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Toronto’s mayoral rivals
wait for mayor’s brother
to show his colours

Toronto, 19 September 2014:
Campaigning in Toronto’s mayoral and council elections has become a great deal more civilised since it was confirmed that the city’s mayor, Rob Ford, suffered from liposarcoma, a rare but treatable kind of cancer. While until recently the leading candidates did not shy away from personal attacks, they now concentrate on issues. Olivia Chow, the centre-left candidate for mayor who lost her husband to cancer three years ago, reached out to the mayor after he was hospitalised last week. John Tory, the current front-runner, asked Torontonians to show solidarity with the mayor and his family. It remains to be seen whether campaigning will switch back into a higher gear once Rob Ford’s brother Doug, who has declared his candidacy for mayor, starts campaigning.

Latest opinion polls give Doug Ford 28 per cent support, essentially the same number his brother received before he pulled out of the race. The conservative contender John Tory maintains his front-runner position with 43 per cent support. Olivia Chow, with 29 per cent support, is essentially tied with Doug Ford.

Toronto’s commentators are divided over whether the incumbent mayor’s notoriety - he first denied but later admitted using Class-A drugs - or his continuous popularity among ‘Ford Nation’ voters will transfer to his brother. Many believe Doug will be much more issue-focused that his brother. A spokesman for the Chow campaign said voters would see more of a focus on issues, visions and policy solutions. “That’s much more valuable than a three-way screaming match.”

People close to both Ford brothers, have advised Doug to resurrect the old ‘Ford Nation’ and campaign hard against waste in City Hall. They pointed out that ‘Ford Nation’ is no longer the Canadian equivalent of America’s Tea Party but is now made up of largely disenfranchised young male voters rather than the older middle-class homeowners who supported Rob Ford in 2010. Unfortunately for Doug, disenfranchised young men hardly ever bother to go out and vote. Dough Ford is also advised to step out of his brother’s shadow and stress his business background.

John Tory, the current front runner and former leader of the centre-right Progessive Conservative Party of Ontario, contested the Toronto mayorship before. In 2003, he threw his hat in the ring after the incumbent mayor Mel Lastman announced his retirement but was defeated by David Miller, who remained mayor until 2010.

The chances of Olivia Chow, from the centre-left New Democratic Party, winning next month’s elections are now judged as remote after she failed to build on her front-runner status earlier in the year. In April, with 34 per cent support, she was well ahead of both John Tory and Rob Ford. Her advisers tell her now to become more aggressive and challenge John Tory on transport and the environment. “Being anti Rob Ford will no longer be enough.” Olivia Chow’s supporters have been worried for some time that her measured arguments have been drowned out by the more rowdy campaigning style of Tory and Mayor Ford.

Kansas City Mayor says
guns are often more freely
available than fresh food

Kansas City, 12 September 2014:
Kansas City Mayor Sly James has described as madness legislation passed by Missouri’s both houses of parliament that would allow teachers to carry weapons in schools. The state’s Republican controlled House of Representatives and Senate also voted in favour of permitting residents to openly carry guns in public areas and approved a move that would lower the age of obtaining a concealed gun permit from 21 to 19. Commentators pointed out that a 19-year old teenager would be allowed to obtain and carry a gun but not allowed to buy a can of beer in a liquor store.

The mayor’s opposition to relaxing gun control has the backing of the city’s police chief. Darryl Forté said lawmakers should not listen to the National Rifle Association and other gun lovers but to his officers who were working very hard to reduce crime violent crime in Kansas City. “We strive to serve and protect the people of Kansas City and legislation like this makes our job more difficult,” the KCPD chief said. Jackson County public prosecutor Jean Peters Baker added that the Missouri legislature has shown it places a higher regard for politics than public safety.

Flanked Police Chief Forté and Prosecutor Baker, Mayor James told journalists that the bill, which prohibits cities from banning open carrying of guns was going in the wrong direction. “In some neighbourhoods guns are already more readily available than fresh food,” he warned.

Under the legislation, gun owners in Missouri will be able to apply for conceal-and-carry permits at an earlier age after the bill was passed in both the House and Senate. The bill lowers the age to apply for a conceal-and-carry permit from 21 to 19. It also prohibits cities from banning open carry laws and allows teachers and school administrators acting as school protection officers to carry firearms. One of the bill’s sponsors said the purpose of it was to protect the rights of gun owners who have earned the open-carry privilege.

