The Black Rod

The origin of the Usher of the Black Rod goes back to early fourteenth century England . Today, with no royal duties to perform, the Usher knocks on the doors of the House of Commons with the Black Rod at the start of Parliament to summon the members. The rod is a symbol for the authority of debate in the upper house. We of The Black Rod have since 2005, adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.

Name:
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

We are citizen journalists in Winnipeg. When not breaking exclusive stories, we analyze news coverage by the mainstream media and highlight bias, ignorance, incompetence, flawed logic, missed angles and, where warranted, good work. We serve as the only overall news monitors in the province of Manitoba. We do the same with politicians (who require even more monitoring.) EMAIL: black_rod_usher@yahoo.com

Friday, June 08, 2018

WFP publisher suppresses stories while lobbying for government subsidies


It was a year ago this month that Winnipeg Free Press publisher Bob Cox began his campaign for federal government subsidies to newspapers whose advertisers have abandoned them.

Since then we've learned all about fake news---that's when reporters make up facts then write stories based on their invented truths. But what about fffake news---news the papers want to conceal from the public and do it by not publishing them?

The Winnipeg Free Press is currently sitting on two doozies, both about lawsuits --- against the Winnipeg Free Press.

In one, the newspaper is accused of stealing the research of a prominent Winnipeg scholar and cheating him out of royalties from a book t
hey told him they would never publish, then did. To add insult, they submitted the book for journalism awards.

In the other, the (former) editor of the Free Press used libel chill to silence a radio talkshow host whose critical reporting on the Winnipeg Free Press she didn't like. Her backroom campaign enmeshed the president of Red River College, the college lawyer, a faculty dean and college staff in a conspiracy to kill the host's show and hide the reason from angry listeners. 

Copyright infringement. Censorship of a citizen journalist.  Topical issues you would think the local daily would love to publicize and explore.  Not.

Dr. Frank Albo teaches History classes at the University of Winnipeg. But back when he was working on his master's thesis, he uncovered a true-to-life Da Vinci Code-style secret in the heart of the city.  The architect of the Manitoba Legislature had incorporated clear Masonic symbols into his building!  

The Winnipeg Free Press partnered with Dr. Albo on a book (The Hermetic Code) based on his discovery. It became a best-seller and earned Albo $200,000 in royalties.

That's the undisputed part of the story.

In 2011, Albo came across a "second startling discovery", as the lawsuit puts it. It was "a hidden master plan for the City of Winnipeg". Apparently "city elites sought to transform Winnipeg into an urban utopia based on an international philosophy called The City Beautiful Movement."

The Movement called for the use of architecture to be used as a control device "to correct social order and instil moral and civic virtue amongt citizens."

In September, 2013, Albo delivered the keynote lecture at the Heritage Winnipeg Ball, where Winnipeg Free Press publisher Bob Cox was in the audience.  He proposed a partnership with Albo. Step one was a two-hour presentation in the WFP newsroom the following month about his findings re: the hidden master plan for Winnipeg.
Albo began working with newspaper editor Paul Samyn and reporter Randy Turner, says the lawsuit.  

But very soon afterward, Samyn informed Albo there would be no book and no royalties flowing from their collaboration.  Albo would be paid an hourly rate for his work.

Imagine his surprise when, less than a year later, he spotted the announcement of the launch of a book published by the Winnipeg Free Press with the Manitoba Association of Architects, titled "City Beautiful. How Architects Shaped Winnipeg's DNA".

The Albo lawsuit is just the sort of story that would have been reported on The Great Canadian Talk Show on KICK-FM, if it was still around. But both TGCTS and Kick-FM, the community radio station hosted by Red River College, are long gone, thanks to former Winnipeg Free Press editor Margo Goodhand.


In October, 2010 a weeping Melissa Martin sat in editor Margo Goodhand's office to explain why she didn't do a story. (Sounds like a theme, here, doesn't it.) Ross Eadie was running for a seat on city council and at a public forum he declared (according to multiple witnesses) that he was getting financial support from the NDP in order to afford to run.  Problem.  Funding of campaigns by political parties is illegal. 

