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:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Election post-mortem: Did Katz the Fixer get the right message from his win?

Sam Katz shrugged off everything the NDP and their press allies could toss at him and still trounced their annointed candidate for mayor, Judy Wasylycia-Leis.

The NDP machine pulled out all the stops. They managed to boost the anti-Katz vote by almost 50 percent from the 2006 election---only to see Katz re-elected by a double-digit margin (55 percent of the vote compared to 43 percent for his challenger).

In fact, JustJudy's 90,000 vote total was less than Katz garnered in the last election (104,000) and less even than he received when he was first elected mayor in 2004 (99,000).

The Winnipeg Free Press, the biggest cheerleader for Judy W-L, was forced to concede "It might even be his strongest mandate ever."

And that was despite running the worst campaign imaginable.

Katz bolted out of the starting block with a bold declaration that crime and public safety were going to be the cornerstones of his run for reelection.

“This election needs to be about reducing crime, offering young people alternatives and taking back our communities through all means at our disposal." Katz said the day after Labour Day.

It seemed a smart thing to do, to seize crime as his issue, given that crime was at the top of every poll of voters' concerns.

But Katz then spent the remaining 7 weeks of the campaign speaking about everything except how his new proposals to attack the crime problem would be successful when the level of violence and gang activity in Winnipeg has increased in the six years since he was first elected Mayor.

He delivered his opponent a perfect issue to use against him---his plan to build a half-billion dollar electric train transit route to the University of Manitoba. It would be his legacy, he said, even though there had been no consultation with the public over the immense cost or any discussion how, exactly, Katz intends to pay for his "vision".

This seemed exceptionally dumb, especially since an angry electorate was skewering incumbents in several ridings because of their cavalier attitude to public consultation in the previous council.

Luckily for Katz, Judy Alphabet ignored the light rail transit pledge and spent the election blabbering about Veolia, some long forgotten project approved by city council, that was only understood by one voter in 100, if that.
In turn, Wasylycia-Leis gave Katz a sure-fire election boost when she pledged to raise property taxes two percent a year for four years.

But when the news media asked Katz the obvious question, what's your position on taxes, he bumbled the issue by weaseling out and saying he would answer after he saw some study that wouldn't be completed until after the election.

The backlash to his unacceptable reply forced him to hurriedly invent a new answer---property taxes are bad and he would rather negotiate with the province for 1 percent of the provincial sales tax to be handed over to Winnipeg.

Throughout the campaign, Katz practiced a form of reverse discrimination to avoid any suggestion he was picking on a woman. He failed to point out JustJudy's obvious shortcomings to be mayor, namely the fact that she had never in her adult life had a real job outside of politics, and that as a member of Parliament she worked against the interests of Winnipeg by supporting laws that put criminals on the street instead of behind bars.

Nor did he mention that her only brush with governing was two years as a minor cabinet minister in the administration of Howard Pawley way, way back in the Eighties, before she needed a dye job to cover the grey in her hair.

When, during one of the innumerable mayoral candidates forums, he was given the opportunity to ask Judy Wasylycia-Leis a direct question, he asked her about FIPPA. Or LIPPA. Or DIPPA. Or SIPPA. Whatever it was....NOBODY CARED, it was that irrelevant.

Yet, despite all these bumbles and missteps, Katz walked away with victory. When all was said and done, Katz had a comfortable double digit lead -- to the consternation of the Winnipeg Free Press which, as late as Saturday, was calling it a neck-and-neck race.

Forgotten in the MSM post-mortems was the FP/CBC Ekos poll that allegedly said experience was the least important quality a mayoral candidate needed to get elected (i.e. Vote Judy), and the electorate didn't care much about business acumen either (i.e. Vote Judy.) Or that honesty and integrity were the most important qualities Winnipeg voters were looking for (i.e. Vote Judy). Or that they had conceded that an increase in property taxes was overdue (i.e. Vote Judy.)

It seems that the voters thought that Sam Katz was more honest and had more integrity than Judy Wasylycia-Leis, doesn't it?

And they've sent the message loud and clear. 'No' to a tax increase.

But the MSM in the city refuses to acknowledge these results and continues to spin their stories to promote their personal biases.

The Left in Winnipeg took their best shot and failed to win, or even come close.

The public, however, did send Sam Katz a message he can't ignore. They gave him another term in office, but they gave several incumbent city councillors (Orlikow, Gerbasi, Swandel) a good spanking over the poor or non-existent public consultations prior to major city projects that riled up their ridings.

Katz is the master of the backroom deal followed by slipping a major civic issue on the agenda at city hall at the very last minute for a rushed vote.

That, declared the voters, has to end.

We'll soon see if Sam Katz understands the new mood of the public. His first test is just around the corner when David Asper comes slinking in any day now with a fat new budget for a proposed new stadium for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

Katz better keep two words front and centre when dealing with all city projects, mega and small: Rob Ford.

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Is this the clue to catch Winnipeg's spree killer?

We don't know what's more alarming---the unprecedented rampage by a spree killer in the North End or how helpless the Winnipeg police appear.

On the one hand you have an armed maniac responsible for three senseless attacks in less than an hour, each progressively more frightening. He started by shooting into a crowd of young teenagers, leaving one critically wounded. Then, with police cars flooding into the area, he shot a man in the back as his victim left a house a short jaunt away from the first shooting. After a short break, he finished his night by ringing the doorbell to a house to lure the homeowner out, then shooting him to death when the man realized the danger and slammed the door shut in the killer's face.

On the other hand, you have the wimpiest-ever police chief begging for help to catch the killer because the police have no leads.

“This is an awful, awful event and we’re certainly committed to the public to do everything we possibly can to get these people in front of the courts,” Chief Keith McCaskill said Monday.“We’re committed to finding this person, and if you ask me ‘do you think we can?’ I think we can.”

I think we can? Could he be more inspiring? (sarcasm alert)

People, particularly in the North End, have little faith the police can make an arrest. They have only to remember the brazen murder of Cheryl Robert, who was killed one year ago, July 2009, when a gunman sprayed shots at a wedding reception on Main Street. Only by the grace of God did the bullets not kill more, although at least two other guests were wounded.

The police then, too, called for the community to help find the killer.

The result: Zilch.

One problem is that the police play their cards too close to the vest. As a result they ask the public to alert them to "anything they know", a request so general and wide as to be useless.

There has been an abundance of good reporting on the spree killer's attacks, especially by TV News reporters.

But there's also a lot of misinformation out there that hasn't been corrected or has been misreported in the rush to deadline. And TV news only informs the audience watching for that short 3 minutes the news story runs.

Here we've tried to collate the known facts of the case from the variety of news sources, while offering suggestions to the police on how to focus the memories of members of the community.
We'll also offer our interpretation of events, and suggest where the likeliest break in the case will come from.


The killer had to get to Stella Walk, the scene of the first shooting, somehow.

Was it walk, bike or bus?

Three buses stop near Stella Walk--the Corydon, the Sargent and the Osborne. Their cameras should show whether a tall, native male dressed all in black was aboard at about 8:15 p.m. Saturday. Their drivers may remember someone that distinctive, especially if he was trying to hide a sawed off rifle.

Police could ask the public whether anyone on those buses, either heading north or south, saw anyone of that description. Or whether any motorists on Main Street near Stella about 8:15 p.m. Saturday saw a tall, native male dressed all in black crossing the street.

Walk? Not unless he lives nearby, which increases his likelihood of being recognized if only by his voice or his walk.

Bike is most likely. The streets of the North End are full of gang members on bicycles, so another one wouldn't attract any attention. One news report said the shooter stole a bicycle from a yard after the Stella Walk shooting, but its just as likely it was his bicycle stashed in a safe place for his getaway. Police haven't mentioned any stolen bike so that report seems false.

An eyewitness described the first shooting to CTV News. The man was peeking in the window of a suite when the witness first noticed him. A group of teens passed by. They didn't see the man, but he saw them.

"He was just standing there. Then these five teenagers walked by and he followed them," the woman told CTV.

He followed them and approached them in the vicinity of 261 Stella Walk.

One of the group told the Winnipeg Free Press the man had his face masked. The newspaper today says he was wearing a balaclava, but the impression we got was that he might have been covering his face with a bandana which gang members often wear on their Bebo pages.

