Skip to main content

Citizen journalists on a roll

Winnipeg bloggers have cracked big stories twice this month, teaching the mainstream media a painful lesson about citizen journalism.

Perhaps the most oblivious to what was happening right under their collective noses were the "professional" journalists at the Winnipeg Free Press which has been patting itself on the back for becoming a partner with the Winnipeg Foundation in a project to "train and empower citizen journalists".

Menno Zacharias blogs at Policing, Politics and Public Policy. (Can we have a contest to find him a better name for his blog. Please.) Naturally, as a retired deputy police chief, he still has an interest in what's going on with the Force. So when the WPD released its 2010 annual report in December, Menno pulled out his Sherlock Holmes magnifying glass.

Now, Zacharias is Old School. That means he can add, subtract, multiply and divide. And he knows how to read. And while going over the numbers provided by the police service, he spotted something that went unnoticed by all those, ahem, "professional" reporters.

"... the most glaring aspect of the report is in the math: crunch the city-wide crime numbers as they are shown and compare 2010 to 2009 and you will come up with a 9 percent increase in crime as opposed to the 7 percent decrease that the Annual Report states. What?!"

He even gave the professionals a journalism lesson, showing them step-by-step how he twigged onto the story and how he developed it.

"What originally caused me to take a closer look at the numbers was the apparent disparity between the reported reduction at the district level (see column 1) . The District numbers show reductions in the range of 20-30 percent and yet the city-wide reduction was listed as -7%. Something’s wrong here."

"The next step was to do the actual calculations using the District and city-wide data as listed in the 2009 and 2010 Annual Reports. The results of those calculations are listed in column 2. There is a significant disparity between the two columns – at this point I’m ready to suggest that the Police Service pull the 2010 Annual Report off the website, scrap the whole mess and start over."

Not even two week later--- guess what?

WINNIPEG POLICE SERVICE 2010 ANNUAL REPORT ERRORS IDENTIFIED, AMENDMENT PENDING

The Winnipeg Police Service 2010 Annual Report was made available to the public on December 28th, 2011. Following its release a statistical error come to light that will result in the Service releasing an amended version of our 2010 Annual Report.
The amendments will require a change to the Criminal Code Offences by Month Chart and the Total Criminal Code Offences Chart. Once this work is completed, we will update the charts in question, add footnotes in our Annual Report to clearly explain the changes and advise the public when the updated Report is available.
snip

Percentage Change Errors

The Total and Grand Total data that initially appeared in the 2010 Annual Report reflected a month-to-month percentage change. The pending revision will show the correct year-over-year percentage change calculations.

The news that the Winnipeg Police had withdrawn their annual report has gone unreported in the MSM.

The possibility that crime has leaped almost 10 percent in one year has gone unexplored.

Graham Hnatiuk blogs at Progressive Winnipeg. Prior to the civic election in 2010 he was closely watching the public debate over the botched public consultations on a number of city projects, but particularly a bike path along Assiniboine Avenue. He did what none of the "professional" reporters did --- he applied some brain power to the debate.

If the public consultations were done so poorly, why were we paying the consultant who was responsible? Hnatiuk decided to ask the city auditor if he would conduct an audit to determine if taxpayers got value for their money.

Easier said than done, as it turned out, as we'll show in a bit. But, believe it or not, the audit of the Assiniboine Avenue bike path was conducted, and this month it was presented to city council.

The auditor said Hnatiuk had been completely correct. The Assiboine Avenue public consultations had been a farce. They had been a biased, one-sided, propaganda exercise designed to fool residents and businesses into accepting the bike path by hiding its impact from them until it was too late. In short, it had been a total waste of money.

Oh well, too bad, too late to do anything about it, tough luck and all that, said the mayor and city councillors who wanted to rubberstamp the auditor's report as information and forget about it.

Not so fast, said Hnatiuk.

He appeared in person, first before executive policy committee and then before city council, to argue that council was making a huge mistake if they failed to act on the auditor's report.

"What I went through is why people are not involved in civics and do not participate as active citizens and refrain from participating in any city process," he told the councillors.

His story was startling.

Hnatiuk tried to send an email to the city auditor regarding the Assiniboine bike path through the 311 information system.

Somebody intercepted the message and diverted it away from the city auditor, without Hnatiuk's knowledge or approval, to Active Transportation coordinator Kevin Nixon.

Hnatiuk was then notified that Nixon had allegedly investigated his complaint and found it groundless.

When Hnatiuk insisted his email still be passed on to the city auditor, the acting 311 contract centre manager, Joel Knockaert, refused. Knockaert insisted "the role of the City Auditor is not to deal with public complaints."

That was blatantly false. Hnatiuk learned that the website of the city auditor says exactly the opposite, that the auditor welcomes complaints from the public.

Knockaert didn't care. He wouldn't pass along Hnatiuk's email to the city auditor. He had full control of the process and no citizen would tell him what to do.

Hnatiuk eventually managed to get a message to the city auditor ---with the help of councillor Jeff Browaty who went around 311.

The auditor vindicated him entirely. His complaint was fully warranted and supported by the facts.

But what was city council going to do about the bureaucrats who tried their best to silence a citizen, to cover-up the incompetence of the public consultation process that had been conducted, and who may have lied to do it?

Hnatiuk asked council to investigate the actions of Kevin Nixon and Joel Knockaert. He said he had tried to get his hands on any report of the alleged investigation conducted by Nixon regarding the consultant's competency, without luck.

But he wasn't having any luck with council, either.

The mayor and councillors, who cried crocodile tears during the civic election campaign over inadequate public consultations, weren't interested in investigating how the public's voice was stifled by bureaucrats in the pocket of a secret lobby group.

Nor did they show any interest in addressing the message they were sending to potential voters and non-voters -- that their voice matters -- and city hall isn't run as a private club.

The "professional" reporters showed no interest either in how easily city bureaucrats hijacked the official process to keep a citizen away from the legislated city watchdog to protect a secret group of insiders from scrutiny.

And these are the people who will be, ahem, mentoring citizen journalists of the future.

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