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Rob Ford Needs to Step Down

The Toronto police just confirmed that there is indeed a video of Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack. It's increasingly obvious that the guy's a failure as a civic leader and needs to step down—the only question is when he'll do the decent thing.
October 31, 2013, 5:40pm

A Brady Bunch_-esque pictorial of all the characters involved in Ford's worsening drug scandal_

Update: Rob Ford has commented on today's revelations by saying: "I wish I could come out and defend myself. Unfortunately, I can't because it's before the courts. That's all I can say. I have no reason to resign." Reporters yelled questions at him about whether he lied to the people of Toronto, but the mayor just walked away.

Early this morning, a line of reporters with microphones and cameras waited outside of Mayor Rob Ford’s house. When Rob Ford emerged from his suburban cave, he was immediately bombarded with questions about whether or not he is at the center of a drug-related police investigation, along with questions about his relationship with Alexander Lisi, a man who is known as Rob Ford’s driver, close friend, and an alleged drug dealer with a history of domestic abuse. Unfortunately, Rob Ford didn’t take the questions gracefully and ended up screaming and yelling, “Get off my property! What don’t you understand? Get off my property, partner!” at the reporters who, undoubtedly, are only asking the questions that are on every Torontonian’s mind right now.

This morning's scrum was the result of the Toronto police released a 474-page document—with a lot of the presumably juicy stuff blacked out and redacted to avoid implicating those who are currently innocent—detailing results of a surveillance operation that clearly targeted Rob Ford and Alexander Lisi. The police dubbed their municipal spy mission “Project Brazen 2,” which I like to believe was inspired by the unbelievably bold and inappropriate behavior Toronto’s mayor appears to believe he can get away with.

I didn't expect a major bombshell to come out of today’s release, given that an investigation is still underway and given that Ford has been gleefully avoiding the issue of whether or not he’s a crack user by decorating his office like a haunted house. I was very wrong. Shortly after the document was released, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair vindicated what Gawker and the Toronto Star have been claiming since May—much to the ire of Ford and his legion of largely suburban political supporters. Blair held a press conference where he admitted that yes, the crack video exists, and yes, Rob Ford is indisputably pictured in it with a crack pipe in his hands.

Blair's shocking press conference

I don’t need to tell you that this is a huge fucking deal. Jonathan Goldsbie, a great reporter on all things Toronto, tweeted that he was “shaking” when Bill Blair confirmed that Toronto’s mayor was indeed sucking back crack smoke on video—a sentiment that is surely shared with concerned citizens all over the city.

Not only did Blair confirm that the video is “consistent” with the descriptions that Gawker and the Toronto Star offered back in May, he’s insisted that it’s not possible the video was faked—cross that one off the excuse list, Dougie and Robbie—and that the crack video “appears to be what it is.” He also added that “as a citizen of Toronto, [he is] disappointed.” Me, too.

Besides the mind-blowing confirmation that the mayor of Canada’s largest city was in fact videotaped in a trap house smoking crack and calling Justin Trudeau “a fag,” there's also the details of Ford’s sketchy friendship with Alexander Lisi, who was described by a Ford staffer as Robbie’s “only close friend.” The Toronto police have been watching Ford and Lisi with the help of a Cessna aircraft and other police units, and in the document released today, numerous strange meetings are detailed between these two bozos.

Ford and Lisi met through a man named Payman Aboodowleh, who is alleged to be an “enforcer” for Lisi, did time for violent crimes, and was once convicted of assaulting a police officer. Aboodowleh caused a stir when he was brought on as a volunteer coach for the Don Bosco football team that Ford used to consider his pride and joy, and Aboodowleh apparently expressed some concern that Lisi was “fueling the mayor’s drug abuse.” Ford Staffers also believe Lisi was selling the mayor drugs.

In one particularly strange encounter, the cops observed Lisi coming to meet Ford at a local soccer game—presumably one being played by children—where according to the police report they “spoke for a few minutes,” before Lisi went over to his car, grabbed a plastic bag that appeared to “contain items,” threw in some cans of Minute Maid for good measure, and walked over to Robbie’s Escalade and dropped the bag on the “centre console area.” After making the drop, Lisi went over to meet Ford again, where Ford was “walking with a toddler.”

