In the harbour
1. Death in Dartmouth
Yesterday at 5:20am, “Halifax Regional Police responded to a report of shots fired in the area of Spring Avenue and Mount Edward Road. Officers located a deceased young male who had been shot lying on the sidewalk. The identity of the victim is still not known.”
Reportedly, an autopsy is scheduled for this afternoon.
It’s odd that police haven’t come right out and called this a homicide, so there must be some thought that it could be a suicide. But if reports of multiple shots fired are correct, a suicide seems unlikely, although not impossible.
As of this writing, the dead person has not been publicly identified.
2. Macdonald Bridge
“A few of the new deck segments on the Macdonald Bridge will need patching this spring and according to project officials, that won’t stop the Big Lift from being completed by the year’s end,” reports Pam Berman for the CBC:
“They are showing premature wear,” said Jon Eppel, chief engineer for the Halifax Harbour Bridges. “We are waiting for warmer weather so we can get out there and patch it.”
Eppel assures us that the work on the bridge is speeding up, and that the eighth (of 46) bridge segment will be replaced this coming weekend:
Eppel said when the Big Lift started it took 60 hours to get the first segment in place. The last segment took 18.
In order to complete the replacement of a segment during one overnight shift that needs to happen in just over 10 hours.
Eppel insists that all the deck segments will be replaced by the end of this calendar year. Maybe. But while it may be true that the time required to replace each segment has decreased, there’s been no corresponding decrease in the time between replacing segments; in fact, by my calculation, the total time needed for the work has actually increased, not decreased.
The first segment was replaced the weekend of October 17, 2015, so if the eight segment is replaced this weekend, it will have takent 25 weeks to get eight segments done. At this rate, the 46th bridge segment will be in place by June 11, 2018. Even then, there will continue to be nightly closures for another nine months as “finishing touches” are done on the work. So, again, unless the rate of work speeds up, the bridge will be closed nightly until March 2019.
I hope I’m wrong.
3. Flight 624
A year ago yesterday, this happened:
4. Charlottetown mayor blames me for Kelly’s downfall
“Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee says the city did its homework before it hired Peter Kelly as chief administrative officer,” reports the Charlottetown Guardian:
“To be honest, the criticisms of Mr. Kelly were made in the media,” Lee said following the vote.
“You can’t hire someone or not hire someone based on the fact that some members of the media may not have liked Mr. Kelly when he was the mayor of Halifax.
I find this weird. I don’t know if I actually like or dislike Kelly as a person. He might make a fine neighbour (well, except for the police calls), or a decent beer hockey league opponent. If he hung out at the bar, I’d probably introduce him to Ernie, and the two of them could babble away incomprehensibly with each other for hours, and we’d all have great fun.
My problem with Kelly hasn’t been related to my dislike for him as a person, but rather my entirely accurate reporting of his job performance as a public official. And, yes, the executor of an estate is a public official, appointed by the court, with public duties defined by public law, and with legal and public filing requirements. It’s absolutely fair for a reporter to examine the performance of any executor, and especially an executor who is also a mayor. My reporting on the issue stands.
But beyond the executor issue, there’s also the concert scandal, of which Kelly was a primary — perhaps the primary — player. As I reported:
[Halifax CAO Wayne] Anstey ended up resigning over the scandal, but Kelly played a game of “ah-shucks, was that wrong?” and refused to heed calls for his resignation, even after a June report from auditor general Larry Munroe broadly castigated Kelly. ”Given the level of experience and involvement of Mr. Anstey and Mayor Kelly in the public sector,” wrote Munroe, “each of these individuals should have known something out of the ordinary was occurring and should have asked more questions to determine if what they were contemplating and/or doing was appropriate, especially given the method of arranging for payments to be made to Power Promotional Events.”
Kelly was neck-deep in the conspiracy, knew about the improper loans and even arranged for them, going so far as to organize a secret meeting at the Sunnyside restaurant in Bedford, near his home and away from City Hall, so no nosey staffers would know what was going on.
The public officials in Charlottetown are free to ignore the scandal all they want, but don’t claim this was some unfair media vendetta against Kelly.
