Does Anyone Else Have a Bad Feeling About This?

Okay, so. Top bureaucrats who have stepped down this term:

A number of city councillors have also announced they’re not running for re-election:

I mean, like…does anyone get the sense they’re not running to something so much as running from something? 🤔🤔🤔

One possibility is that, after years of budget cuts and “kicking the can down the road”, the City has run out of road. And if MLTT revenue flattens or falls, which it’s bound to do eventually, we’d be well and truly fucked. As successive City Managers have said, there is no “gravy” left at City Hall. Serious cuts would have to involve mass layoffs, and the unions representing City staff would fight back. It could get unpleasant.

Or they’ve all realized that, deep down, Toronto is a potential NYC with ambitions of becoming, like…Akron, Ohio, and any forward-thinking bureaucrat or politician can make a bigger impact elsewhere.

Or some oracle has revealed to the elect that a massive sinkhole is going to swallow up Hellmouth is going to open up under City Hall some time in the next four years, but she’s not quite sure when, and everyone’s just decided to play it safe.

Or it could just be coincidence. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I’m just being a bit paranoid, right?

Subscribers & Toronto Election Stuff

So, some of the people who give me money are running for City Council in the upcoming election. Someone asked me about this yesterday and I’ve thought about it a bit, and I think it would be inappropriate for candidates to keep donating to me during the election period. (And obviously afterwards as well, if they win.)

I’ll be going through Patreon and Paypal to check who is running and message them individually, but this is just a heads up.

I’m grateful for everyone’s support, and wish candidates luck in the campaign ahead!

Sidebar: Right Vs. Left

You often hear very tiresome people saying “I’m a social liberal and a fiscal conservative” as if it meant anything. In reality neither “social” nor “fiscal” issues are useful in telling left from right—especially not at City Hall, where “fiscal conservatives” have consistently championed pouring billions of dollars into an ever-shrinking subway plan. And saying that a “real progressive” wouldn’t be racist or sexist is as laughable as saying that “real Christians” aren’t homophobic, “real feminists” aren’t transphobic, etc., as well-intended as it is.

Nevertheless, I do think there is a way to meaningfully distinguish right- and left-wing politics. This is the framework I use when I talk about the political spectrum at City Hall. (That is, when I’m not talking in D&D terms.) Continue reading Sidebar: Right Vs. Left

#TOcouncil Google Calendar

As a council-watcher, I live by the City Council & committee meeting schedule. You can download the schedule, but it’s not live—you need to check the web version or follow the City Clerk on Twitter to make sure a meeting hasn’t been cancelled or rescheduled.

To make things easier for myself (and hopefully others), I’ve imported the schedule into Google Calendar and am updating it manually as necessary. You can add it to your own calendar for timely notifications!

Park aside

A spring afternoon in Trinity-Bellwoods, at a picnic table with a small bottle of Coke and fries with pepper mayo from Chippy’s. Perfect weather, and the time of day when the sun is so golden it hurts.

Just finished reading Cary Fagan’s City Hall & Mrs. God (Mercury Press, 1990), a vivid tour through Toronto’s richest and poorest echelons as they race further away from each other. Pre-amalgamation. A lot has changed, a lot hasn’t. There are many familiar names.

A trio of chirping robins descends on me, sensing uneaten fries. In the shade of the trees the tightrope walkers are practising.

I ought to be writing things. Most immediately, an ebook on internet privacy, but also just stuff in general, like that essay on urbanism and liberation theology I’ve been meaning to prod into shape. Right now everything is building up to the AMC. After that I can catch my breath.

Poverty infrastructure

In Desmond Cole’s story on the City staff report on homelessness, he concludes,

Toronto’s shelter system was never designed to meet the needs it now struggles to address. According to the report, shelters now sometimes serve as permanent or semi-permanent housing for people who should ideally be in some form of assisted-living housing.

And it occurred to me, not for the first time, that this is a defining feature of our poverty infrastructure, a. k. a. the social safety net. Homeless shelters, food banks, and distress lines were only ever meant to be emergency measures. But all of these services have regular users because there is nothing else there to meet people’s basic needs. Instead of permanent affordable housing, people use shelters. Rent is so high that people are chronically unable to afford food, so they rely on food banks. Because adequate preventative mental health care is inaccessible, they call the distress line number posted up by the Bloor Street viaduct for suicidal jumpers.

It is a strained and unsustainable system that various levels of government, which ostensibly want to wipe out poverty, are slowly divesting themselves of, and “downloading” to private enterprises or individuals.

We have essentially refused to hire family doctors, and if anyone gets sick there is no help until you are in such critical condition you need to go to the emergency room. And because the emergency room is only designed to get you out of emergencies, no one will help you get healthy enough so that you don’t need a doctor at all.

You may now return to your regularly scheduled wankery about transit funding. Good night.

Adventures in poverty: toothache

  • so I’ve got a toothache
  • it hurts. a lot
  • I want to go all tom hanks in cast away on it
  • but I don’t have ice skates
  • so far ibuprofen is working decently
  • phoned the university dental clinic
  • the next screening appointment is in february
  • took an emergency appointment instead
  • first thing on tuesday which is also city council
  • maybe they can just yank the tooth out
  • and I’ll get to city council by the time they’re done the order paper
  • I’m not especially attached to this tooth
  • it’s $44
  • it probably costs extra for x-rays
  • dear god, after this i will floss EVERY DAY i swear
  • just don’t let me have to pay for a root canal
  • kthxbai