If you listened to the penultimate segment of this past Wednesday's Winnipeg Internet Pundits, you are doubtlessly aware of my unceasing optimism about the City of Winnipeg 2012 Preliminary Capital Budget.
I also wrote this column for Uptown Magazine about the matter, one that speaks for itself rather well, but I'd like to take this time to offer you a couple of quick summaries regardless.
The City of Winnipeg's bargaining position towards the Province of Manitoba, in eleven words:
"This is all your fault. Look what you made me do."
And the Province of Manitoba's bargaining position towards the City of Winnipeg, in just under three minutes:
("You want six dollars for what?")
So this is all very promising, obviously. Why, just take a look at these glowing testimonies from our civic leaders about how well our finances are being handled!
Acting Deputy Mayor, City Councillor, and Executive Policy Committee member Paula Havixbeck:
"It's a mediocre budget, at best."
City Councillor Jenny Gerbasi:
"We're at a wall financially and I don't see any solutions in this budget."
"We have limited funds, we can't do it all but yet we're doing what's not necessarily the highest priorities. [. . .] Chief Peguis Trail and the Plessis underpass are things that should not have come before other things including our existing infrastructure and rapid transit."
City Councillor, Executive Policy Committee member, and Public Works Committee Chair Dan Vandal:
"We're near the max of our borrowing. Unless we get new revenue streams to pay for the interest charges [. . .] we're in a tough fix."
"It's horrible, actually. We're not getting ahead of the problem. We're always losing ground to the infrastructure deficit."
And, of course, our fearless Captain Visionary himself, Mayor Sam Katz:
"We need improvements all over the place. We need a stable, predictable and long-term source of revenue to deal with this."
"As opposed to addressing this as quickly as we can, we’re putting our finger in the dike. What we need to do is identify a long-term source of revenue, because once we do that we could plan long-term on how to fix it."
Absolutely! Absolutely! If there's one set of steps that I very firmly believe in, it's:
1) borrow the absolute maximum that your existing credit limit will allow
2) figure out how you're going to find the money to pay for things
And that's the kind of logical, rational fiscal thinking that has made me what I am today! Broke!
So every man, woman and child living in the City of Winnipeg will each personally -- per capita, if you will -- owe around $1500 by the end of 2014 and just over $1600 by the end of 2015, working out to around a billion large in 2014 and well over a billion in 2015. But! But. Not to worry!
Perhaps ten digits' worth of debt would be a concern in cities with less upstanding leadership -- yes, perhaps so -- but here in Wonderful Winnipeg, where all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds, such fears are wildly unfounded. We as a city have the fine fortune to be led by men and women of character and class, governed as we are by a tightly-knit cabal of level-headed wisdom-lovers who band together to act with grace and dignity at all times through trials and tribulations large and small.
In fact, it would appear I have an email in my inbox passed along from those very same Councillors right now! Let me just have a look here, let me just crack this open. Subject line "how did you vote" -- how nice! I'm glad they take such interest in each other's...
In each... in...
From: Eadie, Ross
Sent: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 10:14 AM
To: Pagtakhan, Mike; Wyatt, Russ; Havixbeck, Paula; Browaty, Jeff
Subject: how did you vote
So this is how people treat someone who is not trying to be the typical politician. This move deeply hurts me
Mike, if you voted for this fucking crap, you are not going to like Community Committee any more. Nobody fucks with my home. I have a definition of density that says no fucking multifamily structures mid block. If this fucking project was at the corner of a feeder street and Scotia, it might be okay with a proper design.
Rus you are just a fucking asshole. Your pal could have made lots of fucking money without this crap. I knew you would pull this shit when you lied to me about Jenny.
Jeff, how would you feel about [pulling this shit on Kildonan Drive?
Paula, not sure how you voted, but how would you feel if this crap was pulled on you?
Tel. (204) 986-5188
Cell: (204) 391-6259
hang on, give me a second
Okay. Well. This... this isn't all bad.
A mere misunderstanding, really! Eadie insists that "F-sharp is used all the time" and "There's nothing the matter with what I said", adding that "Councillors swear all the time in closed-door meetings". There, you see? He's just trying to fit in! He's new around here, guys, you should know to cut him a bit of slack. He thought this is just what Councillors do!
