Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, October 14, 2005

Thursday Night Was Painful

I was there at the Federal Government stakeholders session at 7 PM but they would not let me in. Come back at the 8:30 media session they said. I had a couple of hours to kill so I thought I would take up Councillor Valentinis' suggestion and take a look at the new Income and Security Building.

Some idiot left part of the interlocking sidewalk undone and I took a fall, a very bad one.

My daughter bless her soul is up early typing this for me since I cannot use my hands without a lot of pain.

My wife, who probably thinks I am nuts after I came home hurt and bloodied, listened to me and went down to the Ramada with our good friend, Alice, to listen to the presentation to let me know what was said. In fact, someone took pity on me and gave her a copy of the presentation for me.

I'll have alot to say about what happened on Monday. The one funny thing that has eased the pain is the front page of today's Star. This is like the introduction of the JMC Report a few years ago. And you know what? Eddie Francis has morphed into Mike Hurst.

Three years of effort down the toilet!

Random Thoughts To End The Week

It takes time to write one of these Blogs, a lot more time than I thought. I have the greatest admiration for reporters who have to produce copy and to a deadline! The response has been overwhelmingly positive and the "hits" are moving upward as people seem to be finding out about my Blog. That makes it all worthwhile.

There are also many things that I want to write about. However, there are only so many hours in the day for me to do so and for you, dear reader, to read. So here are a few odds and ends for you to consider.

The Rookies
Perhaps Councillors Postma and Jones are not such rookies after all and there is hope that they can lead us on the border issue. Their Motion to defer the discussion on the Science Centre was brilliant politics. The Budgeteers on Council with the impressive weight of the Windsor Star behind them were ready to kill the project. After all, who would oppose the Star if one had future ambitions?

Their Motion effectively gave the organizers time, and the Centre received publicity, that may help save it. Mr. Agnew can earn his salary by getting some Government monies too.

OMERS and The Taxpayers
Listening to Sid Ryan was very interesting the other night as he spoke about the revisions to the OMERS Act. I went to hear him because of my interest in matters involving OMERS and Borealis and their ownership of DRTP.

If what he says is true, and I have no reason to doubt him since I have not read the proposed Act, then what the Government proposes to do is shocking.

It is even more shocking since the FSCO who has been investigating OMERS for over a year has not issued its report and I was told their report might not now come out until spring! How can the Government legitimately cause changes to the OMERS Act if they do not know what went wrong, if anything, in its Governance to date?

As for Mr. Ryan and CUPE, he asked his 3-4,000 members in Windsor to flood the politicians with letters. That technique works. But he missed a golden opportunity to get even more thousands of letters sent to Sandra and Dwight.

CUPE should be partnering with taxpayers across Windsor and the province. After all, it is the poor souls like us who have to pay increased taxes to fund the increased contributions that we must pay if OMERS demands we must!

As I told Mr. Ryan when I spoke to him after his speech, I and a leading financial institution in town are working on a better way to fund CUPE member retirements that we believe meets his objectives, the CUPE members retirement goals and taxpayer pocket-books. I will be talking about this approach when the City budget process starts.

Dwight And More Money For Windsor
If only.

Just because he is Minister of Finance does not mean that more money will be coming our way. Wasn’t it only a short time ago that our Council was told not to expect very much more from the Province because we had already received more than our fair share and other areas were quite jealous.

As for the relationship between the Mayor and the Minister of Finance, that will be interesting to watch.

Huge Lay-off Potential for Autoworkers
Is this what the future of the auto industry and jobs for Windsor holds? If so, what do we do about it?

From the Windsor Star:
"Almost entirely automated, the GEMA plant will be run by a relatively tiny unionized workforce of only 250 when it reaches full production of 840,000 units per year sometime in 2008, if market conditions warrant.

At that point, GEMA's total workforce is expected to be only 530 people. UAW staff will be supplemented by 130 engineers and 150 outsiders who work alongside the union in the plant running things like the tool crib.

At Ford of Canada's Windsor assembly operations, by comparison, it takes more than 5,000 unionized staff under dozens of employee classifications and hundreds of managers to build about one million engines per year."

It's time we solved the border problem already and started focusing on our economic future! A tenth of the workforce producing about the same output scares the hell out of me.

Sayonara Eddie
I hope that Eddie enjoys his taxpayer financed trip to Japan, if needed, to beg Honda to come and build a new plant here.

