October 19, 2017

My Response to Mayor Rob Ford

Rob FordBy now you have probably heard of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.  For those who haven’t, let me give you a quick time line.

In November of 2010 Rob Ford was elected as Mayor of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  He was elected as a “cost cutting” mayor, someone who would bring fiscal sense to a city whose budget was in the eyes of many was out of control.  Introducing Ford at his inauguration was Don Cherry, a Canadian Hockey commentator who concluding by saying:  “He’s going to be the greatest mayor this city has ever seen, as far as I’m concerned, and put that in your pipe, you left-wing kooks.”

There were some hints that there would be trouble brewing.  He admitted to drinking and driving prior to being elected.  He was photographed reading while driving not long after elected.  He was ordered out of office for fundraising for his football team using city resources, but that was overturned on appeal.  There were allegation of intoxication at a gala dinner in February of this year.  Then came the video…

Ford2In May of this year two newspaper reporters were shown a video that allegedly depicted Mayor Ford smoking Crack Cocaine.  It was denied.  Shortly after that a photo was released that showed Ford posing for a picture with known drug dealers.  His response, “I take lots of photos with lots of people.”  Two of the men with were arrested in June for drug offenses, the third was identified as a man who had been shot dead in April.  By August, all searches for the video had turned up empty.

There were further questions about Ford behavior at a popular street festival, and allegations that he was again under the influence.  In October his occasional driver is arrested for possession and trafficking marijuana.

October 31st, the other shoe dropped.  Toronto police chief Bill Blair announced that the police were in possession of a video that was consistent with earlier reports in the media.  Events have escalated since then.  On Tuesday of this week Ford admitted to smoking Crack Cocaine about a year ago “while in a drunken stupor.”   Yesterday another video surfaced showing Mayor Ford acting erratically while swearing profusely and yelling loudly.  Ford said he had been “extremely, extremely inebriated”, that he was embarrassed by it, but it was business as usual as far a running the City of Toronto.

The media and the pundits are of course going wild with this.  Colbert and Stewart among others have done segments.  I have heard it called funny, embarrassing, disgusting, and shameful.

I have another word for it.  Sad.  I am sad that the Mayor of Toronto has inflicted so much pain upon himself.  I am concerned for his mental health at this point in time.  To quote my Pastor: “The Bible says we are to pray for those in authority. If anyone ever needed prayer, it is Mayor Ford.”

Please join me in praying for Mayor Rob Ford.  I also want you to think of those who are in positions of government authority over you whether at the Municipal, State, or Federal level.  Next time you think you might be tempted to post a negative comment about one of our political leaders, why not take a moment and pray for them instead.

Update:  Our apologies, a number of comments are getting getting caught in the spam filter.  They have been approved but the spam filter has not yet released them.

Comments

  1. Jazziscoolithink says:

    Next time you might be tempted to write a negative comment about someone who writes negative comments about our political leaders, why not take a moment to pray for them instead. 🙂

  2. Adam Tauno Williams says:

    > He was photographed reading while driving not long after elected.

    They need to improve their public transportation system [I am a left-wing “kook”, I even have the T-shirt, and I wear it].

    > The media and the pundits are of course going wild with this.
    > I have heard it called funny, embarrassing, disgusting, and shameful.

    It is all over the news here in Michigan. As someone who does not have single a kind word for the political cancers named Colbert and Stewart, whose mission it is to end civil debate and open discussion, it is the coverage that has been embarrassing [to people employed by NPR and the like who *claim* to be professional journalists].

    What I have not heard anything about – so, is he generally viewed as a good Mayor? How do the citizens of Toronto view him and this whole thing? Has he improved the city’s financial position? Those are the only stories with substantive value.

    > Next time you think you might be tempted to post a negative comment about one of our political leaders,
    > why not take a moment and pray for them instead.

    +1

    • Running the city and improving the balance sheet are not the only thing of importance here. If so, you are really saying that it matters not if one is a pedophile or keeps his starving mother locked up in the attic as long as he can perform in his job. I believe that a person’s morality and value systems DO matter and ultimately influence decisions which affect us all. In this case of a mayor gone wild, it seems that he indeed has gone beyond some bad boy behavior and is captured by addictions which are bound to destroy him as a man. This is why I agree fully with Mike: it is sad and the Mayor needs prayer.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        >Running the city and improving the balance sheet are not the only thing of importance

        I disagree, those are the only important issues. If he was not a mayor, nobody would care. If he is an effective mayor or not is the only question worthy of interest. That a man train-wrecked his life – that happens all the time; it does not merit public scrutiny. He needs to resolve those issues [or not] on his own. Allowing his personal issues to be public topics adds nothing to the public space, and distracts from substantive topics.

