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Split in CAO search committee resulted in hiring delay: source

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A split within the search committee for a new chief administrative officer at city hall resulted in the process being placed on hold.

The nine-member committee announced last Thursday that it was postponing the process until after the Oct. 22 civic election, citing "time constraints."

However, a source familiar with the meeting deliberations said this week the committee – which consists of the mayor and eight councillors – argued over allowing the next mayor and council to decide who should be the CAO.

Winnipeg has been without a permanent CAO since Phil Sheegl resigned Oct. 17, 2013 amid a flurry of controversies. Chief operating officer Deepak Joshi was appointed acting CAO, on condition that he not apply for the permanent position.

The announcement last week that the search was on hold came as a surprise because Katz had told council the previous day that the committee was preparing a short list of candidates for the position.

Mayor Katz said today the committee sat down Thursday ready to come up with a short list of candidates from the more than 80 who applied for the position.

"At that (Thursday) meeting, the committee decided to wait until after the election," Katz said following this morning’s EPC meeting. "It was a committee decision."

While Katz would not elaborate on the "time constraints" cited for the delay, he denied that there was a block of councillors who did not want him to have a say in the hiring.

Katz said today there was concern at the Thursday meeting that many of the 80 applicants would not still be available after the Oct. 22 civic election, but he added the consultant hired to assist the committee assured them all but one of the applicants would still be interested in the job.

The committee consists of Katz and his executive policy committee – Justin Swandel, Russ Wyatt, Jeff Browaty, Brian Mayes, Mike Pagtakhan, and Grant Nordman – and councillors Ross Eadie and Jenny Gerbasi, who were chosen by the non-EPC members of council.

In 2011 Katz lobbied to have Sheegl, a longtime friend and a senior administrator at the time, hired for the top job. Sheegl formally resigned in October 2013 days before a forensic audit of the fire-hall replacement program would lay much of the blame on him.

The official explanation for the resignation was several EPC members had given Katz a letter demanding Sheegl be terminated. Rather than all the problems linked to the fire hall replacement program, it was the escalating costs associated with the new police headquarters that supposedly prompted the EPC members to act.

History

Updated on Wednesday, May 7, 2014 at 6:25 PM CDT: Clarifies length of Katz-Sheegl friendship.

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