Archive for January, 2012
September 2010: Rob Ford vows to get rid of Toronto’s streetcars in favour of more cars on the road.
October 2010: Rob Ford says maybe he won’t get rid of the streetcars after all.
January 2012: Rob Ford wants to use budget surplus to buy new streetcars.
It’s interesting to point out that Ford’s contention was never the cost of streetcars, which would’ve been the one good reason for him to flip-flop like this (“we can do it now that we’ve magically found more money in the budget!”). Instead, it was an ideological stand against public transit and bicycles in favour of cars.
I’m glad that the mayor is reneging — this city needs way more reliable (and affordable!) transit, not cars on the road; more wheels on the pavement doesn’t solve Toronto’s gridlock, after all. But I can’t help but wonder how his supporters must be feeling watching him slowly chip away at pretty much every pledge and campaign promise he made. I wouldn’t be too pleased about it if I’d voted for him, that’s for sure.
At this point the only way anyone could justify supporting Rob Ford or any of his brainless, spineless minions is to literally shut oneself off in a cave somewhere and simply ignore reality.
First off there’s the budget surplus which seems to be growing by tens of millions per day, which runs exactly opposite to the claims that Rob Ford made about a budget deficit which, if they’re to be believed, is also growing ($382 million last February, $774 at present). I use the word “believed” because only a few short months earlier, Toronto was running a healthy surplus. What happened? Rob Ford got elected, that’s what.
The astute reader may say, “but we’re talking about the operating budget here”, to which there’s a simple reply: that’s the proposed budget — the one Rob Ford pulled out of his ass with the help of his overpaid buddies at KPGM, at the start of his term to support his idiotic cuts like the Vehicle Registration Tax. Yes, idiotic, because when you crunch the numbers, the savings for a small household are so tiny compared to all the outrageous cuts that are being proposed that, frankly, anyone who believes that an extra $0.16 per day in your pocket is “respect” has much bigger issues on their plate.
It’s simple: $60 saved on the VRT comes out to $0.16 per day, or $1.12 a week. Oooooh — big money! Now, with an increase in TTC fare hikes, assuming one person in the household takes transit only a couple of times a week (-$0.20), you’re now only saving $0.13 per day. Add to that an additional $5 (on average), for a Toronto Hydro rate hike which Ford could’ve helped to offset, you’re down an additional $0.08 a day.
So, really, you have roughly $0.03 more in your pocket thanks to Rob Ford’s cuts — but only if you drive a car. In exchange, everything else is being cut. And if you’re claiming that $10.95 a year is worth it to you in light of all this austerity (let’s call it by its real name), I feel genuinely sorry for you and your situation — you must be living in the most abject poverty imaginable.
But it doesn’t end there.
It was revealed today that the cost of Ford’s anti-bicycle campaign, which resulted in the ripping up of the Jarvis Street bike lane, cost around $272,000 which for some bizarre reason is more than twice as much as it did to put in under David Miller. So much for “efficiencies”. Oh, and in case you were wondering, had Ford not put his hatred of bikes into practice, it would’ve saved each and every Toronto taxpayer about $0.05 — or just shy of half of the stupendous VRT money that only drivers pocket (I’m assuming a population of 5 million for this calculation). Add to this the cost of the KPMG report at $3 million dollars and everyone could’ve had an additional $0.06.
Put all this together and it’s plain as day that Ford is costing taxpayers money, not saving it:
Saving for drivers: $0.03
Cost to everyone: $0.11
Average gain per taxpayer: -$0.08
And, of course, this doesn’t take into account the fact that services are on the chopping block which, if they’re necessary for some residents, could add a much larger chunk to expenditures. And for the home owners out there who think Ford’s other stroke of brilliance, removing the Land Transfer Tax, think they’re going to see more money every year, are sadly mistaken as well. At an estimated $300 million per year, and assuming that only half of Toronto residents are home owners, it averages out to about $0.32 of extra cash in the pocket of each household, or $0.17 per taxpayer. Except that’s a full elimination of the tax which Ford said he wouldn’t do. Instead, he’s pledging to reduce this by about 25% per year, which makes the real number close to $0.04 per taxpayer.
The revised numbers, sadly, are still in the red:
Average gain per taxpayer: -$0.08
LRT saving: $0.04
Average gain per taxpayer: -$0.04
Even under ideal conditions — no VRT, no LRT, etc. — taxpayers will be forking over an additional $0.04 this year, not saving it. And keep in mind this only applies if you drive a car or own a home — for everyone else it’ll be worse. So when Rob Ford then pronounces that we need to cut services in order to make up the shortfall that he created, that’s not “respect for the taxpayer”, that’s a slap to the face of every hard-working citizen of the city.
According to Ford, the theme in Toronto for 2012 is “CUT CUT CUT!”, even though it looks like there’s going to be a healthy budget surplus from 2011.
According to Ford, we can’t depend on one-time surpluses to balance the books, even though that’s exactly what he did with the money left over after Miller left office.
According to Ford, there’s way too much “gravy” at City Hall, even though after a full year of wandering around with a ladle and a forlorn expression, none has been found.
According to Ford Ford, unlike every other mayor we’ve had he just just can’t seem to find any additional funding sources (fuck events like Pride).
If you’re a Ford supporter and you can look at these four statements and claim that any of this isn’t absolute and complete bullshit, that this scumbag isn’t ripping up our city solely because he can, that he has a brain cell to share between him and his brother, that he didn’t produce one broken election promise after another, that Ford is a nice and courteous guy who’s focus is to build and support the city of Toronto, that Ford is being accountable and open like he vehemently swore he would, that most of Ford’s promises don’t sound like they were slapped together by a mildly retarded 6-year-old child (promise to cut Council in half by having Councillors vote to fire themselves, for example), well, you need serious psychiatric help, my friend.
If you live with your eyes open and even half a brain in your head then it’s time to throw some major opposition under the fat man’s train. I admit, I’ve been patient and sometimes even defensive of Ford, sometimes to the chagrin of my girl who rails against Ford on a daily basis, but with the austerity-loving politicians (criminals) forking over all taxpayers’ money to mega-banks because “we’re in debt!”, it’s clear that unless people start taking some major action globally (including here in this city), we will be raped blind by the crony capitalists and left with a shambles.
At this point, “respect for taxpayers” means tossing Ford’s sorry ass on the street and maybe re-invigorating some of those charges that the cops outright refuse to follow up on –dangerous driving, beating his wife, repeated abuse of 911 dispatch, etc. It’d be a start, at least.