Rob Ford roundup: The mayor won’t resign and new details on the Anthony Smith murder

‘Everything is fine’ at city hall

Nathan Denette/CP

Rob Ford isn’t going anywhere. He made that much clear during a press conference Thursday afternoon after two more of his staff members quit: Brian Johnston, a policy adviser, and Kia Nejatian, his executive assistant. It was a defiant Ford who stood before reporters Thursday, telling them he was ready to run in the 2014 election and that “everything was fine” even as the mayor’s office had lost five staff members in less than a week.

While Ford isn’t going anywhere, the Ford headlines aren’t going anywhere either. Here’s a roundup of what media outlets are saying about the Toronto Mayor.

The Toronto Star has new information about the murder of Anthony Smith, the young man pictured with Ford in a photo given to reporters by the same men who showed them a video of someone who appears to be Ford smoking from a glass pipe. While there have been suggestions that Smith — who was shot outside a Toronto night club — was murdered over the alleged video, Star reporters Jayme Poisson and Robyn Doolittle quote a man who says this isn’t the case. Instead, the shooting was over a feud between rival members of the neighbourhood, says the Star. Another source tells the Star that Smith wasn’t a drug dealer, as has been suggested.

Someone close to the mayor continues to leak information to the National Post in attempt to contradict information being leaked to the Toronto Star. A day after the Post ran a story where a source said the resignation of former press secretary George Christopoulos and deputy press secretary Isaac Ransom was “no big loss,” the paper has another quote from a source who says former Ford chief of staff Mark Towhey, who was fired last week, has “an axe to grind” and that he wants to “kill the mayor, politically and otherwise” by leaking information to the Toronto Star.

Also at the National Post, reporter Megan O’Toole goes inside the apartment building unit where the alleged video may have been kept and/or filmed. Inside apartment unit 1703, a man tells O’Toole that he has seen the video and believes it to be real. “We don’t like Rob Ford getting screwed,” the man says. “We wanted to help him… 85 per cent of [young Somalis] are very upset about these guys with the video.”

The chorus of voices calling for the mayor to step down, which he doesn’t plan to do, is growing louder:

  • Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said Thursday that she was “worried” about the state of affairs at Toronto City Hall, a statement that angered both Ford and his brother, Coun. Doug Ford.
  • In The Globe and Mail Chris MacDonald, director of the Jim Pattison Ethical Leadership Program at Ryerson University, says that Ford has got to go. He writes: “Whatever else is going on at City Hall, it cannot plausibly be thought of as ‘business as usual.’ To think so is delusional, and suggests a disconnect from reality; such a disconnect is incompatible with continuing to govern.”
  • The Toronto Star has a scathing editorial, under the headline: “Toronto Mayor Rob Ford loses more staff and all credibility.”
  • Coun. Josh Matlow, who has supported some of Ford’s policies in the past, tweeted Thursday: “Toronto needs a new mayor.” And followed with: “It’s awful when the sideshow takes the stage. However, the majority of councillors are working on city priorities & in our wards every day.”
  • Coun. Karen Stintz, who is rumoured to be eyeing a mayoral run in 2014, said in an interview with The Globe and Mail that Ford “needs to start acting like the mayor or step aside.” She goes on to note that the instability in the mayor’s office is hampering more important issues, a concern that other councillors have also expressed.

International media is also paying attention:

  • BBC News reports that Ford won’t resign as he insists “Everything is fine.”
  • The Washington Post runs the Associated Press story on Ford’s refusal to step down and it has an opinion article about “Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s leadership calamity.”
  • USA Today runs a story under the headline: “Staffers flee Toronto mayor’s office amid coke scandal.” (Note to USA Today: It’s crack cocaine, but maybe that didn’t fit into the headline).
  • While many have used Twitter to joke that this whole debacle sounds more and more like a Hollywood film script, or an episode of The Wire, with each passing day, The Hollywood Reporter is writing about the Ford story, with a post about new arrests in the Anthony Smith murder case.

And Gawker, the media outlet that published the first story about Ford and the alleged crack cocaine video, is still paying attention. In a post about Ford’s Thursday press conference, writer Max Read takes note of Ford’s refusal to answer any questions about the alleged video or crack cocaine use. Instead, notes Read, Ford answers questions he doesn’t like with “anything else?” Read has an unsubstantiated explanation: “Grandiose claims and repetitive behavior are common side effects of cocaine use,” he writes.

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