Padovani announces she’ll run

Chiara Padovani told The Star that she will run again in the next municipal election.

Padovani came in third in 2018 with a very strong showing against the two incumbents, Frances Nunziata and Frank Di Giorgio. She received 20% of the vote. Since the election she has remained very active in the community as a tenant organizer, among other activities.

The next election will be October 24, 2022.

Spring clean-ups

Perhaps I’m cynical but why are we annually guilt-tripped into participating in spring clean-ups? Yes, there’s garbage everywhere after a long winter but why should individual citizens feel responsible for the littering idiots and their corporate accomplices? After all, we are the (seemingly rare) ones who do put things in the trash.

This is not to disparage the wonderful people who spend time willingly to remove the foul detritus festering since November. I salute these rare and lovely citizens. Unfortunately, the question must be asked, does citizen participation contribute to the problem? Does the annual clean-up reduce the pressure to provide adequate park maintenance budgets and appropriate staffing? Does our free labour contribute to the further decline of our once pristine streets and magnificent park system?

I believe it does.

What makes up the litter in our parks and streets? A non-scientific survey indicates that coffee cups, water bottles, food containers, plastic bags and wrappers, beverage cans and cigarette butts are the main offenders. Despite this, few companies feel responsible for the garbage that proudly bears their logo – not to mention the cost of collection and disposal. That’s where governments are supposed to help. In Europe they’re working on banning single use plastics.

Toronto has no power to do that but Mayor Tory and council should apply more pressure on other levels of government. Council should also spend more on litter collection.

Nunziata acclaimed as Speaker.

Council Frances Nunziata thanks colleagues for her unanimous acclamation as Speaker at today’s city council meeting.

At today’s brief session of Toronto City Council, Frances Nunziata was the only nominee as Speaker and she was elected unanimously by her colleagues in a recorded vote. Similarly, Councillor Shelley Carroll was also the sole nominee and unanimous choice for Deputy Speaker.

Some random observations from today’s opening session:

Council opened with an acknowledgement that Treaty 13 granted settlement rights over the land that covers Toronto and lands to the north. The money paid for the quarter of a million acres or so? Ten shillings (nowadays 50p or 84 cents). Even taking inflation into account it’s less than $40.

Only four new councillors were elected in Toronto’s 25 wards.

Councillor Jim Karygiannis is a very tall man.

Mayor John Tory seemed to be nursing a bad back as he walked into the ceremony with some difficulty. In his opening day speech he mentioned:

  • We don’t need to be divisive to do our job – possibly a dig at the Premier.
  • Toronto is Ontario’s financial engine – a message for both the Premier and Prime Minister
  • We need to keep taxes low and spend money carefully  – more austerity coming
  • Land transfer tax revenues are falling – more austerity coming
  • Toronto needs to be a more liveable city (whatever that means).

Everyone was on their best behaviour today with lots of hugs, handshakes and nice words. We’ll see how long that lasts with the new, smaller and more intimate Council.

Toronto City Council kick-off tomorrow.

Tomorrow will be like the start of a new school year in Toronto’s council chambers. All 25 councillors and Mayor Tory will be present, freshly scrubbed and on their best behaviour to begin a new four-year term. This will mark the beginning of the new Ford-imposed slimline Council – according to Doug; fewer councillors means better government.

Work-wise, it will be a fairly light day that doesn’t officially get under way until 2:00 pm. The first order of business will be to formally introduce the Mayor and Councillors to the public and then they will recite the Declaration of Office.

Mayor Tory will then address Council and deliver a pep talk designed to motivate council. Tomorrow’s other important task will also set the tone of council meetings for the next four years. The mayor and councillors will elect a Speaker and Deputy who between them will adjudicate over Council’s affairs. According to the City website, the Speaker:

presides over meetings of Toronto City Council in place of the Mayor, although the Mayor may take the chair at any time he desires.

Unlike the Speakers of the provincial and federal legislatures, the City Council Speaker has no additional duties beyond presiding over meetings.

While most Ontario municipal councils are chaired by a Mayor, Warden or Reeve, the City of Toronto adopted a Speaker in 2006 on the recommendation of an expert governance panel. Having a Speaker chair meetings allows the Mayor to participate more freely in debate without worrying about the additional duties of running the meeting.

The selection of a speaker will be an open vote among the 26 council members. Ward 5 (formerly Ward 11) Councillor Francis Nunziata has held this post since 2010 and it will be interesting to see if she:

(a) still wants the job, or

(b) will be re-elected, or

(c) if a new candidate(s) will emerge.

