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[URBAN NOTE] “Rob Ford ‘disruptive’ in rehab, sources say”

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As is its wont, the Toronto Star broke the latest story regarding Rob Ford. Kevin Donovan reports that Rob Ford, contrary to his public statements of recent days, actually wasn’t very good at all in rehab.

Mayor Rob Ford pushed and scuffled with fellow rehab residents and was so verbally abusive that he was kicked out of his group therapy program, according to people who have knowledge of his two month stay at GreeneStone.

These accounts of what one person referred to as “destructive behaviour” stands in stark contrast to Ford’s recent public statements that he had a healthy experience and takes his recovery seriously.

“Ford broke things, got into fights with other residents,” said one source with knowledge of the mayor’s time in rehab at the resort-turned-drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in Muskoka.

“Ford stopped people from sharing their stories, which is key to a successful rehab experience,” said another source. “Other residents felt intimidated. They felt he was a bully. He was always saying he did not belong there.”

Management was concerned Ford continued to use drugs or alcohol during his time in rehab. The Star was unable to determine if Ford abused any substances during his two month stint.

GreeneStone’s wooded property has a well known “nature walk” and a concern of staff is that some residents meet their drug dealers or people providing alcohol at the far end of the walk.

Police were called at least once to deal with an incident at GreeneStone during Ford’s time. It’s not known if the police visit was related to Ford. The OPP, which patrols the area, said that any information about police calls to GreeneStone could only be obtained by making a freedom of information request, a process that takes months.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 9, 2014 at 4:57 pm

[URBAN NOTE] On #shirtlessjogger, Toronto, and Rob Ford

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blogTO’s Chris Bateman wrote the first overview I came across of the #shirtlessjogger incident on Canada Day.

Things were already going badly for Rob Ford when the shirtless jogger arrived at the East York Canada Day parade. Booed and heckled as he and a small group of sign-carrying supporters brought up the rear of the walk, the scene was turning more embarrassing by the second.

“You disgusting man,” shouted one person. “Shame on you!” “He’s scaring kids!” “Get out of my neighbourhood!”

And then a topless Joe Killoran, a local teacher who has previously expressed his opinion on education in the pages of the Toronto Star, arrived on the scene.

I daresay a large part of the reason Killoran’s frustrated outburst went viral was his lack of a shirt, but his anger was articulate and, best of all, drenched in the frustration of a Rob Ford-weary Toronto. “Answer one of the million questions people have for you” he said. “People have a million questions about your lying and your corruption.”

The television clip went viral, first across Toronto and then worldwide. Among the blogs I read, Joe. My. God. and Towleroad picked this up internationally, noting–quite appropriately–that Killoran was cute. (It was a humid dog so shirtlessness would make sense for jogging.) Doug Ford’s statement that Killoran’s comment was motivated by a ridiculously redefined “racism” fanned the flames.

In subsequent interviews and articles, with The Globe and Mail and the National Post, Killoran explained coherently that he was frustrated with Ford’s many and continuing incompetencies and errors. Indeed, Ford still refuses to talk to police about his various problematic issues, and he and appears to have lied even in his post-rehab interviews.

Am I alone in finding it amusing that the man who has so visibly challenged Ford, the man who has helped reveal the falsity of Ford’s claims to have reformed–the man who has confirmed that the Emperor has no clothes–is known as the shirtless jogger.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 5, 2014 at 3:59 am

[URBAN NOTE] On the attempted return of Rob Ford to Toronto

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Rob Ford is back, fresh from rehab and ready to continue his campaign to be re-elected mayor.

What Torontoist’s Hamutal Dotan said.

Rehabilitation is supposed to be about resetting the trajectory of your life. For politicians, representatives with a sworn duty to protect the interests of those who elected them, rehabilitation must to some extent happen in public. While rehab often causes people to make professional changes (moving work environments or avoiding certain colleagues, for instance), in the particular case of politicians—because of their ongoing relationship with the electorate and the expectation of transparency in a democracy—those professional changes take place out in the open. Or at least they should, if leaders are to regain the public’s trust.

