City councillors charged by OPP; Brad Ross chosen for city’s top comms job; plans for new Transit Expansion Office, Twitterverse: what TO city councillors are saying about Premier Doug Ford’s PC government lately

4:21 p.m. Nov. 16, 2018. Christmas decorations went up in the rotunda of Toronto City Hall this week, six weeks before Christmas.
4:21 p.m. Nov. 16, 2018. Christmas decorations went up in the rotunda of Toronto City Hall this week, six weeks before Christmas.

Weekend Newsbrief: November 18, 2018

What happened at Toronto City Hall this week

Toronto City Councillors Mark Grimes and Justin Di Ciano charged by Ontario Provincial Police. Following a year-long investigation, the Ontario Provincial Police charged re-elected Councillor Mark Grimes and outgoing Councillor Justin Di Ciano on Friday with offenses related to documents filed with the elections office. CBC’s John Lancaster has been investigating the ethical implications of the councillors business dealings over the past few years, with stories that show how local development deals may have benefitted Di Ciano. The latest story ties together a 2014 election poll, paid for by the developer Dunpar, and thousands of dollars of expenses the police say the councillors failed to disclose. Lancaster reports, “OPP Staff Sgt. Carolle Dionne confirmed the charge laid against each councillor is related to that polling work. She said the councillors are accused of failing to disclose at least $26,000 worth of expenses. CBC Toronto has reported that total could be as high as $40,000.” In financial documents submitted to the City of Toronto and obtained by Signal Toronto, one councillor’s expenses include a statement that says he ran a deficit. Both candidates used the same accountant and filed the same independent auditor statements in their expense reports that said, “Due to the nature of the types of transactions inherent in an election campaign, it is impracticable through auditing procedures to determine that the accounting records include all donations of goods and services, and receipts and disbursements. Accordingly our verification of these transactions was limited… [In our opinion] the financial statements present fairly, in all material respects the financial position of the Candidate’s campaign [in 2014]… in accordance with the accounting treatment prescribed by the Municipal Elections Act, 1996.”

Brad Ross chosen for city’s head communication role. Leaving the TTC’s executive director of corporate & customer communications position, Brad Ross will return to the city where he was once a manager of communications, filling the position previously titled “director, strategic communications,” held by Jackie DeSouza. The head communications role is now called chief communications officer. Asked why the name is being changed, a media spokesperson for the City wrote to Signal Toronto, “The title of Chief Communications Officer better reflects the role and is more in line with titles outside of the City for roles that are similar in nature. The Chief Communications Officer will oversee the Strategic Communications division.” Ross has been at Toronto’s public transit agency since 2008, which recently has been involved in a number of corporate sponsorships such as one with Jameson Irish Whiskey on St. Patrick’s Day, and a partnership with Universal Music for a busker contest. Ross will oversee the 50-person Strategic Communications Division starting in the new year.

New Transit Expansion Office will not report to City Manager’s Office. City Manager Chris Murray has defined some of his priorities through a new reporting structure heading to city hall in the coming months, however the new Transit Expansion Office is not among the list of divisions that will report directly through his office in the new model (instead it will be under the Deputy City Manager, Infrastructure and Development Services). Also not included in that list are divisions that were previously housed in the City Manager’s Office: Equity, Diversity & Human Rights and the Indigenous Affairs Office will no longer fall under the City Manager’s Office but under one of the deputy city managers. The Resilience Office, Strategic Communications, Transformation Office, Civic Innovation Office, and Strategic and Corporate Policy will continue within the City Manager’s Office. The only addition to the list of divisions that fall under City Manager’s Office is the Toronto Office of Partnerships, previously under the Deputy City Manager, Community and Social Services. The new divisions will all be managed  under a new Chief of Staff in the City Manager’s Office. “The Chief of Staff Role is a new role created to manage the priorities of the City more effectively. It is not a net new position; it is a realignment of the Executive Management section into an Office of the Chief of Staff to better reflect the needs of this area. This new office will help the City Manager better manage divisions that report directly to him,” a media spokesperson for the City wrote to Signal Toronto.


 

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  • In other local news…
  • On deck next week
  • Good to know public consultation information
  • What Toronto city councillors are saying about Premier Doug Ford’s government in the Twitterverse

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This Newsbrief is by Arianne Robinson