Original reports said the man asked the teens if they wanted to buy some marijuana. The Free Press reported today that the father of the victim said the kids were actually asked if they knew where he (the man) could buy some weed. Either way, they told him No.

Without warning he pulled out his gun and shot at the group.

The Winnipeg Free Press said he had a sawed off shotgun. But video of the scene suggests it was a sawed off rifle or handgun. A window has a round bullet hole through it. News footage from inside the suite shows the bullet hit the corner of a desk, splintered the wood, then ricocheted down into the wall above the baseboard. It penetrated the wall into the floor of the next room.

Three shots were fired. One hit 13-year-old Samantha Stevenson in the stomach, the bullet passing through her liver and leaving her close to death. According to a couple of witnesses, the shooter climbed on his bicycle and slowly rode past Samantha, admiring his handiwork.

"And he calmly walked to his bike and rode off like nothing happened," said the CTV eyewitness.

The first call to 911 came at 8:30, according to the breakdown of police reaction that night, reported by the FP. One police call said the shooter was going eastbound. That would mean he likely hit King Street, turned south to Dufferin or a lane behind Dufferin, then doubled back west until hitting Salter.

Police should ask if anyone walking or living on King Street if they saw anyone on a bicycle just before 8:30 on Saturday. Especially a bicycle in a hurry. Especially a bicycle that whipped around onto Dufferin or the back lane heading west.

Police should ask any motorists on Salter about 8:30 p.m. Saturday if they saw someone on a bicycle hellbent for leather crossing the street heading west into the lane behind Dufferin.

Crossing Salter, the shooter would take the back lane west, possibly as far as Andrews. He likely dumped his bicycle somewhere near there.

As police and paramedics converged on Stella Walk, including a canine unit, the unthinkable happened. A second shooting. Only 7 l/2 blocks away.

The spree killer had shot Thomas Beardy, 35, in the back and in the leg as he was leaving 495 Dufferin Ave.

The owner of the house, Roderick Pelletier, saw the shooter running away, i.e. no bicycle.

Only 10 minutes since the first shooting, with police seconds away, its unlikely the killer hopped on his bike to outrun the cops. A more believable scenario is he started running through yards.

Police should canvass the area, asking homeowners specifically if their back gates, side gates, or even front gates were open Sunday morning when they wouldn't ordinarily. Or if their dogs made a racket about 8:45 p.m. Saturday evening. Or if they saw someone running through their yard or their neighbour's yard.

The police department was having a major problem responding to the Dufferin call. The dispatcher couldn't raise any free cruiser cars. Police that should have been available were tied up on crowd control at the annual Zombie March downtown. Officers already at Stella Walk had to assign themselves to rush 7 blocks to the Dufferin shooting. By the time they got there, about 4 minutes later, the shooter was long gone.

Where did he go? For the next half hour, the shooter was M.I.A.

If the police found his bicycle, they should tell the public. Otherwise they should specifically ask residents in the William Whyte section of the North End whether they saw someone between 8:45 and 9 p.m. Saturday putting a bicycle in a porch or riding up to a house and abandoning a bike in the yard.

And then, the shooter showed up in a most unexpected place.

486 Boyd Avenue. A beautiful nicely-kept house on a middle-class street a quarter mile from the housing projects at Stella Walk and the decrepit homes on Dufferin.

It was 9:12 p.m. He rang the doorbell. Ian MacDonald, 52, went to answer. We know two shots were fired, one through a window in the door. MacDonald was shot in the heart and died.

But not before he slammed the door shut and locked it.

And we know the police, for reasons unexplained, suspect the shooter was accompanied by a woman this time.

The police are being coy about linking the three incidents to one shooter. They've even given out three equally useless descriptions of three possible shooters. Is it any more comforting to believe that there were two, or even three, homicidal maniacs out shooting people in the North End on Saturday? Now that would be a coincidence, wouldn't it.

Instead, let's assume the obvious---one time period means one shooter, one killer.

And it's the time period that may lead to his identify.

There's something very unusual about when the spree killer did his work.

Most shootings occur in the wee hours of the morning---after, or just before, the bars close at 2 a.m. These shootings took place at a time when you expect lots of people to be out and about, on foot or in cars, going to wherever they'll spend their Saturday evening.

And this Saturday evening was a special night, particularly for the type of person likely to carry and use a gun. Here's some clues:

Brock Lesnar.

Every goon in town Saturday night was going to watch UFC 121 featuring the return of Brock Lesnar to the octagon. It was obligatory in their world.

Spike TV was carrying two preliminary bouts at 8 p.m. The pay-per-view started at 9 p.m. with a fight between two non-entities. In other words, easily missed. You could buy your ticket at your bar of choice at 7 or 8 p.m., get your hand stamped, and still slip out to do some business before the marquee fights started.

The first shooting happened just about 8:30. The next 10 minutes later. Then there was a pause before the shooter popped up again---possibly with a woman at his side. A date? On their way to watch UFC? Was the break the time to grab a quick shower and shave and call the girlfriend to pick you up in her car?

While the police were searching for a man dressed in black and riding a bicycle, did they pass right by the car with the couple out for the evening?

The police eventually wound up searching the foot of Burrows Avenue. Still chasing bicycles? Without looking just a few blocks further north to where the overhead sign advertised UFC 121 with Brock Lesnar?

Did the shooter show up at Boogies on Main Street about 9:20 p.m. invigorated, welcomed by his buds, pumped for some pay-per-view action with the first fight just underway? And with the chick carrying the gun, just in case?

An outlandish theory?

It's still better than "I think we can."

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Caught redhanded: FP election reporter belongs to anti-Katz group

They just can't help themselves.

They've become so used to getting away with injecting their political bias into their reporting that they don't even try to hide it anymore.

Mary Agnes Welch is a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press and a member of their "crack" election team providing (what they claim is) "Winnipeg's most comprehensive in-depth civic election coverage".

And, until late Thursday afternoon, she was also a member in good standing of the Winnipeg Citizen's Coalition Facebook group.

You know, the left-wing bunch created in 2008 to defeat Sam Katz and any councillor who supports him.

To prove the adage of the Internet Age, "everybody knows something", a sharp-eyed reader of the Free Press called Welch out in the comments to one of her recent stories, the one telling how a Free Press commissioned poll found that Judy Alphabet's fight-poverty-not-criminals plan is wildly popular with the public.

The spin of the opening paragraphs take on a new perspective, n'est pas:
"Winnipeggers don't feel any safer than they did four years ago and they're split on whether Mayor Sam Katz's tough-on-crime pledges will help."
"A new poll by Leger Marketing for the Winnipeg Free Press and the CBC found voters split down the middle on the right approach to crime-fighting."
" Half support the root-causes strategy mayoral hopeful Judy Wasylycia-Leis touts, which includes more cash for recreation centre programs and a real plan to combat poverty."

One of our readers compiled the relevant exchange (H/T to EJay):

Posted by: Pumpkin Jack
October 21, 2010 at 7:50 AM
Isn't it a conflict of interest to have a member of the Winnipeg
Citizen's Coalition, whose main purpose is to bring Sam Katz down,
spinning poll results, oh excuse me, 'writing an article' on the
mayoral race?
Or should I say
'some people' would 'suggest' that there 'could appear' to be a
conflict of interest with a 'possible' member of the WCC writing an
article for the Free Press.
Posted by: MA Welch
October 21, 2010 at 11:00 AM
@ Pumpkin Jack
Are you referring to me?
If so, I can assure you I have never and would never be a member of
the WCC - no reporter at the Free Press would be. I've never even
covered one of their meetings or events, to the best of my
If you disagree with my interpretation of the poll, I would be happy
to hear your views.
posted by: MA Welch
Posted by: Pumpkin Jack
October 21, 2010 at 2:16 PM
@Mary Agnes
Then why are you one of their 'member's' on their Facebook group?
Again I say; 'some people' would 'suggest' that there 'could appear'
to be a conflict of interest.
October 21, 2010 at 3:19 PM
@ Pumpkin Jack
I just checked and I am indeed a member of the WCC Facebook group,
though I have no memory of joining. I have removed myself.
Thanks for the heads up.


