Toronto mayoral battle going to be messy
So far, there are two declared candidates, George Smitherman and Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti for the mayor's chair. But the battle between Smitherman and John Tory has already begun, even though Tory hasn't yet declared his intentions. (Hmmm, wonder what he'll do?) Mischievious anti-Smitherman elves are doing a bit of pre-Christmas scandal-mongering by whispering about how he's being a naughty boy with his consituency office.
According to anonymous gnomes, Smitherman will take advantage of the perks of being an MPP - a constituency office, plus one at Queen's Park - and they've tallied all his covered expenses from Nov. 9 to Mar. 1 at somewhere just over $80,000. However, they admit it's only a guess-timate and there are "intangibles." They did a little playing with Excel sheets and worked up the total to include his salary, office staff, photocopying, mailing and contact with voters over the next three months, et cetera, et cetera. "This is in no way a definitive spreadsheet," says their email, "but it is a fairly accurate representation of what an MPP would spend in three months if he were to open a mayoralty campaign office. This is not right."
From Smitherman's camp, media relations chief Erika Mozes dismisses the estimates as not credible.
"On the MPP office, the legislative assembly provides MPP's a total of about $80,000 a year to run their constituency offices so to begin with their number is way off. George Smitherman still has a number of files to complete before he leaves - he has been an MPP for 10 years- not something you should simply drop overnight. Gerard Kennedy also transitioned in this way when he left cabinet. I don't see how he would be able to utilize his community office to help him in his future pursuits - and to note he has not yet officially launched any campaign, he has simply signaled his intent to run."
Mozes stressed Smitherman will resign as MPP for Toronto Centre once he's officially in the race early next year.
It's hard to build a story on an anonymous tip about money Smitherman's people say is going for legitimate purposes. But this initial flurry signals a mayoral race that could be far from pretty - very dirty indeed. We don't even know yet whether a well-known name from the left will enter the fray, making a three-way race among three strong contenders with name recognition even nastier.
Should make for interesting coverage.
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Humble apologies for my absence. I was immersed in an investigative project that didn't lend itself to blogging and then right into a profile of George Smitherman. I thought Star photogapher Steve Russell's photos were so fine, I've posted a couple for you today. http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/torontomayoralrace/article/725803--george-smitherman-a-big-bully-the-city-needs.
All to say - Political Decoder is back.
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A subhead caught my eye last week. It comes from the Star, Nov. 16, under the headline, "APEC leaders admit climate deal unlikely."
The subhead: "Copenhagen agreement won't be signed but hope turns to Mexico summit."
There's always next time, right? It is to weep.