Thursday, February 25, 2010

I Strongly Disagree With Giorgio Mammoliti

Though we've still got eight months to go before the question of who Toronto's next mayor will be is settled, there's one thing I am sure of - right now, Giorgio Mammoliti is definitely the comic-relief candidate. I can't look at his platform - the pieces of it he's unveiled as of this writing, at least - and think anything else. His was the first platform the citizens of Toronto learned anything about; he laid down its first planks back in October, more than two months before the race got in gear, and if anything I think they've warped with time.

The idea of opening a red light district for Toronto, and plugging Toronto's budget gap with a "sin tax" and revenues from a casino he'd also like to site in the city, are Mammoliti's - though I don't imagine the people behind Casino Rama or the Niagara Falls casinos would look kindly on that. Since then, we haven't known much more about where he stands, except for an interest in corporate sponsorships or private-public partnerships. He's been pretty much harmless, then, advocating policies that no other candidates has come even close to touching.

After what I read yesterday, I'm going to have to amend that to mostly harmless.

On February 24, The Globe and Mail reported that Mammoliti's platform is to be revealed tonight, and gave us a sneak preview of what we can expect - and, in my mind, it's nothing good. The keystone of that article is a proposed pledge to eliminate property taxes for all Torontonians over 65. I know, I know, a politician pandering to a specific social group is totally unheard of, but I find this particularly distressing.

That Mammoliti would even suggest this suggests, to me, that he does not have the sort of perspective that a mayor of Toronto would require. In a city that has made being underfunded a way of life, in a city that is hamstrung by its provincial overlords about how it can actually raise the money it needs to survive, let alone prosper, Mammoliti wants to end property taxes on people over the age of 65 almost literally just as the first baby boomers start turning 65. That's a real genius maneuver, Giorgio. I'm sure that obligating the young generation to pay for the old will ingratiate you to people who plan to be alive in 2050. The only potentially saving grace is that, as an immigrant city, Toronto's population is still biased toward the young - the 2006 census, which gave the total city population as 2,503,280, indicates that 353,445 - approximately fourteen percent - were sixty-five years of age or above. Nevertheless, I still think this is a bad idea - just look at the Chicago Transit Authority, which not only is struggling with significant service cuts brought on by revenue shortfalls, has had its finances further compromised by an Illinois governmental initiative that gave seniors free rides on the CTA - estimated at $1 billion over the next twenty years.

Remember, though, Toronto is legally prohibited from running a deficit, so all that revenue that would have come from 65+ property taxes will have to be made up elsewhere. Good thing that his campaign gave us that info, too - "massive layoffs and more private-public partnerships." Hooray! Because as we all know, there isn't a problem in the verse that can't be solved by putting people out on the street. After all, the news keeps saying the recession is over! So why shouldn't we not only compromise Toronto's capacity to raise balanced budgets, but remove as many people as we need to from paying work? It's a new day in Toronto, people!

Also, just remember - these are only crumbs. We haven't even seen Mammoliti's real platform. Are you excited yet?

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