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This page has two stories with the same ending. I'm not into spoiling endings, but I'm going to tell you the conclusion of these because it makes a great introduction.
The conclusion is that there are ways everyone can use his or her individuality to contribute to the world in such a way as to make it a better place.
Well, we've all heard that one before. But here's an interesting update: During the 2010 election I developed two ways you can actually be a contributor to decisions made in every aspect of Toronto life and in your business or profession regardless of what part you play in that business, and profit by both.
Here's the first story:
Some time ago, my old pal Laurence Cherniak blew into town. I hadn't seen or heard from him in over 20 years as he let his photography and printing business take him all over the world and did all the things most of us dream of doing until --maybe-- we get around to them after retirement. I was Laurence's first SCUBA diving instructor in the late sixties (Lord, am I that old???), and since then he has compiled over 5000 logged diving hours and dived all over the world. Laurence was passing through to close up his Coldwater and Hanover homes so he could settle down in BC for some time before he intends retiring in Maui.
We started catching up, and I told him about my Mayoralty Campaign and all the things I wanted to do for the city. At some point, he interrupted me, and exclaimed, "My God, Mark! Do you know what you just said?" As some of my best friends will delightedly tell you (even sometimes without being asked): when I am blathering away, I'm not awfully good at listening...even to me. So I said, "No. What did I say?" "It isn't exactly something you said, Mark," explained Laurence in a voice that was, to me, sounding puzzlingly excited, because very few people since I was an infant have shown any excitement at all over what I have had to say, "It's something that I thought of while you were speaking. It's exactly what you are talking about! It's Social Action!" Apparently, this is a topic about which Laurence had done some thinking in the past; and what I was saying clicked with his thoughts on the subject.
Two days later, we sat down and discussed the various ins and outs of what Laurence had heard, where he had gone with it in his mind, and where I thought I could take it to benefit the city. Between some time after we sat down in the early evening and 2:00 AM when we were in another part of town doing something else, we had covered a lot of aspects of this topic and changed the name to suit the game. It was now "Social Actualization", and had a body of substance I am developing and I invite you to help me develop by leaving me a message at email@example.com with any ideas that come to mind after you read what it's about.
What is Social Actualization?
There are two sides to Social Actualization.
The first is giving the general public an alternative voice they can use to participate in the life of the city, and can be initiated and implemented privately or publicly. The second is an opportunity for the citizenry of Toronto to personally take back the lack of services caused by unavailable civic budget funding (due to the diversion of that money to paying carrying charges on the debt --that I refer to as its $multi-billion 'deficit'-- owed by the city) while simultaneously allowing the city to reduce and eliminate that debt by several millions each year.
The first is a generalized and formalized extension of those dozens of polls and questionnaires people receive on the Internet every day brought into real life activities. It entails providing everyone with a secure vote on everything available for voting upon, and for making their personal viewpoints on anything known for others to vote on; and gives everyone who wants it all kinds of perks to choose from. Did this make me a "chicken in every pot" political candidate? Well, it probably would have if this aspect of Social Actualization wasn't able to be offered equally well by the private sector.
Using this electronic extension of 'Vox Populi' with your SAC (SocialActualizationCard) PIN can be done on any secure computer website and take hundreds of different forms. Any given day, an opportunity can offer itself to use your vote on a private website, such as helping decide which favourite brew of the week will be featured at a discount via your pub's website, or what you'd like the grocery store to carry that it doesn't have; on a public website, such as Parks & Rec., the liquor control board, city hall, Queens Park, Parliament Hill or the various Supreme Courts; on your own website where you are looking for public opinion; or on a general website set up for the purpose of getting public opinion via a series of alphabetized main topics, sub-topics, and very low-down-the-chain topics indeed, set up by the Public Library. Once logged in to a site, you can elect to be updated on its progress from time to time. On any of these, or on your personal website, it's one way to actualize your personality in the community, but you have to get a PIN number or other non-duplicable personal identification device in order to play.
If you haven't got your own website because you can't afford one, I can arrange for you to have one at no charge using a website development company I have a connection with. It doesn't matter whether you own a computer or not since there are locations with public computers, such as public libraries, some recreation centers, and some public services. A website continues to exist for you whether you are there or not, and can be used to send free mail, speak to people overseas for little or no cost, even used to make money by selling things or encouraging others to visit commercial websites. In fact, offering people their own website is one of the ways I can help anyone interested in pursuing that line of endeavour develop personal earnings. But I digress...
The PIN can be stored on any one of your ID cards, (including a membership/ATM card of the Toronto Citizens' Trust Company (TC2) I want to establish to help boot entrepreneurs and employment in the city with micro loans and silent-partner grub-staking,) so it can be used to vote away from home.
The other side of Social Actualization gives people a voice in different ways. It's an umbrella term used to describe social organization schemes that benefit their user groups and participate in making the city a better place in which to live. Of course, the SAC Card can be an adjunct to this, but the concept centers around the creation of civic participation groups. One is the Toronto Seniors' Corporation in city hall described elsewhere on this website, another is the participation of community groups in maintaining the public flower beds and subway stations. Others might include a virtual presence (and a vote!) at open community meetings, such as the development of the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood or the Toronto Waterfront Development.
Both of these aspects of Social Actualization are viable and might meet with council approval because they are comprehensive and forward-looking and fit with my idea of being proactive and future-oriented in city council decision making.
[Remember what you read in here in case you voted to sell off hydro (Rossi), cut the number of representatives at city hall in half (Ford), add another 7 billion dollars to the city deficit debt to pay for new streetcar lines and subways while eliminating 4000 jobs from civil service (Smitherman), or just leave everything as the departing Mayor left it (Pantalone) but freeze property taxes (Ford) just as Mel Lastman did to initiate the city's deficit debt in the first place. Remember that these cuts in jobs and services, additional drains on your tax dollars over time, and sell-offs of city property are retrograde and reactive steps proposed or initiated (in the case of the winning candidate) by Candidates who still do not understand that the way to eliminating the deficit is with a greater amount of creative productivity by citizens determined to win freedom from that debt over time. Productivity is not production: don't confuse the two. Productivity is what we do when we spend time thinking of better ways to do things and then get involved in doing them. The net result of productivity can be more bang for the buck. A more comprehensive explanation is in the next story.]
A lot of strange things show up in a political Candidate's email as you might imagine. So one day it was not unusual to receive an invitation addressed to all the Mayoralty Candidates to make a funny video to be entered in a contest where a million viewers over the remaining time until the election could judge the winner. Well, a rose is a rose is a rose; and a million viewers is a million potential voters is nothing to sneeze at, even though only potentially half of them will actually come out to vote, so I wrote an email to my marketing firm asking them their opinion of the idea. They checked out the sponsor, and replied that it seemed a legitimate enterprise and to go ahead with it if I wished.
Accordingly, my campaign assistant Lal Johnson, a talented young local actor Michael George William, and I dressed up in silly costumes around some of Toronto's recognizable architecture and did silly things there to conform to the silly song that the competition required us to follow as part of the rules of entry, all directed and photographed by the brilliant videographer Kelvin Preena. Ten other Mayoralty Candidates had agreed to participate including four of the media favourites, and we sent our entry in late and unedited. But we were the only ones who submitted the video material we promised we would deliver. The sponsor for the competition was Elite Work Force, a supplier of highly qualified engineers to the aerospace industry, and the principal behind it was Tom Davis, now retired and re-living his pickup hockey years by reminiscing about the team that recorded the silly song in 1984.
What is Productivity?
What we didn't know about Tom Davis was that he had been a pioneer in human resource management software development and had partnered with Dr. Tom Barker, PhD, ASQ, of Process Design Consultants Inc. to write a book breaking down into actual components the quality we call productivity, created a corporate model that takes advantage of that investigation, tested its effectiveness by placing it experimentally in various corporations around the world and evaluating it on both an individual employee level with Myers-Briggs and on a corporate improvement level with fiscal and statistical analyses of success; and then published how that information can change the nature of a business simply through literally encouraging the employees to be more satisfied with their jobs by valuing the person behind the job in specific ways. If the same result could be accomplished with a simple pat on the back, there would be no point in writing a book about it. For a company to make the changeover to this model requires careful examination to see where and how the changeover to their suggested new corporate model can best be implemented and requires careful guidance by trained consultants to ensure that the principles that work are understood and followed until the process can become self-sustaining.
At some point during the campaigning process, Mr. Davis --with the same complete lack of finesse with which he laid the idea of the silly hockey song video on all the candidates-- approached most of the candidates he thought he could work with, and presented his new corporate model concept to each of us along with an offer to use its principles at no charge to the city to make the civil service here in Toronto many times happier, satisfied with their work, and more productive using his new Productivity Communication corporate model. Tom is a very straightforward guy, and gave me to understand that he was promoting the concept's use by the city in order to sell it to the GTA and eventually Canadian business communities and beyond as a model they could see in action; and as the model had been tested and proven in the private-sector business community already, I read the proposal. Having been cross-appointed to the Graduate MBA program in case studies when I was studying for my Masters Degree in Educational Planning, Administration, and Curriculum Development in the early 70's, I immediately understood the part their model plays in the evolution of the corporate model.
