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[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • blogTO notes that a party celebrating the end of Rob Ford’s term as mayor is being planned for election night at City Hall.
  • Centauri Dreams notes the discovery of secondary targets for New Horizons after it passes Pluto.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper that looks to examine the oblateness or otherwise of some exoplanets discovered by Kepler.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to one paper examining underwater archeology and links to a series debating the question of whether or not there was a human presence 30 thousand years ago at a site in Uruguay.
  • Eastern Approaches reports on the aftermath of a failed claim by Radek Sikorski that Russia made a 2008 proposal on partitioning Ukraine.
  • Joe. My. God. notes a Costa Rican survey suggesting that up to a fifth of Costa Rican police think that harassing GLBT people is OK.
  • Language Hat notes the etymology of the Egyptian title of “khedive”, apparently obscure for a reason.
  • Language Log notes a contentious issue in Chinese translation: “rule of law” or “rule by law”?
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer looks at the aftermath of a stunt at a Serbian-Albanian football game.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog considers estimates for Russian losses in Ukrainian fighing.
  • Towleroad notes that Argentina has granted asylum to a Russian GLBT claimant.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests that Ukrainian events have awakened Belarusian nationalism.

[PHOTO] Doll stranded in tree, High Park, Toronto

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Doll stranded in tree, High Park, Toronto

Written by Randy McDonald

October 22, 2014 at 9:50 am

Posted in Photo, Toronto

Tagged with , , , , ,

[URBAN NOTE] On the case for Alex Mazer as councillor for Ward 18, Davenport, Toronto

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My particular Toronto neighbourhood is located in Toronto’s Ward 18, Davenport. Current councillor Ana Bailão, who has appeared here in October 2012 after an impaired-driving charge, and in a 2011 link to a blogTO interview with Bailão that featured heated exchanges in the comments about her views on the future of Toronto, is facing challenges from multiple candidates. The foremost of these challengers is Prince Edward Island-born lawyer Alex Mazer. (Full disclosure: I knew him in high school.)

Sahar Fatima’s article in The Globe and Mail takes a look at the contest between the two.

If taxes were to rise in Toronto, you wouldn’t hear any complaints from Beaconsfield resident Rhea Lavery.

Ms. Lavery, who wants to see more separated bike lanes around the city, said, “I want to vote for somebody who’s actually honest enough to say, ‘If you want these things in the city, it’s going to cost money.’ These people who say we can have something for nothing, I’m just so tired of that.”

It’s for that reason Ms. Lavery said she’s supporting Harvard-educated lawyer and policy adviser Alex Mazer in the race against the incumbent councillor, Ana Bailao, in Ward 18, Davenport, which stretches from Dupont Street to Queen Street between Dovercourt Road and the Kitchener GO Train tracks to the west.

Mr. Mazer is among nearly a dozen challengers looking to unseat Ms. Bailao, who took over for former councillor and TTC chair Adam Giambrone after winning by more than 1,300 votes in 2010. He’s racked up endorsements from the Toronto Star, Ontario Green Party leader Mike Schreiner, and his old boss, former Ontario finance minister Dwight Duncan. Mr. Mazer and Ms. Bailao’s platforms are similar, with both pledging to improve bus and streetcar service by reducing bunching, increase affordable housing options and provide better access to affordable childcare services.

“City council has become dysfunctional and is in need of new ideas and new leadership,” Mr. Mazer said in an interview. “I feel [Ms. Bailao] has supported the Ford agenda on too many occasions.”

He pointed to her support for the Scarborough subway, elimination of the vehicle registration tax and removal of the Jarvis Street bike lanes as examples of her siding with the Ford administration.

“There’s a difference between being a hard-working councillor who shows up and real leadership,” Mr. Mazer said. “She’s voted for tax cuts and then she’s also said we need better services.”

Sediya Ansari’s Toronto Star article also compares the two.

Bailao has lived in the ward since she immigrated to Canada as a teen, entering the municipal arena as assistant to councillor Mario Silva in 1998. Her first run for office against Adam Giambrone was unsuccessful, but her 2010 effort landed her a seat with sway as a centrist on a deeply divided council. Her term was not without controversy — Bailao pleaded guilty to drunk driving after a night out at the Thompson Hotel in October 2012.

While she may be leaning on her track record and name recognition, her main competitor, 35-year-old Alex Mazer, says another four years with the rookie councillor could mean continued support for Ford policies.

“She’s supported the Ford agenda on a lot of instances where I would have voted differently,” said Mazer, citing her vote to scrap the vehicle registration tax as an example.

Mazer, a P.E.I.-raised, Harvard-educated lawyer, has positioned himself as the “progressive alternative” to the incumbent, although their campaign platforms are quite similar. Both promise to improve streetcar service, keep school board-owned land at Bloor and Dufferin in city hands and extend the West Toronto Railpath. Mazer says that might not be a coincidence.

“Her platform came out a month after mine, and frankly, a lot of the ideas sound very familiar because I think they are resonating,” Mazer said.

