Quiet, please

Gentle Westonians. As you can see, I’ve disabled the comments. It has, of late, been quite heated around here.

In the past little while, I’ve been called quite a few uncomplimentary things. There have also been nasty comments posted about other commenters, public servants and aspiring public servants, and Roy, my friend and colleague.

That’s enough for now.

I often doubt myself, but I know this much: Roy and I work for the joy of it. We both enjoy writing for you, and occasionally we receive nice things like thank-you notes or compliments. But we’re not paid, and apart from the positivity, it’s a quiet business.

And the negativity has, of late—well— it’s been outweighing the positivity. Can I be blunt? It bugs the simple fuck out of me that you call me a bully, a racist, slavish, childish, hateful, rude, prejudging… things like that. I’ve had enough for now.

Roy is too good a man to even mention the things he has been called. Many of you, I’m sure, have also felt the sting of angry, trollish comments, and not mentioned it to me. I apologize.

Do I have a thin skin? Yes, I certainly do. But I know that I have the button that turns off the negativity. And, for now, I’m using it. If you want to be in touch, send me an email or—better—call me on the phone.




Mike Sullivan responds to the shootings on The Hill

InsideToronto has an interview with Mike Sullivan discussing the recent shootings at Parliament.

“We know little about what’s happening,” Sullivan said around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.

“We’re in a safe room now. Until we were moved to the safe room, we were in a room with windows. It was pretty tense. I’ve never been so terrified in my life.”

My endorsement for councillor

Let’s start with this: Frances Nunziata is an excellent retail politician. If you call her, she will call you back. If you need something done, she’ll get it done.

But Weston has been suffering under her watch. Stores along Weston Road are struggling. Transit is gasping. We seem to be in a constant state of construction and disruption, and our town is getting very little out of work that will benefit everyone but us. Something is wrong.

And though this is not entirely Nunziata’s fault (she did not invent the digital camera that killed Kodak), Nunziata’s politics are not helping.

Frances—can I call her Frances?—is part of Ford Nation. She believes in subways, cars, and low taxes. She believes in business, the little guy, public-private-partnerships, and small government. And these are good things. Except for Weston.

They’re not what Weston needs right now. Weston needs public infrastructure and public goods. These are things that increased taxes buy.

What kind of public goods? Things that will make Weston a more pleasant place to do business and a more delightful place to live. Off the top of my head:

  •  Childcare
    • A city-subsidized childcare would make this a more desirable neighbourhood for young couples. We used to have one.
  • Functioning, funded transit
    • Buses, buses, buses. Bus infrastructure. Express buses. Articulated buses. Decent bus shelters (why do we wait outside in the winter?)
  • Bike paths
    • Join the Humber gap, create safe bike infrastructure to get to the GO, and build a bike path along Wilson to join North York and Toronto.
    • Build a path south to the Junction and Bloor. It’s impossible to get there now by bike.
  • Public art
    • Work with the BIA to make Weston Road lovely again
  • Trees and parks
    •  Trees along Weston Road and Jane Streets would calm traffic and noise and create a nicer pedestrian environment
    • The dilapidated houses on Weston must be expropriated and demolished.
  • Indoor community spaces.
    • A YMCA would be great, but let’s start small. There are no community programs at schools in Weston. Why not? The Elms and Amesbury have them. Weston could too.

These require taxes, government, patience, and cooperation. These are not the beliefs of Ford Nation.

You might then think that Dory Chalhoub would be my endorsement.

He is not.

Calhoub has guts. He’s running on a shoestring budget against an entrenched opponent. He shows up, he campaigns, and he tries. And he ought, above all, to be commended for that. I salute him wholeheartedly for his noble, and Quixotic, campaign.

But I cannot endorse him.

While Chalhoub he has put himself forward as the person to fix the riding he, too, appears to be fiscally conservative, and as long as he thinks that we can fix our problems without working together—and that’s just another way of saying “taxes”—then he is mistaken.

