A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘politics

[URBAN NOTE] “Report sounds alarm on big TTC projects”

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The Toronto Star‘s Ben Spurr reports on what could be a big problem for the TTC.

A review of the TTC’s procurement policies is raising red flags about the transit agency’s ability to manage expensive capital projects, detailing billions of dollars in cost overruns and oversight practices that fall below public-sector standards.

The report, which will be debated at Wednesday’s TTC board meeting, was authored by consulting firm KPMG. The company examined nine capital projects that the TTC launched over the past decade-and-a-half and had combined initial estimated costs of $5.1 billion. Of the nine, six incurred inflated expenses that together totalled $2.9 billion more than original estimates.

They included the Toronto York Spadina Subway Extension, whose cost soared over from $1.5 billion to $3.2 billion, and the Leslie Barns streetcar facility, whose price jumped from $345 million to $507 million. Three of four smaller-scale capital projects KPMG studied also saw budgets rise above initial projections.

The report, which council commissioned in March 2015, determined that the TTC is operating at a “low-standardized level of maturity” in the delivery of capital projects. That’s below KPMG’s benchmark for public-sector organizations. KPMG scored one TTC department as operating at an “informal” level, which means the consultant found that projects lacked documentation and standardized policies.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 29, 2016 at 6:30 pm

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

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  • blogTO shares the new face of the Broadview Hotel.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly writes about the joys of the unscreened life.
  • Dead Things reports on a study suggesting that although humans are violent by the standards of mammals, we are among the least violent primates.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze reports on the discovery of five sizable planets orbiting HIP 41378.
  • Language Log reports on the perils of 7 and 9 in Cantonese.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money considers the usefulness of The Battle of Algiers.
  • The Planetary Society Blog reacts to the Elon Musk proposal for colonizing Mars.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer responds briefly to the question of what Mexico can do about Trump.
  • Window on Eurasia notes how the Russian invasion of Ukraine has spurred new arms purchases throughout the eastern half of Europe, even in Belarus.

[URBAN NOTE] “London Mayor Khan Urges Labour to Win Cities in Push for Power”

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Bloomberg’s Thomas Penny reports on an interesting-sounding strategy for the United Kingdom’s Labour Party. Could it work?

London Mayor Sadiq Khan will call on his Labour Party to use elections to run cities across Britain next year as a springboard to defeating Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative government.

Speaking at the party’s annual conference in Liverpool, northwest England, Khan will say that effective local government can prove to voters that Labour is ready for power nationally. Current national polling shows the main opposition party, which has been split by a leadership battle, as much as 15 percentage points behind the Conservatives, suggesting Labour would be heavily defeated in a general election.

Mayors “can demonstrate that we can make a real difference to people’s lives,” Khan will say Tuesday, according to extracts of the speech released by his office. “With Labour in power, we can prove we are ready for government.”

Khan, who was elected in May and has the biggest personal mandate of any British politician, will say the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn on Saturday has “decided” the question of the party’s leadership and activists must concentrate on winning power instead of infighting. The mayor, who supported the leader’s challenger, Owen Smith, will say the party owes it to the most vulnerable in society.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 28, 2016 at 8:15 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

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  • blogTO notes a bike licensing proposal has been killed.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a study of the surfaces of magma exoplanets.
  • Language Hat notes untranslatable Maltese phrases.
  • Language Log is taken aback by Donald Trump’s juvenile language.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money thinks that Trump’s stance on trade might be an advantage.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer does not understand what Ian Bremmer means by saying that the presidential election does not matter to business.
  • Savage Minds shares an indigenous take on anthropology and its charting of indigenous secrets and lives and cultures.
  • Towleroad notes that survivors of the Orlando massacre and others are starting to get compensation from the OneOrlando fund.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that Russians believed their propaganda today and argues Russian autocracy will always threaten Ukraine.

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

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  • D-Brief notes the apparent discovery by Hubble of water plumes from Europa.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper noting different solutions to the mystery of Boyajian’s Star.
  • Dangerous Minds shares photos of deserted Pripyat in Ukraine.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that 80% of Chicago police dashcams were disabled by the police.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money and Noel Maurer respond to the American presidential debate.
  • The Planetary Society Blog notes that Europa is crying for exploration.
  • pollotenchegg maps electoral polarization in Ukraine in 2004.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes the official Russian stances on the country’s demographic issues.
  • The Signal links to the Library of Congress’ online collections.
  • Torontoist reports on waterfront litter.
  • Towleroad shares the complaints of Mykki Blanco that gay hip hop stars are not given a chance for stardom.
  • Window on Eurasia notes how the Circassians of Syria are denied a chance to return to their ancestral homeland in Russia.

