In what has become something of a tradition, some crazy-ass news broke from the mayor’s office late Friday. This one is a bit complicated, so let’s try to step through it together.
The National Post’s Natalie Alcoba:
It was late afternoon when news broke of an incident at City Hall that led Mayor Rob Ford’s outgoing chief of staff, Nick Kouvalis, to ask security to escort the mayor’s long time staffer Andrew Pask out of the building.
Before the workday was up, Mr. Kouvalis and Councillor Doug Ford, the mayor’s brother, marched down to the Press Gallery to “clarify” what happened on Jan. 21, insisting there is no discord in the Mayor’s office, while simultaneously declaring that a new plan for subways is almost finalized.
Okay. So Nick Kouvalis, the mayor’s chief of staff and the guy who essentially got Rob Ford elected, is a total jerk, right? And I say that not in a disparaging way because I don’t think he aspires to be anything but a jerk. It’s a label that fits him. In any case, we learned a few weeks back (on a Friday afternoon) that Kouvalis would be stepping down from his role. According to others in the mayor’s office, this was both something that was and was not planned for some time.
So a footnote of Kouvalis’ leaving was that another guy, Andrew Pask, was also leaving. This didn’t really receive a lot of attention because Kouvalis was the bigger story.
But today news broke that Kouvalis actually called security and had them escort Pask out of the building after an altercation at a meeting. Keep in mind that Kouvalis is a man who was accused of uttering death threats against Essex MP Jeff Watson and once pushed a Ford supporter out of the way because the mayor wnated a Diet Coke. When news of this so-called “blow-up” was leaked, with the suggestion that it led to Kouvalis’ leaving, Doug Ford and Kouvalis himself called a press scrum to clarify things.
And clarify they did. Toronto Star blog The Goods has the audio of the conference, and it’s well-worth listening to. (Little moments, like the attempt to get everyone to go off-the-record in the middle of the scrum, and that the apparently semi-serious question as to where Sue-Ann Levy would be running for office, are great.)
Some choice quotes:
- Doug Ford confirms the mayor’s approach to accountability by saying that it is “no one’s business what happens…in the Mayor’s office.”
- Kouvalis makes the claim that this administration has done “done more than Miller did in seven years in a month-and-a-half.” Which seems to suggest that the last seven years amounted to less than the elimination of a sixty-dollar-per-year user fee, a bunch of bus route cuts and a single year tax freeze.
- Doug Ford says, of Kouvalis, “Public record, he’s going to privatize garbage.” I really think he expects people to break into spontaneous applause every time he says this.
- Kouvalis says that he would already be gone if not for the transit deal. In a curious turn-of-phrase, he says, “Transit City is alive and well and it’s going to be buried underground.” He may have just misspoken and meant to use the Ford-branded “Transportation City.”
In conclusion? Who the hell knows. But even diehard Ford supporters have to be feeling like maybe this isn’t the greatest example of efficient, well-run and customer service-oriented government.