Judging from what I have heard hanging about Blackmore's office, there is considerable discontent with Pamster the Hamster afoot in the ward. It seems to come from a perceived lack of responsiveness to community issues. She has the ear of developers but does not return calls of community groups.
This may seem strange in someone who makes no secret of her allegiance to the "left" party, the supposed party of social and working class issues. It should not be strange to anyone with any knowledge of how power works in this city. "Pay attention to the power structure" says a social action guru I attended recently.
The NDP has never been a really good thing for the subordinated classes. It always has one foot in progressive movements and another in the power structure. It has really been about channelling demands for reform and increased services in a way that does not threaten the basic power arrangements.
Since I have lived in east central Toronto, over several ward redistributions, I have seen a series of nominally "left" councillors focussed mostly on drawing new development to their areas, often against the interests of existing communities. Yet they also act like they own everything "social", and the votes of low income people. If you are not on their side, you are the enemy.
This is the problem with MacConnell. It is part of a general problem of polities with "no party" systems once they get beyond a certain size. An informal party system develops which is usually a lot nastier than formal party structures. This is why formal party systems developed in the first place; to curb some of the abuses of cliques and informal structures.
No, all you people who think the problem with trying to get a response from MacConnell is that she is "out of touch" and "unresponsive"; the real issue is that you are not on her side. I don't mean, not on her good side. I mean you are not on her side in the partisan division of power in city government. Yes, she and some of the other authoritarian leftists really do think that way.
If you start to do or say anything against those institutions she feels she must protect, you will not only get ignored but you will get attacked. I do not mean denounced, I mean attacked in the nastiest bully-bitch kind of ways, by her and her staff. If you do not know what I mean, keep reading.
I think my troubles with her, and some of my political "representatives" before her, started with social housing in Toronto. Not long after I had come to Toronto, I was put into a very bad building. It was not even very good for my health, as I had disturbed sleep troubles, since largely remedied. It was the most hopeless place to get a nights sleep.
It was being run by a very abusive superintendent. He was shaking down the residents, many of them landed or illegal immigrants, to do repairs or to not make trouble for them with "immigration". I tried getting people "organized" to protest the way the building was run, without much luck.
One of the worst things about this place was the bar fridges that they thought were adequate in place of real fridges. I went through a lot to get proper fridges in there. I bought my own fridge and made them pay for it. This was back when you could do that. A judge found that the bar coolers were inadequate.
I still could not get either of the "elected representatives" we had at the time, one of them MacConnell, interested. Michael Walker took it up and got the fridges in. I heard later that he got more flack for that than anything else he did, for interfering outside his own ward. And this brought down a harassment campaign against me from the predecessor of the present TCHC.
Again, absolutely no help from MacConnell's office. Once when I called her office, her staff, on hearing my name, screamed into the phone, "we support housing" and slammed it down. I gave up on Pammie after that.
The years rolled on and I found other allies who could offer me some help in my struggles with people who do not like whistleblowers like me. I was not really trying to be a whistleblower, but it seems to come naturally to me. My life would be less complicated otherwise.
I tried to get action about the very corrupt and vicious city funded group, Federation of Metro Tenants Associations, which sucks up half a million dollars a year in public money and performs no useful services whatsoever. I ended up thrown in jail on false charges and it was made impossible to get a lawyer or a clean trial, in fact any trial at all.
The rotten building caretaker stuffed the ballot box when I ran to be a tenant representative. The city council refused to hear it; I heard later because the local councillor was not on board with my appeal.
This same caretaker had become addicted to crack and was letting crack dealers run the building, concealing evidence for them, even creating blank door keys for them. I finally got rid of him. I got some results from complaining about the mismanagement of the building but no thanks to the local councillor.
The TCHC management did not like this and also managed to me arrested on false charges, again with help from a faction in the police 52 division who also did not like me. This backfired on them and they had to move me to a much better building. But throughout this I had people asking me, what was the matter with my local councillor?
