Savvy backroom politics and creepy tactics were behind council’s big budget victory

Savvy backroom politics and creepy tactics were behind council’s big budget victory

(Image: Christopher Drost)

Apparently the fight to save city services might have been won somewhere between the council chamber and the city hall bathroom. In a stroke of captivating behind-the-scenes political reporting, the Globe and Mail lays out the backroom strategizing that resulted in Josh Colle’s omnibus motion, the one that saved $15 million from the budget axe and served as a telling political loss for Rob Ford.

From the Globe:

On the day before Toronto city council began this week’s budget debate, a group of first-term councillors met with the mayor to broker a compromise. The group—four moderates who often vote with the mayor—suggested he could gain broader support for his budget if he saved $15 million in city services. They even offered to let him take the credit. Mayor Ford did not agree with their plan to dip into the surplus to cover the spending. The next day, minutes before the debate began, the councillors returned to make another last-ditch pitch to staff. The response: no dice.

Eleven hours later, the mayor’s cost-cutting budget was passed, but only after a very public surrender of his line in the sand – that not a penny from last year’s surplus be used to save programs. He had chosen to fight rather than compromise and lost the battle by the narrowest of margins. One more vote would have swung things his way.

We’ve already expressed doubt about Ford’s ability to play nice with others (even when it would be to his advantage), and this case serves as further proof of just how stubborn the mayor can be. Of course, Ford may have thought he had the votes to block the surplus spending. If that’s the case, though, he was something worse than headstrong—he was clearly outplayed.

Gamble tipped the budget vote [Globe and Mail]