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:

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Veteran police officer declares downtown Winnipeg is a virtual war zone

Even as month-old information is passed off as "news" by the Winnipeg Free Press, the biggest crime story in Winnipeg languishes untouched by the city's "professional" journalists.

Crime reporters have been trying to put the latest outbreak of shootings and home invasions into context. CTV on Friday blamed it on a clash between two street gangs---MOB and Indian Posse.

Trying to advance the story in Saturday's paper, FP reporter Mike McIntyre breathlessly wrote that

"police and justice sources tell the Free Press the M.O.B. is no longer a united front and has broken into two factions..."

Uh, yeah.

That's what the Winnipeg Sun reported ONE MONTH AGO after the details were revealed in open court.

"A mysterious rift among members of a notorious Winnipeg street gang has led to the birth of a new splinter group inside provincial jails and on city streets, the Winnipeg Sun has learned.

A handful of MOB (Most Organized Brothers) members have split off and recently formed a new gang faction dubbed the “334” — a numerical nod to the tattoos worn by some MOB members, a Manitoba Justice gang prosecutor told court Tuesday."

But the unity or otherwise of a pathetic assemblage of thuggish losers pales beside the bombshells dropped by James Jewell, one of Winnipeg's most experienced police officers, on his blog

Jewell quit the force last year after 25 years of service. And, after senior officers railroaded him out of the homicide division for standing up against outgoing Police Chief Keith McCaskill's dumbest policy ever -- rotating officers through Homicide every three years, diluting the institutional memory and maximizing the number of cold cases.
Free to speak his mind at last, Jewell revealed the state of the city as the police know it. And he threw down the gauntlet to the outgoing Chief of Police, the Mayor, and even the provincial government.

He wrote:

* downtown Winnipeg is a virtual war zone "crawling with rival gangsters all armed with dangerous and offensive weapons"--- guns, knives, and pepper spray

* routine police patrols are a thing of the past and 'taking back the streets' is a romantic idea but simply not possible with current resources.
* Winnipeg is not a safe City "despite the rhetoric that is spewed from our Political leaders and Chief of Police."

"I was shocked when I read a quote from Mayor Katz in which he is reported to have stated; "I have no problem going downtown, I have no problem going to the North End, regardless of the day of the week, regardless of what time it is.”
"This kind of denial is reckless and dangerous."

* "Feeble sentences, grossly applied early parole and release philosophies, countless breaches of recognizance and other orders ... The scales of justice so horribly out of balance."

"The status quo fed to the public and media again, more explanations, minimizations and justifications.....don’t be fooled, its all B.S."

"Our status as the most violent City in the Country is simply shameful & unacceptable."
"Real leaders would not deny these problems, they would see them as opportunities."

"Real Leaders wanted!!! "

Read the whole thing and shudder.

And remember these are the observations of somebody who has worked for 25 years to protect you and your family, who is not running for election, and who is not paid to be a Pollyanna.

Oh, the irony. The unadulterated irony.

Monday night, Winnipeg Free Press reporters Mary Agnes Welch and Dan Lett are giving potential citizen journalists a "crash course" in using Freedom of Information requests to dig up stories. It's something organized by the Community News Commons, the much-hyped project to train citizen journalists in "proper" news gathering.

To be a fly on the wall...

You'll remember that it was an FOI request that uncovered the secret role of former FP editor Margo Goodhand, Welch's and Lett's boss, in killing The Great Canadian Talk Show, a popular and influential radio talk show that regularly shamed the Free Press by pointing out it's bad news reporting, biased news reporting, slanted political reporting, and overall reporter incompetence.

The FOI turned up an email recounting how Goodhand used the despicable tactic of libel chill to encourage her friend Stephanie Forsyth, the president of Red River College, to "do something" about TGCTS which was broadcast on the RRC-affiliated radio station KICK-FM.

But after the show was cancelled abruptly, angry listeners turned into citizen journalists who, without any help from Free Press reporters, uncovered the fact that the radio station was being run illegally by a secret committee that reported directly to Stephanie Forsyth.

They took that information to the CRTC which began asking questions of it's own. 

After KICK-FM confessed that they had no records or minutes of the secret "executive committee" that made the decision to kill TGCTS,
not even of the Board meeting where it was allegedly constituted/empowered, Red River decided it didn't want to run a silly old radio station anyway, and gave up the radio licence.

So Margo Goodhand's interference resulted in the death of the popular radio station that had served Winnipeg music fans, and students of Red River's journalism course, for 10 years.

We can't imagine how News Commons coordinator Noah Erenberg, who arranged the Monday seminar, will address the role of citizen journalists in uncovering the damage Winnipeg Free Press editor Margo Goodhand did to journalism in Winnipeg.

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