Wednesday, March 16, 2011

TCHC Social Housing Czar Ootes One Man Board

Extremely Anti-Democratic By Any Measure

At a mid March Special Toronto City Council meeting Mayor Rob Ford Managed to ram through his knee-jerk reaction *  to the Toronto Community Housing Corporation spending scandal. Independent citizens, city councillors and tenant representatives were summarily turfed from the board, and Ford's long time right wing buddy and 'retired' city councillor Case Oootes was put in charge.

*Knee jerk, because the official auditor's report had not even been released; only a few choice politically-charged pieces were mysteriously 'leaked' to the press. Trial by media.

"Case Ootes will be paid $25,000 as the lone board member of Toronto Community Housing over the next three months." says a Toronto Sun article. In addition, "as a retired councillor with 22-years service, he walked out of City Hall Dec. 1 with $99,619.52 in severance."
*Update: Add to that "the $11,000 he earned leading Mayor Rob Ford’s transition team last fall" *

"Case Ootes will be paid more for his three months leading the Toronto Community Housing Corp. than the board’s former chairman earned in a year." says the Globe and Mail ...Mr. Ford, a past critic of so-called double-dipping, defended paying Mr. Ootes in a brief scrum last week after council voted to dump the remaining four TCHC board members who refused the mayor’s demand they resign... “I’ve come out of retirement. I’ve cancelled a vacation at my own expense and this is a huge responsibility,” Mr. Ootes added
This means that the single person in charge of social housing, who has the power to do whatever he wants with it, with essentially no accountability (Mayor Ford resisted all efforts to continue to make the now one man board accountable to city council)... is someone who:

* Has about $125,000 taxpayer money in his pocket (*actually $136,000) and is making decision for those tenants that have about 1/17 of that (in case of general welfare/Ontario Works = $592/month or $7,104/yr) and about one tenth of what those on Ontario Disability/ODSP have ($1053/mo = $12,636/yr). Essentially a very rich guy who can have no understanding of what the life someone in social housing must be like.

* Is NOT an advocate for social housing. In fact he believes social housing should not exist: a Toronto Star article and a CBC story "TCHC privatization not ruled out by Ootes"

Certainly, the few leaked accounts of financial mismanagement by TCHC staff needs to be addressed and financial controls need to be tightened. I doubt anyone disputes that.

However, to us this as an excuse to attack democratically responsible oversight is a big mistake.

It's like seeing a small fire in a wastebasket and responding to it by tearing down the house.

Anti-democratic by any measure.
A really great Tweet: Janet Davis Great question! RT @michaelshapcott: How soon before the new one-man board of #TCHC holds his first public meeting...