Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Orlikow sends a message to city bureaucrats: stop screwing around with democracy

One of the issues continually raised on the Great Canadian Talk Show is the lack of proper consultation and discussion on important civic issues at city hall.

Time and again - bike lands, land swaps, water utility - things taxpayers have serious questions about or nothing of to begin with, are rushed before council for a vote to get things rolling. And stuck in the middle - cause they certainly aren't insiders - are councillors, who, we have learned, are not as clued in on the QT as we often presume.

From veterans like Charleswood's Bill Clement to greenhorns like Jeff Browaty of North Kildonan, we have heard that councillors are caught unawares and are expected to make complex decisions without having time to read, absorb and interpret the background material. For instance, the rookie from Fort Garry/River Heights, John Orlikow, spent 12 hours cramming for the water utility vote in July. How could the city mandarins expect citizens on the first week of summer break to devote that kind of time and research to prepare to voice their opinions?

Faced with a procedural trick to allow the $13 million Northwest BFI cart contract onto the City Council agenda just hours after Executive Policy Committee had, Orlikow did what is rarely reported: a politican did something out of principle.

CBC: "Support from 11 councillors — two-thirds of council — was required to add the matter to the official agenda for debate and vote. Only 10 councillors agreed to include it ... At least one councillor who voted to block the motion to add the item to the agenda on Wednesday said he did so out of principal for the democratic process, not opposition to the issue.

Today at 4.40PM, Coun. John Orlikow will make his first appearance on TGCTS, and explain why he stood up for democracy against bureaucrats who need to be taught a lesson about who is supposed to be running this town - our elected officials.

Also today,

- an exclusive story about possible cutbacks at the University of Manitoba in response to severe budget restraints;
- The Free Press once again manufactures news out of a poll, about a subject even more meaningless than usual;
- AM radio wakes up to the bike lanes story; and
- a startling endorsement for a key plank from our accountability manifsto by a most unlikely source- Freep newsie Mary Agnes Welch.

On Thursday, an exclusive story about the abusive behavior of the Public Trustees office towards an elderly couple and their children - the amount of money they are deducting from the estate, for the amount of work they do, is shocking;

On Friday, local comedy promoter Dave Shorr, Winnipeg's Roller Girls, and This Week in History with Professor Levinski.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Winnipeg Free Press wilts as Police Association challenges editorial "facts"

On Tuesday, a Free Press editorial entitled " Time to police specialization" said:

" the jockeying of special interests, the police union has launched a salvo, warning that the strategy to beef up the battle against gangs will be a wash unless another 25 officers are assigned to the organized crime unit. ...

Hiring another 25 officers -- a number that was chosen as an opening negotiating bid, no doubt -- would cost millions of dollars; raiding other policing priorities would leave others exposed, in all likelihood the general patrol duty officers who respond to daily calls for service...

The number of officers on the city's payroll can be defended by Winnipeg's relative crime rate, but only to a point. Both Edmonton and Vancouver, for example, have higher crime rates but considerably fewer cops."

President of the union, Mike Sutherland, challenged the basis of that claim:

Dear Ms. Goodhand,

In regards to today’s (September 22, 2009) editorial (attached), “Time to police specialization” I have significant concern in regards to your portrayal of Winnipeg’s crime climate and in particular with regards to the following claim;

“Both Edmonton and Vancouver , for example, have higher crime rates but considerably fewer cops.”

Upon examination of the most recent information disseminated by Statistics Canada as of July 21st 2009, Winnipeg , in comparison with other cities of population over 500,000, leads the nation in total crime severity. The gap is even greater in terms of the violent crime severity index, as we surpass Edmonton by over 31 points and Vancouver by more than 36 points. (Stats Can “Police Reported Crime Statistics – July 21st 2009).

In its July 2009 report Stats Can also states;

“ Manitoba reported a rate of 4.5 homicides per 100,000 population, the highest among the provinces.”

“Crime severity was highest in Regina , followed by Abbotsford-Mission, Saskatoon , Kelowna , Winnipeg , Edmonton and Vancouver .”