So a member of the Free Press election team "forgot" she belonged to a group dedicated to defeating the incumbent mayor.

Oh yeah, that's believable.

Obviously another example of Free Press Amnesia to rival the mass amnesia that hit the newsroom the day after The Black Rod reported how FP employees helped themselves to a ton of pork stolen from Winnipeg Harvest, paid for by the province and designated for Harvest's poor and hungry clients.

Mary Agnes Welch would be on the same crack team of reporters that:

- ignored the confession by the NDP's Mynarski candidate Ross Eadie that he couldn't afford to run for office without funding from the Party (something expressly against the law),
- called the mayoral election a "neck-and-neck" contest Saturday while burying on page A7 -- in a election column of briefs -- the story of a Global News poll showing Katz with a 20-point lead, and
- failed to recognize the chronic failure of "public consultation" as an election issue until almost the final week of campaigning.

When Judy Wasylycia-Leis was on a CTV mayoral candidates forum she was asked point-blank this question about the floundering proposed new stadium for the Winnipeg Blue Bonmbers: Will you spend whatever it takes to complete the project---that's the initial design..?"

Her answer? "Yes."

Yes, Judy would give David Asper a blank cheque to build a stadium at whatever unknown cost.

How much coverage did the crack FP team of election reporters, which includes Bartley Kives and Dan Lett, give this bombshell?


The Winnipeg Free Press did report another bombshell from the Judy camp, though it didn't come from the crack team of election reporters, it came through the back door Saturday from the editorial board.

In a waffling editorial that refused to endorse either candidate, the FP revealed this astonishing news:
" Leave aside the rhetoric; an eight per cent increase in tax rates will produce $32 million a year. Judy said she would dedicate half the money -- $16 million a year -- to borrowing $200 million to increase infrastructure spending to $1.56 billion over four years from $1.36 billion under a freeze. Given that the infrastructure deficit is $4 billion, this tax-and-spend scheme doesn't amount to much. Further, after the four-year borrowing scheme ends, the $16 million will be required each year for 16 more years to pay back the $200 million, resulting in taxpayers spending $320 million over 20 years to get $200 million of infrastructure over four years..."

Where did this come from? This has never been reported before.

There's not even a clue on Judy Wasylycia-Leis' webpage that she intends to borrow $200 million to fund her infrastructure promises.

In fact, when we dissected her tax plans, the only reference to city debt that we were able to find was how Winnipeg was finally on the brink of getting out of it.
"And starting in 2013, Winnipeg will see the end of the tunnel of debt built up in the Norrie years."
"Between 2013 and 2017, we'll pay off the last of the debt, said Steeves, leaving the city between $40 million to $45 million in pocket which has been going to interest payments. That's the equivalent of a ten percent increase in taxes."

You might think that a mayoral candidate offering a blank cheque to a millionaire developer while pledging to drown the city in a $200 million sea of red ink would be front page news.

You're such a silly.

You're obviously not a member of the MSM's crack team of election reporters, at least one of whom was also a member all through the election campaign of a group dedicated to defeating incumbent mayor Sam Katz.

They don't even try to hide it anymore.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

MSM specialty: Spinning the polls until they get the results they want

They just can't help themselves. And that's why their influence shrivels more and more each passing year.

The mainstream media---in this case the hapless Winnipeg Free Press and the CBC ---are so anxious to see Sam Katz defeated as mayor, and their own bias on taxes adopted as policy, that they're madly spinning the latest poll results to create a version of the truth that satisfies their fantasies.

That in itself is bizarre since the poll, conducted on their behalf by Leger Marketing, is already so slanted it wouldn't pass a first year statistics class.

The poll finds that Sam Katz is the voters' preferred candidate to be mayor by 6 percentage points, 38 to 32 for his chief opponent Judy Wasylycia-Leis.

And yet the Winnipeg Free Press reported the results this way:

"Mayor Sam Katz has a six-point lead on Judy Wasylycia-Leis as Winnipeg's mayoral race enters the home stretch, but a more committed core of support for the challenger suggests election night may be a nail-biter."

CBC had its own spin:

"Winnipeg's two leading mayoral candidates are heading for a photo finish in the Oct. 27 election race."

Neither mainstream news outlet mentioned that a previous poll, by Probe Research three weeks ago, found JustJudy (as she wants to be called) had 50 percent of the professed vote. In short, she's lost more than a third of her support in 3 weeks of campaigning.

Nor did they include the fact that her support now (32 percent) is lower than the combined support for Katz's two main opponents in the 2006 election (35.7 percent).

The FP and CBC are quick to say JustJudy's supporters are more committed than Katz's, and so are more likely to actually go to the polling station and cast their ballots in the event of a hurricane or blizzard that might deter others.

They ignore the corollary of that argument -- -that the six percent of polled voters who refused to give their preference for mayor are more likely to support Sam Katz, because if they were the committed Wasylycia-Leis supporters they would proudly declare so instead of being cagey.

And that would boost Katz's support to 44 percent, or just about unchanged from the Probe Research poll.

At the time, the Free Press was using JustJudy's support at 50 percent in the Probe poll as proof that the electorate embraced her promise to raise property taxes every year of her term.

Probe president Scott MacKay said, "She made her position clear: Vote for me and I'll raise taxes...As counterintui­tive as that sounds, it's very possible that has resonated with the electorate."

Or, maybe not. You would think a six point decline in support might be seen as a repudiation of her tax pledge. No sirree, Bob. The MSM had Leger Maketing carefully "prove" the opposite.

Leger asked the voter for their views on taxes. Or, rather, they asked carefully slanted questions to get the public to agree to the Free Press/CBC view on taxes.

The question

"Thinking about property taxes in Winnipeg, which of the following statements best reflects your opinion?

The result

Property taxes should increase based on inflation in order to maintain public services at current level: 56 per cent

Property taxes should be frozen at current levels even if it means cutting back on spending for some services in the city: 38 per cent

Don't know/refuse to answer: Six per cent

-- Source: Leger Marketing poll of 800 Winnipeg adults in October 2010

Note how Leger stacks the questions, putting the positive terms (based on inflation, maintain public services) in the answer they want to get, and the negative terms (frozen, cutting back) on the answer they don't want.
This sort of slanted polling on behalf of the Free Press and CBC underlines the bias in reporting we have to put up with.

Leger deliberately did not ask whether voters supported Katz's tax plan. How about....
Winnipeg has two-thirds of Manitoba's population but only receives 7 percent of all the taxes collected in province to fund its operations. Is that fair?

If the province only dedicated one percent of PST to Winnipeg, we would have $130 million more to provide services to citizens. Should Manitoba give Winnipeg 1 percent of PST?

But then that wouldn't guarantee the answers the Free Press and CBC wanted, namely:

Winnipeg property tax hike favoured (CBC, Wednesday, October 20, 2010)
The MSM isn't above twisting the facts to support the bias, either.

"Wasylycia-Leis said the increase would cost homeowners $27 a year on average on a home assessed by the city at $90,000." (CBC, Oct. 20, 2010)

" Saying it's time to show leadership and be honest about the city's finances, Judy Wasylycia-Leis is promising a two per cent property tax hike every year of her administration. That's an extra $27 a year on a $200,000 home." (Wasylycia-Leis promises 2% yearly tax hikes, By: Mary Agnes Welch, 17/09/2010)

What they carefully don't say is that the promised tax increase is cumulative. They hope readers fixate on the figure $27 a year and think," that's not so much."

They don't explain that the increase is $27 only the first year, then $55.05 the second year, and so on until its $110 the fourth year. And that's not counting any possible increase in mill rates.

Nor have they explored the alleged support for a hike in property taxes "based on inflation". That's not what Judy Wasylycia-Leis promised, so where does that option come from?

In 2009 the inflation rate was 0.28 percent. So a 2 percent tax increase would have been SEVEN TIMES inflation for that year.

And its running well below 2 percent this year so far.

It looks like linking tax increases to the rate of inflation was yet another concoction of the Free Press and CBC to spin the story their way.

They can't help themselves

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Black Rod's election correspondent files his first story

We have an election correspondent!
It's a red-letter day for The Black Rod.

At the beginning of the mayoral election campaign we were contacted by Jacque Pierre who said he would be attending all the mayoral forums. He offered to share what he saw and heard with us.

