“Bambi meets Godzilla”

“The unfortunate Metropolitan Toronto is Bambi in this case, with Mel Lastman and his North York cohorts being Godzilla. Destruction was total, as most of Metro’s key staff and big-numbers men fled in the face of the advancing onslaught. Melzilla then filled all the key positions with his own small-town operators, and the deterioration began… I described many of the woes in the Finance Department in the articles for which I now find myself enjoying early retirement…” 

Jeff Goodall, “Fight Back”: December 16, 2002.

Back maybe 30 years ago, I remember watching a short cartoon “Bambi meets Godzilla”. In this cute little gem, we see Bambi frolicking happily in the woods while classical music plays in the background. Bambi’s little friends leap and play alongside, filling the air with squeals of delight. Then, as a loud and sombre chord is struck, a massive foot comes down from the sky squashing Bambi and friends to an oozing pulp, followed by the words “The End”.

The unfortunate Metropolitan Toronto is Bambi in this case, with Mel Lastman and his North York cohorts being Godzilla. Destruction was total, as most of Metro’s key staff and big-numbers men fled in the face of the advancing onslaught. Melzilla then filled all the key positions with his own small-town operators, and the deterioration began. The small-town culture and abilities of the North York crowd were unable to keep up the pace, and things began to fall apart. I described many of the woes in the Finance Department in the articles for which I now find myself enjoying early retirement, and there were other problems elsewhere. Now we are watching the news again as Madam Justice Bellamy’s enquiry into multi-million dollar lease boondoggles resumes, having paused only briefly for the OPP to investigate accusations of bribery against one or more of the key witnesses.

So far Melzilla has proclaimed his innocence, saying that he trusted his key staff implicitly, so it’s not his fault! Next on the stand was Michael Garrett, former Chief Administrative Officer. It all happened on my watch, says he, I am to blame! As Garrett was let go with a half-million-dollar payoff, the less charitable among us may be forgiven for thinking that the “fall guy” is already bought and paid for. Should Garrett try to take his ex-subordinates down with him, things could get very interesting indeed.

I am particularly anxious to hear the evidence of James Ridge, mentioned in a Toronto Free Press cover story (see Lease Scandal II) about the lesser-known telephone contract boondoggle. An ex-military officer, he was hired in late 1998 as head of Licensing and Standards. “He was later asked to conduct a review of various controversial city dealings. As a former member of the provincial Crime Commission, he should hopefully have a good handle on what was going on. I am hoping to hear some explosive testimony when he takes the stand.”

In other City-related developments, Ann Dembinski was handily re-elected as President of CUPE Local 79, which represents over 20,000 full and part-time inside workers employed by the City of Toronto. Communist David Kidd was blown away, coming in dead last with less than 1,000 votes. Steve Kenney suffered the ignominy of seeing all but one of his slate elected, while he himself did little better than Kidd. Communist Helen Kennedy was also rejected by the members, and the majority of the new executive board can be expected to be more co-operative with Dembinski, who has had a hard time of it for the past couple of years.

On the negative side, ex-president Anne Dubas was elected as treasurer. Her unpleasant and unfair personal attacks on Dembinski during the campaign will make it hard for the two to work together. And the election of Kidd’s sidekick Tim Maguire as 2nd vice-president poses problems over the longer-term. As Chief Steward, Maguire is in a position to exercise considerable power and influence. I am looking for Kidd, Kennedy and the other Communist election failures to become stewards, followed by efforts from Maguire to create issue-oriented task forces requiring lengthy book-offs for those he recommends to staff them. For the far left, the campaign for the next election has already begun.

Jeff Goodall worked for the Metro Treasury and City Finance Departments for 25 years, and served as a member of the CUPE Local 79 Executive Board for 14 of those years.

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