Mayor's office 'compromised' hiring process: ombudsman
Published Thursday, September 27, 2012 10:35AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, September 27, 2012 12:24PM EDT
Toronto’s ombudsman says the mayor’s office “compromised” city staff’s ability to recruit and select members for boards and committees last year.
In a report released Thursday, Fiona Crean said members of Mayor Rob Ford’s administration mishandled the appointment of public positions by demanding staff speed up the selection process and then reducing the amount of time they had to choose candidates.
City council must appoint members to as many as 120 city boards and agencies after each election. Crean said her office received a number of complaints about the hiring process in 2011, leading to an investigation about the way the recruitment process was handled.
“These agencies have a considerable impact on residents’ lives, so Torontonians must be assured board members are selected in a fair and open process,” Crean said in a statement.
“Staff did the best they could, but their ability to carry out their responsibilities under the Public Appointments Policy was compromised.”
Among the findings, the report said there was no set process for informing the civic appointment committee about possible conflicts of interest and strategies to encourage applicants from diverse communities were compromised.
Crean’s report found that the mayor’s office requested staff remove from job postings a note that encouraged members of diverse communities to apply for the positions. The staff did not remove the note, the report said.
According to the report, city staff complained that the mayor’s office demanded the advertisement be posted in the National Post and Toronto Sun, but not the Toronto Star-- the city’s largest newspaper. One staffer told investigators the reason given was because “we do not like the Star.”
Staff from the mayor’s office interviewed as part of Crean’s investigation denied blacklisting the Star.
The report also goes into detail about an outburst that occurred at one civic appointment panel, when an unnamed councillor reportedly threatened staff after an attempt to select an applicant with an apparent conflict of interest was challenged.
Attendees at the panel told investigators that the councillor pointed at the questioning staff member and said, “I’m going to get you.” Other staff reported that the councillor’s manner was “threatening.”
Following recommendations made in the report, the city has agreed to review its public appointments policy, require staff report in writing any information about potential conflicts of interest, and develop strategies to attract applicants from diverse communities.