“Homicide rates were highest in the western CMAs of Abbotsford-Mission (4.7), Winnipeg (4.1), Regina (3.8)….”

Consider as well that Winnipeg started 2009 with 6 homicides in January. As the year thus far has been characterized by numerous serious assaults, stabbings and shootings, we do not anticipate our situation to significantly improve without tangible measures to address the problem. Winnipeg has perennially been, and continues to be, at the top of many crime categories.

In terms of specialized units, which the article references, Winnipeg’s auto theft strategy, which is composed of a specific WPS auto theft suppression unit, contributed to a 44% reduction in vehicle thefts, although there is still work to be done as we continue to lead the nation in that category.

Although Winnipeg may have slightly more officers per capita than many other large Canadian cities, Winnipeg ’s increase in officers from 1998 to 2008 was the lowest of all major Canadian cities (1.3%) as compared to Calgary (13.1%), Edmonton (5.6%) and Montreal (7.2%). (Police Resources in Canada 2008 – Stats Can).

To be candid I am currently unaware of any information at all that supports your newspaper’s portrayal of Winnipeg ’s crime rate as less than that of Edmonton or Vancouver . I find it disturbing that such a claim would be made as it is in direct contravention not only to the daily experiences of Winnipeggers and their police officers, but is also refuted by the most current crime data available.

I invite you to please elucidate on the statement printed in the editorial such that we can examine whatever evidence was relied upon to convey this impression to Winnipeggers. In the absence of such, one can only wonder what would cause your agency to communicate information of questionable veracity that minimizes our crime problem and potentially misleads the public in terms of our true crime picture.

I invite you to peruse the current information at the following websites;

Making statements based upon questionable evidence, to justify certain viewpoints, hampers sincere efforts to constructively tackle crime problems. I would ask you seriously consider the merits of some of the claims made in the editorial.

Mike Sutherland
Winnipeg Police Association

FP editor Margo Goodhand replied:

Dear Mr. Sutherland:

Thank you for contacting us.

I just spoke with the editorial board. We corrected the error on crime stats earlier today online. It was a mistake we should not have made, and it will be corrected in tomorrow’s paper as well.
The basic tenet of today’s editorial, however, remains the same.

The Free Press believes that the city should first look at the possibility of redeploying its current complement of officers before deciding to hire more. This city has more officers per capita than any other community of 500,000 or more, except for Montreal.

Again, thank you for bringing this error to our attention.


Margo Goodhand
Winnipeg Free Press

Her email was copied to a large group of media, including TGCTS, that Sutherland had cc'd on his challenge to Goodhand to prove their claim about local crime rates.

We took note of a couple of unresolved aspects in this matter and sent Margo an invitation:

Re: today's editorial -Sept 22nd 2009 time to police specialization
Dear Ms. Goodhand,

I would like to invite you to appear on the Great Canadian Talk Show tomorrow between 4 - 5.30 PM, at your convenience, to allow your newspaper to defend the editorial and
to explain how such a basic error in fact-checking was allowed to make it to print.

I trust you will take advantage of this opportunity to correct the record to a broader audience than reads your "Our Mistake" notices on page 2, and to elaborate on your suggestion of examining staff redeployment.
I note that the editorial did not make clear if you favor a review of the necessity for 14 staff sergeants, 19 inspectors and 3 superintendents, rather than officers on the beat.

Thank you,
Marty Gold

And to our surprise, we actually got a response:

Dear Mr. Gold:
Thank you for the invitation to go on the Great Canadian Talk show to discuss these issues.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the time tomorrow to join you on air.
Best wishes with the show,


(Indeed. Raise a Reader Day is soooo important. Anyways...)

Goodhands' claim of printing a "correction", was a model of modern MSM hubris.

Although entitled "Our Mistake", it could have been slugged under "But we were almost right":

Vancouver and Edmonton have slightly lower crime rates than Winnipeg. Incorrect information appeared in an editorial Tuesday.

