Ford dropped as coach as brother breaks silence
Sandie Benitah and Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, May 22, 2013 1:55PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, May 22, 2013 5:22PM EDT
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been relieved of his duties as football coach for the Don Bosco Eagles, a job he publicly revered.
The Toronto Catholic District School Board confirmed his departure Wednesday afternoon.
“The Board has informed Mr. Ford of our decision to pursue a different direction with a new volunteer head coach for the Don Bosco Eagles senior football team,” a news release says. “Mr. Ford’s passion for football, his commitment to the Don Bosco players and their success speaks for itself. The Board is very grateful for the Mayor’s contribution.”
The announcement came one hour after the mayor’s brother spoke to reporters for the first time about new allegations facing Ford, and on the sixth day that Ford continued to avoid questions from reporters about those allegations.
Last Thursday, the Toronto Star alleged that two of its reporters had viewed cellphone video that appeared to show the mayor smoking from a glass pipe.
The Star reported that it had been approached by Somali drug dealers who wanted to sell the video for a six-figure sum. The newspaper declined and the alleged video has not yet surfaced.
The authenticity of the video in question has not been substantiated.
However, the TCDSB did not specify why the mayor was relieved of his duties, nor did they mention the allegations in its news release.
“This decision was based on what is best for our students, our school and the Don Bosco community,” the statement said.
“We recognize and respect that the mayor’s first commitment is to the priorities of the taxpayers and citizens of the City of Toronto.”
Ford has often been criticized for leaving council meetings to go coach his football team.
The school board said weeks ago, before any of these allegations surfaced, that they were investigating his role as coach because of some comments he made during an interview about the players. In that interview, Ford suggested the players would not be attending school if it wasn’t for the football program.
Ford has yet to comment on the board’s decision to relieve him of his duties.
Doug Ford breaks his silence
Meanwhile at city hall, Coun. Doug Ford broke his silence on the allegations against his brother earlier Wednesday afternoon, telling reporters that he believes they are “untrue” and “ridiculous” during a hastily called news conference.
Doug Ford made the comments while reading from a prepared statement in front of a pack of reporters gathered outside the mayor’s office.
The surprise press conference marked the first public remarks from Doug Ford since he defended his brother in an interview with Newstalk 1010 over the weekend.
“Rob is telling me that these stories are untrue, that these accusations are ridiculous and I believe him,” Doug Ford said. “I will always support my brother as the mayor of this city because I believe in his track record. “
Rob Ford told reporters on Friday that the allegations were “ridiculous,” but he has not made any further comment concerning the unsubstantiated story and has not taken any questions from reporters.
“I am not speaking for the mayor. The mayor is my brother, I love him and he will speak for himself,” Doug Ford said Wednesday. “He has already addressed these allegations and I don’t know how much more he can say.”
Doug Ford ignored questions shouted out by reporters Wednesday, instead focusing on the accomplishments of the current administration in an almost campaign-style rant.
Ford then attacked the Toronto Star, calling their reporting on the story “questionable.”
“This is a yet another accusation, an accusation driven by questionable reporting from a news outlet that has proven they would do anything to stop the mayor’s agenda,” Ford said.
Ford was interrupted on several occasions by reporters who asked whether his brother would address the allegations himself, but the councillor did not answer them directly.
Later in his speech, Ford suggested that the mayor may not make any further statements, at least in the interim.
“We spoke to our family and our lawyers before deciding how to proceed. If the mayor stopped and held a press conference every time the media made up a story about him we never would have accomplished what we have,” he said. “If the mayor wants to make a statement his press secretary will notify the media.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Mayor Ford was approached by CTV News while at a gas station near his house, but once again, refused to address the accusations made against him.
Prodded for a comment, Ford then seemed to crack a joke about media tactics.
“Did you get your sleeping bag picked up from outside (my office) this morning?” he told CTV’s Austin Delaney. “Make sure you pick up your pillow and sleeping bag or do you want me to make your bed for you tonight?”
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