Tuesday, September 27, 2011

What About POVERTY?

The Ontario provincial election is upon us and voting day is October 6th. Although this is not about Davenport riding, it is about the people mliving beside us.

I submitted the following question to candidates via The Gleaner LINKhere

2. What will you (really) do about the appalling levels of poverty amongst your constituents, if elected? Not just vague promises but real, deliverable, time-dated action?

—Ken Wood

DiNovo: You’re talking to the woman who brought in the $10 minimum wage bill. And thanks to that bill, in our riding, a million Ontarians got a twenty-eight per cent raise. So that’s significant, and that was within the first six months of my being elected, and that’s as a member of the Opposition in a ten-person caucus, in a 107-person government. I’m part of the provincial legislature and I sit in Opposition Government primarily because of poverty issues. One in six children in our riding, and in our city, and in our province, live in poverty. We would definitely reassess the ODSP rates and raise them. We’ve also promised that we would be building at least 10,000 new [units] in housing every year. Also, introduce legislation to allow municipalities to call for inclusionary zoning.

Ganetakos: One of the things we’re offering that I’m really happy about is support for those who are on OW and ODSP. There are those that are working part-time and are trying to improve their quality of life and they are trying to takes steps forward. But the Liberal government claws back moneys from their paycheque. It’s a disincentive to try. Our plan is to let those on OW and ODSP to keep more of their money. It may not be possible for some, and we understand that, but we want them to have more money that they work for so that they can have more dignity in their lives.

Pasternak: Daycare is a huge issue in this riding, and one that I will be championing to make sure we have lots more, we desperately need them in this riding. Full-day kindergarten is a real, measurable investment made by the McGuinty government that helps alleviate the poverty cycle in so many ways. The other thing that we’re doing is, people may not be able to feel it, but the fact is that we just went through one of the worst recessions since the Great Depression, and we’ve come out stronger, we’ve created more jobs than the other provinces combined. The truth is, when the economy is lifted up, everyone gets lifted up.

Trottier: One Green policy area that I really think is important is the idea of taxing resource use and property use, and taxing less income and earned value. For us, we would seek to reduce income tax and one of our policies is to reduce it by a certain percentage dependent on the amount of income a person is bringing in, but in such a way that those with the smallest income, the poorest among us, would benefit the most in income reduction. We would offset [those decreased tax dollars] by increasing the tax on property and on resource use. This has the benefit of encouraging the use of currently vacant property, which is an issue right along Queen Street.

I sincerely hope people in my Davenport riding and other ridings ask their candidates about this.

Provincial election debate at the Davenport Perth Neighbourhood Centre.

Time: Thursday, September 29 · 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Location : 1900 Davenport Road (in the Sanctuary)
More Info: This is an opportunity to hear what the leading candidates have say on key issues impacting the community in Davenport. All the four leading candidates were invited. Crisitna Martins, Jonah Schein, and Fank de Jong have confirmed their participation. We hope to see you all there as well. (This is a re-scheduling of the September 12 meeting). Childcare available.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Saving Money for Toronto

Top Ten Ideas to Save Toronto Money:

10. Moratorium on new construction, let our infrastructure catch up to our desire for bigger residential tax base

9. Permit more city staff to work from home, flex hours etc. Technology connects us already

8. Reduce road infrastructure to encourage less car usage, eg. Make Yonge street pedestrian concourse only

7. Road tolls, the time has come!

6. Tax rebate to anyone who gets rid of their car and commits to taking public transit, save on infrastructure

5. City needs to refuse to accept downloaded provincial responsibility programs like social assistance
4. Index police force size to crime rate, stop making TO cops best paid in Canada mantra

3. Close metro zoo - its a money loser and unneeded in today's world

2. Form parksrec 'BIA's' and get local volunteers to help maintain park programs

1. Trim bloated ranks of TTC management

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Police Overdo Strip Searches

OpenFile Toronto: "... if TPAC, the activist group led by former mayor John Sewell, is right, strip searches are being used roughly 60 percent of the time in Toronto"

"The Supreme Court says that strip searches "cannot be carried out simply as a matter of routine policy", because "strip searches are inherently humiliating and degrading for detainees."

"According to the TPAC newsletter, when asked whether more than half of arrests would constitute a routine use of Level 3 searches, Police Chief Bill Blair said that for something to be routine it would have to occur something like 100 percent of the time (something like handcuffs and fingerprinting would qualify). It's not exactly a reassuring answer, and even less reassuring than the Chief's assertion that the perceived climb in strip searches is due entirely to better record-keeping. According to the Toronto Star, the police started keeping better records after a 2005 complaint by, you guessed it, John Sewell. So, before 2005, there were tons of undocumented strip searches despite the 2001 Supreme Court case? Yikes."

.... Having been a subject who was strip searched in the past, simply because a) the police files on me mentioned I was suffering from mental illness and/or b) I was someone who has protested democratically in the past and am not a fan of police brutality - I think I have the experience to comment.

When I protested back in 2001 against the Mike Harris cuts, was knocked unconscious by police batons at King and Bay , followed by nationwide media attention showing me laying in a pool of blood, surrounded by riot police who refused medical access to me, then (surprise) was charged with a false claim of assault against police... long story, sorry.... then charges were dropped and I sued Toronto Police Services Board and the city, eventually getting a significant settlement....the point here is:

When I was arrested, I was taken in and strip-searched, simply to 'teach me a lesson'.
I KNOW this is why police employ this intimidation tactic.

I was also continually harassed by police at other social justice protests, often having officers I never met say to me : "Hey, Ken! Did you take your meds today? (laughter)". Complaints about this turn out to be a waste of time.

Go HERE for a link to the story on this.

There is still even today an ingrained culture in police that demeans, intimidates and targets people with any form of mental illness. They use the term 'EDP' (emotionally disturbed person) whenever they run into anyone with a mental health/illness history, which leads to some form of immediate assumption of guilt.

