Members of Rob Ford’s staff raised questions with him early on in his term about the ethics of using taxpayer-funded staff and vehicles to help with football teams, but the mayor would not budge, sources told the Torstar News Service.
Instead, staffers made sure the special assistant working with Ford’s football teams was also doing a “good amount of constituent work, just in case reporters ever came knocking.”
The amount of work devoted to football varied with the time of year, said one former staffer, but during the warm months and into the fall it’s fair to say football was the focus.
According to a former young political aide who witnessed senior members of Ford’s circle arguing with him about alleged misuse of city resources, the feeling was that Ford’s character transgressions — like the 911 calls and driving while talking on a cellphone — would not affect his core support.
But the football issue “is the one type of thing that could actually piss off Ford Nation, because it goes against the bedrock principle of not dipping into the trough.”
Added another former staffer: “That’s gravy,” of revelations that a car paid for by the city has been used to shuttle around high school athletes, that city cellphones are used to contact players, and that taxpayer-funded staff in the mayor’s office spend time working with the teams Ford coaches.
Ford employs about half a dozen special assistants in his office, who execute a variety of duties. From the beginning of Ford’s term, one of those special assistant jobs was earmarked for the football file in addition to other duties.