Diplomacy counts.

I rarely use any form of tact, discretion or general diplomacy with political issues as many can attest. I speak my mind to the point of being outright offensive at times. That is due to the fact that I don’t really give a shit who I may or may not offend.

As can be seen below, I think that Katleen Wynne is a dead ringer for Orville Redenbacher and I think that pointing that out in pictures is damned hilarious.

orville

All that being said, I am not an elected official representing a constituency on any level of government. I am simply a blogger with strong opinions who speaks only for himself.

I have little need to be diplomatic in my words or actions. If for some bizarre reason I had Kathleen Wynne over for supper at my place one day though, I likely would not have the picture above put on display and would endeavor to forgo on expounding on my views about how she is a terrible politician who is indeed harming her province and setting a bad example across the nation. It is not that I selectively believe in these things, my views are pretty consistent. I understand however that there is a time and place to share them and even on a household level, a base degree of diplomacy can be called for.

Diplomacy is showing class and respect towards somebody when the situation calls for it even when that person and their actions are odious to you. Hell, it is easy to be diplomatic when it is towards a person you admire. That is why true diplomacy is an art that few can really master.

Diplomacy between governments and their representatives is essential whether on an international level or even down to meetings between municipalities. If you are acting as a host, you had better damn well act with class and respect. Your trade and negotiations in the future rely on it.

I am a strong supporter of the Wildrose Party. I do want to see the Wildrose form the next government of Alberta. One flaw with the party has been it’s rough edges at times which opponents point to in trying to demonstrate that the Wildrose is not the government in waiting.

That flaw was demonstrated in spades yesterday as Wynne was subjected to abuse as a guest of the legislature. Wynne was not just a guest of Notley. Wynne was a guest of the whole damn legislature and that means even opposition members are expected to provide a degree of respect. There were 364 other days when the Wildrose could have attacked Wynne’s policies.

In order to become the party that Albertan’s want to select as their next government, the Wildrose Party will have to mature into that role.

The Wildrose has been a very effective opposition. Unless the party wants to remain in opposition in perpetuity though, they had better start showing a little more decorum as they work to develop into a party that can govern.

This week’s antics have set the Wildrose back in the eyes of Albertans and it will take time and a demonstration of class going forward in order to recover from that.

Worst of all, the actions of the Wildrose party gave that loudmouth asshole Nenshi a new platform to try and bark from as he campaigns for higher office and tries to distract from the legal bill he dumped on Calgarians due to his big damned mouth. That is nearly unforgivable.

Naheed Nenshi and peacock

Act as a government in waiting guys and leave the uncouth partisan attacks to bloggers like me. We will all be better for it in the long run.

 

 

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Calgary’s 12 Ave bicycle track causing nearly 1/4 million extra driving hours per year for commuters

hipbike

The numbers are starting to come in from Calgary’s controversial and expensive bicycle track experiment and they aren’t pretty. Proponents highballed numbers claiming as many as 12,000 cycle commuters per day when pushing for the tracks. They then moved the goalposts to the more realistic couple thousand per day for a baseline when the tracks went in. Despite those number crunching efforts and an extremely mild winter, the cyclist numbers simply are not that impressive. The tiny but vocal cycle lobby has been sadly trying to cherry pick numbers such as a nearly insignificant uptick in female ridership in hopes of claiming success but it is falling on deaf ears for commuters tired of languishing in traffic only to see empty cycle lanes taking up parking and laneways.

Naheed Nenshi said in a radio interview that on 12th Avenue alone the cycle track has added a 2 to 2.5 minutes for drivers to get a short 14 blocks.

While those numbers sound small at a glance, one really needs to look at the cumulative impact of these tracks and in that context they are staggering and bad.

When crunching the numbers and being generous on 12th Ave alone, we see the addition of nearly a quarter million driving hours per year in the city due to the tracks!


12th Avenue SW in Calgary moves between 15,000 and 21,000 cars on an average weekday. It is a very busy avenue on weekends too as it is a main artery. I picked the lower part of the average and used 17,000 cars per day.