As we feared, most of the events were dull affairs, although occasionally he would note some tidbit of interest we would file away for future reference.
Publish Post

But yesterday he hit the motherlode. Mayoral candidates Judy Wasylycia-Leis, Brad Gross and Rav Gill appeared together at a get-out-the-vote forum the Indian and Metis Friendship Centre. The event barely made the radar of the mainstream media, but Jacque Pierre was there and here is his blow-by-blow report of what happened and who said what. It turns out this was probably the feistiest debate yet and the MSM missed the action.

We initially thought we would edit his report, with periods at the end of thoughts, capital letters, commas, and whatnot. Then we thought "What the hell are you doing?"

So here it is, just as he posted it on his blog , raw, in the moment, point and counterpoint just the way we like it and want it, with just enough editorial spin to give it some spice and still let us make up our own minds:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010
North End Votes - Judy - Rav - Brad

There was some really unique questions in this forum.

Highlights were:

- the moderator kept joking how there was a 2 minute time limit so judy shouldn't go over or she'd have to put a dollar in the cup every time.

- judy went over and she had to pay a dollar once.

- someone asked brad about his plan to expel career criminals from the city and he defended it for 2 minutes. rav was given 2 minutes to respond he said brad doesn't have the power so its not happening and that got a lot of laughs for being so short.

- there was some boos for rav whenever he'd mention something was provincial jurisdiction. brad promised to create daycare and housing and judy was in the middle and they got cheers.

- brad got lots of cheers when he said he'd build housing in the north end. rav said that's not happening and why the private sector isnt building, and judy got as much cheers as brad when she said housing is a human right.

- there was some boos when rav said privitizing garbage saved them money and the problem was bulk items. judy got lotsa cheers when she spoke out against privitizing and wanted garbage collection back.

- all 3 said theyd support an urban reserve. judy said it would be something to be proud of and gave a passionate speech. rav said they are building an economic one at polopark and didn't want an urban reserve at the kapyong barracks but somewhere else. brad said he'd seen urban reserves and how good the quality of life there is.

closing remarks got ugly,

rav said she had a lot of passion in judy's answers, but no substance. she could make all the promises she wants she's proven she's all talk and can't walk the walk.

then he said how he asked her what she did for her constituents in the North End at an earlier debate and all she could answer was something about a couple banks and flavored cigarollas. this drew boos from judy supporters.

he said he's already hired over 30 former gangmembers in the last year to fix up houses and he didn't need $100,000 per employee per year from tax payers to get it done and was booed again. he also badmouthed her crime platforms as being done already or infiltrated by gangs but i cant remember or read my notes on that.

he said people they should vote for who can actually deliver on their promises and isn't a career seat filler. things got kinda ugly there with yelling and a guy wanting to come on stage.
and to make matters worse, he quoted Judy about taking back city hall and said she's the one who is running as a puppet to let a political party take over the mayors office.
then talked about making jobs in the NorthEnd, building affordable housing, bringing in business and how judy did none of that.

there was also someone handing out a poster of Sam Katz who didn't come and their was a big X over his face. rav gill badmouthed it and said whoever was making those should fess up. then he said the sad reality is even sam did more for the north end then judy and judy asked rav if he was working for sam katz or what.
rav also said judy's 2% increase is really 10% (editor note: how is that possible?) and people in the crowd would have that added into the rent.

some of judy's die hard fans seemed mad but rav and judy were joking and laughing after that. judy also said the poster was no good after and the organizers said they didn't know about it or condone it.
judy was overwhelmingly the crowd favorite. there was two guys that would clap for her over and over and even yell and cheer for her.
Now compare that with how the MSM reported the event at CBC.
North End voters snubbed at forum

Last Updated: Tuesday, October 19, 2010 | 9:19 AM CT Comments3Recommend3
CBC News

Some North End Winnipeg voters say they were insulted by most of the mayoral candidates at a debate Monday night.

About 200 people attended the event, dubbed North End Votes, aimed at increasing voter turnout in that ward.

The North End consistently produces the lowest vote totals in the city, recording a meager turnout in the 2006 municipal election of 28.26 per cent.

Organizers hoped to drive more interest this time around but it was the candidates who seemed to be apathetic.

Incumbent Mayor Sam Katz didn't show up and two other candidates, Rav Gill and Brad Gross, didn't move off their seats, said Kim Pickering, who attended the debate at the Indian and Métis Friendship Centre.

"Get out there and talk to [the voters], don't hide in the corner from them," she said. "You gotta get to know them; See what people's needs really are."

Candidate Judy Wasylycia-Leis was lauded for taking the opportunity to mingle with the crowd.

Katz was not able to make it because he was speaking at an information night in the Exchange District.
Despite the apparent lack of interest by most of the candidates, the event was still deemed a success because of the interest shown by those who turned out.

One of those people, Hector Pierre, said he hopes those types of debates encourage his neighbors to stop complaining about issues and start talking with their ballots.

"When you vote you immediately are taking action for yourself and your family, saying, 'well yes, it matters to me who is our elected official,'" he said.

"The more aboriginals that come and vote then you'll see changes."
- Not a clue of the give-and-take between candidates.

- 200 people there and the story concentrates on "some" who felt insulted because two candidates didn't mingle.

- And what the hell does this mean: "Katz was not able to make it because he was speaking at an information night in the Exchange District?" What's an information night?

A reader would learn something about the candidates from blogger Jacque Pierre's account.

The CBC story told you nothing.
But, remember, they are professionals. They have editors. They have ethics.

They just don't have any news sense.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Good election stories slipping through the cracks at televised forums

At first blush, the television reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press captured the public mood in his column Saturday when he dissed televised mayoral "debates".

"These days -- days which include, of course, the current civic-election campaign in Winnipeg -- debates and forums are pretty much a mockery, exercises in rote repetition of over-rehearsed talking points that reveal nothing about the candidates except their shared ability to say as little as possible for as long as possible in order to avoid being caught in a "gotcha!" moment." wrote TV scribe Brad Oswald.

"In short, watching televised political debates is a complete waste of time."

But wait....

After spending the weekend reviewing the mayoral forums on Shaw TV and CBC TV, we have to demur.

While he was spot-on when describing the folly of the format, the true blame for failing the public lies not with the politicians but with the so-called professional reporters.

They're the ones moderating the debates, they're the ones asking the questions, and they're the ones who are missing the big stories. Yes, we said big stories.

Here's some of the elections news that was NEVER reported or grossly underreported by the professional journalists covering the mayoral campaign.

* Nobody's talking about the Vision Thing anymore

For the past four years pundits have criticized Sam Katz for not having a vision for Winnipeg, unlike their patron saint, former mayor Glen (Me Me Me) Murray.

Well, Katz spelled it out in the Shaw forum in words small enough for even professional journalists to understand, and...nothing.

"You have to look at light rail transit. That's what vision is all about," said Katz. "That's what Stephen Juba had many years ago when he talked about monorail."

"We're not planning for today; we're planning for 20 years from now."

And Judy Waylycia-Leis's vision? She doesn't have 'a' vision, she has plans.

"I've got a plan on the table," she says repeatedly. In fact, she said on the CBC forum, "I've got dozens of plans that have all been costed out."

So far, not one reporter has asked to see those "dozens of plans, all costed out."

While we're waiting, we can sing the Monorail song:

But there was one big and related story at the Shaw debate that soared right over the heads of the snoozing election reporters.

Sam Katz declared that his critics have got it wrong about BRT.

* Stage One of BRT is Stage One-and-Only and always was, he said.

"People are confused because I don't think everybody's been told what's going on," said Katz.

"Bus Rapid Transit, basically, (runs) from downtown to Jubilee. When it gets to Jubilee, it crosses over to Pembina Highway and continues down the diamond lanes all the way south on Pembina Highway. So it's continuous." he said.

That was always the deal with former Premier Gary Doer, said the incumbent mayor. "We had a thorough understanding." There was never going to be a Stage Two of BRT, leaving the field open for his pet project, an LRT line to act as a prod for residential and economic development along its route.

