The Black Rod

The origin of the Usher of the Black Rod goes back to early fourteenth century England . Today, with no royal duties to perform, the Usher knocks on the doors of the House of Commons with the Black Rod at the start of Parliament to summon the members. The rod is a symbol for the authority of debate in the upper house. We of The Black Rod have adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.

Name:
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

We are citizen journalists in Winnipeg. When not breaking exclusive stories, we analyze news coverage by the mainstream media and highlight bias, ignorance, incompetence, flawed logic, missed angles and, where warranted, good work. We serve as the only overall news monitors in the province of Manitoba. We do the same with politicians (who require even more monitoring.) EMAIL: black_rod_usher@yahoo.com

Monday, September 01, 2014

The latest Winnipeg mayoral election poll: Next time try tarot cards.


It's hard to say who should be more embarrassed by the latest mayoral election poll --- the pollsters, the press, or the funders?
 
The first crowd-sourced election poll in Canada turned out to be such a bust that the pollsters had to invent something new to give its funders to justify taking their money.

Winnipeg's Probe Research Inc. issued a poll grading the support of the candidates for mayor, but with a 29 percent undecided response, the poll was less reliable than your daily horoscope. Ten percent undecided would be large.  Twenty percent would be huge.  But almost 30 percent is a joke, a bad joke that invalidates the alleged results.

In a desperate move to keep some credibility, Probe Research invented a momentum index, claiming to measure which candidates are moving up in public opinion and which down. 

When was the last time you heard of something like this?  Hint: NEVER.

But they had to deliver something to the private group, Manitoba Forward, and the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg who fronted most of the cost of this exercise and who should complain to the BBB of polling -- if there is such a thing.

Do you want to know how useless this mayoral poll is?  Just compare it to a similar poll conducted before the 2010 civic election:

Judy, Sam neck and neck in poll
Mayor a little behind challenger in one sample, a little ahead in other
By: Bartley Kives  Posted: 10/2/2010

THE METHODOLOGY Probe Research conducted telephone interviews with 600 randomly selected Winnipeg adults between Sept. 16 and 30. One can say with 95 per cent certainty that the results, taken from a subsample of 439 people who intend to vote, have a margin of error of 4.7 per cent. The sample was statistically weighted to conform to Winnipeg’s demographics.

THE LARGER SAMPLE If you look at the entire 600-person sample — including people who do not intend to vote — Katz is ahead of Wasylycia-Leis by a three-point mar­gin, 50 per cent to 47. The results re­main a statistical dead heat, within the margin of error of four per cent. Probe Research president Scott MacKay considers this sample a less reliable snapshot of actual voting intentions.
THE race for mayor of Winnipeg is now a statistical dead heat. Incum­bent Sam Katz has lost the polling lead he held all year and is now even with challenger Judy Wasylycia-Leis.

According to a Probe Research poll conducted in late September exclu­sively for the Free Press, Wasylycia-Leis is the preferred choice of 50 per cent of Winnipeg voters. Katz sits three points behind with 47 per cent support and Brad Gross and Rav Gill garnered the remaining three per cent. The mar­gin of error for these results is 4.7 per cent.
snip
The overall results point to Winni­peg's closest mayoral race since 1998, when Glen Murray squeaked by Peter Kauffman by 10,569 votes.
  

Well.....as it turned out that poll was indicative of absolutely nothing.  Sam Katz trounced JustJudy by double digits.  He collected just shy of 55 percent of the vote, she not quite 43 percent. She lost by almost 25,500 votes, hardly the squeaker predicted by Probe.

The only benefit of the 2014 Probe mayoral poll was as fodder for the news media's narrative of the election campaign.  You see, modern journalists don't report the news anymore---they create the news, as CJOB's Richard Cloutier did when he disrupted a Gord Steeves news conference because Steeves wouldn't play the foil to CJOB's live broadcast. 

The current narrative is 'left-wing candidate Judy Wasylycia-Leis (she's abandoned the folksy, aw shucks Just Judy persona) vs. a gang of right-wingers.' 

It's a retread. That was last year's media narrative also.

This year was supposed to be the sweep into City Hall of Brian Bowman, the Gen X candidate.  Only the Bowman appeal is zero with voters. His campaign has no traction. He actually thinks he'll win voters over with an endorsement from Winnipeg Jets owner Mark Chipman, a millionaire who collects millions of dollars in subsidies from Winnipeg taxpayers because, goodness knows, he doesn't have enough millions yet.
The MSM spent all of last week flogging the 'Wasylycia-Leis is unbeatable' angle. Prior to that the Winnipeg Free Press published three stories on one week attacking candidate Gord Steeves, demonstrating who they think is the biggest threat to Judy Alphabet, as she calls herself.  They even pronounced his campaign dead after they learned his wife posted a message on the Internet saying how sick and tired she was of running a gauntlet downtown of scary drunk Indian panhandlers.

When that wasn't enough, Free Press columnist Dan Lett resorted to outright fantasy and fabrication to smear Steeves:

 "There was a time earlier in the campaign when it looked as if Steeves would drop out. He had a horrid start involving botched events and the resignation of some key campaign organizers.
Since then, however, he has delivered a barrage of campaign announcements, some intriguing, some poorly conceived. There was also the matter of an angry Facebook rant by his wife against homeless aboriginals."

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/opinion/columnists/bowman-steeves-making-it-a-one-horse-race-273147051.html

That never happened.

