It’s about the vote, not the money
In the Rob Ford melodrama, people hear what they want and block out facts that don’t square with their feelings.
Everybody’s talking about Ford being punted from the mayor’s office over $3,150, improperly solicited from donors for his charitable football foundation while he was still a city councillor.
That the mayor could be taken down over such a piddling sum is an outrage to many, especially since he raised the money to help kids play football and did not personally benefit.
Ford and his erstwhile Brother Doug are also leaning on the unfairness of it all; how could a guy be removed from office over a few thousand bucks that went to a football fund?
Since Monday afternoon, I’ve had to explain to a half-dozen people that it wasn’t the money, or soliciting it on his city council letterhead that finished him.
By participating in a city council vote to rescind an earlier motion by council to approve an order that he repay the money, he violated the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act. Anyone with a direct or indirect pecuniary interest in an issue before council must declare a conflict and not participate in any vote or discussion on it.
Ford spoke to and voted on the issue at council when the order was first made in 2010, even after he was warned of a conflict by the speaker, and then voted to rescind the order at council last winter.
That’s a slam dunk conflict.
You can argue that the rules should be rewritten to give judges more latitude to impose a penalty other than removal from office. But that was the only option available to Justice Charles Hackland, given the facts.
I explained it to one guy who was sputtering about how the media focuses on things the average joe doesn’t care about, like conflict of interest laws and petty politics that drove Ford from office.
It’s ridiculous that he’d lose his job over $3,100, and now it’ll cost us $7 million for a by-election to replace him, the guy said.
But it probably won’t cost $7 million, I told him. If Ford is granted a stay of the order to vacate office and his appeal of the ruling drags into next spring, he’ll remain as mayor until he wins or loses the appeal.
Council isn’t likely to hold a by-election for a mayor that would only be in office for 18 months or less, and will appoint a caretaker mayor from among its own, I said.
I could see the guy’s eyes glassing over. Too much detail.
The money, rather than the willful blindness to conflict that allowed Ford to take part in the vote, is much easier for some people to embrace.
It fits with their suspicions and worldview.
I don’t know how to make it any simpler.