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.

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

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Manitoba Newsmaker of the Year 2009 and year in review, our style

Party Hat? Check.
Noisemaker? Check.
Hot Date? Check.
The Black Rod's Newsmaker of the Year? Right here....

One individual cut a swath so wide and so deep in the political fabric of the province, that the title of Manitoba Newsmaker 2009 could go to nobody other than the person known only as the HYDRO WHISTLEBLOWER.

Slightly more than one year ago the whistleblower delivered a formal package of alleged misdeeds to the Ombudsman under the protection of the NDP's vaunted Public Interest Disclosure Act. The existence of this, the first use of the legislation, was revealed in mid-year and we still don't know the full extent of that disclosure, but that's not what earned the whistleblower the title of Newsmaker of the Year.

Rather, like Samson pulling apart the pillars of the temple of the Philistines, the whistleblower demolished the façade of checks and balances everyone thought was built into the structure of government in Manitoba. Nobody else had anywhere near the same impact.

One by one, the public processes we've been depending on to keep the government honest have proved to be useless and toothless, dependent on midgets cloaked in robes of power far and away too large for their tiny ethical frames.

Let's start with the law itself.

- The NDP never fails to take credit for the Public Interest Disclosure Act, proclaiming it to be the finest law of its kind in the entire country. The Act makes all the proper noises about encouraging people to come forward without fear of reprisals, of investigations done in private, of non-disclosure of the whistleblower's identity, blah blah blah. This first test of the law demonstrates that it's all bogus.

20(2) An investigation is to be conducted as informally and expeditiously as possible.

Ombudsman Irene Hamilton has had the whistleblower's disclosure in her hands for more than one full year. Has she so much as cracked open a dictionary to read the definition of "expeditiously"?

She sat on the disclosure for 3 months before handing it over to the Auditor General. We suspect she literally sat on it because nothing resembling an investigation, informal or otherwise, took place during those 3 months. Instead, after 3 months of scratching her head, Hamilton pawned it off on another of those public servants we used to trust.

21(2) If the Ombudsman believes that a disclosure made to the Ombudsman would be dealt with more appropriately by the Auditor General, the Ombudsman may refer the matter to the Auditor General to be dealt with in accordance with The Auditor General Act.

Auditor Carol Bellringer couldn't believe her luck. Here she was, a former member of the Manitoba Hydro board of directors, being asked to examine a complaint of mismanagement at Manitoba Hydro. What, you say? Bias? Nahhhh.

So Bellringer tucked the whistleblower's file into a closet and ignored it for six or seven months while her old pal at Hydro, CEO Bob Brennan, used the time to demonize the whistleblower and do his best to identify the daring ex-consultant, stopping just short of using an actual name.

Did the Ombudsman, who is responsible for enforcing the Pubic Interest Disclosure Act, step in to remind Brennan of the whistleblower's right to confidentiality? Nope.
Did the Ombudsman announce she was investigating Hydro for using insults and threats as reprisals? Nope.
Did the Ombudsman call the Auditor and ask "How's it going? Are you almost done?" since five months is not "expeditious" by anybody's clock. Nope.

The Ombudsman, who is responsible for enforcing the Act, did nothing. And the Auditor did nothing.

In fact, Bellringer said she was rolling the whistleblower's disclosure into a broader investigation of risk management by Hydro which she intended to do sometime or other and which would take, oh, about 18 months. When CBC asked why she hadn't done a thing in six or seven months to investigate the whistleblower's file, Bellringer haughtily told the reporter there was nothing in the Act governing her job that set deadlines.

She would, she implied, take as much damn time as she wanted and nobody could tell her otherwise---not even when the Finance Minister ordered a special and speedy audit into the whistleblower's allegations. Bellringer simply ignored the minister. Expected to have something ready in 3 months, Bellringer spent a month doing her usual---nothing.

That's when The Black Rod entered the scene.

- We revealed that Bellringer had been sending a representative to every single meeting of the Hydro board. She had been getting one-sided reports from Hydro about the whistleblower's complaints for months. And it was clear that she had never severed her ties to Hydro after leaving to become the Auditor General.

Bias, anyone?

Bellringer returned the whistleblower file to Irene Hamilton, who, you guessed it, is patiently waiting for someone to take the damn thing off her hands.

But, but, but….isn't the Ombudsman legally bound to enforce the Whistleblower Act?

Guess what? The answer is NO.

35 No action or proceeding may be brought against… the Ombudsman, or a person acting on behalf of or under the direction of any of them, for anything done or not done, or for any neglect,
(a) in the performance or intended performance of a duty under this Act; or
(b) in the exercise or intended exercise of a power under this Act;
unless the person was acting in bad faith.

In other words, the complaints go to her, she's supposed to investigate them expeditiously, but if she doesn't, or if she screws around instead of investigating, there's nothing anyone can do about it.

Short of proving she's getting paid off by Manitoba Hydro, that is.

The law is useless and toothless. The provisions that are supposed to guarantee confidentiality and freedom from reprisals are being broken with impunity. The person named in the legislation with the responsibility to enforce the law is instead doing everything but.

She and the Auditor, people we have been told are independent and unbiased civil servants working purely in the public interest, have failed in their jobs miserably. The Auditor intended to, ahem, investigate the whistleblower despite what every sentient being except the Finance Minister could see was a giant honking conflict-of-interest. And the Ombudsman said that was okey dokey with her.

- The unelected Premier of the province, meanwhile, has his own conflict of interest by being the former minister in charge of Hydro at the very time of the whistleblower's allegations. He was last seen signalling Hydro CEO Brennan with winks and sly comments that the fix is in, don't worry old boy, it's all under control.

The Premier, the Finance Minister, the Ombudsman, the Auditor General---each and all exposed as untrustworthy guardians of the law and the public's confidence. And we haven't even seen what's in the Hydro whistleblower's packet of papers yet.

She might just be the Newsmaker of 2010, too.
*****************

The year 2009 was a year of scandal. From beginning to end, the disgrace rolled out as if on some kind of shame assembly line. We were kept Lucy-busy with it all, and, to our own regret, something had to give; for the second year in a row it was our coverage of the War in Afghanistan.

* In January, a forensic audit of the Winnipeg officer of Indian Affairs showed how Manitoba Hydro fudged the books and overcharged the federal government $7.9 million to clean up contaminated soil on reserves, and how the Fairford reserve pocketed a $1.2 million overpayment when nobody was looking, and how INAC managers broke the rules to channel more than $400,000 to the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.

