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Showing posts from 2009

Manitoba Newsmaker of the Year 2009 and year in review, our style

Party Hat? Check. Noisemaker? Check . Hot Date? Check. The Black Rod's Newsmaker of the Year? Right here.... One individual cut a swath so wide and so deep in the political fabric of the province, that the title of Manitoba Newsmaker 2009 could go to nobody other than the person known only as the HYDRO WHISTLEBLOWER. Slightly more than one year ago the whistleblower delivered a formal package of alleged misdeeds to the Ombudsman under the protection of the NDP's vaunted Public Interest Disclosure Act. The existence of this, the first use of the legislation, was revealed in mid-year and we still don't know the full extent of that disclosure, but that's not what earned the whistleblower the title of Newsmaker of the Year. Rather, like Samson pulling apart the pillars of the temple of the Philistines, the whistleblower demolished the fa├žade of checks and balances everyone thought was built into the structure of government in Manitoba. Nobody else had anywhere near

Ostrowski has always held the key to unlocking his jail cell

Frank Ostrowski waited a long, long time for Jim Luzny to die. Finally, he had to settle for brain damage. Luzny was the last loose thread from Ostrowski's 1986 conviction for first degree murder. And he was the most dangerous. At any moment Luzny could give police a signed confession revealing how he helped Frank Ostrowski arrange and carry out the killing of Robert Nieman, a Winnipeg drug dealer. Sure, it would put his own neck in the figurative noose, but stranger things have happened. A night of drunken remorse. A spark of revenge. A sudden conversion to Christianity. Who could predict the potential trigger? But it would sink Ostrowski's hopes of getting out of jail---and of winning millions in the NDP's wrongful-conviction lottery. While Ostrowski sweated it out in prison, Luzny enjoyed his life on the outside. He enjoyed it a little too much. In June, 2006, Luzny got caught in bed with a man's estranged wife. The man laid a severe beating on Luzny, putting him in

Bill Blaikie must be so proud.

We don't know who's more insulting, politician Andrew Swan or reporters Mike McIntyre and Gabrielle Giroday. But its clear that this trio is guilty of grossly misleading the public. The team of McIntrye and Giroday should have been collecting accolades for their revelation that the teenager charged with killing a motorist by smashing into him with a stolen Hummer was a car thief previously convicted of involvement in another car crash where a taxi driver was killed. Instead, by simply regurgitating the political lies of Justice Minister Andrew Swan, they negated their good work and deserve to share the disgrace. Their Wednesday story concluded with the obligatory search for a solution: "Attorney General Andrew Swan said provincial governments have been pushing Ottawa for changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act that would allow judges to take deterrence into account when sentencing young o

Know your local car thief

Who's stealing all those cars? That, in 2002, was the burning question facing Winnipeg police---and Manitoba Public Insurance which was paying the cost. Or, as the authors of the submission from the Winnipeg Auto Theft Suppression Strategy put it in their submission to the Herman Goldstein Award for Excellence in Problem-Oriented Policing “Why was auto theft so attractive to young people that some would go out in -30 C weather to spend the day stealing 5 cars?” MPI forked out some money to get the answer. They had to. The problem was costing them millions. And it was getting worse by the year. Starting the very next year, 2003, to 2007, Winnipeg had the worst car theft problem in North America. In 2007, the theft rate here was 1714 per 100,000 of population. The city with the highest rate in the United States was Modesto, California, at 1048/100,000 . The cost to MPI would eventually climb to nearly $40 million a year. In 2002 MPI funded a study of jailed car thieves to get their

Violent crime in Winnipeg is way, way up and rising as MSM bamboozled

Winnipeg is paying a high price for turning police into babysitters. And politicians who thought they would coast into the 2010 civic election, or the 2011 provincial election, on sharp reductions in crime are in for a hell of a surprise. They've been busy this week patting themselves on the back for the "success" of the Winnipeg Auto Theft Suppression Strategy (WATSS)---they even held a special ceremony at the Legislature to announce WATSS was a finalist for an American policing award. But they went too far when, with the shameful assistance of the Winnipeg Police Service, they tried to hide the truth from the public. The car-theft suppression strategy, in a nutshell, consists of sending police on regular visits to the homes of the worst car thieves to make sure they're tucked into bed at night and have enough milk and cookies to last until the morning without needing to venture out of the house and steal a car to get some. It's been so successful, according to

