Toronto ombudsman Fiona Crean is sticking around, at least for now.
On Tuesday, the civil service watchdog who recently issued a scathing report about the mayor's office was granted a two-year extension of her term.
The two-year deal is short of the five years by which council could have extended her contract, which is set to expire in November 2013. But Mayor Rob Ford opposed granting her another full term, and instead convinced council to limit her total time in the position to seven years.
"Ten years is too long, I don't think it's a healthy process to have [the ombudsman serving for] ten years," Ford said as he introduced the motion to reappoint Crean. "Seven is as far as I went. I think we all knew the numbers that were getting thrown around here. I wasn't going higher than seven."
The final vote was 41-3, and was the result of last-minute negotiations between the mayor's supporters and opponents that saw councillors criss-crossing the chamber floor throughout the day.
"I am compromising, I am reaching out," the mayor said before the vote.
Crean came under fire from Ford and his allies last month when she released a report concluding that Ford's office interfered with the civic appointments process. The mayor's defenders accused her of a politically motivated attack, and Ford himself mused that her office should be scrapped.
The mayor's brother, Councillor Doug Ford, had said that the pair would try to block her reappointment when the matter came before council this week.
According to procedural rules, both firing or reappointing Crean would require the support of 30 out of 45 council members. Ford didn't have enough votes to fire her, but did have enough to block her reappointment. In the end councillors who wanted to retain the ombudsman opted to make a concession.
While the deal was hailed by many council members as a compromise, Councillor Adam Vaughan said Ford's opponents had thwarted his attempts to get rid of Crean.
"The mayor was pushed back today, and that's good news for accountability in this city," Vaughan said. "He wanted her fired. He lost."
But Councillor Gord Perks, one of only three councillors to vote against the two-year extension, had a different interpretation. He said that limiting Crean's second term effectively punished her for criticizing the mayor's office.
"I'm very disappointed with my colleagues on Toronto city council," Perks told reporters after the vote. "Once again, this city council has sent a message to public servants that their job is contingent on whether or not the mayor likes what they have to say. That's terrible for Toronto and Torontonians."
Perks unsuccessfully moved a motion to reappoint Crean for the full five years.
After the vote, Ford denied that shortening Crean's second term was revenge for her unfavourable report.
"Not at all," he said.
"Giving her another two years isn't payback."
The City of Toronto Act mandates that the city must have an ombudsman. Crean is the first person to fill the position, and was appointed in 2008.
It's routine for council to debate the reappointment of a senior official roughly a year before their term expires, and Crean's contract was on council's agenda as a matter of course.
But the decision to renew her deal comes as Ford is under pressure from critics who accuse him of bullying top civil servants.
In a report released last week, city integrity commissioner Janet Leiper determined the mayor and his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, broke council's code of conduct by publicly deriding the city's medical officer of health on their radio show.
The mayor responded to Leiper's report by declaring the jobs of the integrity commissioner, ombudsman, and lobbyist registrar should be eliminated and their duties carried out by a single lawyer on retainer instead.
Doug Ford apologized, but in a supplementary report released Monday Leiper concluded a retraction letter the mayor sent her was insincere. She's recommending council sanction him at this week's meeting, which is expected to last until Thursday.
The mayor's business with the ombudsman is also not over. On Wednesday, a follow-up to her original report on the civic appointments process is on the agenda.
Crean's initial report presented testimony that the mayor's office had supplied the civic appointments committee with a secret list of candidates for selection to city boards and agencies. At the time she could not confirm the existence of the list, but a staffer in the city manager's office has since produced a copy.