Of course, the public officials in Charlottetown are only aping the public officials in Halifax, who have likewise ignored the concert scandal. Kelly suffered no repercussions for his role in the scandal, and neither did Trade Centre Limited president Scott Ferguson, who suggested the improper loan scheme in the first place. I remind you:
The documents also show that Trade Centre Limited president Scott Ferguson had previously been reprimanded for a ticket advance scheme that he later urged the city to adopt.
On March 17, someone—again, presumably MacKay, although the name is redacted—asked Anstey for a loan contract for the Halifax Rocks show, with the amount raised from a previously agreed $400,000 to $500,000. On March 23, the same person again writes Anstey to suggest that the Black Eyed Peas concert be announced publicly, and “get tickets on sale right away [so] Scott [Ferguson at TCL] would have enough cash on hand to be able to assist us with the second night a couple of weeks later.”
“My problem is I don’t have any more money to cover the advances with,” wrote Anstey on Saturday, March 27, 2010, at 2:13pm. “To make this work, Ticket Atlantic is going to have to take on 300K of risk on the Country show, thereby freeing up 300K of Metro Centre money for this show or alternatively take on 300K of the risk for this show. Overall, HRM will be carrying two-thirds of the risk with virtually no return, whereas Ticket Atlantic will only carry one-third with at least the opportunity to make some money.
“What do you say, Scott. Can’t we work together to make this work?”
At 8:14pm, Ferguson wrote back to Anstey, saying that “the auditor general has already put us on record regarding risk as a result of the past world events we hosted. I am not permitted to do so again.”
Evidently, Ferguson had used an advance-on-ticket-sales scheme for the world hockey tournament held at the Metro Centre, and was reprimanded for it. But that didn’t stop him from recommending the exact same scheme to the city.
“I could advance the funds from hmc if it was approved from your end,” writes Ferguson, seemingly suggesting that the money come not from the city’s Metro Centre surplus fund, which was depleted, but rather from Metro Centre’s operating funds. “The risk would only be short term as I expect the additional 300K would be returned within a week of the onsale.”
Eleven minutes later, at 8:25pm, Anstey wrote back to the redacted person. “Scott has agreed to the funding. I’ll get the paperwork to you on Monday morning.”
Monday evening, at 5:19pm, Anstey wrote back again, saying that he “just got the cheque from TCL. I will send it to you first thing in the morning, unless you want to pick it up at my house tonight.”
That’s right: Scott Ferguson knew the loans were improper — he’d been reprimanded for the exact same thing before — and yet then suggested that more improper loans be made, and facilitated the loans.
Like Kelly, Ferguson never faced any repercussions from the concert scandal. In fact, he’s been rewarded with the presidency of Halifax Convention Centre, a job he was appointed to without having to apply and without any job competition — the position was never advertised, and no one else was considered or interviewed for it. And, because he gets to manage a shiny new convention centre, he’ll undoubtedly get a big raise.
1. Boundary stones
“It is getting to be walking around and noticing stuff season,” writes Stephen Archibald.
Today, Archibald noticed boundary stones, “installed by the British military in the 19th century to mark their property. I’ve been watching for these stones around town and this seems like a good time to encourage you to be on the lookout too.”
The stone above is at Camphill Cemetery, brought to Archibald’s attention by Twitter denizen Adam Fine.
2. Cranky letter of the day
I’ve been a supporter of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles hockey team in good days and bad over the past 19 years.
In the early days, the refereeing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League could be brutal. I recall especially the 2006-07 series against Val d’Or when future NHLers Kris Letang and Brad Marchand played against us. We should have won that series, but lost in seven games largely because of the refereeing in Val d’Or.
In fact, I recall one of our officials saying that it would be hard to win the last two games in that town. He didn’t spell it out, but refereeing was a large factor.
That team literally tackled us all over the ice in the seventh game and the referees performed so badly that they were accused by some of making certain that a Quebec team advanced.
Over the years, the quality of refereeing has improved but on Saturday, in a game in which the Eagles completely dominated the opposition en route to a 5-2 win and a 46-16 shots-on-goal advantage, it seemed to me that the referees did their utmost to assist the opposition to get back in a game.
One incident that supports this was a blatant holding infraction against our player in front of the Val d’Or net in the third period that was ignored.
