Tuesday 28 September 2010

An interview with Livio Ciaralli, candidate for council

This is not the first time that Livio Ciaralli has run for council in Charleswood/Tuxedo. He ran four years ago as well against Bill Clement. This time the race is wide open, with seven fresh faces and no incumbent. I found Livio door-knocking out in the drizzle the other night, and asked him some questions over coffee:

Peanut: There are seven people running in Charleswood. How do you break away from the pack? How do you differentiate yourself from all of those other candidates?

Livio: I think I have differentiated myself: by buying my own bus pass, by taking transit, by biking to work, I'm sending a message that I'm going to be like everyday normal people. My councillor's allowance: I won't spend anything on myself. The full funding will be going back into the community. That's a line in the sand I've drawn, and if people pay attention to it, they can ask the candidates "what are you going to do for me?"

The other issue that's going to differentiate me is that I won't be talking about little problems like crime and roads, because there is one bigger issue at hand and that is taxes and funding, so hopefully people will understand that. That makes me completely different than any other candidate so far, including the mayor, Sam, and Judy. I'd almost say that my platform is a mayoral platform.

P: Alright ... but there are issues within your ward ...

L: When you're living in Charleswood, it's almost like living in cottage country. You know we have crime, but, I mean my son got hit in head with a beer bottle. That's the kind of crime we're talking about: petty theft, teenagers doing what teenagers do. Sure you'll have the odd really bad thing that happens, like a murder happened over here, but that can happen anywhere. But in Charleswood there's really no major issues ... except on Wilkes we're starting to have some issues with traffic. So there's pockets with issues, but when you look at it reflected throughout the ward of Charleswood Tuxedo -- there really isn't that much of a problem compared with other wards.

P: I know that you don't want to raise taxes. I read on John Dobbin's blog that you would like to find efficiencies. A lot of people say that when they're running for office, but when they get in they either can't find them or if they find them they can't capture them. Do you have a plan B? What happens if you can't get those efficiencies?

L: I think I can get the efficiencies because I'm a contractor. I've done a lot of work with the city over the last 15 years so I see how they mis-handle contracts. They know my price but to make things easier they pay the general contractor's price. There's no cost control there. On one contract they marked up my price 100%. That's huge.

The other way we can find efficiencies is through materials management. They have to change the way they do business. They have to be aggressive. Right now they just put it on the web site, and three bids and they're done. But the biggest thing they have to do is convince the civil servants to get them to the point where if they save money on a budget -- let's say they save $20,000 on a project, the city gets $10,000 back and the other $10,000 can be a bonus. So hopefully that gives them incentive that if emp A is working and emp B is not, then employee A will say "Hey excuse me, we're talking about our bonus here".

P: To get things done, you're going to need support of other councilors. Are you a persuasive guy? Are you going to rough them up a little bit?

L: I am a bit rough around the edges, but I hope the ideas I have will appeal to them. The main platform issue should appeal to all of them, right? To go and get proper funding from the province, or to have a constitution for Winnipeg going forward. That should appeal to all of them. Now, maybe council is a day to day thing that gets mired down in specifics, but I want council to elevate itself because we need to plan for the next 100 years. We can't be managing all these little items and having all our energy sucked up because of it.

So you put your plan forward and you start working the tables and you see where their heads' at, and you start trying to get your vote. But council is dominated by a conservative mentality now, and I want EPC gone because it's no good for council and maybe with it gone council has more power because they all get the same information at the same time.

P: What's Judy's position on EPC?

L: Oh .. she choked on the question. Judy wants EPC. She wants the same power Sam has. She wants control of EPC.

P: That's why you'll never get rid of it. If the mayor wants it ..

L: Well, if the mayor wants it, sure he's got control of EPC right off the hop, but I'm hoping that with a change of politics at city hall, people start realizing that either it's gotta change to like it was with Susan Thompson where it was a rotating basis through council ... it's gotta be a point where somebody can't control it with set votes.

P: What do you think of Wyatt's idea to put a plebiscite on the ballot ...

L: Sorry. It's just more bullshit. You know, it's been talked about before. It skirts the issue. Eventually we have to stop paying taxes. No matter how many times they want to empty your pocket ... it's the only thing they can do. It's lazy. You want more money? Go get it from the province. That's where the real fight is. If you're too scared to do that, don't come asking to raise taxes of any kind of level. Cause you know, they'll raise it 1%. Five years, 10 years down the line, hey there another 1%. Sorry .. I just don't buy it.

