Sunday, February 25, 2007

Shootings, NDP convention, and a happy ending: Feb 5 - 9th

Monday: A house party in the 2200 block of Burrows was broken up by gunshots from an evicted guest this weekend, and 5 people went to the emergency room. two children were upsatirs and avoided injury. Yet one of the residents of the house told the media the shooting " blown out of proportion". Two suspects were wanted for attempt murder x 5; yet no one in the MSM questioned the implication this was nothing to worry about and that Winnipeg is not being overrun by gunplay.

A careful review of the NDP convention found that the move to revert to a delegate system to elect a leader, rather than one member one vote, was scheduled for Sunday morning when hundreds of attendees had left. The initiative was criticized by MLA Jim Maloway who complained that power was being handed to the Manitoba Federation of Labour. The MFL tried to convince anyone who would listen that the MFL's massive organization skills would have no effect on riding delegate selection. Yah.

That wasn't the only fiction the MFL tried to pass off after the weekend. They tried to take credit for a convention resolution to enact a new February Holiday for Manitobans in an obvious attempt to ward off the momentum being built up by opposition leaders who already endorsed the campaign by 92 CITI-FM. We alone pointed out that the MFL had OPPOSED a Feb. holiday, having tabled a motion for a holiday when nobody wants it- on June 21st.

Frank the Italian Barber came into the studio to gloat about his winning the office pool- having predicted a 10 point margin for the Colts in the Super Bowl. The game had over 90 million viewers and was an artistic success for the first half - and halftime with Prince performing was also pretty good.

Lastly we noted the pathetic attempt by the Free Press to portray the Blue Bomber search for business partners in a new stadium as being launched on Saturday in national papers as well as in the failing local broadsheet. In fact the nationals ran the ad last week as we had covered; yet the Free Press tried to fool the public by elevating their perceived importance in the search.

Tuesday: Off the top we directed listeners to a rare column by Winnipeg Sun editor Kevin Engstrom, in reflection of the weekend fire in St
. Boniface that claimed the lives of two firefighters. Kevin's father was a fireman, and his story described the close calls and fear the family lived through of sucha tragedy when they were growing up. It was a great story.

As part of our ongoing media-watch, we compared the published stories about Premier Doer's speech at the NDP convention. The Free Press editorial contained numerous references to comments made by Doer that were left out of the Freep own reports- for instance a reader would have to be reading Rochelle Squires' stories in the Sun to know that Doer called opposition Tories "knuckle-draggers". As we explained, reporters and editors use words to twist stories and influence readers and the best example was the comparison of convention coverage.

Another example was the daycare rally held at the Legislature on Monday. The press releases made it sound like a community-based non-partisan effort when what transpired was a political lobby group displaying a mock report card giving the Harper government a bunch of "F"'s and trying to resurrect the Ken Dryden Liberal plan. No one in MSM told the public of the deception practised by the organizer in the efforts to get the media to plug and cover the event.

And were we the only ones to note that the Blue Bomber ads only mentioned proposals to build at the current Polo Park location? Which means the Red River Ex site touted in the feasibility study was, as we said at the time, DOA.

Wednesday: Kelly Dehn of CTV was with us to describe the circumstances which led to the death of the firefighters and the possible causes of the blaze. He also agreed that the recent deep freeze might be the reason why fewer crimes are being reported in daily newscasts as even criminals will try to avoid frostbite in -40 conditions.

As native leaders clamour for more funding for their child welfare agencies, a listener emailed us with the story of how his parents took in native foster kids ony to be criticized at every turn for not being native. When the emphasis should have been on raising children in a safe and loving environment, the agenda for many activists became portraying foster parents from non-native communities as somehow being threats to the survival of their native culture.

Outlaw Adam Knight called in and spoke about the work former WWE wrestler Chris Nowinski is doing on raising awareness about the dangers of concussions for athletes, his own observations about the problem, and his upcoming bout against Spike TV star Samoa Joe on March 8th at the Lid Nightclub. Good luck Horse, you'll need it.

