There Is No I In Mayor

August 12, 2013

Jesus Christ.

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I promised myself I wouldn’t dedicate any time or space to this, the latest Mayor Ford misdeed on Friday night while attending the Taste of the Danforth. Stay focused on the more important matters at hand, I kept saying. Bigger fish to fry. Avert your eyes and move on.

But while writing another post for today, I made the mistake of taking a moment to read Matt Gurney’s article about the Friday Night Spectacle in the National Post and just felt a minor explosion in my head. canttouchthisHopefully it’s purely metaphorical and not an actual aneurism.

It’s not that I disagree with Mr. Gurney’s point that supporters of the mayor support him warts and all. I do think there’s a certain over-statement of the narrative that Mayor Ford is made of Teflon and criticism of his bad behaviour only strengthens his core support. Like some reverse kryptonite, he should just keep up with the outrageous antics and he’s sure to get elected. The scandal fatigue works both ways, I imagine, ultimately wearing on some who want to see a sense of normalcy restore in their municipal politics.

Still, being drunk in public will not diminish Mayor Ford’s support nor necessarily should it. Setting aside for a moment the concerns about how he got to the event and questions of driving under the influence, I’m a proponent of our politicians being given a little leeway in their private performances. gonefishing1I myself witnessed a former mayor in his cups at a local pub a few years back and didn’t for a second think, he’s clearly unfit for office. Any notion of hermetically sealing our elected officials off in some bubble to keep them from behaving in certain human ways just further divides the public from their representatives.

It’s when we move into the ‘official’ capacity where the problems arrive. There is one crucial paragraph in Gurney’s piece that needs to be emphasized.

It’s not quite as innocuous as all that. Mayor Ford had been scheduled to meet with his staffers at the event to do the civic leadership thing as the festival — a huge event in Toronto — got under way. He never showed, and the staff went home. He then arrived hours later, clearly inebriated, and his staff had to scramble to find him. According to those who’ve worked with the Mayor, this is part of a pattern of behaviour that one wearily described to me as a “late-night red alert.”…

whereswaldo2“The civic leadership thing”.

This is no longer about having a few pops, blowing off some steam, TGIF letting your hair down a bit. It seems Mayor Ford was supposed to attend the Taste of the Danforth in his official capacity as mayor of the city but blew off a scheduled staff meeting in preparation for it and showed up hours later, on his own, in more “unofficial” position. So let’s stop talking about this as teetotaling, politically motivated tsk, tsk, tsking of mayoral hijinks and bring up the subject of dereliction of duty.

I write this as we approach 3 p.m. on a Monday afternoon with no news of the mayor showing up for work yet today. This is not at all unusual. His schedule is shrouded behind freedom of information requests. Just last week, after the latest staffer in his office to leave, questions arose about discrepancies between the mayor’s official datebook and the City Hall parking records, suggesting Mayor Ford’s not working when he claims he is.

That, as I see it, is the nub of the problem here.

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Whatever Mayor Ford’s personal troubles may be, if personal troubles there are, hey, god speed and good luck coming to terms with them. That’s not my business. But his routine abandonment of being mayor of this city, and the obligations commensurate with that title, well, that’s something I think we should all be concerned with, supporters or not.

reluctantly submitted by Cityslikr