Judy: 3 X 4 = 12

- October 10th, 2014

It may come as no surprise to some, but it appears mayoral candidate Judy Wasylycia-Leis doesn’t know how to count.
Caught in an embarrassing moment during Thursday’s mayoralty debate, Wasylycia-Leis said her competitor Gord Steeves was “fearmongering” because of his claims that the former NDP MP was planning to raise property taxes by 12%.
Wasylycia-Leis has pledged to increase property taxes by 3% a year over the next four years.
However, it appears she needs some work on her times tables. Wasylycia-Leis couldn’t seem to figure out that a 3% property each year over the next four years results in a 12% tax hike.
“My good friend Gord here is doing a Sam Katz and he’s out there fearmongering,” said Wasylycia-Leis sitting next to Steeves and waiving her arms frantically.
“I drove here tonight, there was this huge billboard suggesting Judy’s going to raise your taxes by 12%,” said Wasylycia-Leis.
Um, yeah. That’s what you’re promising Judy.
“It’s dishonest and it’s fearmongering and I’d like to know why he’s engaged in these kinds of tactics that only produce cynicism among our young people and the electorate,” she said.
Oh, boy.
Just when you thought you’d seen the Full Judy, she does this.
Steeves couldn’t contain his laughter. But he did respond.
“I’m not an actuarial but what I did is I took the 3% and I multiplied it by the four years and I came up with the 12%,” said Steeves, prompting howls of laughter from the candidates and the studio audience. “I could run it again on my calculator if you like.”
An honest guffaw by Judy, or does she just have trouble with basic arithmetic?
Because last time I checked, 3 times 4 is 12.
“If it’s wrong I blame my campaign manager,” said Steeves. “But I’m pretty sure it’s right.”
Actually, Wasylycia-Leis’ original tax pledge when she kicked off her campaign in the summer was to raise property taxes at the combined rate of inflation and population growth. The media panel Thursday reminded her that under that calculation, a property tax increase would be about 3.5%, or 14% over four years.
“Wait a second, is it three and half?” said Steeves to more laughter. “I gotta change my billboards.”
The truth is, we don’t know how high taxes will go under Judy because she doesn’t even know that 3 times 4 is 12.
And she doesn’t appear to care. Her solution to city hall’s financial troubles is to jack up property taxes every year. She’s not interested in finding savings within city hall, including from its bloated bureaucracy. She just wants to dig deeper into taxpayers’ pockets.
She’s a New Democrat and that’s what NDPers believe in. That’s why when she was a cabinet minister in the 1980s her government jacked up the PST to 7%. And it’s why her government on Broadway increased that tax again to 8% last year.
I just wish Judy could work on her math a bit.

Video: Wasylycia-Leis’ (Every voter should watch this)

- September 5th, 2014

Speed limits in school zones: How it happened

- August 31st, 2014

Four years ago I was on a media panel during a 2010 televised mayoral debate and I asked candidates if they would bring in reduced speed limits for school zones if elected mayor.
Winnipeg was the only Western Canadian city that didn’t have reduced speed limits in school zones and it seemed like a no-brainer that we should bring them in. So I raised it as an issue. And both frontrunner candidates Sam Katz and Judy Wasylycia-Leis agreed it was a good idea and that it should be pursued. Story here.

The issue continued to gain momentum after the election. We followed up with Katz on his pledge.
We then had to get the province to agree because an amendment to the Highway Traffic Act was required. So we started with Premier Greg Selinger and got him on board during the 2011 provincial election.
We continued to push the idea at the provincial level.

We got success on Broadway.

And enabling legislation to reduce speed limits in school zones became law in September, 2013.

school zones
This week, motorists will have to slow down in marked school zones or face hefty fines. I find most motorists already drive with caution around elementary schools when kids are around. This new law is for those who don’t.
It took four years to get this done. But Mayor Sam Katz, Premier Greg Selinger and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton can take credit for finally making it a reality. Who knows, maybe it will save a kid’s life one day.

