Today Fri Sat
It is forecast to be Thunderstorm at 11:00 PM EDT on August 21, 2014
Thunderstorm
25°/16°
It is forecast to be Mostly Cloudy at 11:00 PM EDT on August 22, 2014
Mostly Cloudy
22°/18°
It is forecast to be Chance of Rain at 11:00 PM EDT on August 23, 2014
Chance of Rain
21°/18°

63 Comments

politics

Time to Clean House at the Toronto Community Housing Corporation

Will the TCHC board do the right thing and show CEO Gene Jones the door?

Photo by Flickr user Padraic.

Tomorrow, the Toronto Community Housing Corporation’s board of directors is expected to respond officially to ombudsman Fiona Crean’s blistering report on human resources practices at the Toronto Community Housing Corporation. Will they have the courage and sense to fire CEO Gene Jones?

The highlights of the report have been well publicized. According to Crean, hiring for key roles was frequently done without holding competitions, promotions and raises were handed out to favoured staff without the required review and oversight, and long-time employees were fired abruptly without cause or explanation, potentially leaving significant knowledge gaps in the organization. In one particularly egregious case, Jones’ executive assistant was paid $107,000 in 2013 (more than the director of compliance and legal counsel), and an attempt was made to shift some of her overtime pay from 2013 to 2014 in what looks like a ham-handed attempt to keep her off of the Sunshine List.

Such actions contravene not only generally accepted best practices, but also specific human resources policies in place at TCHC.

When challenged about the problems, Jones offered a two-part defence: he had been unaware of the relevant rules because no one had told him about them, and in any case, the breaking of those rules was his prerogative as CEO.

If the “I didn’t know/didn’t care” dyad of justification sounds familiar, that’s because it’s been taken directly from Mayor Rob Ford’s entitlement playbook, and draws from a leadership style that has been reducing productive activity and increasing partisan squabbling at City Hall since Ford became mayor in 2010.

It’s not likely that Jones and his team were unaware they were flouting the rules. Shortly after Crean contacted TCHC last August and advised staff there of her intention to conduct an audit, consulting firm Mercer LLC was hired to run a virtually identical review in what may have been an ass-covering exercise intended to demonstrate an attempt at compliance.

Conviction and decisiveness are valuable traits in a chief executive, especially one like Jones, who’s been hired to turn a floundering organization around. However, management by fiat and disregard for processes deemed inconvenient don’t work in a large public agency that is also one of the most sensitive portfolios in municipal government.

Although Jones and TCHC chair Bud Purves have advised Crean in writing that they “accept [her] findings and will act swiftly to address deficiencies,” there’s little evidence that Jones is interested in ratcheting down his damn-the-rules-my-EA-needs-a-Mercedes management style.

Indeed, when the ombudsman presented her findings to the management team, Jones acknowledged that he had delegated the review of the report to the VP of Human Resources, and according to Crean, he participated only minimally in the discussion.

While Jones may deserve to be fired, it’s unclear whether the board will have the will to do it—in part because it’s facing political pressure. Mayor Rob Ford, who’s never found a china shop that wasn’t worth riding a bull through, has declared his support for the embattled CEO and suggested shooting the messenger by eliminating the position of dedicated ombudsman.

Moreover, letting Jones go might be a hard sell because his activities could be seen to reflect poorly on the board itself. Crean’s report notes that in one case, the board rubber-stamped a questionable promotion to a senior director position for which no job description had been written, and in another, approved an internal VP appointment although the appointee had neither applied nor interviewed for the job.

Was the board cowed by Jones’ aggressive style? An unnamed board member interviewed for Crean’s report, referring to a perception that some members of the senior management team may have been unqualified or out of their depth, said, “I believe [the] CEO’s position was … ‘Look, I’ve worked very closely with these people; I think they can do the job and I’m willing to give them the chance.’ Now that is [CEO]. That is who he is … at the end of the day … if [the CEO’s] comfortable, then as a Board it’s kind of difficult to say, well, we don’t agree with your comfort.”

Fair enough—but as questioning the CEO is their job, it’s perhaps not unreasonable to expect them to navigate a little difficulty in order to make sure the organization is both transparent and effective.

Having failed to address obvious and over-the-top mismanagement while it was taking place, the board now has the opportunity to salvage some credibility by preventing a recurrence. Here’s hoping it does the right thing.

