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Showing posts from October, 2013

The Winnipeg Firehalls Fiasco: Only one man can get answers under oath. Guess who?

Let's sum up the reaction to the Winnipeg Firehalls audit: *  Calls for a police investigation. The Taxpayers Federation has suggested the Winnipeg police or RCMP be involved.  The union that represents Winnipeg police added its voice to the idea, but says the RCMP should do it to avoid any hint of political interference. *  Outside lawyers being brought in to take a second look at whether the audit indicates any illegal activity beyond the unethical preferential treatment that was uncovered. “I think that there (are) lingering questions that need to be answered,” said Coun. Scott Fielding, the chairman of the city's standing policy committee on protection and community services. *  Renewed calls for the creation of an Ethics Commissioner for Winnipeg *  Calls from other councillors -- and thousands of Winnipeggers -- for Mayor Sam Katz to quit *  A plea from one city councillor, at least, for the province to intervene. And that's on top

About that million dollar house you bought for $10, Mr.Mayor.

Almost a year ago, Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz was cocky, cold, and curt when the press discovered that he bought a house in a suburb of Phoenix,  Arizona, from Winnipeg developer Sandy Shindleman's sister-in-law. The sparse and only record of the sale states that Katz paid $10 for the house valued at almost a million dollars. Terri Nordstrom, sister of Shindleman's wife, filed a "special warranty deed" in Colorado, where she lives, giving the price, and the Maricopa County Assessor's Office in Arizona provided an assessed value of the property. (The Maricopa County Treasurer's office currently shows Katz hasn't paid his 2013 taxes, $7509 owed, which were due Oct. 1, 2013.) Katz refused to answer questions about the house, other than to repeat like a broken record that he had paid "fair market value". It was a private matter and nobody's business how he knew Terri Nordstrom, when he paid for the house, and why tax

The Firehalls Scandal: It ain't the crime, it's the cover-up that gets you.

A majority of Winnipeg city councillors decided Wednesday that the way to recapture the public's trust was to appoint as the city's top administrator a man who deserves to be fired for his role in the gross mismanagement and blatant favoritism that characterizes the Firehalls Scandal that's consuming City Hall. Way to go, team. Eleven councillors voted to appoint Deepak Joshi, the current Chief Operating Officer, as acting Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) to replace his mentor, Phil Sheegl, whose disastrous term ended last week when he quit just days before he would have gotten the axe. It's okay, they said, because Joshi will only be in charge of the city for a few months until a permanent CAO is picked.  And who wants to dwell on the past, when we can look forward to building a better city, blah blah blah. Well, to quote Shakespeare, what's past is prologue. An audit into the disastrous project of building four new fire st

Fire Hall fix was in. Ex-Fire Chief says Sheegl told him: "I want Shindico..."

The fix was in right from the start. The external auditors who dissected the corpse of the Winnipeg Firehalls Fiasco looked for evidence of whether Shindico, the construction company owned by Mayor Sam Katz's friend and business partner, received special treatment when it got the nod to build four new fire stations. Their audit, released to the public Monday, reveals that favoritism for Shindico permeated the whole project like stink on a skunk. But the smoking gun doesn't appear until the end of Appendix G ---three maps, one letter and two emails from the back cover. It's a revelation by former Fire Chief Reid Douglas of a conversation he had with Phil Sheegl, who was then the Director of the Planning, Property and Development Department and Deputy CAO. Douglas, at the time, was the Deputy Fire Chief. Sheegl wasn't yet his boss; Sheegl wouldn't be confirmed as the city's Chief Administrative Officer, the most powerful man in Winn

A primer on the scandal that ends Sam Katz's political career

That's some audit you've got there, Mr. Whiteside. It hasn't been released to the public yet and already the city's Fire Chief has been fired and Winnipeg's most powerful administrator has resigned, the mayor's re-election chances have evaporated, and reporters are circling like buzzards over a dying donkey in anticipation of what's between the pages. On Monday, City auditor Brian Whiteside will give a committee of city council the first look at his audit (conducted by an out-of-Winnipeg firm on his behalf) of the convoluted, controversial and extremely fishy deals behind the construction of four new firehalls for Winnipeg. Former Fire Chief Reid Douglas and former Chief Administrative Officer Phil Sheegl got their own peeks at what the audit said about their roles in the scandal, and both are now gone. Coincidence,shouts Sheegl's close friend, Mayor Sam Katz. Neither man's departure had anything to do with the audit,