The mayor held an event today, his first day back at the office. It was meant to inform us of his current state and future plans—to serve as his reintroduction to the people of Toronto after rehab. It was meant to demonstrate that he had faced his issues head-on, and was ready to return to work.

There was nothing—in his demeanour, in the content of his remarks, or in the nature of the event itself—to indicate that Rob Ford is a changed man.

The mayor spoke for 18 minutes, and his statement was roughly divided into two halves: an apology and a political call to arms. The first was vague, abstract, and generic. The second, sloganeering we have heard for years. The combination of the two was both odd and odious.

Apologies need, above all, to be specific. For an apology to constitute a genuine gesture toward making amends, you must specify what it is that you have done wrong. You must show some understanding of the toll it has taken on others, and you must indicate in concrete, specific ways the measures you are taking to ensure your behaviour will be different in the future. Ford’s speech contained almost none of these things.

The only specific act the mayor apologized for was making “hurtful and degrading remarks” about Karen Stintz. Entirely absent from his speech were the years of lying; his countless homophobic and racist remarks; the many misogynist remarks he has made independently of the ones about Stintz; the alleged mistreatment of his staff; his relationship to one Toronto’s major gangs; or acts of violence allegedly done in his name, or for the sake of his protection.

Me, all that I’ll add as someone who has had a couple of drunken stupors (graduate school and drinks that taste like candy are key elements, here), I’ve never been hanging around people who’ve a connection that I know of to crack cocaine.

Torontoist’s Desmond Cole has a transcript of the speech, delivered to a personally-selected media crowd.

Written by Randy McDonald

July 1, 2014 at 3:38 am

[PHOTO] The Cut The Waist Challenge Scale of Rob Ford, Toronto City Hall

The Cut The Waist Challenge Scale of Rob Ford, Toronto City Hall

Visiting Toronto City Hall during the during the most recent Doors Open Toronto event, my friend and I joined the long line to see the office of the mayor. In a corner in the front of his office stood his Cut the Waist Challenge scale.

In January 2012, Ford responded to the news that he weighed 330 pounds by making a public commitment to lose 50 pounds in six months and encouraging others to join. (The name of the challenge was a play on his campaign promises to cut bureaucratic waste in the city government.) That didn’t happen. By June 2012, Ford was down only 17 pounds, having abandoned dieting some months before. The scale has later appeared in reports of his misbehaviour, most famously being jumped upon on the night of St. Patrick’s Day 2012.

Here the scale remains. I’ve been told that apparently acting mayor Norm Kelly wanted to remove the scale while Ford is off in rehab, but Ford’s brother and fellow councillor Doug Ford blocked this. So here it stays.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 26, 2014 at 2:11 pm

[URBAN NOTE] “Woman reportedly arrested in Rob Ford’s SUV says mayor doing “top notch” in rehab”

This Toronto Star article, just minutes old according to Google News, is almost ridiculous.

Ford’s black Escalade — which in Toronto was tailed by police for months last year during an investigation into the mayor — has been impounded in the Muskoka Lakes region, according to several unconfirmed reports.

LeeAnne McRobb, a 36-year-old woman from Muskoka Lakes Township, has been charged with impaired driving and driving over the legal limit after she was pulled over by Bracebridge OPP near Muskoka Road 169 and Butterfly Rd. around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

[. . .]

When reached by the Star, McRobb’s sister, Lindsay Sarrasin, confirmed it is her sister who appears in two videos shot by Moose FM reporters talking about being at GreeneStone with Ford.
LeeAnne McRobb is Facebook friends with Mayor Rob Ford and posted this picture[.]

[. . .]

In the first of two YouTube videos posted Wednesday by Moose FM, McRobb is seen entering Northland Towing and Recovery in Gravenhurst. She tells an employee behind the counter: “Nice watch, very nice. I don’t know where mine is. I can’t find it. It’s driving me crazy. Not having a watch is just not good. I’ve got a really nice one too. I think I left it at GreeneStone. I think it’s in Rob Ford’s room.”

The woman tells the employee she was arrested for drinking and driving a day earlier and wanted to get her personal belongings out of the car. “It’s not my vehicle, but all my stuff is in it.”

[. . .]

