Blair bamboozles Police Board

Watching Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair play the Police Services Board has been a lesson for Toronto Council as well as the citizens of Toronto. You don’t become Police Chief by being a nice guy. You do it through hard work and force of will. It doesn’t hurt that the Chief is a large man with an imposing presence.

Chief Blair was asked by Mayor Ford to reduce the police budget of $930 million by 10% ($93 Million). Chief Blair stonewalled and said it was impossible; a 1.5% increase was the best he could do and that a 10% cut would lead to over 900 layoffs. Board member Michael Thompson famously declared that Blair’s job was on the line and the Chief was asked by the Board to return to his calculator. They generously told him that he (alone of all city budgets) could spread the 10% cut over 2 years. Blair then pleaded his case directly to Rob Ford who wisely told him to deal with the Board.

Wednesday’s announcement of a huge arrest (timing is everything) made things easier for the chief and he offered to increase his budget by only 0.6%. The Board folded like a cheap suit although according to the Star, Councillors Thompson and Nunziata claim that the Chief has actually reduced his budget by 4.6% or $43 million. One can only hope that our councillor is simply putting on a brave face and that she’s not that easy to fool.

Either way, Police Services Board members were outsmarted by a superior tactician.

2 thoughts on “Blair bamboozles Police Board”

  1. Frances Nunziata would like you to know that she disagrees with us. She generously wrote us to explain her point of view:

    “At their meeting of October 20, 2011, the Police Services Board did not approve an increase in the police budget. The Board approved the Toronto Police Services’ 2012 net operating budget request of $936.3 million, which achieves 4.6% of the City’s 10% budget reduction target. While the 2011 Approved Budget for the Toronto Police Services was $906,201,900, the starting budget for 2012 was higher as a result of the salary settlements that were agreed upon in 2011. The 2012 estimated impact of all labour contract settlements, some of which have not yet been concluded, had to be included in the starting budget for 2012, effectively bringing the starting budget to $979.4M. Using this figure as the base budget, the budget of $936.3M which the Board approved is indeed 4.6% lower than the starting point.

    The Board has also recommended that the Chief of Police, in consultation with the Board, develop terms of reference to engage an external consultant to conduct an assessment of the Toronto Police Service to help identify opportunities for further budget reductions in 2013 to meet the remaining budget reduction target. The intent of such an assessment is to see whether there are organizational changes that can be made that will result in further cost savings. Some of the areas where the Chief and the Board found savings were: $500,000 for contracting out cleaning of police stations, 10 percent reduction in senior officer positions for a savings of $3 million, 10 percent reduction in premium pay for a savings of $5.8 million and other non salary items totalling a savings of $4.2 million.”

    Your humble correspondent would like to point out that Roy’s analysis accords with both the Globe and the Star, however.

  2. Departments across the city were instructed to bring in a budget that was 10% less than their 2011 operational budget.

    The Police budget for 2011 was $930.4 million.
    Their budget for 2012 will be $936.3 million.

    That’s an increase according to my calculator.

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