It may be too little too late now anyway. Were auto companies who might want to build in North America approached from Day One of his term? Is Windsor the first city that they consider when thinking about expansion? There have been stories in the news about companies considering expansion into North America. What have we done about approaching them? I remember actually forwarding news stories to City Hall about that.

Interestingly, just the other day, I had coffees with a union member and a leading businessman in town. The businessman told me that Windsor had no chance of getting a new auto plant, blaming the militancy of the Unions here. The union member told me that his union was out of touch if it thought that a lot of people would take a buy-out. What good is a one-time payment inducement to go when one is earning $90,000 per year.

Frankly, what I took out of both sessions was the reality that we needed to do things differently here.

My union friend recognized that his salary was pretty high. Receiving a few dollars less an hour might mean more jobs here and not having to accept the pressure and the guilt that, if he did not retire, a younger member with less seniority would be out on the street. My business friend also had to accept that the CAW was doing things differently too.

With a new CAW leadership about to replace the Union heads, perhaps it is time to talk about the future of the auto industry. We need to do that now and not just when negotiations open in three years.

As for the Mayor, asking our Sister City to help won’t work. He should learn from the experiences of successful US cities that have captured new plants. He should dust off the work that was already done that almost won us a new Chrysler plant a few years ago. Most of all he needs to have the City, the unions, the region, the Province and the Federal Government onside with detailed plans before he gets his passport.

Bon voyage!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

"Pipedream Or Usefully Provocative Idea"

The University of Windsor is "mediocre" and probably always will be…Who cares!

It is almost that time again. The Macleans rankings are coming out. Will the University of Windsor remain 11th in the list of 11 or will there be huge celebrations if by chance it moves up a spot or two?

The University will always remain close to the bottom of the list of top Universities in Canada. At least according to the criteria of Macleans Magazine. Macleans is like the Bi-national Partnership and the border…their criteria define whether you pass or fail or how highly one ranks.

High incoming student grades, national academic awards, calibre of faculty, finances, reputation----how can we realistically expect Windsor to rank highly.

Never mind that the University has proven excellence in the areas of automotive research, the environment, and social justice. (and perhaps they could develop another one in medicine for underserviced areas, like Windsor!) Never mind that the University has offered an education to those who might have otherwise not gone to university since they could not get into the "better" schools either because of grades or finances.

There is no point beating ourselves up if the University ranks low again. As long as students get a good education, both academically and otherwise, (and sometimes the "otherwise" is more important as I learned when I was a graduate student overseas) isn’t that enough?

I must admit that I was amused when I read about a critical report by two board members, Dennis DesRosiers and Gord Boggs, about the University's poor showing in Macleans. React to a magazine ranking …..puhleeeeeeeze. At least "Several board members said they would not want to "manage to Macleans" by changing certain criteria that might not be in the best interests of the school or its students."

If the University does want to make a contribution, then it can do no better than listen to what Dr. Ross Paul said in his 2005 State of the University Address:
  • "For these reasons, I believe that Windsor’s future is inextricably linked to the development of its University and its College and vice versa... It is important to note that more and more municipalities are investing in their universities and colleges because they understand their critical importance, not only to the economic development of their regions but to the quality of life that they critically help to develop and support….From this perspective, I have been very encouraged by Mayor Eddie Francis’s strong interest… I am encouraged by his thinking and pledge the University to work closely with him and other community leaders to develop a new economy and a new quality of life that make Windsor one of Canada’s most thriving communities."

Councilor Valentinis talked about something similar in his interview on Face-To-Face noting what had been achieved in other communities.

That is why the recent story in the Star was so disappointing. "Eighteen months after University of Windsor president Ross Paul proposed moving parts of the campus downtown, the idea appears dead."

It would be interesting to know the real story since I heard that a recent meeting between the Mayor and the University did not go well at all. If the building of a university campus downtown could revitalize the area, shouldn’t the City be taking the lead to see how this can be done? "Dead" is not an acceptable choice in an area that is dying as the auto industry declines here.

Discussions with St. Clair College as an alternative? Hardly. They pulled out of the Income Security Building at the last minute since they could not afford the cost!

Dr. Paul wrote a Guest Column for the Star in February, 2004 in which he stated, "More and more cities are investing in what Harvard economist Michael Porter calls "clusters" -- private companies, universities, colleges and governments collaborating to establish key regional economic engines. The regional emphasis is important, for two- thirds of employment in modern countries comes from local rather than national clusters."

