What Part Of Having A Mandate Don’t You Understand?

October 26, 2012

On a Thursday afternoon the mayor of the country’s largest city is out of the office, engaged in unofficial business, coaching football. It’s the second anniversary of his winning election. He’s spent much of the morning talking up his accomplishments that are all far less impressive than he or the Toronto Sun make them out to be. The rest of the day he’s had to fend off two new reports from two of Toronto’s Accountability Officers, suggesting that he’s (once again) violated council Code of Conduct as well as politically interfered with civic appointments process. There’s now a list to prove it.

Taking time from that busy schedule, Mayor Ford let it be known just what he thinks about Accountability Offices who are breathing down his neck.

“You don’t need a lobbyist register [sic], an ombudsman and an integrity commissioner. They have 20 people, they’re tripping over themselves. They’re trying to make themselves look busy. I’ve never voted in favour of it and never would.”

Then as if to prove he really hasn’t the slightest fucking clue about any stinkin’ Code of Conduct violation or why the Integrity Commissioner rang him up this time, he proceeds to quite possibly (question: are the Accountability Officers considered ‘staff’?) violate the Code of Conduct (Article XII) one more time for good measure.

“It’s all just political,” he tells reporters, referring to the Integrity Commissioner’s report while standing on the sidelines. “It’s just nonsense if you ask me.” Asked if he thought the report was politically driven, he agrees “absolutely”. The Ombudsman’s report too.

Article XII of the Code of Conduct requires members of Council to “be respectful of the role of staff to provide advice based on political neutrality and objectivity and without undue influence from any individual member or faction of the Council. Accordingly, no member shall maliciously or falsely injure the professional or ethical reputation of the prospects or practice of staff, and all members shall show respect for the professional capacities of staff.”

I guess it’s as easy to believe that the mayor hasn’t read the Code of Conduct as it is to imagine he just doesn’t understand it. Cold comfort either way. And let’s not forget that he’s spouting off about the political nature of the Integrity Commissioner while getting ready to coach a football game on a Thursday afternoon during the course of a normal working week. It’s almost picture perfect in irony. The mayor, taking yet another Thursday afternoon off from the job he’s being paid to do, views any and all criticism of his actions as nothing but political.

Why aren’t you at work, Mayor Ford?

Why are you being so political, asking me that question?

We can talk all night and into the weekend about the blatant hypocrisy of the mayor’s musing about axing the city’s Accountability Offices, having run on a platform of cleaning up City Hall and overseeing a transparent and.. ahem, ahem.. transparent administration. But it doesn’t really matter since it’s a non-starter. The Ombudsman and Integrity Commissioner are provincially mandated as part of the City of Toronto Act, another document I assume the mayor hasn’t read.

The huffing and puffing and pouting is simply an attempt to vilify the Accountability Officers and discredit in the court of public opinion any report that criticizes the mayor. That approach is simply more palatable to Team Ford than ever, ever admitting to any wrong doing. History has shown that they only do that under extreme duress and when there’s no other way to weasel out from accepting the responsibility of their words and/or actions.

Comments about getting rid the Integrity Commissioner, Ombudsman and Lobbyist Registrar (or anyone with any idea they disagree with – “Why does he still have a job?” Councillor Doug Ford said with his outside voice about the Medical Officer of Health on their radio show) have a slight Stalinist whiff. The former Soviet tyrant apparently stated that dealing with an opponent was easy. “Death solves all problems. No man, no problem.”

The mayor is suggesting we kill the positions that hold our municipally elected officials accountable.

Which is why even his most ardent supporters should be running for the hills on this one, for fear of getting coated with the grease from such a self-serving statement. Even the Deputy Mayor can see that.

“It almost seems that if there weren’t any Fords, you wouldn’t need any accountability officers at all,” said Councillor Doug Holyday. “You certainly wouldn’t need them to the extent that you have them, because half of what they do seems to be revolving around complaints made about the Fords.”

Exactly, Mr. Deputy Mayor. End stop. Let’s move on, shall we?

No, wait. What? No. No! Stop talking now!

“Well, that’s just the opposition’s way of trying to put pressure on Ford and knock us off our agenda.”

