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Mark's Blogs, Commentaries, And Technical Writing
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- "Transit City", the TTC's plans to modify the street-scape of Toronto by running LRT Right-Of-Ways up the centers of Rush Hour Routes in a deliberate attempt to snarl traffic on them and thus persuade motorists to switch to Public Transport. feedbacktomark.wordpress.com
- "Renewable Resource Generating Station", Executive Summary (without calling for investment) of an actual patent-applied-for invention currently in process (since 2002) before the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office). The Executive summary describes a generating station that's environmentally friendly, pollution-free, inexpensive to install relative to the output it can produce, and invisible! [WHAT??? Invisible? How can that be???] Check out the Executive Summary at http://ecofriendlypower.wetpaint.com/
- One of a series of Replies to the Blog Site "Bow. James Bow" and his article "Farewell Mayor Miller"-
- I apologize for confusing you for a reporter.
- Your website is professional enough-looking for someone who values his pundit-ing as good reportage, and looks like that of others who are definitely reporting for various media. I didn't intend to seem "snooty" about it; but I suppose I've been labeled as worse than that; and I totally admit to being opinionated --but who of us isn't.
- So before you read on, a caveat might save you some time by not reading what I have to say here, or publishing it either. As Blog owner, it's your choice.
- Caveat: To me, John Tory is a well-known person, with strong corporate connections. That one qualification for mayoralty in Toronto is his complete and only justifiable reason for running.
Now that he has indicated that he will not run for Mayor, I can safely say that my thoughts entered here, although showing him in a less-than-flattering comparison with the kind of person this city needs as its next mayor, do commend him for both his fund-railing abilities and his personality. I met Tory briefly at the funeral for one of the Tory Tory partners who had died far too early in life, introduced by one of the mourning family, and was impressed by his obvious charisma and gentleness.
- True, he is widely recognized as a moral and upstanding man; but it is hoped that at least a majority of candidates for that office will be sharing that virtue. It's his track record that convinced me he should not have run for Mayor; and I honestly believed if he were to have been elected,--and the polls showed him as being the odds-on favourite-- it would have been a larger, even overwhelming, tragedy for our city than the current administration's inept handling of civic affairs.
This blog, published when John Tory was still expected to run, was an attempt to show voters my opinion as his opponent and convince them that having a well-known name in politics is no reason to warrant being elected for any position. I gathered the information in it from reliable sources. None of it is false, so far as I am aware; and none of it has changed since he decided to not throw his hat in the ring for this next civic election.
John Tory's former potential candidacy is still a warning for people who consider that a career in politics somehow qualifies a candidate for a political position.
Thus, I'm maintaining the content of this blog on my own web pages.
- Neither the fact that the media have repeatedly published his name nor the fact that his father's law firm represents the greater majority of the moneyed folk (whom Tory knows on a first-name basis,) in this country qualifies John Tory to be Mayor of Toronto.
- My message is simple. DON'T VOTE FOR A NAME. A NAME DOESN'T MAKE A GOOD MAYOR.
- INVESTIGATE THE CANDIDATES AND CHOOSE FROM THE BEST PLATFORMS, NOT THEIR NAMES.
- Why I write this follows, but first in order to substantiate my position that John NAME would not be a good candidate for Mayor, I'd like to tackle a couple of platforms attributed to him that you and others quote.
- James Bow has invited readers (specifically me) to "make of [his opinion] what I will". I can't change your opinion, James, but I can add to your informational resources such that perhaps your opinion will become more informed. And I hope those of your readers who have been similarly persuaded of the value of Tory for Mayor will be similarly enlightened.
- [And in the case of George Smitherman, I hope this posting about John Tory will caution responsible, self-respecting voters to be more critical of WHOM and WHAT it is they are casting ballots for other than a recognizable NAME.
- George Smitherman was a major player in the Metrolinx program that promoted diesel trains along the corridors abutting the city; who because of the strong promotional and protesting activities of the "Clean Train Coalition" has been awakened and is now backtracking to a position on electric trains that, had he done his homework in the first place, he would have realized was not only current in many world transport systems, but better all-round for the Toronto corridors (although his ministry is still sticking with "more trains is better trains" rather than looking for more up-to-date alternatives).
Why did the Clean Train coalition make an impact on Smitherman's decision to (at least verbally) support electric over diesel trains?
