Confidence in the City’s Chief Administrative Officer
Confidence in the City’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) has come into question again with the handling of the Wilkes Avenue Alignment to William R. Clement Parkway Extension file. There has been extensive media coverage on this issue. I am highlighting my major concerns in this blog and will continue to seek accountability and answers to many outstanding questions.
- Media started publishing shocking information about ‘rogue’ road routes that were not revealed to area residents.
Early and mid-November:
- I sent multiple emails to the CAO requesting a Council seminar to provide facts and answer questions which I and other Councillors had.
- The CAO did not hold a Council seminar but said he would speak to the Public Works Committee and provide an explanation on what had occurred and why there was a ‘rogue route’ that residents had never seen.
- At this point, one engineer had left the City and another engineer had given notice to leave the City’s employment.
- CBC News revealed another engineer was departing (see Transportation Engineer’s Departure)
- By late November, three City engineers who had worked on the Wilkes Avenue Alignment to William R. Clement Parkway Extension file had resigned from the City.
- CBC News published an article containing a Confidential Briefing Note and quote from the CAO stating he did not read the documents which had been provided by another engineer who had been let go by the City (see Confidential Briefing Note)
- Upon reading this story in CBC News, and not having received responses to e-mails I was sending to the Mayor and the CAO on this file, I called on the Mayor to hold an Emergency Meeting of Council
- The Mayor didn’t call a Council meeting, didn’t return my phone call, and didn’t respond to my E-Mails.
- Instead, Councillor Morantz issued a statement through the Mayor that he would be calling for an audit in January, 2018.
- The CAO announced he would hold a Council Seminar on December 18 to answer questions Councillors had.
- The CAO holds a Council seminar and Councillors ask many questions (see Council Seminar)
- I have questions still outstanding and am waiting for written responses.
- Following the Council Seminar, I and other Councillors asked additional questions of the CAO but were told he was deferring to the proposed internal audit.
- On December 14th I had called on the Mayor to hold an emergency meeting of council to answer questions on the CAO’s performance and received no response from the Mayor. On December 27th I issued a Request for a Special Meeting of Council of all members of Council on Friday, January 5th. Pursuant to Section 79(1)(b) of the City of Winnipeg Charter, it takes 9 Councillors to call a special meeting of Council to suspend the CAO for 30 days.
- TO BE CLEAR: I had lost confidence in the CAO – and similar to the relinquishing of other CAO’s from their duties, the intent was to hold a meeting of Council and simply vote on suspension. Council would NOT be discussing details of the CAO’s performance in a public forum. Human Resource matters would occur in private following the suspension.
- I secured six signatures of Council but was unable to secure the required nine.
I brought forward a motion to the Finance Committee to seek comprehensive financial accountability on the William R Clement / Sterling Lyon / Wilkes extension project . The motion was unanimously accepted by Chair Councillor Gillingham, Councillor Mayes and Councillor Allard. The Chief Financial Officer stated he requires 60 days to provide information (March 2018).
Councillor Morantz brought forth a recommendation to the Mayors Executive Policy Committee requesting the City Auditor to Audit the Effectiveness of Current Systems and Processes in relation to the Sterling Lyon / William Clement Parkway Study. The motion was accepted by the Mayor’s Executive Policy Committee and recommended to Council as follows:
- That Council request the City Auditor / Chief Performance Officer conduct an audit of the effectiveness of the current systems and processes in place to support city staff and Council for identifying and communicating relevant and material information to decision makers through the City of Winnipeg report process; giving specific attention to the adherence of such current systems and processes by individuals in relation to the Sterling Lyon / William Clement Parkway study.
- That the City Auditor / Chief Performance Officer immediately propose a revised schedule for 2018 audits to prioritize this audit.
- That the Proper Officers of the City be authorized to do all things necessary to implement the intent of the foregoing.
From my perspective, and from all the statements the CAO and Councillor Morantz have stated in seeking accountability, I believed the motion brought forward was a whitewash and would not address the issue of accountability to the taxpayers. The Free Press provided comprehensive coverage: Morantz’s motion called a ‘whitewash’
PLEASE NOTE: Councillor Morantz was asking for an audit of the EFFECTIVENESS of the current systems and processes and IF they were adhered to in the Sterling Lyon / Clement study – nothing else. So the RESULTS of the audit would be either:
- yes, the current systems and processes are effective – or
- no, the current systems and processes are not effective.
- I reached out to Councillor Morantz to see if he would be accepting of an amendment to his motion seeking a deeper review of the William R Clement / Sterling Lyon / Wilkes extension project and he was.
- I presented my draft motion, we worked together and combined the two motions which resulted in a final Motion for all of Council to consider.
- I presented opening remarks to the motion, a debate within Council occurred, and the motion was accepted unanimously, thereby strengthening the audit.
With thanks to Winnipeg Free Press and CBC for covering the story.