Well, here we go again, more allegations of financial mismanagement at the City of Winnipeg, this time in the public works department and specifically within the traffic signal branch.
Allegations suggest the city has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, on make-work projects with no paper trail, inventory, or proper procedures.
Mr. Sweryda, a resident, spent over two years researching and documenting oddities in the department. Chris was invited to speak at a special meeting, what was the result of that? What are the next steps? What will change, if anything.
You and I both know this is not an isolated issue in just one small department. It is a systemic problem throughout the city. Remember the inspector issue?
I must ask, how often do we have to learn about allegations of financial mismanagement in the media? It is embarrassing to elected officials. We are hired to be good stewards and ensure taxpayers money is not wasted. We are failing.
I’ve watched some of my colleagues jump in front of the cameras to be seen “taking action.” I must ask what will truly be accomplished in one or two meetings?
One councillor who wants a special meeting with the department to ask questions has been the finance chair for six years. The fact is the city council doesn’t hold the public service accountable when budgeting. For several years now, members of the executive policy committee and others, including the finance chair, have opposed my motions for more financial accountability, a zero-based budget review. Why?
Proper budgeting, continuous improvement requirements and accountability will begin to fix the systemic problems at Winnipeg City Hall. That’s what you would do. That’s what I would do if I was in charge.
The councillors who called meetings had to do something, I understand. But it’s not enough. If you are truly concerned, then let’s implement action like we never have before. If you want to solve the systemic problem, it is going to take long hours. Take off the rose-coloured glasses and start drilling down to determine the root of our problems.
Some councillors are trying to say what they think you want to hear. But I would venture to say it’s too little, too late. This problem runs deep, it’s systemic. Drilling down to the root causes will only work if we have accountability policies throughout our operations and instill a passion to do what’s best for the city, not the next election.
Change is not easy, but it is worth it. We need to change the city council into a group that will eliminate the status quo. It’s not working anymore. We need a leader who will demand change, opens the books for the first time in decades, who rolls up their sleeves and gets to work fixing the problems.
Change is difficult. I’ve been asking for change for three years. It won’t be easy, but I will continue to fight because a better Winnipeg is worth it.