Deputy Mayor: “Seizing control” of library board would be “great”

Let’s not bury the lede on this one. Here’s’s David Nickle, writing about proposed changes to the structure of the Library Board:

Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday said he wasn’t aware of any attempt to seize control of the library board away from Toronto Council’s left.

“If we did seize control from the left it’d be great, but I don’t know anything about it,” said Holyday. “But I think we’re going to have some serious choices next year and if there’s a bunch of people not willing to make serious choices, then they should step aside.”

via InsideToronto Article: Council to restructure boards.

Emphasis added.

Lots of buzzing over the weekend about this item, set to hit Executive Committee at the next meeting. Agenda Item EX4.7 is a report from the City Manager that calls for numerous moves that would change the composition of the city’s boards.

Some councillors and city-watchers have seized on this as an attempt by Team Ford to exert greater control over these boards, in response to what I guess would be called “subversive” moves by boards (notably the Library Board, but also Public Health and the Police Services Board, among others) who voted against the mayor’s cut-everything request during the 2011 budget process.

Specifically, the Manager’s report calls for a reduction in the size of the Library and five other boards. It also calls for a change in the way board members are recruited. (Here’s a quick glance at the proposed changes to council representation on these boards.)

I’m willing to give the mayor’s office the benefit of the doubt on this one — I doubt this is part of a coordinated attempt to tighten control of these boards. That feels too sneaky and megalomaniacally evil, even for this bunch.  This report was commissioned by the David Miller council, and it includes a bunch of positive changes, notably a recommendation that boards seek a more “youthful perspective” by recruiting members between eighteen and thirty, and a new restriction on former councillors sitting on specific boards.

That doesn’t mean this report won’t ultimately be taken and twisted as a way to wrangle control of these boards, however, and it’s certainly something that has to be watched closely. Especially in light of Holyday’s comments.

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