One hundred issues, more lobbyists

City Hall Watcher #100: The 100th issue spectacular! A new star-studded LOBBYIST WATCH featuring Paul Godfrey, Mattamy Homes, a VERY expensive condo & more! Plus: the top 10 lobbyists

Looks like we made it. This marks 100 issues of City Hall Watcher.

Because I always wanted to be a comic book character, I commissioned a cover to mark the occasion.

Thanks to Brett Lamb for the art. When I approached Brett I said, “Hey, I have this idea, but it might be too nerdy.” But he didn’t even blink. If you ever need illustration or cartooning — based on 1960s Marvel comics or otherwise — he’s your guy.

To start: a sincere thank you to all who have subscribed to this newsletter at any point over the last 100 weeks. When I started this, I was still feeling the sting of the end of my gig with Metro. Sure, I had just finished a great stint working with CBC Toronto during the municipal election, but my next step was unclear.

I still had a real passion for covering City Hall but the state of the media landscape was pretty dire. (It still is!) I know lots of people do it — heroes, all of them — but I wasn’t particularly interested in a freelance career of slinging pitches to various outlets with a prayer that they had some budget.

And so: this newsletter, built on the hopes that people would part ways with five bucks a month (plus HST, these days) to get some really nerdy analysis about their municipal government.

My ambitions were pretty small. I figured if 200 people signed up, that’d be about $10,000 a year — enough to offset a lot of freelance gigs. Because people are awesome, that goal was reached quickly, so I upped my optimism, and figured 500 would be nice. We hit that too, about a year ago. Today, paid subscribers are closing in at 800, growing even during a global pandemic. It’s beyond what I hoped for — and enough to give me security to keep doing this for a long time to come.

So again, thank you to all subscribers. You changed my life.

If you haven’t subscribed yet, I’m taking this milestone as an opportunity to offer you a hell of a deal. From now until December 25, you can get an annual subscription to City Hall Watcher for 20% off the regular price.

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The newsletter is always a bargain and a deal, but this is next level. I rarely do sales or special offers, so don’t miss this one.

In addition to supporting all the work I do here and with my live coverage of Council meetings on Twitter, your support also means I continue to offer FREE subscriptions to students, aspiring journalists and others who can’t afford the cost. Hundreds have taken advantage of this offer — and some of them have even gone on to become paying subscribers, after finding work. The circle of life!

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Okay, enough with the appetizers. Let’s get to the main course. In this week’s issue, I’ve got a brand new LOBBYIST WATCH, plus a special bonus feature, counting down the top ten lobbyists halfway through the 2018-2022 term, and listing the top ten lobbying files.

As always, if you like City Hall Watcher, tell a pal.

Matt Elliott

@GraphicMatt / graphicmatt@gmail.com / CityHallWatcher.com


Lobbyist Watch for November 2020: Paul Godfrey & Mattamy eye Quayside, pandemic lobbying continues & more

Lobbyist Watch is my monthly summary of activity on Toronto City Hall’s Lobbyist Registry. I dig through XML files to find the most salient bits of news. There’s always something tantalizing.

Disclaimer: Toronto’s lobbying rules require lobbyists to register and log all communications with public office holders and City Hall staff, but the rules don’t require them to provide any detail about the nature of those communications. A meeting noted below could be a consequential discussion, or it could be a passing interaction with no program or policy implications.

Also: during the pandemic, virtually all of the meetings voted below are virtual meetings. To save space, I don’t generally indicate this every time.

After the Sidewalk ends, enter Paul Godfrey & Mattamy

Paul Godfrey is a man known for his involvement in a great many Toronto things. He was chair of the old Metro Toronto. He ran the Toronto Blue Jays for a while. He’s been President & CEO of Postmedia. He ran the Ontario Lottery & Gaming corporation between 2010 and 2013, during the time of a failed effort to put a casino in downtown Toronto.

His newest interest is the Quayside land that was, until earlier this year, the domain of Sidewalk Labs. 

On November 6, Godfrey opened a lobbying file under the title of President and Sole Proprietor of Arenjay Developments Ltd. “Arenjay” is a portmanteau of the first initials of the names of Godfrey’s children: Rob, Noah and Jay.

