Open Letter and Motions on Mayor Ford

Many of you have written or spoken to me about the ongoing and disturbing events surrounding the Mayor and I appreciate you reaching out to me. Each day brings a new headline, a new troubling allegation followed by the same pattern of denial, deflection and belated admission.

That is why, six months ago, I took a leadership role on this issue by being the first one to speak out and ask the Mayor to step aside and address the headlines about his actions honestly, definitively and transparently.

From the beginning, two goals have guided my approach: avoiding disruption and refocusing attention on the city’s agenda, from transit to planning reform to the upcoming 2014 budget debates.

Last week, I spearheaded a petition signed by 30 City Councillors asking the Mayor to step aside and address his challenges privately, outside of the public eye. I presented the petition at the beginning of last Wednesday’s City Council meeting. My aim was to avoid more spectacle and distraction. 

Unfortunately, the Mayor refused to step out of the spotlight.

Earlier this week, City Council voted overwhelmingly to shift the Mayor’s non-statutory duties and responsibilities to the Deputy Mayor.

These measures are unprecedented but so is the situation we face. Misleading the city for months, hiring old friends with six figure city salaries to coach football, sending his staff on liquor runs and other personal errands, erratic public behaviour, failing to show up to city events, deplorable conduct in City Council, refusing to cooperate with police and, earlier today, Bloomberg reported that the Mayor’s actions have driven up Toronto’s borrowing costs – the Mayor has lost the ability to push city business and our fiscal agenda forward and City Council had to act.

The good news is that the measures passed with overwhelming support from across the city and the political spectrum. City Council is working together to shift city business back into the spotlight. It is time to put this issue behind us.

Marcus Gee: Robinson based decisions on fact, not ideology, and that is why she posed a threat to the Fords

By Marcus Gee
Globe and Mail
June 12, 2013

It is not mere coincidence that Jaye Robinson lost her post after suggesting that the mayor should give fuller answers about the drug allegations or else consider taking a leave of absence. Mayor Rob Ford and his brother Doug say the firing of Councillor Jaye Robinson from the mayor’s executive committee has nothing to do with her remarks about the drug-video affair. They would have us believe that it is mere coincidence that she lost her post after suggesting that the mayor should give fuller answers about the allegations swirling around him or else consider taking a leave of absence.

“I find it amusing that they’re making a big deal” about Ms. Robinson’s firing, Doug Ford told reporters on Tuesday morning. The Ford administration was just making a “quick shift” in its inner circle, in the same way that provincial or federal governments shuffle cabinets. “We’re going in a new direction, folks,” he said. “The only people that are making a big deal about it is the media” and “We have a little biased media in this city – everyone knows it.”

Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, who has sometimes criticized the mayor himself, joined in the pile on. “I think she may have been trying to score some political points and to try and make some headlines,” he said.

That was an outrageous thing to say about Ms. Robinson, a respected, low-profile, centrist councillor who is the farthest thing from a headline seeker. She says she spoke out about the mayor’s troubles because she believes they are overshadowing the important business of the city. As a rookie councillor and a former public servant, she takes that business seriously.

Since winning election in 2010 for Ward 25, Don Valley West, she has distinguished herself as a well-informed, level-headed member of city council who makes her decisions on fact, not ideology. That is why she posed such a threat to the Fords. She cannot be written off as one of the “lefties” that they claim are out to get them. They can’t say she is speaking out as part of some dark plot to thwart their cost-cutting agenda. As a fiscal conservative herself, she has supported much of it, though she also differed with the Fords on issues such as a downtown casino and redevelopment of the Port Lands.

No, she spoke out on principle, from a sincere belief that the video affair is harming the reputation of the city. To let Toronto move on, she repeated on Tuesday, the mayor must “clearly and definitively and without ambiguity address the allegations that have now been circulating for more than three weeks.”

Is that too much too ask? Apart from one statement that he made under pressure a week into the video affair, Mr. Ford has made no reply to the numerous questions that are piling up around this mysterious and troubling matter.

Does he know the murdered man, Anthony Smith, shown in a photograph associated with the video? Has he ever visited the house where, according to recent reports, the photograph was taken? Does he know the family that lives there, as a recent report in the Globe indicated? Did his recently fired chief of staff suggest that he go into rehab?

“I’ve answered all the questions, I’ve addressed everything,” the mayor told reporters on Tuesday. He has not – not by any stretch. Each time he meets the media, he bats away every enquiry about the video affair. His strategy, clearly, is to duck questions and change the channel.

To have a credible figure like Ms. Robinson telling him that it won’t do must have been irritating, to say the least. As even Mr. Minnan-Wong concedes, “the mayor was put in a very difficult position. Councillor Robinson was making some very personal comments about the mayor and the mayor really didn’t have much choice” except to fire her, he told reporters. So much for the coincidence.