That sounds similar to what was done in Sault Ste. Marie in their "Innovation Centre" that I discussed before in this Blog. That city had major slowdowns in their steel and lumber industries.

Now isn’t that what we should be considering after hearing about the Windsor/Essex County Economic Development Statement? Isn’t this something we should be striving for as we lose thousands of jobs in the auto industry and as we WILL lose thousands more as the GEMA plant experience should teach us?

Dr. Paul also wrote:

  • A city with a beautiful waterfront, strong ethnic mix, bustling downtown, broad range of industries and services, Canada's newest art gallery, one of its best symphonies, a science museum, brand new arena and balance of younger and older people living in affordable condominiums.

    A city across the river from a major American metropolis. A city with one of Canada's leading universities, known internationally for its leading-edge research in such areas as automotive, environmental and social justice, but also for its learner-centred campus life and community participation.

    Can this be Windsor?! Why not?

Why not indeed. I have an idea…instead of Beztak or some other developer investing $40-50 million in an arena downtown and paying the ongoing costs annually as a "loss leader" to build a profitable urban village, why aren’t we talking to the developers and asking them to sink that kind of money into something productive----like an expanded University of Windsor so that we can fulfill the "pipedream" of Dr. Paul. The City has set aside $15 million (or, as Councillor Lewenza would say, only $75 per household per year) for an arena that we no longer seem to need. Why not take that money and do something truly productive with it?

I would rather believe in the University President’s pipedream than the billion-dollar Schwartz dream and try to achieve that! That is what the Mayor and Council should be rallying about.

Now that would be a legacy for the University and for Windsor, not ranking #8 on the Macleans List!

Windsor In The Throne Speech

Here it is in case you missed it, or blinked....the entire reference in the Ontario Throne Speech to Canada's most important border point:

  • "Your government is investing in major improvements to border gateways in Niagara Falls and Sarnia.

    And it has appointed Michael Kergin, the respected former Canadian Ambassador to the U.S., to accelerate dramatic improvements in Windsor, including a new border crossing.

    Mr. Kergin is with us today, and when we acknowledge him, we acknowledge all the men and women who are working to modernize Ontario's infrastructure."

We were listed third! Amazing. I hope Dwight can do better than that for us.

The comment about people working on infrastructure must include Steve Salmons. What a way to rub it in!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

$500,000,000 Gongshow Announcement Next?

Congratulations to Dwight Duncan upon being named Minister of Finance in Ontario.

Does this mean that Windsor will get now the half billion dollars that he announced some time ago or do we still have to wait until after 2010 to make sure that he is re-elected?

Wait, I have an can use that money to help build the "enhanced" WALTS Road now. After all, the Governor's announcement made its construction inevitable .

I Can See Clearly Now

Thank goodness for a long holiday weekend, or so I thought! Getting away from the border fiasco for a few days was a nice pause that was supposed to allow me to step back and try and figure out where we are.

But it may all change, again.

The four Governments are supposed to make an announcement on the border after the Governor of Michigan scooped everyone. I also heard the Federal Government Peer Review of Schwartz is to be released this week.

As of 6:15 AM, this is the situation as I see it:

1) We CANNOT Be The Mouse That Roared. The US will make the decisions. We fooled ourselves into thinking that we had a big role to play and had some influence. You remember what the Globalization expert said at his City/County Councils presentation about the region. We have 2-300,000 people; the Detroit Region has 5,000,000. Governor Granholm made that point loud and clear when she said, ""The study team will continue their work to ensure that the right decision is made for the residents of Southeast Michigan …"

Windsorites screamed and our politicians pretended to listen but ignored us. The Downriver residents screamed and their reps truly listened and the Governor was forced to act.

2) All Over But The Cheering. The Bi-national Engineers’ conclusion that DRTP as a standalone project did not meet the long-term travel needs of the region and did not meet their minimum criteria was fatal to them…almost. The Engineers tried to salvage it by saying that if the Belle Isle Bridge was built (and later, that language was revised to not mentioning a specific crossing) then DRTP could remain as an alternative ie combine 2 poor crossings at double the price. The Governor’s announcement ending the East End Bridge means DRTP has to be off the table.

More importantly, Jim Kirschensteiner, Michigan's assistant chief of the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, said the so-called Jobs Tunnel "doesn't cut it for the long-term." This must mean that DRTP has been unable to convince FHA that there is a satisfactory way for DRTP to build an interchange to allow trucks to enter I-75. That was a major DRTP issue in the past.