She never mentioned homeless aboriginals. This is a complete and total invention by Dan Lett.  Years past, Lett tried to show how clever he was by quoting his wife, who allegedly made the pithy observation that you're entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.

That, obviously, was before Lett found how much fun he had making up "facts".

This egregious attempt to malign Gord Steeves is just part of the pattern of Lett's writings. We addressed his confessed bias in his columns two years ago:

http://blackrod.blogspot.ca/2012/04/jury-is-in-on-dan-lett-verdict-guilty.html

At a real newspaper, he would be disciplined for printing lies. But the attacks on Steeves are part of the Winnipeg Free Press narrative on the election, and will be rewarded, instead.
*****************

Speaking of mainstream media incompetence, here's some of the ever-popular:
Professional Journalists At Work
"New crowd-funded poll gives Wasylycia-Leis 16-point lead in mayoral race
By: Mary Agnes Welch  Winnipeg Free Press  Posted: 08/28/2014 3:30 PM |
The poll was conducted over the weekend using a custom online panel and has a margin or error of +/- 4 per cent."
*****
"Wasylycia-Leis tops 2nd mayoral poll
By Kristin Annable, Winnipeg Sun
First posted: Thursday, August 28, 2014 02:43 PM CDT |
The data for the country’s first crowdfunded election survey was collected from 603 Winnipeggers between Aug. 22 and Aug. 25, and is accurate to +/-4% at a 95% certainty level."
*****
"Bowman Not Going To Leave Mayoral Race
Kim Lawson CJOBAugust 29, 2014 02:45 pm
The survey was conducted with 603 members of Probe Research’s proprietary online panel and has a margin of error of +/- 4 per cent, 19 times out of 20."
******The facts:  Probe Research Inc. Aug. 28, 2014:
This survey was conducted with 603 members of Probe Research’s proprietary online panel.

Because this is a non-probability sample,
no statistical margin of error can be ascribed.

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Lameduck Mayor Sam Katz steps up to fill Robin Williams' shoes




Is Sam Katz auditioning for a new career as a comedian?

He's no Robin Williams, but you've got to start somewhere.  

When the news broke that the province of Manitoba had asked the RCMP to review the trio of city audits that uncovered massive favoritism in handing out construction contracts "and to conduct any investigations it considers appropriate," Katz tapped his funny bone to knock off some one-liners in the form of a "statement."

His best: "The province has made their decision and chosen to exercise their right to refer to the RCMP, and all of council would support their decision, and I hope this brings closure."

Bwahaha. Now that's funny.

It may be too subtle for many people, but it's in the true tradition of understated British humour.

You see, Katz is saying just the opposite. 

He and his council cabal voted AGAINST sending the audits to the provincial justice department, a move made by councillors in the hope the province would call in the Mounties.  

The vote was razor-thin, 8-7 to approve the motion. One councillor didn't vote -- Justin Swandel, Katz's sidekick, his Ed McMahon to Sam's Johnny Carson, the guy who sits there and guffaws at his master's lame jokes.

The council meeting ran late and Swandel left for an appointment. If he stayed he would have cast the tying vote that would have killed the motion to refer to the province.

Now that's funny, Sam Katz's staunchest ally ensured the RCMP would be called in to investigate Sam Katz's administration.

Katz isn't running for re-election because the humourless electorate might not find the scandals that have cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars so funny. Instead, he's adopted the old adage: always leave 'em laughing.

But the RCMP review might not be the "closure" the lameduck mayor wants.

The police might just expand on the "prima facie" case built by the audits and dig deeper into the cozy relationship between the mayor, his best friend and the city's chief administrative officer, and his other friend and investor and beneficiary of the best friend's largesse. Who knows, the Mounties might just travel to Scottsdale, Arizona, to ask questions about the million dollar house Sam Katz bought from  sister of an executive of Shindico for $10 "and other considerations." 

But for a comedian it's all grist for the mill. Sam Katz even has his punchline written and waiting:
"When it comes to ability, intelligence and integrity, this jury wouldn't even qualify to be in the same building, let alone the same room, as Phil Sheegl."

Nanu Nanu.

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

The public lynching of mayoral candidate Gord Steeves



The public lynching of mayoral candidate Gord Steeves last Wednesday was not only ugly, it was a frightening display of how an uncontrolled news mob will gladly abandon ethics and propriety for self-promotion.


Having invented a scandal, Winnipeg's best known purported professional journalists descended on a Steeves news conference determined to stir more controversy -- even if they had to manufacture it.


The most egregious faux-journalist was CJOB's news director, Richard Cloutier. CJOB, with its listenership in freefall, has decided that the way to recoup its ratings is with stunts. So they determined they would go live to the Steeves news conference where, just maybe if they were lucky, trouble would break out.

The problem with going live is that you can't control the event. So when Steeves began eating up time outlining a policy proposal to improve the lives of Winnipegers, it was more than Cloutier could stand. 

Cloutier disrupted the news conference by shouting out questions that had nothing to do with the announcement Steeves was making.  He decided to throw off the mantle of journalist and become an actor in his own radio drama.
Instead of reporting news, he would create news.  Hey, look at me, I'm Dan Rather!  Except we know how Dan Rather ended up when he started making up the news, don't we.

Making yourself part of the story, isn't that Professional Journalist Ethics 101?  And civility? Screw it. What about telling voters what an election candidate will do for them? Oh, please. How Old School. Nobody cares what candidates stand for, do they?

