Ombudsman Fiona Crean was blasted by Mayor Rob Ford’s allies over her review that accused the mayor’s office of a slew of things, including interference.
Fed up with the tense proceedings, Coun. Mike Del Grande left the council chamber.
“I’m embarrassed to be in this chamber,” he said before leaving. “We have lowered ourselves to the lowest common denominator.”
“We might as well be alley cats in the alley scratching, hissing and fighting with each other.”
Coun. Kristyn Wong-Tam was not impressed with the fiery debate, calling it a “shameful process” for the city.
“We have done everything we can to try to move this city forward,” she said.
“Regardless of whether you are from the left or the right, I think we want to do the right thing.”
At the centre of the contentious debate was an apparent short-list of individuals who were to be hired, for the city’s boards and agencies, which was allegedly distributed by the mayor’s office to the appointment committees.
Among the findings in the report, Crean said the mayor’s office pushed city staff to expedite the appointment process for the city’s agencies, boards and commissions and ignored their objections.
She noted that some councillors interviewed knew nothing of the short-list of candidates, but several others suggested the list did indeed exist.
Those accusations riled up Coun. Frances Nunziata, who said claims of the list were incorrect.
“I did not receive any information,” she said.
“These accusations were made by other members of council that came to the meeting.”
“I’d like for them to withdraw those comments.”
Councillors in the mayor’s inner circle, including Coun. Giorgio Mammoliti argued that the report was politically-charged.
“It’s just a political agenda by some left-learning councillors who want to turn this into something that it’s not,” he said.
Mammoliti said the alleged short-list is a misunderstanding and directed blame at the ombudsman.
“Maybe if she would’ve chosen a few different words, you wouldn’t find people using the words that they’re using to describe this and come after the mayor politically.”
“She could’ve done something a little different than the report,” Mammoliti said.
“I think she’s crossed the line to a degree.”
Coun. Sarah Doucette drew attention to the alleged short-list, sparking an onslaught of dissent.
Ford dismissed the accusation as inaccurate.
“I think the comments that Coun. Doucette sent me — she’s going to retract that since it’s not an accurate statement,” he said.
Wong-Tam said the report suggested that a staffer in the mayor’s office acknowledged the existence of the short-list.
“Someone should be taking responsibility if it happened on the mayor’s watch,” she said. “[An] apology from the mayor would be quite appropriate.”
Another criticism targeted at Crean was that she did not interview the mayor’s inner circle.
On Wednesday, the scathing review seemingly put Mammoliti and Coun. Gord Perks chin-to-chin.
Council adopts controversial ombudsman report
Momin Qureshi and 680News staff
TORONTO, Ont. – City councillors unanimously adopted recommendations by the city’s ombudsman on Thursday, following a heated exchange in the council chamber over her scathing review on the civics appointments process.