About Local Government: Thoughts On Local Politics 4

[The following is a point-form note series on Local Government Politics aggregated from an academic course on that subject.]

The Toronto Amalgamation:  – Referenced in multiple readings:

  • Toronto’s legal Challenge to Amalgamation (Beth Moore Milroy)
  • Signs of Life?  The transformation of two tier metropolitan government (Sancton)
  • How Big should govt’s be (Sancton, Sewell, Rusk, Martin)
  • Amalgamation has not necessarily raised the quality of service or been effective in reducing costs
  • Amalgamation has wiped out a lot of the links between people and their local governments
  • Some services have economy of scales and benefit from having larger organizations provide them.
  • Some have diseconomies of scale,
  • Hard to measure quality of services
  • Massive bureaucracy constantly in turmoil slows things down
  • Amalgamation of 6 cities, elimination of regional govt (Metro)
  • Amalgamation ended cost sharing arrangements and citizenry’s expectations about their capacity to influence the city’s evolution
  • Torontonians realized their rights to shape their city as citizens were highly circumscribed
  • Canada citizens rights reside in country and provincial level not the city
  • Contrast to midlevel communes
  • City of Toronto act, 1997 Bill 103
  • Process began in 1988
  • Goal economic benefits for province, nothing to do with citizens desires, gave the 6 mayors 30 days for an alternative, oct 1996, not enough time
  • 5/6 mayors opposed on first reading dec. 1996
  • Citizen groups opposed, brought to court on 4 premises:
  • Convention of prov/municipal relations that lend to reasonable autonomy
  • Provincial legislation in this case will create harm to individuals as interpreted by charter
  • Province using power in cavalier manner
  • Using utilitarian calculations to justify but logic nor evidence supported those claims
  • The case of Toronto’s Amalgamation starkly shows the effects of a constitutional and legal regime in which cities are tools o more senior governments to be used in their service delivery, fiscal, and economic interests without an equally strong counterweight in local citizenship rights.  Balance is missing.  Here is where citizens need to apply pressure for change

Gypsy Cabs:  – Referenced in F. Ianni “Gypsy Cabs: Organized Crime or Minority Business Enterprise” The Black Mafia

  • A burgeoning new venture into minority entrepreneurship that has been developing in a number of American cities over the past decade.  Usually called gypsy cabs
  • It involves the use of automobiles for hire as taxis despite the fact that they do not meet the legal standards and conditions for taxicabs.
  • Through the use of a variety of semi and openly illegal practices, the gypsies operate in ghetto areas where legally licensed taxis seldom venture
  • Despite being illegal many cities tacitly accept it and allow it to develop otherwise heavy criticism would be drawn related to the unequal service and treatment that ghetto, minority inhabited areas are provided by the “yellow” cabs (i.e. NYC)
  • Also related to the fact that NYC has a limited amount of Medallions (Haas Act) approx. 12000 medallions available
  • Examples where it led to rampant illegality – The super fast cab company & The black diamond special omnibus insurance company
  • Underlying cause – desire for middle class way of life.

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