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Morning Brew: Ford wrote a letter defending Sandro Lisi, former council candidate faces trial, mayor says he wasn't sleeping, expensive wine, and a good reputation

Rob Ford wrote a character reference defending his alleged drug dealer friend Alessandro Lisi when he was facing sentencing for threatening to kill his former girlfriend earlier this year. The Toronto Star is appealing to have the letter, which may have resulted in Lisi's suspended sentence and two-year probation, made public today. Ford has publicly called Lisi a "good guy."

A candidate for city council who narrowly missed out on a seat in 2010 is facing trial this month for voting illegally. Gus Cusimano voted for himself in the Ward 9 election but was a resident of Ward 23 at the time; the rules only allow people to vote in their home wards. Cusimano claimed he lived at his constituency office to get a ballot but went on to lose by 89 votes to Councillor Maria Augimeri.

Rob Ford says a picture circulated online yesterday does not show him sleeping. The photo, taken during a committee meeting more than two years ago, shows the mayor with his hands clasped over his chest and his eyes apparently closed. Ford said the claims were "so farfetched it is not even funny."

Rob Ford is planning an invite-only, $25,000 gala at Casa Loma next month. The development and real estate industry reception, which will feature cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, is designed to mix business leaders and local councillors. The event will be paid for by the city-owned corporations Invest Toronto, Build Toronto and the Toronto Portlands Company.

Looks like someone has splashed out for a $168,000 bottle of wine - the most expensive ever produced - from the Summerhill LCBO. Staff say the deal is still being finalized for the bottle of Penfolds Ampoule that comes in a hand-made bottle and presumably tastes really, really good. Like summer berries and a dented bank account.

We're number two! We're number two! Toronto is the second most reputable city in the world behind Sydney, apparently. The weird thing about this list: few cities seem stay in the top 10 longer than two years. The results are gathered by polling people on the street. What do you think caused Toronto to jump to the top?


Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Image: Ben Roffelsen/blogTO Flickr pool.

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