Productivity is an event, not an end-result. It does not mean production. It occurs when things are working at their optimum levels. An example of productivity in a manufacturing environment spans the entire spectrum from a corporate culture valuing initial thought and high intercommunication levels amongst all its employees, through creativity and method devising to implementation, to production, to warehousing, to sales and shipping without being just a single one of those stages. It is measured in degrees of individual contribution and both individual and group creative output over time and against a vector of employee satisfaction. Creativity is a hallmark of its health. A "Productivity Communications" management model takes advantage of the human desire to communicate and participate in creative outcomes.
Its opposite number can be found within the numerous "Compliance" models of corporate structures, which are characterized by a culture providing employees with guidelines intended to restrict employee behaviour so as to create order and control for predictable outcomes. While some Compliance models require more and some less creative input from employees, every variety of corporate culture with the notable exception of the Productivity Communications model depends upon Compliance restrictions of some description. Davis and Barker discovered that Compliance models of corporate cultures are counter-productive to the Productivity Communications corporate model developed by them; and appear to have replaced the Compliance component with more generalized goals and objectives in an atmosphere of worker satisfaction in order to create order and control for outcomes without emphasizing the predictability component.
The Productivity Communication model works by eliminating the Compliance factors in the workplace, and by replacing them with ultimate value on the individual mind as a communications-specialized instrument most efficiently utilized when it is communicating with other minds. It transforms the individual possessing that mind into a willing, participative employee who finds increased productivity and quality of work to be an enjoyable challenge when the mind is given an opportunity to local-area-network with other minds regarded as different but being of essential value to the computational overview.
Its implementation was found to increase corporate profitability year over year in the private sector. Increased corporate profitability translates into a bigger bang for the buck in the civil service. And the sweet kicker is that in implementing this model, employees derive greater work satisfaction at the same time, because what the authors term the 'Compliant model‘ aspect of the workplace disappears in direct proportion to the disappearance of tension and work dissatisfaction it produces, eventually giving the individual employee complete recognition as an individual and creative contributor to the staff and freeing the way to developing improvement in the service.
[That's the story of how the following came about. The following is my White Paper. It's a very long essay (find me an essay I've written that isn't very long!!) about why I would have made a very different sort of Mayor based upon the above two concepts and what they could mean for our Toronto if implemented here. Some of the material in them is repetitive to the above as well as other essays on this website, but the White Paper was not initially written with the above in-depth introduction explaining where it all originated.]
As a former 2010 Toronto Mayoralty Election Candidate, I wrote this White Paper to represent how I, Mark State, hoped the public --had they been more aware of my candidacy-- would recognize the viable alternative choice for Mayor I represented and how the ideas I describe in here could still --to this very day-- make an important difference in how the city solves its economic difficulties.
My campaign for Toronto’s Mayoralty was focused on the recovery of the city both in a current time frame with programs aimed at eliminating the city’s current crippling Multi-Billion Dollar deficit debt without siginifigantly raising taxes, and with future-oriented decision making in city council. It offered solutions involving some degree of thought and consideration during their formulation; and was positive, forward-looking and non-penalizing to the city rather than being retrograde and destructive as are those of my victorious opponent. I present them here to you again now as viable alternatives to the direction of the current city administration platforms.Appendix 
The missing 2010 vote for my candidacy would therefore have been a vote for both reducing and eliminating the deficit debt that is consuming --as annual interest on that debt-- money we need to spend on the city’s infrastructure, and also a vote for ending the current city government’s disorderly spending and acquisition spree. Where the current Mayor and I differed on that point was in our approach to a solution. My goals would have been achieved through positive and pro-active means, and perpetuating that form of decision-making through having city council’s decisions based on a future vision of Toronto rather than its current mode of decision making that has resulted, due to a lack of future vision, primarily justified in terms of keeping the city's budget afloat, in unsightly and random growth fueled by rampant and ungoverned development and urban sprawl.
Concomitant with that basic platform were Social Actualization and Productivity: two parallel ideas of both actualizing the city to participate in its governance by having a vocal presence, and increasing the wealth of the city by creating jobs with decent incomes; by this means and others providing a larger citizenry-held stake in the welfare of the city and its people. I held then and still do now, that the city’s leadership is composed of public servants that by definition are servants of the public, rather than expecting that the public is a golden goose whose taxes can fund unhindered civic spending at the whim of the city’s administration.
I differentiated myself from all the other Mayoralty candidates and especially the victorious one by being more proactive and creative in assessing not only solutions for issues but preventative and life-improving measures. Our current Mayor's programs are distiguished by a tendancy to be reactive, and destructive, retreating into removal of services and forecasting hiring freezes in the name of saving money (which when matched to the deficit debt doesn't amount to a hill of beans!) as well as considering the selling off of fixed city assets and continuing to spend money on unwise investments.
A political education obtained by serving in council and the province has constrained the thinking of former councillors running for the Mayoralty so that they understand reaction as action. It might be worthwhile noting that the current Mayor has, despite his (to my mind) unthought-out plans to reduce the city's deficit debt, not made a signifigant scratch on them through his current term of office.
Real solutions to the governance of Toronto of the nature I proposed were, during the election campaigning period, stifled under the day-to-day and issue-by-issue challenge of campaign politicking in the popular press. This prevented me from getting out the message that city governance must be wide-ranging and intended to build rather than cut back, nurture rather than freeze and not be based in traditional political nonsense but rather common sense, fearless innovation, understanding overview, and welcome public participation. These qualities distinguished me as a genuine alternative choice for office anywhere but in the press, who were, instead of searching for visionary leadership, engaged in looking for exciting big ideas from more well-known candidates, regardless of whether or not an in-depth examination of those ideas would show their weaknesses. The majority of Toronto's electorate never new me as a candidate.
At Mayoralty Candidates forums where I was present, I alone chose to respond not only about how topics of discussion are relevant to people’s lives, but also how they relate to the broader picture of a healthy, wealthy, forward-looking city.
My Mayoralty platform was based –in the long run—on my central theme of reducing and eventually eliminating the deficit without the need to raise taxes, in order to free up funds we need to spend on infrastructure improvements. That’s an opportunity for proactive solution-finding. I’ve seen it, I’ve investigated it, and I’ve done it by proposing measures that at once build and offer inclusiveness to all Torontonians as participants in moving towards and benefiting from Toronto’s future.
All of my various solutions and proposals may be found on my websites: markstate.ca.
, a compendium of my political essays over the past four years, and a former, now abandoned website entitled "letschangetoronto.com", which spoke to some of the things Toronto has an ability to change in order to progress.
I was registered as a Mayoralty candidate in the 2006 election, where I participated in the various forums and activities held for the running candidates. However, at that time I did not conduct a campaign. I had decided that I would run in the following (2010) election, and wanted to prepare by informing myself about the process of being a Mayoralty candidate through being a participant, and to begin educating myself about how to improve current city management. Still, out of a show of loyalty that is only to be expected from close friends and family, I received 194 votes. (The difference between my unsolicited votes and those coming to the other candidates was that I knew each and every one of my voters on a personal basis!) Some pundits have averred that such a small showing of votes indicates that I was not a viable candidate for the Mayor’s job. I can’t argue with an uninformed opinion about the subject. I’m more than happy to let my various platforms and personality speak for my suitability; and I believe they speak very well to that.
A well-informed voter is alwaysthe best kind of voter. The mantra of "stopping the gravy train at city hall" does not, unfortunately, constitute good voter information. It's an alarmist motto that has little or no basis in reality, but one that the news media loved because it sold readers and viewers on the idea that this was the man for the job; and selling their wares to readers and viewers depends, for the news media, upon generating sensationalist headlines far more than the idea of community service appeals to it. I got lost in the rush because my ideas weren't sensationalist.. The structures at city hall that the current Mayor intends to reduce have been put in place after no small amount of consideration and thought, and are designed to service the community adequately and with an efficiency of cost that borders on the frugal. But since it's all the media --without journalistic in-depth examination-- gave you to go on and as voters your information comes from the media, you made your choice based upon it. The following --much more useful-- information is another part of what the media didn't tell you.
When you have been informed through this White Paper about whom Mark State is and what kind of Mayoralty I wished to provide you, you will clearly, solidly, and unequivocally understand that you were prevented from making another kind of choice for Mayor; and, had you been informed of my candidacy, and as well, as events unfortunately seem to be unfolding, you might have been able to make a better decision on October 25th, 2010.
Productivity and Social Actualization
This white paper speaks to two types of issues in the 2010 election that the media never provided you with. They are key to the continued health and well-being of the city and can be grouped under the headings ‘Productivity’ and ‘Social Actualization’. Productivity issues encompass all the solutions required to bring Toronto from a negative financial position to a positive one, and Social Actualization issues revolve around the quality of life here. Both can only be viewed from the positive side of their various aspects if one wishes to produce economic, cultural, or lifestyle positives from their examination.
