At a press conference this afternoon following a closed-door board meeting, Toronto Community Housing Corporation board chair Bud Purves made the announcement politics-watchers have been anticipating for a week: Gene Jones is out as CEO of the corporation, after less than two years on the job.
Purves’s way of describing the board’s decision was self-consciously neutral. “After much deliberation,” he said, “the board and Gene have decided that a change in leadership is the best position for Toronto Community Housing to move forward and implement its strategic plan.” The reality, of course, is that this parting of ways is no more mutual than any sudden breakup.
Jones’s problems began months ago when stories of an unusual number of hirings and firings at TCHC began to leak into the press. In February, the board docked his bonus and ordered him into leadership training. The real impetus for today’s board decision, though, was Tuesday’s ombudsman’s report, which documents a pattern of harmful disregard for TCHC human-resources policy under Jones’s leadership.
Jones’s reign began in 2012. He was brought in as a replacement for TCHC’s previous CEO, Keiko Nakamura. She was purged during the blowback from a spending scandal that occurred early in Rob Ford’s mayoralty. Ford has claimed Jones’s eventual appointment as a political achievement. The “accomplishments” section of RobFordMayor.ca boasts that the mayor personally “renewed public faith in TCHC.”
Ford held a press conference yesterday at which he defended Jones. This dismissal doesn’t reflect well on either man.
UPDATE: Greg Spearn, a TCHC real-estate executive, has been named as Jones’s interim replacement.