Rob Ford Watch
Rob Ford was 46. He was Mayor of Toronto from 2010 until 2014.
The crazification factor is a neologism coined by blogger John Rogers to refer to the portion of the electorate comprising the nuttiest of the wingnuts and the batshit crazy. The passage relates to the 2004 Senate election in Illinois, and reads:
Obama vs. Alan Keyes. Keyes was from out of state, so you can eliminate any established political base; both candidates were black, so you can factor out racism; and Keyes was plainly, obviously, completely crazy. Batshit crazy. Head-trauma crazy. But 27% of the population of Illinois voted for him. They put party identification, personal prejudice, whatever ahead of rational judgement. Hell, even like 5% of Democrats voted for him. That's crazy behaviour. I think you have to assume a 27% crazification factor in any population.
Furthermore, another factor in Obama's favour at the time that Rogers didn't mention is that the original Republican candidate, Jack Ryan, had been forced to suspend his candidacy after his divorce and custody records were released to the press, revealing that he had taken his former wife, actress Jeri Ryan, to various sex clubs (including, in at least one case, a bondage club) and tried to have her perform sex acts on him out in the open. Keyes was the GOP's last-minute replacement on the ticket after the sordid details of Ryan's divorce came out. So not only was it a normal candidate running against a clearly crazy opponent, but the crazy guy also had the baggage of the last guy's sex scandal following him, and had been drafted into the campaign with little time to prepare.
This 27% support is tattooed in my cranium as the batshit crazy support I thought Rob Ford would end up with. With Rob out and Doug in, I suspect he'll end up with that same 27%.
And 27% won't win you this election,thankfully.
Rob Ford is no longer running for mayor of Toronto, and instead will run for his old Ward 2 councillor post. You know, the gig he once told Doug was "part-time work". His brother Doug has added his name to the list of mayoral candidates, but he has even less of a chance of winning than Rob did.
It was clear Rob Ford was going to lose this election. Doug, who is even less popular, doesn't have a chance. Never a dull moment these days in Toronto municipal politics.
Update: This was predicted back in July.
I tried to ignore this mayoral race throughout the summer, pledging to plug myself back in after labour day. Now that I'm back, it's clearer to me than ever that this city I love needs to send Rob Ford a message that we deserve a mayor with far more self-control and self-respect.
The past four years under Ford have been extremely divisive. He's pitted the downtowners against the suburbs, he's refused to work with council and he lies so often and effortlessly, it's shocking. His ignorant refusal to participate in the pride parade and frequent racist and bigoted comments have made him a laughing stock. I'm not even going to mention the videos of him smoking crack, the skeezy activities with his buddy Sandro Lisi, his firing from the Don Bosco football team, and the objectifying comments he's made about his own wife.
But even without the circus sideshow antics, Rob Ford is bad for business. His policies are short-sighted, often presented without appropriate research and sufficient details, and he's completely ineffective as a leader. We simply can't afford to make this mistake twice.
Ideally, David Soknacki would win on October 27, but he won't. Of the favourites, my preference is Olivia Chow, but like many Torontonians in 2014, I'm willing to alter my vote in a strategic effort to keep Rob Ford out of office. I'm willing to vote for John Tory, and here's why.
All I want in a mayor is a sensible, intelligent person who is willing to work with council to reach consensus. I want my mayor to represent all Torontonians, regardless of sexual preference, skin colour, gender or even income and postal code. I want a mayor who unites the city, and moves us forward without providing embarrassing content to late night talk show hosts. Both John Tory and Olivia Chow fit this mould and both would make fine mayors.
My values better align with Olivia Chow's, but if Olivia Chow and John Tory split the anti-Ford vote, it gives Rob Ford a chance. That's not a chance I'm willing to take.
While the Raptors were busy building a big lead against the Nets and almost letting it all slip away, my Twitter feed was erupting with news of another Rob Ford crack video and an audio recording of his typical misogynist and homophobic ramblings.
The most shocking thing of all is how unsurprising this all is. It's what I've come to expect from this pathetic excuse for a mayor.
The following words belong to Catherine.
There is a bad odour in Toronto right now and it can’t be blamed on dog owners and the spring thaw. It’s an odour you can’t quite distinguish, but it’s distinctive and we can no longer ignore it. Like that bag full of orange peels, eggshells and coffee grounds you procrastinate over taking out to the green bin. There’s no smell at first, then it becomes a faint nagging odour for a few days until you walk into the kitchen and it hits you like a slap in the face.
