The city of Toronto Ombusdman, Fiona Crean (you’ll remember her as the hero of Don Cherry’s speech at Mayor Ford’s inauguration) has issued a report on how the mayor’s office changed the appointments process for city agencies, boards and commissions in ways that compromised the integrity of the city’s government. Her topline summary from her office’s press release:
“Unfortunately” Crean says, “in late 2011 and early 2012, after instructions from the Mayor’s Office to speed up the process, city staff were not given the time, support or necessary resources to properly fulfil the provisions of the Public Appointments Policywhile they carried out the directions. Staff did the best they could, but their ability to carry out their responsibilities under the Public Appointments Policy was compromised.” The Ombudsman has also determined there were gaps and difficulties that added to this problem.
There was no process for informing members of the Civic Appointments Committee of possible conflicts-of-interest.
There was no plan to encourage applications from diverse communities.
Responsibility for administering the City’s Public Appointments Policy was split between the City Clerk’s Office and the City Manager’s Office.
When you dig into her report, you can see that city staff expressed reservations about this at the time. Money quote, from staffers in the City Manager’s office:
“It will look to cynics as if the fix is already in for appointments and the process is just for show…We now have a governance process that is no longer based on any recognizable principles.”
I’m still reading the full report.