Thursday, 14 November 2013

My Hump Day Civics Lesson

It has been quite a while since I took a high school civics class, so given the fact that my Wednesday was relatively clear of professional duties, I decided to spend much of the day watching the international debacle that is the Mayor of Toronto and the circus act that doubles as a city council meeting. Here are a few things that I learned about municipal political engagement in the City Below Vaughan.

  1. Municipal politics is simply the transference of playground disputes to a rotunda. The geeky kid with the glasses is still being intimidated by the school bully, only now he can publicly call him out on his behaviour. Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong's concern that Mayor Ford was going to deck him on the floor of council certainly appeared well-founded when the corpulently imposing chief magistrate physically blocked the path of the much smaller councillor from Don Valley East. It brought back images of my own school days when the big guys used to force us  puny kids to take alternate routes to our lockers so as to avoid ending up inside said cubicle. 
  2. Councillor Jaye Robinson got the fun going by introducing a petition that was signed by 30 of 44 council members. They rose at their seats one by one as she called out their names. It was a powerful moment that clearly displayed in few words how truly embarrassed and angry these elected officials are by the extra-curricular activities in which hizzoner has engaged. The glares and animus coming from the Fords was obvious and telling. 
  3. I've always thought that synagogue Annual General Meetings were amongst the most uncivilized gatherings that I have ever had the displeasure to witness, but they have nothing on a Toronto City Council Meeting. The poor and downtrodden Speaker (who is so far out of her depth in this position) was forever reprimanding members about their lack of decorum and comity. I had a flashback to the movie ...And Justice for All starring Al Pacino. You must remember the line. "You're out of order! You're out of order! The whole trial is out of order! They're out of order!"  That was poor Frances Nunziata during the proceedings. Had I been in her chair, I might have used much stronger language like arrogant, vainglorious, and pompous to describe some of these assholes that claim they are speaking for the citizens of this city.
  4. Distractions are an ingrained part of any hopeful political reclamation project. Those head- fakes started on Tuesday with the peddling of the absurd Mayor Ford bobblehead dolls. (An initial selling price of $20.00 a bobble with a portion of the proceeds to aid the United Way was exponentially increased on Kijii and Ebay later in the day.) The diversions continued on the floor of council Wednesday, with Ford stooge Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti trying to disingenuously monetize the discussions about the attempted censure of his boss. It astounds me that anybody could think that this discussion of the mayor's behaviour was offside and that the members of council should not be afforded this opportunity to express their extreme anger and frustration at this poor excuse for a leader. As an aside, I think that Mammoliti is a toad who will never amount to anything more than a sidekick. He continually heckled every councillor who didn't agree with his position and he was the object of the Speaker's scorn on multiple occasions. If I had to pick a particularly low moment for the councillor, (and there were many) it might have been when he hurled accusations at Councillor Gord Perks (a left-winger who was doing his level best to save council from itself with a motion to refer the whole matter to the Integrity Commissioner) about his being high on marijuana during the meeting and his insistence that every member of council be immediately drug and alcohol tested. His conduct was deplorable. The punchline? Mammoliti actually supported the failed Perks motion. As I said...a toad.
  5. Politicians certainly know how to parse a phrase. The council chamber erupted in laughter when Mayor Ford responded to Councillor Del Grande about his drunken episode at the Air Canada Centre saying that he "promised it would never happen again and it has never happened the Air Canada Centre." What a maroon.
  6. And then there was the jaw dropping moment of the day when the mayor admitted on the council floor that he had purchased illegal drugs within the last two years while he was mayor. And yet....there is still no real recourse to remove this boob from office.
  7. Councillor Doug Ford is becoming a hinderance to the mayor and his public efforts at rehab. His attempt to bait the members of council into admitting their own drug use and then his live appearance on CNN at noon trying to justify his brother's behaviour were quite simply embarrassing. 
  8. Some of my favourite moments of the meeting? Mayor Ford asking Councillor Michael Thompson if he had ever visited the supposed crack house at 15 Windsor Dr and Thompson responding "I have no interest being in that house. I’m not a crack user." Burn!!
  9. I enjoyed Councillor Karen Stintz rising to face the mayor and in her best "mom voice" chastise him for forcing her into a situation whereby she had to explain what crack was to her nine year old daughter. And yet...Councillor Stintz missed the vote. She was "conveniently" outside of the chamber. That showed an appalling lack of conviction for somebody who has already declared her candidacy for mayor next year. Some advice Karen. It's time to stand for something.
  10. I loved Councillor Shelly Carroll telling Toronto that pulling a "Mayor Rob Ford" has become a verb for bad behaviour.
  11. And I absolutely adored Councillor Mike Del Grande turning his back to the mayor each and every time the blowhole opened his mouth. Del Grande was basically neutering the man and telling him he doesn't give a damn what he has to say.
While all of this shit was happening inside, outside there was a very well-attended rally to show the mayor the hearts and minds of the "taxpayers".....many of whom voted for him. Award to best placard goes to the ingeniously creative mind who thought up "Weasels Bobble but they Don't Step Down." 

The fine folks (a word that is a Ford favourite and one that makes my skin crawl) who are running this weekend's Santa Claus Parade have sent the mayor a letter that basically tells him to piss off and that he is now unwelcome to march. They want the focus to be on families, kids, and the guy in the red suit, and they believe that the mayor's presence will distract from that. Really?? Ya think? We'll see if the man's ego allows for this dismissal.

And...just when you thought it was safe to read the newspapers or the internet again, comes word that more of the court documents have been released and the details are getting even more sordid. Allegations of sex workers roaming around City Hall and more drunken stupors litter these reports. It seems interminable.

And just for good measure....there was a group of high school students roaming the corridors of City Hall on Wednesday. They received a civics lesson that could never be adequately taught in their classroom.

Me? I need to bathe.

No comments:

Post a Comment