Social Actualization is also a catch phrase I use to describe the taking-back of services and responsibility by the general public within a social infrastructure that was originally designed to be responsive and a safety net, but is currently characterized by such anomy, isolation, and distancing of public service from fellow Torontonians that we are faced daily with mounting taxation, joblessness, people living on the street, people with zero income, no housing for their families or food to eat, people who because of age or infirmity are marginalized, all of which the city has facilities designed to assist; and people to whom the city and its public service is an oppressor, not a benefactor. At the root cause of its inability to serve is a lack of available funds. In an unusual parallel, some of these inequities can be offset in part by involving the general public in the kind of responsibility for their neighbours that information and power of personal expression can bring.
In order to provide that means of expression, Torontonians might make their voices heard where and whenever it is requested using a PIN-encoded voting component built into the bank card of a Toronto Citizens’ Trust Company (another solution to assist joblessness via friendly banking) that any Torontonian can join for a minimum deposit of one cent; and that card may be used to vote online for any issue that is posted on any citizen participation website to which the holder has access.
The card may be used to vote on a range of things, including selected public concerns that don’t need a public information/consultation meeting, like rating goods and services, including public services on line, to private concerns, such as which contest or beer to feature at the ‘local pub’ next week. Depending upon who publishes the question, the answer is available through citizenry direct participation. As time progresses, the uses of the Social Actualization Card (SAC), the name of the Toronto Citizens’ Trust Bank card, will vary in variety and number.
The principle of Social Actualization also covers more specific concerns.
Toronto’s seniors have long been petitioning all levels of government for more considerate services. The root problem resides with access to government on behalf of a definable population segment. One solution may be to create that access on a very real basis by providing a civic government commission specifically for and run by seniors as a means to have them be heard both in terms of their needs and also in terms of their counsel.Appendix
Selling off school properties due to declining enrollment is a retrograde step that means a reduction in city-held fixed assets. Its solution can be found in the combination of many different architectural solutions to other quandaries. When one combines a variety of lessons learned through the evaluation of factors such as Churches who have built retirement or living communities, looking at a declining rate of immigration to Toronto, the international competition that resulted in our award-winning City Hall architectural design, the attraction to Dubai created by their new magnificent architecture, our own underground PATH, and the complaints of citizens surrounding the new St. Lawrence redevelopment plan; the conclusion can result in an idea that can save the schools, thus both keeping Toronto’s entrepreneurial community alive and vibrant, raising the educational achievement bar through repopulating our schools with a strong middle-class migration to Toronto from other countries, and retain even more value in the property than ever without having to reduce the city’s capital holdings.Appendix 
Reducing violent crime is not just a matter for policing and community services to address. Key components to encouraging more positive behaviours in young people and making criminal behaviour less popular reside in the formal education community and the power of the press.Appendix
Using our vacant properties to build for tomorrow might include temporary modular housing for homeless families, neighbourhood parkettes, gardens, or club houses to bring people together and alleviate loneliness and isolation.
The TTC represents a variety of opportunities for improvement.Appendix 
Double-digit unemployment rates present an opportunity for the city to become involved in encouraging small businesses and entrepreneurs.Appendix 
City planning focuses on the short term, and in order to better serve its mandate needs to be focused on how we can help create the Toronto of the future by beginning today. The Toronto of the future is the one we will be leaving to future generations; and very little thought has been allotted to that end in our current planning.Appendix 
There are probably dozens of such issues whose resolutions could come under the umbrella heading of Social Actualization. The main idea for including it as one of the branches of my campaign platform is that it combines positivity and resolution together without requiring retrograde or band-aid fixes on immediate issues.
Productivity is harnessing the human brain to create excellent results. It is achieved with receptive communication, encouraged creativity, sharing, democracy, and a vision that the future impact of its outcomes might provide a sustained satisfaction in both consumers and producers. Confusing it with production limits the vision inherent in the word. Productivity implies a system of progress. Production looks only at one minor end-result of productivity. That they are often confused prevents the profitability of a business because production gets placed ahead of productivity and results in limits to growth and improvement. This is key in any industry except those whose investment is strictly in production, and where productivity is discouraged as a sidetrack. Typically these latter types of business are the children of business models involved in productivity where the productivity has been limited to the creative effort but not extended to the production line. Thus the two types of business model remain separated from each other in terms of function.
In Toronto, we currently strive to produce a level of community care that is severely hindered by the existence of a 3 billion dollar deficit simply because the funds going to carrying charges on that deficit are not going to infrastructure maintenance. The roads and sidewalks are waiting longer for repairs, the sewage system needs upgrading, our rivers, lakes and streams run polluted, we can’t afford to keep our swimming pools open, our affordable housing is running ten-to-one behind its need while new condos pop up all over the city in random fashion, and taxes continue to escalate to pay off the carrying charges on the deficit because the city’s current income is insufficient to do so.
Unraveling production due to limited available funds from productivity in all city departments can lead to improvements in infrastructure maintenance without increasing a payroll we have already invested because the productivity quotient leads to a more efficient production when it is implemented.
One of the alternative means proposed to recover funds needed to maintain the infrastructure but lost in the carrying charges of the deficit, as suggested by some of the other candidates who ran in the past election, is to reduce the civic workforce. My suggestion is that rather than just blindly reducing a workforce that has been deliberately evolved to maintain our quality of life in order to save a few dollars that will not make a dent in the city’s deficit, we consider how that workforce can be altered to keep its current assets and produce more and better results for the city’s investment in it.
Can Toronto lead the way to more efficient use of city budgets by having a more efficient public service workforce by emphasizing productivity, and how could this be managed?
While municipalities everywhere in North America are freezing wages, removing services, and cutting jobs in an effort to control costs, the city of Toronto may have an opportunity to be the example of how it is possible to create a change in work environment for employers that will enhance an overall general employment picture while improving the human component of those employed in community services.
How might this be possible?
Business schools teach the difference in effectiveness between what they call a ‘classical top-down hierarchical’ management model and a ‘bottom-up communications’ model. All agree that the communications model is more effective in terms of producing innovation and productivity: essential to a business's profitability and advance. But in North America, we have had difficulty in maintaining productivity as a primary focus in businesses over any reasonable period of time. In a communicative environment like North America, that the bottom-up communications model can’t seem to take hold is a puzzling dilemma. What’s the missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle that would keep a business productivity-oriented and place it on a track of happy, continuous improvement?
In my search to compile a vision that will see Toronto brilliantly move forward into a healthy future, it was obvious to me that not implementing a business model directed to worker satisfaction, innovation, and overall productivity is a stumbling block to keeping any changes we make in that direction. I am never in favour of reactive solutions like wage freezes, hiring cuts, and work friction because they are not proactive and seek a future backed by retreat.
Strange things happen to candidates for office. All kinds of people drop by with great ideas for improving the lot of the city in hopes that a candidate will utilize the idea to help the city in some fashion. One of the most amazing things about Torontonians, and I suppose about people all over the world is that they want improvement and betterment for not only themselves but for all mankind. Thus, I was gratified during the campaign to be shown a business system that teaches how productivity can be instituted and indefinitely maintained in a work environment by utilizing a variety of business model I’ll call the Corporate Communication model and eliminating its barrier, something referred to as a Compliance model. Please forgive the lengthy explanation that follows. The concept is rather involved and takes some explaining to get across.
It is the case that when people feel forced to do anything, they typically rebel. The missing piece of the jigsaw puzzle was that Compliance to any business model, including the bottom-up creative model, ignored our prized North American-inculcated feelings of individuality. In the top-down hierarchical model, individuality is actively discouraged, and in the bottom-up communication model, it is also discouraged in favour of routines valuing group effort, where the routines are the Compliance component. Both are examples of Compliance models because they miss one key ingredient: the self-value felt by the individual within the corporation. In North America, that self-value is a key factor in our everyday life.
The Productivity Revolution, An Employee Guide To Global Competitiveness was presented to both myself and many of the other candidates in the upcoming election by the authors, Dr. Tom Barker, ASQ, and human resource management software pioneer Tom Davis. They have a global perspective on the Productivity Communications business model, and made me aware that it is applicable to metropolitan government civic service as a means for such a workforce to comfortably increase productivity and thereby avoid the cutbacks, attrition non-hiring, wage freezes, and potential union frictions that have been suggested as solutions to "cost-savings" by the other candidates.
[I should point out here that those "cost savings" are false because
The Productivity Communication business model has been field tested and proven, and the results in the private sector indicate that if it is implemented in our civic employee work force the city will receive far more value for the currently spent dollar from our civic employees. And the sweet kicker is that in implementing this model, employees derive greater work satisfaction at the same time, because what the authors term the ‘Compliant model’ aspect of the workplace disappears along with the tension and work dissatisfaction it produces, giving the individual employee complete recognition as an individual and creative contributor to the staff and freeing the way to developing improvement in the service.
