Ford accused of trying to stack public consultations
City must close estimated $774-million budget gap
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is being accused of trying to stack public consultations on a review of city services with people sympathetic to his views.
The accusations stem from an email sent this week to people who signed up for a Ford mailing list during last fall's election campaign.
The email, entitled "Mayor Ford needs your help!," urges supporters to register for one of eight public meetings where people can weigh in on which city services should be protected, cut or contracted out.
"This is about respect for taxpayers — watching your tax dollars is what Mayor Ford committed to do," the email reads, adding that space at the roundtable sessions are limited, so "register today."
The email ends with: "Thank you! From your friends in Ford Nation."
The meetings are one part of a wide-ranging effort by city staff to seek public input into a comprehensive review of all city services amid a looming budget shortfall of $774 million.
'He's playing politics here'
Coun. Joe Mihevc takes issue with the email, accusing Ford of bringing partisan politics to an issue that should be free of it.
"There are some major decisions coming down the pipe around what kind of business we're in, in whether we actually have libraries, whether we actually have a vital daycare network. And he clearly wants to skew those results in a particular direction," he said.
"He's playing politics here...This is showing, frankly, that he's not trying to be a mayor for everyone, that he's trying to be a mayor for those who agree with his politics."
Adrienne Batra, a spokeswoman for the mayor's office, said the note is simply about civic engagement.
"We want to be able to hear from the residents all across our city ... what their priorities are and have a wide swath of people from all corners of the city," she said.
Batra said the mayor would attend some of the meetings, the first of which will be held at the North York Civic Centre on May 24th.