1. What’s going on with LED Roadway Lighting?
“Sometimes, chasing a story that runs into a brick wall can be revealing,” writes Jennifer Henderson for the Examiner.
LED Roadway Lighting has received at least $22 million in public money — “$11 million in equity (converted to common shares in 2014 so LED could borrow money from banks more easily) as well as a $10 million loan guarantee, and a $1 million loan,” writes Henderson — and much more if we include all-but-mandated government contracts with the company to install lights around the province (a $37 million HRM job, for instance). Continues Henderson:
Given taxpayers’ exposure in the company, news last June that LED was permanently laying off people at its Amherst plant sent a worrying signal.
The elimination of 45 jobs was part of what LED Roadway CEO Peter Conlon described to CBC News as part of a three-year “restructuring” process.
But no one will tell the public what the status of the company is. Henderson was unable to get straight answers as to who is running the company, what the province’s equity stake is valued at, or what the future prospects are.
Click here to read “What’s going on with LED Roadway Lighting?”
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2. Sidney Crosby: Zero
Sidney Crosby went from a potential hero to a certain zero yesterday. Reports Jason Mackey for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Sidney Crosby may not be American, but he’s aware of this country’s current political climate.
And while the Penguins captain understands that some professional athletes or teams may feel a certain way toward visiting the White House, Crosby’s excited to take another trip there to celebrate the organization’s second consecutive Stanley Cup.
“I still feel like we look at it as an opportunity,” Crosby told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Sunday following morning skate at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. “We respect the office of the White House.”
This “respect the office” line cracks me right up. Trump has been shitting all over the office of the White House for eight months — taking metaphorical dumps on White House tradition, protocol, and decorum, and literally calling the White House “a dump.”
People are understanding that there is no separation between Trump and the presidency. Since Charlottesville, when Trump called Nazis “very fine people,” charitable organizations have cancelled scores of fund-raising events at Trump’s Mar de Loco Florida residence. Likewise, athletes and pro sports teams are refusing to attend the White House because they realize to associate with Trump is to associate with all his ugliness and hate. You can’t wash that shit off.
As I wrote yesterday:
No one besides Trump asked for this to be so divisive, but with a deranged, hateful man in the White House, here we are.
Like it or not, there’s a responsibility to rise to the occasion. And that responsibility rests heaviest on the stars, the athletes who have excelled on the field and on the ice, and have therefore gained the public’s attention.
And, as someone on my social media feed pointed out (sorry, I forget who), Sidney Crosby will forever be remembered with a photo of him hanging out with a Nazi sympathizer who called Crosby’s fellow athlete a “son of a bitch.” I hope he’ll be proud of that photo.
I’m also amused by the line that sports figures have no standing to speak publicly about politics. That ship sailed long ago, but definitely since America elected a reality TV star as president. It’s now shown that any actual idiot can be president, so I welcome the thoughtful and informed views of football players and other sports figures.
“The IWK Health Centre’s top financial official has resigned,” reports Michael Gorman for the CBC:
Stephen D’Arcy has been on paid leave since an auditor’s report showed former CEO Tracy Kitch expensed $47,000 in personal charges to the Halifax children’s hospital. The hospital’s board confirmed Monday that D’Arcy tendered his resignation on the weekend. He is not entitled to severance.
Kitch resigned in August, a week before the report on her expenses was released.
D’Arcy was shown to knowingly help Kitch prepare an incomplete expense statement to meet provincial reporting requirements. A CBC News investigation revealed D’Arcy also removed hundreds of emails related to expense preparation for a freedom-of-information disclosure.
This is Gorman’s story, and he’s nailing it. I haven’t spoken to him about it and don’t know where his investigation is leading. But my spider sense is telling me that this runs much deeper than Kitch and D’Arcy. I doubt that the lapse in oversight starts and ends with them. This is a story to watch.
4. Boy Scouts sued for sexual abuse
A Vancouver resident, who I’ll call “Jim,” is suing the Boy Scouts of Canada. Jim claims that in 1974 and 1975, when he was 13 years old and living in Dartmouth, he was a boy scout and was regularly sexually abused by a scout leader named Paul Arsenault. “The sexual abuse took place at St. Paul’s Church during weekly boy scout meetings,” claims Jim in the lawsuit.
Jim is being represented by Halifax lawyer Mike Dull. Dull has not yet responded to a request for comment.
And the Boy Scouts have not yet responded to the allegations.
