Major review of city’s governance model put off for 120 days, Bowman’s inner circle decides


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A proposal for a wide-sweeping review of the governance model at city hall has been put on hold.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/11/2016 (2273 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A proposal for a wide-sweeping review of the governance model at city hall has been put on hold.

Mayor Brian Bowman and councillors on his executive policy committee Wednesday unanimously voted to “lay over” the proposal for a review of city hall’s political and administrative organizations for 120 days to allow members of council to consider how best to accomplish the goal.

The move was supported by the proposal’s main advocate, Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt, who seemed to do an about-face on the urgency surrounding the issue.

While Wyatt wanted the motion debated at the Oct. 26 council meeting, when it was instead referred to EPC, he told Bowman and the EPC members Wednesday that councillors need time to consider the implications of a possible change in how city hall is governed and was agreeing to the 120-day delay.

“I think it’s the right thing to do,” Wyatt said, adding the delay was Bowman’s suggestion. “Something like this, (the administration and EPC) need to come up with a plan, a budget, everything else. I think 120 days is enough time for them to come back to council.”

Wyatt had proposed the change because he said it’s been almost 20 years since the governance structure at city hall was reviewed and it’s time for another. He said the CAO is exercising too much power, at the expense of council, and the strong-mayor model has resulted in half of council (those not on EPC) are regularly being shut out of the information-sharing process and negatively affects their ability to make decisions.

The proposal calls for restoring the “balance between the office of the mayor, councillors and the public service.” As part of that process, Wyatt wanted council to temporarily suspend the authority of CAO Doug McNeil.

Wyatt’s proposal outlined a detailed procedure on how the review should be conducted but Bowman said that after talking to Wyatt, they mutually agreed to give all members of council more time to consider how the review should be conducted.

The delay surprised Coun. Janice Lukes, who appeared as a delegation at Wednesday’s EPC meeting to support the need for a review.

Lukes (South Winnipeg-St. Norbert) told EPC that her two-years on city council and a former member of Bowman’s EPC had taught her that the review is needed.

“We all have an obligation as elected representatives to always be trying to improve and refine our systems, our information gathering and sharing, our business processes, our decision making abilities and our governance model,” Lukes said.

Coun. Ross Eadie, who had seconded Wyatt’s motion, said  EPC could have rejected the idea, adding at least for now a review is still possible.

“EPC could have killed it,” Eadie (Mynarski) said. “This is good. At least it’s still on the table and we can have those discussions over the next 120 days.”

Eadie and Lukes said Bowman campaigned on making city council more collaborative and transparent, adding the review will help bring that about.

Lukes said despite the constant talk of collaboration among councillors, it really doesn’t happen and she blames that on the strong-mayor model that operates at city hall. City hall is dysfunctional, Lukes said, with a “crippling work environment.”

“The strong mayor governance model we operate under is not designed – it is not conducive to enable and encourage council members to work as a team – to bring forward ideas, and to work in a collaborative manner,” Lukes said. “We are in constant battle – there is no council harmony only council discord.”

The need for a governance review was also supported by the president of the largest union at city hall. Gord Delbridge, president of CUPE Local 500, said the public doesn’t understand how business gets done at city hall and it’s time to end the information-sharing split that has emerged between those councillors on EPC and those not on the mayor’s inner group.

“You might want to considering doing town hall meetings to get public input,” Delbridge said.


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