Thursday, April 26, 2012

STACKHOUSE SOAPBOX (Yorkton This Week Apr 25)

I have a big problem with what went on in Yorkton last Thursday and Friday with regards to the enforcement of traffic laws and the City RCMP.  In my opinion, traffic offenses are not at an epidemic level here.  Sure, we have young people flying up and down streets a little bit.  But, if you wanted to curb that behavior, have a designated traffic cop or two set up in areas youth are known to frequent and start handing out speeding tickets.  I went to work on Thursday morning and saw police vehicles out in full force and a number of civilian vehicles pulled over.  I made the decision that day to stay off the road.  I don’t need a ticket for doing 54 in a 50 or a stop sign ticket for stopping for what someone deems to be 2 seconds instead of 3.  Or going through an amber light when someone else is of the opinion I should’ve hit the brakes.  To me, it’s traffic policing by intimidation.  You would think that with all the extra police officers brought in that Yorkton is a city where people are driving up and down Broadway at crazy speeds all hours of the day all week long.  And, it’s just not the case. 

On Friday, I drove home from work and between 2nd Avenue North and Circlebrooke Drive I saw three people pulled over.  The pizza delivery man came to my door moments after I got home and said he had been randomly stopped and asked if he had been drinking.  When he said ‘no’, he was allowed to continue on his way.  This is too much.

If the city needs more tax revenue, I’d rather get a note in my mailbox asking for $100 donation.

A more productive use of resources would be to have a couple of officers at the traffic circle to issue tickets to those that still don’t know how to properly use it.  And, maybe they could also make a judgement call as to whether someone doesn’t know how to use the circle, or is knowingly committing an offense.  I’d also like to see educational check points at the areas of town where new speed limits have been put into place.  Instead, those that are infrequent travelers on those stretches of road are easy prey for a tax donation.  I live on Circlebrooke Drive and have volunteered my driveway to the RCMP to go after speeders who are going 70 km/h or more on that wide stretch of road.  To my knowledge, I’ve never seen a speed trap on Circlebrooke.

For me, I like to see a strong police presence, don’t get me wrong.  But that presence could be better served at times when the criminal element in Yorkton is higher than normal.  I’m sure the RCMP has statistics as to when they make more arrests than usual.  And, I don’t have anything against officers who have a specific job to target traffic offenses.  But, bringing in the cavalry from other cities to have a big time blitz is not right.  To me, if I was the type of person that spent my day committing violent offenses, I’d love seeing days like last Thursday and Friday because it means I have a free pass because they are not paying attention to me.

Last point on this:  bringing in officers from other cities costs money, I would assume when you consider the mileage and possible overtime hours.  It could cost even more money if, heaven forbid, someone was to dispute his/her ticket and a court hearing was needed.  That officer then has to take time off from Regina or Saskatoon or wherever he/she is normally stationed to come to Yorkton and deal with a ticket.  I just don’t get it.

There was a gymnastics meet at the Gallagher Centre over the weekend and much to my disbelief, I discovered that gymnastics parents and fans are worse at parking than Yorkton Terrier fans.  Granted, I didn’t see any rows that were ‘three deep’, but I did see a complete unorganized group of about 40 vehicles in the parking lot north of the skate board park and there was absolutely nowhere to drive if you wanted to go up and down the aisle to see if there was an open stall.  Of course, the plus side to this is that you can pretty much shut your vehicle off wherever you want and get out. 

The Vancouver Canucks were bounced from the playoffs over the weekend and it appears as though Roberto Luongo’s time in Vancouver is over provided he lifts his no-trade clause and the Canucks can find someone to take on his salary.  My thought is deal him to Tampa Bay for Vinny Lecavalier in a swap of big money contracts.  Or, see if the Leafs will move Dion Phaneuf.  Phaneuf isn’t worth what he makes and neither is Luongo; but Luongo would give Toronto what they really lack:  a number one netminder.  Phaneuf would fit in nicely with the Canucks as a number 3-4 guy.

