Friday, 12 December 2014

Frozen MB Students Rank Behind...?

Last year, it was the coldest fricken' winter, like... ever.

Now, when you live in Victoria, or Denver, or even Toronto, the 'worst winter ever' is not such a life-and-death matter.

Welcome to the Winnipeg School Division (WSD), where the coldest winter temperatures ever can maim you, fast, even kill you quicker than any other mid-size city on earth.

One thing Winnipeger's know, our weather is no laughing matter if you don't handle it correctly. And oh boy, did the WSD ever blow it last year, says the latest news.

See, last year, Scrappy Mike Babinsky, the long-time school trustee from WSD, found out that our kids were left on the side of the road in the dead of winter. Stranded, outside, waiting for a school bus that just didn't come. Again, and again, and again...

The worst. winter. ever. with kids allegedly left outside up to 90 minutes, waiting... waiting...* Know how fast skin freezes in that extreme cold? Of course you do, through experience, right? Even the image hurts, badly.

Oh, and these kids are all under 12. Just for colour.

This kind of winter famously maims, and kills, kids who are stranded outside in it. Got that image firmly in your mind? Ok, then let's proceed.

Scrappy Mike the trustee decided to do something about what he had been told. In public, and given that it is a public safety issue, obviously appropriately so.

So Mike went to the public school board meeting, duly filed a written notice of motion to address this matter in the public, and tried to do the right thing. Publicly. Like, with all of us.

Why so publicly, you ask?

Because otherwise, the WSD board's business is conducted 'in camera', aka. outside the reach of the public. Either publicly, or completely private. Like, huge-fine-if-you-ever-disclose-a-word kind of private.

Our kids safety, their suffering, and the failures at the Division leading to their suffering, in Scrappy Mike's world, are public matters. Guess what? In my anonymous little world, same thing.

And in the majority of the (NDP... cough...) WSD trustee's world..?

Apparently, this is a big secret deal to them. So the matter was moved almost entirely to their secret meeting. As much as they could, they threw the matter behind closed doors.

Even Mike's written notice of motion was scrubbed from the public minutes.


The resulting fuss has been all over the news. Marty Gold is tackling it, and even the Free Press's Nick Martin has looked up from his football channels long enough to write a few lines about it. Lots of hullabaloo. Lots of quotes from labour council sponsored trustees. High drama, indeed.



Being swept under the secret rug, then... Mike's motion voted down by the (Labour Council... cough...) trustees in a secret meeting.

Voted down. A motion to make sure our kids don't freeze in the dead of the-worst-winter-ever waiting for buses that seem to never come... voted down.

I couldn't make this up. Too bizarre, right?

So Mike got mad, and took the matter public in a different way. Go figure.

Big-shot lawyer and chair of the WSD board Mark Wasyliw has publicly attacked Scrappy Mike for his actions. Other trustees, same. Very disturbing, ok, but not particularly surprising, sadly.

Voting down a motion to keep kids safe, though? Hiding the matter from the public by removing the motion from the minutes? This is... bloody shocking, right? I mean, am I over-reacting here?

Hey, our kids' safety is not a private affair, WSD school board. Not even close. They are OUR KIDS*. And we are the public, you see?

Marty Gold points out, in his latest podcast (welcome back, Marty-cast!) that board chair Wasyliw may face legal sanctions for altering those public minutes. If summarily convicted, it is possible that he will not remain on the board.

And yet Mike got the public sanction by the Board. Seriously, I cannot make this up.


This attempted cover-up (is that too harsh?) has all been done to, apparently, protect division staff from the implications of publicly addressing the matter. To keep the staff safe.

I kid you not. In WSD, their students rank behind some airy-fairy notion of protecting staff from some theoretical liability under FIPA.

So folks, when you are griping about Manitoba students ranking behind other provinces in test scores... are you surprised? If staff of any enterprise are not held to account for failures, then failure becomes a way of life. Not student failure, but staff, which of course leads to student failure. In all kinds of ways.

Think about this: who are the raison d'ĂȘtre for the schools, anyway? The staff, or the students?

(Answer: I suppose it depends on who runs the board.)

Definitely not a good news story. Except for the Scappy Mike bit.

G-d bless you, Scrappy Mike.