In the second video, which continues after the first, McRobb says Ford is doing “top notch” in rehab.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 22, 2014 at 2:06 am

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

  • blogTO starts a discussion as to the problems facing the retail chain Target here in Toronto. It starts off by noting that the chain was built on the footprint of Zellers.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to the paper arguing that Beta Pictoris b has an eight-hour day.
  • The Dragon’s Tales observes that India’s new aircraft carrier, the I.N.S. Vikamaditya, has begun its first trials.
  • Eastern Approaches notes the ongoing chaos in eastern Ukraine.
  • Joe. My. God. and Towleroad both note that the governor of Kentucky is defending that American state’s ban on same-sex marriage by suggesting it’s needed to keep up the birth rate.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money takes note of the foolishness of Rob Ford.
  • The New APPS Blog notes ongoing tensions between two strands of biopolitics, the first emphasizing collective public health and the second individual responsibility.
  • Registan argues that Mongolian investment in the neighbouring Russian republic of Tuva could change the status quo in Siberia.
  • Steve Munro worries that the new streetcars of the TTC will be used as excuses to remove stops, thus undermining the new streetcars.
  • Whatever’s John Scalzi thinks Heinlein could win a Hugo today. (Ongoing controversy in science fiction.)
  • Window on Eurasia argues that Russia is objectively more fascist than Ukraine, suggests Russia isn’t strong enough to launch a Cold War and will merely destabilize the world, and claims (after a Russian general) that Russia isn’t strong enough to adequately oppose NATO.

[URBAN NOTE] “Rob Ford: One wild night in March”

The Toronto Star‘s Kevin Donovan reports on the drugged-out and wild activities of Toronto’s mayor Rob Ford on the night of the 5th of March. (I don’t think I was doing much that day. I’m not jealous.)

Loaded behind the wheel of his Cadillac Escalade, high on his Jimmy Kimmel interview, Mayor Rob Ford is winding through the streets of his city.

It’s two days after Ford’s celebrated appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, two months before rehab.

In the course of this March 5 night, Ford will bring together two of his closest felon friends, beating one and accepting drugs from another; go on a racist tirade; and boast that he often has sex with “girls” in front of his wife, according to an account of the evening. He will suggest one man could have sex with her, a source has told the Star, recalling Ford’s words.

The information for this story comes from interviews and from the Star’s review of audio tape that captures a portion of the evening. The Star did not pay for the tape. Ford could not be reached by the Star for comment, as has been the case since the Star began its investigation more than a year ago. His lawyer Dennis Morris would not comment on the majority of the allegations in this story.

[. . .]

What follows is an account from people present of Ford’s behaviour on a chilly but not freezing night soon after the mayor’s chartered jet returns him from Los Angeles to Toronto:

Ford’s perpetually shiny Escalade is moving through icy streets with Ford at the wheel. Ford is wasted; on what, is unclear. It’s about 8 p.m.

Beside him in the car is Bruno Bellissimo, Ford’s friend from high school. Close by in the neighbourhood is Sandro Lisi. In one of the many fascinating turns of the Ford story, these three men were back where they started a year previous, during the infamous Garrison Ball incident of Feb. 23, 2013. On that night, Ford, Lisi and Bellissimo headed down to the military ball with Ford’s young children in the backseat. His choice of companions then included Lisi, with a record of threatening to kill young women, and Bellissimo, a crack addict, who shortly after the ball beat up his mother and was convicted of assault and threatening death. Ford was ejected from that year’s Garrison Ball for being impaired.

Back to March 5, 2014, two days after Kimmel.

Ford is behind the wheel and hammered. One constituent he calls that night recalls Ford slurring his words.

The Star has heard audio of Ford and Bellissimo talking and both are slurring. (The Star has interviewed people who say it is nothing for Ford to down a 40-ouncer of vodka. The man who recorded the audio of Ford at Sully Gorman’s bar two weeks ago told the Star Ford’s ability to drink shots of tequila is “incredible.”)

