Let's get to the thing we all want to talk about: Rob Ford smoked crack! Well, allegedly.
Nobody's seen the video - shot by a couple of enterprising Somali drug dealers - except a pair of Toronto Star reporters, but the 2-minute tape, recorded this past winter at a house south of Dixon Rd. and Kipling Avenue, supposedly shows the mayor of Toronto smoking from a crack pipe and talking incoherently. If there's any kind of veracity to the claim, it's the above picture that was given to the Star by the same source that showed them the tape, which shows Ford with three other black youths including Anthony Smith, who was killed near a downtown Toronto club earlier this year.
Of course, this isn't the first time drug allegations have plagued Mayor Ford. After an incident at a military ball in March where Ford was reportedly so intoxicated he was asked to leave, allegations began to surface that Ford also had an addiction to crack. No evidence was offered, but the source of that allegation seems to be the same source of the currently discussed video.
The video itself, meanwhile, is up for bids. The U.S. website Gawker posted last night that a they had been in talks to buy the video for "six figures" and that editor John Cook had flown to Toronto to view the video himself personally. The Star says that the same six-figure offer was made to them, but that number came down from the original 1 million that the owners wanted.
So what can me make of this? Is it Ford? Will we ever know? Tough to say unless the video is ever made public. What we can infer, so far, is that all three people that have gone public with seeing the video are comfortably certain that the man in the video is Ford, the video is reportedly very well-lit and The Star reporters even studied video of the Mayor at City Hall to compare and contrast the "Ford" on the video tape.
As of right this minute, reporters are waiting for official comment from City Hall and the Mayor's office, but Ford has retained the services of lawyer Dennis Morris on the matter. Morris called the details about the video, “false and defamatory,” and told the Star that it's impossible to tell what a person is doing. “How can you indicate what the person is actually doing or smoking?” So far as counter-arguments go that ranks right up there with "I didn't inhale."
The Star has live updates on the developing story.
Also, this wasn't a great week for Ford to begin with. Late yesterday, Ford called off a council meeting that would debate whether or not a casino on Toronto's waterfront would be a approved. Ford called the issue "dead," saying that he couldn't get a firm commitment from the province either way, although the removal of Ontario Lottery and Gaming chair Paul Godfrey, one of the more vocal proponents of a casino, was a pretty strong message. Also, the province repeatedly said that Toronto's "windfall" from a casino would amount to around $50 million a year, which is half of what Ford said the city needed for a casino to be viable, and about one-fifth of what Ford was promising while campaigning for a casino.
In a somewhat minor issue, Ford was also in dutch with bylaw enforcement for sticking "Rob Ford Mayor" fridge magnets on cars in an Etobicoke parking lot, violating a bylaw barring people from “depositing handbills on vehicles and handing handbills to pedestrians.” Ford and his director of operations and logistics David Price could be charged with a $150 fine. Peanuts when you consider Ford's wealth, or his current dilemmas, but maybe it was an early sign of where the end of the week was going for Ford.
Still, I wonder how many in Toronto this morning are regretting that "removal from office" order didn't go through.