That is a double whammy---both Michigan and the US Federal government have effectively killed DRTP.

For this, we should at least be thankful to them for doing what Canadian politicians would not.

NOTE---If only Ontario’s governmental agency FSCO will issue their OMERS/Borealis Investigation Report, then we will see the official end of DRTP!

3) Sitting On The Outside Looking In. I do not care how the apologists will try and spin this story, the Mayor’s strategy failed.

Rallying for a billion dollar short-term dream when the short-term problem was solved by the Bridge Co. by building a few more Customs booths never made sense to me. Fighting for the short-term when elected to find a long-term solution is still incomprehensible to me.

"Building relationships" with the Governor and others over the past two years did nothing for the City. When the time came, the Governor ignored Windsor, Ontario and Canada. All Eddie could do was write a letter whining to the Senior Levels, the people he snubbed a few months before, begging "If the Governor has used her rightful authority to remove alternatives ahead of the final analysis on the basis of community needs and their entitlement to healthy and quality living, then you should do the same…"

We are no longer sitting at the table. We are again on the outside looking in. As proof of this---" The group [DRIC] has turned over its preferences to politicians in Toronto, Ottawa, Lansing and Washington to finalize the decision, Mohammed Alghurabi, senior project manager for the Michigan Department of Transportation and leader of the binational team said. I did not see the name "Windsor" there.

Isn’t what the Mayor said so familiar "No matter what remains on the table we're going to oppose vigorously anything that goes through the city and anything that puts and keeps trucks on city streets or puts them through neighbourhoods." Shades of the winter when the JMC Report first came out! We are opponents again, and not part of the solution. What have we accomplished?

Sam Schwartz can feel free now to go to Toronto to tell them what to do with the Gardiner Expressway.

4) The Envelope Please. I have said again and again that the Bridge Co. has won. I knew that a few months after the battle started when the Star did a story describing their landholdings at the key border spots. It was hardly rocket science. They had outmanoeuvred everyone a long time ago.

The two obvious route choices identified by the Bi-national were Ojibway and the Twinned Bridge. Both locations are under their control. Frankly, a new crossing may never be built or may be built many years from now given the significant decrease in traffic and the shift to Sarnia and rail. That is why their 200 booth proposal gives them a major leg-up.

There is only one battle that needs to be fought now and frankly, in my opinion, the Bridge Co. is indifferent as to the outcome. They got burned before when they proved the City’s route, the one set out in the WALTS Report, would work. That route, the Ring Road, became identified as theirs and they took the hit for it. They have learned. Let the City figure out how to get the trucks to the Ambassador Bridge or Ojibway. Why should they care or take the heat again?

As you know, I prefer the Ojibway crossing…I started Ojibway Now! didn’t I. But I can also read and I believe that this route has significant problems. Whether true or not I do not know. We know about the environmental concerns. The Star reported in June:

  • "Salt mines, underwater pipelines and brine wells which caused a massive sinkhole in the 1950s are posing a threat to a proposed Ojibway Parkway border crossing. The west-end industrial corridor, preferred by Windsor and Detroit city councils, as well as New York traffic engineer Sam Schwartz, has several obstacles threatening to make a new bridge in the area extremely costly or impossible, says a top official with a binational team assigned to choose the crossing location.

    "People would expect (an Ojibway Parkway crossing) to be a short- list option, but we are not prepared to make that decision at this time," said Leonard Kozachuk, project engineer for the binational Detroit River International Crossing project. "There are a lot of challenges in that location. "It's an area we are looking at closely because of the potential, but there is key infrastructure there that makes it not easy to do site planning…

    Kozachuk added that along with the brine wells, area salt mining, expansion of the Lou Romano sewage plant and massive gas and power pipelines buried in the riverbed in the area have also emerged as other obstacles."

So let us assume that Ojibway is dead too…Where else is there to go? You got it. The West Enders’ worst nightmare! And some of them in fact helped create it by their opposition to an Ojibway crossing. Isn’t that ironic, don’t you think!

5) Right Back To Where We Started From. All of this time, effort and taxpayer money and we are right back at the beginning. Is this a joke or what? To summarize again why:

  • the US is making the decisions for their residents’ benefit,
  • we have lost our seat at the table and are irrelevant,
  • we wasted a year rallying for the short-term billion dollar fiasco and ignored the long-term
  • DRTP is dead and we may have killed Ojibway too leaving the Twinned Bridge or the 200 booths as the only option left
  • we may have lost our leverage with the Bridge Co.