* In February, Manitobans discovered Health Minister Teresa Oswald and the senior managers of the Winnipeg Health Authority had been lying to the public for months when they claimed Brian Sinclair was partially responsible for his own death by failing to report to the Inquiry desk at the Health Sciences Centre. When the public finally learned surveillance video showed that Sinclair had spoken to someone at the desk, Teresa Oswald, Brian Postl and Brock Wright said "Oh, right."

* In March, we learned that opinions of Winnipegers gathered at so-called public meetings to gauge opinion on a new Disraeli Bridge had been flushed down the toilet and replaced with the wishes of a private lobby group that held secret meetings with city bureaucrats. The public's preference of a new bridge was tossed and the city announced it was, instead, building two new bridges that hadn't been part of the public consultations.

* June was spent uncovering the NDP's scheme in 1999 to defraud the public through false claims for reimbursement of non-existent election expenses.

* In July The Black Rod caught Sherman Kreiner, the former CEO of the defunct Crocus Fund, channelling money through his job at the University of Winnipeg to his live-in girlfriend's anti-poverty business venture.

* In September, Marxist university professors admitted to taking crimefighting advice from former Manitoba Warriors gang members, who they then tried to get on the public payroll.
***************

What a full year it was for The Black Rod.

* We scooped the city with the news that the Canadian Museum for Human Rights was $55 million over budget. Three days on, when the "professional reporters" caught up to us, the CMHR confessed they were sinking in red ink, but claimed it was only $45 million. The Taxpayer's Federation revealed months later that the museum had actually been $58 million in the hole, worse than we reported, but had madly pared away millions to get the loss as low as possible before going public.

* We had the national news agencies chasing our January story of a strange turnabout at the The Hague where the accused are usually war criminals of one sort or another.

"What's a mild-mannered Manitoban like Bruce MacFarlane doing as a possible defendant at the International Court in The Hague?" we asked.

Winnipeg lawyer turned special prosecutor, Bruce MacFarlane was conducting the trial of a journalist for contempt of court when her lawyers accused him of abuses in his investigation and wanted to put him in the dock to answer their questions. We had been following MacFarlane's new job in the foreign press and broke the story in Canada.

* We proffered the first ever title of Civic Weasel #1 to North Kildonan councillor Jeff Browaty. A guest on radio's The Great Canadian Talk Show, Browaty was asked if he would vote to give more money to Gail Asper when, guaranteed, she would approach city hall to bail out her rights museum. He danced this way and that, refusing to say yes and refusing to say no. His slippery performance earned him the title.

He went back on the show a couple of days later and said he had thought it over and done some more research and now would go on record as saying No to any museum bailout. We were on the verge of rescinding the title when we heard, only days later, that he had flip flopped again and was saying that, maybe, if the evidence was there, yadda yadda yadda, he would consider a city bailout of the Aspers' pet project. Browaty earned the title Civic Weasel #1 and he'll carry that into the next election.

* CJOB news director Vic Grant offered The Black Rod first dibs on becoming the inaugural blogger to do his morning commentaries while he was on vacation. But we couldn't come to terms, so the deal went to Policy Frog.

* The Black Rod was featured in the 2009 edition of the Langara Journalism Review in a story about the power of the blogosphere.
http://www.langara.bc.ca/creative-arts/journalism/media/pdfs/LJR-2009.pdf


And in the Uniter
http://uniter.ca/view/939/
where Shannon Sampert, politics of mass media professor at the University of Winnipeg, couldn't resist taking a run at us. Unfortunately she didn't mention the story we did on her
http://blackrod.blogspot.com/2006/04/mayor-or-moose.html.
Maybe she forgot.


We finally got around to reading Chapter 10, White Noise: The Blogosphere and Canadian Politics by Curtis Brown, in the textbook Mediating Canadian Politics by Sampert and Trimble. The references to The Black Rod are tres amusants.

Also amusants, was the effort by the Winnipeg Free Press to write The Black Rod out of their "Blogs to Watch" list. When his readers insisted we belonged, Online Editor John White said "If the blog was consistently producing interesting, relevant and verified updates it would be on the list." Maybe White should be reading our year-enders and comparing our list of exclusive and original stories with his chosen. Can you dig it, John?
***************

In 2009, The Black Rod did what it does best, report the real facts when the rest of the news media acts as a pack regurgitating a script.

- In January, The Black Rod revealed exclusively how incompetence at Seven Oaks Hospital contributed to the death of an elderly woman who was exposed to the Superbug when doctors and nurses refused to isolate an infected patient.

- In April two police officers were charged with attempted murder and fabricating evidence. We dissected the case against them and demonstrated what thin gruel it was. We showed how the charges are political, motivated purely by the NDP's intent to convict a police officer any way they can to mollify a special interest voting bloc prior to the next provincial election.

- In May we went behind the knee-jerk story reported elsewhere about the death of a five-year-old boy in a house fire on the Sandy Bay Indian Reserve. You know, the usual---blame the white man for overcrowding, for the housing shortage, for the ramshackle houses people have to live in on the reserve. We reported a story we discovered in the Central Plains Herald-Leader, Manitoba's award-winning community newspaper. That story quoted reserve administrators admitting that mismanagement by the band chief and council were responsible for the terrible housing on Sandy Bay.

"Sure they're living in deplorable conditions, but 90 per cent of those conditions are their own fault," said one reserve advisor, who proceeded to give examples which went unreported in the Winnipeg press.

- After the murder of a guest at a wedding in the North End, Justice Minister Dave Chomiak announced a new anti-gang strategy. We showed it was a cut-and-paste of all the previous gang strategies announced by the NDP in 10 years of government, which have all failed.

- When Mayor Sam Katz started whining about an infrastructure deficit, we showed that the "deficit" was non-existent and pure invention. The city is spending enough money each year on fixing infrastructure to keep up with repairs and even make up ground on replacing old streets, sewers and playgrounds. The alleged deficit is entirely made up of new projects like the Human Rights Museum, a rapid transit corridor, and bicycle lanes that have never been priorities of taxpayers and which would be voted down in a second if put to a referendum.

Since when does a wish list become a deficit?

