Stories Of Awe And Wonder

By Ian Paulson

(WINDSOR, ON) – A few things have been troubling me of late. Too much to address in an in-depth manner, so here I have touched on the important points of each one.

Dogs Walk On Their Hind Legs

Strange days indeed. My colleague was impressed with Anne Jarvis’ column “Asleep At The Switch” and gave her an “Atta Boy” for pointing out that the AG Fiasco ultimately lies with Windsor Council and the mayor (although she did not dwell too much on the mayor’s role). She also committed Windsor Blasphemy when she noted that Alan Halberstadt has been the only Councilor to be leading the way in representing tax payers.

I’m not quite convinced yet as two things are obvious.

  1. Jarvis has yet to connect the dots for the final picture and to call for the mayor’s resignation, not only from his numerous positions on local agencies, boards, and committees, but from the mayor’s seat as well.
  2. The Jarvis article appears to be in response to the continual pressure provided by the writers at The Square. I am sure that the Star would never have permitted her column to see the light of day had it not been for The Square leading the way in investigative reporting.

Let’s go Anne. You have just one more step to take. Do it and make me a believer.

Value For Money

The outside lawyer representing the City in the AG Fiasco, George King, made a strange comment.

“The contract was clear that he get six months pay (if fired),” King said Wednesday. “That was offered and rejected. I’ll wait anxiously to see the claim and will vigorously defend against it.

“We are satisfied in his contract there was nothing there that says he has to be given reasons.” (D Battagello, Windsor Star, 1 March 2012)

King has admitted that Todd Langlois was entitled, by contract, to receive six-months pay (if fired). Why would it then be “offered and rejected”? Langlois’ lawyer, Jim Cooke, has stated that there were conditions that accompanied the offer of six-months pay, outside of the employment contract.

My client is told that he will receive no severance pay, and has not received any severance pay, unless he signs a release which is effectively a gag order and requires him to release any and every claim he may have against the city.

In the release, he’s told he cannot disclose the terms of his severance. Nevertheless, the same nameless sources that disparaged my client anonymously, also disclosed exactly what the contract says about the severance pay. (J Cooke, Press Conference, 3 February 2012)

If the contract was “clear” to George King, then why is there a law suit that has to be “vigorously” defended?

If this is the type of legal representation for which the City is paying $600 an hour, are tax payers getting value for money in this regard? Well, we no longer have an Auditor General to look into the outside legal services the City receives. How convenient.

Transparency In Government

As regular readers of The Square, you may remember that writers here, from time to time, make reference an organization known as J-Source. If you’re not aware of them, J-Source is the Canadian Journalism Project and is a collaboration between the Canadian Journalism Foundation and leading journalism schools from across Canada.

On 29 February, Belinda Alzner posted an article by Ryerson University journalism professor Ivor Shapiro, detailing the erosion of the freedom of the press provisions as stipulated within Section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The preamble of Shapiro’s article describes, in sarcastic tones, how politicians in Canada wouldn’t dare to “stand in the way of truthful reporting”.

Three journalists were killed in Syria last week: capital punishment for the crime of witnessing and describing current events. How sad for the benighted third world, and how lucky for sunlit us, that no one ever stops a Canadian reporter from doing her job. Lucky us that here, information of public importance can be pursued without unreasonable impediment. Here, stories are vigorously told without fear or favour, and while politicians, police and bureaucrats may not like those stories, they dare not be seen as standing in the way of truthful reporting. After all, this country’s citizenry, and their courts, guard no right more jealously than the right to express even the most obnoxious views. (I Shapiro, J-Source, 29 February 2012)

I just had to comment on the article.

“Lucky us that here, information of public importance can be pursued without unreasonable impediment. Here, stories are vigorously told without fear or favour, and while politicians, police and bureaucrats may not like those stories, they dare not be seen as standing in the way of truthful reporting.”

Your opening paragraph struck a chord with us here in Windsor. We at the Windsor Square have requested numerous times to be added to the City of Windsor’s distribution list for media announcements and news releases. Continually we have been denied the basic custom enjoyed by those in the traditional media and many of those engaged in online reporting. You see, our politicians and City Administration do stand in the way of the Windsor Square being able to provide our readership with “truthful reporting”.

The powers that be are seen every day to be standing in the way by providing unreasonable impediment of stories they do not want the public to know, especially if it is contrary to their official dogma.

The Toronto Star thought they had it tough with Rob Ford. He’s a pussy-cat when compared to Eddie Francis.

