Ever ask yourself why people at MLS make the big bucks?
To the editor,
I read with interest, the anonymous letter sent in by a MLS Staffer about the inner workings of the Municipal Licensing and Standards Division and that person’s take on how the regulations are being drafted and enforced regarding the taxicab industry. Dissent within the MLS is nothing new and has been going on for decades. Like any other organization, the lower level workers are asked for input into numerous issues involving their unit and quite often that requested information is disregarded. Like, for instance, when the City of Toronto or the MLS ask our industry for input and choose to disregard what we have to say.
MLS staff have on numerous occasions been in conflict with the councillors that sit on the L&S Committee and other sitting councillors at City council as well. The best example of that was the report that was tabled by staff at the end of the 1998 reformation by Mark Dimuantes, who was the Senior Policy and Research Officer, Policy and Planning Unit for the MLS and in charge of writing the final report on that reformation. The report recommended that the City not go ahead with the Ambassador Taxicab Program for a number of reasons, not least among these being there was no need for additional taxicabs on the streets of Toronto at that time. The Chair of the L&S Committee at that time, the now retired Councillor Howard Moscoe, handed it back and ordered the report changed to include the Ambassador Program, which was done and the rest, as they say, is history.
I must point out that “TOO MANY TAXICABS ON THE STREETS OF TORONTO” was supposed to be the number one topic in the just concluded taxicab review, which the L&S Committee and review staff agreed to and then refused to deal with – hence never looked back at the original Dimuantes’ recommendation on this point in 1998 – choosing instead to go ahead and issue even more licenses, which they are now doing, even as we speak.
From having worked many years in police organizations, I can almost guarantee you the current police mentality at the MLS is inevitable. The Executive Director of the MLS, Tracey Cook is an ex Toronto police officer and it is my understanding that the Executive Director of Bylaw Enforcement, John DeCourcy and the Director of Business Licensing & Regulatory Services, Wayne Mattless, are as well. To succeed in being a police officer and survive for years in that type of organization, you must show authoritative, immediate and successful action skill tendencies, which you will be held accountable for by your superiors.
In other words, a semi-military approach. These are the perfect employees for any organization especially a municipality, as these types of hires will rarely stray far from the established restrictions of their jobs and will fiercely defend their bosses whether they are right or wrong. They lack entrepreneurial skills and the insight or creativity to think outside the limited box they work in, which tends to make them unable to understand or recommend fair and effective rules and regulations for any type of self-employment industry.
For any person of ordinary care and judgment, would you not think it might be beneficial to have some City employees at the MLS that have worked in the taxicab industry and take advantage of their years of industry experience? Other than Tom Clark and I believe one other hire that dates back to the late 60’s and early 70’s, the City has never hired a single industry member for the MLS.
Of course enforcement will become heavier as that is the nature of this particular beast, but the chosen course of enforcement here serves the bureaucracy’s interests rather than those of the public or licensees. Targeting the people who the City is licensing is a much easier way to show the MLS and its staffers’ worth and collect those all-important extra revenues. It takes a lot more of their resources, both financially and in man-hours, to go after the non-licensed violators. And that’s why targeting their own has been the modus operandi of the City of Toronto’s taxi regulators for decades.
I note John Duffy in his column made reference to these ever increasing charges laid by the MLS against our members, and his conclusion this a clear sign of regulatory and legislative failure, not success. Although as true as this statement is, John appears to believe that the MLS actually cares about the overall health of the industry, but the history in the industry is a clear indicator they do not nor will they ever care. John is forgetting that the MLS is mandated to recoup as much of their budget operating requirements as possible from licensing and any other source of revenues that are available, which includes approximately $11 million annually from licensing renewal fees from the taxicab industry alone. Like any other department at Toronto City Hall that must submit their total budgetary requirements for approval, the first thing the MLS will look at is how much money will be required and that never leads to responsible government. Other sources of revenues for the MLS include needless additional course costs and part payment of all fines that are levied against our members in court.
Let’s not forget the hefty salaries contributing to MLS’s budgetary requirements. Anytime anyone is interested, log onto the Public Sector Salary Disclosure Act, 1996 and click on Select Year and if the year is not there, click 2014 and when the page changes look down the column for Municipalities and Services, click on PDF then scroll down to City of Toronto. There you will see that the City of Toronto in the year ending 2013, had 9,787 employees making over $100,000 per annum.
Out of those City employees in this salary range, I found that 2,963 work in the Toronto Police Services with many of them being constables. Now the base salary of a police constable in the City of Toronto ranges from 4th class: $57,777 per annum, to 1st class: $90,623 and to that you can add their benefit packages which are extensive. So what other way do they have to increase their salary to over $100,000? One way is issuing tickets of course, because if they are off duty on the day they have to appear in court, they are paid extra from your tax dollars to make that court appearance.
Let’s take a look at some of the senior staff at the MLS and what their annual salaries are. Since Mr. DeCourcy and Mr. Mattless are recent employees, their salaries were not included in the last report of the Act, but considering their positions, I am sure their salaries will be well over the $100,000 mark. The following are examples that were listed of MLS staff who presently exceed the $100,000.
Tracey Cook – Executive Director Municipal Licensing and Standards: $177,668.51
Richard Mucha – Director Licensing Services: $125,806.31
Scott Sullivan – District Manager Municipal Licensing and Standards: $104,579.03
Emil Leonardis – Manager Training Municipal Licensing and Standards: $100,713.64
The City of Toronto does what it wants when it wants and has no apparent accountability to anyone, thanks to the Province of Ontario in their passing and implementation of the Toronto act (2006).Gerry Manley
Gerry Manely - Reports