P: Shifting gears a little bit here -- at this stage of the game, what's our best option for rapid transit: BRT, LRT, or flying reindeer pulling sleighs?

L: Hmm Mmm .. I like reindeer.

P: Word has it that's what Sam is planing for when he get's re-elected. LRT is gone and the reaindeer are in. It will be more expensive, but he thinks it will increase ridership.

L: Well, aside from the fact that's it's the wrong thing to be building -- either LRT or BRT -- and in the wrong spot, and we really don't need it as much as people think we do ...

P: We started it.

L: Right, we started it. Do we have the money to complete it to the U of M?

P: I believe we have the money to complete BRT.

L: Then complete it. Complete it. Because Sam is not really going for an LRT. He just wants to transfer the BRT money which is about 100 mil into infrastructure, then he wants to dip into the federal government. People have to understand how Sam operates. What he's doing to you with BRT/LRT, he's going to do to the federal government once he get's his LRT money. He's going dance around it until he picks up that money and puts it back into BRT. It's a shell game, but that's the only way he knows how to operate. So ... we will get BRT, but Sam's game is to get 100 million bucks more. Like he did it with Glen Murray's stuff: when BRT first came on. He took that money and put it into community centres, right? And yet we still have a BRT going. You understand that shell game he's playing? He got a ball park paid for himself. Sam is probably the greatest socialist there is when it comes to taking taxpayers' money.

I kind of support it that way. I would support him if he looked at major platform and elevated himself to that level and said, "you know what? This is something I'm going to fight for. You guys can squabble about crime and all this, but I'm going to elevate it to this level." and I think he would be the greatest mayor in Winnipeg. I think he can do it.

So did I answer your question? Finish the BRT already, but if he's going to get more money back ... I'm just saying that no matter what he does we're getting a BRT.

P: Oh yeah?

L: Yeah. There's no way that Sam thinks that BRT, changing to LRT, is rapid transit. And if he thinks it is then he's an idiot.

P: Out of all four mayoral candidates, who do you like the best?

L: You know what? If Sam came out and made a statement about Crocus and said I'm going to try to pay some of this back ... even though it's just symbolic, I think he would be the best man. I think that was a crooked deal made by crooked people behind closed doors. And, if he kind of looks at changing the way he is I'd probably go with Sam.

Judy: she blew it with me on EPC right off the hop, and she blew it with the tax increase. We all we need money; that's just not where we want to go get it. I can't support her. I can work with her, but I can't support her.

So right now I'll give one shot with Sam and we'll see. Because, I don't know ... I don't know ... if he doesn't give me my answer I'll just spoil my ballot.

The other two guys, I've looked at their stuff and, their stuff is .. well ... if my apserations are this high and their's are this low, I can't even look at them.

P: Here's the most important question: do you think Leah Hextall is sexy?

L: I don't even know who she is.

P: She's a sports anchor on CTV. If I mention her in the blog it will get more hits and you'll get more exposure. Especially if I also mention "bikini" or "lingerie".

L: If you asked me about Mary-Agnes Welch...

P: Mary-Agnes Welch? What do you think of her?

L: I like red heads.

P: I have quote here: something about eradicating poverty and homelessness in ten years. How do you do that?

L: Well, the funding formula. The province gets $3.7 Billion each year in federal transfer payments. I think the city should get a provincial transfer payment. Since we have over half the population in this city, I'm not going to ask for half, I'm going to start with $600m or $700m. With that money, our operating expenses, the taxes that we pay everyday, will go towards operating the city. With the transfer payment we can use that to fund our infrastructure, and then these projects that you want to roll out over the next ten years, we can pay for them.

Now I understand that at a provincial level they're going to have to find efficiencies, but we can't go ahead with a city our size on our own. Sam just said we have a $4.7 Billion infrastructure deficit. How deep are your pockets? How deep are taxpayer pockets to pay for that? We have to stop making bad decisions.

P: Do you think we can get anywhere with the NDP, or do you think the conservatives might do a better job of helping out the city?

L: Council has one year to plan. There's an election in one year. If council can agree that unicity is finished, that the City of Winnipeg act, although it was very good -- it had ambition -- lacked funding to reach those goals ...

