TORONTO - As disturbing revelations surrounding Toronto's mayormount, the city's citizens have found themselves caught up in theturmoil with no end in sight.
Over the past two weeks, Mayor RobFord has admitted to buying illegal drugs, smoking crack, drinking anddriving, and finding himself - by his own description - in a series of"drunken stupors," some of which have been caught on video. Theadmissions come after the mayor denied such allegations for six months.
Fortheir part, Toronto's 2.7 million residents seem by turns appalled,worried, angry and, in some cases, supportive. In the city's westernsuburbs, where Ford's support is based, weekend shoppers groaned at thereminder of the story that's been on everyone's lips.
"Get rid ofhim! Time to go," said Lynn Lawrence, a retired teacher, who wonderswhat kind of example the mayor's behavior will set for the city'schildren - to say nothing of its public officials. "It's not OK to make amistake, apologize and then keep on doing it. I'm tired of 'sorry.' "
OnFriday, Toronto City Council voted to strip Ford of key executivepowers, leaving him as a mayor in title only. That move followed ashocking interview with reporters on Thursday, when - in remarks carriedlive on TV - the 44-year-old Ford used graphic language to denyaccusations of having sexually harassed a former staffer.
A poll taken last week - before the latest accusations came to light -showed that 76% of Torontonians wanted Ford to either resignpermanently or take a break to receive treatment. Still, four in 10polled said they approved of the job he's doing as mayor.
Electedon a tax-cutting, Tea Party-like platform, Ford has always been rougharound the edges - a blunt talker with no time for the people he deridedas downtown elites - an attribute that suited his fans just fine.
Evenin the midst of scandal, it's not hard to find supporters who arewilling to look past his personal foibles, so long as he keeps cuttingcosts.
Some supporters say they feel that the mayor has been the victim of a witch hunt by media figures who are hostile to his agenda.
"I'd vote for him again," said Jeannie Wozniak, a retiree who says she lives not far from the mayor.
Wozniaksaid there's no doubt Ford has some personal problems, but argues thatthose are secondary. "He runs the city well. He's very fiscallyresponsible - we've had no strikes." (Aside from a brief librarians'strike, Ford has managed to avoid major public-sector labordisruptions.)
Back downtown, the revelations confirm, for some, long-held conceptions about the man.
"Assoon as the news said he was allegedly smoking crack, I said, 'Yeah,that sounds about right.' The guy likes to party - and apparently,hard," says Kathleen Bates, a student and barista. "I think his heartwas in the right place in terms of wanting to save the taxpayers' money,but he's pro-car and anti-bike. That's what I don't like about him."
Mostly,though, Toronto-nians seem weary and worried. On Saturday, youngprofessionals in the trendy West Queen West neighborhood caught afleeting bit of fall sun and tried to talk about anything other than RobFord.
"I think it's a little bit heartbreaking, to be honest,"says Natasha Greenblatt, a director, playwright and actress. "He'sprobably sick, and going to have a heart attack."
Her heartbreak,she says, extends to the city that has to go through this process. "It'slike a train wreck. You can't look away."