Godfrey’s registration reads in full: “My main interest is planning and development in the area that was considered by Sidewalk Labs. I am very interested in the request for proposal that will be made. I want to explore with the City their plans for this area.”

Godfrey logged a video call with Councillor Joe Cressy on November 24. Cressy represents the Quayside area.

Godfrey isn’t the only one very interested in the land. Also on November 24, three in-house lobbyists for Mattamy Homes logged virtual meetings with Cressy. 

Mattamy’s registration indicates they are interested in “future development of the Bayfront (generally: Lower Jarvis to Cherry Street, Lake Shore Boulevard East to Lake Ontario).” Quayside is one of the only major development parcels left in that area.

Mattamy has been eyeing Quayside for a while. They were part of a group that put in a bid to develop the land in 2017 during the RFP process that ultimately led to Waterfront Toronto making the deal with Sidewalk. In 2019, The Logic’s Amanda Roth reported that Mattamy was shopping around an alternative proposal even as Sidewalk’s work was going forward.

Representing Mattamy at the meeting with Cressy was David Stewart, Managing Director of Mattamy Urban Neighbourhoods, Brad Carr, CEO of Mattamy Homes Canada, and Rupert Duchesne, CEO of Mattamy Ventures.

Mattamy founder Peter Gilgan is listed as a beneficiary on the file, as is the Columbus Corporation. Mattamy was one of the biggest donors to the Ontario Proud group during the 2018 provincial election, donating $100,000. Former Mattamy CEO Brian Johnston became CEO of CreateTO — the City of Toronto’s real estate development arm — in January 2019, before stepping down in October. According to a report going to Tory’s Executive Committee this week, CreateTO will play a key role in evaluating the Quayside proposal after Waterfront Toronto selects a proponent via RFP.

Pandemic business lobbying continues to spread

As Toronto deals with Lockdown II: The Lockening, business groups continue to push the mayor and Council on various concerns.

Aleem Kanji continues to represent SaveHospitality.ca, a group put together by the Ascari Hospitality Group. Kanji logged several communications to Amanda Doyle, Tory’s legislative affairs advisor, and the mayor directly.

It’s a similar story with the Ontario Independent Fitness Studio Association. They have hired Global Public Affairs’ Vince Amodeo. Amodeo logged a meeting with someone in the Healthy Environments division of Toronto Public Health on November 13, plus several emails with other Toronto Public Health staffers and Tory. Also listing a November 13 meeting were OIFSA directors Linton Taylor and Alex Kucharisk, plus advisors Jennifer Lau of Fit Squad Personal Training and David Ingram, founder of Sweat & Tonic.

Ditto again for the hotel industry, where Terry Mundell, president and CEO of the Toronto Hotel Association, kept hope alive with a couple of emails to the mayor’s office following a meeting last month with the mayor, Councillor Brad Bradford and GM of Economic Development Mike Williams.

Darryl Chong, President & CEO of the Greater Toronto Apartment Association, has joined the fray too, opening a new lobbying file to talk about “rental issues during extended pandemic.” Chong, who acts in the interest of landlords, logged a meeting with Councillor Ana Bailão on November 24.

Meanwhile, in-house lobbyists for the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses logged a meeting with Mayor John Tory and Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong on December 2. Repping CFIB were CEO Dan Kelly, Director of Provincial Affairs Ryan Mallough, and Director of Provincial Affairs Julie Kwiecinski.

Lastly, in a real sign of the times, a group called Travel Industry Personnel has hired Radius Communications to do some rather unique lobbying. “[Travel Industry Personnel] have a database of people that used to work in the travel industry who are now free to pivot and work as contact tracers for COVID-19,” the file reads. No communications recorded yet.

Island airport turns to former Deputy City Manager for air support

Federal agency Ports Toronto has hired former Deputy City Manager John Livey to lobby about the “future of the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.”

Livey had a phone call with City Manager Chris Murray and Deputy City Manager Infrastructure Tracey Cook on November 12, and a follow-up call with Cook on November 16. Livey worked on several reports about the airport during his tenure with the City, which ended with his retirement in 2018.

Unlike Pearson airport, which still sees some flights, the island airport has been at a virtual standstill since the start of the pandemic. Tensions are flying high. Recently, the Globe & Mail’s Andrew Willis reported that Porter, the airport’s main tenant, is suing Nieuport Aviation, owners of the airport terminal.

