Whether or not Toronto Mayor Rob Ford escapes dismissal for allegedly violating Ontario's conflict-of-interest legislation years ago, this week's court hearing has cemented his image as a politician who's largely winged it throughout is career.
But if you're a Toronto voter, you knew that going in, didn't you?
Ford, less than halfway through his four-year term as mayor of Canada's largest, most economically important city, could be fired if Justice Charles Hackland rules he violated the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act.
[ Related: Could Toronto Mayor Rob Ford lose his job this week? ]
Ford spoke to and voted on a city council motion that overturned a previous council ruling ordering the mayor to repay $3,150 in donations to his kids' football charity given by lobbyists for businesses who had dealings with the city.
The donations themselves, made to Ford's charitable foundation when he was a city councillor before his run for mayor, were a side issue in this case. Opponents seized on his participation in the recent debate about repayment to file charges in the courts.
Famed criminal lawyer Clayton Ruby, acting for Ford's main accuser Paul Magder, told Hackland on Thursday that Ford was "reckless" and "wilfully blind" when he failed to recuse himself from the vote, the Globe and Mail reported.
In his final argument, Ruby attacked Ford's defence that he'd made "an honest error in judgment" when he took part in the debate last Feb. 7.
Ford, Ruby noted, had admitted in his testimony that he had never read the conflict legislation, despite signing an oath promising to uphold it in each of the four times he was elected.
The 12-year veteran politician also admitted he never read the city council handbook or attended a council orientation session. He testified that as the son of a member of Ontario's legislature, he already understood how government worked. He also never assigned a staff member to screen council agenda items for potential conflicts, the Globe reported.
"He has also testified that he has never sought advice on the meaning of the Act or its obligations from the integrity commissioner, from the city solicitor, the city clerk, colleagues or from anyone else," Ruby told the court. "That is not good faith. That is wilful blindness. I'm closing my eyes ... I'll do what I want. I'll have my own conception of the Act and I'll get away with it."
As mayor, Ford should have had a clear understanding of his obligations, Ruby said.
"This entire pattern of conduct shows that he chose to remain ignorant, and substituted his own view for that of the law," Ruby said, according to the Toronto Star.
His excuses of not having received the council orientation handbook or taking orientation training are "simply not believable," Ruby said.
Ford's lawyer, Alan Lenczner, outlined his defence last month based mainly on technical arguments on whether provincial conflict legislation applies to council's code of conduct, which is governed by the City of Toronto Act, the Globe said.
The hearing is expected to wrap up Friday and Hackland's ruling may not come down for several weeks, at the earliest.
The spectacle of a sitting mayor in court admitting, at the very least, to ignorance about his obligations as an office-holder, has Toronto opinion-mongers shaking their heads.
Toronto Life's synopsis of commentators' columns summed up Ford's performance as stubborn, sullen and wilfully obtuse.
Over at the Toronto Star, which has been feuding with Ford since he won the mayor's chair, columnist Royson James called him "politically suicidal and dangerously in need of protection."
Ford has already run into trouble for refusing a driver, then being snapped reading documents while behind the wheel and reported for rolling past an open streetcar door.
He's also been called out for cussing out 911 operators while calling police to deal with an ambush by comic newslady Mary Walsh outside his home last year.
[ More from The Daily Brew: Thieves demand $1 million to either access or destroy Mitt Romney's tax records ]
James wrote Ford had plenty of chances to dodge this most recent pitfall, such heeding warnings from officials that the charitable donations were problematic even if he didn't benefit personally.
"Ford, as only he can, bulldozed ahead — not unmindful of the dangers, but dismissing and ignoring them — rushing headlong toward the legal precipice," James wrote.
But the case puts Hackland in a bind, he added.
"The dilemma is, how can he rule the mayor's actions contemptuous and an affront to the integrity of the office without overturning the wishes of the electorate to have Ford as mayor?" asked James.
Lenczner's technical defence might give the judge a way out "but it would teach the mayor absolutely nothing," he wrote.
In an editorial last week, the Globe said despite his many gaffes, Ford "has been a successful mayor in more important ways," fulfilling promises to cut costs, rein in civic unions and cutting an unpopular municipal car registration fee.
Any breach, the Globe argued, seems minor — the donations went to buy football gear for underprivileged kids and the motion Ford voted on passed overwhelmingly anyway.
"There is nothing here that would justify having a court overturn the democratic will of voters; this is not a criminal matter and should not be perceived as one," the Globe editorial said.