Mike Del Grande should have waited to resign as budget chief, instead of quitting immediately after this week's council meeting, says Doug Ford.
Del Grande stepped down Wednesday, shortly after council approved a modified version of his 2013 capital and operating budgets in an uncontroversial 38-7 decision. The council vote was a rare good news moment for Toronto's embattled mayor Rob Ford, who trumpeted the spending plan as a compromise that all council members could be proud of.
But the mayor didn't have much time to celebrate. His upbeat speech at a post-budget press conference Wednesday was overshadowed by Del Grande's conspicuous absence, which set off immediate speculation that he had already quit. The former budget chief confirmed his resignation that evening, after saying he felt personally "vilified" by a motion asking for more transparency in next year's budget process. Council passed it 25-20.
On Friday, the mayor's brother, Councillor Doug Ford, conceded that Del Grande had acted hastily by stepping down so quickly. Asked if he should have waited a day before resigning, Councillor Ford told reporters, "That, I'll say yes to. Absolutely."
But the Etobicoke councillor stressed that there is no bad blood between the mayor and the former budget chief, even though Del Grande is also resigning from Mayor Ford's executive committee.
"He's definitely still part of team, a very important part of our team," Councillor Ford said.
Del Grande is the second member of Mayor Ford's executive to resign in less than two months. Giorgio Mammoliti cut ties with the mayor in November.
Councillor Paula Fletcher agreed that there was no need for Del Grande to quit so abruptly. She suggested he was taking the normal rough-and-tumble politics of City Hall too personally.
"I think he should have waited a few days and thought about it a little bit before making that decision," she said. "Unfortunately politicians can't be thin-skinned. If anybody shows us that it is the mayor, he rolls with all the punches."
At a brief budget committee meeting Friday (which Del Grande did not attend) Councillor Ford was re-elected as vice-chair. He will now serve as acting budget chair until the mayor's executive committee chooses a permanent replacement for Del Grande, a process that Councillor Ford said will be completed as soon as possible.
Who the mayor has in mind for the job, considered one of the most demanding posts at City Hall, is unclear.
Doug Ford says he has no interest in staying in the position full-time. He would like to consider councillors outside of the budget committee, as well as those who served on it under Del Grande, he said.
Another budget committee member, Councillor Michelle Berardinetti, also says she doesn't want the job.
"Not me. I can say for sure not me," she told reporters Friday.
But unlike Doug Ford, she says that only current members of the six-councillor budget committee should be considered.
One of those members, Councillor John Parker, says he wouldn't rule out taking the job but he doesn't anticipate being asked.
"Stranger things have happened, but it's not something I'm expecting to come may way," he said.
Parker is a potential candidate to fill Del Grande's now-vacant executive committee slot, however.
Of the remaining budget committee members, Frank Di Giorgio, councillor for York South -Weston, has expressed the most interest in the budget chief role. Councillor Paul Ainslie, of Scarborough East, isn't on the committee, but told reporters Thursday he'd be happy to take over for Del Grande.