Ex-TTC, Ex-Metrolinx staff chat with TTC CEO about project procurement

It’s a small world, after all. In-house lobbyists for infrastructure builder Gannett Fleming Canada logged a phone call with TTC CEO Rick Leary and TTC Chief Capital Officer Gary Downie on November 30 to talk “Engineering and Design project procurement.” 

Repping Ganett Fleming Canada was Scott Duggan, formerly a project manager for the TTC, and Campbell McNaught, who worked for Metrolinx as their Director of Electrification between 2015 and 2017. Andrew Gillespie, a Gannett VP, was also on the line.

The old connections don’t stop there. M.L. Christie Consulting Ltd., the firm started by former TTC chair Paul Christie, is listed as a financial contributor to the lobbying effort. Christie has also got a separate lobbying file with Gannett listed as his client.

Scooter scoop

E-scooters remained the most-lobbied issue at City Hall. A report on updated safety regulations for a potential shared e-scooter program was supposed to hit the Infrastructure & Environment Committee this fall, but has been delayed.

In the interim, there’s lots of lobbying. Bird Canada logged 31 lobbying communications, with VP of Government Affairs Chris Schafer reaching out to several BIAs via email in order to drum up support. In addition, Bird Canada CEO Stewart Lyons logged several emails to the mayor’s office, while Chairman Jordan Bitove logged phone calls to Councillor Joe Cressy, Councillor Josh Matlow, Deputy Mayor Denzil Minnan-Wong and the mayor’s office. Lobbyist extraordinaire Amir Remtulla kicked in another 12 lobbying communications for Bird, including a meeting with Councillor Shelley Carroll.

Over at their main competition, Lime Canada has retained Grant Goldberg of Crestview Strategy to lobby about their scooters. Goldberg registered a grassroots communication campaign that’ll run for the first half of December, targeting councillors and the mayor.

But look, a wild new competitor appears. Peter Milczyn, a former Toronto councillor, is working for Skinny Labs Inc — better known as Spin — the e-scooter company owned by the Ford Motor Company. Milczyn logged emails to Transportation Services in November.

And let’s say guten tag to another new player in Toronto’s e-scooter game: TIER Mobility, a Berlin-based scooter company, has registered three in-house lobbyists to talk up their product. No communications yet.

Lobbying grab bag

  • Pallet, an American company that manufactures small-scale shelters for people experiencing homelessness, has opened up a lobbying file to tell City Hall about how their products might be useful. No communications yet. Pallet makes small shelters suitable for individuals or families that are prefabricated and can be assembled on site in less than an hour. Sounds promising.

  • Mayor John Tory and mayoral staffers Edward Birnbaum and Luke Robertson met with John Sullivan, CEO of Cadillac Fairview, and Executive VP of Development Wayne Barwise, on November 10 to talk about the East Harbour development.

  • Courtney Glen and Edward Birnbaum from Tory’s office were logged as having a series of meetings on November 17 with reps from TAS Design Build about development properties that could receive funding through the Open Door program for building affordable housing. The properties are 7 Labbatt Avenue, 2 Tecumseth Street, 888 Dupont Street and 880 Eastern Avenue

  • Fer-Pal Construction logged a hefty 50 communications to councillors and staff pushing their “water main pipe rehabilitation technology.” Apparently their tech is trenchless. I repeat: trenchless.

  • Lobbyists for Uber Canada were busy again in November. Manager of Public Policy Jake Brockman logged meetings with councillors Carroll, Holyday, McKelvie, Pasternak and Thompson. Lobbyist Kim Wright also continued her work for Uber, logging 47 interactions with a flurry of emails to councillor offices.

  • The Toronto Paramedic Association has hired Pathway Group’s Gregory Stulen to lobby about the value of paramedics and “the Toronto Paramedic Association’s work to be recognized as a professional association.” Stulen met with Tom Gleason from Councillor Shelley Carroll’s office on November 9.

  • Car share company Communauto has opened a new lobbying file to push for an increase to the number of streets in Ward 14 that offer permit parking — a move that would allow for more options for Communauto users. Communauto VP Marco Viviani logged emails to Councillor Paula Fletcher’s office.

