#1
Pretty much to the point.

The shrieks of self-righteous indignation from the pro-Transit City crowd and their apologists in the left-wing media has hit 10-plus on the Hysteria scale since a special TTC meeting was announced to axe Chief General Manager Gary Webster.

It’s not the least bit surprising.

Still my Toronto Star colleague Royson James was good for a laugh when he couldn’t contain himself from digging out a list of “F”-words to deride the “Fanatical Five” TTC commissioners who dared sign the petition to hold Tuesday’s meeting.

The nerve of them all for their “fatal fealty” to Mayor Rob Ford, James proclaimed.

Never mind that TTC chairman Karen Stintz and his hero Webster have a “fatal fealty” to undermining a mayor who got elected on a broad mandate, including subways.

Perhaps all of them, James included, are just “flagrantly forgetful” about that “fact.”

That’s just the point.

This has nothing to do with saving Webster’s posterior. Surely to goodness in this global transit world of ours, there are plenty of bright executives who could ably transform the culture of the TTC besides Webster.

This has everything to do with once again trying to paint Ford as a bully and trying to cling on to the crumbs of Transit City.
Anyone with a shred of common sense would concede Webster’s nearly six-year tenure as CGM has been a train wreck almost from Day One.

He has proven time and again his inability to manage ballooning TTC costs — both capital and operating — or to manage project deadlines.

Year after year, he refused to consider anything remotely “outside the box” for containing TTC wage costs (like contracting out some of the TTC’s maintenance and cleaning) instead resorting to the tired old tradition of raising fares and downgrading service.
In 2008, Auditor General Jeff Griffiths reported that all but two of some 16 TTC IT projects he’d reviewed had gone as much as three times over budget.

I don’t know how many times I heard that lessons had been learned on the St. Clair dedicated streetcar line — that went more than 100% over budget — and it will never, ever happen again on the Eglinton Crosstown route.
Never ever?

But how could lessons be learned when as far as I can tell only one audit was ever done on three St. Clair contracts totalling $12.5-million.

Who’d know? The one time I tried to attend a public TTC audit meeting, it was like I’d endeavoured to intrude on a secret meeting of the Brotherhood.

I was left cooling my heels outside for an hour before being admitted to the meeting for the final 30 minutes to hear Webster repeatedly pat himself on the back for a job well done.

Even Stintz was skeptical about the ability of Webster and the TTC to manage the Eglinton project back in November of 2009.
She told me back then there’s “absolutely no accountability” for the timelines set by the TTC and she feared they were not estimating the Eglinton line budget “properly.

“I don’t think they (the TTC) have the right project management in place,” she told me back then.
My has her tune changed.

Webster has repeatedly shown his disdain towards the very TTC commuters who pay the lion’s share of freight and towards communities where he decides to locate his pet projects.

At a public meeting in July of 2010, I watched as Webster grew more impatient by the minute that 200 citizens would be upset with the notion of people being turfed from their homes to create second exits at Greenwood and Donlands subway stations.

Last July, Webster stubbornly refused to take a second look at the $475-million LRV Taj Mahal at Ashbridges Bay, despite solid proof that the project is destined to go at least $31-million over budget with the design only 30% done!
Then there’s the customer service issue.

I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard the same complaints from customers at a $16,000 Town Hall meeting this past December as had come under very public scrutiny nearly two years ago. This was despite a high-profile report with 78 recommendations delivered from a highly touted Customer Service Panel 16 months ago.

Clearly Webster isn’t much interested in improving customer service, if at all.
Clearly there are many reasons to transform the TTC from the top and that starts with getting rid of Webster.
If not, the TTC will never have the least bit of hope of getting back on track.




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