Deputy Mayor: Rob Ford needs a council-approved driver ‘so he’s always with someone’

Nov. 4, 2013 –  Global News

Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly is ok with Rob Ford’s decision to stay on as mayor amid cascading revelations around an alleged crack video – but not without some strings attached.

“He’s made a pact with the residents of Toronto: ‘I will be on my best behaviour; I will do everything I can to stay the new course,’” Kelly said. “And I think that Torontonians will strictly hold him to those standards.”

And as a condition of Ford keeping the mayor’s chair, Kelly wants a driver to keep an eye on him – a full-time employee, vetted by the city, “someone who picks you up in the morning, drives you around all day, drops you off at home.”

READ MORE: Mayor Rob Ford admits to smoking crack cocaine

“The feeling was that would lift a cloud of suspicion that’s out there about what he does during the day,” Kelly said. “So he’s always with someone. … He’s always, in that sense, behaving in public. There’ll always be eyes with him.”

Ford has long refused calls to get a driver, for his own safety and others’ (these calls intensified when he was seen reading while driving on the Gardiner Expressway).

But this time it’s different. Reams of court documents released Thursday detail detectives’ extensive surveillance of Ford and his alleged meetings – in parking lots, soccer fields and gas stations – with Alexander “Sandro” Lisi, Ford’s friend and sometime driver who’s now accused of using extortion to get the alleged crack video last May. Police Chief Bill Blair said he’s seen that video, and it’s consistent with media reports.

On the radio Sunday, Ford said he’s “obviously” getting a driver and has a candidate in mind already, although he wouldn’t say who.

But Kelly said council – or himself, or executive committee – should have final say over who drives Ford.

“The mayor can nominate, but we should have either myself as deputy mayor or someone on his executive, or a combination of them should have the ability to approve.”

Kelly met with the mayor on Saturday to discuss “concerns” Ford’s council allies had. There was “no conclusion reached” at that meeting, the deputy mayor said.

“It was just a good, thorough review of the concerns expressed by council … and the options that are open to him,” Kelly said.
“As to whether he made the right choice, only time will tell. …  He will be held accountable on a very strict basis by Torontonians. I dont think there’s any wiggle room going forward.”

In his radio show Sunday afternoon, Ford apologized for “mistakes” without explicitly addressing most of them; he pledged he’ll try to do better and reiterated his plans to stay put as mayor.

Ford’s statement “responded to a number of the concerns I raised with him,” Kelly said. This included an apology and an acknowledgment “of the impact of his personal behaviour on the life of this city.”

Some councillors “asked for a curb on his public drinking and he publicly acknowlegded that and said that he would stop that foolishness.”

But the key promise, in Kelly’s mind, is Ford’s acquiescence to a driver.

Kelly sees this as a “first step” for the mayor and the city he’s governing. He wouldn’t say what future steps might be, or if he’d ever consider asking the premier to unseat the mayor herself.

But if the mayor’s “mistakes,” as Ford calls them, continue, “I don’t think there’ll be any forgiveness. … Any generosity that’s out there now … may not be there in the future.”

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