TORONTO (AP) — Toronto Mayor Rob Ford expects to overcome his "little challenge" with substance abuse and get back to work after a stint in rehab, his brother said Friday.
Even as Ford began his treatment at an undisclosed location, another report of the mayor behaving inappropriately while intoxicated emerged Friday. A report written by City Hall officials said Ford turned up intoxicated at the front security office at City Hall on St. Patrick's Day and threatened a guard who had reported the mayor for similar behavior two years ago.
But Ford's brother said the mayor is on a path toward recovery. The mayor of Canada's largest city announced he was taking a leave of absence and checked into rehab Thursday, a day after reports emerged of a second video that appears to show Ford puffing from a crack pipe.
"He's in a good place. Everything is fine. He's going to get over this little challenge and get back to business," Doug Ford told The Associated Press.
Doug Ford, a city councilor who is also his brother's re-election campaign manager, said he has been in touch with the mayor, but declined to say where he was being treated, or how long he would stay there.
Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly is now in charge of the city, but he had already assumed most of the powers that were stripped of Ford last year by Toronto's City Council. The scandal over Ford's crack use started last May when news reports emerged of a first video showing him smoking the drug. After police said they had obtained that video, Ford admitted that he had used the crack in a "drunken stupor."
Although Ford has not abandoned his bid to seek a second term in October elections, the revelation of a second crack video raised skepticism about his chances of prevailing. His decision to seek treatment comes months after he announced he was finished with alcohol — only to have steady reports of more drunken behavior emerge.
"Had he sought the kind of help he needed earlier, he could have had a fighting chance for re-election," said Grace Skogstad, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto's campus in Scarborough, a suburb where Ford has been popular.
The City Hall report released Friday disclosed another incident on March 15. His speech slurred, Ford visited the security desk at City Hall and handed out St. Patrick's Day beads. He then threatened to "get" a guard who reported that on St. Patrick's Day two years ago, the mayor was walking around City Hall with "a half empty bottle of St-Remy French Brandy."
Top executives of the city met with Ford days later and asked him to apologize to the guards but he declined, saying he had not seen the report.
"A copy of the report has now been provided to the mayor. To our knowledge, he has not apologized to the staff involved," said city spokeswoman Jackie DeSouza.
The City Hall report was publicly released in response to freedom of information requests filed by Canadian news organizations.
DeSouza said the report was not previously disclosed because "the city has internal policies for escalating and reporting security matters," and because there were human resources processes that had to be followed.
She said the city had to "complete a thorough investigation which involved multiple reports and interviews."
"It would have been inappropriate for the city to publicly release the information without following" such processes, she said in an e-mail to AP.
"Also, there was no indication from the comments that there was intent to physically harm the former guard. If staff felt there was intent to commit immediate harm, the police would have been contacted immediately," she added.
The mayor's chief of staff didn't respond to a messages seeking comment Friday.
Ford was elected four years ago on a wave of support from Toronto's suburbs, galvanizing conservative voters with promises to slash spending, keep taxes low and end what he called "the war on the car."
Ford's lawyer, Dennis Morris, told AP that the mayor boarded a plane for Chicago on Thursday and headed for a treatment program that will last at least 30 days. Morris declined to say if Chicago was Ford's final destination. Ford's family business, Deco Labels and Tags, has a plant in the Chicago area and Rob's brother Doug has a second home there.
Ford has for months been the subject of a drug-related police investigation, but he has not been charged with any crime.
His departure came after The Globe and Mail newspaper reported that it had viewed a second video of Ford smoking what appears to be crack cocaine in his sister's basement early Saturday morning.
Associated Press writers David Crary in New York and Charmaine Noronha in Toronto contributed to this report.
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