Royson James’ latest column has a neat exchange with Doug Ford toward the end of end of it:
The mayor’s brother, Doug, also took great pains over the weekend to explain that Ootes’ job does not involve selling off public housing.
So, why has the mayor not made an unequivocal announcement to that effect — words that might stop the rumours that the city’s poorest tenants may soon be on the streets?
“You can trust me on that, take my word for it,” Doug Ford said in an interview. “Case is not being brought in to sell off public housing.”
Then why not issue a statement or news release saying the mayor expressly does not want Ootes selling tenants’ homes?
“We may have to do that (this) week,” he said.
It’d be pretty funny if the mayor’s office actually released a statement assuring tenants that Case Ootes wasn’t going to sell off public housing. That would seem to serve as a strong indication that perhaps tenants weren’t clamouring for this move, and in fact the hundreds in attendance last week actually were a good representation, wouldn’t it?
And, again: maybe the first step toward reassuring people that you’re not going to privatize public housing should be NOT publicly musing about privatizing public housing. But what do I know.
The weird thing is that even I don’t believe Ootes was brought in as part of a Machiavellian scheme to sell off housing. I do believe — and I think this is reasonable — that the Mayor’s Office does have in mind a long-term goal to consolidate control over the TCHC board and eventually implement some degree of privatization. Given the mayor’s comments during his campaign and afterwards, plus the need to achieve significant cuts in the 2012 operating budget, I don’t think I’m being over-the-top.
All the drama that happened last week over Ootes is, I think, emblematic not of an immediate privatize-everything conspiracy but of an administration that is totally unwilling to compromise. Team Ford decided on the outcome before anyone got a chance to debate, and even the most reasonable of compromises were voted down.