Is there something about the office of mayor that encourages bad behavior? Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s crack-smoking antics have been dominating the headlines, but he’s not the only North American mayor to land himself in hot water recently. Over the weekend Gordon Jenkins, the mayor of Monticello, New York, was accused of drunken driving, punching a clock at a police station, and resisting arrest. (He pleaded not guilty to all charges.) And in Florida, three suburban Miami mayors were arrested on corruption charges during the month of August.
The list of mayors who’ve (allegedly!) played dirty is endless, but here’s a look at the nine mayors who made the news in the worst way this year.
Say Crack Again
The Toronto City Council has managed to limit some of Rob Ford’s powers, but the mayor—whose career has been riddled with scandals—still refuses to step down despite having admitted to smoking crack. While Ford won’t deign to say he has an addiction, he has insisted that he’s getting professional help. “I have admitted to using illegal drugs in the last year,” he told Canada’s Sun News Network over the weekend. “Okay, I’ve admitted to drinking too much. Okay, so I’m dealing with it. I am training every day. I’m in the gym two hours every day. I’m seeking professional help.” Despite all the negative press and pressure from his constituents to step down, Ford doesn’t seem to be hurting too much from his misdeeds. Not only can he not actually be forced out of office unless convicted of a crime, he’s already been rewarded with a TV show of his very own.
If he ever is brought down by this scandal, Ford needn’t look far for comeback inspiration. The original crack-smoking mayor, Marion Barry, managed to get elected for a fourth term as D.C. mayor—then five additional terms in the D.C. city council—after getting caught on tape smoking crack cocaine.
DWI, Fist Fights, and Fake Nikes
Residents of Monticello, New York are calling for Gordon Jenkins’s resignation after the mayor was arrested on Sunday for allegedly driving while intoxicated. (Jenkins pleaded not guilty.) This was not Jenkins’s first run-in with the law, however. In 2011, Jenkins pleaded guilty to selling counterfeit Nike sneakers out of his home and store, G-Men Beauty Supplies. He was also arrested last year for allegedly hitting a local police officer and received criticism for his decision to appoint his girlfriend, Rochelle Massey, as a village trustee earlier this year.
The Miami Triple Play
Three suburban Miami mayors were arrested on corruption charges during the month of August. First, Mayor Manuel Marono of Sweetwater and Michael Pizzi, the mayor of Miami Lakes, were the targets of an F.B.I. sting operation and were arrested together under charges of “conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right.” They both face 20 years in prison for their alleged involvement in bribery schemes. Then there was Steven Bateman, the Mayor of Homestead. He was arrested for allegedly accepting personal payments from a health-care company that was angling to build a clinic in his town. All three of the mayors are currently suspended. Bateman and Pizzi have pleaded not guilty; Marono has pleaded guilty.
From City Hall to Prison
This October, former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was convicted of bribery, extortion, racketeering, mail fraud and other charges of corrupt activities during his time in office, and sentenced to 28 years in prison. Kilpatrick was accused of running a criminal enterprise out of Detroit City Hall with a local contractor whose business allegedly received $9.6 million in illegal profits. Just this week, federal prosecutors filed a recommendation for Kilpatrick to pay $4.5 million for the corruption that occurred under his leadership.
Anti-Corruption Mayor Arrested for Corruption
Rob Ford isn’t the only Canadian in this bad bunch. Montreal Mayor Michael Applebaum, who promised to end the city’s reputation of corruption when he entered office in November, 2012, was arrested in June on 14 charges including fraud, municipal corruption, conspiracy, and secret payments involving some real estate deals. Applebaum announced his resignation from City Hall days after his arrest, insisting “I have never taken a penny from anybody,” and “I will do the best that I can to prove the accusations against me are unfounded.”
Not So Classy, San Diego
San Diego’s Bob Filner was once like Rob Ford: defiant in the face of calls for his resignation. But it was only a matter of time before the pressure, the plans for a recall election and the mounting accusations of sexual harassment from some 18 women got to be too much and Filner finally faltered. The not-so-classy San Diego mayor resigned on August 23, facing a criminal investigation of into the sexual harassment claims against him.
The Mayor Who (Allegedly) Stole Christmas
Billy Wilson may be the worst of them all. The mayor of Greenbriar, Tennessee was arrested earlier this month for allegedly stealing $60,000 from Toys for Tots, a charity that helps families pay their utility bills and also provides toys to underprivileged children during the holidays. As of this weekend, Wilson was still working and taking his lawyer’s advice to not make any statements until the investigation into his alleged theft is completed.