In the past, the job has been a major chore thanks to the (then) larger council and the antics of a few whom Speaker Nunziata found particularly hard to rein in (the Ford brothers and Giorgio Mammoliti come to mind).

Tomorrow’s fun begins at 2:00 pm. To watch the action, tune in here.

It’s back to Ward 11 – for now.

From the Toronto Star.

Premier Doug Ford’s surprise re-alignment of city wards from 47 to 25 seats has been kicked into touch by a Superior Court judge this morning after a challenge by a group of concerned citizens. The judge cited the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and called  his legislation unconstitutional. He made it clear that Ford’s actions were unjustifiable. No doubt Mr. Ford will be railing at ‘elite’ judges this morning but he now finds himself in a serious quagmire with his latest legal setback. If he doesn’t appeal, there’s just enough time for the election to go ahead with 47 seats instead of Ford’s 25 that would have matched provincial ridings. These 47 seats were the result of much consultation and expense to better reflect increased populations in the downtown core. The 47 seat count is likely to produce several more left-wing councillors as downtowners tend to vote in that direction.

If Ford appeals, either the October 22 poll date will have to be delayed – a decision will take weeks – or we’ll keep the original date and hold a 25-seat election. Either way, an appeal will be a disruptive and constitutionally risky event.

What’s a premier to do? My guess is that he will forego the appeal but ask his lawyers to look for ways to sideline Council’s future decisions. One idea already floated is to expropriate important City assets such as our subway system.

Locally, Ward 11 Councillor Frances Nunziata will not be facing Ward 12’s Frank Di Giorgio and Ms. Nunziata’s main challenger, Chiara Padovani will now be able to focus her finances and resources on our section of York South-Weston.  On the other side of the water, in Greater Weston™, it’s back to being in Ward 2, most likely represented by (barring an apocalyctic event)  Premier Ford’s nephew Mike.

Possible flooding solution rejected in 2017.

A man walks under Weston’s Lawrence Avenue bridge the day after the floods of July 2013 (file).

One of the problems of living in a big city is that much of the surface is paved over. When it rains, water drains quickly and can raise river and stream levels as well as create flooding in low lying areas. The solution is well known. Plant trees, build green roofs and where possible create temporary holding tanks for sudden water flows. To pay for this, staff last year proposed charging homeowners for the amount of non-absorbing roof and parking surface on their property. These are the people creating the problem so it’s fair that they should help pay for the solution. When Toronto’s Executive Committee considered the matter, following the Mayor’s direction, they recommended voting against the charges.

Councillor Nunziata voted with the mayor when the matter came to a full meeting of council but today has issued a helpful email itemizing what to do if your basement floods. That will be of small comfort to the many people whose lives have been disrupted yet again.

Running a big city costs money. Without a mayor and council with the courage to do the right thing, ordinary people are left to suffer the consequences. Charging people for the runoff they create would encourage a reduction in stormwater runoff and help pay for larger-scale flood prevention measures.

Instead of following staff recommendations, Mayor Tory and Councillors Mammoliti, Nunziata and others seemed place their trust in the short memory of voters, believing their re-election chances are more important than flooded basements. Kindred spirit Giorgio Mammoliti framed the charge as a ‘roof tax’ that would not play well in the suburbs.

Are voters really that stupid?

Nunziata challenged to refuse corporate and developer donations

It’s well known that a small number of people finance the election campaigns of most councillors in this city, especially incumbents. In Ward 12, much of this money comes from outside the ward and is no doubt given in expectation of future considerations. Brave are candidates who refuse such money as it’s harder to collect small amounts from a larger number of people.

Strictly speaking, only individuals can donate to a councillor’s election campaign and the cap on such donations is $750. In effect though, wealthy business owners can exert an undue influence as very few people can afford to donate so generously – even with the rebates that the city gives to donors. Toronto keeps track of complete donation lists on this website.

Here is a list of $400+ and/or well known donors to Councillor Nunziata‘s 2014 campaign. Few of these people lived in the ward the time and in fact more than a third of her donors didn’t even live in Toronto. Ward 11 residents are marked in blue.