Nice person mentions this week to Glenn Beaulieu, Sandy Zielinski, Ryan and Treasure Daneliuk, and Sheila Johnson.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

STACKHOUSE SOAPBOX (Yorkton This Week Apr 18)

I don’t wish to engage in a war of words, but do feel I should respond to Walter Farquharson; who wrote a letter to the editor a couple of weeks ago expressing sadness about my negative comments on judges.  While Walter is correct in saying me being critical doesn’t do anything for building a community and society of respect; it should also be noted that judges are our community’s and society’s last line of defense when it comes to keeping everybody safe.  And, time and time again, judges fail in this regard.  How many times as an accused person gotten off with committing a crime because of a technicality?  Why can’t a judge put a convict away for life by using a similar technicality?  Judges are in their positions to interpret the law.  True, some of our laws are ridiculously slanted toward criminals and there isn’t too much a judge can do in some cases.  But, far too often I see judges knee-capping the ability to build a community by setting people free who have no business on the street making it dangerous for the rest of us.  It’s not me who should be blamed for that. 
Approximately 150 Air Canada pilots staged an illegal strike over the weekend by calling in sick.  It should be noted, these 150 shouldn’t be the voice for the 3,000 pilots that are represented through the Air Canada Pilots Association.  I’m not too sure what Air Canada employees hope to gain here.  Air Canada isn’t exactly a big money maker.  In the fourth quarter of 2011, the company reported an operating loss of $98 million; and yet they still forecast an employee benefits expense increase of $35 million for 2012.  My feeling is this:  if you don’t like your job or are unhappy with the money you are making, then go somewhere else.   Personally, I made that very choice at the end of 2008.  I wasn’t happy with my job or the money.  And, yet there wasn’t a position in broadcasting for me that would get me to a wage that I wanted.  So, I changed careers.  It might be time for some Air Canada people to do the same if things are that bad.

The first NHL game that I watched all year from start to finish was Pittsburgh and Philadelphia on Sunday.  I have to admit, I was thoroughly entertained.  Head Office should issue a memo to these players and declare open season.  Let’s face it.  The players don’t want a safer game with less body contact.  They want to take one another’s heads off.  And if that’s what they signed up for, then there is no point issuing meaningless two game suspensions.  If you saw this game on Sunday and paid attention to the Philadelphia crowd, you would see that blood and guts is exactly what the fans want.  Not to mention, the abundance of goals kept things unpredictable from a win-loss point of view too. 

Sidney Crosby took a lot of criticism for his play on Sunday, but I had no trouble with it.  The Pens were having a hard time getting into the game, and Crosby was simply trying to get some of his teammates going.  I also like the fact that he’s emotional.  Sure, he came unglued and looked rattled.  At least the man has a pulse.  There are players out there on every team who sleep walk through games win, lose, or draw.  I’ll take
Crosby any day of the week.

SJHL President Bill Chow didn’t win many friends in Weyburn on Friday.  Chow suspended SJHL Player Of The Year Jesse Ross for last Friday’s game six of the Canalta Cup Finals (a game Humboldt won 6-0 to take the championship).  What’s lost in the anger from the folks in Weyburn is that Ross put himself in a position to be reviewed for a possible suspension.  You can argue whether or not his slash warranted a suspension, but you cannot argue he put himself in a spot where a suspension was possible.  And, there is nobody else to blame for that but Ross himself.  Did the Humboldt player involved do something that got Ross’ temper going?  Maybe.  But that’s where you have to show discipline and turn the other cheek.  I also didn’t like the fact that Ross, Jordon Hoffman, Ron Rumball, and Dwight McMillan neglected to shake hands with Chow when accepting their championship final appearance plaques, but that’s just me being picky, I suppose.  McMillan didn’t even accept the plaque.  He left the bench and went (I assume) to his office and didn’t watch the remainder of the ceremony after his name was called.

