A picture of the empty hallway Friday on the councillor's floor at City Hall.
Credits: VERONICA HENRI/Toronto Sun/QMI AGENCY
City Hall's out for the summer.
For some of your municipal politicians it sure as heck is.
Since July 1, when council wrapped up its last meeting until Oct. 2 (!), several councillors have left the building not to be seen - well, until whenever.
You might say they blew this pop(sicle) stand as fast as they could careen out of their special parking area at City Hall - which this past week was a virtual Ghost Town.
One could have thrown a bowling ball down the area outside their second-floor offices, as well, and perhaps run into a handful of councillors.
August is traditionally a slow month at City Hall - with few meetings scheduled - and councillors often use that time to get away with family.
I'm the last one to begrudge politicians time off - especially since I make certain to take the time allotted to me after 23 years at the Toronto Sun to travel and to recharge my batteries.
But unlike them, I have to account for my time. According to Winnie Li, director of council services, they have no set vacation and do not have "to report" what they take.
Still, considering that they continually remind the public and the media how terribly important they are and how hard they work - so important that they require extra money for constituency offices, newsletters and roaming charges (step right up Adam Vaughan) - one would think that being away from their offices for three, four, five or six weeks at a time might suggest just the opposite.
Either their wards can run without them or they're workaholics in their own minds.
They couldn't have thought TTC or Zoo business that important since both board meetings were cancelled this past week due a lack of quorum.
The TTC meeting of July 31 had to be cancelled because four commissioners were unavailable - Chairman Karen Stintz, Maria Augimeri, Raymond Cho and Josh Colle.
Spokesman Brad Ross said they did try to reschedule but were unable to - leaving all policy decisions essentially on hold until Sept. 27.
The Aug. 2 Toronto Zoo meeting was also postponed until Sept. 5. Six councillors sit on that board: Paul Ainslie, Cho, Colle, Glenn De Baeremaeker, Mark Grimes and Gloria Lindsay-Luby.
I'm told Lindsay-Luby would have attended and that both Grimes and De Baeremaeker are in town.
Cho's office staff say he's away for a couple of weeks. He also missed a meeting of the parks committee in June because he was in Texas getting his eyelids done by his son, a plastic surgeon.
Augimeri didn't return phone calls from the Sun. Neither did Ainslie or Paula Fletcher.
Councillor David Shiner was "not available" - for how long, I don't know.
Giorgio Mammoliti was on vacation, according to his staff.
Michael Thompson was away last week. Sarah Doucette was out of town when I called Wednesday.
Just to put this in context, both Speaker Frances Nunziata and Councillor Cesar Palacio were very much around to attend a July 25 meeting of the tenant committee for the Toronto Community Housing Authority - a vital one in the wake of the recent Danzig shooting tragedy.
During two visits to the council floor this past week, I spotted Councillors Janet Davis, Joe Mihevc, Mary-Margaret McMahon, Palacio, De Baeremaeker , James Pasternak, Kristyn Wong-Tam and Norm Kelly
Staff for Councillors Vince Crisanti and Jaye Robinson reported they were still in town last week but vacations were planned.
Colle, Shelley Carroll, Gary Crawford, Doug Holyday, Mike Del Grande and Chin Lee returned Sun phone calls as did my councillor Josh Matlow, despite reports that he'd taken off the entire month of August.
"That's not correct," he said. "Wouldn't that be nice but I don't have time."
He said he is taking long weekends to go canoeing and camping in Algonquin Park with his wife, who is expecting their first child in the new year. But that's it.
Councillor Doug Ford was in Chicago on a mini-shopping trip when I spoke to him Thursday but planned to return Saturday.
"If anyone calls me I'll be at their door," he said.
Councillor Frank Di Giorgio was in his Ingram Rd. constituency office when I caught him by phone Wednesday.
"I am absolutely open for business," he said. "The concept of a vacation is totally foreign to me."
What about Mayor Rob Ford, who's been criticized by his arch-nemesis Vaughan for barely showing up to work.
"He hasn't taken any days off so far this summer," said his spokesman George Christopoulos. "He doesn't like going away."
Christopoulos said Ford planned to go to the cottage for one day this weekend but will return in time for Caribbean Carnival.