In splitting the difference in Nenshi’s numbers, we get an average of 2.25 minutes of driving time per driver due to the tracks which adds up to 637.5 extra automotive hours per day on that road.

When those extra hours are applied over the course of a year, we have 232,687.5 extra hours per year that cars are running on 12 Ave SW due to the empty cycle tracks.

So much for proponent claims that these tracks would reduce traffic.

The cost of so many wasted hours cant be understated.

What kind of environmental impact is caused by an extra 232,687.5 hours of active vehicular traffic?

What does this add up to for consumers as extra fuel is purchased and extra wear and tear is imposed on vehicles due to this slow, start and stop traffic?

How about productivity? I bet if those 1/4 million hours were applied to work rather than sitting in traffic, we would see some benefits.

How about quality of life? 232,687.5 unnecessary hours are being wasted sitting in cars. What if that time was spent with family? Perhaps in the gym? Maybe simply sleeping or getting a better breakfast. Pretty much anything is better than sitting in traffic without cause.

These numbers are from just one avenue in Calgary. The cycle tracks are on many other streets and are impacting traffic there too. What kind of extra commute time numbers are we talking when all of the cycle tracks are added up? Possibly into the millions of hours.

Millions of hours of time wasted with fuel burned by Calgarians so that a handful of hipsters can use cycle tracks downtown during good weather. Is this a good trade?

Calgary has one of the best cycle path systems in North America but you wouldn’t know it to listen to the few but shrill downtown cycle lobbyists.

City council needs to look at the real and cumulative impact of these tracks downtown. They are a failure and should be removed if the interests of the majority of Calgarians are to be taken into consideration.

Of course, if the interest is an anti-auto agenda rather than that of the majority of Calgarians, we can expect these tracks to stay no matter how terrible the numbers are.

Sad when the damage and cost is considered.

 

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Calgary taxpayers give Nenshi a loan.

purplepeacock

From yesterday’s CBC article: The city is picking up the tab for Mayor Naheed Nenshi’s legal battle with developer Cal Wenzel, but he now has to fundraise in order to pay the city back.

When Nenshi found himself rightly being sued for slandering a Calgary businessman and philanthropist during a radio interview, many people were rightly concerned that taxpayers would find themselves on the hook for the legal bills.

Nenshi could have easily ended this entire mess with a simple retraction and apology years ago. That is exactly what he ended up doing in his settlement anyway. Clearly Nenshi was on the losing end of that settlement as he had to humbly apologize and didn’t get his legal fees covered.

I suspect that His Worship in his arrogance was so confident that he would come out on top in this lawsuit that he never thought twice before screaming to any and all critics that he would pay all the legal bills.

One has to wonder if Nenshi would not have dragged out this legal mess as long as he did if the city wasn’t going to backstop the legal bills for him until he could pay them back? How many employers will pay 6 figures in legal fees on a loan for employees who are in the midst of getting sued for slandering somebody and outside of their employment duties? Nice loan if you can get it.

The Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation acts as a watchdog on political spending on all levels of government. This is very important in municipal politics as there is no official opposition working to ensure that our elected servants are being responsible with our money. In doing his job at the time, Derek Fildebrandt made a request to ensure that the Mayor indeed was going to pay his own damned bills.

Fildebrandt’s inquiry set off a classic, petulant Naheed Nenshi public tantrum. Calgary’s Mayor truly does sound like a six year old when he gets upset.

Roger Kingcade with QR77 radio in Calgary did a fantastic, dramatic reading of Nenshi’s social media hissy fit which can be played at the link below.
Nenshi Vs Fildebrandt tantrum.

Nenshi sure was sensitive to the issue.

As Canada’s highest paid mayor ($216,401 per year), I guess Nenshi felt he could absorb the costs if he had to.

Now it looks like Nenshi will be asking others to pay his bills through contributions. How long that will take and how that may work on a political influence level is tough to tell at this point.

