Mayor Rob Ford ducks queries on Texas trip about friend's arrest

Mayor Rob Ford is all the way in Texas, but is continuing to be hounded about his friendship with Sandro Lisi, his friend and occasional driver who was arrested on drug-trafficking charges earlier this week.

Mayor says 'I've addressed that' to reporters asking about his friendship with Sandro Lisi

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford arrives at the Austin City Lights Music Festival in Austin, Texas, on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013. (Jamie Strashin/CBC)

Mayor Rob Ford is all the way in Texas, but is continuing to be hounded about his friendship with a man arrested on drug-trafficking charges earlier this week.

Reporters peppered Ford during his official visit Thursday to the state capital, Austin, with questions about his ties to Alessandro (Sandro) Lisi.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, right, chats with Austin Coun. Mike Martinez in Texas on Thursday. The mayor of Austin had a straightforward response to the controversies dogging Ford. (Jamie Strashin/CBC)

Lisi, Ford's friend and occasional driver, was arrested Tuesday evening in Etobicoke and charged with four offences, including possessing and trafficking marijuana and conspiracy.  

"You really have no idea about Mr. Lisi's criminal record?" a journalist asked Ford in Austin.

"I've addressed that. Any other questions?" the mayor replied.

Ford ducked all queries about his relationship with Lisi, and stuck to his itinerary: a brief speech to the Austin city council and a rooftop reception with the city's mayor to sign a music partnership.

"You've embraced your music industry, and helped it flourish. I want to do the exact same thing in Toronto," he said in his remarks.

On Friday, Ford plans to take in a number of shows at the Austin City Limits Music Festival.

The mayor's trip was also to assess the feasibility of creating a municipal music office like Austin's.

Similar to the Toronto Film, Television and Digital Media Board, it would help make it appealing for acts of all sizes to perform in the city.

Austin's city politicians seemed unfazed by the controversy surrounding Ford.

"That's really not my business. Our business is to promote this music alliance with the city of Toronto," Mayor Lee Leffingwell said. "I represent the city of Austin, he represents the city of Toronto."

Ford and Leffingwell also spoke about the size of their respective city councils, CBC Toronto's Jamie Strashin tweeted from Austin. The Texas city, population 850,000, has six councillors plus a mayor. Toronto has 44 councillors plus a mayor for its 2.8 million residents.  

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