As Toronto Mayor Rob Ford adjusts to a reduced budget and support staff, he’ll also have to move forward without a controversial figure at his side.
Among the changes forced upon Ford is the transfer of staff to Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly.
Yesterday, Kelly announced that 11 people had chosen to move over to his office, leaving the mayor with just nine staff. But overnight, the mayor lost one more ally from his office.
David Price, the mayor’s director of operations and logistics, is no longer working for Ford.
Dan Jacobs, the mayor’s new chief of staff, confirmed Wednesday that Price is no longer employed at Toronto city hall.
Price joined Ford’s office this year. He has been friends with the mayor’s brother, Coun. Doug Ford, since they were teenagers.
Soon after his hiring, Price became known to the public because of several controversies that occurred when he was working for the mayor.
In June, CBC News broke the story that Price had made a number of phone calls to the mayor’s radio show identifying himself as "Dave," but without stating his long-standing relationship with the Ford family. The calls were made months before he joined the mayor’s office.
Price was later suspended from the mayor’s office after he called a newspaper to complain about a headline on a story about the phone-call controversy.
In September, word leaked out that an investigation was taking place in connection to an alleged incident in which a man broke a door at a GO Transit station after a dispute with a ticket agent. The Toronto Star identified the man at the centre of that investigation as Price.
A month unlike any other
Ford has also recently admitted to drinking to excess and has acknowledged that he may have got behind the wheel after drinking.
Also this month, the Toronto Star paid to obtain a bizarre video of the mayor, which showed Ford ranting and swearing. The mayor said he was "extremely, extremely inebriated" in the video, though he did not explain the circumstances under which it was recorded.
All of the mayor’s admissions and related apologies have occurred since the start of November, which has made for a wild month at city hall and drew the attention of news media from around the world.
The story involving the mayor, the video, his crack-use admission and the circus-like atmosphere at city hall have also become fodder for late-night comedians in the U.S., including David Letterman, Jay Leno and Jon Stewart.
Saturday Night Live has also featured a skit that centred on the mayor.
So far, Ford has defied all calls for him to take a leave of absence or step down.
Yet he carries on as a politically weakened mayor, who no longer has the ability to control the leadership of key committees or the privilege of speaking first or last on agenda items before council.
Some councillors who spoke to CBC News on Wednesday expressed a belief that life will go on at city hall, no matter what happens to the mayor.
"Those shoes that continue to drop do matter, but I think council is working [at] its best with Deputy Mayor Kelly to overcome them," said Coun. Shelley Carroll.
"The mayor does not have a monopoly on being a fiscal conservative," said Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong, noting that he believes a majority of Torontonians support the fiscal direction that council has been taking.
The mayor says he is going to run for re-election and that it is going to be an "outright war" in the next campaign.
Asked about the tensions between the mayor and others at city hall, Coun. Michael Thompson said that he and other council members are hoping for "a level of calm," so they can move forward.
"I do think that there is a real need for the mayor to get assistance and get some help and we all pray that he gets the help that he needs for himself and his family," he said.
The mayor says he is not addicted to drugs or alcohol, though he has said he is currently working with health professionals.
Ford is three years into his mandate as mayor. The next election is still nearly a year away.
Prior to being elected as mayor, Ford served as a city councillor for a ward in Etobicoke, the Toronto suburb where he lives with his family.