May 25, 2013

Toronto mayor: I don't smoke crack

Rob Ford says the media is out to get him as he addresses a video that allegedly shows him smoking crack cocaine.

The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford

The Associated Press

The mayor's statement came at the end of a dramatic week. Ford fired his chief of staff on Thursday, but gave no reason for Mark Towhey's dismissal.

Towhey, who was escorted from City Hall by security, would only say that he did not resign. Reports from the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., the Toronto Sun and others cited sources as saying Ford fired him after he urged the mayor to get help. Towhey declined to comment on Friday when reached by The Associated Press.

Ford was fired from his job as football coach at a Catholic high school on Wednesday for reasons unrelated to the scandal over the alleged crack video. Toronto Catholic District School Board spokesman John Yan said the decision to remove Ford as the head of the Don Bosco Eagles Football program had to do with the comments the mayor made to the Sun TV Network in March that parents found offensive. Yan said Ford characterized the parent community as not caring about their kids, that the students were involved in gangs and guns and that if it weren't for him they would be in jail.

Ford has been embroiled in almost weekly controversies about his behavior since being elected in 2010, but these are the most serious allegations he's faced yet. The Toronto Star reported earlier this year that he was asked to leave a gala fundraiser for wounded Canadian soldiers because he appeared intoxicated.

During his campaign for mayor, Ford vehemently denied a 1999 arrest for marijuana possession in Florida, but later acknowledged it was true after he was presented with evidence. He pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and failing to give a breath sample to police.

While in office, he has been accused of flouting conflict of interest rules and making obscene gestures at residents from his car.

The controversy has drawn comparisons to the 1990 arrest of then-Washington Mayor Marion Barry, who was videotaped smoking crack cocaine in a hotel room during an FBI sting operation. Barry served six months in federal prison on a misdemeanor drug possession conviction and later won a fourth term as mayor in 1994.

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