The stench grew stronger this week with the pissing contest between the OPP and Toronto Police Services (TPS) - the OPP has backed away from the investigation claiming that, barring any new evidence, there is nothing to charge Rob Ford with and - get this - he may have been the victim of extortion attempts. The TPS’s lead investigator Det. Sgt. Gary Giroux, however, insists there is and that the investigation is on-going. Is there something rotten with our provincial and city police forces? Rumours abound - is the top echelon at the OPP squashing the case? Did the TPS bungle the investigation? Did they waste their chance of arresting Ford during their surveillance of him and Sandro Lisi exchanging mysterious packages? Does Ford have friends in high places? With the release of more Brazen 2 documents which continue to suggest Ford’s involvement in Lisi’s attempt to retrieve the crack video, Ford-weary Torontonians threw up their hands in disgust and frustration. While an arrest wouldn’t have solved the problem, it definitely would have felt like a confirmation of things we already know.
Ford’s lack of shame and sense of entitlement are stunning. The man feels that there’s nothing wrong with purchasing illegal drugs while in office, hanging out with gang members, getting into drunken stupors on a regular basis, driving while under the influence, urinating publicly, uttering racial and homophobic slurs, arriving at his office in the middle of the day without releasing his daily schedule, running away from reporters and lying extensively in the face of facts. And these are just the things we know about...
When the mayor’s powers were stripped after he admitted to smoking crack cocaine, it was because Council believed he was unable to make important decisions in an emergency situation. Ford’s ineptitude was apparent when he was MIA through much of the morning after December’s ice storm. His malice toward Council surfaced when he refused to declare an emergency while neighbourhoods throughout the city went as long as a week or more without power - all the while he handed out magnets and staged photo-ops while people froze in their dark homes.
More recently, Ford voted against motions to honour Nelson Mandela and congratulate Canada's Olympic and Paralympic athletes (this was not accidental - it was only after his staff apprised him of the furor his votes caused, 30 minutes after the fact, that he asked for a re-vote). Why is his suitability for public office still being debated?
What all this has proven is how ill-equipped we are as a city to deal with unfit leaders. But while council’s hands are tied, we can do this much: we can stop enabling him.
The reactions of the crowds that engulf him at sporting events and the nightclubs he frequents makes it appear that Ford is thought of as a rock star. But all the selfies, tweets and videos do not translate into votes and electoral support. Peer a little deeper, read the comments and captions, and what you see is a man who is the target of jeers, not cheers - people are laughing at him, not with him; they are goading him into further embarrassing behaviour. Because let’s face it - people like to see a train wreck. When have we become a city of enablers? Whether they’re true Ford supporters or Ford mockers, either way, they’re enabling him to continue on his downward spiral.
To Ford Nation: your unwavering support and defence of a man whose personal issues are affecting his performance as mayor is selfish. Your glee at the disgust and frustration he causes the “downtown leftie elite” ignores a man who is suffering from serious problems with drugs and alcohol. The Rob Ford of today is not the one you elected in 2010 (I would also argue that the Rob Ford you elected three years ago never really existed). If he gets worse, and all signs tell us he will, it will be on you. If he gets re-elected, he will get worse - look what the last 3+ years has done to him. You are enabling a deeply troubled man’s delusions that he can continue down the same road without eventually crashing.
To community and business leaders, and our mayoral candidates: your refusal to call him on his behaviour, to recognize a man that is out of control and refuse to comment on his “personal issues” - shame on you. You have the ability and position to speak out and say something but you choose not to do so. Is it out of politeness or out of fear?
Perhaps it’s because we’ve never had to deal with something like this before. Even Mel Lastman’s gaffes were tame compared to Ford’s. It’s going to take a collected and concerted effort, from Council to the media, to volunteers and voters, to take the garbage out to the green bin. Until that happens, we’ll have to live with the stench until October 27. Let’s not have four more years of it.
Great quote from The Globe and Mail yesterday. The editorial is appropriately titled "Rob Ford, still setting the bar as low as it will go".
Mr. Ford’s message to the voting public is this: I may have smoked crack while in office and I may have lied to your faces about it; and shady characters in the drug underworld may have recorded me on a cellphone video while smoking said crack; and I may have a very close friend who has been charged with extortion related to attempts to recover that video from gang members after its existence became public knowledge; and I may have been recorded on other occasions ranting, incoherent, inebriated death threats and calling the Chief of Police unmentionable names; and I may have referred to my wife in a startlingly vulgar manner; and I may have purchased illegal drugs while in office; and I may have driven drunk; and I may have alienated the entire City Council and been politically neutered; and I may have made Toronto, in particular, and Canada, in general, a laughingstock; but I have done nothing wrong.
I tuned in for the first 15-minutes of this evening's 2014 mayoral debate. That was all I could stomach. So much sound and fury, signifying nothing. If you watched the entire thing, kudos to you.
