Income inequality linked to crime.

From Bizarro.com

Here in Weston / Mount Dennis, a significant percentage of our population earns less than the average Toronto resident. In addition, we have more single parent households (30%, compared to the Toronto average of 21%).

How can these statistics be improved? Gentrification is often thought to be the answer. Unfortunately it can force low income people out through higher rents and property prices. This is happening across Toronto and simply shifts the problem to other areas. It does nothing to help people – in fact by forcing them to move, their lives are further disrupted. A better and more humane way is to support individuals so that they can pull themselves out of poverty. It also benefits society as a whole.

A review of studies in 2013 concluded that:

a decrease in income inequality is associated with sizeable reduction in crime. It is evident that a focus on reducing income inequality can be advantageous to reducing property crime, robbery, homicide and murder…

One of the problems with studies and facts is that sometimes they don’t fit the popular narrative. Some politicians find it much easier to blame the victims of poverty as being the cause of their own misfortune. They also look down on efforts to help the poor. Rob Ford’s famous ‘Hug a thug’ comment was made to justify his council vote against participating in a federal gang intervention project.

Should we expect politicians to look for ways to lower poverty? For example, raise the minimum wage so that people can earn a living wage. As of last month, the minimum wage became $14.00 and will become $15.00 next January. Without wishing to impugn the Premier’s motives, we may have to thank an election year and her attempt to outflank the NDP for that move. In general though, it makes sense to lower inequality as it has the potential to improve everyone’s quality of life.

How else can politicians reduce inequality? They should be spending more on:

  • education
  • public housing,
  • transit
  • bike lanes
  • social services
  • libraries
  • parks
  • addiction support
  • homelessness.

Why should we support this? Another recent study has shown that increasing social spending has a more positive impact on longevity and general health than increasing health care spending.

With the provincial and civic elections coming up in June and October, politicians will be courting our vote through some blunt platforms. There will be some who will promise to reduce spending, find efficiencies and cut taxes. They will talk about taxpayers rather than citizens. They will promise to keep property taxes at or below the level of inflation and reduce income taxes – in effect forcing a funding shortage since costs are always rising. Beware of these people – they have caused our current crises through:

  • A constant focus on austerity
  • Inadequate spending on public housing and repairs
  • Opposing anti-poverty initiatives
  • Prioritizing cars over pedestrians, bicycles and public transit
  • Diversion of money to dogma / re-election driven transportation issues (e.g. Scarborough subway, Gardiner extension).
  • Refusing to adequately subsidize public transportation (Toronto’s subsidy is .78 per ride compared to $1.03 in New York or $2.21 in Mississauga).

In other words, their platform is designed to increase income inequality and therefore higher crime and lower quality of life.

Thinking citizens don’t mind paying taxes because they see the bigger picture. The siren call of lower taxes is a tempting one and popular with unscrupulous politicians. Unfortunately the effects aren’t pretty.

Incidentally, everyone in Canada is a taxpayer. Perhaps politicians should talk about citizens instead.

Mount Dennis sees a bright future

An artist impression of the future Mount Dennis Station at 3500 Eglinton Avenue West.

Just as the UP Express is beginning to make a difference in Weston, according to an Inside Toronto article, people in Mount Dennis are anticipating a boost to their area as a result of the Eglinton Crosstown and the new Mount Dennis Station. The 19 km line with a 10 km underground stretch between Keele and Laird is set to open in 2021 after ten years of construction.

Incidentally, without former Premier Mike Harris, we could be riding a different version of the line today. This is a map of the subway line that Harris buried (and not in a good way) in 1995.

The subway line that we could be riding today if Mike Harris hadn’t killed it in 1995.

The Eglinton West Line would have run from Eglinton West Station all the way to Renforth along a right of way that had been reserved for the Richview Expressway (killed in the 1970s). Sadly, the Eglinton road allowance was sold for small change by Rob Ford in 2010 but nobody thought to tell John Tory as he was putting crayon to napkin for his SmartTrack plan. The allowance is now being filled in with some spectacularly awful townhomes.

