The recent story about Rob Ford reading while driving emphasizes how he has an ideology that trumps the cost-cutting ideology that he rode into office on.
Ford subscribes to a belief that one who owns a vehicle has every right to drive it when and where they want, do so alone, do whatever they want while driving it, and not be impeded by anything else on the road. Well, it is a free country, and if some of this makes one look like an asshole, it is one’s right to look like an asshole.
What really burns me about this attitude when it comes to Ford is that his belief in it supersedes his belief in saving tax payers money, the very belief that got him elected. I made fun of this when he first cancelled Transit City with this cartoon:
The point of the cartoon was that he has made a big production out of saving on things that amount to pennies per household while doing things like cancelling Transit City that involve millions in costs. All of this is because of his misguided belief that Transit City was “streetcars” and that meant delays for him in his SUV.
Respect for the tax payer! Though, if that means my drive might be slower, damn the tax payer!
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for saving money. When it comes to fiscal matters, I lean pretty far to the right, especially for someone involved in transit activism. Quite frankly, I don’t see Ford as fiscally right-leaning. He may attempt to lean to the right in this area, but he ends up leaning backwards, usually enough to fall flat on his ass.
Getting back to Ford driving himself around. He loves to tout the savings of not having the costs of a driver, but let us not forget that there are costs of this decision. The first that comes to mind is his parking spot. Not a huge cost, but what does a parking space at city hall cost? This translates to an annual income that is lost when the space is reserved for Ford. The bigger cost is the loss of Ford’s productivity during the time he is driving himself. This is the mayor who wears is ability to call back people like a badge. Some of that could be done during his commute if he were not at the wheel.
A better solution, in the opinion of this fiscal conservative, would be to use public transit. Setting aside Ford’s priority of “my car, my empire” over fiscal conservatism, this would make the most sense, especially given that he also touts himself as a “common guy” type of mayor. His commute would give him all sorts of face-time with the constituents that he loves to speak face-to-face with. I suspect that the annual cost of using transit is similar to the lost revenue from his reserved parking spot, so this would be a net zero cost to the tax payer. With his personal vehicle off the road, there would be a tiny savings that his vehicle has in terms of wear and tear on the roads that are maintained by the tax payer.
Ah, but nothing trumps his “all by myself in my vehicle” ideology.