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Exerting influence

Bartley Kives' Nov. 7 story Sheegl shy on key credential raises the issue of Phil Sheegl's (lack of) qualifications when he was hired for the CAO position. I was still working at the city as a project director with the water and waste department when this happened, and the standing joke among employees was that the "best man" won -- a reference to the rumour Sheegl had been best man at Mayor Sam Katz's wedding.

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Sheegl, as the record demonstrates, appears to be a man with little regard for rules. He had the authority to dismiss anyone in the civic service. Through Katz, he had the ability to influence executive policy committee; and Katz, through Sheegl, had the ability to exert significant influence on the civic service.

As a result, a situation appeared to evolve where there were two sets of rules -- those crafted over years and followed by the civic administration, and Sheegl's rules, which were made up to suit the situation by Sheegl.

What are the outcomes of this type of environment? In his Oct. 24 column, Electorate deserves better than these guys, Kives accuses several senior city officials of lying by omission when they stood by silently while Sheegl sounded the all-clear about the fire-house deal.

I don't know all of the folks who were present at this event, but I do know Mike Ruta and Barb D'Avignon. They are well-qualified, hardworking civic employees who genuinely have the city's best interests at heart.

But when you have a boss who is well connected to the mayor and has been described as having a "my way or the highway" demeanour, survival becomes a consideration.


Indian Wells, Calif.


Re: Living in a glass house (Nov. 6). The analogy is misplaced. It is in fact Sam Katz who is living in a glass house and should not throw stones until he gets his own house in order.

What hypocrisy for Winnipeg's mayor to feign surprise at opposition to new-home fees. This is the same mayor who dismissed the recommendation by his own city planners requiring the developer of Castlebury Meadows to cover costs that are part of current development agreement parameters for necessary roadway upgrades and to ensure wide enough streets for Winnipeg transit vehicles (Planners lose on subdivision, Oct. 3).

Let's face it. This city has no urban plan. OurWinnipeg is circumvented every time a developer gets the ear of the mayor.



Looking for an agenda

Graham Lane has been given an ongoing opportunity to criticize Manitoba's most successful public corporations, which he does most recently in his Nov. 6 column, A chance for change at MPI.

What is his agenda? Is it to promote privatizing these publicly owned success stories? He probably believes Manitobans have forgotten the failures of private enterprise that virtually compelled governments to create Manitoba Hydro and Autopac.

In his articles, he castigates Manitoba Hydro's low rate of return on its combined investments.

He conveniently forgets to tell us Hydro's mandate is to provide energy to all Manitobans at the least cost -- and not to be a profit-maker for government.

He conveniently forgets to tell us that as Public Utilities Board chairman, he cut back the modest rate increases Hydro sought.

Lane obviously has an axe to grind, an axe he would happily use to slay publicly owned utilities.



Security still an issue

I agree somewhat with Harold Shuster's Nov. 7 letter, in which he contends Canadians are more concerned with jobs, housing and food than national security (as Canadian historian Jack Granatstein's Nov. 5 column posits).

However, at this time of remembrance, Shuster would do well to consider that without national security, we are in far more peril than having to find a job, housing or food in our modern affluent society.


Grosse Isle

Truly gobsmacked

Reading Financial fallout of ousting trio being worked out (Nov. 7), I am truly gobsmacked (although I should not be) that our senators, who inhabit the chamber of supposed sober second thought, had not given even a first thought to the ramifications of suspending Mike Duffy, Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau.

Surely you would think all these consequences would be in the motion to suspend, and if it took an extra week to include the so-called "technicalities" to deal with those consequences, then they should have included them in the motion, point by point, to suspend.

It is a matter of fairness to all parties concerned, one of which is us the public.

No doubt they are now running around like chickens with their heads chopped off, clucking away in chicken language, "What rotten eggs have we laid?"

If this is the kind of thinkers we have in the Senate, with all its lawyers and writers who prepare and advise on such motions, then it is high time we got rid of the lot.




People often say we get the government we deserve. Will someone please tell me what Canadians have to do to get the government we don't deserve?



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 9, 2013 A16

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