  • Working on behalf of Amazon Canada, Crestview Strategy’s Alex Chreston logged several phone calls and text messages to Daniela Magisano, senior legislative advisor in Tory’s office. Amazon wants to talk about “continuing growth of Amazon’s footprint in Toronto” and their fulfillment centres.

Tech 4 sale

  • Through lobbying firm Sutherland Corporation, Conduent continues to lobby the TTC about open payment fare options. Sutherland’s Daniel Bordonali and Monika Bujalska logged meetings with TTC Board member Joanne De Laurentiis and TTC Head of Strategy & Foresight Angela Gibson on November 11. Conduent sales manager Atif Maooied and bid manager Damien Habas also logged meetings with the same people.

  • Dartmouth-based Simplycast continues to pitch their tech for “SMS-based self-assessment, traveler screening and tracking, patron SMS check-in and all-in-one dashboard” with several communications to IT, Public Health and the Toronto Offices of Partnerships.

  • Converso Engagement Services is pitching staff on their tech for holding virtual/telephone town halls.

  • FileTickets.ca, who provide a service for filing traffic tickets online, has opened a lobbying file, pitching City Hall on the idea that their service “would reduce the over 8,700 people that attend Toronto courts each month.” No communications yet.

  • Luum, a company offering what it bills as a “commute management platform” has joined the lobbying world. They want to “explore how we can support the cities initiatives [sic] around solo driving commute trip reduction.” No communications yet.

Familiar faces

  • Former councillor Michelle Holland has registered as a lobbyist. After her defeat in the 2018 election, the councillor now has a gig at PriceWaterhouseCoopers. She opened a lobbying file on November 23 to talk how data and analytics could “enable better decision making” across various City departments.  The list of councillors from 2014-2018 who have turned to lobbying now numbers nine: Holland, Mary Fragedakis, David ShinerMary-Margaret McMahonJohn Campbell, Glenn De Baeremaeker, Justin Di Ciano, Joe Mihevc and Cesar Palacio. Might soon be faster to list the ones that aren’t lobbying.

  • Speaking of ex-councillors, Mary Fragedakis continues her work on behalf of Metro Toronto Condo Corporation 932 and Toronto Standard Condo Corporation 1703 — better known as Empire Plaza and 1 King West — on issues related to homeless shelters established at the Strathcona Hotel and the Hotel Victoria. Fragedakis logged several communications to staff in Shelter, Support & Housing Administration and the mayor’s office.

  • Former councillor John Campbell is representing the York Major/Eagles Nest golf course, which has an interest in the City-owned Keele Valley landfill. Campbell logged a meeting with Councillor Stephen Holyday — the guy who beat him in the 2018 election— to on November 18. Sutherland honcho Paul Sutherland also lists a meeting with Holyday on November 18 on the same subject. Campbell is also repping SMRT Labs who want to show off their “fever detection technology” along with handling a handful of other files.

Lawyer lobbying about ridiculously-expensive Yorkville condo

Suite 1400 is the crown jewel of the luxury condo building at 155 Cumberland Street. At 10,200 square feet across two floors with more than 5,000 square feet of terraces, it’s got four bedrooms, seven bathrooms, and four underground parking spaces plus a full concierge service.

Unfortunately — ready your tiny violins! — when you’re at the very top of the market, finding a buyer can be a hard sell. The unit has been listed at least three times over the last decade. In 2012, a listing with an asking price of $28 million was withdrawn after eight months on the market. In 2013, it hit the market again at a bargain price of $19 million, but the listing was again terminated after seven months. In 2018, it returned again, at $28.8 million. But that listing was cancelled in March of 2019.

Now the unit has popped up in lobbying records, with a company called 31 Chesham St. Inc hiring McCarthy Tetrault LLP’s Cynthia MacDougall to lobby about “alterations for the apartment unit at Suite 1400, 155 Cumberland Avenue.” 

Gerald Sheff, retired co-founder of the wealth management firm Gluskin Sheff + Associates, is listed as a “personal with significant control” on the file. 

MacDougall has focused her efforts on the mayor’s office, speaking to Director of Legislative Affairs Edward Birnbaum by phone on November 9 and November 16, and sending a handful of emails.

Lobbyist Watch will return in January.