        > If so, you are really saying that it matters not if one is a pedophile or keeps his starving mother locked
        > up in the attic as long as he can perform in his job

        If he was any of those things he would be arrested and no longer mayor. And it still would not be a topic worthy of public discourse. That is just the execution of law-enforcement.

        > I believe that a person’s morality and value systems DO matter and ultimately influence
        > decisions which affect us all

        Sure, but that is up to the voters in Toronto. Which as I mentioned have not been included in the coverage.

        • jazziscoolithink says:

          “If he is an effective mayor or not is the only question worthy of interest.”

          Kind of like how the only thing that mattered to John the Baptizer was if Herod was an effective ruler or not. Oh wait…

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            And what would you discuss? Did-he/Did-he-not? Law enforcement, which has evidence, will determine that. Is smoking crack cocaine OK? Ok, for a mayor? Should a mayor be allowed to drive while intoxicated? I don’t get it. How is this anything other than Gossip?

            Enumerating Herods perversions would have accomplished what? [Aside the fact that a mayor in Canada is an *elected* official, and Herod was an appointed monarch, and John was a prophet, we (I assume) are not] The jewish response to Roman occupation would have been a useful topic.

          • jazziscoolithink says:

            When Paul recommended that we pray for our leaders, he did have only democratically elected leaders in mind. I would guess the Herods are included, wouldn’t you? Scroll on down to Caleb’s comment to answer your other questions.

          • jazziscoolithink says:

            When Paul recommended that we pray for our leaders, he did not*** have only democratically elected leaders in mind.

            My bad.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            The point of the comment was not that we should not pray for him [as that was not the point of the comment I replied to] it was that his behavior does not merit the level of attention it receives, or that hashing it has any value. The comment was concerning what are “question worthy of interest.”

    • jazziscoolithink says:

      “As someone who does not have single a kind word for the political cancers named Colbert and Stewart, whose mission it is to end civil debate and open discussion…”

      I don’t know, Adam. You do a fine job yourself of ending civil debate and open discussion by calling people “cancer” and refusing to have a kind word to say about them. Our political leaders aren’t the only ones the Bible tells us to prayer for. Next time you might be tempted to post a negative comment about political comedians whose job it is to poke fun at our current political situation, why not go ahead and take a quick moment to pray for them instead, huh? 🙂

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      Isn’t it possible for us to pray for someone while also actively criticizing and condemning destructive behavior?

      I agree that this is a sad, sad story, and Tom Ford definitely needs our prayers. But the fact that he is subject to public scrutiny won’t soften my critique of his actions. Knock the late-night comedians all you want, but if you pay attention to the heart of their critique, they are not just attacking Ford for smoking crack, or for using racial epithets, or for falling into drunken stupors. Ford first denied the allegations, dismissed the video evidence, attacked media outlets for asking questions about his behavior, then did a sad song-and-dance routine before finally (sorta) admitting that he smoked crack. That is where the ridicule comes from: his stubbornness, his arrogance, and his refusal to acknowledge that he has a real problem.

      If Ford admitted that he smoked crack when the evidence surfaced, asked for the forgiveness of his constituency, and immediately sought treatment, then not only would I pray for him, I would hope that maybe he could still have a future in Toronto politics. But he didn’t, so I’ll pray for him, and I’ll also accept that the ridicule and public shaming currently being served are all the natural consequences of his actions.

      • jazziscoolithink says:

        +1

        Michael Bell set it up as an either/or, black/white issue. You either criticize them or you pray for them. Period. Which is a little too simple to be true to life. And it isn’t consistent with what we see in the Bible–I mean, Jesus, John the Baptist, John of Patmos, all the Old Testament prophets, etc., etc.

        But I get it, Michael. It is kind of fun to guilt people for having a human reaction to something. 🙂

        • I don’t think it has to be an either/or issue. Nor does it have to be black/white. Their is an emphasis in scripture to pray for those in authority over us. That should be our first reaction. My facebook friend feed is filled with anti-Obama vitriol from a CANADIAN Pastor. (Yes, I know there are ways I can turn this off.) This post on the other hand was inspired by a facebook post from another Pastor asking us to pray for Rob Ford. It struck me because of its rarity. I often see posts asking me to pray for parents, friends, family, but almost never asking for prayer for our politicians.

          • jazziscoolithink says:

            I understand where you’re coming from, Michael. I guess I experience the “we should prayer for those with power over us” thing more often than you do. Again, I agree that we should pray for our enemies and our leaders (who are too often our enemies).

            What bothers me about your post is this sentence: “Next time you think you might be tempted to post a negative comment about one of our political leaders, why not take a moment and pray for them instead.”

            Tempted. As if any criticism of a leader is necessarily wrong or sin. I think there is room for both prayer and thoughtful criticism (there certainly is in our scriptures). But your last sentence does not seem to leave room for the latter.

          • Agreed.

          • I think that the vitriol against Obama, especially by Christians, is awful. And awfully uninformed.

