Thursday, May 6, 1999

John Spears

p. B3.

Chow to join police services board

Proposed slate of appointments upsets councillors

Toronto council's mid-term games of musical chairs has produced bruised feelings, accusations of backroom deals and a change on the police services board.

Councillor Olivia Chow (Downtown) is to replace Councillor Sherene Shaw (Scarborough Agincourt) on the police board, under a slate approved yesterday by council's striking committee.

Chow has closely questioned police spending as a member of the budget committee. Shaw angered many councillors earlier when she failed to support Councillor Judy Sgro as lawyer Jeffrey Lyons tried to oust her as vice-chair of the police board.

Shaw issued a letter yesterday saying she had withdrawn her name from the contest Monday because she is working on a university degree and is very busy with other city work.

Chow's appointment upset Councillor Kyle Rae, who shares Chow's ward and had wanted to sit on the police board himself.

Rae told the committee it is concentrating too much power in a few hands. Chow, he said, is also the city's child advocate, and is on the budget advisory and community services committees.

He also noted that Craig Bromell, who heads the 7,000 member Toronto Police Association, visited Chow in her office yesterday — but not Rae.

"There seems to be a process behind the process," Rae said. "If the police union is going to go and talk to the annointed one, I think that's a problem." "She's part of the process," he said. "I feel I'm not part of the process."

Council is reorganizing all its committees and appointments to city agencies as it hits mid-term.

The slate must still be approved by council next week. But it's unlikely to be upset, because making one change can trigger a chain reaction upsetting a string of other appointments.

Chow dismissed Rae's fears she wields too much power. She said she tries to achieve consensus on her committees rather than imposing her will.

Councillors can work on issues that interest them even if they don't sit on a board or committee with direct responsibility in the area, she said.

Bromell said he was at city hall Tuesday to congratulate Chow on her work on the police budget, when he was informed she was headed to the police board. He said he welcomed her appointment.

"We are looking at it as a fresh start," he said, adding he felt Chow did a good job recently when she helped ensure that extra money given to the force in this year's budget will go directly to buying new cruisers.

Bromell admitted that the union's first choice to replace Shaw was Councillor Frances Nunziata (York Humber).

Nunziata's consolation prize was getting membership on the keystone policy and finance committee, which reviews important decisions prior to council.

Councillor David Shiner (Seneca Heights) also complained about the process.

Yesterday's meeting was the striking committee's first announced meeting. But its chair, Deputy Mayor Case Ootes (East York), pulled out a complete slate of names for all committees and appointments at the start of the meeting.

"It really is a waste of time for members of council to come down here," Shiner said.

"They've had three meetings already in private. It's quite evident from the list here that they must have met, because they're all supporting the list."

Shiner said the secret meetings are contrary to the Municipal Act, but said he plans no legal action to seek redress.

Ootes, who has masterminded the appointments, acknowledged that he has met privately with members of the committee but that the committee as a whole has never met.

"Nobody cooked anything up," he said. "I got input from the striking committee, sometimes one at a time. I got input from the mayor, and that's the recommendation that's before you today."

Ootes defended the slate. "We've satisfied 54 members of council (out of 57) in terms of giving them their first or second choice," he said. "And 42 of those of those get their first choice."

Toronto Police clippings… [Fiona Stewart]

Created: October 9, 2000
Last modified: October 9, 2000
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