- Crime falling? In a pig's eye. We were alone reporting that Crimestat shows violent crime is up at least 7 percent this year and the only thing pulling down the annual crime numbers is the drop in car thefts. The MSM has ignored the epidemic of muggings and the slow rise in house break-ins, carjackings, sexual assaults, and shooting incidents. Maybe next year they'll catch up.

*******************
Note to readers: We have not forgotten the many tips we received that are still on the backburner, including the Brandon bridges, the University of Winnipeg apparatchiks, inside the 311 service, and our mole reports. Thanks for your patience.

And thanks to the Liberal Party insiders for the Christmas song, Bruce Vallance for his politically correct Season's Greetings, and to Krista Erickson, the CBC's new consumer reporter.

HAPPY NEW YEAR.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ostrowski has always held the key to unlocking his jail cell

Frank Ostrowski waited a long, long time for Jim Luzny to die.

Finally, he had to settle for brain damage.

Luzny was the last loose thread from Ostrowski's 1986 conviction for first degree murder. And he was the most dangerous. At any moment Luzny could give police a signed confession revealing how he helped Frank Ostrowski arrange and carry out the killing of Robert Nieman, a Winnipeg drug dealer. Sure, it would put his own neck in the figurative noose, but stranger things have happened.

A night of drunken remorse. A spark of revenge. A sudden conversion to Christianity. Who could predict the potential trigger?

But it would sink Ostrowski's hopes of getting out of jail---and of winning millions in the NDP's wrongful-conviction lottery.

While Ostrowski sweated it out in prison, Luzny enjoyed his life on the outside. He enjoyed it a little too much.

In June, 2006, Luzny got caught in bed with a man's estranged wife. The man laid a severe beating on Luzny, putting him into a life-threatening coma. When Luzny awoke, he was blind in one eye and suffering brain damage.

Brain damage. The kind that made Luzny an unreliable witness in court. At last Ostrowski could make his move.

"I'm innocent," he shouted. "I wuz framed."

Of course, Ostrowski has been claiming he was innocent ever since the jury found him guilty in 1986. He just didn't know why.

His reasons changed with the seasons. Most recently its because the chief witness against him had charges of cocaine trafficking dropped following Ostrowski's trial.

Now, making a deal with the Crown wasn't such a big deal for Ostrowski in 1986 when he offered to snitch on his cocaine suppliers in Montreal if Winnipeg police would drop drug charges against him here. But, we're getting ahead of ourselves...

When Ostrowski walked out of court Friday on bail while authorities examine his claim of wrongful conviction, he was met by a crowd of worshipful reporters shouting "How do you feel, Frank?" Now he's their friend, Frank.

So you can expect the usual pack journalism from these mainstream media reporters.

What you won't see anywhere except here in The Black Rod is the story that the jury heard, the story that convicted Frank Ostrowski of the first degree murder of Robert Nieman.

*******************

Way back 23 years ago, Frank Ostrowski was the biggest cocaine dealer in Winnipeg. He was raking in half a million dollars tax-free a year from his criminal activities.

And then the roof caved in.

* Jim Luzny was Ostrowski's right-hand man. Funky Jim, as Ostrowski listed him in his bedside book o' numbers, was busted Sept. 9, 1986.

Four days later, police rolled up Matthew Lovelace, Ostrowski's trusted associate who handled his vital Montreal pipeline, carrying money east and coming home with kilos of coke.

The very next day, early on a peaceful Sunday morning , the police came calling on Frank Ostrowski as he lay burrowed in his nice, soft bed.

You don't have to be a paranoid drug dealer to suspect the obvious---somebody was talking to the cops. We now know exactly who they had in mind, a conclusion reached by Luzny even before Matt Lovelace and Ostrowski were arrested.

According to a signed confession provided to police, Jim Luzny's first move after being taken into custody was to call one of his dealers, Bob Dunkley, and have him contact Ostrowski with the news of Luzny's arrest. Dunkley, in his confession, said that two weeks and two days later he was pumping three bullets into the head of the alleged rat, Robert Nieman.

Matthew Lovelace was also thinking about snitches. That's because he was one. When he got caught, he considered his options. The best one was to start working with the police. He told them all he knew about Frank Ostrowski.

At 2:30 a.m. the next morning, police battered down the door to Ostrowski's home. They knew exactly where to look to find his hidden stash of drugs and money. They seized 11 ounces of cocaine and $50,000 cash and one fat cocky drug dealer. "Your information was right on," he told the arresting officers.

Ostrowski was out of jail in hours. Don't you love our justice system? He had already formulated a plan of action. Step one---phone the police for a discreet meeting.

* Tuesday, Sept. 16, 1986. Ostrowski was having a sit-down with two detectives. Once the small talk was over he got to business. How, he asked, could he get himself out of his jam.

He was told that because he was at the top of the food chain, there was little the policemen could do. "You're the biggest show in town," they said.

But, he persisted, if there was anything they could do, what would it be? He was told there could be consideration in sentencing.

We can't tell you how he made the transition, but Ostrowski then began talking about, of all people, Robert Nieman. He was a badass, someone not safe to deal with, he told the police.

* Wednesday, Sept. 17, 1986. Ostrowski met with Lovelace at the Windsorian. He came right out with what was on his mind. He thought Nieman had "ratted on us." Not to worry, he told Lovelace (as Lovelace testified at Ostrowski's trial). He had always promised himself that if he was busted and found out that there had been a rat he would "have him taken care of---killed."

Ostrowski had a proposition for Lovelace. Lovelace should claim all the drugs as his. He would go to jail, but his legal bills would be covered and when he got out he would be welcomed back into the drug world with higher status than ever.

And he added this bombshell--- he, Ostrowski, had a source in the police department. We can see now he had elevated his two detective contacts of the day before into his "source."

* Friday night, Sept. 19, and the boys were out having fun. Ostrowski and Lovelace were at the Windsorian again. Ostrowski brought Lovelace up to speed.

"Don't worry about Robbie Nieman," said Ostrowski. "He's taken care of. He's dead meat." Ostrowski knew Lovelace had seen him in possession of a gun earlier that year. He had, he said, given the gun to Jim and "Jim's friends are going to take care of Nieman."

Things moved slower in 1986. There were no cell phones and obviously a lot less urgency in reporting threats. Lovelace waited until Monday to phone his contact within the police department. The officer wasn't in and Lovelace left no message.