            But I would be willing to bet that the pastor calling for people to pray for Ford also voted for Ford.

          • I would take that bet. Neither he, nor I live in Toronto. The Pastor keeps his political leanings to himself. I do agree though, that we are more willing to give a pass to those we agree with, than those we disagree with.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > Isn’t it possible for us to pray for someone while also actively criticizing and condemning destructive behavior?

        Yes

        • That Other Jean says:

          Indeed.

        • I sure hope so. I also hope it’s okay to laugh at Stewart and Colbert’s jokes about guys like this while also praying for them. I also know that but for the grace of God go I.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            I believe Stewart’s and Colbert’s mockery-of-all-things does nothing but poison the water. They represent everything that is wrong with media’s interaction with society. They confuse being clever with having discussion, and they feed partisan arrogance to their ‘side’ and breed resentment on the ‘other’.

            Their humor is at the expense of both the people they target, and civil society at large.

          • Marcus Johnson says:

            That’s confusing, since it’s pretty obvious that the foundational concept of each of their shows is to mock and ridicule everything that is wrong with media’s interaction with society (and that ridicule is becoming increasingly bipartisan). I’m not sure why being clever and having discussion are mutually exclusive concepts, but both comedians have managed to do so very well.

            So, yes, their humor is at the expense of the people they target, but those folks are running around with big target signs screaming, “Hit me! Hit me!” Rob Ford is a great example of this. He could have treated his media exposure with a little less arrogance and dignity, but he chose to embarrass himself over and over again. Get pissy with Stewart and Colbert all you want but, given the extent of Ford’s hubris, they actually went very light on him, only devoting short segments of their show to him, then turning to other segments that were a) funny, and b) relevant.

  3. I think praying for folks like this is always a good thing to do.

    And the good people of Washington D.C. even re-elected their mayor (Marion Barry) who was caught on video smoking crack cocaine.

    Now, that is grace. Or..something.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Marion Barry’s re-election was because Marion Barry knows how to play the Race Card. Including strutting around in a dashiki going “AFRICA this” and “AFRICA that”.

      That and there was probably also a level of “He’s a crooked SOB, but he’s OUR crooked SOB.”

      • Adam Tauno Williams says:

        > Marion Barry’s re-election was because

        He got more votes.

        • jazziscoolithink says:

          And “he got more votes” possibly because of what HUG said in his comment. Mr. Snarky. 🙂

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          A simple matter of Black and White.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          He got more votes.

          That tends to happen when you play the Race Card on a voting population mostly the same color as you.

          It ain’t just trailer-trash Rednecks in Alabama who vote their own color.

          • HUG, whoa!

          • Brianthedad says:

            As a former trailer-living Alabama redneck, I resent that remark. I still live in Alabama, but no longer live in a trailer. Next time, kindly direct your vituperation at Mississippi trailer-trash rednecks. We alabamians can agree with you on that. 😉

      • No, it was *not* because he did anything of the kind. It was because he somehow gained a ton of sympathy (per what was perceived by many as his humiliation by the media) and because his promises to change were believed.

        D.C. only has a mayor at all because Congress “allows” it to – in most all other respects, it is run by congress, which even sets the cab fares. (Not making that up, btw.)

        The license plates say “Taxation without representation,” which is correct. Even the “senator” who represents D.c. in Congress is what’s called a “shadow senator” – they cannot vote.

        I am not a fan of Marion Barry by any means, but at one time, he was an idealistic Civil Rights movement leader, and that’s who many people still see when they look at him. I realize that he’s been made into a complete buffoon in the public eye, but there truly is some racism involved in the gloating over him, and in the way the media had such a field day with the scandals attached to his name.

      • Most of the registered voters in D.C. are black, btw, despite the great divide between the affluent, all-white neighborhoods and the black neighborhoods (which range from*very* affluent to severely impoverished).

  4. Off topic…

    I haven’t noticed Mule of late, and he hasn’t contributed any post. Is he ok?

  5. Mule is not going to be writing for us at this time. But he is fine, and is a loved member of the iMonk family. As are you, Volkmar.

    • Jeff, thanks for answering. I have missed Mule’s input–both in writing articles and in the comments section. IMO, Mule’s input is important for us.

      Peace and Grace be unto Mule.

  6. I voted for Rob Ford – mock on, I suppose. He won the election by a landslide. I was impressed by accounts of his work (coaching football) with disadvantaged kids in tough neighbourhoods. He came across as plain spoken and seemed to care for regular working people. When he won, it was as though he did a huge cannonball into the pool of the complacent city council. Those who felt entitled to lead the city were furious. For a while, it was good that he was shaking things up.

    That said, in many ways he’s the author of his own demise. Lies, public drunkenness, damning videos and overall buffoonery not befitting the dignity of public office. He should be held accountable (though no charges have been laid) and measures taken to seriously address the personal issues he has.

