Friday, August 20, 2010

Second TCDSB trustee felled from office

A Thursday ruling, not yet online, has removed Toronto Catholic District School Board chair Angela Kennedy from office because of a breach of the conflict-of-interest legislation. Saw this first via a Toronto Star tweet. From the article:
However Justice Lois Roberts did not prohibit Kennedy from running again this fall, in a nod to the trustee’s “long and distinguished service . . . and (the fact that) that situation appears to be the first and only time she breached the (Municipal Conflict of Interest) Act.”
At the time of the vote May 2008, Kennedy’s son Kevin worked as a supply education assistant a few days a week. Another son, Brian, had been accepted to the supply teacher pool, although he had not registered to begin work.
This is the continued fallout from Mike Baillargeon v. the world, a perhaps flippant reference to the Toronto resident who successfully unseated Oliver Carroll in a ruling that had trustees quaking in their boots (for a few months anyway). After I posted about when this case against Kennedy and fellow trustee Barbara Poplawski -- Poplawski's will be heard in September -- was launched, I got a brief deluge of e-mailed responses. Baillargeon himself e-mailed me all the various documents involved, which I read at the time back in November. Poplawski even called me at work and left a message that I absolutely had to call her (I didn't, as I wasn't going to post about the case again at the time and there was no way it would end up printed in my newspaper).
So, I guess the courts will continue to chop down trustees at the TCDSB involved in that controversial 2008 budget vote that could or would have cut staff positions in employee groups where trustees had family members working. Whatever. At this point in the game, with under three months left in the term and under two left until a new group of trustees is elected (returning the board to trustee control), who cares? Not that we shouldn't care about elected officials abusing their powers to preserve the employment of their own kin, but as I've stated here before, unless it's quite overt, in an organization with thousands of employees it's rare a trustee has that kind of direct influence on bottom-of-the-totem-pole employees. I just don't see this getting a lot of public traction, since the original Carroll case didn't.
While Carroll's case caused a flurry of consultation, legal opinions, etc. at boards across the province, the trustees I observe have simply returned to their old practices. While a fair number of trustees declared conflicts and absented themselves from voting on 2009-10 budgets and staffing matters, I didn't see one trustee do so for the 2010-11 budget.
We also still haven't seen any kind of response on the larger issue from the Ministries. Education's response at the time was that the conflict-of-interest legislation was Municipal Affairs' baby. Neither has signaled any intent to make any changes or provide any kind of direction or clarification on what it means when you are a corporate governor on a board that sets policy and budgets for thousands and have a family member toiling away as a cog in the big machine.


Anonymous said...

What you may or may not have known is that Kennedy's rival for chair had allegedly fed Mr. Baillargeon with notes and information. Talk about conflict of interest! It all smacks of drama of Machiavellian proportions.

Education Reporter said...

Anon 25 Aug. 10:59

This is a big mess, period.
Hopefully the pending election provides a little bit of a sweep and a fresh start fr everyone on this board of trustees.