One thing that we can be sure of though is that taxpayers have tied up a bunch of capital in covering Nenshi’s legal fees until he can find a way to pay them. Will there be interest charged? Service fees? Loans typically aren’t free and I don’t see why an exception should be made for our Mayor who dug his own legal hole.

6yearold

We can doubtless look forward to more outbursts from Nenshi on this and other issues.

We must follow up on this though as no matter how hard Nenshi howls, the bill simply isn’t paid until Nenshi finds a way to pay it.

For now as usual, taxpayers remain on the hook for the cost of Nenshi’s big mouth.

I hope he has pursued insurance for future suits.

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Calgary urbanist extremists going out of bounds in their vitriol

It is no secret that Naheed Nenshi has been practicing a polarizing style of politics in order to try to get an ideological agenda through City Hall in Calgary. While creating opponents for himself and trying to pit different factions against each other in local politics, Nenshi has created an atmosphere that is becoming increasingly personal and toxic. While proving to be a terrible leader within council due to his inflated ego and petulant style, Nenshi has proven himself to be able to gather a small but very vocal and almost cult-like following among Calgary hipsters who are becoming increasingly distasteful and aggressive in responding to anybody who may critique the Mayor.

To make sense of much of this mess, one has to go all the way back to the multi-million dollar, ridiculous navel gazing exercise called “Imagine Calgary”. Nenshi was one of the creators of the Imagine Calgary document which reads like a surreal dream of some utopian world of art and density which is all strongly controlled by a central council. Sound extreme? Read it yourself. I have broken down many elements of it. The document speaks for itself.

Imagine Calgary is important in that if you look into it, you will see that nearly all of Nenshi’s initiatives tend to spring from it. He says so Himself:

Imagine Calgary serves as something of a bible to His more fervent of followers.

An element of Imagine Calgary that has been hitting council lately has been the “Pedestrian Strategy” as can be seen below.

imagine

Councillor Sean Chu is familiar with the ridiculous goals of Imagine Calgary and he sits on the Transportation Committee in City Hall. A presentation was made to push forward with this Imagine Calgary themed pedestrian strategy despite a lack of costing or substance to the plan. What we have is a recipe for a pointless boondoggle which may employ a number of bureaucrats and lead to even more traffic congestion in the city if this strategy is not carefully monitored and scrutinized. In doing his job, Sean Chu questioned elements of the strategy and ultimately voted against it.

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This was of course a form of blasphemy in the eyes of Imagine Calgary zealots and led to some brutal and outright offensive attacks upon Chu on social media.

In a tragic event last week, troubled teen Tyla Chipaway was killed after she was struck by a taxi when she was laying in the middle of 16 ave NE in Calgary at around 3:30 am. 

Perhaps we will never know why Tyla was laying in the middle of a main road like that at such an hour. It was a terrible loss of a person so young.

Not to let an opportunity to attack pass, blogger and noted Nenshi sycophant Mike Morrison tweeted and tried to imply that Chu’s opposition to the Imagine Calgary based pedestrian strategy somehow contributed to this accident or one’s like it.

pedes

How on earth would any pedestrian strategy possibly have prevented that tragedy? What possible motive would there be in trying to connect that accident to how Sean Chu voted in a committee?

This was political opportunism of the worst and most repugnant of sort. Note that 23 others jumped on the bandwagon to retweet Morrison’s odious tweet.

Being unrepentant Morrison carried on which whipped up even more fervor on social media which led to this:

rueby retro

The urban cycle aficionado and Nenshi supporter above actually came right out and told Sean Chu to go back where he came from. What century are we living in again? Retro indeed.

Like Morrison, this @Ruebyretro character has offered no apology for this disgusting behaviour. She has simply switched her twitter account into private and is laying low.

The bottom line is that these people are so fervent in their faith in Nenshi and the goals of Imagine Calgary that they truly feel they have done nothing wrong in attacking a political opponent like this. Taking advantage of the tragic fatality of a teen to try and score political points and sinking into blatant racism are tactics considered to be fair game by these people. Rather disturbing.