    Journalists should keep politicians accountable, but the media, particularly the Toronto Star have pursued Ford relentlessly from day one. The Star purchased the latest video of his drunken tirade for $5,000. I understand this is unprecedented in Canadian journalism. When one enters public life, one sacrifices privacy but his latest video isn’t newsworthy – its only intent is to destroy the man the Star despises. How well would any of us fare if our weakest moments were broadcast on the 24/7 news cycle?

    I applaud Mr. Bell’s exhortation to pray for our political leaders. I would only add that we show empathy as well.

    • Of course the video is newsworthy. Many people have serious questions about Ford’s ability to fulfill his duties in an important and stressful job. The video is yet more evidence that he is not fit for office. Would you say that a video of a drunk Barack Obama ranting about wanting to kill someone was ‘not newsworthy’? You would just ignore it as one of his ‘weakest moments’ of no public consequence? You cannot pass this off as leftist media bias.

      Also, I don’t know about you, but not everyone in this city goes on drunken rants about committing murder.

      • I think there is already enough evidence out in the public of Ford’s terrible behaviour of which he should be held accountable. The man is down – must the media continue kicking him? It’s my understanding that in Canadian journalism, news sources are not paid for. The Star crossed an ethical line, any news worthiness of the video was forfeited when they purchased it. The video adds nothing to the narrative already out in the public, it’s only purpose is to humiliate.

        • I agree that paying for the video is a dangerous precedent and the first step for mainstream Canadian media into the brave new world of journalism that Lumet’s “Network” predicted all the way back in 1976. If Rob Ford had resigned, I wonder if they would have paid for the video? I think the problem is that he’s not doing what he should be doing (resigning), so the media is going to keep building a case against him until he does. There is much more to come.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I voted for Rob Ford – mock on, I suppose. He won the election by a landslide.

      And the latest polls (even after this scandal) show that he’d win the next election by a landslide. Whether this comes from stupidity among his consitutents, a comment on the other potential mayoral candidates, or “He’s OUR drunken SOB” factor…

      Two days ago on local (Los Angeles) morning drive-time, they covered the Toronto Mayoral Meltdown scandal. From as far away as Los Angeles. (And we’ve had some pretty scandalous mayors recently ourselves.) One of the items was a drunk-driving bust south of the border in Florida before the election; the drive-time guy commented “So it’s not like the Toronto voters didn’t know what they were getting.” (At the very least, a serious alky.)

      That said, in many ways he’s the author of his own demise. Lies, public drunkenness, damning videos and overall buffoonery not befitting the dignity of public office. He should be held accountable (though no charges have been laid) and measures taken to seriously address the personal issues he has.

      Other items mentioned in the coverage were:
      * Security camera videos showing Mayor walking into the woods for 30-40 minutes at a stretch before emerging. Tracking his steps led to a clearing with a lot of empty vodka bottles. (The guy is at least a serious alcoholic; as the coverage said above, Toronto’s voters knew what they were getting in advance.)
      * The original crackpipe video was discovered on a drug dealer’s PC seized in a raid. Apparently it was being kept as possible blackmail material in case the dealer needed a friend in high places.
      * Mayor’s response was to demand the police chief resign after the chief’s press conference about the video. I do not know if under Canadian law and Toronto city charter the mayor has hire-and-fire power over the police chief.
      * The Mayor’s “HOW DARE YOU!” attitude when the media camped out on his doorstep as the scandal continued to break, followed by a continuing “wipe his mouth and say ‘I have not sinned'” — “I WON’T RESIGN AND YOU CAN’T MAKE ME!”
      * And the best for last: On a Toronto radio talk show covering the scandal, the Mayor called in under another name to defend the Mayor. (He sounded drunk.) Phone-in ended with show’s in-studio guest going “Hi, Mayor. I recognize your voice!” CLICK.

      This guy has already supplied Canadian tabloids and media with enough material to last them well into next year. And is completely Oblivio to everything outside of himself — his continuing arrogant “I Have Not Sinned!” — “It’s All YOUR Fault!” — “You Can’t Make Me!” — “Yes, but I was drunk at the time!” is just keeping the heat on and the ball rolling.

      But then, his approval rating is staying constant at 43% and latest poll shows he’d win any new election, so maybe this is what the city of Toronto wants in their mayor. I expect a South Park episode on this guy and situation soon.

      • I think the approval rating demonstrates the deep resentment that Ford’s base feels for those they perceive to be ‘leftist, urban elites.’ Its moral and civic emptiness is shocking.

        • Could the resentment be warranted? A recent Huff Post article sweepingly portrayed the suburbs as being populated with little more than uneducated bigots. I hail from Scarborough, from a very diverse neighbourhood – this is not my experience. How do we move forward if all we can do is attack caricatures of opposing view points? I fear you are correct in that this is far from over. I’m buckled up and getting ready for the ride.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says:

            > How do we move forward if all we can do is attack caricatures of opposing view points?

