Reaction Roundup: councillors on the surprisingly dramatic vote on cleaning contracts

Reaction Roundup: councillors on the surprisingly dramatic vote on cleaning contracts

The formerly “mushy middle” and the left-leaners on city council teamed up against another of Rob Ford’s campaign promises yesterday, seizing oversight of future contracting out of city cleaning jobs. Instead of going to an internal committee, cleaning contracts will now be voted on by council—which will make it much harder for Ford to cut costs by privatizing more city contracts (unionized cleaners earn as much as $26 an hour, plus benefits, while the market rate is about $17 an hour, according to the National Post). The vote also stirred up plenty of resentment, tears and gravy references at city hall (who knew cleaning contracts were so contentious?).

A roundup of councillor reactions:

• An irritated Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday indirectly blamed voters for his faction’s loss and gave the electorate some very specific guidelines for the next municipal election: “Don’t send us any more activists, don’t send us any more unionists, don’t send us any more cyclists. Send us some people down here with good common sense who just want to manage the city’s affairs. That’s what is needed.”

• Councillor Pam McConnell, a union supporter who wrote the winning motion, dismissed Holyday’s mini-tantrum, saying he was just “cranky” because his side lost.

• Centrist Ana Bailão introduced the motion and fought back tears describing her own experiences cleaning offices with her mother as a teenager: “I know this industry. These are the most vulnerable people in this city. It’s not only about money, it’s making sure that the companies we are dealing with respect their employees.”

• Janet Davis painted a bleak picture of the Ford brothers’ plans, saying that the “mayor has set out—and his brother said clearly—to privatize and contract out everything that is not nailed down,” and adding that the vote showed council disagrees.

• Finally, fiscal conservative Karen Stintz brought the conversation back to the search for gravy, wondering whether these contracts really belong on that oft-referenced train: “When you think about the fact that the money we’re saving on these cleaning contracts is equivalent to the bonuses that we’re paying to Build Toronto [executives], it just makes you pause and think, are we finding the right savings and the right way, is that the right gravy?”

• Toronto Mayor Ford’s drive to privatize stalled as councillors take control [Globe and Mail]
• Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday tells voters not to elect more activists, unionists or cyclists [Toronto Star]
• Is Toronto cutting ‘the right gravy’? Stintz asks [National Post]