Rob Ford report card: Grading Toronto's embattled mayor on the non-scandal stuff
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Mayor Rob Ford made it quite clear Tuesday that he will not resign. Critics say City Hall can't function under the cloud of scurrilous scandal that has — and will continue — to hover over the mayor's office.
But how well has Mayor Ford been doing at actually running the city?
Here’s a quick look at how the mayor’s done at keeping some of his major campaign promises over the last three years. Letter grades are based on his ability to follow through on promises — they’re not a judgment on whether his policies are of value.
ON TAXES: During the campaign, Ford promised to eliminate two new taxes introduced by his predecessor. He’s succeeded in eliminating a municipal tax on vehicle registration, but hasn’t been able to follow through on his pledge to eliminate the land transfer tax. Ford’s now saying that he’ll try to reduce that tax by 10 per cent this year.
On the other hand, he’s kept property tax and debt increases on the low side — until, that is, he agreed to issue $900 million in new debt for a subway extension.
ON TRANSPORTATION: Ford’s transit platform called for major investment in subway infrastructure. He promised to substantially expand the subway network, by extending both the Sheppard line and the Bloor-Danforth subway. All this was to be paid for with existing provincial funding, and finished by 2015.
Critics said it couldn’t be done. They were right. Ford’s subway dreams were off the rails until just recently, when he and council voted to replace the Scarborough RT with a subway.
Other transportation policies — like removing some downtown streetcar routes — haven’t gone anywhere, but Ford does have the city conducting a pilot project in which they’ve painted some curbs red to indicate no-parking zones.
ON LABOUR: Ford’s had the most success keeping his promises when it comes to his dealings with the city’s unions. After 2009’s strike, where garbage piled up in city parks, Ford pledged to contract out trash collection across the city and get tough on the rest of the unions. On garbage, he’s only succeeded halfway — collection is still done by city workers east of Yonge Street — but, hey, it’s a start.
Elsewhere, Ford moved quickly to make the TTC an essential service, meaning those workers can no longer go on legal strikes. He got a pretty good contract with CUPE, inking a four-year deal. He was knocked by some critics for handing the cops a juicy contract and library workers staged a brief work stoppage in 2011, but his supporters should feel pretty good about his labour negotiations, overall.
ON THE GRAVY TRAIN: Ford made a big show about stopping the proverbial “gravy train” of government waste. So, has it stopped?
Ford did reduce the expense budgets available to councillors, saving about a million hypothetical dollars. And he did strengthen the “whistleblower protection” available to city staff who report wasteful practices.
But the untold mountain of savings he said he’d find never really materialized. In 2011, consulting firm KPMG was hired to look for duplication and non-essential programs, but wound up issuing a report concluding the vast majority of city departments and services are, in fact, essential. The gravy hunt continues.