Thursday: As we came to the studio we learned of the sudden death in Florida of celebrity/model Anna Nicole Smith, and tried to piece together the details of the story as it was breaking. The ongoing interview series she was appearing in on Entertainment Tonight was downright disturbing and in light of the tragedy, pretty sickening as she was dissolving right in front of the camera and ET exploited the segments for all they were worth.

CITI-FM's Cosmo got the recognition he deserved for his role in pressuring politicians to add a mid-winter holiday, with two pics in the Sun. He became the only person we've ever ever seen, wearing a shirt in a bubble bath but at least the Sunshine Girl with him was suitably attired.

The inquest into the suicide death of a 14 year old girl heard evidence about the excuses of the Southeast Tribal Family Services officials for the death. The usual bugaboos- lack of funding, excessive caseloads, were joined by the unusual claim that the child's best interest hadn't been their top priority (?) as she was tranferred over 60 times -- until she fell into a life of crack and prostitution ending in a West End garage. This tragedy was a direct result of the rush to devolve child welfare control as a political tool to satisfy native activists and political agendas without regard for the children, who could care less what colour or race their foster family may be, as long as the home is safe and respectful.

Musicologist Dee Hooker came aboard with a retrospective on the great Winnipeg band Streetheart and their greatest hits like "Action", "What Kind of Love Is This", our personal favorite their cover of the Rolling Stones "Under My Thumb".

Friday: A breaking news story with a happy ending - Sun reporter Adam Clayton had filed a report about a dreadful car theft in Selkirk. A young woman suddenly died last weekend, and after the funeral her widower left her vehicle, loaded with cards and memorabilia for the memorial, at the local Legion overnight.

Of course it was then stolen off the lot.

Adam came on the show to discuss his story, and our listeners were first to know of a remarkable turn of events. An off-duty police officer saw the car parked at a store on Henderson Highway, and when the car was checked out, all the personal items were still there safe and sound. The family were very relieved needless to say.

A shooting and stabbing at a social club near McPhillips and Notre Dame caused plenty of mayhem last night resulting in the featured rapper Baby Cham being cancelled. Meanwhile three suspects were being sought after a vicious assault and use of a firearm in a Sargent Avenue incident involving a 40 year old woman, and all were identified as being members of the Mad Cowz street gang.

In sports we took note of the death of two World Series heroes of the 50's, Braves pitcher and 1957 championship MVP Lew Burdette and Yankee second baseman Hank Bauer who had a 17 game hitting streak in World Series play.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

January 29- Feb. 2: a fast paced week of crime, politics and hockey history

One of our most interesting weeks with a wide variety of local, national, international and sports topics as we skated into February.

Monday: A party in the 1500 block of Ross Avenue turned into a riot over the weekend with 5 charged for injuries sustained to a pair of residents who wanted to clear the house of troublemakers. The usual note to media was made that no matter how hard MSM tries to lump the address in with the North End, Ross Avenue is in this case, in Weston. Not that the North End was out of the news, as a failed drive-by robbery - presumably the cold kept the muggers inside their vehicle on Leila - resulted in shots being fired when the intended victims refused to walk up to the car and hand over their wallets.

The Winnipeg Free Press continued their biased campaign for taxicab deregulation with a letter to the editor supporting their editorial stance. It would better have served the public discourse, however, had the letter writer been identified not as some impartial shlub who couldn't get through on the phone lines to the cab companies on a busy Friday night, but as the very same Sandy Hopkins who is the former chair of the Winnipeg Airport Authority, owners of the proposed shuttle service we have covered recently.

While we were at it, the decaying reputation of the broadsheet took another hit of their own doing, when a Free Press story about the native leadership walking away from talks to devolve responsibilities from the federal department was strangely recycled as fresh news, with a barely rewritten lead and 2 quotes from AMC chief Ron Evans inserted into Aldo Santin's story, days after it had already run the first time. No one has ever seen such a practice where readers pay for the same story twice.

Along with noting the retirement of Ken Dryden's jersey by the Montreal Canadiens, we spent a great time exploring the many quotes from another Hall of Fame goalie, Lorne "Gump" Worsley, who passed away at age 77. The most famous of which was probably when he was with the sad-sack New York Rangers in the 1950's. Asked by a writer which NHL team gave him the most trouble, the squat punster immediately replied "the Rangers".

