The end of last week was a tense day for Toronto municipal politics-watchers, as many of us waited expectantly to find out whether our mayor, Rob Ford, would be turfed under the provisions of the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act (MCOIA).

Rob Ford, for the uninitiated, was recently described by Gawker as “Insane, Terrible.” He’s gaffe-prone, right-leaning, and stubborn (and that’s me being diplomatic).

The legal proceedings have been complicated, with multiple possible consequences and at least a few murky areas, including one scenario that could have left Toronto with two mayors and no clarity as to which would be the one true mayor. There were questions as to whether Ford would be able to stand in a by-election, should one be triggered by his ouster. Torontoist drew up a handy flowchart to illustrate the possibilities.

Judge Charles Hackland ruled on November 26, 2012 that Ford had violated the MCOIA, with the automatic punishment being his removal from office. Judge Hackland also imposed a 14-day stay on the penalty, but that didn’t stop a number of people from treating the sentence as fact.

Ford, of course, launched an appeal, succeeded, and as of this writing remains in office. But in the meantime, there remained confusion both in the moment and, I anticipated, in the months to come. Many eagerly await the day they can celebrate the end of Ford’s term as Mayor, reminding me of another anticipatory site I’d seen a while ago, isitchristmas.com. There are others like it, like isthatcherdeadyet.co.uk.

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Toronto seemed ripe for a source of clear, concise information on the answer. How much more disciplined could one get than a simple, single-word, true-at-any-given-time, authoritative answer to cut through the noise? I registered isrobfordstillmayor.com and built the site in a morning a few days after Hackland’s ruling. I quietly launched it with on November 30, mentioning it on Facebook, G+, and Twitter (in #topoli and #fordcourt).

I got a few chuckles from some friends and fiddled away with the layout and code, treating it as a small, front-end web development sandbox for simple, modern layouts. I mucked about with Typekit, HTML5 markup and layout, and some JQuery. On December 5, Ford was granted a stay and I reminded folks of the site’s existence. I wasn’t sure people would really care or continue to be amused by the site, but figured I owed at least one additional push. A few more people shared it with their friends (on Facebook, I noticed some of my friends posted it a second time).

I mentioned it to a family friend who’s into Toronto politics. Ever financially-attuned, he floated the idea of putting ads on the site. I shrugged off the suggestion. At the traffic levels I was experiencing, it wasn’t really costing me anything (outside of domain costs) to run the site. Besides, they’d make the site less visually appealing and more suspect. I couldn’t imagine it generating enough revenue to justify the loss of goodwill.


Two major spikes: 977 visitors on November 30, 461 on December 5.

With no news, the holiday break, and my own general preoccupation elsewhere, the site pretty much went into hibernation for the next month and a half. The appeal hearings passed quietly on January 7, with the panel of judges estimating that their ruling would be delivered in a few weeks.

Last week, the judges announced that the ruling would be released on Friday. Toronto stood up and took note, I made sure that I would be able to update the site at the time of the release, and I tweeted/facebooked my anticipation.

This time the anxiousness and appreciation felt throughout the city were appreciably greater.

 

 

A few enjoyed the site for its utility:

 

In particular, for some, it was a viable replacement for mainstream media:

 

 

Some also found dry humour in the site’s minimal treatment:

 

 

With this much interest, traffic jumped by a factor of 10 (note the difference in y-axis scale here):


One big spike, 8168 visitors on January 25.

Although I had no need for, or interest in the revenue, I did start to get curious what kind of revenue ads would bring in. To satisfy my curiosity (and the curiosity of any other friends who might ask), I signed up for an AdSense account. Perhaps for the better, it wasn’t to be.

Hello,  Thank you for your interest in Google AdSense. Unfortunately, after reviewing your application, we're unable to accept you into AdSense at this time.  We did not approve your application for the reasons listed below.  Issues: -  Insufficient content  ---------------------  Further detail:  Insufficient content: To be approved for AdSense and show relevant ads on your site, your pages need to have enough text on them for our specialists to review and for our crawler to be able to determine what your pages are about.  To resolve this issue, please work through the following suggestions:  - Make sure that your pages have sufficient text - websites that contain mostly images, videos or Flash animations will not be approved. - Your content should contain complete sentences and paragraphs, not only headlines. - Ensure that your website is fully built and launched before you apply for AdSense - do not apply while your site’s still in a beta or “under construction” phase or only consists of a website template. - Place the ad code on a live page of your website. It does not have to be the main page, but test pages that are empty except for the AdSense ad code will not be approved. - Provide a clear navigation system for your visitors so that they can easily find all of the sections and pages of your website. - If you’d like to monetize YouTube videos, please apply for the YouTube monetization program (http://support.google.com/youtube/bin/answer.py?&answer=2490020). Note that blogs and websites that contain only videos will not be approved.  As soon as you’ve made the necessary changes, we’ll be happy to take another look at your application.

 

What’s next? Ford’s case under the MCOIA looks like it doesn’t have much of a chance of taking him out of office (though Clayton Ruby and Paul Magder, who brought the case to court, are seeking leave to appeal the Supreme Court of Canada). The next Toronto municipal election is in 2014. And his 2010 campaign finances are being audited, with results to be released soon. Ford’s mayoralty may be out of this neck of the woods, but there are interesting times ahead for him yet.

Screen Shot of isrobfordstillmayor.com