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:

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Selinger's new stadium, big enough to hold the ballooning provincial deficit.

There. That didn't take long, did it?

One week after the provincial budget, unelected Premier Greg Selinger has already overspent the projected deficit by $90 million.

The province will borrow the money to lend to to a millionaire so he can achieve his lifelong dream of owning a football team.
Who says this isn't a province of opportunity---for the rich and connected like Winnipeg's First Family of Millionaire Moochers, the Aspers.
baby brother David's big ideas to raise money to buy the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and build a new football stadium have gone nowhere.
So he went running to where all millionaire moochers go, to the government.

Sister Gail's sugar daddy was former premier Gary Doer who funnelled tens of millions of dollars of provincial tax money to her human rights museum. David now has his own sugar daddy in new-but-unelected premier Greg Selinger, the dirtiest politician in Manitoba, the man who propped up the Crocus Fund after it became a Ponzi scheme and who covered up the NDP's 1999 election fraud, after insisting on a letter exonerating himself from blame.

With the dust of the collapse of the Canwest media empire still in his ears, David Asper still fancies himself a captain of industry. Unfortunately, it appears, no bank will lend him a dime despite his collateral, three u-hauls full of Canwest stock.
Enter Selinger to save the day.

Greg Selinger announced this morning he will lend Asper $90 million to build a new stadium for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers at the University of Manitoba. Asper is expected to come up with $10 million (Bwahahaha...ed.). Somebody else (the team?) will come up with another $15 million.

But Selinger is a poor loan shark. Asper will have six years to pay back the money (plus interest at going rates, we hope) or else he's lost his chance to own the team. He still plans to raise the money by developing a high end shopping mall at the site of the current football stadium near Polo Park.

If Asper fails (if, he says...ed) the province has a fallback, Selinger claimed. You see, he said, the province will consider the loan as an advance under the new Tax Increment Financing Act. If Asper fails (if, he says...ed) the taxes that will be collected on any development at the old stadium site will be used to cover the cost of the loan.

Uh....not so fast.

You see, the law is actually called The Community Revitalization Tax Increment Financing Act. Here's how then-Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Steve Ashton described the law when it was introduced in 2008:

"Under the new bill, properties or areas would be designated as development or revitalization zones and would then become eligible for TIF. This would mean that incremental property tax increases in the zone would be placed into a separate fund for time-limited period to pay for infrastructure and other economic supports in the zone. Once the zone is redeveloped, and the TIF zone is lifted the expanded tax base returns to the municipality, the province and the school division."

Since when is a football stadium in Fort Garry "in the zone" of Polo Park?
Legally, then, money raised from any development at Polo Park cannot be taken out of that "separate fund" and spent across town, can it?

Selinger is going to have to change the law to let him get away with using TIF money to backstop David Asper, just like he having to change the balanced budget law to let him overspend year after year after year after year.

The TIF Act was intended to "revitalize" neighbourhoods. Is there anyone who believes Polo Park needs "revitalization"? Or is the University of Manitoba so poor and decrepit it qualifies? This is a blatant misuse of the legislation to revitalize the NDP in vote-rich south Winnipeg.

And $90 million is just the start.
Who's going to cover cost overruns? Yeah, that's who.

And who's that in line? Oh yeah, that's who. Hello Gail.

Yep, the rest of the first family of millionaire moochers is lining up to put the touch on the Manitoba taxpayer.

Remember, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights has a plan to come up with the $9 million in city taxes they "forgot" to budget for: get the money from the provincial government. Sadly, for Gail, her boyfriend Gary Doer is gone to Washington. But Selinger is playing Santa with the provincial treasury.
Shall we start a pool for the day he announces he's bailing Gail out of her problem? When's that election, again?

And speaking of the museum .... A sharp-eyed reader noticed that the backers of the museum claim they've raised anther $5 million towards their $45 million cost overrun. Ahh, remember the good ol' days when they held news conferences and exchanged grins while holding up huge mock donation cheques? Nowadays the donations seem to be thin envelopes passed in back alleys.

Gail Asper has turned into the 21st Century equivalent of television evangelists, begging for donations in weekly installments. Even worse is the pathetic piggybacking on the causes of others.

The Panache International Model & Talent Search will be held April 17 at Portage Place. Registration fees this year will be donated to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Oww.

And remember the performance by comedienne Joan Rivers at The Live This Life Expo at the Fort Garry Hotel which so disgusted Free Press columnist Lindor Reynolds? How many of you read the small print?
" Tickets to the gala, which includes a "diamond champagne dinner" are $175 each ($1,750 per table) with net proceeds to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights."

Unfortunately, Joan Rivers doesn't come cheap. says her fee ranges from $100,000 and up, so "net proceeds" might have been paltry. How's a millionaire going to fund her pet project at that rate?

Oh yeah... Greg Selinger is the premier and he's writing cheques as fast as his scandal-stained hands can.

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