The scandal engulfing Toronto city hall gets sadder and sadder as each day passes. As the embattled mayor, Rob Ford, fights to hold on to his last crumbs of power, the notoriously penny-pinching politician gave each member of his staff a hefty raise Friday.
As the old saying goes, "loyalty isn't bought, it's earned, but don't tell that to the crack-smoking Rob Ford, who lined his staff's pockets with some extra cash Friday ahead of two votes that stripped him of almost all his authority. In two overwhelming displays of defiance, Toronto City Council voted nearly unanimously to remove Ford of his power of appointment and to limit his emergency powers. Prior to those votes, though, the Toronto Sun reports Ford gave each of his staff members a $5,000 raise. Such is the cost of doing business with a crack-smoking, pot-smoking, hard-drinking, well-fed mayor.
Which is hilarious considering Ford's solution to every issue he faced over the last six months is always moving forward, and continuing his fight to "save the taxpayer's money." Apparently that ideology is selectively applied.
But Ford refuses to go down without a fight. His latest counter move against city hall involves threatening costly legal action if his powers are dismantled any further. To help with this effort, he hired a new lawyer to advise his usual representation, Dennis Morris. The Globe and Mail reports:
Mr. Ford told councillors he has hired veteran municipal lawyer George Rust-D’Eye at his own expense to seek a way to challenge council’s attempts to strip him of his power. On Friday, council overwhelmingly supported two motions to remove the mayor’s ability to appoint standing committee chairs – who make up his cabinet-like executive committee – and whittle down his powers during an emergency.
On Monday, council will call a third special meeting to pass a motion that will "delegate to the deputy mayor all powers and duties which are not by statute assigned to the mayor," the bill reads, according to the Globe. Mayor Ford wouldn't be much of a mayor after that.
When Ford announced his new lawyer on Wednesday, some laughed and him compared to The Simpsons' Lionel Hutz. But Rust-D'eye, the crack-smoking mayor's new lawyer, has strong credentials and a long history at Toronto city hall. Per the Star:
He’s often hired by municipalities to act as an integrity commissioner or independent investigator, probing allegations of harassment in Brantford, enforcing a council code of conduct in Mississauga, leading an investigation into a contentious land deal in Oshawa.
Rust-D’Eye spent 16 years pre-amalgamation in the city’s legal department, then another 24 years at the high-powered WeirFoulds firm before striking out independently in February of this year.
Rust-D'Eye, the munical law expert, seems to think city council may be overstepping its boundaries by trying to contract Ford's mayoral powers. "The question is whether, in adopting those two decisions or potentially (another on Monday) it would have the effect of infringing the mayor’s powers under statute," Rust-D’Eye told the Toronto Star. "The mayor has specific statutory responsibilities under the City of Toronto Act and the council can’t take those away, either directly or indirectly."
"The council can’t just come along and say, 'You don’t have those powers, and we’re going to essentially make you into the deputy mayor and the deputy mayor into the mayor,'" Rust-D’Eye told the Toronto Star.
But Rust-D'Eye also said Sunday he has so far received no instructions from the mayor to attempt to legally halt the Monday city council meeting that will strip Ford from many of his remaining powers. Ford spent his weekend eating all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet Saturday night, and enjoying a Canadian Football League playoff game Sunday afternoon. Saturday was clearly a night off for the stressed politician, who is working on his diet, spent enjoying some Chinese food, one of his favorite cuisines. Mandarin, the buffet where Ford was spotted, is a regular Ford hangout; he even hosted a fundraiser there during his mayoral campaign. At the football game he received a hero's welcome.
Sunday evening, Ford was interviewed on Fox News' John Roberts, a Toronto native who was inducted into the Canadian Broadcasting Hall of Fame. The mayor said his weight was "a huge issue," and announced he's seeking professional help for a number of problems. "I’m training every day. I’m in the gym for two hours every day. I’m seeking professional help. I’m not an alcoholic. I’m not a drug addict,” Ford said. He refused to elaborate. "We have a team of professionals that are working with me on some health issues and I’m gonna leave it at that," Ford said. "It’s really no one’s business what I do in my personal life, what I do in a gym, or the professionals I talk to."
The dieting mayor spotted eating all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet told Fox about his aspirations for the future. "Yes, one day I do want to run for prime minister," Ford told Roberts. That, friends, is better comedy writing than Saturday Night Live could ever come up with. (Last night we learned they can't come up with much.)
(Update, 10:20 p.m. This story was updated from its original version to reflect Sunday's most recent developments.)