Rob Ford, internationally renowned nemesis of the livable streets movement, was removed from his post as mayor of Toronto today after being found guilty of violating local ethics laws. Ford will have an opportunity to appeal the ruling.
As villains go, Ford was actually sort of ideal: brash, unthinking, and prone to embarrassing himself. The Canadian press dubbed him “Toronto’s clown mayor.” When he wasn’t finding ways to undermine the city’s plans for surface transit and bikeways, he was finding new and inventive ways to star in the wrong kind of viral YouTube videos.
There’s a chance Ford’s appeal will succeed and he’ll end up back in the mayor’s office. But today, we’re enjoying the moment and paying tribute to Rob Ford with this retrospective of his most memorable antics.
#1. “Cyclists are a pain in the ass”
Ford made headlines as a mayoral candidate and City Council member when he said that “cyclists are a pain in the ass” and they should ride on the sidewalk. That Ford never even seemed to consider that this would inconvenience pedestrians as well as cyclists encapsulated his “cars above all” philosophy.
After he was elected, Ford made good on his promise to end the “war on the car” by removing bike lanes, which attracted international attention to the city for all the wrong reasons and prompted some memorable acts of civil disobedience.
#2. Reading while driving
Earlier this year, Ford got caught reading while driving his Cadillac Escalade on a busy expressway.
When questioned about the incident by the press, Ford responded: “I’m busy.”
#3. Endangering streetcar riders
Not one to be chastened by a little public outrage, Ford continued his dangerous driving habits. This summer Ford was involved in a confrontation with a streetcar driver after he allegedly drove past the vehicle in the path of an open door, violating provincial law. The driver said he left his seat “to advise the motorist, not knowing it was Mayor Ford, of the seriousness of the violation,” according to a spokesman for the transit union. Ford then filed a complaint against the driver.
#4. Subways to the suburbs
Transit advocates were dumbfounded by Ford’s suggestion, last year, that the city invest billions to build subways to some of the region’s sparsely populated suburbs. It wasn’t so much a bid to expand transit access as an attempt to avoid building more cost-effective transitways that would have taken away street space from cars. (See Human Transit’s post “earth to mayor: subways are expensive!“)
Among Ford’s other hare-brained transportation proposals was his vision for a subway line that would be funded entirely with private money — a fantasy that, not surprisingly, never materialized.
Meanwhile, Ford campaigned against the OneCity plan to raise taxes to fund $30 billion in transit improvements and was instrumental in its defeat, according to local press accounts. The Toronto Star blamed Ford’s “war on transit” for a 10-cent transit fare hike that went into effect this year, coinciding with service reductions.
#5. Forgetting to read the ethics rules
The ethical violation that prematurely ended Ford’s mayoral term stemmed from some fundraising activities the mayor undertook on behalf of his football foundation. Apparently it’s a no-no to request funds for your charity using official Office of the Mayor stationery, especially when you are requesting funds from lobbyists.
Again, Ford showed a knack for candid, off-the-cuff defense, saying he never read the conflict of interest rule.
We have to credit bike blogger Elly Blue with this snappy retort:
@seabikeblog Whatever. He could have read them while driving.
— Elly Blue (@ellyblue) November 26, 2012