Thursday, March 31, 2011

Election thoughts

Iggy rolled out Jean Cretien's Red Book promise on Universal Child Care. Good idea Iggy. Fresh. Have you costed that out? Each kid in Quebec costs over $13K a year (after the $7 a day the parents pay... you know, the people who are actually responsible for raising the children and the associated costs of that). So how many places where there you were promising Iggy? Well at $500 million, as promised, that'd be about 34,000 spaces, and we all know that we'd need a new "department" to run all that, and if registering kids in day care is as complicated as registering guns...

Elizabeth May's election promises are... oh ya... she's so busy using her media time to whine about not being invited to the debate that no one has actually heard anything about her policy ideas, which is just as well... remember what we thought about the last "carbon tax" scheme Dion rolled out.

Harper is keeping the media behind a fence and only answering 4 questions a day... which the media didn't seem interested in asking. I'll grant you, the income splitting idea with your kids is nice, but really... in four years? How about in the third year of a majority term? How about something you can be held to?

Gilles promised to... break up the country and fight for Quebec.

Jack promised to ensure every Canadian would be out of a job because he'd tax the people they work for very heavily... the "bad" corporations. What Jack misses, is that most corporations supply either a good, or a service, which is then "consumed". Higher taxes result in an increased cost for the good or service, and since the only consumer is... well, us, we'll pay more, thus an increase in our cost of living. Corporations don't just pay taxes, they consider them a cost of business, and it's built into their prices. To think otherwise means you missed the first year economics course.

This whole debate thing with Iggy now calling Stephen a coward for backing out of the fight he started, and "You can't trust what this guy says", is laughable. Harper said that a one on one debate was his first choice, it wasn't a challenge.

This whole twitter thing... oye. Too much.

While I would have appreciated some assistance from the government while raising my own three children, (some sort of a break, anything really), I think that the income splitting with your kids becomes a "real" house hold income, and I like the idea

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Elizabeth May has a problem

The problem is "zero". That's the amount of seats she has in The House of Commons. Sure, her "party" took 6% of the popular vote in '08... but so what? I bet a well organized Marijuana Party could garner more support. She really had very little substantial to say in the last debates, which she had to fight to be included in, and managed to because one MP crossed the floor... nice trick. Try getting re elected as a "Green", That wasn't going to happen, so he "gave" the Greens "credibility" by virtue of crossing the floor, except that the House never actually sat, so they never had a sitting member in the House.  As if that's all it takes.
Sure, the Reform party started with one seat, but they were actually ELECTED (Deb Grey, 1989). OK, it was a by-election, but the Green's assertion that they were now to be taken seriously because they had a seat was absurd. What's next? The Christian Heritage Party gets someone to cross the floor and sit as a CHP, and suddenly they are a "force"?
May's kid came by here a few years back, campaigning for Mom, (actually, he was the campaign manager). Bad choice... it hurts your credibility... makes it look like a "family business" that couldn't find anyone else to run, or didn't want them, or worse, gives the idea that there was something in the water at your house. He was pretty short on substance, as was May. What was her promise again? To spend three months to come up with a plan.
What? You want me to vote for you so you can take three months to tell me what your plan is? Are you serious?
She is. She's serious, which makes it all the more humorous to consider the Green's as a "real" party.
BTW, I don't think Gilles should be in the English debate either. He has no ability to sway any voters anywhere other than Quebec. Don't use up the debate time even asking this guy a question.
Liz, if you want to run with the big boys (girls), win a seat... any seat... just one... and then in a few years you could join up with the NDP and you could have some voice, which is more than the NDP currently has... which reminds me...
My riding. What a mess. Pat Martin. Hey Shelly Glover! Come up with something witty to say about this guy's best before date! The vote splitting keeps it look like he's got a lot of support, which I guess he does. If you add up all the other votes, it's a tie.
My question for the 12,285 people who voted for him last time around is,  "What's he done for you lately?"
Speaking of Shelly, her comments on Anita were spot on. Anita wanted to know how Shelly had any place to speak on her performance on her representation in her riding. OK, Lemme! I was a constituent of yours Anita, and you were past your best before date some time ago. Your saving grace, (as opposed to Reg Alcock), is that everyone forgets about you because you have so little to say/do. Perhaps you can fleece the voters there for another term.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Concert Review. Amos Lee in Minneapolis

