Nenshi advises silence in hopes that fallout from sexual assault case goes away.

 

nenshi

In what appears to be one of the most scandalous and criminal issues to come from Calgary City Hall in years we have a response from Mayor Naheed Nenshi that is as scandalous as the issue itself; Nenshi has told council members to shut up in hopes that it goes away.

 

Rather than express outrage, rather than call for further inquiry, rather than at least express remorse over the issue, Naheed Nenshi has chosen to send an email to the other members of city council advising them not to speak to the public about this issue.

 

 

A woman while employed by the City of Calgary had been sexually assaulted repeatedly by her supervisor so many times that an arbitrator has ruled that she should be compensated $800,000 (not that any dollar amount can fix this). It appears that her attempts to end the assaults were ignored and possibly even covered up by her superiors. A tremendous hole in city procedure has been exposed here at the least. We should not be quietly wondering how this happened, we should be screaming and demanding to find out how this outrage happened and ensuring that this can never happen again! Instead of such strong demands, Calgary’s Mayor’s first response has been to try and get people to stop talking about it.

 

 

While hysterics and witch-hunts are not what we need in response to this issue, at the very least we need some open and frank discussion on this and we need it right now, not later. Deferral is a specialty of city hall and we can’t let that happen on something this important. The first step in trying to indefinitely defer an issue is to try and get people to stop talking about it. Nenshi knows this quite well.

 

 

Does Naheed Nenshi understand that it is a culture of gagging people on these issues that allows this to happen? Telling others to shut up is exactly what happened to facilitate the ongoing horror that this poor woman endured and it appears that Nenshi’s first instinct is to try to quietly cover up the issue rather than shine a large public spotlight upon it to expose the ugliness. This is an even bigger issue than the overpopulation of white people in city hall that Nenshi described his dislike of.

 

 

As with any problem that people get squeamish to address (such as addiction for example), the hardest but most important part is to admit that there is a problem in the first place. No more silence, no more excuses, no studies or committees are required here. That this incident happened repeatedly and over such a period demonstrates without question that there is a major problem in the management of City Hall. It is time to spread the cleansing light of true transparency (that buzz word that Nenshi pays lip service to but hasn’t followed through on) upon City Hall’s procedures and practices for sexual harassment. Most large administrations ironed this sort of thing out fairly well in the 1980s but clearly Calgary needs more work here. We need to open things up to see where the rot is but in order to do so we need leadership that is ready to speak to the issue to the public rather than hide it as Nenshi did with his request to city council members stating: “I would very strongly suggest not speaking to the media,”

 

 

In municipal politics, we have no official opposition that helps ensure responsibility on the part of government management. We in the public rely upon the media to at least report on issues so we can see a snapshot of what is going on in there. To suggest that our elected officials refuse to speak to the media (public) on such a critical issues is nothing less than abhorrent.

 

 

Having stepped into it on this issue, I am sure that Nenshi will be returning from Switzerland with a prepared statement full of flowery terms speaking of changing the “culture” of city hall in the pursuit of more “inclusiveness” and “vibrancy” and such. I am sure that part of Nenshi’s attempt to silence councilors on this issue was to ensure that they didn’t dare take a leadership role and address the issue before Nenshi himself could climb to the pulpit and tell us all why and how he will make it all better.

 

 

There is more to leadership than tweeting witty quips and hamming for cameras at every ribbon-cutting and festival in the city. Sometimes a leader has to take on some tough issues and they have to do it publicly and openly.

 

 

We have seen the first instinct from Nenshi on this critical issue and his instinct was to try and hush people up. That in itself is very telling and the sensitive and carefully crafted words that are sure to come from him soon on the issue will be ringing rather hollow in light of his initial response.

 

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Rookie Calgary Councilor Evan Woolley jumps on the anti-auto bandwagon.