Martin didn't write a word about Eadie's confession.  But it was well covered on the internet, including by The Black Rod.  The tearful Melissa didn't like what people were saying about her.  Don't worry, Margo Goodhand told her.
Goodhand blamed Marty Gold, the host of TGCTS for saying not nice things about Melissa Martin's decision not to report a major political story.  

First, she gave Red River College president Stephanie Forsyth an earful about it. Then she sent a follow-up email to Forsyth, and her message was unmistakeable.

Gold was setting journalism students a bad example by defaming her reporters, she said. She had, she said, run his blog posts by a lawyer who told her so. (She admitted at trial for the lawsuit that she never listened to his radio show.)

Something had to be done -- hint, hint. The implication was clear. If nothing was done -- hint, hint --- the Winnipeg Free Press could sue Red River College and, boy, would that cause embarassment. And the newspaper could refuse to hire graduates, which would damage the reputation of Red River's journalism program. And she could badmouth the college to colleagues across the country and, well, you know. Hint, hint.

Forsyth got the hint.  She immediately called a meeting.  The attendees left the meeting knowing what they had to do.  Dig up dirt on Marty Gold, then cancel his show.

Two weeks later, just before a scheduled nomination committee meeting of the radio station board of directors, a few of Forsyth's underlings met informally and agreed, formally, to cancel TGCTS.  

A couple of days later, they informed the station manager of their decision.  He was unhappy. Programming was his job. He saw no defamation. And he could address Margo Goodhand's concerns in other ways. But his bosses said no.

The station manager sent Gold a heads-up message: the president wants you fired. 

The next day the FP's on-line editor got wind of the station manager's recalcitrance. He told Margo Goodhand.  
She immediately sent a furious email to Stephanie Forsyth, the gist of which was "What the Hell?"

On her next day at work, Forsyth convened another meeting in her office. Her message: "What the Hell?"  

Within hours, Marty Gold was informed his show was cancelled and he was out of a job.

But Red River College wasn't prepared for the blowback from dedicated listeners of the show. RRC offered various explanations as to why the show was cancelled, none of which mentioned Margo Goodhand.

They eventually told the court that it was a policy change, to give students more time on air.  They overlooked the obvious: the alleged policy change only affected one show and one host, and coincidentally it was the exact show and exact host that Margo Goodhand had complained about.  Go figure.

When listeners asked who made the decision to kill TGCTS, college officials winced, swallowed hard and said it was "the executive committee" of the radio station.  Except that there was no "executive committee."  

The radio station bylaws said the board may create committees, but there was no record of any creation of an "executive committee" that year, or any year prior.  Or any minutes of any meeting of said committee ever.

The college officials were claiming a committee that didn't exist, with no designated members and no outlined powers, could usurp the power of the official board of directors whenever it wanted about whatever it wanted. Oh, what a tangled web they weaved.

But it was reciprocated.  When the National Post contacted Goodhand for her side of the story, she emailed her boss, publisher Bob Cox (remember him?). 

She asked his advice for what to say because "I don't want to throw Stephanie under the bus."

So, Goodhand lied to the Post and said she knew nothing about the cancellation of TGCTS.

Just as readers of the Winnipeg Free Press know nothing about these lawsuits. Until now.

Both of them have already gone to trial and are awaiting decisions.

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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Frank Ostrowski. From Sinner to Saint. Or, What they're not telling you.


Here we go again.
- Another convicted murderer to be lionized.
- A dedicated Crown attorney to be demonized.
- And a mainstream media mob to be titillized by a juicy miscarriage of justice. Alleged.

'I wuz framed,' says new saint Frank Ostrowski, blaming veteran Crown attorney George Dangerfield for the 23 years he spent in prison.

This week Ostrowski asked the Manitoba Court of Appeal to vacate his 1987 conviction for the murder of an acquaintance. He wants the court to issue a declaration of innocence, (so that he can sue the province for millions?).  

The province wants a simple declaration of a stay of proceedings which would eradicate the conviction and leave Ostrowski free (he's been out of prison on bail since 2009), but otherwise end the proceedings. After all, 23 years in the slam is almost the 25-year minimum before parole that the worst murderer would have to serve.

The local news media have become the Greek chorus to the 69-year-old Ostrowski's ham acting. So once again it's up to us to step in and save the show.

