Close allies urges Toronto mayor to talk
By ROB GILLIES
The Associated Press | May 25,2013
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford leaves city hall in Toronto this week.
TORONTO — Close allies of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford released a letter Friday that urges the mayor to address a purported video that apparently shows him smoking crack cocaine.
Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday said some members of the mayor’s executive committee are very concerned about the city and the mayor and they want the issue to be dealt with urgently. Councilor Gary Crawford said he’s “not necessarily comfortable” with Ford leading the city.
“If the mayor has another version, he should be out there putting that forward so the people can make a decision,” Holyday said. “At this point it hasn’t happened, but I think the longer that goes on, the worse it gets.”
Ford has been ducking the media and his only comments on the scandal came last Friday, a day after the story broke, when he called the crack smoking allegations “ridiculous” and said that the Toronto Star was out to get him.
The letter says “the allegations needed to be addressed openly and transparently” and is signed by six of his closest allies on the council.
Doug Ford, the mayor’s brother and a city councilor, told CP24 that the mayor will make a statement Friday.
The alleged crack smoking video has not been released publicly and its authenticity has not been verified. Reports on gossip website Gawker and in the Toronto Star claimed it was taken by men who said they had sold the drug to Ford. The Associated Press hasn’t seen the video.
The Star reported that two journalists had watched a video that appears to show Ford, sitting in a chair, inhaling from what appears to be a glass crack pipe. Gawker and the Star said the video was shown to them by a drug dealer who had been trying to sell it for a six-figure sum.
The Star also reported that in the video Ford allegedly made a racist remark about high school football students he coached.
Holyday said he’s concerned about the mayor.
“There is a lot of pressure on him. He has to do something to get this matter resolved. To sit back and hope it goes away, I don’t think is the answer,” Holyday said.
Ford fired his chief of staff on Thursday. A statement from the mayor’s office gave no reason for Mark Towhey’s dismissal. Towhey, who was escorted from City Hall by security, would only say that he did not resign.
Ford has been embroiled in almost weekly controversies about his behavior since being elected in 2010, but the crack video allegations are the most serious allegations he’s faced yet. The Toronto Star reported earlier this year that he was asked to leave a gala fundraiser for wounded Canadian soldiers because he appeared intoxicated.
During his campaign for mayor, Ford vehemently denied a 1999 arrest for marijuana possession in Florida, but later acknowledged it was true after confronted with evidence. He pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and failing to give a breath sample to police.
The latest controversy has drawn comparisons to the 1990 arrest of then-Washington Mayor Marion Barry, who was videotaped smoking crack cocaine in a hotel room during an FBI sting operation. Barry served six months in federal prison on a misdemeanor drug possession conviction and later won a fourth term as mayor in 1994.