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[URBAN NOTE] “Rob Ford adds Ben Johnson, Trailer Park Boys actor to campaign team”

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I thought this news was a joke when I heard it, but no, it’s got multiple citations. The Toronto Star‘s Daniel Dale reported that disgraced Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson and a minor actor from the television show Trailer Park Boys are

Rob Ford, known internationally for his illegal drug use, emerged from his office on Tuesday afternoon to announce a new member of his campaign team: disgraced former sprinter Ben Johnson, known internationally for his illicit steroid use.

Johnson was stripped of the gold medal he had won for Canada at the 1988 Olympics with the help of a banned substance. He received a lifetime ban from competition after a second failed test in 1993.

Ford is seeking the redemption never granted to Johnson. Asked about Johnson’s past, he returned to his familiar refrain about forgiving errors.

“You know what? I support Ben 100 per cent,” Ford said. “We’ve all made mistakes in life. I’ve supported him from day one. And that’s the bottom line.”

[. . .]

Joining them was Sam Tarasco, an actor from Trailer Park Boys, a Canadian television comedy about petty criminals.

Ford referred to him as “Cave,” short for “caveman,” an insult used on the show to describe his character, Sam Losco, who lost a trailer park election after he was drugged before a campaign speech.

Johnson and Tarasco are the first prominent people to sign on to Ford’s team, other than brother and campaign manager Doug Ford. Rob Ford said they would be joining him at events.

Written by Randy McDonald

April 9, 2014 at 3:56 am

[URBAN NOTE] “Rob Ford: Gun photos found on laptop that is connected to crack video”

What commentary can I add to Kevin Donovan’s Toronto Star article?

Mayor Rob Ford behaved in a manner “indicative” of drug trafficking last year and was a frequent visitor to an Etobicoke crackhouse where gang members hung out and where the infamous video was filmed just over a year ago, according to police documents released by a judge Wednesday.

Just after the video was made, Mohamed Siad, who is now facing drug trafficking charges, boasted in a “selfie” video that he had just captured the mayor of Toronto doing drugs. That is how you catch a person “slipping” or “catch a mayor smoking crack,” Siad explains in the short video, filmed in a car, which is described in the police documents.

The documents also reveal that while police have the crack video, they are missing a potentially key recording — Video # 13 on Siad’s phone — that may shed light on what else happened at the crackhouse, at 15 Windsor Rd., last February.

These details have emerged from portions of a recent search warrant document that police used on Jan. 14 to get telephone records for numerous people, including Ford; his former “logistics” man and occasional driver, David Price; former Ford assistant Thomas Beyer; Siad and several others connected to the case. Justice Ian Nordheimer ordered the release of these new documents, while certain portions remain subject to a publication ban until a hearing next week.

A more recent search warrant, approved and sealed on March 7, is the subject of a further application by the Toronto Star and other media to have its contents released. At least some of that document could be released next week. The Star believes that particular warrant was filed in an attempt to obtain video and audio recordings in the iCloud account controlled by Ford friend Alexander “Sandro” Lisi.

Detectives with the Project Brazen 2 investigation are continuing to probe allegations related to Ford, Lisi and others. Lisi has been charged with extortion in connection with attempts to retrieve the crack video from Siad and another man.

[. . .]

In the newly released document, detectives state that their surveillance of Ford and Lisi last year, including multiple meetings and phone calls, led them to believe that Ford and Lisi’s actions were “indicative to that of drug trafficking.” Lisi was charged with drug trafficking in the fall. Ford has not been charged.

There’s much, much more.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 20, 2014 at 3:56 am

[URBAN NOTE] On the growing likelihood of Toronto mayor Olivia Chow

Surprising absolutely no one, former Toronto city councillor and (until yesterday) NDP MP for the riding of Trinity-Spadina Olivia Chow announced that she was leaving Parliament to run as a candidate in this year’s mayoral election. CBC:

Olivia Chow officially launched her campaign to be Toronto’s next mayor, saying that “it’s time for change” in Toronto, promising to take the city in a new direction from the “failed” leadership of incumbent Rob Ford.