Sure, I know... what makes him think he can do concert reviews? You're right... but what makes Bartly Kives qualified to report on City Hall?
'Nuff said.
The show took place in the State Theater, a beautiful venue that seats about 2200 people, which had been sold out for months. Opening act was the Secret Sisters (never heard of them before) who were very good... tight vocals, (shared a guitar. C'mon girls... get 2 guitars already), although they were a little too "hillbilly" for me. Alabama girls, they covered some tunes by the Everly Brothers, Chet Atkins, and a couple of original tunes. Clearly the girls were raised in a southern gospel home... their closing number, In the Sweet By and By, literally made me tear up. It was a beautiful rendition, a testament to how well the voices of siblings compliment one another.
If I had a tip for the girls, it would be to have more fun performing. They're quite new to crowds that big, so perhaps in time that will happen, but you could clearly tell which numbers they were having fun with, and really enjoyed performing, and those they were... performing. My hope is that they'll diversify a bit, and loose a bit of the "twang". I think I'd really enjoy their flawless harmonies and clear, powerful voices performing songs I could appreciate more.
Amos came onto the stage... and I was surprised. I always thought he was black... oops... "a person of color". His album covers could make you assume that, and his vocals would just drive that nail home. Not that it makes any difference, he's as white as I am. Amos played through his set, but bantered with the crowd, talked about his plane getting cancelled, having had strep throat and a fever the night before, and how great it was to play a packed house. He was very good, treating the crowd to many songs off his first three albums, and mixing in a number of tunes from his newest release.
Amos has a unique sound. The US Border Guard asked, "What kind of music is it?", and we struggled to put it into a niche. How about what it's not? It's not folk, pop, soul, rock, gospel, country... yet it's all of those things. Each song pulls from various influences and the set list moved from a song that could have easily had a choir of robe clad gospel singers clapping in time doing the back up singing to something you'd almost want to include a Spanish guitar to because the Latin feel is clearly there... Mr. Lee is very diversified, and adept at manipulating the various forms into his own, unique stylings.
The capacity crowd was polite, with numerous "We love you Amos"'s yelled out, (which received a "Thank you"), and song requests, (which received, "I'm going to play that song the NEXT time I perform in Minneapolis"). The encore consisted of a couple of songs, ending with "The Arms of a Woman" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Th4SwSpaRWU
Considering the fact that Amos was sick, had to tune his guitars lower to be able to perform, was clearly sweating up a storm, still suffering from a fever, he entertained the crowed with his wonderful music, haunting voice, and warm personality.

Tomorrow... restaurant reviews

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Go ahead Iggy... force an election

Liberals, NDP, and the Bloc... no one is happy. Of course they're not happy! The Liberals are no longer in a position to do the lying, covering up, and the type of fiscal mismanagement we became used to during the Cretien years. Ever heard of the "red book"? It was the 1993 election platform they ran on... and basically did little of aside from cancelling the much needed helicopter purchase the Conservatives agreed to.
Then there was the Grand-Mere in scandal, where the PM was "accused" of influence peddling the Canadian Business Development Bank to approve a loan for someone to buy HIS golf course. Nice. Only in a Banana Republic can a sitting PM do that and not be charged with a crime, and removed from office.
Then we had the sponsorship scandal. Did we need a recap of how the Liberals had hundreds of millions of dollars (directed by the PMO) to Liberal friends ?
We could go on, but really... this government appears squeaky clean compared to the past Liberal mess.

