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Random thoughts, excellent posts elsewhere, and more wifi ranting

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I'll start with a random thought about the $7 million city grant for a water park, and the sudden (but hardly unexpected) realization that an attraction water park is not - REPEAT NOT - an activity the civic government should be involved in funding. So many, many bloggers have already made this point that if consensus counts for anything, the city and Mayor Sam Katz should be worried about the wide range of political ideologies and perspectives that together believe this is a bad idea.The simple fact is that this money should not have gone to a commercial enterprise. There isn't a major indoor water park in Winnipeg now. The first entrepreneur to build one is going to be overwhelmed with pent up demand from families desperate for family activities, especially in the winter months. As it is, many Winnipeg hotels with simple pools and slides see a pretty good business on the weekends from birthday parties and weekend inter-city getaways.This is bad policy. Bad policy. Bad policy.*****Kudos to the Policy Frog for his pointed assault on Manitoba Public Insurance for its poor decision not to fund a bike safety program. MPI is all about vehicle safety, or so says MPI spokesman Brian Smiley. Yes, but it's really about a whole lot more than that.I have been waging a lonely battle in the dead-tree FP to get MPI to explain its lack of effective programming in the area of road safety. MPI will (correctly IMHO) impose immobilizers on the driving public, but it won't help fund the reconstruction of black-spot intersection, the erection of new signage or traffic signals, or the addition of "rumble strips" and barriers on our highways. Why? According to MPI, it's outside the crown corporation's mandate.Really? Let's look at what's in the mandate: Funding crown attorneys to prosecute car thieves; advertising on radio programs (anyone take note of the 'MPI traffic reports' that litter the airwaves each morning and evening; and my favourite, driver education.In one previous examination of this issue, I found out that MPI did a study of the efficacy of its own driver ed program, and found what other studies worldwide have found: kids who take driver's ed get into more accidents on average than those who don't. It's a complex equation, but the best theory is that kids that take DE driver sooner and with more confidence, and as a result they take more risks, get into more accidents. Road safety advocates believe that in addition to DE, insurance companies should drop feel-good promotional activities (like giveaways for charity golf tournaments) and start funding intersection re-design and highway patrol units.There is a big problem with MPI and what it considers in and out of its mandate. Nice work Frog.*****More wifi ranting? You bet.Tried to hook up through my Telus Hotspot account. I maintain several to give me maximum coverage. The system is down in downtown this morning, the nice man on the Hotspot customer service 800-number tells me. Okay, can you credit me an extra day? Sure, I'll give you a number that will access a 24-hour coupon to be used anytime. Okey-dokey - can you email me the number?Nope, he says. Don't have access to the Internet where I am.Shut the front door, once again! So let's review my recent wifi experiences:There was the city-owned Winnipeg Convention Centre that wanted to charge $100 for two days of access, and couldn't allow you to sign up on line - you had to call the business office.Then there was the restaurant downtown that shut down its wifi over lunch to stop cheap-ass wifi junkies from accessing it during the busiest part of the day, ignoring that some paying customers also want wifi;And now, a Telus Hotspot customer service rep that doesn't have access to the Internet.I'm getting out the tin cans and the string. Less range, more reliable.-30-

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About Dan Lett

Dan Lett came to Winnipeg in 1986, less than a year out of journalism school.

Despite the fact that he’s originally from Toronto and has a fatal attraction to the Maple Leafs, Winnipeggers let him stay.

In the following years, he has worked at bureaus covering every level of government – from city hall to the national bureau in Ottawa.

He has had bricks thrown at him in riots following the 1995 Quebec referendum, wrote stories that helped in part to free three wrongly convicted men, met Fidel Castro, interviewed three Philippine presidents, crossed several borders in Africa illegally, chased Somali pirates in a Canadian warship and had several guns pointed at him.

In other words, he’s had every experience a journalist could even hope for. He has also been fortunate enough to be a two-time nominee for a National Newspaper Award, winning in 2003 for investigations.

Other awards include the B’Nai Brith National Human Rights Media Award and nominee for the Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism.

Now firmly rooted in Winnipeg, Dan visits Toronto often but no longer pines to live there.

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