Skip to main content

Selinger's Stadium Snake Oil--makes a perfect Xmas gift


Hallelujah!

Just in time for Christmas --- a new batch of snake oil arrives in town.

Unelected Premier Greg Selinger, the slimiest politician in the province, waited until the Legislature rose for the winter before leaking details of the latest, oiliest, New Stadium Deal yet.

He doesn't think anyone will find it suspicious that he kept the deal hidden until the very day he can't be questioned about it on camera.

Or that he won't give city councillors a look at it until, maybe, the day before their last meeting of the year, next week, when Selinger wants them to rubber stamp it with the help of his, ahem, "partner", just-reelected Mayor Sam Katz.

Nope, nothing suspicious about that.

Why, only a hardened cynic would compare that tactic to David Asper's hiding the cost of the new stadium until the civic election was over and his candidate for mayor, NDP-backed Judy Wasylycia-Leis, got trounced. "Still working on it", he'd say every day that went by after the tenders were delivered.

And after The Black Rod revealed the true cost had climbed as high as $190 million--for material alone.

And after Asper's construction company said we were just trying to sabotage the project with such inflammatory numbers.

What's Selinger saying today? "Still working on it."

That's the problem with snake oil. A little bit of sugar helps the rotgut go down---once. The second time around, no amount of noseholding helps kill the stench.

And this New New Stadium Deal is even less palatable than that whipped up by chief brewer David Asper.

You'll remember that one was supposed to be a privately-built stadium, with only a little government help here and there, that would provide the Winnipeg Blue Bombers with a guaranteed stream of revenue to keep them a viable team for generations.

The deal would cost $115 million and Asper promised to cover all construction overruns before taking over as the new private owner of the football club.

It turned out every word was a lie.

Asper didn't have two nickels to rub together, so his participation consisted of a tattered IOU. The cost to build a stadium ballooned to $190 million and climbing. And Asper reneged on his promise to pick up the tab for overruns the minute there were overruns. (He came as close to owning the team as you did, only you cost the city much, much less.)

The New Snake Oil is for the province to write a blank cheque for the still-unknown cost of the stadium and for everyone to pretend they'll get most of the money back from their "partners".

Unfortunately for them, and for us, their "partners' are other money-sucking government entities that depend on the province for existence.

The only hint of private sector involvement is the millions of dollars Greg Selinger intends to pay his "partner" David Asper to go away.

Instead of the fig leaf that Asper will pay back $90 million of the cost, we have the even bigger pretense that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will pay back $70 million. You know, the team that can barely keep the lights and heat on at the existing stadium suddenly has a Gold American Express card and can't wait to pick up the tab for everyone. Nope, nothing suspicious about that, either.

Oh, wait, we forgot that Selinger says they'll have help with a $2.40 surcharge on all tickets sold. At that rate, they only need to sell 29 million tickets. In a short 100 years, they'll have paid the government every cent back.

Except for the fact that the stadium will have been rebuilt twice over by then.

So, instead of pulling the hapless Bombers out of debt, we'll be drowning them with tens of millions of dollars of debt.

That, folks, is New Democonomics. As long as you've got your hands on the taxpayers' wallets, spend, spend, spend.

What more do you expect when the business deal is being drawn up by a social worker who has never run a business in his life.

But, of course, Sam Katz will be, as the Winnipeg Free Press put it Thursday, "scrutinizing" the business plan. Whew. That's a relief. But, uh, is this the same Sam Katz who OKAYED THE PREVIOUS DEAL WITH THE PREVIOUS SNAKE OIL SALESMAN, DAVID ASPER?

You know, the deal where an untendered contractor spent six months excavating a site without knowing what we would be building, what it would cost and who would be paying for it?

Uh, yeah. Same Sam Katz.

His latest trick to protect himself from the fallout of the stadium fiasco is to publicly insist he won't agree to anything unless he's given a maximum final price. Oooooh. Tough talk.

Until you ask yourself what happens if the cost exceeds the maximum final price. Answer: nothing.

The province will just pay it. That's what a blank cheque means. So all this talk about a maximum final price is only Sam Katz's escape clause from blame.

The city, we're told will be expected to cough up $7 million for the stadium. That's on top of the $2.5 million we're kicking in for a fitness centre at the University of Manitoba that's part of the whole deal.

So Winnipeg's contribution more than quadruples without a word of debate at city hall.

We suggest a word.

NO.

That's the word Sam Katz should hear when he finally drags this dead carcass of a deal into city hall.

We just had an election where the mayor and one candidate after another wept crocodile tears about the lack of public consultation in the city and about the need for greater transparency. And how overwhelming the infrastructure deficit is.

Well, it's time for the new council to prove those weren't just weasel words by politicians who will say anything to get elected.

Start by saying NO. No to any suggestion that the stadium deal has to be rushed through council. Hold public hearings. Demand a thorough accounting on the financial health of your "partners".

Katz confessed in a radio interview during the election just past that the city had done no due diligence on David Asper before committing itself to a multi-million dollar deal with him.

We're standing on the rubble of that trust agreement.

A commenter on Skyscraper.co, writing under the name Tower Crane, summed up the public's frustration Thursday night. We couldn't say it better, so we'll give him the last words:

"Why are the people of Winnipeg letting somebody get away with this?"
"Someone needs to start asking the tough questions.
"How was this project allowed to start?
"The Contractor ( Dominion ) would be smart enough to know the available funds versus the design were in major conflict, why was the start of excavation allowed to happen?
"How was Dominion even awarded this work, public money should have had a tender for general contractor?
"What was the permit value based on?
"One of you forumers that were so full of themselves earlier, saying stuff like you'll see, I know from a good source, blah blah blah should put as much effort into finding out what the heck happened, how, why.
"Someone's getting away with something rotten here and no one seems to be doing anything about it."

