Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Toronto's tax fighter

I don't follow Toronto politics closely at all, but Councillor Rob Ford has certainly caught our attention. Despite warnings that Toronto's budget has "hit a wall," Councillors voted to keep their free golf and zoo passes. Ford says what everyone is thinking:

With Mayor David Miller firmly in control of the budget process preceding Friday's full-council debate and yesterday's vote, that the budget would go through unscathed was close to a fait accompli.

So it was Councillor Rob Ford's annual budget-cut performance that proved the most captivating part of yesterday's debate. A renowned penny pincher, Ford has been trying for seven years to get fellow politicians to cut back on at least some of their many perks.

The councillor for Ward 2 (Etobicoke North) came agonizingly close to winning one vote yesterday, but his motion to deny councillors free passes for city-owned golf courses – worth an estimated $15,000 per year – lost on a 22-22 vote.

"They're all just self-serving individuals," he said of fellow councillors. "You saw the greed there. They blame the province (for the city's financial problems) but they still won't cut one cent of their own perks."
And this I couldn't believe:
Ford also said the city could save $59,000 by not giving out up to three bottles of wine a day to people in the city's harm-reduction program at the Seaton House shelter. And he rankled fellow councillors by suggesting an end to a series of free passes, a $40,000 media-clipping service and a $77,000 program to water plants in city buildings.

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