of those decisions. I don't see see that with Ford. I see a lone wolf reveling in his lone-ness. You can't run a city that way. Hell, you can't run a household that way.

A mayor is pretty much a figurehead. But a good mayor will not do his most prolific work cutting ribbons, he or she will do it behind the scenes, building consensus and being a leader. Winning the crown is nothing if all you can do is sit there wearing it, finally realizing that the crown alone bestows nothing. Nothing at all.

I live in Burlington. I've sat here watching this nonsense play out here, with a council capsizing under the weight of its own infighting and hatred. And I've watched a mayor who managed to win still manage to lose.

Ford might be better off as a voice on counsel. Things he is saying are obviously hitting a sore spot and voters are responding. But before this campaign is remarkable only for the hatred and division he can provide, maybe it's time to look for a candidate who gets the importance - the necessity - of building rather than tearing apart.

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Anonymous buzzwhack said...

OK, you want to talk about consensus building. Let's look at the city councilor's actions over the last two mayors. Mel Lastman was blocked by his councilors on certain measures. David Miller, same situation when it came to cutting costs esp with councillor spending. I have news for you folks, if you think being a consensus builder is the ticket, just wait until you deal with self serving bread heads like Nunziata and Domi & Jacobek. TO is large enough to be a city state but no one is able to get the act together when you have horses pulling every which way.

August 21, 2010 5:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Concensus shmensus. The bull is in the china shop so fall in behind or get out of the way. Only a strong hand can right this tanking city. Wishy-washy concensus builders like councillor Adam Vaughan are the reason employees down at city hall freak out if you so much as change your fax cover letter. "It wasn't vetted"..."Who approved this"..."You cant do that"
This ain't no play nice, share with Billy, school yard recess, Lorraine. Did you think Hazel McCallion wasn't forcefull in building Mississauga? (we're finding out how she got things done now, aren't we) Mississauga is fiscally sound. Toronto carries a 3 billion debt. The interest payments are 200+ million every year...yet you want a mayor who will stand up and say "Can't we all just get along?"

August 21, 2010 7:41 PM  
Blogger Lorraine said...

That's not what I said at all.

I'm saying you need someone politically savvy enough to get how it works. Zero room for any Ms/Mr Nice Mayor.

You go for the greater good, which requires constant compromise, or as I see it, a steady stream of selling out at various levels. That's the part of being a politician that makes me know honesty is the first casualty. But if you can't even get the players to the table, you have absolutely no hope of getting anything done, ever. And we all pay for decades.

Everyone needs to perceive that they have gained something. A smart politician recognizes that, and finds everyone's currency and capitalizes on it.

Sound like Ford to you? Not me.

August 21, 2010 7:48 PM  
Anonymous Robert Leroy Parker said...

Rainey doing her Tom Paine thing.
I like it.

August 21, 2010 10:41 PM  
Blogger OmemeeOzzie said...

Had to look up that last reference...

August 23, 2010 1:51 PM  
Blogger Chris Brown (not the felon) said...

Lorraine emigrated to the British America Colonies in 1774?

Huh... that may explain a lot.

August 24, 2010 11:13 AM  
Blogger OmemeeOzzie said...

And had a drinking problem...

August 24, 2010 9:18 PM  

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