Following passage of the legislation, Missouri will be joining 20 other US states that allow the carrying of firearms in public. Since the shooting of 20 students and six adults at a elementary school in Newton, Connecticut, in 2012, ‘liberal’ states such as New York, California and Connecticut have tightened gun control while some Republican-controlled state have made access to guns easier.

Ferguson killing leads
to questions over the
militarisation of police

St Louis, 20 August 2014:
The mayor of Ferguson, where an unarmed black teenager was shot dead by police last week, attracted ridicule and condemnation in equal measure when he maintained on national television that there never existed any racial tension in his Missouri community. While 63 per cent of the population of Ferguson are African Americans, 90 per cent of the 50-officer strong police force are white. Mayor James Knowles also thought it perfectly normal that peaceful vigils and protests over the killing of teenager Michael Brown were met by local and county police officers in SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) trucks with their weapons drawn and pointing at civilians.

Mayor Knowles, a Republican who was elected in 2011, defended his police force in the aftermath of the shooting. Despite video evidence showing police officers damaging TV camera equipment and arresting journalists in the process of filing reports from inside a fast-food restaurant, the mayor insisted that the police was acting with restraint at difficult times. “Officers were having a difficult time, especially at night, discerning between those who wish to peacefully assemble and lawfully protest and those who wish to infiltrate and hide among the people who wish to demonstrate," he said on TV.

The pictures from Ferguson showing heavily armed police charging protestors have raised questions about the militarisation of local, county and state police forces. Since the late 1990s, and particularly after 9/11, the US defence department and the Department of Homeland Security transferred billions of dollars worth of military equipment to local police forces. Small towns across America could ask for and did receive military vehicles including tanks and armoured personnel carriers. For example, Keene in New Hampshire, with a population of 23,000, applied for a military grade personnel truck in order to be prepared for a “terrorism threat that is far reaching and often unforeseen.” The council cited as a possible target the town’s annual pumpkin festival!

In an article in Time Magazine, veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were quoted as saying that the cops appeared better-armed and outfitted in middle America than the GIs had been in the war zones.

Two days ago, US President Barack Obama urged a re-examination of programmes that have equipped civilian law enforcement departments with military gear from the Pentagon. “There is a big difference between our military and our local law enforcement, and we don’t want those lines blurred,” Obama told reporters at the White House. “That would be contrary to our traditions.”

The vast majority
of America’s largest
cities are liberal

Boston, 11 August 2014:
The vast majority of large American cities are fundamentally liberal-leaning. New research conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of California (UCLA) found that out 51 cities with populations of more than 250,000 only eleven could be described as conservative. Two cities are neutral while the rest are liberal. The researchers named Meza, Arizona, as the country’s most conservative city, while, unsurprisingly, San Francisco emerged as America’s most liberal city. Additional research by City Mayors also showed that while four of the 15 most conservative cities in the US had Democrat mayors none of the 15 most liberal ones were led by Republicans.

The MIT/UCLA research examined the average policy preferences of residents in the 51 US cities with populations exceeding 250,000. The researchers then compared them to the policies of those cities to see if political leanings were reflected in tax burdens and other city operations. "The policies enacted by cities across a range of policy areas correspond with the liberal-conservative positions of their citizens on national policy issues," the authors wrote.

Mesa, a Phoenix-area suburb with a population of about 468,000, easily grabbed the top spot for most conservative city in the country. Oklahoma City and Virginia Beach followed as the next most right-leaning. The research confirmed the status of San Francisco, Washington DC and Seattle as cities as trail-blazing liberal cities.

There has been some criticism of the study’s methodology. Some analysts commented that the research did not urban structure into account. Many of the most conservative cities on this list (e.g. Jacksonville, Las Vegas, Omaha, Oklahoma City, Colorado Springs) are in traditionally mono-centric urban areas, but in the middle of the 20th century annexed large portions of what would be suburban municipalities in other metro areas. Others are purely suburban municipalities (e.g. Mesa, Aurora, Anaheim) that just happen to occupy more land than suburbs usually do. “What would be more interesting is to look at the primary core cities (as defined by the Census Bureau) of, say, the largest 50 or 100 metropolitan areas. Oklahoma City would probably win out.”

