Saturday, October 08, 2005

Sweep out Mayor Miller

I was going to talk Toronto trash again -- such a lovely topic -- but the more I read the paper today, the more I realised the real topic is Mayor Miller.

Toronto has gone through the spasms of amalgamation, and Miller is the first post-all-one-big-city Mayor. His slogan was a broom, and his mantra was change. As part of his clean sweep, he got rid of our popular (except with the NDP set) police chief Julian Fantino and replaced him with someone who, to put it nicely, merges well with the background. The MFP scandal and the Island Airport bridge fight ensured his win. He got rid of the bridge.

The trash issue has been looming for years now. I don't know how an issue can loom that long and not crash, but somehow Toronto politicians have evaded the crisis of nowhere for our garbage to go but sit on our streets and in our transfer stations. But instead of taking that as a sign to get cracking, they've continued to follow the same old, same old of endless discussion of where to dump the trash. We didn't replace Mayor Mel Lastman with a fresh thinker; we replaced him with a man who clings to his prejudices and who, though purportedly a brilliant thinker, lacks the hallmark of all brilliant thinkers: an open mind.

The Toronto Star did a feature story in its Business section on an emerging method of vaporizing our garbage.
"...a plasma flame that is hotter than the surface of the sun [imagine!]...can vaporize everything from Styrofoam packaging to old tires into basic molecular matter. Controlled cooling then results in a synthetic gas that can be used to power gas turbines. Heat from the process is also used to power steam turbines offering the benefit of co-generation of electricity.

Converted to energy, the waste [left after achieving 60 percent diversion of Toronto's trash] could produce about 100 megawatts of electricity annually -- enough to power about 70,000 homes." Tyler Hamilton, 8 October 2005.

Ottawa is setting up a Plasco Energy Group demonstration project. Guelph is starting up a SUBBOR demonstration project. And what is Toronto doing? Looking at landfills. Still, Miller wasn't elected on sweeping the city clean literally -- just for corruption.

Moving to the GTA section, I learn from Christopher Hume that the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corp. held an international competition 2 years ago. Koetter Kim, a Boston firm, won the chance to come up with a plan to revitalize our stagnant waterfront, and its plan won 2 international awards. I was surprised anything was happening. I had long since ignored major waterfront announcements as they always fizzled to nothing. The trend seems to be holding as Miller has serious issues with this plan too: (1) Koetter Kim is an American firm, and (2) the competing plan from TEDCO was designed by his election co-chair. Now I respect Jack Diamond, but he didn't win the TWRC competition, and I don't respect him for trying to get around that by going through TEDCO. TWRC was set up specifically to develop our waterfront into a jewel we can all be proud of and enjoy. TEDCO does not have this job, so why is Miller trying to get it equal footing?

"This is about getting it right," Miller told The Toronto Star.

Really? An example of how the two plans differ:

Koetter Kim -- 19 metre wide promenade with a 5-metre boardwalk over the lake.

Jack Diamond -- 15-metre-wide promenade and no boardwalk.

Which would you prefer? As a Torontonian too long separated from Lake Ontario, I would like to be able to feel the lake and see it up close. I would like to be able to experience the lake from a wide promenade, not through condos. For too long this project has been stalled for one reason or another, but for Miller to stall it in order to get it right for his crony is a bit much!

Miller has not led in other areas either. During the summer, he and his wallpaper police chief spouted platitudes while guns banged through the hot nights and people died. These past couple of weeks he was also absent during the nursing home circus. Where was he when CNN picked up the story and called Seven Oaks ground zero. Good grief, the infection was always obviously confined to the home, and it was waning by the time the international media picked it up -- after a good few days of hysteria from our own media. But Miller felt joining a press conference to announce the cuplrit was Legionnaire's disease was sufficient. Lastman may've gaffed but he knew it was important to join the media on their soapbox to just as loudly counter myths with facts. I suppose Miller thinks crossing his fingers will suffice to protect our tourism industry and reputation.

I hope we will soon see an alternative to Miller, one who uses the little grey cells, is open to new ideas and alternative thinking, acts decisively, and resolves crisis issues quickly. I will vote for such a person. Miller is no leader. He has let our city down.

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7 comments:

Jonathan said...

Miller was exactly where he should have been – letting this town's highly-qualified, highly articulate senior medical experts adroitly talk the media down from their alarmism. Chief Medical Officer of Health David McKeown did so on NewsNight the first night, and that infectious diseases guy whose name escapes me was on Lou Dobbs the next night. (The infamously pissy) Dobbs introduced him as a friend of the program, he told Dobbs everything was solved and it wasn't human-to-human contagious, the cycle was over.

Jonathan said...

...Dr. Donald Low, chief microbiologist at Mount Sinai.

talk talk talk said...

It was important that public health and Dr. Low speak to the facts of what was happening. But Miller would not have upstaged them; he would've leant political authority to their words. He is the leader of Toronto, not Dr. Low, not Dr. McKeown. It was Miller's job to provide political calm and satiate the media sharks. He has a calm way of speaking, and so he could've done that.

However, with just the medical experts talking, I didn't see any let-up in media hysteria in Toronto -- it went on so long that the international media finally got wind of it. You could almost see the Toronto media being tickled pink with that!

Moragy said...

According to the Federation of Tenants David Miller "is more interested in sucking up to the Liberals so he can run as one when he tires of being mayor".

See:
http://members2.boardhost.com/TorontoTenants/msg/1132846806.html

He is up for the Lord of the Slum award at torontoslumtourism.com

talk talk talk said...

I thought he was an NDPer -- he was certainly part of the NDP bloc that ran in the last election. On the other hand, he hasn't lived up to his election hype, just like the Liberals.

TomLyons said...

The Federation of Metro Tenants an NDP group is endorsing Liberal Jane Pitfield for mayor.

They are saying that David Miller has proven himself against tenants with his new garbage recyclying levy against poor tenants in highrises.

They also say Miller refused to renew his NDP membership in 2005.

talk talk talk said...

Interesting. How will Pitfield address the serious problem of people in highrises not recycling (given our trash crisis, even highrise tenants and condo dwellers have to recycle)?