Comments

  • OgtheDim

    ” if [the CEO’s] comfortable, then as a Board it’s kind of difficult to say, well, we don’t agree with your comfort.”

    Aaa….the eternal struggle between activist and non-activist boards of directors.

    BOD’s have a fiduciary responsibility to oversee the direction of the CEO and see that he/she is operating within acceptable parameters, usually expressed in Mission, Vision and Values statements.

    The first value of the TCHC is

    “Respect
    –We respect people as individuals and create environments where
    fairness, trust and equitable treatment are the hallmarks of how we
    work.”

    Jones has not followed this.

    The second value is

    Accountability –
    We are accountable for our actions, accept responsibility for our
    performance and share the results of our work in an open, honest and
    transparent manner.

    Jones has not followed this.

    The fourth value is

    Integrity –
    We perform our duties with the utmost regard to the high standards
    expected of a corporation established to deliver social housing.

    Jones has not followed this.

    If the BOD is to expect people within that organization to follow the values as put down by them, Jones has to go.

    It is VERY possible to find a CEO who can do that job within those values.

    If the BOD is unwilling to follow its own values, then the shareholder of TCHC (the city) must step in and ensure a BOD is put in place that is willing to uphold the Values of the organization.

    *****

    This isn’t about getting rid of Ford appointees.

    This is about taking responsibility to do what you say you are going to do.

    Jones might be a great guy with a good heart who wants to do the right thing.

    He is patently unwilling to follow the values of the organization he is supposedly leading.

    For that, he must go.

    • TheSotSays

      Jones is doing the right thing, by cleaning up the administration. TCHC is a MIller run disaster and the biggest example in Canada of NDP incompetence.

      Imagine leaving disadvantaged people buried in cockroaches and disrepair for years at a time. It’s intolerable.

      • Squintz

        How is unaccountably appointing your own cronies cleaning up the administration?

        • TheSotSays

          Jones has been handed the job of cleaning up a notorious disgraceful mess created by Miller’s cronies.

          And it looks to me that the only way it can be cleaned up is by clearing out Miller’s cronies and bringing in a team that can finally get the job done. So good for Jones.

          Leaving disadvantaged people buried in cockroaches and disrepair for years at a time is intolerable.

          • Squintz

            Miller hasn’t been Mayor for 4 years. When you going to stop blaming everything on him? Not only that, but Jones has had the job for 2 years and things have been getting worse not better. He also ignored any process that could have led to a proper “house cleaning” as a crony of Ford after Case Ootes had the privilege of warming the seat. So when is Jones going to get this done?

          • TheSotSays

            Tell the honchos over at The Jack Layton School of Political Activists to go for it and let’s see what happens..

          • Squintz

            What are you talking about?

          • TheSotSays

            Exactly as I thought, you’re lost, you and the rest of your ilk.

          • Squintz

            lol this guy. We’re talking about the Ford supported current CEO and you can’t stop talking about Jack Layton, someone might need to reevaluate, seems like a little bit of an obsession over here.

          • TheSotSays

            Thump thump thump

          • Squintz

            Is that the sound of you beating a dead horse? You’re played out message is getting pretty tired.

          • TheSotSays

            Yaaaaaaaaawwwwn

          • bobloblawbloblawblah

            Don’t feed the troll.

          • vampchick21

            He’s a straight up troll, really, don’t waste your time on it!

          • OgtheDim

            He has a schtick.

            a) “ur wrong”

            b) “you don’t get it because you are an NDP’er”

            c) “you are sick in the head”

            Keeps him busy I suppose, but when he went and found me on a discussion about the Blackberry and brought the same schtick, it was really pathetic.

          • TheSotSays

            Warren Kinsella will be docking your pay for that. Under the revised rules, left bot trolls are required to apply each assigned trolling name to only one media organ. Tsk tsk tsk.

          • eternaloptimist1971

            Things HAVE NOT got worse while Jones has been CEO. There has been more good accomplished at TCH in the last two years than in the previous decade.
            Where’s your proof, other than then the complaints to the Ombudswoman registered by the incompetent staff that Jones was hired to clean out?

          • Squintz

            Oh yeah? Wait list growing, repair backlog growing (many reasons for this but to say it has gotten better is patently untrue) and then you brush off accusations of corrupt hiring practices? What needs to happen for you to think things aren’t getting worse? What’s your proof it hasn’t gotten worse?

