Watch video above: Gene Jones is no longer head of TCHC and the mayor is not happy. Mark McAllister reports.
TORONTO – Eugene Jones has been replaced as CEO of the Toronto Community Housing Corporation.
His departure comes less than 24 hours after Mayor Rob Ford vocally defended him and just a few days after an Ombudsman report blasted his leadership.
Board chair Bud Purves announced Jones’ departure at a noon press conference at city hall to cries of “shame” and “stupid” from the crowd.
Purves said, in a written statement, that Jones and the TCHC board “mutually decided that a change in leadership will best position” the TCHC to “move forward.”
Jones will be replaced by Greg Spearn.
Rob Ford was shocked by Jones’ departure Friday.
He said he called every board member to express his support for Jones but didn’t tell them how to vote.
“This is one of the worst days in Toronto’s history, losing a man of his calibre. I’m almost speechless, I couldn’t believe, it’s ridiculous what’s going on. I’m so frustrated right now,” Ford told reporters at city hall. “I feel sorry for this man, he’s made a huge change,”
Watch: An irate Rob Ford calls Eugene Jones’ departure “one of the worst days in Toronto’s history”
Ford said if he’s re-elected, he will do everything he can to get Jones’ back as CEO of TCHC.
“I didn’t see this coming because I thought, you got to fight, you got to fight for what you believe in. These guys have these behind closed doors meetings, what’s going on in these behind closed door meetings,” he said.
Irate TCHC residents continued to shout “shame” and “you fools” after the meeting. Cathy Birch, one of the many upset TCHC residents at the meeting, complained that the board didn’t listen to the residents.
“Gene has done so much for residents. HE’s the first CEO where residents can actually pick up the phone, call him and say help and he’ll come,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s 8 in the morning or 2 in the morning, he’s there.”
She commended Jones for his work to improve accessibility and helping residents during December’s ice storm.
And she echoed previous comments from the mayor criticizing the ombudsman for a purported bias.
“The reports from the ombudsman are embedded with malice, she had an agenda and she wanted to take this CEO out,” she said. “She has her own political views, she’s trying to justify her existence in the job that she enjoys.”
Ford refused to believe suggestions that things weren’t going well at TCHC, saying “things are going better than they ever have” and called the ombudsman’s report biased.
“The ombudsman, she’s the one who should resign. She’s the one who’s political,” he said.
Crean however denied the allegations.
“This investigation is no different than any other administrative investigation that I conduct,” she said. “The findings are what they are, the evidence is there and speaks for itself.”
The mayor also took aim at Purves and his councillor-designate on the board, Maria Augimeri for their role in Jones’ departure.
“I should have never put [Maria Augimeri] as my designate on that board,” he said. “I won’t make these mistakes again. Next term, I’ll know the right people to put on these boards.”