Certainly not Cloutier. Of course, after the election he will be whining about why there was a low turnout, how candidates should be more specific about their "vision", how awful it is that voters make their decisions based on personality, blah blah blah.

Cloutier's interruption got others in the small crowd to start heckling.  Maybe, finally, the news media would get the confrontation they were hoping for.

When announcing the news conference, the Steeves camp had asked the news desks to embargo the location.  He didn't want the event to become a circus.  But the newsrooms did.

APTN was first to formally break the embargo and announce the location where Steeves would be.  They argued that since they weren't directly invited, they weren't bound by any embargo.  But how, then, did they know where the news conference would be?  Obviously, because someone at one of the major newsrooms leaked it to them to generate an anti-Steeves crowd. And that would mean the confrontation the reporters wanted.

Manipulating events instead of reporting news. Yep, professional journalist ethics in action.

The media mob also manipulated words in its attack on Gord Steeves.

Years of media bias criticism has taught citizens how to read the biases of news outlets. 
Note how effortlessly all the Winnipeg newrooms referred to the "racist" Facebook post made by Steeves wife.  
Take the CBC headline:
"Gord Steeves defends wife, tries to explain racist comments"

Or Megan Batchelor's reporting for Global Winnipeg:
"WINNIPEG-Mayoral candidate Gord Steeves broke his silence Tuesday and announced in spite of a racist Facebook post made by his wife in 2010, he will stay in the race to become Winnipeg’s next mayor."
Except that it wasn't racist. 

She didn't show any prejudice towards Indians, just "drunken native guys" who harass people on the skywalks of Winnipeg. Indeed, she wanted them to improve themselves by getting an education and jobs so they don't need to harass people for handouts.

Now compare that with the comments one year ago by NDP Cabinet Minister Eric Robinson who was caught sending a racist email showing prejudice against white people.  Robinson confirmed his prejudice in a television interview the next day, and declared that as an Indian he had a right to be prejudiced.  
NOT ONE NEWS OUTLET IN WINNIPEG labelled his email as "racist" in their news stories.  NOT ONE.

So the term "racist" is thrown about as a label to smear the people the "professional journalists" want smeared for their own purposes.

But the reporting on the Steeves news conference was riddled with equally biased wording.

Megan Batchelor, again:

"Steeves attempted to side-step the issue and unveil a policy on permits and zoning variances. The announcement was interrupted by questions about his status as a candidate."

Note how she carefully side-steps the issue of who interrupted the candidate -- to hide the fact that it was CJOB news director Richard Cloutier.

The Winnipeg Free Press joined Global in falsely reporting Steeves' intentions:

"He initially wanted to skirt the entire issue by trying to discuss civic policy, but was shouted down by hecklers and the media at a press conference Tuesday at Bonnycastle Park."

The public isn't fooled anymore, and to the news media's chagrin, the Internet allows citizens to talk back without the media filter:

Livio Ciaralli 11:52pm Aug 12 
Why was Cloutier interrupting and asking him if he was going to quit. Really Cloutier ???!!! Why should he quit ? Do you manage what your wife says ? Don't professional reporters have a code of conduct. Let the candidate speak, then ask him questions.

Reporters rushed to foster controversy by getting Indian observers to criticize Steeves. There was Chief Jim Bear from the Brokenhead Reserve who was "frustrated" and "disappointed". And Chief Betsy Kennedy from the War Lake Reserve who was inspired that more aboriginal Winnipeggers would vote in the coming election.

But the biased reporters forgot to do some basic research.  
A quick search of the Aboriginal Affairs website shows that neither Brokenhead nor War Lake have filed their band financial statements as required by the First Nations Financial Transparency Act. 
In short, the same time as they're telling Winnipegers how to vote, they're breaking the law.  What role models of public governance.

Winnipeg Free Press columnist Dan Lett wrote his own version of the Steeves news conference.  Almost immediately, other attendees took to the Internet to challenge his version of the facts. 

Wrote Lett:

"As Gord Steeves left Bonnycastle Park on Tuesday, an aboriginal man in a smart grey business suit approached him and asked for a chance to talk. 

The man, Kevin Hart, chairman of the Circle of Life Thunderbird House, had been watching Steeves respond to the controversy over Steeves' wife Lorrie's angry Facebook rant against "drunken native guys."
 
Hart stood close to Steeves the entire time he tried to explain the two incidents involving aggressive panhandlers that prompted his wife to post the rant.
 
When the news conference was over, Hart calmly circled around the throng of media to intercept Steeves on his way to his car. When approached, Steeves declined to speak to him. Without breaking stride, he headed to his car."

That's not the way others who were there saw it. They took to the Comments to tell what they saw.

Gordon Halushka
7:13 AM on 8/13/2014
"The same guy who was heckling non-stop and you know it.lett.

4:11 PM on 8/12/2014
Nope. He did not. Others did.
Dan Lett
The guy in the grey business suit was heckling and harassing Gord Steeves,we have it on video,Mr. Lett and you denied it to maintain your narrative,Gord Steeves the racist.
You owe the public an apology.

Dan Lett
8:46 AM on 8/13/2014
He made one comment during the news conference, and it was uttered so quietly that only those of us who were standing right beside him (I am right off to the camera left) could hear what he said. And then for the rest of the event, he said absolutely nothing. That is proven by the video.

anonymity_personified
9:17 AM on 8/13/2014
You couldn't be more disengenuous if you tried lett. The dude was staring steeves down and crowding into his personal space. It was intimidation 101.

