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Councillors seeking Katz's resignation

Mayor says he won't go down that road

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Sam Katz says a letter from councillors led to Sheegl stepping down last week.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Sam Katz says a letter from councillors led to Sheegl stepping down last week. Photo Store

Angry city councillors are turning their sights on Mayor Sam Katz and his senior cabinet in the wake of the fire-hall scandal.

Couns. Harvey Smith (Daniel McIntyre) and Ross Eadie (Mynarski) said Katz should follow ex-CAO Phil Sheegl and resign.

"This is an insane world at city hall, and the mayor is responsible," Smith said. "We shouldn't be asking (Katz) to resign -- He should be voluntarily coming forward and resigning."

Katz said he would not respond to calls for his resignation, adding councillors are entitled to their opinions.

Eadie said Katz has been trying to divert blame in the fire-hall scandal to all of council and most recently to the members of executive policy committee.

"He's blaming everyone," Eadie said. "It's time (Katz) took responsibility."

Eadie said Katz brought Sheegl to city hall and pushed his advancement all the way to become chief administrative officer.

Smith said only a small group of councillors -- himself, Eadie, Russ Wyatt (Transcona), Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge) and John Orlikow (River Heights) -- voted against hiring Sheegl as CAO, adding all other councillors should accept responsibility over the mess Sheegl created at city hall.

"The ones that were on EPC (at the time) should own up to the fact that they made all this possible -- they're not getting any credit for the harm they are doing.

"And the mayor is obviously the leader of the group."

Sheegl, a close friend of Katz, was hired as the city's property director in 2008 and then rose quickly up the administrative ladder to deputy CAO and then CAO.

Current EPC members Wyatt and Scott Fielding (St. James) said they do not hold Katz responsible for Sheegl's blunders and are not calling for his resignation.

Wyatt (Transcona) said he always had concerns about Sheegl's ability, adding he was saddened to see recent events have shown his judgment was correct.

Wyatt opposed Sheegl's appointment to CAO and called for his resignation a year ago.

Katz told reporters Thursday it was a letter signed by five of the six EPC members on Oct. 2, demanding he fire Sheegl, that led to Sheegl resigning last week.

The EPC letter, Katz said, resulted in negotiations with Sheegl's lawyer that ultimately led to his resignation.

Katz said concerns Sheegl's resignation allowed him to leave city hall with a generous severance package are inaccurate, adding conditions in Sheegl's contract ensured it made no difference whether he quit or was fired.

Katz said he believes it would have been better to have Sheegl still on staff to answer questions raised about the Ernst & Young review into the fire-hall scandal.

Katz said Sheegl's decision to terminate fire chief Reid Douglas -- a key figure in the fire-hall probe -- in September was the major factor that turned most members of council against Sheegl, including himself.

"It would have been a lot better if there had not been a letter asking for (Sheegl's) immediate dismissal," Katz said, adding a decision on his friend's fate would then have been made after the Ernst & Young review had been released.

"The end result would probably have been the same."

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 25, 2013 B2

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