An alleged WSD scandal I’m ignoring


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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/08/2015 (2841 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Whoever you are who’s flooding Canada Post with those vicious and vile 12-page diatribes alleging a scandal centred around Winnipeg School Division custodians, you really need to seek some help.

And you really, really need to stop mailing that stuff.

Where in the world are you getting the money for postage and for such high-quality paper?

You must have sent me eight or nine packages over the past couple of years. Just last week, I’ve had three other reporters here bring them over to me, as well as Big Editor (not his real name). I know other people here have received them sporadically, and I’m sure you’re sending them out to other media.

I know you say you’ve sent them to the city police and the Mounties. WSD school board chair Mark Wasyliw told me that the board ordered an investigation, and nothing came of it, and the union told me the same thing.

Nowhere in your printed rant can I find names, dates, schools, anything remotely resembling evidence or substantiation or proof of your allegations and accusations; indeed, as far beyond Watergate as the scandal appears to be, I’m having trouble finding any specific detail.

Fortunately, we recycle paper here.


Meanwhile, someone called me recently to urge me to investigate alleged corruption by a well-respected retired public servant. No, the caller would remain anonymous until he/she read something in the paper to show that I’m investigating. No, he/she dare not identify her/his source, for fear of what retibution would happen. No, she/he could give me nothing on paper to substantiate anything.

Now, said my caller, it’s up to me to go out there and bring this villain to justice.

The problem with such callers, in contrast to the plain brown envelopes which contain real proof, or the whistle-blowers who come forward with their names and documentation to back up their claims, is that checking these out requires an enormous amount of time.

Maybe scandals get missed as a result of my not chasing them down, maybe I am the voice of the overdog, maybe The Establishment owns me, maybe The Man possesses my soul. But I have to weigh these claims against everything else I could be doing, and decide if I should ignore all my other work for a few weeks of sleuthing that may well prove fruitless.

Again, sigh.

A few weeks ago I was doing one of the stories which would benefit from academic expertise, and received some suggestions for profs to contact.

I got great input from BrandonU Prof. Kelly Saunders, who, weird coincidence, has the same name as my PEI expat first cousin in New England. But I digress.

Two of the people to whom I was referred are profs who have in the past been furious with me.

Which leads me to wander off in my ageing mind and wonder, if someone tells me that she/he will have nothing further to do with me, should I keep going back to them from time to time to ask if they’ve changed their minds and will now deign to talk to me?

Regular readers will recall that I note the anniversary each year of Safe Schools Manitoba’s severing all communication with me on April 21, 2005. There is also a young gay rights activist who, after asking mainstream media to be allowed to bow out of the public spotlight, subsequently went on CBC, and when I asked if he was again making himself a public figure, he told me in no uncertain terms that he would thereafter only talk to the CBC, which was doing a special series with him.

Which brings me back to that story a few weeks ago.

One prof to whom I was referred had told me some years ago that he would not be dealing with me any more from that point on, because of our paper’s coverage of the treatment of women faculty in his department.

The other is a prof who reamed me up one side and down the other. She’d sent a student to interview me for his research project, and as I do when I’m asked to take part in academic research, I asked about his ethics review committee and asked to sign the standard form that universities require that live research subjects sign. And he hung up and went back to the prof and told her I’m a jerk who refuses to help students.

Moving on….

Given our penchant for being outdoors in summer and as physically active as possible, we haven’t been watching much TV. Pretty much just the Blue Jays and The National, especially nights when the At Issue panel is on.

So, crotchety senior is ready to rant.

Subway, that creepy lobster fisher guy can totally get on my nerves long before the seventh or eighth time you’ve run that commercial during the same game.

Mazda, we own one of your cars and have owned others — check with your man Gerry — and I’ve seen that commercial umpteen times this summer, in which the kid with the jalopy grows up, marries, has kids, ages, and when he gets a much spiffier and newer set of wheels similar to that jalopy, the commercial tells us to remember when ‘you were you’.

Seriously, Mazda? You’re telling me that as a man who drives a Mazda, that when I got married and when we had kids and when we raised those kids into wonderul, happy adults, that that wasn’t the real I? You’re trying to get me to buy a car on the basis that driving it replaces whatever your corporation believes was not real about me as a husband and father? Let’s talk about this marketing strategy again, the next time we buy a set of wheels.

