Wednesday 22 May 2013

MAYOR  ROB  FORD:  dumb,  dumber,  dumbest   (Part I)                     


These three adjectives after this mayor’s name best describe one of the stupidest mayors in all of North America. Even saying that he is the dumbest is an understatement. We all do dumb things in our lives but when the mayor of a large city like Toronto (fifth largest city in North America) that has a $9.4 billion dollar annual budget does not one, but many stupid things during his term of office, we are forced to question the sanity of those who voted this man in office whom I will call Dumbo. Many of us who were small children remember watching the Walt Disney movie Dumbo. It was a small elephant. Well, Rob Ford has the girth of an elephant but his brain couldn’t keep up as he grew older and subsequently, he left most of his brain behind, hence, I choose to call him Dumbo in this article which shouldn’t reflect badly on Walt Disney’s Dumbo because that little elephant was a smart critter.



Dumbo is a 44-year-old Canadian politician and businessman. He is the 64th and current Mayor of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Ford was elected mayor in the 2010 mayoral election, and took office on December of that year. Prior to being mayor, Dumbo was city councilor for a ward in the Toronto district of Etobicoke. He was first elected to city council in the 2000 Toronto municipal election, and was re-elected to his council seat in 2003 and again in 2006. His brother Doug is currently a Toronto city councilor. Dumbo once said in a statement about his brother, “Doug’s my best friend. We’re very very tight. We love each other past the point of love.” WOW! I’m not going to touch that last statement with a ten-foot barge pole.



Their father was Doug Ford, Sr. who was also a politician and he served as a member of the provincial parliament. The Ford family owns DECO Labels, a multi-national labeling and printing firm based in Etobicoke. They are a very rich family; not that that should be held against them.                                        


And now, I will tell you something about Dumbo’s foolish antics in his past while serving as a city counselor and as Toronto’s mayor.


Previously on April 15, 2006, Dumbo (a sitting councilor at the time) attended a Toronto Maple Leafs hockey game at the Air Canada Centre. Visibly intoxicated and belligerent, he began to insult a couple seated behind him, who were visiting from out of town. Two security guards escorted Dumbo out of the building. When confronted about the episode three days later by a National Post reporter, Dumbo initially denied having been at the game. His pattern of lying began to surface. He later told the Toronto Star: “This is unbelievable, I wasn't even at the game, so someone's trying to do a real hatchet job on me, let me tell you", but later on he said: "I reflected on it last night, and talked to my family. I came forward and admitted it. That's all I can do. I mean, I'm not perfect. Being in politics, you're in the spotlight all the time. I made a mistake. I made a major mistake. I really regret it.” Now he was admitting that he was at the game. Why? Because he was faced with unquestionable evidence that he was seen there. He even showed up drunk at a gala for military personnel.


In June 2006 Dumbo came under fire for making a controversial remark during a Council meeting. During the meeting, Dumbo spoke out against the city donating $1.5 million to help prevent AIDS. Dumbo had argued that most tax payers should not be concerned with AIDS because “If you are not doing needles and you are not gay, you wouldn't get AIDS probably, that's bottom line, those are the facts.” After the then Mayor David Miller pointed out that women are the largest growing demographic of people contracting AIDS, Dumbo responded that it must mean that they are sleeping with bi-sexual men. On one occasion, in advance to a trip to Kenya, he publicly joked about him and his wife finding themselves in a boiling pot with native Africans dancing around them. I am convinced that his Kenyan hosts weren’t too happy with that stupid statement.


On March 7, 2007, Ford made controversial comments about cyclists’ use of the roads, saying, “What I compare bike lanes to is swimming with the sharks. Sooner or later you're going to get bitten. Roads are built for buses, cars, and trucks, not for people on bikes. My heart bleeds for them when I hear someone gets killed, but it’s their own fault at the end of the day.” On May 25, 2009, Ford said, “It's no secret, okay. The cyclists are a pain in the ass to the motorists.” I admit that they are a pain but where else can they ride their bikes to work? On the sidewalks?