**sigh**

Look. (Awkward analogy alert!) Accountability is like pregnancy. You can’t be in favour of a little accountability.

To continue to defend the mayor by brushing off the damning reports as nothing more than cheap politics is to wrap yourself in an increasingly thick cape of tin foil. Sure, some of the complaints lodged might be politically motivated but to suggest the findings of the Ombudsman and Integrity Commissioner that come down unfavourably against Mayor Ford are politically driven is nothing more than twisted partisan logic. It is as reckless an attitude toward our democracy as the mayor’s seems to be.

As they say, if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, it must be a duck. The simplest explanation for why Mayor Ford and his brother, Councillor Doug, constantly find themselves in trouble with the Accountability Officers is because they’re doing something wrong. How be we just insist they start playing by the rules and if that’s not possible for them, let them live with the consequences.

frankly submitted by Cityslikr


Answering To No One

October 25, 2012

At a meeting with Mayor Ford to discuss his reply, he acknowledged that at the time of the radio program he had not read the Walking and Cycling Report in full, although he had been briefed on it by staff. Mayor Ford acknowledged that he had not read the Ontario Public Health Standards, 2008 (the “Health Standards”), published by the Ministry of Health to guide Ontario mandatory health programs.

From the Integrity Commissioner’s latest report to find Mayor Ford in yet another breach of an article of the city’s Code of Conduct, I’ve bolded the portion which, for me, epitomizes this administration’s whole approach to governing. Half-cocked. Ill-thought out. Oblivious. All with a hardy helping of complete and utter disregard and disinterest in the rules of the democratic process.

The mayor and his brother go on their Sunday radio show, slag a city staff report without actually having read it, then proceed to demean and vaguely threatened the staffer who wrote it. “Nuts, nuts, nuts,” the mayor called the report’s proposal to lower city speed limits to 30 k/hr. He then referred to the Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David McKeown’s salary as “embarrassing” and promised to “look into it”. Councillor Doug got into the act, wondering “Why does he [McKeown] still have a job?”

Article XII of the Code of Conduct requires members of Council to “be respectful of the role of staff to provide advice based on political neutrality and objectivity and without undue influence from any individual member or faction of the Council. Accordingly, no member shall maliciously or falsely injure the professional or ethical reputation of the prospects or practice of staff, and all members shall show respect for the professional capacities of staff.”

It’s bad enough that their churlish outburst stems, at least in part, from a shocking lack of knowledge about protocol, the basic dos-and-don’ts of behaviour for an elected official but then, as this morning’s other bombshell from another of the city’s Accountability Officers, the Ombudsman, shows they refuse to admit to any wrongdoing. Instead, they chose to obfuscate, bluster and lash out in attempts to smear anyone who questions them.

Remember earlier this month when the Ombudsman issued a report citing the mayor’s office interfered with the civic appointments process? During the investigation, it was alleged that the mayor’s office had sent around a list of candidates they wanted appointed to various posts. A no-no and one vigorously denied by committee members, councillors Ford, Mammoliti and Nunziata.

“You went on in your report continually about these lists and how people talked about lists but the lists were never provided,” Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti said to [Ombudsman Fiona] Crean, grilling her at city council. She admitted not having a list in hand but was convinced that enough people had confirmed its existence under oath and subpoena to make it a likely possibility.

Hah!

Hearsay and innuendo.

Except now, Ms. Crean does have the list.

That’d be what you’d call a gotcha.

Now, any reasonable politician would view the news as problematic and very likely something that should be addressed head on. But as we all know by now, that’s just not how the Fords roll. Full steam ahead, half-cocked, ill thought out, oblivious, bluster set to stun.

On the radio today, talking about his first two years in office, Mayor Ford basically gave any of his problems the Sinatra shrug. Regrets? I’ve had a few. But then again, too few (minor) to mention.

His brother did him one better, dialing up the denial and derision button to eleven. In response to the Integrity Commissioner’s report, Councillor Ford basically flipped her the finger. “I’m just going to give the integrity commissioner 10 sheets that say, ‘I, Doug Ford, apologize to — a blank name — for anything that I’ve said in the past and anything I’m going to say in the future.’ I’ll just sign it, and she can just fill in the name.”

