Winnipeg's top civil servant is trying to prevent a city councillor from digging deeper into the mismanagement and possible corruption behind two projects which have gone millions of dollars over budget.
"I'm making these changes to clarify the roles and responsibilities of senior management, provide better service to Council and citizens, and provide better direction and support to staff," Sheegl said. "I am confident it will be a clearer, more effective way of doing business."
It would be funny in hindsight, if it wasn't so tragic.
Sheegl was last seen sneaking out of city hall on the eve of the audit into the firehalls scandal before he would surely have been fired, if not investigated by the police. The audit concluded Sheegl, Mayor Sam Katz's best friend, gave preferential treatment to the construction firm Shindico, co-owned by Katz's friend and business partner Sandy Shindleman. Sheegl used loopholes in city regulations to secretly hire Shindico to build all four new firehalls, even though they failed to win a single tender. He then kept the information from city council despite a clear directive to inform council on who got the job.
Katz subsequently bought a house in Arizona from the sister of a Shindico executive. Records show he paid $10 for the million-dollar house. He claims he paid the rest in cash, but refuses to provide any receipts, bank withdrawal statements or other paper records. He says its nobody's business.
Joshi was Sheegl's shadow the entire time the firehalls were being built and he's mentioned prominently in the damning firehalls audit.
He was front and centre in the cover-up that followed after the Shindico favoritism began to unravel.
He openly lied to the public, as Winnipeg Free Press reporter Barley Kives stated bluntly after learning how the facts diverged from what Joshi, Sheegl and four other city officials insisted was true during an unprecedented joint news conference that was called in hopes of forestalling any audit.
And he refused to help Coun. Paula Havixbeck get answers to who was responsible for what when she, then the chairwoman of council's Protection Committee, summoned him and Sheegl before her committee and grilled them in public.
Gee, do you think he holds a grudge?
The audit into the firehalls mess found that Joshi
- was kept informed with construction updates,
- that he provided little to no oversight,
- that he knew Shindico was building a fire station on Taylor Avenue on land the city did not own,
- that he knew all about the land swap arranged with Shindico even though city council hadn't declared the land being swapped as surplus,
- that construction of a fire hall in St. James had begun without a contract in place, and
- that a financial disaster was unfolding in front of his eyes as spelled out by this memo from Materials Management at about the time reporters had glommed on to the secret land swap:
This topic was briefly discussed at the CAO’s office today, but it is clear that the City is well underway building at least one $6 million dollar station with approval for only <$1 million."
With the office must have come the arrogance and conceit that fueled the unprecedented letter to Havixbeck admonishing her like a naughty schoolgirl about the need to maintain a "respectful work place".