Ian Robinson wrote a column in today’s Sun that excellently points out that while Nenshi has created a lot of hype, he really has not actually accomplished much to speak of in his years as Mayor. This lack of progress does explain some of the almost desperate actions of Nenshi’s frustrated followers.

I do have to differ a bit with Ian though it that Nenshi has done one thing to change the face of Calgary. Naheed Nenshi has created the most vicious and divided civic political environment seen in a generation within Calgary. A dubious honor at best but a noteworthy accomplishment all the same.

As we see noted philanthropists and council members dragged through the mud in our city by our Mayor and his following, we really have to hang our heads in shame in having re-elected that man as our Mayor. These ongoing incidents are getting embarrassing.

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A victory for accountability and transparency in Calgary!

civiccamp

Personally I think partisan politics are a good thing in general for a number of reasons.

Many people think that partisan politics is a bad thing. I think that most can agree though that what is even worse than a political party in a partisan system is a hidden political party in a system that is expected to be non partisan. That is what the initial incarnation of the now defunct CivicCamp group was.

It was recently reported that CivicCamp has disbanded. That isn’t exactly true as the legally registered CivicCamp still exists and it was formed over a year ago.

What has happened is that the group that used to run Naheed Nenshi’s personal political party that wasn’t a political party have given up on the name that they purposely refused to register in order to dodge accountability.

Nenshi and some supporters formed CivicCamp prior to the 2010 civic election in Calgary. There are many advantages to having an organization of people focused on common policy goals trying to get a person elected. Without a formal party system in municipal politics however, the ever canny Nenshi formed CivicCamp which claimed to be non-partisan when it was clearly anything but.

The organization was purposely formed without being legally registered anywhere. This meant that the key people involved and the means of funding never had to be disclosed publically. That avoided the clearly sticky questions that would have come about if folks realized that this apparently non-partisan group was almost exclusively populated by Naheed Nenshi’s supporters. Official campaign financing has some pretty strict rules as well. With a group that isn’t a group however, finance questions could be dodged.

Let’s be clear. CivicCamp was a political party. “A political party is an organization of people which seeks to achieve goals common to its members through the acquisition and exercise of political power.”

After the 2010 election CivicCamp became a useful tool in promoting Nenshi’s policy initiatives and ideals to a divided council. Again, no disclosure was given on who ran this group or who funded it despite their making formal presentations to council and providing input on committee. Rather nifty politics.

In the 2013 CivicCamp went back into campaign mode. This is where the line really was crossed as this group that wasn’t a group somehow secured financing from the Calgary Foundation and then proceeded to go into full campaign mode for Nenshi and his chosen council members (an informal council political party).

While refusing to disclose their own financing until late into the election, the CivicCamp group hypocritically, selectively and relentlessly harangued candidates who were not a part of Nenshi’s slate by demanding that these candidates disclose their finances earlier than the legally required disclosure date. In one circumstance one of the CivicCamp gang even camped outside of the campaign office of one of the candidates. They were conspicuously silent on the disclosures of the Nenshi slate however even though some of them were pretty slow in releasing their backers too.

In a political move worthy of Frank Underwood, the CivicCamp group assumed control of all of the forums for mayoral and council candidates. Organizing forums is a tough and thankless task so when a group of folks raised their hands and offered to take on the task, alas few took issue with it.

In election forums, people can usually ask questions from the floor. This allows ground level concerns and issues to be presented directly to candidates and we can watch the unvarnished responses and answers from the contenders for the electoral spots. CivicCamp would have none of this however. What they did was “crowd source” among their supporters and created a set of ranked questions that would be presented to the candidates. Unsurprisingly the questions came out looking as if Naheed Nenshi’s mother (or likely his sister) wrote them. While tax increases polled high on the list of concerns of most Calgarians, somehow it didn’t even make the list of CivicCamp softballs for Nenshi. It was simply brutal and took away the whole point of open forums.