Ladies and gentlemen, we present our production of "What they aren't telling you."

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The Winnipeg Free Press described Ostrowski as "a former hairstylist and drug dealer."  What they aren't telling you is that when he was arrested, Ostrowski was the biggest cocaine dealer in Winnipeg. At a time when $50,000 a year was a good salary, he was raking in $500,000 a year tax-free and all the blow he could snort. 

His reign as Mr.Big ended when an associate named Matthew Lovelace got arrested and agreed to cooperate with police. The FP described Lovelace as "another experienced criminal."  

What they aren't telling you is that Lovelace was Ostrowski's right-hand man in the cocaine business. He was the trusted cohort who brought the stuff in from Montreal. He was a close friend and confidante who knew all of Ostrowski's secrets because he lived them with Big O.


His defenders knew that the only way to get Ostrowski out of prison was to  discredit his biggest accuser, Matthew Lovelace. 

They learned that authorities agreed to drop the drug charges against Lovelace in return for his testimony against Ostrowski, a deal he denied existed when he gave his evidence.  

Gotcha.  

But you know what they say? The devil is in the details. What they're not telling you loudly enough is tha the drug charges were to be prosecuted in federal court and the murder charge in Manitoba provincial court. Catching a killer was more important than sending a drug dealer to jail, and the feds no doubt realized that Lovelace would have enough trouble avoiding retribution from his Montreal contacts  who might have a problem with the snitch who cost them business.

The federal authorities making the deal didn't tell their provincial counterparts, especially Crown prosecutor Dangerfield.  Lovelace's lawyer also didn't tell him until after the murder trial so there could be no question that his evidence was tainted. Or so he thought.

Nevertheless, when Lovelace denied any deal, he was telling the truth as he knew it. And when Dangerfield vouched for Lovelace before the jury, he was telling the truth as he knew it. 

The lesson here---hire a good lawyer. You'll note that nobody, even today, has a bad word to say about Lovelace's lawyer Hymie Weinstein for negotiating the deal.

Maybe it’s because unlike George Dangerfield, Weinstein isn't an 84-year-old man suffering stroke-related brain damage and can still defend himself in a courtroom.

The FP, for all its deficiences, did admit---deep, deep, deep in its Tuesday story---that Weinstein's machination was "par for the course back in the day."  In other words, what they're not telling you is that they want a convicted murdered set free because nobody did anything wrong at his trial!

 But, sings the Greek chorus, it should have been wrong. Sort of like murder?
If the "deal" gambit failed, the defenders had Plan B, the Jacobson report.

What? Even we had no idea what that was.

It turns out the Jacobson report was a memo written by a police officer named Sgt. N. Jacobson to describe a phone call he received from Lovelace warning police that Ostrowski planned to have someone killed. (Could that be Nels Jacobson, the No. 34 pick in the 1969 NHL draft?)

You know you're reaching for straws when your defence is your client didn't arrange to kill the man he's accused of having killed because he actually intended to kill a different  man. Uh huh. That will prove he's innocent, if nothing will.

Jacobson wrote that Lovelace said "Frank has a contract out on my friend."
The FP said the memo supposedly "goes on to describe that friend as 'the carpenter'."

Here's where Free Press columnist Dan Lett goes completely off the rails.

"The Innocence Canada investigation confirmed the friend in question was Dominic Diubaldo, a carpenter who had built the secret safe for Ostrowski that contained drugs and money."

"The theory Diubaldo may have been the 'friend' referred to by Nieman makes sense given an informant did, in fact, provide police with information about the secret safe, and that only Diubaldo and Lovelace knew of the safe's existence."

Okay, the reference to Nieman when it should be Lovelace is just sloppy writing.

But Lett's attempt at analysis is just pathetic. What he's not telling you, probably because he doesn't know, is that the informant WAS LOVELACE.
That's why he was so upset. Ostrowski, in his paranoia, spoke of killing Nieman, and now Diubaldo, two men who Lovelace knew were innocent.

Lovelace phoned police because he was equally frantic to save their lives.

As for the identification of Dominic Diubaldo, Lovelace told the Ostrowski jury about him 32 years ago.  Innocence Canada just had to read the trial transcript.

