Toronto mayor silent on crack allegations, loses casino vote
By Julie Gordon
TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto's scandal-hit mayor, Rob Ford, stayed away from city hall on Wednesday but his older brother, a fellow city politician, issued a fierce defense of Ford, who was allegedly caught on a cellphone video smoking crack cocaine.
"Rob is telling me these stories are untrue, that these accusations are ridiculous, and I believe him," said Doug Ford, his brother's closest ally on a divided city council.
The Toronto Star and Internet gossip blog Gawker said last week that they had seen a cellphone video that appeared to show the mayor smoking crack cocaine, reports that propelled Toronto into the international limelight and won him the attention of late-night TV humorists Jon Stewart and Jimmy Kimmel.
Rob Ford was at city hall on Monday but refused to talk about the video.
In a sharp personal blow, a local high school stripped Ford on Wednesday of his position as volunteer football coach, saying this was "based on what is best for our students, our school and the ... community."
The mayor was often criticized for skipping city business to coach or attend the team's football games. The school's statement praised Ford and made no mention of the video or the allegations.
Doug Ford blamed the scandal on "questionable reporting" by a media organization that "would do anything to stop the mayor's agenda."
Rob Ford, elected on a campaign promise to slash spending without cutting services, has had a mostly hostile relationship with Toronto's news media and a particularly rocky association with the left-leaning Toronto Star. Continued...