Incumbency a curse at City Hall


Raymond Cho. Anthony Perruzza. Mark Grimes. Giorgio Mammoliti. Maria Augimeri. Gord Perks. Ana Bailao. Joe Mihevc, John Filion, Pam McConnell. Janet Davis. Shelley Carroll. Glenn De Baeremaeker. Chin Lee. Norm Kelly. Ron Moeser.

And last but not least, the former head of the Manitoba Communist party and one of the biggest obstructionists on council, Paula Fletcher.

You might say it was an absolute heyday for incumbency Monday night.

Only one incumbent was knocked off — John Parker — meaning if the others survived he had to have really upset his Leaside community to lose out to Jon Burnside, a former cop.

Despite the fact that many of these councillors have done little to further the agenda at City Hall over their term of office — for many that has been two or three decades — let alone over the past four years, they all won, yet again.

It is virtually impossible to nudge someone out of office — no matter how unresponsive, arrogant and unaccountable they are. That is a horrible shame considering non-performers in the private sector would be fired for far less.

Let’s start with Raymond Cho, who has been returned to council with 50% of the vote yet again after 23 years in office. The 77-year-old is as dotty as they come — having run at the federal and provincial levels for the NDP, the Liberals and when they didn’t work, the Ontario Conservatives.

And what about Ron Moeser, who squeaked through with 25% of the vote (his opponents couldn’t catch up to him) after missing a year of council during the last term. Once he came back, he said little in council. But he did refuse to back a wage freeze and promptly joined a junket of 18 to a municipal conference in Vancouver in May 2013. It was obscene how he missed votes and left his office dark for months on end while continuing to suck on the public teat.

Fletcher richly deserved to have her tuchas handed to her. She had a strong opponent in TV broadcaster Liz West. She thumbed her nose at a debate hosted by the Toronto Taxpayers Coalition, refusing to attend. But no doubt her hubby, John Cartwright, president of the Toronto and York Region Labour Council, called in all of their favours to ensure Fletcher resumed her seat on the Ward 30 throne.

Ward 23’s John Filion survived yet another challenge from a strong opponent in lawyer David Mousavi to rule as ward boss once more — despite getting into hot water over his remarks about Tony Soprano running our garbage system on his Rogers TV debate.

Mammoliti managed to edge out his opponent despite being under police investigation for accepting $80,000 from a 2013 fundraiser.

Perruzza, Augimeri, Carroll, Mihevc, De Baeremaeker, Davis, Lee, McConnell and Perks didn’t even have strong opposition.

With good reason. And not because they’re competent or particularly charming.

The power of incumbency cannot be overstated.

It’s not just name recognition.

It’s their ability to use their taxpayer-funded slush funds to communicate with residents in the months preceding the election. We can thank Filion for pushing a special fund at council that can be used by councillors to send out one final newsletter — full of self-serving pictures about themselves and tidbits about all the wonderful things they’ve done to help their communities and how special they are.

Every single councillor took advantage of that newsletter slush fund — with Filion spending $3943.28 and Kristyn Wong-Tam a whopping $4,771.73.

It’s also about their ability to use taxpayer funds to direct grants to community and arts groups run by special interests who will subsequently serve as their sign teams at election time.

Then there’s the union muscle.

I received a letter from Unifor — the union representing the Toronto Sun employees — urging me to vote for all the labour-friendly candidates they’d endorsed (and no doubt worked overtime on their campaigns to ensure they got elected.)

All of the candidates they endorsed were pretty much the has-beens noted above.

If this isn’t proof of the desperate need for term limits, I don’t know what is.

Unless term limits (of two to three terms or 12 years max) are imposed on municipal councillors, it will continue to be impossible to get rid of the deadwood and allow for fresh blood to come into council.

Councillors do have the ability under the City of Toronto Act to put this change in place. But I can’t see most of these teat-suckers voting to limit their own tenure at the trough.

The other option is to cut council in half to 22 members — creating ridings similar to those at the provincial and federal levels.

Unless something drastic is done, we will continue to have seat-warmers spending money and wasting council’s time.

And people wonder why council is dysfunctional.