( -- diversion into a conversation about types of coffee after waitress stops by -- )

Oh .. again .. if we make that statement, we have one year to tell the three political parties: which ever one of you agree to this, we'll give you Winnipeg. If you don't agree to it, we'll do whatever we can to let people know that you don't want Winnipeg to be independent and responsible for it's own role. You want to control us forever.

So, it's got to end at some point. It's a discussion that one day will have to happen unless you guys want to pay taxes for the next ten years. You're going to be paying them, there's no doubt about it. Let's assume that Russ gets his 1% sales tax, so on everything you buy there's an extra 1% ...

P: and the province and the federal government will match it

L: Ya, OK, they'll match. So let's assume they'll match it. That's not bad. I've got no problem, instead of this funding formula, with taking 1% of all PST paid in Winnipeg as funding as long as there's no strings attached, and the check has to be in the mail - Jan 2 - or else how are you going to pay for the 55 new cops?

So all our problems boil down to money. The question is where do we get the money? Tax, or getting our fair share of what we already pay? When you think about it, if the province can get $3.7 billion from the feds ... their budget is $10 billion ... if they can get 3.7 how the hell do you support a $10 billion province on the 6.3 that you collect? It's insane.

Community funding is the same story, where if you set up a fund for communities and the financial departments invests it for them, the return is split between 15 communities, and then it goes to the community where grassroots can spend doing what they need to do. But without funding you can't put in a program like that.

P: Last question: what's your favorite Italian Restaurant?

L: I like Bella Roma. (The location of our interview.)

Interview notes: accuracy of the interview is not guaranteed, but should be pretty close. All typos are mine. Next time I do one of these I am asking 'yes' or 'no' questions only. Thanks to Livio for his time, and for picking up the tab at Bella Roma.


John Dobbin said...

Great interview!

Hope to see more from other candidates,

Unknown said...

Brilliant! I'm thinking interviews should become a regular blog feature.

cherenkov said...

Thanks guys.

I would consider doing more interviews. However they're a lot more time consuming than the usual brain vomit with links that I pass off as a blog post.

Maybe each Winnipeg blogger should interview a couple of candidates.

Anonymous said...

For the record, since I am known as "the magnanimous one" around my house, I do pay for interviewers resto bills, even if they order Americano's ( its a sign of respect for the time you are putting in )

Cheren it was nice meeting you and I agree, bloggers need to get more involved if they hope to effect some more change.


cherenkov said...

Yes, thanks for picking up the bill! I added that to the post.

By the way: by chance I bumped into the origin of the term "americano" a couple days ago at the Soma cafe at the U of W: it comes from WWII when the American GIs asked to have their espressos watered down because they were too strong.

Anonymous said...

Yes, thats what you were saying about the watered down coffee. Interesting, but leave it to Europeans for simplifying something. well, so simple.

Hey, do me a favor, can you change the link on my name to hit my website www.votelivio.com..thanks.

The blog was temporary

cherenkov said...

Done. Nice website!

Brian F. Kelcey said...

I admit to being an Americano addict. I am a weak GI!

I should also note that Livio bought a round of coffees at our first Urban lunch. Can't remember if I had an Americano or not.

Maybe that's what he should do with his ward allowance if he's elected: Americanos on Roblin for anyone green enough to take transit.

Great interview, btw - on both sides.

Anonymous said...

Got bit by a fucking dog today. Owner was freaking out as I went after the dog , kicked the little shit half way across the yard and was looking to stomp it to dust. Owner kept apologizing, told him to get a handle on his mutt or I'd staple its jaws shut with my nail gun.

Council might be fun to watch.

Claire said...

That's couth.

I disagree with you on some aspects of life in Charleswood Yes, we have real crime here, I have family that has had a car vandalized and another car stolen, from a very hard to find little bay in this area, there was a large grow-op busted about a month ago and neighbors said it wasn't the first time. What about community clubs, what about local businesses that are closing and disappearing, etc, etc.

But I also would not vote for someone so unprofessional as to post that kind of language (and about their experiences with voters) in public on the internet.

Save the venting for a private journal (ever hear of livejournal) or your private circle. Sucks that you got bitten, but your reaction to it is very telling.

Anonymous said...

Oh please Claire, get a grip.

You looking for a "professional" to spend your money and tax you to death, then by all means, vote for any other of the sixs who are looking for jobs and pension plans.

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