… And Speaking Of Resigning

July 4, 2014

Think there’s no party politics at play at the municipal level? Look around at what’s going on at City Hall right now, folks. pitypartyTell me we aren’t awash in one great big Pity Party.

According to the mayor’s councillor-brother-campaign manager, there’s a “full out jihad” against the Fords now in response to yet another complaint registered with the integrity commissioner, this time about Councillor Ford’s comments made about autistic kids under care at the Griffin Centre. This jihad comes on top of the media jihad that’s been waged upon the mayor since his planned triumphant return from rehab this week.

Happy Ramadan, Muslims. The Fords feel ya.

Not to be outdone in this woe-is-me parade (never to be outdone when it comes to grandstanding), Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti wants everyone to know that he was sick, very, very, gravely ill, so, you know, don’t be pointing the finger at him about some ‘illegal fundraiser’ as alleged by an obviously ‘unfair and biased’ Integrity Commissioner, Janet Leiper, yesterday.

mybrainhurts

How can anyone have done anything wrong that was in a hospital bed with his head carved open?

If there was some improper, shady shit going on in terms of this so-called ‘illegal fundraiser’ – and that’s a big ‘if’ since the integrity commissioner is obviously out to get Councillor Mammoliti as she is always, always ‘breathing down his throat’ – he’s blameless due to medical reasons.  “Some short term memory loss during this period of time.” “I can barely remember any of it.”

The claim, as full of holes and leaky as it is, might hold some water if this was the councillor’s first ethical lapse in judgement. countingfingersI don’t know. The surgeon must have cut out the moral compass of my brain! But it isn’t. Giorgio Mammoliti has come under scrutiny for at least a couple other violations. He’s currently in court facing campaign finance irregularities. There’s the below market value rent he’s received for an apartment owned by a company that does business with the city. Never mind the illegal re-election signs that have popped up.

That’s just this term alone. Let’s not forget the oldie but goodie from way back when the councillor got the city to pay his legal defense against a challenge of his campaign financing in 2006. So either, the thing that was wrong with Councillor Mammoliti’s head was long term and slow growing or the guy simply operates under the premise that The. Rules. Apply. To. Other. People.

Perhaps the most egregious bit of conduct the Integrity Commissioner laid at the councillor’s feet in her report was his accepting of $80,000 from the fundraiser that was attended by lobbyists and companies doing business with city. whome1Even if he was non compos mentis at the time, wasn’t there anybody surrounding the man, family, friends, staff not busy planning the event on the city dime, who thought such a gift might be, I don’t know, a little out of bounds? I’m not a politician, Councillor Mammoliti, but accepting money while you’re in office seems… not quite right. Especially when it’s from people who might benefit from such a transaction with an elected official.

Even when the councillor had seemingly recovered from his brain affliction and returned to his normal state of assholery, he didn’t bother to respond to the integrity commissioner’s offer of allowing him to return the money. Money? What money? Short term memory loss, remember? Remember what? Money? What money? Short term memory loss, remember? Remember what? Money? What money?

And here’s the real kick in the nuts to any and every right-thinking resident of Toronto (and beyond). Even if the integrity commissioner’s recommendations are adopted by city council and Councillor Mammoliti is docked 3 months pay, slaponthewristthe maximum penalty that can be dealt out to him by the city, he’d still walk away with over $50,000 in his pocket. Money paid to him by registered lobbyists and companies doing business with the city.

“This is as offside as you get when you come to a code of conduct violation,” said Brian Iler, the lawyer who brought the original complaint to the integrity commissioner.

