It wasn't that long ago that I paid very little attention to municipal politics. I remember David Miller and his broom, and thinking that cancelling the tunnel to the Island Airport was a bad idea, so I suppose my interest does predate the current administration. But thanks to the past few years and my access to information and opinions through Twitter my level of engagement is very different from what it was before. November 15th was my first time attending a City Council meeting, so I was there in person as 40 elected councillors voted together to reduce the powers given to the Mayor. That process isn't complete, but these days its hard to know when anything has reached an endpoint.
While I think it has a foolish name, Twitter really has changed how I understand and engage with the city. Almost everyone in the room had a smartphone, tablet, or laptop out and were using them constantly. A few years ago this would have been a distraction, disrespectful, or a sign of inattention; today it is simply people being engaged and doing their jobs. Councillors communicating with their constituents, journalists filing moment-by-moment reports, and a whole array of interested citizens doing grass-roots journalism and being a vital part of the conversation.
As for myself, I was there with my little iPad and its keyboard, my phone as a backup, Ricoh GR for wide shots, Nikon V1 and 105VR lens for long shots, and my audio recorder running beside me. I don't yet know how I'll use any of it beyond a couple of quick blog posts, but that doesn't stop me from doing my thing just in case.
Rob Ford and Doug Ford both call each other "Jones" – I heard them calling each other that way several times during the morning I was there. Twitter and the live video stream don't really capture this sort of thing, so I know I'll be back in person from time to time. One brotherly interaction that I caught, but nobody else seemed to remark on, was Rob Ford subtly waving his brother down while Doug was doing a bit of grandstanding.
Councillor Ford had chosen to use drunk driving as an example of discreditable conduct, as one sitting councillor has pled guilty to this during the term. Rob Ford, having admitted to the same activity during a recent press scrum, didn't seem to think that this was a good example to pursue.
The ongoing Gravy Train Wreck has proven that Rob Ford is not management material.
My objection isn't even a political disagreement: Mayor Ford really has no politics, simply opinions. He knows that everything costs money, and hates spending on anything that doesn't advance his worldview, but he applies magical thinking to the baubles that catch his mind.
Juxtapose Rob Ford and Mike Harris on the matter of building new subways. I certainly don't want Mike Harris back, but he was someone with a driving ideal behind his divisive populism.
It's a sad thing when nobody cares enough to jump up and down; we need people willing to do that, even when their position is unpopular. That used to be the job that Rob Ford had, but that's not the job that he applied for the last time around.
This might be childish to admit, but I'm really looking forward to the upcoming election. Of the announced candidates and hypothetical ones whose names have volunteered for them, at this point my preference would be Olivia Chow, Bob Rae, David Miller, David Soknacki, a threadbare wet sock, John Tory, Kevin Clarke, Denzil Minnan-Wong, Karen Stintz, and Rob Ford. In descending order, obviously.
But whoever decides to run will find themselves debating ideas and visions for the city with someone who lies routinely, expounds vehemently despite not understanding – or in outright contradiction to – very basic facts, and is a hard-core substance abuser who surrounds himself with criminals.