Thursday, 18 January 2018

MF INQUIRY COULD BENEFIT FROM WORKERS' STORIES


The January 1st, 2018, Post reported the Top Ten Posts of 2017 and indicated, among other things, that a future post would report a small sampling of emails received from workers on the Muskrat Falls project.
Sometimes the public is better served when the “news” they receive is the "raw" material - neither analysed nor edited. It is tough to improve on a worker’s personal experience especially when they are assessing the work space, the management, Q&A or some other issue from the perspective of their experience at Muskrat Falls and on other projects. 

What follows are the verbatim emails of two people: one from a professional engineer and another from a surveyor; each offering insights into a poorly run project. 

Monday, 15 January 2018

NAPE DEAL IGNORES THE POINT OF NO RETURN

Pick any public service — education, health care, or the general services — and statistics show that this province employs a far higher number of employees per capita than the Canadian average. Yet, notwithstanding the province’s desperate financial position, it entered into a four-year “no layoff” agreement with NAPE, handcuffing itself from remedy except by attrition — a highly unsuitable and inefficient management tool. 

The Ball Government went one step further. It agreed to pay out of an empty till, this fiscal year, severance which had been negotiated in previous collective agreements — estimated to cost $250 million.  It seems that the Minister of Finance did his very best to support an assertion made in The Finance Minister’s Lucky Rabbit’s Foot that “an election looms and the government has a sale on collective agreements”.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

THE BARD ON THE "NO POINT PLAN"

DON’T BREATHE
(No Point Plan)

Empty schools, keep them open,
Ferry service, keep them hoping.
Muskrat Falls, no power aspire,
And can’t allow a full Inquire.
Smile and grin and don’t perspire.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

THE PARLIAMENTARY BUDGET OFFICER HAS NEWS FOR YOU

There is more than one useful approach to understanding the unsustainability of the province’s debt. In addition to the discussion on the Muskrat Falls project, JM wrote a series of articles entitled “A Decade of Squandered Opportunity”. David Vardy has combined discussions of the debt and deficit with the alarming growth in cost overruns.

The Blog's newest analyst, identified as PlanetNL, undertook the process of dissecting Nalcor’s revenue requirements to sustain the financing, operation and management of the Muskrat Falls project showing that the cost of rate mitigation would seriously compete with funding for social programs and add to annual deficits.  This correspondent has tackled successive Budgets and Budget Updates, too. 
None of the writers have been subtle. All have felt a need to expose the simple reality that successive Administrations, including the current one, have downplayed, ignored or distorted the problem – in the process speeding up, rather than curtailing, our journey towards insolvency.  

Monday, 8 January 2018

MARY SHORTALL’S LA LA LAND

No one will argue that it is the right of every citizen to express an opinion, as Mary Shortall did recently in a letter to the Editor of The Telegram. In it she made a series of claims regarding the fiscal capacity of the government and the financial impact of the Muskrat Falls project; “exaggerated doom and gloom,” she called the comments of naysayers. Her missive contained no factual basis whatsoever.

Presumably knowledgeable readers will conclude that such writers are ill-informed and poorly read. The case of Mary Shortall is bit different, however. She was not sharing her personal views: Shortall signed the letter in her elected capacity, as President of the Newfoundland & Labrador Federation of Labour.  
The Federation, like most labour Unions and professional associations, has for years sought a voice in the formulation of public policy. The President, no differently than her predecessors, is afforded space on the public airwaves and in other media to state labour’s position on a plethora of issues extending well beyond the collective bargaining space. 

Sunday, 7 January 2018

THE LOOTERY CABAL?


THE LOOTERY CABAL? 
(Big Job Draw*)

Victims will need to hear and see the names appear -
Of racketeers - of those who planned to profiteer, 
Dreamt of public debt, and commandeered a future drear. 
Audacity to admire, and to condemn with tear.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

THE FINANCE MINISTER’S LUCKY RABBIT’S FOOT

Key public policy issues, especially the Muskrat Falls project and the province’s fiscal condition, received the most attention on this Blog in 2017. They are receiving increasing notice from the mainstream media, too, even if the gruel is often thin.

In a few corners there is increasing concern over the solvency of the province. A weak government is asked to provide leadership, but can’t get up the nerve. 
As if to magnify the weakness with which the electorate perceives all the political parties, the Dwight Ball Liberals maintained a lead in the polls as 2017 ran out: CRA reported that 44% of voters preferred the Liberals against 33%for the Tories and 19% for the NDP. Yet 63% of voters are dissatisfied with the performance of the Liberals, begging the question: if the Premier provided some leadership, would not the Liberal Party’s numbers be higher? 

Monday, 1 January 2018

THE TOP TEN POSTS 2017

It is (now) a tradition on this Blog to report the most popular Posts of the year just passed. 
But first, I want to thank David Vardy, Cabot Martin, James L. Gordon, P.Eng (Ret'd), Ron Penney and “JM” for their many excellent contributions throughout 2017. I frequently hear from readers who appreciate their analysis and that of the other writers noted in this introduction. It takes many hours to research and write this work. What better time to note their contribution to the Blog! 
Our newest contributor, who writes under PlanetNL, deserves special acknowledgement having contributed several Posts already – each of which speaks to his commitment to high standards of research and analysis. One example is Chernobyl-Lite: The Price Of Denying Muskrat Economics in which the writer reduces the rationale for stopping Muskrat to its essence: in the absence of an economic rationale, there is no reason for the project to continue.