Tuesday: The family of Matthew Dumas announced they were filing a lawsuit against city police for his shooting death last year, when he failed to drop a screwdriver while advancing on police. We reviewed at length the facts including our own investigation at the scene two years ago into the circumstances of the chase and confrontation.

The MSM has a convenient memory loss when it comes to Matthew Dumas and try to portray him as the poster boy for their pet causes such as "police brutality" towards innocent native people.

For one thing, they never include his fighting off two cops who tried to take him into custody in a backlane after he ran away rather than being questioned about a robbery in East Kildonan. Dumas was in breach of probation at that moment, being in a possession of the screwdriver for starters.

Many outlets also left out the fact Dumas did not react to instructions to stop advancing towards police after being pepper-sprayed. Listeners were asked a question - if you ran away from cops, fought two of them off and ran around Dufferin Avenue in circles, didn't drop to the ground after being cornered and sprayed, and kept coming towards a cop with a screwdriver in your hand, would you not expect to be shot?

The other issue of the day, was the attempt by various interests to suppress the Conservative ads showing footage of the Liberal leadrship debates last year, where Stephane Dion was slammed by Michael Ignatieff for failign to act on implementing the Kyoto accords when he was minister. Claims that copyright laws were broken, when the footage was of a debate broadcast over public airwaves, were not only ridiculous but if true, offered proof positive that the laws needed to be changed. Can you imagine a situation where aspiring prime ministers make pathetic comments on tape about their performance in cabinet and political parties were prohibited from showing the public what was said unedited?

Wednesday: Kelly Dehn was in court covering a decision for CKY and could not be on-air for his weekly crime and cops review, but we had plenty to fill with. Emails asked us to again explain the Dumas case from beginning to end, starting with the botched robbery in East kildonan which the police were investigationg when they wanted to question a group of young men on dufferin, Dumas being one of them.

It was a strange case to be sure, as the robbers broke into the wrong house on Martin Avenue and upon realizing their mistake, called for a taxi to make a getaway to the Lord Selkirk projects where police picked up the investigation. Dumas bolted from the group, fought off an officer in the lane behind Dufferin just west of Salter Street, tried to hide in a backyard, and was noticed by a resident because of their dog barking at the intrusion into the yard. Dumas tried to play coy with the resident when the officer scrambled towards him and led him away by the arm towards the back lane. When another officer joined them a fight ensued and Dumas took off, running around houses in circles until the police lost sight of him.

As he made his way onto the street, he walked right between 3 officers looking for him and did not follow their orders to hit the ground. In the ensuing standoff he was shot by an officer who although repeatedly accused of a racist motive, is himself Metis - another fact often left out by some Winnipeg media more concerned with pandering to special-interest groups than in telling the truth. After all, it only took the Free Press a year to report in the fight in the backlane and CBC refused to do so even when their reporters knew the facts that Dumas fought police and escaped from custody.

Don Hurst, ADM of Manitoba Labour and Immigration, joind us to explain changes to the Workplace Safety and Health Act and gave some practical examples of how the legislation was expected to protect workers from ergonomic and other injuries.

Listeners were also informed that 2 Fort Rouge haunts were suddenly closed - the Osborne Freehouse on Stradbrook claimed that their liquor licence allowing the sale of alcohol without a food purchase somehow led to their demise (uh-huh), and Level One, the Corydon Avenue restaurant and bar owned by former cop Ken Houston, was shuttered almost immediately after Houston was charged with weapons and drug offences after being apprehended with a Hell's Angel gang member in his truck.

Thursday: Adrienne Batra of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation made her first appearance in 2007 on our show and she had lots to say about school property taxes which is a growing issue that more people are asking questions about. She also weighed in with her opposition for any government funding towards a new stadium if the Blue Bombers became privately owned.

Almost everyone who grew up in Winnipeg is familiar with channel 8, the Grand Forks ABC outlet that has been a cable mainstay or 36 years. A story on WDAZ-TV caught out attention because not one journalist in Manitoba has tackled the subject of local blogs and their impact on political and public affairs.