“We need a new mayor for a better city and I’m here to apply for the job,” Chow said.

Speaking of her humble beginnings in a struggling immigrant family, Chow told the crowd in St. James Town — the neighbourhood where she grew up — that she learned not to spend what you don’t have, to work hard for what you want and how that has shaped her view of Toronto and what the city needs to thrive.

[. . .]

“In the last four years we have paid more and more and got less and less. We are paying more to take the TTC, but we’re waiting longer for buses and packed into them like sardines,” Chow said, also speaking of the unemployment rate and the vulnerable younger generation.

Although Chow made no direct mention of Ford’s admission that he smoked crack cocaine and bought illegal drugs while mayor, nor his videotaped booze-fuelled rants, she emphasized how disappointing he has been and how he is not someone who could ever be a role model for children.

“The current mayor’s disappointing leadership has let us down over and over again. He has failed to make the critical investments our city needs to stay competitive … the current mayor is failing at his job and he is no role model for my granddaughters,” she said.

The major candidates that have declared their intention to run for mayor have so far been right-leaning, fiscal conservatives. Chow, a notable New Democrat, has already tried to contrast comments about left-wing overspending her rivals have spoken about.

Chow, appearing on CBC News Network later Thursday afternoon, noted she was on the city’s budget committee, under then-mayor Mel Lastman, for five years, during which time the books
were balanced.

blogTO and Torontoist both commented yesterday on the near-certainty that Chow would run. Combing through my archives, I find a note from last March on the possibility that, according to various polls, Olivia Chow would beat Rob Ford in a direct mayoral run, and another on her admission that she was considering a run. These, incidentally, preceded news of Ford’s crack tape and the various ridiculous sequelae.

Chow has a solid political record behind her, like most of the candidates announced so far. Chow’s advantage? Metro Toronto‘s Matt Elliott had earlier suggested that, given that three of the four highest-profile candidates (Rob Ford, John Tory, Karen Stintz) were on the right, Olivia Chow was the only candidate running from the left. If she was unopposed by any high-profile candidates, presumably she would have a considerable advantage over others.

Plus, it’s time for a mayor from the downtown again. (Amalgamated Toronto, as my friend Leeman pointed out to me earlier, seems to alternate between left-leaning mayors from the downtown and right-leaning mayors from the suburbs.)

Will I be voting for Chow? Unless something changes, I will. I suspect I won’t be alone in doing so. Having someone more ideologically sympathetic to me in office who isn’t prone to doing any number of ethically problematic and potentially criminal acts is something I’d enjoy. At the very, very worst, if there ever did turn out to be an Olivia Chow crack tape, I’m sure it would be a tasteful crack tape.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 14, 2014 at 1:55 am

[URBAN NOTE] “Ford Nation a lot smaller on YouTube”

NOW Toronto‘s Ben Spurr notes that Ford Nation, the official YouTube channel of Toronto mayor Rob and his councillor brother Doug Ford, hasn’t had the following of either their radio show or their single episode on SUN TV last year. This, I suppose, isn’t exactly a big shocker. Right?

The first episode, posted on February 4, did well, averaging 23,289.3 viewers* for its four segments. But since then it’s been downhill. The second episode reached an average of 9,337 people for each of its six videos, and the third and latest instalment, released on February 26, garnered an average of only 5,346 viewers over its three segments.

[. . .]

By conservative estimates the City, the radio show they hosted on CFRB Newstalk 1010 for almost two years, was broadcasting to upwards of 80,000 people every week by the time it was cancelled last fall, with huge spikes on Sundays after new developments in the mayor’s crack scandal.

When they moved to TV as the scandal roiled in mid November, their single episode on the Sun News Network nabbed 155,000 viewers, which the channel’s vice president Korey Teneycke said at the time made it “biggest night ever for Sun News by a country mile.”

[. . .]

One reason is simply the demographics of the internet, according to David Bray, creative director at Bray & Partners and an expert on the radio market. The people who listened to the Fords’ radio show are unlikely to watch the YouTube series, he says.

