Case Ootes lone board member votes to sell 22 homes
City-owned housing provider to make millions
Money would be used to fix crumbling housing stock
(Written April 6 for Town Crier.)
Case Ootes explains his vote to sell 22 social housing properties. Kris Scheuer/Town Crier photo.
Case Ootes, the one man board at Toronto Community Housing Corporation, voted today to sell 22 single families homes in the portfolio that could net the corporation up to $15.7 million.
Some who came out to the meeting asked Ootes to defer the decision until a full board is in place this June. But Ootes said he’s acting on recommendations of the previous board to sell these homes including beachfront property on Hubbard Boulevard that are too costly to maintain.
A staff report this issue states the net profits from the sales should be used to tackle the backlog to fix up existing community housing across the city which Ootes pegs at close to $600 million.
“I made the decision based on the fact this corporation is facing serious financial problems,” he told the media after the meeting. “There are almost 2,000 vacant units in some form of disrepair. Money is needed to repair these units.”
But selling all 22 homes, which contain 29 separate units, won’t be a cakewalk.
Currently, 15 of the 29 units are occupied by tenants with most of them paying market rent. The market rent tenants can’t be kicked out by any new owner unless they or their families plan to live in the homes.
“Most buyers do want (houses) to be vacant so it will be more difficult to sell,” said Ootes. Continue reading
Posted in Toronto News
Tagged Beach, board, Case Ootes, city, community, homes, housing, Hubbard, Kris Scheuer, properties, sell, TCHC, Toronto, Town Crier
City staff to report this spring on action on castle’s future
Recommendations will focus on Kiwanis current contract
Possible someone else could manage Casa Loma for city
(Written for the Town Crier March 30.)
Casa Loma. Town Crier file photo.
Will the Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma be allowed to continue to run the city-owned icon or will someone else be given keys to the famous castle?
Last July 7, council voted to take steps to terminate the club’s management agreement if a handful of conditions were not met in writing by the end of the month.
Now it’s eight months later and the city’s deadline has come and gone. However, the Town Crier has learned the city and the club have been meeting and city staff will be producing a progress report and recommendations that will come to the city’s Executive Committee in April or May.
“We are working with Kiwanis regarding Casa Loma,” said Michael Williams general manager of Economic Development and Culture, who council charged with creating a dispute resolution process between the two parties.
This progress report will also contain recommendations on what action city council should take regarding its current contract with Kiwanis, which has run the castle since 1937.
Kiwanis’s 2008-signed contract includes an agreement which would see the club fix up the castle’s interior while the city would spend millions on repairing the exterior. But according to last year’s report, Kiwanis has missed a number of agreed upon deadlines.
The city voted to have Kiwanis report back by the end of September 2010 with a financial plan to meet its contract obligations. The city also instructed the deputy city manager’s office to conduct an audit of Casa Loma’s operations and finances.
Posted in Toronto culture
Tagged agreement, board, Casa Loma, chair, contract, council, Joe Mihevc, Kiwanis, Kris Scheuer, Michael, repairs, report, Richard, Toronto, Town Crier, Williams, Wozenilek
Former councillor getting 25k for 3-month gig
City appointed him interim man director at housing board
(March 16 blog post)
Case Ootes former ward 29 rep is now the interim managing director of the city's housing board. Photo Francis Crescia/Town Crier file photo.
Former East York councillor and ex deputy mayor Case Ootes is the one man show on Toronto Community Housing’s board now. He’ll began his new role on Monday and will be in it until mid-June at the latest. He’ll make $25,000 in compensation as the interim managing director of the TCH board.
The city manager Joseph Pennachetti set the rate of pay for Ootes.
At the emergency council session March 9 that the Mayor Rob Ford called, the city voted 25-18 to sweep the remaining 4 members of the board. The other nine board members already resigned at the mayor’s request over a scandalous set of city audits that involved spending by TCH employees and sole-source contracts that if put out for competitive tender could have saved millions.
But not all city councillors wanted Ootes to get paid for his temporary role, but councillor motions to have him work for free were defeated. The main issue raised was that Ootes, who was a councillor from 1988 to 2010, was already receiving severance for his almost 22 years in public office. He’s receiving the max allowed which is 12 months pay equal to $99,619.52.
According to the city’s policy on severance, a councillor can receive 1 month’s pay for every consecutive year worked with the maximum allowed of 12 months. In Ootes case he was a councillor for over two decades, so is entitled to a year’s severance.
