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Archive for the ‘Toronto’ Category

The Economist’s take on Rob “Model T” Ford

In Gravy, Have to Laugh, Rob Ford, Toronto on December 11, 2012 at 15:04

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Even if I wanted to it would be to embarrassing to post the full article.  He’s just a snippet of  Economist and the full Michael Enright essay from the CBC’s Sunday Edition

“…The mayor was caught talking on his mobile phone while driving (against the law in Ontario), reading while driving on the expressway (also illegal), using city staff and money to run a high-school football team that he skipped out of council meetings to coach, and ordering city staff to mend the road in front of his family’s business. He shrugged off most of these accusations, although he denied giving the finger to a woman and her six-year-old daughter who had gestured to him to stop using his mobile phone while driving.

The offence that caused Mr Ford’s ejection followed a familiar pattern. While still a city councillor, Mr Ford used his official status to raise C$3,150 ($3,170) for his private charity, a football foundation. He refused to repay the money, ignoring a request by the city’s integrity commissioner that was endorsed by the council. As mayor, he took part in a debate and a vote last February overturning the integrity commissioner’s findings. That was a breach of the law and the mandatory penalty was loss of office…”

You can read the full article here ~

Well, that tears it.

When the most important magazine in the English-speaking world cracks you across the forehead, your goose is not only cooked; it is boned, sliced, carved and served up nicely.

When The Economist, in a few elegantly poisonous columns, reminds you and the world that you and your neighbours live in Idiotville by the Lake, there is little hope of commutation of sentence by the court of public opinion.

Emblazoned over two pages in this week’s issue, the article showed how the government of Canada’s largest city had become Canada’s latest national joke.

The headline: Model T Ford Breaks Down.

The article goes on to describe in painful detail the shambolic clown car that is Toronto City Council.

From horrific money problems to a collapsing transit network to a political system in gridlock and confusion, the magazine traces the chaotic two-year administration under Mayor Robert Ford.

Compounding the train wreck is a decision by one judge to throw Mayor Ford out of office for a conflict of interest, and the decision by another to stay the expulsion.

A city is a complicated political organism, noisy, combustible, in constant tension with and among a myriad of factions.

A city council is not supposed to be a model of orderly self-government. It is by its very nature a raucous arena of contention and argument.

The hope is that when the smoke clears, decisions will have been made and things will get done.

That’s not the way it works at Toronto City Hall.

For example, a previous council voted to spend about $80,000 to install a measly little bicycle lane on a downtown street.

Then the current council came in. Egged on by Mayor Ford, the council decided to remove said bike lane.

At a cost of between $280,000 and $300,000.

A tiny, almost perfect former mayor once told me that Toronto has usually been chaotically governed but efficiently run.

Sadly now it is both badly governed and badly run.

Years ago on As It Happens, we used to run a weekly feature from Newfoundland on the fights in St. John’s city council between then-Councilor Andy Wells and the then mayor, the late John Murphy.

The feature became a national sensation. People tuned in just to hear the shouting matches between Wells and Murphy.

Everybody talked about that crazy St. John’s Council.

It was great fun.

These days in Newfoundland, they’re telling Toronto jokes.


This is Regent Park!

In Government, It's About School People, Them Kids, Toronto on August 15, 2012 at 15:46

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My daughter and I would take the 506 streetcar across the north end of Regent Park and she’d ask, “why there were bars on the window.”  I honestly had to tell her that, “I didn’t know, but in a few years those bars are going to come down and you’re not going to recognize this place.”  Canada’s oldest and largest social housing project has and is changing.



What else can you say…Why Rob Ford Why?

In Law & Order, Rob Ford, The Environmental Session, Toronto on August 14, 2012 at 22:02

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Cell phone use while driving.  Driving through a stopped streetcar.  Heck a middle finger to boot.  Now reading while you drive on a highway.  I’m a TORONTO tax payer and I give up Rob Ford.  You win.

MT @injurydr Mayor Ford, I invite u to visit our trauma unit & c the result of distracted driving @tomayorford #TOpoli

— Marco Ricciardi (@TPS_Marco) August 14, 2012


The Summer Olympics in Toronto…and Chicago?

