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Clashing accounts of EPC discussions

Councillors dispute Katz's version on audit

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The deliberations of Mayor Sam Katz's executive policy committee are becoming murkier.

The two EPC councillors who portrayed themselves as breaking ranks to support a police headquarters audit dispute Katz's account of a closed-door meeting Monday afternoon.

Couns. Jeff Browaty and Brian Mayes held a news conference Tuesday morning, announcing their support for the audit -- apparently distancing themselves from Katz and other EPC members who voted against the audit in November.

It appeared their new-found support had triggered an avalanche of additional support from those who had also voted against the audit in November.

But Katz said Wednesday Mayes and Browaty had only gone public after EPC agreed to support the audit at that Monday meeting.

Katz said six of the seven EPC members, including Browaty and Mayes, met privately Monday afternoon and agreed to bring a motion to council later this month calling for an audit and a study to determine whether the taxpayers received good value on the $210-million Graham Avenue project.

But later Wednesday, Browaty and Mayes said Katz had misrepresented what happened at that Monday meeting.

While Browaty (North Kildonan) and Mayes (St. Vital) concede the issue of the audit was discussed Monday at a closed-door meeting of EPC, they both claim Katz did not have support for a motion -- and that Katz didn't even support it then.

"I'm surprised the mayor stated what he did," Browaty said, adding there was no agreement at the Monday meeting to bring to council a motion for an audit.

"As of the time we (he and Mayes) made our announcement on Tuesday, that was not where (EPC) were going," Browaty said. "I learned of the mayor supporting an audit an hour after we did our thing -- I was completely surprised.

"The two of us (Browaty and Mayes) wanted an audit. We had gone together to see Sam on Monday, to tell him we were at that position to call for an audit.

"Nobody else in the room at that point wanted an audit."

Earlier Wednesday, Katz credited Coun. Jenny Gerbasi -- one of the seven councillors who did vote for an audit in November -- with convincing him of the need to support an audit, at the very least to end the public's obsession with the issue.

Katz said many members of EPC believe an audit is a waste of money and will not reveal any new information but added they now support it to end the intensive public lobbying that has been going on for the past few weeks.

Katz's office did not respond to Browaty's comments.

Browaty is chairman of the property and development committee. Mayes is chairman of the protection and community services committee.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 16, 2014 B3

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