23 October 2007

Mayor Miller: "Le Cité, C'est Moi!"

David Miller's controversial tax proposal passed Toronto City Council yesterday by a wide margin. Yes, the city needs more revenue, and yes, Toronto is, unavoidably, an expensive place to live and do business. But perhaps more important, Toronto needs some transparency and accountability for its spending and contracting. Miller's so-called strong mayoralty is changing him from the new-broom man of the people to an image more congruent with an arrogant monarch. Sort of a Mel Lastman with better hair. And taller. Royson James of The Star observes:
Citizens have said repeatedly over the past three months that they want city councillors to cut perks and office budgets and impose some in-house belt-tightening before imposing new and higher taxes.

But yesterday, all motions recommending this were consistently ruled out of order, preventing them from getting to a vote. Stunningly, the mayor's most passionate moment came in defending the perks, calling attempts to cut them "offensive. To call the things like their office budget, which allows them to communicate with people, (a perk) is really unworthy of any member of council," he said.
Attempts to cut perks are offensive, Mr. Mayor? What is offensive is the lack of independent accountability.

What we need is an arm's-length officer to serve the role of an Auditor General, much like Sylvia Fraser in Ottawa. At the federal level, the Auditor General is an officer of Parliament. That model doesn't quite work at the municipal level, I think. The strong mayor model means that, effectively, having an officer reporting to council means having said officer report to the Mayor and his cabinet. Amending the City of Toronto Act, an act of the provincial legislature, to appoint an Auditor General as a provincial officer might attract cries of partisan politics. It is, I think, the only way to ensure sufficient transparency on Le Roi de Balai (King Broom) and his reign.

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Emma Svensson said...

Hey! Since you told us we could give you music tips, here's one: http://www.myspace.com/koop

Leigh said...

Couldn't agree with you more here Mark. What a disappointment. When i start to wish for days gone by and Mel Lastman, you know we are in trouble (well ok not really but you know what i mean)

CBC keeps having person after person all with great ideas about how to save the city money and all of them say the same thing....when Anna Maria or whomever asks whether or not the city is considering any of the ideas or potential initiatives? Always the same answer.


Uch. something has to be done.

Mark Federman said...

Although the first comment is a bit off topic, thanks, Emma (one of my students from Jonkoping last week). Koop is a very cool Swedish swing jazz vocal duet whose recorded music is based on samples. Apparently when they tour, they bring with a 7-piece swing band. As it turns out, they're playing The Mod Club in Toronto on November 5.