TCHC citizen board members resign en masse

Seven of the nine citizen board members of the Toronto Community Housing Corporation have tendered their resignations in the wake of a scathing report that uncovered questionable spending and millions in improperly tendered contracts.

The seven, including TCHC Chair David Mitchell, said they were stepping down at a public meeting Thursday morning.

"The appointees take full responsibility for the finding in the ... report," Mitchell said, adding the members felt they couldn't work with Mayor Rob Ford, who has demanded their resignations.

The two members who are staying on are tenant representatives who live in properties administered by the TCHC, the largest social housing provider in North America.

CEO Keiko Nakamura, who was also asked to resign by Ford, will stay on in her role. Nakamura said Thursday six staff have been fired and 14 have been disciplined. Four more staff are currently under investigation, she said.

But Coun. Frances Nunziata, the speaker at Toronto council, said Ford plans on introducing a motion asking that the entire 13-member board, which includes four city councillors, be completely disbanded.

Nunziata, who is among the councillors on the board, said the new members would then be re-appointed.

"It stops now. The party's over," she said.

Board members called the meeting after Jeffrey Griffiths, the city's auditor general, released a report Monday that revealed the agency awarded a three-year, $25-million refurbishment contract after receiving an unsolicited proposal and another $5-million contract that did not have appropriate documentation and appeared to be sole-sourced.

The report also detailed staff at the city-run housing agency expensed cruises, massages and Christmas parties exceeding $40,000.

Griffiths said at the board meeting Thursday that he was outraged after examining the agency's books.

"In my eight years as auditor general at the City of Toronto, I've never seen such a blatant disregard of policies and procedures as they relate to employee expenses," he said.

Numerous members of the public, including tenants, made deputations arguing passionately about whether the TCHC brass should step aside. CBC reporters Steven D'Souza and Lorenda Reddekopp said the public deputations were split over whether the board should stay or go.