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Mayor? What Mayor?

I was just reading the latest blog of the esteemed  cityslikr . I really love reading his take on city hall because it’s so plain-spoken, intelligent, and honest. I began thinking about the gifts Mr Ford has bestowed upon us. While it is true that I have a sister in city politics, she has been there quite some time. It did nothing to stir me into being the slightest bit really interested in city politics. That was something that went on somewhere in that building downtown and kept her out til all hours doing something that seemed to have a lot to do with garbage and meetings. I felt quite apathetically confident that all was in hand. Much like most of the city, judging by the last elections voting statistics. Occasionally if I was home I’d watch just enough of city hall to have a pretty low opinion of a lot of it’s members.

The city council chamber in Toronto, Ontario.

The city council chamber in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No, Rob Ford has given us a really good kick in the ribs. Like so many I refused to believe it was even possible for him to win the election. Now, I did vote. I always vote. Have never missed voting since I was oldest enough to do so. It is astonishing to me how many people I know who did not. Couldn’t be bothered, felt certain city politics weren’t all that important anyway. Then the proverbial shit hit the fan and we all began to find out otherwise. Oh crap! Transit, hydro, garbage, the Portlands, casinos, conflicts of interest, flagrant dereliction of duty, city council without a leader. It just goes on and on. We all look at each other and wonder, how the hell did this happen?

Like so many, I assume that all politicians lie. Maybe not all the time and maybe not always dangerously, but it seems to be part of the job. I know some don’t. I know my sister doesn’t. She’s one of the all too rare few who will tell you the truth even when it’s not what you want to hear. We need a lot more of that. Way to many politicians won’t do that because they are way to interested in keeping their jobs and not nearly interested enough in what we elected them to do. That’s a problem with our system.

Our mayor lies. Apparently he doesn’t actually know how not to. In every single instance where he has been confronted in the past two years, his first instinct has been to lie.Tthoughtlessly and carelessly.  He doesn’t seem to understand what all good liars know. You need to remember details if you’re going to tell a whopper. He just lies and lies and lies and gets caught and caught and caught.

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

He seems never to have grown emotionally past that 12-year-old boy phase where if you just stand pat maybe you can finally get away with it. Like all 12-year-old liars, he never learns the error of his way. He’s just so sure that if he holds on and keeps desperately weaving and re-weaving the tale, at some point we’ll believe him.  And like all bullies everywhere, when all is finally lost the pat reaction is; “It’s not fair, you guys are just picking on me”.

I don’t always agree with my father’s viewpoints. He’s from a different generation and a different viewpoint. He taught us that everyone has the right to be heard and that makes for some pretty interesting dinner conversations. He believes one thing that I’m starting to believe he’s very right about. No one should be allowed to make politics a career in and of itself. Without apparent purpose.  You should not be allowed to forget what your job is. We need a way to fire you, if you aren’t doing your job. They have recall in B.C. We’re the biggest city in the country and the focal point of the country’s economy and we are currently saddled with a buffoon as our mayor with no way to rid ourselves of him. OMG!

We are seeing this in the federal government right now. We have a sitting Senator who has full on Alzheimer’s disease. Who is at the institutionalized stage and we’re still paying her salary. What the hell? We have a mayor who has not idea one about what his job actually is. He wanted to win the position. He told us a whole lot of nonsense that was nothing more than fancy spin messaging. Gravy train, waste in City Hall. I’m not saying there wasn’t or aren’t efficiencies to be found. There always are. I’m saying he didn’t, doesn’t, have clue one what they are. He just saw a thing and wanted it. So he went after it. Then he won it. Isn’t that enough? What? You want me to work now? I’m busy volunteering your time, can’t you see that?

