Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, in a political pinch back home after admitting to crack cocaine use, paid an unexpected visit to Los Angeles City Hall on Monday, wandering the marble hallways in search of Mayor Eric Garcetti or anyone willing to sit down with him.
"Every city I go to, I go to City Hall,'' he said brightly, surrounded by his handlers on the steps of City Hall. "I just pop in to say hi."
Surprised City Hall security personnel escorted Ford and his entourage to Garcetti's office but were soon turned away. Garcetti is in Mexico this week, hoping to drum up business on his first international trip since taking office.
Ford headed up to the 10th floor, where he wandered briefly into a Budget and Finance Committee meeting. He was last seen departing the budget hearing in search of conversation with other "councilors."
One of Ford's staffers later posted pictures on Twitter showing his boss talking to two L.A. councilmen, Mitch O'Farrell and Tom LaBonge.
Ford gained international attention last year after press reports of public drunkenness and illegal drug use. He apologized for his behavior and admitted smoking crack cocaine.
His Toronto City Council colleagues stripped him of official powers, but Ford refused to step down. In January, he announced he would seek reelection this fall.
Ford told reporters at L.A. City Hall that he was in town because late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel had invited him to make an appearance on Kimmel's show. Ford said he arrived Saturday and attended an Oscars party Sunday night.
"I'm looking for more movies to be made," he said of Toronto's $1.2-billion filming industry, perhaps unaware that his pitch is at odds with Garcetti's campaign to stem runaway production. "We have a beautiful city, and it's safe. It's very multicultural, and taxes are low."
With a flushed, round face and Rush Limbaugh-like physique, Ford has become a favorite topic on late-night TV shows. Kimmel frequently pokes fun at him. But Ford said he's not worried about his Monday-night appearance.
"He has a job to do, and I have a job to do,'' Ford said. He said he has become an exercise fanatic and is moving on.
"I think you can see I'm working out every day,'' he said. "I'm down 40 pounds. And I'm excited for the election."
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