(Dig, Marty. DIG*.)


*Bold stylin' inspired by The Black Rod blog. All rights belong to them.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Union Support in Civic Elections

(Sitting quietly, drumming my fingers, watching for signs that folks 'get' the importance of the Union nod in Winnipeg's Civic politics...)

Hey, hi. Miss me?

So, as usual, the content on this page is my anonymous opinion only.

Here we go...

If you do a bad thing (and get caught...), get yourself a lawyer to represent you. Lawyers' services are for sale, still largely following the guidelines laid down by the Sophists in ancient Greece. You can buy representation, even if your cause is... somewhat dubious. Such is our system, and we have been sticking to it.

An agent who is for, and only for, their 'client' will make a stand in opposition to ideals, 'the good', evidence, or whatever else is flung their client's way. The process of defending the seemingly indefensible requires the criminal defence lawyer to transcend the normal bounds of common decency. They are all-in on the side of their client, and damn the goody-goody torpedoes.

Unions are similar in that way. They serve only those who pay them. Right?

In Winnipeg, the collective political will of the various Unions gets legs through the Labour Council. Also in Winnipeg, some civic candidates get their legs through the Labour Council's 'endorsement'.

Now, listen, I am not going to rant on the Union's right to political action. They have it, they use it, and they break no law or guidelines by their simply exercising this right. Go to town, Union bosses (within the boundaries of the rules, of course.)

I am going to rant a wee bit about what their participation means to civic elections, though.

Let's take a School Board election, say, Winnipeg School Board. Governed by elected Trustees, right? In WSD, there are nine elected Trustees, so five votes gets you a majority. Five votes, should they be stacked and whipped, controls the largest single employer in the Province (pretty sure they are). Five votes drive a $400 million annual budget in the direction they see fit.

Five votes.

... and how many Trustee Candidates are the Union's backing in WSD this fine 2014 civic election?

What, do I need to offer a prize? Of course the answer is five. Go see their page on Facebook. Google Winnipeg Labour Council Facebook, look at their mid-June posting of the officially endorsed candidates.

Lets unpack the implications of a Union controlling a School Board through a 'Union-backed' stacked and whipped Board of School Trustees.

Recall that a Union, like a criminal defence lawyer, has only one client: its own membership. They exist solely to serve their dues-paying members. Who within our schools are members of the Union? Better to ask who isn't, much shorter list...

So, if practically every paid grown-up in the school system is tied to a Union, then... who is supposed to represent the families? Who speaks for the taxpayers? Who fights for the rights of students? Who has the 'trust' of every non-union stakeholder involved and invested in the schools?

The Board of 'Trustees'... obviously.

So now ask yourself, what do Union-backed Trustees need to do in order to earn and keep their Union-backing? Do they... oh, I dunno... need to support the Union in return? Hmmm? What do you think, eh self?

So, about the kerfluffle that Trustee Babinsky raised this week.

Check it out (click me!)

You have to understand the frustration that a real community-representing Trustee endures when faced with a stacked, whipped Board filled with 'Union-endorsed' Trustees. They know the duty of care a Trustee takes on when elected by the families in their Ward. It must be heart-breaking to sit at the Board table and watch such an obvious abdication of the role all around them. They vote against the Union-backed tide again, and again, always with the same sad result.

Their tongues are cut out by a $50,000.00 penalty for breaking the gag order imposed in the secret 'in camera' board meetings. Their hearts are ripped out as vote after voted gets whipped, stacked, and shoved through the secret 'Committee of the Whole.' Their voice is silenced by, it appears, some pretty high-level tampering with the Board minutes (c'mon Minister, investigate it.)

So now you have a slack anonymous blogger unpacking the implications of Union-backed Civic campaigns. I had to comment after Mike went public, because...

The Newspapers aren't. Nary a word on the subject of the whipped voting record so far. Freaky.


The PC party isn't saying anything publicly about this matter. That is just plain weirdo.


What about the MB Liberals?

Don't even ask me that.

Don't     even     ask     me     that.

Wise reader, I know you have many opinions about the Mayoral race. Oh, and you could talk my ear off about the Councillors, I know, I know...