Is it any wonder politicians like Giorgio Mammoliti and Rob Ford continue to disregard the rules put in place to ensure ethical behaviour from our elected officials? Why wouldn’t you if you can still come out ahead of the game. It’s a twisted realm of thinking that, if there are no deterrents to your questionable conduct, if there are no tangible repercussions to your actions, like jail time or being chased from office, then clearly, you did nothing wrong. If you did, where’s the appropriate punishment?

getawaywithit

The system as it’s currently set up at the municipal level may not exactly encourage bad behaviour. I can confidently declare that ethical, upstanding councillors heavily outnumber those who aren’t. Those so inclined to disregard the rules, however, are hardly dissuaded from doing exactly that. Ethics preferred but not required should go with the job description. Cheaters sometimes prosper.

cleanly submitted by Cityslikr


Salting A Pound Of Flesh

February 25, 2013

Judging from the questions put to her by a number of councillors last week, the city’s Integrity Commissioner Janet Leiper doesn’t owe anyone any apology. notaclue“So, if this guy comes up to me, totally out of the blue and offers me tickets to, I don’t know, the Leafs’ game, am I supposed to say ‘no’ just because he might be a lobbyist?” If that’s not your first instinct in that situation, councillor, I find it surprising you haven’t already been written up by Ms. Leiper yet.

No one more than Councillor Doug Ford – except maybe his brother the mayor – should have been in their seat listening to the Integrity Commissioner’s report to council. Instead, he made his way up to the press gallery to launch an all out media attack on her, demanding satisfaction for the injuries her office inflicted upon the duly elected mayor of this city and his family. You see, folks. The courts proved it was all just one big left wing conspiracy after all.

“Because of the lack of her [Integrity Commissioner Janet Leiper] due diligence,” Councillor Ford’s quoted as saying, titfortat“the results have had major ramifications for my brother, it hurt his family, it hurt him financially, it hurt his kids and most of all, it hurt the city.

“If it was up to me, I’d ask her to step down. She has almost destroyed a family over her lack of due diligence.”

Hopefully, Councillor Ford was just playing politics with such statements because if he wasn’t, if he truly believes that, well then, he’s not only displaying a profound misunderstanding of the conflict of interest legal proceedings his brother just went through but, I’d say, reality itself. Normally, I’d shy away from drawing such an extreme conclusion but it is Doug Ford we’re talking about here. It’s not like he and reality haven’t parted company on previous occasions.

To honestly think that his brother went through what he went through because of the decision the Integrity Commissioner made about then Councillor Rob Ford soliciting donations to his private football foundation using official City of Toronto stationery is to ignore every other stop along the way. pissingmatchThat Ms. Leiper hadn’t sought a multitude of ways to help him back out of the situation before it came to any sort of official sanction. That it is was Rob Ford himself that really kicked off the conflict of interest proceedings by participating in council’s move to quash a previous council’s decision. That a lower court judge had no issue with the penalty the Integrity Commissioner recommended. That the appeal didn’t exonerate Mayor Ford but questioned the penalty that was brought to bear on his actions.

If Councillor Ford is demanding an apology from the Integrity Commissioner in the wake of his brother’s successful appeal, shouldn’t he also be asking for an apology from Charles Hackland, the judge who ruled against the mayor originally? Maybe Judge Hackland ought to resign as well. Good judges who know their shit never have their decisions overturned by a successful appeal.

Councillor Ford does realize that Janet Leiper was not responsible for taking his mayor-brother to court, right? She didn’t force the previous city council to vote in favour of her recommendation against Rob Ford. outoforderHer role in this whole sad spectacle didn’t extend beyond her initial ruling.

You might think the Fords have bigger fish to fry at this point. Best to close the book on this particular chapter and put it behind them. If they can’t bring themselves to bury the hatchet with the city’s Integrity Commissioner, at least they might want to quietly move on and stop reminding everyone that Mayor Ford kept his job by the mere skin of his teeth.

You would think.

But it seems Councillor Ford bears a grudge noisily. By-gones? What by-gones? For a guy who is all about business, he takes his politics awfully personally.

Of course, given these guys’… ummm, unorthodox approach, let’s call it, to governance – laywasteRules? For me? Really? – their dealings with the Integrity Commissioner might not be in the past. Neither Ford has really shown any propensity to learn from previous missteps and reprimands, so it’s not beyond the realm of possibility to imagine their paths crossing again with Janet Leiper before all is said and done. So maybe Councillor Ford is simply conducting some pre-emptive strikes in case there’s anything new brewing. Detonate a little intimidation bomb.

Mounting an offensive in the hopes of fending off the need to defend their council conduct once again.

tit-for-tatly 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