What a week for news, eh people?
Thursday morning, Toronto Police dropped the hammer in an ongoing investigation into “alleged” crack smoking Mayor Rob Ford. Twitter exploded with the news that the infamous “crack tape” was now in the possession of the pigs.
Apart from the massive “I Told You So” moment, the news predictably had the effect of distracting Canadians from other ongoing political scandals, most notably the increasingly ugly Senate Scandal. It seems my old buddy Steve is sinking like a fat turd in a stagnant pool of piss over there in Ottawa. Luckily, the Tories have a weekend in comfy Calgary to regroup, away from the prying eyes of reporters.
But here in the Heart of the Continent, Winnipeg’s plucky little mayor Sam Katz is doing his darnedest so that we remain in the national shame spotlight. Under fire from all sides for what is classified either as his presiding over a corrupt cancer of an administration or a clueless yet complete bungling of city finances, calls for Katz’s resignation are near universal at this point. And still, the little guy won’t back down.
At the heart of the current controversy are two massive fuck-ups. The first, which has been on the boil for quite some time, involves a shady land transfer involving the city and Shindico, a developer in Winnipeg that up to a week ago maintained close ties to Katz. This mess has already led to Winnipeg’s CAO Phil Sheegl quitting mere days before a damning auditor’s report was released — not that it seemed to have much impact on Sheegl himself:
Seeing Sheegl hamming it up at the KH with a gaggle of top City bureaucrats last night was cute in a "this city is unfixable" kind of way.
— Robert Galston (@riseandsprawl) October 19, 2013
(*KH = King’s Head Pub, an Exchange area boozery about a block south of City Hall.)
What’s even funnier than Sheegl not giving two shits is that somehow the city decided to appoint someone to his position who was also implicated in the land-swap mess in the auditor’s report: Deepak Joshi. As local development pundit Robert Galston again noted,
Sheegl's drinking partner last Friday. “@bkives: Will #wpgcouncil approve Joshi as CAO after audit concluded he was in the land-swap loop?”
— Robert Galston (@riseandsprawl) October 22, 2013
The other brouhaha a-bubbling in Winnipeg involves a new city police HQ that, to date, has run more than $17 million over budget, with no completion — or final cost — in sight, despite a 2011 price tag of $194 million that was supposed to be “guaranteed.” According to the Winnipeg Free Press, officials at City Hall confirmed that the project was way the fuck over budget, but that they also “don’t know how much money was spent, why, and who authorized it.”
By this point, both the centrist Free Press and the generally Katz-loving Winnipeg Sun had had enough of the trainwreck going down on Main Street. The Freep went so far as to say that “City hall needs an overhaul,” while even the Sun’s Tom Brodbeck has had enough.
“To join ranks with Katz now,” Tom wrote in a blog post October 25, “for whatever reason, would at best be a case of ignoring the corruption that has surrounded his administration and at worst a move to embrace it.”
We’ve still got another year before Winnipeg has to go to the municipal polls. But if Winnipeggers can keep our eyes on our own backyard and ignore the burning shit-piles in Toronto and Ottawa, maybe there will be significant change at City Hall. Arizona could be seeing a lot more of Katz before the new year.