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Doug Holyday

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Ford’s silence on crack allegations is about to make Toronto $200,000 more dangerous

Rob Ford, you need to come clean. The longer you refrain from saying yes or no to these allegations the closer the people of Toronto come to giving $200,000 dollars to a group of drug dealers. The clock is ticking.

Right now Toronto is buzzing. Did the mayor smoke crack? Is he in with a group of drug dealers? These are questions that are up in the air right now. The fact is: three journalists — okay, two journalists and one gossip-hound — say they have viewed a video of what appears to be Rob Ford uttering slurs against racial minorities and gays and smoking crack cocaine.

The allegations weigh heavy against you, Rob. Despite whatever vendetta that you and your brother think the Star has out against you there is no way that they would fabricate anything about this, barring a complete and utter bankruptcy of ethics and disregard for the law.

If the people of Toronto are to trust our most seasoned and talented journalists (and one seasoned and talented gossip-hound) we have to accept it as a fact that a video of what appears to be Rob Ford smoking crack exists.

The ball is in your court, Rob, and it has been for one full week now.

Your silence, aside from a few one-sentence dismissals of the pack of journalists desperate to get to the bottom of this, is more than a political or legal move. Right now your silence, Rob, is dangerous.

With every minute that ticks by a new donation is being made to Gawker’s crowd-funding project. As of lunch time on May 23 it sits at $133,291, just a few dollars shy of two-thirds complete.

This money is going to people who are admitted crack dealers; shady men who dart in and out of cars in parking lots at night and live off the proceeds to selling poison. These people are about to be two hundred grand richer.

The things they could spend this money on are easy to imagine. Pouring that money directly into the lowest rung of the drug trade can only result in more drugs on the streets, more guns in the hands of criminals, and more dead bodies.

Rob, the longer you refrain from doing anything the more money the people of Toronto donate towards these drug dealers in an attempt to gain some form of answer to the question of whether or not their mayor is smoking crack.

You need to respond to these allegations by saying something, anything.

If it isn’t true, although the chances of this being the case seem slimmer and slimmer as the days go by, help the city of Toronto like you want to and come out fists blazing in denial like you always do. Will this please everyone? No. But it could help to stop the slow and steady ebb of your former supporters looking for some kind of answer by donating to this fund.

If it is true and you did smoke crack and it is on video, please, please come forward and tell the people of Toronto what you did. Admit that it is true, that you are a flawed man who smoked crack, and beg everyone to stop donating, not for the sake of your political career or your brother’s ambitions, but for the sake of every person who might die of a gunshot or a drug overdose if this project succeeds.

Your claim to want to help the people of Toronto was at least believable before. You did your best to help people who shared your views on subways and garbage collection. Right now your silence is helping no one but yourself to avoid embarrassment and putting the lives of others at risk.

The people at Gawker and the people of Toronto are not innocent in this either. These people are knowingly opening up their wallets to drug dealers and criminals, and in the aftermath of this situation, another summer of the gun or a Toronto crack epidemic, they’ll also have themselves to blame. But nobody holds more cards in this game than you, Rob, and your poker face is a time bomb waiting to go off in the ghetto.

Step up, Rob. If you love this city like you claim, if you want to help people, you will step forward and say something, anything, or the blood of Toronto’s next Jane Creeba will be all over your hands.

 

Follow Travis on Twitter: @travmyers

Toronto City Council – rudderless, erratic and irresponsible

After spending the past week at city council I have come away disappointed and disgusted by some of the self-aggrandizing, weak-kneed opportunists the city has elected to council. Many councillors, who have claimed to support revenue tools for transit, withdrew their support, choosing to protect their political derrieres.

Here’s the background: Toronto has spent 40 years quibbling over subway and transit expansion – mostly due to the lack of funds to build anything. It’s easier for councillors to debate over the lines than to take a stand on funding tools. Over the past few years Mayor Ford has claimed that “efficiencies” and “developers” would pay for the subway expansion. However the efficiencies he found added up to very little and should properly go to balancing the budget with any surplus going to paying down the debt. Developers informed the Mayor that they could not sell condos above subway stations for the $4 to $5 million price tag required to cover the $200 million cost of building the subway stations below. The value of the “air rights” Mayor Ford claimed would more than pay for subway expansion was completely bogus.

Thank gracious we still have Metrolinx, the transit organization set up by the Province to build and expand transit across the GTHA. After years of consultation with transit experts, policy wonks and politicians, they created a 25 year transit expansion plan. But the plan needs to be funded and will cost approximately $50 billion – this works out to  $2 billion per year needed to get transit in the Toronto region caught up after 40 years of neglect. On May 27, Metrolinx will announce the funding tools they believe the Province should use.