The same day, Bob Dunkley was at the bus depot, picking up a gun left there for him by Jim Lunzy, according to his confession. The contract on Nieman was for $25,000 to be paid in $5000 installments.

* Tuesday, Sept. 23, 1986. Ostrowski and a companion drove out to a farm that Lovelace owned. Once again Ostrowski raised the idea of Lovelace's taking the rap for the drugs. This time there were some added flourishes. Lovelace, suggested Ostrowski, should then turn 'state's evidence' and point the finger at Dominic Diabaldo.

Lovelace said he had been hired by Ostrowski to dig a hole for the safe that would hold his stash. Frank was putting a hot tub in a room to act as the safe and asked if Lovelace knew of carpenters. Lovelace recommended Diabaldo.

"There's more than one rat; the other is Dominic," Ostrowski said at the farm.

He told Lovelace he had heard that Diabaldo would build stashes for other people, then turn them in. He wondered why Dominic hadn't shown up at Frank's the day he was arrested, and that made him suspicious.

Lovelace wasn't about to backstab his friend Dominic, and he later warned him about the proposed set-up.

That same night, Dunkley was casing the apartment where Nieman lived. And he got made. Nieman and his girlfriend's brother came waltzing out the door headed to a local pizza joint when they bumped right into Dunkley and Luzny. "Hi Jim. Hi Rob." Dunkley snarled at them and pretended he didn't know Nieman.

* The next day, Wednesday, Sept. 24, Ostrowski was meeting with his police contacts again, at Johanna's Restaurant. What information would he have to provide to get off, he asked. If they "fudged" the case, he said, he would be free and in return he would give up his Montreal people. "You'll have everybody."

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."

The 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.

While they were scurrying around trying to find Nieman, Matthew Lovelace was calling his police contact again, and, again, the detective was out. This time Lovelace left a message. "I'd heard there was going to be a hit on Robbie Nieman. I was also in fear for Dominic Diabaldo," he told the jury.

A detective also testified about the message. He said he had seen a note on a police message board which read "Sonny called. He'll be at this farm. Frankie wants to do a hit on his friend." The lack of urgency is handling the call had fatal consequences.

* Early in the morning of Thursday, Sept. 25, 1986, Robert Nieman was ambushed as he returned to his apartment and shot to death. Bob Dunkley fired the bullets. He was accompanied by Jose Correia, another druggie who agreed to drive Dunkley there.

Later in the day Ostrowski was talking to his police contacts about Nieman's demise. "I have ESP," he told them. He didn't know how bad his joke would turn out to be.

* They caught Correia first. He led them to Dunkley. Dunkley fingered Luzny.

Luzny was the direct link to Ostrowski, but everything went sour at the trial.

The Crown made a deal with Dunkley. If he cooperated with police he would get consideration in sentencing. He would be allowed to plead guilty to second degree murder and there would be a joint recommendation for a sentence of life without parole consideration for 15 years.

Dunkley gave them his confession and pleaded out to second degree murder. But when it came to sentencing, the judge balked. He rejected the joint recommendation. In fact, he said, if it wasn't for Dunkley's cooperation he wouldn't even accept the plea to second degree murder instead of first degree. To express society's repudiation of the crime, he was raising the minimum sentence with no parole to 20 years.

Dunkley was incensed. He immediately repudiated his confession. He refused to testify against Luzny. Dunkley was called as a hostile witness and his confession was read out in court, but without his evidence, the Crown couldn't proceed against Jim Luzny and he was set free.

But Frank Ostrowski stayed in the prisoner's box. In his instructions to the jury, the judge said they should first decide whether Dunkely was guilty of first degree murder, planned and premeditated, regardless of what he pleaded to. Then they should decide if they believed that Ostrowski provided the gun for the murder. If so, they should find Ostrowski guilty of first degree murder.

And so they did.

Ostrowski's defence team now tries to deflect the public's attention with the usual show-trial red herrings.

Lovelace warned police that Ostrowski wanted to kill Dominic, not Nieman, they claim, as if that shows Ostrowski was incapable of murder.

And the Crown bought Lovelace's evidence, they shout, by dropping the drug charges against him, as if Ostrowski wasn't fishing to get his own charges dropped in return for flipping on his Montreal cocaine suppliers.

Note how they don't say a word about the gun?

Lovelace linked the gun used to kill Nieman to Ostrowski. And another witness, Paul Marion, corroborated his evidence. In fact, Marion said he saw Ostrowski with the gun first, and told Lovelace about it.

If there's a public inquiry into the allegations of wrongful dismissal, shouldn't Jim Luzny be the first witness? If his brain injury is so bad it affects his memory, then he could waive his solicitor-client privilege and let his 1986 trial lawyer testify towhat Luzny told him about the gun and where he got it from before giving it to Dunkley.

Frank Ostrowski warned his police contacts that Nieman was going to be killed only hours before the fatal shots were fired.

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

He told 'them.' In other words, if Ostrowski is innocent, he's always known who was behind Nieman's murder. He could have told police at any time who it was.

He has held the key to his freedom for 23 years but has refused to use it.
Why? Could it be because that key leads right into his bedroom, circa 1986?

Next: reopening the Sophonow Inquiry

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bill Blaikie must be so proud.

We don't know who's more insulting, politician Andrew Swan or reporters Mike McIntyre and Gabrielle Giroday.

But its clear that this trio is guilty of grossly misleading the public.

The team of McIntrye and Giroday should have been collecting accolades for their revelation that the teenager charged with killing a motorist by smashing into him with a stolen Hummer was a car thief previously convicted of involvement in another car crash where a taxi driver was killed.

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/accused-thief-has-a-dark-past-79392032.html


Instead, by simply regurgitating the political lies of Justice Minister Andrew Swan, they negated their good work and deserve to share the disgrace.

Their Wednesday story concluded with the obligatory search for a solution:

"Attorney General Andrew Swan said provincial governments have been pushing Ottawa for changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act that would allow judges to take deterrence into account when sentencing young offenders."

"That hasn't happened yet. We hope to continue raising our voices," he said."

As any professed "professional" reporter in Manitoba should know by now, that's pure political spin by a government with blood on its hands -- the blood of ten innocent people killed by car thieves on its watch.

Andrew Swan must be itching for a free trip to Ottawa, obviously a perk of the job since his predecessors Gord Mcintosh and carpet-chewing Dave Chomiak both got to go.