            +1000

  7. Yes, it makes me sad. And yes, I’ll pray for him as I do for many who deal with the demons of addictive behavior, including a few good friends.

    At the same time, I believe a person with this level of issues should not be in a position of authority. I also pray for change to a system in which it takes almost overwhelming evidence to remove people like this in high levels of authority, but comparatively little for someone in a much lower position to suffer even graver consequences.

    • jazziscoolithink says:

      “I also pray for change to a system in which it takes almost overwhelming evidence to remove people like this in high levels of authority, but comparatively little for someone in a much lower position to suffer even graver consequences.”

      That’s a great point. I’ve grown a tad weary from hearing people blindly defend those with power at the expense of those who have none. As prophetic as this post tries to be, it really misses the mark…

  8. I live in Toronto and did not vote for Rob Ford.

    The narrative on Ford has begun to turn to sympathy, but this plays into his hands. He has passed himself off as some kind of “everyman” who is “not perfect” (like everyone else), which lets him get away with a myriad of sins. Unlike most people, he apparently does not have to deal with the consequences of his actions. I would chalk this up to his being a wealthy, privileged, white man (part heir to his father’s multimillion dollar business). Sure, it is fine to pray for him because he obviously has personal problems. But Rob Ford is also reaping what he has sown for a long time and he needs tough love.

    Ford benefits from and exploits division and hatred. Ford is a mayor from the suburbs and he constantly plays on suburban caricatures of the urban core. He and his constituents rail against ‘leftists,’ ‘pinkos,’ and ‘elites’ of the downtown, who want bike lanes and social programs for the poor. Note Don Cherry’s words about Ford when he won the 2010 election. There is no sense of governing the city in the interests of everyone, or working together to compromise on divisive issues. Somehow Ford quickly managed to turn reasonable and forward looking transit solutions into leftist moves in the ‘war on cars’. His whole political career has been marked by a profound lack of understanding of the issues (see videos on youtube in council where he clearly does not know what he is arguing against) and other people. He talks and acts like he is the mayor of Etobicoke and Scarborough, not the mayor of the whole city of Toronto. Apparently the many thousands of people in Toronto who are to the left of Ford do not deserve a hearing from him.

    When arguing against AIDS prevention funding in 2006, Ford said:“Why are we catering to one group with a disease that’s preventable? It’s very preventable. If you’re not doing needles and you’re not gay, you won’t get AIDS probably. And I don’t know why we’re spending $1.5-million on this.” He has made similar comments about helping cocaine users (!). He has been charged with assaulting his wife (the charges were dropped), accused of sexual harassment, been drunk in public on multiple occasions, and has a myriad of connections to the drug world in Toronto. The guy comes from a very wealthy family. He dropped out of college before his firs year and went to work for his dad’s company. Then he gets into municipal politics and acts like a persecuted martyr. No.

    About a year ago, the media also began to ask questions about Rob Ford’s work ethic. Apparently he does not show up to the office as much as most mayors of large (or even small) cities do. There were questions about where he was and what he was doing. He claimed that he worked from home, visited constituents. I think we are getting a better idea of what he was actually doing while he was supposed to be on the job. And yet Mr. Ford recently lashed out against and demanding the firing of a city parks/recreation employee who was caught sleeping on the job. Rob Ford has always been the first person to “cast the first stone” against the foible of anyone that he disagreed with or did not like. He has repeatedly insulted, belittled, and intimidated those who think differently than he does.

    Also, let’s not forget that Ford has repeatedly lied to the public about his actions. Even worse, he went on the offensive and lashed out at the ‘left-wing media’ for conspiring to kick him out of office by fabricating stories about his drug and alcohol problems and his myriad connections to criminals. He said the media were “a bunch of maggots.” Lies, lies, lies; and more attempts to exploit the ideological division between core and periphery and the lack of understanding between the two for his personal gain.

    Perhaps even worse, Ford repeatedly lies about his record as a mayor. He has broken promises around tax increases and does not, actually, run the city in any more of a fiscally responsible manner than other Toronto mayors. If people would tune out his rhetoric and look at his record, they would see this. The dichotomy that his defenders have resurrected (I don’t like his personal life but he’s a good mayor/I agree with his fiscal agenda) is actually a false one.