Of course this is wrong. Of course police will deny this. Of course police will just continue to do it....

Unless the 'normals' in society speak out about this injustice done to their family members, friends and neighbours..

Despite the good news about police stopping the practice of keeping and passing on mental health notes when they are called for police checks (see last post).... we have a long way to go.

But thank you  John Sewell  and the Toronto Police Accountability Coalition (TPAC)

Link is HERE "Toronto Police Accountability Coalition is a group which encourages debate about police policy issues, and is devoted to making the police more accountable to the public."

Go HERE to see The Star artcle about this.
"Last month, a judge found that Peel police officers conducted an illegal strip search of a man in order to “humiliate and intimidate” him, and then tried to cover up what they had done."

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Breakthrough on Destigmatizing Mental Illness

OPINION - Carol Goar: Rare breakthrough on mental health
July 26, 2011 18:07:00   Carol Goar Toronto Star Columnist

It took nine years of pleading, lobbying and negotiating. But the breakthrough finally came. This week the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police unveiled province-wide guidelines on the disclosure of sensitive information about a person’s mental health. LINK

Police information checks, routinely required by employers and voluntary agencies, will no longer include any reference to an incident involving mental health that did not result in criminal charges.

Since the millennium, thousands of Ontarians have lost jobs, promotions and chances to serve their community because of a past mental health crisis. A family member might have phoned 911 during a suicide attempt. A doctor might have called for a police escort to the hospital after an adverse drug reaction. An individual with a mental disorder might have sought help during an emergency.

It all ends up in the police data bank.

That was where it remained until 1999. Then the Ontario government decreed that all new teachers must undergo police checks. The directive was well-intentioned — no parent wants his or her child exposed to a pedophile or predator — but it was devastating for job applicants who had experienced an episode of mental illness.

Other organizations quickly followed the schools. Daycare centres, nursing and retirement homes, sports leagues, community agencies and some businesses began requiring police checks.

(These are not criminal record checks. They are police information checks that include all contact between an individual and the police, regardless of the reason.)

Alarm bells soon started ringing at the Ontario Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office. David Simpson, who headed the independent government agency at the time, remembers fielding calls from dozens of people who had learned, to their horror, that they had police records. They were being barred from jobs and voluntary positions because of illnesses that had been successfully treated.

“It can stop people dead in their tracks,” he said. “For those who are on the road to recovery, it can be a devastating setback.”

Simpson heard from students who were afraid of failing their courses because they couldn’t get a voluntary placement; public servants who dared not seek promotions because of what might turn up in their police record; parents who couldn’t coach their kids’ soccer teams; retirees who couldn’t give back to their community.

In 2002, Simpson contacted Keith Norton, who was then the province’s human rights commissioner. He agreed the practice of releasing police information indiscriminately was a problem and took it up with Bob Runciman, the public safety minister of the day. Runciman said the issue was beyond his control. The Ontario Association of Police Chiefs was responsible for the use and disclosure of information collected by its members.

Fortunately, Norton’s successor, Barbara Hall, was more insistent. She wrote to every police chief in the province pointing out that the practice of releasing information about a person’s mental health was “potentially discriminatory.”

A handful of police forces, including Toronto’s, responded. It developed a sophisticated risk assessment tool to determine whether to release information about a person’s mental health. But most local forces continued to red-flag individuals who posed no threat.

The Ontario Psychiatric Patient Advocate Office still gets daily calls from people who want to apply for a job or become a volunteer, but fear they’ll be stigmatized and rejected.

The new guidelines won’t solve everything. They’re not binding; each police force will set its own policies. Nor do they seal all mental health records. Organizations with vulnerable clients will still have access to relevant mental health information.

Most stakeholders, however, consider them a fair compromise.

It shouldn’t have taken this long to get the balance between privacy and public safety right.

But in the mental health sector, where no victory comes easily, this is a moment to celebrate.

-  Carol Goar's column appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday. LINK

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mayor Ford Invites All of Toronto

EX 8.1  Core Service Review

                           Meets Thursday, July 28 Weblink is here

The Executive Committee makes recommendations on Council's strategic policy and priorities, governance policy and structure, financial planning and budgeting, fiscal policy including revenue and tax policies, intergovernmental and international relations, Council and its operations, and human resources and labour relations.

13 Members: Mayor Rob Ford, Mike Del Grande, Paul Ainslie, Michelle Berardinetti, Doug Holyday, Norm Kelly, Giorgio Mammoliti, Peter Milczyn, Denzil Minnan-Wong, Cesar Palacio, Jaye Robinson, David Shiner, Michael Thompson

* Mayor Ford invites residents to tell him what to keep, cut  Globe and Mail, July 22

"Toronto Mayor Rob Ford says everyone can come to city hall next week to tell him what they think about proposed spending cuts...." 

                                        Caution to all left wing Pinkos:  

“I encourage people to come to the executive committee next Thursday,” he said during an interview on CP24. “Everyone has five minutes to talk to me personally at our executive committee. I invite the whole city. I don’t care if we have to sit there for three days. I don’t want to have people ... they have five minutes to tell me what business do you think we should be in. And it’s next Thursday at 9:30 at city hall. Come and let me know what you think – the average taxpayer out there – what are we doing right, what are we doing wrong. I want to hear from the people and I encourage them to come. “

So, Y'all Come On Down to Mayor Rob's Place and Tell Us Whatcha Thinkin', Toronto

I guarantee each of you get your 5 minutes to speak,
 all 2,503,281 of you

Just call, write, email or fax to:

Frances Pritchard
10th floor, West Tower, City Hall
100 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
email: exc@toronto.ca
phone: 416-392-6627
fax: 416-392-1879

The link to the meeting information is HERE

During the same interview the mayor said taxpayers have three priorities: They want to feel safe, they want roads that are clean and without potholes and they want their garbage picked up.

These, he said, “are the three high-level issues that people really want us to deal with.”

