John Tory convinces city manager to stay on at city hall
TORONTO – John Tory hasn’t announced any official committee appointments yet as Toronto’s mayor-elect but he has convinced a key staffer to postpone his retirement.
Tory convinced city manager Joe Pennachetti to stay on the job until the end of April, 2015 in order to help the new council and the new mayor stickhandle the budget process.
Pennachetti had previously said he would retire at the end of the current term of council, which ends November 3o. Now he’s agreed to extend his stay for five months.
He told reporters he believes “council has significant issues that are heavy on inter-governmental focus.” An area, he said, which needs the primary attention of the city for Toronto to move forward.
“I do believe the mayor-elect and council is ready to move on all the fronts that they need to move,” he said. “Especially transit and housing.”
Pennachetti says he had been approached by a number of councillors earlier this fall asking him to consider staying on for another year. He agreed to the extension after Tory made the request.
Pennachetti’s voice and experience may well be the most important tool at Tory’s disposal in the coming months.
“Joe Pennachetti is a steadying hand,” Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong said. “Having a new council with new council members and a new mayor – Joe can make a really significant contribution.”
His guidance will be critical as the new mayor and his council craft a budget around the harsh revenue and expense realities while trying to balance the big picture campaign commitments that were made around transit and housing.
In the meantime, the transition team continues with the daily briefings and preparations for Tory to be sworn in on December 1.
The mayor-elect met with senior members of Metrolinx Thursday morning. Tory qualified it as “a very excellent briefing” saying it’s the way he wants to conduct business moving forward at city hall.
“Where we had, in the same room, the chief executive officer of the TTC, the chair and chief executive officer of Metrolinx, the senior staff of the city and me. And we were discussing together how we could move this city forward in terms of getting some things done on public transportation and make sure it’s done in that spirit – which is together and not in separate camps in separate groups.”
For his part, Pennachetti says this transition is fairly similar to the one we saw in 2010 with one main difference: “The mayor-elect, this time around, is much more involved in details.”
Several veteran and returning councillors flanked Tory during his announcement – a tableau rarely seen when Mayor Rob Ford met the media.
“It’s reflective of a new day,” Minnan-Wong said. “There’s a lot of hope in this council that we’re gonna get along better because the public wants us to work collegially.”
Councillor Shelley Carroll was singing harmony from the same songbook, saying it was “refreshing.”
Carroll noting that Tory is the third mayor she’s worked with but there has never been this sort of “inclusiveness.”
All the talk about collegiality and getting along has raised expectations for this council before they even convene a meeting. The cynics might point out they’re playing nice because they don’t want to tick off the new mayor, but Carroll says there’s more to it than that.
“No one wants to be the person who puts us back into the kind of acrimony that we’ve experienced for four years,” Carroll said. “We’re all tired of it and Torontonians certainly told all of us at the door – ‘Kinda tired of that.’”