Old Flin Flon
9:59 AM on 8/13/2014
Gee Dan. I guess you were caught in a little LIE. Twice. But twisting the truth seems to have become your mudus operendi.
After reporting on the porr aboriginal gentleman who just wanted to have a word to clear the air, it now appears you were and are conspiring to create a little more news. After the humiliation you and Gordon suffered last week, one would have hoped you would be chastised before trying to ruin a few more people. But, oh know, you have proven yorself to be worse than a biased reporter/columnist. This week you have demonstrated yourself to be an honesty challenged activist. Maybe all this is about trying to "impress" the new boss.

You would think that something as basic as getting the facts straight would be a matter of concern to the editorial department, but we'll see.

Lett didn't help his case when responding to a complaint of having a double standard---of attacking Gord Steeves while ignoring the racism of Eric Robinson.  He just tried to rewrite history.
Dan Lett
8:50 AM on 8/13/2014
My conclusion was that the comments were racist and that, as a person who has suffered under the residential schools system and systemic racism most of his life, there was a context there that helped explain - not excuse - the comments Robinson made. Very similarly, I have taken pains not to call Lorrie Steeves a racist. But what she said was racist. We have some context now but I think you're still missing the point.

Comments uttered by a victim of racism and similar comments uttered by someone who felt provoked, but who otherwise has never experienced racism are not the same.
The fact that the great non-aboriginal majority has no empathy for that distinction is hardly surprising. A bit sad really, but no shocker.

If he "concluded" that Robinson's comments were racist, he failed to say so publicly.  
In his column on the minister's racist email, Lett never once used the words "racist email." The closest he came was in paragraph 19 of his 20 paragraph column when he wrote:
"For now, Robinson has been forced to fight the allegations he is a racist with a recitation of his long and decorated political career."

Inventing a scandal. 
Reinventing history. 
The Winnipeg MSM in action.    
Shame.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hate the federal Conservative Party? The Winnipeg Free Press is hiring.


The Winnipeg Free Press appears to be gearing up for the next federal election by hiring the most strident hater of the Conservative Party they could find to join their editorial department.

We're not talking about FP Editor Paul Samyn, who was the biggest shill for the Liberal Party in Ottawa when he was the newspaper's Parliamentary reporter.  See http://blackrod.blogspot.com/2006/10/fp-admits-bad-reporting-still-says.html for details.

This past weekend Samyn announced that "we have a new editor responsible for the perspectives you will be reading both in print and on-line. Shannon Sampert, an expert in Canadian politics and the media, joins our newsroom from the University of Winnipeg...Shannon becomes the first woman to oversee our editorial pages. I think Dafoe would be proud."

Shannon Sampert was no stranger to The Black Rod (more about that in a minute). We more-or-less ignored her in her teaching job at the U of W, but when we learned she was in a position to influence public opinion through manipulation of the city's largest daily newspaper, we decided to look closer at the slant she's likely to bring to the editorial pages "in print and on-line."

In 2000, Sampert was the vice-president of communications for the Alberta Liberal Party.  But that was a long time ago and indicative of nothing more than a decade later. Or was it?

In her Twitter profile Sampert describes herself as "left-of-centre."

Read on to see through her Tweets what's considered left-of-centre in academic and MSM circles:

Shannon Sampert @PaulySigh  ·  2 Feb 2012
In Canada, under #Harper, the earth is flat and the sky is yellow and truth is what Sun News tells us.
***********
Shannon Sampert @PaulySigh  ·  20 Jan 2012
hell freezes over. I agree with CPC. @WinnipegNews: MacKay puts the kibosh on order of 20,000 stress balls
http://bit.ly/Ay9Buk
**********
Shannon Sampert  @PaulySigh
I regret that the rest of that reads: his newser but for a minute my hopes were up.
RT@natnewswatch: Wow, Harper is finished
 
***************
 Shannon Sampert @PaulySigh  ·  13 Apr 2012
Air Canada should have sick days when #cpc MPs are trying to fly home. #missedopportunity #ac

 
********************
11:21 AM - 2 Apr 2012
Shannon Sampert @PaulySigh  ·  2 Apr 2012
Vic Toews goes to the hospital by ambulance because of the flu. I am fighting my sarcastic urges right now.

****************************
Sampert re-tweets a lot of other people's messages, and one of her favorite commenters is Stephen Lautens, of' Toronto, who describes himself on his Twitter account as "recovering lawyer, passionate & progressive moderate... occasional columnist..."

See, from her re-tweets, what passes as a "passionate moderate" in Sampert's circle.

Retweeted by Shannon Sampert
 Stephen Lautens @stephenlautens  ·  Jul 19
#putharperonthestand (
put harper on the stand...ed.) and watch him burst into flames as he swears to tell the truth. #cdnpoli
***********************
 Stephen Lautens @stephenlautens  ·  Jul 27
Harper renames Therese Casgrain Volunteer Awards the "Prime Minister's Awards." In related news, Boy Scouts renamed "Harper Youth" #cdnpoli

Harper Youth/ Hitler Youth.  Get it? 

Always a knee-slapper at Sampert's house.