Back to his gifts. Thank you Rob Ford. You made the members of a terribly fractured council come together. They had not figured out how they were going to deal with amalgamation. They were still voting in blocks, Scarborough, East York and so on. They did not have a full grasp on the importance of Toronto being Toronto, the GTA. You gave us that. You made the apathetic of the city begin to wake up and realize that city politics are far more important to our daily lives than any of the nevertheless crazy moves being made in Ottawa or Queens Park. You made us start asking, in lots and lots of cases we are demanding, that our councillors start representing us! We the people. You continue to behave like a spoiled child and slowly, oh so slowly, most of your supporters have begun to see you for what you are.

Oh, I’m not a fool. There will always be a small core of foolish and deluded folks who choose to believe you know what you are doing. You will still be dangerous if you are actually allowed to run in 2014. If egos get in the way again and no one rises out of the fray to give you the run for your money that you so richly deserve. You actually could come down the middle again and that would be as big a tragedy as Toronto has ever beheld.

Like it or not we are the GTA. We need to be one city from Scarborough to Etobicoke. We have both federal and provincial governments who refuse to acknowledge just how important an efficiently functioning Toronto is to the health of the entire country. Not to put too fine a point on it but the new government of Quebec gets that point. They have appointed a Minister of Montreal. We need a mayor with the strength, the balls if you will, to both rally our council to the common cause we all believe in, and to go at these foolish self-serving politicians and force them to acknowledge what will make a stronger Canada.

Toronto needs a real mayor so badly right now. One who will lead us onto the world stage where we belong. Rob Ford is simply not that man.

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How Much More of This Must We Take

I am so angry right now. It’s the frustration of dealing with blatant stupidity. It’s knowing that you can’t ever hope to make these two loonies comprehend sense because they just can’t. It’s knowing that the largest city in Toronto is being made the laughing-stock of Canada, probably all of North America. This Football nonsense has just sent me over the edge. I cannot believe how stupid he is, so stupid he doesn’t even stop doing it after he’s caught red-handed. On top of which he’s now very publicly guilty of perjury. It’s the arrogance that really gets to me. Doug Ford screams “this is about Rob Ford and Football…if it was the tree huggers or whatever you wouldn’t care”.

Well Doug here’s the thing. Yes we would care. Doug, this is not about Rob Ford and football. I have nothing but admiration for a man who works so hard with young boys and football. But Doug old fella. The word volunteer does not mean “I can do whatever I want, I’m volunteering”. If I told my boss I was leaving at 2 because I’m volunteering at my nieces school, every day for the rest of the week. I don’t even want to think about what he would say to me.

Doug, you and your brother live in some alternate life stream. In your land you are always right and every one else is always picking on you. There are no rules in Ford land. You just do as you please when and however the mood hits you.  In Ford land it’s OK to mock and bully and never quite tell the truth. Actually I lie, there are rules in Ford land. For everyone else. If “they” break the rules, they risk the full frontal assault of your wrath. You, however, may do as you please and if you get called on it, well, we are just being mean and intrusive. Nice world you live in.

I live in a different place where there are rules, and laws, and above all oaths of office. We elected Rob to be our mayor. Just like a father is a role model for his child, Rob,  you are a role model for a city. You are held to a higher standard, as every other mayor has been. Ford land doesn’t work here boss. Yes you do have to come to work at 9 and stay til 5. Yes you do have to obey the rules. No you don’t get to have half your staff working on city time for your charity. That is not “volunteering” their own time. That is volunteering my time. I pay them. Me and all my friends. Your constituents.

If your staff are really on their own time, show us the time cards. Show us the paychecks with time deducted. Or explain how they are making up the time. You promised us transparency. I’m still waiting Rob. Oh and by the way, while you’re at it. I’d like to see a copy of your cheque with time deducted as well. Leaving office at 2 over and over for football practise constitutes dereliction of duty at the very least.

