In this week’s cover story, I look at how David Miller and Rob Ford have governed as mayors, including how they’ve interacted with the members of council. In that analysis, I said this about David Miller:
Miller was an astonishingly effective mayor, in the sense that he implemented his agenda while his opponents at City Hall flailed on the sidelines. But he failed to communicate with those councillors outside his constituency—and didn’t care enough about doing so, because he could implement his plan just fine without persuading those who disagreed with him.
Stuart Green is a musician, journalist and political communications guy who worked in David Miller’s office for the last year of his first term and all the years of his second term. He’s also a Facebook friend of mine who sometimes offers interesting comments on my work or on whatever else is in the papers. In that capacity—Citizen Stuart, social network commenter—he posted his own different memory of those years on Facebook. (He generously gave me permission to share them here.)
The fact is that Miller won every one of his key item and major votes—all of them—by caring and doing the kind of outreach to all members of council that Ford has failed miserably at. People seem to forget the inner Miller administration featured such people as Mammoliti, Lindsay-Luby and Kelly in addition to his more “traditional” base. Also, this statement ignores the fact that in government, there is opposition that sees its job as being to oppose. Narrow-minded nay-sayers like [Denzil Minnan-Wong] or Thompson or Ford or Del Grande vowed to oppose everything just because. Where Miller won his votes was by getting support from all members but them (even when we tried) because they made it clear they never wanted to play nice anyway.
I responded that I had not been thinking of people like Minnan-Wong or Ford when I wrote that—they always appeared to me to be strident opponents unwilling to negotiate—but of people like Karen Stintz, who complained she’d been frozen out and ignored by the mayor’s office from the very beginning, or of Jane Pitfield, who claimed that she never got a call from Miller’s office about committee appointments and so called him directly (and, in fairness, as a result got the one she wanted). I had also heard and read plenty about how when Suzan Hall broke ranks on new taxes in a famous vote, it was because she’d been inadequately lobbied by the mayor’s office. (Of that vote, John Barber of the Globe said: “One stern threat and a wilted bouquet could have won her over. Likewise for bobblehead Councillor Maria Augimeri, who tipped the vote against the package, then immediately changed her mind.”) And certainly, many councillors at City Hall who are now part of Ford’s small team talk endlessly about how they never got any real communication from Miler’s office, no information or statistics, and that refrain certainly feeds my impression.
Fair enough. But I do know in my five years there, on things like Transit City and taxes, all councillors were approached. Hall got cold feet pure and simple. We even had Doug Holyday on votes like the labour contract vote and Green Lane [landfill] purchase. Those never came easily. Term 1 may have been different but the agenda in Term one was very different too. Term two was where all the ambitious, heavy lifting items came to council. That’s when the outreach became critically important and the votes showed it.