The list exists after all.
On October 4, council fiercely debated an ombudsman's report that found the mayor's office interfered with the public appointments process in 2011.
Central to the debate was evidence given to ombudsman Fiona Crean that the mayor's office had distributed a list of preferred candidates to the civic appointments committee, the group of councillors which selects citizen applicants to serve on city agencies and boards.
At that council meeting, Rob Ford's allies said accusations of a such a list were unfounded.
Councillor Doug Ford, the mayor's brother, suggested that Crean's report was based on "hearsay."
Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti said the list was imaginary, and had been conjured up by council members and bureaucrats who had a vendetta against the mayor.
"Where are the lists? Making up lists!" Mammoliti said angrily.
But according to Crean, as that debate was going on in the council chamber, a secretary in the city manager's office was watching the proceedings on TV. The councillors' argument jogged her memory about a document
one of Ford's staffers that had been delivered to her boss's office.
"A secretary was in her manager's filing system looking for something on a related matter, the television was on, and the debate was going on about was there a list or not," Crean said in an interview Thursday.
"The secretary remembered that the mayor's office delivered a piece of paper with a list of names on it."
When the secretary located the document, the city manager's office called the ombudsman immediately and, the next day, sent her a copy.
Crean presented this new evidence of the list in a report that was released Thursday, and which will go before council next week.
The report says the list had 26 names for the boards of five different agencies: 10 for the library, eight for the parking authority, four for the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, and two each for the police and port authority.
While she concluded the mayor's office did send the list to the city manager's office, Crean found nothing to contradict the claims of councillors on the civic appointments committee, including Mammoliti and Doug Ford, who said they never saw it at a July 18, 2011 meeting, as witnesses alleged in the initial investigation.
"I can't confirm that one way or the other," Crean said. "You have a room full of people, it doesn't mean that everybody in the room saw it."
Crean says some of the people on the list were appointed, but others were not.
While the new findings may settle some arguments on the council floor, Crean's latest report determined it "makes no material difference to the outcome of my [initial] investigation, its findings or its recommendations."
Her initial investigation found that bureaucrats were unable to follow the public appointments process because the mayor's office meddled with key deadlines, in some instances leaving no time to properly vet the candidates. Ford's aides also tried to have language about diversity requirements removed from recruitment ads, but were unsuccessful.
Evidence of the list doesn't change Crean's original findings because she can only make recommendations about the civil service. She says she included references to the list in her initial report because it was central to the testimony of several witnesses, but she can make no finding against the mayor or his office.
In an AM 640 radio interview Thursday, Rob Ford dismissed the latest ombudsman report, calling the idea of a list "malarkey."
Later, he told the Globe and Mail that the city should get rid of the ombudsman's office, along with the integrity commissioner and the lobbyist registrar, and replace them with a single lawyer on retainer.
There is a confidential item from the city manager's office going before council next week asking councillors to consider "the Appointment of the Ombudsman."
While Crean said she finds the timing of the item "interesting" given the recent controversies, a city spokesperson says that it's normal to begin considering an official's appointment a year before their term expires. Crean's appointment runs out in November, 2013.
"It's part of our normal process," said Jackie DeSouza, director of strategic communications for the city.
Crean says she plans to seek re-appointment next year. She would need the votes of 30 councillors to stay on.