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 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, October 26, 2007

Katz to critics... see you in 2010


Sam Katz dropped a bombshell Tuesday when he appeared as a guest on The Great Canadian Talk Show, 92.9 FM's drive-home talk radio program. He's running for mayor again in 2010.

And with that, he dropped the guantlet to his detractors who spent all of last week engaged in a drive-by smear against him.

The smear was the product of the usual suspects, the Winnipeg Free Press, joined this time by their new partners-in-the-gutter, the CBC. CJOB's Richard Cloutier did his part in stirring up a mob against the mayor---up until the moment Katz slapped him silly on air and left him whimpering 'It's my show. You can't say that. It's my show. It's my show.'

The week-long campaign was otherwise a coordinated effort by Free Press city hall reporter Bartley Kives and newby CBC reporter Sean Kavanagh, whose last claim to fame was his beer drinking capabilities demonstrated at
(8th photo down.)

The media mob pulled out all the stops to attack Sam Katz for a scandal that doesn't exist. It goes like this: the receiver for the defunct Crocus Investment Fund is suing the Winnipeg Goldeyes for interest on loans made in 1999 and 2000; Katz owns the controlling interest in the Goldeyes and is paid a healthy salary; in a court filing Katz said the Goldeyes were not making enough money to pay the interest; shouldn't Katz pay the interest out of his own salary, especially since he had his wife on the Goldeyes payroll as well as his nannies for awhile.The weakness of the alleged scandal was apparent from the start.

The only 'victim' in the initial piece turned out to be a young woman who sneered that Katz should pay her childcare expenses.

The next day's "reaction" piece turned out to be Bernie Bellan, who launched the class action lawsuit against Crocus, who said Katz shouldn't make money if he, Bellan, isn't getting his money back from Crocus.Desperate to put some backbone into the scandal, CBC tried smear by association.

The Goldeyes lent money to Maple Leaf Distillers, and got paid back. Maple Leaf, which had its own financial problems, was owned in part by Sam Katz's friend David Wolinsky.

Funny how CBC has still never interviewed Ross Rutherford, the former I-Team host who left to work for Protos International and had a ringside seat while Protos imploded despite multiple infusions of cash from the Crocus Investment Fund.

The Free Press, meanwhile, tried to resurrect it's tired old "conflict of interest" rigamarole, except that it lacks punch ever since the newspaper itself had to admit Katz is not and has never been in any conflict of interest for accepting a paycheque from the Goldeyes while serving as mayor of Winnipeg.

A CBC story about "political concerns" over the Crocus-Goldeyes-Katz lawsuit turned out to be interviews with Hugh McFadyen and Kevin Lamoureux, provincial MLA's who had nothing to say.

"All I can say is that it certainly gives rise to questions, and those questions deserve answers," said McFadyen, boldly.

And, of course, the news media couldn't resist calling in the usual media whores --Paul Thomas and Arthur Schafer. Schafer, the university ethics prof, phoned in his usual routine--sure, Katz has complied with every rule and every requirement by law, but he's still wrong.

Thomas, political science professor at the University of Manitoba, tried a new spin--it's for Sam's own good to pay the receiver.

Lost in the media storm, or rather deliberately hidden away, are something called the facts.

Such as:
* The public has no stake in the lawsuit. It's between two private companies--the Crocus Investment Fund, through its receiver, and the Winnipeg Goldeyes.

* The amount of the lawsuit is not newsworthy. The receiver is suing for $305,000 and change, which amounts to $9 per shareholder. That's not, repeat, not $9 a share. It's whopping $9 a share-holder.

* Since the Crocus Fund owns 15 percent of the Goldeyes, it would, presumably, be liable for 15 percent of the owed interest. If the receiver wins, Crocus shareholders will owe themselves $45,000, bringing their net gain to $7.70 per shareholder.

* James Umlah, the Crocus Fund's chief investment officer, agrees with everything Sam Katz says about the circumstances that have to be in place before the Goldeyes have to pay off the interest owed on the loans. So, in effect, to win, the receiver for the Crocus Fund has to undermine the evidence of the officer of the Crocus Fund who arranged the loans.

* The lawsuit is against the Winnipeg Goldeyes, not Sam Katz. Katz's salary and personal net wealth is not an issue. The economic health of the baseball team determines whether the interest on the loans is repaid, not the mayor's personal wealth.

To say otherwise is like saying Bob Silver, owner of the Free Press, also owns Western Glove, which in 2005, expected sales in the range of $90 million; he makes a tidy profit from Western Glove, so how can he say he can't afford to pay his Winnipeg employees instead of laying them all off to make even more money from making jeans overseas.

It's clear the only purpose of the Crocus-Goldeyes lawsuit story was as an excuse for using personal details from the Katz divorce to smear the mayor.

FP columnist Gordon Sinclair, who revels in his public antagonism towards Katz, admitted as much (not the smear part, that's self-evident.)

" But it was one outrageous statement in particular that ultimately allowed the lid to be lifted on boxes full of the couple's otherwise highly private affairs, " wrote Sinclair.

That "outrageous statement", of course, was in reference to the Goldeyes' finances. But by deftly confusing the baseball team's finances with Sam Katz's personal finances, the news media were able to get their hands dirty with the divorce file while claiming piously they were only doing it for the public good.

That was the intention all along.

That's so obvious, even PoliSci Prof. Paul Thomas sees it, as he told Canadian Press:
"For the average citizen, it will be about putting (his) wife on the payroll, about nannies' salaries and so on."

The charade was exposed the second the FP used Sinclair as their editorial surrogate on Thursday (Pay it back, Sam, A3, the first news page) and later condoning his allusion to Katz as Hitler ("...he came storming out of his bunker." Crocus deal shows mayor's bad side, Saturday, Oct. 20, P. A7)

Given the example of how Sinclair's own intimidating attitude to a woman brought the police to his doorstep (, he's about the last person to be giving the mayor advice on behaviour.

But it was Sinclair's Saturday column that showed how frustrated he, and the Free Press, were at failing to dent the popularity of Sam Katz. Sinclair dropped all pretense of civillity and and started calling names.

Deflecting, denying, being dismissive, he called Katz. "Playing us for fools. Instead it was Sam who looked the part."

Psychiatrists have a name for this.

It's called projection--the unconscious act of ascribing to others ones own ideas or impulses, as Webster's New World Dictionary defines it.

We recommend that everyone re-read The Black Rod from two years ago where we dissected the first Winnipeg Free Press smear of Sam Katz. Friday, October 07, 2005 How the Free Press built a smear campaign

You'll marvel at how the cast of characters hasn't changed a whit.

Except for Don Benham, who as a city councillor decided to take Sam Katz head on.

He's now picking up pocket change reviewing books for the Winnipeg Free Press.

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