Archived columns and blog posts by Matt Elliott

City Council Scorecard: rounding out 2013 with votes on garbage, water and, yes, Rob Ford

Published on Tue Dec 31 2013

The city council scorecard ain’t what she used to be. When I started collecting this data — way back in 2011 — it was because I was curious to see where Mayor Rob Ford was drawing the council support he needed to pass major items. At the time, I was working the hypothesis that Ford wouldn’t be able to maintain enough support from councillors to push his agenda through. The scorecard worked as a way to track that theory — and the theory proved correct.

But then 2013 happened. Over the last twelve months, we’ve seen Ford not just lose, but lose hard. Councillors used a two-thirds majority vote to push him to debate transit revenues. They forced a special meeting to formally reject the casino developments that Ford had been championing for almost a year. And to cap it all off, they essentially voted as a near-unanimous bloc to call the mayor a liar, to urge him to take at least a temporary leave-of-absence and to give large parts of his job to another guy.

As a result, the scorecard narrative has changed. There are still ideological divisions on council between progressives, centrists and conservatives, but it’s really not fair to associate right-leaning councillors with the mythic “Ford Nation.” Disdain and contempt for Ford is now fully non-partisan.

Does that mean I’ll stop tracking votes with the scorecard? Nah. But I expect there will be fewer votes added over the next year — most council members will be distracted by the election anyway — and more disclaimers reminding readers that any success Ford has at council from here on out is almost certainly accidental.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the final additions to the city council scorecard for 2013.

I covered these votes in more detail right after they happened. But in case you forgot: over several days in November, councillors conducted several votes relating to the fall-out from the mayor’s crack cocaine thing. I struggled with which votes to include on the scorecard, but ultimately settled on three.
I covered these votes in more detail right after they happened. But in case you forgot: over several days in November, councillors conducted several votes relating to the fall-out from the mayor’s crack cocaine thing. I struggled with which votes to include on the scorecard, but ultimately settled on three.

The first one, Part 1 of MM41.25, came from a Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong item that asked Ford to respond to the crack revelations. Part 1 specifically was a motion that council ask Ford to apologize for “misleading” residents about the existence of the video. That's a nice way to say he lied. It passed 36-6.

Council didn’t stop there. They also stripped Ford of most of his non-statutory powers. With CC42.1, councillors removed Ford’s ability to appoint and fire committee chairs. It passed 39-3. With CC44.1, they took more drastic steps, reducing Ford’s office budget and granting many of his powers to Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly. That package of items — with some amendments — passed 36-5.

From Council’s December meeting:

After all the drama in November, December's meeting was almost all business, with councillors debating budgets for water service and solid waste. Despite promising that he would respond to council’s power-stripping motions with a flurry of lawsuits — he compared the situation to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait — Ford mostly just sat in his chair.

Some important items were passed.

EX36.17, Motion 1, was an attempt by Coun. Mike Del Grande to limit planned increases to the rates on your water bill to just 3% in 2015, as opposed to the 8% recommended by staff. The city has been forced to raise water rates significantly for years because the city’s water infrastructure is a pretty sorry state, and staff say that needs to continue. I think Del Grande was trying to make some sort of rhetorical point with this motion, but it’s hard to tell with him. In any case, it was defeated 30-11,

A long-standing issue came to a conclusion — maybe — with EX36.18, Motion 1. Since the city moved to user fees for garbage collections, councillors have debated whether charitable organizations should pay the same fees as any other home or business. On one hand, charging charities could discourage shelters and other groups from offering important services. On the other, city data suggests that these groups are not doing enough to recycle or use their green bins, and maybe the fee will be an incentive. With a variety of different viewpoints on this subject, an attempt from Coun. Mike Layton to formally exempt charities from paying the fees failed on a close vote, 16-17.

Finally, Motion 1 of PW27.7 was a motion from Mayor Rob Ford that asks city staff to report by January 2015 on the potential for contracting out garbage collection east of Yonge Street — where service is still provided by city crews. This was an odd vote, as Ford’s motion was in competition with a similar motion from Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong. Minnan-Wong, though, wanted to move faster on the issue than Ford. The mayor, for whatever reason, would rather not have the information come back until after the election. I wonder why. The request for a report passed 20-15.

The biggest gains in Ford Nation Percentage in 2013:

Coun. Ana Bailão: +8.32 percentage points

Coun. Josh Colle: +6.95

Coun. Raymond Cho: +5.64

Coun. Glenn De Baeremaeker: +4.28

Coun. Anthony Perruzza: +4.26

And the biggest declines:

Coun. Michael Thompson: -11.50 percentage points

Coun. Michelle Berardinetti: -12.97

Coun. John Parker: -14.12

Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong: -15.32

Coun. Paul Ainslie: -22.89

For a neat graphical representation of how council support has shifting since the beginning of the term, check out Chis Bilton’s infographic for The Grid.

Most pro-Ford councillor in 2013 was — big shock — Coun. Doug Ford. He voted with his brother on 94.59% of major items. They differed on a motion relating to shrinking the size of council, and an increase to the 2013 budget to fund student nutrition programs.

Most anti-Ford councillor was a four-way tie. Coun. Janet Davis, Coun. Adam Vaughan, Coun. Paula Fletcher and Coun. Shelley Carroll voted with Ford on 0% of major items in 2013.

Ford was on the winning side for 36.84% of votes in 2013. That’s not a good number, but it is up a bit from 2012, where he won just 31.82% of votes. I don't think it's a sign of momentum.

This post was originally published at on 2013-12-31T00:00:00.000Z

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Matt Elliott

City Hall watcher, columnist and policy wonk in Toronto.
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