Mayor Rob Ford is declining to answer questions about the conduct of a top aide, saying it is “no one’s business” what happens in his office.
The province’s transit agency is investigating several alleged incidents at a commuter train station involving David Price, Mr. Ford’s director of operations and logistics, a source has confirmed.
Mr. Price allegedly yelled at a transit employee and damaged a door at the Georgetown GO Transit station on Aug. 27. Metrolinx transit officers also are investigating other incidents of alleged abusive behaviour by Mr. Price dating back several months, said Anne Marie Aikins, spokeswoman for Metrolinx, which operates GO Transit.
Pressed about the allegations Thursday, Mr. Ford said he does not discuss personnel matters and attempted to steer questions to his family’s annual Ford Fest barbeque on Friday.
“It’s actually no one’s business what happens in my office,” Mr. Ford said when asked why he would not comment. “I take care of the people that work for me and they do a great job.”
Reports of Mr. Price’s alleged outburst emerged the same day the attorney-general’s office released a trove of archived criminal court records that shed more light on the background of another Ford associate, Sandro Lisi, a frequent late-night companion and occasional driver of the mayor’s.
The records show a string of 20 charges, most of them eventually withdrawn, stretching back to 1997, when Mr. Lisi was just 18 years of age.
Mr. Lisi’s name has come up in several police interviews with former staffers in the mayor’s office about attempts to retrieve an alleged video showing the mayor smoking what appeared to be a crack pipe. Police also interviewed Mr. Price about the alleged video after he informed chief of staff Mark Towhey of a credible tip about the video’s whereabouts, according to a source close to the mayor’s office. Mr. Ford has denied he uses crack cocaine.
The archived charges against Mr. Lisi include two convictions for harassment and one each for threatening death, threatening bodily harm and assault and violating probation. All the convictions came in a single year, 2002, and earned him a cumulative 105 days in jail. Those archived records are in addition to already released records outlining convictions for threatening a woman with death in 2011 and withdrawn charges for assault and threatening death against a second woman.
Last month, Mr. Ford said reports about Mr. Lisi were “not accurate,” adding that he’s “a great guy” and “straight as an arrow.” Mr. Lisi’s lawyer did not return calls for comment.
At no time was Mr. Lisi on the mayor’s office payroll. Mr. Price, meanwhile, earns an estimated $130,000, according to divorce filings.
A receptionist at the mayor’s office said Mr. Price was not in the office on Thursday. Mr. Price did not return an e-mail seeking comment.
A spokeswoman for the city confirmed that Mr. Price is still an employee of the mayor’s office and that staff salaries come out of the mayor’s staffing budget, which is funded by the city's annual operating budget.
Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, a member of Mr. Ford’s executive, said if reports are true, Mr. Ford “has to ask himself whether he wants people like that working for him.”
Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly also said the allegations must be addressed. “It is something that has to be looked at and reviewed,” said Mr. Kelly, who indicated he will discuss the reports with the mayor in private.
Councillor Adam Vaughan, who is frequently at loggerheads with Mr. Ford, noted that the mayor and his brother used their radio show to publicly question the appropriateness of Mr. Vaughan’s choice of staff. They incorrectly identified one of his staff members as the wife of a prominent planner and later as the wife of a union leader, suggesting a conflict of interest. To now argue that the public has no interest in the conduct of individuals in the mayor’s office is hypocritical, Mr. Vaughan said.
“They had no hesitation going after a staff member and holding me to account for it,” he said.