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.

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:

Friday, January 12, 2007

Should Public Works Councillors be flushed?

Well, that didn't take long.

The year has barely started and we're already reminded that Winnipeg is a city governed by idiots.

Winnipeg's public works committee says that the increase in water and sewer rates announced in November was less than half of what it should be.

So instead of $33 more a year, homeowners will be paying $71-$76 more a year .

Oops, said Public Works chairman Bill Clement.

"We didn't ask the right questions," was Clement's pathetic excuse. The $33 was just to cover a portion of the city's bill for an upgrade to the wastewater treatment plant. The city also has to pay for routine sewer maintenance. Who knew, right?

The difference? Oh, six million dollars. Plus.

In private business, an employee making a $6 million dollar mistake would be thrown out a window. At the City of Winnipeg, incompetence is not a drawback.

Editorials have lamented the surprise hike in sewer and water rates. But nobody has demanded that the members of the public works committee resign. Or that Mayor Sam Katz fire Clement and replace him with someone smarter. Or even that the committee members be docked a day's pay for their poor performance.

Before the last civic election, only three months ago, The Black Rod warned against re-electing the councillors who were responsible for turning the city into the shambles it is.

We wrote:

The Greybacks
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 the exodus to satellite towns? Them.
The epidemic of car theft? Them.

The time for excuses is long past. They've either been wrong too often to warrant re-election, or they've proven to be too pliable to bone-headed mayors, or they're too weak to effect change.
It doesn't matter any more. It's too late.
In a perfect world they would be called into the boardroom to hear those immortal words: You're Fired.

So what happened?

* Jae Eadie. Booted.
The only one.

* Bill Clement. Re-elected.
Appointed chairman of the Public Works Committee.

* Harry Lazarenko. Re-elected.
Appointed to the Public Works Committee.

* Lillian Thomas. Re-elected.
Appointed to the Public Works Committee.

Three of the failed councillors on the same committee.
Is it any wonder where the first boondoggle of the year comes from?

The fourth member of Public Works is newbie councillor Jeff Browaty, and we'll give him a pass this time. He's too fresh to have shown his mettle yet.

But things look good for him.

It's obvious that the bar at city hall is set very, very, very low.

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