Free Press readers questioned the true motive for couching the "correction" in murky terms:

Posted by:ohreally
September 23, 2009 at 9:21 AM
Please define "slightly". Isn't this a newspaper? Please explain how much lower the crime rates are. How incorrect was the information? Does it change the point of the original article? Does it render the piece moot? I would like to know how different the crime rates are. What is the point of a one line correction if it doesn't explain the discrepancies? Does the Free Press think that this statement clears up the incorrect information?

Posted by:statusquo
September 23, 2009 at 11:59 AM
Almost reads spiteful in a way. What does slightly have to do with it? They're either lower or they're not.

Posted by:MaC
September 23, 2009 at 3:44 PM
Agreed. Slightly immature response I should think. Kind of like a petulant child who is corrected on his mistake and replies "yah, I guess I was wrong, but only a little wrong". I would have appreciated (and respected) a more direct admission. Something along the lines of "we were wrong", not "we were slightly wrong". Reporters/columnists are human after all, subject to making mistakes like everyone else. Having said that, personal responsibility and growth starts with constant self-assessment and the subsequent, albeit difficult, unconditional/unqualified acknowledgement of one's shortcomings. My two cents.

Today at 5 PM, Mike Sutherland will appear in studio to reply to the "correction" and explanation of Margo Goodhand, and to explain why his group has endorsed Andrew Swan to succeed Gary Doer as Premier of Manitoba.

Also, at 4.40 today, the outgoing weather specialist for Global-TV, Andrea Slobodian, will tell us all about her upcoming future in forecasting chinooks for her new Calgary audience.

And, another Aurtarlia mention on the Free Press website! TGCTS starts at 4 PM, on 92.9 Kick-FM.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Boycott of Peak of the Market brand no small potatoes

Mainstream media newsroom managers scrambled late last week, faced with a compound headache. Sorting out the details of a brewing battle between small potato growing operations and a provincial marketing board is hard enough, but they are also assessing the risk to their own jobs if they cover the story. The only thing worse than a complex story, is one where the execs upstairs mutter "bury it, they're a big advertiser".

The facts first broke on a website of Waverley grocer Crampton's Market.

"Until this year, farmers who did not grow potatoes for Peak of the Market were allowed to grow 4 acres of potatoes to sell on their own. This year Peak of the Market changed the rules as of July 15th. Now farmers are not allowed to grow potatoes to sell unless they have a Peak of the Market quota and sell only to Peak of the Market... It is now illegal to grow and sell your own potatoes in Manitoba. Peak of the Market has the legal authority to fine farmers who break these rules, and the fines are high."

POTM lawyers threatened farmers, who started the growing season on the understanding the rules allowed for them to grow and sell 4 acres of spuds privately, with $10,000 fines for bypassing the monopoly, and demanded records of who they had sold potatoes to, going as far back as 2007. Consumers felt deceived by a decade of feel-good ad campaigns portraying POTM as all-around community do-gooders and never mentioned that it was, in fact, a produce version of The Canadian Wheat Board. Public outrage at the bullying of potato farmers by "Peak" forced the hand of some newsrooms to report the story.

Crampton's has now posted a follow -up:

"(CTV learned) The 4 acres referred to in the Peak documents simply was there to classify those growers as 'small growers'. But they should still have, by law, been marketing their potatoes through Peak. This 'change' in their document taking away the 4 acres was in fact not a change at all, just a clarification of the law... I think that the Peak document was purposely written in a convoluted manner...As far as I am aware, Peak of the Market does not handle new crop 'immature' local potatoes. I have been informed by a few farmers that Peak does not sell quota in this category. These are the potatoes that I would like to buy. Peak does not sell them, but Manitoba farmers are prevented from legally growing and selling them to me."

President and CEO Larry McIntosh has been front and centre in slick Peak of the Market advertising campaigns designed to position him as the carrot-wielding friend of children and the local farm industry, urging shoppers to choose the "less-traveled" POTM-label produce over imported varieties.

