From not reporting Rob Ford’s drunk driving to denying his behaviour, the unredacted police report released Thursday reveals how the staff surrounding Mr. Ford enabled him, at the cost and risk to all those who crossed his path.
I know I’m not the only one in Toronto who sifted through the police report last Thursday night wondering if my name would be implicated. I am sure the staff who were interviewed by police wish this sordid business would all blow over, but should his former staff get off with little repercussion for their involvement in what has turned out to be the worst case of enabling that has rocked Toronto in decades?
I found my name, albeit misspelled, on page 72 of the police report. The lines (below) referred to the incident at the CJPAC event where Mr. Ford’s behaviour was both aggressive and lascivious. But what infuriates me most in reading this was to learn that his Chief of Staff, Mark Towhey, misled the press about Mr. Ford’s true condition at the event. He told press that there was nothing wrong with the Mayor, that he was sober. But in the police report (excerpt below) Towhey admits that he was concerned about Mr. Ford’s condition (aggressive and slurring words) and asked him not to attend the event.
Canadian Jewish Public Affairs Committee (CJPAC) Event and Sarah THOMPSON (sic) Allegations
ii) The incident at CJPAC with Sarah THOMPSON involved the allegation that The Mayor groped her and was on drugs that night. TOWHEY and PROVOST were both there that night with the Mayor.
jj) The Mayor arrived with Sandro as the driver.
kk) Sandro is not on the staff of the Mayor. TOWHEY was concerned that night when he spoke with the Mayor on the phone prior to his arrival. He again sounded a little “hyperactive and slurring his words”. Again, TOWHEY asked him not to come.
ll) The Mayor attended the event and ended up behaving himself. There were 3 staff members around him at all times. TOWHEY believes that the Sarah THOMPSON allegations are false.
mm) The Mayor arrived to the CJPAC intoxicated by something. TOWHEY never saw him drink while he was there; in fact TOWHEY has never seen the Mayor drink alcohol at all, ever.
TOWHEY’s beliefs in relation to Mayor FORD’s alcohol use
nn) TOWHEY has maybe attended 25 to 30 events with the Mayor. He has never seen him consume alcohol at any of these events. TOWHEY had suspicions that it was maybe mixed in his drinks but cannot be sure.
oo) He believes that the Mayor is an alcoholic. Staff members routinely buy alcohol for the Mayor because they do not want him doing it himself. As soon as the Mayor walks into a liquor store it is on Twitter.
pp) TOWHEY was advised every time a staff member left the office to go and buy the Mayor alcohol. It was TOWHEY’s belief that the Mayor consumed alcohol while at City Hall.
qq) The Mayor would normally sound the worst late at night. This would be when he would sound the most incoherent. This could sometimes be attributed to him not getting any sleep, which would happen often as well.
rr) FICKEL had told TOWHEY that one time the Mayor had stopped and consumed a “mickey” of vodka while driving. After hearing this TOWHEY implemented a new rule that if staff was driving with the Mayor then they would have to drive. The Mayor was never to drive any of the staff around.
The report goes on at length about other issues involving drugs, prostitutes and inappropriate behaviour with a female staff member, but what stood out time and again was the level of support his staff gave time and again to enable Mr. Ford to keep up the charade. They all knew about Mr. Ford’s drinking, they had heard rumours of drugs and yet they all stood together as a wall limiting Toronto from learning the truth about our Mayor. They knew that if the truth got out they could lose their positions, but they were also given a clear message when chief of staff, Mark Towhey refused to address the fact that the Mayor of Toronto had broken the law. If Towhey had done the right thing and reported the incident to police, other staff might have come forward. Why didn’t Towhey report the incident to the police? Was he afraid they might follow the Mayor and catch him driving drunk? Was it self-interest, blind loyalty or heart-felt sympathy that drove Towhey to place Mr. Ford above the law?
The events of the past 2 years at city hall demonstrate the extent to which the staff working under Mr. Ford enabled him. It isn’t surprising. Greed has a way of making people rationalize things and they all wanted to keep their jobs. But what disgusts me most is the lack of respect they had for their positions. Never did Towhey, nor any of the other staff, think about their role as government employees who actively covered up the lies and actions of a Mayor driven by addiction. By going along with his charade they corrupted both the office of Mayor and the trust we as citizens place in it.
It is my understanding that a bartender or waiter can be charged if they knowingly get a client hammered and let them drive.
Can’t Ford’s enablers be so charged?
Well, handlers have a hard job. Their responsibilities are a bit like a lawyer’s, a bit like a diplomat’s, without the legal cover. The Canadian Public Relations Society, mind you, requires its members to deal honestly and fairly with the media and the public. See http://www.cprs.ca/aboutus/code_ethic.aspx
Not sure if any of these people are members mind you…