Saturday, September 26, 2009

David Miller

I was saddened to see David Miller will not be running again. He has been an excellent mayor.

Were it not for the outrageously dreadful media coverage of this summer's garbage strike, he might still be in the race. Compare this column by John Lorinc on Spacing Wire with the nonsense published in the Toronto dailies (linked to by Lorinc) and the bilge we saw on the airwaves. That said, garbage strikes are intrinsically unpopular, especially for a mayor with ties to labour, so the re-election would have been difficult.
Perhaps his greatest legacy was his work on public transit. Longtime transit advocate and citizen expert Steve Munro wrote this tribute on Spacing Wire. It is all worth reading but here is his conclusion:
What is David Miller’s legacy?

Transit is a vital, central part of City planning and building. No longer is the TTC trying to fit one more rider on the roof of every bus and streetcar, and despite many problems with fleet availability, plans are still in place to continue improving service. Transit is no longer something only downtown Councillors with their “pampered” constituents fight for, it’s a concern in wards right across the City. Showing people what can be done and encouraging them to ask for more is a vital part of advocacy and leadership.

I am deeply saddened that we won’t see a third term, that the changes now underway must be completed by others, indeed could even be threatened by the short-sighted who would trash “Miller projects” without regard for their intrinsic value.

I remember a meeting in the Mayor’s office early in his first term. A confident, happy Mayor, proud of his city, sat with his legs up on the couch while a group of us discussed what was needed for transit. We’ve come a long way since then.

When the first LRV rolls along Sheppard Avenue or into a redeveloped eastern waterfront, when Councillors demand even more routes as part of the 10-minute network, when cutting transit service becomes utterly unthinkable at budget time, David Miller should be there if only in spirit.

UPDATE: This item by Michael Hollett in NOW Magazine is also worth reading:
We have what may arguably be the greenest city on the continent, shrinking crime rates, reduced business taxes, safer streets, less homelessness, a more inclusive city, a building boom downtown, a police chief who doesn’t wage war on his citizens, expanding public transit, an arts-positive atmosphere and an enthusiasm and vigour on our streets and boulevards that were unimaginable just 10 years ago.

In the same way I’m amazed at the ability of the right-wing press in the U.S. to put a negative spin on Barack Obama’s attempts to bring health care to the needy, I have to give grudging respect to this city’s conservative dailies (yes, you, too, Toronto Star – Joe Atkinson is spinning in his grave) for successfully painting Miller’s accomplishments in such a negative light.

Does nobody remember the previous buffoon of a mayor enthusiastically endorsed by Toronto’s mainstream media just before Miller? Mel Lastman presided over a collapse so complete that his most enduring idea was a bunch of plastic moose that sat as empty-headed as Hizzoner on crime- and litter-filled streets.

The same media experts who now try to paint Miller as a failed mayor happily endorsed this joke of a leader who made Toronto a punchline in the world and oversaw a City Hall so crammed with corruption that secret envelopes of cash, privileged plane rides to hockey games and grotesque patronage scandals like the MFP computer debacle just seemed like the way things were done.

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