This opened the door for Toronto to present direction on revenue tools to Metrolinx and so council instructed city manager, Joe Pennnachetti, to do extensive consultations with the public and create a report summing up what transit revenue tools Toronto residents wanted to support. The report was extensive and the top four revenue tools chosen through public consultations were:

  1. Sales Tax
  2. Fuel Tax
  3. Parking Levy
  4. Development Charges

However, the Mayor and his executive tried to block the city from submitting any revenue options to Metrolinx, in a bid to push responsibility for any “taxation” to the provincial level, where the Mayor’s brother Councillor Doug Ford is planning to run for the provincial Conservatives and could use the issue to further define his anti-tax campaign.

Council over-ruled the brothers Ford insisting a “mature” conversation was needed. Unfortunately nothing even coming close to a mature conversation could be found at last week’s debate, which saw councillors ignore all the research and instead fly off with their own funding ideas and digress into soap box campaign speeches on the need for particular subway lines in each of their wards.

Councillor Josh Matlow – one of the few brave councillors in the bunch – proposed Motion 1.b suggesting council support the revenue tools outlined in the city manager’s report. Unfortunately this led to heated debate that carried on for three days.

The debate was divisive and provided the perfect  opportunity for councillors vying for the Mayor’s chair to demonstrate their leadership skills. But leadership did not appear, and unfortunately the anti-tax chants coming from brothers Ford worked to eventually push councillors away from backing any of the funding tools the city manager put forward.

Councillor Glen De Baeremaeker tried to score points with his constituents by refusing to consent to any transit revenue tools if plans did not change to include a subway in his ward.

Councillor Stintz, who had originally claimed to want an “adult” conversation on revenue tools, yet again compromised her credibility by ignoring her prior support for the Big Move transit plan and endorsing Councillor De Baeremaeker’s demand for a subway line. Not only did she support a new transit map (that seemed to be drawn on the back of a napkin) but she also backed out of supporting the revenue tools that the City Manager, the Toronto Regional Board of Trade, Civic Action and the Toronto Transit Alliance have all endorsed.

At one point Councillor Ford announced to the press “that if subways required transit revenue tools then there wouldn’t be any subways for Toronto.”

Councillor Vaughn created a motion asking city council to support “a surcharge on vinyl labels as a new tax dedicated to fund subways.” This caused quite a reaction from Councillor Ford (who is also the CEO of Deco labels) and Vaughan eventually withdrew it.

But it was Councillor Josh Colle who announced the most conniving and devious motion of the week: to amend the original motion (supporting the city manager’s revenue tools recommendations) and delete all revenue tool recommendations.  On a side note I wonder if the arrival of MPP Mike Colle (father of Councillor Josh Colle) into city council chambers had anything to do with the younger Councillor’s subsequent motion to delete all revenue tool recommendations? His motion’s main agenda was to push responsibility for revenue tools up to the Provincial level, and it would seem that those who voted for it are more concerned about appearances than doing what is right for Toronto.

Such strategic political maneuvering allows Councillors who supported Councillor Colle’s motion to circumvent their duty to the city without being too suspect while at the same time allowing them to honestly claim they didn’t back any revenue tools for transit. So instead of directing the province with recommendations on the transit revenue tools the city manager compiled from weeks of consultations with the public, these councillors simply supplied the province with a list of tools each one of them personally would not support, ignoring the will of their constituents and the research provided to them by the city manager.

This pathetic political posturing was supported by:

Ana Bailåo, Michelle Berardinetti, Raymond Cho, Josh Colle, Gary Crawford, Vince Crisanti, Glen De Bearemaeker, Mike Del Grande, Fran Di Giorgio, Doug Ford, Rob Ford, Mark Grimes, Doug Holiday, Norm Kelly, Gloria Lindsay Luby, Giorgio Mammoliti, Peter Milczyn, Frances Nunziata (Chair), Cesar Palacio, James Pasternak, Anthony Perruzza, Jaye Robinson, David Shiner, Karen Stintz, Michael Thompson, Krystin Wong-Tam

The councillors who stood firm in their commitment to transit revenue tools were:

Paul Ainslie, Maria Augimeri, Shelley Carroll, Janet Davis, Sarah Doucette, John Fillion, Paula Fletcher, Mary Fragedakis, Mike Layton, Chin Lee, Josh Matlow, Pam McConnell, Mary-Margaret McMahon, Joe Mihevc, Ron Moser, John Parker, Gord Perks and Adam Vaughan

These councillors deserve a hefty pat on the back for not putting their political careers ahead of doing what is needed for the Toronto. I tip my hat to each and every one of them.