“CFRB listeners are somewhat older,” says Bray. “It does appeal largely to the 55-plus crowd… Would that same constituency move over to online? Very unlikely, because clearly that demographic isn’t as active online.”

The online show’s content is also a problem. While the Ford brothers appeared to maintain a high degree of control over their radio show, they did usually take phone calls from listeners or had guests on. There was at least the potential for unscripted moments.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 13, 2014 at 9:35 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “‘Arrest me’: Mayor Ford dares police chief as war of words escalates”

After reading Ann Hui and Jill Mahoney’s article in The Globe and Mail, I want the Ford brothers’ bluffs to be called. In spades. Live.

Mayor Rob Ford slammed Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair Thursday, accusing the chief of playing politics and saying “if he’s gonna arrest me, arrest me.”

Mr. Ford’s remarks come after a war of words this week between the police chief and the Ford family. On Wednesday, Chief Blair accused the mayor’s friend, alleged drug dealer Alessandro Lisi, of levelling threats against him, and told reporters he was “deeply offended” by a video that shows the mayor using explicit language to describe him. Mayor Ford’s brother, Councillor Doug Ford, fought back by calling on the chief to step down, after submitting a formal complaint with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director.

“He’s embarrassed? How about embarrassing my family, my kids, my community, my friends, following me around for five months, spending millions of dollars using taxpayers’ money, coming into my office trying to politicize things and making announcements,” Mr. Ford said Thursday. “If anyone owes an apology, he owes an apology to the taxpayers for not telling people how much he spent.”

Mr. Ford’s comments are a reference to an ongoing Toronto Police investigation into the mayor, dubbed Project Brazen 2. That investigation has already netted the arrest of Mr. Lisi for drug trafficking and extortion related to a video that shows the mayor smoking crack cocaine. The Fords and Chief Blair have been at odds ever since the chief revealed in a news conference in October that Toronto Police have a copy of that video – telling reporters that he was “disappointed” – and said that police were investigating Mr. Ford.

“If he’s gonna arrest me, arrest me,” Mr. Ford said, before accusing Chief Blair of playing politics.

[. . .]

Councillor Ford, who is Mayor Ford’s election campaign manager and often speaks for his brother, said Chief Blair violated the Police Act by saying Mayor Ford’s friend, alleged drug dealer Alessandro Lisi, warned officers that “your guy is going to get his” after his arrest on an extortion charge last fall. Police interpreted the remark as an apparent threat that foreshadowed a complaint the councillor later filed against the chief.

“He kept saying, ‘I don’t speak on ongoing investigations,’ but when it comes to Rob Ford there’s two rules: ‘I’ll speak all day long.’ And he just keeps breaking the law. And who holds this character accountable?” Councillor Ford said on AM640 radio on Thursday, later saying he has never spoken to Mr. Lisi and calling the chief’s comments “a lie.”

Written by Randy McDonald

February 27, 2014 at 8:41 pm

[BLOG] Some Friday links

  • City of Brass’ Aziz Poonawalla takes issue with Muslims who have issues with Valentine’s Day. What’s wrong with celebrating love?
  • Discover‘s D-Brief notes the new official survey of Jupiter’s largest moon, Ganymede.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes a study from China suggesting that while reforested areas are cooler in daytime, they are also warmer at night.
  • Eastern Approaches notes that coalition politics in the Czech Republic mean that country’s post-Communist lustration laws won’t be revised.
  • Language Log notes the utter failure of an app supposed to make its users write like Hemingway (it doesn’t like Hemingway’s writing) and observes just how recently passed comedian Sid Caesar was able to learn his famed double-talk.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer observes turbulence in Argentina’s oil sector.
  • Supernova Condensate commemorates the Valentine’s Day gamma-ray burst of 1990.
  • Torontoist notes another Rob Ford conflict of interest, this time involving fundraising in 2011.
  • Towleroad traces the background behind Nigeria’s anti-gay law.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy maps the liberalization of gun laws across the United States.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that, of the three traditionally Buddhist minorities of Russia, the Buryats have gone furthest towards a revival–the more shamanistic Tuvans and the Stalin-deported Kalmyks have further to go.