Americas most conservative cities and their mayors

Mayor & politics
Mesa, AZ Scott Smith, Republican
Oklahoma City, OK Mick Cornett, Republican
Virginia Beach, VA William Sessoms, Republican
Colorado Springs, CO Steve Bach, Independent
Jacksonville, FL Alvin Brown, Democrat
Arlington, TX Robert Chuck, Independent
Anaheim, CA Tom Tait, Republican
Omaha, NE Jean Stothert, Republican
Tulsa, OK Dewey Bartlett, Republican
Aurora, CO Steve Hogan, Republican
Forth Worth, TX Betsy Price, Independent
Fresno, CA Ashley Swearengin, Republican
Corpus Christi, TX Nelda Martinez, Democrat
San Antonio, TX Julian Castro, Democrat
Nashville, TN Karl Dean, Democrat

America’s most liberal cities and their mayors
Mayor & politics
San Francisco, CA Edwin Lee, Democrat
Washington, DC Vincent Gray, Democrat
Seattle, WA Ed Murray, Democrat
Oakland, CA Jean Quan, Democrat
Boston, MA Marty Walsh, Democrat
Minneapolis, MN Betsy Hodges, Democrat
Detroit, MI Mike Duggan, Democrat
New York, NY Bill de Blasio, Democrat
Buffalo, NY Bryon Brown, Democrat
Baltimore, MD Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Democrat
Chicago, IL Rahm Emanuel, Democrat
Portland, OR Charlie Hales, Democrat
St Paul, MN Chris Coleman, Democrat
Austin, TX Lee Leffingwell, Democrat
St Louis, MO Francis Slay, Democrat
Philadelphia, PA Michael Nutter, Democrat

Source: MIT and UCLA with additional research by City Mayors

Toronto’s disgraced Mayor
still in with a good chance of
being re-elected in October

Toronto, 26 July 2014:
No major city in the world would tolerate a mayor who admitted smoking crack cocaine after first having vehemently denied any drug use, but in Toronto different rules apply. Mayor Rob Ford, who was last November seen in a number of video recordings using crack, being heavily intoxicated and threatening to kill, is still in office - albeit with reduced powers - and determined to win re-election this October. With solid backing from what newspapers describe as Ford Nation, the mayor’s support among the electorate has never fallen below 20 per cent in a three-way contest. In the most recent opinion survey, support for Rob Ford stood at 27 per cent, only two percentage points behind the front-runner. His lowest rating this year was 22 per cent, on the day he admitted himself to a two-months drug rehabilitation programme in May.

While there are more than 50 registered candidates for Toronto’s mayoral elections schedule for 27 October, only three have a realistic chance of winning. Since the beginning of the year, in addition to Mayor Ford, only two other candidates have consistently polled above 20 per cent.

Olivia Chow was a Member of Parliament from 2006 to March of this year, when she declared her candidacy. She is a member of the centre-left New Democratic Party and sat on Toronto’s City Council from 1995 until 2005. Until recently, her poll ratings topped 30 per cent but she dropped to 29 per cent in the latest survey.

The third member of the triumvirate of favourites to win in October is John Tory, a former leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. He contested the 2003 mayoral elections but lost to David Miller. John Tory, who describes himself conservative on economic issues, holds socially liberal views. He supports, for example, same-sex marriage. His candidacy appeals to Toronto’s young entrepreneurs who support fiscal prudence but abhor Rob Ford’s homophobic outlook.

Recent opinion poll findings by Forum Research
21 July 2014
1st: Olivia Chow (29%)
2nd: John Tory (28%)
3rd: Rob Ford (27%)

4 July 2014
1st: Olivia Chow (36%)
2nd: John Tory (27%)
3rd: Rob Ford (26%)

30 June 2014
Rob Ford leaves drug rehabilitation clinic

23 June 2014
1st: Olivia Chow (34%)
2nd: Rob Ford (27%)
3rd: John Tory (24%)

1 May 2014
Rob Ford admits himself to rehabilitation clinic.
1st: Olivia Chow (33%)
2nd: John Tory (24%)
3rd: Rob Ford: (22%)

24 February 2014
1st: Rob Ford (31%)
2nd: Olivia Chow (31%)
3rd: John Tory (27%)

Less than 20 per cent
of America’s cities are
led by women mayors

New York City, 9 July 2014:
Less than 20 per cent of America’s city mayors are women. Following mayoral elections across the US last November, data shows that of 1,351 cities with more than 30,000 inhabitants, only 249, or 18.4 per cent, were led by women. The share of women mayors among very large US cities is even lower. Houston’s Annise Parker is the only woman governing a city with more than one million people. Twenty of America’s 150 largest cities have women at the top (13.3%). Nine of them belong to the Democratic Party, seven are Republicans, while four mayors are non-aligned.