Full marks to Mitch Kilgore, who won the SJHL Playoff MVP award in a losing effort.  But, the Weyburn goalie garnered further respect from me when he held up the rest of his teammates in the hand-shake line so that Andrew Johnston could finish his television interview and still get the congratulations from the Red Wings.  Kilgore is a real class act and I hope he is able to continue his career somewhere. 

One of my favorite Twitter accounts to follow is called Damn It’s True.  Here’s a couple from the weekend:  “Hearing something that kills you inside, but having to act like you don’t care is the worst.”  And, this one:  “I propose we add a new day to the week and call it Someday.  Just think of all the awesome stuff that would happen on it.”

Nice person mentions this week to Chris Simms, Allison Wilson, Garth Harris, Marie-Anne Ramcharitar, Mary Jane Gagnon, and Warren Kaeding.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Hi Mike,
There are a few inaccuracies in your story about the Keystone Junior League I would like to address. The Selkirk players were not injured in Norway House - they were injured in the first two games of the series which were played in Selkirk. In fact a couple of the players were injured enough to warrant hospital visits including Selkirk's #1 goalie. The other had his knee blown out from a low dirty hit - this required surgery and the player may be out next year depending on rehab, etc. Not an easy injury to come back from. The second game of the series was a complete gong show with Norway House taking 19 penalties in the third period alone (they were behind and ended up losing the game).

As the Norway House team was already under probation with the league for questionable conduct earlier in the season, the league gave them a choice of either being suspended which would result in the series being awarded to Selkirk, or they could accept their home games being moved to a neutral site where the safety of ALL players on and off the ice could be monitored more closely by the league and officials. Norway House is a long 8 hour drive north and logistically a careful monitor of the games there by the league was not feasible. The NH team leaders accepted the neutral site as they decided it was better to keep playing. In the end they won the series against Selkirk in 6 games - Selkirk losing their #1 goalie to injury was something that tilted the series and although he came back to play was not even close to 100%.

In the finals, NH played their first 2 games in Arborg which they lost. After that the team executive along with the band chief and Maniitoba native leaders held a press conference denouncing the league decision to have them play their games in a neutral site as "racist" and declared they would only play their remaining home games in NH. They said it had nothing to do with discipline or player safety, but it was all racially motivated and they wouldn't stand for it. In a nutshell, they went back on their agreement with the league when it looked like they were going to lose. When NH didn't show up for their scheduled game at the neutral site, the league awarded the title to the Arborg team.

I for one applaud the league's stance in this matter - I witnessed the injuries and violence on the ice firsthand and it was deplorable. The NH coaches had NO control over their team as all. The league's decision had everything to do with player safety and nothing to do with racial issues. In fact, Selkirk has a number of players of aboriginal descent as do all the other teams in the league.

BTW - good players come out of this league including Detroit Red Wings forward Darren Helm who played for Selkirk years ago so YES - players CAN go to the NHL from this league.

END OF LETTER.........................Here is what caused this individual to write to me as this appeared in Yorkton This Week on April 4th.

There was an interesting development in Manitoba with their Junior ‘B’ hockey league, the Keystone Junior Hockey League, over the weekend.  Apparently, the league ordered the Norway House North Stars to play their home games in Gimli instead of in Norway House.  The reason being was that in the semi-finals, a number of players from Selkirk were injured when playing up there.  The newspaper report doesn’t say whether they were attacked by fans or whether the games were extra rough, or what the actual reason for these guys getting hurt was.  The politicians from Norway House got involved, the team was steadfast in not going to Gimli, and the championship has been awarded to the Arborg Ice Dawgs without playing a game beyond the first two that were slated to be played in Arborg anyway (the Ice Dawgs won both of those games).  This is Junior ‘B’ hockey.  Nobody is going to the NHL.  If the games were stupid, I wouldn’t play.  So I commend the league for this decision if player safety was an issue.  Often, we error on the side of ‘offending’ someone in lieu of making a common choice that keeps someone safe.  Norway House’s response could mean they’ll lose their team in the KJHL and I’m willing to bet the league will never go back.  


