It didn't take long for the left to start striking back in Toronto against the popularly elected right wing mayor, Rob Ford.
First, the Toronto Public Library stated in a widely publicized press release that they'd have to close the city hall branch of the library if Ford forced them to accept a budget cut of 2%. This is a typical bureaucratic response to cut backs. Don't cut back on waste, unnecessary overtime or excess staff. Cut back on something very public, the meaner the better, and blame the government.
The TTC struck next, hiring over forty new managers for everything from new customer service managers (yeah, like that's going to help) to "track walkers" for the subway to hunt out things to repair. Yet, the TTC wanted a fare increase and wanted to cut back on bus schedules. The Toronto Star was livid. Mean old Ford. And when Ford said no to the TTC, the Star slyly suggested it was all a plot by Ford, who must've tricked TTC officials into their fare hike and cut back announcement so that Ford could look good when he reversed it. Funny, the Star spent most of the election portraying Ford as barely able to add.
The truth of course is that these bureaucrats and the Toronto Star are ruthlessly doing everything they can to sabotage Ford's agenda. The bureaucrats are all Millerites who hate Ford and will need to be replaced if anything is to work.
Here's what I would do if I were Rob Ford: I'd say to the TTC fair enough. If you feel it's not worth it to run a bus up and down Davenport Road after10 pm or on Sundays and holidays because there are rarely more than two passengers on the bus, then lets contract the route to a private company--the smaller the better. In fact, why not just run a 15 passenger van up and down the street late at night?
Of course the unions will have a fit at the thought that even one TTC route goes out to competition, especially lean competition, maybe even run by just a guy with a van and a garage.
Ford won't even have to follow through on this threat. TTC management and the Amalgamated Transit Workers Union will suddenly find all kinds of savings that will allow for a lower budget and maintenance of under-used routes--anything to prevent even the slightest crack in the TTC monopoly on public transit in Toronto.
As for the library: Aren't e-books all the rage these days? Maybe it's time for the library to improve its pathetic and technically flawed attempts at e-book loans. I'm not suggesting that we close branches and replace them with e-books. I just want the unions to be uncomfortable, to worry about new technology, to feel like maybe it's better to make concessions than face major changes.
The public service unions proved to be intractable under Bob Rae's Ontario NDP, and Miller's Toronto, but those two men owed the unions and everybody on both sides knew it. Ford owes the unions nothing and knows he will get zero support from them in the next election no matter what he does. That's why they fear him. That's why they'll deal.