I learn nothing. I apologize for nothing. You can’t make me. You’re not the boss of me.

Half way through this administration’s maladministration, we shouldn’t be surprised by such petulance and impenitence.  Their sense of entitlement is simply off the charts and they exhibit an absolute nonchalance toward following the rules their colleagues must follow. If anyone’s at fault, it’s everyone who insists on calling them out on their bad behaviour.

You do it too. Everybody does. Prove it. We don’t have to. We say it. So it’s true.

Par for the course.

Still, I find it difficult to believe that even a media organ like the Toronto Sun (yes, the Toronto Sun) can continue to be so blasé toward such egregiously outlandish conduct from our elected officials. In an editorial today, the Sun delivers what it views as a ‘fair assessment’ of Mayor Ford’s performance so far. Only one paragraph is dedicated to the mayor’s shortcomings while in office — “…too stubborn, too confrontational and too pre-occupied with coaching his high school football team…” – and without a single reference to his continued running afoul of the city’s Accountability Officers. Not one.

It’s almost as if, for the mayor’s most ardent supporters, the notion of democracy, transparency and accountability are beside the point. Winning should translate into unhindered power to do whatever it is you think you were elected to do. Demanding they follow the rules is little more than bad sportsmanship and cry baby whining from their ideological opponents.

The Fords are merely taking advantage of that sentiment. Unless we do something about that, we have nobody to blame for the state of affairs but ourselves.

disconcertedly submitted by Cityslikr


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


On The Other Hand, Maybe Some Debaters Should Be Stifled

May 6, 2010

While trolling through our Twitter site, I came across this little gem from Jonathon Goldsbie about the conduct of a certain councillor now being touted as mayoral material. I highly urge anyone interested in the municipal campaign to take a moment to read through it. It is the city’s Integrity Commissioner Report on a code of conduct violation.

I won’t go into all the details but, in short, Councillor Ford twice blew off questions of confidentially, once during a radio broadcast and then again during a council meeting. He subsequently tried to bluster and bluff his way in order to avoid taking responsibility before finally being cornered into apologizing.

Allow me to just give a few snippets from the report as it makes its way toward recommending a reprimand be given to Councillor Ford for yet another breach of the official Code of Conduct.

A Council meeting was called for August 5 and 6, 2009. One of the agenda items was for Council to approve the purchase of a residential property in North York as part of the “Strategy for the Implementation of the North York Centre Plan Service Road-North York Centre.” A report and a confidential attachment concerning the real estate transaction were circulated to the Councillors because it was on the Council agenda. Councillor Ford did not read the report [bolding ours], but instead he focussed on the recommendation that Council approve the sale of a house, and the costs associated with the proposed deal. He objected to both because he said he didn’t think a recession was the right time for the City to “buy a house.”

Councillor Ford said that he knew he couldn’t defeat the motion, but that he wanted to bring the matter to the attention of his colleagues and he asked the matter be held for debate.

… Councillor Ford said that he decided to reveal the confidential information on the radio show on the morning of August 6, because he thought that Council had already dealt with the item on the 5th of August which would mean the figures could be made public. Councillor Ford admitted that he did not actually check to see if the item had been debated in his absence [bolding ours]. He also knew that he hadn’t spoken to it on the 5th of August, but he said that sometimes items are dealt with in his absence. Accordingly, he took the data from his purple sheet, made notes on his agenda for the radio program and made the confidential information public during the broadcast on the morning of August 6, 2009.

Councillor Ford acknowledged that he did not read the report to Council about the transaction [bolding ours]. If he had, he would have seen that Council was being asked to “authorize the release of the confidential information and recommendations in Attachment 1, once the transaction has closed.” In other words, Councillor Ford’s justification for releasing the information did not apply, even if Council had debated the item.

And so it goes. The man kicks up a fuss over an issue he has not taken the time to even read through thoroughly. And when he makes a mistake he only admits to it when he’s trapped into a corner of his own making with double-talk and obfuscation.

Can we please stop taking Rob Ford seriously as a contender for the office of mayor of Toronto. Regardless of how angry you may be at the state of the city and how it’s being run, Rob Ford is not the solution. In fact, he may be part of the problem.

astoundingly submitted by Urban Sophisticat