5. Carters Beach
Earlier this month, Brittany Wentzell, reporting for Lighthouse Now, wrote a piece on Carters Beach:
Just a few years ago the beach was known only to locals, but with thousands of hashtags on social media, “listicles” on best beaches in Nova Scotia and endless travel blog posts, it comes as no surprise the beach continues to explode in popularity despite the fact that it’s a pending nature reserve under Nova Scotia Environment (NSE) and has few services.
Carter’s is considered ecologically and archaeologically sensitive and although it does not yet have the higher protection of being a nature reserve, which would limit the amount of human activity that can take place on it, it is still a protected beach making activities such as camping, fires and ATV use illegal.
But because of the impact of social media — traffic and other activities are not slowing down any time soon, much to the dismay of local residents. And the annual crush of visitors causes problems ranging from blocking access to emergency vehicles, to ruining the once-quiet beach with their garbage.
In some quarters of social media, the response was along the lines of “oh, residents want a private beach, boo-hoo.”
But perhaps out of a sense of decorum, Wentzell didn’t fully elaborate on the extent of the problem, which is detailed in an August 29 letter from Region of Queens Municipality Mayor Christopher Clarke to Margaret Miller and Lloyd Hines, the ministers of the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources respectively. The letter became public this morning thanks to a freedom of information request filed over the summer by a political party.
Clarke’s letter gets into issues related to parking and the associated inability of emergency vehicles to access the site should there be a medical emergency on the beach. But Clarke additionally gets into the truly disgusting aspects of the inadequacy of washroom facilities at the beach. Thankfully, the photos attached to Clarke’s letter weren’t reproduced properly in the photocopy released, but Clarke’s text is disturbing enough to get a sense of them (moreover, I have to paste a PDF which is not readable by PDF readers; my apologies to visually impaired readers):
Click here to read all the back-and-forth between the municipality and provincial ministers, the ministers’ briefing notes, and residents’ emails about the problem.
In July, people in Nova Scotia bucked the national trend and ate out less in restaurants than they did the previous July — sales were down 2.2 per cent in Nova Scotia compared to a rise of 4.8 per cent nationally. The provincial Econstats group took Stats Canada numbers released yesterday to produce this graph:
The lacklustre July meant that for the first seven months of 2017 compared to the first seven months of 2016, sales are just below flat in Nova Scotia:
Neither Econostats nor Stats Canada attempts to guess why sales are down. My first thought was this must reflect a collapse in the tourist industry, but drilling down into the stats, we find that people are drinking just as much as they always have — sales are up both in bars and in full-service restaurants — and so I think the total decreased sales are not a reflection of decreased tourism.
Rather, people are buying less food from two food categories — “special food services,” a category comprising institutional food contractors, caterers, and mobile food providers, and “limited-service restaurants where patrons order/select items at a counter and pay before eating either on premises or as take-out.”
The only tentative conclusion I can draw from this is that rich folks and tourists are doing just fine — they’re going out to eat in fancy restaurants as much as they ever have. And bar sales are way up (nearly five per cent), suggesting that while times are tough, one must escape one’s woes. The big reduction, I’m guessing, shows working people are going to the food court less often for lunch, and aren’t so often picking up fish and chips or a pizza for dinner because, well, because they’re broke. Again, that’s only a guess. I’m open to other interpretations of the data.
Investment Policy Advisory Committee (Tuesday, 12pm, City Hall) — committee members have been asked to read what sounds like some right-wing screed headlined “Foreign investors bail out of Canada in record numbers.”
North West Planning Advisory Committee Public Meeting (Tuesday, 7pm, Cafeteria, Basinview Drive Community School, Bedford) — Rich dude Monte Snow wants to tear down an old boat yard and a couple of houses on Shore Drive and build six new houses. Probably other rich dude neighbours will not like this plan.
Western Common Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 6:30pm, Prospect Road Community Centre) — here’s the agenda. There are several interesting things to be discussed, but it’s mostly just kicking things down the road a piece.
Public Information Meeting – Case 21281 (Wednesday, 7pm, Old School Community Gathering Place, Musquodoboit Harbour) — Scott Rowlings wants to develop 250 acres around Scots Lake in Musquodoboit Harbour.
Legislature sits (Province House, 1–6pm)
Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Province House) — Sandra McKenzie, Deputy Minister of Education, will be asked about funding for Pre-Primary.
Playwriting Masterclass (Tuesday, 11:30am, Room 1102, Marion McCain Building) — Hannah Moscovitch, the first Canadian playwright to win Yale University’s Windham Campbell Prize, and the first playwright to win Ontario’s Trillium Book Award, will speak.
The Tobacco Control Act, 1997 (Tuesday, 12pm, Room 1009, Kenneth C. Rowe Management Building) — David C. Dingwall speaks about the background of the act, its passage, and its impact, 20 years later.
