Tuesday’s Headlines

Thorncliffe crossing on the blink [ Toronto Star ]
Bayfront office tower bid endorsed [ Toronto Star ]
‘Streetfurniture’ gets grudgingly thumbs-up [ Toronto Star ]
Thrifty duo must pay rent [ Toronto Sun ]
Executive committee orders investigation into 2 councillors’ frugal office budget [ National Post ]
Council’s 2 biggest tightwads probed [ Toronto Star ]
City moves ahead with Corus deal [ National Post ]
Advertising deal will help public spaces: Mayor [ Toronto Sun ]
Miller gives thumbs up to street ads [ Globe and Mail ]
Ad space will jump with street furniture contract [ cbc ]
Council backs Astral Media Outdoor to supply street furniture, but terms need amending [ National Post ]

13 comments

  1. “We had to cover our public space with ads in order to save it” sez the Mayor.

    Well, at least some of that money is going to a public purpose. None of the illegalsigns.ca signs help the City – time to spend some of the Astral dollars on demolishing the illegal Astral signs.

    Joe Pantalone sends the motions to get Astral in line off “for study”. Quelle surprise.

  2. Mark, I’m not impressed with Executive Committee’s decision either but I think you’re being unfair in your inference that Pantalone’s motion is intended to kill his colleagues’ motions.

    Frankly, if Pantalone wanted them voted down then he could whip all the votes necessary at EC with ease. Plus, unlike the FSE referral when it was brutally clear that he just wanted Vaughan’s motions to be burried for months (if not years) in the City Manager’s office, staff will report on these motions at month’s end to Council.

    With all the money and lawyers involved in this deal I think the intent was ensuring good information rather than anything else.

    So I’m not prepared to go out on a limb and predict that Pantalone will support the motions at Council but I wouldn’t say he’s labelled them destined for failure either.

  3. Interesting that you chose to NOT link to Barber’s G&M column from this morning.

  4. None of the illegalsigns.ca signs help the City

    Just you wait. Council wants to turn billboards into a source of revenue. No unadorned wall will be safe, and all illegal signs will be legalized. It’ll be “street furniture” all over again, but in the sky… “sky furniture,” if you will.

  5. My guess is Barber’s column wasn’t linked to because it (like the writings of all the Globe’s columnists) isn’t freely available online — at least, not through the Globe’s site; it’s possible there’s some backdoor way to view it.

    But now you have me curious… What was it about?

  6. Here’s the Barber column.

    The most frustrating part of the column is that he seems to echo the mayor’s faulty claim that this contract somehow reduces advertising because there will be fewer signs on the street (even though the square footage of ads increases by 11.4%). I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Shel Silverstein poem “Smart”:

    My dad gave me one dollar bill
    ‘Cause I’m his smartest son,
    And I swapped it for two shiny quarters
    ‘Cause two is more than one!

    And then I took the quarters
    And traded them to Lou
    For three dimes – I guess he don’t know
    That three is more than two!

    Just then, along came old blind Bates
    And just ‘cause he can’t see
    He gave me four nickels for my three dimes,
    And four is more than three!

    And I took the nickels to Hiram Coombs
    Down at the seed-feed store,
    And the fool gave me five pennies for them,
    And five is more than four!

    And then I went and showed my dad,
    And he got red in the cheeks
    And closed his eyes and shook his head-
    Too proud of me to speak!

  7. take a deep breath before you read Barber’s column. (especially if you’re the “souffle man” he mentions. It’s truly SUN-worthy.

    Just remember, you only get an excoriation like that if you ARE a major player – contrary to his claims. Otherwise, why would he bother trashing you?

  8. Council takes the ad money and runs

    By JOHN BARBER

    Tuesday, May 1, 2007 – Page A12

    I wish I could understand all the reasons why the new garbage cans, bus shelters and benches the city wants to install on our sidewalks are the worst thing that has ever happened to Toronto. The self-styled “public-space activists” who sounded the alarm about the new street furniture insist it is so, and promised a historic battle – one that will “make what happened with Union Station and MFP look like a fallen soufflé” – should the city go ahead with it.

    But after council’s executive committee brushed them off in its rush to embrace a 20-year contract with no cash outlays and a potential $900-million in public benefits, the only delicate pneumatic concoction that suffered was the activists’ inflated sense of self-importance.

    “Any questions?” asked Rami Tabello, proprietor of illegalsigns.ca, after delivering a blistering denunciation of co-ordinated street furniture.

    “Nope, I don’t see any,” Mayor David Miller replied. “Thank you for your deputation.”

    Spacing magazine publisher Matthew Blackett voiced the same question after he finished a roundabout peroration on the evils of self-cleaning public toilets, among other things.

    “No one wants to ask me any questions?” he asked, incredulously.

    Gadfly Dave Meslin, denouncing what he called “the worst attack on public space I have ever seen,” didn’t wait till the end of his presentation before make the same point. “It would be so nice if people were listening to me,” he sighed halfway through.

    But they weren’t. Of all the objections raised by activists, the substantive ones were generally wrong – especially the contention that the new contract will increase the amount of advertising on city streets. The remainder withered like unwatered seedlings in the harsh light of political reality – in this case, a nine-figure gift horse for a cash-starved city.

    The only speaker who elicited any interest was Paul Seaman of Clear Channel Outdoor, which lost the competition for the street-furniture contract to Astral Media, who came to congratulate the city on its deal-making prowess. Just be careful, he added, that Astral gives you everything it promised.

    The mayor was fascinated, asking Mr. Seaman to recommend “language” the city might insert in the finished contract to hold Astral to account. “We certainly do have a variety of clauses,” Mr. Seaman replied, generously offering to share them.

    “I think it’s very significant that one of the losing bidders came forward and said, ‘You did this properly,’ ” Mr. Miller declared later, after enthusiastically leading the committee to endorse the contract. “It’s a tremendous win for the city,” he added, as the activists blanched.

    Anybody who remembers the Lastman regime’s comedy-of-darkness dealings with garbage-bin suppliers will sympathize with the activists, initially at least. As the soufflé man said, the city has “a perfect record of signing lousy contracts” for such things.

    But the most recent competition was immeasurably cleaner and more sophisticated, with a heavy emphasis on design and the need to control clutter. The result is a contract that vastly improves the quality of stuff on sidewalks, introduces new amenities and, according to the mayor and staff, reduces the amount of advertising by a third.

    In addition to spending $500-million to buy and maintain all the pieces over 20 years, Astral has guaranteed the city a share of the ad revenues. The city had hoped for $120-million. Astral offered $430-million.

    Case closed.

  9. Barber blasted Rami, Matt and Mez to pieces. Check your email for the article.

  10. That’s what happens when you don’t refersh your screen for 40 minutes. Apologies.

  11. I just love how Barber is only a corporate goon when he disagrees with you and you love him to death on files where you agree.

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