And Home Hardware, those commercials about a kids’ little league baseball game, in which the Blue Jays’ grounds crew suddenly runs on the field to do the fifth inning thing about new bases and housecleaning the infield, and then out come two Blue Jays who’ll be the guest coaches. And what I’m wondering is, what happens to the real coaches, the men and women who put in countless hours of volunteer time making it possible for these kids to play ball all spring and summer? Were the real coaches aware it was coming and agreed to it, or where they just shunted aside?

Yes, I understand, I know absolutely nothing about marketing and management.


Back briefly to education, which is supposed to be why the WFP gives me all this cyberspace…Here’s an insider tip. You have something you want to get out to the media, hoping for positive coverage. Let me suggest that 3 p.m. is not the ideal time, that most of us have our assignments for the day and deadlines are galloping upon us, and while we’d all drop everything we’re doing should the Martians invade in late afternoon, you could have sent out your news just as easily at 9 a.m. Then, having done the 3 p.m. thing, you list yourself as the contact for more information, but you’re neither at your phone nor are you immediately responsive on e-mail. And the key people involved in a positive project, the people we’d want to interview and photograph, one is away until the end of the month and the other emails the next day to apologize for not having responded the day of the news release, but had been otherwise engaged and not available.

You’re welcome.

We’re driving back from the cottage on Highway 1 in wretched conditions Sunday, and I’m at or below the speed limit, thus feeding the stereotype about slow seniors behind the wheel.

Anyway, up ahead I see there’s a car stopped on the shoulder, and common sense as well as the law dictate that I pull over to the left lane as I pass by. I look, there’s a pickup truck in the left lane about a football field back, and over I go….but as I get closer to the car on the shoulder, I see that the pickup is coming up behind me so fast and not slowing in the slightest that I have to go back into the right lane, as the pickup goes by doing at least 130.

Not all that long later, this time there’s an 18-wheeler on the shoulder with hazard cones set out, I have traffic behind me in my lane but no one in the left lane, plenty of time for all of us to shift over and give the trucker some safe distance as we pass…so over I go, and the car behind me floors it, passes me on the right doing about 120 as it zooms close by the truck, and the vehicle behind that driver pulls into the left lane and similarly floors it, coming up on me at a high rate of speed, though I wasn’t forced back over until having passed the truck.


And as I change gears, which is standard with me…

I understand why Caitlyn Jenner is important, and I remember Bruce Jenner as an Olympic athlete. But I have no idea why, in those intervening decades, various Jenners were so important that they were so often on the covers of magazines and tabloids that the supermarkets think I’m going to buy at the checkout.

Oh, look, I see something shiny!

I really got into the opening episode of Fear the Walking Dead. I deliberately am avoiding looking up the cast on, because I don’t want to find out who doesn’t make it through all six episodes. I got some definite John Carpenter vibes from the abandoned church scenes and some of the soundtrack music, and I was especially pleased to see that they avoided the obvious cliched temptation to suddenly have zombies appear out of nowhere when people were standing around or sitting in their cars.

But…the actor playing the male lead, Cliff Curtis, is a Maori from New Zealand. I understand why English actors in The Walking Dead have to fake southern accents, but the character is a teacher in LA, it’s a melting pot, why not let the guy use his own accent? Why does he have to go American?

And, finally, if anyone is still with me, I took a couple of calls at home from what looked to be a familiar number. I did the usual hello….hello….hello…expecting the telemarketer to finally decide to talk to me and (usually) call me by my wife’s last name, but both times there was only dead air.

So I Googled the number, and it was a charity we support, and a bunch of other people had complained on-line about the dead air calls.

I called the charity the next day, and, amazingly, got a human being who said he fielded lots of complaints about the calls, and even had received such a call at his own home.

He explained how it works. The system dials three numbers at a time, and if one gets answered, it alerts the telemarketer to go into action. The other two, if they answer, are out of luck. Meanwhile, it a person doesn’t answer, the system is set to hang up the first two times it gets voice mail or an answering machine, and the third time to leave a robomessage.

And so, once again you’re a more-informed person, thanks to your daily newspaper.

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