Because I wish to extend the benefits of the Productivity Communication model into the civil service sector and its examples derive from the private sector, the analogies and comparisons I make using the latter to inform the former are intermingled. I apologize for any confusion that may arise in the reader due to the back-and-forth discourse that follows.
The book goes so far as to suggest that so long as individuality remains amongst the most prized hallmarks of its population, North America will not soon recover its economic downward slide by producing a more healthy employment picture until the predominant management model is changed from one based upon Compliance to one based on Productivity Communication and more emphasis is placed upon the kinds of productivity that communication can engender.
The process begins through examination and understanding the definitions that form the underpinnings of an existing management model based on one variety or the other of Compliance, so that certain hallmarks can be changed to arrive at a communication-based model. This gradual changeover is posited as more efficient than implementing an entire restructuring and upheaval in order to accomplish a pre-defined new work environment. The authors show empirical research with various participating corporations illustrating how guided changeover in those firms began to take place in as few as 3 months and resulted in a many-fold increase in profits over time so long as it remained in place.
Using a “Productivity Chain” illustration, Dr. Barker compares how the two predominant management models affect outcomes. The book illustrates how different cultures utilize one or the other to take advantage of certain local resources, such as cheap labour, to attract businesses --especially those in the manufacturing and service sectors.
The traditional, top-down Compliant model can’t take advantage of the individualized, competitive edge provided by the democracy, diversity and education that characterizes the western hemisphere. Rather, it is better suited to controlled, homogeneous, or uneducated societies with cheap labour willing or more suited due to a Compliant societal mindset to operate in a top-down instructions-based business model. Where employed in this hemisphere, it stifles the potential competitive edge offered by the North American mind. The Compliance model still has its uses, for example in a production facility where it excels in a single-minded societal construct, and independent thought in the worker class can be a barrier to production quotas. Some standing armies come to mind. The authors have discovered the same in some overseas electronics assembly plants.
Typically, the Compliance model discourages innovation, quality and effectiveness through such methods as threatening employee livelihoods with words like wage freeze, cutbacks and out-sourcing, which coincidentally are precisely the methods proposed by other Mayoralty candidates including the one who recently took office to increase the profitability of the Toronto civil service. Constant application of the Compliant method in North American business leads to a discouraged work force and a slower, unimaginative production capability.
I realized that if a workforce moves to the Productivity Communications model using the methodology recommended by the book, it becomes more productive for the same payout by the employer. I also realized that if the civic employees in Toronto can be introduced to an environment where they would happily create a service many times higher in efficiency and productivity, there would be no need for retrograde practices such as hiring freezes, wage cuts, and so-on because the civic workforce would become a valuable asset in paying off the deficit.
How would that work?
Workplace environments based on Compliance result in employees giving effort limited to the parameters outlined in their instructions.
Productivity Communication-based workplaces have been shown to create environments in which employees enjoy participating in cooperative effort, and in which performance outcomes and improvement become the result of both individual and group input and cooperation. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0af00UcTO-c In this model, cooperative effort is also a driver for continuous improvement. Continuous improvement is one of the primary factors in the private sector for maintaining a competitive position, growing business and sustaining profits. Profit is the primary reason private sector employers operate a business. In civic government terms, profit may be seen as achieving more for the citizenry at the same cost as has been invested in achieving less in the past.
I think we can all agree that we want more from the civil service, especially in terms of infrastructure maintenance.
The book concludes that there are other potential societal benefits from employing this business model. They include a reduction in the practice of off-shoring to Compliant labour forces as a method to generate profits and, because the model depends upon respect and acknowledgment of the individual worker, it removes worker differences due to ethnicity currently overcome by replacing 'tolerance' with open mindedness based upon interpersonal respect, thus removing one more aspect of counterproductive stress/discomfort in the workplace. Rather than the typical observation of lack of productivity (and production) in terms of “labour costs”, we may be looking at an inappropriate management model that restricts North American workforce Productivity Communication and productive potential.
There is a human cost to retroactive methods of accomplishing profitability in the private business world. Where production plants have moved to cheaper labour, the impact has devastated communities throughout Canada and the rest of North America, creating revenue shortages needed to support and maintain high quality services. Good-paying permanent jobs of the past have been replaced by temporary minimum wage jobs. People have lost homes and jobs and more often have begun to depend upon food banks as a means of survival. The result is a self-feeding downward spiral in a local economy.
With the burden of a heavy deficit placed upon it, Municipal Government is a logical major employer within which to begin a model shift from the Compliant model to the Productivity Communication-based model of day-to-day operations. Rather than threatening that workforce using coercive methods in order to reduce massive government deficits and reduced private sector profits, the answer may lie in increased productivity and work satisfaction coming with a changeover to the Productivity Communications business model.
Realizing the difference and the different outcomes predicted by either of the two models leads to the conclusion that turning around the decline of the North American job market may begin to be accomplished by implementing the new communication based management model, especially in places where productivity can replace expanding costs, such as in the Municipal employment sector.
Municipalities are also a prime target for switching to the Productivity Communications model because they’re a source of normally long-term positions as compared to governments where party politics force bureaucrats into an allegiance and Compliance dependency upon a party in power. The non-temporary nature of Municipal bureaucracy allows time to establish and maintain the Productivity Communications corporate culture. The manageability and leadership necessary to establish and maintain it can better be controlled as it is occurring.
Sustainable Job Growth/Creation
As a part of my campaign vision for Toronto’s future, I include a number of opportunities in all social sectors that illustrate how a Productivity Communication-based and Socially Actualized environment creates inclusiveness and prosperity for all without having to use retrograde steps such as the removal of jobs and government assets and addition of new taxes.
In addition to practicing budgeting based upon a future vision for the city, Toronto will generate new revenue streams to reduce and eventually eliminate its $3Billion deficit and move on to the business-as-usual of betterment of life in the city for everyone.
Toronto can be the exemplar to the rest of the world of both private and public applications of the Productivity Communications model, led by a proactive civic government.
In thinking about the impact of their new management model paradigm shift, Davis reflected on the financial benefits arising from the establishment of a corporate coaching culture directed at facilitating the model in government and commerce. "This new prosperity will create exponential job growth…one that produces realistic opportunities for graduate students where they can use their skills and generate enough income to pay down the mountain of debt they accumulate from student loans. Likewise, the new direction will [eventually] create a new revenue stream for Toronto based educational institutes as they become centres of excellence in a new industry for human factoring productivity. The new revenues will allow such institutes to reduce tuition fees to families of Torontonians."
Democracy is vulnerable to improprieties when it is part of a Compliant environment. Compliance creates situations where fear can be used by leaders that demand personal allegiance in order to mask unhealthy/illegal practices. (One needs to look no further than the stock market crash in 2008 for an example of runaway unhealthy practices that led to global chaos and the devastation of total economies.)
Best practices are a fundamental outcome of communication based management because employee cooperative effort creates respect and transparency at all levels, by providing employees with an environment where they can monitor and respond to unhealthy and/or illegal practices that can harm the employer, their customers and/or their community.
* * * * *
Common byproducts of Productivity Communication based management: Mutual Trust, Respect, Cooperation, Fairness, and Inclusiveness
Common byproducts of Compliance based management: Distrust, Fear, Manipulation, Lying, Cheating, and Bullying
Dr. Tom Barker and Tom Davis have a web site called http://www.eliteworkforce.com where their books are available for purchase. Davis reiterates that the name of the game is “productivity” and the world is the “playing field”. “The age of managing droids in North America must end. Canadian employees can’t hope to compete if they remain uninformed about the requirements of the game and are kept in the dark about the limitations and opportunities provided by the playing field.”
In an agreement reached with the authors, I had been given permission to offer the eBook free of charge to any City of Toronto employee who wished to have it, and reproduced it via my website: http://www.letschangetoronto.com
Immediately after the election was concluded, I sent a copy of my "White Paper For The Human Factor: Productivity/Social Actualization" along with a letter of congratualtions and hope for the future to the new Mayor. I never heard back from him, so I don't know if he actually read it or not.. You decide.
REALLY ADDRESSING THE NEEDS OF SENIORS -By Mark State
You wonder why the City of Toronto is slow to respond to Seniors’ needs.
As long as I’ve been aware of CARP and other Seniors’ advocacies, you have been meeting and formulating and submitting lists of the special needs of Seniors that are different from the general population to all levels of government. But unless those needs are also reflective of the needs of the remainder of the population as well, the level of action on Seniors' issues has historically been unsatisfactory.
There is a good reason: City Hall is not, in general, a pro-active institution. It is a reactive one.
Special Groups’ needs at the city level are typically not discussed unless a specific issue that includes them is presented in council.
When CARP or any other institution submits a list of their concerns to city hall, typical procedure is to form a committee to "look into", or "address" them by “studying” them and “making recommendations”. Any action taken to address those needs becomes minimalized; and Seniors, as well as other special interest groups, remain marginalized unless something drastic happens to some unfortunate individual, the disaster hits the media, and city hall (or, for that matter, the Ontario Legislature) sees it as an issue that must be addressed.