A perennial question for mayoral candidates is what they would do to promote economic growth in the city. FP reporter Barley Kives asked a fractured variant of that question at the CBC forum:

"What would you do to bring more businesses here, more head offices here, more exciting businesses, to keep people here, to attract people here and to diversify the economy?"

He got two widely different answers from two divergent perspectives.

Judy Wasylycia-Leis answered first with a shockingly frank observation.

"You know what I've heard from business over and over again throughout this campaign? We've got a pretty steady economy. It's a pretty good business climate. But what's wrong is that they're (sic) not a well built, beautiful city."

"We've got crime and violence in our street that is deterring people from coming here. They say if you do that first, fix those problems first, we'll be able to create the conditions for bringing more business here and playing on and building on our innovation which combines with our cultural excitement and combines with our--that strong sense that business bring to this community." (Yes, we know, the second half makes no sense, but its what she said.)

Then, after trashing Winnipeg as a hellhole of crime and crumbling streets, in the very next breath she said "we should be out there bragging about Winnipeg, being a champion for the greatness of this city" starting with Centralia 2010 in St. Boniface this week.

Centrallia is described as a business-to-business forum where representatives from small businesses, chambers of commerce, economic development agencies and government trade representatives from around the world come to connect and share opportunities for developing new business relationships.
Wasylycia-Leis, who has never had a real job in her life unconnected with the NDP, and who has never started or run a business, sees economic development as a PR challenge.

Sam Katz was more prosaic but spoke from the perspective of someone who has operated businesses most of his life.

"It's all about taxes. That's what they look at---taxes and utilities, that's what any business person first looks at."

Ah, taxes.

The two main candidates for mayor are poles apart on the issue of taxes.

Judy Wasylycia-Leis is flatout for a hike in property taxes--two percent a year for four years, raising about $32 million. This will be spent on infrastructure.

"I think this is the fundamental question in the election," she said in the Shaw forum.

The amount to be raised is a drop in the ocean compared to the $3 billion to $4 billion infrastructure deficit. Her weak response (honest) is "something is better than nothing."

Her point is that Winnipeg needs to be seen doing everything it can to raise its own money before it asks for financial contributions from the province and federal government.

Sam Katz takes the exact opposite view. He says Winnipeg is already contributing vastly more than its share on infrastructure projects.

Out of every one dollar of taxes--after all transfers and grants---Winnipeg keeps only 7 cents, says Katz. The federal government winds up with 28 cents and the province rakes in 65 cents.

7-28-65. That's the formula that must be changed, he says, and...

* Sam Katz is prepared to go to war with the NDP government to get more money.

Katz wants the province to designate one percent of provincial sales tax to Winnipeg, which would amount to $130 million now and would grow with the economy. The NDP have shown no sign they're willing to pony up, so Katz has drawn a line in the sand.

"There's an election coming up (in 2011)," he warns. "Unlike any other city, Winnipeg comprises over two-thirds of the province."

In short, we've got the muscle to defeat the NDP unless they do the right thing.

Why does he believe he can succeed in getting a one percent cut of PST?

"Because I think the people finally are united to get this done, and do what's fair and right, and you can see when you're getting only seven cents of every tax dollar, no way can you match one-third, one-third, one-third funding."

"The people's voice will be heard."

Of course what Katz isn't saying is that the provincial government is giving Winnipeg $218.6 million this year through an assortment of grants and co-funding, including a share of provincial income tax and fuel tax revenue, funding for Winnipeg transit, a police helicopter and cadet program, bike paths, and various infrastructure projects.

Crime, as you can see from Judy Waylycia-Leis's survey of businessmen, remains the main issue of the election. Attacking the crime rate is a central plank of Katz's reelection campaign.

He was asked pointblank during the Shaw forum how many more police do we need?

And he answered.


* That's all. We need only 58 more police "to accomplish our goal", he said.

20 to walk beats. 20 to the gang unit to babysit the worst gang leaders. And 18 to ride in cruiser cars.

JustJudy, meanwhile, is sticking to her plan to fight crime without getting all legal. She wants to address "the roots of crime", which she described earlier in her campaign as " poverty, homelessness, alienation, despair and lack of access to jobs, education, and training."

Why should Winnipegers believe you and what would you do, she was asked.

"Because I have a plan," she replied.

She told the Shaw-TV audience she's proposing "a number of very serious programs" to tackle the root causes, a key one being the Reach program in Edmonton, which sets timetables for action.

So, we checked out the Reach program in Edmonton, and promptly keeled over in a diabetic coma from all the sugary social worker sweetness.

The program calls for every social work agency on the planet to cooperate with every other social work agency on the planet to coordinate everything they do to keep criminals out of the clutches of police while turning society on its head to let criminals and would-be criminals gently find their way. And they have a timetable, alright---10 years.

* Judy Wasylycia-Leis's anti-crime strategy is to change society 180 degrees over ten years.

It's funny that no reporter has pointed out that the provincial NDP has been doing everything that she wants to do for the last, uh, let's see....why, 10 years. How's that hopey-changey thing worked out?

Some election reporters have distinguished themselves by inserting their own bizarre agendas in the mayoral forums.

- Bartley Kives of the Free Press keeps raising a waterpark as an election issue at every opportunity when not demanding that Sam Katz come clean about having seen a summary of a draft of a leaked parking study before he got on an elevator somewhere.
- No reporter has asked serious questions about the rigged consultation process that preceeded the Disraeli Bridge project and the rash of bike paths. The lack of legitimate consultation with constituents has become an election issue in several wards (hello John Orlikow and Jenny Gerbasi).
- And the Asper family has become radioactive on the election trail. No mayoral candidate has pointed to all the tax and tourist money the city will be getting from the cursed Museum for Human Rights or David Asper's imagined high-end shopping centre, the Elms. Funny how nobody is claiming credit for the new stadium.

The best question-and-answer exchange of all the mayoral forums didn't involve a reporter.

Fringe candidate Rav Gill asked JustJudy at the Shaw forum for an example of some initiative she started and led during her years of public service that benefited her constituents.

Her answer?

She got a ban on the sale of flavoured cigarillos to young people.

You can't make this up.

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Ruthless measures preface the NDP's 2011 election campaign

It's getting crowded under the bus.

The provincial NDP are shifting their 2011 election campaign into high gear while the Opposition Tories are hibernating peacefully. Friday the NDP started trimming dead wood and you will be surprised to see who they're throwing out.

NDP candidate for mayor Judy Wasylycia-Leis was the first to get tossed under the wheels. They've obviously decided she's gone as far as she's going and its time to shift resources to the provincial campaign.

This morning she woke up to read " Dufferin residents fighting crime/ Getting phone line for anonymous tips."

"This Saturday, about 500 residents of the inner-city neighbourhood will get posters advertising a new phone line dedicated to collecting anonymous tips that will hopefully clear out crack dealers, slum housing and gang houses.

"It's a very tough area," said Chris Burrows.

The 70-year-old former kindergarten teacher is the spokeswoman for the Dufferin-area Citizens on Watch (COW) program and also the wife of Sel Burrows, a community activist credited with cleaning up Point Douglas with its own COW program." (Winnipeg Free Press, Oct. 15, 2010)

But, but, but...that's my promise, JustJudy probably gurgled in her cornflakes.

Way back in mid-August, with Sel Burrows at her side, she held a news conference to announce a central platform of her campaign: "the PowerLine program--- residents can anonymously dial a number or send an email to report vandalism, crime trends and problem properties to a central coordinator."

"These kinds of programs work because they make neighbourhoods inhospitable to those who would commit crime, and they give police hundreds more eyes and ears on our streets,” said Sel Burrows who helped establish the first successful PowerLine program in Point Douglas. “When gang members and criminals know they’re being watched and monitored they think twice about engaging in criminal activity.” (Judy for Mayor media release, Aug. 16, 2010)

Suddenly, the tip line is up and running with Sel and his wife at the helm and NO JUDY.

What message does that send?

That the voters don't need Judy Wasylycia-Leis to get this anti-crime measure operating.

Sel Burrows, a lifelong NDP activist, and his wife could have waited two weeks for the election to be over before announcing the Dufferin COW program. They could have waited three weeks and let JustJudy announce it, if she won the mayor's race.

Instead, the announcement was rushed out... why? To be in force by the time Invisible George Hickes has to campaign for re-election in the district?