So successful was the persona in the ads, that McIntosh, never known to have made any serious public pronouncement beyond "eat your vegetables kids", has variously been touted in recent years as a possible candidate for parliament, the legislature, city hall, the mayor's chair, and talk show host.

Since POTM collected prizes and awards for being a successful "business", it was perceived by the general public as a farmers co-op. Upon learning that it was actually a "non-profit" provincial marketing board, and perceiving it as bullying farmers in a manner that would have made Stalin proud for not paying the mandatory per-potato tribute, a backlash in the form of a consumer boycott of the "Peak" brand is underway.

McIntosh faces the first serious crisis of his reign as farm baron of Manitoba.

Away in the Yukon when the story broke, he stuck to the "we are only just worried about food safety" line with CTV, figuring no one would question the sincerity of his "concerns".

Unfortunately, he also told the Free Press that the threatening letters started when a farmer with a superior, rare product sold his crop directly to Sobey's, not because someone was rushed to an emergency room after eating a "creamer".

Listeners flooded the Kick-FM email box, noting that the fees seemed to be paying for McIntosh himself to be sold to consumers as much as the food, and that the quality of POTM branded potatos has been second-rate for years.

One listener wrote during Friday's broadcast:

"Hi Marty, after hearing the crap Peak of the Market is pulling off, I will never buy their products again. I will head down to the farmers market or go down Henderson Highway and buy from the local farmers. Larry Mcintosh can go stick it (location redacted)."

A farmer told us
"Peak of The Market only wants a handful of large growers in this Province and is slowly pushing out all the little guys one by one. The big growers like Kroeker Farms in Altona have the most clout in not only acres grown but also on the board as well and seems to be giving Larry McIntosh a mandate that they control this industry."

We'll see if anyone in the mainstream media investigates the question who is really being protected here (
starting with asking why the POTM website does not bother to list the directors), or if protection of their lucrative "Peak" advertising accounts is more of a priority than holding Mr. Carrot and his organization accountable.

PS. We were copied on an email that was sent to federal MP Joy Smith by a farmer:

From: xxxxx
Subject: Potato Growers and Peak of the Market
Date: Fri, 18 Sep 2009 12:54:25 -0500

Dear Joy,

I'm sure you've seen the article in today's Free Press about Peak of the Markets' attempt to control the small local farmer's choice of market.

I've pasted below several e-mails that we have circulated this morning, as this would affect us directly. Most people have limited knowledge of
the amount of money, time and sweat equity that small farmers put in in an effort to earn a living - for some their only income, for some a second source
of income.

With all the attention paid nowadays to promoting local produce which is not only much fresher but reduces reliance on food from sometimes hundreds of miles away (which increases carbon output greatly), you would think that independent producers would be a welcome addition to the market. And local producers are for the most part seasonal operations - with our climate, we don't have the luxury of growing things all year round.

Not only would this put local producers out of business, but think of all the spin-off - students and others may be out of part-time summer work, roadside stand operators will lose income, seed companies will lose orders from producers, farm equipment manufacturers may lose orders as well. It's never just one person or industry affected..

I'm not sure if you can bring any pressure to bear on this issue with the market board or the legislature but as this could affect a number of growers in the East St. Paul area, I wanted to bring more detail to your attention.



Friday, September 11, 2009

Our tribute to Kerry Brown, Alabama Jim Silver's gang "study", and more! today at 4PM

Today at 4 PM we'll be joined by Dan Denton from Los Angeles. It was Denton who introduced me to Stampede Wrestling star Kerry Brown. Kerry became a close and valued friend, and his sudden passing at age 51 has saddened everyone from the world of wrestling who knew him.

Here is a link to the story I wrote about Kerry for Slam!Wrestling:

A demo reel of a 1994 match under my Rough House Rasslin' label, with Kerry putting his career on the line against rookie Paul Marcoux, and yes that is my voice on the play by play:

Thanks to Tony Condello, who trained Kerry and broke him into the business, for sharing his thoughts yesterday on Kerry's career and his influence on so many of the younger local hopefuls.