          • Notcleverguy

            You’re as uninformed as Sot is on the subject. I think it’s a horrible thing to fight for a guy who has abused his position, created the largest repair backlog in TCHC history and turn and say Jones is doing a good job, You’re not caring about those residents is absolutely deplorable and you should be completely ashamed of yourself.

          • OgtheDim

            Only in certain buildings.

            If you are not in buildings he has looked into, you are worse off.

          • dsmithhfx

            He’s apparently been impulsively doing stuff for personal glory, rather than the hard and unglamorous work of restructuring, delegating and motivating the organization.

            Well, he was hired and enabled by a crackhead. So there’s that.

          • Mojo

            There was plenty of commentary in the report from current, “not cleaned out” staff.

          • Notcleverguy

            Idiot! You do realize the repair backlog has gotten far worse under Jones’ tenure. Your ignoring the actual facts is pathetic.

            You really need to stop lying to fit your idiotic narrative.

          • TheSotSays

            Jones is fine with me, he’s cleaning up a a giant Miller NDP mess and he’s doing a good job

            You need to realize that Jones doesn’t go in there and sweep cockroaches himself, he delegates to a sad collection of Miller NDP cronies and every single day those cronies remain there the situation gets “far worse.”

            You really need to give yourself a shake and have a shot at waking yourself up.

            I’m voting for Ford because I NEVER want to see NDP influence down there again.

          • OgtheDim

            ACTUALLY, he does go in and sweep them himself.

            With a big S on his chest.

          • TheSotSays

            Well there’s a big S on you too but they tell me it’s not on your chest.I

          • dsmithhfx

            Easy on the two-four, kid. Pace yourself.

          • dsmithhfx

            “Jones is fine with me, he’s cleaning up a a giant Miller NDP mess and he’s doing a good job”

            Newsflash: Jones is gonzo.

      • OgtheDim

        You know, you stalking me around Disqus (I saw that post on mobilesyrup before it got deleted) doesn’t really help you in the credibility stakes.

        (Yes, Torontoist editors, this guy is stalking people’s posts, in case you hadn’t figured it out yet)

        Btw, the assumption that anybody who disagrees with Jones is for the cockroaches is very Toewsian.

        • TheSotSays

          Go away and analyse posting history, talk to yourself, flag everyone who disagrees with you and continue to convince yourself that your so important that people follow you around.

          Combine that with criticising Jones, a man try very hard to clean up a mess made by Miller’s cronies, and in normal left wing fashion exploit the disadvantaged people rather than try to help

          In the meantime I’m continuing to support guys like Rob Ford who are very worried about what they see and who know that if we continue along Miller lines Toronto will be the next Detroit.

          • OgtheDim

            Somebody is getting upset at not being able to play his game whereever he wants to.

            Yeah…ur a stalking troll.

            Not a very good one at that.

            I’d pity you but there are more worthy people to be pitied….like those people left in cockroach infested buildings because Gene Jones can’t be bothered to get to them in his populist crusade to be seen to be doing things while not actually doing things.

          • TheSotSays

            I can’t stop laughing long enough to pity you.

          • TheSotSays

            Drooling and dreaming are you OgDerp?

            In addition to the increasing fiscal irresponsibility of the left, it’s on account of the general lack of moral values represented in part by hired trolling clowns like you, that the voters are turning solidly against the NDP/Liberal Party.

            The NDP/Liberal Party parasite has finally outgrown the host and everyone knows it.

        • vampchick21

          They know.

          • TheSotSays

            Hey Chicklet very good. You must be here to join OgDerp in duet. Say ah! .

          • TheSotSays

            With Jones out and Rob off to Rehab, the 8 billion cockroaches at TCHC are all breathing a sigh of relief and have promised to vote for The Iron Chow if the free tuition graduates of The Jack Layton School of Political Activists can get them on the voters list.

        • TheSotSays

          Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha . What a pack of losers.

        • TheSotSays

          Oooooooo the little Tinky saw something on what? – (Oh the Syrup Shop ???)

          Well good luck troller boy but you’re hallucinating. So keep your “Toe Jam” to yourself..