So Iggy... we are to believe that some egg head is not only qualified to run the country, (when your greatest achievement to date has been to... be a left wing prof teaching out of the country?), but that we are to trust you with the keys huh?

These folks all seem to "stick" together. What was it Sampert said today? Something about the budget is merely a ploy to have the opposition force an election no one wants so the Conservatives could later blame it on them. http://www.cjob.com/News/Local/Story.aspx?ID=1389990  Why ... Why... WHY do people keep talking to her? I'd think that after her "Judy" quotes, she'd have NO credibility on any topic. Poly Sci Professor...History Professor... whatever, they all see the world through a somewhat skewed lens. Sampert's comments are so stupid they hardly were worth reporting on... similar to her Judy quotes.

"If Judy Wasylycia-Leis loses the civic election it will because of her gender."  WFP 10/3/10

Iggy, Gilles, and Jacques all need to get on with WORKING, not the BS that has been going on on Parliament Hill for the past few years. Clearly there are many people who did not vote Conservative, but there's a whole country that didn't vote for Gilles, and he's there too, complete with a party full of people who have treasonist ideology. Deal with it. He's the PM, the Conservatives are running the show, and bending on important issues they'd rather not, but do so to keep the work going.

The NDP and the Liberals never saw a Crime Bill they didn't want to water down... even Conrad Black weighs in on the big bad Conservatives wanting to spend more money on more prisons.

They greatest issue with this whole mess is that it will continue to cause more voter apathy. We're tired of looking like our political system is akin to Italy's... let's just LOOK like a stable country. There is no concern about the costs, the immeasurable costs as they relate to the  fact that we're going into ANOTHER election, which will likely bring the same results we currently have.

The opposition is being opportunistic, plain and simple, but to what end? Iggy doesn't have the support of enough people to even consider him as Prime Ministerial material. Heck, we didn't even vote for the current Liberals with him as the party leader... he's a "newbie", replacing the last looser and his "carbon tax" where he was going to take the money from us, and then give it back to us.  Iggy tried to force an election in '09 too, but Jacques and his Pat Martin band of clones abstained from the vote. Then there was the coalition threat... remember that? He was really going to give the Bloc a major say in how things get done... what a clown show.

In the end, Iggy will loose, and we'll witness yet another Liberal leadership convention... all so Iggy could play politician. Really... this guy is full of himself, and he's not thinking about Canadians.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

