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

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

City Hall gadfly David Sanders exposes Winnipeg's new Civic Weasel No. 1


Winnipeg has a new Civic Weasel No. 1!

St Vital councilor Brian Mayes' embarrassing performance at the last city council meeting was enough for him to leapfrog over this new council's frontrunner for the title, I'M-MARTY-MORANZ-AND-I'M-A -LAWYER!!!!

Brian Mayes went ballistic over a suggestion that the former city council showed favoritism when voting in favour of an amended route for the second leg of the bus rapid transit plan in south Winnipeg.

Gee, who would think that?  How about EVERYBODY IN WINNIPEG!  Why? Maybe it's because three audits of city construction projects have found BLATANT FAVORITISM IN THE AWARDING OF CONTRACTS!

Nevertheless, Mayes wants people to think this time it's different.  And he demonstrated he's willing to insult, attack, belittle, and denigrate anyone who dares to disagree with him.

But while Mayes was playing the right fool, he made the mistake of challenging someone a lot smarter than he--- David Sanders, the retired civil servant (and former mayoral candidate) who takes the time to read all the city reports and studies that are available to the public, and who knows more about what's happening at city hall than most councillors.

Sanders politely listened to Mayes' insults, then schooled him in facts, manners, decorum, and social behaviour.

Sanders opened his presentation with a statement (as recorded in the poorly kept Hansard):

David Sanders: 
NEXT WEEK IT WILL BE TWO YEARS SINCE I FIRST DISCOVERED THAT THE CITY'S LONG STANDING RAPID TRANSIT PLAN WAS BEING HIJACKED AND THAT PUBLIC LANDS AND FINANCIAL RESOURCES WERE BEING DIVERTED FOR THE BENEFIT OF A FEW FAVOURED DEVELOPERS LOCATED ALONG THE PARKER DOGLEG TO THE WEST OF THE ORIGINAL ROUTE WHICH WAS SUPPOSED TO GO STRAIGHT SOUTH  ALONG THE CN-LETELLIER RAIL LINE BESIDE PEMBINA HIGHWAY.

AS I BEGAN TO INVESTIGATE AND CRITICIZE THE CITY'S DECISION RELATED ... 
I FOUND AN ATMOSPHERE AND A CULTURE AT  THE UPPER ECHELONS OF CITY HALL WHICH WAS DEEPLY DISTURBING TO ME AS A CITIZEN AND OFFENSIVE TO ME AS A LONG-TIME PROFESSIONAL PUBLIC ADMINISTRATOR.

I SAW GROSS INCOMPETENCE, MISMANAGEMENT AND MISCONDUCT OF THE TYPES WHICH ARE DOCUMENTED FULLY IN THE AUDITS  SUBSEQUENTLY ORDERED FOR THE FIRE PARAMEDIC STATION CONSTRUCTION PROJECT, THE NEW POLICE HEADQUARTERS REDEVELOPMENT PROJECT AND THE REAL ESTATE MANAGEMENT REVIEW, AND WHICH HAVE BEEN REFERRED TO THE R.C.M.P. BY THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE.

I FOUND A CITY COUNCIL WHOSE MEMBERS WERE GENERALLY UNWILLING TO QUESTION THE SENIOR ADMINISTRATORS OR TO DEMAND COMPLIANCE WITH COUNCIL DIRECTIVES AND WHO WERE THEREFORE UNFORTUNATELY COMPLICIT IN THE FINAL RESULTS.

UNDERSTANDABLY, MOST OF THE FORMER COUNCILLORS SEEMED HAPPY TO SWEEP EVERY FIASCO UNDER THE VERY LUMPY RUG ON THIS COUNCIL FLOOR.

A very defensive Mayes blew a gasket:

COUNCILLOR MAYES:
HIJACKING THE ORIGINAL PLAN FOR THE BENEFIT OF A FEW DEVELOPERS BY MOVING THE PROPOSED RAPID TRANSIT WAY TO THE WEST WAS A REPORT ENDORSED BOTH BY THE PROVINCE AND THE UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA, SO JUST FOR THE RECORD, DID WE HIJACK AND BAMBOOZLE THE UNIVERSITY AND THE PROVINCE IN OUR PLOT TO BENEFIT A FEW DEVELOPERS OR WOULD THEY -- DID THEY COME TO THAT CONCLUSION THEMSELVES THAT THEY WANTED TO BENEFIT THE DEVELOPERS SINCE YOU ARE ACCUSING US OF HIJACKING A PLAN TO BENEFIT DEVELOPERS. BASICALLY PROFOUND CORRUPTION. PLEASE ANSWER THAT QUESTION.

SANDERS: 
FIRST OF ALL I HAVE HAVE SEEN NOTHING IN WRITING FROM THE ... UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA. SECONDLY, WHEN I INQUIRED OF THE PROVINCE, THEY ADVISED ME THEY WERE SIMPLY GOING ALONG WITH THE CITY'S REQUEST.

Oh.