The Eagles have superior personnel, but the opposing team is well coached and a worthy opponent. However, when an entire crowd calls into question the performance of the referees, obviously skill has been trumped by poor judgment, or possibly skullduggery.
LeRoy Peach, Port Morien
Public information meeting (7pm, 5431 Doyle Street) — Westwood developments will unveil its proposal for the seven-storey building it wants to build on the Doyle Block, across from the library. Expect fireworks.
Public Accounts (9am, Province House) — Paul LaFleche, the deputy minister of the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, will be asked about the Yarmouth ferry. Expect fireworks.
Thesis defence, Earth Sciences (9am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Zhihai Zhang will defend his thesis, “Diamond Resorption Morphology as a Fluid Proxy in Diamond-Bearing Environments: Constraints from Empirical and Experimental Studies.”
Stem cell registry (11am, MA310) — whoever compiled the event listing doesn’t tell us who will be speaking — because that might involve making a phone call or sending an email, and they PR people at Dal don’t get paid enough for that, evidently — but whoever it is will address “Modelling the Optimal Ethnic Composition of an Adult Stem Cell Registry.” The underpaid PR person did, however, copy and paste the abstract of the talk:
For individuals suffering from blood related diseases a stem cell transplant represents the best, and sometimes the only, possible course of treatment. While a genetically matched near-relative is preferred, in many cases a suitable relative cannot be found, and hence there is a need for a transplant from an unrelated donor.
Canada’s adult stem cell registry, OneMatch, was formed to match Canadian stem cell donors to Canadian patients. However, only 20-30% of unrelated adult stem cell transplants in Canada are sourced from Canadian donors. Smaller stem cell registries, like OneMatch, face a dilemma: Should they recruit to maximize the likelihood of a match, and possibly duplicate entries from other registries, or should they recruit to promote genetic diversity, and perhaps increase national reliance on international sources?
In this paper, we discuss optimization models to set the composition of the Canadian registry to promote ethnic diversity, while meeting patient needs. We adopt a linear programming formulation to define the composition problem and describe methods for scaling the problem to make it tractable. An instance of the exact model is solved and the solution used to tune a simulated annealing algorithm capable of solving large scale problem instances.
Results show that when maximizing the populations covered, a highly diverse ethnic composition is suggested (72.4% non-Caucasian). However, when coverage is weighted by the ethnic composition of the patient population, a less diverse registry is suggested (8.6% non-Caucasian). We conclude that in environments where national resources are constrained, but donor searches are global, there are advantages to increasing the ethnic diversity of the adult stem cell registry.
The Underworld Story (8pm, Dalhousie Art Gallery) — a screening of the 1950 film directed by Cy Endfield:
Crime reporter Mike Reese (Dan Duryea) has a nose for news…and an eager hand under the table in return for spinning the truth in favor of moneyed perps. But after he tries to cash in on a story involving a maid accused of a society murder, Reese ultimately finds the courage to reveal the truth and make amends for his tainted past. One of this noirish film’s lines of dialogue refers to ancestral witch burnings. Intentionally or not, the line underscores the imminent blacklisting of The Underworld Story’s costar Howard da Silva plus the director and the screenwriter. The intriguing story is by Craig Rice, the famed female mystery writer of the 1940s and ’50s who was the cover-story subject of Time’s January 28, 1946 issue.
In the harbour
Atlantic Concert, container ship, New York to Fairview Cove
Oceanex Connaigra, ro-ro cargo, arrived at Pier 36 this morning from Gilbraltar
ZIM Vancouver, container ship, Valencia, Spain to Pier 41, then sails to sea
Energy Patriot, oil tanker, Port Arthur, Texas to Imperial Oil
Manon, car carrier to Autoport
OOCL Kaoshsiung, container ship, Dumyat, Egypt to anchorage for inspection
ZIM Savanna, container ship, Colon, Panama to Pier 42
Atlantic Conveyor, container ship, Liverpool, England to Fairview Cove
I’ll be on The Sheldon MacLeod Show, News 95.7, at 4pm today.
The Dal Engineering seminars, for whatever reason, have the speaker information in the “Additional Info” box – just scroll to the field immediately past the abstract and it’s there for all to see.