By-Law Enforcement... the update

Well it has been an interesting few days. This post was ALMOST titled "By-Law Enforcement aka Cherry picking part two", but isn't.
I bought another house last week. Wednesday I signed the offer and sent my request in for a Boarded Building Exemption Certificate, Friday I got possession and boarded the smashed out windows up, cut back (or out) the tree (s) Saturday, Monday I had a crew cleaning up the burned out mess and Tuesday I had a visit from a different by-law enforcement officer. (different house, different area, different officer)
He asked my "crew" if they could take a look around inside. My guys know the drill. No one comes in without me being there, and if any one asks any questions, hand them my card and say "I don't get paid enough to know anything... call him". (It's believable)
I've always been a little amazed at the things I hear from inspectors. "Well I was talking to a man on site..." Oh? Who? What was his name? Title? Was he holding a broom? A shovel?
Anyway, I get a call to arrange for an inspection. Sorry, you can't come in. I've already applied for a BBEC and you don't have jurisdiction. The building is now a work site, isn't' "vacant", and I'm not letting you bill me $1K for your inspection that will summarize less than what I'm going to do with this burned out shell.
We "jousted" a bit, he threatened to get a warrant, I told him I'll appeal anything he says or sends me... by this point I was a bit put out already with the whole spiel. I only got two places, what are the chances? I was feeling "picked on", knowing that that was not really the case. I know there is never anything "personal" about this, but we can't help by take it personally at times.
Today I got a letter about the first address from Inspections. It basically said, "Ya, we reviewed the building, you're right, you don't need a Boarded Permit, or an exemption Certificate. If you need to board up later to do the work, contact us and we'll issue one then."
OK. Cool.
Then I get a phone call from By-Law Enforcement. Our conversation was far more civil. It started differently. Like we both had some respect for one another, and knew that we were approaching things from sometimes "at-odds" positions and jobs, but tried to understand the others point of view and position.
"We reviewed the file, and  the photos and we'd like to work with you on this. We may have been a little over zealous and discussed this internally" That was the gist of the conversation. I won't get into the "details" of it all. Some of it is "covering our asses" type of stuff, which I totally get ( That "I won't ask, because I know you can't say, but we both understand, wink wink sorta thing). The inspection fee went away, but the order stayed.
OK. Cool. I didn't have an issue with the order. As I said, I was doing all that stuff anyway.
"And I understand you appealed the order, and the inspection fee. That's certainly your right, but since we'll waived the fee..."
"You know", I said. "I never wanted to do that, but I felt I had no choice. I only had a certain amount of time to file that appeal according to the by-law. I don't see a need for us to go through that process. I think I'll call the City Clerk and cancel that. If we' re going to work together, there's no need for that exercise."
"OK", he said, "you know I'm not asking you do do that."
" Of course not. That would be completely inappropriate. I'm suggesting that if we're going to communicate and work together, then that's not necessary."
We also chatted about my new property which we can work on now because the work we need to do is not affected by the season. I guess someone passed on my BBEC request, and my little "rant" with the officer the day before was discussed. "We'll leave that in the hands of Existing Buildings for a few months, drive by to ensure work is continuing, but leave it alone for now."
OK. Cool.
Then a return call from another department. "I understand you want to come in for a permit for 123 Anywhere St. When were you thinking of coming in?"
"Later this week, early next. Is there a fire inspection report done on it yet? If there isn't, I won't get past the initial application, and they won't even take my plans."
"Let me check... no... can I come tomorrow to do that?"
"Sure. What time?"
OK. Cool.
I'm much happier now. I understand the need for the by-law, the need to be firm and forceful, and the need to temper that in certain situations. I never like going over someones head, and maybe it's different in the City, one can't know what instructions are given to the front line guys, but I always try to deal reasonably with the guy I meet and talk with face to face. I don't need or want a pissing contest... I just don't have the time, but I'll make it if I need to. If I'm wrong, I'll take my lumps, but if I'm not, you won't beat me soft.

The by-law is an important tool. It's here to protect "us". There are places that historically sat for MANY years. They are becoming less and less. There was one behind a house I used to own. What a dump, boarded up, roof had holes, door was being kicked in all the time, yard was never looked after...

For the people who let their properties go to hell, maintain nothing, and reap the benefits of increased sale prices while letting the neighbours deal with the mess, the by-laws need to be enforced.
During our "clean up" (40 cubic yards hauled to the dump in 3 days, and we're just getting started) I found an order sent in 2010 in the fall. The yards a mess, the tree needs to be trimmed... NONE of that was done. The frigging tree was growing right INTO the roof. Yes INTO the roof.
Those are the guys...

It's hard to always blame the land lord. You wouldn't believe the shit in this place. The basement was FULL of "shit", the main floor was FULL of "shit" the second floor is FULL of "shit". By FULL, I mean, there is no where to walk, debris is everywhere. There were so many condoms found, they must have been running girls out of the main floor. Dog feces wasn't picked up all winter... oye. I don't want to get into the truck after walking through the yard. What if my foot slips off the brake pedal?  This isn't my first walk in the park. I've seen a lot of this sort of thing.

If I owe any "thank you"s to any readers for the shift in attitudes,

Thank You.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lasers are Sheening in my eyes

Ya... no, I didn't misspell shining but tried to be creative, linking the two topics today.

