As soon as Karen Stintz opened the Pandora’s Box of taxes to fund transit—a discussion Ford had fought to put off—last week’s council meeting turned sideways. Ford waltzed in and out of the chamber, councillors began proposing new subway routes, Giorgio Mammoliti accused 80 per cent of Finch Avenue riders of not paying their fares and Scarborough councillor Chin Lee told recalcitrant colleagues to “shut up and go home.” After more than two hours of voting, council didn’t endorse any specific taxes or fees, rejecting roughly a dozen options, and left a sales tax, development charges and a corporate tax cut rollback on the table. Ford and Stintz each tried to claim victory, while several other councillors deemed the outcome a total disaster. Below, the city’s columnists try to make sense of it all.
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After more than a year of debate, Toronto’s still-hypothetical casino will soon face a crucial test. A long-awaited city staff report is in (though, unusually, it’s missing a firm yay-or-nay recommendation), and council could vote as early as next month to either kill the idea forever or invite bids from casino developers. For influential Torontonians hoping to sway the decision, now’s the last chance to come out for or against a downtown gambling den—which explains why so many have spoken up in recent days. Below, a guide to how the pro-casino and anti-casino teams stack up.
Ivy glows like a 1930s starlet. She’s 27, with high, round cheekbones, rosebud lips and luminescent skin. She has worked at three erotic massage parlours, or so-called rub ’n’ tugs, in the GTA, where female attendants offer men “sensual release,” code for a session ending in a hand job. She agreed to tell me her story on the condition that I not reveal her true identity. For her customers, Ivy puts on a breathy Marilyn Monroe voice and wears retro baby doll nighties and stilettos. She mimics her high-pitched greeting for me: “How are you? I can’t wait to get started.” Her act appeals to her clients—typically white professionals who came of age when women like Ivy appeared in every car and scotch ad. Walk-ins can choose from the half-dozen women on shift, though many men pre-book Ivy based on her photo on the spa’s website.
Although Rob Ford is calling it the “best budget in Toronto’s history,” the 2013 budget process has certainly diminished the mayor’s inner circle (which was already down one with Giorgio Mammoliti’s recent departure). Mike Del Grande resigned as budget chief yesterday after the meeting, following through on threats to quit if council added spending to the budget (they did). Del Grande railed at Ford for effectively voting against the budget that he’d worked with the mayor to prepare, saying “I thought it was a mistake…you don’t do something like that.” Meanwhile, Denzil Minnan-Wong, another executive committee member, also slammed Ford for that voting misstep, and deputy mayor Doug Holyday accused councillors of lacking “backbone” for caving to pressure and voting to allot extra money to firefighters—something Ford himself did. Heck, the mayor’s list of friends is now so short that he’s even stooping to hanging out with Adam Vaughan. [Globe and Mail]
Update: In a lunchtime interview, Del Grande told CP24 he’d return to the job if council showed him some love and unanimously voted to ask him back. He admitted, however, “the probabilities of that are next to none.”
Dumb and Dumber: the most idiotic things Giorgio Mammoliti and Rob Ford did during the budget debates
City council approved the 2013 operating budget just after noon today, and, despite $12-million in last-minute spending additions, this year’s debates weren’t nearly as dramatic as last year’s coup by centrist and left-wing forces. That’s not to say there weren’t shenanigans, the best of which starred habitual headline-grabbers Giorgio Mammoliti and Rob Ford.
Although Giorgio Mammoliti leapt from Rob Ford’s lurching bandwagon in November, the two city hall fixtures still have a lot in common. Messy campaign finances, for instance. According to an audit released Friday afternoon, Mammoliti blew past the authorized campaign spending limit of $27,464.65 by a not-insignificant $12,000. If an audit committee decides to initiate legal proceedings on Feb. 4, the shaky math could cost Mammoliti a fine, some jail time or even ejection from office (another experience over which he and Ford could commiserate). In other words, his latest goof could be the end of Mammoliti’s run as a councillor, a 15-year career we honour below with a roundup of his most bone-headed comments and off-the-wall antics.
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The voting pattern will stay the same; I’m just not going to be the guy with the thumb.
