Lobbyist Jeff Lyons schmoozes Mayor Rob Ford, Gus Cusimano
Back in early March we told you how Jeff Lyons, the once-powerful lobbyist virtually banished from Toronto City Hall after being tarred by the MFP scandal, was attempting a political comeback.
We noted how he was active in last year's civic election, and quoted an adviser to Mayor Rob Ford saying Lyons "sold some tables at some dinners and practically vaulted over them to try to get a photo with Rob. He may be putting out there that he has special access, but he doesn’t."
While Ford's office has tried to push back, it's a free country and anybody could buy a $300 ticket to former (and maybe future) Ward 9 candidate Gus Cusimano's fundraiser attended by about 50 people Wednesday night.
The Ward 9 byelection set to rematch Cusimano and incumbent Councillor Maria Augimeri (pending the city's appeal of a court ruling ordering the revote) already promises to be an epic donnybrook, with "Ford Nation" marshalling behind Cusimano and local unions doing anything possible to help Augimeri hang on to her seat.
Indeed, John Cartwright, perhaps the city's most powerful unionist as president of the Toronto and York Labour Council -- and a close friend of Augimeri's and husband of her council colleague Paula Fletcher -- was seen talking to a lawyer outside the courtroom before a Ward 9 hearing last week. Augimeri was at council at City Hall at the time. Cartwright did not return calls from the Star to ask what he was doing there. Augimeri said she didn't know, and no union is paying any of her legal bills.
Throwing in legendary "Brother Jeff", a bit of a bogeyman to City Hall's left, who inserted himself into several campaigns last year with varying degrees of success, can only heighten the intrigue.