Toronto mayor loses two more top aides after crack scandal

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford makes a statement to the media at City Hall alongside his brother and city councillor Doug Ford, after his press secretary George Christopoulos and deputy press secretary Isaac
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford makes a statement to the media at City Hall alongside his brother and city councillor Doug Ford, after his press secretary George Christopoulos and deputy press secretary Isaac

Two top aides quit Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s office on Monday as the embattled leader of Canada’s biggest city faces lingering allegations he was caught smoking crack cocaine on video, accusations he has firmly denied.

The departures of the mayor’s press secretary and deputy press secretary came just days after Ford fired his chief of staff. The mayor confirmed on Monday that both George Christopoulos and Isaac Ransom left of their own accord.

“I wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors and I want to thank them for working hard in this office,” he told a crush of journalists outside his office. “That’s it, it’s business as usual.”

Christopoulos and Ransom could not be reached for comment. But their departures renewed questions about whether the mayor would be able to weather his most serious controversy to date.

Ford has been under fire since reporters from the Toronto Star and Gawker Media said in separate reports on May 16 that they had seen a video that purports to show Ford smoking crack. The mayor directly denied the allegations on Friday, after initially dismissing the media stories as “ridiculous,” without giving a full statement.

Reuters cannot confirm the existence of the video or its content.

The video, according to The Star and Gawker, was being shopped around by people involved in the drug trade. Both media outlets declined to pay the six-figure sum requested by the video’s owners.

The controversy has made headlines across Canada and outside the country and drawn ridicule from late-night TV humorists Jimmy Kimmel, Jay Leno and Jon Stewart.

Speaking on his weekly radio show on Sunday, Ford brushed off the scandal, calling the media a “bunch of maggots,” and promised to run in the next election.

“I’ll be the first putting my name on that ballot,” he said.

Ford apologized for his maggot comment on Monday.

The drug-use allegations are the latest in a string of scandals for the mayor, who has been chided for ignoring city work to coach high school football and was briefly ordered out of office last year after he was found guilty of conflict of interest.

While some of Ford’s opponents have called for him to step down, one municipal affairs specialist said there was little that could be done under the current system to force a Toronto mayor from office.

“There is no recall or impeachment provision,” said John Mascarin, a lawyer with Aird & Berlis LLP. “Stupidity is not one of the things” that can get you removed.

Elected officials can be removed from City Hall by court order in a conflict-of-interest situation, or if they do not attend council meetings for several months without being formally excused.

‘FORD NATION’

Also on Ford’s side is the steadfast backing of his core supporters, said Ivor Tossell, a journalist and author of the biography ‘The Gift of Ford’.

“One of Ford’s great political assets is he plays on a sense of marginalization and grievance among his supporters. He likes to play the little guy,” he said. “In a way, the more the institutions like the media attack him, the stronger he gets.”

The latest controversy does not appear to have hurt Ford’s popularity, according to a Forum Research Inc poll released over the weekend, although he is at risk of being ousted in a 2014 election.

The poll, taken on Friday after Ford denied the drug-use claims, found the mayor would still lose a one-on-one battle if pitted against Olivia Chow, a former city councilor and current federal member of Parliament widely touted as a candidate.

It showed Ford would get 36 percent of the vote, in line with a May 10 poll taken before the latest scandal broke, while Chow would get more than half the vote.

The mayor’s popularity has been attributed to the support of the “Ford Nation,” suburban voters who pushed Ford into the city’s top office in 2010 and back his agenda of cutting taxes and reducing city spending.

“Rob Ford is really both the Teflon and Kevlar Mayor – nothing sticks to him and nothing penetrates his armor,” Forum Research founder Lorne Bozinoff said in a statement.

“His recent troubles have had absolutely no effect on his electoral prospects.”

 



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

Rock legend Neil Young files for divorce after…

The legendary Canadian rocker Neil Young has filed for divorce from his wife of 36 years.

Local

FDNY debuts new fire simulator for blazes at…

The New York City Fire Department christened its newest, state-of-the-art, custom-built simulator at its training academy on Randall's Island Tuesday.

Local

Bronx cop saves baby who stopped breathing

A Bronx police officer is credited with saving the life of a 2-month-old baby who stopped breathing Tuesday morning. Police Officer Johnny Castillo, 38, was…

Local

Brewer celebrates Women's Equality Day with voter pledge

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer celebrated Women’s Equality Day Tuesday by pledging to register at least five women voters before the Oct. 10 deadline. Brewer…

Movies

Review: 'The Last of Robin Hood' is a…

Dakota Fanning plays Errol Flynn's (Kevin Kline) teenage gal pal in "The Last of Robin Hood," which takes a scandal and makes it dully empathetic.

Movies

Review: The uneven 'Life of Crime' mostly gets…

Elmore Leonard's "The Switch" becomes the new indie crime dramedy "Life of Crime," with Jennifer Aniston as a kidnapped woman whose husband won't pay up.

Movies

Review: Pierce Brosnan gets a cut-rate Bond knockoff…

Pierce Brosnan tries to reclaim his glory days with the spy thriller "The November Man" but instead gets a sad DTV-style ripoff with lame action.

Music

Tiesto headlines Made in America

Electronic music legend Tiesto is ready to get in touch with his inner Rocky at the Jay Z-curated Budweiser Made in America festival this weekend…

College

When are 2014 college football playoffs? (Schedule, date,…

When and where are 2014 college football playoffs? A look at the schedule, date, TV, time for the semi-finals at championship game.

NFL

Dimitri Patterson suspended only for rest of preseason…

Dimitri Patterson ended up getting just a slap on the wrist.

Sports

Eugenie Bouchard excited for 'rowdy' fans at US…

Eugenie Bouchard is sure to endear herself to New York's tennis faithful as she tries to win her first grand slam title across the next two weeks.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at…

MLB Power Rankings: Angels and A's still at top, Nationals climb

Parenting

Lure your baby to sleep with Maroon 5…

These new renditions of "Moves Like Jagger" and "Payphone" are Maroon 5 like you've never heard them before.

Wellbeing

Who is having the most orgasms?

  Single lesbians report having orgasms more often than heterosexual women but both gay and straight men still come out on top of the climax…

Home

Jonathan Adler shares his tips for a great…

Jonathan Adler took a break from boogie boarding at his beach house to tell us how to keep that Labor Day party festive.

Travel

Most popular Labor Day weekend destinations

Priceline.com released its Top 20 destinations for the end of summer, including Labor Day weekend. If you’re heading to any of these spots, expect a…