Who Could Be Minneapolis’ Rod Ford?

Toronto’s mayor has been in a new a bit over the past year due to his crack smoking, binge drinking, and knack for churning out controversial quotes. It’s not every day that a major North American city has a crack smoker for a mayor. And, it’s even more rare than they continue to be mayor after admitting to smoking crack. At least take some time off like Marion Barry did.

This made me wonder what it would take to have a mayor like Rob Ford in Minneapolis.

If we look at the Minneapolis mayoral election that’s wrapping up today, it seems like Jeff Wagner would be the closest we had to a Rob Ford candidate. But, he only pulled 0.21% of first round votes. Well done, Minneapolis.

So, what makes Toronto different?

1. The city is FAR larger geographically (and by population) than Minneapolis.

2. People in that far corner of Toronto tend to think that they’re getting hosed over by the city because the city invests heavily in downtown projects, streetcars, bike infrastructure, and other stuff that does nothing for the far corner of the city. That helps make a right-wing guy’s pitch connect with voters.

3. Ford represented the furthest NW corner of the city before running for mayor.

Toronto’s political boundaries envelop such a diverse set of political views that they end up with political divisions at a city level that are more commonly seen at the state level in places like Minnesota.

With that in mind, what would it take to create that type of environment in Minneapolis?

A) Expand the city’s borders. If Minneapolis was the size of Toronto, it would envelop every suburb inside the 494/694 strip, and then some. It around a half an hour drive from downtown Toronto to the ward Rob Ford represented (that his brother now represents).

B) Keep funding projects in Minneapolis like we’re funding now. Invest in a streetcar line. Build bike lanes. Build stadiums. Build a bunch of stuff that serves the urban core using money from people who now live in Minneapolis but don’t see a benefit from where they’re money is going.

C) Get Tom Emmer to run for Minneapolis city council representing the furthest NW ward. He can borrow Ford’s campaign priorities: “putting people and families first, focusing on the fundamentals, reducing waste and eliminating unnecessary taxes.” They’re quite similar to what Cam Winton just ran on in Minneapolis. Cam also would benefit from larger city borders.

D) Watch Tom Emmer make a name for himself in every ward of the new Minneapolis outside Minneapolis’ current borders.

E) Watch Emmer run for Minneapolis mayor and clean up in Brooklyn Park, Maple Grove, Fridley, Richfield, Bloomington, and Hopkins.

The comparisons are pretty amazing. One’s a hockey jock and the other football (opposite of what you’d think by country of origin.) Both tend to have a beef with the types of public infrastructure that make high density communities more livable, and the taxes that help pay for that infrastructure. And, they both like to drink.

Rob Ford Tom Emmer

Can you guess which one said this?

“It’s no secret, okay. The cyclists are a pain in the ass to the motorists.”

Or this:

“What I compare bike lanes to is swimming with the sharks. Sooner or later you’re going to get bitten… Roads are built for buses, cars, and trucks, not for people on bikes. My heart bleeds for them when I hear someone gets killed, but it’s their own fault at the end of the day.”

Or this:

“Climate has been changing long before we got here and it will be changing long after we’re gone.”

Answers: Ford, Ford, Emmer.

Some people like to get angry while they’re stuck in traffic during long commutes listening to right-wing talk radio, and some people like living in cities. And some of these people like voting for PR disasters because it’s not really a disaster to offend people who wouldn’t vote for you in the first place.

I guess we can be thankful that Minneapolis’ borders do a fairly decent job containing a set of constituents who’re somewhat on the same page compared to what Toronto is going through.

9 thoughts on “Who Could Be Minneapolis’ Rod Ford?”

  1. The Rat travels to Toronto every couple years. The cultural split between the city and suburbs is as profound as any city you’d see here, and perhaps more. There’s a real snob factor once you cross from Mississauga to Etobicoke, which guys like Ford can use to rally support. They start talking about the “905” area, which refers to the Area Code of some of the suburbs. Neighborhoods and sections have strong identities. It’s unfortunate that they’re as polarized as U.S. is.

  2. “Climate has been changing long before we got here and it will be changing long after we’re gone.”

    Exactly correct. But let’s talk about Canada again, and it’s approach to climate change. There’s been some Op-Eds in the Strib the last few days saying that it’s happening and instead of trying to somehow reverse it (an insurmountable task since the US shares the globe with countries like China and India) let’s just learn to live with the changes. One of those countries is practical Canada. You can find it on the Strib website.

    With polluting powerhouses on the Asian continent and sub-continent, anything the US might do is basically tinkering around the edges.

  3. @Rat, that’s one heck of a defeatist attitude. However, it’s also true that the sun will eventually envelop the Earth, so I guess it’s just a matter of which generation is the last.

  4. The Rat seeks the serenity to accept the things he cannot change; courage to change the things he can; and wisdom to know the difference. Years living in Minnesota should teach a person to seek serenity when it comes to the weather.

  5. Sort of like the Twin Cities, the city of Toronto was once split into multiple municipalities (well, only 4 I think), one of which was the Etobicoke area that is Ford’s home base. Canada went through a nationwide round of municipal consolidation in the 80s and 90s that I believe was imposed by the Federal government for the most part (this is why there is now one Thunder Bay instead of a Port Arthur and a Fort William). While the consolidation has had some unpleasant side effects in Toronto, the positives should also be acknowledged. There is inherent efficiency in one government, and for the most part post-consolidation governments in Toronto have been quite competent. While there was certainly delay, it seems likely that the Transit City plan will be put in place for the most part. Toronto is undeniably booming, and municipal services are quite good. Even the competitiveness can have political benefits- we sure could have used some of that this year in Minneapolis.

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