Winnipeggers want a vote on BRT

- June 24th, 2014

The vast majority of Winnipeggers want the democratic right to vote on Phase 2 of Bus Rapid Transit, according to a Probe Research poll conducted this month.
And if a referendum were held, a majority of Winnipeggers would vote against it, the poll found.
I wonder what the results would have been if politicians like mayor Sam Katz and Coun. Jenny Gerbasi actually told taxpayers the truth about this project — that the P3 Canada Fund money earmarked for it would not be lost if spent on other infrastructure and that the city has no evidence whatsoever that BRT, as proposed, would do anything to increase ridership.
If city council came clean with the public on those facts, the poll numbers in opposition to this hare-brained project would be even higher.
According to the poll, 71% of respondents want a referendum on BRT. In fact, many of those who support the project still believe taxpayers have a democratic right to vote on it.
If a plebiscite were held today, 53% would vote against BRT as it’s currently planned, the poll suggests. It’s interesting that people living in the core area of Winnipeg — who rely on transit the most — were slightly more inclined to vote against the BRT plan than the city overall.
And it’s not just high-income people who drive expensive vehicles and who never take transit who said they were opposed to the city’s BRT plan.
Some 58% of those earning less than $30,000 said they were not in favour of the BRT plan as currently proposed. That compares to 42% of those earning $30,000 to $99,000 and 43% among those earning over $100,000 a year, the poll found.
University students and those living in southwest Winnipeg were more inclined to support the BRT plan.
If this city had an honest debate about BRT, the “No” side would rise even further. Because if the facts about this project were released and honestly debated, more people would come to the logical conclusion that this is one of the biggest capital project guffaws this city has ever seen.
Imagine spending $590 million on a transit project that will do nothing to increase ridership and will do very little, if anything, to increase the travel times of commuters?
It’s incredible council has approved such a plan in the face of that information. But the reality of this project is that it’s proceeding for psychological reasons, not for rational, evidence-based ones. It’s proceeding because it’s political fashion for politicians like Gerbasi who embrace something like BRT, no matter how poorly conceived and designed.
You can read the full poll here

Lame-duck mayor is lying about BRT money

- June 23rd, 2014

Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz is lying to the public when he says P3 funding from the federal and provincial governments earmarked for Bus Rapid Transit would be lost if it doesn’t go into BRT.
It’s simply not true.
But this is the argument the lame-duck mayor is trotting out in response to anyone who says the $590 million city council wants to spend on Phase 2 of BRT should go into the city’s crumbling infrastructure instead.
Some of the more level heads in this city are questioning why we’re building a rapid transit corridor with questionable to no benefits when the infrastructure we already have is falling apart. It’s like putting a pool in your backyard when the roof of your home has holes in it and your basement foundation is leaking.
Katz says the $365 million that could be coming from the province and Ottawa for BRT would be unavailable for anything else — including street maintenance — if it’s not spent on BRT.
“Let me make it very clear … the $225 million from the provincial government and hopefully $140 million from federal government are for this project only and no other project whatsoever,” Katz said at a council meeting in late May. “If we don’t use it for this project, you can wave goodbye to that money.”

Actually, Katz is dead wrong. Under the federal P3 Canada Fund, local governments can use the infrastructure funding for a wide range of projects, including local roads, airport upgrades, broadband support, solid waste management and transit, to name a few.
Here is one of the categories P3 Canada Fund money can be spent on:

11. Local Road Infrastructure
i) Additional capacity and rehabilitation of roads within a municipal boundary, and high-occupancy and/or transit vehicle lanes, grade separations, interchange structures, bridges, tunnels, intersections, and roundabouts. Where provinces or territories act as a local government, or where there is a governing entity that is established by a province or territory, such projects are eligible
ii) Infrastructure pursuant to compliance with accessibility, such as wheel chair let down
iii) Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS)
iv) Active transportation projects, including sidewalks, bicycle lanes, pedestrian/bike/multi-use pathways as a component of a larger project
v) Rehabilitation of bridges and major elevated or depressed structures (except those on the core National Highway System which are eligible under the National Highway System Category)
Note: Rehabilitation projects must meet the definition of ‘rehabilitation’ as agreed upon by the Council of Ministers responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety in 2005.

So Katz is wrong when he says the money would be lost if it wasn’t spent on BRT. He knows that but he’s deliberately not telling the public the truth. After 10 years in office, it’s become abundantly clear that openness and transparency has not been one of Katz’s strengths. It’s one of the reasons he has plummeted in the polls and has become unelectable, which is why he’s not running again.
The bottom line is P3 funding can be used for a wide variety of infrastructure projects and Ottawa has left it up to local governments to decide how best to spend their share. If Winnipeg and the province want to spend their share on fixing the city’s crumbling infrastructure, they can.