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)
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.
However, Augimeri disputes that any such request by the mayor was made.
“I was not asked to resign by anyone at anytime,” she told the media. “I wanted to get out the fact there was no reason to resign as no wrong doing had taken place on my part or on the part of my colleagues.
“That’s the truth and the truth always seems to get out there last, if at all.”
Two scathing reports by city auditor Jeffrey Griffiths found inappropriate employee spending and that between $4-10 million could have been saved with more competitive contracts. But he told council last night had not recommended the board be purged.
Augimeri said that she anticipates council’s decision will result in legal action.
“Tonight you saw the theatre of the absurd. You saw so many bylaws and rules being broken,” said Augimeri. “I think as a consequence of some members of council’s remarks in the public arena, council … there will be a lot of lawsuits coming our way.”
To answer some of the concerns over transparency at Toronto Community Housing, Councillor Shelley Carroll made a motion that the corporation post all expenses records of all housing staff and board members who earn over $100,000 on its website and that it immediately review its contract practices and that during this interim period any purchases over $1,000 get board approval.
These measures were approved with a vote of 22-21 but with mayor Ford and his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, voting against them leading Carroll to question if this debate was really about bringing accountability and transparency to Toronto Community Housing?
“It has never been about the misspending of tenants’ rent money of the city’s subsidy to (Toronto Community Housing Corporation),” she said. “It’s never been about inappropriate practices of procurement those were the auditor general’s concerns.
“Thank God 22 councillors had the good sense to support it so the expenses will now be recorded online,” she said.
The auditor’s reports on employee expenses and procurement practises have yet to be introduced for debate and will come either to the audit committee or bypass it and come straight to the next executive committee for discussion.
To rebuild the Toronto Community Housing board a corporations nominating committee will be struck to recruit and recommend seven citizen members, while two new tenant reps will be elected and four new councillors appointed.