Archive for May, 2012

Exclusive: Toronto’s CFO retiring

- May 31st, 2012

Cam Weldon

Cam Weldon, City of Toronto Chief Financial Officer (Toronto Sun files)

The city’s top finance bureaucrat is retiring.

Cam Weldon, the City of Toronto’s chief financial officer and deputy city manager, is calling it quits.

Sources tell the Sun a formal announcement about Weldon’s coming retirement will go out Friday.

Weldon was appointed to his current position back in February 2009 after serving as acting deputy city manager and chief financial officer from October 2008.

He’s been working for the city since 2003. Weldon started as the director of accounting services and became city treasurer in 2005.

When he was appointed to CFO in 2009, then-mayor David Miller described Weldon as an “experienced City of Toronto financial manager.”

Mayor Rob Ford has also been complimentary of Weldon’s performance through the last two city budgets.

Before he arrived at the City of Toronto, Weldon spent 20 years at the Regional Municipality of Halton.

Weight-loss battles run in the Ford family

- May 29th, 2012

Mayor Rob Ford and Councillor Doug ford

Councillor Doug Ford shows off his pipes with Mayor Rob Ford in the NEWSTALK 1010 studios on Sunday (Michael Peake, Toronto Sun)

Weight-loss challenges are a Ford family tradition.

Councillor Doug Ford used to challenge his dad, Doug Ford Sr., to bulge battles periodically.

“I won $2,500 off him once,” Ford recalled Tuesday.

The two competed to see who could lose the most weight. When he took the $2,500 prize, Ford lost around 50 pounds.

As one Ford family friend tells the story, Ford’s mom Diane would often take Doug Sr. out for a restaurant meal if he was poised to beat Doug Jr. in the cutting the fat contest.

Ford said his dad, a former PC MPP, always blamed his mom for his weight-loss losses.

“It wasn’t her, it was him,” he laughed.

Councillor Ford is likely poised to win another family weight-loss contest in June – Mayor Rob Ford’s Cut the Waist campaign.

Although Mayor Ford admitted he’s off his diet and will try to lose weight in a more private format going forward, Councillor Ford says he’s still on track to meet his own weight-loss goal of 50 pounds by June 18.

The Etobicoke councillor has around 21 days to lose 18 pounds.

“I’m doing it,” Ford predicted.

“Sometimes he just can’t get the job done” Fletcher weighs in on Mayor Ford

- May 29th, 2012

Paula Fletcher

Councillor Paula Fletcher tied Mayor Rob Ford’s weight-loss campaign starting/failing/quitting/non-quitting/fizzling fit into a larger pattern emerging during his time in office where “sometimes he just can’t get the job done.”

“There a number of things he has not been able to do and this is another one,” Fletcher said Monday as confusion reigned over whether Ford had officially quit his diet (see story here). “He has to give up on this (weight-loss campaign), it has proven to be too much for him. He couldn’t manage it. He made a big promise and he can’t manage it.”

Ford vowed back in January to lose 50 pounds by June, a goal that Fletcher said was unrealistic.

“I’m just worried we kind of lurch from thing to thing and he lurched on this one and it just didn’t work out,” she said.

While she stopped short of saying the mayor’s failed Cut the Waist campaign was a metaphor for Ford’s mayoralty, Fletcher said sometimes she wonders “if the whole thing is a little too much” for Ford.

“Being the mayor is not an easy job, you can’t make simple promises about anything,” she said. “You need to be measured and thoughtful and I think on this one he just got over his head.”

Quote of the Day: Adam Vaughan on Exhibition Place

- May 28th, 2012

Councillor Adam Vaughan

It’s about city building, it is about extending the city down to the water’s edge. It’s not about casinos and Ferris wheels and you know, you feel like you’re living through an episode of The Simpsons half the time. Can we have some real city building here instead of Googling “fun cities” and taking a look at Ferris wheels and silly stuff that sort of makes a headline but doesn’t make a city.

Councillor Adam Vaughan reacting Monday to news the city is looking at revitalizing Exhibition Place and the key to it could be a casino

I’m not even dieting anymore – Mayor Rob Ford

- May 27th, 2012

Mayor Rob Ford

Mayor Rob Ford weighing in for the first time in January (Toronto Sun files)

“I don’t care about the weigh-in, I’m not even dieting anymore, it’s gone, it’s water under the bridge,” Mayor Rob Ford admitting he’s quit his own Cut the Waist campaign during his NEWSTALK 1010 radio show on Sunday, May 27, 2012.

Ford made the revelation he’s off his diet one day before he turns 43.

Starting out at 330 pounds, Ford was aiming to lose 50 pounds between January and June. His weight has been stuck around 310 pounds for most of the challenge.

He’s cancelled his last two weigh-ins (story here) and he’s rarely a happy camper when he steps on the scale (story here).

