Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Clearly Toronto has stronger laws and requirements for integrity and ethics for politicians than we do in DC

Toronto's Mayor has been ordered to step down for a conflict of interest violation.  It will be appealed.

See "Mayor Rob Ford kicked from office, found guilty of conflict of interest" and "Meet Chaleff-Freudenthaler: The 27-year-old who triggered Rob Ford’s downfall" from the Toronto Star.

2.  The provincial conflict of interest guidelines allowed the Judge to ban Ford from running for office for 7 years beyond the current term.  See "Rob Ford out: Mayor’s attack dog Mammoliti quits top committee" from the Toronto Star.

The Municipal Conflict of Interest Act is strict: members of council cannot speak or vote on issues in which they have a financial interest.

Hackland could have allowed Ford to keep his job, even if he found that Ford broke the law, by accepting the argument that Ford’s actions were inadvertent or a result of an error in judgment, or that the amount of money in question — $3,150 — was unlikely to influence him.

But Hackland rejected all of the arguments put forth by Ford’s lawyer, Alan Lenczner. In dismissing the suggestion that Ford had made an error in judgment, Hackland suggested Ford had deliberately ignored the law in question.

“In view of the respondent’s leadership role in ensuring integrity in municipal government, it is difficult to accept an error in judgment defence based essentially on a stubborn sense of entitlement (concerning his football foundation) and a dismissive and confrontational attitude to the integrity commissioner and the code of conduct,” Hackland wrote.

3.  "Activist claims Doug Ford bullied him" from the Toronto Star.  (Doug Ford is the brother of Mayor Rob Ford, and the power behind the throne.)

The complaint is under investigation.  I just think of how City Council members in DC browbeat witnesses--although sadly that would be protected behavior. See "School Activist Whose Protest Resulted in Supreme Court Ruling Weighs in on D.C. School Closures" from DCist.


-- Ontario Municipal Conflict of Interest Act
-- City of Toronto Integrity Commissioner
-- "Toronto obliged to have ombud, integrity commissioner: Province," Toronto Sun
-- City of Toronto, Office of the Ombudsman

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At 6:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mayor Ford was such an outstanding elected official and friend to nonmotorized transportation users. It will be such a shame to see him crawl back under the rock that he emerged from.

Can Toronto get that bike lane repainted now that he is out of office?

David W.

At 8:02 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

Given that we've had one mayor indicted, another voted out of office because of a lot of ethical suspicions, and a sitting mayor under investigation, I am not sure your comparison work.

However, like WMATA, the root of the problem is governance. And I think it relates to your recently expressed dissatisfaction with planning. The problem with the growth machine is when it starts to work too well, and it forgets the political system needs to deliver some tangibles to its citizens. Otherwise were are no better than communist china, or Arlington.

And yes, the council system and ANCs were set up to prevent this, and there is no question it is being abused (ward based parking, historical review, general NIMBY, way too parochial). Yes, white people in DC are way too educated and understand how to use and abuses process.

I'd say the ideal system is have a mayor from the people and a council from the growth machine. It is what both Fenty and Gray promised but failed to deliver.

At 11:05 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Hmm. First, I meant with regard to Toronto that they have a system that builds integrity/acountability into the process. That comes from the Province, which like states in the US, promulgates laws and rules that subsidiary jurisdictions have to follow.

E.g., Toronto has an integrity commissioner and an ombudsman because the Province required it. And elected officials have to follow the Provincial ethics law that governs all local officials. (E.g., Maryland has a similar law and recently some elected officials in Chevy Chase resigned rather than have to comply with the reporting requirements, which they called too onerous.)

I would like to see building these kinds of checks into the system in DC, so that, like the point I made in comments that I made at GGW that you are referring to, you build into the system/process redesign focused on generating preferred outcomes as a matter of course.

2. WRT your point about the Mayor from the people and the Council from the Growth Machine, the reality is that the GM would never hear of there being an independent Mayor.

The only reason the GM turned against Fenty is that he was cutting in a new younger crew into the spoils system, crowding out older heads, and making them fear for the future. Hence the Jeff Thompson involvement.

I would probably be okay with the GM fully calling the shots if we moved to a system more like I have suggested, with a change in the electoral system, adding representatives to wards and at large, building in integrity requirements, making councilmember jobs part time, and adding semi-independent capacity building systems, which would include ANCs and civic organizations, probably building "participatory budgeting" systems for grants/ending earmarks, creating a Parks and Planning Commission, requiring a public capital budgeting planning and allocation process, the kinds of neighborhood planning requirements and developing consensus priorities, defining the economic value of various types of development, improving the Zoning and Planning laws where needed to provide better checks vis-a-vis citizen needs (e.g., big box review requirements, economic impact evaluations, etc.)

With all that there would be more checks on the GM and some opportunities for some independence to be included in "the system."

I guess I will do what I did in 2011 and for New Year's Day I'll write some wishes for the new year, mostly focused on these kinds of things, basically just repeating what I wrote in 2011 in all likelihood.

Plus the post where I wrote after a nightmare I had sharing an office with Vincent Orange, and what I would do were I a councilmember.

G-D, that's really an excellent post, maybe all I need to do is re-run in on New Year's Day....


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