In one of the forums, Brian Pincott (hard left councillor and part of the Nenshi slate) didn’t like the moderator and complained. The CivicCamp group quickly obliged and replaced the moderator with one to Pincott’s liking of course.

Having watched this display I simply couldn’t stomach it any longer. I did a NUANS search and then formally formed and registered CivicCamp as a non-profit society. The initial group’s careful efforts to conceal themselves left them wide open for me to do so. Had they simply spent $80 and filled out a form they could have prevented that but of course that would have meant practicing the accountability and transparency that they tried to demand of some candidates in the election.

While the disbanded group is claiming that they are simply moving along because they have accomplished so much (sounds like Danielle Smith) The reality is that they simply cant do anything any longer now that I own the name. I even offered to give them the name and registration if they wanted to make things open and formal. They refused the offer which is rather telling.

To be clear here, many if not most of the people involved in that CivicCamp group were well meaning. These were not people trying to harm the city and they were volunteers. It is not like they were pocketing funds. Despite those intentions, they still were participating in an astroturfing effort that masked what was essentially a political party. I could not abide by that any longer.

There is nothing and there was nothing stopping this group from forming and operating as a registered non profit society. They just have to embrace accountability and transparency. As long as they refuse to do so though, I can hardly feel badly that their club just cant hold itself together.

Practicing accountability and transparency is more difficult than demanding others do so. It sure ads credibility when one practices these things as well as preaches them.

I do hope that the folks behind the initial CivicCamp group have learned from this.

 

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Let’s get real on secondary suites in Calgary

lawnpark

Every time secondary suites come before city council in Calgary, we hear the usual chorus bemoaning the status of secondary suites in the city. The process is indeed tedious and not an efficient use of city council time as every suite application comes before council for discussion for approval or rejection. There is no doubt that this is a terrible system of approval and it needs reform. That being said, this does not justify the radical changes to zoning that the secondary suite obsessed want to see throughout the city.

Nenshi has a vocal cult following and secondary suites have always been a frustrating pet issue of his. This of course has led to quite the crusade over the years by his faithful to push to have secondary suites legalized throughout the entire city. Every year the hype gets louder and if these zealots were to be believed, everything from homelessness to nose-warts would end if only those darned stubborn NIMBYs in the city would allow widespread secondary suites.

What we have is a mess in the system for approval and regulation that indeed needs to be addressed. The potential benefits of widely legalized secondary suites have been grossly exaggerated by proponents for years though and we have to get back to reality here.

To begin with, how many new secondary suites would Calgary really gain if they were legalized throughout the city? A study back in 2008 estimated that there were 50,000 to 80,000 “illegal” suites in the city already. In the six years since then the city has grown of course so those numbers are likely higher. What this tells us is that those who want to build secondary suites are building them already despite current regulations. Clearly whatever legislation there is against secondary suites is of little to no deterrent for people who want to build these suites. Getting realistic, how many more suites could we expect if the suites were legalized? To be blunt, not a hell of a lot.

The numbers above do not mean that there is no benefit to legalization of more suites, but it does demonstrate that legalizing suites will not be the panacea to solve issues of high rents and homelessness in the city as the fanatical pushers of these suites like to imply they are. The supply really won’t grow by that much.

druh

 

Druh Farrell has long been a strong proponent of the mass legalization secondary suites throughout the city. Druh loves to wax on about the misery of tenants living in illegal suites as they have limited protections in landlord/tenant issues and can often live in unsafe conditions. Druh then loves to point out how high rents are and how limited availability is within the city. The true depth of Farrell’s rationale came to light in a radio interview though when she vapidly went into circles in confusion when confronted with the reality that if we found and regulated all of these illegal suites as she wants us to that we would actually end up with less suites and much higher rent. Druh and her ideological kin have always had something of a deficit when it comes to the concept of supply and demand.