I regret to say that I have lost confidence in the ability of the Mayor to do the right thing for Windsor. The Mayor lost this fight when he and Council decided to speak to "stakeholders" only and endorsed Schwartz in secret, without allowing Windsorites to participate in decision-making on a matter that is fundamental to us.

Ratify in public at Council a "secret" decision on a piece of art but never allow the public to talk on what is truly important for Windsor. Try and introduce the infamous Agenda Item #5 but run for cover and "defer" when 16 people line up as delegations at Council to oppose it. Why let the people speak? Why listen to the electorate?

If the Mayor can no longer lead, then there are only two people in this City who can now and who must.

The Councillors for Ward 2, Caroline Postma and Ron Jones have no choice. They have to take charge. They have to take the lead. In effect, the future of Windsor will rest on the shoulders of two rookie Councillors. (I know, Ron Jones has an extra year since he was elected in a by-election).

The Ojibway/Twinned Bridge/200 booths routes will go through their Ward. They will have to make the tough decisions that may be unpopular but are needed. They will have to take the appropriate action to mitigate any concerns that West Enders and Windsorites have.

Can they can handle the job?

They have a bit of good fortune. The Crossing is in their Ward. The road to the Crossing is in their Ward. Fortunately for them, the winner of the competition also is a long-time constituent in Ward 2 and a City taxpayer. And that is the Councillors’ only bargaining power! Oh, they can try to play tough and hold up the Bridge Co. project. Since that would hurt our economy, the Senior Levels would be forced to take over and here would come the destruction of E.C. Row as a community road.

Here is a prediction. If Ojibway is dead, then we are getting the City’s WALTS Ring Road, like it or not. Huron Church Road cannot be the Highway 401 continuation. The Councillors must bargain for an "enhanced" Ring Road that will minimize any negative impact on the West End and will improve the community if done properly. Actually, Schwartz had some ideas about how a properly constructed roadway could actually enhance property values.

The Bridge Co. cannot be given a "free ride." The Councillors have to make the Bridge Co. agree to help improve the area around the bridge by assisting in the redevelopment of Sandwich through the Community Development Corporation Task Force groups and of the Port of Windsor. They need to be made part of improving Windsor, especially in the West End, as they are in Detroit.

If the Councillors really want to dream, then there is an urban village to build in the West End with their other major constituent, the University, as another partner. It seems that the Mayor has failed in talks with them too. The Councillors can be the facilitators amongst the University, the Bridge Co., developers and those interested in the economic redevelopment to start in the revitalization of the West End. Now that's a legacy for anyone.

Not much of a negotiating position and a tough fight as well for the Rookies. They will need the help of Windsorites and their colleagues and they will seek it out of they are smart. In January, 2005, if we had dealt only with the long-term, the City’s position was stronger than now. In March, 2004 , around the time of the Phase 1 signing, the City was unbeatable.

The Rookies have to play with the cards that they have been dealt. I sure wish it had been a Royal Flush!

The Answer to the Question

The answer to the question yesterday was NOT Eddie Francis. I was not going to make it that easy.

The clues were "The Star" and MFP. Toronto has a "Star" newspaper and Toronto had its MFP problem under the previous Mayor, Mel Lastman.

The answer is: Mayor David Miller of Toronto

The issue that may negatively impact the Toronto Mayor is violence and guns. Accordingly, the Star ran a story headlined "Has Mayor Miller become beatable?"

The story when on to conclude "However, as one wily old political insider pointed out, while all of the ingredients are there to cause problems for Miller in the next campaign (based on the single issue of crime and rising fears), "there really isn't a strong candidate to challenge him."

Some lessons for Windsor here too?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Media Is The Government

The man won the biggest majority in Canadian Parliamentary history and still was cowered by them.

You either loved Brian Mulroney or hated him. There was no in-between. In Peter Newman’s book there are his taped conversations about Meech Lake, his anti-apartheid actions, free-trade and his views of contemporary politicians that made the headlines. But to me, it was what he did at night that is the most fascinating.

Now get your mind out of the gutter. Sure it was pillow talk, but not that kind.

According to Val Sears,

  • "His problem, as Peter C. Newman makes so clear in his book of interview tapes, was that he was obsessed by the media. He hated it and worshiped it, even keeping a radio under his pillow at night so he could listen without waking Mila.

