The current city council term continues to wrap up with a marathon council session. But the term is finishing on a familiar narrative: the Fords against the rest of council.
At issue in this dispute is whether the city should reimburse $5,000 in legal fees to Gus Cusimano, who successfully filed a code of conduct complaint against Coun. Maria Augimeri.
City rules clearly say yes, the fees are covered by the city. And it passed easily, but not without a protest from Mayor Rob Ford and his brother, Coun. Doug Ford.
"When we make mistakes, including myself as mayor, we should pay for it," said Mayor Ford. "Councillors get to go out, call anybody any name...accuse them of false things and they are covered by the taxpayer?"
Augimeri's breach of conduct ruling was for referring to her ward rival Cusimano as "criminale" in a local Italian-language newspaper, Corriere Canadese.
Cusimano filed a complaint with Janet Leiper, the city's integrity commissioner. She sided with Cusimano, describing the comment as "public name-calling". There were no sanctions against Augimeri, however, as Cusimano did not request any. He only requested his legal fees — he filed the complaint through a lawyer — to be covered. Leiper recommended the city do so, up to $5,000 for legal fees.
Ford's objections, some councillors pointed out, are tainted because he personally supports Cusimano, who lost against Augimeri by less than 100 votes in the last election.
Other councillors are characterizing the Fords' objections as political.
"Some members of council are willing to make difficult choices, sometimes paid for by the public purse," said Coun. Gord Perks. "Other members of council are prepared to score naked political points."