City of Toronto budget

Budgetdocs

OK, the budget is pretty massive.  In fact it is daunting.  the 2014 operating budget is $9.6 billion and the 2014-2023 capital budget is $18.6 billion.  Even the budget summary is 6 pages of dense spreadsheet.  This is so boring that I’ve decided that I’m going to take the hit for you and make a game out of it.  Watch for my August release of the Budgetizer!  Play with the budget oneline, compare your budget with your friends, look at what all the candidates promsies look like in a budget!  Take the questionnaire or if you are really lazy, the 10 questions what kind of budget would you create quiz.

If you want to help with the budgetizer, contact me at sketchy@sketchyformayor.com

What is open government and why should you care?

SketchyTTCOpen Government is a new movement where people are asking for transparency, open data and engagement.  Well that’s boring.

OK, I can see how open data is a bit useful.  I have one of those TTC schedule apps on my phone that tells me how late the next bus will be.  I guess that helps a bit.

But why transparency and engagement?  Sounds like something I wore after proposing to one of my ex-wives.

TransparencyThe City of Toronto does a lot of business.  If you don’t know where they are spending money, what they are planning to do, who they give money to or the results of studies paid with your tax dollars then they can get away with anything.   Let’s say the City did a survey to ask respondents about their opinin of clowns.  Of course the results are overwhelmingly positive, but with a few coulrophobes saying they hate them.  Now if they government doesn’t have to post the results, council can say that they have found that people hate clowns and the should be banned from the city.  See.  Governemnt has its own police forces with guns.  They can do pretty much anything they like.  Except, every few years we get the option to fire the people in charge.  How do you judge them?  Insist on transparency.  If they are against it then assume that they have a vendetta against clowns or worse, you.

Engagement
This part of open government is meant to get you involved.  The reason we have municipal government is that the closer the government is to where the decisions have their outcome the better it generally is.  To extend this, you are very well situated to help with the decisions that the government can make about you.  Maybe you have a good insight, maybe you have some unique knowledge, maybe you just care more.  Civic engagement is meant to help the city see your viewpoint.  A group of clowns may not think of what is in the best interest of some mimes.

Open Data
Open data is an initiative to get the governement to share the data that they record and create with us, the people who pay for it.  Do you think the budget is poorly done with lots of gravy?  The numbers are all published for you to look at.  Want to find an address?  Want to know what books are available?  All of these can be found out.  The next time you want to take a clown out to a restaurant, but don’t want the food to taste funny, you can check the Public Health records of all your local food premises.

So you may think, “well we never did this in the past and stuff is fine.”  In the past the press did this for us.  However now the press is being decimated by the internet.  Their advertising is drying up and there is more competition from other news sources.  So it is now our job to keep an eye on the government and politicians.  Blogs, affinity groups and angry mobs can now access the info they need to help fan their outrage.  Just don’t point it at clowns OK?

 

 

My statement on Rob Ford taking time off to seek help

I have spent some time thinking about how to respond to the news that Rob Ford is taking a short leave from his role as mayor and his campaign for re-election to get some help for his substance abuse problems.  As a performer I portray a drug and alcohol abusing clown who makes sexually inappropriate comments.  My goal is neither to glorify those attributes nor to make fun of those who are suffering from addiction.  When faced with the reality behind my portrayal I think it is important to address these things properly.

I believe that Rob Ford should step down as mayor and drop out of the election.  I have talked to recovering addicts and they have all stated that it takes more than thirty days to begin the road to recovery.  A six to nine month program where you are doing nothing but working on understanding your own motivations and behaviour is what is required.  You need to be committed and do it voluntarily.  You can’t remain in denial.  The only thing that you need to change is everything.  Rob Ford needs to get out of office and get off the campaign trail.  He needs to undergo group and individual therapy and add some structure to his life.  He will have to spend most of that time away from his family and friends.  It is a tough thing to commit to but he stands a good chance of coming out of this as a better person than when he started.  I wish him well and hope to see marked improvement and I suggest to him that he can run again in four more years.

Sketchy the Clown

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What does the city do?

When I told people that I wanted to run for mayor they wanted to know what campaign promises I would make.  While thinking about that I realized that I wasn’t entirely sure of all the things that the city does.  I like the idea of local representation to take care of things that are local.  But just what is local?

Luckily the City of Toronto has a great website that lists all of the agencies, boards, commissions and corporations.

You kind of need to know what your local politicians are making the decisions about before you even look at what their positions on things are and to see  if they have any ideas on things that matter to you.

The city provides many services and agencies to make your life in Toronto safe and enjoyable.

For your children they provide camps, activities, child services, child care and standards enforcement, arenas for skating, parks, pools, community centres and recreation.  And for your pets they make the city a safer place with their animal services.

For new people to Toronto there are immigration and settlement services, employment services and affordable housing.  They provide neighbourhood profile data so that you can help decide where in the city to live.

To make the city a nicer place to live they provide urban forestry, leaf pickup, snow removal, hydro, garbage, recycling and household hazardous waster services and promotion of composting.  They preserve our heritage and encourage sustainable environment initiatives and energy efficiency.  There are monuments and public art.  The city encourages accessibility for all of their services.

To help get around in the city there are roads and signs, street parking, cycle paths and trails, public transit with buses, streetcars, subways, ferries and para-transit services along with taxi licensing.

To make the city safer and healthier they provide homemaking and nursing services to for the elderly and disabled.  They provide emergency management to help with disasters like flooding.  Also they provide public health promotion and disease and accident prevention programs.  There is emergency housing and programs for dealing with surviving heat and cold.  They inspect food services and provide signage to reflect the standards.

They provide the police, fire and ambulance emergency services that make Toronto one of the best places to live in the world.  They also provide the court services.

Toronto is committed to the development of arts and culture.  They put on special events and provide community grants to reach the social, economic and cultural goals of our residents.

There are even archives to remember all the things we have done as citizens and a poet laureate to wax about us.

I have a business, what does the city do for me?

The city helps out small business and entrepreneurs with their Enterprise Toronto initiative.

They city helps to unlock value in under-utilized lands and provides support in the development of the port lands and the waterfront.

The city maintains licensing standards and provides licenses for a variety of business types.  They provide your business permit, construction and building permits and property assessment. 

The city approves Business Improvement Areas to stimulate business.  They provide parking lots and boulevard parking.  They also make available maps and geographic data along with demographic information to help you make your business case.

The city allows you to make proposals for variance to the zoning of the land you have.

They help out cultural industries, artists and even have a Film and Television office.

My friends and family are coming to visit, what does the city provide?

The city manages lots of destinations for tourists or for enjoying your leisure time without having to leave the city. 

Casa Loma
Exhibition Place
Sony Centre for the Performing Arts
St Lawrence Centre for the Arts
Toronto Zoo
Yonge-Dundas Square
FortYork
Todd Morden Mills
HighPark
Scarborough Museum
York Museum
TorontoIslands and Ferries
Riverdale Farm
Scarbourough Bluffs
Toronto Music Garden

And many more small parks, museums and attractions