[URBAN NOTE] Two links on the brothers Ford in Toronto

First, from CBC comes “Rob Ford continues protest against rainbow flag at city hall”. Apparently supporting gay Russians is incompatible with supporting the Olympics.

Mayor Rob Ford says he’s done everything he can to get a rainbow flag supporting gay rights taken down from Toronto’s City Hall.

“The bottom line is, again, this is about the Olympics, this is about supporting our athletes,” said Ford outside his office on Tuesday.

“I’ve done everything I can to get the Canadian flag back up,” he said.

The rainbow flag was raised to coincide with the Opening Ceremony at the Olympics in Sochi, Russia. It is a protest of the anti-gay laws in that country, and a show of support LGBT Russians.

[. . .]

There is currently a Canadian flag flying at Toronto City Hall, as is required by the city’s flag protocols. The rainbow flag is flying to the east of the clamshell-like building, where an auxiliary Canadian flag usually flies. Community groups can request to have flags raised on that pole from time-to-time.

Ford said he has written to the city manager to get the flag removed, but there is nothing he can do because it is a matter of protocol. The 519 Church Street Community Centre made a request to fly the flag outside city hall for the duration of the Olympics. The mayor has no authority to remove it.

Next comes NOW Toronto‘s Ben Spurr reporting on a small protest held by some Torontonians outside the mayor’s office this morning, wondering where he was.

A group of a half dozen women and middle school kids spent the morning at City Hall, holding signs proclaiming “We are more than just taxpayers” and “Respect Diversity.” They said they were there to send the message that Ford’s bad behaviour is setting a poor example for the young people of the city.

The mayor was not at his office but his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, popped by late in the morning and was confronted by the group.

[. . .]

Doug told the media he didn’t know where his brother was Tuesday morning. When a reporter asked why the mayor still refuses to make his schedule public, the councillor told her, “I don’t think you have the moral authority to ask what the mayor’s doing.”

After he left, protester Jay MacGillivray said he had been “disrespectful” by refusing to speak directly to the children. She rejected the Fords’ plea – recently made on their new Youtube channel – to judge the mayor on his fiscal record instead of his well-documented substance abuse issues.

[. . .]

The mayor arrived at his office around 12:30 p.m., but by that time the protesters had already left. His spokesperson said he had spent the morning touring a Toronto Community Housing building in the Victoria Park and St. Clair neighbourhood.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 11, 2014 at 8:52 pm

[URBAN NOTE] On the homophobia of Rob Ford

BlogTO and Torontoist were two local blogs that carried the high-profile story that Rob Ford wanted the rainbow flag taken down from City Hall. (Towleroad was one international blog that reported it.) The flag was raised as a gesture of support for Russia’s LGBT community, facing persecution at the time of the Olympics; Ford wanted none of that. Perhaps fortunately, as CBC noted the decision to raise the flag or lower it was not the mayor’s.

The city’s protocol officer is the only one who decides what flags fly from the city hall`s “courtesy” pole. That pole hosts all sorts of flags during the year — for autism week, fair trade, and to honour the national days of dozens of countries, from Azerbaijan to Israel. The Canadian flag is always flying on several other poles around city hall.

City Manager Joe Pennachetti sent a letter to the mayor and councillors reminding them of flag protocol on Friday afternoon.

Pennachetti noted the rainbow flag is flying at the request of the 519 Church Street Community Centre, the heart of Toronto’s LGBT community, and will remain flying for the duration of the Olympics.

Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly said he supports keeping the rainbow flag up, saying it sends a message to the host country, which has been under fire for its anti-gay laws.

“There’s no antagonism between the two flags,” said Kelly. “Cities right across the country are doing this. This is an expression of Canadianism.”

In protest, Ford placed a Canadian flag in his office window. Upon leaving city hall Friday evening, he said he still wants the rainbow flag removed.