Macleod Trail

Emboldened by the knowledge that Calgary city hall is actually stupid enough to pursue a plan to close a lane on Macleod Trail to make a bike track for an inconsequential number of cyclists, newly elected hipster in chief Evan Woolley has decided to make his first mark on city hall by upping the anti-car idiocy ante by proposing that 11th and 12th avenues be changed from the currently efficient and highly utilized one way streets that they are into two way streets. Those familiar with Calgary’s downtown know that both of those avenues are critical for commuting east to west without having to actually enter the core. The proposal defies all common sense unless of course one’s intention is to actually hinder our already congested traffic further.

Wooley did a number of interviews where he tossed out some anecdotes and vaguely referenced a supposed demand by businesses in the area to make the road two way. Woolley even admitted that he likely would earn the ire of traffic engineers (people who deal in facts) with his absurd proposal.

One way streets greatly increase traffic flow in that they allow for better synchronization of the traffic lights and vehicles are not held up by left turning traffic. One way streets are also much safer for both pedestrians and vehicles as there are far fewer points of potential conflict as demonstrated by the image below.

onewaysafe

Cars idle less on one-way streets as the traffic flows with many less starts and stops thus saving energy and reducing emissions so any “green” case against one-way streets holds no water.

There were vapid mumblings with the usual buzzwords about “walkability” and the ever important “vibrancy” but really there is no case to support this inane proposal to choke traffic in Calgary’s beltline. Really folks, do you fear to walk in areas with one way streets? Is that what keeps you in the house? Let’s get real here.

One of my favorite literary characters is Sherlock Holmes and one of his most famous quotes was: “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” There is no case for traffic flow, environment, costs or safety in changing these streets. What remains is an ideological agenda to hinder automotive movement by any means possible and Evan Woolley is clearly on that path here.

In that area we have 10 St, 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th,19th and 20th streets that are all two way, all are horrible for traffic and all can contain that ever elusive “vibrancy” if need be. Those streets will all become much more congested if Woolley has his way as well and I suspect that “walkable vibrancy” may be lost as frustrated drivers speed down those congested streets.

17th Avenue is a perfect example of what will happen if these streets are changed as Woolley wants to do. The word for that avenue is gridlock and people avoid traveling down it in droves.

People will not all jump on bicycles and ride transit no matter how hard you harass automotive users Evan. People will simply move further from the core and will stay away whenever possible. Hardly leads to a “vibrant” community in the long run and actually encourages that evil “sprawl” that the hipster set so dearly loves to decry.

This is still only Mr. Woolley’s first year as a city councilor. Perhaps this notion was simply a rookie error as he got taken up in his ideological zeal for a moment. If this is a sign of Evan’s thinking in years to come, I think Brian Pincott may have a competitor for the most ideologically extreme member of Calgary city council and that is saying quite a bit.

Evan will be asking for tax dollars to study this foolishness and rest assured a more formal pitch will be coming soon. We can safely assume that they will want to plant some bike tracks on there while they are at it too. Calgarians had best speak up and slap Mr. Woolley into some reality here sooner rather than later or it may make for a tough 4 years in office for Mr. Woolley and Calgarians alike. We have 140,000 downtown commuters and they need to get to work and back.

More resources on one-way streets vs. two-way can be found below.

http://www.i2i.org/articles/2-2005.pdf

http://www.epa.gov/otaq/stateresources/policy/transp/tcms/traff_improv.pdf

http://www.ite.org/membersonly/itejournal/pdf/Jha98a47.pdf

 

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Calgary secret taxi police to set up sting operations! Priorities indeed.

taxi

The antics of Calgary City Hall never fail to amaze and depress a person. The city of Calgary has actually strangled taxi licenses so much over the years that “gypsy” cabs have been appearing to provide transportation to stranded and desperate Calgarians. In response to this issue, rather than address the gross shortage of taxis in Calgary, city hall’s top livery bureaucrat is threatening “grotesque fines” and even says there is a “covert operation” where these evil and uncontrolled drivers may be caught and charged for daring break Calgary’s archaic taxi laws. In Nenshi’s Calgary the truth is indeed often stranger than fiction.

