Embattled Toronto Mayor Back In The News For Drugs, Drinking

Melissa Block talks to Kevin Donovan, investigative reporter for the Toronto Star, about the ongoing controversy of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. The embattled mayor is back in the news, responding now to allegations of drug use and public intoxication.

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The embattled mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, is back in the news responding yet again to allegations of drug use and public intoxication. On his radio show yesterday, Mayor Ford called his behavior at a street festival in August pure stupidity.

MAYOR ROB FORD: I shouldn't have gotten hammered down at the Danforth. If you're going to have a couple drinks, you stay at home and that's it. You don't make a public spectacle of yourself.

BLOCK: And he offered up some remorse.

FORD: I have mistakes, and all I can do right now is apologize for the mistakes.

BLOCK: Today, on another radio show, the Toronto mayor vowed, I'm not a drug addict, and he repeated his call for the city's police chief to release a video that investigators say they have now recovered. It allegedly shows Mayor Ford smoking crack. Kevin Donovan is investigative editor at the Toronto Star. He's one of the journalists who broke the story of the video back in the spring. Kevin, welcome to the program.

KEVIN DONOVAN: Thanks for having me on.

BLOCK: And you're one of a few reporters who saw this video earlier this year that apparently is now in the hands of authorities. They're carrying out an investigation, a broader association, and there's an associate of the mayor who has been charged with extortion. What's this all about?

DONOVAN: Yeah, the associate's name is Sandro Lisi. He is a 35-year-old person who is known in the community to be involved in the drug scene, and so he was found this summer to be meeting Mayor Ford in a number of clandestine locations - parks, near a gas station - and place a video tape and photographed multiple occasions where they transferred information, something in brown envelopes.

BLOCK: And how was this surveillance being carried out, do you know?

DONOVAN: They used an airplane at times because they found that some of the people were moving so erratically they were losing the - what they call a spin team of six officers who were trying to follow them. They had a camera mounted on a pole outside of one of the main suspect's houses so they could see when he was coming and going; pretty in depth investigation.

BLOCK: And is it clear from the documents you've looked at what the role of the mayor may be or what the authorities are alleging it may be?

DONOVAN: Well, one of the things that they're looking into in the broader investigation, it relates to, you know, people buying and selling drugs. It never comes out and specifically says Mayor Ford is being investigated for that. But one of the interesting sections of this document, and you can understand half of it is blacked out and half of it not, they talk about Mayor Ford and his connections to Project Traveler, which was a massive guns and gangs investigation that just concluded in June in this year.

So we've got a heading that says "Mayor Ford's Connections to Project Traveler," 12 pages of blacked out information following it. We're in court right now trying to get those 12 pages.

BLOCK: You know, it sounds, from Mayor Ford's response, like he thinks he has nothing to hide. He's saying, look, release this video. Let everybody see it. Let me see it. Let the people of Toronto see it.

DONOVAN: Mayor Ford is quite skilled at dealing with these issues. He's a number of them over his time in office. He's asking for something which he already knows and his advisors knows, the Toronto police chief is not going to release the video until it comes to court. That could be a year from now.

BLOCK: And from the folks who surround him, are people being supportive or is anyone within government saying, you need to step down or at least step aside?

DONOVAN: Well, his city council is almost to a man and a woman unified in asking him to step aside. They all expected that's what he was going to announce on Sunday. He didn't and now, you know, we're faced with the council meetings coming up in the next little while and we'll see if they actually sit down with him and talk business.

BLOCK: Kevin Donovan is investigative editor at the Toronto Star. Kevin, thanks so much.

DONOVAN: Thanks for having me on.



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