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Showing posts from October, 2006

Katz wins, we do the Post-Mortem

The Big Freeze

Thank goodness the election campaign is over. Now they can take the real Sam Katz out of the freezer, where he's been kept for the past seven weeks in a cryogenically frozen state. When he thaws out, they can tell him he won.

Katz is one of the most charming people in North America. Anyone who has met him in person knows he's sweet and funny, warm and engaging, not the klutz fronting the Katz re-election campaign.

There's no doubt that they were using a double of Sam Katz throughout the race. The real Katz could cruise through a campaign on personality alone. He could just be himself and voters would trust him with their first-born. He would never stoop to something as stupid as turning spray paint or synchonized traffic signals into a mayoral election issue.

Okay, okay, last time he promised a war on mosquitoes with mosquito-killing briquettes. But he was new, so cut him some slack. We blame the body-double this time.

When Mayor Sam is brought to room temperatur…

The unreported race: knock 'em down, drag 'em out in River Heights/Fort Garry

When they do a post mortem on the 2006 civic election campaign, the No. 1 question will be why the news media did such a poor job covering the hottest race in the city?

We're referring, of course, to the election in River Heights/Fort Garry where incumbent Donald Benham is pitted against two challengers, Brenda Leipsic and Jennifer Zyla.

This dust-up has turned into a surrogate mayoral election thanks to the dearth of credible candidates running against Sam Katz.

It's no wonder that the MSM has treated the race for mayor as a sideshow, given the poor quality of opponents: an unemployed fringe festival performer, a "self-employed" joke candidate, and a hard-left socialist who told a community newspaper that her proudest accomplishment in politics was an empty field of tall grass.

It's in River Heights ward that the real issues of the city resonate, with candidates who serve as stand-ins for the mayoral election.

- Benham, a former journalist and the incumbent, has bee…

FP admits bad reporting; still says paper right, Katz wrong

The hubris of the Winnipeg Free Press is breathtaking.

For the past two years the newspaper has been flogging a series of "controversies" involving Mayor Sam Katz, none of which has had any traction outside their offices on Mountain Avenue.

This weekend the FP, via reporter Dan Lett, finally conceded that, contrary to their own stories, Sam Katz has always followed the rules, acted within the legislation, and behaved properly on all votes at City Hall.

Not good enough, says Lett.

His proof? Why, the many controversies surrounding the Mayor, of course.

The Free Press, with a straight face, declares that the existence of the alleged controversies shows that what wasn't wrong, should be wrong, and therefore, Katz was wrong, even if he was right.

To buttress this argument, reporter Lett, cites his own story from 2005 accusing Katz of conflict of interest in voting to put a Salisbury House restaurant on the new Provencher bridge. Katz had previously loaned money to David Wolin…

The newspaper that makes up quotes calls Sam Katz unethical

Oh this is too rich for words.

The Winnipeg Free Press, the newspaper that fabricated a key quote in a front page story ( http://blackrod.blogspot.com/2006/09/true-but-false-driskell-inquiry-like.html ), is lecturing Mayor Sam Katz about ethics.

The Winnipeg Free Press, the newspaper that reported on a non-existent complaint about Sam Katz ( http://blackrod.blogspot.com/2005/10/how-free-press-built-smear-campaign.html ), is criticizing the mayor for challenging his critics.

The Winnipeg Free Press, the newspaper that seemingly concocted a phony explanation for a story that embarassed the Asper family ( http://blackrod.blogspot.com/2006/08/credibility-cloud-over-axworthy.html ), is attacking Sam Katz for an "unseemly controversy" that exists only in the eyes of the newspaper's editorial board.

The Winnipeg Free Press, the newspaper that had to publish an unprecedented "clarification" for a series of blatantly wrong headlines and misquotes in stories about Sam Katz…

Why can 350 people hold Winnipeg hostage? Civic election issues 3 and 4

Everyone running for office in the current civic election should be asked to answer one question: Why are 350 people allowed to hold a city of 700,000 hostage?

Which brings us to the second half of our examination of 'The Big Four' election issues candidates are skirting instead of addressing head on.

