|Courtesy of the Torontoist|
It's been a while since I wrote about Ol' Fordsie, but so much goes down with the Mayor of Toronto this can almost be a weekly, if not daily column. In fact, the "Morning Brew" feature on BlogTO is almost a clip-a-day slice of whatever controversy - major or minor - is presently marching through the Mayor's Office. For Rob Ford, the week began explaining some phone calls he was making, segued into losing his appeal to the Ontario Press Council, then he did a hatchet job on a city employee supposedly caught napping on the job, and is now wrapping up the week with the revelation that Ford wrote a character reference for his good friend Alessandro Lisi, part-time Ford driver, (alleged) full-time drug dealer. Just another week in Ford Nation.
First, in today's news, is the revelation that Ford wrote a letter of support for Lisi, which was received at a June 14 sentencing hearing on Lisi's conviction for threatening to kill an Etobicoke woman. The actual content of the letter is not yet known, but the Toronto Star is petitioning the court to see the letter, and were before a judge yesterday to plead their case. The judge could end up releasing the letter to the public as early as today. Lisi, you'll recall, is the man who was picked up by police on drug and various other charges a few weeks ago, and is said to have offered to trade marijuana for a missing cell phone that allegedly belonged to Mayor Ford. Ford, as you'll recall, called Lisi a "good guy," and then refused to "throw my friends under the bus."
But before the specter of Lisi rose again, Ford was back on the attack with the help of his newly-returned-to-the-executive-committee member Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti. Mammoliti snapped a picture of a seemingly napping parks and rec worker at a community centre in west York. Completely out of context, it looks pretty bad, but there was once that other matter of people getting pictures of sleeping city employees that ended in the man's death by stroke. Still, Ford hoped on pop and stated that the employee should be fired and his manager should be fired, because the city doesn't need employees like that:
In a surprising moment of clear thinking, the Toronto Sun's Joe Warmington was equally critical of Ford and Mammoliti pointing out the numerous incidents of bad or embarrassing pictures of Ford and that Mammoliti once went to lunch at a strip club. Apparently, people in glass houses can throw stones.
Speaking of throwing stones, or maybe that's news stories about being stoned. The Ontario Press Council denied an appeal by the Ford brothers, Mayor Rob and Councillor Doug, about the Toronto Star's coverage of the alledged crack smoking video featuring the mayor, and the Globe and Mail's story about the councillor's alleged teenage drug ring respectively. "The panel concluded that the Star and the Globe both followed appropriate journalistic guidelines in their reporting on the Fords," said George Thomson, chairman of the panel that heard the complaints, in a statement.
The OPC don't rule on the truth of the reporting, just that the two papers followed appropriate journalistic standards when reporting the story, including offering the Fords every opportunity to respond to the story. The council did however note that "The Globe came close to crossing the line into what are the problematic, but private affairs of family members." So the Fords win that much, but they were unable to use the press oversight body to payback the "maggots" that reported their alleged criminal shenanigans. On the other hand, Star reporter Robyn Doolittle, one of the two to see the now infamous crack video, is publishing a book about Ford early next year called Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story, which promises some "shocking new revelations."
But the week kicked off with Ford swing against criticism of putting out robocalls attacking Scarborough councillor Paul Ainslie for voting against the Scarborough subway expansion. Well, attack might be a bit strong, since Ford didn't technically do anything other than tell the truth about how the councillor voted, but the implication is clear: you're either with Ford or you're against him. And hey Toronto, don't worry about your hard earned money going to robocalls attacking the mayor's political opponents, these costs are coming out of Ford's own pocket. I know Ford thinks he gets political points for spending his own money on city/political business, and maybe he does, but it would be nice to see someone point out when he does something like this that not everyone has a rich daddy who built a successful label company for them to inherit wealth from.
Ainslie plans to not take the situation lying down and is appealing to both the integrity commissioner and the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). The Fords, naturally, remain defiant, and Councillor Doug Tuesday said that his brother had the right to make the robocalls under the City of Toronto Act, which, of course, doesn't give the mayor that right. This is one of those nebulous areas where Mayor Ford may not have done anything wrong, but he's definitely being a bully, and he's definitely sending a message that if you don't go with the Ford flow, then he will use his personal wealth to teach you a lesson in loyalty.
But all this began with Ford's so-called subway victory, an accomplishment of ideology over necessity that flies completely in the face of Ford's promise to be fiscally responsible by choosing the project that's more expensive to the point of having to raise taxes and in the end still falls $900 million short before ground is even broken. And that's to say nothing of the millions that have already been spent on the LRT, even as Ford takes his turns jabbing at the provincial Liberals for their politically-motivated financial sinkhole construction project.
But to show that the word "lesson" isn't in Ford's vocabulary, the mayor went on to say last week that he plans to make subways the issue for the 2104 municipal election. “Obviously the next election’s going to be fought, again, on subways," he said. "I want to connect McCowan [the Scarborough subway extension council just voted on] to Don Mills to the Sheppard line, do that. Then I’m going to go to Finch, and look at the Downtown Relief Line. But to be fair, the downtown people have enough subways already. I think it’s only time to treat everyone equally—in Scarborough, in North York, Etobicoke. Everyone deserves subways here.”
And there you have it: Downtown Toronto has enough subways, and the rest of the city's boroughs deserve one now too. Forgetting the fact that people using the subway downtown aren't necessarily moving around between downtown stops (yes, some of them are travelling in from Scarborough, North York, and Etobicoke), Ford clearly speaks as someone who never has to take a subway, like Dr Nick Riviera discussing a routine medical procedure. Normally one would lean on experts, and the experts would tell Ford (and have) that a downtown relief line is needed now, but as we've seen, expertise is secondary to agreeing with the Mayor. On anything.