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
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
TTC's proposed second exit for Donlands subway is on hold for now. Image courtesy of TTC.
City council voted Feb. 23 to defer building controversial second subway exits at Wellesley, Donlands, Greenwood and Woodbine TTC stations.
A motion by Councillor Mary Fragedakis to amend the Toronto Transit Commission’s capital budget was approved during the city’s budget debate.
Her motion, which passed 42-2, was ”City Council add the Second Exit at Donlands station project to the list of projects being deferred pending resolution of the TTC’s $2.3 billion Capital Budget funding shortfall.”
She sent out a press release Feb. 25 stating, “City Council voted overwhelmingly to defer the second exit project at Donlands station until the TTC is able to secure the necessary funding. Other second exit projects deferred at the February 23 Council meeting include Wellesley, Woodbine and Greenwood stations.” Continue reading
Posted in Toronto transit
Tagged budget, cancelled, capital, council, deferred, Donlands, exits, Greenwood, Kris Scheuer, second, stations, Toronto, TTC, Wellesley, Woodbine
Council makes symbolic gesture to pass on pay hike
Savings may go to support student nutrition
(Written Feb. 8 for Town Crier.)
Councillor Mike Del Grande led charge to freeze politicians' pay for 2011.
Council voted almost unanimously today not to accept a cost of living increase with many saying that they needed to set an example for city employees going into a year of contract negotiations.
This year, the city will be negotiating a number of new contracts including one with the TTC as that contract expires at the end of March, and CUPE Local 416’s contract including garbage collectors is up at the end of 2011.
“When those (contract) negotiations start, the first thing everyone will look at is what have we done with respect to our leadership on this,” said budget chief Mike Del Grande during the debate.
He said refusing this 2.6 percent cost of living increase sets the right tone since they are seeking budget cutbacks from city departments and asking employees to show restraint in wage demands.
“We have asked for sacrifices throughout the system and we can start with ourselves,” he said after the vote. Continue reading
Posted in Toronto Politics
Tagged council, cut, freeze, hike, increase, Joe Mihevc, Kris Scheuer, Mike Del Grande, nutrition, pay, salary, student, Toronto, Town Crier
Councillor David Shiner in Mayor’s Ford inner circle
While Councillor Shelley Carroll to make her own way
(Written Dec 4 for Town Crier)
Councillor Shelley Carroll.
There’s been a reversal of fortunes for North York representatives Shelley Carroll and David Shiner on city council.
Shiner, who complained of being sidelined under former mayor David Miller, was chosen in early December by Mayor Rob Ford to be on the 13-member executive team.
Meanwhile, Carroll who was budget chief and a member of Miller’s inner circle, was not among the new mayor’s picks for key council roles.
Although Carroll does not paint herself as an opposition member to Ford, she said those with differing views can still have influence at city hall.
“You have to ask the opposition to Miller if it had an impact, but I’d say very much so,” Carroll said. “You could be outside the mayor’s circle and have an impact and oppose things and amend (proposals).”
Don Cherry introduces Mayor Rob Ford at city council
Hockey commentator’s racy comments overpower event
(Written for Town Crier Dec. 7)
L-R: Hockey commentator Don Cherry shakes Mayor Ford's hand at inaugural council session Dec. 7. Photo by Francis Crescia/Town Crier.
Hockey commentator Don Cherry’s message was almost as colourful as his jacket as he introduced his friend Mayor Rob Ford in a ceremonial inauguration at city hall this afternoon.
Cherry stole the show with comments about the “left-wing pinkos” on council and in the media.
“I wore pink today for all the pinkos out there,” said Cherry, who couldn’t be missed in his fuchsia jacket.
He further chided the “the left-pinko media” who he says “ripped him to shreds” when it was announced he would introduce Ford at the ceremony.
The controversial character said he supports Ford who he describes as honest and truthful.
“He is like (new MP) Julian Fantino what you see is what you get.”
That feeling is mutual as Ford commented to reporters on Cherry’s remarks after the event.
“What you see is what you get. That’s Don Cherry,” Ford said.