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Showing posts from 2013

Newsmaker of the Year 2013. Hint: he's like Hercules.

He took down the most powerful man in Winnipeg. He ripped away the curtain hiding a corrupt culture of favoritism and untendered contracts worth millions of dollars being handed out secretly by the city's most senior civil servants. He exposed the year-long cover-up conducted by the mayor and  Winnipeg's top administrators. He's been like Hercules cleaning the Augean Stables, and, like Hercules, he has a long list of tasks to accomplish still. The Black Rod's Newsmaker of the Year --- for the second year in a row --- is Winnipeg auditor Brian Whiteside. Last year, Whiteside was a shoo-in for his courage in standing up to Chief Administrative Officer Phil Sheegl and his minions. They prepared a nice whitewash report clearing Sheegl of any impropriety in the secret delivery of contracts for four new firehalls to Shindico, the company owned by Mayor Sam Katz's palsy walsy for many a year.  They expected Whiteside to passively sign on, bu

Latest poll a pall for the NDP

"...they've missed the biggest political story in the province---the stark panic in the NDP government." That's what we wrote one month ago when we sifted through the results of two federal byelections in Manitoba---and uncovered the story that all the pundits had overlooked as they gushed about Justin Trudeau (despite his failure to win the seats for the Liberals). Probe Research and the Winnipeg Free Press finally put some meat on the bones of the story last week with a new poll showing the NDP a devastating 22 percentage points behind the Progressive Conservatives in voter preference. We took the weekend to swim through the numbers to dig out still more angles to the story. * the NDP have lost their last bastion of support---voters with incomes of less than $30,000. In the last Probe election poll six months ago, the NDP had a clear advantage with lo

The first red flag on the Post Office-as-Police HQ boondoggle --four years ago!

It's amazing what you sometimes find at the bottom of your research pile. Here, for example, is the very, very first red flag raised about the disastrous plan to buy and remodel the old downtown post office building into a brand spanking new police headquarters. It bears reprinting in its entirety. In 2010, the post offfice project was expected to cost $168 million, of which $5.3 Million was for initial design work by AECOM Canada. Read it and weep. Councillor livid firm gets $10M despite errors Design trouble boosted projects' costs By: Bartley Kives Posted: 09/10/2009 The newest member of Mayor Sam Katz's inner circle is fuming that a private engineering firm blamed for design errors at two Winnipeg sewage-treatment plants received more than $10 million in consulting payments from the city last year. City council infrastructure-renewal boss Mike O'Shaughnessy, who rejoined executive policy committee on Wednesday, lashed out at senior

Phil Sheegl's co-conspirator tries to stifle further probes of city property scandals.

Winnipeg's top civil servant is trying to prevent a city councillor from digging deeper into the mismanagement and possible corruption behind two projects which have gone millions of dollars over budget.    You have to wonder why.   Deepak Joshi, the fill-in Chief Administrative Officer, wrote a personal letter to Coun. Paula Havixbeck trying to intimidate her into silence over her persistance in getting to the bottom of the firehalls scandal, in which Joshi was involved up to his eyebrows, and the disastrous project to turn the downtown post office into a new headquarters for the police department.   Joshi was the city's Director of Planning, Property and Development (oh, the irony) when the twin fiascos of the firehalls and police HQ were unfolding. He was appointed Chief Operating Officer in 2011 by then CAO Phil Sheegl, who said in a news release: "I'm making these changes to clarify the roles and responsibilities of senior m

A new Christmas tradition - Firehall Fairy Tales by Shindico

Once upon a time... Isn't that how all fairy tales start?   Last week construction company Shindico dispatched their talking head Bob Downs to spin a fairy tale for Christmas in which Sandy Shindleman and his brother Robert got to play the pretty princesses who need to be saved from the evil dragon, a role assigned to city auditor Brian Whiteside. It turns out that people thinking of doing business with Shindico are asking some embarrassing questions in the wake of the audit into the fishy construction of four firehalls by Shindico. To dispel suspicions, Shindico went on the offensive, declaring their innocence, condemning the auditors for getting it wrong, and hinting broadly that they know who is behind the heat and why. Was that a threat? It started with with CJOB's Richard Cloutier who gushed on air at getting an exclusive two-hour interview with Downs which included a "document dump" of, allegedly, the paper trail suppo

Byelection post-mortem. Press bias and NDP panic.

