Thursday Happening

With all the premiers in town for the Federation Council meeting or whatever they call it, a bunch of environomental groups have come together under the banner of Climate Showdown in Regina to try to ensure that environmental issues are on the table. Given that the meeting's in Regina, they've kind of entered the lion's den in terms of resistance to measures to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and our carbon footprint. Not as bad as Calgary, admittedly. But still, pretty unsympathetic. Thursday night between 7-11 p.m. at the Cathedral Village Neighbourhood Centre (2900 13th Ave.) there's a potluck/social to celebrate the showdown. Regina band Oye! (pictured above) is playing. Check it out if you want. There's also a rally Thursday at noon in front of the Legislature to highlight the importance of climate justice.

Hooray For Giant Garter Snakes

A biologist has discovered several populations of threatened giant garter snakes in California (Associated Press). This is good news not just for weirdo snake fans (cough) but for anyone who values wildlife and nature in all its richness and diversity (wasps excluded, they are bastards). For decades, California's runaway development has devoured pristine wilderness and excreted ugly, stupid, sprawled, unneccesary exurbs (like a suburb, but not attached to anything). And that's a threat to many of the state's native animals, including condors, bald eagles, multiple species of foxes, fish, frogs and our pretty, slithery pals, the snakes. So it's a treat that a fresh batch of un-paved serpents has been found.

I must digress for a moment. Ironically, the giant garter snake and a very endangered fellow-traveller, the spectacular-looking California red-sided garter snake, are unintended victims of laws protecting endangered species. Both species are hardy in captivity* and are very amenable to breeding programs, however, the laws that protect these critters make it illegal to keep and breed them. This is supposed to protect wild populations from poaching--which no one would argue isn't critically important--but the result is that two species that can be captive bred (and therefore preserved) by snake hobbyists (the fancy word is herpetoculturalists) are left to slowly go extinct as California land is cleared for stupid, ugly suburbs in the middle of nowhere.

If you want to protect endangered species the most important thing you have to do is protect their habitat. Protecting the animals themselves is critical too, obviously, but sometimes you have to be flexible--and maybe even do something that on the surface seems counterintuitive if not insane, like letting an endangered species enter the pet/hobby trade (in a controlled, regulated way of course).
That's my little rant. Anyway, good news. Yay! Yay snakes!

*There's a rumour that one unnamed dog blogger has an undying, 12-year-old pet checkered garter snake named Willie. Now, that's just a rumour, remember.

A nice little urinating match …

In the insular world of Regina's media, there's seldom is heard a discouraging word, mostly because your competitor could soon be your employer. That's why John Gormley's (CJME) latest freak-out – this time, over Carm Carteri, the color analyst for Saskatchewan Roughrider radio broadcasters on a competing radio station (CKRM)--is surprising. Rod Pedersen has the transcripts of Gormley's rant here (pedersenmedia.com).

First things first. If you've ever listened to other radio stations' CFL broadcasts, you realize two things. RM's play-by-play guy, Rod Pedersen, is one of the best in the business, both for football and hockey (rumour has it that he was short-listed for the Phoenix Coyotes' radio gig but wasn't willing to relocate, as his children were just starting school). And Carmello Carteri is the broadcast's weak link – especially if you listened to Pistol Pete Martin's running game commentary for Toronto Argonaut games (Fan590.com) or Giulio Caravatta on BC Lions broadcasts (Team 1040).

Tony Proudfoot, doing the Alouettes' English-language broadcasts, was unquestionably the best of the bunch [CJAD], and Ron Lancaster did a pretty good job with the Hamilton Tiger Cats (CHML) but Proudfoot, sadly, is in the middle stages of ALS (Montreal Gazette), and Lancaster, well, thanks for the memories (CBC Sports).

Even worse, Carteri doesn't seem to do a lot in the off-season to improve his communication skills or keep up with what's going on in the rest of the league. A good radio producer would have kicked Carm's hind end over this by now.

Apart from groaning like a stud bull witnessing the latest Jenna Jameson best-of release every time the Riders did something wrong, one of the biggest knocks Rider fans have against Carteri is that he never has that much to say that's positive about the Roughriders' play. Often, it's not his fault; the Riders aren't known for playing mistake-free football and fans are guaranteed at least two or three blown calls by the officials every game. Because the Riders pleaded with fans for support for many years – making themselves susceptible to the blackmail crowd ("you must/must not cut or trade player XX or we won't buy tickets" or something along those lines) – Rider fans feel they have more control over the team's operations than, say, Dallas Cowboys or Toronto Blue Jays fans. Rider fans feel they can influence the coaching staff and/or front office by the mere threat of an economic boycott.