We may have as many as 100,000 “illegal” (grey market) suites in the city of Calgary. Likely well over 75% of them need at least some upgrades to bring them to code in a legal and regulated market. Bringing a suite up to code in Calgary can range in cost anywhere from $10,000 to over $100,000. It simply isn’t cheap. Landlords who find themselves confronted with the sudden legal need to upgrade these suites will have to choose between closing the suite and evicting the tenants or doing the renovations and raising the rent considerably to recoup their costs. Landlords are not charities people. The bottom line is that we will either lose a suite or costs will rise. Neither of those two options aids in availability of suites or rental costs of course (that supply and demand thing). We need to work to ensure that suites are safe but let’s not pretend that enforcement won’t have a very big impact on supply.

Now the next question is whether or not a big market of prospective landlords is waiting in the wings just salivating at the prospect of opening a secondary suite but has not done so yet because it is illegal. The city of Calgary waived their ridiculous $4,500 application fee which is a good thing. This led to what was described as a “rush” by homeowners to apply for rezoning. How many applications were in this “rush”? 11!!! Yes, folks even with free application costs the grand total of initial applicants for zoning was 11 people. There were a couple dozen more pending. We are speaking numbers in the dozens in a city of well over a million people. Folks who want to rent secondary suites are already doing so in the grey market and will continue to no matter what the regulations.

We need some degree of oversight and regulation on where we will or will not allow secondary suites. Some neighborhoods simply are not well designed to handle them. Some people purposely seek out neighborhoods with low numbers of rental properties and they pay a premium to live in these neighborhoods. These people have a right to speak up and be concerned if the city wants to suddenly change the deal in zoning. The fervent followers of Nenshi spit out the NIMBY term at such folks of course but it has to be kept in mind that most of those followers are hipster renters who dwell in the Beltline who have little regard for the property values or taxation of others. These are issues that cant be dismissed.

There is a great deal of overreaction to prospective suites too. As I pointed out, there really are not that many folks who want to open new suites out there and having a suite or two on your block wont be a disaster by any means. Stuffing 10 suites into a cul-de-sac however will cause havoc and that is why rezoning still has to be considered case by case even if not by city council itself.

There is a need to reform policy on secondary suites in Calgary. Let’s set aside the zealous density ideals though and be rational about what needs to be done and what benefits can be gained. If one’s concerns are about availability and cost of living in the city, they should aim their guns at the essential suburban land freeze that Nenshi’s administration is practicing. The effect that broadly legalized secondary suites will have on homelessness and cost of living in Calgary will be negligible at best.

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Calgary’s war on cars now targets suburban park-and-ride users.

The ideologically driven transportation department in Calgary is hitting new lows in their war on cars as they now attack folks who park their cars in order to use transit. That’s right, it’s not good enough that people park their cars at LRT stations in suburban communities and take the train to work. These people are expected to walk, ride bikes or somehow find one of those rare, crowded and often pungent busses that will take them to the station.

The City of Calgary plans to remove 1250 stalls from Anderson LRT station!

Councillor Brian Pincott is of course absolutely giddy with this notion. He feels that the parking lot is not “walkable” enough. No surprise that he is one of the head members of the “Flakey Four” on city council.

I stopped by the Anderson LRT station today to take a few pictures. As can be seen below, the lot is already full beyond capacity to the point where people are desperately double parking and hoping to get overlooked by Calgary’s finest ticket issuers.

Anderson stationIMG552

It should be noted though, that the bike racks at the station languish empty as usual.

IMG553

So where are these 1250 commuters going to go? Whether Nenshi’s council like it or not, citizens simply are not going to abandon their cars no matter how hard they are pushed. This was proven with recent numbers showing that the vast majority of Calgarians prefer personal autos despite years of an anti-auto agenda from the Nenshi administration.

Cars are already overflowing into neighboring communities as the picture below demonstrates. Residential permit parking and mass enforcement may drive out these commuter refugees but they will still have to go somewhere.

IMG554Commuters can’t go one more station South as the Canyon Meadows park and ride is already full to overflowing (likely spaces next on the city hit list).

IMG555

The sad irony is that many of these displaced commuters will throw up their hands and just drive the entire way downtown rather than ride the train.

