Library board embarrasses Rob Ford, rejecting his call for a 10 per cent cut

Library board embarrasses Rob Ford, rejecting his call for a 10 per cent cut

(Image: Christopher Drost)

After much speculation and stalling, the library board voted to reject reductions aimed at meeting Rob Ford’s city-wide demand for a 10 per cent budget cut. With Ford’s proposed 2012 budget under heavy scrutiny, and other cuts to city programs (like food for under-served children) already taken off the table, the public rejection by a board the mayor basically hand-picked himself only adds insult to injury. Of course, Ford is no stranger to being thwarted in public, and on the shame scale, we’d put this one somewhere closer to being stiff-armed by the police than running in the face of a 22 Minutes camera crew.

The Globe and Mail has the story:

In an 8-5 decision, directors thwarted a proposal from board chair Councillor Paul Ainslie to exact savings by carving 7 per cent of the hours from 56 branches—a motion supported by the mayor’s office that would have shed $5.1 million from the library budget.

The mayor may have backed Mr. Ainslie’s motion, but some key allies did not. The eight dissenters included two members of the Mr. Ford’s cabinet-like executive committee, Councillor Jaye Robinson and Councillor Cesar Palacio, who said they the 10 per cent command was simply too inflexible.

“I simply can’t support a reduction in hours,” said Ms. Robinson. “I think in January you will find most of council backing this up and supporting keeping libraries open and accessible.”

We’re guessing Ford’s probably going to be pretty pissed—his own allies were presented with the chance to reduce spending, and they balked at the opportunity. The Globe even reports the mayor’s office had lobbied some board members before the vote, pressuring them to toe the party line. While it might still be too early to make concrete predictions on exactly how this will play out, Janet Davis’s suggestion that council will reject the 10 per cent figure when the vote comes to city hall certainly seems likely.

Naturally, the whole library debacle has all been rather embarrassing for Ford. But really, he’s a victim of his own grandstanding. He has consistently warned that the city is about the fall off a financial cliff, that disaster is imminent and that no city department should be safe from the axe. But then he let the police squeak out a few more dollars, promptly flopped on school nutrition programs and now there’s this. Which is all to say the chasm between Ford’s apocalyptic budget rhetoric and the city’s financial reality appears to be continuing to grow.

Library still short of budget reduction target as board rejects cuts [Toronto Star]
Toronto library board rejects mayor’s demand for 10% cut [Globe and Mail]