After the council vote, the mayor told the media everyone deserves to be paid so he was fine with Ootes being compensated in his new role despite the fact he’s currently collecting severance from the city/taxpayer.
According to the Globe and Mail, Ootes also earned $11,000 from his role heading up Mayor Ford’s transition team after the Oct. 25 election last year.
It will be interesting to see what Ootes suggests for city-owned housing corporation while he is in charge of the board. One thing he’s been quite vocal about in interviews I have had with him as a Town Crier reporter is that TCH should not house people in million dollar houses.
What’s your take on his pay and new appointed role?
Posted in Toronto News
Tagged board, Case Ootes, cheque, community, compensation, director, housing, managing, pay, TCH, Toronto
City voted to remove housing board members
Interim director in place until new board appointed
Councillors question legality of decision
(Written and revised March 10 for Town Crier)
THC tenant reps Catherine Wilkinson and Dan King were among board members removed by city. Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.
Mayor Rob Ford got his wish. The four remaining members of the Toronto Community Housing’s board were removed last night after a midnight vote by city council.
It its place a single managing director has been appointed to take over the board’s duties.
It’s been confirmed former deputy mayor Case Ootes will fill that role until a new board is formed no later than mid-June.
Councillor Raymond Cho, who along with Councillor Maria Augimeri and tenant reps Catherine Wilkinson and Dan King were removed from the community housing board, said during the debate he felt the mayor was telling him to get lost by asking him to resign from the board after he was just appointed in December.
Last week, the other two councillors appointed to the board after last year’s election, John Parker and Frances Nunziata, resigned at the mayor’s request.
Posted in Toronto News
Tagged audit, board, Case Ootes, Catherine, city, community, council, councillor, Dan, decision, Doug Holyday, gone, housing, King, Kris Scheuer, Maria Augimeri, Mayor, remove, reports, Rob Ford, Shelley Carroll, Toronto, Town Crier, Wilkinson
(Updated story here.)
The last four remaining Toronto Community Housing board members were removed by the city in a vote 25-18 around midnight on Wednesday night/Thursday morning.
In the interim one person will act as the managing director and while his name remains confidential for now it’s been widely reported as former deputy mayor Case Ootes. To read the many motions and how councillors voted, click here.
I filed my story for the Town Crier at noon today detailing some of the next steps and concerns some councillors have over the process of removing a board that was not found to be implicated in any wrongdoing.
When that story is edited, I will post it on m blog.
The full story is done now and can be read here.
(For March 10 update click here.)
Mayor Ford shown on the big screen at city council tonight speaking about wanting the current TCH board removed. Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.
Council has been debating for three plus hours now on Mayor Rob Ford’s request that the last four board members of Toronto Community Housing be removed tonight. He wants them replaced tonight by an interim managing director – Case Ootes.
Read the mayor’s letter to council on what he is seeking.
While there are a number of motions be city councillor being debated now (9pm), the main issue comes down to this: the mayor’s request the last four board members councillors Maria Augimeri and Raymind Cho and the two tenant reps Catherine Wilkinson and Dan King be removed as they refuse to step down. Mayor Ford wants those four replaced by one person, former councillor Case Ootes, as the interim managing director.
And the main alternative being debated tonight is Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam’s motion that the four current reps stay on the board and the interim managing director be added but that he not be paid because as an ex councillor Ootes is already getting severance.
See all the councillors’ motions here.
The debate and media scrum didn’t end until almost 12:30 am Thurs March 10. Here’s the update on the results.
Posted in Toronto News
Tagged board, city, community, council, debate, housing, Kris Scheuer, Kristyn Wong Tam, Mayor, Rob Ford, TCH, Toronto, vote
Mayor Ford calls special Toronto City Council session
He wants remaining board members gone
(Written for Town Crier March eighth, posted March 9)
Councillor Pam McConnell.
Mayor Rob Ford called a special city council session for this evening to discuss removing the remaining four Toronto Community Housing Corporation board members.
Councillor Pam McConnell is livid and said she thinks it is illegal to meet on this issue with such short notice.
Referring to the city’s shareholders agreement with the city-owned corporation that states on page 15 that “the shareholder (city) will provide prior written notice to the board no less than six weeks prior to any proposed amendments to this direction.”
