Updated Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Rob Ford's Double-Down

“What steps, if any, did you take to find out what the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act required of you?”

“None,” Ford said softly. There was then a long pause. Four, five seconds? The silence seemed to stretch on.

“None?” Ruby said. Another pause. “That’s your answer?”

“Yes.”

Look, I'm not a small guy.

I'm thinner now than I used to be, but I've always been 'fat'.

It wasn't that long ago that I was pushing 250+ lbs.

Yes, not the fattest guy ever (I'm sure there are some folks who wish they were at 250) but still enough to feel the wrath.

Fat guys are funny.

Fat guys are dumb.

If we get angry, we're big, fat, red-faced.

Clumsy.

You know the phrase:

Bull in a China shop.

And Rob Ford has hinged his entire defense on the fact that you're willing to buy into that stereotype and let him off the hook.

Because being 'dumb' isn't illegal.

And if you're willing to buy that he's just a big, fat blowhard then, well,  there's a pretty damned good chance he'll get to keep his job.

Anyway, before we get too far into this, I want you to go and read this article:

The people Vs. Robert Bruce Ford

Why? Because, hands down, it's the best article I've read so far on the subject.  It does its best to come at the situation in an unbiased manner and is quite an eye-opener.

Also worth a read - relating to Ford's June 27th deposition by Clayton Ruby:

‘I don’t remember’ 89 times: details of Mayor Rob Ford’s closed-door grilling revealed

Let's look at some stats:

Rob Ford was a Toronto city Councellor for 10 years before running for Mayor.

10 Years.

According to him, over 10 years (and a few elections) he, at no time, read the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act - despite the fact that it was part of a package given to him, several times.  Despite the fact that it was considered 'required reading'.

According to Ford: ”How I define a conflict of interest is if it’s financially beneficial to the city and financial beneficial to me personally.”

That's his answer and he's stuck to it like glue, clinging to it like the life raft that it is.

“I always thought, for 12 years, and I still believe, that a conflict is when the city has a benefit and when I have a benefit. This is a personal issue and had nothing to do with the city.” - Rob Ford

Because, again, being dumb isn't against the law.  Being aggressively ill-informed isn't against the law.

And he's praying that you're willing to eat it up.

The big, dumb fat guy was too lazy to read.

Lap it up and let him off with a slap on the wrist.

'Cause you gotta let the punishment fit the crime, right?

And, as his followers are howling, how can he lose his job over a paltry $3000??

But this isn't about $3000.

This is about a man who in 2010 chose to solicit $3150 in donations for his own Football foundation using Council letterhead.


From Court is in session: Could Toronto Mayor Rob Ford lose his job this week?

"Integrity Commissioner Janet Leiper discovered this and notified Ford that his actions breached the Lobbyists' Code of Conduct.

Leiper ordered Ford to pay back the money. He ignored the request — and the following six requests.

This February, after now-Mayor Ford couldn't provide proof of repayment to the donors, he participated in a debate about the issue and voted against him having a pay it back. Enter: conflict of interest accusation."

Rob Ford ignored the order to repay the money -- essentially, his 'slap on the wrist' -- seven times.

He then CHOSE to go before council and have them vote that he didn't have to repay the money.

And then he, himself, took part in that vote and was cleared.

From Ford doesn't declare conflict, joins in debate over donations by lobbyists

Mr. Ford addressed council during the debate, but it appears none of the other politicians present objected to his participation. In a motion by Councillor Paul Ainslie, council voted 22-12 to rescind Ms. Leiper’s recommendation, made originally in an August, 2010, report to council. Mr. Ford voted in favour.

His office did not respond to several requests for comment.

He took part in a vote that determined whether or not he would have to repay the $3000 as ordered by the Integrity Commissioner.

Rob Ford is telling us that a 43 year old man, with 10 years on city council under his belt has not even the most basic idea of what 'conflict of interest' entails.

With a bowed, red face and cracked voice he's nodding yes.

We're supposed to feel pity for the big, fat buffoon.

And we are.

From The people Vs. Robert Bruce Ford:

"Yet another observer, a woman I met in the elevator, compared the experience to watching a caged animal being repeatedly stabbed with a stick, unable to escape or respond or even really understand exactly what was going on."

But should we?

From Ford doesn't declare conflict, joins in debate over donations by lobbyists

As a councillor, he declared a conflict prior to a 2010 council debate over a previous integrity commissioner investigation that arose after he accused Councillor Adam Vaughan of conflict of interest on a radio show. (He withdrew the allegation.)

In her 2010 annual report, Ms. Leiper noted it was “the first time” a councillor has recused themselves from such a debate. As she wrote, “Although the state of the law in this area is not entirely clear, it may be appropriate for Councillors who are the subject of a report on a violation of the Code of Conduct to consider declaring an interest under the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, in view of the potential sanctions that could include a suspension of remuneration (although to date, this has never happened in Toronto).”


In my opinion, from what I've read and seen, Rob Ford is a blowhard. 

He's proud, he's loud and he's arrogant.

But he's not stupid.

In fact, he's just smart enough - as distasteful as he finds it - to play the 'big dumb oaf' card.  To know that if he plays his cards right, he'll get to keep his job.

From The people Vs. Robert Bruce Ford:

At one point, trying to show that Ford’s claim to always have believed his benefit-the-city/benefit-me understanding of the matter was disingenuous, Ruby played a video of Ford declaring a conflict of interest on another occasion. At that time, the matter was a report from the Integrity Commissioner suggesting Ford be reprimanded for an entirely different issue. There were, as laid out in the report, no financial implications from the City at all. Ford, on the video, stood at City Hall and said that since the report was about him, he could not speak or vote on it, and he had to leave the chamber. He said it himself, simply and straightforwardly.

“On that day, you understood the simple principle: if the report is about Rob Ford, you can’t take part in the debate, yes?” Ruby asked.

“No,” Ford said.

“I heard your voice. I heard you speak the words,” Ruby said. “Did you understand the words as you were speaking?”

“No,” Ford said.

Because the other thing that he knows is that his supporters won't give a damn about what's revealed in that courtroom.  They're already sold on the product.

All they see is 'brave' man being needled by the system that he's fighting to change.

He knows that all he has to do is make it out of this courtroom in one piece and he's free to spin his win however he wants.

And he will.

So he plays up the dumb, hangs his head low - tries to outrun the media from time to time (ha! The fat guy's trying to run!) and waits for the hammer to fall.

But as one fat guy who's sick and tired of the stereotype - and who's incensed that our Mayor might dare to hang his entire defense on the fact that over 10+ years the 'big, fat, lazy' man couldn't be bothered to READ the base-level rules of his job - I'm asking that you throw the book at him.

Not for the 'paltry' $3000.

But the choices he made afterward.

The choices that are a clear violation of the laws that he swore to uphold.

The laws that he brazenly flouted; that he couldn't even give a damn to read.

(Which also begs the question: what else hasn't he read)

Rob Ford, you stood before council and voted to clear yourself of a penalty rightfully leveled at you for your own, previous, poor judgement.

You are, and must be found, guilty as charged.