Friday, July 29, 2011

Marathon City Hall meeting wraps

See you in September.
Mayor Rob Ford, the executive committee and hundreds of Toronto residents spent the night at Toronto City Hall.
The executive committee wrapped up the marathon meeting — the longest in the history of Toronto — just before 8 a.m. on Friday, 22.5 hours after the meeting started on Thursday.
Executive committee councillors voted unanimously to send all the cost-saving cuts listed in a consultants' report to their executive committee meeting on Sept. 19. They also voted to have the city manager consider all the suggestions in the report related to the city's agencies "and incorporate as appropriate in the 2012 and 2013 budget process."
Some of the cuts on the table include reducing TTC late-night service, closing library branches, ending the Toronto Police school guard crossing program and selling off the Toronto Zoo.
The meeting wasn't without theatrics.
Some speakers delivered their pleas for councillors not to make suggested cuts through songs, poetry and even a puppet show.
Desmond Cole and his puppet Roy pleaded to councillors not to give into "cynicism and defeat."
"After all, we didn't vote for any puppets," he concludes.
Maureen O'Reilly, president of the Toronto Public Library Workers Union Local 4948, marched in boxes with 30,000 signed petitions and letters against library cuts.
That stunt brought the crowd watching the meeting in the packed committee room to their feet chanting "Save our libraries!"
Anika Tabovaradan, 14, welled up with tears as she told the committee about her fear the library she uses in Scarborough would be cut.
Tabovaradan said she uses the computers in her library.
Marilyn Wilcoxen hand delivered a $50 cheque and a $5 bill to the committee — she said the amount should cover her family's share of a property tax hike and a month's worth of paying the car tax.
"The $5, in terms of what it would cost me for the car registration tax, that's a latte and that would save all of the programs that are being discussed today," she said.
At least one member of the executive committee wasn't amused with people's behaviour during the marathon meeting.
"This is the worst, most disrespectful crowd that's turning this process at City Hall into a circus," Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti said around 5 a.m. "I am disgusted that there are individuals in this city that don't take the $774 million deficit serious and they've turned this into a complete nightmare over the last 24 hours or so and it starts with some of my own colleagues who encourage them to disrespect the process."
But other councillors were impressed by the tenure of the meeting.
Councillor Gord Perks called it "the most important night in the history of the new city."
"This was the very first time that Toronto came out and spoke with a unified voice over a 24-hour meeting about what kind of city we want to have," Perks said. "Every single person with three exceptions, out of 200, said they want to maintain and preserve the important city services that make Toronto worth living in."
Councillor Janet Davis thanked the speakers and the audience for sticking it out.
"You were wonderful, so keep engaged," Davis told a crowd after the meeting ended.
Councillor Adam Vaughan called Ford a "do nothing mayor" and said he ended up doing "nothing" at the end of the meeting.
"Twenty-four hours of Torontonians talking to him and he does nothing, he walks away, he'll disappear again for another month," Vaughan said. "It's very disappointing."

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