For real insight into how classy this guy is, see what he wrote following the sudden death of former Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty:

(TO BE CLEAR, THIS APPEARED ON LAUTENS' TWITTER SITE AND WAS NOT RETWEETED BY SHANNON SAMPERT.)

i'd be willing to pay for a lot more state funerals for Conservatives. A lot more... #cdnpoli
— Stephen Lautens (@stephenlautens) April 11, 2014
 

Another of Sampert's favorites is Dan Gardner.  She loves the guy. We know because she told everyone so.
 
Shannon Sampert @PaulySigh  ·  15 Mar 2012
I've decided I love @dgardner -- the man speaks the cynical truth!

*****************
Here's what to expect on Middle East coverage when Shannon Sampert gets control of what goes into the Free Press editorial pages:

/dgardnerDan Gardner @dgardner · Jul 17
Fanaticism, illustrated. Later on the very day that four children are killed, the CPC tweets this:
https://twitter.com/CPC_HQ/status/489568552282624000
Conservative Party @CPC_HQ
Through fire and water, Canada will stand with Israel. Add your name if…
 
What about local news?  Sampert tipped her hand here too.

‏@PaulySigh
8Thank god property taxes have gone up. It's ridiculous how little I pay. I'd rather see better transit, snow removal and paving thanks. 
*********************
 
Shannon Sampert @PaulySigh  ·  26 Apr 2012
If Wpg police want more officers and another helicopter, watch for the release of scare tactic "stats". #bewary #beingplayed
 
Sampert didn't rise to the bait when someone tried on Twitter goading her with accusations of being a lesbian.  But she did show her real attitude towards men with this re-tweet.
 
2:41 PM - 28 Feb 2012
Retweeted by Shannon Sampert
TrillNPresent Danger @_Roxie_ · Jul 25
"@sassycrass: I'll say it again: most men don't learn misogyny as misogyny. You learn it as Being A Man."

And Shannon Sampert appears to be a regular reader of The Black Rod.

Shannon Sampert‏@PaulySigh
The Black Rod Blog is calling the MSM handling of the expirey date comment against Neville a drive by smear. Pot calling the kettle black!
11:32 AM - 2 Apr 2011

That's not surprising given as how we gave her her first major ink in this city six years ago in an article titled 'Mayor or Moose.'  It's still one of our best.

But given her new job at the Winnipeg Free Press, the details of the humourous story take on a more sinister shading.  It appears Sampert is a fan of censorship and of intimidating others who don't share her extremist views.

She'll fit right in at the FP.

******************************************
The Black Rod was also on the mind of FP columnist Dan Lett yesterday.

Lett jumped into a comments thread to deliver a fine rant against our story pointing out how badly out-of-touch the Winnipeg Free Press was with the public in Winnipeg:

Here's a sample:

Dan Lett
8:43 AM on 8/11/2014
We are supposed to take notice when some anonymous blogger agrees that the racist comments made by another individual are justified? Someone who wants to portray downtown as a place where people are regularly terrorized by the panhandlers?

Come on folks. I can assure you that I spend more time downtown that most of you. My spouse works right downtown. Having grown up in a larger city that I still visit regularly, I can tell you that big cities are all about the collision of affluence and abject poverty. It's one of the predictable, lamentable facts of bloody life. But terrorized? Seriously?

...Winnipeggers are such big babies about the panhandling threat.
 
Nobody wants to be asked for spare change by someone who may be under the influence of some substance. It's uncomfortable and awkward. But to characterize downtown as some sort of war zone - who is really employing the hyperbole here.

Bottom line - congrats to the one anonymous dude who uses his posts to plug the other anonymous dude's hateful commentary. Another blow for transparency, accountability and public debate.

Hee hee.   You might take this seriously if you didn't know that Dan Lett, the Winnipeg Free Press Golden Boy, just made up his own facts.
Nowhere did we say that anybody was "terrorized."  Read the story for yourself. Lett just made that up. 

He set up a straw man, punched him, kicked him, poked him in his imaginary eyes, knocked him down, jumped on him while pounding on his own chest and shouting "Look at me. I'm so tough."

Hee hee.  You know why somebody has to fight a straw man, don't you. It's because they can't win an argument, so they need a diversion.

By pretending to beat up an imaginary man of their own invention, they get to pretend they're winners, not loooosers.  Hee hee.

But did Danny think we wouldn't spot this: "I can assure you that I spend more time downtown that most of you."  You see, there's a reason why Dan spends so much time downtown, and it's not because he's hyping the Free Press News Cafe on McDermot.

Dan's wife, Becky Lett, is a librarian.  And, whooo, there's a library downtown. 
Who would have a better front-row seat to the drunks downtown than a librarian?  Maybe Becky Lett can tell us why the downtown library stations security guards at the top of the stairs leading from the overhead walkway?  Or why the police do walk-throughs the library so often. Or, give us more details of the threats on the life of a security guard who was removing riff raff (an event reported in the Winnipeg Sun and repeated in The Black Rod).

C'mon Dan, Let's hear the skinny about downtown directly from your wife Becky.

Lett, you recall, was one of those who went to great lengths to excuse the racist attitude of NDP cabinet minister Eric Robinson.
 

It was only in paragraph 19 of a 20-paragraph story that Lett allowed himself to use the word "racist."  He spoke about "inflammatory email remarks" and a "charged, racially motivated comment" before finally, reluctantly, concluding with "allegations he is a racist."

But he had no hesitation calling 'racism' on the private, non-government, observations of the wife of a mayoral candidate that Lett wants defeated.

Funny how that works, isn't it. 

The Free Press can smear with impunity those they want out of office, while excusing the most egregious behaviour from those they want in. 

