Cheol Joon Baek
This week will go down in the history books. When Rob Ford was elected, many expected disaster, but few thought he'd be removed from office for violating provincial law.
While the outcome of his requested appeal can't be predicted, there's a good chance that by early 2013 Ford Nation's control of City Hall will have come to an end.
Because he proved incapable of professional, sound governance over the nearly two years of his mayoralty, many will cheer the demise of Ford's tenure. But the fact that this was determined by an unelected judge can only deepen the divide in the electorate that exists today. The ideal end to his admin would have come at the hands of voters in a clear, unambiguous defeat across the city.
Most City Hall watchers didn't expect Monday's ruling. But if you read Justice Charles Hackland's systematic dismantling of Ford's defence with logic and precise explanation, it's hard to imagine that Ford can win an appeal.
While the mayor has consistently refused to accept that there are rules governing elected officials, he must be extended every opportunity to defend his actions before a second judge so the perception of persecution he constantly promotes can be convincingly dismissed.
Ideally, the appeal would be expedited so the question of who will lead the city is soon resolved.
It should be noted that the judge who heard the case was from Ottawa and appointed by Steven Harper, who isn't known for appointing left-leaning judges.
It's also important to establish what went wrong for Ford. The accountability system is set up not as a mechanism to remove politicians from office, but as a way to insure transparency and openness in government. It offers elected officials who break minor rules many opportunities to apologize and make amends and in most cases to avoid serious sanctions.
Indeed, the mayor had plenty of chances to make things right. Let's remember what was at issue in this case: not the relatively minor act of soliciting donations for a worthy cause using his position and city logo, but rather the fact that he knowingly broke very specific rules around speaking and voting on something that directly affected him.
He did this when he refused to recuse himself from the discussion on the integrity commissioner's finding that he had violated the rules.
He could have stopped this process then and there had he apologized and repaid the disputed $3,150. But Ford was unwilling to do that, and his continuing belief that the rules don't apply to him put the lie to his average Joe persona. After all, following the rules is something we all have to do.
While we may find the idea of avoiding the cost and hassle of a by-election tempting, almost half the mayor's term remains, so Torontonians should have their say.
I doubt that Ford will ever accept that the ruling was anything but a miscarriage of justice, but it may end up allowing him to focus on things he actually likes and is good at, like coaching football. While some, especially on the left, demonize Ford, I think the real issue is that he entered the wrong profession.
Many disagree with his policies, but the truth is he honestly believes what he says - something that can't be said of everyone who seeks office. He's often just wrong on the facts and simplistic in his analysis, but I don't believe, and there is no evidence, that he's corrupt.
I assumed when Ford was elected that he would bring in capable managers, but it became clear that he was unwilling or unable to delegate to more capable hands. In the end, he was left with municipally inexperienced advisers, having got rid of those who could best deal with the complexities of City Hall.
While it's too early to declare the Ford era truly over, it has taught us a few things. One of the most important is the need for the accountability officers (lobbyist registrar, integrity commissioner, ombudsman and a strengthened auditor general) whose positions were established because of recommendations over 10 years ago by Justice Denise Bellamy, who presided over the probe into the computer leasing scandal.
We learned, too, that while the council system has its faults, councillors after Ford's first six months rose to the occasion to block his allies' most extreme attempts to gut City Hall. This was a victory for local democracy, warts and all.
In the grand scheme, if Ford's appeal is denied there will be few permanent effects of his poor policy decisions, and 10 years from now this period will be mostly forgotten.