Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The emerging Ford drama, in chronological order - The GridTO

The story so far --
Tue May 28, 2013
The emerging Ford drama, in chronological order
BY: The Keenan Wire
The churn of news comes fast here in Fordlandia. It's hard to even keep track of what each development means. So let's try to process some of the recent news by putting events of recent months that have been reported in chronological order, to track the emerging narrative. This account is based on multiple media sources, many of which offer accounts from anonymous sources—many have been directly denied by the Ford brothers. But if the reports are to be considered accurate, this is the story as it has played out so far:
March 7: Former mayoral candidate and small-time magazine publisher Sarah Thomson claimed on her Facebook page that Mayor Rob Ford groped her and made inappropriate comments to her at a public party. Ford strongly denied the charge. In the ensuing media blitz, Thomson said the mayor was "out of it" and appeared to be under the influence of something, though he did not smell of alcohol. She publicly suggested he might have been on cocaine.
March 26: The Star reported—citing city executive committee memeber Paul Ainslie and other unidentified sources—that the mayor was asked to leave the Garrison Ball, a public event, because he appeared too intoxicated. The mayor strenuously denied this. The report also said that members of the mayor's staff are concerned he has a substance-abuse problem of some kind, perhaps a drinking problem, and will not listen to their pleas to deal with it. The mayor denied he has a problem, and his brother Doug went on the offensive, telling the press he has hardly ever seen Rob take a drink.
Some time before March 28: Rob Ford was photographed with Anthony Smith, Muhammad Khattak, and another young man. In the photo, the mayor is wearing a track suit, and Smith is holding what appears to be a bottle of booze and giving the finger to the camera. Also, at some unknown time likely before May 3, 2013 and after December 2012, a video was shot that reporters at Gawker and the Toronto Star claim appears to show Rob Ford smoking from a crack pipe and making comments that seem to denigrate Justin Trudeau, homosexuals, and the visible minority players on the high-school football team he coaches.
 March 28: Anthony Smith was gunned down outside a downtown nightclub, apparently in a targeted killing. Muhammad Khattak was also shot in the incident, hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries. A suspect turned himself in at the request of the police, but claimed to know nothing about the killing or about the two men shot. "I'm innocent," the Star reported him saying. "I don't know these guys … I don't know why I'm here."

April 3: Rob Ford's office hired Dave Price—who according to the Toronto Sun's Don Peat, is Rob Ford's own former football coach. No one, including the mayor and Price himself, would specify exactly what duties the new "Director of Logistics and Operations" had been hired to perform, or what qualified him for the job. Of the hiring, Doug Ford told the Globe and Mail's Elizabeth Church, "You can't teach loyalty." The Globe later reported that Doug Ford and Dave Price were "business partners" in high school dealing hashish to other drug dealers. The report quotes an anonymous self-proclaimed former "large-scale" drug supplier as saying Price is "Dougie's close ally." (Doug Ford has vigorously and categorically denied the Globe's report and says he never, ever, dealt hash.)
May 16: Shortly after 8 p.m., Gawker published allegations that they viewed a video appearing to show the mayor smoking crack. Those who showed the video to Gawker editor John Cook, he reported, want a six-figure sum to give it to him. He said those selling the video sent him the photo of Ford with the murdered Anthony Smith and with Muhammad Khattak as evidence the mayor was associated with a murder victim. Hours later, the Toronto Star published a report that two of their reporters had viewed the video on May 3, and generally confirmed the details of what the video seems to portray. The Star had been sent the same photo of the mayor and Smith, for the same reason.
May 17: At City Hall, the Star reports (firming up an earlier report from the Globe and filled in later with more details by another Globe report), Ford's chief of staff Mark Towhey convened a huddle to discuss the explosive story. He dispatched Dave Price to Ford's home to help him out. Some time later, he was distressed to hear that Price instead went to the home of Ford's mother, where the family often meets. According to the Star, Price told Towhey "not to worry." Later, Rob Ford emerged from his own house, told reporters the allegations of a crack video are "ridiculous," and then drove a few feet before stopping to talk to Price, who was now standing at the side of the street. Ford drove to the gas station at the end of the street, where Price again stepped forward to get between reporters and the mayor.