And what they're not telling you is that Jacobson was a peripheral character in the story.  Lovelace didn't phone him.

Lovelace was trying to reach his Winnipeg police contact with the tip about Ostrowski's murder plans, but his contact was never in the office when he phoned. He finally left a cryptic message with Jacobson.

A detective testifying at the trial said he had seen a note on a police message board, presumably written by Jacobson, which read "Sonny called. He'll be at this farm. Frankie wants to do a hit on his friend." No mention of "the carpenter".

Sgt. Jacobson didn't know who he was talking to. He didn't know what the caller was calling about. He didn't know who the caller was talking about. 
He did know enough to cover his ass, though. Lovelace tried to reach his police contact Sept.24 (1986). Nieman was shot Sept. 25. 

You might think there would be some questions asked about how thoroughly police tried to warn Nieman that he was a target of a planned assassination. A memo saying they were never warned about Nieman would be very handy.

And what they're not telling you is that regardless of Lovelace's phone call, police already knew that a hit had been placed on Nieman. How did they know that? 

Frank Ostrowski told them.

You see, what they're also not telling you, is that Ostrowski had been talking with police regularly after he got out on bail. On Sept. 24 it just so happened he was trying to make a deal, to rat out his Montreal contacts if they dropped his charges. 

He was told he was too hot for anyone to trust. He changed the subject to…Robert Nieman. "Nieman," he said," is a dead man. He's a rat and he's dead. In a couple of days he'll be dead."

"I'm not the one doing it," he assured the detectives. "I told them that's not the way to do it."

"Bill Andrews. I hear he's next," Ostrowski said. "Well, that may be one of my bargaining things for my charges."

Those police immediately tried to find Robert Nieman and warn him. They did a terrible job. They visited his known haunts, talked to his acquaintances and then, you know, their shift was over and the next shift was short-handed, and nobody told Nieman he was on somebody's hit list. 

When they came back to work the next day, they found out Nieman was in hospital with a couple of bullets in the head, which would kill him eventually. The bullets, not the hospital.

For the complete take on Ostrowski, see the story we wrote in 2009. Yeah, almost nine years ago:

The Black Rod: Ostrowski has always held the key to unlocking his jail cell

Monday, March 05, 2018

Alleged wife-beater Wab Kinew calls for an end to serial tickling.

Has the world gone crazy?

A political party that elected an accused wife beater as its leader is roiled by anonymous accusations that a member who is no longer in the Legislature tickled women years ago?

He not only tickled women, but threatened to tickle others.  And even asked one if she liked to be tickled.  What a beast!

One ex-MLA--- one of the fearless, strong, independent NDP women---has come forward to say that she, whoever she is, was tickled, too.  And not once. Twice. TWICE, we say.  Within four, or maybe eight, or possibly even 17 years.  And nobody stopped this animal?

An army of aggrieved females has declared they will put an end to tickling in politics.  Never again, they say.

But where were they when a woman came forward last year to say that her former common-law husband, Wab Kinew, dragged her along the ground by her hair to show her how a real man treats his woman. 

Another time, she said, Kinew threw her across the room of their home so viciously that she suffered rug burns on her legs when she landed. Still not finished that night, he allegedly hauled her onto the balcony where, she said, she feared she was going to be thrown off to the concrete below.

Where were they? We'll tell you. They were voting to make Wab Kinew their leader.

Leader Wab now wants to be in the forefront of the battle against tickling in politics.  He demanded that his predecessor quit as MLA for St. Boniface for failing to stop the monster tickler when women complained about his behaviour. He declared he would set up a two-woman commission to hear stories about tickling and other such unacceptable behaviour.

As for the allegations against him?  Well...the bitch is lying. That's his message.

Except that the woman, who didn't hide behind anonymous posts on social media, went to the police with her story about her husband.  They charged Kinew with domestic assault. "Minister Tickles" Stan Struthers has never been charged with anything.

Kinew denies everything. And points to the fact that the charges against him--there were two---were stayed by the Crown.  That proves he didn't do it, says Kinew.