But Swan doesn't need a jaunt to Ottawa to lobby the government. The Conservatives would change the law in a heartbeat.

They've tried, and been prevented by the Opposition, especially the NDP.

As we've reported in The Black Rod for years, federal NDP justice critic Joe Comartin openly, proudly bragged after the law was passed that the NDP was responsible for keeping deterrence and denunciation out of the Youth Justice Act. Sitting at his side in Parliament was none other than one of Andrew Swan's cabinet colleagues, Bill Blaikie, who shared in the pride of restricting the penalties against the car thieves killing and maiming people in Manitoba.

Has the federal NDP changed its tune? Not a whit.

Here's how the CBC reported the NDP position on changes to the act.

Tories to amend Youth Criminal Justice Act
Last Updated: Monday, November 19, 2007
7:53 PM ET
CBC News
The federal Conservatives want to tackle young offenders by amending the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said Monday the proposed changes to the act that were tabled in the House of Commons the same day would allow judges to impose punishments aimed at "deterring and denouncing the young person's actions."
The proposed law would toughen sentences for young people to provide "meaningful consequences" for committing violent acts, Nicholson said.
"By tabling this bill today, we are working to hold young lawbreakers accountable to their victims and their community, and instil within them a sense of responsibility for their criminal behaviour," he said, at a news conference in Ottawa.
Another proposed change would give judges more power to detain young people considered a danger to the public.
The proposed changes to the act's pretrial detention provision would make it easier to keep young people in custody before trial if the youth poses a risk to public safety.
MP Joe Comartin, the NDP's justice critic, told the CBC's Politics, a nightly political interview show based in Ottawa, that he was skeptical of the proposed changes.
"Denunciation doesn't work," he said. "We know that from any number of studies done around the globe."

Deterrence is not a principle that's viable either, he said, adding that if the Tories really wanted to do something, they'd be looking at prevention, putting more police officers on the streets and more programs in place.

Why didn't McIntyre and Giroday report this news? Why give Swan a free pass to spread misinformation and lies?

Ignornance or laziness?
Or political bias?
Pick one or more.

It all adds up to the same thing, more proof of the great divide between the mainstream media and the facts which are available to anyone with an internet modem.

As for the pious wails of "What can we do?" from newspaper columnists, politicians, radio commentators (we mean you Richard Cloutier), and others who profess to care, all you need to do is read The Black Rod here
http://blackrod.blogspot.com/2007/03/tackling-car-thieves-doable-solution.html

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Know your local car thief

Who's stealing all those cars?

That, in 2002, was the burning question facing Winnipeg police---and Manitoba Public Insurance which was paying the cost.

Or, as the authors of the submission from the Winnipeg Auto Theft Suppression Strategy put it in their submission to the Herman Goldstein Award for Excellence in Problem-Oriented Policing “Why was auto theft so attractive to young people that some would go out in -30 C weather to spend the day stealing 5 cars?”

MPI forked out some money to get the answer. They had to. The problem was costing them millions. And it was getting worse by the year.

Starting the very next year, 2003, to 2007, Winnipeg had the worst car theft problem in North America. In 2007, the theft rate here was 1714 per 100,000 of population. The city with the highest rate in the United States was Modesto, California, at 1048/100,000. The cost to MPI would eventually climb to nearly $40 million a year.

In 2002 MPI funded a study of jailed car thieves to get their answer.( “Pilot Study of Juvenile Auto Theft Offenders.” Jeff Anderson and Rick Linden, Unpublished paper, University of Manitoba.) The lives of 43 of the city's worst car thieves told them this story (as revealed in the WATSS award submission):

http://www.popcenter.org/library/awards/goldstein/2009/09-42(F).pdf


• Most lived in single-parent families. Over half had run away from home at least once. Respondents reported a high rate of criminal involvement among immediate family members.
• Respondents were not successful in school. They were 2-3 years below expected grade levels, and had high rates of truancy, suspension and expulsion.
• Average age of first involvement was 12 and the average age when they began stealing cars themselves was 13.
• Respondents were involved in a range of offenses in addition to vehicle theft.
• Most did little planning and seemed willing to steal cars any place and any time.
They used the vehicles for joyriding and for short-term transportation and usually just abandoned the vehicles.
• Respondents enjoyed the thrill-seeking dimensions of vehicle theft, which helps to explain why they often stole several vehicles in a day. Their thefts appeared to be a way of gaining status.
• Peers were important. Many respondents reported gang associations. Virtually all had friends who stole cars and most reported peer pressure to steal cars. This supports the conclusion that there is an extensive adolescent car theft culture in some parts of Winnipeg.
Respondents had high rates of drug and alcohol use and were involved in a thrill-seeking lifestyle that included vehicle theft.
• Some targets were clearly more attractive than others. There was a strong preference for stealing older Chrysler vehicles.
• Most respondents were not concerned about the consequences and any fear they had was not sufficient to overcome the thrill of stealing cars or the peer pressure.

A few other points of the problem facing police popped out.

• Clearance rates were around 10 percent, indicating that conventional investigative and enforcement tactics were not effective. Analysis of court statistics showed that sentences for vehicle theft were typically very light, again suggesting that conventional youth justice measures would not alleviate the problem.

• Auto theft was part of the youth culture in some Winnipeg neighbourhoods. This conclusion was based on interviews with young offenders, and was reinforced by interviews with police, probation officers, and prosecutors.

Clamping down on repeat car thieves was one component of WATSS. The other was forcing motorists to install immobilizers. The award submission contains some insight into the success of that element of the program...

The Effectiveness of Electronic Immobilizers
The immobilizer program has been very successful. As of May, 2009 about 85 percent of the most at-risk vehicles had immobilizers installed. None of these immobilizers has been defeated. A small number of immobilized vehicles have been stolen, but these have resulted from people leaving their keys in the vehicle or from the theft of keys.
Installations of most at-risk vehicles will be complete by September, 2009. At that time, at least 75 percent of Winnipeg’s vehicles will have effective immobilizers.

Public Support
There was potential resistance to the compulsory immobilizer program. The city’s major newspaper editorialized that the program was “An Abuse of Power” and a popular tabloid columnist wrote several stories describing how after-market immobilizers could ruin vehicles and result in major disruptions to owners. The Task Force responded quickly to these attempts to shape public opinion. More importantly, MPI implemented a rigorous quality control program to ensure that installers and installation facilities were certified, carefully trained, and monitored by an independent standards organization.


