Monthly Archives: November 2010

Josh Colle ready to get to work

New councillor for Ward 15 will work closely with dad, MPP Mike Colle
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Nov. 18)

Eglinton-Lawrence Councillor Josh Colle.

When he’s sworn in as the new councillor for Ward 15 Eglinton-Lawrence on Dec. 1, Josh Colle will be working closely with his provincial counterpart  — who just happens to be his father, MPP Mike Colle.
“We’ve already had some meetings that are constituency-driven,” Colle said in a recent interview following his election win.
“I don’t always agree with him. You probably don’t always agree with your parents. But it’s good to know there will be a collaborative relationship there.”
Part of the ward boundary includes sections of St. Paul’s provincially and federally so Colle’s also spoken or met with those political reps in the weeks since the election.
Colle the younger is also busy attending community meetings to get up to speed on ward issues.
But he’s looking forward to rolling up his sleeves and getting to work at city hall. And there’s no reason the 45-member council can’t work collaboratively, he said.
“I get that it’s politics with inherent drama and conflict that goes along with it,” he said. “But it’s the responsibility of the mayor and council to do that (work collaboratively).”

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Mayor Ford picks team players

Ford announces key roles for councillors
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Nov. 29)

Mayor-elect Rob Ford announces his picks among councilors for key roles. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier.

Mayor elect Rob Ford announced this afternoon the team that will help guide Toronto for the next few years.
The were no surprises in the appointments to head the seven council standing committees nor the spate of other plum posts as Ford’s choices had already been widely reported in the media.
The geographic and ideological composition of the group also offered no surprise. There are reps from the suburbs and midtown, but no one from downtown. Leftie councillors were shut out but two newbie female politicians are on Ford’s team.
“This is the team that’s ready to get down to the hard work of bringing accountability and respect for taxpayers back to city hall,” Ford said. Continue reading

Mayor David Miller’s legacy

Miller on his successes and hope for city’s future
An except from an exit interview with mayor
Kris Scheuer
(Written Nov. 24 for Town Crier)

Mayor David Miller gets ready to wave goodbye to politics. His second term ends Nov. 30, 2010. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier.

In November 2002, before he was elected as mayor, David Miller told me as a Town Crier reporter he’d know if he was successful as a leader if “everyone feels that city hall is honest, trustworthy and if in every neighbourhood people can point to positive change.”
Based on that, he said he’s succeeded.
“My first campaign was … about taking a city government that had unfortunately slid into being a government that if you knew where the backrooms were you could get your business done,” he said today in an interview. “It (city hall) wasn’t there for the people of Toronto.”
Miller was one of the few councillors who pushed for an inquiry into the MFP computer leasing scandal that included allegations of bribery against a former politician.
In her final report Justice Denise Bellamy recommended a series of accountability offices such as an integrity officer, lobbyist registry and city ombudsman that Miller later created.
He also argues that compared to the past his administration has been virtually scandal-free.
“The city government has come under some criticism for relatively minor things like a councillor renting a squirrel costume, which I suggest rather pales in comparison to the MFP scandal where hundreds of millions went out the back door (in contracts) because people were connected to people in power and paid them off,” said Miller

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Karen Stintz mum on TTC chair gig

Ward 16’s councillor talks transit plans
But quiet on possible appointment to head transit commission
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Nov. 22)

Councillor Karen Stintz may be the next TTC chair.

Councillor Karen Stintz may be mum on whether she’ll be the next TTC chair, but she has plenty to say about transit.
The Ward 16 rep is rumoured to mayor-elect Rob Ford’s choice to replace outgoing TTC head Adam Giambrone.
And while Stintz has said she’d like to serve on the transit commission she’s not saying if the rumour she’ll be its next chair is true.
Coincidentally, Ford’s communications rep Adrienne Batra was meeting with Stintz this afternoon directly before the Town Crier sat down with Stintz in her city hall office.
The TTC is a challenging portfolio with no shortage of controversies and opportunities but Stintz says progress can be made on the problems of the past.
“We can make a difference and improvement in customer service,” said Stintz. “(TTC) effects people’s lives everyday and it effects how to get home on time, to work on time.”
She’d like to see cleaner stations, the implementation of the regional electronic fare PRESTO card and with it the re-examination of zone based fares. Plus that provincial investments are used to build a TTC system for both present and future needs.  Continue reading

David Miller before he was mayor

One of my first interviews with Miller back in 2002
A year before he became mayor, here’s his vision for Toronto
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Nov. 7/02. UPDATE.)