Jessica Dugan explained why she developed the two-parter and gave some insight into the cyber community in North Dakota, which we said is hardly the first thing one thinks about when it comes to our prairie neighbour. Significantly Jessica noted that WDAZ readily admits to picking up story ideas and leads from their web counterparts and has a harmonious relationship with "Grand Forks Guy", "Conservative Yahoo" and others.

Lastly in touching on a story we found about a consumer crisis for Mexican families- they cannot afford the staple food of corn for tortillas because global demand for corn to manufacture ethanol is hiking the price beyind their reach- we told the story about our own role in the Manitoba ethanol movement.

In late 1989 the Filmon government held a press conference to trumpet a $1 Million investment in a fledgling ethanol plant in Minnedosa (12 jobs created, etc etc).

An intrepid MTN reporter waited out the usual vacuous press-release driven pro-forma questions of the Premier by the zombies in the legislative press gallery and finally lobbed an innocent query:

If the government was so supportive of "environmentally-friendly fuels", why wasn't it being used in the fleet of 2900 provincial vehicles?

Premier Gary Filmon squirmed, said something about it was coincidentally just being added to the agenda for discussions, turned away, smirked and finally cracked a smile at being "gotcha-ed" by the question.

Nowadays it is official government policy, so we take some pride in having been first to push the idea along.

Friday: Kelly Dehn made a belated appearance for his weekly crime review, staruing with the court case he had been covering wherein a Winnipeg woman Sandra Horeczy, won her case against police for having confined her and her young son for hours without counsel when a search warrant - based on a bad tip- was executed at her North End home. The delay was exacerbated when a police gun accidentally discharged into a wall resulting in that part of the house turning into a separate investigation scene.

Ron East of Canada Sheli had a lot to say when we interviewed him aboiut middle eastern and international affairs.

The PA threat against Canada has been completely unreported locally as has the idea Israel join NATO and stand with Canada and her allies against threats to our democracies by rogue states and terrorist groups. France's president Jacques Chirac had to backtrack from comments in an official interview when his remark that it didn't matter if Iran nuked Israel came out.

Chirac pleaded he didn't know he was being quoted (uh-huh); it came out incorrectly (suuure); and in the official transcript released by the palace, his comments were edited and declarations he never said at the time were inserted after the fact, to sooth any possible anger from terror-harbouring countries. A real world leader.

The Blue Bombers ran an ad in the National Post and Globe and Mail looking for expressions of interest in stadium redevelopment, and we caught onto the fact that ad was specific to the current Polo Park location, meaning the Red River Ex site option in Headingly was officially DOA.

So much for the feasibility study.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Round Two with the Mayor: Jan. 22nd - 26th

A wide-ranging chat with Sam Katz, breaking news about the Avion shuttle vs. Unicity Taxi, ripping the Free Press again, crime, sports and entertainment news made for a full week.

Monday: Over the weekend a former Winnipeg police officer was apprehended with a familiar name from past headlines, and the city was buzzing with the news. Ken Houston had retired from the force three years ago and is owner of Level One restaurant on Corydon Avenue. When police boxed in his truck in a nearby back lane, they found Houston in the company of Hell's Angels member Billy Bowden, a 9 mm. gun and a small amount of Ecstacy. Houston is the third cop in recent years to be linked to outlaw motorcycle gangs.

Emlwood MLA Jim Maloway launched a media blitz urging citizens to call Mayor Katz and prevent the closure of Kelvin CC. Maloway had been conspicuously silent in the legislature on this and every other issue for years, but suddenly decided that a political campaign was a good way to use his constituency budget. In the same vein, on Saturday Gordon Sinclair Jr. buried the mention of his mistake - claiming that Elmwood CC was on the chopping block - but used his Free Press column to continue to assail the Mayor and Councillors. Our call to Editor Bob Cox to clarify how the paper reviews columns for accuracy or publishes corrections went unreturned.
Meanwhile readers continue to flee the paper by the thousands.

Oddly the paper published a letter to the editor in full support of the Blue Bomber proposal to build a roofed stadium at the Red River Ex site - proving that even their own readers don't pay attention to the Free Press. The paper had twice reported that existing agreements with True North and the MTS Centre precluded any government funding of a competing facility, but that didn't stop them from running an opinion opposed to the David Asper proposal.