      • Notcleverguy

        Imagine if the CEO needlessly spent millions on redecorating the headquarters that didn’t need redecorating at all, or if the CEO tried to also lease a luxurious Bay St street office for himself that was literally a 10 minute walk from the headquarters, without any justification as to why.
        I’m sure Ford would be all over that sort of gravy as would his idiot supporters………………………………..Oh wait, Gene Jones did do those things, and nary a peep from the Idiot Ford faction about it, in fact, despite those things, coupled with Jones’ complete lack of regard for proper procedure they still support him …..What a bunch of hypocrites

    • torontothegreat

      I don’t disagree with you, but in any corporate culture values are not the same as rules. Corporations change their “values” often.
      I am uncertain however if the City has mandated these values or the TCHC corporation?

  • Mojo

    I have to say – I read the 111 page ombudsman’s report, and if you have a little spare time and a nice glass of wine it’s actually a fascinating read. The EA salary/overtime issue has been widely reported – but my fave incident was the VP who had to fire 3 of his directors (essentially the braintrust of his department)…on his first day on the job. Imagine what kind of morale exists in a workplace where this kind of thing happens.

    • TheSotSays

      And the moment it happened every cockroach in the place called a lawyer and had a will drawn up. The game was over!

    • rich1299

      Where did you find the report?

    • AlyssaMoh

      Fiona Crean is brilliant. Her writing is straight forward and concise, considering the detail she has to go through.
      I really wonder who will replace her. She’s set the bar pretty high, considering this is the first time the role’s been filled.

  • TheSotSays

    I can tell you where they found the people Jones wants to see out of there.

  • TheSotSays

    I don’t know why it has to be politicised, why don’t you ask the left wing trolls infesting this site?

    And I don’t know what your exact definition of troll might be but I came on here a couple of weeks ago and made a simple statement that I intended to vote for Ford and not for Chow of the NDP

    That simple act caused the greatest uproar, and unnecessary assault that I’ve ever seen anywhere at any time. But it’s been a great treat dealing with this batch of flagging, illiterate baby fools and I’m having great fun telling everyone about it.

    • eternaloptimist1971

      As opposed to the right wing trolls doing the very same thing?

    • Notcleverguy

      You have proven to be an idiot hypocrite, who is woefully uninformed and blinded by your love for a criminal, it’s sad, and no one can take you seriously, you’re a joke of a person.

  • AllanG

    Both the Chair of the Board and the CEO (Jones) accepted the Ombud’s findings and pledged to implement her recommendations. How anyone can sit there and defend what they did is beyond the pale. That includes the mayor and his online sycophants.
    Ford said yesterday that Jones was doing exactly what he was asked to do. Now that it’s been determined that his actions were wrong, will the people who “asked” take responsibility, do the right thing and resign?

    • dsmithhfx

      “Jones was doing exactly what he was asked to do.”

      Handing out plumb jobs, promotions and big fat raises to Ford campaign workers?

      • AllanG

        A good investigative journalist should look into this to see how many donors were among those hired and fired. Could be a story there.

  • Angie Mac

    He’s fired. It’s official.

    • dsmithhfx

      WOOHOOOO!

  • quidnunc

    Guess Jones can use a reference from Robbie to get a job in any city in the universe cuz everybody knows and loves our celebrity mayor.

    • dsmithhfx

      Be interesting to see if he joins Ben Johnson & that stoner from TPB on the campaign trail. Nah, he probly got a decent severance package, no need to go from disgrace to joke.

  • AlyssaMoh

    God, didn’t your motherboard teach you NOT TO FEED THE TROLLS?
    They’ll just start hanging around now.

    • OgtheDim

      He’s been hanging around for a month.

      Torontoist must be on an SEO drive.

      • TheSotSays

        Ooooooooo, SEO drive
        Aren’t you a knowing little basket.

        Left wing trolling flakes are a joke.

      • AlyssaMoh

        Ha! SEO… nice.

      • dsmithhfx

        Ssh. Don’t tell the advertisers and management SEO is a fraud.

  • rich1299

    For Rob Ford not always getting his way is always political. If you do your job in a way that doesn’t make Ford appear glorious you’re against him so its political. Even public servants are part of a political plot against him when they point out the problems with Ford’s “plans”. So what if they’re supposed to be non-partisan at all times, if they say anything that isn’t in line with Ford’s talking points they’re attacking him politically so must be fired.

  • Mark Dowling

    In my opinion the Board should be replaced as soon as Council is sworn in after the election. Selection of a permanent CEO should be deferred to that time.