THE SOLUTION is to establish a permanent City Corporation office for Seniors’ concerns, with direct access to the Mayor’s office and the ability to place Seniors’ needs before council --as though they were issues— in the form of bills to be discussed and voted on.
Toronto already has a Housing Corporation and a Hydro Corporation, etc. This would be the Toronto Seniors’ Corporation (TSC) able to correlate all existing Seniors' services as members under one serious umbrella incorporation, rather than a federated group of individual services. The TSC would operate with a board of directors composed of distinguished Seniors, a city councillor in charge of its portfolio, and the Mayor. Eventually, if the TSC acquires property and investments, such as modern city-owned Seniors’ residences, designed for retirement comfort instead of warehousing, a management group may be hired. In the meantime, the TSC would be in charge of immediate response to Seniors’ concerns and presenting them as items in council or acting upon them independently within its own budget. If the TSC does its job well, Seniors will be the envy of other Torontonians, and concerns regarding Seniors’ retirement facilities and health care addressed in the 2004 Ryerson report “In Profile: Personal Support Workers in Canada” will be addressed.
Had you elected me Mayor, I would have made keeping the needs of Seniors current a priority. I recognize that just as our freedom is continually protected by young Canadians wearing the uniform of our country; it was, initially, a gift from those people we call Seniors. I recognize that although our computers are becoming lightening fast and our modern-day transportation is becoming greener, they are here because Seniors gave them to us. Seniors put a man on the moon. I am a Senior, my sister is a Senior, and our 98-year-old mother is a Senior. I truly do understand that the special needs of Seniors are real and important.
I wanted to be chosen as “your ” Mayor …Toronto’s chief public servant. Just being “The ” Mayor wasn’t part of my candidacy.
– Mark State
SCHOOL PROPERTIES SELL-OFFS: A PREVENTATIVE SOLUTION
Closing And Selling Off Toronto’s School Properties
...what can be done?
In this instance, Toronto can take a lesson from various churches that now are at least partially supported by attached residences. The church-attached residences vary in nature from seniors’ residences to parishioners’ residences, but they all support and are supported by the church of which they are a part.
The school properties are owned by the city, and the city can build on them. The schools in question are not well-attended enough to warrant keeping them open. We don’t want to lose the city-owned properties.
Putting one and one and one together would have the city building long-term varied lease residences on the school properties specifically for families with school-aged children. Two good-sized buildings can house a thousand three-and-four-bedroom residences, each leased only to families of that description.
Perhaps, based upon the age of the youngest child, a “maximum residency” annual lease for a family might run five years beyond that child’s eighteenth birthday. This would leave the family free to renew its lease annually, but after the youngest child attained the age of twenty three (which would allow the family to stay on until that child graduated from elementary school, senior school, and university if need be), the family would be required to move out and make room for another. Condominium use would be counter-productive because it would turn the property to a non-school-feeder residence over time.
The buildings would take on the name of the school . For example, “Brookhaven Elementary School” would indicate the school itself plus two 500-unit three and four bedroom residences built directly where the school buildings are now, to preserve their playground and green park use areas.
Let’s fantasize for a moment about the nature of those residences. We are starting anew here, so we can allow our imaginations to roam.
First, each should be designed as an award-winning piece of architecture, chosen through world-wide competition. The criteria should be the sustainability of the design as a contribution to the city’s future generations. Would they be favourably impressed by the design? Would it contribute to Toronto remaining a beautiful city?
Second, they should be owned by a city corporation. This would enable the city to not only retain the land and school fed by the residential children but also to collect rents and property taxes on the units. Each unit should be sound proofed, well ventilated, and built with a firewall separation from its neighbours.
Next, as new buildings, they can be built using environmentally efficient heating and cooling assistance. Each could also contain the necessary electrical generation support systems that would reduce the amount of electricity it utilized from the hydro grid. Each can contain a required amount of abundant external year-round greenery throughout its height, walkways, and roof development. Transportation corridors designed for a future PERT system should be included in the floor plans.
The new buildings could serve not only as publicly-owned schools and apartments, they could also serve as a community hub.
Multi-level underground facilities attached to the buildings can contain parking, shopping, public transit drive-through stops, and community-use levels containing hobby, daycare, swimming pool, club, meeting, auditorium, cinema, gymnasium, dojo, and music rooms of several descriptions, graphic and ceramic art studios, medical services, and multi-purpose rooms –all for use by not only building residents, but by the entire surrounding neighbourhood as well.
Commercial tenants should be chosen to not interfere with the existing neighbourhood commercial services, but rather as a supplement to it, and existing commercial enterprises in the neighbourhood should be given first opportunity to lease them.
Emergency service vehicles and personnel could be stationed in the new buildings, allowing building security and neighbourhood security to be heightened by resident police, fire, and paramedic services.
Thus, not only do we save the school properties as city-owned, but we also develop a very good source of long-term income for our currently cash-strapped city through a city-owned corporation that manages the buildings, leasing premises and commercial enterprise space. We attract international attention and subsequent immigration especially of families with children, and we provide for the future of the city.
A coherent future vision for the city must include its being a crime-free place to live. Thanks to our police department, the GTA is largely a safe and peaceful place to live for most of us.
I suppose the rosiest possible future would be a city with no crime in it at all. It's an attractive idea, and we can plan for it with a future vision that will help to take us there.
Working Towards The Elimination Of Violent Crime
Increased violent crime can be stemmed and perhaps completely eliminated if it is addressed on three fronts:
· removal of the felons from the streets;
· education of children in all school districts to emphasize self-motivation skills and rewards for
projects undertaken from inner direction; and
· more outspoken languaging regarding crime in the media, making it a crime-fighting ally.
The first front, removal of the felons from the streets, may be addressed by an increased visible and invisible police presence and available crime-fighting technology. While the outgoing city government has made arrangements to provide additional membership to the police force, it's the effective means of deployment, as well as the numbers of officers available, that will make the difference to our crime statistics. Deployment in a way that will almost instantly stem crime, or even better, prevent it, is an avenue to ridding the city of this serious blight on our city. Following the leadership of effective programs in other major cities, an offer to a gang member to leave his/her gang with the assistance of the police department may be made to groups rounded up from time to time for the purpose.
The second front --teaching children to be self-motivated and inner-directed-- is designed to create a future generation of latchkey kids, who upon returning home will get involved not in gangs, but instead join interesting community groups, pursue engrossing hobbies, care for the younger children in their families or in the neighbourhood, prepare dinners for the family when they arrive home, join specific interest clubs, study and do homework, and other worthwhile pursuits that children who can appreciate their own interests and abilities and sense of self-worth are more likely to do. Kids who decide for themselves what kinds of positive activities they want to pursue (self-motivation), and need no prodding from anyone to take on that expression of their interests (inner direction) do not engage in joining gangs in order to acquire a feeling of self-worth or security.
The city needs to protect itself by a system of grants it can give to schools that are shown to have set up curricula designed to inculcate self-motivation and inner direction.
And the last front can be achieve by encouraging the media to stop sanitizing language about the perpetrators with reportage using names these social miscreants love. Criminals in street gangs love to read and hear reports about themselves aggrandizing them as gangsters, shooters, etc. etc. It gives them brownie points for recognition and popularity. Replacing this sanitized language with epithets like slime, pukes, murderers, dam fools, etc. would be an awakening and system shock to the criminal mind those sub-humans possess. When the rewards are lessened in the media, the acting out to receive those rewards will likely diminish as well. A negative aspect of this is that the language used might affront some readers/listeners. On the positive side of the ledger, it will allow the media to get on board actively in the fight against crime.
[NOTE: More articles on better solutions for the TTC may be found in my Feedback To Mark TTC commentary website.]
REPAIRING TTC SERVICE-MINDEDNESS
[The following is the content of a brochure handed out at TTC public meetings in 2010 addressing public dissatisfaction with the service.]
So...Amalgamated Transit “wants to know our concerns", do they? They want to find out why we're fed up with their service, they say...Well, they've got a whole lot more coming than they suspect. But you can legitimately suspect that they have no intention of changing anything, because “listening to your concerns” is just an old-timey political trick to make public concerns lose energy and go away; and if that’s the hand that Kinnear is playing today, or if as an attendee you can’t voice potential solutions to the problem with somebody really listening, you’re being deceived.
A CHANGE is what's needed...... because when the unions, executive, and management of the TTC have traditionally been more interested in the financial "bottom line" (or in the case of a couple of the past elected officials posted as Commissioners being more interested in their “vision of how things should be”) than the needs and benefits of the service to its ridership, the net result can only be poor service as noted by us, its customers. Nobody's watching the store to see that the customers' best interests are being served. That would just be good business practice… it’s not rocket science.