    People also forget that many of Toronto’s fiscal problems were not just the fault of ‘left wing’ mayors, but came from a conservative Provincial Premier, Mike Harris. In the mid-1990s, Harris ran on a platform of deficit reduction that was part of what he called his “common sense revolution.” One way that Harris reduced the provincial deficit was by “downloading” provincial income assistance programs to municipalities.He also cancelled provincial funding for a transit extension in Toronto that had already begun. All of a sudden, the city of Toronto had a serious fiscal problem. Harris also amalgamated Toronto with its surrounding, more conservative suburbs (North York,, Scarborough, Etobicoke), which reduced the quality and delivery of services to those places. It did not take long for a conservative mayor like Ford to be elected, blaming Toronto’s fiscal problems on brain dead, bleeding heart mayors. Are we seeing how this works? Conservative premier profoundly changes Toronto’s political composition while increasing its fiscal problems in the name of fiscal responsibility and efficiency. These problems soon get blamed on the city’s center-left mayors who are supplanted by a loud mouthed, ostensibly populist conservative mayor. Oh, and the region also starts supporting the federal conservative party in the 2011 federal election.The reasons are complicated, but one issue is municipal politics.

    So this is where I have a problem with the turn in the narrative on Ford where we all feel sorry for him and want to pray for him. It is just fine to pride ourselves on our humble and gracious response to Ford’s problems. Aren’t we all so understanding. But we need to understand that this man does real damage to the lives of real people. And more is going to come out about his links to criminality in this city. Ford is a wealthy white guy who exploits divisions and needs to understand that words and actions have consequences, even for him.

    That is how one voter in Toronto feels about Rob Ford.

    • jazziscoolithink says:

      +1

      Thanks for your perspective, Caleb.

      About a week ago, I heard a songwriter talk about the job of an artist. He said that everyone has a grid through which they view the world (a worldview, if you will). The artist’s job is to look at the world through this grid and communicate what she or he sees. The problem with so much Christian “art” is that it communicates exclusively on the grid. Oftentimes the grid becomes so thick that one cannot even see anything beyond it. Unfortunately, I think this is what Michael Bell has done with this post. Quite possibly, his worldview has become so opaque that he cannot see through it to what is actually happening.

      • I think more likely my post was a push back against the vulture like feeding that is currently going on.

        I am hesitant to write this next section, because I agree with much of what Caleb has to say, and I don’t want to get into a political debate, but…

        Caleb makes some very politically astute points, though misses the mark on a couple of items. “People also forget that many of Toronto’s fiscal problems were not just the fault of ‘left wing’ mayors, but came from a conservative Provincial Premier, Mike Harris.” He forgets that the cuts by Federal Liberal finance minister Paul Martin “endangered the provinces’ abilities to pay for social programs, health care, and public infrastructure.(source wikipedia – paul martin)”.

        “Oh, and the region also starts supporting the federal conservative party in the 2011 federal election.” – The region yes, the city… not so much.

      • Thanks, jazziscoolithink.

        I want to add one more thing about Ford as mayor that non-Canadian readers should know when thinking about his story. Then I’ll shut up about him.

        This is a guy who supported a proposal to build a very large casino (run by MGM, or some large company from Vegas) in downtown Toronto. The justification? The city could make some money from it. Fortunately we were able to build enough opposition to squash the plan.

        Rob Ford also supported his brother Doug (who is also a Councillor, mercifully not running in the next election) in a proposal to build a 1.6 million square foot “megamall”, ferris wheel, boat-in hotel, and monorail on some currently underdeveloped waterfront property. This is not a man with any kind of vision.

        • Agreed on this too.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Kind of like the sachems of Tammany Hall in New York, who couldn’t look beyond the boodle lining their pockets. It took LaGuardia in the Thirties before NYC got a mayor who while still a machine pol actually had a vision of a Great City and a goal of showing the world how Great that City could be.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Ford benefits from and exploits division and hatred. Ford is a mayor from the suburbs and he constantly plays on suburban caricatures of the urban core. He and his constituents rail against ‘leftists,’ ‘pinkos,’ and ‘elites’ of the downtown, who want bike lanes and social programs for the poor.

      When arguing against AIDS prevention funding in 2006, Ford said:“Why are we catering to one group with a disease that’s preventable? It’s very preventable. If you’re not doing needles and you’re not gay, you won’t get AIDS probably. And I don’t know why we’re spending $1.5-million on this.”

      Even worse, he went on the offensive and lashed out at the ‘left-wing media’ for conspiring to kick him out of office by fabricating stories …

      This guy sounds like a Christian Culture War type without the God-talk.

      Or a Megachurch Pastor/Dictator caught in a scandal, again without the God-talk.

      Reminds me of a lot of the Pastor/Dictators covered over at Wartburg Watch, Spiritual Sounding Board, JAX Watchdog, or the other spiritual abuse blogs.

      So this is where I have a problem with the turn in the narrative on Ford where we all feel sorry for him and want to pray for him. It is just fine to pride ourselves on our humble and gracious response to Ford’s problems.

      And over at Wartburg Watch or Spiritual Sounding board, someone commented that one sign of a sociopath is they try to get third parties to pity them. Because if everyone is pitying Poor Poor Persecuted Me, they’ll let him get away with more.