There's also another reason why some Rider fans suspect Carteri seems more critical than usual regarding the Riders. Think back to 1999, when the Roughriders were 3-15, talentless, poorly coached, with the worst scouting staff west of the Mississippi/Lakehead since General Custer and the Seventh Cavalry left North Dakota. General manager and de factor master of the Riders' domain, Al Ford, announced his resignation (was it just before the board announced his firing? The club was $4 million in the hole, ticket sales for the Friends of the Riders lottery had virtually stopped, and the first words out of Tom Shepherd's mouth the day of Ford's 'I quit' press conference, after a horrible Thanksgiving Day loss to Montreal, was that anyone boycotting the Riders' lottery because they wanted rid of Ford had better open their wallets now. Makes you think …)

Despite what Rod Pedersen says in his otherwise good book about the 2007 Riders (The Rider Store), Riderland in 1999 was a place where the CFL's angels feared to tread (then again, Pedersen's book is the club's official release, and I would doubt the Riders would want their fans to be reminded of the time when the club was the armpit of the league). At the time the general manager's duties involved marketing, administration, scouting, player signings, hiring coaches, and being the overall overseer.(Today, what were once Ford's duties are split up amongst four people – president Jim Hopson, GM Eric Tillman, marketing VP Steve Mazurak – who ran for the Liberals in Regina West in 1984 while I ran for the Parti Rhinoceros, both of us going down to ignominious defeat to the NDP's Les Benjamin) and someone else – can't think of who, offhand – who runs the administration side).

The Riders' Plan A was to offer a contract to Ron Lancaster, then head coach and GM of the TiCats, who were playing in Regina the next week. At the time, Lancaster was still under contract with the TiCats to the end of the season, and would sign an extension with them in the off-season, and he didn't need the distraction of somebody else's problems being forced onto him (how the Riders didn't get slapped around by the CFL home office for tampering with someone under contract (Exhibit A in the proof that the CFL isn't entirely out to get the Riders). What was plan B? CKRM's Willie Cole mentioned it during the post-game show in 1999 after the Riders were skinned alive by the TiCats.

Carmello Carteri.

Would Cole have mentioned it if he thought he'd get into trouble not only with the Riders' flagship radio station but also the guy who owns the station – who also was and is a major behind-the-scenes guy on the Rider board of directors, Paul Hill?

Fortunately, saner heads prevailed. Though Carteri was/is a somewhat successful businessman in Regina (owned a few properties, including the Regina Court & Fitness Club, now the Gold Gym south), and played linebacker for a couple of years for the Riders and Hamilton, he had nowhere near the business experience in football management, nor the contacts to provide a good scouting staff or coaching staff to an established club, let alone one that was in more trouble than one of Mike Holmes' projects on Holmes on Homes. It would have been interesting in a Soviet moon shot-rocket blowing up on the launch pad way (YouTube), but after the 2000 season, you wouldn't have had to worry about the 01 season.

So, the Rider search committee went around, getting rejected like Potsie Weber looking for a date. Ron Smeltzer said no. So did Tom Higgins. And so did Eric Tillman.

In Pedersen's book, Tillman says he was just starting a relationship with the woman who's now his wife, and didn't want to leave Toronto at the time. Personally, I considered that to be 'Tillspin,' of which the Ole Miss journalism school graduate, class of 1978, is particularly adept. At the 06 presser at the Hotel Sask announcing his signing as GM, I asked why he didn't consider taking the GM job in 1999. He mentioned the relationship and the state he was in, and I said, "But under Jim Hopson, the management structure has changed. The Rider GM can just concentrate on football now, not like it was in 1999." "Yes, the structure has changed," Tillman drawled, and then quickly changed the subject.

So the Riders hired Roy Shivers, the first black GM in the CFL's history, because nobody else wanted the job at the time. And overall, Shivers didn't do that bad a job in stocking the Riders with talent, though he grew increasingly erratic after the 2005 season.

So, the Carmello-haters say, there's a reason why he's always down on the Riders.

So what does this have to do with the man whose life ambition is to become Saskatchewan's answer to Rush Limbaugh? Gormley's not going ballistic. In 2006 Gormley held down two gigs with Rawlco Radio (their home page) – the morning gabfest host and the station's legal counsel. So if he's going to slime somebody, who would the radio station call if they get sued for defamation of character? You got it. Only an idiot owning a radio station would allow the station's chief legal counsel to grab a microphone and start slagging others in a (possibly) defamatory way

Rawlco's relationship with the Roughriders is akin to the relationship I had with Hollis Richter in the second grade at Tyvan School. She was the prettiest, smartest, and most popular girl in our class, and I wanted her to like me, so I acted like a jerk towards her. Rawlco's the same way towards the Riders. Their sports show is hosted by Drew Remenda ("Okay, caller, I don't want to talk about the San Jose Sharks! I want to hear you talk about the San Jose Sharks!"), whose sole contribution to the Saskatchewan sports scene is that he exhales carbon dioxide, which plants need to grow (CJME). About eight months ago Gormley pulled a story out of his broad butt said a group of prominent Saskatoon businessmen were going to seek funds to build a 35,000 seat football stadium in Saskatoon (since Rawlco is based in Saskatoon, guess who would benefit the most? And get the radio rights?).

