It doesn’t matter if you are trying to win a Gold Medal at the Olympics, build a successful business, or be the Mayor of a city, what is required in order to be successful is the same. If you listen to the interviews of our Olympic Athletes, coaches and the organizers in order for our teams to be successful it requires commitment, dedication, a vision (goal), support and especially in curling and hockey, teamwork. It would come as no surprise to anyone that if our current Municipal Government was at the Olympics the City of Winnipeg would not be standing on the podium accepting a medal. If we were the host city there is no guarantee the Olympic Venues would be built on land we own. The key components however, to developing a podium finish are missing from City Hall, our current counselors and the leadership of our Mayor and the Executive Policy Committee.
Our current municipal government is moving from one scandal to another. The Ernst & Young Fire Hall Audit has served to expose an organization that just isn’t working. Mayor Katz made a decision to ‘Cut the Red Tape’ at city hall. It sounds good, but in reality it is those checks and balances that have been identified as missing in the most recent audit. The Mayor’s so-called ‘Red Tape’ would have identified the issue of building a fire hall on land we didn’t own. The ‘Red Tape’ would have required tendering processes as well. Other suspected issues may be related to the conflicts and difficulties that may be associated with hiring a business partner (ex-business partner), close business associate, friend who apparently, based on the audit, played a key role in the entire Fire Hall fiasco.
Based on the Mayor’s responses to questions asked about Police Headquarters and the Fire Hall his answers seem to indicate he was unaware, even surprised, by what occurred? When we examine the 10 essential characteristics of a successful leader by David G Javitch it is easy to come to the conclusion that our Mayor has not built a strong team, does not appear to have a vision, is not instilling confidence in the voters or other city counsellors and his answers indicate he is currently lacking the hard work and commitment necessary to lead Winnipeg through these difficult times or may not have the leadership skills required to do the job.
A ‘Successful Sports Team’ can be built for the short-term but successful organizations in sports, business or government need to have the appropriate mechanisms and structures in place in order to sustain themselves over the long-term. The gradual deterioration of the structures of government used to serve as checks and balances to safeguard public money and our system of democracy over the last number of years has made Winnipeg vulnerable to the debacles we have seen with our major city projects. On one hand our Mayor speaks of our need to develop infrastructure and freeze taxes but on the other hand has city projects that are grossly over-budget and the city continues to approve developments contributing to Winnipeg’s Urban Sprawl problem which puts our infrastructure deficit more at risk as well as taxes are already stretched city services.
What is required to create a gold medal city? We need a clear articulated vision (a goal), we need teamwork (people working towards the same thing), we need the best people working for us and with us, we need our Mayor to hold everyone accountable (including himself) for the mistakes made. He needs to listen and act on the recommendations of the audit. He needs to ask for a police investigation into what happened with the Fire Halls and Police
We need as voters to demand accountability of all the individuals at City Hall including our counsellors. We need to ask for the records as to which developers have received city contracts in the last 10 years and were there tendering processes with these contracts. We then need to ask is the pattern of who gets contracts different under this administration than the previous one. We need to know the criteria required when hiring our top City Administrators and Planners. We need to know what land is being purchased by Centre Venture and for what purpose? We need transparency and accountability. We need a long-term plan. We need a change.
As the citizens of Winnipeg we need to find the same passion for the City of Winnipeg that we have for our Olympic Gold winning teams and our sports teams. We need to hold our civic leaders to the same standards we hold our sports teams, players and coaches to. We need to have our Mayor on a call-in show so we can ask him the tough questions like we ask our coaches and players.
If we want a Gold Medal City, a Gold Medal Government a Gold Medal Mayor we need to all work towards developing the commitment, dedication, work ethic and team work required to create a winning team, a winning city.