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Rob Ford's Toronto

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Ford and his camp is remarkably quiet lately. No grand schemes, no big cuts? No comment on the $140M surplus from 2011 due in large part to the Land Transfer Tax that Ford wants to abolish?

I have a feeling that Ford is just going to coast his Mayoralty to avoid crashing. The days of controversy are over, at least for now. His office will probably just go back to the boring day to day tasks of running a city or we may finally see Council calling the shots pushing to see how long Ford can go without having a tantrum.

In the meantime, a crescendo is building up on Transit City. It appears that several councillors are starting to make the inevitable vote a leading topic with centrist Josh Matlow leading the charge on his radio program.
Maybe these first-term councillors think that cheap coffee and food is gravy until they actually have to sit down and get work done at off hours? I think there is a credibility gap here.

Councillor Paul Ainslie, a Ford ally, said he would oppose the proposal in large part because he is trying to avoid eating white bread and deli meats.
“I never found the snacks all that healthy,” Ainslie said. “And compared to Tim Hortons, it’s pretty crappy coffee.”

Aren't we precious - and that's not coming from a "Champagne Socialist" - but a member of Ford's inner sanctum.

We Torontonians are having our time wasted. Take this seriously.

... Doug Ford is wasting our time in his tenure as a city councillor. There must be away to get him out of office. He is getting carried away about chump change. Talk about a nickel-and-dime type!

Doug Ford is not worth the ink and I wonder why I am posting this. I guess it is because we Torontonians are having our time wasted at City Hall. The Ford Brothers used to deride council as a useless thing, and they are actually making it worse.

Read on.

Patrick White, Thursday's Globe and Mail

Councillor Doug Ford wants to know why Toronto is foregoing thousands of dollars to “force-feed†healthy drinks to kids.

The high-profile councillor and brother of mayor Rob Ford took several minutes of a government management committee meeting on Wednesday to rip council and city staff for health regulations weighing down an exclusive beverage vending contract with Pepsi.

That contract began in 2005 and was expected to bring $850,000 in annual revenues to city coffers – or $2.5-million over the life of the contract. But a new report to the committee shows actual income topped out at $359,000 in the first year and dwindled to $313,000 last year.

City staff blame council’s healthy vending initiative, which requires Pepsi to stock its machines on city property with 50 per cent health drinks, for the huge gap between forecast and reality.

“The healthy cold drink vending requirement has had a declining impact on vending sales since its introduction in 2005,†the report says.

And it’s only going to get worse, according to Pepsi. In its application for a five-year contract renewal, Pepsi downgraded its 2012 revenue target for the city to $130,000, a mere 15 per cent of what it predicted five years ago. The reason for the continuing decline, according to staff, is a council decision to ban bottled water from city vending machines that is set to take effect by the end of the year.

Currently, bottled water makes up 12 per cent of total vending machine sales and 98 per cent of healthy drinks sales.

The committee voted in favour of the meagre Pepsi contract, but not before Mr. Ford attacked the health initiative for forcing a private contractor to devote half of each machine to items that represent just 2 per cent of sales, and imposing on an individual’s right to choose junk food.

“We live in a free-market economy here, and we have the nanny state social engineering, telling us to force-feed [healthy drinks to] kids,†he said. “Why do we even need to be in the vending business. Let Mrs. Jones decide what Little Johnny is going to drink or eat. Don’t try to force it or dictate it.â€

Councillor Vince Cristanti read the numbers and reached a similar conclusion. “Disastrous,†he said of the health initiative. “Clearly this isn’t working. I think it probably has to be completely revisited.â€

During a closed-door session, councillors grilled city staff on why just three companies had bid on the vending contract – Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Imperial Vending. Their accusatory tones and repeated allegations that the Pepsi deal is tantamount to a sole-source contract irked one councillor.

“If you’re looking ... for council to support a motion to pour more sugar down the gullets of children, good luck with that,†said Shelley Carroll. “Our core business is healthy recreation.â€

Ms. Carroll also defended city staff, saying their procurement wisdom has kept the city “out of court more times than you’ve ever eaten deep-dish pizza in Chicago.â€

Mr. Ford launched the Chicago operation of his family’s label business and often speaks wistfully about his time there.

“I won’t take that personally,†h said as Ms. Carroll stormed out of the committee room. “You have a good day.â€
Good point.

I don't think Doug is simply wasting time. I think anything he does is calculated. Like the mega-mall/ferris wheel fiasco and even questioning soft drinks. I think he thought he could use his job as a councillor to help his buddies and himself wherever possible -- he is a big fan of Chicago, after all. Whenever he rants on about something or other, I always suspect a hidden agenda, not something as simple as trying to justify his existence.
^ well, all right, but is it not time that council smelled the coffee? There is work to be done and someone has to call things to order.

Backtracking because of chump change? This is just a hopeless situation right now.

I am waiting for Royson James' take on it. He's bound to get emotional.
Agreed, he should be stopped whatever his motivations! The entertainment factor is long past its due date.
Re: Soft Drinks in Vending machines

Doug Ford needs a "win". He has brought up the hot button issue of the "nanny-state" and the diminished revenue that will rile up his populist supporters.
Link to a speech Ford gave to the Empire Club here:

Nothing new, same old same old. It is frustrating, however, to have heard on the news earlier this week about how the land transfer tax has made a significant contribution to revenues because of the continuing strong real estate market in the city. Of course, Ford isn't going to mention that because he wants to do away with it. Instead, he likes to talk about how expenses outstrip revenues -- well, duh, then don't remove an important revenue source! -- and how we would need to increase property taxes by 34% which is just a scare tactic.
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