In August 2010, Janet Leaper, the City of Toronto's integrity commissioner filed a report with City Council. It concerned Dumbo’s (when he was a Councilor) fund-raising activities on behalf of his private foundation that aided high school football. In March 2010, Dumbo had sent out letters requesting donations for the Rob Ford Football Foundation. The back of each letter contained a gold seal, (the City of Toronto logo) and bore the stamp “Rob Ford Etobicoke North Councilor.” The integrity commissioner had ruled that Dumbo had not followed City Council's Code of Conduct and had abused his council position by using official letterhead and other council resources. Dumbo had accepted $3,150 on behalf of the foundation and the commissioner indicated that he should pay back the money. In the report, the commissioner had noted that donors had included lobbyists, clients of lobbyists and a corporation which did business with the City of Toronto. Dumbo indicated that he would challenge the report at Council, stating that he was being treated unfairly. He publicly asked  as to why the integrity commissioner didn't investigate the $12,000 retirement party for Kyle Rae or the $6,000 French lessons for Adam Giambrone, (then head of the Toronto Transit Commission and later resigned because of his conduct) or better yet, why not that Tuggs deal, that 20-year lease behind closed doors.


On August 25, 2010, City Council debated the integrity commissioner's report. Dumbo participated in the report discussion and the vote after being warned by then-Council Speaker Sandra Bussin that he was in a potential conflict of interest by discussing and voting on that issue. Council agreed with the commissioner and voted 26–10 for Dumbo to return the money. In the months following the meeting, Dumbo discussed the repayment with his donors. Several did not want repayment and Dumbo forwarded letters from several donors expressing their wishes to the integrity commissioner. By February 2012, Dumbo had not paid the amount and the matter was raised at a February 7, 2012 City Council meeting.


Dumbo spoke and voted at the February 7 meeting in which he said in part, “And if it wasn't for this foundation, these kids would not have a chance. And then to ask for me to pay it out of my own pocket personally, there is just, there is no sense to this. The money is gone. The money has been spent on football equipment. The City Council voted on a motion that the City Council rescind the previous decision made under Item CC52.1 and directed that no further action was to be taken on the matter which carried by majority, 22 voting Yes, 12 No, with 11 absent.


In March 2012, a complaint was filed by Paul Magder, a Torontonian, alleging that Ford's actions at the February 2012 Council meeting had violated the Ontario Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. (MCIA) The lawsuit came to trial in Ontario Superior Court on September 5, 2012. The case was argued on Magder’s behalf by Toronto civil rights lawyer, Clayton Ruby, who represented him pro bono. (for free)  Ruby argued that Ford had clearly violated the act by having spoken to and voted on a matter in which he allegedly had a pecuniary interest  contravening s. (5)1 of the MCIA and an order was sought under s. 10(1) of the MCIA declaring his seat on Toronto City Council be vacant. Dumbo’s defense was that the MCIA did not apply to Toronto City Council's Code of Conduct; that the Council Resolution was ultra vires (an act performed without legal authority to act on a specific subject) to Council's powers under the City of Toronto Act and therefore was not applicable since that the amount was insignificant, and that the contravention of the MCIA was committed through inadvertence or by reason of error in judgment


During his trial, Ruby argued that Ford was reckless and willfully ignorant of the law when he did not remove himself from the debate and vote. Dumbo testified he never read the MCIA or a City of Toronto councilor orientation handbook which included a section on conflicts of interest. Also, he did not attend City Council training sessions that covered conflicts of interest. That is evidence that Dumbo’s brain wasn’t up to speed.  The mayoralty oath of office includes a pledge to disclose conflicts of interest and when asked by Ruby if he understood the words, Dumbo said in reply, “No. My interpretation of a conflict of interest, again, is it takes two parties and the city must benefit or a member of council must benefit.” Ruby argued that as mayor he ought to have had a clear understanding of his obligations. This entire pattern of conduct showed that he chose to remain ignorant, and substituted his own view for that of the law. Dumbo disagreed, stating he only acted in the best interest of high school students.


