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.

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Thursday, January 08, 2015

Winnipeg city councillors give the new mayor a nickname.

New Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman already has a nickname at City Hall.

Bozo Bowman.


Two thirds of the way into his first hundred days in office, his colleagues on council have decided he's a legend in his own mind.

'Know Nothing' Brian Bowman promised to do City Hall differently, to "hit the ground running", to "think big."

So on Wednesday, what did he do?  Bowman decided to pick a fight and to do it 'old style', namely to follow the footsteps of former mayor Sam Katz step for step. 

How's that for doing things differently?

Bowman adopted Katz's sleazy tactic of "walking on" a motion to executive policy committee. 
That's politico-speak for slipping a motion onto the agenda at the last minute and expecting your toadies to ram it through without debate.  So what happened?  What do you think?  Bowman's toadies on EPC rammed the motion through without debate. He "hit the ground running."

And who does Bowman want to scrap with?  Why, city auditor Brian Whiteside, the man whose audits almost single-handedly exposed the bid-rigging, the handing of untendered contracts to favorite contractors, the waste of millions of tax dollars in a raft of mismanaged (to use a polite word) projects.

Puffing up his scrawny lawyer's chest, Know Nothing Bowman demanded, yea demanded, that Whiteside produce a written report - in two weeks - telling what's been done to implement the dozens of recommendations contained in three property audits, including the construction of new firehalls disaster and the new police headquarters fiasco.

"Council asked the auditor to report on a quarterly basis, that has not happened in a year," Bowman sniffed to reporters. "So, that has to happen and it has to happen very quickly."  Ooohh, what a tough guy.

But it might be that it's Bowman who's cruisin' for a bruisin'.

In his 2013 report to council, Whiteside discussed the audits and the "quarterly report card":

Advisory Services
Quarterly Report Card

The Audit Department’s work does not end when an audit report is presented to City Council. The most important component of an audit recommendation is its implementation. The Public Service provides a response to each audit recommendation in the audit report along with an action plan.

The subsequent implementation of the audit recommendations in accordance with the action plans is the responsibility of the Public Service.

Since 2006, the Status of Audit Recommendations Quarterly Report Card is reported to Audit Committee. The Quarterly Report Card is produced at the end of March, June, September and December and is presented at the next Audit Committee. While the Audit Department facilitates the process, the Quarterly Report Card presents management’s representations as to the status of recommendations implemented, in progress, or not to be implemented.

For recommendations in progress, an implementation strategy and timeframe is provided. For recommendations not to be implemented, an explanation is provided. The Audit Department does not audit the responses but does provide an opinion on the completeness of the responses and the reasonableness of action plans proposed. The CAO and appropriate departmental staff attend Audit Committee to respond to any questions members may raise regarding the project updates.

In a nutshell, he said the quarterly reports are up to the city management to prepare. The Auditor only comments on the completeness. 

So, it seems that if there have been no quarterly reports, blame the CAO ( in this case, Deepak Joshi.)

Our city hall sources say Bowman is flailing around trying to find money to balance the budget, and generally making an ass of himself.

Perhaps he's looking ahead to the next budget --  and panicking.

Bowman promised to raise taxes only at the rate of inflation.  By the start of December, 2014, the annual inflation rate for Canada was 1.95 percent. It may have fallen even lower by the end of the year. 

If it's Manitoba inflation he's using as his standard, taxpayers are in even better luck. The Manitoba inflation rate to December, 2014 was 1.1 percent.

When it comes to tax increases, voters want councillors to think small.

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