      • And over at Wartburg Watch or Spiritual Sounding board, someone commented that one sign of a sociopath is they try to get third parties to pity them. Because if everyone is pitying Poor Poor Persecuted Me, they’ll let him get away with more.

        HUG, I just finished reading Martha Stout’s book The Sociopath Next Door (recommended by Jeri Massi over at Blog on the Way) and that’s exactly what Dr. Stout says. Rather than sinister behavior, or body language, or threatening use of language as a tip-off, the best clue that you are dealing with a sociopath, according to Dr. Stout, is the pity-play: “The most reliable sign, the most universal behavior of unscrupulous people is not directed, as one might imagine, at our fearfulness. It is, perversely, an appeal to our sympathy.” (page 107)

        Also, “If, instead, you find yourself often pitying someone who consistently hurts you or other people, and who actively campaigns for your sympathy, the chances are close to 100 percent that you are dealing with a sociopath.” (page 160)

        I need to get back into Hemingway. More cheerful.

    • +1

      The OT prophets had some hard words (and occasionally actions) for leaders like this who abuse power, privilege and wealth.

      I do struggle sometimes with how to balance the fight against such injustice with God’s grace as shown throughout scripture. I think we need both, but how to apply this in practice is difficult.

    • I live on the West Coast, with that mayor Torontonians seem to want, the reason is simple: Vancouver is a very small city within a larger Metro area. Vancouver proper has only 600,000 people, so the urban lefties get their vote. But this system works against the suburbs completely. I work in Van, live in a ‘burb. The Vancouver mayor wields much greater power in the region than the suburbs do, he gets more funding to do silly things that work for people without kids and the suburbs are told to tighten their belts.

      I think what is at play though, and I am NOT defending Rob Ford and his behaviour in any way, is a rift occurring between urban and suburban that will alway pit the two groups against each other as we become a more and more urbanized society. Is it 80% of people now live in urban/suburban communities and 20% are rural?

      And in Vancouver, that rift is families/childless for the most part. Only the most well-to-do could ever hope to afford a house (crack shacks go for a million – check out MLS for proof). People either adore the city soooo much they cram their family into a tiny condo (until they all snap and move to the ‘burbs) or they move out to “affordable” housing in the ‘burbs. This means completely different voter priorities and ideals. In the past, the urban areas have been able to point to inner city areas and get funding for that, so mayors are free to appease urbanites (bike lanes cutting off major roadways – check, insisting on building densification, so there are numerous bachelor suites, but a 3 bedroom house goes for over 1.5 million bucks in the decent areas – check. All the major facilities need to be located near the urban centre, so, the majority of families with sick kids have to drive into the city of appointments, and pay ridiculous hospital parking fees – check. The urban centre also needs all the transportation – forcing ‘burbites to drive, while being taxed for ‘area’ transit (which is really just urban transit subsidized by the burbs), etc., etc.

      Anyways, I know all municipalities are different, but I think the attitude of Toronto Voters is the pressures being felt on the middle class. It used to be an ideal – one parent could stay home with the kids, one income could put 4 kids through college, one income could pay off a mortgage and a car. Now, it is far more financially damaging to have kids – and everyone with childless co-workers knows this well. The income threshold to comfortably live on a single income is far out of reach of the average suburbanite (at least in Van with housing prices in the stratosphere). Yet, mayors, pleasing their urban supporters attack car riders, don’t care if all the new development is bachelor/one bedroom apartments, demand all great amenities stay in the urban core, even as the population shifts to the suburbs. Do the child-free urbanites care if the new ‘gentrification’ of neighbourhoods push out the middle class families? No. And by middle class we are talking teachers and police officers (70-100 grand/year range). Consider that in the 50s families loved living in the ‘burbs, it was a newfound freedom. Now, most families are forced into the ‘burbs, and are not there by choice. Most families can’t afford the downtown areas, never-mind the lack of (extremely in-demand) day-care spaces, lack of suitable housing, etc. Most workers would take transport if it could get them to and from work on time safely.

      But urban mayors don’t help the suburbs and suburban mayors don’t help the urban dwellers. This will continue. The media (mostly urban sympathetic) attacked Rob Ford from day one. They never asked why he was getting elected. They thought if the exposed his faults thoroughly enough, he would lose all support. What is the alternative to Ford though? Is it an urban dweller who wants the average middle-class family to quite driving a car and bike everywhere? That is Vancouver’s mayor, and he is driving the suburbs crazy. Google ‘mayor Robinson and bike lanes’ to get an idea. Do the urban polices harm the suburbs? Likely “yes” if they keep voting for Ford. Also, not sure about elsewhere, but the area got all the children moved out of the inner city areas, which created a suburban inner-city in various ‘burbs. So, it isn’t like the ‘burbs are squeaky clean and the urban area has all the problems.

