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One big commandment

Re: Offer made to settle Katz case? (Dec. 10). When someone is elected to public office and given control of our collective money, there is one overarching commandment: Thou shalt not write cheques to thine own self. This isn't some obscure, arcane bit of cryptically written small print in the back of the contract. This is the biggie.

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Sam Katz knew this. He also knew that he owned Hu's Asian Bistro. He knew the city would be picking up the tab for the meal. If he didn't actually make the decision himself, then he should have acted to stop it.

If he had any intention of rectifying the situation, he would already have done it. This is as clear and blatant an abuse of his office as there can possibly be. The only thing that's missing here is scale.

However, saying "it's only $2,915" is no excuse. That may be lunch money for some folks, but for others it's an annual grocery budget. But back to the point: It isn't his money, and if he can't keep his hands off the small budget items, then what about the big ones? Should he be trusted with those?

The laws regarding this are just and wise and appropriately strict. If you steal the lunch money, we take the chequebook away from you. We don't confiscate your house and belongings and toss you out in the street. We wouldn't likely throw you in jail. Heck, we probably won't even ask for the lunch money back. We will just simply take the abused responsibilities away from you.

Draconian? Hardly.



Missing a lesson

Re: Selinger worst fiscal manager: think-tank (Dec. 7). It is my understanding that Premier Greg Selinger received his PhD in economics from the London School of Economics. If so, he failed to learn one important lesson: that is, you cannot continue to spend more than you earn.

If you do, it will come back to bite you. The "you" being the youth of this province.



Blame private sector

I always enjoy Michael Madigan's column from Australia for a peek into life and politics Down Under. But he is dead wrong when he states that overpaid government workers are to blame for the financial woes in Portugal, Spain and Ireland (Australians peering nervously over their own fiscal cliff, Dec. 7).

In fact, it was, as in the U.S., government bailouts of private-sector excesses that led to their misery. Look it up. Even in Greece, the public sector was only a small part of the problem, for they had a weak economy with little to export and widespread tax evasion to begin with. Greece should never have been allowed to change over to the euro in the first place.



Out of touch with reality

It's ironic that right below Lisa Lewis's Dec. 8 letter suggesting that Brian Pallister's extravagant home purchase reveals a disconnect with many working people is a letter from Alex Fedorchuk confirming that many right-wing conservatives are out of touch with reality.

In what imagined universe will we find people on government handouts, employment insurance or welfare who can afford to purchase a $2-million home? Fortunately, the U.S. electorate had the good sense to reject such neo-conservative nonsense.



Destined for mediocrity

It does not surprise me that the new Investors Group Field does not have the capacity for large events (Fewer bums in seats at Investors Group, Dec. 8). The way this stadium was rushed to be built, with no real plans or location picked until Greg Selinger latched onto it for votes, meant it was destined for some kind of failure or mediocrity.

With some proper planning and vision, this stadium could have been built for 50,000 people with better access for vehicles and transit.



There is no excuse

I take strong objection to the H-E plus two hockey sticks headline on the Dec. 7 front page. If this were the first time an unsuitable headline had been used, I could perhaps excuse you.

The Free Press is not a rag, it's not junk literature, it's not a pulp magazine; it's a family newspaper. Why do you besmirch your image?



Floating on ice

Re: Getting a grip (Letters, Dec. 7). I would like to enter the winter-tire debate from a different perspective.

A heavy vehicle with the same tire-to-road-surface contact as a lighter vehicle will have greater traction. This is why buses and heavy trucks with a greater weight-to-tire-area ratio than smaller vehicles have better control.

The worst development for winter driving was the introduction of the so-called performance tire. With its wider tread and therefore greater surface area, lighter vehicles with these tires will seem to float on the ice and snow.

So before the Manitoba government forces motorists to spend $800 for winter tires, plus $200 a year for changeovers, I hope it will first study this tire-to-road pressure factor.



A wrong assumption

Re: Who, what exactly is CNOOC? (Editorials, Dec. 6). The insistence on taking a precautionary approach to dealing with any Chinese company is a welcome call from the Free Press. But the major shortcoming in this editorial is the underlying assumption that we need companies to be investing in the tar sands.

If Nexen is failing, let it fail. It is wrong to be thinking the tar sands will be the solution to our dwindling supplies of oil. We need to be learning how to wean ourselves from our addiction to oil and how we start building a post-oil economic model based on sustainable energy generation.



Sending asbestos message

Your Dec. 5 article Asbestos leads to school closure has brought my attention to this issue. I am a student at a different school. Our school does not have this problem. Any school, however, can get it.

This article is great because it sends a message to other schools that they might want to check for asbestos to maintain the safety of their students. Parents are also involved in this because it's their children at risk. Please keep health issues of schools in the news, as it will not only affect schools, but children, parents and even people who live close by.



One in a million

Re: Owl be going now (Dec. 5). Millions of people take pictures but few produce art. Congratulations, Boris Minkevich, on a magnificent photograph.




Ruth Bonneville's photo of the upside-down snowman (That's using your head!, Dec. 5) brought a smile to my face. A big bouquet to the family on Sheppard Street for giving us a light moment.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 11, 2012 A13

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