  • Constantine Alexiou, (Ward 11), $600
  • Palvinder Aujla, (Mississauga) $750
  • Pritpal Aujla, (Mississauga) $750
  • Alex  Bela, (Richmond Hill) and Jack Matrosov (North York) $2000 – Checker Taxi
  • Maurizio Bicci, (Ward 17) $400
  • Gloria Bielak, (Forest Hill) $750 – St Helens Meat Packers
  • Adam Brown, (Yonge/Sheppard) $500
  • Roslyn Brown, (Downtown Toronto) $750
  • Fran Caplan, (York Mills / Yonge) $400
  • Frank Caruana, (Mississauga) $500
  • Paul Caruana, (Junction) $400
  • Chau Yan-Thoai, (Etobicoke) $400
  • Carlo Corsetti, (Richmond Hill) $400
  • Ettore Corsetti, (Newmarket) $400
  • Patrick Corsetti (East Guillimbury) $400
  • Manuel DaCosta, (King City) $750
  • Debra DeMonte (High Park) $400
  • Rueben Devlin, (North York) $200 – Former President & CEO Humber River Hospital
  • Robert Deluce, (Summerhill) $300 – President of Porter Airlines – Donated $3930 to 10 candidates (Holyday, Colle, Minnan Wong, Kelly Crisanti), 8 of whom won.
  • Sean Didierserre, (Forest Hill) $600
  • Thomas Erlich, (St Clair East / Mount Pleasant Road) $600
  • Bob Foley, (Ward 11) $400
  • Karla Ford, (Etobicoke) $750 – Doug Ford’s Wife
  • Masum Hossein (Mississauga) $200 – Weston BIA Chair
  • Gabriella Galli, (Ward 11) $400
  • Mitchell Goldhar, (North York) $350 – SmartCentres Real Estate Income Trust. Donated a total of $3300 to 9 candidates, all of whom won.
  • Khalid Irshad, (Milton) $400
  • Cameron Johnstone, (Georgetown) $600
  • John Johnstone, (Ancaster) $400
  • Jose Lourenco, (Davenport / Dufferin) $750
  • Terry Mantzukis, (Ward 11) Realtor $400
  • Alex Matrosov (Richmond Hill) Wheelchair Taxi business $750
  • Bela Matrosov (Richmond Hill) $750
  • Pina Morelli, (Woodbridge) $750
  • Holly Murdoch (Mississauga) $400
  • Tim Neeb (Mississauga) $400
  • Aleksander Nikolovski, (Eglinton / Spadina) $400
  • Frances Nunziata, $20
  • Frances Nunziata, $1613.42 – Signs and office supplies from previous campaign
  • Cormac O’Muiri, (Mississauga) $500
  • David Paiva, (Dufferin / Dupont) Luso Canadian Masonry Ltd. $750
  • Matthew Pantalone, (Etobicoke) $750 – Developer
  • Pat Pelosi, (Woodbridge) $750
  • George Politis, (Bolton) $400
  • Frank Raso, (Etobicoke) $400
  • John Ruddy, (Gloucester, ON) $750 Ottawa developer
  • Dero Sabatini, (Etobicoke) $400 Mississauga – TD Bank VP
  • Marvin Sadowski, (North York) $500 – Former Developer?
  • Stacey Scher, (Aurora) $600  – All Canadian Self Storage
  • Bruno Schickedanz, (Kettleby, ON) $750 – Developer and Woodbine horse owner
  • Conrad Schickedanz, (North York) $250 – Developer
  • Tony Scianitti, (Maple) $750 – Developer
  • George Seretis, (Thornhill) $400 – Easy Plastic Containers Vaughan
  • Darryl Simsovic, (Oakville) $400 CEO – Trillium College (Private career college)
  • Marcel Stirpe, (Woodbridge) $200 Toronto Chrysler
  • Paul Sutherland, (Grafton ON), $200, Former Toronto Councillor, now lobbyist. Involved in TPA Emery Village land purchase.
  • Tim Tallon, (Etobicoke) $400
  • Alan Tonks, (North York) $200 – Former YSW MP
  • Chris Tonks, (North York) $300 – TDSB Trustee
  • Alan Tregebov, (Deer Park) $200 – Architect
  • Steven Upton, (East Toronto) $600 – Tridel
  • Lou Vavaroustos,  (Woodbridge) $750 – Old Mill Cadillac
  • Susan Vavaroutsos, (Woodbridge) $750
  • John Ward, (Etobicoke) $500 – Ward Funeral Home
  • Jack Winberg, (North York) – $200 – Weston Hub Developer
  • Hua Yang, (Downtown Toronto) – $500
  • Don Yuill, (Ward 11) $500

Oddly, none of Ms Nunziata’s 135 donors donated less than $200.

The generous rebates offered to donors – even those living outside the city.

Chiara Padovani is  running against Councillor Nunziata (and if Doug Ford has his way, Ward 12 Councillor Frank DiGiorgio). She has stated that she will not accept donations from any business interests including developers.

One can ask if this is a strategic mistake that will hamstring Ms Padovani’s campaign or will voters choose to reward a candidate who does things differently?