But Judy Alphabet isn't the only high-profile sacrifice.

The NDP also swallowed hard and threw the nurses union under the bus, too.

"Police in Winnipeg are launching a criminal probe into the death of Brian Sinclair, a homeless man and double-amputee who spent 34 hours waiting in a hospital’s emergency room before dying there in September 2008.

Police made the announcement Friday, nearly six months after Toronto-based Clayton Ruby, a lawyer for the family, called on officers to investigate. They said they will be assembling a team of investigators to look into the death as a potentially criminal matter." (Winnipeg Free Press · Friday, Oct. 15, 2010)

An inquest into Sinclair's death was announced 20 months ago. Yes, that's TWENTY MONTHS ago. And no date has even been set yet.

But the NDP are running out of excuses to delay the inquest. And the last thing they want is an inquest just before or, God forbid, during the election campaign of 2011. So...a police investigation it is.

Don't for one second think that a detective in the homicide division just decided one morning last week to launch an investigation. A Toronto lawyer, sniffing a big payday, suggested a police investigation SIX MONTHS AGO. And that was after Manitoba's chief medical examiner saw no need for police involvement.

Yet, suddenly, the Crown attorneys give the police the go-ahead to treat emergency room nurses like criminal suspects.

A police investigation will take months. If a charge is laid, it will take years to prosecute.

The NDP, particularly the Premier and Health Minister, will have a built-in excuse to refuse to answer any and all questions about the matter during an election campaign.

How convenient that almost 3 years after Sinclair's death, the government officials will claim they simply cannot discuss this, the worst example of their stewardship of the health system.

But to arrange this, they have had to break with the nurses, one of their biggest bases of support. Where they once talked about the Sinclair death as an unfortunate accident, they now want to suggest it was a criminal act. Every nurse on duty at the time at Health Sciences Centre emergency room is now to be considered a likely suspect. They will all need lawyers. Any refusal to talk, even on lawyer's orders, will be seen as a confession of some criminal act or other.

What a boost to nurses' morale, eh.

The NDP needs to solidify the aboriginal voting base up north, so it's an easy choice--alienate the reserves or the nurses. There's less risk that the nurses will swing to the Tories.

That's what happens when the government takes your support for granted.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

MSM election bias on display: Stadium cost overrun under wraps

David Asper did more dancing than a chicken on a hotplate when he appeared on CJOB Tuesday morning, to give an update on the new stadium he's building.

OB was chasing our story three days earlier in The Black Rod that a sports fan with his ear to the ground had heard the cost of the stadium was wildly out of control, as high as $190 million instead of the $115 million the city and province agreed to pay.

Asper came armed with an encyclopedia of excuses to avoid putting a total on the tenders.

There were more than 100 tenders, he said. They were very complex. They needed to be evaluated. There might be overlap. Time was the enemy. Blah blah blah.

"My sources tell me its in over the $130 million mark," said radio host Richard Cloutier, adding that this meant a proper stadium would cost $150-$170 million.

Everyone wants a "proper" stadium, Asper volleyed, and that's why he was counting on the partnership (that would be unelected Premier Greg Selinger, incumbent Mayor Sam Katz, plus the cashless Winnipeg Blue Bombers) to step up if "costs are more than originally anticipated."

"I'm thinking this will have to go back to (city) council at some point," said Cloutier.

"I don't know what would cause that to occur," said Asper.

Asper said his "partners" were briefed on the tenders last week. That means Sam Katz knows if the stadium project is careening over the cliff, but isn't telling the electorate.

The public, said Asper, could learn the new cost of the new stadium in a couple of weeks, which would be the day before the date of the civic election, Oct. 27.

In the meantime, construction continues even though the "partners" don't know what they're building or how much they're paying for it. The stadium site has been dug out to a depth of 15 feet, said Asper, and in a week or 10 days work on the superstructure will begin.

That's how your local governments spend your tax money.

As predicted, Tuesday the mainstream media in Winnipeg openly demonstrated how biased their election reporting is.

The CBC, Winnipeg Free Press, CTV, Global News, and Winnipeg Sun all went ga-ga over the news that embattled River Heights incumbent John Orlikow filed a complaint about a flier attacking him for his role in backing a contentious bicycle path through the neighbourhood.

This would be the same media mob that's studiously refused to report that eight complaints have been filed against NDP candidate Ross Eadie in Mynarski ward following his public confession that the NDP is helping fund his campaign. It's against the law for any political party to contribute to an election campaign.

The mainstream reporters, many of whom live in River Heights, are quick to jump on a complaint filed by one of their favorite councillors, while ignoring a much more serious election scandal across town in the North End which involves the NDP candidate and NDP party.

The biggest hypocrites are the "team" from the Winnipeg Free Press. The newspaper is running television spots and printing house ads touting their coverage of the election.

"Winnipeg's most comprehensive, in-depth civic election coverage" they brag. "Every twist and turn of the mayoralty race. Every ward race. Every school board race."


Reporter Melissa Martin was at the candidates meeting where Eadie blurted out that he couldn't afford to run without funding from the NDP. Did she run with the scoop? Nope. She did report that the moderator put down his microphone and left when Eadie wouldn't stop interrupting the other candidates.

Has the Free Press "team" reported on the flood of complaints about Eadie to the city's senior election official Marc Lemoine? Nope.

Has the Free Press "team" reported on the alleged breach by the NDP of the NDP's own financing legislation? Nope.

Has the Free Press "team" reported on how toothless the legislation is? Or compared it to the impotence of the NDP's whistleblower legislation? Nope.

Has the Free Press "team" reported on Marc Lemoine's refusal to investigate the complaints that the election financing law is being broken? Nope.

Has the Free Press "team" reported on whether Winnipeg's senior election official has any power or resources to investigate breaches of the law? Nope.
Just today, we received a tip that the Judy Wasylycia-Leis camp was campaigning outside the advance poll at the University of Winnipeg. Was the Free Press "team" there?

Is this "Winnipeg's most comprehensive, in-depth election coverage?"

Sad to say, it might be.

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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Measuring media bias: The biggest election scandal ignored

An unprecedented election scandal is unfolding in Winnipeg while the self-proclaimed Democracy boosters in the mainstream media are purposely ignoring it.

At least eight people have now come forward to election authorities saying they heard Mynarski candidate Ross Eadie tell an all-candidates forum that the provincial NDP are helping to fund his campaign.

Another two attendees at the meeting have posted these internet messages on the New Winnipeg community forum confirming Eadie's public statement:

Re: 2010 Winnipeg Civic Election

by Northender on Fri Oct 01, 2010 10:04 am
I was there. The context was Eadie taking a swipe at the three independent candidates to his left who had just completed their remarks. Eadie seemed out of control and was yelling that they were just as political as he was, but how could he run a campaign without the financial backing of the NDP and after he was elected he would be just as independent as the rest of the candidates...

Re: 2010 Winnipeg Civic Election

by CanadaIsDying on Fri Oct 01, 2010 12:39 pm
You see, I think saying that he yelled the whole time is a tasteless misdirection. Eadie is blind, nobody needs to berate this fact and during his turn in discussion he wasn't always able to align himself with the microphone. So - yes - sometimes he chose to just forgo the mic and stand up and address the crowd. Which was fine by me. His performance during the forum was ugly, but he wasn't in a state of absolute flailing lunacy.
I'll also confirm that Ross did implicate NDP support. Potentially accidentally, but I'll wait on that.

Accepting financial support from a political party is illegal under the Municipal Conflict of Interest and Campaign Financing Act which bans financial contributions from unions, organizations and political parties. Only individuals can "make a contribution to a registered candidate."

But despite this flood of witnesses to an NDP candidate's confession of an NDP campaign to subvert the civic election, Winnipeg's Senior Election Official Marc Lemoine is doing absolutely nothing.

Instead of launching an investigation when memories are fresh, Lemoine has told one complainant he'll wait until after the election to decide what, if anything, to do. One upset voter called him the day after the meeting and hadn't even received a callback after more than a week.

The Point Douglas Residents Committee is known to have made the only recording of the candidates forum, but the tape's whereabouts are unknown. Would it be surprising to find out that the recording has, ahem, disappeared or been tampered with? The PDRA has let its support for Eadie be a poorly-kept secret.