That's professional journalists at work.

************
As a brief aside, while Dan Lett was defending Eric Robinson for his attack on white people who tried to improve the lives of Indian, Lett was keeping very, very silent about an event that had been held at the FP News Cafe.

You see, nine months earlier, the News Cafe hosted the star of the very fundraiser that prompted Robinson's racist comments.

Here's how the newspaper hyped her appearance:

The temperature is falling outside but it was heating up at the Winnipeg Free Press News Café Thursday afternoon.

Miss La Muse, a local burlesque dancer stopped by to discuss an important fundraiser for Osborne House.
Proceeds from the sale of Foxy Shoppe Calendar will be given to Osborne House, which provides a safe and supportive environment for women and children who are experiencing domestic abuse.

A calendar launch party is being held at The Foxy Shoppe at 87 King Street from 7-9 Friday evening.
Miss La Muse also put on a short performance at the cafe. Watch a replay here.

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Oops. MSM attack on Gord Steeves backfires.


Gord Steeves has suddenly been propelled into being the frontrunner in Winnipeg's mayoral race.
And it's not for something he said or did. He can thank his wife for the push.

What? What are you talking about? The MSM says his campaign is finished because of a four-year-old Facebook post by his wife complaining about being harrassed by "drunk native guys."

Hardly. 

Because EVERYBODY KNOWS IT'S TRUE!

And that means that finally somebody is talking about something that people care about. Like WHY DOWNTOWN WINNIPEG IS SUCH A SHITHOLE.

Steeves' support is solidified by the trumped-up attack on him, and voters who haven't paid much, if any, attention to the campaign for mayor now know his name.  And they also know he's the only candidate they've heard saying what they want to hear -- clean up downtown.

He's not jabbering about some abstract "vision" of some future city in some non-existent dreamland.  He's talking about this city, here, now. 

Gee, that's BOLD. 

And voters, especially women, are listening to the guy with the concrete ideas for making this city safer.  The critics who want to turn downtown Winnipeg over to the derelicts that harass people day and night have only greased Steeves' way to the front of the pack.

Harassed by drunk native guys? Hell, is there anyone who works downtown or, God forbid, has to go there for a medical appointment, business meeting, Jets game, pick-up, who hasn't been harassed by panhandlers?  And the typical panhandler is -- wait for it --- aboriginal in appearance. Ask anyone who waits for a bus on Graham Avenue how often they're approached.  Then ask them how many times they've witnessed fights on the street between--wait for it--- drunk native guys. And gals, those flowers of native femininity. 

Everybody who works for CTV knows the truth. 

Everybody who works at CBC, and doesn't run home to the suburbs immediately after work, knows the truth.

Everybody who works at MTS Centre knows the truth. 

Everybody who works at Manitoba Hydro knows the truth.

Everybody who works at Air Canada knows the truth. 

The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ annual report for 2012 talked about the assignment of  "10 permanent WPS Cadets means sustained delivery of downtown safety services, related to assisting intoxicated people".  Gee, who could they be talking about?

It doesn't matter how much the Indian Victim industry or the leftwing news media tries to rewrite reality. Thousands of people know who is telling the truth in this faux scandal.

Of course the howling mob doesn't worry about truth.  No, the mob is trying to imply that Steeves' wife, and everybody who agrees with her, are calling all Indians drunks.  That, simply, is a lie.
On any day there are plenty of Indians at the Millenium Library in the heart of downtown.  What are they doing?  Reading newspapers and magazines.  
 
Nobody calls them drunk Indians.

The food court at Portage Place is full of Indian patrons. What are they doing?  Eating, laughing, socializing.  
 
Nobody calls them drunk Indians (except for those who are.)

The news media discovered through the various methods of instant feedback (Twitter, Internet comments, Facebook) that there was little sympathy for the drunk native guys in the story. 
 
CBC, for example, had 311 comments on their Steeves story,  ten-to-one in his favour, before they closed off comments.

So when the critics found they couldn't garner support for drunk harassers of women, the criticism morphed over the weekend -- into identifying the harassers as "homeless". Oh, boo hoo hoo.

Well, these derelicts ARE NOT ALL HOMELESS. We know some come from some Indian reserves.  That means they have homes, just not in Winnipeg.  The respective Indian reserves are their homes.

If you showed up in Berlin tomorrow, would you be homeless?  Or Paris?  Doesn't everyone want to spend a couple of years in Paris?  If you showed up in Paris and declared you had no job, knew nobody with a couch to spare, you didn't speak French and you had no job skills.  But you wanted a furnished apartment---because, of course, you were homeless.  Oh, and toss in a monthly allowance to let you, er, socialize in the manner you've become accustomed to.  How far do you think you would get with the Parisian authorities?

The media frenzy over the "drunk native guys" comment has to be compared with the media's blanket defence of Eric Robinson's racist attitude towards white people that was revealed one year ago this month.

Robinson sent an email, then tried to hide its existence, in which he declared his contempt for "white" do-gooders.  When caught, he declared he had a right to be racist because he was an Indian and whites had mistreated him.

The same news outlets that now falsely accuse Steeves' wife of making a racist comment, defended Robinson back then, making excuses for his racism, trying to explain that attacking whites for the colour of their skin wasn't racist, redefining racism to exclude discriminating against white people.

