I was not going to do this. I was just going to let me tweets stand as my opinion on the matter. But after reading what Sue-Ann Levy wrote about the TCHC Board of Director's meeting that took place the day before yesterday I feel I don't have a choice. Maybe she was watching on line at home. As I was. Maybe her audio was breaking up more than mine was. One can only hope. Because, otherwise, she glossed over some pretty important details.
Anyway, here 's a link to her warm and fuzzies about the subject matter at hand - TCHC board eyes vacancy and arrears problems.
Nowhere in her article does it mention that they can't even separate out the different categories of arrears. It's confusing to have the rent and parking arrears bundled together. Admittedly, they would have different degrees of consequences. Has TCHC not heard of pre-authorized payments? Or for those tenants on social assistance (over 75% of the TCHC population) pay direct? Why is this even an issue? With the pay direct option TCHC could effectively collect rents directly from Ontario (Never) Works and Ontario (Diss)Ability Support Program without it ever having been in the tenants bank account to begin with. Thereby preventing arrears from ever happening in the first place.
The most shocking (but subdued) debate involved proposed updates to the Boards Conflict of Interest policy. The member presenting the report acknowledged that the policy hasn't been updated since 2003 and "was seriously out of date". She suggested that the board members Conflict of Interest policy be on par with the general TCHC staff policy. Thereby no board member can receive gifts, meals, or donations.
Sounds pretty straight forward.
Not so fast. One male member piped up ("male member" lol) that just because someone buys him a meal doesn't mean he'll be swayed to vote in their favor. Then he goes on to say that "timely" disclosure may be more important. (Now if you took the time to read Sue Ann Levy's blurb you'd see that even she takes issue with TCHC doing ANYTHING in a "timely" manner.)
It had to be explained to him that this would be "an early warning policy", "you can't be making the decision", and that it's intent is "not to police you. It's to protect you" [and TCHC from the appearance of impropriety}.
Then from across the table comes a response. That maybe this should be principles based not rules based. We have all seen how well TCHC performs if there is no clear line drawn in the sand.
Back to that "male member" for a moment. Within the framework of downplaying the importance of the Conflict of Interest policy review, he mentioned that he sits on other Boards and Committees where he has signed a non-disclosure agreement. Maybe that's something you should have kept to yourself. Just sayin' ...
I don't know about you, but that raises a red flag for me. I want TCHC to be more transparent in it's dealings. After all they are dealing with millions upon millions of tax payers dollars. So to me, someone who signs non-disclosure agreements on the regular seems ill equipped to be serving on a quote unquote public board.
Continuing on in this discussion of public versus private. It is a fact that Toronto Community Housing Corporation has previously taken a run at acquiring charitable status from the Canada Revenue Agency. Of course they were denied donee status (Something that Sue Ann Levy would have picked up on if she scanned the documents that were provided for the meeting.) That taken in connection with a comment made at the Board of Directors meeting about holding an Annual General Meeting (which was described by a board member as a legal requirement) in the future should scare the daylights out of everyone. Especially., when you consider the complete lack of transparency when it comes to public money. Imagine how badly TCHC could misuse private donations.
Maybe I'm a bit of an alarmist. But, I would rather be ringing the alarm than playing dead. This time I think Sue Ann Levy did exactly that. (Could someone please check for a pulse?) Otherwise, there is no way that someone with the reputation of "getting the story behind the story" could have witnessed, in person or via live stream, that exact same TCHC Board of Directors meeting without raising some serious questions. Maybe next time she can use my Twitter feed as a source of information. Otherwise, I would be concerned, if I was her, about plagiarizing from some board members notes.