With respect to Dumbo’s catholic school's football team, it appeared that for the past decade, he was coaching them during the days when he should have been at the Council meetings. Obviously, coaching teenagers is more important to him that the ongoing affairs of municipal government. Read what he said about his football students in an alleged video taken of him in a supposedly drug dealer’s apartment. He referred to his team members as “fucking minorities.” His ten-year tenure at the catholic school came to an abrupt end today. The Catholic School Board sacked this mayor from his volunteer football coaching job. They don't want him connected with any of the Catholic schools in Toronto. It has nothing to do with the suspicion that he might be a drug addict or that he refered to the members of his football team as fuckinb minorities. He was sacked as a volunteer because he previously said that his football team (The Eagles) would not attend school if it wasn't for the school's football program. He also said that many of his football players come from gangs and broken homes and that the school they were in was a tough school in a tough area of the city. That is terrible publicity for that particular school. No wonder the school board dumped him. But that isn't the first time he was dumped by a school board. He was also dumped as a coach by the Toronto District School board because of a angry confrontation he had with a student.

His conflict of interest trial concluded on September 6, 2012. Ontario Superior Court Judge Hackland's ruling was released on November 26, 2012. He found that Ford had violated the MCIA and for this reason, the judge declared Dumbo’s seat vacant, the decision to take effect in 14 days. In his decision, Hackland disagreed with all of Dumbo’s legal arguments. In his decision Hackland stated: “Ford's actions were not done by reason of inadvertence or of a good faith error in judgment. I am, therefore, required by section 10(1)(a) of the MCIA to declare the respondent's seat vacant. In view of the significant mitigating circumstances surrounding the respondent's actions, I decline to impose any further disqualification from holding office beyond the current term.”


Opinions differed on whether the ruling allowed Dumbo to run in a by-election should Council order one to fill the vacancy. According to the City Solicitor, the ruling disallowed Dumbo from holding office again until 2014, when the next term of office of mayor became vacant. However, on November 30, Judge Hackland clarified his order, and did not bar Dumbo from running in a by-election, should one be held before 2014.


Ford's counsel Alan Lenczner immediately announced that they would file an appeal in Ontario Divisional Court and ask for a stay on the ruling. Dumbo was granted a stay of the decision on December 5, and remained mayor during his appeal. The appeal was heard in court on January 7, 2013. On January 25, 2013 the appeal decision was released stating that the Superior Court had allowed it. The judges declared that the original judge had erred because the financial judgment was not under the City of Toronto Act or the Council Code of Conduct. Further, the sanction was beyond the authority of the City Council to enact. After the ruling, Ruby promised to appeal the decision to the Canadian Supreme Court. The appeals court held a later hearing with respect to awarding costs to Dumbo. The appeals court disallowed Dumbo’s claim for $116,000 in legal costs.


Dumbo’s counsel, Alan Lenczner immediately announced that they would file an appeal in Ontario Divisional Court and ask for a stay on the ruling about Dumbo having to vacate the office of Mayor. Dumbo was granted a stay of the decision on December 5, and remained mayor during his appeal. The appeal was heard in court on January 7, 2013. On January 25, 2013 the appeal decision was released stating that Superior Court allowed it. The judges declared that the original judge had erred because the financial judgment was not under the City of Toronto Act or the Council Code of Conduct. Further, the sanction was beyond the authority of the City Council to enact. After the ruling, Ruby promised to appeal the decision to the Canadian Supreme Court. The appeals court held a later hearing into awarding legal costs. The appeals court disallowed Ford's claim for $116,000 in legal costs