I suspect this serious back-tracking and sudden waking to the issue of diesel vs electric trains was motivated by two decisions: his declining popularity due to the eHealth "scandal" celebrated by the media lately, during which Robert Kaplan, the very capable current Minister of Health resigned his cabinet post for mistakes that had continued since the time Smitherman previously held the post; together with his thoughts about running for Mayor in a city where siding with the Clean Train Coalition would earn him more votes.
What the Clean Train Coalition does not realize is that when Smitherman leaves provincial parliament, his cronies most likely have no intention of continuing with the electric train idea because it is too innovative for them to consider.
- He was a major player in the formation of the concepts and evolution of the eHealth network where he quite apparently didn't do that obviously necessary homework that would have avoided a future political mess. With the current administrative eHealth controversy that resulted in Kaplan's resignation, Smitherman now finds himself doing damage control in both eHealth and the the Metrolinks program as though by doing so he can rescue a vestige of his strained credibility, lost through the results of that inattentiveness.
- Smitherman's FIT programs, intended to green Ontario and provide tax incentives for doing so, are surface-laudable; and in almost every variety of greening proposed have run into obstacles and objections based in the reality of the situations they affect. Can this be because the proposals lacked an appropriate amount of depth in the form of initial research on each? [http"//www.thestar.com/printArticle/695150]
- Is this apparent propensity for shallow preparation due to a poor choice of ministerial research staff who do a shoddy job of preparation for him; or is it due to his enjoyment of exercising the position he holds in various committees without desiring to fulfill the responsibility of in-depth involvement in each due to either lack of interest or having such a busy schedule that he finds it difficult to do that necessary work?
- In the current press, Smitherman as a Mayoralty hopeful keeps mentioning his Ontario sexual orientation as one of his bankable assets, along with the fact that he is Toronto-born. Are we to understand that one’s sexual orientation is a reason for one’s political suitability; or that being born in Toronto would make one a good Mayor?
- Let us not forget all the other openly gay cabinet ministers in governments all over the world, some of whom preceded Smitherman's entry to office: Ted Nebbeling, BC’s Minister of State for the 2010 Olympic Games (and former Mayor of Whistler) before his recent untimely death; Scott Brison, federal Minister for Public Works and Government Services in the Paul Martin Liberal government – who when asked about his sexuality retorted that he is not a gay politician, just a politician who happens to be gay; and that his sexuality is irrelevant, like being a Catholic politician (he’s Catholic); France’s Frederick Mitterand, federal Minister of Culture; Australia’s Penny Wong, federal Minister of Climate Change and Water, and Chris Finlayson, federal Minister of Arts, Culture, and Heritage; Nick Brown, Brittain’s Minister of Agriculture; Chris Carter, New Zealand’s Minister of Education, as well as others whose sexuality did not define their service. That he was the first openly gay Cabinet Minister in Ontario is, without a doubt, something distinguishable about him. There is another openly gay cabinet minister now claiming to be the first openly gay lesbian Cabinet Minister. To the gay community those postings are examples of their civil rights being properly realized at long last; but as to making the distinction that somehow this affects one's intrinsic suitability for the position of Mayor in a city that hosts one of the largest gay pride celebrations in the world, I think it's a non-issue; and that Smitherman would better his chances by preparing to defend the value of his candidacy to all voters --gay and straight alike-- on the issues.
- If he runs for Mayor, will Smitherman have any substantive platforms? Does he have any now? What are they? At the time of their implementation, will they have had a sufficient amount of research and thought put into them to avoid unnecessary delays and questions about their impact on society? Will they come (without any examination in depth) from this website? Will he have the staff and/or the available time to devote to all the work required of a Mayor in depth, or will his work continue to be characterized by shallow preparation? Time will tell.]
- Regarding John Tory, you wrote, "I’m basing my assessment of John Tory on the proposals he brought forward during his mayoralty run." Tory's platforms for the 2003 election were also reported In The Star as follows (and I'm certain that there were other platforms in his portfolio, such as those you mentioned). To save space, I'll address each point individually, with my remarks indicated by ***:
- Like Miller, he acknowledged that the city needed to spend a lot more money than it was doing on public transportation,
- ***Well, now Miller has spent a HUGE amount of money on public transportation; and guaranteed that we'll be using the same old style of trolley transit system that we've been using for over a hundred years for the next 40 or so years until it wears itself down, but not joining the rest of the world in examining new forms of mass transit that will probably be our next choice, when we will again be 40 years behind the times. And we'll be constructing that system in large part without due respect or attention paid to other-than-public forms of urban transport like trucks, cars, and bikes.
