Archive for April, 2012

A Thank-You Note from Mayor Rob Ford

- April 28th, 2012

Mayor Rob Ford and the Pothole

Mayor Rob Ford fills a pothole on Hwy. 27 Friday (Don Peat/Toronto Sun)

News of the city’s $292 million 2011 budget surplus leaked out Friday. The number is big, way bigger than city staff estimated (story here).

Ahead of the number officially coming out Monday, Mayor Rob Ford sent a rare Thank-You e-mail out to all city staff.

Here’s how Ford says thanks:

 

This message is being sent on behalf of Mayor Rob Ford.

 

Managers/supervisors please print and share this message with staff who do not have access to a computer.

 

***

I want to take this opportunity to thank each of you for your extremely hard work and dedication to getting our City’s finances back on track.

 

When I first took office almost 18 months ago, we set out to fix our government’s fiscal foundation.  Through the last two budget cycles, the Core Service Review and the service efficiency reviews, you have worked diligently to find savings.  You looked for and found new ways of delivering benefits to Toronto residents efficiently and effectively.  You demonstrated a commitment to improving customer service and are following through on that commitment.  The directions given by the City Manager and the Chief Financial Officer have been demanding.  I know that each of you have put in countless hours of hard work to meet those demands.

 

The 2011 year-end financials that will become public on Monday make it crystal clear that your hard work has paid off to benefit all who live and do business in this great city.  The hundreds of millions of dollars in permanent and sustainable savings that were realized in the 2012 Budget is a direct result of your tireless efforts throughout 2011 to contain costs while providing quality benefits to the residents of Toronto.

 

The people of Toronto elected me to fix Toronto’s fiscal foundation and I want to thank you for helping to achieve that goal with me.  While the work is not quite done yet, we are closer today than ever before.  We can begin to build on that fiscal foundation to improve the lives of every resident and make Toronto the best city in the world to live, play, work and invest.

 

On behalf of City Council, please accept my sincere appreciation for a job well done.

 

Yours truly,

 

Mayor Rob Ford

City of Toronto

Memo to TTC workers: Andy’s Angry

- April 27th, 2012

TTC CEO Andy Byford (Toronto Sun files)

In the wake of several embarassing incidents of TTC employees behaving badly, TTC CEO Andy Byford  sent a stern message to workers Friday morning.

Here’s a copy of Byford’s letter:

Restoring the Public’s Faith in a Safe TTC

Dear Colleagues,

As you know, the TTC’s image and by extension, our reputation as TTC employees, is once again the subject of intense scrutiny and severe criticism by the media and the traveling public.

To be frank, we can’t complain. In recent days, photos and videos have emerged of staff asleep on the job, texting or appearing to read a newspaper while operating a vehicle, and parking illegally to get a snack. As your CEO, I cannot and will not defend such incidents. Such behaviours are not only unacceptable, they lead to even more scrutiny and potential for assault.

In my time here, I have gone on record as saying how much I respect what front line staff do and how 99 per cent of you do a great job. That remains the case and I will continue to publicly back you.

But a small minority of staff continue to wreck all of our reputations. To them I say: I will not back you, in fact I will expect you to face the consequences of your actions, especially if you put customers’ safety at risk.

Between us, we can transform our company’s reputation and stop this ongoing criticism of what we do. But we can only do this if everyone does their job professionally.

So I have given my managers clear direction: back staff to the hilt that do the right thing or who make an honest mistake. But to those few that choose to ignore safety rules or who recklessly make things worse for their colleagues by their actions, expect to be held to account.

I am convinced we can change this situation and transform everyone’s perceptions of the TTC. Please heed this advice.

Andy Byford
Chief Executive Officer

Mayor Rob Ford’s “Key Message” on the Return of Transit City

- April 26th, 2012


Mayor Rob Ford outside Toronto City Hall (Toronto Sun files)

Wednesday was a big day for transit in the City of Toronto.

Metrolinx voted (again) to approve the construction of four light rail lines across the city, essentially reviving the Transit City plan Mayor Rob Ford killed on Day 1 in the Year of Our Ford.

Councillor Doug Ford came out swinging. He called Metrolinx’s decision part of a renewed “war on cars” mentality raging across Hogtown (story here).

The mayor didn’t speak publicly on the transit decision Wednesday but his office did send out a “key message” to executive committee councillors. The missive provides some insight into how Mayor Ford will come out dealing with the transit decision that buries his dream (and 2010 election promise) of a subway to Scarborough.

Here’s the full text of the e-mail the mayor’s office sent out to councillors in Ford’s inner circle:

Key Message:

We fully support the Metrolinx recommendation to use Infrastructure Ontario as the lead procurement agency for transit expansion in Toronto.

