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The Real Issues With Ford

Cuts, Murders and Why Hasn't the Mayor Been Charged?

by Toronto Media Co-op

The Real Issues With Ford

The ongoing saga with Mayor Rob Ford continues.

For those that need a reminder, there have been over 40 issues/scandals with Ford before the crack and 'other' video allegations.

While many in Toronto are likely sick of hearing about the mayor and his drug issues, threats-of-violence outbursts and refusals to resign, the media and pundits have piled on with a host of daily opinions.

Rob Ford is a "liar" with "no shame", "no honour" and needs to go to rehab according to the Star.

According to the CBC, Ford is exhibiting all the traits of someone with a substance abuse problem.

Various talk show hosts in the US have made Ford a laughing stock with John Stewart even calling on Torontonians to push the mayor into rehab before he kills himself.

Beyond the hype, readers of the Toronto Media Co-op will know that the real issues with Ford are being sidelined by the current coverage.

Ford's mission to cut services and eliminate staff and services at the City of Toronto have had far more of an impact on the City in the last three years than the allegations of his crack-cocaine use.  Ford has made a number of dubious claims about his fiscal record and has, for the most part, manufactured a financial problem that never existed with consecutive budgets at the City of Toronto.

He's cut taxes, cut programs and cut spending in the City mostly on the backs of staff gapping: not hiring replacement workers in various departments when they are necessary.

This has had numerous outcomes from a lack of shelters for the homeless, fewer staff to run needed departments and poor services for City residents.

But even in the light of the current scandal, most media outlets have focused on Ford's drug use as the main story.  In reality, even more concerning are questions swirling around whether Ford has had anything to do with extortion, drug-dealing and, most-important, the murder of Anthony Smith.

Reporters have actually begun asking the mayor questions like these: "Mayor Ford, were you involved in a murder plot?"

Alexander “Sandro” Lisi, the mayor's friend and occasional driver now charged with extortion relating to the mayor's crack video and drug dealing, has been at the centre of police investigations involving Ford.  He's been charged and convicted numerous times.  According to an explosive report in the Toronto Star in May:

In one attempt to retrieve the video, soon after news of its existence broke on May 16, Lisi paid visits to the Etobicoke house where a group of men from the Dixon Rd. community involved in the crack cocaine trade were known to hang out. The bungalow is home to Fabio and Elena Basso, both friends of Ford.

A day later, just before midnight, Fabio, his girlfriend, and Fabio’s mother were assaulted by an unknown attacker brandishing an expandable baton who broke into their home.

Mark Towney, Ford's former chief of staff, told police that there could have been a link between the murder of Anthony Smith, who was gunned down in March claiming that Ford's crack video (now held by the police) could have been the motive for the murder.

However probably the most puzzling element of the scandal and allegations so far is this:  why hasn't mayor Ford been arrested and charged?

Allegations against Lisi, Ford's driver, friend and (according to anonymous Toronto Star sources) drug dealer include extortion for the video and drug dealing.  Police search-warrant documents released to the public outline hundreds of phone calls and package exchanges between the mayor and Lisi.

In an interview with the Toronto Media Co-op, Clayton Ruby, the constitutional and criminal lawyer who nearly removed Ford from office as part of a separate scandal, thinks the package exchanges should have given the police opportunities to get evidence of drug possession against the mayor.
 
"They never made any attempt to get evidence that what was being delivered to him was cocaine and they should have and could have.  They should have arrested him and searched the vehicle.  If it had been you they would have done those things."

Mark Pugash, spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service has made numerous statements deriding Ruby's expertise noting that he has never been an investigator and has never conducted an investigation.  He told the TMC, "The idea that when you start a major investigation you know what you're gunna end up with makes no sense...you have to follow the evidence where it leads."

But Ruby, who has seen thousands of police investigations, believes that Toronto Police still would have been able to get the evidence given what was in the redacted documents, "I don't see how it would have compromised the other investigation.  They describe the mayor being at a soccer game.  Lisi gets a package and puts it in the [mayor's] car.  You get an instant search warrant and get a sample and get the sample analyzed...then months or years later you have the evidence."

Could they been sitting on evidence for future charges?

According to Ruby, "Everything of that nature [related to Ford] has been released," as part of the Lisi evidence. "You're only allowed to hold back info if there's good reason for doing so.  I think they would not be allowed to hold this back."

Pugash made a number of disparaging comments about Ruby's allegations calling them "sad but predictable" noting police would have been under intense scrutiny given the high profile of the investigation.  Pugash said the TMC is "looking at this backwards" and offered the following hypothetical situation:

"Lets say we were investigating you and your friends and had reason to believe there was proof of criminality.  What if we felt that there was something that was going to happen over time?  What if you do something relatively criminally minor and we arrest you?  What happens to the other 98% of what happens later?"

(Editors note: a number of TMC journalists and their friends were investigated by the TPS during the G20.  Many were arrested and charged with charges later dropped.  Many were also detained illegally and lodged complaints with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director )

Though Pugash was not legally able to comment directly on why Ford's car was not searched, Pugash defended Det.-Sgt. Gary Giroux, the man leading the Ford investigation, calling him "without a doubt the most tenacious and persistent investigator that I know."

Readers of the Toronto Media Co-op might disagree. 

Det.-Sgt. Giroux was one of the lead investigators for G20 related charges against protesters.  A number of those arrested and charged claimed that the charges against them were politically motivated.

Ruby, says he doesn't know enough about the detective or the investigation personally to comment on his investigations during the G20.  He did however, add this: "I know that after the G20, the police chief promised to investigate police wrong doing thoroughly.  If there was only two or three [charged criminally], that's a tiny number compared to officers caught on video tape doing crimes."


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Gwalgen Dent (Gwalgen Geordie Dent)
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dose anyone recall when

dose anyone recall when Det-Sgt. Giroux attacked a bunch of supporters at the setancing hearing for G20 Defendant George Horton, right in the court room, jumping over a bench and all, in front of a judge... clearly the man has no regard for any sort of legality,.  

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