Besides, a rookie mistake like this is easy to work around; this message was only sent to four people, and all four of those people are professionals who can be counted upon to handle such inflammatory and accusatory matters with the necessary discretion and tact befitting their positions. So I'm sure that this will just be a non-issue, handled internally, and everyone involved will be able to--
From: Pagtakhan, Mike
Sent: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 10:25 AM
To: Nordman, Grant
Subject: FW: how did you vote
Mr. Speaker, for your information....I don't think profanity ought to be tolerated like this.
Mike Pagtakhan, BA, CIM, CPP
City Councillor - Point Douglas Ward
510 Main Street
Winnipeg, MB R3B 1B9
...you... you tattletaled on him? Is City Council secretly just third grade?
And then one of you leaked the emails to the press, ensuring not only that Ross Eadie would look like an antisocial NIMBYite but also that Russ Wyatt would look like the scummiest scumbag in the long and storied history of bagging scum?
Okay. Just, just hang on on a second. This... this will all be fine! We still have the cool head and firm hand of our Mayor and his Executive Policy Committee, including the esteemed Councillor Browaty mentioned by name in the email. Both are sure to bring the sensibility and perspective that this issue needs, and once they weigh in to expertly defuse the matter it'll all be--
Katz told the Winnipeg Sun that provincial inspectors are poised to examine the message after being informed of it by civic human resources staff.
"It’s almost as though they were being threatened, if you interpret that," Katz said Wednesday. "That’s probably the bigger issue."
[. . .]
"Language is one thing. But the personal threat, I think, is probably the more significant piece of it," said Browaty, the property committee’s chairman."
Oh! The... the personal threat. The threat, upon your person. No, no, of course! Given his intimidating physical stature and his long record of previous violent convictions, it seems only natural to expect that his online belligerence will shortly transition to an inevitable onslaught of horrific personal assaults that--HE'S BLIND, YOU TOOLS
"Personal threat", what the hell is this. Like he's actually the white Colonel Stinkmeaner and he's going to bust your kneecaps with his cane the second you get anywhere near him, unless you call in the province first to protect you from his wrath. Nobody running our city has the character to stand up face-to-face against a blind man acting impolitely. This... that's real inspiring, fellas.
To recap. Here is what we have learned from this little adventure:
- City Councillor Ross Eadie curses like a newly-peglegged pirate if you build a two-story building down the street from his house, and his definition of "density" bears no conceivable resemblance to actual density.
- City Councillor Mike Pagtakhan beelines to the first authority figure available to tell on someone if he hears them say a swear, which as we all know is the commonly accepted procedure for profanity in and around Point Douglas.
- City Councillor Russ Wyatt -- and this wasn't even supposed to be on public record, this is what other councillors say about him when they think it'll be off the record -- Russ Wyatt rigs the system to funnel money to his friends, lies to co-workers about other co-workers, and is apparently just entirely unpleasant to be around. (Bearing in mind the source of this information, of course.)
- City Councillor Jenny Gerbasi -- who, if you trust the word of our Mayor, only acts the way she does because she's "looking for attention or love" -- is far enough out of the loop to be completely unaware when people are talking shit about her behind her back. (I love the mental picture of everybody sitting in council when the news report pops into their RSS feeds, Gerbasi slowly looking over at Wyatt after reading it, and Wyatt making a cartoon "Gulp!" noise.)
- Eadie's frustrated damnation of the entire electoral system -- "this is why people don't vote" -- does nothing to support his ideological ally, newly-elected City Councillor Brian Mayes, who won his seat in a by-election with 20% turnout.
- And our Mayor, who I am confident acted swiftly and decisively to address the situation as soon as he got off the plane from Phoenix and his staff handed him the newspapers, can be counted on to mistake the frustrated cuss words of a disappointed neighbourhood landowner as the vengeful personal threats of a violent and maniacal street brawler.
There is nothing I could say about any of this that would improve morale at all, so here is a video of a Corgi puppy running through a field.
Until next time, true believers!