In Canada, London, Olympics, South of the boarder, Sports, The World Comes To Toronto, Toronto on August 6, 2012 at 16:51

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So I’m watching the Summer Olympics and getting into the spirit of it all. Also the envy of, “wouldn’t it be cool if we had the Olympics here, in the T-Dot.” Of course this is madness. The economy is in the shitter. Toronto has failed twice in the last 20 years. Atlanta in 1996 and Beijing in 2008. We’ve got the Pan Olympics happening in 2015 but that’s like the Triple “A” of sporting events. No the Olympics in Toronto might be a far distant want. But what if Toronto got some help. What if we teamed up with another city. No not Mississauga or Hamilton. Ottawa might be cool but I’m thinking bigger, much bigger. Why not look outside of our province. Heck outside of the country. My pick would be Chicago!?! What the heck are you talking about. How/Why would Chicago even think about partnering with us. In one word, Money! Chicago has already put their hat into the ring for the 2016 Olympics and was handed a first ballet boot to the ass. Foot in mouth was felt throughout Michigan Ave and City Hall.  Beating chests and red, white and blue did nothing for the Olympic committee.  Heck not even the President could get the Olympic committee to look their way.  But a dual bid from two of the largest cities in North America could be very attractive.

Here’s my break down of who does what

Opening Ceremonies – Chicago
Closing Ceremonies – Toronto
Track and Field – Chicago

Pentathlon – Chicago

Triathlon – Toronto
Aquatics – Toronto
Gymnastics – Chicago
Cycling – Toronto
Courts (basketball, volleyball) – Chicago
Canoeing, Kayaking and Rowing – Toronto
Equestrian – Toronto
Boxing, wrestling – Chicago
Judo, Taekwondo- Toronto

Weight Lifting – Toronto

Wrestling – Toronto

Soccer – Toronto

Baseball – Chicago

Softball – Chicago

Golf – Toronto

Field Hockey – Toronto

Sailing Toronto, Chicago

Tennis & Badminton – Chicago

Archery – Toronto

Hey it could happen..maybe


One City. Has Toronto finally gone past drawing lines on paper

In Customer Service, Government, Gravy, Me Myself & I, Rob Ford, The CBC, Toronto, Transportation, TTC on June 27, 2012 at 10:56

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This morning TTC Chair Karen Stintz outlined the new transit vision on Metro Morning (Listen Here) She explained that this wasn’t a cash grab.  This is intended as a dedicated funding plan for the future of transit in Toronto.  “Subways, Subways, Subways,” said Rob Ford during the last transit debate.  I say yes to him, but also LRTs and Bus Routes and Streetcars and Go Train.  Rob Ford may have made the debate loud but Stintz has somehow, quietly rolled out a plan, that just may work in Toronto’s favor.

The $30-billion, 30-year proposal would transform the city — taking transit to all corners of the municipality. And, with provincial and federal help, the dream scenario would cost Toronto property taxpayers $45 a year for four years.

Called OneCity, the massive plan is the brainchild of Councillors Karen Stintz and Glenn DeBaeremaeker, chair and vice-chair of the transit commission. The money, roughly a 2 per cent tax hike dedicated exclusively to transit, is bound to be the source of huge conflict at city council as early as October.

Stintz has not declared her intention to run for mayor, but this proposal will put a bull’s-eye on her back. It is also expected to embolden Mayor Rob Ford, who will vigorously oppose it because it raises taxes.

But if the plan finds traction among enough politicians at city hall — and there are enough transit goodies to satisfy councillors from all quadrants of the city — it could spark a humdinger of a battle that exceeds the rhetoric of last spring’s LRT-vs.-subway debate.

