Mayor Rob Ford Speaks on his Cellphone While Driving, But TTC Chief Cannot/Will Not Defend TTC Operators Who Do the Same

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Gary Webster, left, talks with TTC executive Andy Byford (right) at City Hall Tuesday before the meeting that ended in Webster’s firing.  Mayor Ford and his allies orchestrated the discharge of Webster, who had 35 years on the job, because Webster did not agree or support Mayor Ford’s limited vision of subways.  Andy Byford who was hired by the TTC in November, 2011, was appointed interim Chief General Manager in Webster’s place.  Ford supported Byford as the permanent Chief General Manager when, interestingly enough, Byford announced that he agreed with Ford’s vision of subways. You like subways like I do, welcome aboard Andy!  TARA WALTON/TORONTO STAR

Gary Webster expressed his belief that subways were not the only way to go (which contradicted Mayor Ford’s vision) and he could not have known it then, but within weeks, his stance, contrary to Ford’s  would cost him his job as TTC’s Chief General Manager.

A 35 year employee of the TTC, Gary Webster was dismissed on February 21, 2012.  Mr. Webster had planned on retiring a year later. It is estimated that the City of Toronto taxpayer’s will be on the hook for approximately $500,000.00 for this discharge and severance.

As Gary Webster exited, Andy Byford, the TTC’s CEO, hired in November, 2011 was appointed as the TTC’s Interim General Manager.  Mr. Byford was extremely aware that his predecessor was released from his position, due to the fact that he disagreed with Mayor Ford’s vision.  When the same question was put to the interim Chief General Manager of the TTC, now making $303,885.40 a year, Andy Byford was more than happy to accommodate Mayor Ford, and announced that he supported Ford’s vision of subways.

As a result of making his boss (Mayor Rob Ford) very happy, the TTC dominated by Ford’s allies, permanently hired Andy Byford as the Chief General Manager on March 12, 2012.

Andy Byford who has only been General manager since March 12 – sent out a memo to all TTC operator’s on Friday, April 27, 2012 stating that he will not support any TTC operator who uses their cellphone/reads while driving.

Andy Byford’s boss, Mayor Rob Ford, holds his cellphone and speaks on his cellphone, while driving.  In late July, 2011 Mayor Ford was observedon his cellphone and when those observing him told him to stop, he was then observed flipping the finger.  Anyone else refusing to follow the Province of Ontario’s “distracted driving laws” would have received a traffic ticket and upon conviction, would have to pay a fine of $155.00.

Mayor Rob Ford, in van that bears a personalized licence plate “ROBFORD”.

One incident would not be enough for Byford’s boss.  In October, 2011 Mayor Ford was accused for the second time of using his cellphone while driving.

Andy Byford still supports Mayor Ford, despite his unsafe and rude behaviour and his breaking of the rules of the road.

“In recent days, photos and videos have emerged of staff asleep on the job, texting or appearing to read a newspaper while operating a vehicle, and parking illegally to get a snack,” wrote CEO Andy Byford in a memo to workers on Friday.

Last weekend, a rider posted a video of a subway operator who appeared to be texting while driving.

Blaming a “small minority” for wrecking the system’s reputation, Byford wrote that he “cannot and will not defend such incidents.

“They lead to even more scrutiny and potential for assault,” he said, referring to the high incidence of physical attacks on frontline TTC workers.

The recent spate of distracted driving incidents is reminiscent of the public outrage about TTC customer service that erupted about two years ago over published photos of sleeping subway collectors and shoddy customer service.

The TTC has been trying to repair its reputation ever since.

On Thursday, TTC chair Karen Stintz gave a speech in which she said the transit system was trying to re-brand and modernize itself, particularly in regard to customer service.

However, she said she could not defend drivers who violated safety policies.

Transit union president Bob Kinnear also sent a voice mail to the 10,000 unionized TTC workers on Thursday, reminding them that they must abide by rules and procedures.

“Lapses in behaviour have compromised our credibility as a whole,” he said, referring to high profile media reports of TTC workers.

“Members are calling me every day raising concerns about the negative image of our union and its members being caused by these recent incidents of less than professional performance,” said Kinnear.

“On behalf of the public we serve and the union I ask everyone, not just the vast majority of you, to conduct yourselves with the utmost professionalism in a manner that shows without a doubt our commitment to the people of Toronto.”

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