Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair told reporters Thursday that the police had recovered a video of Mayor Tom Ford, CNN, NBC, Reuters, The Associated Press, and other news media outlets report. Police were able to retrieve the deleted file from a computer hard drive seized during the Project Traveler guns and drugs raid.
Two reporters from the Toronto Star and one from the Web site Gawker have previously seen the video and written articles in May about it. They wrote it depicts Mayor Ford smoking crack cocaine. Chief While Blair confirmed the video seemed to be the one the journalists had described he would not specify at his press conference what Mayor Ford did in the video.
On Thursday, Toronto police arrested Mayor Ford’s friend Alexander “Sandro” Lisi and he appeared in court today, charged with extortion. The Toronto Star had previously revealed “accused drugs and guns trafficker Mohammed Siad” had attempted to sell the video, as Kevin Donovan recounted (“It’s not over: Police revelations confirm Star's investigation but leave unanswered questions”).
The police believe he attempted to forcefully gain possession of the cellphone that had been used to make the video. After a judge had ordered the release materials, the Toronto Police Department showed the press a nearly-500-page-long document, about half of which was redacted, that explicated in great detail how the TPB scrutinized Mayor Ford and Lisi for the past five months after the Toronto Star and Gawker published their articles.
The police investigation has a name: Project Brazen 2. The Toronto Star posted the report online.
Police Chief Blair expressed dismay and disappointment after detectives showed him the video. Mayor Ford denies he smoked crack cocaine. Previously, he denied the video existed and claimed there was a conspiracy against him.
Mayor Ford said, “I’m going to be out doing what the people elected me to do and that’s save taxpayers money and run a great government that we’ve been running for the last three years.” Dressed in a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey, he took his children trick-or-treating last night.
Rob Ford came to power three years ago through suburban discontent with the city government. His administration has survived an attempt to remove him from office over conflict-of-interest allegations.
Press reports in the past few months have documented Mayor Ford’s increasingly erratic behavior. He has rebuffed calls for his resignation and asserted he would run for re-election next year.
In the last month, his approval ratings fell 10% from 49% to 39%. In the light of new revelation, the Toronto Sun, a tabloid newspaper that had previously supported him, ran a front-page editorial headline “DEAD WEIGHT: Enough’s enough, it’s time to quit: EDITORIAL.” The headline is accompanied by an extremely unflattering picture of the overweight Rob Ford that looks like it was taken by a photographer standing below him on stairs.
Mayor Ford and his brother Toronto City Councillor Doug Ford have proposed various measures over the past few years that would have been detrimental to the Toronto Public Library. They advocated outsourcing library services.
Doug Ford made an inaccurate claim the district he represented on the city council had more libraries than Tim Horton's doughnut shops. He described a branch library in his ward he had slated for closure as "unnecessary" although the Toronto Star reported that the branch circulated 96,328 books per year and serves 39,775 patrons a year.
Mayor Ford proposed a 10% budget cut for the Toronto Public Library in the city’s 2012 budget, which would have meant a loss of $7,000,000. The Toronto City Council voted against the measure, but did make a budget cut of nearly 6%, which led to fewer books purchases and reduced services.
I would not expect Toronto Public Library officials to comment on this turn of events, but outside supporters may be gleeful. Perhaps the Toronto City Council should consult with the San Diego City Council about how former Mayor Bob Filner was persuaded to resign after nineteen women stepped forward to accuse him of sexual harassment.