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Morning Brew: Rob Ford decision due Friday morning, Matlow nixes mayor's message, Toronto is walkable, deflating a budget myth, and Gretzky says no to Leafs

Posted by Chris Bateman / January 24, 2013

toronto red bikeThe countdown begins. Rob Ford will learn his fate Friday morning at 10:30 when a panel of Superior Court judges release their appeal ruling. If the judges decide to uphold a December ruling by Justice Charles Hackland, Rob Ford will be forced to immediately vacate the office of mayor pending a by-election or appointment from within council. Any predictions?

Also in mayors, official city communications will no longer carry a decidedly Ford Nation boilerplate paragraph. A complaint by councillor Josh Matlow in November prompted the city's communications department to re-think the text that refers to "delivering customer service excellence, creating a transparent and accountable government, reducing the size and cost of government and building a transportation city."

Take that, Montreal. Toronto is the second most walkable city in the country, according to WalkScore, a site that calculates how pedestrian-friendly cities are based on the availability of things like cafes and libraries. Toronto, the company says, was prevented from unseating Vancouver at the top by sprawling parts of Scarborough and Etobicoke but boosted by 'hoods like Church-Wellesley Village and Kensington Market.

Matt Elliott over at Metro has an interesting insight into Rob Ford's favourite budget graph that shows Toronto's gross operating budget flatlining through his three years at the helm of city council. Problem is, the gross operating budget figure isn't really the best way of measuring government spending since it doesn't include absolutely everything. Well worth a read.

The city will look into installing new traffic signals where the Kay Gardner Beltline Park intersects with several streets thanks to a request by councillor Josh Matlow. At present, where there are no bridges, the sinuous park dumps walkers mid-block with no easy way to cross.

Oh, and yeah, it's still cold out there.

A record funded entirely by donated Canadian Tire money by a Toronto musician has finally been released. Corin Raymond and the Sundowners recorded a live, two-disc album called Paper Nickels at the Annex's Tranzac Club this time last year and the group plan to pay the studio bill with the retailer's colourful currency. The band is still $1,100 from its $7,333.75 target.

Finally, Wayne Gretzky says he's not planning to become the next president of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Using a weird double-negative, The Great One told the CBC there is "100% no truth" to the rumor he will take the job recently vacated by Brian Burke. The former Edmonton Oiler has stayed clear of hockey since a stint coaching the Phoenix Coyotes.


Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Photo: "For All Seasons" by Loco_Ono/blogTO Flickr pool.



Notahipster / January 24, 2013 at 08:13 am
Don't worry guys Ford will still be mayor tomorrow. If Hurricane hazel can get away with what she has done, so will ford. So nothing to see here move along.
steve / January 24, 2013 at 08:35 am
Why am I not surprised that Josh Matlow has problem with customer service excellence and transparency?
Rob K / January 24, 2013 at 08:52 am
Boilerplates get updated, it's not the end of the world if some of the messaging changes - especially in a City like Toronto where there are so many things to highlight.

Also, the rumours about Wayne weren't about him becoming GM, there's a guy named Dave Nonis who is GM. The rumour was that Gretzky would be President of MLSE.
prdrone / January 24, 2013 at 09:23 am
With the boilerplate, the main issue from a public relations standpoint is that it's not supposed to be so overtly focused on the city government's goals or ambitions. It's supposed to be more focused on how great Toronto is.

Also, Torontonians aren't customers. Customer service does not apply. It sounds more like a business blurb.

I don't particularly care if that paragraph skews right or left, but it's just bad PR writing.
Lee Zamparo replying to a comment from steve / January 24, 2013 at 09:32 am
I suspect the problem Josh Matlow has with the boilerplate pertains to the fact it's total BS. There has been little to no excellency and transparency for this administration that wasn't brought about by force from other councillors.

"delivering customer service excellence,"

None of my emails or phone calls have been provided with an actual response, just form letters.

" creating a transparent and accountable government,"

Except the parts that are under investigation, and the parts that are packed with handpicked cronies

" reducing the size and cost of government"

Not according to the net budget.

" and building a transportation city."

I.e keep the Gardiner up at all costs, while stalling on any feasible mass transit construction. Don't forget that Ford wasted 1.5 years of time, and filled in some holes at taxpayers' expense on his attempt to cancel Transit city by fiat.

See why it bothers some people steve?
Me replying to a comment from steve / January 24, 2013 at 09:37 am
The transparency thing should go without saying. The need to say it reflects a guilty conscious.
Me / January 24, 2013 at 09:38 am
Go matlow!
Jeremy / January 24, 2013 at 09:39 am
How is "100% no truth" a double-negative?
EricM / January 24, 2013 at 11:20 am
There is one VERY important part of the Metro Ford budget article that seems to be constantly missed and underreported: '...Toronto has to balance its budget every year — with no deficit spending.' If it doesn't, the Province is actually mandated to take over financial control of the city. What that means is, through Mel, Miller and now this guy all have actually balanced the budget. They have no choice as it would be political suicide not too. So was the city in a crisis before? No. It it now? No. Has Ford done anything that his predecessors didn't do? Aside from his constant circus act, no.
mark replying to a comment from EricM / January 24, 2013 at 11:42 am
Well when you add billions in debt as the only way to balance the budget then yes you did balance the budget but you also forced future generations to pay for what you can't afford today. Ford and this council have lessened future debt obligations by outsourcing and negotiating fairer deals with the unions.
EricM replying to a comment from mark / January 24, 2013 at 11:50 am
The has been a year end surplus every year since amalgamation. The concept of a 'structural deficit' is smoke and mirrors and the city of Toronto act gives Council the power to raise funds if needed.
Alex / January 24, 2013 at 11:51 am
The Metro article isn't exactly true, because it's written from a different viewpoint than the people touting the graph as a triumph. Obviously Matt Elliott feels that a balanced budget is the goal, and it's ok to spend more so long as the revenue to cover it is there. But Ford supporters don't feel this way, they want the city to cut spending in general. For example, if the city closed all the libraries they'd be happy, because in their view it means they can still buy books from private businesses and the city has reduced its budget by a ton. It all depends on your point of view. Ford got elected by promising to cut services and spending (he may have lied about it, but it's what he meant) and his supporters are happy that he did that. I don't agree with them, but I wouldn't call them liars just because I want something different than them.
steve replying to a comment from mark / January 24, 2013 at 01:49 pm
But you will have to pay for it in the future, at 10x it would cost to borrow the money now. the city can't just sit back for 50 years and wait for the money to add up in a bank account so you can by a subway car. Get real find out how a real business is run, then find out how that applies to a city.
steve replying to a comment from EricM / January 24, 2013 at 02:08 pm
You obviously are unable to tell the difference between a budget surplus and a cash flow surplus. Borrowing 1 billion dollars and only spending 500 million means you're still 500 million more in debt.
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