But heck, damn, people, these are our kids. Maybe we need to focus on this issue just a wee bit more. Maybe I need to go through the voting record (what little is recorded...) and show you the pattern... ummm..

I better actually get on that.

(Oh... and just for colour, who is the Chair of the secret Committee of the Whole at WSD...?

Why, Trustee Mark Wasyliw, former NDP Federal Candidate... and big time Criminal Defence lawyer.



Thursday, 30 January 2014

Charles Adler Loves Rana...?


Ok, so maybe the headline looked misleadingly romantic, sorry. But I love the catchy headlines, right?)

Charles Adler, and certain other (cough* Winnipeg Sun staff... cough*) journalists have been lovin' them some Rana lately.

Q: Cute, or creepy?

I mean, sure, Rana is, as Charles points out in yesterday's interview, charming as all get out when you first meet her. She actually bats her eyes, which is a lost art that breathes a little energy into the new political air. Today's Liberals being all about the 'new way' of politics, seems to fit.

But still... does a pair of fluttering lashes or a big hug or enormous smile really get you this kind of positive publicity from the crotchety old right-wing reporters in Peg-city?

I mean, look, Charles is smart. Like, super-smart. Not a word drops from his lips that isn't moulded, shaped, and directed with deadly serious purpose. Guy is Mensa-smart in the mouth. We all know that.


How can Chuck spew the kind of bullshit about the party's 'increase under Rana's leadership' that he did yesterday?

(Answer: guided missile aimed at the NDP wafflers.)

How does he accept the above false premise, then ask if Rana is considering the effect of the 'Liberal surge under Rana'  on the NDP and PC parties?

(Answer: guided missile aimed at wafflers generally, and strategic voters. Smart cluster bomb... oh, Charles!)

Why wouldn't he ask about the increase in Liberal Party support _after_ Rana was elected?

(Answer: shaping the message.)

So, should I go on?

I know some say that any press is good press. Sure, and Charles is a neat guy, so cool, let's chat with him.

But folks, to be so blatantly used in the manner in which the new Liberal Leader has been in these interviews....

I gotta call it. Creepy. Not cute. I have spoken.

So, now, let's please looks at facts. is a national treasure. Go there, check it up.

Once there, you will find a lovely chart which details the Provincial party support of the last few years. Yes, Manitoba is neatly labled and well treated. Science based stuff, distilled down to a grade 2 level graph for us.

Look at the Manitoba picture (its a bloody picture, folks, so kinda hard to misunderstand.) Hint: the Manitoba Liberals are the Red line.

Go ahead, look at it. You will see, in crayon-coloured simple-line-drawing truth, that:

1. The polls show MB Liberal Party support rise right after Justin is elected, and the PST debate got real. Rise starts around April, goes until about Sept.

2. Then it stops rising, and flatlines.

So the increase in support, if it is to be tied to a change in leadership, is clearly tied to Justin's leadership. Like, crayon-clearly, right?

The Liberals 'new political way', with bold ideas and even bolder decisions started in April of 2013 (dude, the Senate turfed from caucus? Masterful. But the new commission for choosing non-partisan Senators...? Thank you.)

Rises, rises... and then... Rana was elected. And then it is as flat as the farm.

It seems everyone has been holding their breath since Rana was elected. +20% have not decided to vote for anyone, yet. This is significant. Flat-line support. Which is fine, Manitoban's are bright. Kind of Missouri-North, show me people.

The by-elections prove what I am saying (and the frickin' crayon-coloured line drawing shows), as they mirror the polls despite the cold weather, gas explosions, and mondo-apthy. Almost bang on the prediction (remember, the Grits poll lower in the country than the city, but had the advantage of some momentum in Arthur-Virden.)

No increase in support since Rana was elected.

Chuck lied.

(Let that sink in.)

Chuck... lied...

Charles Adler does not get this stuff wrong. Too frickin' smart. No, folks, he lied. On purpose, or knowing Chuck, likely on multi-purpose. Mensa-mouth can hit more than one target at a time.

It will be interesting to see what the new MB Liberal Party leadership comes up with, and how folks eventually respond to it. Could be a lots of ink in 2014, and perhaps a lot fewer undecideds.

And lets leave it at that, ok Charles?

(You kooky guy.)