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Showing posts from September, 2012

Mayor Katz: Up to his neck in the quicksand of scandal and sinking fast.

Sam Katz, Mayor of Winnipeg, made the worst mistake of his political life last week. Instead of stifling suspicions over the odd circumstances of his purchase of a house in Phoenix, Arizona, Katz managed, with a disingenuous answer to a simple question, to stoke the mystery to new heights. Ooooh, so not good. Confronted by aggressive reporters, Katz was peppered with questions about how he came to be buying a house at a discount from the sister of the Chief Finance Officer of Shindico Realty, the company at the heart of not one, but two, audits of how the city conducts its real estate business and whether Shindico gets preferential treatment. Visibly nervous, he dismissed any suggestions of impropriety, often with a prepackaged answer: "I purchased a home in Arizona. I paid fair market value." The scrum running out of steam, one reporter threw out a softball question. When did the mayor buy the house? "I purchased a home in Arizona.

Killing the messenger. "I don't read the paper."

What's the penalty for unnecessary roughness? An unsuspecting journalism student walked into a buzzsaw of devastating criticism Sunday after innocently accepting an offer to write a column for the Winnipeg Free Press about the impact on her, the future generation of reporting, of the latest round of layoffs at the newspaper. Her crime? Honesty. Honestly. The daylong stomping she got in return was totally unwarranted. Honestly. Stefanie Cutrona is a student in her third week at Red River College's Creative Communications program. She stepped up when somebody at the FP thought it would be a great idea to ask what students looking to enter the profession thought when they saw newspapers laying off their youngest staffers. It was a great idea. But 19-year-old Stefanie never imagined the backlash that would be unleashed when she gave her honest opinion. She still may not realize that it all stemmed from her very first sentence: "I don'

Heritage Minister Moore talks of CMHR compromise --- and mismanagment

Infuriating tales of board mismanagement and government malfeasance that cost taxpayers more than $70 million peppered a recent update on the jinxed Canadian Museum for Human Rights by Heritage Minister James Moore. Only a tiny audience of 16 showed up to hear Moore at the Winnipeg Free Press News Cafe, and it's hard to say how many could separate the eye-opening inside stories from the pure falsehoods being peddled to justify the federal government's blank cheque to save the failed project from insolvency. One person who certainly needs to listen to the interview with Moore is Canada's auditor general who should be curious about questionable, if not fraudulent, government spending on the CMHR. Moore started by floating the idea that there were two main reasons why the budget for the museum has ballooned from $265 m

Seen... Phil Sheegl sitting in Shindico's corporate seats. Hmmm

  Six months ago it was a piece of gossip posted on a message board for architects and urban design enthusiasts. Today, it's another notch in the noose tightening around Winnipeg mayor Sam Katz. Winnipeg Jets [Archive] - Page 38 - SkyscraperPage Forum Posted: Mar 1, 2012, 4:59 PM BKB Registered User 3712 Join Date: Dec 2008 Posts: 48 42 posts - 20 authors - Feb 8BKB. Mar 1, 2012, 4:59 PM. Seen at a recent Jets game: Phil Sheegl sitting in Shindico's corporate seats. Hmm.. So the mayor's best friend, and the most powerful administrator in the city, is enjoying the hospitality of the mayor's lon

The Firehall Scandal.What did Sam Katz know, and when did he know it?

Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz is playing a dangerous game by intervening personally in the Fire Hall Scandal that's swirling around his friend and business partner Sandy Shindleman. You would expect a politician to put as much distance as possible between himself and a career-ending financial controversy. Instead, Katz has jumped into the fire with both feet by ordering a blatantly biased, deliberately narrow, suicidal "investigation" of allegations of impropriety in the awarding of building contracts to his friend. The "investigation", to be conducted by another of Katz's close friends, won't convince anyone. But it will raise questions about whether the mayor had any involvement in the conspiracy and cover-up that's at the heart of the scandal. The Fire Hall Scandal can be divided into two parts: * the secret land swap with Shindico Realty, and * the secret awarding of a $15 million contract to Shindico to build four new fire

Wuskwatim costs are driving Manitoba Hydro to the poorhouse

The brand-new Wuskwatim power station is pushing Manitoba Hydro into insolvency. It's no wonder that Hydro went running to the Pubic Utilities Board for a rate increase less than six months after the first of Wuskwatim's 3 generators went on line in February. And Hydro has warned the PUB that if it goes into the abyss, the Province may follow. All this is found within the convoluted language of the reasons, posted on the PUB website, for a 2.5 percent rate increase that was granted in August to start Sept. 1. This increase is hard on the heels of a two percent increase announced in the spring. Wuskwatim is the first of three megaprojects being developed by Hydro between now and 2020 to be followed by a glorious period, named Soviet-style, the Decade of Returns . The plan was to build power stations before they were needed for Manitoba users, sell the power to American customers, rake in big bucks from premium prices for "clean"

The Winnipeg fire hall scandal dissected

How did a good-news story about the timely and well-executed replacement of four outdated fire stations degenerate into a sleazy tale of conspiracy and coverup involving politicians and public servants? How did the fire department, the goodest of the good guys, get entangled in a plot to deceive Winnipeg's elected city council over who was being paid millions of dollars to build the new firehalls? Look at the big picture, and the story doesn't look so sinister. Look closer, and here's what you see... It starts in 2009 with the fire department, now carrying the clunky name of the Winnipeg Fire and Paramedic Service, convincing city officials that it was long past time to bring the city's firefighting infrastructure into the 21st century. Scattered fire stations were too old, too small and too poorly positioned to answer calls quick enough in the sprawling city

Unwrapping a three-year conspiracy and coverup at Winnipeg City Hall

Let's see if we've got this straight... *  The second-in-command in the Winnipeg Fire Department secretly negotiated a deal worth more than $15 million with the mayor's business partner to build four new fire halls, then hid the identity of who got the contract from elected members of city council. *  In order to circumvent instructions from council -- in writing -- that the winner of the fire halls contract be approved in advance, the deputy fire chief divided the contract into four : one for each new fire station, so that each fell under his city-approved spending limit and he could keep the secret of who got the contracts from the public. *  After the secret deal was accidentally revealed, councillors were told they had either to rubberstamp a three-lots-for-one land swap that the deputy chief negotiated with Shindico Realty for one fire hall built on Shindico-owned land, or else pay $990,000 -- a non-negotiable price set by Shindico pr