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Morning Brew: Integrity commissioner declines to probe crack scandal, reporters, a few councillors attend Ford's xmas party, and motion could re-open subway debate

The city's integrity commissioner will not be investigating the Rob Ford crack scandal. Janet Leiper says in a report due to be presented to city council next week that the behaviour advice in the councillor's handbook is merely "aspirational in nature." She recommends no further action be taken against the mayor by council. Councillor Shelly Carroll, who filed the motion asking Leiper to investigate, says the decision shows the limitations of the code of conduct.

Last night a small group of reporters and city councillors attended a Christmas party at the home of Diane Ford, mother to Rob and Doug. The mayor told "childhood anecdotes and circled casually among city hall journalists," according to the National Post. No cameras or recording devices were allowed inside. Several of Ford's current and former staffers were also in attendance.

Toronto Star's Daniel Dale has spoken out after Rob Ford accused him of "taking pictures of little children." The reporter hasn't ruled out taking legal action against Ford, though he acknowledges wading into a legal battle could be seriously unpleasant. As for what the mayor said: "It's false. It's malicious. It's defamatory. It's mind-boggling. It's damn gross."

Meanwhile, Conrad Black says he won't be endorsing Ford for re-election "unless his opponent was somebody that was just really terribly unacceptable."

A motion by Councillor Josh Matlow could re-open the subway debate at the next council meeting. Matlow wants the decision about how to finance the extension to Scarborough put off until 2015 and the 0.5 per cent tax hike pencilled in to pay for it postponed. If approved, the motion would push yet another final decision on the line until after the election. Matlow says the city doesn't have all the answers it needs yet.

Yesterday's budget meeting mercifully didn't turn into a showdown between the Fords and Police Chief Bill Blair, perhaps because the mayor was otherwise occupied touring a Dawes Rd. housing complex. Outside the committee room, Chief Blair refused to respond to Rob Ford's "personal attacks." The current police budget asks for an increase of 3.1 per cent, approximately $29 million more than 2013.

Etobicoke residents have given the green light to a revised version of the controversial Humbertown Shopping Centre redevelopment. The details won't be released until after the council vote next week but local councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby told the Globe and Mail it will "vastly improve" the original proposal for 654 apartment units across three buildings and 28 townhouses.

Finally, just because: Here's video of Doug Ford interviewing a statue of Santa Claus.


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

Image: Jason Cook/blogTO Flickr pool.

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