Rob Ford loses most of senior staff to deputy mayor’s office

The Globe and Mail

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford makes his way past the media outside his office after leaving the chambers at City Hall on Nov. 18, 2013. (DEBORAH BAIC/THE GLOBE AND MAIL)

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is losing most of his senior advisers including his chief of staff, deputy chief of staff and the director of policy to the deputy mayor, the first fallout from council’s decision to cut his budget and strip the city’s troubled leader of most of his power.

Tuesday’s staffing shuffles will cut Mr. Ford’s office to nine from 20 and will put all the policy and council relations duties in the office of Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly, who will also chair the city’s executive committee.

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Toronto city council voted 37-5 Monday to curb the mayor’s power and cut his budget by 60 per cent, an unprecedented measure aimed at bringing stability to city hall after months of controversy generated by Mr. Ford’s personal behaviour.

The decision on how staff would be divided was based on job descriptions, skills, staff preferences and the dollars available to the mayor, said Earl Provost, now the chief of staff for the newly expanded office of the Deputy Mayor.

Mr. Provost said the mayor’s budget – set at $712,000 for the remainder of his term in 2014 – dictated the decisions.

“This is all based on money; the realities of his budget,” Mr. Provost said. “This is a direct result of what happened yesterday. It’s the reality of his budget being slashed.”

“Everyone feels bad about this, but this is the reality of the new situation,” he said.

Sheila Paxton, who will move over to director of policy for the deputy mayor said staff are committed to working with Mr. Kelly. “We very much look forward to working with the deputy mayor and continuing the agenda of fiscal responsibility,” she said.

It will be up to the mayor to decide who will hold the senior post in his office. Of the nine who are staying with him, senior staff include Amin Massoudi, the mayor’s special assistant for communications and a former executive assistant to the mayor’s brother, Councillor Doug Ford. Dave Price, a friend of the mayor’s brother and Mr. Ford’s director of operations and logistics will also stay with him.

Other staff staying with the mayor include his recently hired driver, Jerry Agyemang; Mr. Ford’s long-time staff member Tom Beyer; event manager Victoria Colussi; manager of scheduling Dan Jacobs; and special assistants J.C. Hasko, Jonathan Kent and Christine Maydossian.

Mr. Kelly’s will keep his existing staff in his council office.

The deputy mayor said he's looking forward to working with his new staff, who made the choice themselves to work under him.

"I've got a young staff that are eager to meet the challenges that lay ahead," Mr. Kelly told reporters Tuesday afternoon, adding the office area where the mayor's former staff worked has had the locks and security passes changed and the mayor will not be able to access the area without permission from the deputy mayor.

"It's not [the mayor's office]. Not any longer," Mr. Kelly said.

In an interview on CP24 earlier in the afternoon, Mr. Ford expressed a sense of betrayal after Mr. Kelly voted to cut the mayor's budget.

"He said he was going to support me and at the end of the day his record speaks for itself. He didn't support me so we'll leave it at that," Mr. Ford said.

The deputy mayor said he wasn't bothered by Mr. Ford's comments.

"Politics is war without bullets," Mr. Kelly said.

"There's a loyalty that transcends the office and the person and that's a loyalty towards the residents of Toronto and their expectation of good government."

Kaleigh Rogers is a freelance writer.

Follow us on Twitter: @lizchurchto, @KaleighRogers

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