Mayors behaving badly: Why 2013 is a year to remember for municipal politics
Will 2013 go down as the year of the bad mayor? (Photos, left to right, by AP/U-T San Diego John Gastaldo, Chris Young/THE CANADIAN PRESS, AP/Detroit News David Coates)
Published Tuesday, December 17, 2013 9:00AM EST
Last Updated Friday, December 20, 2013 11:45AM EST
Will 2013 go down as the year of the bad mayor?
From Rob Ford's crack admission to a kitten-killing confession from a Quebec mayor, the field of politics is no stranger to controversy. But it seems as if Canadian mayors may have been among the worst offenders over the past 12 months.
Here's a look at which mayors captured headlines in 2013, both at home and abroad … and for all the wrong reasons.
Rob Ford, Toronto
It may take a while for the city of Toronto to recover from the fallout of Rob Ford’s actions in 2013.
After admitting in November to having smoked crack cocaine in a "drunken stupor", the confession from the mayor of Canada's largest city made international headlines six months after the story first emerged.
Beyond the crack confession, Ford made waves for lewd comments on live TV about having "more than enough to eat at home," knocking over a councillor while charging at the gallery spectators during a city hall meeting and dishing to a U.S. media outlet about his greater political aspirations – to one day be Canada's prime minister.
Also noteworthy: Ford's popularity has held steady throughout his breakout year.
Stephane Gendron, Huntingdon, Que.
The mayor of the small Quebec town located about an hour south of Montreal said his "dark humour" was behind a horrifying tale of running over a kitten as a means to control Huntingdon's stray cat population.
Speaking to a local radio station in July, Gendron boasted about backing over a newborn kitten with his truck. He also said he speeds up to hit cats that happen to cross his path when he's driving.
"When I see a cat in the street, I accelerate. Stray cats have no business on the street," Glendon said on his radio show. "So bang! I accelerate."
He later issued an apology after the SPCA said it had opened an investigation into the mayor.
Bob Filner, San Diego
Bob Filner had a short run in San Diego's top office, but his nine months as mayor were nevertheless peppered with controversy.
What began as three long-time supporters asking Filner to resign based on unspecified sexual harassment allegations quickly ballooned into 19 women coming forward about Filner’s inappropriate conduct.
Among those who had accused Filner of sexual harassment were a retired admiral, a Marilyn Monroe impersonator, a 67-year-old great-grandmother who worked for the city, and a nurse who said the mayor demanded a date in exchange for helping a marine who served in Iraq and had suffered a brain injury and PTSD.
Filner agreed to resign in August after working out an agreement that would see the city cover his legal fees.
In December, Filner was sentenced to three months of home confinement and three years of probation on false imprisonment and battery charges involving three women.
Boris Johnson, London
The mayor of England's capital was accused of "unpleasant, careless elitism" after suggesting that some people struggle in life because of their low IQs.
In a controversial speech in November, Johnson mocked the 16 per cent "of our species" with an IQ below 85 and called for more to be done to help the 2 per cent of the population who have an IQ above 130.
Johnson also declared that inequality was essential to foster the spirit of envy that's needed to spur to economic activity.
The mayor was later given an impromptu IQ test while on radio show in which he failed to give a single correct answer.
Juan Manuel Sanchez Gordillo, Marinaleda, Spain
Dubbed the 'Robin Hood mayor', Sanchez Gordillo has become a controversial cult figure after he endorsed the looting of two supermarkets by activists who gave the food to the needy in 2012.
In November, a Spanish court sentenced the town's mayor and four others to seven months in prison for occupying unused military land they wanted to be loaned to farmers hard hit by the economic crisis.
His town of 2,700 people boasts full employment thanks to its farm co-operatives and has gained a reputation around the world as a "communist utopia."
Kwame Kilpatrick, Detroit
Though he hasn’t held office for a few years now, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was elected in 2002 to revitalize a city in serious trouble. Instead he just added to Detroit's problems.
While serving as mayor from 2002 to 2008, Kilpatrick fattened his bank account by tens of thousands of dollars all while giving $73 million worth of preferential contracts to friends, costing the city millions.
His actions have been blamed for helping to drive Detroit into bankruptcy, with the city -- once considered America’s industrial powerhouse -- filing its claim in July.
In October, Kilpatrick was sentenced to 28 years in prison for corruption after he was convicted of racketeering conspiracy, fraud, extortion and tax crimes.
Honourable Canadian mentions:
Susan Fennell, mayor of Brampton, Ont.: Came under fire for expensing more than $186,000 in less than three years (including $2,162 for personalized barbecue aprons).
Michael Applebaum, ex-Montreal mayor: Promised to clean up local politics when he stepped in as mayor in November 2012 after Gerald Tremblay resigned amid a corruption scandal. Applebaum resigned in May when police slapped him with 14 charges, including fraud, conspiracy, breach of trust and corruption.
Gilles Vaillancourt, ex- Laval, Que. mayor: Was mayor for 23 years before his name started surfacing at Quebec's corruption inquiry. He resigned and was eventually arrested, with 36 others, in May 2013. He is charged with gangsterism along with conspiracy, fraud, influence peddling, and breach of trust.
Joe Fontana, London, Ont.: Accused of using taxpayer money to help pay for his son's wedding reception in June of 2005. He is slated to appear in court in May 2014 to face fraud charges.