- But how has Tory expressed his perspective on the streetcar purchases, etc., that define Transit City? If he had been in opposition, Tory would have been vociferously against "Transit City" in Parliament...even from the point of view of being the official opposition (which obviously didn't do its homework either).
- and he acknowledged a number of pressing issues, such as the need to renovate or replace the Scarborough RT.
- ***When the RT was originally conceived, the Ontario government was overruled by the city on one important point. The province wanted to construct a silent high-speed mag-lev vehicular presence rather than the slow, tremendously noisy (probably exceeding legal decibel levels) system we finally got because city council insisted on it.
- The current city council's idea of running LRTs in ROWs ("Right-Of Way", where there is a curbed-off pair of streetcar lanes up the centers of rush hour traffic routes, just like is being built along St. Clair Avenue West) is Neanderthal compared to the original placement of the Scarborough LRT: completely off the travelled highways.
- The question is why Tory in 2003 held the view that the Scarborough LRT "requires renovating or replacement"; and the answer is because the TTC said in a published report at the time of the 2003 election that the RT is out of date and envisioned that it would no longer be able to carry the crowd it's intended for. A band-wagonning Tory chose to superficially jump aboard the "need" for LRT renewal as an interim political opportunity. The history of the Scarborough LRT or its viability issues were not investigated in such a way as to provide depth to the platform. Since then, nothing has been done to that service, and it's still running similarly to the way it always has. Since then, Tory has been silent on the subject, both in and out of public office.
- He talked in terms of extending the subway to the Scarborough Town Centre and similar projects.
- ***Again, another popular issue: based upon the discontinuation of the Lastman-initiated Sheppard subway. (Now, that subway has been placed on a Provincial Priority List to be continued to York University and Keele and Steeles as one of the out-of-towner links with Metrolinks.)
- His campaign approach was also one of trying to build a broader consensus, and he took that approach with him when he became leader of the Progressive Conservative Party..."
- ***Building consensus was obviously not on Tory's mind when he insisted on the funding of private schools by the province over good advice to let it go; and thus lost a provincial election the polls had predicted he could win. Perhaps he lost interest in or grew out of the consensus concept during his time as leader.
- Mr. Tory is hardly running on a staunchly conservative platform,
- ***Staunch conservatism or any other staunch positioning does not have the ability to handle all the directions this city must take in developing its future existence.
- and some of his policies -- including opposition to high-rise condominium projects -- are very ill-conceived
- ***it's not "condominium projects" that are a root issue, but rather housing for this 38th largest city in the world, including where that housing should be located, of what type (including high rise condos), and what it should look like.
- Tackling one form of housing as a policy is a popularity contest kind of a platform that shows a misguided or shallow depth of thought on the subject.
- But unlike Mr. Miller, he seems to grasp the fiscal challenges of the city's budget shortfall, expected to top $200-million next year.
- ***Not in his 2003 campaign nor to date in any findable location has Tory offered any useful ideas of how this "budget shortfall" can be handled, which is indicative of this being mouthed 'rhubarb' (argumentative political blather) rather than substantive narrative.
- His platform includes a complete review of program spending, reductions to councilors' office budgets, a civil service hiring freeze and the sale of "non-core" assets -- all well-needed reforms that have been overlooked for too long.
- ***The writer has an opinion that the above-mentioned 'reforms' are necessary; and in at least the first case, I think a program spending review was and still is necessary. So, OK, exactly what did the Tory platform say about how the review should take place? The answer is that there were no guidelines offered.
- -The call for "review" was merely a mouthed hope that in conducting such a review, economies of measure could be found that would save the city money.
- -Blanket calling for reductions to councilors' office budgets is in itself counter-productive; and was only being made in response to the yearly publication of stupid expensing of EXTRA-budget items that when discovered were and continue to be always made good by embarrassed councillors, and a call by uninformed citizens pointing out that the salary schedules for councilors and the Mayor seemed too high.
