Weekend Crime in the Daniel McIntyre Ward not Spillover

The City of Winnipeg is divided into 15 Electoral Wards – each represented by a city councillor.

Councillor Harvey Smith who represents the Daniel McIntyre Ward is quoted in today’s Free Press as saying the crime wave in Winnipeg this weekend spilled over into his constituency.  The Daniel McIntyre Ward which is situated within the boundaries of Police District 1 (the downtown district) is one of the smallest wards geographically but is surpassed only by the Mynarski Ward in terms of the numbers of crimes tracked by Crimestat.

The following table breaks down reported crime by electoral ward for the period from January 1st 2010 to October 29th  2011.

Ward Councillor Jan 1-Oct 29 2011 Jan 1 –Oct 29 2010 % change
Mynarski Ross Eadie 1162 1538 -24
Daniel McIntyre Harvey Smith 1137 1141 0
Point Douglas Mike Pagtakhan 951 1139 -17
Fort Rouge-Fort Garry Jenny Gerbasi 759 876 -13
St. James-Brooklands Scott Fielding 605 779 -22
Elmwood-East Kildonan Thomas Steen 597 876 -13
River Heights-Fort  Garry John  Orlikow 444 599 -26
St. Boniface Daniel Vandal 406 533 -22
St. Vital Vacant 316 537 -37
Old Kildonan Devi Sharma 269 443 -39
Transcona Russ Wyatt 256 249 +3
St. Charles Grant Nordman 249 244 +2
North Kildonan Jeff Browaty 243 368 -34
St. Norbert Justin Swandel 237 377 -37
Charleswood-Tuxedo Paula Havixbeck 167 207 -19

(source:  Winnipeg Police Crimestat)

The Daniel McIntyre Ward is one of only three wards that has not seen crime go down so far this year. One could argue that crime is not spilling into the Daniel McIntyre ward from adjoining wards but rather that crime is spilling out into adjacent wards.

Below is a crime map which depicts crimes in Daniel McIntyre Ward between Jan 1st. 2011 and Oct 29th 2011.

News flash for Councillor Smith:  What happened in Daniel McIntyre Ward this past weekend cannot be explained away as ‘spillover’.  To do so is to turn a blind eye to the realities of the crime problem that has existed in the Daniel McIntyre ward for some time now.  Nothing new here, Councillor Smith.

Oh What Tangled Webs We Weave….

…when first we practice to  deceive (or  raise the frontage levy)

When not raising property taxes becomes a dogma,  common sense tends to become a rare commodity and politics take over.

If property taxes alone don’t yield enough revenue to pay the bills, but you doggedly stick to the idea of not raising property taxes – something has to give.  What are the options?  The options include raising existing levies (such as the frontage levy), raising or adding  user fees (at libraries,  or swimming pools), or reducing services (arenas).

Picture this:  let’s say the owner of a sports franchise  (for the sake of argument, the Goldeyes) doesn’t want to raise  ticket prices but  still wants to increase revenues.

How can you increase revenue without raising ticket prices?  The answer seems to lie in adding surcharges for the little things that patrons rely on in order to enjoy the experience.   You could charge for vehicle parking.  When patrons walk in the door you raise the price of printed event  programs.  Raise the price of the food and drinks at concessions. Patrons will need to use the washroom, so add a user fee.  You see where this is going.  There are all kinds of things that can be done to raise additional revenue without raising ticket prices.

In other words there are many ways that patrons can be ‘Sammed’.

This is what seems to be happening at city hall.  Councillor Russ Wyatt has brought forward several more examples of how we are being Sammed. According to Wyatt:

In 2007, after much public criticism, the Mayor ended the practice of ‘transfers’ from the water and waste utility of the city into the General Revenue Fund (in other words sewer and water rates were being used to balance the budget).  The Mayor at that time agreed, and likened the practice to the Province raiding Hydro revenues to balance their budget. So he ended the policy.