Rob, why did you run for mayor? Don’t tell me about gravy. You wouldn’t know what gravy was if it slapped you in the face. Don’t tell me you wanted to fight for the regular people. You have not the first idea what regular people want. You thought you were going to be king didn’t yo?. You are the little boy who was never popular. You grew up to be the man who was never Rob Ford, mayor of Toronto, greeting a nun at ...popular. You claim to be proud of that lack of connection over 10 years of council.  I don’t believe that for a second. Little boy lost sat and watched everybody love David Miller and you thought “I want me some of that”. Rob, a man who refuses to listen to advice, refuses to make any effort to know his colleagues, who is confrontational at every turn, and incapable of compromise of any kind is a man doomed to fail as mayor of any city.

Toronto gives the mayor only one vote like every other council member. You can’t win if you can’t get along. You got away with a few doozies at the start before council woke up and shook its head. From then on you were lost. First you tried the bully’s approach. That just pushed them all farther back. Then you tried ignoring us all in the hopes we’d go away while you were cleaning graffiti. Now you seem to have decided the hell with it. They won’t let me be King so I’m not playing anymore.

Well, here’s the thing. I didn’t vote for you and refused to believe you could win. But Goddamnit you did. Whether you like it or not you are the Mayor of this city. You have and still are, behaving like the spoiled brat rich kid you are. Enough Mr. Mayor. If the judge doesn’t throw you out of office then do the honourable thing and quit fucking around. Resign sir. You don’t want to be mayor anymore. You know it and we know it. If you run in 2014 and were to actually win again it would be a fiasco of unbelievable proportions. I think you know this but you’re still busy playing school yard games. You won’t run to be mayor, you’ll run to get revenge. That is not the action of a responsible citizen.

You have children. Is this the legacy you want for them? Be the bigger man. Tell us you have realized you owe it to this city to do the work you are best suited to. Be the incredible supporter of kids you are. Lord knows it’s what this city needs. Once and for all, give us something to truly admire about you. Go coach. Go save more lives. Do it now. We can’t take much more.

Thoughts on the The Krista Ford Thing

I haven’t written in a while. Been dealing with a lot of “things” as we do. New job, getting healthy, stuff. But I have been watching and listening, as I do. So this “thing” has me really hot and bothered and needing to speak out loud.

Let me start by saying this. I am in no way, not any way, no way ever, defending Miss Ford’s words. Having said this. When someone goes into politics and becomes prominent in the public eye. There is a thing that doesn’t really ever get mentioned. Unfortunately you learn it by experience and it isn’t always pleasant, as Miss Ford is finding out. Whether you like it or not, and I doubt many like it, you end up by default, somewhat muzzled. You have to begin being incredibly careful about how you express your opinions in public venues like Facebook and Twitter. There are all sorts of folks out there in the media, in the blogosphere, on Twitter. If they know your relationship to that politician they can just hardly wait to use your words to go after your loved one. I have learned the hard way that once you put it out there, it’s out there to stay. You can delete it and you can apologize and it’s still gonna be there and you’re still gonna pay. Think very very hard before you press send.

Now to the real issue. Krista Ford is a young and very naive women. She grew up in a privileged and protected world. She has zero concept of what it is like to live in downtown Toronto, alone, without a car, needing to work often long hours and weird times just to barely make the rent. I used to walk home from Bloor and Bay to Dav and Dupont at 4 o’clock in the morning years ago when I worked in a restaurant that was open til 3. Try that on for size Krista. Last 4 or 5 days of the pay period I didn’t even have the money for a bus ticket. That’s called real life. That’s how 99% of the population live. That’s the city you live in.

I belong to a generation where men forced themselves on women in a rather subtle and constant fashion. We did not know that no means no. Wives were raised to believe that whatever their husbands wanted they got. You always acquiesced to the man. Girls gave in to their boyfriends. Date rape was not a term that had even been invented and we sure as hell didn’t say anything if it happened. The police would not be any help at all if there was no violence involved. If you hadn’t been hurt you must have wanted it. The shame and responsibility was all yours. If you got pregnant, Mr. Akin’s opinion notwithstanding, you were generally hidden away in some awful home and the baby taken from you at birth. It was just understood that you couldn’t keep it. What would the neighbours say.