It must have been as if Christmas came early. The liberal press was nearly orgasmic at the thought of witnessing their political messiah Justin Trudeau demonstrate his magnificence by casting out the conservative demons in Parliamentary byelections. Three times he had gone into the Temple of the Beast (well, Manitoba), preaching about scandal in Ottawa, and promising to cleanse the rot in a puff of (pot) smoke. Giddy with anticipation, they came  to anoint their saviour---he who would restore Liberals to their rightful place as the natural governing party once he demonstrated his miraculous powers to the voting public. They gathered to witness the rebirth of the Party--- these self-proclaimed shepherds of the ignorant masses, angels in their own minds, and a lot of asses. After all, hadn't the oracles predicted an easy and crushing victory?  'Liberals 29 points ahead in Brandon-Souris' declared the Forum Research sages. And it didn't

Fundraisers cry Mayday for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights

Fundraising for the Canadian Museum for Human Rights has collapsed. The museum's fundraising arm, The Friends of the CMHR, has managed to gather barely two million dollars in pledges this year so far. Over the past 14 months, only 200 private donations have been received . Given that donations are usually spread out over 5-10 years, that means they could have raised as little as $400,000 cash in 2013.   In that case the CMHR has officially slid into the abyss, with costs, including millions in unpaid back taxes, escalating faster than they can raise money to pay for them. The only thing that's propped up this White Elephant appears to be a wink-wink nudge-nudge $10 million slipped to the CMHR under the table by the federal government. In 2011, after running out of money and while waiting for a government bailout, the CMHR stopped hiring and paying for the design of exhibits. In that way they underspent their $21 million annual operating funds by $10 million. They, a

From Perp to Plaintiff: As the worm turns.

Every day is a remembrance day of sorts for former Winnipegger David Wolinsky. Wolinsky remembers making the perp walk to an airplane at Vancouver International Airport four years ago, hands cuffed, legs shackled and escorted through the airport's public area by two City of Winnipeg policemen. He remembers being charged with conspiracy to defraud the Astra Credit Union (before it was swallowed up by Assiniboine Credit Union).  He remembers seeing his name dragged through the mud. And he remembers what the judge said when he dropped all the charges in April. It's those memories that fuel the lawsuit Wolinsky has launched against what appears to be everyone associated with Astra-cum-Assiniboine Credit Union short of the cleaning lady and the night security guard. Joining Wolinsky in the suit are three co-plaintiffs--- a financial consultant to Wolinsky's holding company, the Protos Group; the chief financial officer of Maple Leaf Distillers, one

The acquital of Harry Bakema is an indictment of journalism in Winnipeg

This is what passes for professional journalism in Winnipeg? Of eveything written about the political persecution of former East St. Paul police chief Harry Bakema, the Saturday, Nov. 2, column by Winnipeg Free Press scribe Dan Lett stands as the most contemptible. Lett professes to be a "professional" journalist. He even gives lectures to budding journalists on how he does it. God help the profession. He hurls insults at bloggers who dare tell him how to do his job and where he fails miserably, because, of course, HE is the professional. Lett, you'll remember, was at the head of the media lynch mob in 2008 that howled for the head of every police officer and lawyer connected with the prosecution of Const. Derek Harvey-Zenk, who caused the death of Crystal Taman when he rear-ended her car which was stopped at a red light.  The occasion was a government-sponsored show trial, disguised as a public inquiry, into the fatal accident. The rabid