Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, October 28, 2005


It's tough work writing this BLOG. The problem is not finding enough to write about but how to find the space to write about everything. PLUS, I know that people do not have a long time to read what I write since their boss might catch them goofing off. So here is a potpourri of items to end the week.

Not a Kodak moment
Sarnia-Lambton MPP Caroline Di Cocco has been sponsoring Bill 123, the Transparency in Public Matters Act and similar pieces of legislation since 2001. She clearly is having problems getting her Private Members Bill passed. She needs a good example of a Municipal Mayor and Councillors being elected on a platform of "open and transparent" government and then failing miserably.

Hey, I have an idea, Windsor can be that example since we have so many in camera meetings. Check out my "The media is the government" blog

Urban Legends---Donny & Marie coming to town?

Latest rumour about our urban village is that a Utah developer may come to town to put in an offer. Heck, if we can convince the 360 members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and their families to re-locate here, then our worries are over!

I have asked a few people I know if they can think who the developer is but no answers yet.

Now who was the little bit country and who was Rock and Roll?

Who is Steve Tobocman
You may have seen his name quoted recently in two Star stories and in a Star editorial against the Bridge Co's new proposal.

A multiple choice question for you:
Steve Tobocman is
  1. a Democrat in the Michigan State House of Representative
  2. a homeowner who lives within two blocks of the proposed expanded Ambassador Bridge gateway
  3. opposed to the Bridge Co.'s plans
  4. the legislator who introduced a bill to establish a state "Border Development and Protection Authority” that could impose price controls on privately owned bridge or tunnel border crossings and not allow construction of a new port of entry without the approval of the authority
  5. All of the above.
Is Grand Rapids now part of Detroit?
I was intrigued about Marge Byington of DRTP’s US group holding a fundraiser in her home in Grand Rapids for Freman Hendrix, candidate for Detroit Mayor, recently. I guess everything in Detroit must be booked solid for her to hold it so far away or has Detroit annexed Grand Rapids now?

Given the anti-Kilpatrick/Bridge Co. stories, I wonder if the Detroit or Windsor media will pick up on this. You know, fair is fair. Naaaaaaawwwwwwwww, they won't.

DCTC’s chair is my old University buddy
David McFadden (of the Gowlings law firm in Toronto) is Chair of the Board of the Detroit and Canada Tunnel Corporation. I hear that he is trying to extend his company’s lease with the City (or is it the Tunnel Commission). I am sure if he wants a place to stay while he negotiates the extension, he can ask me for a suggestion or else he can ask his law firm partner, David Estrin, who also happens to be the City’s lawyer in the border wars!

Will David M negotiate the extension with David E, his partner?

I was wondering also if there is a requirement for the City to go out to tender on a matter like this or do they just have to give it to DCTC?

  1. Name the successful Windsor business people who are pulling their money out of Windsor and re-investing in other areas. And that was even before Dennis DesRosiers spoke!
  2. Which SW Ontario city’s Economic Development head copies in a big binder every Windsor union problem news story and shows it to companies that want to re-locate to South West Ontario?
  3. When will the FSCO finally release the results of its investigation into OMERS? Will it be before or after the OMERS Act is changed?
Did our Provincial Liberal Cabinet Members really say this
Dwight Duncan, Windsor Star 04-21-2005

"...local MPP Dwight Duncan (L -- Windsor St. Clair) emerged from a provincial Cabinet meeting in Toronto and declared plans to use the expressway as a truck route were never on the table. "Whether or not bureaucrats want it is irrelevant to me," said Duncan.... "It is the premier and cabinet ministers who make the decisions, not bureaucrats."

Sandra Pupatello, Windsor Star 05-28-2005

"She said the federal government, for legal reasons, can't put its support for the Schwartz plan in writing but people needn't worry because "there's no way they're not on board to build the road that leads to the bridge."

Sandra on EC Row

Windsor Star 12-20-2003
Huron Church backup plan "Unfortunately upgrades to Huron Line will take two to three years, so we need a backup plan where trucks will go," Pupatello said. "(E.C. Row) may need to be part of a temporary measure. They have to go somewhere.

Windsor Star 04-21-2005
There is no reference in the planned announcement to improve E.C. Expressway to accommodate trucks, but MPP Sandra Pupatello (L -- Windsor West) confirmed Wednesday there will be some increased use. She said she hopes the increased truck traffic would be temporary until the city's preferred option to create a truck bypass through the Ojibway Park area becomes a reality.

