Photo via Facebook
The crack story aggravates everyone now at least a bit. Either it’s a tiresome attempt to bring the elected mayor down on hearsay, or it infuriatingly supplied everything but the hard evidence needed to confirm that the mayor is indeed into illegal drugs. But there’s a funny sense that since the initial momentum has died down that the story is done; that despite all the articles about the criminals in Ford’s orbit, the mayor’s unexplained late-night prison visit where he unsuccessfully sought to meet an inmate, and the continual exodus of his staff, the story is no longer hot. The daily Hollywood updates have stopped, but this is the calm before the real storm.
Reporters have been patiently waiting on freedom of information requests that may unearth the hard evidence lacking so far. Ford’s office has been unusually slow in supplying these records. To be fair, there have been a lot of such requests: Mayor Miller had 30 in two full tenures, while Ford has had 175 since becoming mayor late 2010, 63 so far in 2013. Well, when the mayor is accused of smoking crack and absolutely refuses to speak to journalists, reporters can’t be blamed for trying to learn what’s going on.
Still, it’s been about three months and ordinarily the entire process takes one: 16 days for the target of the request (in this case, the mayor’s office) to hand over the information to the freedom of information office, where they take 14 days to ensure the records are ready for public consumption (that all pertinent information is released without revealing personal information). In early June, The Star sought the telephone and email records of Ford staffers working during the crack scandal. The Star finally received their first batch this week. Of particular interest in Ford’s staff is David Price. A brief recap on Price is in order because it puts the potential juiciness of his phone and email records into sharp relief.
David Price was not hired for his political experience, which, previous to his current position, consisted solely of working on the campaign to get Doug Ford elected as councillor. When reporters sought an explanation for why he was hired, Doug Ford famously quipped, “you can’t teach loyalty.” No, you can’t. Price has apparently proved his loyalty while coaching Rob in football and, according to The Globe and Mail, dealing hash with Doug in the 80s. His official title is “director of logistics and operations,” a position that didn’t formerly exist. Nobody knows exactly what he does. Rob was the sole person who hired him, and apparently pays him more than long-time staffers. As staffers keen on having political careers began fleeing the mayor’s office post-crack scandal in droves, Price’s presence was conspicuous. Clearly, he was there solely out of personal loyalty to Ford.
Price appeared on the radar when reporters gathered at Ford’s house May 17, the morning the crack scandal erupted, and, like a running back following his blocker, Price cleared the pack of reporters out of the way so Ford could get behind the wheel of his Escalade. The car drove away, then paused so Price could jog over and chat through the window. As you can see in this video by NOW Magazine, just behind them was a black Range Rover driven by a man later identified as “Sandro” Lisi.
Later that day, David Price asked Ford’s then chief of staff Mark Towhey what would happen if “theoretically” he knew the address and unit number where the crack video was being held. He named an apartment on Dixon Road in Etobicoke. Towhey, wanting nothing to do with this, suggested to speak to the police, and was fired May 23rd after recommending Ford go to rehab.
Back to Lisi, the man driving behind Ford in the Range Rover. The Toronto Star reveals that Lisi is not just Rob Ford’s occasional driver, and not just a man with a criminal history of threatening and assaulting women, but the mayor’s drug connection too. The Star article goes as far as saying Lisi visited a bungalow (the home where the infamous Ford crack picture was taken) belonging to friends of Ford, the Basso’s, where a group of men from the Dixon Road community, involved in the crack cocaine trade where known to hangout. The bungalow is only hundreds of metres from where 43 people were arrested in Project Traveler for the trafficking of drugs and guns. In the Basso home, Lisi asked the owner where the guys who made the video were. He was told, “They’re gone. Out of town. Gone to Windsor.” Nobody knows what Lisi did with that information. But the following night, that house got broken into and Fabio Basso, his girlfriend and his mother were assaulted by an unknown attacker wielding an expandable baton. Police have inquired about Lisi’s and Price’s attempts to acquire the video.
Mr. Lisi does not work for Ford (at least not in an official city capacity), and of course reporters can’t access his communications. But Price does, and given the close crew they keep, and assuming the records are full and unaltered, the public might obtain the ever-elusive incriminating nugget. That the records are untainted might indeed be hoping for a lot: some city staff had concerns the records pertaining to Ford’s former staffers would be destroyed, an allegation other city staff denied. So far The Star does not have Price’s records. What they are in possession of won’t be publicly available for weeks, perhaps months.
The records might speak to things unmentioned in this article. It’s remarkable, but there just isn’t enough room to get to it all; it is truly beyond the scope of this single article to fully recount all the people who have been arrested, assaulted, stabbed, shot, and killed in relation to the alleged crack video. For sheer number of characters in the story, Ford rivals Tolstoy. I have nothing new to add about Bruno Bellisimo, Mohamed Siad, or any of the others. Indeed, there has probably been less media commentary on the crack story because nobody can say anything important except the people who know. That’s why it’s calm. Maybe David Price has said something in official city communications that our mayor would prefer us not to read, or maybe one of the six staffers who quit in the wake of the crack allegations did. But between the freedom of information requests and the ongoing police investigation, I suspect the crack story will have new and conclusive information yet. And if the authenticity of the crack video is verified, even if Ford is granted a pass to uttering homophobic, racist remarks and smoking crack, what will prove worst of all is the shocking violence the video’s cover up has apparently triggered.
Jeff Halperin is a Toronto-based writer. You can follow him on Twitter @JDhalperin.