RE: Impending Charlottetown Meltdown.
Charlottetown mayor says, “You can’t hire someone or not hire someone based on the fact that some members of the media may not have liked Mr. Kelly when he was the mayor of Halifax.” This quote is hysterically funny on one level and very sad on another, because it shines a light on the total lack of critical thinking involved in decision making by so many of Atlantic Canada’s decision makers.
Before any of my fellow big city residents spend too much time mocking the elected officials of tiny Charlottetown, we need only take a look in our own back yard to find examples of stupid decisions that were made only because politicians ignored or failed to actively look for the facts. Dexter’s Yarmouth Ferry deal, McNeil’s destruction of the film industry, Dexter, the feds and Halifax council’s cash for the Nova Centre or Halifax council’s decision to provide a twenty year, million dollar per tax break for the Irvings.
All of the above decisions were made without sufficient analysis of the information available. I’m not saying that the politicians had the facts in front of them. To the contrary, while much of the information was readily available, the bureaucrats charged with finding it, analysing it and presenting it along with their advice failed miserably. In some cases available facts were probably withheld from the decision makers.
Sadly, while the examples above have proven to be terrible ones or will turn out to be bad decisions down the road, I am not aware of anybody losing their job.
So while the mayor of Charlottetown says that they can’t make a decision on the “fact” that some members of the media don’t like Kelly, he ignores all of the readily available, actual facts as published in The Coast and The Halifax Examiner. But, before we laugh too hard at Charlottetown, we should just remember that we’ve been there and done that.
Add the infamous Bluenose refit and iron rudder to the list of poorly made decisions… not that we can expect much better in the future… we elect human beings into the government who often make decisions based on perceptions, rather than realities and facts.
Of course the non-elected public service bureaucrats are also heavily involved in these decision making events and they often stay in power over multiple election terms regardless of the party who wins the elections, eh? Beware the shadow government, for their part in the play is often forgotten when the media reports the issues. Most elected officials make their decisions based on unpublished recommendations from these non-elected entities. Briefing notes should be required to be published for public review; that would be a step forward towards real openness and transparency with respect to the decisions being made.
Absolutely correct on the shadow government. Frightening decisions are made by entities such as the Labour Board and Environment Departments, with no oversight or consequences.
How could I have forgotten the Bluenose. Ironically, a couple of guys up in the Maitland area built a schooner from scratch without the benefit of other people’s money and with no boatbuilding experience. As far I know, the thing is still floating and I hear the rudder works fine. So when a politician or senior bureaucrat tell you they know what they’re doing, it might be best to ignore them and just hire a couple of guys from down the road.
I agree to a certain point but we also must factor in what prevailing “wisdom” our elected officials use to pressure bureaucratic decisionmaking.
The Halifax Media Coop had an excellent piece by Shaun Bartone on the gentrification Centre Plan for the city.
It quotes a planner as saying “We can’t stop capitalism; we have to work within a market system.”
I would argue that is the prevailing idea at council and the ligislature. Government is not seen as a check but rather as an uncritical facilitator for the worst excesses our business elite can conjure.
The Bartone article at mediacoop irresponsibly claims there is a rumour that the province wants to sell off public housing. repeating a rumour is pointless.
George Eliot Clarke has spoken in favour of selling Halifax public housing to tenants, which seems reasonable to me if the price is discounted based on the length of tenancy.
Bartone must be quite new to HRM as he erroneously believes St Pats Alex was closed so enable development. The school was closed because parents no longer sent their kids to the school and as Maureen MacDonald supported the closure at a public meeting where she told the school board :”The parents have voted with their feet”
Those stones with the arrow and line indicate property of HM Govt. probably with awful penalties if moved – like a NS land surveyor’s mark of today. There are several around Pt Pleasant Park still owned by the Crown incidentally (now in right of Canada DND and leased to Halifax on a an original 999 year lease).
I can show them if anyone is interested and they are part of the lot survey system and shown on deeds etc.
Most notoriously in the UK the arrows are stamped on prisoners’ clothing – although this practice may have ended.
Don’t forget Kelly’s handling of the Wastewater facility disaster – absolute refusal to give taxpayers details of what happened. It was outrageous.