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The Globe and Mail

TCHC chief facing new challenge over manager’s departure

Eugene Jones Jr., president and CEO of Toronto Community Housing Corp., speaks in Toronto on Feb. 6, 2013.


The leadership at Toronto Community Housing Corp. is being questioned once again, with the board called to a special meeting Tuesday to discuss a number of allegations against chief executive Eugene Jones.

The meeting is expected to be an update on an investigation by outside lawyers into the abrupt departure of the agency's recently hired chief operating officer, Kathleen Llewellyn-Thomas, a source familiar with the matter said.

Although the board has jurisdiction over the hiring and firing of senior managers, members only became aware of Ms. Llewelyn-Thomas's departure in an e-mail from Mr. Jones, which also suggested it was her decision to leave, the source said.

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The source confirmed that she was given a settlement as part of her departure, noting that people who leave voluntarily do not usually receive a "large chunk of money."

The pay records of Mr. Jones's executive assistant also are under investigation, specifically that attempts were made to change them, the source said.

Mr. Jones was hired in 2012 to clean house at the troubled social housing agency following a scathing report by the city's auditor-general about problems with procurement practices and staff spending on questionable items such as parties and massages.

Councillor Ana Bailao, a member of the TCHC board, said Mr. Jones has "done some good things," but said the housing agency "still has a long way to go."

Ms. Bailao said she would like to see the results of an investigation by the city's ombudsman into hiring and promotion practices at the housing agency – expected this spring – before making any decisions.

Mayor Rob Ford, who frequently tours TCHC buildings, has been a strong supporter of Mr. Jones and Tuesday said he still has his confidence.

"He has done a phenomenal job and whatever these allegations are, I'd like these people to come forward and show me the allegations," Mr. Ford said. "I support Eugene 100 per cent and he will not be dismissed as long as I'm mayor."

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Mr. Ford later acknowledged that it will be up to the board of the housing agency to decide on the issue.

TCHC chair Bud Purves did not respond to requests for comment and did not come, as expected, to a news conference Tuesday morning to mark the beginning of revitalization work at Alexandra Park, a downtown housing project.

Toronto's social housing agency is the largest in Canada and is struggling to cope with a backlog of repairs.

This fall, Mr. Jones was forced to back down on plans to spend $2-million to renovate and expand the agency's Rosedale offices. Five staff also were fired over allegations they falsified documents.

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