During the 2010 mayoral campaign, a 1999 arrest of Ford in Miami, Florida for driving under the influence (DUI) and marijuana possession became an election issue when the Toronto Star published details of Dumbo’s arrest. According to the statement recorded by the arresting officer, Dumbo was acting nervous, had bloodshot eyes and had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath. Dumbo threw his hands up in the air and told the police officer, “Go ahead.  Take me to jail.” When questioned by reporters about the incident, Dumbo initially denied the DUI charge, saying instead that he was arrested because he refused to give a breath sample. In Canada, refusing to give a breath sample is punishable by a suspension of the offender’s licence for one year. Dumbo later admitted the DUI conviction, but he omitted the marijuana possession. Dumbo later admitted to the marijuana possession, saying that the marijuana charge “had completely, totally slipped my mind because of the more serious issue during the arrest [which] was the DUI charge. Does this mean that when matters slip Dumbo’s mind, he’s not really lying? The pot had just called the frying pans pathological liars.


During his term as mayor, Dumbo has been involved in several publicized incidents while driving, including reading while driving on the Gardiner Expressway, and talking on his cell phone while driving with both offences being punishable. In another driving incident, Dumbo passed the rear door of a streetcar, while the front door was open, leading to an exchange of words with the streetcar operator. Passing a rear door while the front door of a streetcar is open is an offence subject to punishment.


As mayor, Dumbo is entitled to a personal driver and car paid for by the city, but he turned down the benefit and drives himself. He turned it down on the grounds that he did not want taxpayers to pay for the extra cost. He said, “A million people a day go to work in the city and they drive. They drive themselves. I don't see why I am any different.” Similarly, when he was a counselor, Dumbo had disagreed with the city giving councilors free TTC passes and fought for the eventual repeal of the perk on the same basis. After the August 2012 incident of reading while driving, Dumbo was criticized by the media, other mayors and safety advocates and the Toronto Police urged Dumbo to hire a driver. His brother Doug promised that the mayor would get a driver, but it would be an existing staff member. Dumbo later announced that he would continue to refuse a driver. Well considering that he wasn’t charged with his driving offences in Toronto, I guess he feels there is no risk of him being charged even if he drives like a fool.


Dumbo was the focus of further controversy when, according to a report in the Toronto Star, he personally asked city officials to approve drainage and road repairs outside the DECO Labels and Tags headquarters building before its 50th anniversary party in August 2012. Critics such as Councilor Adam Vaughan stated “This is a clear-cut example of using one’s office to gain preferential treatment for private interests.” Ford stated that he had made ‘thousands’ of such requests on behalf of homeowners and other businesses. “Someone has a pothole in front of their house, in front of their businesses, I go out and fix it, just like I did for our company.” Thousands of requests? Give me a break!


The Ombudsman for the City of Toronto, Fiona Crean, published a report in September 2012 suggesting that Dumbo’s office had “compromised” the civic appointments process for city boards and agencies. The report was discussed at Council however, Dumbo refused to discuss the report at a Council meeting and instead he chose to respond to the allegation on a radio talk show. He said, “When people are just going to make up stories about you, why are you even going to try to defend yourself when you know it’s just a bunch of malarkey so obviously this is politically driven and I disagree with it.” The Ombudsman and the existence of the position itself were later criticized by Dumbo and became the subject of further debate. In October, Dumbo said he wanted to eliminate three watchdog positions: that of the Ombudsman, the Integrity Commissioner and the lobbyist registrar. “You don’t need a lobbyist registry, an ombudsman and an integrity commissioner. They have 20 people; they’re tripping over themselves. They’re trying to make themselves look busy. I’ve never voted in favour of it and never would.” All three positions are required under Ontario law and were established after the MFP computer leasing scandal inquiry that took place in Toronto after City Hall screwed up.