- -A civil service hiring freeze is meaningless rhetoric, because it's impossible to run a city of this size without a good civil service; and attrition means continually finding good people to take up the slack. But that's only reality talking.
- - And the city doesn't own any assets it can afford to sell for now, because we're broke, and we need the assets to fund our liquidity. The idea of selling them off reveals a shallow understanding of the city's economic positioning.
- Meanwhile, he promises a property tax freeze following a single-year increase limited to the inflation rate.
- ***If we remember, city council had at the time been threatening to raise the mill rate under Lastman's chairmanship (which it eventually did with great outcry of pain from wealthy people with beautiful homes...some of whom Tory is well-connected with...who received increased taxation estimates for their dwellings).
- This bid for votes by being in opposition to the tax increase was not disguised; but attaching a property tax increase to the GDP inflation rate was a slippery slope down which city council might have found an attractive recurring money source over and above the one-time blast that Lastman brought in...much to the chagrin and discomfort of the very home-owners Tory was thinking about protecting by being in opposition to the proposed property tax increases. Their taxes would go up along with everybody else's every year, but they'd go up in much greater amounts.
- Remember, though, hooking the property tax rate to the inflation rate was Tory's platform. Again, shallow thinking.
- It is not just on economic issues where Mr. Tory trumps his rival.
- ***Every single economic issue that Tory has been involved with [--with the two exceptions of his United Way chairmanship and raising money for St. Mike's Hospital, both of which made use of his excellent and extensive corporate connections--] has become an unmitigated disaster. Check out his bio on Wikipedia.
- Unlike Mr. Miller, he has shown a strong commitment to public safety by promising to hire an additional 400 police officers.
- ***Immediately upon being elected, Miller's new city council hired 400 new police officers, which had nothing to do with Tory and everything to do with Lastman's wishes and Julian Fantino's careful planning. Since then, Miller has arranged with the Ontario government to hire an additional 1000 police officers. You decide the political depth of this issue. It will be seen again.
- And even on the issues close to left-wingers' hearts, like public transit and housing, his plans are both more practical and more comprehensive.
- ***Read above. No thought-through platforms at all. None, zip, zero. Not practical (transit), and too comprehensive (high-rise condos being portrayed as the villain).
- Mr. Tory's best qualification, though, has nothing to do with his platform. Because the mayor represents just one of 43 votes on Toronto's council, the position requires a strong degree of moral leadership to achieve any degree of effectiveness.
- ***How about just a strong degree of leadership?
- Has Tory exhibited this when he was CFL commissioner and the league lost the Ottawa Roughriders and almost lost the Hamilton Tiger Cats or tried and failed to expand the league to seven cities in the USA and had to close down those franchises within two years;
- or when he co-chaired the federal Conservative party's election campaign during which it lost 158 seats and only retained two in Ottawa...not even enough to call itself an official party;
- or when he chaired (by invitation of his pal Ted Rogers) the Rogers Cable business and it came close to bankruptcy during the two years of his chairmanship;
- or when he was run for Mayor in 2003 and got into a kerfuffle with John Nunziata about a bribery issue that allowed the Miller campaign group to do an end run around the Hall campaign group while the media was focused on the Tory/Nunziata affair, and resulted in Miller's election as Mayor;
- or when he was the provincial Conservatives' election convention choice for leader, but as yet officially unelected to fill his seat in Parliament. Ernie Eves had to give up his solidly conservative seat (good riddance!) so Tory could sit in parliament as duly elected leader;
- or when the last provincial election took place, and the provincial Conservative party --forecast by the polls to win the election-- lost due to Tory's insistence of platforming the public funding of private schools over his colleagues' advice to the contrary; and during that election he was defeated in his own riding.
- Finally, after much discussion within the party and another vote as to whether he should remain as leader, another Conservative MP gave up her seat so he could try to get elected in the by-election. Both in the main and that by-election, Tory was beaten by an opposition from the Liberal party that ordinarily, by courtesy, will not even run a strong candidate against the leader of another party who wishes to sit in parliament.
- Where should I begin in this list of disasters that apparently, the persons who 'asked' him to run believe still does not prevent Tory from being a good candidate for leader of our city?
- Does the fact, as he reports, that people (apparently with short memories) "asked" him to run qualify him?
