Archive for September, 2009

David Miller declines to seek re-election for a third term, ALLDERBLOB takes the hard questions

Friday, September 25th, 2009

In a moment that will surely warm the cockles of Royson James’s heart, Toronto Mayor David “Broom-broom” Miller today announced that he has had enough of the mayoral duties, and will not be following through on his oft-touted aim of being a “three term mayor.”

At the end of his press conference, Mayor Miller made the unusual request for “courtesy,” whatever that is, and said he would not be taking questions.

Fortunately, we have the ALLDERBLOB. Royson, Ed, Enzo, and Marcus, not to mention Jeff and Antonia, you can direct your questions to us. We will answer them for you.

For example, consider the following hypothetical scenario:

Royson James (Toronto Star and Car Advertiser): Is it true, Mayor, that you have failed the people of Toronto and are now slinking out the back door with your tail between your legs?

Mayor Miller: That is a gross exaggeration (lowers trousers, turns around). As you can see, and contrary to rumour, I have no tail.

Ed Keenen Keenan (eye weekly and Car Advertiser): When you won your last election, you said the easy bicycle infrastructure had been installed by your predecessor, Mayor Last Man, but that you would be taking on the difficult projects. Yet today, the bikeplan is dead in the water. What have you done for the city’s most vulnerable road users?

Mayor Miller: Cyclists in Toronto have it easier than at any time in the city’s history. Today on Bloor street, many personal friends of mine are willing to literally lift a cyclist from the road and carry them along for a certain distance on their automobiles. Bikeplan? That’s just paper. I’ll give you a bikeplan you can believe in (grabs Ed by the neck and strikes his skull repeatedly with bare knuckles). Nyuh! Nyuh! Nyuh!.

NOW Magazine and Car Advertiser): Mayor! Mayor! NOW magazine readers want to know about your support for sex workers!

Mayor Miller: Support? I’ll show you support (activities of Mayor Miller are blocked from view by Don Wanagas’s thick tweed coat, which is whipped out and held in front of the Mayor’s lower half).

Marcus Gee (Toronto Globe and Mail and Car Advertiser): Pardon the loutish shenanigans of my lowbrow colleagues, Mayor Miller. My question is far more germaine to the real concerns of “real” Torontonians. It’s been said that you are a member of the NDP and a socialist. What are you personally going to do to refute these nefarious rumours, and to ensure that no socialist ever be elected to the mayor’s office in the future?

Mayor Miller: To answer that question, I would like to turn to a member of my Executive Council, Councillor Paula Fletcher. Paula?

Paula Fletcher: A politician’s past should not have a bearing on their activities of the present. That said, when Mr. Miller launched his campaign I was among the first to warn him he’d better quit the NDP and disavow his connection with them. I can tell you, no socialist will get anywhere near the mayor’s office in this city. Not now and not in the future. The mayor’s office will be relegated to the dustbin of history before that happens.

Antonia Zerbisias (Toronto Star and Car Advertiser): Sir, I have a question.

Don Wanagas: I’m sorry, that’s all the time we have for today.

Antonia: But sir, what about the Palestinian people? What about the small animals? What about Building Seven? Was it a controlled demolition?

Chris Phibbs: You heard the man, lady. Beat it.

(Phibbs and Wanagas form a human phalanx against the rush of photographers and reporters. Mayor Miller climbs on his waiting Segway and wheels from the room).

Jeff Gray (Toronto Globe and Mail and Car Advertiser): (arrives at back) Wha’ happen? Did I miss anything?

End of Press Conference.

Toronto covers up after cyclist death on “Blood” Street

Friday, September 4th, 2009

There’s a mystery wrapped up in these pictures:

Cadmus photos

Chapter 1: An innocent fireplug on Bloor Street in Toronto gets a paint job. “Nothing to see here, sir. Move along.”

Darcy Allan Sheppard, RIP

Darcy Allan Sheppard, RIP

Chapter 2: A roadside memorial for a slain cyclist, Darcy Allan Sheppard. Photographed during the aftermath of a cyclist’s memorial this past Wednesday that saw a thousand observers take over the intersection of Bloor and University at the centre of Toronto, where Sheppard was killed in traffic on Monday night.

Fresh paint over fresh blood on Bloor Street

Fresh paint over fresh blood on Bloor Street

Chapter 3: Sheppard was killed after being scraped from the side of the speeding car he’d been holding on to, reportedly battered against a tree, a fireplug and a mailbox, and then run over by the back wheels of the car itself. Former Attorney General Michael Bryant was the driver. Navigator was the PR company that Bryant contacted from jail in the aftermath of being arrested and charged. Invest Toronto was the City of Toronto agency Bryant was hired to run (at $300k per year) by his fellow Harvard alumnus Mayor David Miller after quitting public office. The city sure acted fast to have the fireplug repainted. Wonder who ordered it?