Meanwhile, Lemoine, the man in charge of enforcing the law, has chosen to sit quietly on the sidelines while the law is allegedly being broken right under his nose. The electorate is owed an explanation why.

This wouldn't be the first time the provincial NDP has resorted to cheating in an election, and covering it up with the help of a top election official. In 1999 the party engaged in an organized scheme to defraud the public treasury of $76,000 in unwarranted rebates.

( Here's how it worked: unions supplied election workers for NDP candidates; the NDP covered their regular salaries but the unions kicked back the same sums as a "donation", the NDP then filed campaign finance statements claiming the union workers as paid help for which they would get rebates from the public purse.)

When an auditor eventually uncovered the scheme, the NDP attacked him and demanded he be removed from the file. Then, after stalling for almost 3 years, they made a secret deal with Richard Balasko, the head of Elections Manitoba, to cover up the scheme provided they simply repaid the money they hadn't been entitled to receive.

The kicker was that the NDP had been doing this for years before they got caught. The hundreds of thousands of dollars in rebated funds went into an election kitty that could be tapped to provide untraceable financing for future elections.

When an NDP insider revealed the rebate fraud scheme in 2009, the public learned that current NDP leader Greg Selinger, the dirtiest politician in Manitoba, had been part of the coverup for years.

In the Legislature, then NDP leader Gary Doer and Crazy Dave Chomiak, when he wasn't stupified on tranquilizers, dismissed the 1999 election fraud by declaring they deserved credit for ensuring nothing like it could happen again because they passed---wait for it---the provincial Conflict of Interest and Campaign Financing Act, the exact law they're accused of subverting in the Winnipeg civic election.

Today, as it turns out, is an excellent day to measure the bias of the local news media.

River Heights incumbent John Orlikow is accusing the provincial Conservative Party of interfering in the election in his ward against him.

Let's see how the CJOB, Winnipeg Free Press, the Winnipeg Sun and CBC cover Orlikow's allegations --- and compare that with how they covered Ross Eadie's confession.

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Saturday, October 09, 2010

The tenders are in. Is the bill for new stadium $190 million?

Incumbent councillor Justin Swandel (St. Norbert) knows what its like to be spun on a spit and roasted on high heat, for that's how he felt during a fierce confrontation Thursday with opponents of the proposed new stadium for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

At an open house on the stadium, the one-term councillor (winner of a byelection in 2005 to fill the seat for 18 months before winning a full term in '06) got the message, loud, clear and in his face, from his furious constituents:

We don't want it and we're holding you responsible.

Swandel, who thinks he's got the election in the bag, offered them no comfort.

But there's a glimmer of hope for the Fort Richmond homeowners worried about noise, parking loss, traffic disruption, and rowdyism that comes with a stadium down the block.

It comes from a published report from a well-placed source. Sort of.

It's "published" as a post by someone using a cute pseudonym on an internet message board. The writer is unknown to us, but comes recommended by his peers as "heavily connected" and "a trusted source."

What the hell. Those are already better credentials than the "anonymous sources who don't want to be named" that the Winnipeg Free Press cites in their stories.

JHendrix70 posted on on Sept. 30 at 8:19 p.m.:

You guys think the Museum is an issue. Let me give you this little tidbit:
Cost of new Bombers Stadium = 113-120 Million. ( 130 Total, 15 million going to U of M Facility )
Cost of Material alone for new Bomber Stadium = 165-190 Million.
You do the math......
Tenders were awarded today. Job will be priced again & will obviously have significant reductions.

The same day, or evening, rather, the Winnipeg Sun posted its stadium story...

Traffic nightmare feared
Residents slam lack of stadium planning
Last Updated: September 30, 2010 9:26pm

...which concluded "The final cost and plan for the stadium, which was originally pegged at $115 million, have yet to be firmed up. (Creswin president Dan) Edwards said the call for tenders from contractors closed Thursday afternoon."

At least that part of JHendrix70's post was confirmed.

Now the stadium opponents need to know whether his figures are accurate. The numbers indicate that the proposed stadium is 35 to 60 percent over the budget approved by the provincial and city governments. The lower cost will obviously come with major alterations to the design.

Although some work has started on the planned stadium at the University of Manitoba campus, the project is mired in confusion over what exactly it will look like and who will pay for it.

Sold to the public as a $115 million project, with construction overruns to be covered by (alleged) businessman David Asper, he's followed the family tradition and reneged on the promise made to Winnipeg taxpayers, stiffing them with the bill just like his sister did with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

If David Asper knows the sum total of the tenders for the stadium he must reveal it to the public immediately if he intends to keep stuffing his face at the public trough.

If Mayor Sam Katz knows the cost of the stadium, post-tender, he must make it public now and not after the election. Katz has pledged to bring the stadium project back to city council if the cost tops $115 million.

But if he knows now that's the case then the cost of the stadium must be an election issue and the public given a chance to question candidates for city council before casting their ballots.

Unelected Premier Greg Selinger is off on a junket to Israel for a week, but he'll be back in plenty of time to reveal the anticipated cost overrun on the stadium before the Oct. 27 municipal election. Selinger is proposing to take money away from students in St. James and taxpayers in all of Winnipeg to pay for the stadium if Asper defaults. We deserve to know at the earliest what that bill will be.

Swandel, meanwhile, expects to be singed by the anti-stadium backlash, but not enough to cost him the seat.

“I believe that the hard work that I’ve done, the millions of dollars of investments that I have brought into the area and the burning issues that I have dealt with and resolved for the people [ . . . ] that the people will respond positively and in my favor,” Swandel told The Manitoban, the University of Manitoba student newspaper.

In the byelection of 2005, Swandel barely squeaked in, winning by fewer than 200 votes in a race with eight contestants.

In 2006 he trounced his only challenger by almost 4500 votes...except that his victory came over anti-fogging moonbat Glenda Whiteman.

This time he's running against Louise May who comes with impressive credentials. Currently the executive director of the St. Norbert Arts Centre, she has a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Manitoba (the practical) and a Masters’ Degree in Fine Arts from the Norwich University in Vermont (the artistic).
And she's in tune with Fort Richmond on the stadium.
“This is a major capital project and there are a lot of issues that are still very grey about how the financing is going to work. I simply cannot support it with its present plan,” May told The Manitoban.
But her secret weapon is her father, Bill Loewen, the founder of the National Party, and his vast experience in politics both national and local.

And if that isn't enough, May's daughter Zona is an artist in her own right whose work is described on the Internet as "multi-media, bookworks, magic potions and spells, abstract paintings and craftbased objects."

Magic potions and spells?

Think again, Mr. Swandel. Think again.

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Monday, October 04, 2010

"I think being a politician is a job" says Judy promoter

OOOOOOOOOO. We're baaaaad.

Or rather, nas-tay.

The Winnipeg Free Press, also known as The-Newspaper-That-Dares-Not-Print-Our-Name, didn't do it again Sunday.

When The Black Rod sparked a national firestorm of commentary in 2008 by reporting on former CBC radio host Lesley Hughes' flirtation with 911 conspiracy buffs, FP reporter Bruce Owen, sent scrambling to match us, attributed our scoop to "a local blogger", while FP columnist Dan Lett said it came from "a Manitoba blog."

We don't know if it's a promotion or not to be alluded to Sunday as "nasty bloggers". (The Blogosphere is so confusing.) It sounds sexy though.

It was in a story headlined 'Gender May Sink Judy: Expert', where University of Winnipeg poli-sci prof Shannon Sampert was quoted arguing that Judy Wasylycia-Leis had a built-in excuse for losing the mayoral election (if she does)---she's a woman and society has got it in for women in politics

"Judy has had a phenomenal career. She isn't a political neophyte. And yet, nasty bloggers are saying she hasn't had a real job when I think being a politician is a job," she told the annual Prairie Political Science Association on Saturday.

Uh, that's us, the "nasty bloggers (who) are saying she hasn't had a real job." We've been reporting that from Day One.

Sampert, a typical man-bashing seventies-style feminist, actually thinks politician qualifies as a real job.

Let's see....

A politician doesn't have to do anything, say anything or have any skills. He can have the most reprehensible beliefs (hello, 911 Truthers) and still be elected.