This sort of planning idiocy will also of course contribute to the growing trend of businesses relocating to areas like Quarry Park and up near the airport as downtown becomes increasingly unviable for employees. This of course increases the ongoing exodus of citizens to bedroom communities and the ever demonized “sprawl” accelerates.

To remove 1250 spaces from a lot that is already filled beyond capacity is a whole new level of stupidity from our city planners but I guess we shouldn’t be surprised.

This is the city that is letting a homeless charity lose $350,000 per year purely due to their anti-auto agenda.

Eventually Nenshi will move on to his federal ambitions and the city will tire of his allies in the “Flakey Four”. How much damage will these ideologues cause to the city before they leave though?

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Privacy Versus Accountability

The world has changed in a way that I think few saw coming. Many people feared and foresaw a world where we all were constantly monitored by government cameras and lost all privacy. What has happened instead is that we now have a society where nearly every person is carrying a video camera at all times and it has actually led to more accountability from our authorities.

There are some privacy issues and there always will be but I think this trend of citizen empowerment through personal cameras is a good thing for us all.

In 1991 video captured the reprehensible beating of Rodney King and brought to light just how out of control police officers can become at times when they think nobody is watching. At that time, the video was an anomaly as video cameras were large, bulky and expensive. People rarely had one at the ready to shoot such a scene. People could not help but wonder how many other episodes such as the King beating had occurred when nobody could record the moment.

Videos of police abusing their authority are now becoming unfortunately more common but I suspect that as more and more police officers are finding themselves fired and criminally charged when caught assaulting citizens that many more officers are now showing restraint in knowing that their actions may be recorded.

This new accountability extends to officers and their treatment of their own dogs as the video below demonstrates.

::warning:: Lot’s of expletives.

This accountability extends to criminals too. The video below demonstrates scumbag protestors vandalizing property. These sort of video clips help undercut the claims by protesters that they are being unfairly targeted by police.

The video below demonstrated how shallow, bitter and just outright pointless the “Idle No More” protests were. Without citizen video like this, thugs like those recorded may have retained some credibility in the minds of Canadians.

Of course in the political world, we are finding politicians going down as they fail in adjusting to this new degree of public scrutiny.

Rob Ford has proven not only to have some very serious addiction issues, but has demonstrated an utter inability to learn from his past mistakes as he has been caught in a second crack video.

ford

In Alberta, disgraced former Premier Alison Redford demonstrated that despite losing Alberta’s top political job due to her gross sense of entitlement, she still feels entitled to taking a six-figure salary from Alberta taxpayers to live in luxury in Palm Springs while brazenly refusing to do her job. Had a citizen not taken the picture below, Redford may have been able to convince some that she was on some form of government business.

Alison Redford by Kurt Bowley.jpg

Redford’s ongoing crime against good fashion has been recorded in Palm Springs as well.

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Civil servants are not exempt either. This picture below of 10 city of Calgary workers painting a simple green box demonstrates that there is plenty of room for increased efficiency within the City of Calgary despite Nenshi’s denials and his rather sad claim that this was a training session.

bike

The world is changing and for the most part it is for the better.

Rather than complain about a possible lack of privacy, people should just always act in a manner that is assuming that they are being recorded.

Accountability is never a bad thing.

 

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How about letting Calgary evolve as Calgary?

calgary

Hardly a week goes by when we don’t hear from some apparently self-loathing urban dwelling Calgarian wistfully sighing about how Calgary must become like <insert ancient European city here> if indeed are to become “world class”,

Last week during one of the countless obscure festivals that seem to bubble up we saw this attitude in spades at the “Spur Festival” (whatever that is). Guest speaker & American Author Daniel Brook derided Calgary’s “urban character” as being a “Texas in the Arctic” to the roomful of giddy collected hipsters. Brooks then went on plugging his book which celebrates cities such as Shanghai, Mumbai and St. Petersburg and the autocratic regimes that brought them about. I do become uncomfortable when people show admiration for the efficiency of autocratic regimes. Stalin’s 5 year plans did wonders for Eastern European development for example but came at a rather steep price. All of the aforementioned cities developed over 1000 years before Calgary did and in utterly different cultural structures but apparently we somehow can and should become more like them. Maybe if Nenshi had more autocratic powers…… Ahh that speculation goes down the city charter road which is fodder for another posting.