More than words spilt on Bloor St

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

On Monday night we were at a party celebrating the launch of issue number three of Dandyhorse magazine. As our loyal readers will know, we share in the glory of our former Urban Design Expert (sorry about calling you a cascade of detritus in a previous post, Jake. You know we don’t mean it and we wish you every success), who has a short piece (cribbed from these pages) in the issue on the subject of bikelanes along Bloor Danforth. In a nutshell Allderdice claims bikelanes are in order on the street, but that whatever happens it’s imperative the city not destroy the part of the highway that already works well for all road users: the stretch of Danforth from Pape Ave to Broadview. In fact he advocates (and we at the ALLDERBLOB back him on this) an extension of the road-striping east of Pape all the way to Victoria Park Ave, a simple move that would turn all the Danforth into a safe and pleasant “mall” for all: cyclists, drivers and shoppers on foot.

Huzzah. Hooray for Jake. Hooray for the ALLDERBLOB. Hooray for Dandyhorse. Great party, Tammy and Arlene.

Meanwhile that same night, another cyclist was murdered in Toronto. On Bloor Street.

So much for words. Fuck words.

At around 9:45 pm, on Monday August 31, Darcy Allan Sheppard, age 33, father of four, a bike messenger, was killed in a most brutal way in front of many witnesses. The murder has claimed the attention of the nation. You can read stories about it in the Toronto Globe and Mail and Car Advertiser, in the Toronto Star and Car Advertiser, in the National Post and Car Advertiser, as well as in the New York Times and Car Advertiser, as well as most other papers in Canada. It’s front page stuff around the world in fact: try The Times and Car Advertiser of India, for example.

What makes the story shocking is the cold-blooded ruthlessness of the murder, as well as the fact that now under arrest and charged with “criminal negligence causing death and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death” is Michael Bryant, the Harvard-educated former Attorney General of Ontario, former Member of Provincial Parliament, father of two and a stalwart foe of “stunt driving.” He is quoted in the New York Times article saying:

Among his targets were street-racing motorists. In 2007 he gave the police the power to seize and destroy cars modified for racing even if no charges were lodged against their owners.

After describing such cars as being as dangerous as explosives, he said, “We will crush your car, we will crush the parts.”

Later that year the province passed a bill to deem any vehicle traveling more than 50 kilometers an hour, or 31 miles an hour, faster than the speed limit to be racing. The legislation, under which more than 10,000 charges have been brought, allows the police to immediately seize vehicles and suspend licenses.

Note that the “explosive” in this case [our emphasis] was not a souped up street racing machine, but a normal old luxury vehicle, a Saab convertable.

A couple weeks ago we published an ARC press release on the murder of cyclist Tevane Sean Lennon, which said, in part:

We speak of “gunning the engine,” and the cowardice implicit in the gunning down of this man is a demonstration of a power relationship, just as much as if he had been driven into and run over.

How much more clear can this power relationship be than when the former attorney general of Ontario, in his Saab convertable, drives over an off-duty bike messenger?

Okay, it’s a sad day for Bryant too. It’s likely a career-killer. Regardless of the results of the impending trial and regardless of the valient efforts already underway to smear the dead cyclist (read here how Sheppard had outstanding warrants from Alberta for writing cheques to himself, and watch this to learn that according to one witness, Sheppard escalated the violence), Bryant will forever have this death on his hands, his own personal Chappaquiddick.

He’s trying. He’ll have the best legal council money can buy, and it does not take a cynic to imagine a future where he walks free, acquitted of all charges. If convicted, Bryant could receive a sentence of about two years. In the meantime he’s issued a self-serving statement, in a few terse words, expressing “sincere condolences” for the family of his victim.

There’s only one way this most powerful individual will ever be able truly redeem himself–that is if he abandons his car-worship and joins with ARC and others in the call for better bicycle infrastructure across all of Toronto. He could start by pushing his fellow Harvard crony at City Hall, Mayor David Miller, to demand a bikelane be built across the spine of Toronto, along the very street where Darcy Allan Sheppard was killed: Bloor-Danforth.

We will wait to hear if Michael Bryant ever utters the words “Take the Tooker” to judge the “sincerity” of his “condolences” to Darcy Allan Sheppard’s family.

UPDATE: ARC calls for police to be removed from the Bryant case: See TorontoCranks for more.

UPDATE 2: Dave Meslin, founder of Toronto Cyclist Union, agrees with Toronto Police Sheppard was not a cyclist but a pedestrian. See Mez dispenser for more.