[DM] Andrew Coyne in the National Post on the contingent nature of liberalism in Canada

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I write from a Canadian perspective. Sometimes, it’s important to remember that mine, too, is a pespective consequent to any number of highly contingent events. Andrew Coyne’s recent article in the National Post “Canada’s openness a product of our history, geography more than a particular Liberal trait”, is worth reading in full. He’s entirely right to point out, of course, that the relative success of liberal themes in Canada is highly contingent on any number of factors. (Canada has no prospects for any substantial unauthorized cross-border migration, for instance.)

If Canadians are in a less belligerent mood than our American and European cousins, it may be because we have not endured anything like the series of calamities they have. In contrast to the United States, median incomes in Canada have grown steadily for most of the past 20 years; inequality, whether measured from the top or the bottom, is nothing like as bad. Our housing market did not collapse, nor did our banking sector.

We have no experience with terrorism on anything like the scale of recent attacks in the United States or Europe, let alone 9/11. Neither has immigration presented the kinds of challenges here that it has elsewhere. We have no counterpart to the 12 million illegal immigrants that are the source of so much controversy in the U.S. And while the 25,000 Syrian refugees we have admitted in the past year far exceed the American intake, it is a tiny fraction of the numbers that have arrived on Europe’s shores and borders. (People in other countries talk admiringly of the Canadian “points” system, but 3,000 miles of ocean and a cold climate are probably a more effective means of selection.)

And yet, even with all these advantages, we have had our brushes with nativism. It has become conventional wisdom that the Harper government lost the last election over it, but if you look at the polls two things jump out: the success of the anti-niqab campaign, especially in Quebec; and that Conservative support rose in the four weeks after the Syrian refugee crisis forced its way into the campaign. It was, not coincidentally, the Conservatives who, of the three parties, took the most cautious line on the crisis.

It is probably true that they overplayed their hand in the end: Canadians do not like to have their nativism rubbed in their faces. But if the Parti Québécois made the same mistake — the ban on religious wear in the civil service was also initially popular — it should not be forgotten that the McGuinty government in Ontario owed its re-election in 2007 to a similar calculated appeal to public fears. (We do not know how Kellie Leitch’s iteration will play out, but so far the polls are with her.)

I linked to the article at Demography Matters for obvious reasons.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 26, 2016 at 8:50 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “People power fuelled rebuild of Lakeview power plant site”

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The Toronto Star‘s San Grewal tells an inspiring story.

Call it a victory for the little guy.

Saturday’s historic announcement to kickoff Mississauga’s monumental Inspiration Lakeview project, with 26 hectares of newly created conservation land connected to a 100-hectare mixed-use community to house 20,000 residents next to the city’s waterfront, should never have happened.

“It started before 2006,” Councillor Jim Tovey said during a boat tour Saturday around the site, just offshore and on the edge of the city’s border with Toronto. Elected officials from every level of government were on board.

The Lakeview project will feature a mix of commercial, residential and cultural buildings on the western side of the site, which will be connected to a man-made 26-hectare conservation area featuring meadows, a forest, wetlands and trails on what is currently still part of the lake.

Tovey spoke about how before becoming a councillor in 2010, he and a group of local citizens organized themselves, partnering with a University of Toronto expert, to unite residents against the powerful forces pushing for a new gas-fired power plant where the giant coal-fired Lakeview generating station had stood for almost 50 years.

At the time of the plant’s demolition in 2007, the province had a plan in place to simply replace coal with gas, with an ally in former mayor Hazel McCallion.

Even before the plant was torn down, “We wanted to create the Lakeview legacy project,” Tovey said. The push to get rid of the plant seemed incomprehensible in a province whose thirst for electricity could barely be quenched. But Tovey and others knew demand in the area was actually beginning to decline, with the loss of manufacturing and renewable energy sources coming online.

Written by Randy McDonald

September 26, 2016 at 7:00 pm