Prominent among Steeves' attackers is Wab Kinew, the former CBC reporter who now calls himelf a hip-hop artist. Kinew was also prominent among the defenders of Robinson's racism, only he didn't call for Robinson's resignation, the way he called for Steeves to drop out of the race for mayor. 

See, for example, Kinew's music career highlight---'Good Boy', his paean to Matthew Dumas, the doped-up Indian teen who was shot to death in 2005 as he advanced on a police officer while armed with a screwdriver. 

Dumas attracted police attention when he bolted after seeing officers, who were looking for suspects in a robbery. Chased down, Dumas, who was wanted on a warrant although the police chasing him didn't know that, punched an officer and took off again. He pulled out a screwdriver, shook off blasts of pepper spray, and refused to drop his weapon as he closed the distance on a policeman.

Except that's not the way the former CBC reporter Kinew saw it.  Dumas "took the wrong way home", rapped Wab, and was shot because of his "criminal appearance, aboriginal appearance."  Poor boy was shot because of "how Canada's configured", said Kinew.

"There's a cop chopper in the sky should we run for our lives?" rapped the native drama queen.

Well, not if you're not trying to kill a cop, Wab.

But somebody call the infectious disease police. That great red hunter of racists, Wab, and the rest of the mob out to smear Gord Steeves need to be quarantined; they suffer from SRS---Selective Racism Syndrome.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sheegl and Shindico. Five Years of Deceit, says Audit.


The looting of Winnipeg started almost as soon as Phil Sheegl got on the city payroll.

And it lasted almost until the day he quit.

That's the cold truth you're left with after reading the latest audit presented to city hall, an audit of five years of real estate deals conducted by the city under Sheegl's watch.

Phil Sheegl, the best friend of Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz, was hired in April, 2008, as the director of the city's department of planning, property and development. In  November, 2008, he was appointed deputy Chief Administrative Officer, and in 2011 he replaced Glen Laubenstein as CAO.

Three months after Sheegl got the planning job, the city announced it was looking for real estate advisors and brokers to "assist the city with real estate transactions".  They eventually qualified five.

"In the transactions where an external advisor was retained, there was no documentation explaining the rationale why an external advisor was required for that particular transaction." stated the audit.
 
And...
 
"There was no documentation evidencing the selection process undertaken to determine which of the prequalified proponents to engage in all cases where an external advisor was retained."
 
Here, maybe, is why...
 
Of $1.2 million paid to advisors and brokers on four contracts, $1.1 million, or 95 percent, went to one of them -- Shindico, the company owned by Sam Katz's business partner, Sandy Shindleman and Shindleman's brother.
 
Two weeks before the official search for qualified advisors and brokers ended (July 31, 2008), Sheegl was busy tipping off Shindico to private city business. 
 
"Call me about Canada Post," Sheegl emailed Shindico on July 15, 2008.
 
*  In December, 2007, the post office announced it was closing its sorting operations at 266 Graham Avenue and moving elsewhere in the city. The news threatened to leave a giant, empty building in the heart of the heart of downtown. Rather than see a black hole in downtown Winnipeg for years, or forever, city officials decided to kill two birds with one stone -- buy the post office building and turn it into a new police headquarters. It would be cheaper, they said (ha ha), than fixing the structural problems with the old police headquarters on Princess.
 
While Sheegl and other city bureaucrats were twisting arms to get the exclusive right to buy the PO site, Shindico, all along, had the inside track on, ahem, "advising" the city on buying the facility.
 
*  The real estate audit, read in total, details like a pattern, like a paint-by-numbers game, of how the Sheegl-Shindico scam worked over the next four years, starting with the Post Office purchase.
 
-  First, Sheegl would tip off Shindico to some city business that hadn't been made public yet. 

- Then, Shindico would use the insider information to give itself the edge (on, for example, price, available land, or finding a buyer) by the time the city issued a public tender.  Sheegl would select Shindico as the best bidder and award them the contract. 

- Then, during the time of the contract, Shindico would wind up doing scads of extra work that wasn't in the tender but for which Sheegl would approve payment.
 
*  Once the City convinced the Post Office to deal only with it regarding the sale of the building at 266 Graham Avenue, Sheegl went into high gear. In July he had a meeting at Shindleman's home to prepare a proposal.
 
Twelve days later, the city signed an Exclusive Buyer Agency agreement with Shindico, backdated to January 1st.
 
The auditors wrote that the very next month, Deepak Joshi, the current CAO, was among the city bureaucrats warned that brokers in the city were "expressing concern over the decision making process" in hiring Shindico.
 
*  The audit doesn't say why, but it wasn't hard to suss out the truth.

-  In February, 2009, Shindico got caught red-handed trying to profit from another of Sheegl's inside tips. Shindico had listed on its website the Winnipeg Square Parkade for sale---except that the property hadn't been declared surplus by city council.
 
-  At the time, Sheegl, and Mayor Sam Katz, brushed off any hint of insider favoritism, claiming the listing by Shindico was just an error.  Only, it wasn't, as you'll soon see.
 
But it was this example of Sheegl's standard-operating-procedure that upset brokers and made its way to Joshi, who ignored the protests.
 
*  In November, 2009, the city bought the Post Office building for $29.25 million. A week earlier, Sheegl had made Shindico the manager of the property.  A formal management agreement was signed in June, 2010.
 
For the sale, Shindico was paid a commission of $804,000, roughly double what the Exclusive Buyer Agency agreement called for.  City officials told the auditors the extra money was for extra work performed by Shindico (see how the scam works, above). The auditors replied that if there was that much extra work, the city should have issued another tender.
 