But his former common-law wife says she was fully prepared to go to court to testify to what Kinew did to her, and she had no idea why the Crown chose to stay the charges. That proves she stands behind her story.

The professional journalists in the city,  who can't stop chasing the Struthers tickle stories, at first ignored the allegations of assault involving Wab Kinew. 

Then they covered the woman's story, but have never demanded to hear Kinew's side of the story.

You would think that an alleged wife-beater running to lead the official Opposition would be a big story. Not in Manitoba.

"All too often, women are subjected to unacceptable behaviour. I stand with these women who've come forward..." said Bernadette Smith (NDP-Point Douglas) who issued a statement on behalf of the party.

Where was Bernadette Smith when a woman accused Wab Kinew of being a wife beater? Supporting Wab Kinew's candidacy for leader.  So much for standing with the women who have come forward.

Nahanni Fontaine, another NDP MLA, said at the time of the accusations against Kinew that "I absolutely have always taken the stand that women are telling the truth."  But---well---uh---she still backed Wab Kinew as leader of the NDP.

People change, she said, in defending the alleged wife-beater.

Unless, obviously, there's tickling involved.

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Thursday, January 25, 2018

It's time to call the family to pay their last respects. Manitoba Hydro is done.

A perfect storm is hitting Manitoba Hydro. Insolvency is inevitable. 

Eight months ago we reported that Hydro was on its deathbed, based on the testimony of the utility's own witnesses at a hearing of the Manitoba Public Utilities Board.

http://blackrod.blogspot.ca/2017/08/manitoba-hydro-is-on-its-deathbed-there.html
Since then the patient's condition has deteriorated rapidly. It's time to call the family to pay their last respects. 

Last week the Bank of Canada announced that the years of low interest rates are officially over. The Bank raised the bank rate by one quarter of one percent. It was the third rate hike within a year.  It's just the start.

The Bank of Canada expects at least one and possibly two more rate hikes in 2018.  That will bring the bank rate to about half of where the Bank wants it to be.  You read that right---half.  The Bank of Canada wants the bank rate to steady out at 2.5 percent, the lower end of a range the Bank feels is right for a healthy economy.

Hydro lawyer Patti Ramage told the PUB last August that Manitoba Hydro "is today borrowing cash for interest annually on the debt being borrowed to build (Bipole III). It's a huge number. We're talking 150 million, 175 million."
 "... we are borrowing money to fund our core Basic operations. That is an unsustainable practice...".

 ".. interest expense will soon consume 70 odd percent of every domestic dollar. 70 percent of every domestic dollar is going to go to interest expense."

"It doesn't take much of an error on the interest rate forecast for that to move up to a hundred percent or more."

 "And we still have a business to run. We have to pay our operating costs, power purchases, water rentals, capital taxes, and by no means least of all, we have to replenish aging infrastructure."


She added: "... Manitoba Hydro has $12 billion to borrow over the next five (5) years. Extremely modest increases in borrowing costs against plan can quickly reduce Manitoba Hydro's income by fifty (50) to even a hundred million dollars per year."   

Doubling the bank rate is hardly an "extremely modest increase in borrowing costs."

Have you been outside lately?  Did you notice something missing? 

Hint: there's hardly any snow.

That's very, very bad news for Hydro.  The PUB was told last year that only two things were keeping Manitoba Hydro from insolvency. One was low interest rates (see above.) The other was high water levels which were bringing Hydro unexpected revenue. No snow, means no water, means no power to sell, means no bonus revenue.

But its worse. The last drought in Manitoba was 14 years ago. Weather cycles call for a drought roughly every 14 years. Uh oh.

Hey, you professional journalists:  Start asking Hydro what they've done with the $1.5- to $2 billion they squeezed out of rate payers following the last drought to be the contingency for the next drought.  

Have they already spent it to prop up their unsustainable NDP megaprojects? Is that why they're already saying they need even greater rate hikes in the event of an inevitable drought?

The world price for oil is climbing again, which is good news for Canada. The Canadian  dollar is a petrocurrency, so every increase in oil prices boosts the value of the Canadian dollar.  But Manitoba sells its hydropower in American dollars. So every rise in the value of Canadian money, means we earn less for our power from our American customers.