Examples of this abound: TTC Right-Of-Ways that hurt our economy by impeding both traffic flow and customer parking causing businesses to lose income and close down, yet continue to be built after the lessons learned on the Spadina line; a Customer Information Line open only between 8 am and 6 pm and closed on statutory holidays so that not only locals but also tourists can't be properly served by it; inhumanly crowded rush hour vehicles; one or two buses serving some entire routes with no night-time service; subway stations that are dirty and falling apart and do not, in the main, service disabled passengers; operator rudeness and jerky driving; long waits for buses in bad weather; streetcars not having their routes instantly served by buses when the track is impeded...often causing VERY long waits by users who have no idea of why the streetcar isn't coming because the Customer Service Line hasn’t been informed either... until some energetic person on foot happens by after walking the length of the closed-down line, and passes the word along to accumulating crowds that will pack the first several cars through the holdup; charging drivers to park their cars in subway station lots when they take transit. A really major example of this myopic view of running a transit system is the publicly announced proposal of LRT lines run down the center of rush hour routes so as to deliberately impede automobile traffic and thus hopefully force an increase in ridership on public transit --rather than finding a way for all forms of traffic to coexist in an equitable manner and designing a system capable of serving the city constructively.
The strong public reaction you witness here is indicative of a severe lack of business acumen and just plain irresponsibility on the part of those running the TTC on our behalf; and the rank and file are just following suit by imitating their executive leadership –BOTH Union AND Management-- with poor public relations, poor driving, poor scheduling, maintenance, and poor on-the-job care and concern. The current city management of the TTC, and that of the Toronto ATU locals’ executive has set the pattern, and all members of both have fallen into line.
Mr. Kinnear, rethink your responsibilities. Your union is a separate entity under contract to service the TTC. The ATU is not an employee of the city, not entitled to keep its membership working except through a renewed contract agreement with the city. We, the citizenry, keep you employed to serve us because you are a ready source of expertise that would take a great deal of trouble to replace. But non-replacement is never an automatic guarantee for a contractor. There has been talk of privatization of the transit service, and quite clearly the manner in which the union operates the city’s transit vehicles and maintains its properties has led to a significant level of discontent. Nobody automatically loves any of your membership just because he or she puts on a uniform. The ones we love have shown love to us first. As union members, your confreres have lost sight of the fact that they are in business to stay in business. To stay in business, one builds a patronage of satisfied, returning customers; not the captives your union and its equivalent management at City Hall has apparently made us out to be. Yes, it’s also true that half of the responsibility for the equation leading to civic dissatisfaction rests squarely on TTC upper management. They, too, must be corrected; and no union protects their jobs.
I propose three solutions that are intended to turn this series of difficulties into a WIN for the TTC’s ridership, the City, and the Union. If we're voting for certain things at these meetings, perhaps we could vote on their implementation.
1. An ELECTED OFFICIAL, fiercely on the side of the public’s interests rather than either its bottom line and/or self-aggrandizing political interests, immediately placed in charge of the TTC, and given teeth to conduct performance reviews, hire and fire, and make changes as needed to upgrade the level of service.
2. Hire a new overall TTC Executive Manager with a proven track record of making a transit service into a real people-server rather than treating it as a theoretically-constructed people mover.
3. The TTC’s contracted ATU Locals will legally establish and enforce the following credo appropriately.
WHAT TO DO
[Exerpted from http://www.mark-state.wetpaint.com: How Toronto Might Improve Its Economic Prospects During This Downturn ...And How It's Being Frustrated From Pursuing A Turnaround]
One remedy to a situation in which a municipality continually finds itself in arrears, under-budget and unable to manage with available funds is to identify independent revenue generation solutions as an alternative to the 'hat in hand' mendicant method of approach to senior government for additional funding over and above standard revenue streams.
The city already receives certain reliable amounts from taxation, transfer of funds, licensing and fees. After that, we are expected to cover our expenses. If we cannot do so, then we ought to be able to generate additional funding without having to approach senior government for it.
It is not impossible to turn Toronto around economically by putting people back to work using the city as a formal cause in that effort. The idea is not new, and it has been applied before with great success. The Ontario Government has made some small steps in that direction as well:
Here's one of a group of potential economic turnaround packages:
There are few jobs available in today's ravaged economy, and many, many applicants. In addition to the currently unemployed, there are also homeless people who according to the previous homeless census in Toronto (±5000 out of ±5800) stated unequivocally that they would rather be working and off the street.
When jobs are not available, people must become entrepreneurial in order to live. Our latest entrepreneurial class is panhandlers, who can make on average $100,000.00-plus tax free** per annum during economically prosperous times. Unfortunately for most of them, they are unable to keep the money because they are subject to costly addictions, robbery, coercion and extortion rackets by panhandler hierarchy. While they will hedge about the terminology, they have a strong work ethic.
[**For the incredulous, I invite you to do the math: Panhandlers work 8 or more hours a day doing mundane repetitive tasks and subjecting themselves to violence and abuse in the process, but earn an average of $20 to $60 an hour depending upon their location, panhandling style and time of day.
Example: the stoplight panhandler. Looking extremely poor & morose, and walking up & down lines of stopped traffic with a cup outstretched and a sign asking for help, how much does he earn?
Traffic lights change every 30 seconds. One looney on average for every 3 lights is $40.00 per hour.
Except that every hour there are at least two people who hand over a five dollar bill, making it $50.00 per hour. That’s $400.00 per day, $2,000 per week, $104,000 per year.
Do they work a full day all year long? I don't know. For $400 a day, would you? Maybe they go south for the winter and panhandle there.
Street ‘accosting’ panhandlers can make more than twice as much as stop light panhandlers if they are skilful with their approach. Make up your own math].
What do panhandlers actually do to earn their living? They shed their human dignity. That’s hard work. Try it some time. The unemployed's work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit is not limited to panhandlers. There is a huge resource of people in the city willing and able to apply themselves in some entrepreneurial effort -- if only they could have an opportunity to do so.
Every entrepreneur in business has the potential to hire others to work for him/her, so assisting one person to become an entrepreneur creates opportunities to put many others to work. There are also literally thousands of people out of work whose total conception of employment centers around the concept of ‘job’, where somebody else takes the entrepreneurial chances and job seekers accept a salary to work for them.
To an entrepreneur, these job seekers are untold wealth. The more people they can put to work making money for them, the more they will earn; and the job seeker only wants a small portion of what he earns on behalf of the entrepreneur as a reward for his knowledgeable labour. The person holding a job is happy because he or she is earning a salary, has benefits and an option for retirement earnings. Everybody wins.
People who are working earn money. Money buys housing, food, and gives an opportunity to practice charity on a grander basis than giving somebody in greater need than you, your last quarter.
The city needs more money than it can get through its transfer-of funds allotment, raising taxes, charging parking fines, licensing and permitting. Traditionally, it applies for this extra money from the province or the federal government. The issues associated with requesting money from senior government (not unlike panhandling, but without its proven efficiency) are wide-ranging, but may be summarized as 'overall not satisfactory' for a host of reasons, some of which are listed above.
One unorthodox solution to this quandary could very likely be for the city to become entrepreneurial as well.
The city might start off its entrepreneurial career with the establishment of a Trust Company or Caisse -- whichever is the best route for a city that also wishes to float its own low-interest, borrower-centered mortgages and charge cards; and offer an automatic discount for the cardholder if it is used within the city limits-- in every neighbourhood offer full banking services, offer ATM's that are differentiated by giving out small change to any bank card holder with a very minor surcharge based entirely upon their home-banks' or location-providers' charges, and group-supported micro-loans.
[A CAISSE is a type of credit union where every depositor is a shareholder in the company. It is very depositor-friendly, and as a payday loan arranger can manage credit based upon paycheques used as collateral without cashing them at additional expense to the depositor, while offering money management counselling to the depositors that would enable them to get off the payday loan habit. A City Of Toronto Caisse would be composed of any Torontonian wishing to deposit in it. Management of a Caisse is conducted by the depositors who elect managers and approve the Caisse's financial direction at shareholder meetings. A TRUST COMPANY is a privately-owned savings, mortgage, and lending company, with rules that are more relaxed than those governing federally incorporated major Banks about how their money and business is managed. The advantage of a Trust Company is that it can emulate the generosity of a Caisse, but that its investors and owners must purchase all its shares. This would allow a Toronto wholly-owned trust company to direct all its profits to the city.]
Part of the business of the projected Trust Company or Caisse would be the business of strong qualification, low-interest loans and micro loaning.
Suppose the city were to offer potential entrepreneurs (identified from groups of small business people wanting to expand, the less-than-successful ones struggling to make a go of their enterprises, the Self-Employment Benefit "SEDI" grads, and persons with a realistic business vision) start-up money for premises and equipment, expert managerial advice, accounting and legal help in maintaining those businesses, etc., ‘grub staking’ in return for becoming a full partner in the businesses and taking 50% after-tax profits as a full partner share. Funding might come partially from the city's Trust Company or Caisse banks, and a strong financial institution eventually built through a careful enterprise over the first few years into a place from which Torontonians could expect financial services oriented to them.