When Ford and his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, started this campaign back in January (story here), Ford seemed optimistic he could shed the weight and no longer be (as he often calls himself) “300 pounds of fun”.

“I look forward to rising up to the challenge and making a healthy change in my life,” the mayor said at that time.

While critics at the time called Ford’s weight-loss challenge a cheap publicity stunt or a distraction from the budget debate unfolding at the time, Ford was adamant he wanted to slim down for his own family.

“I’ve got young children and this is not healthy, you can’t be running the city, you can’t be doing all this at 330 pounds,” Ford pointed out in January.

Doing it at 314 pounds would be no picnic either.

Hopefully, he finds a way to start cutting his own waist again but I expect, if he does, it will be a less public affair next time.

Careful what you vote for: Ball hockey edition

- May 27th, 2012

Councillor Josh Matlow

Councillor Josh Matlow (Toronto Sun file photo)

A majority of councillors started Toronto on this not-so brilliant breakaway to the edge of ball hockey bureaucracy a year ago.

Back in May 2011, a majority of councillors were onside with Councillor Josh Matlow’s push to have city bureaucrats find a fix for Toronto’s ball hockey ban.

Mayor Rob Ford and 35 councillors voted in favour of Matlow’s motion to have staff look at ways to exempt streets from the city’s ball hockey ban.

Matlow revealed this week the staff would be coming forward with that plan at the June public works meeting (story here). As details of the proposed plan spread, it didn’t go over well with scathing reaction from Matlow’s fellow councillors (story here and here). A day later, Matlow iced the idea (story here).

Reading the motion from that May council meeting, it’s not surprising city staff came back to Matlow with this ridiculously bureaucratic process for parents to go through to get their street exempt from the city’s rarely enforced ball hockey ban.

The motion the majority of council supported ordered the city manager to report to the public works committee on “the type of streets on which street hockey or other ball sports are suitable” such as dead-end streets, cul-de-sacs and ones with low traffic volume. It also asked the city manager to do a feasibility study on “a procedure that allows any Toronto resident residing on a street with a speed limit at or lower than 40 km/hr to apply for an exemption from the current city by-laws that prohibit playing street hockey and other ball sports.”

Although Matlow is taking all the hits on this initiative, he sure got a helping hand from councillors.

So who cast their ballot to start the ball rolling on this?

Along with Matlow and the mayor were Councillors Paul Ainslie, Ana Bailão, Michelle Berardinetti, Shelley Carroll, Raymond Cho, Josh Colle, Gary Crawford, Vincent Crisanti, Janet Davis, Glenn De Baeremaeker, Sarah Doucette, John Filion, Paula Fletcher, Doug Ford, Mary Fragedakis, Norman Kelly, Mike Layton, Chin Lee, Giorgio Mammoliti, Pam McConnell, Mary-Margaret McMahon, Joe Mihevc, Peter Milczyn, Denzil Minnan-Wong, Ron Moeser, Frances Nunziata, Cesar Palacio, Gord Perks, Anthony Perruzza, Jaye Robinson, David Shiner, Karen Stintz, Michael Thompson and Adam Vaughan.

Seven councillors faced off against this idea right from the start. The seven councillors who voted no to starting staff down this inevitable path to a ridiculously bureaucratic process were Councillors Maria Augimeri, Mike Del Grande, Frank Di Giorgio, Mark Grimes, Doug Holyday, Gloria Lindsay Luby and John Parker.

Parker made his thoughts on the initiative crystal clear last Wednesday when he told reporters the following:

“Look, I love my colleague Councillor Matlow to bits and I would never suggest that anything he brings forward is for the benefit of gaining public profile and the odd cheap headline. But I think the city has done just fine by way of accommodating road hockey on our streets without the benefit of a whole lot of study by city staff and committees.”

So there you go, Matlow may be in the penalty box for this one but he had some help from a lot of council teammates to get here.

***

Here’s how councillors voted back in May 2011 on the motion entitled “Exemption to By-Laws Prohibiting Street Hockey and Other Ball Sports to Promote Active and Healthy Youth and Community Engagement”:

Yes: 36
Paul Ainslie, Ana Bailão, Michelle Berardinetti, Shelley Carroll, Raymond Cho, Josh Colle, Gary Crawford, Vincent Crisanti, Janet Davis, Glenn De Baeremaeker, Sarah Doucette, John Filion, Paula Fletcher, Doug Ford, Rob Ford, Mary Fragedakis, Norman Kelly, Mike Layton, Chin Lee, Giorgio Mammoliti, Josh Matlow, Pam McConnell, Mary-Margaret McMahon, Joe Mihevc, Peter Milczyn, Denzil Minnan-Wong, Ron Moeser, Frances Nunziata, Cesar Palacio, Gord Perks, Anthony Perruzza, Jaye Robinson, David Shiner, Karen Stintz, Michael Thompson, Adam Vaughan

No: 7
Maria Augimeri, Mike Del Grande, Frank Di Giorgio, Mark Grimes, Doug Holyday, Gloria Lindsay Luby, John Parker

Absent: 2
James Pasternak, Kristyn Wong-Tam

Does the prospect of Shelley Carroll running for mayor worry Doug Ford?