With the Colts and Bears advancing to the Super Bowl the predictions rolled in, with Frank the Italian Barber taking the Colts by 10. Our caller last week who pretty much predicted the Colts and Bears margins of victory correctly said Colts by 6. Our business expert and NFL junkie, Shaun Myall of Victoria BC, called in and said Colts by 6. So in two weeks we will reconvene our football panel and if Chicago ekes out a win, a lot of crow will be consumed on the air.

Tuesday: Mayor Sam Katz was on the phoen and he took on the issues head on.

Two years ago there was a unanimous vote by Council to adopt the PUFS report which said Bronx Park was to expand and Kelvin to close. The mayor said that area councillor Lillian Thomas voted to close Kelvin and that the recent PR campaign by her and NDP MLA Maloway meant "they have a different agenda" and that he was convinced a provincial election was in the offing. Katz pointed out that when the playground equipment was removed last summer he personally ensured a swing set was delivered for families to enjoy.

He said that the Crimestat program would start in about 10 days and any new chief of police would be inheriting a functioning system. Crime was his top priority and Katz made the statement that some other city could assume our title as "murder capital of Canada" as he was determined to do something about it.

On the Avion proposal, he clarified that the vote being held tomorrow was not to approve of the proposal but only to refer it to the Public Utilities Board and that public hearings should be held into the matter to allow all the facts to come out. On the stadium feasibility study he expressed the view "there was no meat" to the proposal for the Ex site. Finally he reiterated his invitation for a developer to bring forward a waterpark proposal - which he would build himself if he were not in public life. Waterpark anyone?

As Mayor Katz got off the phone, we got exclusive news that the taxi companies had decided to file a legal challenge to the Avion proposal by asking the courts to rule on whether the Taxicb Board was wrong to have dumped the issue on the city by claiming they did not regulate a shuttle service proposal that was clearly about "a motor vehicle transporting passengers for compensation."

Turning our attention to the international stage, we broke more news by quoting from reports that the former Prime Minister of Spain, as well as Senator John Edwards and others, were endorsing a movement to bring Israel into NATO to create a MAD scenerio with Iran. This has many implications for Canada as NATO is a mutual defence pact.

Lastly we wondered why CTV's website had edited the interview of a Hamas official threatening Canada.
When Peter McKay refused to meet with Hamas while on his Middle East tour for the government, the offended Palestinian foreign minister Mahmoud Zahar said Canadians had to remove our "extremist" government and that "you cannot create an enemy without a price".

The outright and blatant threat to Canada was in the original story by the Globe and Mail
but CTV hid it from Canadians, and none of the local media outlets bothered to let the public know about this outrageous threat. With Canada a target of Islamofascists the idea of Israel joining NATO may well be a key to enhancing our future security.

Wednesday: Kelly Dehn brought listeners all the details Houston/Bowden bust, and reviewed the details of the search warrants in the Jubilee shooting case. Police now say that a bullet shot off three fingers of the suspect's left hand but ricocheted and had wounded Cst. Cull in the leg. There was still no confirmation of the report we had found that a second cop was also wounded by friendy fire, but Kelly said he'd look into it.

When discussing Crimestat Kelly made a very good point, as illustrated by the first murder this year on Alexander, that when there is alcohol and emotions involved, no system can predict homicides. So while some kinds of crime such as break-ins may be solved faster, there is no likelihood our murder rate will decrease.

With city hall running late on the vote about Avion, we hopped all over the one result we did have, that the vote to wind-down Kelvin CC was passed by an 11-4 margin.

Former US president JimmyCarter was on the defensive at an appearance at Brandies University, claiming he hurt by claims he was an anti-Semite. Blaming a "mistake" in one single sentence in his book and did not mean to say that Palestinians should continue attacks on Israel until their politcal demands were met. Carter did not, however, repudiate his equating the Israeli government practices with the apartheid of the former South African regime.

Thursday: Joan Wilson of Unicity Taxi gave our audience her version of the 9-6 vote at Council to pass the Avion shuttle service proposal to PUB.