In May 2012, when the Toronto Star was investigating a potential purchase of public lands bordering his home, Star reporter Daniel Dale and Dumbo had an incident. According to Dumbo, at 7:30 pm, a next door neighbour told him that someone was taking pictures of his home while standing on a cinder block on public property behind his house. Actually, the neighbour couldn’t see over this fence and see the cinder block on the other side of his fence. Dumbo confronted the reporter and yelled at him. According to the reporter, he felt that he was "cornered like a rat by Ford, and yelled for help. He repeatedly asked Dumbo not to punch him. Then Dumbo screamed, “Drop your phone!” Drop your phone! Drop your phone now!” Dale dropped his cell phone and digital recorder and ran away as he was afraid of Dumbo who obviously was a enormously fat hulking figure to Dale. Dumbo turned the phone over to the police but the police said that it wasn’t them who checked to see what messages were in the phone. They later returned it to the reporter. The next day, on Talk Radio 640, Dumbo stated that he would no longer meet with any City Hall reporters if Dale was present. No charges were laid in the incident. Dumbo should have been charged with robbery as far as I am concerned. If someone tells you in a menacing voice to drop your wallet to the ground and that someone picks it up and doesn’t immediately return it to you, is that not robbery?


In March 2013, former mayoralty candidate Sarah Thomson accused Ford of touching her inappropriately and making inappropriate comments while posing for a picture together at a political function. Thomson in a later interview on radio suggested that Ford was on cocaine when she said, “I thought he was, yes, but I don’t know,” she said. “I went back and looked up, you know, what are the signs of cocaine use. I looked it up and you know sweaty, talking quickly, out of it, arrogant — all these things were on there. What I read on Google, I would think he’s either on that or some other substance.  He was definitely out of it.”


Two weeks later, the Toronto Star reported that Paul Ainslie, a member of the Toronto City Council executive committee, had asked Ford to leave a function two weeks prior to the Thomson event, due to Dumbo being intoxicated. The Toronto Star then published a front-page story accusing Ford of having a drinking problem, which was an open secret at City Hall. In both of those cases, Dumbo, or his chief of staff Mark Towhey denied the allegations. Dumbo declared the Star story was an outright lie and was defiant when he said, “Let’s just wait until the election, and then we’ll see what happens. It’s just lies, after lies and lies.” I am forced to ask, what is he going to do after the election? Is he going to punish those who have accused him of wrongdoings?  This enormous hunk of fat doesn’t scare me unless of course he trips over his own words and he falls on me. If that happens, my body will invariably be crushed beyond recognition.


On May 16, 2013, John Cook, editor of the Internet gossip web site Gawker, posted in his online blog that a video was available for purchase allegedly showing Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine. Cook stated that he saw the video and that he sincerely believed it was Ford in the video, based on other pictures and videos he had seen of Ford. The video owner (a member of the drug trade) according to Cook; was asking for a six-figure amount of money (more than $100,000) and had been offered $40,000 for the video by a Canadian news organization but had turned it down. According to Cook's account, the video was allegedly made on a smartphone, in a well-lit room showing Ford smoking a glass pipe. It allegedly ends with Ford stating that that phone better not be on when the phone starts to ring. Gawker was contacted by Ford's lawyer Dennis Morris stating that “Mayor Ford denies such [a thing] took place and, if such posting occurs, it is false and defamatory and you will be held legally accountable.” The next day, Cook started a crowd funding fundraising effort to purchase the video for $200,000. According to Gawker’s Associate Editor, Leah Beckmann, Gawker offered $15,000 for the video but was turned down and contributed the money to the fund-raising.


On May 17, 2013, the Toronto Star reported on the Gawker allegation. In a front-page story, it was reported that two of its reporters — Kevin Donovan and Robyn Doolittle had actually seen the same video several times and also believed that it was Ford in the video. According to Donovan, the Star had turned down purchasing the video as the newspaper has a policy of not purchasing such items as they believe that such a purchase taints the items.  


According to Gawker, the video tipster told them that Dumbo has purchased his cocaine from a crew of Toronto drug dealers that services a veritable who’s who of Torontonians including other politicians. Of course, I am tempted to accept that information from a drug user with a grain of salt.  But if it is true, well that is a different kettle of fish. However, time and time again, Dumbo’s stupid statements and acts have succeeded in fortifying the beliefs of many that Rod Ford is a stupid cad. 


