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Showing posts from December, 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