They also established an Immobilizer Quality Control Group that people could call to ensure an immediate response to any problems with immobilizers. As a result , the failure rate of immobilizers was extremely low and the issue quickly disappeared as a public concern.

****

This mandatory program was phased in over 12 months. However, crime analysts noted that as favourite targets were protected, offenders began to target other vehicles, particularly those equipped with the General Motors Passlock II immobilizer....

While these immobilizers do offer some security, several of our experienced offenders had learned how to defeat them and passed this knowledge on to their peers.
Consequently, when installations of the first list were completed in September, 2008, a second list of most at-risk vehicles was established. Immobilizer installations in these vehicles will be completed September, 2009. Thus far there is no evidence of serious displacement to other types of vehicles. Because the remaining vehicles include a diverse range of makes and models (typically low-volume models), it is unlikely that offenders will develop enough expertise in stealing them to significantly affect theft rates. Also, technical experts believe that some actually have effective immobilizers but have not gone through the formal approval process
.

MPI says the success of WATSS in reducing auto theft by more than 75 percent has resulted in savings estimated to be at least $30 million per year.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Violent crime in Winnipeg is way, way up and rising as MSM bamboozled


Winnipeg is paying a high price for turning police into babysitters.

And politicians who thought they would coast into the 2010 civic election, or the 2011 provincial election, on sharp reductions in crime are in for a hell of a surprise.

They've been busy this week patting themselves on the back for the "success" of the Winnipeg Auto Theft Suppression Strategy (WATSS)---they even held a special ceremony at the Legislature to announce WATSS was a finalist for an American policing award.

But they went too far when, with the shameful assistance of the Winnipeg Police Service, they tried to hide the truth from the public.

The car-theft suppression strategy, in a nutshell, consists of sending police on regular visits to the homes of the worst car thieves to make sure they're tucked into bed at night and have enough milk and cookies to last until the morning without needing to venture out of the house and steal a car to get some.

It's been so successful, according to its proponents (the government, the police, Manitoba Pubic Insurance), that car thefts have been cut 76 percent from 2004 to April, 2009.

And all that, allegedly, without a sign that the car thieves are just turning to other crimes.

As put in Manitoba's official submission to the Herman Goldstein Award for Excellence in Problem-Oriented Policing, 2009:

http://www.popcenter.org/library/awards/goldstein/2009/09-42(F).pdf

Displacement or Diffusion of Benefits?
"There were concerns that if WATSS was successful in reducing vehicle theft there would be an increase in carjackings and in crimes such as break and enter and robbery.
However, there have been virtually no carjackings in Winnipeg and rates of break and enter, robbery, and theft from auto have declined over the past 2 years. Figures 5 and 6 show the relationships between vehicle thefts and theft from vehicles and break and enter. The evidence suggests a diffusion of benefits rather than displacement to other offenses. This is likely because the intensive supervision has helped the youth stay out of trouble and because the work of probation staff has helped some to change their behaviour."

HIT THE BRAKES!!!!

That's a lie.

There's no other way to say it.

In fact, the police officers who put their names to this report deserve to be identified: Insp. Tom Kloczko, Sgt. Gerry Mauws and Det./Sgt. Kevin Kavitch.

Maybe some MSM reporter can ask them why they thought they could get away with misleading the public so blatantly.

A quick glance at Winnipeg's Crimestat webpage will show you that home break-ins are UP a shocking 21 percent this year.

And muggings, strong-arm robberies, purse-snatchings and home invasions (tactfully described as Robbery/Non-commercial) are up 39 percent from last year.

We spotted the trend six months ago.
http://blackrod.blogspot.com/2009/06/winnipeg-muggings-are-out-of-control.html

The MSM has still to catch on.

Break-ins to garages are up 5 percent officially, but since everyone knows most of these aren't reported to police, the real number is probably double or triple that.

And that's the meat and potatoes of the crime stats. Look at the periphery and it doesn't get any better.

Sex assault is up 52 percent.
Shooting incidents are up 12 percent.
Homicides haven't dropped.

Carjackings? Crimestat doesn't list those, but the newspapers do. Here's a sampling from a one-week period in late November-early December.

Assault, gun used in carjackings
By ROSS ROMANIUK, SUN MEDIA
3rd December 2009
Winnipeg saw two more car-jackings yesterday, with one incident involving an assault and the other a firearm.
-snip-
The first incident occurred about 1:45 a.m., when a male suspect holding a gun allegedly confronted two occupants in a vehicle on the 400 block of Alexander Avenue in the core area.
-snip-
The second incident saw a 64-year-old man attacked by two male suspects, who had found him in a vehicle parked on the 200 block of Cathedral Avenue in the North End.
The suspects forced the victim out of the vehicle, assaulted him and drove away in it.

Two suspects wanted in carjacking attempts
By SUN MEDIA
Last Updated: 26th November 2009, 11:55am
Winnipeg police are searching for two suspects in a pair of attempted carjackings on Wednesday.
Police say the first incident happened around 9 p.m. in the 400 block of St. Johns Avenue. Two suspects, one armed with a gun, demanded that a 39-year-old woman hand over the keys to her vehicle.
-snip-
About 20 minutes later, two suspects approached a 42-year-old man and 38-year-old woman in the 300 block of Burrows Avenue. One of the suspects again had a gun.
The suspects demanded the woman's car keys but fled when the man exited the victims' home, said police.

A lazy reporter looking at Crimestat will read the bottom line and see a 12 percent reduction in the crimes being monitored.

But filter out car theft and there's a 12 percent INCREASE in crime this year.

We shudder at what next year brings.

We've said it before and we'll say it again. Nobody in government deserves credit for stopping the car theft epidemic because they're responsible for creating it in the first place.

If the Health Minister was responsible for spreading swine flu at a school, would you give her an award for the ambulances that took sick children to hospital, the ventilators that kept them breathing, and the wreaths sent to their funerals?

We used to have professional babysitters looking after criminals. They were called jail guards. They had a 100 percent success rate. Nobody in custody stole a car.

Then, in 2002, the Liberal government passed the Youth Justice Act which essentially removed jail as a deterrent to under-18 criminals.

The NDP in Ottawa, including Greg Selinger's right hand man Bill Blaikie, wholeheartedly supported the Act, to the point that their justice critic Joe Comartin bragged that they deliberately kept deterrence and denunciation out of the Act to reduce the sentences that judges could impose.