- Why did Tory say he might run because some people asked him? Did he need to be asked? Come to think of it, why did George Smitherman and Glen Murray say in exactly the same fashion that they needed to be asked? Couldn't these people see that Toronto needs a leader and step forward without needing to be asked?
- Unlike Mr. Miller, who has spent nearly a decade in municipal politics, he would bring a fresh perspective to City Hall.
- ***It's only my personal thinking on the matter. But I feel persuaded that John Tory is either incapable of a 'fresh' perspective or of being unable to bring any useful perspective to city hall. To the seasoned politician he is, adopting a genuine perspective might alienate votes; so I expect a similarly shallow, current-events based platform group from him again.
- More importantly, his tremendous management experience -- including as president and CEO of Rogers Cable and Rogers Media, and commissioner of the Canadian Football League -- would command strong respect from city politicians.
- ***With his track record in these positions, if city politicians respected his accomplishments in either field, I'd be surprised.
- As a close friend of Ted Rogers and with his strong connections to wealthy individuals, Tory leaves me wondering about his original qualifications to take the post of CFL commissioner, although at a later date, he showed himself as being good at bringing the money on board for the United Way and St. Mike's hospital. Had he exhibited some strong negotiating experience in his past that would prepare him for dealing with game rulings, owners and players as the final arbiter in their disputes? Or was his qualification for the commissioner's position due to his connections with the owners?
- As opposed to Mr. Lastman, who frequently lost control of Toronto's dysfunctional city council, we believe he would succeed in achieving results.
- ***I believe that Lastman was elected and re-elected by a landslide of Greater Toronto votes, as he had been for ages in North York before the city amalgamated. This, and the manner in which the control mechanisms at city hall make it virtually impossible for a Mayor to lose control of the city council repudiate the idea that Lastman "lost" control. In fact, Lastman ensconced the power of the Mayor by centralizing it more solidly than any mayor prior to his election; and was only exceeded in this area of governance by Miller, who learned at Lastman's knee.
- As he was approaching the end of his term of office, Lastman's ill health required him to relinquish his tight rein on council more and more. Under those conditions, his established privilege of calling the shots diminished.
- While he was Mayor, the city never enjoyed more publicity; and when he was elected, he didn't hesitate to bring the same form of governance and benefits to the people he had instituted in the North York community; benefits which made him unbeatable there in election after election.
- Lastman was an unabridged showman, and used all of his energy on behalf of the city in which he had invested his heart. Sometimes, his showmanship made him an ass; and when it did, everyone in the world laughed at him or was embarrassed by him; and everybody in the world knew where Toronto is.
- Now, they've forgotten.
- Is there anything in...
- 'John -disaster-prone- Tory's';
- or George -Oops? Uh-oh!- Smitherman's';
- or Glen -Abandon Mayoralty office all ye who seek ambition elsewhere- Murray's';
- or Giorgio -I sit in Miller's inner council ergo sum- Mammoliti's';
- or 'Denzil -Suddenly, I have something to say- Minnan-Wong's' (actually, I like Minnan-Wong's independent attitude);
- or 'Adam -It's what I, and not what you want: all you residents of Lansdowne Avenue, Jane Street, Kingston Road etc. etc!- Giambrone's' (somebody please defeat this guy in the next election!)
- ...abilities or background that would again bring the kind of leadership that might place Toronto as well-loved on the world map?
- Not just passion, heart, or (lord help us!) showmanship, but any world affection-grabbing quality?
- If we don't care about being loved by the rest of the world, we should maybe think about a Doug Holyday kind of leader, who is reported by his constituents to be a genuinely independent and reasonable progressive thinker.
HAVING WRITTEN THE ABOVE, I AM FULLY AWARE THAT MOST VOTERS WILL STILL VOTE ENTHUSIASTICALLY FOR A NAME, BECAUSE THAT'S AS FAR AS THEY WISH TO GO IN TERMS OF INFORMING THEMSELVES. THE MESSAGE TO ASPIRING POLITICIANS IS SIMPLE: PAY AS MUCH ATTENTION TO DEVELOPING A NAME FOR YOURSELF AS YOU DO DEVELOPING A PLATFORM. IN THE LONG RUN, THE NAME WILL WEIGH MORE HEAVILY IN GETTING YOU ELECTED.
- 2. Written In Response To A 'Post' Online Article:
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