Premier Greg Selinger to Hydro Whistleblower: You're Wrong

The first day of the December rump session of the Legislature turned out to be an unexpected day of revelations. Hugh McFadyen revealed why he is the worst Opposition leader in living memory and why he's no threat to the NDP government with or without Gary Doer. And unelected Premier Greg Selinger revealed why the NDP's "historic" Whistleblower legislation is--- and will continue to be--- a farce. McFadyen went on the attack from the start, and promptly fell flat on his face. Why, he asked the Premier, was there no mention of Manitoba Hydro in the Throne Speech, "when Manitobans are seeing their rates go up by 9 percent over two years with the prospect of severe rate hikes into the future." Hon. Greg Selinger (Premier): "The member from Fort Whyte first makes a comment about the rates. Let's remember it was him-it was he that, in the last election, promised to increase rates to full market value and stick it to every single Manitoban with a 40 perc

Climategate melts the credibility of the Winnipeg Free Press

How should a newspaper play the biggest story of the year? Once upon a time that was a no-brainer. Page One was the only answer possible. Today is not that time. The no-brainers who work at the Winnipeg Free Press have decided that the biggest story of the year should be run on the second-last page of the third section of the Saturday paper. Reporting news, it seems, is not part of the job description of today's "professional journalists." "Stolen e-mails suggest scientists rigged climate data." blares the headline. "Revelation challenges accuracy of computer-modelling research" declares the sub-head. It seems a computer hacker has posted on the Internet hundreds of e-mails and internal "research" documents from England's Climate Research Unit (CRU). The story they tell is comparable in impact to the exposure of the Pentagon Papers in the Nixon years. "The e-mail exchanges, between a group of powerful, life-minded scientists based in

Bellringer forced to bail on investigating Hydro whistleblower complaint

Yer Out... Less than 48 hours after The Black Rod exposed Carol Bellringer's cozy ongoing relationship with the Manitoba Hydro board of directors, she was headed for the showers in shame. For months Auditor General Bellringer had insisted that the fact she had been a recent member of Hydro's board didn't mean she couldn't conduct an independent unbiased review of a whistleblower's complaint involving allegations of Hydro mismanagement. Everything changed Sunday when The Black Rod revealed that Bellringer has been sending a representative to every single Hydro board meeting to take notes and report back to her on what is said. This previously unreported unbroken connection between Bellringer and Hydro means that she has been getting one-sided reports into the whistleblower's complaint of mismanagement (at the time Bellringer was one of the managers) for months, if not years, before the whis

The easy-to-understand Risk Analysis that Manitoba Hydro doesn't want you to see---ours.

You don't need an advanced degree in Economics to understand why people are worried about Manitoba Hydro's finances. All you need is a bank book. Two years ago the Public Utilities Board looked at Hydro's multi-multi-billion dollar plans for expansion and it made them antsy. From what they could see, Hydro was taking risks worthy of high rollers at Monte Carlo. Maybe there was something they didn't know, so they asked Hydro to produce the risk analyses behind the expansion plans. "Sure, sucker," replied Hydro. So far they've managed to keep the PUB in the dark for another 14 months and counting, knowing that the government minister in charge of Hydro (and the current unelected Premier) Greg Selinger wasn't going to support the public watchdog over the NDP's milk cow. What Hydro CEO Bob Brennan didn't plan on was the news that one of the consultants he hired to look at the risks, and who he thought he had muzzled, would be so concerned about wha

Exposed: Manitoba Auditor Carol Bellringer's secret link to Manitoba Hydro's board

There are zero degrees of separation between the board of Manitoba Hydro and the allegedly independent office of the Manitoba Auditor General. Auditor General Carol Bellringer sends a representative to each and every Hydro board meeting to take notes and report back to her what is said. Hydro chairman Vic Schroeder dropped this bombshell at last week's legislative committee meeting discussing, among other things, the refusal by Hydro Minister Rosann Wowchuk to acknowledge Bellringer is in a conflict of interest if she conducts an audit into a whistleblower complaint of mismanagement by Hydro. Bellringer sat on the board of Hydro immediately prior to being appointed Auditor General---and during the time the whistleblower was working for Hydro--- and she admits herself there is at least the perception of a conflict of interest. But Schroeder's revelation undercuts Bellringer's claim that she can use safeguards to overcome any perceived bias in her work. The previously unrepo