Background:

Yesterday Metrolinx staff released it’s briefing package (attached) which will be presented to its Board of Directors for approval today. In short, the Metrolinx staff recommendations are:

Move forward with all four LRT lines as envisaged under Transit City:  Eglinton, Scarborough RT replacement, Sheppard and Finch.  Stage the construction as follows:  Eglinton and SRT replacement first, followed by Sheppard and Finch to be completed before 2020.  Procurement on Sheppard would begin with a Request for Qualification issued at year-end 2012, with an RFP issued mid 2013 for closing mid 2014, construction completion by end 2018.  For Finch: RFQ end 2013; RFP out mid 2014 closing mid 2015; construction complete by mid 2019.

Use Infrastructure Ontario (P3 model) on all projects to reduce costs and increase on-time, on-budget certainty.  This means TTC will not be used as the procurement/construction agency, although Metrolinx will continue to work in close cooperation with TTC to ensure the end system is fully integrated and interoperable.

The recommendation, if approved by the Metrolinx board today will go to Cabinet for a final decision.

Talking Points:
•    We fully support the use of Infrastructure Ontario as the primary procurement agency for the province’s transit projects in Toronto.  This will help control costs and maximize efficiency.
•    Moving forward, the TTC should focus on delivering operational and customer service excellence – and not on capital infrastructure planning and construction.
•    The decision to move forward with LRT technology on Finch and Sheppard is the Premier’s to make.
•    If the Premier decides to adopt the Metrolinx recommendations, we will ask Metrolinx to design and build the lines with maximum grade separation and weather protection – this will help increase the speed and ridership of the transit line and minimize the negative impact on Toronto’s already horrible road congestion.
•    The Mayor will continue to push for subways to form the backbone of Toronto’s future plans for rapid transit expansion.

OFFICE OF THE MAYOR

Mayor Ford’s Four Priorities:
1 Customer Service Excellence
2 Transparent & Accountable Government
3 Reduced Cost and Size of Government
4 Transportation City

 

“Lettuce” prepare for a media circus

- April 12th, 2012

PETA's Lettuce Ladies (photo by David Snyder) CVDL photo 4

These are some of PETA’s Lettuce Ladies (photo by David Snyder and courtesy of PETA)

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is warning that its “Lettuce Ladies” will be coming to Mayor Rob Ford’s weigh-in next week.

Although Ford’s Cut the Waist Challenge weigh-ins are often a media spectacle, women wearing vegetable bikinis will definitely turn it into a full-fledged media circus (story here).

Here’s PETA’s letter to Ford sent on Wednesday:

April 11, 2012

The Honorable Rob Ford
Mayor
City of Toronto

Via e-mail: mayor_ford@toronto.ca

Dear Mayor Ford,

Greetings from PETA. We heard that you’ve stopped dropping the pounds at your weekly weigh-ins, so we’re writing to offer some help. Since going vegetarian has helped keep countless Canadians in great shape, including Shania Twain, Bryan Adams, and Pamela Anderson, we’d like to send our “Lettuce Ladies” to dish out delicious vegan food at your next weigh-in. This dynamic duo makes appearances all over-clad only in lettuce bikinis-to offer food for thought on this easy way to keep slim and fit.

Two-thirds of dieters gain back all the weight that they’ve lost within a year, and 97 percent gain it back within five years, but going vegan is a proven way to scale back the pounds and keep them off for more than a year. Meat, eggs, and dairy products are loaded with cholesterol and saturated fat, but plant products, on the other hand, have no cholesterol at all. Vegans weigh, on average, 18 percent less than their flesh-eating counterparts. Plant-based foods aren’t just good for your waistline-they’re good for your overall health, too. Three of the country’s top killers-heart disease, cancer, and strokes-are all preventable by going vegan.

Every vegan also saves more than 100 animals per year, and it’s easier than ever with an array of vegan options, from veggie dogs to barbecue foods, available at major grocery stores and restaurants around the country. We know you’ll enjoy the vegan treats from our Lettuce Ladies next Monday, and we hope you’ll consider dumping the animal products from your diet for good-we guarantee your body will thank you!

Sincerely,

Laura Wilson
Campaign Coordinator
PETA

Councillor Vaughan won’t bet on a casino

- April 4th, 2012

Councillor Adam Vaughan

Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina Councillor Adam Vaughan (Photo by Mark Tarnovetsky/Toronto Sun)

Councillor Adam Vaughan has made no secret of his opposition to a casino in Toronto.

As the topic of a Hogtown casino flared up again today with Mayor Rob Ford voicing his support for the idea, Vaughan came out swinging, stressing Toronto doesn’t want a casino.

Here’s Vaughan in his own words:

“We don’t want it, we don’t want it downtown, we don’t want it in the city and we don’t want it on the waterfront.

“I’m not interested in turning my city into a casino at the expense of every small business, every restaurant, every bar, every entertainment facility. I’m not willing to gut the local economy to make some multi-national rich and the province a little better off while the city is left to deal with the bankrupt businesses, the street crime and the broken souls.

“It is just not the way to build a modern city and any part of the world you go to where there is a casino, you have a dead neighbourhood. I’m not killing any neighbourhood in Toronto.

“And I will stand up to the province, the mayor or anyone else who thinks casinos are a good idea.”

Anyone smell a 2014 election issue?