Also see:
"Mr Crankypants" Mike del Grande, Budget Chief

Giorgio (Thumbs Down) Mammoliti

Doug (Foot-In-Mouth) Ford

"Margaret Atwood, I wouldn't recognize her if she walked right past. If she wants to talk about libraries, she can run for office." ...
Janet Davis NatlPost weblink
Doug Ford: "There is the odd person that comes in [to depute] because they care." The rest? Part of a union conspiracy.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Speeding Up The Dismantling of Toronto: CORE SERVICE REVIEWS

KPMG Core Review Moving Fast to Push Ford Ideology Over Realities


Note: All the various committee meetings are being televised live and archived on Rogers Cable 10 TV and on the net at  This Link

       HERE is a link to another blog that sums up what is happening.
...and HERE is a link to Christopher Hume's take:
"As the Core Services Sideshow grinds to its foregone conclusion, it’s clear Mayor Rob Ford is less interested in slashing costs than slashing government....His goal is less to make the city better than to make it smaller, to diminish the role it plays in our lives, whether at the park, the library, riding the subway or putting out the garbage....At the same time, Ford admits we face property tax hikes of up to 3 per cent. Never will less have cost more."

1. Public Works and Infrastructure Committee:
Meeting today (Monday July 18) as I type this.

The Public Works and Infrastructure Committee's primary focus is on infrastructure, with a mandate to monitor, and make recommendations on Toronto's infrastructure needs and services.
6 Members: Denzil Minnan-Wong (Chair), Mark Grimes,  Mike Layton,  John Parker,  Gord Perks, David Shiner

 "The review, conducted by KPMG on behalf of the city, examined four core services: water, solid-waste, transportation and technical services." Weblink  "At a technical briefing (last) Monday, city manager Joe Pennachetti said the cuts could shave $10 million to $15 million from the Public Works Committee’s budget of $1.085 billion....KMPG said 96 per cent of services provided by the Public Works Committee are "core municipal services," meaning they're mandatory"

Another link to a CTV story is HERE

In essence, it seems the city is looking at incredibly ridiculous things like cutting back firefighting, EMS, water treatment, etc.

It seems there were about 26 people making deputations at today's committeee.

SUMMARY:   Said best in these Twitter Tweets...

kevinbeaulieu -Councillors Grimes, Minnan-Wong, Shiner,& Parker all vote against determining health, environmental,& service level impacts of proposed cuts

Now - Cllr Shiner moves to pass all of KPMG's "opportunities" on to the Ex Comm, basically leaving decisions up to the mayor

KEN WOOD - Gord Perk's zinger: KPMG told us amalgamation would save us money #TOCouncil #topoli  need to remember this one!

City Slikr -If PWI committee anything to go by, committees won't make any decision on KPMG report. Send decisions for mayor to make at Ex. Comm

City Slikr - Cllr Perks is suggesting results of public consultations process have been buried

Here is a link to quickie overview of the motions passed at this Public Works meeting: Torontoist
and another summary is HERE

2. Economic Development Committee:
Meets tomorrow: Tuesday, July 19 Weblink is HERE

The Economic Development Committee's primary focus is the economy, with a mandate to monitor, and make recommendations to strengthen Toronto's economy and investment climate.
6 Members: Michael Thompson (Chair), Shelley Carroll,  Josh Colle,  Sarah Doucette, Paula Fletcher, Mary Fragedakis

On the chopping block today:
* Arts Programming
* BIA Supports
* Cultural development
* Events Programming
* Heritage Supports
* Toronto Employment and Social Services
* Research and Trade Development
... Here is a LINK to Torontoist article about this.
 "Low income families, elderly, and disabled persons may be negatively impacted resulting in potentially serious health and medical issues,"

- Chair Michael Thompson gave a long-winded intro, says expect 25+ deputants, followed by chief city staffman Joe Penachetti (City Manager)... followed by self-promotional speech by KPMG... there goes about an hour.... plus questions to citymanager and others.... tic toc tic toc while deputants wait.

Today's meaningful Twitter Tweets:

Daniel Dale - I'm reminded that, in consultant-speak, "high-level," as in "high-level presentation," means "not very specific," not "very excellent."

Daniel Dale - Janet Davis to Pennachetti: have you considered anything members of the public said during consultations? (real answer is no, but avoided saying that)

Daniel Dale - KPMG reps keeps being asked about impacts of getting rid of programs and services; keep saying they weren't asked to analyze those.

by cityslikr -Just so's we're clear: this is the same KPMG that said Iceland's economy was sound, yes? We're getting them to vet our city's finances why?

Daniel Dale - 25 people signed up to speak. Six from BIAs - KPMG says city could cut staff support to them.

Daniel Dale - Del Grande says something re taxes at cte. Vaughan disagrees and comes to media area to tell us. Del Grande comes over... And says, loudly, "BULLSHIT. That's BULLSHIT." Concludes by saying, "Absolute bullshit." Vaughan starts laughing and says, "Watch your language, Mike." Chair Thompson seems to notice - Del Grande says something like, "Sorry, I just get frustrated with these people." Walks out angrily.

City Slikr - Wow. Wasn't it Cllr Del Grande complaining of the use of inappropriate language at the last council meeting?

Daniel Dale - For the record, I'm not yet sure who's right on the merits of their argument.

DoucetteWard13 - Heavy hitters from Toronto's $950 million #Film and #Television industry tell Ec Dev Cmtee - predictable services allow film & tv growth

1:35pm _ meeting supposed to resume at 1:30 but no quorum... resumed 1:37pm, people being very polite after their lunches.

... seems every BIA is making a deputation. And rightly so.