Also scheduled for today:

- At 4.20 a special look at the Alabama Jim Silver and co. Free Press op-ed where we read about how 6 gang members conned Jimbo and 3 other professors into going soft on North End crime;

- more on the NDP leadership race, as Steve Ashton garners a supporter from city hall, while Andrew Swan finds support from 3 cabinet ministers of dubious merit;

- another listener complaint, this time about how we handled last weeks' complaint- and yes, there is a pattern developing;

- and at 5.20 Jon Waldman will explain why the police want to bust up tailgate parties at this weekends' Banjo Bowl game.

RIP Kerry.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

What we did on our summer "vacation"

Traditional news and information outlets claim that summertime is "slow".
That with politicians on vacation, stories can't be pursued.
That people like parents, college students, Joe and Jane Lunchbucket, are too distracted during 'construction season' to care about news.

Could have fooled us.

The Great Canadian Talk Show continued to prove the important role alternative media serves in keeping the public engaged all through July and August. The emails and phone calls poured in. There was no vacation for the elite with their pet projects on our dime, for politicians, or for the untouchables like 'arms-length' agencies and the media gatekeepers, from being held to account.

* While the daily newspapers published without question an "editorial" of Gail Asper that her Museum project was soooo good for all of us, we

- dissected the massive and predicted cost-overruns that were ignored by the mainstream media until it was too late to protect taxpayers;

- revealed the contradictions in public statements by Asper and her cohorts, about who knew what when about the failing finances and inflation;

- evaluated the reasons behind the refusal of the Musuem leaders to take calls on CJOB radio;

- and examined concerns about the too-close ties between Premier Gary Doer and his millionaire panhandler friends.

- We alone got councillors on the record, whether they would vote to give the museum what they have asked for from city hall - YOUR money.

* When the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority released their 'compensation disclosure' right before Canada Day and hoped no one would notice, we noticed -- and questioned why they continually undermine the integrity and value of ER doctors who save lives, while insisting that the "irreplaceable" honchos and creative apologists at head office deserved big pay raises -- lest they be "recruited" to spin misinformation and deflect blame in say, Alberta.

* The rest of the media happily rides along with the bicycle - oops, "Active Transportation" initiative, never once voicing the concerns of the businesses and residents of city streets that are being sacrificed to satisfy the agenda a lobby dominated by car-hating environmental radicals.

WE did. After watching the evasion of questions about cost and demand, and saw the slanted presentations for adding 4 more bike paths along residential streets at the open house, TGCTS stands alone in speaking up and asking what is really going on.

- One listener, an avid cyclist, rode the bike lanes downtown on August 20th, and in a 70 minute audit found 23 users on those streets, 18 on other streets, and 12 on SIDEWALKS. A total of 53 bike users seen in rush hour- and no, it wasn't raining that day.

Even if we double it to account for summer vacations etc., can someone please tell us how it makes sense to hold up "greenhouse gas belching cars" in rush-hour bottlenecks caused by giving 110 bike riders their own lanes?

* TGCTS gave a full airing of the water utility debate, interviewing 4 city councillors, and asking aloud why Mayor Katz and his supporters think that the general public can absorb volumes of complex material within a 10 day limit, right at the beginning of summer (it took River Heights Coun. John Orlikow, who is paid to do things like this, 12 hours to go through it). Not to mention not being given time to figure out the Parker Avenue/Fort Rouge railyards land swap deal, where one major landowner on Taylor hit the jackpot after Transit told the administration, we need to jump the development cue and this deal has to be approved by council NOW.

* And speaking of city hall, why is it that not one newsroom has picked up on our exclusive -- that the city is going to relocate fleet and other services into a 55 acre superyard off Nairn Street, at the same time that Premier Doer's breakfast club pals in South Point Douglas are pulling the levers of power to have the nearby Louise Bridge closed to all traffic - including civic vehicles like snowplows - in the name of "Active Transportation"?

