For the past 15 months, the brothers Ford have spent two hours on Sunday afternoons moonlighting as comically pugnacious AM radio talk jocks, jawing about key issues – fiscal restraint, lazy politicians, the primacy of subways – and shining a light on important community causes.
As they are targeted by aggressive local media, especially in the past two weeks as allegations of drug involvement swirled about them and the mayor’s office suffered some key departures, their Newstalk 1010 show, The City, has proven a comfortable bunker where they can shut out their naysayers and regroup.
And while they may infuriate critics by using the show’s bully pulpit to beat up opponents, the station’s management intends to keep them on the air for as long as it can without running afoul of Canadian election law. If they delay registering their candidacies for the 2014 election, it may be difficult to remove them until late in the race. (Mayor Ford has said he will be registering “the first day I can possibly register” in early January next year.)
Newstalk 1010 hatched The City in the fall of 2011, with centrist councillor Josh Matlow as host because, according to the station’s program director Mike Bendixen, “a lot of our listeners were fed up with just hearing about all the screaming and yelling and nonsense that was happening at City Hall.” Six months later, after an overture by someone on the mayor’s staff, Mr. Bendixen handed the show over to the Fords.
Critics instantly howled, but many of them have helped give the show a wider resonance than it might otherwise have. Twitter traffic during the shows overflows with mockery of the Fords, an apparent love-to-hate phenomenon. What are deemed as outrageous comments are dutifully reported, echoing out across social media.
That may be in part because sitting mayors hosting radio shows are rare in Canada. They are far more common in the U.S. One of the most high-profile examples was New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who regularly antagonized enemies and common folk alike who dared call in during his Friday morning radio show.
Two Star reporters viewed the video three times, a Gawker journalist once. The video appears to show Ford smoking crack and uttering an anti-gay slur. However, the Star could not verify its authenticity.
Doug Ford, as he did on Saturday, vehemently denied a Globe and Mail article that reported he had been a dealer of hashish in Etobicoke when he was in his teens and early 20s. “I was not a dealer of hashish in the 1980s,” Doug Ford said.
Rob Ford fired his chief of staff, Mark Towhey, without public explanation on Thursday. He said Sunday that he would not discuss “personnel issues.” He did deny a Star report that he had fired Towhey in part because Towhey had rejected his demand to seize thousands of dollars of football equipment he had donated to Don Bosco Catholic Secondary.
Rob Ford was dismissed Wednesday as Don Bosco’s volunteer football coach. He said on the show that he had Don Bosco players “over at the house” after his dismissal. Though council loyalists have long advised him to quit coaching to focus on government, he also said he will now consider coaching offers from other schools.
“People keep coming up to me, saying, ‘Have you retired from coaching? Are you getting another coaching job?’ As of now, I don’t have a job. So if something comes up, you never know. But I really want to concentrate on getting, basically, our platform through,” he said.
Rob Ford read out the names of councillors who handed him another legislative defeat last week by voting against allowing expanded gambling at Woodbine racetrack. Doug Ford said the “vast majority” of councillors “couldn’t get a job” outside politics. He also pledged to reveal damaging information about any councillors who criticize him and his brother.
“I can go through all 44 councillors right now, folks — and I’m sure I could do it, but I’m not going to. But I have a message for the councillors: you want to keep throwing stones, I’m going to throw boulders right back at you. It’s very simple,” Doug Ford said.
The mayor called reporters a “bunch of maggots,” describing them as relentless and telling listeners “no matter what you say… you’re never going to make them happy.”
His brother, Councillor Doug Ford added that only “80 per cent of them are nasty son of a guns.”
As for the denial of the video, Warren Kinsella’s column reminds us of this
Arrested in Florida for drunk driving and drug possession; pleaded no contest on the former charge; denies it during the 2010 Toronto mayoralty race, until presented with the evidence by the Toronto Sun.
He has denied his past behaviour before.
As someone quipped on Twitter, Toronto is stuck in an abusive relationship with its mayor.
