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Year in Review: our 10 favourite Rob Ford storylines of 2011

Naturally, with someone the likes of Rob Ford at the city helm, it was no easy task to pick only our 10 favourite mayoral moments. But we did it anyway. Here, a look back at the year according to Ford—from the ridiculous (remember the Marg Delahunty brouhaha?) to the righteous (two all-night executive committee deputations!) to, yes, Giorgio Mammoliti (after all, what’s the mayor without his right-hand man—and thumb?).

1. The vehicle registration tax saga
That Rob Ford eliminated the vehicle registration tax in 2010 with almost no opposition was a testament to the strength of his campaign rhetoric. But now that he says the city is teetering on the brink of financial freefall, his opponents claim the crisis is more manufactured than real—and it actually started with Ford axing important sources of revenue.

2. Turns out transit planning is difficult
Ford killed Transit City just hours into his tenure with a simple proclamation: “Transit City is over.” Of course, pulling out of a plan of that magnitude doesn’t come without its own costs, and now the city is looking at a $65-million price tag for something that will never exist. And then there’s the pesky Sheppard subway extension and the Eglinton Crosstown business.

3. Aspiring idea man Doug Ford gets schooled
While Doug Fords ideas for the Toronto waterfront were often described as a “vision,” the plan—which included a Ferris wheel and a monorail—sounded more like Richie Rich’s Christmas list. It wasn’t long before Ford’s grand fantasy met the cruel indifference of, um, financial and legal realities (and, in turn, his brother was forced for the first time to part ways with him politically).

4. Giorgio Mammoliti
“Hot Wheels” Mammoliti thinks Toronto should be its own province, he wants to build a red-light district on Toronto Island and he can smell communism. A one-time NDP MPP and long-time Ford foe, Mammoliti has emerged as one of the mayor’s most loyal—and most distracting—supporters. Mammoliti certainly kept us entertained in 2011—we just hope he hasn’t done too much irrevocable damage in the process.

5. Toronto Community Housing gives Ford a gravy-licious gift
The misspending at Toronto Community Housing uncovered by the city’s auditor general was a political offering to a mayor who has struggled to find the waste and inefficiencies at city hall that he decried on the campaign trail. Spa treatments, sole-sourced contracts—the auditor general’s report on TCHC had it all. (And don’t forget the jazz hands.)

6. Marg Delahunty versus Rob Ford
After news surfaced that Ford called 911 after a visit from This Hour Has 22 Minutes’ resident warrior princess, the CBC reported the mayor also cursed at dispatchers and gave himself a profane honorific. The story was called into question shortly after it was printed, but it was believable because it seemed to fit the image of Ford we know so well: brash, bumbling and remarkably shortsighted.

7. Opposition mounts as Ford’s axe dangles over city services
By the time Ford released his proposed 2012 budget, many of the most controversial cuts had already been taken off the table. But certain programs and facilities remain on the chopping block, and councillors and citizens remain committed to saving them. While Ford said no department would be exempt from his 10 per cent reduction edict—a commitment he’s already broken—it looks likely the budget will bring a few early defeats for the mayor in the New Year.

8. Ford’s skips Pride, the city parties without him
Ford ended a long-running streak of mayoral appearances at the Pride Parade, opting instead to spend the weekend at his family cottage. If that’s not disappointing enough, Ford is already dodging questions about whether he’ll attend Pride in 2012. For the record, Toronto had plenty of fun without him.

9. Ford accidentally invigorates the city’s activists
Margaret Atwood probably didn’t expect her tweets to spark a surge in the mission to save library branches; we didn’t anticipate that a citizen campaign could help lead to a unanimous vote against Doug Fords waterfront “plan”; and then there’s the whole business of regular citizens staying up all night—twice!—just for the chance to fight for their city and smack talk the mayor to his face.

10. Ford’s surprises everyone by actually getting stuff done
It was considered conventional wisdom during the mayoral campaign that even if Ford managed to get elected (and, really, what were the odds of that?), he’d have a hard time winning any major votes on council. Well, so much for that. Ford’s support base is looking pretty shaky these days, but few can claim they anticipated the broad base of loyalty he established in his first year.

(Images: Christopher Drost and Shaun Merritt)