COUNCILLOR MAYES: 
2ND QUESTION IS YOU HAVE BEEN PRETTY CLEAR ON THE ELECTION PROMISES AND JUST FOR THE RECORD YOU RAN OBVIOUSLY, YOU WERE NIPPED BY 43 PERCENT ON THE ELECTION RESULTS FOR MAYOR. DO YOU THINK THERE WAS ANY CONFUSION IN THE PUBLIC WHEN THE MAYOR WHO DID WIN SAID THERE WAS NO OPTION, THAT HE WAS PROCEEDING WITH THE DOG LEG ROUTE? YOU SEEM TO HAVE A LOT OF ELECTION QUOTES HERE. DO YOU THINK THE PUBLIC WAS CLEAR ON ENDORSING THE DOG LEG ROUTE? IT WAS CLEAR IN HIS PLATFORM AS WAS THE 2ND PLACE FINISHER. YOU DIDN'T SUCCEED, THAT DOESN'T SEEM TO ENTER INTO YOUR DISCUSSION HERE OF WHAT WAS SAID DURING THE ELECTION. DO YOU THINK THE PUBLIC WAS BAMBOOZLED IN THE RECENT ELECTION CAMPAIGN AND FOOLED OR HIJACKED IN THEIR SUPPORT.

SANDERS:
I CAN FIND NO REFERENCE TO THE PARKER DOG LEG IN THE MAYOR'S 40 PAGE PLATFORM. I CAN'T FIND REFERENCE TO COMPLETING ALL SIX AND IN THE VERY ANNOUNCEMENT PUT OUT BY THE FEDERAL AND PROVINCIAL AND CITY GOVERNMENTS THE OTHER DAY, THE MAPS AND THE ATTACHMENTS AND BACKGROUND PROVIDED BY THE CITY AND THE OTHER GOVERNMENTS, SHOWS THE ROUTE DIRECTORY DOWN THE PEMBINA ROUTE AS PLANNED AND DOESN'T SHOW THE PARKER DOG LEG.

Oh.

COUNCILLOR MAYES:
YOU ARE ACCUSING US OF HIJACKING $490 MILLION TO BENEFIT GEM AND SHINDICO. DO YOU HAVE ANY DOCUMENTATION OR REFERENCE, ANY E-MAILS OR CORRESPONDENCE THAT WOULD SUPPORT WHAT'S REALLY A SERIOUS, CRIMINAL ALLEGATION ON YOUR PART THAT YOU ARE MAKING HERE IN PUBLIC, THAT WE ARE HIJACKING A ROUTE TO BENEFIT SHINDICO AND GEM EQUITIES. DO YOU HAVE ANY CORRESPONDENCE TO SUPPORT THAT ALLEGATION?

SANDERS:
FIRST OF ALL, I HAVE NOT MADE A CRIMINAL ALLEGATION. I REFERRED TO THE CITY HIJACKING IT AND IN PARTICULAR TO THE FORMER CITY ADMINISTRATORS.

 COUNCILLOR MAYES:
YOU ARE MAKING A CRIMINAL ALLEGATION THAT THE FORMER CITY ADMINISTRATORS HIJACKED A $490 MILLION PROJECT.

SANDERS:
I AM NOT MAKING A CRIMINAL ALLEGATION BUT I LOOK FORWARD TO THE R.C.M.P. REPORT ON THE PARKER LAND SWAP.

It's no secret why Brian Mayes might be sensitive to Sanders' pointed references to city hall bungling, or worse.  Mayes eagerly joined the Katz-Sheegl-Swandel cabal that was doing its best to cover-up the mismanagement, or worse, of city projects costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. Mayes voted against any audit of the new police headquarters project, going so far as to throw out some bizarre arithmetic to justify how irrelevant the cost overruns on the project were. 

He only flip-flopped and supported the audit after running into a buzzsaw of public opinion. But his haste to scuttle any examination of the police HQ demonstrates his judgement and his character---both found lacking.

Of course, once the audit showed the usual single-sourcing of contracts and connections to Shindico and Sheegl,  the public outrage was so great that the province sent the file to the RCMP --- and Mayes was left wishing people would forget his opposition.

Sanders also cited statements made by Mayor Brian Bowman during the mayoral election campaign to address the issue of welcoming public input in council debates:

"WE HAVE A CITY HALL WHERE IT SEEMS AS IF DECISIONS ARE MADE AND PRESENTED TO THE COUNCIL AS DONE DEALS. THERE IS LITTLE OPPORTUNITY FOR THE COUNCIL LET ALONE THE PUBLIC TO VOICE THEIR CONCERNS OR PARTICIPATE IN DEBATE. THIS HAS TO CHANGE." 

"WINNIPEGERS ARE NOT AS ENGAGED AS THEY COULD BE AND RIGHT NOW, MANY ROADBLOCKS EXIST IN SIMPLY  ACCESSING PUBLIC INFORMATION FROM CITY HALL. AND CITY HALL LACKS CONSISTENCY IN ALLOWING THE PUBLIC TO BE HEARD WITH RESPECT TO POLICY DEVELOPMENT OR DECISION MAKING THAT AFFECTS HOW WE LIVE, WORK AND PLAY."

Bowman sat like a dummy and said nothing while Mayes, Bowman's appointment to executive policy committee, demonstrated what citizens can expect if they try to speak at council during the Bowman term in office. 

Long gone were his bold words about engaging the public and listening to their voices at city hall. 


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