Excellent op-ed in the Winnipeg Free Press by Sam Tsemberis and Vicky Stergiopoulos
In Canada, we conducted the largest randomized controlled trial of its kind in the world on homelessness by comparing housing-first to services as usual (the At Home/Chez Soi study) involving 2,255 participants who were homeless across five Canadian cities (Moncton, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver). The one-year results, recently reported by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, indicate HF is significantly more effective than services as usual in providing stable housing for people who had been homeless for years and who have complex clinical needs.
Also compelling was the finding that for every two government dollars invested in the HF program, $1 was saved. Savings were even greater for those who used services the most, with $3 saved for every $2 spent.
It’s no wonder the federal government supports housing-first: It is highly effective and can save money.
So Canada is on the right track. We have both funds and evidence-based policy for moving forward on homelessness. However, we still face two major hurdles in order to successfully meet a housing-first model.
First, the majority of programs currently funded across the country can be described as providing services for people who are homeless. Shelters, drop-in centres, and especially transitional or short-term housing programs must be helped to shift resources to programs that end homelessness instead. We will need to invest in providing training and consultation services to communities so they will obtain the guidance and support, timelines, and performance indicators necessary to move the system toward this new, much-needed direction.
The second hurdle concerns implementing housing-first programs so they are consistent with the basic principles of the model that achieved the outstanding outcomes in the At Home/Chez Soi study. Housing-first moves people rapidly from shelters or the streets into stable housing and provides evidence-based clinical and social supports to address social, mental-health, health, addiction, educational, employment issues and others. By providing services using a team approach and co-ordinating housing, clinical and social supports, this model reduces problems associated with fragmentation of services and improves inter-sectoral collaboration that usually plagues individuals and families seeking treatment.
In other words, housing-first, if implemented properly will transform public services across the country as we know them, and to do this effectively, teams will need adequate support and guidance to do so.
The video quality is poor but this is a great view of what is happening at Eva’s Phoenix
The City of Toronto appears to have “starved and neglected” the Gardiner Expressway by spending millions of dollars below what had been budgeted for rehabilitation over eight of the last 14 years, the chairman of the public works and infrastructure committee charges.
The largest recorded difference is in 2009 — the same year a study commenced on potentially dismantling a section of the aging roadway — when the city allocated $20.3-million in funding, but only spent $3.2-million, according to a tally of budget versus actual expenditures dug up by finance staff, and obtained by the National Post.
I know all cities do this; Saskatoon included but it’s frustrating. We build infrastructure but then have no appetite to maintain it properly and then we have to deal with it falling down all over the place. Preventative maintenance isn’t sexy but look at the bills once they come due, they can be overwhelming. Saskatoon is looking at about a billion dollars in unfunded maintenance (which is for those keeping track, about a 1000% mill rate increase). We needed probably a 3% levy instead of the 1% one that we got just to keep our current road and bridge conditions. All across the country we just keeping digging a bigger and bigger hole.
Doug Ford spoke proudly of his frequent media criticism. “Think of this, folks, think of this: we’re the only two elected officials — think what I’m saying here — we’re the only two elected officials, Rob, in recent memory — federally, provincially, or municipally — number one, has put a halt on the gravy train, but number two, talks back to the media,” he said.
Rob Ford said, “We’ve done more in this administration than any other administration ever has, and the media just — I don’t know what, I don’t know what they want. I guess they want bankruptcy. I guess they want a ghost town. I don’t know.”
Doug Ford claimed that members of Chicago’s media had approached him during the trip to say, “What is wrong with your media? They’re embarrassing your city.”
Chicago outlets largely ignored the trip. NBC Chicago published a blog posting that called the mayor “obnoxious” and mocked his weight.
We’ve lost our moral compass in recent years — not by embracing gambling, but eschewing taxes. We have been contaminated by the anti-tax compulsions of American political culture that prevent governments from maintaining a progressive taxation system. This pathological aversion to taxation has driven the explosion of casinos everywhere, as governments rely on gambling to take money from the poor while sparing the rich.