The management agreement, said the auditors, was not reviewed by city lawyers, and contained a number of questionable clauses, including at least one that contravened the City of Winnipeg Charter.
 
When someone in middle management questioned why Shindico was made the facility managers when city staff could do the job, Sheegl sent an email declaring he wouldn't let the quibbler "meddle" in his decision. More on that, later.
 
Let's go back to the Parkade deal.

Shindico was the real estate broker on the sale of the parkade, starting way back in August, 2008, when Sheegl wrote them "I have informed that you will represent the city in any negotiations and/or listing."
 
-  The auditors discovered that in early February, 2009, Sheegl confirmed to an unidentified questioner that "Yes, they (Shindico) are representing our interests in negotiations."

-  That was on a Friday.  The next Monday, the Parkade was listed for sale on Shindico's website.  One day later, after the press spotted the listing, it was down--- and Katz was lying about how it got there.

First posted: Thursday, February 12, 2009
Katz downplays parkade-for-sale ad
SUN MEDIA

Mayor Sam Katz downplayed the listing of a city-owned parkade on a commercial real estate company's website, saying it was nothing more than a simple mistake.
On Monday, Shindico had listed the Winnipeg Square Parkade for sale on its website. The three-level, 932-stall structure, worth anywhere from $20 million to $50 million, also includes the air rights to the structure. That space could be available for an office or hotel tower.
Problem is, it's not for sale.
The listing was removed from the website Tuesday. Shindico informed Winnipeg's chief administrative officer Glen Laubenstein of its error and that explanation was enough to satisfy Katz yesterday.
"It's my understanding from the CAO that the company made an honest mistake and they apologized," he told reporters. "That's the end of it. I don't know of anybody who hasn't made a mistake."
"The bottom line is the property is not listed for sale."
The city is still debating the idea of selling off the parkade.

*  On March 20, 2009, the city formally put the parkade up for sale.  The tender did not reference any brokers fees or commissions.
 
-  Then---surprise, surprise---who should pop up representing a potential BUYER?  You got it.  Shindico.
 
-  The auditors gently pointed out that Shindico never had to sign a confidentiality clause when it got the job as the city's broker on the deal. So they knew the city's bargaining position---and could freely spill it all to the buyer Shindico didn't collect anything from the city, but did get a hefty commission from the Parkade buyer.
 
*  Here's where you can insert the uber-scandal involving Sheegl and Shindico -- the firehalls scam. 

This was dissected in the first of the trifecta of audits involving Phil Sheegl's tenure at city hall, and you can read the details in The Black Rod.
 

Suffice to say here that it followed the pattern exactly:

-  a  tip off from Sheegl,
-  use of insider information to get the contract,
-  Shindico's involvement kept a secret from city council,
-  extension of one contract to other, lucrative, work,

and  "abracadabra", taxpayers pay Shindico millions.

Literally millions. 


Oh, and Shindico built a firehall on land they owned, and now they're taunting the City to expropriate them and pay vastly more than they themselves valued the land at when construction started.
 
They also noted with interest that Shindico's advisory role was never disclosed to city council or any of council's committees.
 
The next rung on the Sheegl scandal ladder is of particular interest because it involves The Black Rod.  Really, it does.
 
You see, way, way back on October 9, 2010, The Black Rod broke the story that a new stadium promised by David Asper was going to cost as much as $190 million, instead of the $115 million pricetag he started with.
 
The reverberations of that story were immediate. Despite Asper's denials, the story was true. The federal, provincial and city officials who were backing Asper's plan were shocked into action.  They booted Asper and cobbled together a deal of their own to fund a new football stadium.
 
Guess who sat on the board of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers as the city's representative. 

Yep, Phil Sheegl. 

Guess who would have known that Asper was out before anyone

Yep, Phil Sheegl.
 
Guess who he would have told.
 
*  Dec. 8, 2010, Shindico, coincidentally, came asking for a site plan for the old stadium at Polo Park.  With Asper out, the site of Canad Inns stadium was in play.
 
Only the public wasn't told that Asper's company, Creswin, was out until five days later, Dec. 13, 2010.  
See how this works?
 
Not convinced? 

How about when you learn the auditors discovered that Shindico received an advance copy of the city's Expression of Interest in the stadium site.  It was 3 days later that the EOI was public knowledge.
 
For comic relief, the audit contains this response from city management:

 "PPD  (Property, Planning and Development), Legal Services and Materials Management were not aware that the EOI for the Polo Park Stadium site was provided in advance." 

Gee, now who could have leaked it then?
 
The Polo Park stadium site was eventually sold --- to a partnership between Cadillac Fairview and Shindico.
 
*  Remember the Post Office sale?
When we left it, Shindico had signed a management contract. It was June, 2010.
 
Almost two-and-a-half years later, a city committee voted to cancel the management contract with 90 days notice.
 
Guess what?  230 days later, Shindico was still being paid to manage the property.
 
City staff reported to council's property and development committee that public service management would save the city almost $350,000 over 3 years compared to what private companies that answered a public tender would charge.

"A city committee voted to cancel the property management contract within 90 days and the city's administration decided to keep it going to 230 days or so," Colin Craig, Manitoba director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said to the Winnipeg Sun. "If the city can do it for so little, why did they hire a private company in the first place?"
 
The answer came a month later. Phil Sheegl quit on the eve of the release of the firehalls audit.



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