We've all watched Charlie Sheen implode. It's sad were it not so funny. over 2 million people follow this guy on Twitter. No kidding. 2 million people with so little else to do, likely taking time from their jobs to read the rants of a man who has clearly swum into the deep end of the pool, tired, inebriated, and without a personal flotation device. We've seen this before when Mel Gibson swam in the pool too, but it looks like with the help of some friends, Mel has at least got his publicly broadcast rants under some control. Who really knows? Robert Downey Jr. had his "time" in the slime light too, and it looks like he's beaten his demons back... but the fight continues in the lives of all people affected as they are.

Sure, they're "stars"... so what? They are just regular everyday people, prone to falling down, as is anyone in society, and while "we" can sometimes sit back and try to understand "how can this happen?", it's probably easier given a life of excess than for the regular working schlep.

I'm saddened by the fact that this guy has clearly been able to live his life recklessly and get himself into this mess, (and out of a job... not unusual. Know any addicted people who lost a job, or two, or three, or...), without an intervention, but as it's been said, people have to hit the bottom first. We'll likely hear more in the future, and I'll continue to resist delving digging into his misery, following all the available links. Knowing what he's going through doesn't improve my life or outlook, and it just continues to make me wonder why "we" seem to revel in someones downfall.

The sad thing for me is... I really enjoyed all three of the mentioned actors in their various roles, and you can't really "go back". Aside from RDJ, I don't know that I can watch a Gibson movie without the persona being "sullied", and CS... well aside from Two and a Half Men, has he ever really done anything of any substance?

Which brings me to the laser incident. Sure... stupid... absolutely, but c'mon, "It can cause temporary blindness" ? Assault with a weapon? Are you kidding me? How about a serious sit down and response followed by some media coverage emphasizing to the average idiot that it's NOT ok to try your .99 cent laser pointer at the helicopter. Now before you go off on me, do you REALLY think or believe that if the CJOB traffic copter had been the "target" that the WPS would have cared?

Honestly?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Much a Dew (er) about nothing

Judge Dewer. What a dweeb. Imagine saying such a thing... Imagine... close your eyes, No, scratch that. You can't read this with your eyes closed.
I'm a bit of a drunk, I'll admit it (after all, we are imagining things here). I go to the bar, and order a double... the first of a few. After four of these I wander over to the pool table and start lipping off, critiquing the players, laughing at their attempts to sink whatever ball they are going for. Stripes, solids, they all look the same. The players are beginning to get perturbed.
I wander over to an attractive female and start chatting her up. She's clearly there with the guy next to her, but what do I care? I'm a bit obnoxious... and loud.
Finally, I begin to make disparaging comments about someones mother, and I get a few shots to my head, followed by my face making a quick connection with the floor as I fall like a poplar tree that rotted out at the base in a strong wind.
Police come, people are taken away, I get medical attention, and after sobering up, I want charges laid. Police are reticent. They don't feel that the case will have merit, but I insist. After all, I have witnesses!
We go to court, and there are a slew of people who testify that they saw me get my beat down, but also that I was belligerent. I was loud, obnoxious, I was inappropriately hitting up a female and annoying her boy friend, and a general annoyance to everyone there.
The judge is ready. He's found that the other guy IS guilty of assaulting me, but suspends his sentence as a result of my actions.
He BLAMING ME! He's saying, You deserved a shit kicking because you were drunk. You were annoying everyone, looking for a fight.
While he may never SAY those things, that's what I think he's saying. He's blaming the victim, the poor guy who can't control his drinking.
I NEVER hit anyone. I didn't "deserve" the beat down, but since the judge considered MY actions, I can certainly make that claim. I've been victimized again by the court.

I don't see the above example as being too different than the judgment that was passed that continued to be good fodder for many wanting to make a big deal about the rights of a certain group who continue to be oppressed by another group.

We could go on about NOT putting yourself into situations that are likely to result in actions toward your person that are unwanted.

Does the citizen who walks down the 300 block of Pritchard Avenue with an 18 of beer "deserve" to be stabbed, and robbed of his beer? No. Was it smart? No. The victim didn't deserve it, but unwelcome attention is a reasonable expectation.

