Councillor to fight special meeting

Pam McConnell says holding an extra council session to fire the remaining Toronto Community Housing board members may be illegal

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.

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.

There are four people remaining on the board: two tenant reps Dan King and Catherine Wilkinson and councillors Raymond Cho and Maria Augimeri, who have thus far refused the mayor’s request to step down.

That will be the focus of discussions tomorrow. A motion by councillor Doug Holiday and Mary-Margaret McMahon went to city council today to remove the remaining members and replace the board temporarily with an interim managing director. That motion failed to get the two-thirds needed to bypass going first to the Executive Committee, so the issue was take a few weeks to go through committee and come back to council in April.

Earlier today, an emergency executive session was called for Wednesday at 12:30 pm but that was cancelled and a special council session was called instead for tomorrow night.

Toronto Community Housing spokesperson Kyle Rooks confirmed the current four directors are enough to have board meetings as long as three members show up there’s quorum.

Reports are the person the city could temporary replace the entire board with is former deputy mayor and ex-councillor Case Ootes, but the mayor’s press secretary would not confirm this to the Town Crier.

McConnell questions the need to rush to replace the remaining board members.

“He (Mayor Ford) has a full board. Four people are a full board,” she said. “He could begin the process of putting others on. And he tries to change it by going to a one-person board. A person who is a former councillor and person who was the deputy mayor here.

“We are changing the number of people to go down to one,” she said. “A board of directors that is one is a dictatorship.”

McConnell pointed out that a bylaw relating to the housing corp. stipulates the board may have a minimum of two directors and a maximum of 13, but not one.

No public deputations are permitted at city council sessions, so McConnell said housing tenants will be shut out of speaking to this issue before a decision is made.

Toronto Community Housing tenant and advocate Susan Gapka is not pleased.

“What’s happening here is a really bad precedent for democracy and tenant representation,” she told the media.

About this article:

By: Kris Scheuer
Posted: Mar 9 2011 12:22 am
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto