Toronto Mayor Rob Ford loses two more senior staffers
Published Monday, May 27, 2013 9:42AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, May 27, 2013 4:25PM EDT
Two senior members of Rob Ford’s staff are no longer employed in the mayor’s office, as the political storm that surrounds Ford and his brother continues.
Ford’s press secretary George Christopoulos and communications special assistant Isaac Ransom left their positions Monday. It is not clear whether they resigned or were let go.
“I wish them the best of luck in their future endeavours and I want to thank them for working hard in this office,” Ford told reporters during a brief news conference Monday afternoon.
“It’s business as usual, and we have our executive committee tomorrow, and we’re soldiering on.”
When asked about what is going on in his office that he would lose three staffers in less than a week, Ford said, “I’m not going to get into personnel issues,” adding that “we’re going to move on.”
Sunny Petrujkic will serve as the interim press secretary. Ford also announced that Amin Massoudi, who has served as his brother Coun. Doug Ford’s executive assistant, will join his office as communications director.
Christopoulos and Ransom are the latest city hall staffers to leave the mayor’s office in recent days.
On Thursday, Ford’s former chief of staff Mark Towhey was fired and escorted out of city hall by security guards.
Towhey would not say why he was let go, but several reports cited sources as saying Ford fired him after he urged the mayor to get help as speculation over drug allegations continued.
The latest resignations come amid ongoing allegations of drug use that surround the mayor and his brother, Coun. Doug Ford.
All last week, reporters tried in vain to get Ford to comment after a U.S. website, and then the Toronto Star, published reports that their reporters had viewed a video of someone who looks like Ford smoking from a glass pipe.
After initially dismissing the reports as “ridiculous,” Ford held a press conference on Friday, during which he said he doesn't smoke crack, isn't addicted to the drug, and can't comment on a video that he said doesn't exist.
On Saturday, the Globe and Mail published a front page report citing numerous anonymous sources that said Doug Ford, the mayor’s brother, sold hash during and after his high school years in the 1980s.
On Sunday, Ford and his brother Doug hosted their weekly radio show. The pair went on the offensive, accusing the media of unethical journalism.
The mayor called reporters a "bunch of maggots," describing them as relentless and telling listeners "no matter what you say… you're never going to make them happy."
His brother added that only "80 per cent of them are nasty son of a guns."
During his brief news conference Monday afternoon, Ford apologized for calling the media “maggots.”
"I sincerely apologize to each and every one of you," he said.
Doug Ford also said Monday that “I’ve got to pass on my apologies, but folks, you’ve got to understand my position.”
Controversy continues at city hall
When asked by reporters whether the mayor had considered resigning amid all the turmoil, Doug Ford said, “Why? No, we don’t quit. We never quit.”
He said the mayor is focused on his political priorities, such as reducing the size of city council from 44 to 22 councillors, and looking ahead to the 2014 budget.
During his radio show on Sunday, the mayor said he was undeterred by the recent onslaught of scathing media attention, and vowed to seek re-election next year.
"I'll be the first putting my name on that ballot," he said. "It's unfortunate that you get put in this situation, but we're moving forward."
While the ongoing political storm at Toronto's city hall has created a major distraction for politicians and staff, it's not keeping councillors from doing the work they need to do, said one councillor Monday morning.
Referring to the “circus” surrounding city hall, Coun. John Parker said he and other elected politicians are simply trying to do their jobs amid the chaos.
"The media aren't there for me, they're there for the mayor and I guess now for his brother but… our work goes on and there's a lot of work to be done and we're doing it," Parker told CTV's Canada AM on Monday.
"Truth be told, the effectiveness of Rob Ford really hasn't changed a whole lot as the result of any of this," Parker said.
He added: “Rob has not been the main activator of work at city hall over the past few years. He’s been there from time to time, but we’re not sure his main attention has been at city hall.”
Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday admitted it hasn't been easy to get work done at council in recent days, saying "it certainly adds to the workload, that's for sure.
"It's part of the job I guess. There has been a lot of controversy over various things right from the outset and I guess we just have to deal with it. This is just another one," he told Canada AM on Monday
Holyday has defended Ford against drug use allegations, saying he has never had any indication the mayor uses drugs. He took a similar approach Monday when asked whether he believed the Globe and Mail report about Doug Ford.
"I don't know anything about those allegations. I didn't know Doug when he was younger and didn't meet him until 1994 but since 1994 though I've certainly not seen anything that indicates anything like that in his past," Holyday told Canada AM.