That was fun, right? Paul Godfrey returns! A $30 million condo! What a world. If you want to get Lobbyist Watch in your inbox each week, plus regular features like the Council Scorecard, Open Data Challenge, The Week at Toronto City Hall, and more, you can subscribe now and save 20% off the cost of an annual subscription.

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Top 10 lobbyists — and lobbied issues — of the first half of Council’s 2018-2022 term

Since we’re at the midpoint of this term at City Hall — and I’ve been spending all this time looking at lobbying records — it feels like a good time for a list of the most prolific lobbyists working the clamshell at 100 Queen West.

This list was created by counting the number of times a lobbyist’s name appeared on a registered lobbying communication between December 2018 and December 2020.

1. Chris Schafer, VP of Government Affairs for Bird Canada — 796 communications

Schafer has been at the centre of the lobbying effort for e-scooters, first for Lime as their Senior Director for Strategic Development. This past June, he jumped ship to Bird, where he’s kept up the pressure. Last term, he was one of the main lobbyists working for Uber Canada.

2. Amir Remtulla, Strategic Advisor at Amir Remtulla & Associations - 582 communications

The former chief of staff to Mayor Rob Ford represents dozens of developers across the city, helping them navigate the approval process.

3. Nadia Todorova, Senior Director of Government Relations at the Residential Construction Council of Ontario - 340 communications

RESCON is in frequent communication with the mayor’s office and members of Council, lobbying on all sorts of issues related to development.

4. Kim Wright, Principal at Wright Strategies - 270 communications

Wright spent almost a decade with Sussex followed by a two-year stint with Hill & Knowlton. In June, she struck out on her own with Wright Strategies. She’s repped heavy hitters like Uber.

5. Milton Chan, Chief of Staff at the Toronto Region Board of Trade - 259 communications

The Board of Trade is a frequent fixture in the lobbyist registry. Recently, they were super involved in the drafting of Toronto’s COVID-19 recovery plan.

6. Shana Nodel, Principal Lawyer at TWL Law - 194 communications

In 2019, Nodel sent written communications to virtually every City division letting it be known that TWL is interested in providing the City with third-party legal services.

7. John Brodhead, VP of Policy & Partnerships at TAS Design Build - 180 communications

Brodhead started his new gig at TAS in October, where he continues to lobby about various development proposals. But he racked up most of his lobbying communications as a Policy & Strategy guy with Sidewalk Labs. After that gig ended in June, his LinkedIn profile lists his occupation between June and October as “retired chicken farmer.” Hope he got some good eggs.

8. Alex Chreston, Senior Consultant at Crestview Strategy - 179 communications

If Chreston had sent just two more emails he would have beat Brodhead. Anyway, Chreston is very prolific across a whole bunch of files.

9. Martin Green, Principal at Foresight Strategic Advisors - 177 communications

Just four more emails, and Green would have beat Brodhead and Chreston. Green has been active on several files, most notably for Expedia and Bird.

10. Mai Nguyen, Manager of Government Relations at Shaw Communications - 164 communications

Before joining Shaw in May 2019, Nguyen worked for lobbyist firm Maple Leaf Strategies. Shaw has been busy talking to staff about their wireless tech.

THE NEXT TEN: 11. Chris Korwin-Kuczynski (163 communications); 12. Stewart Lyons (160); 13. Mike Kasij (147); 14. Rob Gilmour (130); 15. Habon Ali (125); 16. Jonathan Hopkins (124); 17. Ron Gersh (120); 18. Richard Lyall (116); 19. Randy Lebow (103); 20. Angela Drennan (101)

The most lobbied files, 2018-2020

  1. Toronto Region Board of Trade: economic development (687 communications)

  2. Neutron Holdings (Lime): e-scooters (642 communications)

  3. Sidewalks Labs: waterfront planning (527 communications)

  4. Bird Canada: e-scooters (483 communications)

  5. RESCON: development (232 communications)

  6. RESCON: noise bylaw (213 communications)

  7. Shaw Communications: wireless communications (101 communications)

  8. TWL Law: legal services (194 communications)

  9. Uber Canada: ride-sharing (183 communications)

  10. Wright Strategies: Uber (174 communicaitons)

THE NEXT TEN: 11. Populus: mobility data (163 communications; 12. Sutera Canada: dog waste disposal (145); 13. Airbnb: short-term rentals (145); 14. Sightline Innovations: AI (144); 15. Toronto Region BOT: transit (130); 16. Sidewalk Labs: fire safety (127); 17. Talize: textile recycling (120); 18. Toronto Region BOT: economic blueprint (118); 19. Foresight Strategies: Bird e-scooters (110); 20. 3M Canada: transit (109)