Here are four thoughts I had after I flipped off the television.
Those Who Support Rob Ford Won't Care if He's Arrested
Those in Ford Nation who are still voting for the man are going to support him no matter what. If he's arrested next week, it won't change their mind. There's almost nothing he can do to lose their vote at this point.
Debates are Useless (and Annoying)
Debates are useless, and annoying. It's the same talking points over and over and over again. The vast majority of people enter a debate with a favourite and leave favouring that same person. It won't be someone's performance in a debate that will change your vote, it will be strategy. (See below.)
Strategic Voting is OK
As I get older, I become more and more comfortable with strategic voting. For example, one might think David Soknacki would make the best mayor for Toronto, but Soknacki can't win this election, so one might vote elsewhere to block Rob Ford from winning again. I'm okay with this. In fact, it's for this very reason that I'm encouraging all my friends and family to support Olivia Chow. In my opinion, she's our best chance to keep Rob Ford from winning.
This is a Marathon, Not a Sprint
It's only March and the election is in October. I'm already pretty tired of all the campaigning, but there's a long way to go. I'll keep a casual eye on what's happening but I'll wait until Labour Day before I completely plug myself back in.
Self-preservation, after all, is the first law of nature.
Earlier today, I had a Twitter exchange with a woman I've never met. Her name is Catherine Solmes and she's @ccath on Twitter.
Catherine seemed quite upset by Rob Ford's trip to LA to appear on Jimmy Kimmel Live. My plan was to completely ignore this story, and most of the Fords' embrace of worldwide infamy. In my opinion, the remaining Rob Ford supporters just enjoy seeing progressives aghast, and I'm not interested in feeding their perverse desires. But I could tell Catherine had something she needed to get off her chest, so I asked her to write a guest blog entry.
The following words belong to Catherine.
When news broke on Saturday afternoon that Rob Ford was on his way to L.A. to attend the Oscars and appear on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the disbelief, anger and frustration that overflowed in my Twitter feed was telling. After all the events since the news of a possible crack video featuring Rob Ford broke last May, this reaction struck me as significant. I myself reacted with outrage, annoyance and an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. My city was, once again, about to be humiliated by the man who is a continued source of controversy and shame for so many of my fellow Torontonians.
Over the unbelievable past year, Ford had become world-famous for being the crack-smoking mayor of Toronto. Torontonians are privy to a lot more – the drug and alcohol abuse; the murderous threats; the bigotry, homophobia and racism; the gang affiliations; employing friends and associates with criminal backgrounds and little to no credentials in the Mayor's’ office; the domestic abuse allegations; the driving under the influence; the nonsensical outbursts in City Council meetings; the horrible, unrepeatable and unfounded accusations against a Toronto Star reporter; the exploitation of impoverished communities for photo ops; the public urination; the sexual assault allegations; and the unexplained and unaccounted-for absences from City Hall. It’s exhausting.
This man is not only the mayor of Canada’s largest city, he had reportedly been invited to the Oscars by Jimmy Kimmel. Ford supporters, accused those who took offense to this of being jealous. Yes, jealous. I honestly don’t know if there could be a further disconnect between those of us who want Ford gone and those who support him. It’s as if we live on different planets.
Of course, Rob Ford didn't end up attending the Oscars due to security issues (this comes from Doug Ford, so it’s likely they were never invited at all). I didn't watch the Oscars, but there was no mention of or awareness of Rob Ford among the glitterati on the red carpet or during the ceremony. Thank goodness for small favours. Knowing that the In Memoriam segment would prominently feature Philip Seymour Hoffman, who very recently died as a result of a drug overdose, Hollywood in any way celebrating “the crack-smoking Mayor of Toronto” would have been truly awful.
Tonight, he'll appear on Jimmy Kimmel Live!. While he and his brother Doug have done interviews with American media before, this feels different. This is a late-night talk show, albeit one with a less famous host, but the one which has arguably skewered him the most. Jimmy Kimmel has not only cracked jokes about him (no pun intended), he’d had an actor (Parks and Recreation’s Jim O'Heir) portray him in video clips. So what was this going to be about? Who in their right mind would allow themselves to be a willing participant on a show that played him as a joke? Who in Toronto actually believes that Rob Ford will be an intelligent and sympathetic guest for Jimmy Kimmel? Or that Kimmel will allow him to be?
Ford was accompanied on this trip by his brothers Doug and Randy, his Communications Director, Amin Massoudi, and two other staff. If this was a special trip to Los Angeles, where were his wife and kids? Doug claimed they were there to promote Toronto to the film folks in Hollywood. So I guess it’s a business trip then? If so, he neglected to mention it to Toronto’s Film Commissioner Randy McLean, whose very job it is to grow and promote the city’s film industry.
