Asking city staff to mow a lawn doesn't really seem very menacing lined up next to other suggestions of inappropriate behaviour levied against the mayor of Toronto.
Pot holes get filled all the time, and it is probably very common to see members of city staff climbing over unsightly machinery parked on private property at the request of an average Joe.
Such efforts were made on behalf of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, as average as any other Joe, who wanted to spruce up the area around his family's company ahead of a big party.
Documents obtained by the Globe and Mail under a freedom of information request show Ford presented city staff with a list of requests several weeks before the Ford-owned Deco Labels and Tags held its 50th anniversary party.
Ford held two meetings with staff in late July and early August, presenting a "honey do" list that included cutting grass, rebuilding culverts and having construction equipment removed from nearby private property.
More than a dozen city supervisors were involved in tackling Ford's requests. John Mende, Toronto's acting general manager of transportation services, send staff an email outlining the mayor's requests.
From the Globe's Elizabeth Church, the email read:
"I realize the difficulty and challenges this creates. Please do whatever you can to make all this happen before Aug.10. If there are problems or roadblocks, please let me know ASAP."
Deco's party was delayed until Aug. 25 after Ford was waylaid by a medical issue, and all the work was completed before that date.
At one point during the tidying up, one staffer climbed under a backhoe parked on private property nearby to find a registration number in order to track down its owner, according to the Globe.
The machinery, deemed to be an eyesore for party goers, was removed in time for the celebration, with staff noting the owner was "well within his rights" to return it at any time.
On Tuesday, Mende defended the work completed by city staff, telling the National Post's Natalie Alcoba that Ford never asked staff to step outside the line of duty.
"We accommodated his request. It's not anything … beyond what we do for anyone else having a celebration or event of this nature," he said. He added the mayor told him not to do "anything inappropriate."
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This writer has never been mayor, but holding two meetings with city staff in which you beg them (please, please, please) not to do anything inappropriate and set a timeline for them to not do it by can't possibly be an everyday occurrence.
It may take some squinting, but one could certainly view the whole process as above-board. But it requires your eyes to be closed entirely to later feign ignorance at a possible "optics" issue, as Ford did when allegations were first raised last month.
Giving Ford the benefit of the doubt, it is possible his confusion comes from the vagaries of public and private life.
It can be complicated to know, for example, where lines are drawn between public and private property. It can also be confusing to know exactly how many public resources can be used to help out with a personal hobby.
Or maybe everything inside city limits really is Ford's purview — Ford's nation — and everyone else really does have it wrong.