ShotSpotter is a misguided response.

Apparently this unfortunately named thing is an expensive, microphone-based technology designed to triangulate on the sound of gunfire and pinpoint its location. The company responsible admits that its technology is only about 80% accurate in identifying gunfire yet charges a hefty amount for the installation plus an annual monitoring fee of around $300,000 for a city the size of Toronto.

Microphones throughout the community. From YouTube.

Councillor Frances Nunziata, the newest member Toronto’s Police Board was quoted in the Toronto Star as saying, “We’re all fed up with gun violence” and, “It’s enough playing political games, we need to get this done”.  Ms Nunziata, in office since 1988 has herself played political games for decades by voting for low property taxes and against efforts to ease poverty. The results of the city’s collective failure to deal with poverty are becoming evident in Toronto’s recent surge in gun crime.

ShotSpotter is a technology that gets around the need to work with a community to report crime. Instead, it is imposed on them and treats a community as hostile by using the police as an occupying force.

Readers may be aware that Michael Tibollo, Ontario Minister of Community Safety has been heavily criticized for announcing that he donned a bulletproof vest and went on a Toronto Police night shift in the Jane / Finch area. (To their credit, Mayor Tory and Premier Ford chose to take the same excursion without the vests.) Not to be outdone, council self-promoter Giorgio Mammoliti got in on the act Friday, doing the same tour (Jane and Finch is in his ward) and seeking the protection of a vest. As of Saturday morning, there was no indication that the councillor had survived his ride-along. Mammoliti has been representing the people of Jane and Finch since 1995. Sadly, most of his efforts seem to go into self-promotion and erecting a giant flagpole rather than doing anything to help constituents.

The new minister and veteran Councillors Nunziata and  Mammoliti ignore the fact that hundreds of thousands of people live and work in areas like Jane and Finch every day of the year yet have no protection from crimes and other dangerous random events. Minister Tibollo’s accusers have called him a racist but his ignorance of community safety issues does not bode well either.

As for ShotSpotter – it’s something that will allow the Police Board to say that they have done something but it’s largely ineffective. What is needed from our short sighted Police Board and Council, is money spent on citizen outreach so that police aren’t seen as an occupying force but rather the arm of every community in this city. That’s what will achieve results, not gimmickry. We also need money consistently spent on fixing public housing and anti-poverty programs, not one-time reactions to perceived crime waves.

Incidentally, ShotSpotter is listed on the Nasdaq exchange and its price has risen more than 54% in less than two months. Coincidence? With North America’s fourth largest city about to sign up, you be the judge. Let’s hope that decision-makers holding the stock have declared a conflict of interest.


Nunziata apologizes to Mammoliti

Our councillor Frances Nunziata occupies the speaker’s chair during council meetings. It’s a lot of work. Things sometimes get testy and having to deal with the effervescent streams of consciousness mouthed by neighbouring councillor Giorgio Mammoliti is no easy task.

Last week the two had an exchange and the result is interesting. Watch Ms. Nunziata call out Mammo and tell him to keep his mouth shut. After some reflection, kindred spirit, Councillor Jim Karygiannis then leaps to Mammoliti’s defence.

After that, watch Mayor Tory coach Councillor Nunziata into an apology. It takes some persistence on his part but eventually the mayor’s lip synching gets through and a grudging apology is issued.

Watch the sorry spectacle unfold here.


Nunziata Spanks Ford.

After four years of being accused of being too gentle with the rambunctious Mayor Rob Ford, today Council speaker and our councillor, Frances Nunziata finally tossed (now Councillor) Ford from the council chamber. Ford’s sin was to make unwarranted accusations against defenceless members of council staff. Regardless, he stamped his feet and insisted on a council vote before he could be persuaded to take the hint. Kindred spirit Giorgio Mammoliti exiled himself in sympathy as Ford left the chamber.

Ever the master of the put down, Mammoliti declared afterwards that ‘Nunziata should get off her high horse and start riding a donkey for a while’.

While it’s unclear what Councillor Mammolliti was referring to, the rest of us can only hope that she heeds the advice and continues to ride both donkeys.

Cityslkir slams ‘Queen Frances’

If you ever get a chance to watch Cable 10’s live broadcasts or webcasts of Toronto City Council meetings, you’re in for quite an interesting time. This is where politics, personalties and dogma come together to exchange verbal blows and while the result isn’t pretty, it’s compulsive viewing for political junkies. It’s also a chance to view our councillor, Frances Nunziata in her other main role as Council Speaker.

Toronto blogger Cityslikr has written a scathing indictment of Councillor Frances Nunziata’s performance in this other role. Cityslikr puts our councillor’s performance right up there with the antics of wildly controversial Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, both tireless, partisan defenders of Mayor Rob Ford and his team. According to Cityslikr,

Hectoring, nakedly partisan, she has maintained the fractious, contentious tone bestowed on council chambers by Don Cherry in his inaugural address.

Read the full article here.