Why would I say that? Probably because of The Square’s numerous attempts (and just as many denials) to be placed on the City’s distribution list for media announcements and news releases. A pretty standard procedure, especially for those committed to full disclosure and transparency in government.

From: Ian
Sent: Tuesday, February 21, 2012 8:19 PM
To: Braido, Jill
Subject: Accreditation

Hi Jill,

I did not receive an out of office reply (as required by the City’s Customer Service Standards guidelines when an employee is away) to my last email to you so I assume that you did receive and read it. I should bring it to your attention that those same guidelines direct that all written correspondence is to be replied to within three business days.

Would you please inform me as to the decision that has been made in regards to whether the request from the Windsor Square will, or will not, be conveyed to us.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to a positive reply.

Ian

RE: Accreditation

From: Braido, Jill
Sent:  Wed 22-Feb-12 11:17
To: Ian
CC: Jason Moore

Hi Ian,

I have spoken to my Manager and he has informed me that we are not adding any names to our distribution list right now.  However, the information you’re seeking is available on the city website, through our Facebook account and Twitter.

Thank you for your interest.

Jill

The response is a far cry from being on the “speed dial” that Windsor Star writers enjoy. I just do not see how Jason Moore isn’t adding any names to the distribution list right now. I wonder if Metroland’s new entry into the Windsor media race will receive the same response from the City’s Department of Non-Communication.

Paul Godfrey Off The Mark

Former editor of the Yukon News Richard Mostyn, doesn’t actually mention Paul Godfrey by name, but he is at odds with the head of PostMedia as far as his vision for the future of newspapers in Canada. In a speech to students attending the “Canadian University Press National Conference” in Victoria, BC, Mostyn isn’t sure that what passes for news isn’t necessarily in the best interests of readers.

Do you want to fight tyranny? Or do you want to spend your career chronicling the dangers of dust mites?

It is an important question, because today our industry is in peril.

Look around.

I’m sick of headlines about Katy Perry and Russell Brand. The fact I even know the guy’s name is disturbing.

I am sick of watching cows swept away in floods on the 11 o’clock news. And of inane TV news that is only relevant because somebody happened to shoot tape of the event.

I am a more than a little tired of watching reporters engaging in scrums with politicians, which are useless.

Frankly, I am disenchanted with what passes as journalism these days. (R Mostyn, J-Source, 24 February 2012)

Mostyn could be talking about Chris Vander Doelen when he writes that corners are cut when trying to make deadline.

If we like poodle grooming we can live it all the time without bothering to learn anything about the latest physics breakthrough, the melting of the icecaps or the latest genocide in some far flung republic.

You would think that, with a 24-hour news cycle, such things might get more play.In fact, the opposite is probably true.

It forces us journos to feed the goat at a breakneck pace. We cut corners on fact checking and take virtually every story we can find to fill the time and space. And the audience is swept along in the flood.

Suddenly, the fact Katy Perry is divorcing some guy is news. Or the marriage travails of Tiger Woods. Or the fact that failing to properly wash your sink with bleach can breed killer bacteria. (R Mostyn, J-Source, 24 February 2012)

While the poodle groomers at the Windsor Star may be under the gun to get the latest photos of  “beautiful Bollywood women” online, the whole month that Gord Henderson has taking to weigh in on the AG Fiasco must mean that his facts will be thoroughly checked and beyond question, whenever it is that he finally submits an article. The same could be said for the missing-in-action Star editorial.

What Mostyn doesn’t address is the case of a very close relationship between a political master’s office and the editorial room of the only local daily newspaper.

Development Commission Numbers Don’t Add Up

The Windsor Star reported that the Development Commission has helped to bring “more than $73 million in new investment and 1,355 jobs have been attracted to the region in the past two years”. Those figures seem to only be the gross contribution for all the work done by the Commission.

However, according to Workforce Windsor-Essex the area’s residents are owed a great deal more than the few jobs that have arrived. Question number 4 of a survey of local businesses presents a more dire situation than Ron Gaudet seems to realize.

“Our research shows that almost 10,000 people of working age left Windsor-Essex between 2005 and 2010. Do you agree that this situation is a significant challenge for the region?” (Question 4 of Workforce Windsor-Essex Survey)

While 10,000 jobs have left the area in five years (2,000 per year on average), the Development Commission is proudly boasting of the less than 2,000 has attracted. Of course jobs are only one of the five pillars Gaudet is looking into building.

Only 8,000 jobs to go. That means in another decade Windsor and Essex County will be back to where we were in 2005.

Good work Gaudet. You have a significant challenge ahead of you.

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