Over the years I have received a lot of phone calls about a couple of people who are well-known on the streets of Saskatoon.
Others see them on the streets during the winter months and want "someone" to help them – that someone always being emergency shelter providers. The problem is that while these individuals want a place to live, they both are slaves to their addictions.
If you ask either one what they want to do, it’s to drink. Nothing else. There is no life separate from their next drink. Their desire for alcohol overwhelms even the ability to maintain personal hygiene or go to the washroom.
In the summer, my compassion for either one isn’t that high. A poor lifestyle decision means sometimes sleeping along the riverbank, but as the weather cools, that decision can lead to death. I have made many emergency calls over the years because of their alcohol or drug use. The cost of ambulance rides alone is significant, not to mention the repeated health-care costs.
But these two aren’t unique. Countless people with whom I have talked needed help, but would rather live on the streets than give up alcohol or drugs. The addiction has a bigger hold on them than their need for survival.
Life becomes a day-to-day existence.
Historically, we have simply waited for such people to hit rock bottom. The problem is, when life is so bad to begin with, there isn’t a big gap between doing great and reaching rock bottom. For many, the best life has been is time spent in prison or in a halfway house.
While to you and me the idea of spending the night outside might seem horrendous, for them it’s been such a part of their lives that it doesn’t even register as unusual.
Toronto has taken a different approach to dealing with such people. Seaton House, one of Canada’s largest homeless shelters, opened a "wet shelter" in 1997 where alcohol could be managed. In the past, shelters such as Seaton House forced people to be dry and sober before they came in.
While some did sober up, others found their addiction was too strong and went off in all sorts of weather to get their next fix. A relapse wasn’t just one beer but many, and often they would use a variety of substances such as mouth wash, rubbing alcohol, glue, gas, or even cleaners.
The chemical dependency makes it impossible for hard-core alcoholics to dry out, so the idea is to try to take them off it slowly. At Seaton House a drink is given every 90 minutes (five ounces of wine or three oz. of sherry) until the person can’t go on, or until he falls asleep. They are weaned off the alcohol over time. When the physical dependence is broken, more traditional approaches to treating the addiction can be undertaken.
A 2006 study reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that a managed alcohol program reduces consumption.
Participants went to having eight drinks a day from 48 drinks. Police and hospital usage dropped, as well. The study figures it saved the system about $450 a month for each person.
While such numbers are difficult to quantify, it is important because it means more police available to fight crime and more hospital beds available for other patients. When you factor in the extremes of Saskatchewan weather, the savings could be potentially more.
Drug and alcohol abuse is not rational. No one wakes up hoping to drink a dangerous amount of moonshine or cleaner, yet it happens too often. They end up in emergency rooms or the police cells night after night.
On nights where there isn’t anyone around or something goes wrong, we hear about it the next morning and wait to see if the family releases the name.
Managed alcohol programs, such as Seaton House’s, provide a safe way to deal with chronic alcoholism and start the process toward allowing residents to finally deal with the issues that have dominated their lives. But critics have called similar programs "bunks for drunks" and see them as enabling alcoholism.
However, alcohol doesn’t need an enabler. When you are at the point where your desire for alcohol overwhelms your ability even to take basic care of yourself, a different approach is needed. It may not be one that we are comfortable with, but it’s better than having someone freeze to death.
© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix
In his speech in Toronto Tuesday night, Nenshi discussed a host of promising cultural projects and investments into artistic spaces in Calgary, including the construction of Canada’s National Music Centre, a new downtown branch for the city’s public library and an initiative to transform old or derelict buildings into new arts centres, performance venues or artist studios.
Public-private partnerships serve a key role in helping these projects succeed and the municipal government is an important facilitator, for instance in passing zoning law changes to permit more artist live-work studios, according to Nenshi.
"Calgary is becoming a city where artists are moving to… rather than coming from. A lot of that is due to the incredible entrepreneurism and creativity of the artists themselves," he said.
