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:

Friday, July 03, 2015

Lawbreaking Councillor Janice Lukes must be turfed off EPC.

Janice Lukes has to be fired from Winnipeg council's executive policy committee immediately.

She was hand-picked by Mayor Brian Bowman to sit on EPC and to chair the city's influential public works committee.  We'll give him the benefit of the doubt that he didn't know what a mistake he was making.

Winnipeg cannot have someone who openly breaks the law sit on the city's most powerful committee. 

Especially now that we see how much of a Trojan Horse she is for the bike lobby, promoting, priorizing and spearheading major projects that benefit a tiny special interest group at the expense of the rest of taxpaying Winnipeggers.

It was that allegiance to the bike lobby that caught her up.

The Winnipeg Free Press recently published a story about a stretch of Pembina Highway leading to the University of Manitoba that bicyclists feel is unsafe.

Stretch of Pembina has already proved deadly for cyclists
By: Kristin Annable 

It’s a no man’s land for cyclists.
A 500-metre stretch of Pembina Highway where the bicycle lane ends plunges cyclists into six lanes of traffic and makes it almost impossible to safely turn left while heading south
This well-travelled overpass at Bishop Grandin Boulevard between Plaza Drive and University Crescent is the cyclist’s gateway to Investors Group Field and the University of Manitoba.
Free Press readers say it’s a death trap that has killed before — and will kill again.

The story included a comment from Lukes, as well as this set-up paragraph.

"St. Norbert Coun. Janice Lukes, the chairwoman of public works and a cycling advocate, admits the overpass can be daunting for cyclists and said she breaks the rules, risking a $113 ticket, and takes the sidewalk when she has to cycle on the Bishop Grandin overpass."

Did Lukes says she "breaks the rules", or was that wording the work of the reporter? Either way, it's not accurate.  

Lukes doesn't break the rules, she breaks the law.  

That's right. It's a law, the Highway Traffic Act, duly passed by the Legislature and supposed to be enforced by the police. 

Lukes publicly said she breaks the law because it suits her.

That is simply unacceptable. 

No city councillor is allowed to break the law because they choose to. The Mayor cannot allow anyone who boasts about breaking the law to sit on EPC. Its an insult to the citizens of Winnipeg.

And it's too late to say, 'Oh, I won't do it any more.' 

Lukes confessed she routinely broke the law because she wanted to, and she felt it was worth the risk. That's an attitude that permeates the bike lobby.

The Winnipeg Free Press back in 2012 published an opinion piece by Sarah Whiteford, a policy manager for the provincial government, in which she concluded "So, until this infrastructure improves, I am afraid I will likely continue my life of crime by cycling on the sidewalk." 

Ha ha. 

Mocking the laws of Manitoba, while collecting a paycheque from the provincial government, par for the course. Janice Lukes probably had a big laugh when she read that.

The article that outed Janice Lukes, contained this paragraph:

"In the interim, the advocacy group Bike Winnipeg has called for the city to allow cyclists to share the sidewalk with pedestrians."

See, the solution to the problem is simple. Let cyclists break the law with impunity, pedestrians be damned.

On Tuesday a special community committee meeting was called by Councillors Russ Wyatt, Jeff Browaty and Jason Schreyer to challenge the report being spearheaded by Janice Lukes for a $334 million, 20-year program of new and expanded cycling and pedestrian paths across the city. And who should show up? Mark Cohoe, executive director of Bike Winnipeg.

Cohoe  proceeded to insult the elected officials by claiming they hadn't read the report and didn't know what they were talking about. Lukes refused to listen to any changes to the report, which will be presented to council July 15, or to correct errors in it that were pointed out by the other councillors.

She insisted the report be passed first by council, then amended if need be.

It's just the latest tactic of the bike lobby to ram changes in city policy through under the pretense that nothing has been decided officially.  

Remember the Disraeli Bridge replacement trickery. 

The city held phony public "consultations" which even included asking attendees to chose which of three designs for a new bridge they preferred. Then city officials scrapped the public's advice and announced that after secret meetings with the bike lobby they were building two bridges -- one for cars and one for bicycles-- at a cost of $40 million more than taxpayers wanted to spend.

Lukes,with Bowman's help, is following the playbook perfectly.

Apart from objecting to any changes to a report committing Winnipeg to a 20-year plan to expand bicycle paths, she's endorsed reducing speed limits within Winnipeg to 30 kmh, and she also promoted forcing homeowners to be forced to shovel city sidewalks in front of their houses (eliminating city snowclearing would provide the money for clearing snow off bike routes).

But each time there was pushback, she's feigned innocence. Bowman, with a cheap lawyer's weasel words, has rushed to her defence.

Snowclearing? Don't get excited said Bowman.

"Winnipeggers should know it’s a recommendation – it’s not something that will be adopted with the pedestrian and cycling strategy," Bowman said. "There hasn’t been any discussion (by councillors) on it." he told the Free Press.

But when councillors wanted to discuss it this week, Janice Lukes walked out of the meeting refusing to listen to their concerns.

And she's on the record promising she wants the idea studies by city administrators and a cost-benefit analysis brought to city hall. 

That sure sounds like she's made up her mind.
City speed limits?  Lukes, on Tuesday again, published a blog post putting as much distance as she could between her and the idea.  She called it "setting the record straight."

It seems she was unfairly quoted. Blame the media. She was just tossing around ideas, not pushing an agenda, she wrote.

Except that reporters take notes. These days they usually tape their interviews. And the comments Lukes made to the reporter are anything but neutral.
"That solves all of our problems with cycling, walking, to have a limited speeding amount for vehicles," she said of the 30 kmh speed limit.

"I’d love to go back and spearhead this, even if we just pilot it and see what is does in a community," she said, putting the lie to the idea she was only brainstorming and not promoting.

"... Lukes said she would be open to investigating reducing the speeds on weekends or at certain times of the day. (...) It is absolutely something in my tenure I will be looking at," she said.

It sure sounds like she has an agenda that she's not sharing with the public.
As an elected official, it's up to the people who voted for her to decide her future.
But as a lawbreaker and an appointed councillor, it's up to the Mayor to dismiss her and restore integrity to city hall as he promised in his election campaign.

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