Photo: From left - Karen Manarin, Aldo Cundari, Nina Perfetto
TORONTO - If there was ever a case study on how a small group of citizens can band together to take on the “big boys” and quasi-government organizations and still win, the case of the Villa Charities and Toronto Catholic School Board boondoggle will surely enter the history books as a classic example.
One runs the risk of tarring good men and women who serve on these boards with the same brush of criticism that as collectives they richly deserve. It should be remembered that the naked greed for dollars project espoused by the VCI/TCDSB consortium might still have gone ahead, had it not been for “saner heads” like Trustees Piccininni and D’Amico who exercised a go-slow, review-value-for-money approach before the project collapsed. As it should have.
It should also be remembered that the ”leadership” in both organizations spent millions of dollars in feasibility studies, and several hundred thousand more in a public relations and advertising campaigns designed to “shock and awe” people into acceptance of their plan. For some reason, those people are still in their jobs.
Why are Aldo Cundari, Nina Perfetto and Karen Manarin still Chair of Villa Charities Inc, Villa Charities and the Columbus Centre respectively?
How is their CEO, Anthony Di Caita, now able to justify his estimated $300,000 a year salary? His role as brow-beater in chief has now been down-graded to simple rent collector.
Same question applies to Rory Mc Guckin, his counterpart at the TCDSB (similar salary and asking for more). He was prepared to recommend going forward with the Condo construction project despite admitting that the was virtually no public support for it nor any viable business case for it, from the TCDSB’s perspective. He devoted 90 hours of senior staff time to explain that in a report to his board of trustees.
Remember, the TCDSB receives approximately $1.2 billion annually from the government of Ontario to educate 90,000 children in a curriculum designed to prepare them for a values-based and productive future as law-abiding citizens.
The Minister of Education had to remind him with a simple message: you are not getting the $32.8 million to play at being a land developer – stick to education. Put an end to this nonsense.
In what appears to be a feigned act of contrition – a Catholic term applying to the process of examination of conscience followed by admission of fault and promise to turn over a new leaf – the TCDSB moved unanimously on February 22 that it would release the TCDSB/VCI Redevelopment Agreement, the Agreements of Purchase and Sale applying to the TCDSB’s acquisition of VCI lands and to the Convent of the Good Shepherd. The two properties cost the taxpayer some $ 41 million. All in the interests of transparency. At least until the public left the room.
Today marks the 14th day since that Motion by Trustee Rizzo (the driving force behind the project) passed unanimously, following, incidentally, a long and lacrimonious preamble on her part.
The documents are not yet available.
Rory McGuckin, can’t seem to come up with them, despite repeated requests by the Corriere, and others. Evidently, he does not intend to honour a duly presented and approved Motion of his Board.
What McGuckin and Rizzo have served up instead is another three-page Motion to be debated this evening. This one, a convoluted, laborious effort to impose a cone of silence under pain of dismissal and/or Court action against fellow “Trustees who do not follow the party line”.
It contains 16 whereas and 7 resolves. Someone’s tool kit is definitely short of a few screws.
If the Chair of the TCDSB has more integrity than her counterparts at the VCI group, she will rule the Motion out of order or prompt one of her colleagues to suggest that as the course of action to follow.
Or, Mc Guckin can begin to show leadership and tell Rizzo she is way out of line, and urge her to withdraw the Motion.