Someone is wandering around with a few thousand dollars cash in their wallet and pay for their groceries with cash, taking out the wad and counting out the required payment, flashing the cash to everyone nearby. Smart? No. Do you "deserve" to get rolled for your roll? No, but it wouldn't be out of line to call that person "stupid".

Go to the bar and forget to wear panties and a bra, chat up a guy all night, go back to a quiet area and have him ignore your words "stop". Did you "deserve" that? No. Were you "smart"? No, you were rather stupid. You were a part of setting the stage, and to SAY that isn't wrong.

Best I know, there were no witnesses to the incident Dewer ruled on, so he DID believe her, but considered the evidence when he passed his sentence, and why not? Guess what? Greg Selinger, pontificating about how this should be reviewed after steadfastly saying the Government can't get involved in judicial decisions is playing to a small crowd. The 100 or so were out marching tonight, telling us how they are oppressed daily...

Monday, March 7, 2011

By-Law Enforcement aka Cherry Pickers

From the title, you'll guess where this is going. I'll admit it, I own a vacant house. Vacant, means just that. No one lives there... it's empty insofar as human inhabitants goes, and animals don't live in there either, because as all Winnipeggers know, it's colder inside than outside.

I applied for a building permit last October. In typical fashion, even for a simple permit, I didn't get one until November... late November. Sure, it was for foundation repairs, but no one at the Permit Department cares when I can do the work, so it just sits and waits it's turn on the pile. By November, it was too cold to do too much with the frozen soil surrounding the home. Exploratory work was carried out, a new roof was put on, the rotted trough and fascia was taken off, and the rotted porch floor and framing was removed to facilitate the excavation.

In January, I received a letter from The City, telling me about the "new" Vacant Building By-Law. I received this as information, since no mention was made of the address or any concerns. The previous owner did take out a Boarded and Vacant Building Permit, but in discussions with an inspector, we agreed that the building really did not require a permit under the previous by-law, because it was not "boarded".

Boarded has a definition in the by-law. It means that one opening is covered with plywood, metal, or something else. Buildings with all doors and windows left in their openings did not require a permit. That said, I guess the house stayed on a list, and some newbie got the file.

In February, I received a letter stating that my building was scheduled for an inspection by the by-law enforcement officer, and a date was provided that he'd like to hear back by. I responded immediately via regular mail, since that's how I was contacted. My response was to cc the by-law inspector my request to the Existing Buildings Administrator for a Boarded Building Exemption Certificate, if required. I say if required, because according to my reading of the by-law, I need one if I have a building permit, AND board up the windows and doors. If my building is undergoing repairs and the doors and windows are not boarded, there is no provision for such an exemption (becausae the building is not boarded). I choose NOT to board the windows, because it makes the building a target. Can you have a Boarded Building Exemption if the building isn't boarded? The by-law MEANS something, and sure, there are maintenance items specified in the by-law, but I have a building permit for those things.
A few weeks go by, and I get a phone call from the neighbour. A "team" of inspectors are breaking into my building. Incredulous, I race across town in an attempt to catch the inspectors, but I miss them by minutes. I'm incensed. I wrote him a letter... he never called or wrote back... now what?

I called the Existing Building Inspector who assured me that there will be no fee from his department for the inspection because my building permit covers the inspection costs. No problem, but I'm still upset. I'll let it go, but I feel that someone has over stepped their authority.

A week goes by, and what do I get but an "order" spelling out the repairs I need to carry out, along with a compliance date. The repairs are basically a summary of the work I already have a permit to carry out, so I write a three page letter ripping apart the order, and making sure to mention that I received no responses to my correspondence. Before sending it, I make one last attempt to extend an olive branch and leave a message for the inspector.

He calls the next day, and says, "Ya, after getting your message about sending me a letter I looked on my desk and found it. I hadn't opened it yet." Oops.

Nice. Maybe if you weren't out breaking into peoples houses...