McConnell, a veteran on council, told the media Tuesday evening that lawyers were looking into the matter and that she was looking at the possibility of seeking an injunction to stop the meeting.
“It is not right to just think you can close your eyes to the law and bylaws and the covenant with your tenants and to say we will forget all of that,” she said.
City legal staff have so far disagreed with her interpretation, McConnell said.
The removal of the board members became an issue after city Auditor General Jeffrey Griffiths two scathing Feb. 25 reports found millions could be saved if contracts were more competitive and uncovered inappropriate employee expenses although he found no fault by board members.
While the reports haven’t gone to the city’s audit committee yet, Mayor Ford asked all 13 board members to resign and last week nine board members including chair David Mitchell did.
Posted in Toronto Politics
Tagged Adrienne Batra, board, council, housing, Kris Scheuer, Mayor, Pam McConnell, removed, replaced, Rob Ford, session, Susan Gapka, TCH, Toronto, Town Crier
Toronto Community Housing board still in place, for now
City Council to discuss TCH board at special meeting Wed
(Written for Town Crier March eighth. Update here.)
Councillor Doug Ford wants remaining board members to step down. Photo by Kris Scheuer/Town Crier.
The remaining members of Toronto Community Housing’s embattled board are staying put despite Mayor Rob Ford’s calls for their resignations.
The issue was expected to be the heated topic today at city hall, but while politicians voted unanimously to move the issue to the top of the agenda, the mayor failed to get the votes needed to debate it without having the issue sent to Executive Committee first.
The controversy stems from scathing reports from the city’s auditor general which said the housing corp. could have saved between $4-10 million if there was increased competition for contracts and shone the spotlight on inappropriate staff expenses ranging from planning meetings at spas to lavish Christmas parties. Meanwhile the city-owned housing corp. has a state of good repair backlog of over $300 million.
While the auditor didn’t call for a clean house of the current board the mayor has. The board chair David Mitchell plus eight other members resigned at the mayor’s request but councillors Maria Augimeri and Raymond Cho and tenant reps Catherine Wilkinson and Dan King remain.
“Has (council) malfeasance on our part?” King asked. “Has the auditor general mentioned cause for our removal? If not, then we have a legitimate right to be here. Calling for our removal because they don’t like certain people is not what I call democratic.”
Posted in Toronto News
Tagged Adam Vaughan, audit, board, community, council, Dan King, Doug Ford, fired, housing, Kris Scheuer, Maria Augimeri, Mayor Rob Ford, Raymond Cho, TCH, Toronto, Town Crier
French Catholic board looks to buy the site
(Written for Town Crier Jan 28)
Arlington MS could be sold to French Catholic school board. Kris Scheuer/Town Crier file photo.
A deal is in the works to sell Arlington Middle School to a French Catholic school board.
Last year the Toronto District School Board voted to sell Arlington, which overlooks Cedarvale Park, and close it this September. The board’s real estate arm, Toronto Lands Corporation is handling the potential sale.
Donna Jondreau, manager of real estate for the Toronto Lands, confirmed the Conseil Scolaire de District Catholique Centre-Sud will vote in a few weeks on whether to buy Arlington MS.
“We should know by mid-March,” Jondreau said Jan. 27.
St. Paul’s public school trustee Shelley Laskin said the deal to sell Arlington will likely be successful.
The French Catholic school board already voted to have its staff negotiate a purchase of the facility, Laskin said.
If the deal goes through, students in grade 7 will continue at Arlington in the 2011-2012 school year for grade 8.
Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma misses city’s July 31 deadline
City demanded a written agreement to fix outstanding disputes
Government could revoke operating agreement with Kiwanis
By Kris Scheuer
(Written Aug 4 for Town Crier.)
What's next? Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma fails to meet city's ultimatum ti make changes. Future of contract up in the air. Town Crier file photo.
The city is weighing its options now that Kiwanis Club of Casa Loma has failed to respond in writing to a series of demands for major changes to the way the group runs the historic building by the July 31 deadline.
“Council required a written response to specific actions in writing,” said city spokesperson Patricia Trott on the afternoon of Aug. 4. “That written response to the city’s direction never happened.
“The city is still reviewing its options.” Continue reading
Posted in Toronto News
Tagged agrement, board, Casa Loma, chair, contract, Councillor Joe Mihevc, deadline, Gerschkow, Joachim, Kiwanis, Kris Scheuer, Richard, Town Crier, Wozenilek