Just received a comment from a person re: recent posts about ‘the picture.’

It was sent anonymously, but from a City of Winnipeg computer.

Author : T (IP: 198.163.45.80 , cow-198-163-45-80.winnipeg.ca)

The well-thought-out comment: “Who cares?!?!”

Well, who does care?

Should anybody care that the Mayor’s reelection team feels it appropriate to use the police chief’s image in Katz campaign literature and give people the direct impression the chief is a Katz-booster?

Most everybody in the public likes the current police chief, so by virtue of that, they’d probably like Katz for Mayor, too. To me, that’s one thing the image — in that context — implies.

It also suggests that the police service is not, as we’re often told, operating independently of political pressure or influence.

That’s a huge can of worms if you just think about it for a minute or two.

Also, no one asked McCaskill’s permission to use the picture, either, according to him.

Katz’s reelection team just went ahead and used it when designing the website.

We should care about that.

Some people have said to me: well, what about Chomiak’s presence in the same photo?

The former justice minister is a politician, like the mayor. He serves at the will of the public.

The police chief is not. He’s a civil servant, but arguably one of the most powerful people in the province.

Who wouldn’t want to have the chief on-side come election time?

Mostly, the optics of this stink.

That, my dear commenter, is why we should care.

-30-

3 thoughts on “Obviously, you do.

  1. They stink especially after the circus yesterday, in which the Mayor made a campaign announcement based largely on a performance report on police operations that no one else has apparently seen. A wiser Chief would have released that report to the public, and/or to Council rather than to the Mayor alone, given that it’s just weeks before an election.

    As I’ve griped elsewhere, one of the most alarming trends at City Hall (and in Canadian politics generally) is the systematic deterioration of simple traditions of behavior that seemed sacrosanct in “the business” just a decade ago. I’m by no means a saint, but things that seem obviously wrong to me don’t even seem worthy of comment to many still working in the building and in the business.

    For all of its many faults, there were certain standards in place in the past to maintain some basic codes of behavior. Everyone followed those rules because they were in everyone’s best interest in the long term, and people who broke those rules got frozen out. You can misdirect the media or legislators but you sure couldn’t directly lie to them; that rule has been broken repeatedly at City Hall from 2006 forward (even in the last week). The line public service was neutral, and you accepted that when it pushed back to keep it so because one day you might be on the other side. Now? The line public service and political staff are indistinguishable. You’d resign and ‘take a bullet’ when it’s clearly in everyone’s best interests to move on, etc..

    I know that’s not a nostalgic fantasy because I’ve seen those rules observed much more scrupulously before.

    No longer. Now, you’ve got the Police Chief looking like he’s writing the Mayor’s campaign platform, without the faintest sense that he should be covering his ass, and the Deputy CAO of the City openly selling tickets to the Mayor’s campaign fundraisers because “Sam and I” would appreciate your support.

    If we can’t be the “Chicago of the North” the good way, how long before we start to look like it the other way?

  2. Your idea about writing the campaign platform deserves closer scrutiny, Brian.

    Just last night, I said to a colleague that front-line public safety-related campaign promises should be a no-go-zone for candidates.

    If the 911 centre needs more bodies, it should get them regardless of a looming election. If the WPS needs more officers (and I’m not convinced it does) it should get them.

    Dangling these things in front of the public weeks prior to the polls opening is an admission that getting elected matters more than the public’s safety.

    And to promise 58 new officers without a hint as to where the cash is coming from to pay for them should raise red flags for everyone.

    But then, city hall ‘found’ millions for the ‘flying press release’ and cadets from thin air, so why should I doubt the money’s not there?

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