KEN WOOD - Shelley Carroll gets deputant to explain "Food Incubator" It helps local business #TOCouncil at Econ Devlt Cmttee

2:25pm end of pre-registered deputants...KEN WOOD - Very courteous chair Michael Thompson asks if anyone else not on list wants to speak Blind disabled person speaks ... cmtee takes bathroom break

* Meanwhile in other news: Goldsbie - Doug Ford complains that Toronto has too many libraries:
“We have more libraries per person than any other city in the world. I’ve got more libraries in my area than I have Tim Horton’s.”
Reality Check: •In Etobicoke (Mr. Ford’s area), there are 13 library branches there, and 39 Tim Horton’s shops, not to mention all the other donut shops. In fact, on a per capita basis, the people in Etobicoke have fewer libraries than Toronto as a whole. They have one for every 27,000 people whereas in Toronto as a whole it’s about one for every 25,000 people.
...............Mini-Mayor #2: Councillor Doug (I Hate Unions) Ford

3. Community Development and Recreation Committee :
Meets Wednesday, July 19 Weblink is HERE
.............................Com Dev & Rec Committee has 60 registerd deputations
The Community Development and Recreation Committee’s primary focus is social cohesion, with a mandate to monitor, and make recommendations to strengthen services to communities and neighbourhoods.
6 Members: Giorgio Mammoliti (Chair), Maria Augimeri, Janet Davis,  Josh Matlow,  Joe Mihevc, Kristyn Wong-Tam

Items on the chopping block here are:
* Childrens' Services = Child Care
* Long Term Care Homes
* Emergency Medical Services
* Fire Services, EMS - consider merging paramedica with fire?
* (Social) Housing, Shelters and Support
* Parks,Forestry and Recreation = higher user fees?
* Social Development = community engagement, youth services, community safety

Todays Twitter Tweets:

torontoist  -First move: committee chair Giorgio Mammoliti tries to cut off speaking list, and cut down speaking time per deputant. Both fail.

Robert Cerjanec - We have 66 deputants @ Community Develop & Rec Cmttee! Good luck

Goldsbie -From today's KPMG report: "Consider reducing or eliminating proactive inspection for illegal signs and investigation of sign complaints."

Goldsbie - From today's KPMG report: "Consider reducing or eliminating proactive inspection for illegal signs and investigation of sign complaints."

Robert Cerjanec -Some of the "opportunities" re: #TTC include scrapping night buses and privatizing routes! Shameful

Cllr Fletcher comes out swinging against KPMG b/c our cost for sports & rec services is lower than many other cities
Kristyn Wong-Tam - Toronto delivers recreational services most cost effectively out of 9 Ontario cities. Why privatize?
Cerjanec - Cllr Mammoliti tells ppl in the room that they can't use empty chairs reserved for people who aren't coming to the room!
  Cerjanec - Cllr Perks points out that other municipalities in Ontario provide grants for community development! Why cut it here? 

Martin Kuplens-Ewart - KPMG demonstrate lack of understanding of how TCH waitlist works, suggest doing what already happens as an efficiency

@jm_mcgrath In response to @DoucetteWard13, KPMG guy says "swimming is only a life-saving skill if you go near the water." // No! Really?

Cllr asks KPMG if they would put their children in a daycare w/ lower wages rather than higher wages. Answer: no comment.

Many questions about what was behind the KPMG report - who drives it who do they talk to about setup, etc, (Wealready Know it is Rob Ford's back room secret plam)

Daniel Dale - Deputant says he just learned he's going to be a father, Janet Davis asks him if he's on child care list yet, says he just.did it yesterday, Adam Vaughan says, "Too late." He says he's number 20,096 on the list for subsidized care.

Sue-Ann Levy - Parade of leftists and vested interests tell city ctte they are entitled to their entitlements

Goldsbie - @ @SueAnnLevy They're mostly talking about childcare, you know.

Goldsbie - Deputant, on cuts to childcare: "It's easy to steal candy from babies, but I would like the mayor to know that it's not responsible."

Maria Augimeri - When you have to apply for childcare before you're even pregnant to get any chance at a space, it makes zero sense to cut 2000 spaces

Mom @ Cttee: childcare cuts "will be met with massive protest, we simply will not accept it". With a 19,500 backlog, I don't blame moms.

'We need free -- or at least dirt cheap -- rec pgms,' deputant tells city cllrs.

Robert Cerjanec - Deputant explains why KPMG's numbers are wrong on child care subsidies.

@ddale8: Deputant says KPMG child care number is "a pile of......sorry. That is: completely wrong."

The time is 5:27PM and the all day meeting is still going on...A lot of smart women giving deputations have done their work: they point out many errors and incorrect figures in the KPMG report.

8PM - deputants finished, committee questioning chief city bureaucrat, City Manager Joe Penachetti

Daniel Dale - Mihevc: are we doing broad consultation? Pennachetti: don't have time. Mihevc: "A radical restructuring of government," we should make time.

Daniel Dale - Matlow went pretty hard at Pennachetti; asked why service review was being done hastily "and perhaps recklessly." Matlow complained that it's being done "piecemeal" - core reports to committee now, efficiency and user fee studies going elsewhere later.

Daniel Dale - Pennachetti now seems more annoyed than he's been at any meeting this year. Wong-Tam, Davis also being critical.

Daniel Dale - Davis: how do we make decisions without year-end financial results, the efficiency studies, user fee info, and knowing more about layoffs?

This committee is not willing to just roll overs and take what they are told, and are making a number of motions that require much more consultation.

8:51pm Now Josh Matlow is going on about how he would have just sent on report to the Exec, ...then  many words expressing his desire to sit on the fence. Mushy Matlow as usual.