Next up of course was Calgary’s controversial and density obsessed city planner Rollin Stanley. Stanley retreated from his prior gig in Maryland after having offended most of the county having labelled those who challenge his density goals as being “rich white women” who apparently travel in a “coven”. Yes, Stanley is all class and we should be proud that Nenshi managed to scoop him up for us. Surely the room was breathless as Stanley gave his stock speech on why we must fight consumer demand and press development inward.

The trend of berating people who dare speak up for their communities in the suburbs and the contempt shown to them is troubling.

I am sick of hearing how Calgary must change it’s character. I tire of some people within our own city calling the Calgary Stampede our biggest claim to shame. I tire of people wagging their fingers at the 90% or so of Calgarians who dare to choose not to live downtown no matter how hard city council tries to stuff the vaunted “East Village” down our throats. I am tired of whining hipsters labelling us all as rednecks every time a civic policy goes against the density mantra.

Calgary is a city that is booming and growing. That growth is far and away predominantly outward as the vast majority of Calgarians pursue single detached households in the suburbs. We need to quit whining about that reality and begin planning for it. Nenshi’s virtual development freeze has only led to a boom in development among bedroom communities and a catastrophically expensive downtown. These kinds of efforts to fight the natural development and evolution of our city are indeed changing the character of the city but not for the better.

Calgary is still the frontier. People of ambition are coming from all over the world to settle in and make a life in the city. Most of these people are working in the energy industry whether directly or indirectly and the vast majority of these people do NOT want to live downtown. There is nothing to be ashamed of in this. Perhaps those people who can’t handle the realities of the true character of Calgary should drop the spite and move to Manhattan where they can split rent on a $3500 per month tiny apartment with 7 other baristas and liberal arts graduates to see just what a paradise urban density can be.

Calgary is unique in culture and general nature. Let’s embrace that instead of aspiring to be something else. The self-esteem movement sure works hard to ensure that individuals accept and embrace who they are instead of trying to be somebody else. That concept should apply to entire cities as well.

 

 

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Reality on the impacts of Macleod Trail lane closure for bike lanes

Macleod Trail

One of the most vapid cases to be made in justifying the closure of major road arteries is the old: “Auto commuters should support this as every car taken off the road makes more room for them!”

If indeed Calgary’s proposed cycle infrastructure was complimentary to the existing roadways that statement would be true. Since Calgary’s proposed cycle tracks are all coming at the direct expense of existing roadways the above contention of car removal is simply BS.

The section of Macleod Trail (among the busy roads targeted) that the city wants to close a lane on moves about 25,000 cars per day. When transit is taken into account (bus riders will have their commute times extended by this too) we are looking at roughly 1.3 occupants per vehicle out there for about 32,500. Now in removing 25% of the roadway, we will be displacing 8125 people. As that section of road is one-way, we need not cut the number in half as most will only travel that stretch once in a day. Let’s be generous and make the figure 8000 then.

For the proposed bike track on Macleod Trail to actually reduce traffic we would need to see at least 8000 people who drive only on Macleod Trail alone to give up their cars and ride their bikes to work.

Reality dictates that we would only see a few hundred people leave their cars in winter at best on Macleod Trail and lets be generous and say 1000 in summer. The remaining 31,000+ commuters will be jammed into a much smaller roadway which in turn will extend their daily commute times which will lead to more idling and emissions and leads to reduced productivity and quality home time for daily commuters.

This is not theory folks, this is simple math.

Until the cycle proponents can convince us that nearly 25% of commuters will give up their cars and ride bikes to work all year round the case that bike tracks at the expense of automotive lanes is nothing more than pap.

 

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