Despite numbers painting a clear and hard reality that Calgary has a desperate shortage of taxis, Calgary’s city council still inexplicably continues to make excuses rather than pursue the rather simple and obvious solution of just issuing more damned licenses. Councilor Shane (Mr. Flipflop) Keating has spoken of a bizarre concept of temporarily deputizing drivers at peak times while most of the rest of council has stayed oddly silent on this issue.

Mayor Nenshi has gotten outright belligerent. A person innocently tweeted him to ask about this circumstance and got the arrogant and snotty response from Nenshi pictured below.

nenshisnot

It’s just snowstorms Nenshi? Don’t recall many of them during Stampede or summer concerts. People should really expect at least some courtesy when they ask our mayor on a real and pressing city issue.

Why is it so complicated to simply release more licenses? Why are taxis so special and coddled as opposed to other businesses? Do we regulate how many restaurants per capita Calgary has? Car dealerships? Jewelers?

Excuses abound from Calgary’s city council. Even St. Nenshi has laid out the rather weak excuse that Calgary has a dispatch problem and suggests that changes to license regulations are needed rather than admit that we have a shortage of cabs.

The numbers make the fact undeniable (despite Calgary City Council’s denials).  CALGARY HAS A TAXI SHORTAGE!!!!

Let’s look at the simple numbers here. In 1986 Calgary had 1311 taxis servicing a population of 640,000 making a taxi to person ratio of 1-488. Today Calgary has about 1500 taxis (city just added 55 precious new licenses) servicing nearly 1,150,000 people making a taxi to person ratio of 1-767. While the city population has nearly doubled, the number of taxis allowed has grown by less than 15%! If we are to insist on treating taxis like some special, precious commodity that needs such direct management we should at least increase the numbers to reflect population growth.

The density obsessed in Calgary’s city hall love to try and point to New York City as some sort of density paradise where people eschew cars. Well in New York City the cab ratio is about 1 for every 159 people. That ratio goes to 1-117 in Manhattan. That is around 650% more taxis per capita than we have in Calgary. How do they expect people to quit using personal vehicles when city council insists on strangling transportation alternatives? I assure you, folks are not flocking to the damned bike lanes in January.

How much longer do we need to see these headlines before our oddly silent city council will act on this very simple problem?

Temporary taxi stand idea aims to alleviate Stampede travel headaches (the stands were scrapped shortly afterwards and were an utter failure)

Excuses keep coming for Calgary’s taxi ‘service’ even when the cabs themselves clearly aren’t.

People had three hour waits for taxis at Calgary’s airport last week and many resorted to renting cars in desperation. While Calgary City Hall spends $500,000 on idiotic blue ring lightpost “art” in order to make us “world class”, we can’t apparently get our visitors out of the airport. While there may be outright dozens of folks drawn to visit our fine “Peace Bridge”, I can assure you that thousands of visitors got a bad taste in their mouths as their first impression of Calgary was waiting for hours to get out of the airport. World class indeed.

City addresses cab shortage concerns with the start of Ramadan

Yes, rather than address the shortage by putting more taxis on the street, the city erected a prayer tent for drivers. Brilliant.

Calgary cabbies buck bylaw, ignore customer calls a third of the time. Bottom line here is that taxi drivers are taking advantage of the critical cab shortage. They are purposely ignoring short trips from dispatch in order to cherry pick the more lucrative ones. The consumer as always loses.

Want a taxi New Year’s? One public official says… ‘Give up!’

The above advice applies to Flames games, concerts, Stampede of course, pretty much any last call on a weekend or any other time that more than an average number of people may want a taxi. You are not advised to wait a little longer, you are advised that it is hopeless.

The bottom line is that Calgary has a critical shortage of taxis. The next time a city official whether elected or not tries to claim otherwise, call bullshit on them and point them here. This is a simple problem with a simple solution.

With the vigor that many in city hall put into protecting the broken status quo in taxi management in Calgary, one is forced to wonder just who’s palms are getting greased here. To go to the point of sting operations for possible illegal operators? Unreal.

Calgary needs more taxis! Nothing less will address this chronic issue.

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