Rob Ford Timeline: Plastic Bags, Budget & Propaganda

I haven’t written a lot about Rob Ford lately, our less than illustrious mayor in Toronto; he’s been doing much more to prove to the citizens of our city that his election was a disaster than I could do, even if they’re not listening. For those who haven’t followed the Canadian/Toronto news, the CBC has put together a timeline that runs (as of this writing) from his election to the end of May 2013, illustrating the highlights in his reign. There are some key elements that are important to me in my understanding of who he is (and who he is not), which I outline below. Although he has certainly had some successes in his time as mayor, I disagree with several (most?) of them. The charge on throw-away plastic bags, is a good example: I thought it was the biggest pain in the world when it was started, but I did my research and recognized its importance. I had honestly been lazy in not bringing my own bags when I went grocery shopping. So I must thank him for that: although indirect (and opposite to his intent) Ford did teach me something. When the charge for bags was removed (I’m not even sure when), we gave it no thought. We are still using our multi-use bags. (For those interested, plastic bags are an environmental nightmare comparable to global warming… just without the fanfare: see The Guardian U.K.)

My notes on Rob Ford:

  • August 2010 – Admits to DUI
    • This is apparently more important to me than to others, but I’ve known lots of people on the drinking spectrum: from social drinkers to drunkards to DUI offenders to alcoholics. To some degree, I don’t care where they stand on that scale: but be honest about it. Rob Ford lied about a DUI he had in Florida, saying he “forgot” it. This tipped the scale for me. We knew about the DUI before the election; we knew he had lied; but most people (apparently) didn’t care. In my mind, if he would lie about a DUI in order to boost his image, what else would he lie about? The Ford years have been little else but a series of such questions.
  • May 17, 2011 – Privatizing Garbage Collection
    • Usually listed as one of his successes, I’m not so sure. My brother and I live in the area where garbage has been changed, and he has complained about it repeatedly. (Our garbage is dealt with by our complex.) It seems to me a cheaper solution that involves less customer service. The result has been that garbage collectors are privately employed: they earn less, have fewer benefits, and the company makes the profit. But then, that is what Ford promised.
  • October 2011 & May 2012 – Calling police when reporters or activists visited home
    • Sorry, but that’s what he gets for being an unpopular mayor. Leaders are in the public eye, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Deal with it. And yes, calling the police is one way to deal with it: flexing power that is very typical of the Fords.
  • March 12, 2012 – Conflict of Interest Case
  • June 7, 2012 – Plastic Bag Ban
    • Described above
  • July 24, 2012 – Tough on Crime
    • I’ve lived through this too many times. George Bush (& Asa Hutchinson), Mike Huckabee, Dick Cheney. For the most part such “tough” actions mean increasing punishment, endangering law enforcers, reducing rehabilitation and support programs, and never dealing with the real social influences on crime. Our Canadian “Tough on Crime” bills have been criticized by everyone from the United Nations to the Texas Judiciary. (And yes, that is from one extreme to the other.)
  • Aug 14, 2012 – Reading While Driving
    • Does this require a comment? Carelessness that endangers others is a hallmark of this administration. I know they think they’re doing the right thing… but c’mon. Their priorities are simply wrong. Period.
  • Nov 12, 2012 – TTC Controversy
    • Two buses were pulled from their routes, standing passenger (Globe and Mail) to pick up the high school football team that Mr. Ford coaches. When the first bus took too long, the Mayor called the head of the TTC to complain about the delay (National Post). Later he said that he had nothing to do with the decision to pull the buses (Transcript). Six months later he was fired as coach, allegedly due to comments that he made about the school. (CBC News)
  • March 2013 – Groping and Intoxication
    • This was where it started to get weird. Claims were made by a campaign rival that he had “grabbed her ass”; then it was said that he had been drunk in that incident and some others. Apparently there might be some truth to him not remembering these incidents. There have since been a number of similar rumors. (Now Toronto, Vice News)
  • May 2013 – Crack Cocaine Allegations
    • And weirder. A video surfaced and a successful collection was made to purchase the record: Mayor Ford smoking crack cocaine. The video disappeared; staffers left the city’s office; stories were generated and we heard very little about work being done in council meetings. The Mayor refused to be interviewed, avoiding journalists and spouting a concise set of talking points about his successes and “saving the city a billion dollars”.
  • May 29 2013 – Fiscal Record Challenge
    • Lastly, the Fords’ claim that they have a “stellar” fiscal record that cannot be challenged; and it is because they’ve saved the city so much money and been so effective that their critics are making up smears against them. I think they have too many “yes”-men (and women); I’m a critic and it’s because they’re lousy at running the city. Yes, I’ve received about $200 to compensate for my rent last year (which averages to about $17 dollars per month… or about 1.5%… then my rent went up by 3% from 2012 to 2013). But they threatened the public library system (Geographer’s Corner, 2011) and cut services (The Star). They’re selling museums and attractions to the highest bidder, or closing them down (Globe and Mail); the aeronautical museum in Downsview Park is already gone (Canadian Air & Space Museum Website). They spent $350,000 for a consultant to find the “gravy” that Ford was elected to purge… and discovered the “waste” was in zoos, libraries and essential services. (Rabble)
      But they made sure to implement tax cuts (at one point), creating a temporary deficit. (Huffington Post) So I was very glad to find a response to the Mayor’s ludicrous claims that they had saved money: Metro News. This article outlines in detail the city’s budget, and that there’s no “billion dollars” floating around.

That’s where things stand in the city of Toronto. These developments have changed my mind about our mayor very little; I would have said at the beginning of his tenure that he was a spoiled, rich child in a man’s suit: and I have seen nothing to change my mind. I don’t believe that all of these things that are said about him are true: but that doesn’t matter. He lies; they lie. (At least I’ve seen the proof that he lies. Not so sure about them: but I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt.) It’s how he reacts to these allegations that illustrates what kind of person he is. And as when he lied about his DUI in Florida, he simply lies and cheats and hopes that his family’s money will be enough to back him up.

That’s not the kind of mayor our city is worthy of.

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