Thursday, December 5, 2013

Dirty Little Secrets, Dirty Little Lies - The Undoing of Rob Ford

"Dirty little secrets, dirty little lies, we've got our dirty little fingers in everybody's pie." - Dirty Laundry, The Eagles

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford throws a world class freak out on October 31, 2013, telling reporters to, "Get off my property!" That was the day Toronto police revealed they had possession of a video appearing to show Ford smoking crack cocaine.

It was a scene you don't see every day, at least not in 'Toronto the Good.' Mayor Rob Ford was standing in the driveway of his Etobicoke house on Halloween day of this year screaming at reporters to, "Get off my property! Will you get off my property!" The press obeyed, temporarily, before going right back on said driveway to snap a few close up shots of the Mayor. Worth noting is that Ford was holding clothing, what appeared to be his drycleaning. As the Don Henley song goes, "I make my living off the evening news, just give me something, something I can use..."

Watching the scene
, it's clear that neither the Mayor nor the media have clean hands in this. It was a bad news day for the Mayor, that's for sure. Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair revealed the Force is in possession of a video that appears consistent with media reports from Gawker and The Toronto Star that had surfaced months before Ford's Halloween freak out. The video shows Ford in the company of "gangbangers" as my friend, crime reporter James Dubro calls them, smoking what appeared to reporters to be crack cocaine. Maybe on that dreary October 31 morning Ford had some prior knowledge about what was about to go down. Then again, maybe he didn't - I'm sure it's not the sort of conversation Bill Blair would want to have with the Chief Magistrate, given how much of Ford's dirty laundry had already been aired publicly. 

In a pointed editorial for The New York Times titled 'Toronto's Hot Mess' writer Stephen Marche concludes, "Toronto is the city of Rob Ford now, an expanding hot mess, fueled by dark secrets, inarticulate desires and inchoate fury... (Toronto) has become a city making a spectacle of itself."

Indeed. The latest news about Ford's activities, released today, suggest that Ford may have used Heroin, and was a frequent visitor to 15 Windsor Rd., where he allegedly bought, and used, drugs. Even more interesting is that Ford may have offered $5,000 and a car for the cell phone video that allegedly shows him smoking crack cocaine.

Months of police surveillance paint a picture of Ford frequently meeting friend and sometime driver Alexander Lisi. He (Lisi) is now facing criminal charges. On August 13 police observed Ford and Lisi entering Douglas Ford Park, named after the Mayor's father - when the two left over an hour later they found an empty bottle of Iceberg Vodka and juice.

The puzzle assembled by police surveillance suggests a rather sad, small fry lifestyle - shady deals in parking lots and out of the way locations. It's pitiable, really. That's what I feel now whenever I see Ford's mug on the evening news, the soft emotion of pity. This is no scheming mastermind with an evil agenda; far from it. Here stands a man with personal demons that he temporarily held at bay with the bottle and / or powder. For all the politicians, many with their own Mayoral ambitions or a Dog in the coming year's race, who said Ford has shamed Toronto, they can stuff it. As National Post columnist Christie Blatchford pointed out Toronto needs a reputation before it can be slandered.

To every Torontonian who voted in the 2010 municipal election, and particularly to every GTA resident who makes an effort to stay informed about the world around them, were you really surprised to learn these unsavory details about Ford? Further to that, and I'm pointing at everyone who voted for him, how could you have not known who you were voting for? His simple, yet effective, line about fighting the, "Gravy Train" at Toronto City hall mobilized voters who have a hate-on for Toronto's establishment and institutions.

Suburbanites would rather have someone in office who holds views in accordance with their own - the values held by downtown residents and those in the suburbs are distinct. Former Toronto Mayor John Sewell pointed out that in Toronto's suburbs, "Travel is mostly by car, since densities are not high enough to make transit financially viable, and, where they exist, sidewalks are generally bereft of people since things are so far apart that it's a really long walk to anywhere... This city form promotes a sense of the individual, competition, and a distancing of people from each other." Welcome to Ford Nation.

Back to Ford himself - his pattern of behaviour existed long before he became Mayor. As a city councillor he was known for grandstanding during council meetings without having read any of the background material beforehand. His arguments were often concocted to keep himself in the spotlight, a lone warrior fighting the good fight for the tax payer. Witness Rob as a city councillor, the 'Fat Fuck' high school bully in action.

The Telling Details were there for anyone who cared to pay attention before the last municipal election, where Ford was elected Mayor. From the conclusion of a Toronto Life profile of Ford by journalist Gerald Hannon: " At the end of one council session a few months ago, I followed Ford out of the chamber. We hadn’t been introduced, and he didn’t know who I was. He and two other men entered the elevator. The two men talked city business, gripped by some arcane details of civic administration. Ford, lost in his own thoughts, paid them no mind. He was looking at himself in the mirrored wall of the elevator, tilting his head from side to side, stroking his cheek in that caressingly feline way he touches himself, smiling approvingly. He likes what he sees. He believes Toronto loves him, believes Toronto can’t wait to be annexed into Ford Country. He may be right. I could almost hear him purr."

As a professor once told me in a GMAT (Graduate Management Admissions Test) study course, "people are patterns of behaviour." So it is with Robert Bruce Ford; the writing was on the wall for anyone with a brain and the patience to look.

The list goes on and on - allegations of spouse abuse, admitted drinking and driving, bending facts to suit his own ends, and on, and on, and on. What really infuriates me is not the man himself, it's that people could buy his cheap retail politics and vote him into office. Everyone who checked the box beside Ford's name on their ballot slips is getting exactly what they deserve.

For Ford himself it's long past time that he exited stage right. If he runs in, and wins, the October 2014 election, the most Telling Detail will be that voters endorsed Robbie's behaviour and looked the other way after his repeated lies. 

We've seen the full extent of Rob Ford's dirty laundry. Next October it's time to do something about it. 

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