Depending on with whom you speak, the truth is a) Rob Ford is the victim of a media attack the likes of which has never been witnessed in Toronto, including unjustified intrusion on his private property, or b) Rob Ford is the author of all of his problems.
I would say both of the above contain truth and that all of the following are true, in my opinion:
1) Even occasionally smoking crack and drinking too much, Ford has been a better mayor than his predecessors of the past 15 years. I stand by what I wrote here.
2) Ford has serious private problems that largely through his own carelessness have not been kept private. He needs to step aside and seek help.
3) The Toronto Star needs to step aside and seek help. I mean, buying a video that showed Ford angry and drunk, after he admitted to the crack and other excessive behaviour? What was new or newsworthy in that video? What did it tell the public that the public did not already know? We knew -- even before the admission of crack-smoking -- that he got angry and drunk, at times.
Paying for actual 'news' is something worth debating. Paying for that video was merely a matter of piling on and the grown-up equivalent of 'mean girl' tactics, as was the KFC video. (Really, Toronto Star, picking on an obese guy because he struggles with his weight? Would you do the same to, say, an obese, leftist woman? I doubt it.)
4) Speaking of mean girls, it is clear that since Ford was elected, the chattering classes in our fair city have been unable to accept the overwhelming results of a democratic process. He is not their kind, and hence their desire to paint all of this as urban vs. suburban, sophisticates vs. rubes, when, in fact, there were many of us downtown (including pro-gay marriage, pro-immigration, theatre-going, car-less me) who voted for him.
We did not vote for him because we are too dumb to appreciate the arts or bike lanes or libraries, but rather because we would like the city to function in a way that allows all of those things to flourish. It becomes clear to me, however, when I read things like this Annex-y analysis, or watch things like this, that a certain kind of Torontonian has no clue why Ford was elected, and that their contempt for anyone who voted for Ford takes away their ability to view the situation objectively.
5) Should Ford face criminal charges he will have to resign, but for now it is not unreasonable of him to prefer that the voters decide his fate.
6) Toronto needs to get over itself. All of this whining about how our "reputation" is being ruined is absurd. "The world" is not laughing at us. Newsflash: Jon Stewart and CNN are not "the world" and even Americans who watch The Daily Show or Piers Morgan are highly unlikely to be giving Toronto much thought after they turn off the TV. I've just come back from nearly three months in Italy, where there are real problems and where if Italians know anything at all about Toronto, it is only because they have relatives here.
The one North American mayor in whom Italian media have a teeny bit of interest is Bill de Blasio, and that is because his grandparents are from Campania. De Blasio's policies, I fear, will undo much of the good another Italian-American, Rudy Giuliani, did for New York, and will probably cause New York far more substantive problems than Mayor Ford is currently causing Toronto.
7) Toronto could do with fewer councillors and a strong mayor model.
8) I find the lack of empathy and the gloating and the glee from many Ford-bashers -- especially those who are from the allegedly compassionate left -- disturbing.
9) I never thought I would say this, but I agree with Michael Bryant about something.
So let us speak no more of this until either election day, 2014, or an actual newsworthy event. By 'newsworthy' I don't mean bad language from the mayor or more rumours. I mean criminal charges or a resignation.
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