At City Hall, where the mayor was scheduled to raise the rainbow flag to mark the international day against homophobia, Rob Ford's senior staff huddled with the mayor (according to the Sun among other reports.) They laid out several options for him: If the allegations were true, he could go to rehab and staff would issue a statement after he was on a plane. If not, he could state plainly that the allegations were false. Apparently, three options were presented, and the mayor chose the "fourth option"—deciding not to say anything. Towhey reportedly cleared the room so that it was just him and the mayor, and he urged the mayor to seek treatment for his apparent personal problems. The mayor declined. According to the Globe, both Doug and Rob Ford insisted to Towhey that the video did not exist.
Ford stepped out in front of the assembled reporters outside his office, made a brief, two-sentence statement saying that the allegations were "ridiculous" and that it was another instance of the Star going after him and, without taking questions, went to attend the flag-raising ceremony.
Later that day, according to the Star and the Globe, Price approached Towhey in the presence of two other senior staffers and asked "hypothetically" what they should do if they'd been tipped off to the location of the video. Towhey said in that case they should go to the police. Price asked, what if the original owner of the video had been shot for it? He said he had information claiming that's what happened to Anthony Smith. Towhey reportedly instructed Price not to seek out the video and said that he would be calling the police. Price gave Towhey the address and apartment number on Dixon Road where he'd been told the video was being stored.
May 18: Both Ford brothers stayed away from the press. They cancelled their scheduled appearance on Newstalk 1010 for the next day. Towhey, meanwhile, without telling Rob Ford, met with homicide investigators to inform them of his conversation with Price. That day or the next day, police took a statement from Price.
May 19: This was the last day, according to Gawker (which, by then, was trying to raise $200,000 through a crowd-funding scheme to buy the video) that the people trying to sell the video made contact with the middleman who was in touch with Gawker and the Star.
May 21: The Ford brothers continued to remain publicly silent about the video allegations, refusing to address them even as Ford showed up to a council meeting where plans he had long championed for a Toronto casino were voted down. Members of city council and media supporters of the Ford family began more urgently asking the mayor to address the allegations—his extended silence seemed more and more to be a response in itself.
On the same day, a man was shot and hospitalized at an apartment on Dixon Road—according to the Star, at the same building outside which its reporters had viewed the video.
May 22: The Toronto Catholic District School Board announced that it will no longer allow Ford to coach the high school team at Don Bosco, or anywhere else in the system. According to a report in the Star, Ford tried to tell Towhey to go to the school and retrieve thousands of dollars of equipment he had donated. Towhey refused.
Doug Ford came out to address the media, saying he loves his brother and believes him when he says all the allegations of a video are false, and then launched into a long stump speech about the Ford administration's claimed victories. He refused to take questions, and was chased by the media.
Later that day, on the phone, Towhey allegedly urged Ford to go to rehab, saying, "you need to go away and deal with your problem." Ford screamed and yelled and said, according to the Sun, "if that's all you got for me, then you might as well leave and not come back."
May 23: Under the impression the firing was a passing temper tantrum, Towhey showed up to work, where the growing crowd of reporters continued to clamour for a statement from Ford. According to the Star, Ford asked Towhey to get the office staff to help organize a pizza party for the players and coaches from the Bosco team, and Towhey refused (accounts in the National Post and the Sun, this may have been part of the previous night's telephone conversation). Towhey was formally fired, and was escorted out of City Hall by security, stopping only to tell reporters he was no longer the chief of staff, he had not resigned, and the advice he gave to the mayor was confidential. That evening, members of the mayor's staff leaked details of the incident to the press.
May 24: Rob Ford finally addressed the media, saying, "I do not do crack cocaine, nor am I addicted to crack cocaine." He said he could not comment on a video that he has not seen "or does not exist." According to former Ford press secretary Adrienne Batra—now an editor with the Toronto Sun—the statement was written largely by the Ford family and was barely recognizable to his staff.
May 25: The Globe published its allegations about Doug Ford's youthful alleged drug-dealing activities, including allegations of involvement with Dave Price. Doug Ford hit the media circuit—quickly and energetically—claiming the story was absolutely false, that the whole thing was part of a conspiracy by elites who oppose the Fords' political program. He threatened to dig up information aboutGlobe editor John Stackhouse, and then alleged that members of the media are the ones using cocaine, before definitively stating that the Rob Ford crack video does not exist.
May 26: On his Newstalk 1010 show, Rob Ford said flatly that the video did not exist, and called the members of the press "maggots." He left the show early to attend his daughter's first communion.
May 27: Rob Ford's press secretary George Christopoulos and deputy press secretary Isaac Ransom resigned quietly and left the building before Ford arrived. The two reportedly resigned "on principle" because of the mayor's statement on May 24. After touring their empty offices with the city manager and City Hall security, the mayor addressed the press. He apologized for calling reporters "maggots" the previous day. He suggested his communications staff left to pursue better job offers, and then said that this is "business as usual" and "everything's fine." The Gawker campaign reached its $200,000 goal, but still has no contact with the video vendors. Star reporter Robyn Doolittle said she has been told there are multiple copies of the video circulating.
May 28: On Rob Ford's 44th birthday, reports surfaced about the police involvement—prompted by Towhey making contact about Price's tip—regarding the possible connection of the video to a murder investigation—reports that suggest Price claimed to know the location of the video that Ford says does not exist. Asked about what his staff might have been talking to police about, the mayor said, "ask my staff." Price did not comment. Asked later by Daniel Dale if Rob Ford told Price the location of the apartment in question himself, Ford said nothing:
Ford chaired the meeting of city hall's executive committee, where they discussed Israeli-Palestinian politics as they relate to the Toronto Pride Parade.
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