Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Buchko gets skewered (or butchered)

My Winnipeg is a funny city. I'll admit, I'm a pessimist. I find fault with a lot of things, but I really do try to be fair about them.

I may not always BE fair, but I TRY to be.

Reading the comments in the FreeP and the Sun surrounding the recent announcement regarding the completion timeline for the new stadium, and I see a thick skin is required to do almost anything in this city.
It's not that there isn't blame to be placed for a timeline gone horribly astray. It's not that we haven't been BS'd since the inception of the whole debacle, by every politician and the original suspects involved. It's not that Winnipeg hasn't already had it's share of over priced, over budget, over promised, over hyped projects (do I need to list them for you?)

What concerns me is roasting the wrong guy at the stake.

I have NO idea of Buchko is going to be any good as the Bomber CEO or not. I can't see why he wouldn't, as it's a business, not unlike any other business. Sure, there are things to learn, but in the end.... it's a business.

Commenters are laying the blame at "Butchko" 's feet. and IMHO, it's quite unfair. Firstly, from what I can tell, it's spelled Buchko, regardless of how it's pronounced, secondly, he's only been in the role since January, and the seeds of the entire mess were sown well before he came on board.

Sure, he made some pretty silly claims when he came on, obviously relying on intel that came from people wanting to cover their own "tight ends" (that was a foot ball joke), and he continued to keep things quiet while he got to know the ropes and the various players. You can't HONESTLY have expected the man to get a firm grip on matters that involved the club, the building and the timeline/season schedule in the first few months, could you?

By April, one would reasonably have expected a realistic update. People knew.

Why we weren't told this earlier is any one's guess. Mine is that Garth was still trying not to come in like a bull in a china shop and step on everyone's toes. Let's face it. He's not there to make friends, but he does have to work with these people. (and even FOR some people)

What happened BEFORE Buchko came on? The Bombers CEO was Ossama AbouZeid, a PEng who was "thrust" in to the position, ostensibly because someone had to do it, and he was already running the stadium construction (and still is). Review  the statements he made in December 2011.

Ossama AbouZeid, interim chief executive officer of the Winnipeg Football Club, says he will know in a couple of months if construction of Investors Group Field will be finished in time for the 2012 CFL season.
"I think realistically sometime in February, we have to say, 'How severe was the winter? What's the prognosis for the spring?' Then we can make a realistic assessment," AbouZeid told reporters on Wednesday, after the stadium's name was unveiled.
"If I'm not ready, I have to make a Plan B. It is not [enough] just to stand in front of you and tell you, 'Oops, I am behind.'"

AbouZeid said the construction timeline will depend not just on weather conditions, but when construction crews can get under cover.
"Very soon, once the stadium [is] closed and once they put the roof sometime in January … everything will be under my control," he said.

So where did the wheels fall off the communication wagon? If the last guy knew he'd know in a couple of months where he stood insofar as a timeline goes, just what went wrong between knowing in February and actually coming clean in May?

Did this have to do with "pie in the sky" hopes they'd somehow make up for (what they claim are) 60 lost days due to wind? Today we heard about the big pre engineered trusses, the two cranes doing a tandem lift, the cranes operating at 98% capacity, blah blah blah.

Clearly the project manager KNEW all this in February. Did he TELL Buchko? Was the board against announcing all this mess to ensure season ticket sales didn't fall off the scale?

Who can we blame?

From what I've read, Ossama AbouZeid has been a pretty straight shooter. Maybe no one asked him the right questions, or maybe he was told to be quiet by others. Whoever tells the CEO that has to be pretty high up.

The Politicians didn't want to have egg on their collective faces. They all gathered round the announcements and promises, beaming smiles, and rolling out the words "world class" whenever they could.

The Bomber Board "sold" their fans on the last game in the old stadium hoopla, and they certainly didn't want to come clean on what they knew when they knew it.

Mostly though, I blame one guy. In March of 2010, he was granted a loan of $90 million , conditionally to have excavation begin that year, for an opening date of 2012. He changed the design a few times, so much so that he was finally removed from the whole deal.

Fill in the blanks. One guy was in charge of the thing (and he had never built a stadium), he dug a hole, but kept changing the design, effectively breaking his contractual agreement, and was removed from the partnership.

Now start with a hole, and re design a building completely... not just pretty drawings, but the actual working drawings, the calculations, the steel layout where a hundred foot truss meets up with a steel post as wide as your Aunt Nelly, and has thirty 3/4" bolts that need to align.

An impossible task to be sure, so I submit, that Buchko is the fall guy for Asper... who happens to be... on the Bomber Board... Buchko's boss so to speak.

Asper'd again.

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