Armstrong Mayor Chris Pieper faced the two-person media scrum with aplomb and dignity.
Pieper admitted the page 7 black-and-white picture of him in a weekly publication dressed in early 20th century garb dancing around a Maypole at Armstrong Elementary School was, in fact, him.
“It was a lot of fun, too,” said Pieper, who took some good-natured ribbing from his council members over his Maypole dancing ability.
Pieper fully admitted to taking part in the annual Maypole dance event, a longstanding tradition in Armstrong. He was dressed in centennial gear because – in case you haven’t heard yet – the City of Armstrong is celebrating its 100th birthday this year.
Pieper is also the same mayor who appeared on the front page of The Morning Star a couple of years ago when he decided to christen the new swimming pool at Memorial Park by doing a cannonball off the diving board.
“At least it’s been a better week for me than Rob Ford,” joked Pieper on Monday.
Ah yes, Rob Ford. Toronto mayor. May or may not have smoked crack cocaine which was allegedly captured on video.
(You mean you haven’t heard about this? How have you not heard about this? It’s in Toronto, the centre of the universe.)
Let’s see if I can condense this brewing scandal.
Reporters and an editor from two media outlets say they have seen a mobile device video allegedly showing Ford smoking crack.
The owners of the alleged video have made it clear they want money for it.
One U.S. online publication raises $200,000 but then announce they can’t make contact again with the alleged video owners.
Ford initially said the existence of the video was “ridiculous.”
He didn’t say anymore until a press conference, on the advice, he said, of his lawyer, and steadfastly announced, “I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine.”
Ford’s chief of staff was fired. Two other staff members resigned.
The Globe and Mail reported that Ford’s brother Doug, a Toronto city councillor, had allegedly sold hash in the 1980s in his teens.
The paper said the story came from 18 months of research, and was reviewed by its legal team. It also said the story relied heavily on unnamed sources.
Doug Ford categorically denied the story.
On his weekly radio show, Rob Ford called journalists “a bunch of maggots.” He apologized the next day for the remark.
Current Toronto councillors not named Ford say the story is becoming too much of a distraction.
The same sentiment has been expressed by former Toronto mayors and Ontario’s premier.
Did Rob Ford smoke crack cocaine, and was it captured on video? I don’t know. I haven’t seen the alleged footage.
But I do agree that the scandal is preventing Ford from doing his job 100 per cent to the best of his ability.
My word, who could do it with such scrutiny and under such duress?
Comparing Pieper and Ford is, I realize, a very large stretch. Pieper, after all, doesn’t have his own radio show.
Nor has he called local media “maggots.”
But maybe Rob Ford should take a page from Pieper’s book and dance around a Maypole or do a cannonball into a community swimming pool.
It would help with his public image which, frankly, could use an extreme makeover right about now.
—Roger Knox is a reporter for The Morning Star