    "So, what are the boys saying?" became his mantra and as his press secretary, Michel Gratton wrote: "He helped us to forge a new approach to administration -- the media is the government."

Shades of Marshall McLuhan’s old line about the medium and the message!

Imagine, not sleeping and listening to the news at all hours. Perhaps he was trying to discover what the media were going to do next. Brian’s media fixation made me think about the Mayor given his fascination and dependence on the media and the fact that he works 18 hour days. It is no big secret that Eddie tried very hard before he was Mayor to make friends with the media in Windsor, and he was very successful, and that he hardly sleeps.

But in Windsor now, as in Ottawa, who rules whom?

That question jumped into my thoughts when I took a look at Council Agenda Item #16 on October 11 under the innocuous title, "Art Gallery of Windsor Public Art Project." [Whoever dreams up these subject headings that hide what these controversial matters are dealing with deserves a big salary increase from this Administration!]. That item is to ratify and confirm what Council did in secret! That item is to confirm the removal of the "sign" (not work of art mind you) from the waterfront via Council’s actions via e-mails.

What a waste of time I thought and what a joke. Not ratifying the secret in camera actions of Council on the border or the arena move to the Racetrack or the bus terminal financing but ratifying some action on a piece of art!

I kept wondering about it and wondering about it. What could have caused this to happen? There had to be an important reason for the matter to be put in front of Council. Then, EUREKA, I got it: the media is the government.

It all started coming into focus now! I went back into history and did a timeline. Look at what popped out from some Windsor Star articles. The co-incidences seemed startling. Had the Media slipped up? Had I uncovered what terrified Brian Mulroney, not in Ottawa, but in out-of-the-way Windsor?

  1. December 1, 2003 EDITORIAL…it is absolutely imperative that elected officials be accountable for all of their decisions… there are two tools that councils can use to ensure accountability thrives -- recorded votes on all issues and a commitment to conduct business in open, public meetings…In Windsor, mayor-elect Eddie Francis has been a strong advocate of both those checks and balances and we think it's something every council in this area should endorse as their first order of business.

  2. February 24, 2004 News in Brief. Francis adds a new face to city hall team. A former council committee's secretary for the Town of Tecumseh has been added to Mayor Eddie Francis's staff and will handle policy matters and inter-governmental affairs…Norma Coleman replaces Matt Marchand…Francis is still in the process of hiring a chief of staff to replace Jane Boyd.

  3. April 6, 2004 Closed sessions defended; Most of city council's time Monday spent in camera city council met behind closed doors for three hours Monday night...Even though many councillors campaigned on the issue of open and accountable government, in-camera meetings have been lasting for more than two hours in recent weeks. Monday's public meeting lasted just 51 minutes…Mayor Eddie Francis said it reflects a new way of doing business rather than a need for secrecy.

  4. April 27, 2004 Closed city meetings to continue No reason to change procedural bylaw despite number of in-camera sessions, says Francis

  5. May 10, 2004 Windsor Star Editorial. City council: Keeping the doors open When Mayor Eddie Francis ran for his job last fall, he promised to lead a more open city council. But in recent weeks, council has been anything but open.

  6. July 14, 2004 Boyd sues city for firing. (last paragraph of story)
    "After Jane Boyd's departure, it took until May for Mayor Eddie Francis to fill her position [CHIEF OF STAFF]with Norma Coleman. Coleman had originally been hired away from the Town of Tecumseh in February to be policy adviser to Francis"

  7. September 20, 2004 Editorial Windsor's police services board has an obligation to ensure that the discussion is open to the public….So far, openness hasn't been front and centre. …Mayor Eddie Francis, who is also the board chairman…

  8. June 25, 2005 Council defends secret meeting City councillors are defending a closed-door meeting they held with a lawyer this week

  9. July 12, 2005 Mayor hopeful about more job announcements Yet another was discussed during an in-camera meeting of city council. ..There's nothing that would please me more as mayor and as a member of city council to stand up and talk about these things. However, the reason we've been successful, part of the reason, is we've been able to maintain confidentiality."

There, don’t you see it. The media wants to know what the Mayor and Council are doing at all times. Be open, no secrecy. Let us know everything. You dare not keep secrets from us. When they did, or tried to, they were scolded like naughty children

The first day the new Council came into office, the message was delivered, loud and clear.