MacConnell has been the cause of a lot of trouble for really low income people and TCHC residents in the ward. She seems to have this phobia about fences. Her refusal to allow TCHC to put a fence around that out of control building was a big cause of the violence and property damage there. Yet it is also functionally impossible to have community gardens in the ward because she will not allow fences to be put around them.
Once when I was preparing to give a presentation about FMTA to a council committee, she approached me. I thought she was having a change of heart about FMTA. It turned out she only wanted to trick me about the time schedule of the committee, so I did not get there until the meeting was over.
So it has gone. I have people within the left political network in the legal clinics, FMTA, TCHC, and the city hall "shelter, housing, and support" who have me on some sort of black list and who keep making trouble for me. I have become more proficient at using the courts. I have gotten some small settlements for some of this harassment and made the bastards more cautious.
Yet my cry to have FMTA defunded so that these creeps can go get jobs and leave other people alone, has been like a cry in the wilderness. They are another sacred cow of the "left" councillors. Some conservative councillors like FMTA too, because they neutralize any effective and independent tenant associations which a building's residents may try to establish.
However, I keep getting told, " you need to talk to your councilor" or "what is the matter with your city councillor". I get tired of hearing it. What is the matter is that every time I have tried to get an appointment with Pammie and friends to discuss this, I get no reply. If I go to the council offices, usually somebody decides there is an "incident" going on. Usually the city hall security tell them where to get off. Pammie's staff promise to get back to me with a date. I never hear back from them.
Often I run into with Pammie at public events. Depending on how I feel, I sometimes loudly denounce her and usually I get some sympathy from those present. Recently she started shouting at me that I threatened her secretary. Someone there told her she had not had that secretary for years. Her assistant there was trying to get her to calm down. I am sure people were not impressed by her.
So you can see how much damage Pamster's behavior causes, both to individuals and to the community. Yet there is rarely any opposition to her. I suspect that this is because people are afraid of her and the political network she is part of. The attitude of these network partisans is; "if you are not on our side, we will not deal with you".
That really should not be accepted in a democracy. But we have a very limited democracy in this country anyway, and local government is very restricted. Pammie and friends are of the authoritarian left; proponents of "social engineering" and paternalistic approaches to social problems. I am a big proponent of political reform, direct democracy, and local self government. Yet the kind of political structure we have here favors the first and works against the second.
The first big problem here is the single member district system. As a proponent of voting reform, especially in city government. I get quite impatient with blockheads who also claim to be about voting reform, but fail to get that point. It is not about exact proportionality but about getting multimember districts.
With multimember districts there are several paths by which people can access government, instead of just one. One person cannot represent an entire district, no matter how conscientious. Inevitably, the single representative cannot please everybody, has to choose between competing claims, and you get partisanship. This is not a corrupt, but a corrupting, system.
If everybody has somebody on council who they voted for, who they feel is "their representative" then a lot of this relational bullying will die down. There will be more compromise, less "we lose if they win" thinking. Yet, many above mentioned blockheads think they want this "ranked ballot" or "AV" idea. How does AV address the basic problem, which is of the patronage politics enabled by single member districts? It does not.
The present system makes it critical to have an in with whoever controls the gateway. Since Pamster the Hamster offers me no hope at all in even bothering to try get on her good side, I have no disincentives to attacking her every way I can, in hopes that I can get someone I can approach in control of the gateway to heaven.
To come back to where I started, I think a lot of people in ward 28 are starting to think they would like to have a friendly ear at city call. Blackmore seems most likely to provide it. He has a long history of working forming and building the kind of groups that build and strengthen community and create bridges between people. He is not a social agency apparatchik, who works to regulate and atomize community.
The other two candidates who seem to have some serious organization behind them are both corporate apparatchiks. I do not know why they are running here; it is not conservative habitat. But they could split the vote enough to help Pammie win again. Ah, the wonders of our electoral system...
Remember to vote. The old saw "I do not vote. It just encourages them" is wrong. It is the other way around; failing to vote encourages those who seek to create apathy in order to control. Blackmore is the kind of person we need, an antidote to apathy. If he can break through this apathy inducing system...tr