Thursday, January 9th Commentary
Quite a dilemma for Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne. Seemingly just months away from a provincial election and faced with a staggering deficit, Wynne is going to be asked to cover the tab from the ice-storm.
Toronto city manager Joe Pennachetti has heard that all communities affected, the tab will likely be around 2-hundred-50-million dollars. Toronto alone is asking for 1-hundred-6-million. Brampton wants 51 million. Mississauga says about 25-mill. Mayor Hazel McCallion wants to rally the GTA mayors to issue a joint application to Queen's Park instead of individually lobbying for the cash.
It would make sense for a regional pitch. Wynne could say yes on that basis so it doesn't look like she is showing favouritism but does she have the money. It doesn't look like it. But to say no would be politically risky so there will be some money but I doubt anywhere near a quarter-of-a-billion.
The craziness at city hall flared anew yesterday when the budget committee was mulling over operating and capital budgets for the upcoming fiscal year.
I'll get to the crazy part in a moment but as things stand now the committee is recommending city council approve spending 9.6-billion dollars over the next year and raise residential property taxes by 2-and-a-quarter percent. Staff asked for 2-and-a-half.
Mayor Rob Ford is still trying to keep to his promise of tax hike of no more than 1-and-three-quarters all in, including the Scarborough subway extension.
Council meets at the end of the month to vote on the budget and at that point the Mayor says he'll show a way to reduce overall spending by at least 50-million dollars.
“I will show you on the floor of council. I’ll give a list of motions. Simple stuff.”said Mayor Ford.
Such as contracting out garbage on the east side of Yonge Street like they've done on the west side and getting the private sector to pay for the cost of planting trees.
Have you noticed lately that the Mayor is really on his game lately. Not much humming and hawing...clear concise responses and certainly he was on message yesterday during debate about whether to begin phasing out the city's controversial land transer tax.
“Some councilors want that money to keep spending and spending and spending. But the majority of taxpayers would rather have it in their pockets so they can choose where they want to spend it. Not where the government wants to spend it or individual councilors want to spend it.”said Mayor Rob Ford.
Now, to the craziness at the budget meeting. The committee had just said no to spending 4-hundred-thousand dollars to expand the After-shcool Recreation and Care program. Doug Ford seemed to be suggesting that these types of programs are stupid. Councillor Janet Davis walked over to the councillor and whispered something. Suddenly Doug Ford was on his feet, outraged.
“I want an apology. She just came up and told me to keep my f***ing mouth shut. Okay, she should leave the room now, that’s disgusting.”said Doug Ford.
Councillor Davis did apologize. She was clearly out of line and nothing can excuse that kind of behaviour toward a fellow councillor but Doug Ford's response was way over the top. He sounded like a kid in grade school snitching on another student. Grow up and be a man. I'm sure it's not the first time someone has said that to you and it won't be the last.
Speaking of which, Doug Ford has been musing aloud about running for the Ontario PC's in the next provincial election. Doug Holyday is there now and he says Doug Ford has a good head on his shoulders but if he moves to Queen's Park he'll have to learn that things are different there and he'll have to go along. This prompted NewsTalk 1010's Katie Franzios to ask Doug Holyday if he thought Doug Ford was a "loose cannon". After a brief pause, the MPP responded.
“No I don’t want to call anybody a loose cannon.”said Doug Holyday.
There are times when silence speaks volumes.
For the life of me I don't get why the media are running so hard with the story about an Alberta woman who recently went to China, picked up the bird flu, came home and died.
Worldwide there are very few people who have contracted that strain. It has not mutated to the point where it easily spreads from person to person and basically our health authorities are saying no big whoop but they'll keep an eye on it.
Crowded out by that story is the significant increase in seasonal flu here in Toronto in the first week of January. This is mostly influenza A and a third of the cases are the H1N1 variety which tend to really hit hard at working people 30-to-60 years of age. Nothing is out of control. In fact the flu cases so far this winter are lower than last but it’s still early.