I naively thought that Norma Coleman was hired by Eddie for her political connections. Interestingly, her appointment was mentioned in an article that many people would miss. But what was not mentioned in the article and is vital to understand is that NORMA COLEMAN IS THE WIFE OF JOHN COLEMAN, THE EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR OF THE WINDSOR STAR!

Clearly Eddie had not learned his openness lesson as several more stories disclosed. Norma was promoted to Eddie's #1 assistant. This was disclosed 2 months after the appointment and found only at the end of a story about Mike Hurst's chief. It was not made the subject at all of a big annnouncement from City Hall.

Eddie must be a slow learner. He tried again to get around the Media dictum with the Police Board first, thought he could get away with it under "solicitor-client privilege," pretended that economic development was important. Emboldened, he thought he could have Council action by email and Blackberry rather than public session.

That was his downfall.

This insubordination could no longer be tolerated. The Mayor had to be made to grovel, to face public embarrassment and shame.

Then it happened, and with full force. The recent Star Editorial--A case for openness--and the Henderson column criticizing the Mayor by name on the secrecy were the final blows. He had not learned from his errors in the past and now he had to be taught a lesson. Ergo Agenda Item #16. Complete humiliation.

Eddie knows now who is boss. I trust he now understands his role. Repeat after me: the media is the government, the media is the government, the media is the government.

Name That Mayor

Who is he?

He was elected with great hope to salvage a City. He brought a fresh new look to local politics.

The previous Mayor had been in power for many years. His term was marked by a major financial problem with MFP.

The new Mayor campaigned for open, responsible government. He supported a 3-1-1 service which was to be launched in 2005. He made the budget process participatory, by holding a series of town hall meetings where the public and key stakeholders were to make submissions at the beginning of the process, before the budget was introduced at Council.

The local newspaper wrote:

  • "XXXX can't be beaten.

    Oh? Is that really so?

    Just a few short weeks ago, nobody would have questioned that assessment. At the beginning of July, the Star surveyed the field of potential candidates for XXXX's job — most of them city councillors — and interviewed political-watchers who concluded that, especially with the advantage of incumbency, XXXX was essentially unbeatable.

    Increasingly in recent weeks, however, the ground has shifted. These have been tough and difficult times for the city... XXXX's opponents see the AAAA issue as his soft spot, whether it's reasonable to blame the mayor forAAAA or not.

    A view has taken hold that XXXX is exactly what Lean says he is not — beatable. It it's true, not even a master like Ralph Lean can assure him the victory he seeks...

    What I find discouraging is that XXXX is a reactive mayor who reacts to issues once he receives criticism," she said. "I always felt that he had limitations as a councillor and I didn't expect much. I know that he looks good and sounds good, but I don't think he has accomplished very much...."

The answer: Leave your guess as a Comment!

The answer will be given tomorrow

Monday, October 10, 2005

Happy Holiday!

I am a Toronto boy, born there and lived there for most of my life. I moved to Windsor a number of years ago and have been very happy here. I spend the time to write these Blogs, and it does take time, because I want the city I live in to prosper. There are tremendous opportunities here that we must capture. I hope my Bloggings can contribute to that success.

So in the spirit of the holiday today:

  • I am thankful that my wife is so supportive and understanding
  • I am thankful that my parents taught me values that I can pass on to my children
  • I am thankful that I live in Windsor--banal, boring and safe place that it is
  • I am thankful for my home, a place I truly "live" in
  • I am thankful I live in a country where I can call the PM a ditherer, the Premier a flipflopper and the Mayor a flop on the border and not be sent to Siberia
  • I am thankful for my friends in Windsor
  • I am thankful for the people who supported Ojibway Now!, STOPDRTP, CPOW, citizens for DRTP, Windsor West Truck Watch and other groups, who put up lawn signs and flags, who signed letters, petitions and emails and who attended meetings and protest rallies, all for the betterment of our City
  • I am thankful that our border issue is about to reach a conclusion that makes sense so we can all get on with life
  • I am thankful that most Members of Council understand why I do what I do and still will have a drink with me
  • I am thankful that I can have the best that Canada offers with the best of the US nearby
  • I am thankful that Windsor house prices are still affordable
  • I am thankful that I can still get almost anywhere in Windsor from my house in about 15 minutes
  • I am thankful for those special places we have found over the years where we shop on both sides of the border
  • I am thankful that so many people actually read this Blog and have given me comments "offline" that encourage me to keep on writing.
  • I am thankful for Google
  • I am thankful that I am not a Thanksgiving Day turkey