The entrepreneurs would be assisted to eventually purchase back the city's initial investment at its original cost with the partnership profit-sharing period considered as its sole means of gaining by the transaction. Much of the new entrepreneurial energy might be devoted to service industries focused on improving the lot of the city, thus saving the city in infrastructure and maintenance cash outlays.
Expert managerial assistance for new start-ups might come in part from the existing professional community, and also from business and accounting professionals who may themselves have been out of work when such a program started, and who can work in an entrepreneurial consultative capacity, financially aided initially by their own silent partner: the city, in much the same way as their clients.
A bootstrap program of this nature will eventually enrich the city so that not only will its citizens be able to afford their homes, but there will be enough additional income over the property tax base (currently 36% of budget funding) and regular 'senior government'-paid programs (about 28%) to assist the city to begin to thrive financially on its own and begin the expensive task of repairing the damage caused by past civic governments, and the more bizarre programs of the most recent ones, to a strong future.
[Excerpted from http://www.mark-state.wetpaint.com “RESTORING OUR TORONTO TO FUNCTIONALITY AND PURPOSE”]
The Difficult Part Of Reform
Reforms are never completely welcome. They seem complicated and difficult: nobody likes change. The current president of the United States was elected on a platform of CHANGE because the citizenry of that country realized that the status-quo was not getting them anywhere useful. When they asked themselves whether they were able to undertake that needed change, they said, “Yes, we can!” What they were really saying is, “We are willing to try to improve things in a deliberate manner.”
With a mindset of wanting to improve, people see that improvements can be made and work solutions for them. The leadership that offers to keep that awareness alive for them is the one that allows them to rise to the next level of betterment.
Look around you and ask yourself, is Toronto getting anywhere useful? We have lots of increased infrastructure and development, but does anybody know whether more of those elements is, in the final analysis, where we should be putting our energy?
If all we do is add more infrastructure and more development, what guides the city’s growth?
What will Toronto look like fifty years from now?
More of the same, but bigger?
A hodgepodge porcupine of a city with giant concrete quills sticking out here and there all over it?
Traffic jams? Toll roads?
The same old downtown streetcar system gussied up with fancy new streetcars running down the middle of our major streets?
Is that the legacy we want to leave our children? Is that the best we can do for them? Isn’t there a very nice future the city can plan for itself? If there were and we could see the future to know what it looked like, we could compare it with what we do in the present –step by step– so we can see whether we are growing toward it.
What’s the solution to these perplexities?
Perhaps it is time to improve some of the ways we approach city governance.
Some nitty-gritty changes might be good for us; for example, change in key areas of how we tackle our city’s overall well-being.
What Is The Evidence Of “Stuckness”?
Pollution: After a good many years spent talking it up, we’re not green yet. Our garbage is an unresolved issue, all of our streams and rivers, lakes and ponds are still heavily polluted. We can’t swim in them, or safely eat whatever fish still survive in them. Our inadequately informed civic leadership has given us advice that is unsound about becoming green at home (CFL’s, 1.6 gal flush toilets, “improved” fossil fuel generating stations, inhibited traffic flows, trying to get rid of plastic shopping bags by charging a nickel for them — all these present more drawbacks than benefits; and there are better and more useful alternatives to them). People who have tried to generate their own electricity have been penalized for it. There is no economic incentive to promote green-ness in the community; only rhetoric, token instances showing example greening solutions, and conferences, committees, and discussions by politicians who have a strong feeling that something really needs to be done but no idea of what that might be.
Poverty: Straightforward evidence of a downward trend in city care is readily available: look around you. Poverty mars our main streets in the form of homeless people sleeping on the corners of second-grade roads while fancy high rises poke the sky. The poor panhandle for a living or have to go to shelters and food outlets for the most basic of daily human needs. Not only they, but previously employed and relatively well-off people are having difficulty finding work.
Decline: Many of our properties are developing a run-down look because people either can’t afford to care for them or can’t be bothered because the city offers them no sense of pride in living here.
Questionable Decision-Making: We are about to spend a billion dollars for new streetcars, a technology that is 115 years old, and fraught with all kinds of operational hindrances. While a more streamlined variety of streetcar offers a pleasant-looking legacy to Toronto from the departing current civic government, what real improvement do they offer in terms of city betterment?
The Rising Cost Of Living: Commodity prices that directly affect the cost of living are considered ‘healthy’ when they are escalating at an inflationary rate. Why is it that when our pocket books have difficulty keeping up with rising costs, they don’t seem to be factored in to the ‘healthy’-ness of the economy?
Poor Traffic Control: Our traffic control systems are messy and disorganized. Traffic snarls are the rule, not the exception. If you are a motorist or otherwise involved in constant slow-motion traffic and rush-hour or other snarls, you should know that there is technology that could prevent those inconveniences completely. It is here now, and can be implemented on Toronto streets. If traffic can be moved efficiently on the streets in the city, the lessened load on the rush-hour expressways would be diminished to the point where the words “rush hour” no longer seem so ironic.
Unequal Senior Care: Seniors are not being equally well-cared-for in all of our seniors’ residences, and are continually threatened financially. When they live alone, their well-being becomes jeopardized when the weather is too cold or too hot, when not enough food is available, or when physical access or getting around becomes an overwhelming difficulty. Some cannot afford to buy proper nutrition. These are the folks responsible for giving us our current affluent lifestyles. They contributed to society all their younger lives, and now that they are older and less able to defend themselves against the vicissitudes of life, live marginalized lives.
Governmental Short-Sightedness: All are examples of how a city government can tangle itself into an entropic state by not only placing emphasis on the wrong values; but more than that, by enacting a form of government decision-making that results directly from those values, because they inhibit the ability to rise above pressing daily issues to a bigger picture governed by direction, where decisions regarding growth may be deliberated with some degree of guidance.
The province is in a spiral of more-of-the-same infrastructure expansion as well:
Cutbacks In Public Services: We have to close schools, swimming pools, and community centers because we can’t afford to maintain them. We and other major cities in Ontario and the rest of Canada lost responsibility and control of our school board to our provincial government for the same reason.
Increased Violent Crime: Street slime –people who have deliberately chosen to make their living from evil action– make our neighbourhoods dangerous to life and limb by remaining free to rob, murder, and deface us.
Desperation Decision-Making At City Hall: The list of our civic governance inadequacies is enormous. There are enough problems to create an entire website for the problems alone. Some of the problems within city council itself include:
Excuses being made for why we must accept the inadequate pace of remedial change to the city; or why we must accept selling off our city’s Waterfront Park Reserve birthright to developers in order to pay for our misguided lust for more infrastructure and development. These rationalizations usually begin with the insufficiency of the city’s taxation abilities to cover the costs of any remediation. Meanwhile, enormous amounts are being spent on foolish purchases, such as poor infrastructure repair planning and the above-mentioned streetcars.
Questionable Continuation Of Streetcar Transit: Were you aware that when comparing the carbon footprint of streetcars and buses, buses are cleaner because streetcars slow traffic and cause it to stop while loading passengers, resulting in the burning of more fossil fuel by hindered automobiles than by buses moving more swiftly and freely between stops; and it takes more metal manufacture and recycling to build and maintain streetcars than buses? Being able to move around impediments such as other stalled buses and road accidents makes buses more versatile than streetcars that line up when one in the lead experiences a hold. The ability to drop passengers off on the sidewalk instead of the middle of the road also makes buses safer. Not only are buses capable of carrying the passenger load in the city, but they are evolving to become sustainable transportation almost as fast as cars.
The current purchase of a fleet of new streetcars ensures that a relatively inefficient form of public transit will continue for another twenty to thirty years. We are told that the purchase is a good thing because the new streetcars are prettier and lower to the ground and will run up the centers of rush hour routes forcing commuters to use them instead of cars. Will you stop using your car (or bicycle) and take public transit instead?
Ignoring The Needs Of — Or Worse, Hindering– Traffic: Statistics Canada says that several million commuter trips each year are made in and out of the city in cars by people who do not wish to use public transit. Without being certain that these people are willing to get up earlier in the morning and give up their automobile travel to take public transit, the TTC’s wishful thinking that people will be forced to switch as it narrows those rush hour routes with reserved-lane streetcars will only result in one thing. The automobile users they thought would switch to public transit will clog their deliberately traffic-inhibited routes to a stop.
The City’s Cash-Strapped Status: The enormity of the number of issues that have to be resolved, and the perceived cost of resolving them, are frightening prospects to a cash-strapped council who can’t see any way out of its predicament.
City government has learned to cope in the barest manner by experience. If it complains enough, and ‘cries poor’ enough, it can always hope for economic support from senior forms of government to save it from its shortfalls –where it needed to, but had not prioritized to, avoid shortfalls because it has always looked at “more is better” rather than “what are we doing, and why?”.