The longest-serving mayor from the group of top-20 female mayors is Laurene Weste from Santa Clarita, California. Mayors, who assumed office this year, include Betsy Hodges (Minneapolis) and Lovely Warren (Rochester).

In 2010, Susan Carroll and Kira Sanbonmatsu presented a paper to Midwest Science Association, which investigates the backgrounds of women mayors and their decision to seek municipal office for the first time. The authors found that while it was generally assumed that women fare well in local politics, the number of women mayors in larger cities had not increased over time.

Women mayors among America’s top 150 cities
Mayor since
Houston, Texas
Annise Parker
Fort Worth, Texas
Betsy Price
Baltimore, Maryland
Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
Las Vegas, Nevada
Carolyn Goodman
Fresno, Californai
Ashley Swearengin
Omaha, Nebraska
Jean Stothert
Raleigh, North Carolina
Nancy McFarlene
Oakland, California
Jean Quan
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Betsy Hodges
Corpus Christi, Texas
Nelda Martinez
Greensboro, North Carolina
Nancy Vaughn
Chula Vista, California
Cheryl Cox
Irving, Texas
Beth Van Duyne
Rochester, New York
Lovely Warren
Tacoma, Washington
Marilyn Strickland
Fontana, California
Acquanetta Warren
Columbus, Georgia
Teresa Tomlinson
Knoxville, Tennessee
Madeline Rogero
Santa Clarita, California
Laurene Weste
Port St. Lucie, Florida
JoAnn Faiella
Dem = Democrat, Rep = Republican, Ind = Independent and non-aligned (Research carried out July 2014)

US mayors take
a stand against
gay-hostile states

Dallas, 26 June 2014:
Mayors from some of the largest US cities defied their state legislators and took a stand in support of same-sex marriage. At this month’s annual conference of the US Conference of Mayors in Dallas, mayors from Arizona, Texas, Ohio, Colorado, Missouri and Georgia - all states that forbid gay marriage - signed up to a resolution that urges US federal courts, including the Supreme Court, to allow American gay and lesbian couples to marry in every state of the nation.

Among the supporters of the resolution were mayors from gay-hostile states such as Greg Stanton, Mayor of Phoenix, Arizona; Annise Parker, Houston, Texas; Kasim Reed, Atlanta, Georgia as well as Francis Slay, St Louis and Sly James, Kansas City, both from Missouri. One of the few Republican mayors who supported the resolution was Kevin Faulconer from San Diego.

A spokesman for the same-sex marriage advocacy group ‘Freedom to Marry’ welcomed the resolution and applauded the mayors for their courageous stance against bigotry. “From small towns to big cities, America’s mayors know that including gay couples in the freedom to marry does nothing but strengthen families and communities for all,” he said.

With its appeal, the US Conference of Mayors has made it clear that it was time for the federal appellate courts and the US Supreme Court to follow the lead of numerous states and a wave of over 20 federal and state courts and bring an end to marriage discrimination nationwide. A year after the Supreme Court demolished the arguments propping up marriage discrimination, it’s time for the Court to finish the job and rule in favour of the freedom to marry once and for all.

Same-sex marriage is legal in California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington State and the District of Columbia. Final court verdicts in favour of gay marriage are awaited in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Michigan, Idaho, Arkansas, Texas and Wisconsin.

Resolution on the Freedom to Marry
by the US Conference of Mayors
WHEREAS, The United States Conference of Mayors has long stood for full equality for same-sex couples, including endorsing the freedom to marry in 2009; and
2. WHEREAS, since the time of that resolution, support for marriage for same-sex couples has grown to nearly 60 percent nationwide, with majorities in every region of the country and opposition diminishing dramatically; and
3. WHEREAS, today, nineteen states plus the District of Columbia have now ended discrimination in marriage, so that now 44 percent of Americans live in a state where same-sex couples can marry; and
4. WHEREAS, in 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the core of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, and in so doing eviscerated justifications for excluding same-sex couples from marriage; and
5. WHEREAS, as of June 17th, 2014, every one of the 15 federal district court judges who has ruled in a marriage case has found that state marriage discrimination violates the US Constitution; and
6. WHEREAS, there continues to be an untenable patchwork imposing great legal uncertainty and hardship on committed same-sex couples in the 31 states that deny their freedom to marry and refuse to respect their lawful marriages, even as the federal government rightly treats these couples as married for federal programs and purposes; and
7. WHEREAS, more than 400 mayors from 39 states and the District of Columbia have so far signed on to be a Mayor for the Freedom to Marry,
8. NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that The United States Conference of Mayors reaffirms its support of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples and urges the federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, to speedily bring national resolution by ruling in favor of the freedom to marry nationwide.