* We have also delved into the problematic practices of the beleagured Winnipeg Parking Authority. According to the Free Press, none of the following issues were worthy of inclusion in the recent multi-day "news" series:

- A downtown businessman who knew the truth was denied his day in court when the city stayed a ticket prosecution, rather than face the embarassment of losing and facing their own ticketgate scenerio; a city lawyer, Markus Buchart, researched our discovery that all tickets issued since November 16 have been issued by officers without legal standing to enforce bylaws and also argued against a WPA ticket on the basis they are illegal. He said he will provide advice to anyone wishing to do the same.

- All four enforcement officers forced out of work by WPA edict to G4S (the contractor that employed them) had signed union cards, which presumabely fell within the Free Press's definition of "performance issues";

- The WPA has imposed pay stations in front of homes and businesses, and changed streets from free to paid parking throughout the inner-city, without a whit of discussion with the people affected;

- It now appears they have been improperly collecting revenue on streets by duping motorists into thinking a $10,000 machine at eye level on the boulevard is the law, and superceeds existing and legally binding "free parking" signage above people's heads;

- To the shock of Counsillor Jeff Browaty, the WPA now rents spaces on obscure South Point Douglas streets for 12 hours at a stretch, competing with private parking lots. (So much for "turnover" of parking as their reason d'etre.)

Not even Premier Doer's departure will close the book on our coverage of Crocus, wait times, hallway medicine, doctor and nursing shortages, brown envelopes, easy probation, absurd sentences, gangs, social work agency debacles...

* We even had time to explain about a false death report that we helped quash before it went viral.

Thanks to all of our listeners and callers this summer. Of course, a large part of the success of the program comes from the participation of people such as the following, who value the role of campus radio and took the time to be interviewed on our show:


Fort Rouge Coun. Jenny Gerbasi
Howard Mandshein, CITI-FM musicologist
North Kildonan Coun. Jeff Browaty,
Barret Fraser, Triallo Communication Media
Caroline Barghout, CTV News
James Turner, CBC Radio
Transcona Coun. Russ Wyatt
Mike Sutherland, Winnipeg Police Association
Morden Mayor Doug Wilson
Daniel McIntyre Coun. Harvey Smith
Dick Rivers,
Chuck McEwan, Winnipeg Fringe Festival
Scott Taylor, CITI-FM/Winnipeg Goldeyes

Former professional wrestling champions:
Dan Kroffat, Bret 'Hitman" Hart, Mike (Sgt. Steele) Phillips
and Tony Condello

Ron East, Canadian Magen David Adom
Markus Buchart, lawyer on illegality of parking authority tickets
Allen the cyclist, our bike lane 'auditor'
St. Vital Coun. Gord Steeves
Brad Harrison,
Sean Crawford, MacDonald Youth Services
Julie Epp, Edge Gallery
Colin Craig, Canadian Taxpayers Federation
Kelly Harrison, outgoing director, Teen Touch Inc.

plus our regularly featured guests, Kelly Dehn of CTV News, historian Professor Levinski, 92.9's Illegal Curve hockey show host Drew Mindell, Jon Waldman of Slam!Sports, and Frank the Italian Barber.

(A special thanks to senior producer Captain Audio, and board operators Spirited Kenny, Shannah-Lee, Deniz, Kick-FM news director Adam Toy, and the now on-hiatus Wonderboy Taylor)

Today's episode: The downside of the NDP leadership hopefuls - can you say scandal?; Professor Levinski's weekly history lesson; and Jon Waldman, Kenny and I will banter about all things Pacman and Blue Bombers for about 10 minutes starting at 5.20 PM.

The Sunday night replay of 5 episodes are on for 7 PM as usual, and we'll have a rerun on Labour Day but it's a doozy- everything the media didn't tell us about Gary Doer till he was resigning.

Join us as we kick off the new season on Tuesday Sept 8th with Conservative party leader Hugh McFadyen; Mayor Sam Katz comes into the studio on Monday, Sept. 14th; and Councillor Harvey Smith appears on Tuesday, Sept. 29th.

Drive safe and have a nice long weekend.