We cluck our tongues righteously these days when we hear about the way raped women are treated in third world countries. Yet I am only 60 years old and I remember all to well when that was standard treatment right here in River City. I had a friend who got “knocked up” when we were 16. She was not allowed to admit it out loud until she was big as a house and the elephant in the room was impossible to deny. Her parents “made” her marry the boy. Another friend got pregnant at 18 and denied it to the bitter end. None of us said a word as her overalls got bigger and bigger. One day she disappeared for about 4 or 5 weeks and when she reappeared there was no baby and life went on.

So don’t tell me we haven’t changed, and changed a lot. Now we have guys like @sol_chrom or @bryck123. These are enlightened and smart young men with profound respect for women. That is a step forward.

As long as there have been men and women, there has been rape. A sad but true statement. I really hate to say it and I know it will make some folks really crazy but as long as we exist there always will be. Having said that, we must work very very hard to make it one of those rare anomalies that can always be called mental illness. It happens as much as it does now because too many men think they somehow have a right to take what they want. They somehow believe that they are reading signals that say the opposite of what is really being said. They do not know how to listen.

In countries like Lebanon and Egypt there are women who practise the art of Belly Dancing. They wear those spare costumes we’ve all seen and they are often seen walking to work in cities like Cairo. They practise an art form that receives respect. It is not assumed that they are “looking for it” because of the way they are dressed. This doesn’t mean there isn’t the occasional pig about but in those societies, men do speak up when other men behave badly towards women. It isn’t acceptable to speak badly about women in mixed company. Before you all start commenting about somewhere like Pakistan, I am talking about Arabic countries. Where men can kiss each other without any fool giggling. Where men are allowed to cry when it’s called for. Where strong emotion is never hidden but expressed with vigour.

We could learn a whole lot about how to raise our sons, from these countries. We live with this North American arrogance that is our worst enemy. We aren’t better than everyone else. Our ways are not the best ways. There are no best ways. We have so little respect for the rest of the world, it sometimes makes me scream. I don’t have a son but if I did there would be non-stop criticism of how I would raise him. I wouldn’t care. I would raise a strong self-aware man. One who would not be afraid to cry. Who would hug and kiss without inhibition. Who would know how to grieve outwardly, be happy out loud when it was warranted, and be angry without explosion when that was what was called for. He would be a man who would have respect for all human beings. It would never occur to him to judge a woman by her clothing and ignore her words. It would never occur to him to come up behind a random woman and take what he wanted. He wouldn’t want that without love and respect.

So what I am saying is that the responsibility for changing this mindset belongs to us all. Krista was so wrong. But attacking her was wrong too. We all created the mindset that allows her to think that way. It is way to easy to say “well Doug Ford is her Dad”. Anyone who knows me knows I am no fan of the Fords but fair is fair. This is a societal problem and it is us as a society that will fix it, working together. Men should call their peers on stupid conversations. But guess what? So should women. Don’t walk away when a joke is told in poor taste. Say politely but loudly that you are offended and you would like it to never happen again. Then walk away. Don’t go on and on. The point gets made very quickly and it’s called shame. If you preach it’s called boring and after a while not only does no one hear you, they begin avoiding you, but the jokes go on.

When I was a 20-year-old, the asshole who’s working in the Bloor and Christie area would probably have gone unabated for literally years. We would never ever have known the total number because too many victims would have said nothing. He will be caught, and likely very soon. I pray that it is before he hurts anyone else. Rape is a thing that I don’t believe you can ever completely recover from. It becomes a fundamental part of you and it colours your reactions to the world for the rest of your life. He is a bastard.

Things have changed enormously since I was 20. Just no where nearly enough. If we give in to anger and begin blaming and confronting and chastising we will never change. We must stay calm and work together. Not men and women but enlightened people, teaching the unenlightened people.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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