Thursday, May 03, 2012

What to do when your mayor's a jerk?

Rob Ford threatens media balckout unless Star removes reporter from city hall beat

By Josh Visser
Thursday, May 3, 2012
Rob Ford points in the directions where photographer Daniel Dale was standing when Ford's neighbour noticed the stranger near the Mayor's home.

Mayor Rob Ford is demanding the Toronto Star remove reporter Daniel Dale from the city hall beat after a Wednesday night confrontation near the mayor’s home and says he won’t talk to any other reporters if Dale is around.

“I will not be talking to any reporters if he’s part of that scrum. They have to take him out of City Hall,” Ford said on The John Oakley Show on AM640 Thursday morning.

Toronto Star spokesman Bob Hepburn says Dale, who won a National Newspaper Award last week, will not be leaving the city hall beat.

“This is a bad move on the mayor’s part, how does he expect to get his views known, whether it’s in the Toronto Star or in the National Post?” Hepburn said.

Police were called to Ford’s home Wednesday evening after he spotted a man later identified as Dale approaching his back fence with a recording device.
Dale had come to Ford’s neighbourhood for a story about how the mayor was attempting to buy a sliver of neighbouring Scarlett Mills Park in order to build an enhanced security fence.

In an account in the Star, Dale said the mayor ran at him with his fist raised and threatened him, forcing Dale to drop his cell phone and personal recorder.

Ford says he never physically touched Dale, although he admitted to cornering him.

“I never laid a hand on the guy,” Ford said. “I said ‘buddy, I am giving you two seconds to get out of here.’

“He said ‘Don’t hit me, don’t hit me, here’s my cell phone, here’s my tape recorder.’”

Ford said he was “pretty upset” when he confronted Dale – who he recognized – but doesn’t know why Dale would have been worried he was about to get assaulted.

“He started saying ‘Help, help, help and I said ‘What are you saying help for?’” Ford said.

Zravko Gagro, Ford’s next door neighbour, reported seeing a man just before 8 p.m. – about 30 minutes before sundown.

“He looked very fishy, and I went to the Mayor’s house and I told him what was going on,” Gagro said.

Ford accused Dale of peering over his back fence and taking photos, but also said when he confronted Dale, the reporter was “five metres” away from his back fence.

The mayor says the land that he wished to purchase was a “football field” away from where he confronted Dale.

Hepburn said Dale’s story on the potential park purchase was newsworthy.

“He went to the park, as any good reporter would . . . it was 7:30 at night, it was fully bright . . . he wanted to see the property in question,” he said.

“If that story had broken this morning, every news organization and TV camera crew would have been in the same position in the park.”

Ford has long been at odds with the Star, and he now says the paper’s reporting constitutes “harassment.”

“They are a left wing paper, they don’t like what I am doing,” he said.

Hepburn bristled at the suggestion of harrassment from the Star.

“We are not harrassing, we are not stalking the mayor or his family . . . we are covering the mayor in a professional and courteous manner,” he said.

Ford added he is considering legal action.

“Enough is enough, I’ve had it with these people,” he said.

Hepburn says Dale or the Star is not considering legal action against the mayor over Wednesday’s incident.

Police have been called to Ford’s home several times in the last six months.

In January, police were called to Mr. Ford’s home after a former boyfriend of Mr. Ford’s sister, Kathy, forced his way into the home and threatened the Mayor. The man was charged with two counts threatening death and forcible entry.

Last October, Mr. Ford called police after This Hour Has 22 Minutes actress Mary Walsh accosted him in his front yard as part of a comedy skit.

With files from Tristin Hopper, National Post 


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