You may have read somewhere that the U.S. is about to become the world's biggest exporter of oil and natural gas.  The reason is fracking. You know, fracking, the process that Manitoba Hydro "experts" dismissed ten years ago as a fad that wouldn't affect the prices Hydro was going to get from the Yankee buyers of our green energy.

Today, the price they pay for hydroelectric power is linked to the price of natural gas which, thanks to fracking, is near all-time lows. 

So,  reading the patient's chart:  

* interest rates up, Hydro's costs way up
* precipitation extremely low, a drought more than likely, sales evaporate, revenue disappears
* the exchange rate rising, profit margin squeezing daily
* fracking boom, hydroelectric sales only at bargain basement prices

And that's without saying a word about rising costs.

On Monday, Manitoba Hydro finally confessed that the cost of the unnecessary Keeyask generating station could climb to $9.9 billion, although they still pretend to believe they can deliver the megaproject at a cost of more than $1 billion less.  Ha ha ha. Injecting levity into a grave situation is not always a good thing.

A company hired by the PUB to review Hydro's runaway dam building projects predicts that at the rate construction is going the Keeyask station will be a year late and will cost $10.5 billion. 

Here's how they arrived at that conclusion: they looked at the amount of work done already at Keeyask and compared it to the amount of work that should be completed on a project of this size at this stage of construction. 

They determined that the contractor is way behind where he should be.  

Unless he can somehow catch up, the project won't be finished for at least a year later than it is scheduled to be ready and costs will keep escalating. They estimate the final cost will be $4 billion more than Hydro's initial claim that the project would cost $6.2 billion (not $6.5 billion as the Winnipeg Free Press reported incorrectly). 

http://www.pubmanitoba.ca/v1/nfat/pdf/hydro_application/appendix_02_4_developing_the_keeyask_and_conawapa_capital_cost_estimates.pdf  Page 23.

We reported Hydro's confession eight months ago that it doesn't have the money to pay for Bipole III, or for Keeyask, and they will need a billion dollars more in revenue within 5 years just to cover the annual borrowing costs of these megaprojects. That's a billion dollars every year more than they raise now.

And that was  determined before the interest rate increases--past, present and future---and the pending drought and the  escalating cost of construction.

The next sound you hear will be the squeal of flatlining as credit rating agencies pull the plug.


EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeee...........

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Friday, January 12, 2018

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman - from Bold to Scold


What a start to the new year---Winnipeg's pipsqueak Mayor gets bitch-slapped in public by the Winnipeg police department.  You don't see that every day.

When Brian Bowman rebuked the police service this week  for loaning the police helicopter to a movie company (at a full cost-recovery price) for a short scene he demonstrated his limited grasp of how the city works. 
 
Just as his city hall colleague Councillor I'M-MARTY-MORANTZ-AND-I'M-A-LAWYER learned to his chagrin two years ago, the police department reports to the police commission, not the mayor or city council.  Morantz had tried to browbeat a senior police official at a committee meeting, but was quickly informed by the police chief of the way things run and the next day ate crow for breakfast, lunch and supper.

Bowman was delivered a hefty helping of his own on Monday when the police responded to his lecture about extending police resources to Hollywood directors. 

"This is what any large city would do if you're trying to attract the film industry here, and we have been very successful, from my understanding, in doing that for a long time...It's simply beyond me why this is an issue," police spokesman Const. Rob Carver told  reporters, according to the CBC.

For the record, the helicopter was flown to La Salle, Manitoba, for a scene in the movie 'The Parts You Lose' being shot there. That's a whopping 20 miles (32 kilometres) past Winnipeg city limits. The helicopter flies at up to 380 kilometres an hour and could respond to any call for service in the city in 5 minutes.

Why the mayor decided to stick his nose where it doesn't belong is a mystery, but an even bigger question is: what happened to Bold Brian, the man who ran for mayor four years ago?

You remember him, don't you?  He was going to be the "cool" mayor.The guy who loved heavy metal bands, who dodged bullets in a bus hijacking in Mexico, who was going to transform Winnipeg into a city of the future with rapid transit extending into every corner of the metropolis and wi-fi on every speedy bus to link everyone to the universe.  How cool is that?

