A City of Windsor lawyer whose legal opinion undermined the local health unit’s attempts to illegally enforce mask laws has been fired by the city's mayor.Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens fired city solicitor Shelby Askin Hager and city engineer Chris Nepszy Thursday in what the city called “a strategic realignment of its organizational structure” to “better serve the needs of its residents and streamline municipal operations.”A written statement from the city said Askin Hager and Nepszy are “no longer with the corporation,” but that “their years of service are appreciated and they are wished well in their future endeavours.”In a memorandum dated August 18 2020, city solicitor Shelby Askin Hager wrote responses to questions posed to her including, “Can members of the public be asked for proof that they qualify for an exemption?” To this, Hager wrote, “No. This would constitute a human rights infringement.”Windsor lawyer Antoine d’Ailly followed a similar approach in private practice. Nevertheless, he was charged in December 2020 under the Reopening Ontario Act for not demanding proof of an exemption from maskless members of the public in his office. Askin Hager’s memorandum was submitted as part of his successful defense during a trial November 1.Dilkens, Windsor mayor since 2014, could fire the city personnel unilaterally thanks to the “strong mayor” powers made possible by changes to Ontario’s Municipal Act.Dilkens told the Windsor Star “the responsibility for organizational structure and hiring or dismissing heads of departments” was now in his hands, but that such decisions were “not made in a vacuum.”“I’ve been working with (city CAO) Joe Mancina, I met individually all members of the corporate leadership team before making this decision. We’ve been working on this for months. We’ve discussed this with all members of council and had meetings with them as well.”Mark Winterton, who retired as city engineer, will return on an interim basis to fill the role Nepzsy took over in 2021. The recruitment process for the two vacant positions will begin immediately.“As we continually evolve and adapt to the changing landscape and challenges we face, we are proud to unveil a leadership structure that reflects our commitment to managing growth and innovation to achieve our goals,” said Dilkens in a written statement.“This re-alignment is about strengthening city hall and ensuring a more effective decision making process.”This occasion marked the first time Dilkens used the strong mayor powers, bestowed on him by the Doug Ford Conservatives, to terminate employment. Dilkens and 25 other mayors were granted strong mayor powers on July 1. The provincial government said the change would help get housing projects approved.New mayoral powers allow them to choose the city’s chief administrative officer (CAO), hire and fire department heads, reorganize departments, create council committees and appoint chairs and vice-chairs of council committees.Mayors can now also propose municipal budgets (subject to council amendments), veto certain bylaws and bring forward matters for council consideration if the issue ”could potentially advance a provincial priority.”Dilkens has used strong mayor powers 12 times. Six of those were to approve bylaws at council meetings, a new formality now required any time he declines to veto a bylaw.The city had less welcome news on the weekend. A fire at Jackson Park destroyed bales of straw intended for a children's maze and also damaged a popular maple leaf light installation.