He has no experience. Chalhoub says that every new candidate starts off without it. True. But other candidates prove themselves in the minor leagues before trying out for the majors: Chalhoub, as far as I know, has not been much involved in the riding, certainly not in Weston or Mount Dennis.

Dory—can I call him Dory?—also lacks vision. He did not respond to PositionPrimer or InsideToronto to give details about his platform. (Nunziata did.) Dory did not even disclose which mayoral candidate he would back—surely the shortest cut to a platform he could take. His website is incomplete (the links to his policy pages are broken), he has no social media, and even the photos on his website are clipart: in this beautiful town, he chose a picture from Hamilton to represent neighbourhood beauty.

If I didn’t know better, I’d say he’s running on a very simple platform: “Not Nunziata. But close.” The lack of policy could be intentional. Like staring at clouds, we can see what we want to.

Our choice, then, is between two unsatisfactory candidates, neither of whom seems to have a long-term vision for Weston.

I cannot endorse either.

Municipal Election Viewpoint

Voting will take place in a few days and the campaigns for Council and Mayor will soon be history. The endless campaigning has produced a few surprises, one of which was the collapse of the Olivia Chow campaign. Before nominations opened, the Mayor’s job was waiting for her and the campaign seemed a formality that would end with an inevitable coronation. At the end of last year, my wife and I saw Ms. Chow lose a crowd of ardent supporters after speaking for only a couple of minutes. As she rambled on, the crowd began to murmur and my wife (who has an annoying habit of being correct) confidently predicted that Ms. Chow’s charisma shortfall would result in an unsuccessful campaign. The collapse of support for Ms. Chow has disappointed many who are leery of John Tory and more particularly, Doug Ford. While Mr Tory is undoubtedly a decent man, his natural inclination leans towards business interests and his ideas on transit and transportation are poorly thought out. It seems likely he will win as the alternative spectre of Doug Ford makes a vote for Olivia too risky for many. The Provincial Liberals have committed themselves to implementing ranked balloting which will finally eliminate the need for strategic voting in the future. For now, John Tory is probably the safest candidate to choose.

In Ward 11, WestonWeb was despairing that any candidates would step forward to oppose longtime incumbent Frances Nunziata. Eventually a couple signed up, Jose Garcia and Dory Chalhoub. These two unknowns were seen as incredible long shots against the veteran of several successful campaigns stretching back decades. One candidate has used the long period of campaigning to his advantage; Dory Chaloub, whose confidence has grown as his talking points have resonated with voters. In particular, Mr Chaloub is articulate and has been able to connect the dismal state of the ward directly to the inability of Ms. Nunziata to lift York South-Weston out of its deep and decades-long malaise. In addition, Ms. Nunziata’s increased profile as Council Speaker has exposed her flaws to a wider audience. Although there is not much to choose from politically between the two, Mr. Chalhoub understands that York South-Weston needs change and is not stuck in denial about the status quo. He has a background in business and seems intelligent and assertive enough to deserve a chance. Ms. Nunziata sees no problems and therefore seeks no solutions. Her political ambitions lie in city hall; focussing on improving York South-Weston only gets in the way. It’s time for a change.

Star does not endorse Nunziata

The Toronto Star has endorsed Dory Chalhoub, not Frances Nunziata—although it is clear they seem him only as the better of two bads:

With almost 30 years in local politics, incumbent Frances Nunziata (open Frances Nunziata’s policard) has lingered far past her sell-by date. Painfully ineffective in recent years, she has been one of council’s most complacent Ford followers. Dory Chalhoub, a young entrepreneur, is energetic to the point of being brash. We disagree with some of his policies, such as his support for a casino, but this ward needs a dose of vitality. Chalhoub gets our nod.

Demolition started at SJTE

Demolition started last month at St John the Evangelist school. Workers have been tearing out the interior of the school, working primarily at the back.

Full demolition of the structure will happen some time in the next few weeks. A new, larger, improved school will be built—with luck and hard work—by the Fall of 2016.