More from Matt: on bylaw enforcement, and vacant houses

📰 For the Toronto Star last week, I wrote about bylaw enforcement through the lens of the recent BBQ brouhaha. Stick around ‘til the end:

But a bigger part of the fix could be found in adjusting the priorities of enforcement. The big civic threats aren’t coming from individuals drinking in parks or not having the cash to afford a TTC fare. They’re not coming from homeless people trying to find a safe space to sleep. They’re certainly not coming from Parkdale residents setting up a community fridge.

Instead, the threats are coming from landlords looking to turn the screws on tenants. They’re coming from businesses who don’t care about public health or worker safety. They’re coming from corporations eyeing the city as a place to make private profits off public spaces.

They’re coming from people, often with deep pockets, who think the municipal government in Toronto is unable or unwilling to push back.

🗞 This week, I’ve got a piece about the report on a vacant home tax heading to Mayor John Tory’s Executive Committee this week. Look for my column in your favourite newspaper.


In other news


The week at Toronto City Hall

MONDAY: 📉 The Economic & Community Development Committee met today. On the item about data from the Central Intake shelter line — I wrote about it last week — the committee heard from more than 30 deputants demanding the City open at least 2,000 shelter-hotel rooms over the next four months, and institute a moratorium on evictions from encampments. A presentation to the committee includes a map of encampment sites. The committee was still debating the matter at press time.

The committee also got a presentation from the Greater Toronto Airports Authority on how Pearson’s year has gone so far. The bad news: passenger traffic is down 88%, airport revenue is down $80 billion and 14,000 people who work for the airport or an airport partner have been laid off. The good news: uh, noise complaints are half of what they were last year.

The committee will also vote on staff recommendations to extend the backyard chicken pilot for another year. CBC’s Lauren Pelley has a story with details, and puns.

💳 The Toronto Investment Board also met today, getting some presentations from the City’s investment managers.

TUESDAY: 👉 The Civic Appointments Committee meets to consider who to put on the TO Live Board of Directors, the Toronto Atmosphere Fund Board and the TTC board.

🏘 The Planning & Housing Committee meets with an agenda that includes new permissions for garden suites, an update to the RentSafeTO program and an update on efforts to create affordable housing in the West Don Lands.

🎢 The Board of Governors of Exhibition Place meet to consider their Q3 Financial Report.

WEDNESDAY: 🌳 Scarborough Community Council meets.

🎳 The Striking Committee meets. It’s time for the mid-term committee shuffle! From the list of committees and boards councillors are interested in, it doesn’t look like we should expect many changes at the major standing committees. The only possible exception: Councillor James Pasternak, chair of the Infrastructure & Environment Committee, has not listed that committee at his first choice. Another thing to watch: Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam has indicated an interest in serving on the Police Services Board. Appointing her would be a pretty powerful sign that Council is committed to police reform efforts.

🏆 Bid Award Panel contract award of the week: $5.4 million for AODA upgrades.

🎬 The Film, Television & Digital Media Advisory Board meets for the first regular meeting since February, for an update on the city’s filming biz.

THURSDAY: ✍️ The Executive Committee gets together. The big items: an update on transit expansion projects, which includes an updated cost figure for the Eglinton East LRT (it’s increased, shockingly!) and a report recommending Council move forward with a vacant home tax. They’ll also consider the rate-supported budgets for 2021.

FRIDAY: 🕎

NEXT WEEK: Board of Health meets on Monday, TTC and Police Board meet Tuesday, Council meets on Wednesday and Thursday for their final meeting of 2020.


City Hall Watcher #100

Thanks for reading! I’d apologize for this issue being long, but they’re always long. Hope you found it useful! Again, if you want to get all this great info in your inbox every Monday, now is a great time to sign up. You can save 20%!

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Next week: a preview of the Council agenda, with a close look at the big items and looming votes! In the weeks ahead, you’ll also get a Council recap, an update to the Council scorecard, and our holiday special issue: 2020 - the year in charts.

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See you next week. Thanks, again.