At stake are many political careers, and the commuting future of Canada’s largest city.”  Read Royson James full article in the Toronto Star (Here)


Transit City.jpg

Transit City 2009’ish

One City 2012

An act of a coward: Shooting at the Eaton Centre

In Canada, Loss of Life, Me Myself & I, Toronto on June 3, 2012 at 15:33

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“My son was asking questions when I first grabbed him and took him under the table. He was asking, “What was that noise? Why are we down here?” Things like that. I was pretty calm talking to him. I just said, “There’s a bad, naughty man being inappropriate, doing bad things. Let’s just stay here to be safe.” Later on, he started saying, “Daddy I’m scared.” I said, “Why?” He said, “Because of the loud noises and because of all the people running so fast.” Bobby Umar via The National Post 

Guns.  Crime.  Murders.  It’s part of living in a city with nearly 3 million people.  You’ve got the good the bad and sometimes the ugly.  The ugly pushed its head up yesterday and reminded the majority of us that were at home around 6.30pm that even our safe city has its share of tragic events.  You ask people that live in Toronto and 99.9% of the  time they would tell you this city is pretty damn safe.  Not much goes on to strike fear in our hearts.  I wasn’t there.  Thankfully I haven’t heard of any family or friends that were injured yesterday, but it makes your heart sink that much further.  How many times have I been in that mall.  Ear buds or meeting up with friends.  Shopping without a care in the world.  Does all of that stop because of this event?  No it does not.  It can’t.  We don’t let these people dictate where we share our lives.  This is Toronto.  Good, Bad and Ugly, we will stand up to this.  We have too.


Jamaica “Punching above it’s weight”

In Authors, Canada, Jamaica, The World, Toronto on May 30, 2012 at 14:10

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“Like his writing, Gladwell’s conversation is fluid, funny, and wide-ranging. Monday’s event was sponsored by Jamaica 50—an organization that is orchestrating local celebrations of the fiftieth anniversary of Jamaica’s independence from Great Britain—and so a lot of the discussion centred on Gladwell’s Jamaican/African heritage.” via Torontoist

I never pump my chest on the fact that I’ve got a Jamaican background, but that little island of 2.6 million people just keeps becoming a bigger factor in my life and the world in general.  My dad’s battle with Parkinson’s and Dementia has probably fueled that.  He talks about heading home, not Mississauga, but back to Jamaica where he was born and raised.  Wants the kids to get out to see HIS island ASAP.  Jamaica you may see me sooner than you think.


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

When a Leaf says it’s sorry.

In Business, Customer Service, Hockey, Me Myself & I, Toronto on April 10, 2012 at 11:26

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I’m not sure this is enough…but I’m listening.  The Ten Commandments of Customer Service

Know who is boss. You are in business to service customer needs, and you can only do that if you know what it
is your customers want. When you truly listen to your customers, they let you know what they want and how you
can provide good service. Never forget that the customer pays our salary and makes your job possible.

Be a good listener. Take the time to identify customer needs by asking questions and concentrating on what the
customer is really saying. Listen to their words, tone of voice, body language, and most importantly, how they
feel. Beware of making assumptions – thinking you intuitively know what the customer wants. Do you know what
three things are most important to your customer? Effective listening and undivided attention are particularly
important on the show floor where there is a great danger of preoccupation – looking around to see to whom else
we could be selling to.

Identify and anticipate needs. Customers don’t buy products or services. They buy good feelings and solutions to
problems. Most customer needs are emotional rather than logical. The more you know your customers, the better
you become at anticipating their needs. Communicate regularly so that you are aware of problems or upcoming

Make customers feel important and appreciated. Treat them as individuals. Always use their name and find ways
to compliment them, but be sincere. People value sincerity. It creates good feeling and trust. Think about ways to
generate good feelings about doing business with you. Customers are very sensitive and know whether or not you
really care about them. Thank them every time you get a chance. On the show floor be sure that your body
language conveys sincerity. Your words and actions should be congruent.

Help customers understand your systems. Your organization may have the world’s best systems for getting things
done, but if customers don’t understand them, they can get confused, impatient and angry. Take time to explain
how your systems work and how they simplify transactions. Be careful that your systems don’t reduce the human
element of your organization.

Appreciate the power of “Yes”. Always look for ways to help your customers. When they have a request (as long
as it is reasonable) tell them that you can do it. Figure out how afterwards. Look for ways to make doing business
with you easy. Always do what you say you are going to do.

