Mayor Rob Ford came under fire for leaving a council meeting to coach high school football last week, but a look at the attendance records for city council as a whole shows Ford actually stacks up rather well.

The records suggest that Ford has missed about 14.8 per cent of all votes since assuming office in December 2010, which gives him a better record than 21 of 43 city councillors.

Ward 44 Coun. Ron Moeser, who has battled an illness, had the worst record, missing 55.4 per cent of votes, while deputy mayor Doug Holyday had the best record, having missed only 1.2 per cent of votes.

“I have one of the best voting records, but I think I can do a lot better,” Ford told CP24 on Wednesday afternoon. “As mayor I am going to get those numbers up. I’m still not happy with 85 per cent. I should be here 95 per cent of the time and for those councillors that are in the 50's they should be looking at why they are down here if they are going to miss more than half of the votes.”

When Ford assumed office he instituted a rule that requires all votes to be recorded in the official council meeting minutes and then placed into a searchable database on the City of Toronto website.

Ford said the fact that the attendance record of councillors is now being discussed just shows that the move was a wise one.

“At least now the taxpayers are aware of what their councillors are doing and when they are here and when they are not,” he said.

Unfair criticism?

Ford was widely criticized when he left a council meeting last Friday to coach his Don Bosco Eagles in a high school football playoff game, missing several hours of debate on whether or not to approve a master plan for four new LRT lines as a result.

Speaking with CP24 Wednesday, Councillor Doug Ford said the numbers show his brother has been unfairly given a hard time when it comes to his attendance record.

“When David Miller was down here he was absent for 41 per cent of the votes and Rob has missed 14 per cent of the votes. There is the difference,” Doug Ford said. “Rob sits on the executive (committee). The previous mayor never sat on executive, but Rob gets up and leaves for an hour and the whole world is coming to an end.”

The attendance records appear to highlight an attendance problem at city hall with 12 councillors missing more than 20 per cent of votes, including Doug Ford, who missed 21 per cent.

On Wednesday Doug Ford told CP24 that cutting the size of council could help to address the problem, since absenteeism rates tend to skyrocket as meetings stretch into the night.

“They were elected to be down here and when we drag council out for three days half the chamber is empty and it’s unfortunate,” he said. “We should go down from 44 to 22 (councillors). We don’t need 44 people dragging it out, filibustering and going on for eight hours on one item.”

Council divided on records

While some councillors pointed to the records as proof of an attendance problem at city hall, others questioned the methodology.

“I think attendance has to be a little better defined,” Coun. Mike Del Grande told CP24. “When attendance is only measured by pushing the button you get all kinds of councillors that aren’t there for the debate and then they rush down to vote without hearing anything because they have already made up their mind.”

Del Grande also noted that councillors are often drawn away from votes on trivial matters in order to prepare for debate on more important motions or to attend to important constituency matters, saying they shouldn’t be knocked for doing so.

“Voting is one of the gauges (of councillor performance), but you have to look at what is being voted on,” he said.

Giorgio Mammoliti, who had the third worst record on council having missed 27 per cent of votes, said the records just don’t tell the tale in his case.

“I have been in the council chamber quite a bit. In fact I stay longer than most,” he told CP24. “I’m not sure what they are talking about because the reality is that very few councillors work as hard as I do.”

Remember for instant breaking news follow @cp24 on Twitter.