“The Fault Lines at City Hall” – article from The Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance (IMFG)

Vas(iliki) Bednar ‏@VassB on Twitter has written:

  • All this #RobFord stuff is reminding me of @andcote’s @imfgtoronto piece on “The Fault Lines at City Hall” – http://bit.ly/UePsLw #TOpoli

[Click on the link in previous sentence to access the article.]

The article is by André Côté.

About IMFG

The article notes that:

The Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance (IMFG) is an academic research
hub and non-partisan think tank based in the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto.

IMFG focuses on the fiscal health and governance challenges facing large cities and city-regions. Its objective is to spark and inform public debate, and to engage the academic and policy communities around important issues of municipal finance and governance.

The Institute conducts original research on issues facing cities in Canada and around the world; promotes high-level discussion among Canada’s government, academic, corporate and community leaders through conferences and roundtables; and supports graduate and post-graduate students to build Canada’s cadre of municipal finance and governance experts. It is the only institute in Canada that focuses solely on municipal finance issues in large cities and city-regions.

IMFG is funded by the Province of Ontario, the City of Toronto, Avana Capital, and TD Bank Group.

[End of excerpt]

Comment

It’s noteworthy that the Executive Summary refers to this document as a “shorter, more accessible style of publication.” The article is laid out in a two-column format, with a decent-sized font and good line spacing. The text is set ragged-right. These layout features enhance readability. The text is also, relatively speaking, brief.

Given that much of what we know about anything related to politics is frequently conveyed in blurbs, brands, and soundbites, any attempt to offer a more nuanced, more in-depth analysis of political processes has to be expressed succinctly.

Otherwise whatever one wishes to communicate will not be read.

One feature of the article that could be improved upon concerns usage related to capitalization. The lack of consistency in capitalization of the word ‘mayor’ is a source of distraction, and creates a break in the reader’s engagement with the text.

Fault lines

The article refers to three fault lines:

  • The first fault line is political leadership.
  • The second fault line is accountability.
  • The third fault line is the role of the Toronto Public Service.

A representative paragraph from the article reads:

  • Discussions about political leadership usually start with the mayor. With electoral endorsement of his or her platform, a public profile as the focal point of media attention, and the ability to act as a spokesperson on city issues, the mayor has a central role in leading public discourse and setting the policy agenda. But mayoral leadership can be highly contested because of the absence of formal executive powers. Following Toronto’s amalgamation in 1998, as the scale and complexity of city issues increased, these limitations on the mayor’s capacity to lead were identified as an institutional barrier to good governance, particularly for advancing citywide issues.

[End of excerpt]

Demographics of Ford Nation

A Nov. 5, 2013 Metro News article is entitled: “Ford Nation: Three takes on why they’re so loyal to Toronto’s troubled mayor.”

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