I have two theories. One, that Rob Ford is fully aware, from presumably having some understanding of the city’s budget and reputation (wow, I wrote that without sniggering), that many Hollywood films and series are shot here, that Toronto’s architecture and streets are easily substituted for many American and international cities on film and on television. With that assumption, Ford is using this as an excuse to be in L.A. and, while he’s there, take Kimmel up on his invitation to appear on the show. Here’s the kicker – Ford has had no meetings booked with studios or producers. He’s spent his time walking down Sunset Boulevard and taking photos with anyone who recognizes him (and some who don't).
My second theory is that he really thinks that L.A. film bigwigs don't know about Hollywood North and believes he is legitimately doing the city of Toronto a favour. (I wrote that, too, without sniggering or crying.) The man who votes against any motion that would benefit the city’s arts community is making a special trip to promote it to the Hollywood film industry?
I don't like to assume Ford is an idiot, because despite the truly ignorant things he says and does, he wouldn't be able to be as successful a politician as he has been. But this trip to L.A comes a few days after he claimed on an episode of his YouTube series Ford Nation that he doesn't like to be a celebrity and that he’s just your average guy, an everyman. Oh really? If you're shying from all the attention, and don't want to be photographed and have reporters follow you around, why would you chose to go to L.A. to appear on a late-night talk show? A talk show that has done nothing but mock you since they first heard of your crack use?
Ford claims he wants to be judged on his record as mayor, not his police record. Does he really think that Kimmel or anyone he meets in L.A. cares one bit about Toronto’s budget, unions, taxes or transit system? I suspect that anyone who approaches Ford for a photo or an interview is hoping that he’s high and/or drunk and banking him to say something idiotic on camera.
The episode has not yet aired, but we got a taste of it last night on Kimmel’s Oscar special. Ford wandered onto the set, in a tux, when his name was spoken. Kimmel reminded him that he was on tomorrow night’s show. Oh dear. Let’s all laugh at the “intoxicated and confused Rob Ford” as if this was a hilarious character he'd created. Let’s pretend that he’s not fully in control of his senses and wandering around in a daze. Toronto’s mayor is willing to be the butt of jokes about his drug and alcohol abuse. It’s come to this. Oh, how I wish we were the butt of an elaborate joke. Because I don't want this to be real.
Ford’s global infamy is based on one thing – he is Toronto’s crack-smoking mayor. And for having “enough to eat at home”, for refusing to step down, for having unwavering support from Ford Nation, and for having the gall to run for re-election. Some admire his balls, his determination to say and do what he feels like. Some enjoy the sheer entertainment value of it all. Some find him hilarious. Some find him relatable.
Kimmel should be ashamed of himself for having Ford as a guest. Ford should be ashamed too, but as we well know by now, he has no shame. Unfortunately, Toronto does. Anyone who continues to perpetuate this ongoing controversy is rewarding Ford’s shockingly bad behaviour and enabling a man’s dangerous downward spiral. Toronto is rightfully angry at Kimmel for following through on their “Rob Ford is a clown” bit. To us, this has ceased to be funny long ago. This isn't just making fun of Rob Ford, it is perpetuating the mockery that Ford has made of himself and the city he purports to lead. I don't know what will happen tonight on Jimmy Kimmel Live! The most likely scenario is that Kimmel will gently rib him and Rob Ford will get to showcase his “everyman” charm and laugh off his drug and alcohol abuse.
Optimists out there are hoping that Kimmel will be merciless with Ford. Considering that Ford doesn't talk to anyone who asks tough questions, and that Jimmy Kimmel Live! is an entertainment show, this is highly unlikely. What will most certainly happen is that Toronto’s mayor will glow with misplaced pride and “aw shucks” charm, chuckle at his “indiscretions”, spout his “saving the taxpayers” clichés and allow himself to look bad, very bad.
Despite what happens, it’s all going to be about Rob Ford, the crack-smoking mayor. I think this will make Toronto look even worse than it already does. And after the year we've had with this man as our mayor, that’s saying something.
CBC Radio's Day 6 with Brent Bambury aired their year-end episode this morning and named Rob Ford their newsmaker of the year. In honour of the occasion, they assembled a list of unanswered questions from reporters following the story.
You can hear these questions asked here or read them below.