Three years later, he's the scold, the stickler for rules even if he's wrong, the drudge who's only success as a mayor is raising taxes, frontage fees, water rates, bus fares, and speeding tickets. Remember how he was the candidate for mayor who promised lower taxes than SpeNDP candidate Judy Wasylycia-Leis?  You've got to laugh to keep from crying.

With Bowman looking ahead at running for re-election in 2018, the question is how does he rate as a mayor?  To be fair, we're going to look for the answer from the only man who knows---Brian Bowman.

Anyone running for office delivers a barrage of promises for what he or she is going to do if elected, then hopes voters forget most of what was promised. In the case of Brian Bowman, one solemn pledge stands out, and its that alone that delivers the measure of the mayor.

"I'll go as far as I have to, to restore Winnipeggers' trust and faith in city hall," Bowman told the CBC and other news outlets in year-end 2014 interviews. 

His predecessor Sam Katz's final years in office were characterized by scandal---rigged bids on multi-million dollar construction projects, preferential treatment for an investor of the mayor's baseball team, a suspicious purchase of a million dollar house for cash by the mayor from an officer that that investor's business, damning audits, ending with an RCMP investigation into allegations of kickbacks for a sweetheart deal on the construction of a new headquarters for the Winnipeg Police Service.

Winnipeggers were shell-shocked by the time of Bowman's election and welcomed his promise for clean government.  How's he done?

Uh oh.

Bowman's third year in office ended with city hall under a cloud of controversy that's engulfed city councillors, the mayor, the city's CAO, various city administrators (now gone), and a prominent developer. Sound familiar?

It stemmed from a plan to extend a road in Charleswood (called the Sterling Lyon Parkway).  The extension would mean expropriation of 96 homes. The homeowners were surpised to find out about the plan for their properties because public consultations held by the city never mentioned it. Sound familiar?

Of course it does. This is the same city scam that's been run for years. Take the Disraeli Freeway replacement in Sam Katz's day.  

Phony public consultations led neighbouring residents to think they had a choice of one of three options for a new bridge. They were surprised to learn the city actually planned to build a fourth bridge design, costing more than residents approved,  which had been planned for years but had never been made public. 

City officials used the same template in Charleswood under Brian Bowman. 
-  Phony public consultations. 
-  Three options. 
-  A fourth planned all along chosen to go ahead. 

Only they hit a snag. They came up against people who had money. Who could hire lawyers and researchers and planners of their own. And the scheme fell apart in the bright light of day, but not before uncovering documentation suggesting that their own councillor knew about option four but didn't tell them. Councillor Marty Moranz plans to call for a city audit of the project, that's now on hold.

Internal emails also disclosed that the mayor at one point intervened personally to stop the road extension project (temporarily) for an undisclosed reason.  Did his intervention have anything to do with his mother, who lives in the area and who attended at least one public hearing?  You've got to admire a man who loves his mother.

Anything else? There's the Parking Authority which keeps getting caught gouging drivers. Most recently they planned to ticket Saturday parkers who thought the stickers that read "2 hours complimentary parking on Saturday" meant 2 hours free parking.  Oh, no, said the Parking Authority. It obviously meant pay for two hours and get two hours additional for free. What's the matter with people? Can't they understand plain English? 

There's the North End sewage-treatment plant that continues to hemmorhage money.  In 2016 it was estimated to cost almost $800 million. We wish. The current estimate is $1.4 billion and only God knows when it will be completed. Apparently everybody we've hired so far doesn't know what they're doing. Bowman is unperturbed. 

What's a billion? Bold, that's what.

The RCMP investigation into the construction of the Winnipeg Police headquarters has entered its third year.  It has expanded to include construction of the Canada Post Mail Processing Plant near the airport, which was built by the same company involved in the police HQ project.

And remember how Winnipeg wound up building a firehall on land it didn't own on Taylor Avenue in River Heights?  A bylaw passed in 2014 called for expropriation of the land. The city was to receive recommendations early in 2015 on what to pay. 

The city clerk's website says the matter is still "active", which means the city still owns a firehall built on land it doesn't own, three years after Bowman was elected.

Do voters have more trust in city hall than they did before the last mayoral election?

Bwahahahaha.

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