- May 23rd, 2012

Councillor Shelley Carroll and Mayor Rob Ford

Councillor Shelley Carroll and Mayor Rob Ford earlier this year (Toronto Sun files)

Does the thought of Councillor Shelley Carroll running for mayor worry the Fords?

Carroll has said she’s still mulling a run for mayor. She came out Tuesday criticizing Mayor Rob Ford for “not doing his job” (story here).

Councillor Doug Ford said Wednesday he’s not worried about Carroll as a possible political foe to Mayor Ford in the 2014 election. But Councillor Ford quickly added he’ll never underestimate anyone’s odds at the ballot box.

“I never underestimate anyone and as far as I’m concerned anyone and everyone are going to beat us so we’re going to work hard,” Ford told reporters. “Because the biggest mistake that all the councillors did was underestimate Rob last time and we’ll never underestimate anyone.

“At any day in politics you could be beaten, no matter who you are.”

Hail to the Chief: Mayor Rob Ford

- May 21st, 2012

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair at City Hall on Friday (Photo by Dave Thomas/Toronto Sun)

Talk about standing by your man.

Mayor Rob Ford came out in full support of Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair Sunday.

Blair was under fire again last week as another report came out criticizing the police response to the G20 summit back in 2010. The chief was at the Toronto Police Services Board Friday asking permission to charge a handful of officers under the Police Services Act for alleged conduct during the G20 (story here).

Ford hasn’t talked much about the G20 since he came to office so his unprompted and enthusiastic support of the chief is interesting. The mayoral shout-out came in the last minutes of Ford’s Sunday radio show on NEWSTALK 1010.

“I just want to tell our chief of police Bill Blair, keep your head up,” Ford told his listeners. “He’s going through some rough times right now with this G20 stuff and I think he is taking an unfair rap if you ask me.”

The mayor added Blair should “hang in there.”

“You’ll be OK,” Ford said.

Councillor Doug Ford also voiced his support for Blair.

“Chief, keep going, you’re a great chief,” Ford said.

Rob Save the (Future) King

- May 20th, 2012

Mayor Rob Ford

Mayor Rob Ford at the executive committee meeting last Monday (Toronto Sun files)

The Ford brothers will meet Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, at Ashbridge’s Bay Park Monday night.

Mayor Rob Ford talked about the coming meeting on his radio show on NEWSTALK 1010 on Sunday and seemed pretty pumped about the prospect of meeting the future king.

Apparently both Fords are big fans of the British monarchy.

“I can’t wait to meet Prince Charles and the Duchess,” Mayor Ford told listeners.

Councillor Doug Ford – whose candid comments often land him in hot water and on the front page – vowed he’ll be keeping quiet around the royals in a bid to avoid controversy.

“I always seem to say something and that’s it, so I’m keeping my mouth shut,” Ford said on-air.

The Fords ended their Victoria Day weekend show with a nod to Prince Charles’ mom, Queen Elizabeth II.

“God bless the Queen and Canada,” Councillor Ford said just before signing off.

Sandbox fight – Mayor Rob Ford vs. Michelle Berardinetti

- May 15th, 2012

Mayor Rob Ford and Councillor Michelle Berardinetti

Councillor Michelle Berardinetti speaks at Monday’s executive committee meeting while Mayor Rob Ford looks on. (Photo by Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun)

During Monday night’s debate over Toronto’s 5-cent bag fee, Mayor Rob Ford came over to have a chat with Councillor Michelle Berardinetti. It ended with the two laughing heartily.

That seemed usual because Ford was trying to kill the bag fee while Berardinetti, who doesn’t want to scrap the fee, was trying to get approval of a plan to beg the retailers to donate a portion of the bag profits back to the city’s tree canopy efforts.

Berardinetti was about to lose the vote, Ford was about to win. No matter what the issue still has to go to council where there could be a very different outcome (story here).

So why Ford and Berardinetti laughing?

“He said I was kicking him out of the sandbox,” Berardinetti said, when asked about the private conversation between her and the mayor.

“I’m not kicking him out of the sandbox. I wish that he would still play, we can play nicely in the sandbox and I wish that he would support it.”

Berardinetti – a member of Ford’s executive committee – said she understands Ford’s position on the bag fee but she stressed council will have a different position.

“I know the majority of councillors support keeping because it has been so effective,” she said.

City council will deal with the bag fee at its next meeting on June 6 and 7.