News Briefs

HIT THE ROAD, CHAD

He may be the most infuriating character Regina’s ever launched onto the Internet, but I will say this about Chad Novak: he sure knows how to put on a show.

It’s this knack for creating spectacle that inspired me to ask him during his 2012 mayoral run if his entry into the political ring was actually a protracted piece of performance art. He claims it isn’t. I’m still not convinced.

And as rumours have resurfaced that Andy Kaufman is still alive, I wonder if maybe the comedian moved to Regina, abandoned the Tony Clifton persona, bought a red sports car with his Taxi money and remade himself.

Makes sense to me.

The Jan. 27 council meeting Chad Novak attended certainly had all the cringe-worthy moments you’d expect from Kaufman’s brand of comedy.

Novak — we’ll pretend that’s his real name — had shown up to speak against a bylaw council was voting on authorizing them to take on a $100 million debt to help pay for the stadium portion of the Regina Revitalization Initiative. And as Councillor Hincks rose to speak in support of the debt, Novak began heckling him, shouting “Go Riders” and calling into question Hincks’ assertion that there’d be ample parking at the new stadium.

But it wasn’t until Novak extended a middle finger salute to the councillor that the mayor finally ruled him out of order and asked him to leave the chambers.

Novak, however, knowing that good comedy pushes boundaries, refused to leave. A five minute recess was called, and he was ultimately escorted out of the building by five police officers.

“That’s five minutes we’ll never get back,” the mayor remarked to press after the meeting.

In the end, the debt bylaw passed despite concerns raised by Councillor Shawn Fraser about how the actual borrowing terms have worsened since the stadium financing deal was approved in Jan. 2013. Instead of a 30-year debt, the city will have to take on a 31.5 year debt. And the interest rate is now expected to be 3.99 per cent.

In all, city staff estimate that over the course of the new term, we will pay $13 million more than was anticipated this time last year.

Doesn’t sound like much considering the city was already expecting to contribute $405 million over 30 years, much of which will be covered through property tax increases. At the same time, that the amount we’re going to have to repay as interest is already increasing even though we’ve yet to borrow a cent certainly sounds like some kind of bad joke.

Andy Kaufman would be proud. /Paul Dechene

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VETS FIGHT FEDS’ FRIENDLY FIRE

It was bad when federal Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino arrived exceedingly late for a Jan. 28 meeting in Ottawa with veterans who were already furious over the closure of nine service centres across the country.

It got worse when Fantino lost his temper, shouted at the veterans and cut the meeting short — waiting until the next day to offer a non-apology for the “unfortunate events”.

But it shouldn’t be all that surprising. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has always gone to great lengths to wrap itself in the flag of patriotism and unwavering support for the military — until those military members are veterans in need of help, that is.

Then that support becomes a lot less enthusiastic and a lot more vague.

“We gave the best years of our lives to this country, and the government promised us they would look after us — and yet these [veterans] are going to have to go through that without any assistance,” said Bill Dubinski, an 84-year-old veteran, at a Saskatoon media event on Jan. 31 protesting the closure of that city’s service centre.

“I believe there are a lot of veterans who are not going to put up with this crap, and we’re going to do something about it.”

Cary Tarasoff, who’s been navigating Veterans Affairs in order to treat chronic pain and a multitude of medical conditions since he was discharged in 1990, agreed.

“Now all of the vets in the north half of the province will have to share fewer case workers that reside only in Regina,” says Tarasoff. “Many more vets with fewer case workers and greatly reduced access. Does that sound better to you in any way, shape or form?”

No, it does not. /Lisa Johnson

2014-02-06

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