Friday, November 29, 2013
Rob Ford affair not the only scandal to rock Toronto mayor's office
Oh, damn, did it again.
Hard not to, when the name has 9.88 million hits on Google, Jon Stewart has nightly updates on the guy, and there were even bus tours of RoFo landmarks in Etobicoke this week.
Time to move on to other misdeeds, at least until the next bombshells about what’s-his-name.
For instance, you could do a Mayoral Miscreants Tour without setting foot in Etobicoke or even mentioning whozits.
Sort of an anti-RoFo tour.
Step right up, ladies and gents, for a trip down infamy lane from Muddy York to the Megacity. Who needs thingamabob? Leave the kids at home. Helmets on? Let’s roll.
On your right, the mighty Royal York hotel. Look way up. Suite 1735, on the corner. Allan Lamport’s Roman orgy room. Site of Toronto’s last Scandal of the Century.
There, “Lampy,” mayor in the 1950s, lavishly entertained with bubbly, steaks and cigars at taxpayers’ expense. You can read about it in historian Mark Maloney’s upcoming book on Toronto mayors, as soon as he re-writes the chapter on whatshisface.
Mark says Lampy spent $360,000 in today’s money over two years, unbeknownst to city council.
A chatty chambermaid spilled the beans. A formal inquiry petered out, mostly because Lampy had moved on to the TTC.
“None of anybody’s business,” he said of Suite 1735. “I don’t think any mayor should be called upon to make explanations for his actions.”
Ahhh, the good old days, eh, you-know-who? And you can take heart that Lamport remains one of our all-time most popular mayors.
OK, folks, we’re movin’ on up, to Nathan Phillips Square, a Mecca of mischief.
Notoriously hot-blooded councillor Adam Giambrone’s office canoodling couch is lost to history, but let’s commune with the pigeons and reminisce about the time mayor June Rowlands banned the Barenaked Ladies or David Miller bureaucrats barred Miss Universe, Toronto’s own Natalie Glebova, as a symbol of rampant sexism.
Place gives me the creeps, folks, no matter which regime.
Let’s get the hell out of here. Quick, up to Dundas Square, my ‘hood. Here we are, outside a dark-brick townhouse on Bond St., home to Toronto’s first mayor, William Lyon Mackenzie. A newspaperman, but even that was not his worst sin.
Little Mac led the Rebellion of 1837 against Toronto’s tax-happy and anti-democratic elite. (Sound familiar?)
OK, up Yonge St. just north of Eglinton. On your left, see that art deco post office? Montgomery’s Tavern once stood there, centre of the rebellion.
Dec. 7, 1837 was a date that will live in infamy, mayorally speaking. Opposing former mayor Mackenzie was loyalist John Powell, who shot a rebel captain in cold blood and tried to snuff Mackenzie, too, but his pistol jammed.
These actions made Powell so popular, he became mayor a month later. (And if murder can be a campaign boost, why not a little crack?)
Even before the uprising, Mackenzie ran afoul of another future mayor, Henry Sherwood, who led a mob that ransacked wee Mac’s newspaper office and hurled his type into the harbour.
And you thought civic politics of 2013 were vicious?
We’ll now deke south and west of Yonge St. and King, the old St. George’s Ward once represented by George Gurnett, Powell’s predecessor as mayor.
Furious George, also a newspaperman, was part of a gang that tarred and feathered a political foe, and not in a good way.
Lucky for today’s council, the practice is passe, else they’d be constantly picking sticky patches of skin off themselves.
A quick wave at Old City Hall, where mayor Sam McBride, in the Roaring Twenties, threw councillors up against walls or smacked them with rolled up documents.
Next, we’ll head west, to Lambton, birthplace of 1920s mayor Thomas Foster. Not so much a reprobate as a cheapskate.
A wealthy landlord, he was his own handyman and made his chauffeur pay for the matches in his car. At city hall, he advocated reimbursing robbery victims rather than wasting money on police.
Foster’s penny-pinching saved taxpayers millions. (Ring any bells?)
OK, look west across the Humber River from Lambton. That’s Etobicoke. Home of so-and-so.
Let’s not go there.
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