News

Cost of Rob Ford scandal not yet known

By Don Peat, City Hall Bureau Chief

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford leaves his office in City Hall in Toronto Wednesday November 20, 2013. (Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun)

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford leaves his office in City Hall in Toronto Wednesday November 20, 2013. (Ernest Doroszuk/Toronto Sun)

TORONTO - 

 

What’s the price tag of Mayor Rob Ford’s crack cocaine scandal for taxpayers? Stay tuned.

 

Most of the costs for the ongoing controversy have yet to be calculated and a lot depends on whether Ford drags the city to court to fight council’s decision to strip him of most of his powers.

While Ford has promised publicly to take the city to court, he has yet to announce the launch of any legal action. The city has already hired outside legal counsel for any court fight.

City officials wouldn’t provide a cost for the three days of council meetings mostly dedicated to Ford’s bad behaviour.

Sources tell the Toronto Sun most of the mayor’s office senior staff were “consumed” dealing with the scandal from at least Oct. 31 until Monday, when most of those staffers opted to go work for Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly.

One cost is clear. Ford did hand out $5,000 raises to all 20 staffers in his office the same day council voted to start to strip away his powers. Kelly said last week those raises would be “respected.”

The city denies the controversy has hurt it financially.

Bloomberg News reported Wednesday that the Ford scandal was taking its toll on the city’s cost to borrow money. The story laid blame for the increase on the uncertainty created by the power struggle at City Hall.

City officials were quick to issue a statement arguing that its borrowing costs “remain stable and are not rising in connection with recent media coverage regarding the mayor.”

“Recent events at City Hall have had absolutely no impact on our costs or our ability to borrow funds,” city manager Joe Pennachetti stated in a press release. “The City of Toronto interest rate spreads remain stable in relation to the underlying Province of Ontario bonds and in relation to other municipalities.”

Beyond City Hall, there is also the cost of Project Brazen 2, the investigation launched when reports surfaced about a video of Ford smoking crack cocaine.

Ford himself has estimated Toronto Police have spent more than $1 million surveilling him but police won’t confirm that estimate.

Police spokesman Mark Pugash said earlier this week he couldn’t comment on the costs because Project Brazen 2 “is not over.”

Councillor Adam Vaughan focused on the cost of Ford having staff deliver toilet paper to his house -- an allegation made by Ford’s ex-staffers in interviews with Toronto Police contained in a document filed to get a search warrant in the Sandro Lisi drug case. The allegation has not been proven in court.

“I haven’t totalled up how much toilet paper was sent to his house so I couldn’t tell you the answer to (the cost of the scandal) ... there is a lot of something going down the toilet,” Vaughan said. “If he could tell us that answer maybe we could get a clearer accounting.

— Files from Shawn Jeffords

 


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