I felt that he and I understood (without actually saying so), that he had overstepped. He said he'd talk to his boss about the property and made everything sound like we'd put this matter to rest. I didn't send my somewhat poignant letter. I didn't see an upside... after all, he was going to work with me.

A few days pass, and I get another envelope. I know what it is, but I don't open it for a few days. I was planning to enjoy my weekend, not curse at some pinhead who couldn't rebuild a house to save his life. Sure enough, it's an invoice for the Vacant Building Inspection ... a cool $1000.

As if. I call the inspector again and ask what we're going to do about the invoice. He tells me that he'll look into it and get back to me shortly. I know where this is going... I've delt with these sorts of people before. He's the "I screwd up and can't back down or do anything about it because I'm a puppet who has no real responsibility but all sorts of authority" kind of guy". Not his fault (I guess).

I get a call from his boss. We chat, but he can't rescind the order, and he can't reverse the invoice. He goes on to tell me that the building was scheduled for inspection last May, but they are so far behind that.... HOLD ON BUDDY. Last May, had you come, the by-law didn't have the provision to nail me with a $1K inspection fee, so you slack off , and now that there's some cash in it for you folks... Oh no he claims, that's not it at all! He was a bit surprised that his staff don't read their mail, or respond to people, but alas, council has directed them to do this... there's nothing he can do. I go on about the responsibility and authority thing to no avail and mention that I'll be appealing and mentioning the "circus" events that have transpired here. He tells me that I have that right, but that I can only appeal the order, not the invoice.

I point out that the by-law is specific that the appeal can reverse all charges that are applied as a part of the by-law, but he holds fast to his story. He can't be wrong... he's the boss... of a guy who also can't be wrong, and so his boss has to call to follow up after he screws up. Nice job. I wonder if he read the by-law. I have to believe he read it... perhaps the subtle nuances that give some balance to the people they "deal" with just escaped him... or he forgot. Cool... I'll appeal... but first I'll send my letter.

In it I demand to know the names of all of the inspectors who entered my building. The doors were locked and the portions of the foundation wall that were under repair where covered with plywood nailed to the wood. They had to use tools to enter, so my question in the letter also requested where in the by-law they were/are permitted to enter the building if it is secured, the by-law only allows entry to secure a building they find open. This sounds more like "trespass" and "break and enter" to me... but those are big accusations, so please note how I said that. "Sounds like... to me". That's not definitive.

I also point out that virtually every item in the order is referred to in my building permit, and that numerous "deficiencies" are as a result of the work. The only item I couldn't refute was the "graffiti throughout the building" . This related to the exterior, where it was found on the door (32"x80") and a portion of the exterior wall (36"x48"), hardly "throughout the building" considering it's a fairly large building. I did send a request to the City Graffiti Removal Service to look after that.

I attended the City Clerk's office to file my appeal today. The Clerk listened to my story with some disbelief until I showed him my building permit, and the request for a boarded Building Exemption Certificate, and even that the building isn't "boarded" as defined in the by-law. He took my $250, date stamped everything, and promised that he'd schedule a hearing, but that he'd send a few e-mails first. My sense is that he sees a lot of half baked appeals and that mine looks like a fairly good one that will embarrass the fine civic employees at by-law enforcement.

This in indicative of many civic "officials" I get to deal with. They make up rules, forget the ones that are in the favour of the "citizen", and hope no one is smart enough to read the by-law and actually challenge them on it.

FYI

The by law inspector wasn't on staff in 2009, but his position earns about $53K
His boss made $70,440 in '09
And the only person to actually provide me with the sort of professionalism, respect and service I'd expect as a citizen, the guy at the City Clerk's Department earns about $130 K.