She reiterated that the majority of drivers and owners were visible minorites from immigrant communities who had $200,000 investments in the service industry and that no complaints about airport service were on record with the Taxicab Board. Wilson said that the cabbies had no faith in the PUB process as the Airport Authority Board was stacked with influential political types, and that is why they were going to ask the courts to review the TCB conduct of the Avion application.

The vote itself was weird as Councillor Swandel, who opposed it at EPC, voted for it; Councillor Clement, who said that his Public Works committee made a mistake passing it to EPC without a recommendation and they should have opposed the proposal, turned around and voted for it; while Councillors Wyatt switched sides from his EPC position in favour, and joined Pagktakan, Thomas, Gerbasi, Smith and Lazarenko as opposed.

Now consider this- why would council vote against Lazerenko, when he is the city rep to the Taxicab Board and he stated that the Cab Board had abrogated their responsibility?
Oh ya, cause the city lawyers told them to. Nice display of leadership.

Two callers hit the lines, both saying that something was fishy about the Airport Authority concealing their involvement of the Avion proposal as ultimate owner of the service. One caller noted that Avion had not repeated their statement about customers being scared to take taxis, suggesting that it reflected a prejudice which may be the real reason why the shuttle service was being proposed. That and the goal of keeping every possible dollar on the airport property and not circulated by hardworking cabbies to other small businesses in our community.

Comments by NHL czar Gary Bettman during the All Star game revived speculation that Winnipeg could support an NHL team, with so many franchises in the south drawing flies. Of course we discussed this before New Years' with Darren Ford but it was nice to see MSM outlets playing catch-up to our stories.

Dee Hooker of Haven Productions made his debut on our show, showing his expertise of Winnipeg music history by reminding listeners of the great hits and performers such as Ralph James, Georges Belanger and Glen Willows, who made up the legendary 80's rock band Harlequin.

Friday: The Winnipeg Free Press continued their assault on cabbies with a full page editorial insisting the industry be deregulated.

The basis of the piece, which cited no supporting data or studies, was that it was supposedly difficult to hail a cab downtown, and that service was not instant. Surely more cabs setting their own fares was the answer.

We took the time to explain to listeners, that the reason cabs didn't cruise for street hails was that
A) for years, the practice had been discouraged by the provincially appointed Taxicab Board, and
B) going back to Mayors Bill Norrie and Sue Thompson, hell would freeze over before the civic administration would surrender a single metered parking spot to establish taxi stands where pedestrians could expect cabs to park and wait for fares.

As for letting fares be arbitrary, we gave the example where two girls leave a nightclub, aiming towards one cab., only to have another pull up declaring - 'hey take me, 5 bucks flat rate'. The mayhem and choas that would ensue when the law of the jungle is the order of business, explains why metered fares are the norm.

As for the Free Press gallantly worrying about people having to wait for a cab, amazing isn't it how the Free Press expects the cabs to be instantly available, when their own newspaper frequently misses morning delivery deadlines because their printing presses break down and aren't maintained? Pot-kettle-black.

But as we have leasned, the Free Press never lets facts get in the way of a good story. It's a surprise they didn't find a way to blame Sam Katz for it all.

The weekend wrap-up of theSundance Film festival gave us a chance to remind listeners of the filmed-in-Manitoba flick The Good Life which was well-reviewed, and tell our own story about attending the festival starting in 2000 before the tech bubble burst, and getting dragged off by Rachel Hunter to join her party at Harry O's. The free lunch from Dwight Yoakam's producer, who actually wanted Hunter's number but said the invite was really because his grandfather was a Rabbi in Winnipeg in the 40's, was another example of the serendipity that happens when us Canucks get to mingle with the movers and shakers of Hollywood on their winter holiday at Redford's get-together.

To end the week Shaun Myall quickly crunched the numbers for attendance, corporate sponsorship revenue and salary cap figues to illustrate how marginal the profitability of an NHL team in Winnipeg would be. Ol' Dirty Money himself, also hinted that a major announcement was forthcoming about a media deal out of Victoria which would be of interest to our listeners.