Coun. Paula Havixbeck (Charleswood-Tuxedo) has been removed from council's most powerful committee after flip-flopping over the operational review of Winnipeg police and an increase to councillors' ward budgets.
This afternoon, Mayor Sam Katz announced he has appointed St. Vital Coun. Brian Mayes to executive policy committee and removed Havixbeck.
The move comes three months after the last EPC shuffle when Havixbeck was removed from the post as chair of council's protection and community services committee.
Recently, Havixbeck has openly criticized the city's budget process and opposed the property tax hike and a plan to increase councillors' discretionary ward budgets. Last week, EPC shot down four motions introduced by Havixbeck, including a call to restore full funding to museums, cancel the operational review of the Winnipeg Police Service and cancel funding for an EPC policy office and additional spending on councillors' ward budgets.
Katz said Havixbeck's removal from the committee had nothing to do with her criticism or opposition. He said it was difficult for members of the committee to work with someone who had a change of heart on a number of files.
Katz said Havixbeck initially championed the operational review of the police service and a proposal to increase councillors' discretionary budgets by $40,000 — and then lobbied against the ideas in public. Katz said everybody has a right to change their mind, but "it doesn't wash" in situations where she was the leader of a cause.
"It makes for a difficult working relationship," Katz said. "I'm not going to pretend that members of EPC didn't say, 'Do something,' a long time ago."'
Katz said thought long and hard about the shuffle and recently had a one-on-one meeting with Havixbeck. He said he was hoping to have a meeting with Havixbeck today, but she had already left city hall. Katz said he reached Havixbeck by phone to deliver the news.
Havixbeck said she has no regrets about voting against the budget.
"I felt if I had a choice to make between a principled decision or being on EPC, I’d make the principled decision," she said, referring to her opposition to the ward spending increases. "That’s the first thing you cut, not something like arts and museums."
She denied Katz’s characterization as a flip-flopper, noting her initial support for ward increases was dependent on the cash being available only for executive-assistant salaries, not discretionary spending.
Havixbeck is now the second councillor to leave EPC in three months. In November, St. Norbert Coun. Justin Swandel quit EPC and called it "dysfunctional, broken and divided."
Mayes said he found out about his appointment today and is pleased with the chance to have more input.
"It's nice to have a seat at the big table," he said. "You get more input into the direction of the city and the direction of your ward."