Resolution submitted by: Greg Stanton, Mayor of Phoenix, AZ; Annise D. Parker, Mayor of Houston, TX; Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles; Michael Nutter, Mayor of Philadelphia, PA; Kevin Faulconer, Mayor of San Diego; Christopher Cabaldon, Mayor of West Sacramento; Ed Lee, Mayor of San Francisco; Michael Coleman, Mayor of Columbus, OH; Jonathan Rothschild, Mayor of Tucson; Charlie Hales, Mayor of Portland, OR; Frank Cownie, Mayor of Des Moines; Michael Brennan, Mayor of Portland, ME; Pedro Segarra, Mayor of Hartford, CT; Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Mayor of Baltimore, MD; Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City, NY; Martin J. Walsh, Mayor of Boston, MA; Francis Slay, Mayor of St. Louis, MO; Ed Murray, Mayor of Seattle, WA; Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago, IL; Bill Harrison, Mayor of Fremont, CA; Michael B. Hancock, Mayor of Denver, CO; Kasim Reed, Mayor of Atlanta, GA; Julián Castro, Mayor of San Antonio, TX; Greg Fischer, Mayor of Louisville, KY; Martin J. Walsh, Mayor of Boston, MA; Toni Harp, Mayor of New Haven, CT; McKinley L. Price, Mayor of Newport News; Mark Kleinschmidt, Mayor of Chapel Hill, NC; Sly James, Mayor of Kansas City, MO

White Americans are
a minority in most of
the largest US cities

Washington DC, 10 April 2014:
While ethnically America is still predominantly White (2), in many of the country’s largest cities people of European ancestry are in a minority. Overall, White Americans make up 63.7 per cent of the US population, Hispanic or Latino Americans account for 16.4 per cent with African Americans on 12.6 per cent. But in 18 out of the 25 largest US cities, White Americans comprise less than half of the population. The cities with largest African American populations include Detroit (83%), Memphis (63%) and Washington DC (51%). El Paso has the largest share of Hispanic Americans (81%), while San Francisco is home to more Asian Americans (33%) than any other large US city.

In Detroit, Memphis and Washington DC African Americans form the majority, while Hispanic Americans account for more than 50 per cent of the populations in El Paso and San Antonio - in Los Angeles, 48.5 per cent of people describe themselves as Latino. In San Francisco and San Jose, both in California, Americans of Asian origin represent almost one third of the total population.

Ethnic make-up of America’s largest cities
Population (1)
Black (3)
Hispanic (4)
Asian (5)
New York City; New York
Los Angeles; California
Chicago; Illinois
Houston; Texas
Philadelphia; Pennsylvania
Phoenix; Arizona
San Antonio; Texas
San Diego; California
Dallas; Texas
San Jose; California
Austin; Texas
Jacksonville; Florida
Indianapolis; Indiana
San Francisco; California
Columbus; Ohio
Fort Worth; Texas
Charlotte; North Carolina
Detroit; Michigan
El Paso; Texas
Memphis; Tennessee
Boston, Massachusetts
Seattle, Washington
Denver, Colorado
Washington, DC
Nashville-Davidson, Tennessee
(1) 2012 data supplied by the US Census Bureau and compiled by City Mayors
(2) 2010 data: White Americans have ethnic origins in Europe but can include people from the Middle East and North Africa
(3) 20210 data: Black or African American have ethnic origins in sub-Sahara Africa.
(4) 2010 data: Hispanic or Latino Americans have ethnic origins in the Latin-speaking countries of Latin America, Portugal and Spain.
(5) 2010 data: Asian Americans have ethnic origins in the Far East, Southeast Asia and South Asia.

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Toronto’s mayoral rivals wait for mayor’s brother to show his colours
(Photo: Toronto mayoral contender John Tory)

Kansas City Mayor says guns are often more freely available than fresh food

Ferguson killing leads to questions over the militarisation of police

The vast majority of America’s largest cities are liberal

Toronto’s disgraced Mayor still in with a good chance of being re-elected in Octobe

Less than 20 per cent of America’s cities are led by women mayors
(Photo: Houston’s Annise Parker is the only woman governing a city with more than one million people)

US mayors take a stand against gay-hostile states

White Americans are a minority in most of the largest US cities