UPDATE: Councillors inundated with pro-tax emails

UPDATE: Councillors inundated with pro-tax emails

The Web site launched yesterday at a rally led by Mayor David Miller, www.fairtaxes.ca, encourages people to “click here to write to your city councillor” and tell them you support Miller’s Fair Tax plan. Click on the link, and what you get is a form letter that goes not to your councillor, but to all councillors. The site barely been up for one day—it’s only noon as I write this—but already every councillor’s inbox is overflowing with more than 1,300 emails.

That’s an inflated number, but I’m told that, if you remove all the duplicates from the people who’ve got nothing better to do than send the email over and over again, the number of individuals who have written in is well in excess of 900.

This is all rather predictable: the Mayor’s supporters have been working their Rolodexes and contact lists, urging everyone to log on and write in. Yet there is already a whiff of panic in the offices of some of the councillors who voted to defer the final vote on new taxes back in July. It’s political psychology at work: when you’re an elected official, an avalanche of letters and emails makes you sweat. You go about your usual days believing that you are exercising good judgment on behalf of your constituents—and then suddenly your inbox is full of vitriol, and you feel the pressure. This is the same strategy the real estate lobby employed in the weeks leading up to the initial vote back in July: councillors received hundreds of emails every week. And even though it was a fully-choreographed letter-writing campaign organized by a very narrow special-interest group, it had every council member acting punchy and eventually caused some councillors to buckle.

Can the Fair Tax campaign can keep up the momentum? Miller needs a few more councillors to come over to his side if he’s to get the two-thirds majority he needs to convene a special meeting of council. A thousand emails a day for the next few days ought to do it.

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RELATED DIGRESSION: CBC Radio One City Hall Reporter David Michael Lamb went after Mayor Miller with guns blazing yesterday, asking him why he refused to consider a special meeting of council two months ago but is trying to force one now. Miller denied he’d ever changed his position, and to embarrass him Matt Galloway’s Here and Now drive-home show was playing the weeks-old clip of Miller poo-pooing the special meeting idea.

Which once again begs the question: why rush the vote on new taxes? Yesterday, I suggested the provincial election was part of the reason. But it seems to me that Miller is also using a little bait-and-switch to catch his political opponents flat-footed. For weeks now, Miller has been saying the final vote on the taxes will be held October 22, as scheduled. Presumably the real-estate lobby was preparing for that fight, five weeks from now—and might not be ready to fight it today.