David Miller in his councillor days before becoming mayor in Nov. 2003.

“I think the city faces a great future, but only if we have great leadership and I don’t think we do now,” Parkdale Councillor David Miller told a small crowd, who had gathered to hear him speak at a Rosedale gallery.
Miller, who wants to be the city’s next mayor, spoke and answered questions on Nov. 6 2002 at D&E Lake Limited on Yonge St. north of Summerhill subway station.
“I have no idea who else is running. I’m the only one who has announced candidacy publicly. I think Mel Lastman wants to run again. It’s possible he will run again. If he doesn’t, there could be four or five candidates come forth,” he told the Town Crier.
“I do know that City Hall has a lot of problems now,” he said referring, in part, to the MFP computer leasing scandal, which is being investigated by police and through a public inquiry.
“I’m worried about where the city is going,” Miller said in an interview. “I am running because Toronto needs to move forward. It’s been stagnant for the last 15-20 years. I think City Hall needs to be more open and honest and citizen-centred.”
He mentioned the need to enhance public space along with development.
“In my ward, Windemere by the Lake is building a day care in it for the public, not just residents of the building.”
“I think this election is a crux of whether the city stays vibrant or doesn’t,” Councillor David Miller.

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Fragedakis takes over Ward 29

Mary Fragedakis to tackle city and ward issues
New councillor will be shift from retiring Case Ootes
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Nov. 11)

L-R: Second place candidate Jane Pitfield congratulates councillor-elect Mary Fragedakis. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier.

Councillor-elect Mary Fragedakis may be a new face at city hall, but she’s fairly familiar one in the community she will represent beginning Dec. 1.
“I’ve lived my whole life in ward 29,” said the new Toronto-Danforth rep. “My friends, family and neighbours are here. I started the Broadview Community Youth Group because of the lack of affordable programs. I understand the context of the area.”
And Fragedakis arguably made history on election night, introduced at her victory celebration as the first woman of Greek background to win a seat on council.
She captured over 41 percent of the vote, beating out runner-up Jane Pitfield and five other candidates. Continue reading

More women on Toronto council

A total of 14 councillors now women
Seven of the newly elected reps are females
Kris Scheuer
(Column written for Town Crier Nov. 4)

Move over, Mr. Councillor.
Toronto has elected more women to council.
The 45-member city council now has 15 females, up from the 10 elected in 2006. So city council is now 33 percent female.
This is impressive when you consider the United Nations has called for governments worldwide to have at least 30 percent of the political representatives as women.
I’d argue having more women means council is more reflective of Toronto’s population. Elected officials should bring the perspectives of the many people they represent to the decision- making table.
And what’s great is the current crop of female reps are a diverse group themselves.
There are lefties like Paula Fletcher, Pam McConnell, Maria Augimeri and Janet Davis. There’s more right-of-centre councillors like Francis Nunziata and Karen Stintz, and even they can differ immensely in their views. Gloria Lindsay Luby was part of Mayor David Miller’s executive committee and so was budget chief Shelley Carroll.
These eight re-elected female councillors are all very opinionated and passionate politicians who speak up for the causes they believe in. I love that.

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Rob Ford good for Midtown?

Mayor-elect’s biggest support in suburbs
Downtown not a fan, Midtown voters were  luke warm
Will  a Ford administration be good for Midtown Toronto?
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Nov. 4)

Mayor-elect Rob Ford. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier.