Given the number of times Rob Ford has had to say he’s sorry over his political career, it’s odd that he doesn’t yet have it down. This week, integrity commissioner Janet Leiper (whose job, incidentally, Ford has made noises about eliminating) slammed the mayor for his latest apology, which she says didn’t show enough remorse for some offside comments he made last spring. Of course, Ford’s not the only Toronto politician to issue a flimsy apology of late—we’ve counted four in the past month alone. Below, we break down half-baked mea culpas from the mayor, his brother Doug Ford, Giorgio Mammoliti and Gord Perks.
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Toronto newspapers can’t help but quote councillor Adam Vaughan with startling regularity, and a Toronto Star article last weekend looked at why. The (somewhat obvious) answer? He’s a bon mot machine, with a sharp wit and a sharper tongue. This takes work: Vaughan, a former CityTV reporter, reads books of famous quotes and sometimes works on a one-liner all day before saying it aloud to reporters. Naturally, they take the bait, resulting in plenty of media attention for the would-be 2014 mayoral candidate. (Though we’re sure the fact that Vaughan frequently targets the eminently newsworthy Rob Ford doesn’t hurt, either.) Given the extent to which Vaughan prides himself on his wit, we decided to rate some of his most memorable quips.
Seeing as Giorgio Mammoliti’s curfew suggestion hasn’t gained much traction, the offbeat councillor has offered up a different idea to stem gun violence in Toronto: appoint himself anti-gang czar. Mammoliti told the Toronto Sun that, with four years to work his magic, and the help of the municipal, provincial and federal governments, he would send gang activity plummeting. “If that did not show results over a four-year period then I would resign my seat,” he offered, graciously. Mammo proposed a host of measures, including cutting social benefits for anyone found with an illegal gun in their home or cooperating with gang members; evicting anyone in TCHC buildings harbouring criminals; and cutting money from mentorship programs for older teens and spending the money on kids under age five. He also took this latest opportunity to again lobby for bringing back the death penalty. We don’t imagine council will be handing the crime file over to him anytime soon. [Toronto Sun]
While Toronto reels after another public shooting, Giorgio Mammoliti is recycling his much-loved curfew idea. During the “Summer of the Gun” in 2005, Mammoliti suggested a 10:30 p.m. curfew for kids under 16, and then revisited the proposal during his short-lived bid for mayor. This time, the councillor believes the 14-and-under crowd should not be able to venture out past 11 p.m., asking “what are they doing out at that time of night?” Putting aside that 14-year-old Shyanne Charles was shot a full twenty minutes before Mammo’s would-be curfew, wouldn’t it make more sense—and be more sensitive—to focus on the perpetrators and not the victims? Then again, Rob Ford has gone that route, and he’s not making much more sense than Mammoliti. [Toronto Sun]
Adam Vaughan’s bullet ban received a lukewarm response from his colleagues at this week’s meeting, the last before the summer break. Council voted not to debate asking city staff to study the proposal, and here’s the weird bit: even Vaughan voted against having the debate. Apparently, he preferred to have the topic shuttled off to the mayor’s executive committee in an attempt to ensure it gets public hearings: “I think when they hear the evidence and hear the arguments that they’ll understand that this is actually a way to create a good, strong, public safety program.” That’s a nice spin, but we wouldn’t bank on that happening: Mayor Rob Ford has already called the ban unfair to hunters, and executive committee member Giorgio Mammoliti has vowed to do all that he can to “shelve this thing forever.” [Toronto Sun]
Yesterday, the Toronto Standard posted a roundup comparing Rob Ford, Karen Stintz, Giorgio Mammoliti and other city hall figures to characters from the HBO medieval fantasy sex-and-violence-fest Game of Thrones. We have to admit: both the Quentin Blake-esque illustration, and the casting of Kristyn Wong-Tam as Arya Stark are spot-on. (No thanks for the Frances Nunziata breast feeding reference, though.) Read the entire story [Toronto Standard] »
—Giorgio Mammoliti, on why Canada should start handing out death penalties in response to two terrible, highly publicized and very different crimes: the Eaton Centre shooting and the Montreal murder and dismemberment allegedly committed by Luka Rocco Magnotta. Pointing out that the perpetrators “don’t have any morals,” Mammo said execution would be a fitting end for murderers, cop killers and pedophiles—though, as a city councillor, his opinion has no influence over the federal policy on capital punishment. Horrible crimes usually spark tough-on-crime rhetoric from politicians, but Mammoliti has outdone most by advocating for a justice system that looks a lot less like Canada and a lot more like Texas. [Toronto Sun]