His Own Worst Enemy

March 13, 2012

This report [August 12, 2010] is the fifth report to Council concerning breaches of the Code of Conduct by Councillor [Rob] Ford. He has been reminded in the past that it is a breach of the Code of Conduct to use the City logo for private concerns, not related to the work of the City. Also, Councillor Ford received specific advice in February of 2010 and December of 2009 which outlined the dangers inherent in his fundraising activity. If he had followed this advice, he could have avoided a further complaint, this investigation and the need for Council to become involved.

Let’s all agree that Mayor Rob Ford is not corrupt. He is not lining his pockets, making deals on the side to the benefit of himself, his friends or family. He is not a crook and, unlike the person who infamously claimed that 40 years or ago, it’s true. No one is accusing the mayor of any sort of criminal enterprise.

Also, I’ll state right here that I don’t want to see the mayor run out of office for this. Almost entirely because it’ll supply the cloak of martyrdom he and his supporters have already wrapped themselves in. Left wing vigilantes, looking to overturn election results that they never accepted from the beginning, using some ‘technicality’ to get their way and screw with the suburbs again. Boo hoo hoo, get down off the cross because we could use the wood… as kindling to light the fire in which to burn the witch we have hunted down!

That said, this isn’t just another frivolous swipe at the mayor. Some sort of one-off oversight, blown all out of proportion, parlayed into a big ol’ game of gotcha. Reading through the Integrity Commissioner report from which the first paragraph is taken, it’s clear the mayor’s football fundraising was a systemic and blatant disregard for the rules laid down about such activities by his council colleagues. Sure, he didn’t seem to see what the problem was but was repeatedly informed that there was a problem and repeatedly chose to ignore the warnings.

Councillor Rob Ford used the City of Toronto logo, his status as a City Councillor, and City of Toronto resources to solicit funds for a private football foundation he created in his name. Donors to the Councillor’s foundation included lobbyists, clients of lobbyists and a corporation which does business with the City of Toronto.

Wave it off as inconsequential, bureaucratic nit-picking, all for a good cause, however you want to rationalize it. The fact of the matter is as councillor, Rob Ford defied written warnings to cease and desist the practice right up to at least 6 days before announcing his intention to run for mayor. “… asking citizens for money for a personal cause on Councillor letterhead, there is a risk that you could be seen to be using your influence as a Councillor to raise money for your private foundation.” Rob Ford either didn’t see or understand the conflict or simply didn’t agree with it and went merrily along his way.

Interestingly, during the course of the Integrity Commissioner’s investigation, then Councillor Ford justified using his office letterhead as appropriate since he’d paid for it with his own money. But when it was suggested that he instead create some Ford Foundation letterhead to solicit donations, he wanted to know who was going to pay for that. Hmmm… let’s see. Pay for your office stationery out of your councillor office budget and your private stationery for donations to a private cause out of your own pocket?

“In return for these donations…Councillor Ford received the benefit of additional funding to his Foundation, which he used to enhance his reputation both as a Councillor via his website and as a candidate by including this information in his campaign materials.”

Yeah, so it’s a little difficult to swallow that all this was some simple misunderstanding by a well-meaning elected official to just selflessly do good for others. He insisted on using all the trappings of his office to shamelessly promote his philanthropic undertakings. Councillor Rob Ford’s Football Foundation not private citizen Rob Ford’s Football Foundation.

He knowingly flouted the rules. He ignored the council sanctions brought down on him for flouting the rules. He then participated and voted to overturn those sanctions. It is the last thing that has got him into his current troubles. It’s always the last thing that gets you into trouble.

Like I said, I won’t give his rabid supporters the satisfaction of hoping this is a firing offense. But please, stop defending the mayor as some sort of lightning rod for scurrilous attacks, a well-intentioned politician never putting his own career first, and only ever looking out for the little guy. Personal gain isn’t always about money directly into your pocket. For Rob Ford, it was never about the money but about the image. An image he burnished while skirting rules, thumbing his nose at colleagues and the Integrity Commissioner and, once elected mayor, actively participating in avoiding facing the consequences of his actions.

Nobody’s demanding perfection in our politicians but at some point of time there has to be accountability. That time came yesterday for Mayor Rob Ford.

come cleanly submitted by Cityslikr