Janet Davis - CDR defers KPMG report to Sept 14 mtg & asks for more information. Committee and Public will know then real recs from Mayor to Sept 19 Exec.
Official decisions made atthis meeting are HERE

4. Parks and Environment Committee:
Meets Thursday, July 21 Weblink is HERE

The Parks and Environment Committee’s primary focus is the natural environment, with a mandate to monitor, and make recommendations on the sustainable use of Toronto’s natural environment.
6 Members: Norman Kelly (Chair),  Michelle Berardinetti,  Raymond Cho, Mary-Margaret McMahon, Ron Moeser,  James Pasternak

Next on today's chopping block:

* Reduce grass-cutting, snow clearing
* Reduce tree planting, lower tree canopy targets = un-green Toronto
* Contract out park maintenance to volunteers ?
* Eliminate zoo and farm attractions eg. Riverdale Park
* Eliminate Toronto Environment Office
* Reduce maintenance of beaches
* Eliminate community gardens

"With the temperature reaching 37 C and the humidex making it feel like 51 C — Canada's largest city became Canada's hottest city, at least for one day."

Hottest day on record in Toronto, seems Mother Nature is really the first deputant to this committee...

Over 100 deputants to be heard, apparently about 392 emails sent from the general public and someone presented a petition of over 7,000 signatures. News covereage in the morning left a little early as the time used up by KPMG and visiting councillors meant the first deputant was not heard from until almost noon.

Most of the deputants were from organized lobby groups representing many more people, like Toronto Environmental Alliance, Urban Forestry, Park Peple - lots of defenders of Riverdale Farm. About 1/3 of all councillors showed up at one point or another, including ward 18's Ana Bailao.

It's a shame much of the well-researched, factual data from respected professionals did not make the news as it was a great education for anyone who listened.

Following normal Ford-bias, the committe chair limited deputants to 3 mins instead of the usual 5, and even limited councillor time to 2 mins instead of 3 to ask questions. The smart councillors tended to give their 2 mins to the more fact based deputants to finish up.

It seems the job of committee member councillors McMahon and Berardinetti was to try to ask every deputant what level of user fee they would recommend peopl pay to use parks... rather one track mind on that. Many other councillors used their question time to self promote how they love parks, no promises, but got on record they love parks.

A few tweets:

Michael Shapcott -Respect for taxpayers? Mayor Ford inherited $345.5m surplus from previous #TOCouncil - six months later, Toronto claims $774 million deficit

Michael Shapcott - On impossibly hot day, plan to cut Toronto Atmospheric Fund (which backs plans to cool urban heat effect) seems so... stupid!

Janet Davis - Kelly interrupts another young deputant who says cutting car tax was a mistake, "Do you have a car?" Then sheepishly apologizes.

torontoist - At City Hall, Parks&Rec nearing its 12th hour of mtg. Just finished defending the Toronto Environment Office: Insurance Bureau of Canada 9::25pm

by kristynwongtam - #Scarboro resident left home @7am and waited til 10 pm to tell Cmttee not to rush decisions & community gardens needed in Scarboro #parks

Parks and Environment Committee Decisions can be found HERE in its entirety.
The Parks and Environment Committee:

1. Requested the City Manager to review the List of Opportunities to ensure service efficiencies are maximized to meet the 2012 budget targets and multi-year service and financial planning objectives and report directly to the Executive Committee.

2. Requested the City Manager, in his report to the Executive Committee on September 19, 2011, to include the implications of the proposed service reductions for Parks and Environment by KPMG.

3. Requested the General Manager, Parks, Forestry and Recreation to report to the September 15, 2011 meeting of the Parks and Environment Committee on how a community board governance model may be included with the Parks Plan consultation process.

Meets Monday, July 25 Weblink is HERE

The Licensing and Standards Committee's primary focus is consumer safety and protection, with a mandate to monitor, and make recommendations on the licensing of business and enforcement of property standards.
6 Members: Cesar Palacio (Chair),  Glenn De Baeremaeker, Chin Lee, Gloria Lindsay-Luby, Frances Nunziata,  Anthony Perruzza

NOTE: As of 2pm Tuesday, July 19 there are only a "handful" of deputants and this committee is not as busy as others.

The mainstream media is concentrating on the scrapping of pet licences, but the real story is much bigger. Drastic changes like getting rid of Toronto Animal Services entirely is on the table as is bylaw enforcement in a wholse host of areas. Liecnsing and Standards could even disappear potentially.

"It proposes scrapping the city’s cat and dog licensing program, outsourcing animal care and enforcement, reducing response time for emergency animal rescues and abandoning a pickup program for unwanted animals" (Globe and Mail Weblink HERE )

"Beyond the kitty and canine realm, it suggests ditching categories of business permits that “do not clearly serve a public service.” The consultants refrained from detailing all the business licences they consider to be extraneous, but the division controls a range of activities including bowling alleys, carnivals, nightclubs, tradespeople, parking lots and pet shops."

Another Toronto Star story link is over HERE
Another National Post story article is HERE
Another Toronto Sun story link is HERE

"Business licensing earns the city $6 million per year. The pet-licensing program alone brings in $660,000."
(but pet licensing costs $1.9 million to do) link ???

Today's Tweets About the Meeting:

reporterdonpeat Don Peat-by SusanGapka 19 speakers on the list for licensing and standards meeting today. So far, no dogs or cats in the room.

DoucetteWard13 Sarah Doucette - At Licensing and Standards core service meeting. Should we keep Licensing of pets so we can reunite them with their owners

DoucetteWard13 Sarah Doucette - Just watched a very disturbing video of what happened when Montreal contracted out animal services. Some residents had to leave the room

goldsbie Jonathan Goldsbie - Licensing & Standards meeting was supposed to reconvene at 1:40. Only Chair Cesar Palacio is present. He asks other councillors to show up.

goldsbie Jonathan Goldsbie - (02:35pm) (Now Nunziata and Chin Lee have arrived. Still no quorum.)

goldsbie Jonathan Goldsbie - It might be noted that Mike Layton, who showed up to this morning's Licensing Committee session, didn't return for the afternoon. (Dad has cancer, Mike was effective in the am session)

Not a tweet, but noted committee member Anthony Peruzza asked why no consideration of the taxi industry under Core Service Review.... ooops, major fail by KPMG.

