Councillor Josh Matlow

Globe and Mail: Gamble tipped the budget vote

January 21, 2012

“We couldn’t have been more clear and more respectful,” Councillor McMahon said. “We said, ‘Take it. You champion it. We do not need credit at all,’” she remembers. They repeated the offer on the morning of council, but the idea of dipping into the surplus stymied the deal, she says.

 

By Tuesday, support was slipping. Councillor Robinson says she left when it became clear that spending surplus was the group’s answer. “I don’t support quick political fixes,” she explained later in the week, describing the motion as a Band-Aid solution. Councillors Crawford and Berardinetti also voted with the mayor against the motion.

 

Heading into the budget meeting, the councillors remained nervous about the 23 votes they needed, and kept close watch over a few key supporters.

 

“We put them in the witness protection program,” Councillor McMahon jokes. Councillor Matlow was paired with Councillor Pasternak, both former school board trustees, even following him on a bathroom break. Councillor Pasternak won his seat by a slim margin and faced pressure from the mayor’s office over the budget, with suggestions he might not be so lucky again.

 

‘Vague’ proposals and distrust on the right


Talk to the mayor’s closest advisers, and they’ll tell you it’s all going according to plan. “We are spending less,” says Mark Towhey, the point man in the mayor’s office for the budget, giving two thumbs up on the week’s events.

 

The changes made at council took about $19-million from the surplus, but many, including the budget chief, were expecting their critics to try for more.

 

Skeptics of the motion say some of the asks in the declined proposal were vague and came too late to be properly considered. Also, agreeing to give up $15-million before council began would have opened the floodgates to even more spending, they reasoned.

 

Then there was the principal of protecting the city’s surplus. After arguing for months about fiscal responsibility, how could the mayor and his supporters agree to such changes?

 

“Some people decide to put their asses on two sides of the fence, that’s not our approach. We stick with our beliefs,” explains the mayor’s brother, Councillor Doug Ford.

 

Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday is more diplomatic. “It is not even a matter of victory, it is a matter of wise spending and common sense,” he says. “We should have explained those kinds of things right off the bat. Live and learn.”

 

A slim victory


Councillor Ford says Tuesday’s battle could have gone either way.  He points out that Ron Moeser, who often votes with the mayor, was absent.  ”One of our guys was in the hospital or we would have won the vote,” he says.

 

Asked about the Ford administration’s ability to promote its agenda if it can’t muster support on council he has this to say: “What I’d like the point out

[is] I think it was a dozen councillors [who had] won [their seats] with less than a thousand votes; half a dozen won by hundreds of votes. I’d be concerned if I were them,” he said.

 

Those who lined up against the mayor this week say threats like that are exactly what’s wrong with his tactics.

 

“They decided they preferred to beat us than to actually win,” says Councillor Matlow. “I think that cost the mayor a lot.”

 

The councillors were deliberately careful about the details of their compromise, he said, for fear the mayor and his staff would use it to try to “pick off” some of their supporters.

 

Friday, as the mayor arrived with Doug Ford at Nathan Phillips Square to promote their weight-loss challenge, he shrugged off suggestions that a group of swing voters could be shifting the balance of power.

 

“Everything is going well. Everything is going very, very well,” he said, when asked if he was worried. “We are saving taxpayers a lot of money. We have the lowest property-tax increase in any municipality I know about. That’s a big win for the taxpayers.”

 

“We couldn’t have been more clear and more respectful,” Councillor McMahon said. “We said, ‘Take it. You champion it. We do not need credit at all,’” she remembers. They repeated the offer on the morning of council, but the idea of dipping into the surplus stymied the deal, she says.

 

By Tuesday, support was slipping. Councillor Robinson says she left when it became clear that spending surplus was the group’s answer. “I don’t support quick political fixes,” she explained later in the week, describing the motion as a Band-Aid solution. Councillors Crawford and Berardinetti also voted with the mayor against the motion.

 

Heading into the budget meeting, the councillors remained nervous about the 23 votes they needed, and kept close watch over a few key supporters.

 

“We put them in the witness protection program,” Councillor McMahon jokes. Councillor Matlow was paired with Councillor Pasternak, both former school board trustees, even following him on a bathroom break. Councillor Pasternak won his seat by a slim margin and faced pressure from the mayor’s office over the budget, with suggestions he might not be so lucky again.

 

‘Vague’ proposals and distrust on the right

 

Talk to the mayor’s closest advisers, and they’ll tell you it’s all going according to plan. “We are spending less,” says Mark Towhey, the point man in the mayor’s office for the budget, giving two thumbs up on the week’s events.

 

The changes made at council took about $19-million from the surplus, but many, including the budget chief, were expecting their critics to try for more.

 

Skeptics of the motion say some of the asks in the declined proposal were vague and came too late to be properly considered. Also, agreeing to give up $15-million before council began would have opened the floodgates to even more spending, they reasoned.

 

Then there was the principal of protecting the city’s surplus. After arguing for months about fiscal responsibility, how could the mayor and his supporters agree to such changes?

 

“Some people decide to put their asses on two sides of the fence, that’s not our approach. We stick with our beliefs,” explains the mayor’s brother, Councillor Doug Ford.

 

Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday is more diplomatic. “It is not even a matter of victory, it is a matter of wise spending and common sense,” he says. “We should have explained those kinds of things right off the bat. Live and learn.”

 

A slim victory


Councillor Ford says Tuesday’s battle could have gone either way.  He points out that Ron Moeser, who often votes with the mayor, was absent.  ”One of our guys was in the hospital or we would have won the vote,” he says.

 

Asked about the Ford administration’s ability to promote its agenda if it can’t muster support on council he has this to say: “What I’d like the point out [is] I think it was a dozen councillors [who had] won [their seats] with less than a thousand votes; half a dozen won by hundreds of votes. I’d be concerned if I were them,” he said.

 

Those who lined up against the mayor this week say threats like that are exactly what’s wrong with his tactics.

 

“They decided they preferred to beat us than to actually win,” says Councillor Matlow. “I think that cost the mayor a lot.”

 

The councillors were deliberately careful about the details of their compromise, he said, for fear the mayor and his staff would use it to try to “pick off” some of their supporters.

 

Friday, as the mayor arrived with Doug Ford at Nathan Phillips Square to promote their weight-loss challenge, he shrugged off suggestions that a group of swing voters could be shifting the balance of power.

 

“Everything is going well. Everything is going very, very well,” he said, when asked if he was worried. “We are saving taxpayers a lot of money. We have the lowest property-tax increase in any municipality I know about. That’s a big win for the taxpayers.”

 

To read this article on theglobeandmail.com, please click here.

2017-05-29T19:25:32+00:00

Leave A Comment

Please leave a message of support for residents and frontline staff.

Page Reader Press Enter to Read Page Content Out Loud Press Enter to Pause or Restart Reading Page Content Out Loud Press Enter to Stop Reading Page Content Out Loud Screen Reader Support