Windsor Star 04-22-2005
MPP Sandra Pupatello (L -- Windsor West) defended Thursday's announcement. ..She deflected Schwartz's criticism that the plan announced Thursday will lead to more trucks on E.C. Row. "It's not our intent to use the expressway as a truck corridor," she said.

Windsor Star 10-15-2005
MPP rules out E.C. Row for border truck traffic. E.C. Row Expressway will never be used as an international truck route, MPP Sandra Pupatello (L--Windsor West) said Friday. "Both Dwight (duncan) and I have said E C Row will not be used for trucks....period." Pupatello said. "I can't be more emphatic than that."

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Hendrix Supports DRTP

The Bridge Co. and its owner have been vilified over the past few days for providing campaign funds for Detroit Mayor Kilpatrick. The conclusion then suggested is that these contributions made it easy for the Bridge Co. to get approval for its plan for for the border. What a shocker then from a non-Detroit paper.

Interestingly enough, several Windsor Councillors were asked to visit with Hendrix recently too. I wondered why and perhaps now I understand the reason. As far as I know, they did not actually meet with him.

Well let us see if the local media in Windsor and Detroit will report on this story to balance the scales:

"Fundraiser supports Detroit mayoral candidate
Thursday, October 27, 2005
By Steven Harmon, The Grand Rapids Press

GRAND RAPIDS -- So, what common interests would draw a Democratic Detroit mayoral candidate into the home of a Grand Rapids Republican businesswoman on a cool fall evening?

How about a $600 million tunnel project between Detroit and Canada?

Marge Byington, a former Kent County commissioner, hosted a fundraiser Wednesday night for Freman Hendrix, the mayoral candidate challenging incumbent Kwame Kilpatrick.

The two are former aides to ex-Detroit mayor Dennis Archer, but, more importantly, Hendrix has pledged his support for the so-called "Jobs Tunnel" project -- which Kilpatrick repeatedly has rebuffed. Byington is a government relations official with the company pushing it, Detroit-based Detroit River Tunnel Partnership.

"He definitely supports the Jobs Tunnel because of the jobs it'll bring to the city," said an aide to Hendrix.

Peter Secchia, one of the contributors who attended the fundraiser, said he usually is reluctant to get involved in a nonpartisan race outside Grand Rapids. But he's a longtime friend and supporter of Byington, who was Secchia's "balloon lady" for a downtown rally for President Ford in 1975.

"From that point on, I said, 'Let's get you involved in politics,'" Secchia said. "She ran for Kent County Commission, she became the chairwoman, went to Detroit, made a career and has been an ally and supporter for years."

Secchia said he doesn't know Hendrix, "but I do know Kwame, and I know he's been a failure. Kwame Kilpatrick had his shot, and it's gotten worse in Detroit."

The tunnel project would convert two rail tunnels under the Detroit River into a two-lane border crossing for commercial trucks. A larger rail tunnel would be carved within 100 feet of the rail tunnels and handle modern rail cars. The partnership's biggest hurdle has been to buy 27 acres needed to provide direct access to truck traffic onto Int. 75 without going through neighborhoods. That purchase must go through the Detroit City Council. "

I wonder if our distinguished Mayor and Council took the time to learn about the Hendrix position.

"Deep Throat"

Just like Woodward and Bernstein, I have my own "Deep Throat." I do not obtain information directly from him/her but am guided to the solution one step at a time.

I didn’t get it…why did the Bridge Co. propose that the Detroit Wayne County Port Authority get involved with the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel, "Big Box & Main Street" retail operations and a major manufacturing and distribution center. What the heck did that have to do with ships?

"You must understand, Grasshopper," my source said, "The Tunnel was not the story as the Windsor Star reported but rather the story is about the revitalization of our regional economies and industrial diversification with the Port Authority as the driving force."

I still did not understand. In my source’s mysterious way, I thought he said ogle the Big Apple. I was ready to fly to NYC. Instead he had said to go to Google and do a search. And what a revelation it was. I checked out their Port Authority website and was shocked to learn it covered 2 states, just like the separate Windsor and Detroit regions. Clearly I was on to something big potentially for Windsorites. Here is how they described themselves.

"The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is committed to supporting the economic growth of the New York-New Jersey region, in any way we can. Through our regional air cargo and seaport networks and our long term economic development initiatives, we help drive this region's global competitiveness, while distinct business opportunities offered through our facilities and services help local business flourish. With the signing of every contract, we hope to further the success of our contractors, vendors - and the region as a whole."

