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New city CAO brings simple vow: change

Bowman welcomes McNeil to post

Mayor Brian Bowman  welcomes new chief  administrative officer Doug McNeil at a  ceremony at city hall Tuesday.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Mayor Brian Bowman welcomes new chief administrative officer Doug McNeil at a ceremony at city hall Tuesday.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 8/4/2015 (1539 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Doug McNeil's first day on the job as the City of Winnipeg's new chief administrative officer began with a promise.

"There needs to be a change around city hall... and I just want to be a part of that," McNeil said following his formal introduction Tuesday morning to councillors and staff during a reception in the mayor's foyer.

Mayor Brian Bowman described McNeil as the best of a large group of impressive applicants for the CAO position.

"It's nice to welcome Doug back to the City of Winnipeg," Bowman said.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 8/4/2015 (1539 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Doug McNeil's first day on the job as the City of Winnipeg's new chief administrative officer began with a promise.

"There needs to be a change around city hall... and I just want to be a part of that," McNeil said following his formal introduction Tuesday morning to councillors and staff during a reception in the mayor's foyer.

Mayor Brian Bowman described McNeil as the best of a large group of impressive applicants for the CAO position.

"It's nice to welcome Doug back to the City of Winnipeg," Bowman said.

McNeil is a career public servant. He spent his first 20 years working as an engineer in the city's water and waste department. He rose to prominence during the 1997 flood, during which he was the city's chief spokesman explaining the efforts to keep back the rising Red River. He then moved on to the Manitoba Floodway Authority for the expansion project and for the past several years was with the province, where he rose to deputy minister of infrastructure and transportation.

Referring to McNeil's interview with the search committee, Bowman said he was impressed with his forthrightness.

"What immediately impressed upon me was his honesty, his candour and his talking about the challenges and opportunities that we have as a community," Bowman said. "I'm absolutely thrilled that he's going to be at the City of Winnipeg as we embark on a new journey together to build a stronger Winnipeg."

There will be no shortage of opportunities or challenges for McNeil. His two immediate predecessors left under a cloud.

Officially, McNeil succeeds Phil Sheegl — the longtime friend of former mayor Sam Katz who was identified in a series of audits as responsible for major administrative mismanagement of the fire-hall replacement program, the new police headquarters project and several real estate deals.

Veteran city employee Deepak Joshi was appointed in October 2013 on an interim basis to replace Sheegl, but he, too, was criticized for his links to Sheegl. Bowman suspended Joshi in January, claiming he had lost confidence in him. Joshi later resigned before council had to decide whether to reinstate him or terminate him.

Various civic departments have been criticized for ignoring council directives and withholding information from council. Former mayoral candidate David Sanders repeatedly accuses the senior administration of outright deception and incompetence.

The RCMP have launched a full-blown criminal investigation into the allegations surrounding the police-headquarters project, and officers have interviewed several members of the administration.

It will be McNeil's job to restore the trust of council and the public in the senior administration.

"I'm an open and transparent person, and a big part of my job is to give the mayor and council the best advice possible and also to talk about things that aren't going so well, to give them a heads-up so they don't get blindsided," McNeil told reporters. "It's important that the communication between the administration and the elected officials is maintained, and at a high level."

Bowman announced McNeil as the choice of the search committee on March 18 and his appointment was made official by council March 25.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Aldo Santin

Aldo Santin
Reporter

Aldo Santin is a veteran newspaper reporter who first carried a pen and notepad in 1978 and joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1986, where he has covered a variety of beats and specialty areas including education, aboriginal issues, urban and downtown development. Santin has been covering city hall since 2013.

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History

Updated on Wednesday, April 8, 2015 at 6:35 AM CDT: Replaces photo

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