CosÌ Fan Tutte. Was ist Wahrheit? (Tuesday, 5:30pm, Room 2021, Marion McCain Building) — Franz Wassermann from the Ruprecht-Karls-Universität, Heidelberg, will give this lecture in German.
Strengths-Based Community Capacity Building to Improve the Health of African, Black, and Caribbean Children and Youths: Participatory Research Agenda (Tuesday, 6:30pm, Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia, Cherry Brook) — Bukola Salami from the University of Alberta will speak.
Thesis Defence, Oceanography (Wednesday, 10am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Angela Maria Kuhn Cordova will defend her thesis, “Integration of Observations and Models for an Improved Understanding of Marine Ecosystem Dynamics.”
Antibiotic Factories (Wednesday, 4pm, theatre A, Sir Charles Tupper Medical Building) — Martin Schmeing from McGill University will speak on “Structures and Functions of Nonribosomal Peptide Synthetases, Macromolecular Antibiotic Factories.”
In the harbour
11:15am: Anthem of the Seas, cruise ship with up to 4,180 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Portland, Maine. The Anthem was initially scheduled for a New York-to-Bermuda-and-return cruise, but due to Hurricane Maria was rerouted on a Portland-Halifax-back-to-New York cruise. “Royal Caribbean International will add a 50% refund of the cruise fare to passengers’ shipboard accounts in the form of a refundable on-board credit,” reports Seatrade Cruise News, meaning, I guess, more booze for passengers. So if you’re on the boardwalk today, hug a drunk tourist who thinks they’re in Bermuda.
Noon: Asian Moon, container ship, sails from Pier 27 for sea
7pm: Anthem of the Seas, cruise ship, sails from Pier 22 for New York
Supposed to be right hot today.
Beautiful Carter’s Beach should have zero opportunity to be defiled by reckless, disrespectful and filthy humans after this summer season. Nova Scotia is NOT protecting the natural dunes and must officially declare this beach OFF LIMITS to everyone but local Port Mouton and surrounding residents until a plan to accommodate people, toilets, garbage, PARKING and full summer supervision is in place. That could take years so an advertising campaign should begin now. NO ENTRY without a Natural Resource pass.
How much have spent on the Yarmouth ferry? How much on tourism departments, publications and advertisements? Canada’s ocean playground? Put some garbage cans and public toilets on all the frequented beaches in this province. Open, clean and close them seasonally. Better yet, enforce the dog leash rules. I bet it could be done for a fraction of the cost of the aforementioned mega projects. People who live here or come here want to enjoy the lovely beaches, it’s not that complicated.
There’s lots of people who, for one reason or another, can’t do the sorts of jobs that our Innovation and Thought Leaders say will bring us (them) Prosperity. Even if Amazon came to Halifax most people are not cut out to be software developers on that level and most of the jobs would go to people from elsewhere in Canada or the world.
We could probably do a lot for our less capable or fortunate by paying people to take care of the city & its parks. It wouldn’t “make economic sense” but it would give some structure and purpose to people who can’t create these things for themselves. I’d be an absolute mess without my job – even if I got the exact same amount of money deposited in my bank account twice a month in exchange for simply maintaining a body temperature around 37 degrees.
You’re right, Nick. Before bold HRM goes crazy with greedy Amazon dreams, respect Halifax by employing a solid number of FULL TIME, FULL BENEFITS, year round City Maintenance workers to keep this sloppy city clean.
Last time I saw Amanda Whitewood she was sitting in the CAO chair at an HRM Finance & Audit Committee meeting and now she is CFO at the IWK.
I believe we would be better served if she was in the CAO chair at City Hall on a permanent basis.
It’s amazing watching people windmill about on the issues of being fired for speech – “free speech doesn’t mean freedom from consequences” one minute, and “muh first amendment” the next depending on who’s talking. Although I don’t support the firing or sanction of athletes (or anyone else) for speech (maybe they should fire them for committing crimes), NFL teams would be within their rights to fire players for their on-field behaviour because even in those states like California where being fired for your political associations is illegal, the laws only apply to speech outside of work.
It will be interesting to see what happens to ratings – eventually Big Sports will have to put its money where its mouth is – and what the NFL/NBA’s ect fanbase starts to identify with when they no longer identify with their favorite football or basketball team. Maybe it’ll be good for the NHL and professional wrestling.
The problem is that there are multiple USAs, and even though they are somewhat geographically separated (and economically segregated where they aren’t) the problem is that they all have to live together because of the government and media – maybe they shouldn’t.