Case Ootes will be paid more for his three months leading the Toronto Community Housing Corp. than the board's former chairman earned in a year.
The retired councillor and Ford ally will rake in $25,000 for his stint as interim managing director of the embattled affordable-housing provider - $5,000 more than ex-chairman David Mitchell's annual retainer.
"This is a $6-billion corporation. I'm the managing director, which means I've taken over responsibilities of all of the board members. To expect someone to do that for free is not living in the real world," Mr. Ootes said.
Another request that's not realistic, according to Mr. Ootes? Having him sign off on every TCHC purchase worth more than $1,000, something city council voted in favour of last week.
Mr. Ootes said has no intention of complying with a request that would suck up virtually all his time.
"There's no way that it makes sense for me to approve every invoice over $1,000," he said, adding TCHC processes 5,000 invoices a month. "I will certainly look at the approval process and approval levels, but to have the managing director sign every invoice over $1,000, it's just not feasible."
Mr. Ootes was a controversial choice as a temporary one-man board for Canada's largest landlord, which has been in turmoil since the Feb. 28 release of two scathing auditor reports. They revealed questionable purchasing practices and lavish spending on a spa day, a jaunt to Muskoka and gifts of chocolates for staff.
Although the former deputy mayor is widely respected, Mr. Ootes's tight relationship with Mr. Ford led to fears he would be little more than a proxy for a mayor who has mused openly about privatizing more of the TCHC's operations while demanding its chief executive be fired.
That led some opposition and centrist councillors to try to define Mr. Ootes's responsibilities at a special meeting last week at which the board's remaining four members were fired and Mr. Ootes was installed in their place.
Councillor Shelley Carroll, for example, moved the motion requesting that Mr. Ootes sign off on all purchases of more than $1,000 while reviewing the procurement practices Jeff Griffiths criticized in his audit.
"Some might see it as rich," she said of Mr. Ootes's $25,000 payday. "I think it's compensation for the hard work that those requests would require. All he has to do is live by the [council]requests."
And if he doesn't? "Then I wonder, what is he doing with his time and why does he need $25,000 over three months?" said Ms. Carroll, a former budget chief.
Ms. Carroll's motion, which passed by one vote, also asked that the expenses of board members and staff earning six figures or more be posted to the Web.
Mr. Ootes said he'll work to post staff expenses to the Web as soon as possible. Board members' expenses are already made public.
So far, Mr. Ootes is dampening fears he'd sell off TCHC buildings while staying mum on the fate of chief executive officer Keiko Nakamura.
"[On]the question of privatization … I will probably make recommendations to the incoming board and it will be up to the incoming board to determine how it wants to move into the future," Mr. Ootes said.
Mr. Ootes's TCHC paycheque comes on top of his $99,620 severance package, the pensions he collects from his career as a councillor in both Toronto and East York and the $11,000 he earned leading Mayor Rob Ford's transition team last fall.
Mr. Ford, a past critic of so-called double-dipping, defended paying Mr. Ootes in a brief scrum last week. "We're not going to have someone come in here and do it for free," Mr. Ford said.
Mr. Ootes will oversee the landlord to 164,000 tenants until a new 13-member board can be installed no later than June 15.
The TCHC's board was comprised of seven citizen members, two elected tenant representatives and four councillors.
Mr. Ootes said his compensation, which was set by the city's top bureaucrat, reflected approximately one-quarter of what the entire board was being paid.
According to the city's compensation rules, the chair of the TCHC board is paid an annual retainer of $20,000, while the citizen members are paid a $2,500 retainer plus a $500 committee fee and $500 for every meeting they attended. The board met eight times in 2010.
"I've come out of retirement. I've cancelled a vacation at my own expense and this is a huge responsibility," Mr. Ootes said.
In for a penny
Citizen director (max. annual)
Mark Grimes (unpaid)
John Filion (unpaid)
$125 per diem
$125 per diem
Toronto Parking Authority
Toronto Community Housing Corp.
Rob Ford (unpaid)
1. Plus $1,000 per meeting. 2. Plus $500 per meeting. 3. Vice-chair.
Sources: City and agency budget documents 8 Compiled by John Lorinc, Special to the Globe and Mail