Wednesday, April 23, 2014
End Toronto city council chaos by slicing it in half
Millions of dollars worth of city politicians wasting most of Wednesday morning — squabbling over their wasteful spending!
Alice, welcome to Plunderland. And pass the opium.
There’s only one solution. Cut this mad tea party in half.
Wasn’t Rob Ford supposed to do that?
Unless you’ve been dead or trying to get a pothole fixed, you know that we in Hogtown are blessed with 44 councillors and one mayor. A total of 45 succulents.
How’d we get so lucky, you ask?
Vancouver has but 10 councillors, Calgary 14, Philadelphia 17, Washington, 13.
Even sprawling Los Angeles limps along with 15 councillors.
New York City has slightly more than us — 51 — but they serve 8.5 million people.
True, some cities have large councils, but they are usually a mess. Montreal’s, for instance, has a whopping 65 members, but they need that many to rotate through bribery trials and the mayor’s chair.
I think 22 is a nice number. In fact, that’s how many federal ridings we have — but each divided into two city wards.
If we drop one succulent per riding, we won’t even have to change the map.
And right off the bat, we’ll save $8.2 million. Here’s how:
The fine print of Wednesday’s executive committee session listed costs of each councillor last year.
The average is about $372,000, including salary, staff and expenses. For all 44, that’s $16.4 million.
Surely, City Hall can meddle in our lives and drive us nuts for half of that.
One mayor, 22 councillors. You’ll be able to remember their names, corral them.
With 44, we’re herding cats.
No sensible operation is run by 44 equal partners, all caterwauling and trying to get their piece. It’s surefire chaos — and paralysis.
No wonder our transit system is medieval. Those 44 succulents flip-flop like hooked fish. Subway, no subway, subway, no subway.
Common sense says a council of 22 is efficient, cheaper and less noisy.
Frankly, I’d cut it to 10, plus mayor, but I doubt we could bear all the weeping and squealing.
So how do we get to 22?
It could be fun. Put each riding’s two councillors in a cage and let them duke it out.
I’d pay to see Frances Nunziata versus Frank Di Giorgio, 12 rounds for the undisputed York South-Weston crown. Who wants it most to ride that gravy train?
Mayor Rob Ford has long touted a tighter council — but lately the only one getting tight has been the mayor.
It would not be easy. A gravy addiction is hard to kick. Worse than crack, I hear.
You’d call for a council cull, too, if you sat in on the expenses and salaries debate Wednesday.
Councillors have traversed the world, from Taiwan to Uganda to Vietnam to Sao Paulo, $154,459 in all.
This pales beside travel by our beloved bureaucrats, which Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti announced is close to $6 million a year. I thought Rob Ford was going to have a stroke.
I’m hardly shocked the executive committee nixed a nearly 13% raise for councillors and the mayor, to bring them in line with other Canadian cities.
No, it was not my Wednesday column that turned the tide, but a classic case of political suicide prevention. It’s an election year.
But, really, it’s the old bait-and-switch in reverse. We get outraged about 13%, so it seems a bargain when they approve Option B, a cost of living raise, which at least Mammoliti had the decency to vote against.
He was the only one who picked Option C, which was BLOW IT OUT YOUR EAR!
Otherwise, these Alices in Plunderland spent three hours sniping at each other about assorted office expenses and trips and who paid for what — including liberal use of the bottomless “general” council fund. This is basically a slush bucket set up to skirt the $30,000-per-councillor limit Ford imposed when he still had any power.
You will be thrilled to hear we spent $60,000 to send 19 councillors — 19?! — to Vancouver for a Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference.
Which would be find and dandy …
… if they’d all stayed there.
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