Thursday, January 23, 2014
Do voters really care about Mayor Rob Ford's personal problems?
"I am going to win this election," he vowed Wednesday night, just as new poll results showed his approval rating was holding at 45%.
He says his opponents can pick apart his personal life, "but they can't pick apart my record or agenda."
The question in October's election will be what poison do voters prefer: Massive tax increases? Or someone who fights them but is known to generate an occasional sideshow?
Whoever is on the ballot, Ford says, voters know he's not perfect but someone who's "looking out for them."
Through the melee of cameras at City Hall Wednesday, the mayor could be heard yelling: "It's absolutely ridiculous."
He wasn't talking about the swarm around him, even though one could make that argument since he's hardly Charles Manson or Beyonce.
What he was talking about was the staff-recommended 3.2% tax increase.
It's like David Miller is still the mayor. It's ridiculous.
"And it keeps going up," an angry Ford said.
It was almost a full percentage point over what was earlier agreed on. At a time when people are paying so much for transit, sitting in rush-hour gridlock, facing enormous energy bills and an extra land transfer tax, it was a punch in the gut.
And only one man--one in the middle of yet another scandal--stood up and coherently said what needed to be said.
"I am not going to stand for it," Ford insisted.
The rest seem to be stuck in this in-the-box thinking of a time when people received annual wage increases and didn't have $400,000-plus mortgages.
Even with the ice storm cleanup costs, and funding for the Scarborough subway project, Ford says a 1.75% increase "will provide more than enough money from taxpayers to run this city."
If not, cuts need to be made just like in a home budget.
"We can start by dealing with the hiring at the city," Ford said. "They're always hiring. There's 800 being hired right now. And 400 by the TTC. There are heritage people being hired."
He's a skunk at a party of people used to passing off their failures on to the taxpayers. Even if it was said in slurred Jamaican Patois, fiscally minded voters get it.
"The administration costs of this city are enormous," Ford said. "There are four workers for every one manager."
To pay for all of this "waste," Ford says, the budget committee and tax-and- spend councillors are "diving into the surplus" and saddling taxpayers with a large increase that far exceeds inflation and reason.
"It's not how you run a business. It's not what the taxpayers voted us in for. We've got to stop it," he said. "We've got to look for efficiencies."
It isn't lost on those in the shrinking private sector that the only workers seemingly receiving wage hikes are those in the public sector.
What's more crucial? What a mayor does in his own time or politicians wasting billions on cancellations or failed programs who don't have the guts to stand up to strong special-interest groups?
Ford's mantra of belt tightening is something voters will have the opportunity to consider, along with his less-than-flattering recorded performances.
Ford also believes Torontonians will remember Premier Kathleen Wynne cutting tens of millions in funding in Toronto, not offering an appropriate amount of compensation for flood and storm damage, the cancellation of a lucrative, job-creating casino project, thrusting on Toronto an expensive Pan Am Games, a proposed $50-billion transit dig and an up to seven-cents-a- liter gas tax to pay for it.
It's far nuttier than any of Ford's stupid behaviour caught on video.
It's going to be a good campaign that'll come down to what matters to you more: A man's personal failings that you wouldn't know about if not for smartphone spying, or your shrinking pocketbook?
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