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REAL ex-chair claims Regina councillors ignored organization, often asked for free event tickets

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The former chair of the Regina Exhibition Association Limited's (REAL) board of directors claims city councillors seemed to show little interest in the organization outside of fishing for free event tickets.

Wayne Morsky and the rest of the REAL board were dismissed last week in a tight 6-5 city council vote over concerns about REAL's current $17 million debt. The entire board resigned following the vote.

In a statement issued on Thursday, Morsky said invitations to meetings where these financial challenges were discussed were always extended to councillors, but attendance "varied."

He also singled out the attendance record of city manager Niki Anderson, who along with six city employees she nominated, has formed a new interim board with council approval.

Morsky said Anderson previously held a non-voting role with the REAL board but did not often participate in meetings.

"The city manager attended one meeting since joining the board in December of 2022," Morsky wrote.

"If her workload did not permit her to attend board meetings where financial challenges were discussed in great amount of detail, we are concerned about her ability to take overall responsibility for the organization," said Morsky.

On behalf of Anderson, the City of Regina declined to comment in response to a CTV News inquiry concerning Morsky's claims.

When she was appointed to the interim board om Nov. 24, Anderson had strong support from councillors.

“A huge part of my job is making sure we are aligned with council,” Anderson said following the meeting.

She has expressed confidence in the city staff members she handpicked for the interim board.

“Frankly, I’ve got staff that are super flexible in their abilities"

In his statement, Morsky claimed while councillors were not generally involved in REAL's governance, they sometimes meddled in lease negotiations with tenants and frequently asked for free tickets to events for themselves, friends and family.

He alleged in one instance, a councillor requested a job.

Morsky said the board has been transparent about REAL's challenges and argued that council underfunded the organization.

"Since 2017, REAL has taken on significant debt to service the capital needs of city-owned facilities, and to later operate," Morsky said.

"Since the onset of the pandemic, REAL has struggled to pay the debt associated with facilities and was forced to begin servicing debt with debt. City council was fully aware — if not understanding — of this circumstance."

In his statement, Morsky also referenced the disastrous Experience Regina campaign rollout and said the board does "recognize that it was a mistake."

He said the board made five separate presentations to council in the wake of the controversy and followed the lead of councillors when it came to a review of the campaign.

Morsky said the board always strived to act in the best interests of REAL and the City of Regina.

"We have taken responsibility for our mistakes and shortcomings," Morsky said.

"We were advancing with the understanding that we would have the opportunity to work collaboratively with council and city administration to move forward constructively ... We are extremely disappointed that we were not afforded that opportunity," he said.

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