All aboard the gravy train! Next stop: Deco Labels and Tags

All aboard the gravy train! Next stop: Deco Labels and Tags

Image: Christopher Drost

Bloated councillor expense budgets? Gravy. Flashy business cards paid for by taxpayers and provided by a Ford family company? Not gravy (apparently). The Toronto Star reports that the Ford family business, Deco Labels and Tags, has been printing the mayor’s business cards—and charging up to four times as much as the city does to do the very same thing.

The Star has the gravy-stained details:

Expense records released Friday include an Aug. 29 invoice from Deco Label & Tags for $1,579.15, including HST, for 20,600 cards for Ford and his staff.

The cost is 7 cents each for the first 15,000 cards and 6.205 cents for the next 5,600. The city processed payment Sept. 23.

Ford is known both for being a fierce critic of free spending and for handing out his card almost robotically when in public. The ones used by him and his staff include gold lettering on “Toronto” and the city logo, and slightly raised letters and numbers. There’s a map of the city on the back.

The city’s standard card, with flat blue letters on a white background, costs 3.644 cents when ordered from the city printer. Councillors can pay more from their office budgets for fancy features. A card with a photo costs a nickel.

So not only is Ford channelling money into the family business, but he’s also doing it in exchange for a service that the city already provides. Heck, it’s not even a case of the private sector providing a service for less than the public sector (Ford loves that). He can have all the fancy cards he wants for a nickel apiece.

Of course, this story doesn’t mean much in isolation. It’s the sort of bean counting that has characterized the Ford administration to date. But the story takes on increased significance when stacked against Ford’s claims that the city is one big gravy boat. On the campaign trail and in the mayor’s office, Ford has hailed small cuts as massive victories, and in an administration that’s ostensibly defined by fiscal conservatism, why business cards should escape the axe is a mystery. Add this to the recent news about the police dry cleaning budget, and it appears Ford is either blinkered when it comes to particular kinds of gravy or he wouldn’t know it if he got run over by a gravy train riding biscuit wheels.

Ford outsources business cards to his family firm [Toronto Star]