Who lost the week? (You have to ask?)
You’ve almost certainly heard the latest news about Rob Ford, and, like many, you probably have some questions. Questions like:
What the fuck?
Well, Ford has taken a leave of absence from City Hall and suspended his mayoral campaign after a series of recordings captured him making racist and misogynistic remarks and, allegedly, smoking crack cocaine. The Toronto Sun obtained an audio recording of Ford at an Etobicoke bar, where the mayor could be heard referring to other patrons as “dagos” and “wop[s]” and making lewd comments about councillor and mayoral rival Karen Stintz. Two Globe and Mail reporters viewed footage that appears to show Ford smoking crack cocaine in sister Kathy’s basement; the person who shot the video also claims Ford served buddy Sandro Lisi a big can of whoop-ass that same night. And the Toronto Star reported that an eyewitness saw Ford doing cocaine during one of two recent nights of heavy partying at Muzik nightclub.
So, Ford apologized, right?
Ha ha. Nah. Here’s his complete—and completely cowardly—statement.
Where’s Rob Ford going?
No one’s really sure. Whoever wrote Ford’s statement only said he was seeking “professional help,” and brother Doug told the Star the mayor was headed to “one of the best facilities in North America.” Reporters also confirmed the mayor had left Buttonville airport on a private plane, bound for Chicago.
So, who’s running the city?
Norm Kelly told reporters yesterday that he had “agreed to assume the responsibilities of mayor,” and that the transfer of power was “effective immediately.” Kelly also said he would also be responsible for the mayor’s staff. The city clerk asked councillors to name a second deputy mayor.
Can Ford just go back to being mayor whenever he decides to return?
Under the City of Toronto Act, a council member’s office becomes vacant if that person “is absent from the meetings of council for three successive months without being authorized to do so by a resolution of council.” So unless Ford’s colleagues, whom he’s always treated with the utmost respect, pass a resolution excusing him, he’ll have to be back at City Hall for the July 8 council meeting.
Does this actually change anything at City Hall?
Not really. Council voted last year to strip Ford of most of his powers, leaving him free to wander the halls of Toronto Community Housing buildings and get fucked up at sporting events.
But this has to affect Ford’s campaign, right?
Actually, Ford’s presence on the campaign trail had been virtually non-existent since his launch last month. And, with Chow and Stintz releasing transit plans this week, the campaign was already heating up without the mayor.
If Ford returns to the race, expect him and his team to spin this as a redemption story, despite the fact that Ford hasn’t really apologized for anything. Also, expect him to lose on Oct. 27.
What do Ford’s rivals think of all this?
“Rob Ford’s comments are gross. Rob Ford is not Toronto,” Stintz said yesterday. “There is no place in this city for sexism or homophobia, especially in the mayor’s office.” Stintz did not call on Ford to resign.
“It’s obvious that he has a serious drug-addiction problem,” Olivia Chow said at a Thursday-morning press conference. Curiously, Chow repeatedly said it was “too late” for Ford to take a leave of absence and seek help, but, like Stintz, did not call on him to resign. “The voters of the city will issue a verdict on him,” Chow said.
John Tory said he was “relieved” Ford was getting help, and called on him to resign.
David Soknacki also said Ford should resign. In an interview with The Grid, Soknacki said Ford had shown “utter contempt and disrespect” for Stintz, and said the mayor was only promising to deal with his problems “because he’s been caught, again.”
Can we talk about other things now, please?
Who won the week? Olivia Chow
Olivia Chow said this week she would cancel the Scarborough subway and its attendant 1.6 per cent tax increase, but would introduce a similar hike—and redirect “up to a billion dollars” to other transit projects—if the province and the feds agree to help fund Toronto’s transit system.
After giving a speech at the Board of Trade on Tuesday, Chow said she would divide the money between building a relief line and tackling the TTC’s state-of-good-repair backlog. Chow also wants the province to cover 50 per cent of the TTC’s operating costs. The province, Chow predicted, would agree to this arrangement, “Because it’s right, it’s just, and the people of Toronto deserve no less.”
But what if the province and the feds aren’t interested in collaborating? “Then we will have no dollars to fix our existing subway,” Chow said. “We’ll have no dollars to buy new subway cars.”
There are other lingering questions about Chow’s transit plan. For instance, Chow said she couldn’t provide specifics on how she would divide the money between expansion and good repair when it’s unclear how much other governments would be willing to contribute, and the total cost of the relief line is still in question.
So why is Chow the winner this week if her transit plan is incomplete? Well, just because the province and feds might be reluctant to pay up, it doesn’t mean Chow is wrong to pressure them for more money. And, more importantly, because her campaign team didn’t spend Tuesday morning in a prolonged, painfully awkward game of Twister.
Karen Stintz’s transit plan revealed
Karen Stintz also released a plan to pay for transit expansion this week. Some of Stintz’s proposals for funding transit expansion included:
-Selling 51 per cent of the city’s shares in Toronto Hydro, which Stintz has been suggesting since early in the campaign
-Dedicating $330 million from “current traffic enforcement operations” to transit infrastructure
-Hitting drivers with a $3 levy for specific Green P garages in the city’s core
Others have already pointed out some of the more obvious flaws in Stintz’s plan. For instance, Stintz wants to direct traffic enforcement revenue to transit expansion, but that’s just moving around existing money—it doesn’t bring any additional cash to the city. As for selling a majority stake in Hydro, our own Edward Keenan said in March that the province would likely take about one third of the proceeds of that sale.
What you might have missed
A provincial bill that would have freed the city from the Ontario Municipal Board’s oversight is dead.
Sarah Thomson made a terrible song worse.
TDSB trustee Sam Sotiropoulos, who’s tooootally not a homophobe, is threatening legal action against NOW, after the magazine referred to him as “homophobic.”
The integrity commissioner found that Rob Ford violated the council code of conduct when he criticized Paul Ainslie’s opposition to a Scarborough subway in robo-calls made to the councillor’s constituents.
Giorgio Mammoliti has registered to run for re-election in Ward 7, though he also said Thursday that he was mulling another mayoral bid.
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