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Showing posts from October, 2012

The Winnipeg Firehall Scandal: Following the trail of deception

The City of Winnipeg's top civil servants have defiantly closed ranks around Fire Chief Reid Douglas whose handling of a $15 million project to build four new fire stations is at the heart of a scandal that's shaking public trust in city government like never before. Douglas submitted a report last week to a city committee seeking another $2.3 million from the 2013 budget to cover cost overruns on the new firehalls.  He's already spent the $15.3 million allocated for the project but only three fire stations have been built and the last, in St. James, only just started.  Douglas twice increased the size of the fourth firehall without telling city councillors why, then tried to hide the increased cost  from them, even as late as last month (September). He wrote in his report supporting the extra funding that : "The Fire Chief had the authority to change the scope of the project in order to accommodate these operational needs and efficiencies as they were antic

What you are going to see inside the CMHR. "Look on...and despair."

Earlier this year, the New York designer of the museum's exhibits, Ralph Appelbaum, came to Winnipeg to give 200 donors to the CMHR a super-sneak preview of  the "interior wonders" they can expect to see when they visit. The museum's fundraising arm, the Friends of the CMHR, took detailed notes and reported Appelbaum's "thrilling" lecture in the group's Summer, 2012, newsletter.   Given the importance of knowing exactly what we're spending $351 million (and counting) on, we decided to scalp the Friends' account (with the really boring bits scissored out). Barf bags at the ready, here we go... "Appelbaum began his thrilling virtual tour of the Museum’s interior at the building entrance between two of the structure’s massive “roots”. The roots represent the earth as the common home of all people and the beginning of our journey

The CMHR annual report fuels the need for a forensic audit

We couldn't figure it out at first. Why did they stall so long before submitting the latest annual report of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights when everything in it was known ten months ago? What were they hiding? We had to dig deep---30 pages into the 58 page report before we spotted it---there in a summary of the funding collected for the project: "Cash contributions from the Province of Manitoba ($38.8 million) and the City of Winnipeg ($16 million) have been received, as well as the private sector installments from The Friends of CMHR ($87.8 million). " Problem was, by March 31, 2012, the fiscal year end, the Friends of CMHR were crowing they had raised $130 million. It turns out that the CMHR was sitting on $42 million in IOU's at the same time it was about to shut down construction because it had no money. The museum fundraisers had collected only two-thirds of the private donations they claimed to have raised. When