News Articles:
Pet licensing reviewed - Toronto Sun "Councillors on the licensing committee voted Monday to toss suggestions for cost-savings from a core services review by KPMG to the executive committee’s September meeting"

***  Actual video footage of licensing and standards meeting is available HERE

I was there - here are my notes... 10 deputants, notable ones...

1. Peter Newell deputant spoke for the Toronto Humane Society. He acquitted himself admirably with his deputation, staying pretty general but supporting TAS staying in business: "We cannot take up the slack - If TAS vaporized it would be a challenge", TAS plays a vital role with demonstrated leadership, gave some statistics about the THS (3,000 members, 600 volunteers) and said we could work with the city to contribute meaningfully to help reduce costs at no drop in service levels, Outsourcing would be a mistake (see Ken's comments re Montreal Berger Blanc below), THS supports pet licencing and encourages microchipping, spoke about Calgary/Bill Bruce model working well (revenue neutral), gave Calgary stats: 5,000 dogs with 88% return to owners and 40% of those happen immediately upon pickup (no need for shelter... Calgary pet licencing: 80% of dogs and 50% of cats licenced withToronto at 30% dogs, 10% cats). In response to very supportive questions from committee member Glenn de Baermaeker, about microchipping said a lifetime data bank would help, present problem is people do not keep data up to date, Summary: Drastic remedies are not necessary. Glenn asked if THS or volunteers could fill in the gap if TAS were not to exists, specifically 'picking up dead animal corpses with shovels'. Peter's excellent response: No, it takes demonstrated expertise to do a lot of things TAS does as well as credibility of city run oversight, volunteers would lack the authority to do much of what TAS does.

... at least I think that is what he said, as I furiously scribbled notes. Sorry if I misquote you here Peter.

2. Ken Wood's deputation: I was the first deputant and managed to get in (in the 5 mins allowed): Pet licencing with tags is inaccurate, especially for cats who routinely lose collars, better way to go is mandatory microchipping; Said I was confused about actual costs of pet licencing as some reports say city takes in $600,000/yr but costs $1.9 million to administer - so needs looking at (apparently KPMG did not factor in that the city took in $253,000 in donations last year); Spoke well about TAS beginning to do a better and better job as they reach out to other animal welfare groups in the city and that we need them to provide a centralized, coordinating role, Mentioned that compared to city of Montreal who used to do it as city service - spent $15 million/year with 3 million pop, versus Toronto who spends $8.9 million for 2.7 million residents, so TAS is cost effective; Most of my deputation was to draw attention about disaster of Montreal's outsourcing to private, for profit Berger Blanc with terrible societal impacts and lawsuits (I provided paper copies of many links about this to the committee). In response to supportive questions from Glenn de Baermaeker, I was able to confirm: No, volunteers could not pick up the slack if TAS not there, we would see many problems, there is not enough capacity in the animal welfare community in Toronto to handle things the way they are now and it would get much worse; That I see city providing central coordinating role; eg lost /injured pets call 311 service and get connected to resources, "One Stop Shopping" as was commented by another committee member (Frances Nunziata) = a good desirable thing; That I'd like to see the city have a sort of 'shelter bed' system to direct animals in need to wherever and whomever in the city can help, whether that be humanes, shelters, rescues, fosters, etc. Many questions about microchipping, including one from chair Cesar Palacio who asked if I thought licencing compliance and revenue would be boosted if the city made it microchipping: Yes. (In fact they passed a motion on this very thing - actual motions made will be on the city website very soon as meeting ended about 3:00pm).

3. Stephanie Cliff, a vet tech who works at TAS showed a segment of the VERY disturbing expose of Berger Blanc in Montreal and ensured every committee member had a dvd of this. (I watched it last night and cried and shook with anger; many people had to leave the room and Chair Palacio actually stopped it to ensure that there were no more disturbing immages coming - the few minutes shown were NOT the worst in the 26 min+ video accessible here: Video Link   It had a major impact on the committee.

4. There were 19 pre-registered deputants on the list and only about 10 showed up. All gave really good input, including: Liz White, Animal Alliance of Canada; Nathalie Karvonen of Toronto Wildlife Centre (non profits), various current and past employees and volunteers of TAS, and Fern Sinkins formerly of Toronto Cat Rescue who gave a quickie encouraging the city to look closer at the Calgary model.plus other city workers. Several other non-committee city councillors popped in and out and seemed supportive of TAS not being cut. Darren Jackson of Toronto Civic Employees Union with 29 years' service doing animal bylaw work took particuar exception to KPMG suggestion to increase Emergency Response times to animal problems to more than 2 hours, saying when he was in North York pre-amalgamation it was 20 minutes. Michelle Firman also pointed out that the citizens of Toronto would not stand for injured animals not being cared for on the streets of our city.

RESULT: I missed some of the motions as I was in transit going home, but it seems they are NOT going to recommend outsourcing TAS, that they want to look closer at microchipping and keeping pet licencing using that leverage... This next goes to Mayor Ford's Executive committee on Thursday, July 28 (where anything can happen - but where Ford has publically invited the whole 2,503,281 of us to come get 5 mins to speak = 24 days of nonstop meeting?) - then goes to full city council for debate/decision September 21st.

                Here are the DECISIONS MADE at this meeting.

6. Government Management Committee

Meets Tuesday, July 26 Weblink is HERE

In February 2007, the General Government Committee was renamed as Government Management Committee. This committee has a focus of government assets and resources, with a mandate to monitor, and make recommendations on the administrative operations of the City.
6 Members: Paul Ainslie (Chair), Vincent Crisanti, John Filion,  Doug Ford, Pam McConnell,  Jaye Robinson

HERE is a link to story. Outsource some 311 services, consolidate finance, administrative functions

7 Deputants:

 Michael Rosenberg (a regular deputant)- speaks about waste in Information Technology (computers) - lots of new software things are "fluff" - says could save $50 million.... Doug Ford asks questions, keen on this. Deputant says lets replace computers every 6-8 years not every 4.

