Royson James has issued his ratings for all city council incumbents running for re-election.
Two of them are of interest to me.
First, his rating for my city councillor, Michael Walker:
Ward 22, St. Paul's
First elected: 1982
Comments: Look up the word "maverick" and you'll see Walker's picture. An unrepentant outsider and independent thinker who almost always sides with constituents, much to the chagrin of councillors. A strange bird, he's a keeper on city council where party politics hold little sway. Just don't expect him to win a vote, unless there is already general consensus.
That feels about right to me. Michael Walker has won my vote for two reasons. First, he religiously represents his consitutents' wishes (for better or worse). Second, he doggedly resisted a lot of the crap that this mayor and city council have tried to pull.
Second, I'm surprised by Royson's rating for Deputy Mayor Case Ootes:
Ward 29, Toronto Danforth
First elected: 1988
Comments: Council's most capable, effective and praise-worthy performer. An invaluable asset as deputy mayor and can play a strong role under a new mayor. Likeable, pretty right-wing but nice about it. Can be tapped to oversee privatization or cost-cutting issues.
Well, I haven't been there to watch city council as much as Royson James has, so maybe he's right. On the other hand, here's some coverage of Ootes from another city newspaper. John Barber wrote, last November:
I suppose the absolute lowest moment of the most shameful week of the most appalling city council Toronto has endured since 1969 came when Deputy Mayor Case Ootes yelled "Shut up!" at the top of his lungs so the whole world could hear him take a rhetorical club to the head of Dr. Sheela Basrur, the city's Medical Officer of Health.
By contrast, Mayor Mel Lastman a few hours later shouting "You are a bastard!" at Councillor Howard Moscoe, in full public session, was almost normal.
It's harder to characterize the Ootes attack because nothing like it has happened before. Not even Tom Jakobek in his notorious heyday publicly attacked city staff, certainly not the MOH, so viciously.
But Mr. Ootes is no outrider; he's the strategic mastermind of the band of oafs that runs City Hall. Nothing could demonstrate strategic stupidity and irredeemable oafishness better than his attempt to knock the MOH out of the island-airport debate by brute force
So, there is certainly a difference of opinion between two city columnists on the issue of Councillor Ootes. "Invaluable asset" or "irredeemable oaf"? My policy (announced today) is that in situations of this sort, the tie goes to John Barber. After all, Royson James enthusiastically favoured the megacity amalgamation and John Barber was adamantly opposed.