Could the debacle of Mayor Rob Ford in Toronto lead to Toronto's de-amalgamation?
The planner in me likes "efficiency" so I am attracted to the idea of city-county amalgamation for a variety of reasons like cheaper services, better harmonization of tax revenues so that as people and business leave "the city" the city isn't crushed by the loss of revenue, etc.
But the downside of such amalgamations is that cities tend to be more "progressive" politically than suburbs, even if by comparison to exurban and rural areas, suburban residents are still more "liberal" than they are conservative. For example, in Virginia, Richmond, the Hampton Roads area (which is dominated by military bases), and Northern Virginia all vote pretty Democratic, which is why the State has Democratic senators and voted for President Obama. But it's all relative. They are less progressive than DC residents, say.
Image of the 2010 election results in Toronto from Torontoist.
So this means that in amalgamated city-counties, suburban more conservative voters demographically overwhelm city voters, and the likely result is a more conservative mayor from the suburban regions. This happens in Toronto and it happens in London in the UK.
The core of the city votes progressive, the outskirts conservative, and the conservatives win because more people live in the outer city. See the past blog entry, "City-county/County-city" for more discussion on thsi.
This article, "How Rob Ford's Meltdown Could Save Toronto: Mayor's latest outrageous behavior may be catalyst city needs to open de-amalgamation debate," from The Tyee, posits that the reason that Ontario's Premier forced the amalgamation of Toronto in the late 1990s was deliberate, designed to ensure that the suburban voters would dominate the inner city, and elect conservative mayors.
But because the current mayor, Rob Ford, is such a wacko, the author posits that maybe, just maybe, Toronto could get de-amalgamated. This would cut costs and help the transit system, which is being forced to serve less dense suburban areas, which is much more costly than serving Toronto's dense core.
So much for my theoretical desires for efficiency.
Labels: City-County mergers, elections and campaigns, electoral politics and influence, Growth Machine, public finance and spending, sports and economic development, stadiums/arenas, urban vs. suburban