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This article was published 27/9/2019 (312 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The City of Winnipeg manager responsible for the troubled building inspections division has retired just as he was about to be called before a council committee to account for the problems in his department.
"Please be aware that Stan Dueck has announced his retirement from the City of Winnipeg," John Kiernan, director of planning, property and development, told council members and senior city officials in an email Friday morning.
"Stan’s last formal day in the office will be today."
Dueck had been employed by the city for 14 years and was manager of development and building inspections for the past eight, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Kiernan made no mention in the email of the internal probe into workplace conduct that plunged the department into turmoil for the past five months or if Dueck had been held responsible for the poor supervision of the commercial building inspections.
Earlier this month, the city announced that eight city staff members had been fired and seven others suspended as a result of the five-month probe into the building inspections division.
The probe began in April, prompted by the publication in the Free Press of surveillance videos and notes collected by private investigators hired by a group of citizens frustrated with their dealings with the department.
The investigation revealed many inspectors spent most of their workdays enjoying long coffee breaks and lunches and running personal errands.
The disclosure caught Kiernan by surprise and he admitted he was unaware of what had been occurring.
Council on Thursday approved an administrative plan to bring in a consultant to review the department operations, but Couns. Kevin Klein and Janice Lukes said the plan didn’t go far enough in ensuring change in the department.
Mayor Brian Bowman and Coun. Brian Mayes, chairman of the committee that oversees the department, praised Dueck as a valuable city employee and would not criticize his role in managing the building inspectors.
"I think (Dueck) was a good public servant and I'm sad to see him go," Mayes told the Free Press, adding he was caught by surprise by Friday's announcement. "I will not criticize Stan.... He's been very good for me to work with. Yes, there were problems with the inspectors. We had a report on that. People were disciplined, people had been terminated. I'm not throwing Stan under the bus. He's been good with me and I think he was a good public servant."
Bowman said questions about Dueck's supervision of the building inspectors should be directed to the administration, adding he doesn't get involved in human resources and staffing issues.
"I want to wish him well. My interactions with him have always been very positive," Bowman said. "I just want to wish him all the very best."
Bowman said the public should hold council responsible for the actions of the building inspectors and the steps that will be taken to clean up the department.
"The buck stops with council," Bowman said, adding he's satisfied with the review interim CAO Mike Ruta has initiated for the department.
"Members of council and I will be holding the public service accountable for the performance of those undertakings and then we'll be assessing what additional steps have to be taken," he said. "I'm not going to get into assessing the performance of a specific employee, like a manager, like that."
Free Press requests for an interview with Kiernan were rejected by the administration, but said he would be available to the media at Monday's meeting of the property and development committee.
Klein wanted Dueck to appear at Monday’s meeting, to explain the lax supervision within the inspections division and why nothing had been done about the situation until the stories were published in the Free Press.
Lukes said Dueck's decision to retire shouldn't be seen as a resolution to the department's problems.
"I'm not sure who Mr. Dueck's supervisor was, but that individual should have seen the issues Mr. Dueck was having in his role," Lukes said. "It's top political leadership not doing their job in demanding accountability of administration."
Klein said he doesn’t know if Dueck’s retirement was taken to avoid his appearance at Monday’s committee meeting, adding it’s reasonable to question Dueck’s management of the building inspectors.
"We are pushing for more of an investigation into the department. We continue to hear concerns from business people and residents frustrated with the department. Our work is not done," Klein said.
Dueck’s sudden retirement demands a review of all managers in the department, Klein said, adding he has already asked Dueck’s replacement to appear at the committee to explain how staff had been supervised.
Coun. Shawn Nason said Dueck’s retirement doesn’t answer questions surrounding what’s wrong with the department.
"We need to restore confidence in the department," Nason said. "This is like a sore that won’t heal. Every time we turn around, there is a new issue without having the levers that most organizations have for checks and balances... I don’t think the City of Winnipeg is presently equipped to properly address this matter internally."
Lawyer John Prystanski, who represented the anonymous citizen group, said his clients were seeking accountability from city staff.
"My clients have consistently been asking that the City of Winnipeg take actions to correct systemic problems with the property and development department," he told the Free Press. "If the City of Winnipeg viewed the termination of (Dueck) as being a correction to systemic problems, then we applaud the move. If Mr. Dueck decided to retire for other reasons, then we wish him the best in his new adventures."
Updated on Friday, September 27, 2019 at 5:38 PM CDT: Full write through
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