I will respond to Mr. Farquharson in this week's paper.

STACKHOUSE SOAPBOX (Yorkton This Week Apr 11)

By no means do I want my column to be an advertisement for local businesses, but I do feel the need to share a bit of my experience in a new fitness class called TRX.  In a nutshell, it’s suspension training.  Born in the Navy SEALs, suspension training bodyweight exercise develops strength, balance, flexibility, and core stability simultaneously.  It’s also slowly killing me!  I consider myself of average to above average healthy when comparing myself to other guys my age.  Nevertheless, I had no idea I was in as bad a shape as I, apparently, am when it comes to using certain muscles.  I think the habit we can get into while exercising is that we have a tendency to concentrate on the same areas of our body time and time again.  So, when you shock yourself by trying something new, you pay for it.  I joked that after last Wednesday’s class, I was destined to sit on the couch for the next five days and not move because I was so sore.  But, the reality is that I feel great and if you are one of these people that are considering a lifestyle change, I can tell you that a class atmosphere is a real good way to get yourself going.  I’ve worked out alone for the last few years; but there is something about doing it with a group of people all striving towards a common goal that gives you a sense of teamwork as well.   And, in Yorkton we do not have a shortage of fitness facilities to try.

As I headed to Weyburn on Thursday to broadcast games three and four of the Canalta Cup finals between the Red Wings and Humboldt Broncos, I remembered that my front passenger tire needed some air.  In Fort Qu’Appelle there were two service stations.  Neither of them had air.  In Qu’Appelle, there was one station, but again it didn’t have an option for pumping tires.  So, I went to Weyburn and figured I’d pump up there.  Again, no dice.  I tried four different places and none of them had a place for getting air.  Finally, the next day I was able to locate one; but it costs a dollar to use the pump.  Charging for air? 
Let it be known the highway (I think it’s the 35) to Weyburn from Qu’Appelle is a disaster.  I’ve never traveled a stretch like that where  a road could do significant damage to your vehicle like this one can.  Patching doesn’t work.  In fact, it might make things worse.  Either fix it, or lay down some gravel and turn it into a dirt road. 

Special thanks to Thor Berge, who sent an email last week outlining some accomplishments of Yorkton athletes.  Of note, Adam Becker went to a national chess tournament and Ashley Schrader is doing the same in bowling.  In soccer, Yorkton United FC U14 Boys and U14/16 Girls all won their Division II Provincials in Saskatoon at the end of February.  In hockey, the Peewee AA, Bantam A, and Peewee A clubs all won their events.  Thor suspects there are even more winners in gymnastics and dance competitions are still in progress.  In addition, Andy Wyatt is a co-winner of SaskSoccer’s Grassroots Coach Of The Year.  Sounds like we have a sports story for one of the reporters!

I also received an email regarding the Manitoba Junior ‘B’ Hockey situation involving Norway House, whereby it was determined they would have to play their home games in a neutral site in the wake of unnecessary violence that occurred in a series between the North Stars and Selkirk Fishermen.  The emailer supported the Keystone Junior Hockey League’s decision, but I am having second thoughts now after reading the email.  Apparently, the Selkirk players were not injured in Norway House; but rather in Selkirk.  A couple of players required hospital visits and Norway House took 19 penalties in the third period alone of one of the games.  Norway House was also on probation, according to this person, for questionable conduct from earlier in the year.   The North Stars did, in fact, play some neutral site home games in the Selkirk series and emerged the winners.  After losing the first two games of the final against Arborg, a press conference was held denouncing the league decision to move their home games to a neutral site and they ended up forfeiting the series.  I guess my thought process is why would the players be any safer in a neutral site then they would be in Norway House if the others were actually injured in Selkirk?  Nevertheless, if the accusations against Norway House are true, I would boot them out of the league permanently once the series is over.   

Nice person mentions this week to Lynndell Popoff, Rob Broda, Ryan Hoffman, Garth Hilts, Arielle Wood, and Graham Condo.