Gratuitous side note: right wing politicians claim to be able to lower costs but their penny wise antics often end up costing us more in the end.

The latest iteration of an Eglinton line.

The new Mount Dennis Station will adapt the old Kodak Recreation Building and will be part of a transportation hub connecting with buses and the UP Express lines. Let’s hope that combined with the end of the vacant property rebate, the new transportation infrastructure will actually breathe fresh life into the area.

Mayor Tory gets on board

From the mayor’s Twitter account.

Today’s announcement from the mayor (standing behind what looks like a sign recycled from a Rob Ford presser) is to the effect that empty stores should not continue to receive a property tax rebate.

Here at Weston Web, we are grateful that the mayor has obviously been using our search feature and reading back issues. We pointed out the unfairness of this tax situation back in 2013.

Hopefully, hizonner will check through Weston Web for more hints on how to do things better in Toronto. Perhaps that will help boost his dismal 55% popularity rating.

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.

Doug Ford campaigns in Weston

Doug Ford made his first campaign stop at a fundraiser for the local Frontlines organization, according to John Nunziata. Ford is a close ally of the Nunziatas—who are both running for city councillor seats.

Frances Nunziata endorsed Rob Ford in the last municipal election, and Ford nominated her for council Speaker.

This time around, Frances Nunziata has not (yet?) endorsed a mayoral candidate. (She did not respond to my request for comment.) Last night, however, she campaigned with Doug Ford and her brother in Ward 12.

(From L to R) John Nunziata, Doug Ford, someone I don’t know, and Frances Nunziata

Thanks to Melissa for the tip.

 

 

Ford endorses Nunziata

Mayor Rob Ford no longer has his radio show, or television show, or the support of the “biased media”¹, but he’s never allowed a little thing like support to stop him from doing whatever the id demands. So now he and his brother have taken to “the YouTube” (Doug’s words), to communicate their idea directly to their supporter.²

This week, the Fords released six videos. In one of them, Rob Ford lists the councillors he wants defeated—and the ones he thinks shouldn’t be. Frances Nunziata, our councillor, makes his short list of core supporters: she is one of only four he thinks deserves reëlection.

—————————

¹ These are Doug’s words. I know you know, but the “biased media” argument is the last refuge of a nutter. We’re witnessing the final thrashings of a man dragged into the light. Look at the backdrop of the video. It’s a wrinkly vinyl sign. My god; it’s Shakespeare. Ford had to hide under a vinyl sign in his final days—it is his family standard and his father’s blanket.  Listen to the video. They sound like they’re far away and echoey. Ford Nation is produced by Wayne’s World local access cable—if Wayne were bereft of wit and irony.

² Sons should call their mothers.

Nunziata defends November 18th Ford vote.

On November 15, and November 18th Toronto City Council voted to limit Mayor Rob Ford’s power.

On the 15th, council voted to take away his power to appoint members of the Executive Committee (similar to cabinet positions). That power was given to Deputy Mayor, Norm Kelly. Councillor Nunziata supported this move.

On the 18th council voted to cut the Mayor’s budget, remove his power to set the legislative agenda and remove his ability to fill vacancies of the civic appointments committee. Councillor Nunziata did not support this move.

In a statement, Councillor Nunziata defends her vote to support the mayor on the 18th. She likens the decision to one she made in the glory days of 1990, when she blew the whistle on corruption in the City of York.  Her main argument is as follows

I believe that removing the powers of a Mayor who was duly elected, whether we like him or not, is undemocratic.

Unfortunately, this ‘respect for democracy’ is inconsistent with her vote on the 15th November to remove Ford’s power to appoint Executive Committee members.

While Councillor Nunziata seems to be sucking and blowing at the same time, at least she voted; unlike the endlessly amusing Giorgio Mammoliti who abstained on both days.

Let’s hope the councillor in her role as Speaker can do a better job of reining in the Ford boys and their antics in the next few months.