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I know you are, but what am I?: Insults rule city hall

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NAME-CALLING has become a common occurrence at city hall, but Mayor Sam Katz said it's inappropriate and predicts it will soon end.

"I have seen certain situations which I would say were definitely inappropriate, uncalled for and unfortunate," Katz said following Wednesday's council meeting, where name-calling was frequent and councillors' motives were questioned.

Katz said some councillors improperly questioned the motives of staff and each other. However, Katz said he doesn't think it will continue much longer.

"It's run its course," Katz said. "You hear what others say and you realize maybe that wasn't appropriate."

Katz said councillors can defend themselves but civic staff don't have the same option.

Much of the name-calling Wednesday was generated by concerns over the management of the downtown police headquarters project.

Transcona's Russ Wyatt accused Jenny Gerbasi (Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry) of grandstanding and trying to stir up public sentiment with the aim of defeating Katz in the fall election.

Wyatt also accused Paula Havixbeck (Charleswood-Tuxedo) of improperly attacking senior administrators, in particular acting CAO Deepak Joshi, who criticized her for suggesting senior administrators were guilty of mismanagement or possibly corruption.

Earlier this week, Wyatt accused senior administrators of attempting to block a measure to force non-essential staff to take unpaid leave.

At last month's council meeting, St. Norbert's Justin Swandel ridiculed his colleagues and refused to apologize for his actions, saying they deserved it.

Havixbeck and Gerbasi said they are regularly verbally abused.

Gerbasi said council needs an ethics commissioner to police councillors.

Havixbeck said she doesn't believe anything will alter the bad behaviour.

"I have been yelled at behind the scenes for years," Havixbeck said, adding when she was a member of Katz's executive committee, she was subjected to obscenities and desk-thumping when she voted against a budget: "The respectful workplace goes out the window," at city hall.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 12, 2013 B1

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Updated on Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 7:24 AM CST: adds photo

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