Written by Randy McDonald

May 10, 2014 at 2:31 am

[URBAN NOTE] “Toronto plans historic mass gay wedding for World Pride”

CTV Toronto’s Katherine DeClerq reports that during World Pride, Toronto–perhaps to exorcise the Ford years, perhaps to promote Casa Loma–is going to stage a mass wedding.

World Pride has just made it easy for same-sex couples to marry by rolling “out the rainbow carpet” in a wedding meant to make the record books.

The City of Toronto will host the biggest LGBTQ mass wedding in history on June 26 at the historical landmark Casa Loma. City officials are expecting up to 200 couples to be married, which would be 70 more than the current record-holding city Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.

Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly and Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam announced the celebration on May 2, inviting LGBTQ couples to participate in the “Grand Pride Wedding,” as it is being called.

“The Casa is opening its doors and we are inviting all LGBTQ couples and two-spirited couples from across the Americas and around the world in love and commitment,” Kelly said in the introductory YouTube video, explaining the event.

The ceremonies, which will be conducted by Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, New Thought, and Humanist officiants, will begin at 3 p.m. The festivities will continue into the night with dinner and live entertainment.

The newlyweds won’t have to worry about any of the wedding details. Flowers, photographers, tents, and audio equipment will be provided for them. There is no cost for registered couples, but there will be a $45 fee for guests to attend.

In a press conference on Monday, Wong-Tam said that Toronto has “had a very trying time over the past few years trying to put forward a face for the city about inclusivity, about diversity, about acceptance, which are true core principles of every Torontonian.”

blogTO and Torontoist also report.

The video with Wong-Tam and Kelly, if you’re curious, is below.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 6, 2014 at 1:45 am

[URBAN NOTE] “Rob Ford stripped of all power as mayor after taking leave for alcohol addiction”

The Toronto Star‘s Betsy Powell reports.

All of his power gone. His mother in tears. His brother distraught. His city councillors demanding his resignation. His whereabouts unknown.

Thirteen hours after Rob Ford announced a temporary leave to see professional help for his drinking, Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly announced he was taking over Ford’s last remaining powers.

“I do not see this as a crisis of government,” Kelly said. “Nothing’s changed.”

Kelly, however, said he has taken over Ford’s staff and the powers Ford still had: to represent Toronto, to preside over council meetings, to be the city’s chief executive officer and sit on the executive committee.

Ford lost most of his power in a city council vote in November.

“I have agreed to assume the responsibilities of mayor,” Kelly said. “This transition is effective immediately.

“I am the deputy mayor who has assumed all of the powers that the mayor had.”

Rob Ford submitted a formal notice early Thursday to the city clerk that he has taken a personal leave from his duties as mayor of Toronto after acknowledging he is seeking help for alcoholism .

“No dates were indicated,” Jackie DeSouza, director of the city’s strategic communications, said of the mayor’s absence. Ford promised “further updates to his status,” she said.

Written by Randy McDonald

May 1, 2014 at 7:32 pm

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • The Big Picture shares photos of young Russian military cadets training.
  • blogTO has a transcript of one of Ford’s most recent reported rants.
  • Centauri Dreams and D-Brief both note that the giant exoplanet Beta Pictoris b apparently has an eight-hour day.
  • Crooked Timber’s John Quiggin, focusing on Australia, discusses right-wing tribalism.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a paper examining various possibilities for orbits of planets in the Gliese 581 system.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a proposal (with pictures) for a Io volcano observer space probe.
  • Eastern Approaches notes the continuing deterioration of eastern Ukraine.
  • Geocurrents’ Martin Lewis comments on the geographical illiteracy of the United States and of a very bad Pakistani school atlas.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that, today, Brunei is implementing full sharia law.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes an Australian proposal to outlaw civil society-led boycotts.
  • Marginal Revolution links to a poll suggesting Americans don’t care about income inequality.
  • The Planetary Society Weblog’s Emily Lakdawalla notes that we’re getting closer to figuring out which Kuiper belt dwarf planet is larger, Pluto or Eris.
  • The Tin Man explains why he prefers Twitter to Facebook. (The former feels more free-form, less of a gated community.)
  • Window on Eurasia notes that responsibility for recent increases in birth rates in Russia can’t be assigned entirely, or even mostly, to the Russian government.
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