Rob Ford’s ideological commitments to pinching pennies and supporting police meet head-on

Rob Ford’s ideological commitments to pinching pennies and supporting police meet head-on

(Image: Daniel Ehrenworth) 

Toronto media was buzzing this weekend after Michael Thompson, one of Rob Fords closest allies on council, suggested Bill Blairs job could be in jeopardy if he didn’t find the 10 per cent budget cuts the mayor is demanding. In fact, Blair’s latest budget proposal calls for a 1.5 per cent increase in 2012, which is about as far from the mayor’s edict as one can get. As we’ve noted before, Ford’s support for the police has often bordered on the ridiculous, but things are becoming extra interesting now that two of the mayor’s favourite ideologies—fiscal conservatism and tough on crime—appear to be in direct competition.

The Globe and Mail has the story:

The proposed $944.7-million budget to be considered at a meeting of the Police Services Board next week asks the city for an extra $14.5-million in 2012 – a 1.5-per-cent increase over this year.

In a report to be considered at the Wednesday meeting, Chief Blair paints a grim picture of what would be required to make the 10-per-cent cut requested of all city departments as part of Mayor Rob Ford’s campaign promise to reduce spending and stop the gravy train at city hall.

Such an action, the report states, would mean the elimination of more than 1,000 jobs – 650 officers and 240 civilians by January, 2012, in addition to the 200 uniform positions that the chief has budgeted to shed through attrition.

Sure, Ford could be praised for his consistency here—he’s said time and again that no city service would be protected in his grand gravy hunt. However, Ford also insisted not only that no layoffs be necessary to balance the city’s books but also that an additional 100 police officers would be put on Toronto streets. Combined with Ford’s decision to grant police a pay raise earlier this year, the police budget debacle is quickly starting to look like another instance of Ford’s ongoing struggle with simple math. Blair stopped by Metro Morning today to say as much, arguing that his proposed budget is actually three per cent less than what the city should have expected given the pay increase it already negotiated with the police association, among other measures that added inflationary pressure on the larger police services budget.

Of course, Blair may not be entirely genuine with his number crunching either, and it’s possible that they end up meeting each other somewhere in the middle (allowing both to save face and declare a partial victory). Then again, it wouldn’t be that shocking to see Ford outright fire Blair, given how he cleaned house at the TCHC and then attempted to do something similar with Waterfront Toronto.

Police chief’s job threatened [Toronto Star]
Toronto police chief balks at making budget cuts [Globe and Mail]
Posted Toronto Political Panel: The thin blue line for gravy [National Post]
“Police Wants More” [Metro Morning]