Another meeting between the two also involved a drop-off made by Lisi in Ford’s vehicle while Ford was away from his car. The two met up at a gas station but didn’t speak to each other; the mayor went in to use the can and Lisi emerged from his Range Rover with a manila envelope, then went into the gas station to buy some Gatorade and chips. After stocking up on snacks, Lisi walked over to the passenger side door of Ford’s Escalade and disappeared from the view of the gas station surveillance camera. The implication here, of course, is that he dropped off the manila envelope—whatever it happened to contain.

Reading about these encounters really makes you feel like you’re in the driver’s seat with Robbie as he motors around town taking suspicious meetings with an alleged drug dealer and eating McDonald’s. On July 28, 2013, the cops looked through Robbie’s garbage and found Iceberg Vodka, Russian Prince Vodka, and McDonald’s receipts. That’s it. McDonald’s seems to be a favorite spot for Ford and Lisi, as another peculiar meeting between the two pals took place in a ’Dons parking lot, where the mayor took a break to pee on some trees.

A surveillance photo of Rob Ford peeing on a tree

While these frequent encounters between Lisi and Ford certainly seem to indicate that their relationship was not on the up and up—why would the mayor continually visit, and receive mysterious packages from, an alleged drug dealer and criminal?—whether or not these transactions were criminal or drug-related will presumably come out in court. If the police do have evidence that these meetings are drug deals, they haven’t revealed that yet.

The real question, though, is when Rob Ford will step down, get arrested, or be ejected from office. As the Toronto Star noted in May after the crack story broke, mayors in Toronto cannot be impeached. Even after the chief of police pretty much said that the mayor definitely smoked crack, the incompetent, possibly drug addicted, doughy parcel of rage is still in office.

Rob Ford and his domineering brother Doug have done a great job of spinning this issue by calling reporters “maggots” and claiming the video—that we now absolutely know exists—does not exist. The Ontario Press Council was even forced to hold an inquiry to examine the ethics and reporting practices of the Toronto Star and the Globe & Mail, whose awesome story about Doug Ford’s past history as, surprise, a drug dealer, enraged the Ford family. The complaints against the media were, obviously, dismissed.

What needs to happen now is for Rob Ford to step down and accept the fact that he has a major drug problem. The City Council is already saying it's time for him to leave, though council members can't do anything but publicly voice their opinions. The province of Ontario can’t intervene either, unless Ford is formally charged with a crime, which could presumably happen any day now.

Ford should not continue to take advantage of the slow-moving system just so he can stick around as the mayor for a little bit longer. It’s sick and detrimental to the city as a whole. No one smokes crack casually on camera without having some major issues that need to get worked out. On a human level, people should feel bad for Rob. Crack is a hell of a drug, and the mayor has a problem with it—but he should not, under any circumstances, continue to run the city.

In less than six months, Ford has gone from a guy who was easy to make jokes about thanks to his frequent moments of unintentional slapstick and bizarre gaffes to a guy who is obviously overloaded with personal problems and can no longer function as Toronto’s mayor. But if his recent behavior is any indication he'll probably ride the mayor-mobile until the wheels fall off—and everyone in Toronto is losing out as a result.

We have a broken municipal system that doesn't allow the city council to kick out a crack smoker from the mayoral throne. Ultimately, that’s the upsetting part about all of this, because Toronto is a fantastic city, one that deserves a much better leader than this angry, confused, drug-addled man… even if he can beat Hulk Hogan at an arm-wrestling match.

Get help, Rob. It’s time to move on.

Follow Patrick on Twitter: @patrickmcguire

More on Rob Ford:

We Spoke to a Former Crack Addict About Rob Ford

The Facebook Comments Rob Ford's Staffers Don’t Want You to See

Rob Ford, the World's Greatest Mayor, Smokes Crack