"But it’s also important that the government creates an environment in which this makes sense… The role of government is to make sure they’ve got spaces to do it in and the ability to be able to do this work."
While I hate the design for the
Mendel Art Gallery, err, Art Gallery of Saskatchewan, umm, Remai Art Gallery of Saskatchewan, I am still supportive of a larger and downtown art gallery, even if it is a big ugly box.
The Toronto Star had a fascinating piece from 2006 about gang life in Toronto.
One successful drug dealer said the teens he sees are uncontrollable. "It’s going to be very hard to reach them," he said. "Somebody has got to create more programs for kids. They’ve got to keep them busy. They’ve got to teach them to stay in school."
This man has made enough money selling cocaine that he no longer fights daily to survive. Bright and articulate, he has the luxury of surveying gang life from a distance. He says a lot of the youngest gangsters are hyperactive, impulsive and unable to concentrate, so they fail in a school system that is not set up for kids with their needs.
When they get expelled, their education simply deviates from the classroom to the street.
Det. Peter Duncan, who runs the street crime unit in North York, knows there is no easy solution. He grew up in a poor, single-parent home in a high-crime Vancouver neighbourhood and understands the challenges facing the kids he sees in Toronto.
During his presentations about high-risk youth, he is constantly asked if there is hope. Always his answer is yes. "If I can do it, they can do it," he said.
Duncan, who is writing a book on the issue, said that most of the children he sees in Toronto are missing key skills, even basic hygiene. And they need to be taught how to communicate, to think critically, and to understand that in a democratic society people have the freedom to express opinions without getting shot.
Gangs prey on the weakest kids, he says, those whose lives have little structure and parental support, kids who are alienated or not doing well in school. "While they don’t use the terms ‘high-risk youth,’ gangs seek out kids that fit that description very well," he said.
It describes almost every gang member and drug dealer I know.
The communities created by the Chicago Housing Authority were all, by current wisdom, destined to fail. The new-built estates were large and isolated – Regent Park-style low-rises punctuated with high-rise towers. They were overwhelmingly black communities, drawn from the tenements on Chicago’s South Side and migrants from the southern US. They were not mixed-income communities either. The CHA selected families – one third of them women-led — exclusively from the bottom third of the income scale.
An incubator for leadership
Yet Fuerst credits public housing for creating Chicago’s black middle class, providing an “incubator for leadership” for African Americans. Account after account describes the children of stockyard workers and unemployed widows who are now lawyers, teachers, business leaders, police officers and senior public officials.
What made Chicago Housing Authority a launching pad to success? The tenants’ stories are filled with praise for the clean, well-managed buildings and grounds, where prizes were given for the best gardens. They spoke about housing managers who knew everyone’s name, encouraged local initiatives, and found jobs for teenagers. They spoke about the schools, churches, clubs, sports teams, and womens’ associations that were integral to the community’s strength. And they talked about the community itself, where everyone would look out for local children, and did not hesitate to pick up the phone if they spotted trouble.
Today, public housing in Chicago and elsewhere is seen as anything but paradise. What went wrong?
The answers offered by the CHA’s former residents and staff will induce squirms in Toronto’s right- and left-wing readers alike. Here they are:
Abandoning tenant screening.
In CHA’s early days, preference was given to applicants with the lowest incomes in the worst housing conditions. But only those prepared to pay their rent, keep their homes clean, and supervise their children were accepted.
Once in the housing, the management strictly enforced standards, and so did other tenants. As one tenant recalled, “We kids cleaned those halls. And if somebody messed up our hall, we were quick to tell them, ‘Get that paper off that floor. Don’t you do that on my stairs, cause I got to clean it Saturday.’”
By the 1970s, federal rules forced CHA to give preference to the poorest of the poor, with no other screening. Today, tenants and former tenants quoted in the book say that “destructive and dangerous” tenants – anywhere from 10 – 30 per cent of tenants – need to be evicted to allow a return to healthy community life. Draconian as this move is, they argue it would be less disruptive than Chicago’s current practice of evicting all tenants to demolish entire buildings.