Doug Ford himself made no secret of his annoyance at Ms. Robinson. He went after her in a TV interview for missing a recent meeting of the civic appointments committee. “I find it ironic that Councillor Robinson is telling the mayor, well just step away from his office and take a month break when she can’t even make it in to City Hall for a meeting,” he said. In fact, Ms. Robinson stayed away because she was sick in bed.

Now, just a few days after Doug Ford attacked her on the air, Ms. Robinson is gone from the mayor’s executive. A fine woman and an excellent city councillor is summarily fired after giving voice to her conscience and criticizing the mayor for failing in his responsibility to be open with the public. But don’t worry. Doug Ford says it’s no big deal.

Read the full story here.

Royson James: Hurray for Robinson, now free to vote her conscience

Royson James
Toronto Star
June 11, 2013

Robinson should be ecstatic; Ainslie should leave before the Ford administration collapses.

Jaye Robinson is too nice, too good, too principled and too caring to be associated with Rob Ford.

The city councillor should have concluded as much over the Christmas holidays and quit the mayor’s executive committee then. T he fact she stayed while others jumped ship only burnished her

The mayor repaid her Monday. As is his privilege, Ford dumped Robinson from his executive committee. It’s his loss, another in a bulging list.

A rookie councillor, Robinson should be rejoicing — freed as she is now to vote her conscience without feeling guilty about not supporting the mayor and his nonsensical policy directions.

Who can forget her agony over the seminal transit vote a year ago? An inept leader, armed with nothing but bluster and untruths about “subways, subways, subways,” Ford gave Robinson nothing to cling to as she valiantly sought a way to support his unsustainable boasts.

In the end, Robinson rightly concluded that you can’t build subways with hot air; that contrary to Ford’s claims — a position he mendaciously maintains to this day — Ford has no private sector funds to build subways; that Ford, conclusively, doesn’t really want to build transit, not when he rejected the most benign olive branch of a study of parking fees to finance a city plan to build the subways.

Even before the transit epiphany, the freshly elected Robinson set up her own private meetings with Waterfront T oronto to learn about the plans for waterfront revitalization. She had to go incognito — afraid of the bullying of the mayor’s brother, who wanted to bring in megamalls and a Ferris wheel on prime land.

She rebuffed the Fords on that one, too.

The marriage was always a difficult one for Robinson. She represents one of T oronto’s most affluent wards, including the Bridle Path. The majority of her constituents may embrace fiscal conservatism, but they abhor fools and are hardly tolerant of the buffoonery that passes for mayoral behaviour at city hall under the current mayor.

While Councillor Frances Nunziata swallows everything Ford says and dutifully votes in lock step with the mayor — a namby-pamby, boot-licking sycophant that few would have anticipated from the once nervous but brave and bold mayor of Y ork — Robinson’s character traits wouldn’t allow such unquestioning allegiance.

When Ford was elected in 2010 he had a tough time fielding his executive committee. As a cabinet of sorts, a group of 13 men wouldn’t play well, Ford was told. Nunziata was already locked up for the job of Speaker, and Karen Stintz had the T T C chair, exempting both from the executive. T he rest of the women all presented a dilemma or two.

Pam McConnell, Janet Davis, Paula Fletcher, Kristyn Wong-T am, Sarah Doucette, Mary Fragedakis, Maria Augimeri and Shelley Carroll were, heavens no, lefties. Four other women — Mary-Margaret McMahon, Ana Bailao, Michelle Berardinetti and Robinson were rookies.

In fact, Ford had the perfect candidate — a conservative councillor from Etobicoke named Gloria Lindsay Luby. Oops, sorry, never mind. Ford once dismissed her as “a waste of skin.”

So Ford settled on Berardinetti from Scarborough and Robinson — hailing them as two young, bright lights.

Berardinetti faced the same struggles as Robinson. She quit the executive committee in frustration in December; Robinson stuck with it.

When news of Ford’s crack-smoking video surfaced in May, a bewildered Robinson repeatedly asked the mayor to address the issue squarely and fully. She was one of the signatories to a letter demanding same.

Ford responded Monday, tossing her overboard.

The lifeboat is getting full — populated by Ford’s ex-staffers, aides, and political allies.

Councillor Paul Ainslie is hanging to the side of the ship of state. He is not trusted by the administration. It was he who told the Star he asked Ford’s handlers to get the mayor home from the military ball because the mayor wasn’t functioning properly — he seemed either intoxicated or high
on some substance.

Ainslie could have wilted under the pressure to recant. He stood firm in what he saw and did.

If more of Ford’s allies and handlers were more like Ainslie, the mayor would have long since been forced to leave office to repair what’s broken in his private life.

Instead, it is the good people being sacrificed to keep the ship afloat.

Read the full story here.