Car thefts in Manitoba skyrocketed in the following years.

The Manitoba NDP professed concern, but did little.

You won't believe what happened next. The Winnipeg Auto Theft Suppression Strategy award submission spelled it out:

"(In 2006) A supervisor in the WPS Stolen Auto Unit looked at the relationship between the number of the top 50 offenders who were in the community each day and the number of cars stolen on that day (See Figure 3). This clearly shows that the more of this group who were on the street each day, the more cars that were stolen."

"Other crime analysis data supported this conclusion. For example, the police knew that certain young offenders preferred particular models of vehicles and when they were in custody or under effective supervision in the community, thefts of these particular types of vehicles dropped significantly. This finding highlighted the need for improving the offender-oriented approach used in the intensive supervision program."

The police-wait for it---had a meeting with Justice Minister Gord Mackintosh. He was so stunned by the finding, he found the money for another five police in the stolen auto unit. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Pure genius.

It took a highly trained, highly experienced police officer to notice that when car thieves are in jail, car thefts fall, and when they get out, car thefts rise. But it took "other crime analysis data" to test this wild leap in logic.

C'mon. A 80-year-old Tagalog-speaking grandmother with her Grade 3 education could have told you that, without any "other crime analysis data" or any smarmy social-worker blather about "improving the offender-oriented approach."

What the submission doesn't say is that the NDP has known all along what is necessary to stop the car theft epidemic---take the thieves out of circulation. And if the criminal law couldn't be used, the province had civil child-protection law that could. But they refused to use it because most of the car thieves were, ahem, aboriginal in appearance, and they've been given a get-out-of-jail-free pass from the NDP. So instead, we turned police into babysitters while crime crept up and up.

But it worked didn't it?

Oh, did it? Any car thief who was a teenager when the Youth Justice Act was proclaimed is now an adult and subject to real penalties, like prison. Deterrence anyone?

Another vital piece of information in this award submission has gone unreported. The rate of car theft has been ratched down by a phenomenal percentage without denting the "root causes" of crime. How 'bout that.

They stopped car theft by stopping car thieves.

Not by attacking poverty first, or homelessness, or illiteracy, or unemployment.

Not by building basketball courts or drop-in centres.

Not by buying them energy-efficient furnaces (the Tom Simms answer to poverty).
*************

Professional Reporters At Work
Winnipeg Free Press reporter Bruce Owen used the WATSS award submission (without saying so) as the basis for his Saturday analysis challenging the need for a police helicopter (we agree with his argument on that 100 percent).

But, uh, did he use it a little too closely?

Bruce Owen (Boots on ground better than helicopters in air, Winnipeg Free Press, Dec. 12, 2009)
"Police and justice officials feared that by going after car thieves, and by Manitoba Public Insurance bringing in a mandatory car ignition immobilizer program, there would be an increase in carjacking and in crimes such as break and enter and robbery.
That hasn't happened. Police say there have been virtually no carjackings in Winnipeg and rates of break and enter, robbery and theft from autos have declined over the past two years."

WATSS award submission, 2009
Displacement or Diffusion of Benefits?
""There were concerns that if WATSS was successful in reducing vehicle theft there would be an increase in carjackings and in crimes such as break and enter and robbery.
However, there have been virtually no carjackings in Winnipeg and rates of break and enter, robbery, and theft from auto have declined over the past 2 years."

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Premier Greg Selinger to Hydro Whistleblower: You're Wrong

The first day of the December rump session of the Legislature turned out to be an unexpected day of revelations.

Hugh McFadyen revealed why he is the worst Opposition leader in living memory and why he's no threat to the NDP government with or without Gary Doer.

And unelected Premier Greg Selinger revealed why the NDP's "historic" Whistleblower legislation is--- and will continue to be--- a farce.

McFadyen went on the attack from the start, and promptly fell flat on his face.

Why, he asked the Premier, was there no mention of Manitoba Hydro in the Throne Speech, "when Manitobans are seeing their rates go up by 9 percent over two years with the prospect of severe rate hikes into the future."

Hon. Greg Selinger (Premier): "The member from Fort Whyte first makes a comment about the rates. Let's remember it was him-it was he that, in the last election, promised to increase rates to full market value and stick it to every single Manitoban with a 40 percent increase in rates, and he still-and he still has never apologized to the people of Manitoba for that dramatic rate increase."

Selinger 1, McFadyen 0.

Why, persisted McFadyen, didn't Selinger, as minister responsible for Hydro, try to get to the bottom of a risk-management consultant's concerns about Hydro when he first heard of them in 2007 instead of waiting for her to file a whistleblower complaint which only became public knowledge in 2009?

"I wanna ask the Premier: Why did he drop the ball so badly in first asking the provincial Auditor to look into this issue when he was well aware that the Auditor was in no position to do so?"

Tossed a soft ball, Selinger hit it out of the stadium.

Hon. Greg Selinger (Premier):"The Auditor-the Auditor General was requested by the Ombudsman to undertake this investigation. The independent officer of the legislation-of the Legislature was seized of this matter and asked for the assistance of the Auditor General. That is how the facts unfolded."

"The member opposite knows that. The member opposite, if he has any civility at all, would simply get up and apologize for his error of fact and his misconstruction of the facts."

But McFadyen, demonstrating he hadn't even bothered to read the Act before opening his mouth to stuff his foot in, wouldn't shut up.

Mr. McFadyen: "Mr. Speaker, the fact is that it was he and his minister who put out a news release in response to the whistle-blower's allegation, calling on the provincial auditor to do the special audit. She's come to the right conclusion, that she's not in a position to deal with the sensitive issues raised by the whistle-blower and raised by the government. They're the ones who put her into that position."

If he had taken the time to read the Legislation he would know that Selinger was 100 percent right.

The complaint was filed, as required by the law, with the Ombudsman.

It was Ombudsman Irene Hamilton who sat on it for three months and then turned it over to Auditor General Carol Bellringer. Bellringer then tucked the complaint under a carpet for another 9 months before returning it to the Ombudsman. The government asked for a speedy audit after Bellringer had already dithered for 8 months.

If McFadyen was less obsequious to Bellringer, he would have known it was her fault, and her's alone, that she was "not in a position to deal with the sensistive issues raised by the whistleblower."