A politician can lie (Glen Murray promised not to sell Winnipeg Hydro), cheat (the NDP's 1999 tax-rebate scheme), and bribe (JustJudy promises seniors they won't have to pay property taxes) his way to office.

A politican isn't "hired". He or she acquires a paycheque by winning a lottery we call an election. If his opponent quits, dies or gets the boot from a political party (hello Lesley Hughes), then he gets to "win" by virtue of being on the ballot.

In office, a politician has to do only one thing---take an oath--- and, presto, he/she's paid.

A politician doesn't have to represent his constituency, despite our form of government, (representative democracy). He can vote the exact opposite of what he campaigned on. He doesn't even have to vote on anything. He can't be called into the boss's office or fired.

A politician, once elected, is not accountable to the people in his riding. He has to run for reelection in four years if he wants to keep the job. But we didn't win Friday's Super Seven draw and we have to wait an entire week before we can try again, so what's the difference.

JustJudy, as she wants to be called, has never in her adult life collected a paycheque that didn't come from her political party, the NDP, or some affiliate. Her entire "career" consists of being an NDP puppet, doing the bidding of the party regardless of the best interests of her constituents. She's been told what to do, what to say, when to vote and when not to vote.

Her skills are obeying the party line. And that qualifies her to be mayor?

Sorry, Shannon sweetie, we don't think so.

And who's that hottie standing next to you in the picture in the newspaper? (Shannon's PhD thesis supervisor, Linda Trimble, a University of Alberta political science professor and fellow hardcore feminist...ed.)

For newcomers, check out our first exposure to Shannon Sampert, in 2006 when she started attacking Mayor Sam Katz.

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Saturday, October 02, 2010

The CMHR has no money and big, expensive plans (for taxpayers to fund)


Monday, July 12, 2010

The Canadian Museum for Human Rights tells Wpg taxman "Talk to the Hand"
Tut, tut, tut.... what have we here?

We should have expected this from Winnipeg's biggest panhandler, millionaire moocher Gail Asper. Actually, in fact, we did. Which is why we checked.

Her pet project, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, has stiffed the City of Winnipeg for $360,000 in property taxes.

Eleven weeks later...

Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

City taxes hover over museum

Unexpected bill challenges institution's bottom line

By: Mia Rabson

Posted: 30/09/2010 (September 30, 2010) 1:00 AM | Comments: 81

OTTAWA -- A mounting city tax bill that could run into the millions the Canadian Museum for Human Rights didn't know it would have to pay is still causing headaches for the developing institution.

According to both the museum's 2009-10 annual report and its corporate plan for 2008-2015 tabled in the House of Commons this week, the museum has yet to get Ottawa to agree to up its operating funding to help it pay for its city taxes and inflation.

"There are two issues that cannot be managed within... the original operating budget of $21.7 million," the corporate plan notes.

When the museum first developed its operating budgets, it didn't address inflation on costs such as heating and electricity.

Also, nobody picked up on the fact national museums have to make payments in lieu of taxes to the municipality in which they are located. Private museums do not.

So its original operating budgets for 2008 through 2012 did not include having to make those payments.
The first two of those payments is now due but the museum is still negotiating with the city and Public Works Canada about how and when they will be paid.

"Public Works and the city have been in discussions for a number of months," said museum spokeswoman Angela Cassie.

The city formally applied for the first two payments in August, said Cassie.

The 2009 bill, which is for the period April-December 2009, is $157,792.21.

The 2010 bill, for the entire year, is $202,938.63.
WE ... checked the tax rolls.
THEY ... waited for an official handout, the 2009-2010 annual report, two-and-a-half months later.

WE ... got to the meat of the story in 3 paragraphs.
THEY ... took 10 paragraphs.

That's because they're highly trained, highly paid professional reporters, with editors, and we're citizen journalists with brains, computers, working for free and editing our own stories.

We didn't need a pretty picture above the fold and a phony Ottawa dateline to disguise the fact we were reporting history, not news; we relied on the facts as they presented themselves. Old school.

Even with the annual report and the final report of the CMHR content advisory committee in hand, the FP still managed to overlook real news.

The CMHR finally gave its version of the shocking cost overruns that they tried to keep under wraps last year until The Black Rod, using publicly available figures, crunched the numbers and reported the grim facts.

"In the period following the Government’s decision to make the CMHR a National Museum, the cost to build the Predock design – with no additions to the original design, other than those required to qualify for a LEED Silver designation and to reduce long-term operating costs – rose from $265 million to approximately $323 million. The Board of Trustees, after much deliberation, cut $12.4 million in design proposals – reducing the costs as much as possible while maintaining the integrity of the design – and announced in May 2009 that the total budget for the project would be $310 million. The Museum is confident in the ability of the Friends of CMHR to raise the additional $45 million necessary to complete the building project from sources nationally and internationally."

In plain English,

- the cost ballooned to $58 million over budget,
- forcing the trustees to chisel away $12.4 million,
-- and report "only" a $45 million shortfall.

When we reported the museum was as much as $55 million over budget, we actually underestimated the red ink. But readers of the Winnipeg Free Press still have never been told the story of the CMHR's real cost overrun.

As for confidence in the Friends, don't bank on it.

The annual report throws a few twists into the alleged sums the Friends claim to have raised toward the construction of the CMHR.

"In April 2010, the Friends of CMHR paid the third installment of their contribution to the building project as required by the Definitive Agreement in the amount of $24.43 million, less $2.3 million pending completion of a revised agreement to allow the Friends of CMHR operating funds to raise the remaining capital funding required for the project."

Translation: The Friends of CMHR raised $24.3 million towards construction, but only delivered a little over $22 million.

They kept $2.3 million to cover the costs of raising more money.

So the first $2.3 million they raised this year went to cover $2.3 million of the money they told the public they raised last year.

It looks like the campaign to cover the $45 million deficit is chasing a moving target, and we don't really have a clue how much of the shortfall they've actually covered.

The other twist is that the Friends are legally obligated to make four installment payments. Three are down with one to go, and they're nowhere near the $45 million they need to cover the full cost (as of May, 2009) of the museum. What happens next year when their commitment ends? And the red ink doesn't?

Why do we sense that some tradesmen are going to wind up getting stiffed? Get paid in advance, boys.

And speaking of added costs....

If you think something stinks about the museum project, you're right and the annual report confirms it.

"We had some challenges with respect to the caisson foundations. Unfortunately, poor underground conditions such as unsound bed rock, high water levels, and methane gas slowed down the process. The additional time and cost of the caisson work did put some pressure on the contingency budget and the schedule; however, we are diligently working with the contractor, PCL Constructors Canada Inc. and are confident that the project will be managed within the overall budget and schedule for completion."

Methane gas. P-U.

And what's this about "pressure on the contingency budget." That's been eaten up long, long ago. Is that then code for "north of 45 (million dollars")? 22 percent of the budget still hadn't been tendered as of spring, 2010. If Gail Asper's brother Davey was telling the truth about his plans for a new stadium, construction costs exploded between last spring and now.

The CMHR's annual report touches on their tax problem. It seems that millionaire moocher Gail Asper forgot such mundane matters like property taxes when drawing up the operating budget. Oh, and water bills, electricity bills, and the rest of those pesky maintenance costs. So the museum trustees will be doing what they always do---running to the government for more money. At least $5 million for taxes, and as much as $9 million, plus utilities---with annual increases for both.


And don't think for a second that the geniuses behind the CMHR are daunted by little things like no money to pay for construction, no money to cover taxes, and no money for utilities.

The white elephant museum they can't afford is only the start of their delusions of grandeur.

In the content advisory committee's final report, we found this astonishing proposal:

"The Museum should ensure the ongoing in-house education of Museum staff in all aspects of human rights theory, practice, education, and history, as well as emerging issues. This could be done through the creation of a Learning Centre, to which the Museum would seek to attract visiting scholars, practitioners, and defenders of human rights. Permanent staff with expertise in human rights would be actively involved in shaping the Centre's program. As well as being a continuing source of in-service education and development for Museum staff, the Centre could operate programs for other general or specific audiences."

Belly up to the trough, boys and girls. There's plenty of swill for everyone.

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