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.

Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Sammie Award for best actor in a civic scandal goes to ... Brian Bowman

It's award season.  Step aside Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, Oscars...

...we're going to honour the best performances deserving a Sammie, the city of Winnipeg award for scandal, shame, conspiracy, cover-up, audits and police investigations.

The  nominations are in.

For the best portrayal of disgraced Mayor Sam Katz in a civic scandal:  Know Nothing Mayor Brian Bowman.

For the best portrayal of Sandy Shindleman in a civic scandal:  Mark Chipman, Bowman's biggest booster.

For the best ensemble portrayal of Shindico in a civic scandal: True North Entertainment.

For the best portrayal of disgraced CAO Phil Sheegl in a civic scandal: a tie between CentreVenture board chair Kurt Vossen and CentreVenture board member Richard Olfert.

Honorable mention:  soon-to-be-fired CAO Deepak Joshi as himself.

We've seen this movie before, haven't we?

The mayor's friend gets a secret real-estate deal worth millions. Councillors who should be watchdogs are told they have no time to get answers; the deal has to be rubber-stamped immediately or we'll get sued-slash-we'll lose federal funding. The mayor is, ahem, "unhappy", but...well, what can he do?  And anyway, it's a great deal for the city.

Yep.  Seen it.

Bowman put on his unhappy face at this week's special executive policy committee meeting and tried to act tough. Grrrr. I'm unhappy, he said.

He was unhappy that CentreVenture had made a secret deal with True North to build a fancy hotel next to the Convention Centre. By doing so they stabbed in the back a company hired by the Convention Centre to expand the facility and build a new hotel as part of their contract.

A CentreVenture spokesman said that in the past they had fed the other company leads on possible partners in building the proposed hotel.  But not this time. This time they negotiated with True North themselves and kept their deal secret.

By doing so they snookered the other company into paying them $3.7 million as a penalty for not building the hotel they promised.  They needed the money to pay down the $6.6 million they spent to buy and demolish an old hotel adjacent to the Convention Centre where the new one will rise.  Hee hee. Sucker!

Bowman said he was unhappy.  As a lawyer, what CentreVenture did didn't seem right. Or legal. But what's done is done.  And he had to look tough.  So he ordered CentreVenture -- yes, ordered --  to hold a public competition for development ideas that would include a hotel for the Convention Centre.

Now, in the week prior, Bowman had declared he would accept nothing less than a request for proposals, an RFP.

This week he flip-flopped and settled for an "expression of interest", an EOI, for the land.  That's a step or two below an RFP, not that it matters.

For, you see, it's all for show.

Bowman, wearing his I'm tough and unhappy face, wants the public to believe he's leveled the playing field, so to speak.  He's opened the competition to everyone who is interested.  Fairsey squaresy.

Except that True North has a nine month headstart on any other competing developer. 

Oh, and the judges of the EOI will be CentreVenture, which already has a deal with True North.

They are sitting at the finish line with the first-place trophy already engraved with True North's name.
So, what's the charade  of an EOI going to accomplish?

And the winner of the Sammie is ...

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