The ranks are thinning once again in Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's office, with the departure of the longest-serving member of his staff.
Tom Beyer, who for most of Mr. Ford's term in office was the familiar face at the reception desk inside the glass doors of the mayor's office, handed in his notice on Friday, he confirmed to The Globe and Mail.
"It was time for a change for my own health and well-being" Mr. Beyer wrote in a message. "I wish Mayor Ford and current staffers all the best."
Mr. Beyer has been on leave from city hall since late fall. His official departure marks the end of an era for Mr. Ford. Not a single member of the mayor's downsized office was with him before May of last year, about the time news broke of a video allegedly showing the mayor smoking crack cocaine. The only other member of Mr. Ford's staff with city hall experience is his communications assistant Amin Massoudi, a former aide to Councillor Doug Ford. Beginning Monday, Mr. Massoudi is on an extended leave. That leaves Mr. Ford with eight active staff – a chief of staff, a manager of events, a policy adviser and five "special assistants," one of whom is his driver.
That compares to a staff of 20 before November when Mr. Ford admitted that he had smoked crack cocaine and city council transferred most of his authority and office budget to Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly. Before the downsizing in November, Mr. Ford faced an exodus of staff in May when news of the video surfaced and his then chief of staff, Mark Towhey, was fired after advising Mr. Ford to get help.
Mr. Beyer – known for managing the numerous calls to Mr. Ford's office – became part of the news in October. That's when the court released documents related to their investigation of the mayor. They included reports that Mr. Beyer had dozens of phone conversations with Alessandro Lisi, the mayor's friend and occasional driver who faces charges of drug trafficking and extortion related to the alleged video The police surveillance reports also include a meeting between Mr. Beyer and Mr. Lisi outside an Etobicoke grocery store.
Mr. Beyer, who was a loyal member of Mr. Ford's staff and worked on his campaign in 2010, often posted messages on the mayor's official Twitter account. One day after Mr. Beyer handed in his notice, Mr. Ford's Twitter account sent out the wrong information, advising Toronto residents to turn clocks back for daylight savings, a message that has since been corrected.
A request for comment from the mayor's office on Mr. Beyer's exit was not returned.
Mr. Beyer's last public event was in early November when he played keyboard in a band that included councillors from all sides of the political spectrum at a charity event.
Civic activist Dave Meslin, who formed the Clamshell Quintet with Mr. Beyer, said it played for the last time on November 1 at the charity battle of the bands. "He is a really good guy," Mr. Meslin said. "Tom was one of the few people in the mayor's office who had a strong allegiance to Rob [Ford]."
Editor's note: A previous version of this article incorrectly said the police released the documents related to their investigation of the mayor. In fact, the court released the documents