Dumbo, upon leaving his house that morning said to a large media scrum, that he denied the allegation. Dumbo said when asked if the allegation was true, he replied, “Absolutely not true. It's another Toronto Star whatever.” Dumbo later addressed the gathered media outside his City Hall office in a statement in which he said, “Anyways, like I said this morning, these allegations are ridiculous, another story with respect to the Toronto Star going after me, and that's all I have to say.”


Dumbo turned down three opportunities to state what he was doing in that apartment (if he really was in it) and that he doesn’t smoke crack. He chose not to do so. What is really interesting is that he didn’t deny being in the apartment with someone who is in the illicit drug trade business and he didn’t deny that he smokes crack.  Denying a crime is what caused the late President Nixon to fall from grace. When confronted with his wrongdoings, Dumbo belligerently denies he did anything wrong even in the face of unassailable evidence.  If Dumbo really did these things he is accused of and continues to deny, deny and deny, he too will fall from grace. Everytime someone questions him about his wrongdoings, he hides in his hidey-hole and you can hear him saying, "I deny. I deny. I deny." Well, when he crawls out of that hidey-hole, he will face the truth which will kick that fat slob right back into his hidey-hole.


We can forgive someone for their faults but not their lying. If he is addicted to cocaine, he should admit it and seek help. Consider what happed to Jodi Arias who lied three times with respect to murdering her boyfriend. Her jury was unforgiving. Dumbo owes the citizens of Toronto a lot more than simply saying that the allegations emanating from the alleged video are ridiculous. Even if by now he were to finally admit to the alleged wrongdoing after supposedly denying any wrongdoing with respect to the alleged act of smoking crack cocaine, I believe that even his most ardent followers will realize that they had bet on the wrong horse. Looking at the video of the so-called foul-mouthed crack-smoking mayor in the presence of drug dealers while he supposedly had in one hand a glass pipe while in the other hand,  he awkwardly attempted to light the pipe; is enough to turn off the most dedicated of his followers.


Dumbo’s lawyer, Morris told the Star that it was impossible to tell what a person was smoking in a video. In an interview, Morris stated that “We’ll await the revelation of a video if one exists.” He added that until then, there would be no legal action taken by the mayor. Please keep in mind that although a great many people (including me also) believe that it was Dumbo who was video-taped in that apartment, that doesn’t necessarily mean that he was actually there smoking crack cocaine. Only time will tell. If he is innocent, he could offer to submit a sworn affidavit to the city council stating that the person in that video wasn’t him and that he doesn’t use illicit drugs. If it turns out that his sworn statement is a lie, then he risks going to jail for a long time for perjury. Will Dumbo submit such an affidavit? Of course he will when the moon turns to cheese. If the police get a hold of the video and concluded that Dumbo was in fact smoking crack cocaine, then they will have no other choice but to arrest him and charge him. Of course to convict him, the prosecution would have to prove that it was cocaine he was smoking and not tobacco or horse manure or whatever.


Dumbo’s latest scandal is now a world-wide insult to all Canadians. International media organizations including CNN and ABC are reporting on Dumbo’s latest alleged scandal. The New York Magazine has posted a long litany of Dumbo’s gaffes and repeated run-ins with the law and so forth.


Dumbo has provided the news media with 30 months of his wild conduct and still he believes that all the alegations will disappear like fog in the early morning sun. Dumbo has provided the media with a gold mine of his nefarious conduct and you can be sure of one fact—the mine hasn’t been mined out. That is why reporters can’t plan their vacations in fear that while they are away, Dumbo will do something stupid again and they will miss the opportunity to write about it.


Every politician hopes that history will be kind to him or her. However, as our children and grandchildren grow up, they will see Mayor Rob Ford as we do—a bumbling goof who tried to board the train of success but ended up stumbling behind it as it speeded up leaving him far behind.  


Let me ask you this rhetorical question. Would you vote a man like Dumbo back into office as your mayor? Will those people who voted for him as mayor in the last election, vote again in his favor in the next election? Let me put this to you another way. Would you hire him as a dog catcher?

I will present to you Part II of this series on this man on Monday next.

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