May 24, 2013

By Jane Brown

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There is a new development in the Rob Ford alleged crack smoking scandal.   The editor of the online site Gawker says he hasn’t been able to get in touch with the owner of the alleged Ford crack video since Sunday.  The U.S. website’s crowd-funding campaign is trying to buy the smartphone video that allegedly shows Toronto’s mayor appearing to smoke crack cocaine.  John Cook says Gawker was initially made aware of the video by a tipster, who he says connected them with the owner of the video after they traveled to Toronto.  He says they’d been in relatively constant communication, until recent days.  The campaign ends on Monday afternoon, but Cook says the goal of $200-thousand should be reached by tomorrow, if not sooner.  He says the campaign is close to breaking $160-thousand, with a single donor offering $10-thousand last night.

Meantime, at Toronto City Hall, councillors are trying to make sense of a move by Mayor Ford to fire his chief of staff, Mark Towhey.  There are reports Mark Towhey had been urging Mayor Ford to go to rehab.  As he was escorted from City Hall by security yesterday, Towhey would only say he had offered advice to the mayor which was for him and him alone.  Ford has said little about the allegations, except to label them “ridiculous.”  A statement from the Mayor’s Press secretary says Earl Provost, the Deputy chief of staff is taking over as Acting chief of staff until further notice.

In another angle on the scandal, councillors on Mayor Ford’s executive committee are reportedly taking the extraordinary step of publicly urging him to confront allegations of drug use.  The Globe and Mail says they are also making contingency plans to run the city in Ford’s absence.

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