Bellringer's conflict of interest in handling the complaint against Hydro was known almost immediately, yet she insisted for 9 months that it didn't matter that she had sat on Hydro's board of directors at the same time that the consultant was doing her risk analysis.

She only changed her tune when The Black Rod exposed the fact that Bellringer had never broken her connection with Hydro and had been sending a representative to Hydro board meetings from the moment of her appointment as the "independent" provincial auditor.

Selinger 2, McFadyen 0

The Winnipeg Free Press reported Tuesday that Ombudsman Irene Hamilton has no clue how to address the first whistleblower complaint ever filed under the province's Public Disclosure Act.

The newspaper says she "met Monday with MLAs on the legislature's management committee to get guidance on how her review should be conducted."

So what exactly did she do as the complaint sat on her desk for the first three months? If this isn't a classic example of bureaucratic incompetence, what is? She not only did nothing for 3 months, but apparently didn't even know "the scope" of what she was supposed to do.

It's no wonder then that, seized with enforcing the legislation, she sat on her ass for the next 9 months as the Auditor General ignored the complaint, even to the point of telling the CBC she was under no deadline to complete any investigation. None, except for Section 20.2 of the Act which read: 20(2) An investigation is to be conducted as informally and expeditiously as possible.

Which raises the question, what did Hugh McFadyen's favourite bureaucrat do for 9 months?

Apparently, it wasn't defining the scope of the review and determining what outside expertise is needed. The Ombudsman is now going to spend ANOTHER FOUR MONTHS
to decide what exactly she should be doing.

Here's a hint: start with the declaration by the Opposition Leader in the Legislature Tuesday decrying " the treatment of this whistle-blower who has-who has had a campaign of smear and disinformation brought under the watch of this government."

Why aren't both of these government "watchdogs" brought before the Legislature to explain their incompetence? It's obvious that both of them breached the act by not acting "as expeditiously as possible" and a year after the complaint was filed neither of them knows what she should have been doing in the first place.

Greg Selinger revealed why.

According to the unelected Premier, who, as Hydro minister has been hearing Hydro's side of the case behind closed doors for 2 years, the whistleblower's complaint is baseless.

Yes, folks, the government has prejudged the complaint even before a single interview has been conducted, or a single document has been examined.

Here's how Selinger put it in the Legislature:

"Because it's an allegation doesn't necessarily mean it's accurate. It doesn't necessarily mean it's true. It means they have a right to have it investigated, and during that procedure they have the right to be protected, and that's exactly what's gone on here. The member opposite, he would like to move from allegations to confirm them as points of fact. The reality is there have been other independent reviews of the stability and the solidness, financially, of Manitoba Hydro, and they have come back with very solid results, that Manitoba Hydro is in excellent shape. "

It's no wonder then that Carol Bellringer was cocky enough to ignore the provisions of the Act requiring all complaints to be handled as expeditiously as possible. She understood full well that that was just window dressing, and that her political masters had already dismissed the conclusions of the Hydro consultant in advance.

Selinger, you have to understand, is the dirtiest politician in the Legislature. He's splattered with mud from the worst scandals to be exposed involving the NDP.

* When the NDP got caught for fraudulently claiming $75,000 in election rebates for the 1999 provincial election, Selinger figured charges would be laid for sure. He went running to the executive demanding a letter exonerating him from any blame. The NDP's new best friend, Elections Manitoba chairman Richard Balasko stalled the investigation until he could get rid of the auditor who uncovered the fraud, charged only Conservative candidates for election misspending, and did his best to cover up the NDP's offence.

Selinger, assured no charges would be laid, kept the secret for five years and now says it was just a simple misunderstanding.

* In 2007 we reported on the Selinger Memo, which, we wrote, " is clear evidence that the NDP conspired with the Crocus Investment Fund to hide the fund's liquidity problems from future investors even to the extent of letting them run a Ponzi scheme."
http://blackrod.blogspot.com/2007/03/bellringer-fails-to-bridge-selingers.html

Crocus was supposedly under the eye of the ministry of Industry and Economic Development. But when Crocus reps outlined their vision for the next 10 to 15 years, IEDM officials declared there were issues of policy and practicality that had to be addressed first.

Fuggedaboutit, said the Crocus people. The plans "had already been cleared by those in higher authority"

Guess who.

Leaked cabinet documents, including the Selinger Memo, showed that Crocus had a back channel into cabinet directly to then-Finance Minister Greg Selinger, bypassing the alleged legal oversight of the Industry Minister.

That fact was kept from the public and provincial auditor Jon Singleton who, in the first diversionary use of public servants to take the heat off the NDP, was assigned to conduct an examination of how well the Industry Ministry supervised Crocus.

The NDP wasn't pleased with Singleton's Crocus report, so after he retired, they put in their own auditor who was sure to be more amenable to the government.

* Carol Bellringer's first job for the NDP was to take the heat off Education Minister Peter Bjornson who became enmeshed in the O'Learygate scandal when he lied to a whistleblower.
http://blackrod.blogspot.com/2005/06/black-rod-exclusive-seven-oaks-land.html

Bellringer issued a report that said that the Seven Oaks School Division lost $300,000 on an prohibited land development, but that if they claimed they would eventually, sometime in the untold future, sell the land they already owned to themselves for $800,000, they could show a profit on the books today and get her okay.

* With more heat on the NDP, especially the finance minster, over the enormous risks Manitoba Hydro is taking with its $16 billion plans for expansion, who did they call to the rescue? Yes indeed, step right up Carol Bellringer.

First she pulled the rug from under the Public Utilities Board which has been trying for more than a year now to get Hydro to show them their risk analyses. Bellringer said she was going to do a report on Hydro's risk, by coincidence, and it would take her 18 months at least. So the PUB shouldn't hold their breaths for those reports.

And when it was revealed that the Hydro whistleblower's complaint had been in the auditor's hands for months, Bellringer said she was just wrapping it into her other risk study. So the whistleblower shouldn't hold her breath for a speedy investigation of her complaints.

And then we put too much heat on Bellringer and she fled the kitchen, leaving Selinger claiming credit, as the previous minister of the Civil Service Commission, for bringing in the very Whistleblower Act which he's working hard to undermine.

At least now the public knows they've got a clear choice in the next election: the dirtiest politician or the dumbest politician.

Who will do that risk analysis on that?

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