Mayor Rob Ford celebrates two years in office Thursday.
Credits: ERNEST DOROSZUK/TORONTO SUN
Any fair assessment of Mayor Rob Ford half way through his first term shows he’s delivered on his major promises.
Lower taxes? Delivered. Under Ford, council set a 0% property tax hike in 2011 and 2.5% in 2012. That compares to 3% annually in the first two years of the late, unlamented and fiscally out-of-control David Miller administration.
Ending the gravy train? Delivered. Ford cut city councillors’ office budgets by $900,000 and his own by $700,000. He also led councillors in forgoing a pay increase in 2011.
Fiscal responsibility? Delivered. Ford achieved crucial, four-year labour deals with the city’s inside and outside workers, curtailing uber-expensive “jobs for life” provisions in previous contracts and saving taxpayers $150 million, negotiated without a summer time garbage strike, something Miller and Mel Lastman, the first megacity mayor, tried and failed to do.
Contracting out? Delivered. Half the city’s garbage collection — meaning all of it west of Yonge St. — has been privatized, expected to save $80 million over seven years, with plans for more contracting out proceeding apace.
Ending the Miller administration’s hated $60 vehicle registration fee? Delivered.
Declaring the TTC an essential service? Delivered, greatly reducing the threat of future transit strikes.
Does more work remain? Absolutely.
Ford promised to eliminate Miller’s land transfer tax but hasn’t yet made a start on it.
He still hasn’t explained how he’s going to pay for the “subways, subways, subways” he says (accurately) that Torontonians prefer over LRTs.
Has Ford made mistakes? Absolutely.
He shouldn’t have campaigned for mayor promising “no service cuts” to get spending under control. That was politically dishonest. He should have said no “major” service cuts.
Finally, Ford’s too much of a lone wolf, too stubborn, too confrontational and too pre-occupied with coaching his high school football team, albeit a good cause, contributing to the circus-like atmosphere at City Hall.
That said, Toronto is lucky to have Ford as mayor. If voters had listened to the befuddled Star and Globe editorial boards in 2010 instead of us, former Ontario Liberal cabinet minister George Smitherman — involved in the eHealth, Ornge and Green Energy Act financial disasters — would be Toronto’s mayor today.
And no city deserves that.