The Black Rod

The origin of the Usher of the Black Rod goes back to early fourteenth century England . Today, with no royal duties to perform, the Usher knocks on the doors of the House of Commons with the Black Rod at the start of Parliament to summon the members. The rod is a symbol for the authority of debate in the upper house. We of The Black Rod have adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.

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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: black_rod_usher@yahoo.com

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Woman Who Made Sam Katz Quit. Hint: It's Not His Wife.


Sam Katz didn't decide not to run for another term as mayor because he wanted to spend more time with his family.  Puh-lease. Wasn't there another cliche he could use?

And he didn't decide because of some off-the-cuff comment four years ago, that nobody remembered,  to serve only two terms.

Hey, this was the guy who lied outright to get elected in 2010 by painting himself as  the defender of elderly and poor homeowners, only to stab them in the back as soon as he got re-elected by raising their property taxes and promising annual increases from here until forever.  Breaking his word was like breathing air. Effortless.

And he didn't decide not to run because he was afraid he might lose to a North End baba whose entire work life has been spent as an NDP hack. He trounced her once before and in an election over who was hated more by taxpayers, him or the NDP, he still held a slight edge over the NDP's candidate.

And he didn't walk away from a run at re-election because he was afraid of some lawyer (ptui) with the Joker's grin whose campaign is 'ignorance is a virtue. I know less than anyone. Vote for me.'

Sam Katz headed for the exit because he was afraid -- he was afraid of one, and only one, contender for his job -- Paula Havixbeck.

Sam knew that she would chew him up and spit him out in any campaign. 
She sat on Executive Policy Committee, and she could tell the public how he engineered his votes behind closed doors, how he lobbied, blustered and threatened to get his way. 

After he booted her out of EPC for showing too much independence, she stood up to him at council and wouldn't be bullied into silence.  She demanded information from Katz and his best friend, Phil Sheegl, who he had stickhandled into the job of Chief Administrative Officer, and she refused to be stonewalled by the scandal-tainted twins.

Phil Sheegl was the most powerful man at city hall, more powerful than the mayor in who he could hire and fire on his own and how much money he could spend without council approval--- until Paula Havixbeck stood up to him - and he realized she was the one councillor he couldn't intimidate.

Who can forget the day she ordered him to appear before a committee that she chaired. Like a naughty schoolboy in the principal's office, he squirmed, stonewalled, smirked and generally refused to answers her questions about his mismanagement of projects that were millions dollars over budget.  He sent the message: I am the boss, not you.

He found out the hard way that he was wrong.

But Sam Katz backed him 100 percent; he threw Havixbeck off EPC in retaliation for the way she treated his pal. When an audit, demanded by Havixbeck over Katz's objections, revealed Sheegl was behind bid-rigging to secretly award  multi-million contracts to build four new fire stations to Sam Katz's partner in the Winnipeg Goldeyes, Sheegl quit before he could be fired and, with Katz's blessing, walked away with a huge severance paycheque.

Most people don't watch telecasts of city council meetings; if they did they would see how scared Katz is of the councillor from Charleswood. 

Katz would never answer any of her questions; he would respond with some condescending lecture or a sneering putdown. Sam Katz demonstrated at every council meeting that he was either contemptuous of women in general or Paula Havixbeck, his nemesis, in particular, and the effect was always unpleasant and uncomfortable to watch. 

Once the electorate saw him repeat his performance during an election campaign, he would be sunk in an instant.

Sam Katz, doomed to tote the corpse of Phil Sheegl's scandal-filled career with him wherever he went, decided he would sooner be a lame duck mayor than a dead duck candidate.

"I've been the voice for citizens to try to restore trust and confidence at City Hall, and to bring honour back to City Hall, because right now it's not operating very honourably," said Havixbeck in a recent interview on City Circus, the Channel 9 community access weekly television show on local politics.
"2012 was a pivotal year," she told host Marty Gold, "because I saw so much mismanagement happening on the backs of taxpayers, and being a member of EPC... I could see that it was the lazy route to charge citizens more for this kind of mismanagement."

She was running for mayor, she said, because her experience on city council led her to conclude "I have to take a stand, and this is my stand."

As it turned out, it was also Sam Katz's Last Stand.

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