Now he is attempting to unearth and resurrect the same policy, except he is calling it a ‘dividend’ and not a ‘transfer’.  Don’t be fooled, as it means the same, and confirms that Winnipeger’s are obviously paying too much for their sewer and water rates, now the highest in Canada!

Today this tax/rate grab is equal to $17 million.  The wonders of an 8% dividend policy is that as the water and sewer rates continue to rise (as they are projected to do so), so does the tax/rate grab.

What is even more interesting is that this would never be allowed outside the City of Winnipeg.  Outside the city, municipalities are subject to a little thing called the Public Utilities Board. The PUB would never allow such a rate grab, indeed, they would demand such revenues to be returned to the customer.

At the time of the new Water and Sewer Utility debate, there was great internal discussion of making the utility subject to the PUB.  The issue of loss of control killed this idea.  We now see the benefits to balancing the budget at the expense of w and s rate payers.

Councillor Wyatt then goes on to summarize the impact in terms of the additional revenue flowing into the city and the impact on taxpayers.  He puts it this way:

What does all this mean to the bottom line for tax payers.  The Frontage Levy increase brings in $14 million (and no new money to roads), the dramatic increase in Rec fees hauls in $1 million more (which helps the city ‘market’ out their arenas, now that the Chair of Finance has said Parks and Recreation are NOT a core municipal service–Giving Wpg a monopoly on wisdom compared to every other city in North America), and $17 million more from the Water and Sewer Dividend.

The total is $32 million, or the equivalent of an 8 % Property Tax Increase. Now, I have been the strong advocate over the last few years of a modest tax increase in our budgets.  However eight percent is actually eight times higher than the latest Consumer Price Index for Winnipeg which was projected recently at 0.8%.

I believe these latest developments vindicates my position, as now Winnipeger’s are facing this massive rate/tax/levy increase all at once.  And why?  Last year the Mayor included tens of millions of ‘one time’ money just so he could balance his budget and get past the Civic General Election. Furthermore he continues, without any sense of reason or rational debate, to perpetuate the property tax freeze, now in its 14th year.

I think the Councillor from Transcona has a point!

Stadium Funding Debate Sparks “Gun-play”

Who is really being childish here?

In a move described by Councillor Russ Wyatt as “having a gun stuck to your head”, the Mayor attempted to ‘walk’ stadium funding onto the city council agenda.  Such a move requires a suspension of the rules.  Wyatt and five other councillors decided not to simply roll over on the issue and notified the Speaker they would not support a suspension of the rules.

This left the Mayor with two options:  put the issue on the agenda for the next council meeting, or call a special meeting.

Councillor Justin Swandel has characterized the move by Councillor Wyatt and the other councillors as a childish stunt.

This prompts questions:

If the exercise of their rights by councillors is viewed as a stunt, then why not change the rules so that the Mayor and Councillor Swandel can walk anything onto the agenda at any time?

Why do the Mayor and Councillor Swandel view this attempt to promote transparency and accountability for public spending as a negative?

Has the obvious lack of due diligence, cost guesstimates and flawed decision-making not already created a large enough mess?  The big hole in the ground at the University of Manitoba says that it has.

Is it not time that someone actually sat down and gave this entire project some sober second thought without rushing it through?

Some of the techniques being employed by the Mayor are very similar to those used by  scam artists: create a sense of urgency, rush the decision, decide right now because time is of the essence, act right now or the price will go up.   Never mind providing the required information to allow proper study and evaluation – just trust me and you can’t tell anyone else about this.   Sound familiar?  It seems the public was already scammed once on the stadium deal.  Should we throw good money after bad money?

Exercising his rights, the Mayor called a special meeting of City Council (not to be confused with a childish stunt) and pushed stadium funding through.    The mayor and his buddies got their way, just a day late.

Due process must be such a downer – especially for politicians with dictatorial tendencies.