Know how to apologize. When something goes wrong, apologize. It’s easy and customers like it. The customer
may not always be right, but the customer must always win. Deal with problems immediately and let customers
know what you have done. Make it simple for customers to complain. Value their complaints. As much as we
dislike it, it gives us an opportunity to improve. Even if customers are having a bad day, go out of your way to
make them feel comfortable.

Give more than expected. Since the future of all companies lies in keeping customers happy, think of ways to
elevate yourself above the competition. Consider the following:
◦    What can you give customers that they cannot get elsewhere?
◦    What can you do to follow-up and thank people even when they don’t buy?
◦    What can you give customers that is totally unexpected?

Get regular feedback. Encourage and welcome suggestions about how you could improve. There are several ways
in which you can find out what customers think and feel about your services.
◦    Listen carefully to what they say.
◦    Check back regularly to see how things are going.
◦    Provide a method that invites constructive criticism, comments and suggestions.

Treat employees well. Employees are your internal customers and need a regular dose of appreciation. Thank them
and find ways to let them know how important they are. Treat your employees with respect and chances are they
will have a higher regard for customers. Appreciation stems from the top. Treating customers and employees well
is equally important.


A 24 to 19 loss isn’t losing by 2 votes

In Customer Service, Government, Gravy, Rob Ford, Toronto, Transportation, TTC on March 23, 2012 at 10:46

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Doug Ford: “Yes there was money. Both sides were fighting for the same chunk of money. This decision was won by 2 votes. Mammoliti was away today. Two votes.”

I actually got to watch all 30+ hours of the Toronto City Council debate on LRT’s vs Subways.  It started on Wednesday, March 21st, 2011

Beyond all of the cat call, and lack of any understanding by Doug and Co., I’m happy with the result, but still amazed by the lack of understand from the Mayor and his inner circle.   There was no plan to pay for subways.  “A pie graph would be nice. Just something that would show where the sources of funding would come from.” from Councillor Josh Colle.  That was the single largest reason why he lost the vote.  The last minute plan to create a parking tax to bring $100 million was a start but in the end, wasn’t even supported by the mayor.  Councillor Jaye Robinson, a member of the Mayor’s executive said it best during the debate yesterday,

“To me it’s a very disappointing day for Toronto if this indeed goes through, because most international cities that have revered best practice transit system have a grid that’s looped so that you can get around your city in a seamless manner.

The connectivity I think is very important to Torontonians, because people have to get across the city to work, live and play. And if you can’t do that without getting on and off different systems and have to go through complicated transfer points, that is not an effective system. I did vote for the LRT on Eglinton, and I stand by that vote, because it was seamless, you don’t have to transfer when the LRT becomes at grade or below grade.

I would like to see a subway on an incremental basis go across Sheppard. Councillor [Mike] Del Grande put forward a great motion because it proposes a revenue tool. I’m disappointed that the Mayor didn’t rally behind that motion. I think that’s very disappointing. I want to work with the Mayor, I want to work with all members of council, but I think it’s unfortunate that he didn’t back that very critical motion. We definitely have to [build Sheppard] on an incremental basis but that’s not a bad thing.

Residents have been saying to me for years, why haven’t we for decades been building one subway station at a time? And we haven’t done that and now we’re in this place where we have to have a knee jerk reaction and move forward, but is that truly what’s right for the city of Toronto?”

The second reason is the continued barking that the LRT is a Streetcar.  Councillor Raymond Cho tries to explain it Doug Ford.

His brother, mayor Ford has already stated that he’ll be rallying the troops for his re-election in 2014. “Obviously the campaign starts now and I’m willing to take anyone on to fight streetcars against subways in the next election and I can’t wait for that,” he said.  It’s over Rob…deal with it.


You just have to laugh out loud

Honest to goodness, sensible TTC Transit Planning

In Government, Gravy, Rob Ford, Toronto, Transportation, TTC on March 14, 2012 at 10:46

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You look at this graph and you’re like, “hey this makes sense, right?”

It just makes sense.  You can read Matt Elliott’s full piece at here

All I can say to the new TTC CEO is have fun Mr. Byford!