Lately it’s hard to find a politician who’s not in the pocket of someone with ties to the Mob or Big Construction.
When’s the hammer gonna drop?
Maybe there’s nothing to the mayor’s hanging out with known gangsters who sometimes get killed, but right on cue Tuesday…
The leaves are falling and Rob Ford has yet to be taken away in handcuffs.
A lot of us had expected to see that scene flickering across our TV screens by now. It’s not just the media and their friends among the intelligentsia who’ve caught wind of the rumours.
But it looks like the public will have to wait to see what’s in those Project Traveller search warrants that may or may not shed light on the infamous video allegedly showing the mayor smoking crack. Lawyers representing some of the alleged gang members caught up in that raid, including the purveyor of said video, are raising concerns about the slow pace of disclosure. Legal obstacles must be jumped first.
A semblance of normalcy has descended on City Hall. But if a sense of calm has set in, it’s a precarious one. It always is with Ford.
And right on cue on Tuesday, October 1, Alexander Lisi, the mayor’s sometime driver and alleged drug dealer, was arrested, adding to the rogue’s gallery of Ford friends.
Four charges were laid: possession of marijuana, trafficking in marijuana, possession from the proceeds of crime and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence. A homicide officer is named on the police press release announcing Lisi’s arrest, but police caution that not too much should be read into that.
At NOW press time Wednesday afternoon it was not yet known whether the conspiracy charge against Lisi is related to a home invasion at the Etobicoke bungalow of Ford’s former classmate, Fabio Basso, where the alleged crack video in question may have been filmed. (Check nowtoronto.com for updates).
The timing of the arrest couldn’t have been worse for Ford, who was preparing to jet to a trade mission in Austin, pushing an Austin-Toronto music city alliance, when news broke.
His crack staff have been dutifully keeping up appearances in recent months, taking to Twitter and Facebook to create a virtual reality in which the mayor is seen to be hard at work.
Ford’s taken an interest in some odd causes recently – at least for him: the case of Canadian filmmaker John Greyson and physician Tarek Loubani, currently on hunger strike in an Egyptian prison. Ford penned a letter to the PM offering any support he can give.
And his efforts to save the Sam the Record Man sign has heritage buffs buzzing. Is this the real Rob Ford, or is he undergoing an extremely convenient makeover?
The most recent responses to a batch of Freedom Of Information requests on his whereabouts reveal that he continues to be MIA from his mayoral duties at least half the time. Just how has he been filling his days outside City Hall, which are longer and emptier now that he’s been relieved of his coaching duties?
His new deputy, Norm Kelly, has offered to keep Ford focused on the tasks at hand, telling reporters last week that he’d have a word with the mayor to “gently” push him to attend more events.
Sadly, Kelly’s stern uncle routine won’t do the trick. We’ve seen it all before from his predecessor, Doug Holyday. Besides, it’s too late. It could all be over soon. And no one knows that better than Ford himself.
His public appearances of late have been strained; the laughter, when there’s been anything to laugh about, has been nervous. Was that staggering appearance at Taste Of The Danforth just another misstep, or is the pressure getting to him?
Like the rest of us, Ford maysuspect the hammer’s coming down. It’s just a matter of time. Maybe closer to the upcoming election when it’ll have the most impact. He’s not a stupid man. Presumably, there’s a mirror in his bathroom.
Maybe I’m drawing too many conclusions. Maybe there’s nothing to the mayor’s hanging out with known gangsters who sometimes get killed.
That kind of thing is only supposed to happen in, well, Quebec, where lately it’s hard to find a politician who’s not in the pocket of someone with ties to the Mob or Big Construction.
Not so fast. A Mafia expert with York Region police let slip at the Quebec inquiry last year that police are investigating Mob links to at least one municipal government contract in the GTA.
The city of Toronto is not without it’s own history in this regard.
The former owner of a recycling bin company that once had a contract with the city is among seven GTA-area men named in Italian warrants for Mafia association in 2010.
Salvatore Oliveti once owned OMG, also known as Olifas Marketing Group, which had the contract to put 4,400 ad-covered bins on streets. The company’s alleged Mob association became public when Vito Rizzuto was stopped by Quebec cops in 2003 while driving a Jeep registered to OMG.
Not to spin too large a web, but another Rizzuto was in the news this week. Nick, the Montreal Mafia boss who somehow became the recipient of a $381,737 cheque from the Canada Revenue Agency. An internal investigation has just been called. Is it crazy to think it wasn’t just a bureaucratic mix up?
Rewind to the November 2010 by-election in Vaughan. The winner of that seat, associate defence minister Julian Fantino (T.O.’s former police chief) has come under Elections Canada scrutiny in recent months.
Some of the half-million dollars raised by Fantino during the campaign, former members of the riding association allege, has been funnelled to other Conservative riding associations. (Speculation is that the money funded robocall campaigns. There were also allegations of secret bank accounts in the Caymans, but the federal Ethics Commissioner determined documents furnished to prove that were forgeries.)
Among the usual array of development power brokers on Fantino’s list of contributors is Johnathan Vrozos, another who turns up in Ford’s orbit. Yes, folks, we’ve come full circle.
Eyebrows were raised when it came to light shortly after the mayor assumed office that Vrozos had a sit-down dinner with Ford. Officially, he won the one-on-one at a golf tournament held to raise money for Ford’s campaign.
But a few years earlier, the concert promoter and former bar owner had been involved in the infamous Entertainment District shakedown.
Vrozos was supposed to be a key Crown witness in that case involving cops allegedly taking bribes from bar owners to get around liquor infractions. One of the officers allegedly involved then, William McCormack, is the brother of Toronto Police Association president Mike McCormack. But Vrozos never testified. The charges were eventually stayed because of delays in bringing the case to trial.
A task force ordered by Fantino to look into police corruption at the time was eventually starved of cash and unable to complete its work.
What legal fate awaits Ford remains to be seen. But the possibleconsequences hanging over his head were etched all over his face Wednesday when reporters finally caught up to him to ask about Lisi’s arrest. The mayor stammered something about Lisi being a good guy.