Don Peat, The Toronto Sun:
1. Do you not feel shame about what you have done?
2. What happened the night and early morning of April 20 at 15 Windsor?
3. What makes you think Toronto residents will ever trust you again enough to re-elect you in 2014?
4. Why won't you speak to Toronto Police investigators?
5. What does getting high on crack cocaine feel like?
Christie Blatchford, The National Post:
6. How could you have said, in front of all those TV cameras, what you did about your wife? Do you have any idea how coarse you sounded? And why did you then and do you always, offer a quick "I apologize" and expect to be immediately forgiven?
7. Do you have any friends who don't have criminal records and, without naming them, who are they in a general way?
8. Why do you think losing weight is your biggest challenge given your acknowledged binge drinking and occasional drug use?
Jonathan Goldstein, Wiretap, CBC Radio:
9. When was the moment you realized this whole thing might have gotten away from you?
Robyn Doolittle, The Toronto Star:
10. At the end of the so-called crack video, you look directly at the person filming and say: "That better not be on." What happened next?
11. Wiretaps suggest you offered the dealer $5000 and a car in exchange for the footage and that he intended on asking you for between $100,000-$150,000. Were you being extorted?
12. If you had never gone into politics, what do you think your life would look like right now?
Jackson Proskow, Municipal Affairs Reporter, Global News:
13. What was in those packages you exchanged with Sandro Lisi?
14. How did you come to know the people who provided you with crack cocaine?
15. Have you ever drank or used drugs at work?
Greg McArthur, The Globe and Mail:
16. Between May 16 and 18, less than 48 hours after the Star and Gawker published stories about you smoking crack cocaine, 13 phone calls were made to Sandro Lisi from phones belonging to you. What did you discuss with him? Why did you need to speak with him so many times?
17. Over that same period Mr. Lisi also made a number of phone calls to two alleged drug dealers who had a copy of the video. Toronto police say that over those two days, Mr. Lisi told them they would harmed if they didn't hand over the video. What did Mr. Lisi tell you about his conversations with the accused drug dealers?
18. During those two days, Mr. Lisi also made five phone calls to the home of Fabio Basso, your longtime friend who lives in the alleged "crackhouse" where the video was made. And on May 21st, three days after he called Mr. Basso, someone burst into that home and assaulted Mr. Basso and his family members. Since then, have you spoken to Mr. Basso? If so, what did he say about the attack? If not, why not.
Jayme Poisson, The Toronto Star:
19. Mayor Ford, after the mass shooting on Danzig St. in 2012, you said that you had declared "war" on gangs in this city. On Project Traveller wiretaps, alleged members of the Dixon City Bloods street gang describe several situations involving you and drugs. The men who tried to sell the now notorious "crack video" are also alleged members of this gang, and are now facing gun and drug trafficking charges. Can you give us a complete and honest account of your association and dealings with these alleged Dixon City Blood gang members?
20. Did you, or anyone associated with you, offer $5,000 and a car or any other reward in exchange for videos or photos documenting your drug use?
Kevin Donovan, Toronto Star:
21. Mayor Ford, from the moment I saw the video of you smoking crack cocaine I have had a nagging question. Who is the man, a friend it seems, who is loudly goading you off camera into making rude, racially charged and homophobic statements? What is the name of that person?
22. Mayor Ford, when the Toronto Star exposed your involvement with Sandro Lisi, who had tried to retrieve the video and who had told people he was your drug dealer, you pointedly told the world you do not "throw my friends under the bus." Was this a message to Mr. Lisi in the hope that he would not turn police informant on you?
23. Mayor, you have described yourself as a family man and the best father there is. Do you think it was wise to have Sandro Lisi, a man convicted of threatening to kill a young woman, attend a child's soccer game? Would you please tell us what Mr. Lisi gave you that day and what you gave him in return.
24. Mayor Ford, many of the people you surround yourself with have criminal records, some for drugs, some for violence. Do you intentionally seek these people out and if so, for what reason?
George Stroumbolopoulos, George Stroumbolopoulos Tonight:
25. Why is your brother always there in interviews?
26. If you were in City Council and a Mayor acted like you did, would you call for their resignation?
Natalie Alcoba, The National Post:
27. Mayor Ford, your former press secretary, George Christopoulos, told police that you said you knew Anthony Smith, the man pictured with you in the notorious photo taken outside 15 Windsor Road. Smith was a suspected member of the Dixon City Bloods who was gunned down outside a down-town nightclub in March. You've commented on the photo before - but I want to ask you specifically, did you know Anthony Smith? Do you know anything about why Anthony Smith was killed?
28. Mayor Ford, since you were elected, how often did you go to the house on Windsor Road that police believe to be a crack house? What did you do there?
Mary Walsh, This Hour Has 22 Minutes
29. Why do you always lie first and tell the truth later, why not simplify your life and tell the truth first?
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