New mayor Rob Ford got mixed reaction from voters in midtown, but one’s thing for certain: This is definitely not his core electorate.
So his sweeping victory — he won easily with 383,501 votes — has midtown wondering: what will he do for us?
Overall, there’s a cloak of secrecy surrounding Ford these days as he bunkers down with his transition team lead by Councillor Case Ootes.
What campaign policies will Ford stand by and which will he soften?
Calls to Ford’s team were directed to Ootes, who said he could not discuss any policy direction now. Period.
“The objective of the mayor is to deliver on his commitments and to get costs under control,” Ootes said earlier this month. “I won’t get into what’s doable and what’s not doable. That’s what the transition team is discussing now.”
And while they’re behind closed doors talking, so is midtown.
There’s mixed feeling among business owners, residents and Ford’s midtown council counterparts: fear, hope or downright uncertainty of what a Rob Ford Toronto will mean for midtown.

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McMahon takes helm in Beach

Mary-Margaret McMahon gets prepared for takeover Dec. 1
New councillor will start new rein after beating Sandra Bussin
Kris Scheuer
(Written Nov. 9 for Town Crier.)

It was the first day of school and Mary-Margaret McMahon was hitting the books.
Though she doesn’t officially start until Dec.1, the newly elected Ward 32 Beaches East-York councillor and her fellow newbie colleagues were at city hall on Nov. 9 doing an orientation session. McMahon came away with “homework” – a think binder of council protocol.
And, judging by the amount of calls she’s been getting, McMahon better get up to speed – fast.
In a post-election interview at city hall, McMahon said she’s trying to get one step ahead, meeting with residents, businesses and developers to discuss ongoing files and projects in the ward.
In a stunning win over embattled incumbent Sandra Bussin, McMahon got 65 percent of the votes on election day, Bussin walked away with 25 percent.
But faced with controversy after controversy this past election term proved to be her undoing.
McMahon even counts herself as a previous Bussin supporter.
“I voted for Sandra every time,” said McMahon, who’s lived in the ward for 19 years.
Beyond Bussin’s troubles, McMahon attributes her success on election day to a number of factors. She knocked on doors daily for about 16 weeks. Three other candidates dropped out of the race to support her and she got some high profile endorsements.
She admits there was a lot of anger towards Bussin, especially over the sole-source Tuggs beach café deal.
“There was an … ‘anybody but Bussin’ movement,” she said.
But McMahon brings her own local experience in the community, including co-founding a local farmer’s market, which attracted new businesses to Danforth.
McMahon said she’s a woman of action and promises the same approach as councillor.
“I will host regular town halls at three libraries so people can bring up joys and concerns and a vision for the community,” said McMahon, who lives in the Danforth and Woodbine area with her husband, Jim, and children, Liam and Becca.
She describers herself as a “doer” who doesn’t like to “burden” others by asking for help. She said the transition into her new job is going relatively well even without help from outgoing Councillor Bussin.
“I have not heard from (Bussin) or her staff. It’s disappointing.”
Returning veteran Councillor Pam McConnell has reached out by having many of the 15 females on council to her condo on Nov. 8, said McMahon.
And she’s met with many of the new councillors for coffee to talk shop.
“One councillor said, ‘it’s nice to know you have friends before you get to school.’”

Kippendavie development heads to OMB

Council’s made no decision, developer will try reach deal
But has appealed condo plan to Ontario Municipal Board just in case
Kris Scheuer
(Written for Town Crier Nov. 11.)

Residents protest outside Kippendavie pre-sales office for condos that have yet to be approved for development. Photo courtesy of Joanne Dicaire.

Beach residents are trying to halt a condo project until the city has a plan in place to fix residential water and sewage basement flooding.
Longo Development plans to tear down six existing homes and build a 65-unit, four-storey condo on Kippendavie Avenue.
The Beach has been prone to storm water and sewage basement flooding and some residents are concerned development intensification on their street will only exacerbate the problem.
The Kew Beach Neighbourhood Association organized a protest Nov. 6 and 7 when the developer started pre-sales of the yet to be approved condo project.
“We need more studies,” said Joanne Dicaire, chair of the group’s sewage and flooding committee.

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