Blinded by their zeal to stop Ford, too many left-wing councillors chose to attack Griffiths rather than accept his findings and demand greater accountability. They support public housing, not any suggestion of privatization. They support big government, not Ford’s push to cut the size of government. They support more spending at city hall for city-building, not a contraction of the budget.
They lost the last election.
Ford won, promising the opposite of what these councillors practised for seven years under David Miller.
These councillors have a duty to provide effective opposition to Ford. And they do. They also have a duty to protect taxpayers, ahead of members of the TCHC board, ahead of city staff who may have failed to provide proper oversight in the spending of tax dollars.
But instead of focusing on the indiscretions of public service workers, the councillors seemed intent on protecting them, even in the face of the auditor’s findings. And instead of condemning staff behaviour, they wanted to focus on media leaks in the public interest.
The dissenting councillors intimated that Griffiths and/or staff may have leaked portions of two auditors’ reports to the media. They all but said Griffiths had come under the “undue influence” of the mayor. They cast aspersions on his integrity, even as they professed not to.
Then Councillor Adam Vaughan, unable to hide his contempt for the auditor general, gave him a lecture on integrity and public accountability and warned of an “audit process that is going off the rails.”
Staring at Griffiths, an independent auditor with more integrity than a dozen councillors put together, Vaughan instructed him to “tighten the regulations and rules” in his department. Then he upbraided Griffiths, ending with:
“And if there’s a leak in his department, it’s on his watch,” Vaughan spat, jabbing his finger at Griffiths, a few seats away.
Deputy mayor and audit committee chair Doug Holyday jumped to Griffiths’ defence.
“This is a classic case of ‘shoot the messenger.’ You don’t like the message so you shoot the messenger.”
James' whole column is in The Toronto Star.