The incident drew criticism from Toronto’s only openly gay city councillor.

“I think he’s clearly demonstrating that he’s homophobic — that he is bigoted,” Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam told CBC News.

Earlier this month, Ford has stated that he wouldn’t be attending WorldPride in June because he wasn’t that sort of person. (This fits with a long history of homophobic statements and actions, as a simple Google search would reveal.) So, yes, homophobia is definitely one of our mayor’s many demonstrable faults.

Written by Randy McDonald

February 8, 2014 at 4:59 am

[URBAN NOTE] On Rob Ford, jailhouse beatings, and budget debates

There are no words.

  • The first story, from Global News.
  • Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is being sued for his alleged role in the jailhouse assault of his sister`s former partner.

    Ford’s lawyer Dennis Morris confirmed to Global News Wednesday that a statement of claim had been filed against the mayor, alleging that he was behind the alleged jailhouse assault of Scott MacIntyre, the former partner of Ford’s sister.

    The Ministry of Correctional Services, former Don Bosco football player Aedan Petros and former assistant coach of the Don Bosco football team Payman Aboodowleh have also been named in the statement.

    [. . .]

    MacIntyre was attacked in March 2012 by some inmates while he was being held at the Metro West Detention Centre after uttering threats against the mayor.

    MacIntyre’s statement of claim says he told the mayor to “be careful” how he treated him while leaving his home in January 2012 because he knew “things about Ford and his family which had not been made public.”

    [. . .]

    “Ford and Aboodowleh conspired to have the plaintiff threatened, and subsequently brutally beaten, while he was incarcerated in [Metro West Detention Centre],” according to the statement of claim.

    [. . . A] video showing the mayor in a violent, drunken rage was purchased and published by the Toronto Star in November.

    In the video, the mayor is in a fit, slapping his legs and shouting about an unidentified person.

    “When he’s dead, I’ll make sure that motherf—er… I need f—ing 10 minutes to make sure he’s dead,” Ford can be heard saying in the video.

  • The second story, from CBC News.
  • Toronto city council has passed its 2014 budget, ending an often fractious, day-long debate that saw officials trading barbs over libraries, fire trucks, security guards and — once again — subways.

    The budget passed by a vote of 35-9 shortly after 9 p.m. ET Thursday, after some 11 hours of debate by the 45-member council.

    Mayor Rob Ford, his brother, Coun. Doug Ford, and budget chief Frank Di Giorgio were among those who voted against it. The mayor had earlier submitted a handful of cost-cutting motions, some of which set the stage for tense, even angry exchanges throughout the day.

    [. . .]

    The budget debate is expected to continue into Thursday night, and possibly until Monday. Council will not sit on Friday because of the Lunar New Year.

    Written by Randy McDonald

    January 31, 2014 at 3:11 am

    [URBAN NOTE] “On Thursday at the Economic Club, Rob Ford Lied Several Times Every Minute”

    Christopher Bird and Hamutal Dotan’s extended fisking of a speech given by Toronto mayor Rob Ford, highlighting his exaggerations and outright lies, is an achievement.

    We have often pointed out that Rob Ford lies all the time; he lies habitually, ceaselessly, and carelessly. He does not even lie particularly well: his lies are blatant, easily disproved with a little research or basic knowledge.

    But how mendacious, exactly, is our mayor? How often does he omit, mislead, prevaricate, or just make stuff up? Luckily, Rob Ford gave what was his first real campaign speech of 2014 (as opposed to the countless unofficial campaign speeches he has been giving for years now) at the Economic Club of Canada, and we have decided to record, for posterity, every single time Rob Ford was less than honest. We have divided these instances into two categories: straight-up This Ain’t Right moments in red, and statements that are distortions, but not quite as clear cut, in orange.

    They count 54.

    Go, read the whole thing. (The more than 200 comments at the bottom of the page are also worthy of reading, if only out of morbid curiosity.)

    Written by Randy McDonald

    January 30, 2014 at 12:03 am

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