Ford's schedule reveals little activity

The Globe and Mail

Mayor Rob Ford is legendary for endless constituency meetings and tireless returning of phone calls, but a new release of his schedule suggests he has trimmed back his daily activity.

A copy of Mr. Ford's schedule from January through February, obtained through a Freedom of Information request, shows three entirely blank pages in his weekly calendar, a marked departure from the human dynamo rendered in previous daybook releases.

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Aside from those three slow weeks, most days show no more than four appointments, mainly ribbon-cuttings and unspecified constituent meetings.

A more likely explanation for the empty schedule is a quiet shift in the way Mr. Ford's appointments are recorded.

In March, a release of the mayor's schedule tracking his activity from Nov. 1 to Jan. 31 laid out an exhausting list of up to 14 appointments a day. That version of the calendar caused alarm in the mayor's office after media outlets began investigating some of the people the mayor met, including developer Mario Cortellucci and businessman Jonathan Vrozos.

The mayor's office has deliberately withheld names from subsequent calendar entries.

"There was some information provided in previous [Freedom of Information releases]that should not have been released," said Adrienne Batra, the mayor's press secretary, who added that staff have moved to a different system of keeping appointments. "Names of constituents with whom the mayor met should have been held back."

Neither version of the calendar document the time Mr. Ford spends returning constituent phone calls or attending to complaints beyond the confines of city hall, two priorities that, by his own admission, take up considerable chunks of the mayor's time.

"These calendars don't record everything the mayor is up to," said Ms. Batra. "He's actually at city hall in meetings on a lot of those days when the calendar looks blank."

One of the mayor's most vocal critics, Councillor Adam Vaughan, said the mayor's vanishing schedule raises accountability issues.

"He clearly doesn't think the city's business is a public issue," said Mr. Vaughan. "If he leaves a paper trail someone is going to ask a question. He wants to hide it."

Under David Miller, the mayor's office would openly release an advance schedule of daily appointments, something Mr. Ford has resisted.

"He's following the same game plan as Stephen Harper, he doesn't tell you much and doesn't talk to you much," said Mr. Vaughan. "It's not normal for a mayor to be like that. He would rather do the public's business in private."



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