When we moved to Saskatoon in the mid-80s, there was a magazine called Western Living that we received and it listed the Sturdy Stone Centre as one of the ugliest buildings in Western Canada (Moose Jaw’s crushed can was also on that list). I am not a big fan of brutalist architecture either downtown or elsewhere in the city (the same firm designed the College of Education building) and the Sturdy Stone Centre falls into that category.
Of course it isn’t Saskatoon’s only example of bad brutalistic architecture. The Federated Co-operatives Building rivals it, concrete block by concrete block.
It was built during the great window shortage of the 1970s. I couldn’t find out who the architect was but who would want windows facing the riverbank anyways? It takes bland architecture to a whole new level. Two sides without windows, no distinguishing features, it kind of defines a new kind of architecture, prairie brutalist.
Every city has their own examples of it. I remember when I first saw Boston’s City Hall and I thought to myself, how did that thing get here and why has it not been demolished? In Liverpool there is the Metropolitan Cathedral, in New York there is the Port Authority Bus Terminal and in Toronto, there is the famous Fort Book, a library so inviting that it was used for exterior shots of the prison setting in Resident Evil: Afterlife.
My point in all of this is to show what happens when a city doesn’t have or take it’s own design guidelines seriously. While the Study Stone Centre does have street life aspects incorporated into it, the Federated Co-op building does not. When these are absent or ignored (like the city is doing in the warehouse district), you get left with cold impersonal buildings that are defined more by parking lots rather than what they contribute to city life. I keep thinking the city has learned it’s lesson but then again by looking at some of the latest developments take form, maybe not.
The truth is that a city is the one that creates it’s architectural ethos. Years ago I was in Chicago when
strongman Mayor Richard Daly threatened to halt new developments unless the architecture improved and met city guidelines. When I was in Toronto and I wandered through the Allen Lambert Galleria, which came as a result of the city of Toronto’s public art requirements. Even Martinsville has a neighbourhood with some architectural controls in it (must have stucco). A city can lay down standards and expect that they are followed.
A quick look at 275 2nd Avenue South shows that not only can projects meet city design guidelines, they can surpass them (in this case going for LEED Gold Certification). A decade ago the city was desperate for new development but things have changed and how we handle the prosperity will shape the city for decades if not longer. Is the next 75 years going to be dominated by buildings sitting on parking garages or something better?
The Allen Lambert Galleria, sometimes described as the “crystal cathedral of commerce”, is an atrium designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava which connects Bay Street with Heritage Square. The six storey high pedestrian thoroughfare is structured by eight freestanding supports on each side of the Galleria, which branch out into parabolic shapes evoking a forest canopy or a tree-lined avenue because of the presence of building facades along the sides of the structure.
The Galleria was the result of an international competition and was incorporated into the development in order to satisfy the City of Toronto’s public art requirements. It is a frequently photographed space, and is heavily featured as a backdrop for news reports, as well as TV and film productions.
The parabolic, arched roof that Santiago Calatrava created for the assembly hall of the Wohlen High School in Switzerland is generally considered to be a precursor of the vaulted, parabolic ceiling in the Galleria.
I’m in Mississauga for a couple of days near the airport for a Social Services conference and am staying at the Delta Airport West hotel. The hotel is nice and the staff was great. I was about to rave about the hotel until I found some boogers in my coffee cup as I finished taking a drink from it. I fully expect to be dead by morning.
I had plans to take the Go Train into Toronto tonight but I haven’t been feeling well and am just tired. I am rooming with our Corrections Coordinator and after getting into the room, grabbing a bite to eat, I lost my motivation to head out and we watched a wide variety of YouTube clips while listening to the party next door get rowdier and rowdier (I can’t hear them right now. They may have quieted down). While the posting here won’t interest many of you over the next couple of days, I will be posting notes and thoughts to both Twitter and here.