Miroslav Glacic talks about graffitti, problems with 311 service... Doug Ford jumps on this promoting outsource to non-union jobs, Glacic says hope it does not go to India for rock-bottom costs as we need people in Toronto who know Toronto.

CUPE union deputant reinforces that citizens will hate it if they call 311 or for helps elsewhere and end up taliking to somebody in North Dakota (as has happened)... Doug Ford attacks him on several fronts (he is so ANTI-union)... gets really nasty badgering deputant, trying to put words in his mouth. Accuses him of scare-mongering. Much revolves around issue of Ford wanting to outsource cleaning jobs at police stations (deputant rightly says thats a security risk).

Next deputant chastizes Doug Ford for his irresponsible comment about there being more public libraries in his ward than Tim Hortons (actually is 39-13 the other way) ... gets cutoff by Chair Ainslie.

*** Next deputants tell it like it is about cleaning in police facilities: feces, blood, 'manstuff', etc. Say they deserve decent benefits and fair wages, Getting $10.25/hour to clean up HIV blood?  Infection dangers like Tuberculosis? Cleaners get access to police areas even other police officers do not - it is all about trust and security. Lots of supportive (visiting) councillor questions.

Staff questions by committee members happened next. Lots of motions that pretty much went:

"All in Favour? Carried.... next (repeat)"

Adjourned at 12:49pm. Easy when everybody in the Ford camp isn't it?

Today's Tweets:

@cllrainslie is one blessed politician. Only 7 speakers at #gmcTO today (@MiroslavGlavic being one of them).

DoucetteWard13 Sarah Doucette - At Government Management Core Service meeting 7 speakers today (So is Shelley Carroll, Josh Matlow, )

shelleycarroll Shelley Carroll - WAIT! Today's Core Review stops comparing us to the 6 Cities & uses private sector only. Not what Council voted to do. #tocouncil

Josh Matlow - Interesting discussion at Government Management Committee on the possibility of using recycled aggregates on Toronto's roads.

Janet Davis - Doug Ford asks deputant if he'd be happy contracting out 311 - "don't have to worry about pensions and benefits".

Matt Elliott - Re: Contracting out 311. Is anyone actually going to argue that the private sector is good at running call centres? ... Because my experiences calling 311 are ten times better than my experiences calling Bell, Rogers, Dell, etc.

ddale8 - Speaker tells Cllr Doug Ford "cheaper isn't always better." Ford responds: "More expensive isn't always better either."

KEN WOOD - WOW Doug Ford totally loses it attacking CUPE union deputant at GovtMgt cmtee

Janet Davis - Earlier (Doug Ford?) said Toronto should look to Walmart for how the city should be run. Hmm...

City Slikr - Why would efficiency studies not go through committee process again? Am I missing something?

City Slikr - Watching Gov't Management Comm. talk about cloud based computering, I keep expecting Ted Stevens to pop in and explain it. Tubes & Wires.

...Google: Cloud computing is all the rage. "It's become the phrase du jour," says Gartner senior analyst Ben Pring, echoing many of his peers. The problem is that (as with Web 2.0) everyone seems to have a different definition   LINK  Definitions = "Cloud computing is Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices on demand, like the electricity grid." "The use of a Web services such as Flickr, Google Docs, Jing (video screencapture service) to perform the functions that were traditionally done with software installed on an individual computer." "Cloud computing is the use of a 3rd party service, such as Indicee, to perform computing needs on a publicly accessible IP basis. The term cloud is used as a metaphor for the Internet" ... "Software that is provided online meaning there is no software to install or infrastructure to maintain."

City Slikr - Sorry. I don't get it. How do you outsource a city based service like 3-1-1? Won't it undercut its effectiveness slightly? (They actually talk about getting someone in Mumbai to answer questions on 311 about Toronto !!!!)

Matt Elliott - Why not just route all 311 calls to the mayor's cell phone?

Janet Davis - Gov't Man.Ctte asks for report on outsourcing 311- KPMG says "little experience" doing this. In fact, no city outsources 311 call centres

                                   DECISIONS made can be found HERE

 7. Board of Health:
Meets Tuesday, July 26 Weblink is HERE

The Board of Health determines and sets public health policy and advises City Council on a broad range of health issues. The Board of Health is composed of six Councillors, six citizen representatives and an elected school board representative.
13 Members: John Filion (Chair),  Alejandra Bravo, Eduardo Castro, Vaijayanthi Chari,  Raymond Cho, Sarah Doucette, Paula Fletcher,  Joe Mihevc,   Fiona Nelson, Lisa O'Brien,  Gord Perks,  Valerie Sterling,  Soo Wong ... Note several members are NOT city councillors. 

Today's Tweets:

Sarah Doucette - KPMG suggests eliminating the Student Nutrition program. They say this could compromise the students. I say it WOULD compromise the students

Diane_Dyson - Board of Health recommends taking provincial $$ for Bed Bug control - for inspections and extreme clean for the vulnerable

Toronto Star article HERE

Sorry - no notes. For some reason Rogers and the city are not telecasting this via the net like all the other core service review meetings.......

Meeting at Metro Reference Library, north of Yonge and Bloor

Sorry - no notes. For some reason Rogers and the city are not telecasting this via the net like all the other core service review meetings.......

Today's Tweets:

HiMY SYeD - Standing Room only in @TorontoLibrary Board Mtg.
HiMY SYeD -Maureen o'Reilly deputing: cites number of online signatures at website.

Marcus Gee - Library union says 23,267 ppl have signed a petition against library closures.

HiMY SYeD - Maureen O'Reilly citing 1.2 Million @torontolibrary card holders... She ask @cllrainslie directly what is he doing???