But for a news/talk radio station, they do a poor job of covering things – especially out of their comfort zone of issues pre-approved by The Conservative Party of Canada/The Fraser Institute. There's a school of thought that neo-conservatives are suffering from some kind of psychological persecution complex that causes them to pick fights with everyone, real and imagined, and to invent crises when no such crisis exists. The 'birthers' movement in the United States, the Conservatives' approach to the arts movement, gay and lesbian issues and Quebec voters, and Rush Limbaugh's career are examples of this. And eventually, as we're seeing in the Republican Party south of the border, they're descending into fratricide. Carm must be wondering, "Who urinated in this guy's Corn Flakes this morning?"

That's one of the strange things about the neo-conservative movement. They never seem to run out of people to hate.

Folk Festival Countdown: Plants And Animals

Plants And Animals will bring the funk to the the Regina Folk Festival mainstage Friday night at five to eight. Here's a video from the Montreal trio's Polaris-nominated album Parc Avenue to get you all mooded-up. It has dinosaurs, unicorns and rawk--and therefore pleases Dog Blog greatly.

"Feedback in the Field" by Plants and Animals

The band will also play open-to-the-public shows a couple times on Saturday afternoon--check your Folk Festival Guide (conveniently tucked into the current issue of prairie dog) for times.

Iran: Nahlah Ayed Explains Everything

Here's a good, one-stop summing-up of the situation in Iran for anyone wanting to catch up on the story so far. Confession: I'm posting it partly because I used to work with Nahlah in my student press days, and I think it's cool that someone I spent time with in the college newspaper trenches has gone on to international journalistic glory. Unlike some people. (CBC, Dog Blog)

Six In The Morning

1 BIRTHERS, BIRTHERS EVERYWHERE Seriously, a huge swath of America is completely, utterly, batshit crazy. Eleven per cent of Americans--and 28 per cent of Republicans!--believe that U.S. President Barack Obama isn't constitutionally eligible to be president? Yeah, whatever. If it wasn't for the efforts, vigilance and, well, existence of everyday, sensible, not-psychotic Americans, that country would slide into a Shirley Jackson world of magic spells and ritual baby-eating faster than you can say "wicker man". Anyway, Salon has a guide to battling the birther menace.

2 THE PREMIERS ARE HERE! THE PREMIERS ARE HERE! And they're talking reforms to Employment Insurance. (Globe And Mail)

3 THE PREMIERS ARE HERE! And Sask Premier Brad Wall's talking about innovation and climate change and unhelpful critics. (Leader-Post)

4 PHONEY DOUCHEBAG SWORN IN AS PRESIDENT Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad takes the oath of office. There are protests. But the country didn't totally explode into howling violence as one over-caffinated Dog Blogger predicted. (Guardian, Dog Blog)

5 CORPORATE CREEPS GET OUT OF MY KINDLE A petition is launched against Amazon's Digital Rights Management (DRM) software which, as you may recall, was recently used to remotely delete books purchased by the company's customers. (BoingBoing, Dog Blog)

6 PANHANDLERS ARE PEOPLE TOO I could not agree more with University of Regina prof Garson Hunter: panhandlers have a right to approach you (and me) and ask for money. Regina's begging ban is ridiculous and shameful and evil. (CBC)

This Week at City Hall

Tuesday, August 4
Finance and Administration Committee (12:15 pm): Okay, so one problem with this lazy summer schedule at city hall is that I'm totally off my posting rhythm and forgot to get this up yesterday. But let's be honest, none of us were going to make this finance committee meeting. All that was being considered was a request for $20,000 in support by Chip and Dale Housing to build two independent living suites on Fairways West Drive. The suites would be for adults with intellectual disabilities and the request is in keeping with a proposed New Housing Incentives Policy that's still languishing in purgatory thanks to our council's unwillingness to put any long-term, consistent housing commitments in writing until the province comes across with a housing policy. Decisions from this meeting haven't been posted yet, but I've my fingers crossed that this will pass. Heck, council is giving out property tax exemptions to pretty much any apartment block these days, I'd be surprised if this was turned down, frankly.

Wednesday, August 5

Regina Planning Commission (4:30 pm): Considering a zoning change to accomodate parking at 1700 Elphinstone as well as the Phase 4 development in one part of Harbour Landing while approval is being sought in another part to reduce the housing density. Over in Greens on Gardner, approval is being sought to boost (significantly from the looks of it) the density in a section to begin development.

Well duh...

What I can quite believe is that this guy was naive enough to actually believe any of that horseshit about Warren Buffet.

It just proves, once again, that the French have it right. Or more specifically, Honor de Balzac had it right...

"Behind every great fortune is a great crime."

Could someone please explain to me, slowly and in short words, exactly how these bailouts are anything but corporate welfare?

And since that's clearly what it seems to be... if companies get to run for the safety of the welfare state, shouldn't we all have that option.