Nice to see that if you double the salary of the two faces that can't help me by admitting their mistake and over reach...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Flood fighting in Brandon

So the unelected Premier Greg Selinger goes to Brandon today for a photo op. He announces that the Province has purchased two new sand bagging machines.
Before I make my point, let me say that flood fighting is serious. In Winnipeg, it's a political thing, after all, we already expanded the floodway to protect the City. We're safe. Our rural friends are not, and the work should not be the only "good" thing people remember.... like buying two new sand bagging machines. Big deal. The machines are worth $35K each. Does Greg show up for a picture every time the Department of Highways buys a new truck? They're drilling a bunch of holes into the Red River near Selkirk, and Christine Melnick goes for a photo op. 16,000 holes, for $15K. Whoopie.
It's not the fact that they're not doing anything, it's that they seem to use it as a big "we're working to protect YOU" spiel, when the $$$ are really small potatoes.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"Journey to Churchill"

Watching the news today... wow. They said the exhibit will "spur discussion" or something like that. I'm in... let's discuss.
http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/New-zoo-exhibit-plans-unveiled-117193583.html

Let's review this article from he biggest cheerleaders of the CHRM.  "Proponents said Journey to Churchill, along with the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, will make Winnipeg a tourist magnet."
Ummm... ya, I can see the kids now, after viewing the CMHR displays and having all the uplifting, joyous material there explained to them in depth by their parents. They'll do the CMHR in the morning, and the zoo, (teary eyed and distraught) in the afternoon. As if. NOBODY is coming to Winnipeg to go see the CMHR, and since I'm a bit of a "building freak", I'm hoping to go see it BEFORE they fill it up with their "displays".

10 acres... 45 million dollars, and since someone else made the connection to the CMHR... that'll be $102 million before it's finished in 2013... I mean 2014... I mean 2015. Sure, Gail isn't involved, but c'mon, you KNOW that an "artist impression" will double (or more) in cost before it's finally done. Consider the stadium Greg is buying us.

Thanks Greg. A new stadium AND a new polar bear exhibit. You're the best buddy ever! All that with MY money.

"motorized polar bear tundra tours" Seriously? I can ride a Tundra buggy to see the bears? That'll replace the train we've been enjoying for a few generations. How much do the Tundra Buggies cost Greg?

Japanese and European tourists will no longer have to fly to Churchill! Now they can just land at the new airport terminal (if and when it opens), and go to the zoo. Then the next day, they can take a boat load of pictures at some other destination. (CMHR?)

Now let's be clear, we need to spend money on our zoo. Regular readers will know that I'm seldom against development BUT... The City is looking at possibly decommissioning the Arlington Street Bridge (over 100 years old). How long before we finally figure out that the Louise and Redwood bridges are ALSO that old? How much to JUST build a decent Polar Bear exhibit?

Zoos and aquariums ARE a big feature of a city, but they don't MAKE a city. We visited Berlin, and we didn't have time to go to the world famous zoo in that metropolis... there was just too much else to see in the two days we were there. We also didn't go see the nearby Sachsenhausen concentration camp. We were on vacation, wanting to have a great time... not be visiting a place that was SURE to be a "dower". On the other hand, I was in Monteray Cal., and thoroughly enjoyed the aquarium. (BTW, Berlin also has a world renowned aquarium we didn't go see). I STILL talk about the touch pool where you can touch manta rays as they "fly" by (they feel like a portobello mushrooms underside) and pick up starfish. The glass wall that allows you to view the biggest tank is 18" thick...

Winnipeg is not Berlin... nor Monterey. We are a city in a crisis. Our bridges are falling apart, our roads are nothing short of embarrassing, our traffic infrastructure is pathetic, our sewer and water lines need serious upgrading, and we're building a display that is "over the top".

People will NOT come to Winnipeg to see the zoo, or the CMHR. They might go see those things while already here, but I think you're a nut if you want to tell me people will plan a vacation to Winnipeg to see those things. They are NOT to be put into the same league as the Mall of America, Albertville, or West Edmonton Mall and the Water Park. People don't come to Winnipeg to "get away for a weekend" unless they live in Kenora, Swan River, or are able to make in in via winter road from Pukatawagen... which reminds me... check this out! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ej847oDOVvo