Popular posts from this blog

The unreported bombshell conspiracy evidence in the Trudeau/SNC-Lavelin scandal

Wow. No, double-wow. A game-changing bombshell lies buried in the supplementary evidence provided to the House of Commons Judiciary Committee by former Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould. It has gone virtually unreported since she submitted the material almost a week ago. As far as we can find, only one journalist-- Andrew Coyne, columnist for the National Post--- has even mentioned it and even then he badly missed what it meant, burying it in paragraph 10 of a 14 paragraph story. The gist of the greatest political scandal in modern Canadian history is well-known by now. It's bigger than Adscam, the revelation 15 years ago that prominent members of the Liberal Party of Canada and the party itself funneled tens of millions of dollars in kickbacks into their own pockets from federal spending in Quebec sponsoring ads promoting Canadian unity. That was just venal politicians and a crooked political party helping themselves to public money. The Trudeau-Snc-Lavalin scandal is

Manitoba Hydro is on its deathbed. There, we said it.

Manitoba Hydro is on its deathbed. Oh, you won't find anyone official to say it. Yet . Like relatives trying to appear cheery and optimistic around a loved one that's been diagnosed with terminal cancer, the people in power are in the first stage of grief -- denial. The prognosis for Hydro was delivered three weeks ago at hearings before the Public Utilities Board where the utility was seeking punishingly higher rates for customers in Manitoba. It took us this long to read through the hundred-plus pages of transcript, to decipher the coded language of the witnesses, to interpret what they were getting at, and, finally, to understand the terrible conclusion.  We couldn't believe it, just as, we're sure, you can't--- so we did it all again, to get a second opinion, so to speak.  Hydro conceded to the PUB that it undertook a massive expansion program--- involving three (it was once four) new dams and two new major powerlines (one in the United States)---whi

Crips and Bloodz true cultural anchors of Winnipeg's aboriginal gangs

(Bebo tribute page to Aaron Nabess on the right, his handgun-toting friend on the left) At least six murder victims in Winnipeg in the past year are linked to a network of thuglife, gangster rap-styled, mainly aboriginal street gangs calling themselves Crips and Bloods after the major black gangs of L.A. The Black Rod has been monitoring these gangs for several months ever since discovering memorial tributes to victim Josh Prince on numerous pages on Bebo.com, a social networking website like Myspace and Facebook. Josh Prince , a student of Kildonan East Collegiate, was stabbed to death the night of May 26 allegedly while breaking up a fight. His family said at the time he had once been associated with an unidentified gang, but had since broken away. But the devotion to Prince on sites like Watt Street Bloodz and Kingk Notorious Bloodz (King-K-BLOODZ4Life) shows that at the time of his death he was still accepted as one of their own. Our searches of Bebo have turned up another f

Nahanni Fontaine, the NDP's Christian-bashing, cop-smearing, other star candidate

As the vultures of the press circle over the wounded Liberal Party of Manitoba, one NDP star candidate must be laughing up her sleeve at how her extremist past has escaped the scrutiny of reporters and pundits. Parachuted into a safe NDP seat in Winnipeg's North End, she nonetheless feared a bruising campaign against a well-heeled Liberal opponent.  Ha ha.  Instead, the sleepy newspeeps have turned a blind eye to her years of vitriolic attacks on Christianity, white people, and police. * She's spent years  bashing Christianity  as the root cause of all the problems of native people in Canada. * She's called for  a boycott of white businesses . * And with her  Marxist research partner, she's  smeared city police as intransigent racists . Step up Nahanni Fontaine, running for election in St. John's riding as successor to the retiring Gord Macintosh. While her male counterpart in the NDP's galaxy of stars, Wab Kinew, has responded to the controversy over

Exposing the CBC/WFP double-team smear of a hero cop

Published since 2006 on territory ceded, released, surrendered and yielded up in 1871 to Her Majesty the Queen and successors forever. Exposing the CBC/FP double-team smear of a hero cop Some of the shoddiest journalism in recent times appeared this long August weekend when the CBC and Winnipeg Free Press doubled teamed on a blatant smear of a veteran city police officer. In the latest example of narrative journalism these media outlets spun stories with total disregard for facts that contradicted the central message of the reports which, simplified, is: police are bad and the system is covering up. Let's start with the story on the taxpayer funded CBC by Sarah Petz that can be summed up in the lead. "A February incident where an off-duty Winnipeg officer allegedly knocked a suspect unconscious wasn't reported to the province's police watchdog, and one criminologist says it shows how flawed oversight of law enforcement can be." There you have it. A policeman, not

Winnipeg needs a new police chief - ASAP

When did the magic die? A week ago the Winnipeg police department delivered the bad news---crime in the city is out of control. The picture painted by the numbers (for 2018) was appalling. Robberies up ten percent in  a single year.  (And that was the good news.) Property crimes were up almost 20 percent.  Total crime was 33 percent higher than the five year average. The measure of violent crime in Winnipeg had soared to a rating of 161.  Only four years earlier it stood at 116. That's a 38 percent deterioration in safety. How did it happen? How, when in 2015 the police and Winnipeg's police board announced they had discovered the magic solution to crime? "Smart Policing" they called it.    A team of crime analysts would pore through data to spot crime hot-spots and as soon as they identified a trend (car thefts, muggings, liquor store robberies) they could call in police resources to descend on the problem and nip it. The police