July 27, 2012: Travis Reitsma and his research on media bias during 2009 city strike; Robert Mittag and fighting city hall (you can win)

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Listen to entire program here:

Friday’s program was pre-recorded on Wednesday, July 25 and I had in the studio a couple of guests including Robert Mittag, aka, Rockin’ Robbee, here to play some blues stylings and also talk about his ongoing campaign to keep the spotlight on Al Magnieh’s continuing presence on city council.

But first, we heard from Travis Reitsma, local musician and a UWindsor graduate student who recently defended his thesis entitled: “How the Media View Public-Sector Workers: A Critical Discourse Analysis of a 2009 Municipal Workers’ Strike in Windsor, Ontario”, and the media focus was the Windsor Star coverage of that strike.

Here, Reitsma explains why generally the media is biased against labour, an overview of the 2009 strike and a brief description of  his research methodology:

Reitsma frankly explains how the labour movement in in trouble:


Al Magnieh has, as we know, decided to stay on council and wait till elections in a few years for voters to decide his fate. Many people thought the man’s transgressions as chair of the library board were serious enough that he should have resigned his council seat at the time, in addition to losing the position as chair of the library board. As these things go, the issue is out of the news cycle and Mr Magnieh continues to sit on council stripped of his committee positions. It seems a huge affront to democracy and that’s the reason Robert Mittag: aka Rockin’ Robbee has continued to attend council meetings with signs and a petition to ask Mr Magnieh to do the honourable thing and step down. Obviously, Mr Magnieh has no intention to do so and Ward 10 residents, strangely silent, will have to wait for election time to vote for someone else. I’m sure Mr Magnieh is hoping his constituents have short memories and will buy whatever line he will have to sell them if he runs again. In the meantime, Robbee has had a letter delivered to his door by Express Post barring him from attending city council or entering any property at city hall without written permission to do so. This prompted Robbee to seek the help of a local lawyer. At last Monday’s council meeting supporters of Robbee – not all of whom agree with his tactics as respectful as they are – attended the council meeting with him to challenge the city’s attempt to muzzle his right to freedom of expression: here’s what the letter said…

 Let’s not forget something as the Magnieh affair sinks out of the news cycle: the public library has been uprooted and de-stabilized. Oh sure, the place is operating as it sits stripped of the café with a book machine in its place, something installed under questionable circumstances as the CEO of the library has also disappeared as a result of his complicity in the misuse of credit cards with his pal Al. The other travesty is that these two have mismanaged the library to a point where it is supposed to be installed in the art gallery that I understand is now sans a café and gift shop – can you imagine an art gallery without a gift shop?

Mittag explains his reasonable  actions:

On Tuesday, July 31 a group of concerned citizens attended a discussion led by local lawyers Victoria Cross and Kendall McKinney on freedom of expression which I also attended. Here we learned that Robert is not alone and that it is routine to have similar letters sent to people every day. To receive a letter all it takes is an outburst of frustration at any city facility. As Cross pointed out, city hall is a public venue for political debate, a workplace, and an administrative centre. Mittag was doing his duty as a citizen in continuing to hold Mr Magnieh to account and the city used a heavy handed method to try and bar Mittag from legitimately expressing himself. A the meeting on Tuesday the Windsor Committee for the Defense of Freedom of Expression was formed: stay tuned!

Rockin Robbee insists: He Won’t Back Down:

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association got involved in this serious breach of Mittag’s rights and click the image to read their letter to the city of Windsor

The city has since rescinded the ban on Mittag. As you’ll note, the letter banning Mittag mentioned nothing about a 30 day expiry, yet that is the reason the city solicitor gave for lifting the ban.

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