As you ask questions or hear media news broadcasts, information you receive runs continually and often frustratingly contrary to your concerns. The resulting puzzlement, disappointment, and feeling of powerlessness, can be frustrating to those who sense it from time to time in their lives. Perhaps you have a pet beef that you wish the city would “fix”. Seen any action on it lately? Why not?
Reform Is Possible
None of this is necessary. I can understand why those we elect don’t effect the measures that will restore vibrancy and good living in every corner of this city. Because city council establishes its decision-making patterns on years of precedent, I think it never occurred to them to examine its efficiency. Not only does the city government not know how to make positive changes in this regard, its difficulties are enhanced by establishing boards of advisers whose livelihood will be increased if they advise the city to keep on doing what it does, and in the same way, only more-so.
Perhaps city council hasn’t learned about how large corporations and other cities are successfully tackling similar issues to those we now face. Maybe they are afraid of making necessary changes because they’re uncomfortable with anything that isn’t something they have done before. Maybe both.
There is an unexamined plan for achieving what’s necessary and obvious in order to remedy the current ills of the city. In order to succeed, the steps of the remedy must be planned to echo far into the city’s future.
Amongst the other issues they address, pages in this website may be found that portray management methods that affect every aspect of life in Toronto in a positive manner. The methods combine economic recovery and strength-building with applied programs of deliberate future planning to maintain control over a corrected service system, solve the city’s money shortage, housing dilemma, waste disposal problems, straighten out the traffic snarls the city is plagued with, reduce all crime to near-zero levels; and in short, as the humourists phrase it, “cure what ails us”.
· The methods are based in common sense and ingenuity. Many of them feature “future planning”, resulting from a scheme called a “future plan”. It’s important to underline that a future plan is not a cure. It’s not an answer that is going fix things up as soon as it’s implemented. It’s a route and a remedial opportunity that enables clarity in decision making because it offers clear philosophical direction.
Doesn’t the city already have a future plan?
Counter-arguers to this website will point out that the province and the city already have a ‘development plan’, and they do . It’s variously called the Ontario ‘Place To Grow’ act of 2005, the Toronto Official Plan of 2002, and most recently, the Greater Toronto Area Economic Summit of May 2009.
However, each of these Official Plans –with an exception of two sections in the GTAES entitled “investing in our human capital”, and “Tax incentives to support desired outcomes and behaviours, such as building the green technology sector”; and one section in the PTG Act: 2005, c. 13, s. 1. “to ensure that a long-term vision and long-term goals guide decision-making about growth and provide for the co-ordination of growth policies among all levels of government” –are based entirely on the principle of ‘more-of-the-same’; and rather than opening up the city and area to a bright beautiful future are unfortunately and unalterably destined to keep Toronto, the GTA, and the province mediocre.
One will note that the Ontario government has interpreted its own act in this instance; and rather than emphasizing the word “guide” has chosen to emphasize the word “growth”, meaning “grow bigger and more projects”, such as the ‘Metrolinx’ project in conjunction with the GTA. This misled path of ‘more growth is healthy’ is causing Ontario to begin facing the same kinds of economic stress held by Toronto, and for the same reasons. Often, money is re-routed from civic projects in other Ontario cities and towns to be used to cover Toronto-and-area’s grander projects because Toronto is regarded by the province as being the ‘economic engine’ of Ontario. Hence, more economic independence by the city would be in the best interests of a cash-strapped province.
Toronto’s Official Plan has nothing in it to relieve any of the disorder, confusion, and disarray just mentioned in any realistic fashion. Instead of determining how the future might appear to people living in the city long after we have begun to provide for their circumstances, it deals with “healthy growth”; meaning that as long as increases in infrastructure and development are taking place, everything is all right. The forward-looking parts of the Official Plan don’t get past 14, 15, or at best 25 or so years into the future. If it looks good now, it must be OK…and only “more of the same” looks good for now because the city needs money and only knows how to get it through traditional methods.
How did the new Mayor get elected if his campaign against the deficit is not a workable one?
Job cuts, attrition cutbacks, wage freezes and union friction are all intimidating to employees. They form part of current plans evolved by the current Mayor, some of whose contemplated personnel or budget cut-backs do not seem to evidence either understanding or appreciation that every member of the civil service is a human being; and they are all going to be negatively affected by proposed retrograde and coercive measures to carve chunks out of the civil service as they lose their jobs, perhaps unnecessarily.
The idea of reducing the roster of city employees is calculated presumably for the purpose of stopping the city budget blood-letting that is taking place with an increasing deficit debt, as though by diminishing the civil service in the city, money will magically be found to pay off more of the debt and allow for the implementation of desperately-needed civil services. It can't work, because while the money shaved from reduction of the civil services might be re-applied to supporting the city's infrastructure needs, it is far, far too little to make a dent on the debt, and the carrying charges on that debt will continue so long as the debt exists; and as long as the debt continues to exist, it will increase. Take my word for it. Over time, the city will begin to lack good representation between council and the citizenry, and services to everyone including the city infrastructure will begin to dwindle due to the lack of personnel required to provide them. It's like cutting off an arm to stop yourself from bleeding to death.
Meanwhile, the citizens who voted for this Mayor were bamboozled into thinking that the city's civil service was fat and largely unnecessary and that expenditures by council members were often unfounded and over-priced finduciary negligence through his blustering attacks on council overspending. He complained loudly as a councillor that fellow council members irresponsibly spent their riding budgets while he spent little to nothing; while in fact he spent the same kinds of expenditures on his riding, but out of his own wealthy pockets and those of wealthy riding supporters rather than the budget that had evolved over time to define the funds necessary to support riding activities. Those who voted to reduce riding budgets on the grounds that they were fat were ignorant of the means by which those budgets had been arrived at through years of experience that detailed the needs of the ridings as they could be supported by their representatives. Those who voted to reduce the number of civil service employees had no idea of the jobs those employees were doing, or whether or not they were essential; nor whether or not a reduction in employees could result in the same services being offered. They had no idea that in addition to creating hard times for workers who were removed from their jobs, both federal and provincial, and indeed the city's own tax reserves would be further strained by eventual unemployment insurance payments, retraining costs, social service support, etc., or that each employee released prior to retirement for no cause would be entitled to a very nice 'golden handshake' parting pay-off according to existing legislation. City hall spun the story that not retiring upon request was an effort of employees to increase their severance pay; while it was only an effort by them to keep their jobs, as several meetings hosted by them pointed out in no uncertain terms.
Eventually the city tendered its garbage collection to a private firm, citing future savings of nearly $100million over a nine-year term. However, the new garbage collection firm will reduce its collections frequency from that currently being provided by the city-owned service by an estimated 30%. One wonders whether that 30 per cent drop in collection service over the nine year period of time would show savings that would justify the expense or whether it works out to show that the city wins nothing that could not be gained by reducing its own service by 30% while maintaining the 70 jobs it divested itself of (with, lest we forget, 70 golden handshakes going into 70 reluctant pairs of hands). Although the paparazzi reported the news, not one paper delved into accounting comparisons of the two collection services; except the Globe raised a question based upon Hamilton's partially privately-owned garbage collection service, which showed that Hamilton was not appreciably farther ahead because of its utilization of private services.
The Mayor's band-aid and bandwagon campaign approaches to cost-saving, using the mantra "Stop The Gravy Train" were supported by individuals who were literally prevented from considering their effect on the human factor and their potential for negative and retrogressive outcomes because they were fed to them by the paparazzi as news. They never questioned or examined them carefully enough before believing their winning candidate's unthought-out proposals as eagerly propagated by a willing and largely non-judgmental press that loved them for their outrageousness and ability to boost buyer sales during the election. The media daily harped about his inability to come up with useful proposals, though. They harped on it enough, and repeated his name enough that when the time came to mark their ballots, the choice of the populous was the current Mayor. Then, the paparazzi in their articles wondered in print how he could have won the election.
The election outcome --except that I wasn't a known candidate during its occurrence-- was satisfying to me, however. I support the aims of the new Mayor, even though his methods are retrograde, reactionary, and just plain bad.
The city needs to lose its debt. Saul Alinsky, who invented neighbourhood organizing methodology in Chicago during the notorious Mayor Daley years, once said, "No woodpecker ever felled a rotten tree in a single peck. Ya gotta keep peckin' away and peckin' away." So, from my point of view, the new Mayor may not save more than a nickel towards reducing the debt. But his stated aim is to fell that rotten debt tree, and that nickel is one peck, and it's a peck-of-a-lot better than spending more and increasing the deficit debt as his opponents surely would have done. And to add credit to his record thus far, one must admire that under the constant fire and duress of the paparazzi and public opinion, he has stayed the course. He has been a rock in council, past which the budget-mess loving opposition could not go. Any one of his opposition candidates except myself would have been an unmitigated financial disaster for the city. Of all the other candidates, I'm glad he was elected.
Once Rob Ford has entrenched the process of economy-consciousness in a council chamber that has been historically opposed to it, perhaps the next Mayor will take it to the next step, which is citizen-centered proactive wealth creation combined with future outlook, my personal specialty.
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