HiMY SYeD - Hard to get a signal...one bar... Sorry folks, unable to live-tweet @torontolibrary board meeting

Paul Ainslie - Toronto Public Library Boartd of Directors reviewing suggestions of KPMG "Core Service Review"Shannon D'Arcy - Just got an email from @Ward18AnaBailao, who will NOT be supporting privatizing libraries.

Goldsbie - The Toronto Star provides statistics on the library that Doug Ford says "no one uses":
Link Visitors: 39,775 Active users: 2,746 Program attendance: 1,692 Annual circulation: 96,328

Ainslie - Toronto Public Library Board removes fine exemptions for Board of Directors

Janet Davis - TPL defers KPMG till Sept. 13. TP Libraries: Very busy, innovative, cost effective, exceptional customer satisfaction. Let's close them???

HiMY SYeD - Globe and Mail: #LibraryTO cuts will happen ‘in a heartbeat,’ Doug Ford says

City Slikr - Cynical me wonders if @karenstintz's strong public stand on library cuts signals that they're not really on the table...Bright sunny me hopes that 's strong public stand on library cuts signals her stepping further away from the mayor

Daniel Dale - James Pasternak told me earlier that he wouldn't support the closing of branches
              Toronto Sun: Public board shelves branch closures LINK.

hmmm, kind of looks like libraries are safe and may just be the red herring designed to draw public outrage, while sometheing bad elsewhere will happen? 

11:35am Wed July27:
Sarah Doucette - Cllr Doug Ford & I were just interviewed by Global News re closing Libraries. Gave Cllr Ford a chance to talk his foot out of his mouth

9. Planning and Growth Management Committee:
 Meets Wednesday, July 27 Weblink is HERE

The Planning and Growth Management Committee’s primary focus is on urban form, with a mandate to monitor, and make recommendations on planning, growth, and development of the City.
6 Members: Peter Milczyn (Chair), Ana Bail√£o,  Gary Crawford,  Frank Di Giorgio,  Karen Stintz,  Adam Vaughan

On the Chop Block:
* The Heritage Grant and Tax rebate programs could be reduced or eliminated.
* The Public Realm Improvement program could be eliminated
* Charge user fees for planning notices
* Reduce consultation in planning
* Eliminate public art program

   Today's Tweets:

(first one I've seen from him about any meeting):
Mayor Rob Ford - Planning & Growth Mgmt Cttee meeting starts in 15 minutes. Watch it live here http://t.co/WbApQNa #TOServiceReview #Toronto #FB #yyz #TOpoli

City Slikr - Cllr Fletcher to KPMG: You're speculating. KPMG: We're categorizing

cityslikr -KPMG now talking about recommendation to reduce @illegalsigns enforcement. Same not said for graffiti of course

suckersarestuck -#coreservicereview :eliminate heritage grants. Clr Vaughan announces #KPMG got big #heritage grant in Melbourne AUS to restore HQ there

... and finally .... where all the decisions seem to be made...

Meets Thursday, July 28 Weblink is

The Executive Committee makes recommendations on Council's strategic policy and priorities, governance policy and structure, financial planning and budgeting, fiscal policy including revenue and tax policies, intergovernmental and international relations, Council and its operations, and human resources and labour relations.
13 Members: Mayor Rob Ford, Mike Del Grande, Paul Ainslie,  Michelle Berardinetti, Doug Holyday, Norm Kelly,  Giorgio Mammoliti, Peter Milczyn,  Denzil Minnan-Wong,  Cesar Palacio, Jaye Robinson, David Shiner,  Michael Thompson

* Mayor Ford invites residents to tell him what to keep, cut    LINK HERE
So, Y'all Come On Down to Mayor Rob's Place and Tell Us Whatcha Thinkin', Toronto
I guarantee each of you get your 5 minutes to speak, all 2,503,281 of you
Just call, write, email or fax to:
Frances Pritchard

10th floor, West Tower, City Hall
100 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
phone: 416-392-6627
fax: 416-392-1879

... Tweet: as of noon, Wed July 27: Kim Wright - Must rest up tonight. There are already 210 deps registered for Exec Cmte tomorrow. May bump into sundown clause on Friday.

Toronto Star article about this:
"For Mayor Rob Ford, no matter what he says, this painful budget exercise is not about slaying Toronto’s annual deficit....In carefully chosen words before the start of Thursday’s epic executive meeting, Ford decreed that “must have” services stay and the “nice to haves” go. In his mind-the-shop view, cities don’t hand out arts grants, bolster poor student’s meals, spur environmental research or own a zoo."

"The public consultation process that included deputations to the executive committee is an elaborate sham, something apparent to most of the long line of Torontonians who passionately pleaded for Ford to keep his election promise not to reduce services."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Moments of Meaning from Movies

SHRINK:  2009 Movie LINK

Unable to cope with a recent personal tragedy, LA's top celebrity shrink turns into a pothead with no concern for his appearance and a creeping sense of his inability to help his patients. Stars: Kevin Spacey, and Robin Williams (in a small impressively serious role)


In Hollywood, people in need revolve around Dr. Henry Carter, a shrink: Jack, an aging star wants permission to cheat on his wife; Shamus is a director who's a cokehead; Patrick is a high-powered germophobic producer; Jeremy is a young writer looking for a break; Jemma, a high-school student, is skipping school; and Kate is an actress facing her mid-30s. Henry's wife recently died; he's grieving, blaming himself, smoking lots of pot. Henry's friends try an intervention; someone steals a patient's file from Henry; Patrick's assistant, the pregnant Daisy, sees promise in Jeremy's work; and, Jesus, Henry's drug dealer, sells him some potent weed. Can anything good come of this?

... Just watched this movie and liked the Kevin Spacey lines:

"Happiness" is a word for a feeling. Feelings are rarely understood in the moment. They are quickly forgotten, and almost always mis-remembered."

and, attributed:  "The first step towards happiness is always the hardest"

(For those that like reading scripts go HERE )

Caution: Movie deals with suicide and the whys. Heavy duty movie with a pretty realistic ending.

Highly recommended.