Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 07/12/2014 1:00 AM | Comments: 0
The roads to recovery
Re: Manitoba's shameful roads (Letters, July 7). Letter-writers Guy Whitehill and Ed Bailey highlight the difference in governance between the two states (Minnesota/North Dakota) and our province.
The July 2 article Good ol' Fargo coming up fast, meanwhile, depicts a state with substantial business growth, an unemployment rate of around two per cent and tax cuts of almost $2.4 billion since 2009, and with an existing surplus of $500 million.
Infrastructure is first-class, well beyond anything we could expect. And, of course, they too have floods.
Looking at our city and province, we have billions in infrastructure deficits and debt, taxes among the highest in the country, and a litany of excuses year after year.
We have a civic election forthcoming, with candidates espousing they have the cure without providing details, and never questioning how we got into this state in the first place.
Here's a hint: Look at the recent provincial and civic public-sector salary/compensation disclosure documents.
Flood a federal issue
As a resident of the RM of St. Laurent and an owner of a beachfront property, a town property and a farm, the flood and all its related issues are of great concern to me.
As a farmer, we manage, pay more taxes and don't complain. As a town property owner, the RM of St. Laurent has kept non-beach residents in the dark. As a beach property owner, the province has kept us informed and treated us fairly.
Cottages have been lifted, and permanent residents living near the water have been compensated (rightfully so) and have rebuilt. The federal government won't support cottage owners, so the burden falls on the provincial taxpayers alone. Meanwhile, they have allowed the emergency channel to be opened, which should help, but should have allowed it to be opened sooner.
As was the case in 1997 and in 2011, this isn't only Manitoba water, which makes it a federal issue. It's high time the Harper government step up to the plate properly this time -- a quick visit and photo op just don't cut it.
A sign of the times
Re: Flooding's bad enough without the gawkers (July 11). Who exactly do Laurie and Brian Wolfe think they are? They've been "forced" to put up a sign shaming people to keep driving if they didn't bring dinner or come to sandbag?
Who are they to make people feel guilty about simply looking at something like their flooded property? The situation sucks, your property is flooded -- but it certainly doesn't give you the right to dictate what other people do.
Perhaps a sign with a more pleasant message would garner better results.
Wuskwatim details needed
In Time is right for an independent energy authority in Manitoba (July 9), Dennis Woodford repeats what many before him have stated on these pages: that Wuskwatim ended up at a cost double the original estimate.
While this is technically correct as based on the publicized values at the beginning and the end of the construction period, the comparison is misleading. To make a meaningful comparison, it's necessary to know the history of, and provide certain details about, the cost estimate, notably about the cost item labelled "contingency."
This item normally comprises several elements; the one element of particular importance here is the provisional amount to protect against cost overrun. This is an amount over and above the expected cost of the project, is decided upon by upper management, and can be huge.
While Woodford is bang-on when he states "(the Wuskwatim) scheme went astray," only an independent, post-mortem audit can determine the scope of the fiasco. Indications are Wuskwatim ended up costing four times as much as it should have. Add to that the all-too-apparent half-billion-dollar boondoggle at Pointe du Bois, and it's safe to say those in position to order independent audits of the two projects, but have failed to do so, are not doing their job.
No benefit to provincial review
I don't believe there is much to be gained by city council asking the provincial justice department to review the Ernst & Young audit (City to province: review audit, July 10).
By all accounts, this audit is uncomplimentary toward council about its handling of real estate transactions. It's now up to council to thoroughly examine its actions to determine where it failed and make the necessary adjustments.
It seems clear that council was not diligent in its dealings to ensure taxpayer dollars yielded full value for expenditure, and doesn't need the province to underscore this failure. After all, erecting a council-commissioned structure on land council didn't own is a failure so obvious it doesn't require provincial scrutiny.
City councillors are elected to represent the interests of the taxpayers, and should do their job without having to rely on outside monitoring of its actions.
Ukraine poet deserves his due
Re: Shevchenko deserves recognition (Letters, July 11). Taras Shevchenko already has plenty of recognition -- there's the huge statue on the legislative grounds and a park at the corner of Burrows Avenue and McGregor Street. Do we need to name a street after him as well?
There's another Ukrainian hero who could use the recognition -- his name is Ivan Franko. He was an important political figure, he translated Shakespeare's plays (and other authors) into Ukrainian, and was a poet and writer himself.
His only recognition is that there's an apartment building named after him.
Rational leadership needed
Re: Rediscover values that once made Arab world great (July 7). What an amazing assessment of the current political, economic and religious situations in certain parts of our global village today.
It is a desperate call and challenge for real rational leadership.
Thank you for printing this article -- it was a revelation.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 12, 2014 A16
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