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

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Friday, January 30, 2009

The Mayor's "lost" speech to the city: the address Sam Katz meant to give

Ladies and Gentlemen...

I am announcing today that I will be running for mayor of Winnipeg in 2010.

(Pause for reaction.)

I'm planning a lot of big changes to the way the city runs, and I'm not leaving it to someone else to screw up. I'm sticking around until the city is running like a fine watch and that means one more term at least.

I may not be your typical politician, but my mother didn't raise a fool.

I will not raise property taxes this year. (Wait for applause.) Or next. (wait for cheers to die down.)

What kind of an idiot would raise taxes in an election year? Stand up Councillor Swandel.

There's going to be plenty of money sloshing around in the next couple of years, enough to keep Winnipeg afloat until after the next vote. That's when I'll bring the hammer down. (Note to self: Don't say this last part out loud.)

Before I go, I'm going to replace Plan Winnipeg with a new long-term planning blueprint.

In the coming months, I will be announcing details of a Transportation Authority Commission, a new jumble of people that's going to be responsible for expanding roads, bridges and transit in an orderly fashion.

And after I'm safely elected, I'll create a new water and sewer utility that can raise rates and blame the Public Utilities Board instead of me. Hey, am I getting good at this or what?

My predecessor was a flaming lefty who thought the only way to raise needed revenue for the city was to raise taxes. Genius. I intend to use business principles. The water utility will sell service to neighbouring communities. Once we've got them hooked, we jack up the price. That's genius.

I've learned a few things in the past five years as mayor.

One, Bureaucracy is good.
And two, pointless spending is fun.

Hey, it's not my money.

We've got all kinds of well-paid managers for every department in the city. On top of them, we have the city auditor who's there to make sure they're doing their job right. Now I'm going to add a layer of bureaucracy by creating a Chief Performance Officer who will take the auditor's reports and watch that the managers do the job they're paid to do.

Then I'll spend $3 million on an "aboriginal youth strategy."

Yeah, you and me both...what the hell is that?

That's the beauty of it. There's no definition. It just sounds great. That way there's no goals to measure success or failure, but it will sure help me get re-elected. (Note to self: is this sharing too much?)

Sure there are a thousand other programs in the city that do exactly the same thing. But I can't attach my name to them. This one's mine alone.

Your money is going to go to 11 projects that focus on helping Aboriginal youth to succeed through education, employment training, career development, leadership, and skills training.

Sure, White Boy. For you this means get your Grade 12, don't get arrested and get a job.

But when you attach the word "aboriginal" to anything, you've got to fancy it up or people don't think you're doing anything. So...

I am also pleased to announce that I will be recommending in this year's operating budget, to invest 3 million dollars over 3 years in our Aboriginal Youth Strategy to take advantage of our partnership and develop more sustainable, long-term, and meaningful initiatives to encourage employment and training opportunities that ensure Aboriginal youth have the tools necessary to succeed.

I just love to use all those big words to say dick all. Can I say dick? Sorry.

Let's get back to the city...

Let's face it, downtown is dead. We tried everything. CPR. Paddles. Transplants. Zippo.

There comes a point where you have to concentrate on the living. All together now.


I say "eye" and you say "key", then "ahh."

Everybody on the left hand side say Eye.
Everybody on the right hand side say Key.
Everybody in the middle say Ahhhh...

C'mon, where's your spirit?

We've dared to dream big to attract this major investment in our city. This Spring, we've got to hold public hearings. The usual boo birds will be out in force, so I'm counting on you to give me a little help here.

Okay, what else?

40 percent of the hotel tax is going into a pot to expand the Convention Centre.

We've established a new Special Events Marketing Fund to grease the bids for future conferences and special events like the Junos, Grey Cup, or the Canadian Country Music Awards. Skip the Olympics. Who needs that headache?

We've got our own headaches. We're still the murder capital of Canada. And the car theft capital. And the gang capital.

If Winnipeg is to be a choice city to work, live, and play,we need to be a safe city. We've got to do better.

But don't be asking me for money to remove graffiti or shut down crack houses. We've got to build museums for millionaires, and the money's got to come from somewhere. These rich folk are my neighbours in Tuxedo. They've got me by the yiechees. I had to thrown a developer under the bus this year to make them happy. And I'm the guy who campaigned on making Winnipeg a welcoming place for investors.

I would like to share with you some inspirational words from an unknown author.

"The highest courage is to dare to be yourself in the face of adversity. Choosing right over wrong, ethics over convenience, and truth over popularity... these are the choices that measure your life. Travel the path of integrity without looking back for there is never a wrong time to do the right thing."

This guy couldn't get elected dog catcher. I wish he was running for Mayor next year.

We've got to take advantage of the economic downtown. People who wouldn't be caught dead in Winnipeg now need jobs. Even in Winnipeg.

My advice to all Winnipeggers who have sought other greener pastures and have moved out-of-province, is...sure the winters last eight months of the year and we're colder than the Arctic, but we're cheap. Come home and let us be part of your solution.

To all the young professionals, you can't do worse than Winnipeg. Wait, that doesn't sound right.

Families and newcomers looking to plant roots - grow with us! We bust grow ops in every part of the city. Some pretty big ones, too.

Ladies and gentleman, I know everyone in this room believes in the potential of our City. Your action is an integral part of the future of Winnipeg. And that future is built on action. And today is the right time to take action.

Thank you very much.

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