Seriously. We're standing right here.
But those collections tend toward the hypothetical - questions for which Ford would surely fail to offer satisfactory answers if we were able to put them to him at all. (The mayor, as expected, took no questions following Monday's speech.)
Ford's press secretary, it turns out, is not any better at responding to questions regarding his own conduct, but at least we sometimes get to ask them. And on Monday, reporters challenged Amin Massoudi to continue ignoring us while standing in his immediate presence and inquiring about matters that directly relate to his job and ours.
It was quite a scene as the mayor's Special Assistant for Communications & Media Relations refused to communicate or relate to members of the media as we advanced roughly two dozen queries concerning the mayor's communications and media relations.
As you may have heard, only pre-approved outlets were allowed into the Mayor's Office to cover his speech, and even they were limited to one reporter and photographer/camera-person each.
Among those blocked from attending the thorougly newsworthy event were a handful of accredited members of the City Hall Press Gallery, including president David Nickle, who reports for Torstar's Metroland group of community papers. Also: us. We too have an official bureau at Toronto City Hall.
(And of course many worthy outlets that aren't members of the Press Gallery, from Torontoist to CHCH, were kept out as well.)
Sneaking in was not an option. Ford's driver/bodyguard Jerry Agyemang called out each of the approved journalists by name, as the person presented him or herself to gain entry.
This, however, took a few minutes. And in that time, press gallery prez Nickle, Star columnist Royson James, my colleague Ben Spurr, and I took the chance to push Massoudi on the reasons for this arrangement:
Spurr: Amin, why won't you email back the president of the Press Gallery?
Spurr: Why should you be letting only certain media in?
Spurr: Why won't you elaborate? Why won't even you tell us why we aren't being let in?
Spurr: We're members of the Press Gallery, the Toronto City Hall Press Gallery.
Spurr: Amin, why won't you even acknowledge my questions?
Nickle: Yeah, Amin, David Nickle here. We've met before, we've spoken before. Why wouldn't you return any of my phone calls, why wouldn't you return any of my emails?
Goldsbie: Excuse me, Amin. Why won't you respond to the president of the Press Gallery? Whether by email, talking to you, phone call...?
Goldsbie: Are you the head of the mayor's press [operations]?
Spurr: Amin, this is a public office.
Goldsbie: Amin, are you the head of the mayor's press outreach?
Goldsbie: Did you tell the Toronto Star you were doing a "good job" with press outreach?
Mayor's staff begin calling out for 680 News' Kevin Misener.
Spurr: Amin, why won't you do us the courtesy of talking to us?
Goldsbie: Amin, will you acknowledge our presence?
Goldsbie: Behind you. In front of you, around you...
They keep calling out for Misener. He doesn't seem to be around.
Spurr: If he's not here, we'll go in.
Mayor's staff move on to calling for CTV's camera person.
Goldsbie: What do you think your job entails?
Goldsbie: Amin, what are your job responsibilities, what is your job description, generally speaking?
James: Is censorship one of your jobs? Amin?
Nickle: What's the future of communication between the Metroland newspapers and the mayor's office - is this it?
Goldsbie: What is the future of communication between you and people standing next to you?
Spurr: Amin, why won't you talk to the Press Gallery?
Goldsbie: Is this among the more awkward situations in your life or not?
He gives a nod suggesting it indeed may be up there.
Nickle: Oh, a nod, okay.
Mayor's staff calls out for a Canadian Press photographer.
James: Who made this list, Amin? Amin, who made the list? Amin, who made the list?
Massoudi: Last call for Kevin Misener from 680!
James (jokingly referring to himself):Right here. Kevin right here.
Agyemang: No, you're not.
James: I've been here long before him.
Agyemang: You're not Kevin Misener.
James (to mayor's staffer Graeme McEachern, showing his press pass):I'm Royson James.
McEachern: Yes sir. We've already got someone from your paper, I believe.
The list exhausted and Misener not having shown up, Ford's staff retreat inside the office.
Spurr: You're not at capacity. You're not even at capacity. One person didn't show up. You're not gonna let someone in in their place?