3. The Car Theft Epidemic

In 1992 the City of Winnipeg had the lowest rate of auto theft of any major city in Canada.1992 seems so far, far away.Last year (2005) almost 12,000 vehicles were reported stolen to Winnipeg police.

The year before that it was over 13,000.
The year before that, 10,000 plus.
35,000 stolen autos in three years.
50,000 in five years, and that's not counting 2006 yet.

Manitoba Public Insurance paid in the vicinity of $150 million in claims over the past five years, and since 84 percent of provincial car theft is in Winnipeg, that means a touch over $126 million went to Winnipeg car owners.

This year MPI is spending $40 million to get motorists to install immob…

Will civic hopefuls go 'on the record' about The Big 4 ?

When a big-city newspaper devotes four pages to the mayoral election, it should be a cause for celebration in recognition that electing a mayor is serious business with serious consequences.

When those four pages turn out to be stupid questions about pop culture, you're left wanting to pull out your hair at the waste of space and opportunity.

At least that was the first reaction at The Black Rod to the election coverage in Sunday's Winnipeg Free Press. But then we realized we had just misread what the newspaper was doing.

In reality, the Free Press was signalling that the election for mayor is over. Sam Katz has lapped his opponents twice over and is jogging to the finish line backwards and blindfolded. It's now time to have some fun with the remaining two and half weeks of the campaign.

Maybe the unemployed gay activist, the self-employed lawyer wannabe, and the "raise taxes" eco-feminist failed to catch the public's imagination with their issues. But that does…

Handicapping the races to 510 Main

Reporters makes the mistake of ignoring city council races because they think the seats are decided on local issues.

Yet councillors, once elected, vote on issues that affect the city at large. Which gives every citizen a stake in the election of certain councillors, and the defeat of others.

There are 15 council seats to be filled in the coming civic election and easily two-thirds of the incumbents deserve to be replaced.

The Young'un
Justin Swandel (St. Norbert) gets a bye. He's only been a city councillor for a few months. He's barely learned where the washrooms are.

The Greybacks
On the other end of the scale, however, are the Old-Timers.

Jae Eadie (St. James) 25 years
Harry Lazarenko (Mynarski) 22 years
Mike O'Shaughnessy (Old Kildonan) 19 years
Bill Clement (Charleswood) 22 years
Lillian Thomas (Elmwood) 16 years

These five share a collective responsibility for the state of the city we're in.

The undiminished decay of downtown Winnipeg? Them.
The high taxes that sparked …

Reporters: A company of parrots in Winnipeg, an unelected opposition in Ottawa

How bad are the reporters in Winnipeg?

Read on and weep.

All 3 local supper-hour television news shows, and the Winnipeg Free Press, proved beyond doubt this week that their "journalism" consists of attending news conferences and parroting what they hear.

In this case the news conference was called by Literacy Partners of Manitoba, one of the insignificant groups losing funding to federal spending cuts.

To hear Lorrie Apps, the executive director, tell it, the federal government had just killed every literacy program in the province, condemning the illiterate to lives of desperation and poverty forever.

And CBC, Global, and CKY news agreed because their reporters couldn't be bothered to correct the impression Apps was leaving. Or to insert simple facts into their stories.

To begin with, none of the televison reporters, and here we use the word extremely generously, asked the simple question --- what exactly does Literacy Partners do to warrant its funding.

Well, for starters, t…

Political Reporting--a rave, applause and a pan

The Black Rod has discovered the best civic election coverage in town.

Reporter Michelle Dobrovolny has been doing a series called Candidate Profiles, in the Uniter, the University of Winnipeg student newspaper. It's terrific.

Just as sketch artists at the Fringe Festival can capture a person's key features with a few deft strokes of a charcoal pencil, Dobrovolny, with only four questions, manages to provide a sharp snapshot of the candidates in each ward.

Her take on the election in St. Boniface is a gem. The Winnipeg Free Press keeps saying how tight and how important this election is. But Dobrovolny gives us such a concise comparision of the three men running that any voter can instantly pick a favorite.

Everyone knows the heavyweights in the election--- former councillor Dan Vandal and incumbent councillor Franco Magnifico. Dobrovolny introduces us to the third candidate, Murray Cliff, who "is running a virtually unpublicized campaign due to his pledge not to spend a dim…