    • Thank you, Caleb. Thank you. You summed up my thoughts about all of this perfectly.

  9. jazziscoolithink says:

    Something I love about Internetmonk:

    I’ve disagreed pretty strongly with Mr. Bell and others on this post, but the discussion (at least on everyone else’s end) has remained civil and understanding. Thanks Michael Bell and everyone else for being kind and willing to listen even in the face of some (probably unduly) harsh criticism. You guys are great. 🙂

    • jazziscoolithink says:

      Oh, and I wanted to thank Michael Bell for the reminder to pray. I wasn’t a fan of how you said it, but that could have more to do with me than anything else. Too often my first move is to criticize, and I rarely pray for those with whom I disagree. Because of your post, I offered up some prayers for our world leaders. First time I’ve done that in a while. Thank you for that, Michael.

  10. Caleb seems to think that prayer and tough love are incompatible. Prayer is not letting him (the mayor) off the hook for his actions; he needs to be accountable for his behavior, of course. But prayer for the man’s spiritual condition is always in order, even as the courts or law does what it must.

    • I don’t think that these things are incompatible. I just find that framing Ford as “sad” and deserving of prayer has the potential to bypass the issues before they are even understood. This whole thing isn’t just about his addiction (s).

      I’m not accusing Michael of any ulterior motive. His responses have been reasonable and gracious. But a lot of Christians voted for Ford and they are awfully silent right now in a way that they would not be about almost any other political leader.

  11. A lot of spam coming in today. My apologies if your comments have been caught up in the spam filter. Trying to keep up to date with what has been trapped in there.

  12. Headless Unicorn Guy says:

    Latest headline on the MSNBC newsfeed is that Mayor Ford has lawyered up.

    The crackpipe picture could mean criminal charges, and I’m not sure what Canadian/Ontarian law is regarding immunity of public officials while in office.

  13. I suspect that part of what people find appealing about politicians like Tom Ford or Marion Berry is that they are simply outsize versions of the rest us: deeply flawed and unlike the usual drab, prim, moralizing politicians who are so very practiced at hiding their human-ness.

    It’s always interesting that when we decry a politician’s lack of “character” or “morals” or “virtue” we usually are decrying that lack in one whose political views we don’t like; when our guy shows the same behavior we tend to get indignant about “gossip” and “prying into private lives”. Our guy, of course, has repented, demonstrating his “character” and we forgive him, while the other guy is simply a liar and a hypocrite.

    Burned out as many of us are with the political agenda of the religious right, we often simply replace it with political solutions from the religious or secular center or left, and condemn political opponents of (for example) food stamps or aids relief with much the same fervor as the religious right condemns supporters of higher taxes and abortion.

    Salvation doesn’t come from any political agenda or by maintaining high morals or virtue or character. Tom Ford, Marion Barry, you, I — we’re all in the same fix, and for this reason alone I think Mike Bell’s prescription is exactly right.

  14. Brianthedad says:

    I have to say it is awesome to read a post and comments on a political problem/debate/issue that is occuring in Canada! Our Canuck friends have these problems, too!? Not that I’m happy they’re having a problem, it’s just that we down here in the states never hear of anything going on up north, unless its a national election that changes the left/right axis of the government. It’s really kind of refreshing to hear about our neighbors.

  15. Headless Unicorn Guy:

    “The crackpipe picture could mean criminal charges, and I’m not sure what Canadian/Ontarian law is regarding immunity of public officials while in office.”

    Ford has had a lawyer all along – he has a tendency not to listen to him, as his lawyer remarked to media, “When you go left, he goes right.”

    He is not immune from any charges.
    He is under investigation, and has refused to talk to investigators around Project Traveller and Project Brazen 2. He has the right to refuse a police interview as a citizen.

    If Ford is eventually charged with something, he not only has to be convicted, but be imprisoned to lose his position as mayor.

    He admitted in Council today he has purchased illegal drugs, That isn’t enough for the Crown to lay charges.
    Police aren’t talking about the alleged crack video, the other video they supposedly have, or about wire tap and surveillance information.

  16. I have no web site , however I do have a opinion , This council, in Toronto are so trying to set up Mayor Ford. “for example who takes a picture who a person socializing at a gathering. Why bring a camera to a gathering. Mayor Ford when he was running for mayor told the people of Toronto that he was going to clean up the waste in the office He did that, this made him no friends. I am sure some of the councilors’ relatives had some of their relatives dismissed off the gravy train. and councilors are worried about there own lives. I wonder how many of them could under go the scrutiny of what the mayor did and come out clean with no scars. They should follow the old saying let them who live in glass houses throw the first stone. Leave the mayor alone or find ways to bring charges to him if he is all that bad. He is being punished for doing what he said he would do. The cities business.