I don’t think that Bailão was a bad city councillor. I do think that Mazer has the potential to be a better one. I’m not alone: Mazer was endorsed by the Toronto Star editorial vote. When I went to the Wallace Emerson Community Centre Sunday evening to cast my vote in the advance polling, I cast my vote for Alex Mazer. I think that you should, too, so long as you’re actually qualified to vote in Ward 18.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 22, 2014 at 1:11 am

[URBAN NOTE] “Strategic voting: A troubling factor in Toronto’s race for mayor?”

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The Toronto Star‘s Betsy Powell reports about concerns of some that strategic voting in Toronto’s mayoral elections–perhaps most importantly, people voting for John Tory instead of Olivia Chow in fear that a Chow vote might mean Doug Ford’s election–is a bad phenomenon. When I went to the advance polls, after much prior thought I ended up voting for Chow. I like the candidate, Ford is behind Tory significantly, and quite frankly if Doug Ford gets elected it will be because a sizable plurality of Toronto’s voters want him. Some sort of electoral reform would be nice, here.

Strategic voting in the 2014 Toronto mayoral race has become a hot and contentious topic — one that pundits and partisans suggest is a symptom of a flawed municipal electoral process that needs revamping.

“The last four years have been such a polarizing time for Torontonians, in terms of the Ford factor, that in a way it’s understandable that the issue of strategic voting may be prevalent for a significant number of voters,” Ryerson University politics professor Myer Siemiatycki said Saturday.

Those in the ABF (Anybody But Ford) camp are struggling with two impulses, Semiatycki said: Do I vote for the candidate I most prefer, or do I vote for the person who has the best chance of beating Doug Ford (open Doug Ford’s policard)?

“That’s the no-man’s-land in which strategic voting dilemmas start to play out and, potentially, even become agonizing for voters.”

Brian Kelcey, campaign manager for former Toronto mayoralty candidate David Soknacki, said the message they heard knocking on doors was an “overwhelming strategic voting lesson loud and clear.”

“People said to David, ‘We love you, we love your ideas, you’ve got the best platform, but I’ve got to make my choice based on getting rid of Rob or Doug Ford — and maybe talk to me next time,’” Kelcey said Saturday.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 21, 2014 at 10:54 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “In Steeltown, a familiar refrain on light rail transit”

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NOW Toronto‘s Paul Weinberg reports on political controversies in Hamilton over mass transit, something that he notes is related to downtown/suburban tensions as well as to concern by some at the arrival of an increasingly large contingent of Torontonians. Change in Hamilton comes painfully, it seems.

I moved with my wife to the rust belt city in May 2013 after living in Toronto almost all my life, following other younger Torontonians moving here as well because of the cheaper housing. The local realtors’ association cannot say how many former Torontonians are buying up the reasonably priced building stock. The Transportation Tomorrow Survey offers a clue. It reports that more than a third of working Hamiltonians are commuting daily outside this city by car or GO Transit, with about 82 per cent of them headed directly for the GTA.

The migration to Steeltown has picked up to the point that locals complain of recent arrivals infecting the political culture of working-class Steeltown. The current municipal elections have provided flashpoint for that debate over an issue familiar to Torontonians – the car versus light rail transit (LRT).

Brian McHattie, a planner and local councilor since 2004 who is originally from Etobicoke, is running on a progressive platform and has the support of urban activists who want to see more streets like James North in Hamilton. His slogan: A New Mayor For A New Hamilton. To that end he’s released a four-part plan for improving neighbourhoods that he’s dubbed, wait for it, Transit City.

[. . .]

For local activists who have long been fighting uphill battles for two-way, pedestrian-friendly “complete streets” here, McHattie is a bit of a godsend. They see his LRT plan as an opportunity to transform whole swaths of an economically stagnant lower city into neighbourhoods that will attract smart development.

But there’s a major roadblock: the suburban residents on Hamilton Mountain above the Escarpment who find these lower city roads handy for zipping in, out or around Hamilton in their vehicles. That sentiment is often expressed by their political representatives on council who oppose the LRT even with the province potentially willing to pay for it.

Written by Randy McDonald

October 21, 2014 at 10:51 pm

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

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  • 3 Quarks Daily examines an effort to set up an arts and culture centre in Karachi.
  • Alpha Sources’ Claus Vistesen wonders if another Eurozone crisis is looming in the near future.
  • blogTO reports on Olivia Chow’s call for an apartment building rating system akin to that of restaurant ratings.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a paper speculating on reasons for the very odd surface of Uranus’ moon Miranda.
  • Far Outliers looks at the issues facing early baseball radio broadcasting.
  • Joe. My. God. and Towleroad both note a Russian lawmaker’s call to ban the entry of mail carrying Finland’s popular Tom of Finland-themed stamps.
  • Language Hat considers the origins of the term “prehistory”.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes discrimination against pregnant workers.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer considers grounds to believe that a continued British North America including the United States would not have been a success. The survival of intercolonial trade barriers would be an issue.
  • The Speed River Journal’s Van Waffle photoblogs his close encounter with a red fox.
  • Window on Eurasia notes speculation about a partition of Crimea, considers the need for more surveys of Russian territory to look for natural resources, and observes that Ukrainian refugees resettled in the autonomous republics of Russia aren’t required to learn local languages.

[PHOTO] A rainbow of lights at Barbara Hall Park

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A rainbow of lights at Barbara Hall Park

Written by Randy McDonald

October 21, 2014 at 3:11 pm

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