My goodness…all of the buzz words I had heard a few weeks before watching the globalization guru on Cable TV: economic growth, region's global competitiveness, local business, success of the region as a whole. The breadth of their activities was amazing, and not just marine oriented either. Why, they even had their own Police force numbering over 1600 people.

The Port Authority is involved in everything:

  • Holland Tunnel
  • constructed the critical interstate crossings including the George Washington Bridge, Outerbridge Crossing, the Goethals and Bayonne bridges, Lincoln Tunnel
  • leased and linked three airports Newark, LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy International into a regional aviation network.
  • built the Port Authority Bus Terminal and added a second deck to the George Washington Bridge.
  • rebuilt many Brooklyn piers and developed the world's first containerports at Port Newark and the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal.
  • acquired the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad and began operating it as the PATH rail transit system.
  • constructed of The World Trade Center, which brought together private firms and government agencies engaged in international business.
  • began a bistate program of industrial redevelopment, aimed at helping the region retain manufacturing firms and jobs.

I was beginning to see the light. There were massive economic redevelopment opportunities available both for Detroit and Windsor if only we could get past the "border" and if the Star reported the story so people here could be informed, understand and demand that action be taken.

My source had also said something about the Wall Street Journal. Quickly, I searched its pages and found a story about Northern New Jersey. The region's median income was $73,973, the highest of any state, home prices have increased, about double the national average, and the area's shopping malls are busy. It described "the solid if dull warehouse sector [as the] driver of the area's commercial real estate… Its central location on the eastern seaboard along with its excellent highway, air, rail and seaport access make it a hub of choice." Remarkably, our Development Commission said something similar about Windsor being a leading transportation hub and that we can reach 125 million people within one day’s drive. It also talked about the low cost of industrial real estate.

Can you believe it! New Jersey! Becoming an economic powerhouse. Why couldn’t that happen to Windsor I thought. We can do all of what New Jersey did and more with our business leaders and talented workforce.

Finally my source said cranes. I assumed he meant building derricks or ones that flew. Instead he meant Crains Detroit! There I read "Detroit development projects like an expanded Cobo Center or a bigger Motown museum could get the one thing they need to see the light of day — money. Amendments to the Port Authority Act passed by the state House two weeks ago aim to extend the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority’s bonding authority well beyond marine applications… Port authorities in New York City and the Minnesota cities of St. Paul and Duluth also have used their bonding authority to spur regional economic development."

It all came together. The Bridge Co. figured out how to make the Port work for the economic benefit of the Region (and for their pocket-book too no doubt). We could see more jobs, higher income, improved real estate prices, a bustling retail sector and so on. No wonder the Tunnel was not the story. No wonder Gord Henderson admitted: "I’m in awe of Moroun and his hired hands. These folks are the masters. They’re always two or three cunning moves ahead of the other players…"

One last question I demanded. "Does Mayor Eddie have the guts to call the Bridge Co. to try and partner with them?" Upon hearing that, my source just smiled and departed.

Losing My Cool

I admit it. I sometimes get very angry. It usually happens when a person who should know better does or says something really foolish.

I try to do my research before I write a Blog to be as correct as I can be. The border debate is important to me as you can gather. Spreading misinformation at a time like this is very dangerous and can impact our community negatively. If we are to reach a consensus, then we all need to have the same, accurate information upon which to base a decision.

So being furious was my reaction last night when listening to Percy's Panel on CBC TV News at 6 PM. Councillors Jo-Anne Gignac and Joyce Zuk were being interviewed about Council's decision to meet with Detroit Council. I could not believe the incorrect information being spouted by Councillor Gignac. I assumed that she had just not done her homework.

I had heard that Council had decided in camera before the Council session on Monday NOT to seek the meeting, with the Mayor supporting that point of view. Then at public session, there was Councillor Gignac asking for one. It reminded me of her flipflopping and that of Councillor Brister, who sits beside her at the Council table, when they opposed the Bridge Co.'s plans in public to build the customs booths into Canada when they had endorsed it in secret as part of the Schwartz Report.

I must admit that I did not think that it was a very smart move on her part to make her colleagues look bad. But if one has ambitions to run for Mayor, one does have to separate oneself from the pack. Taking a public "lead" position on the trivial items concerning the border is one way for her to distinguish herself I guess.

In passing, I noted that the Mayor did not "scold" her for breaking ranks. He must have enjoyed watching her flipflopping. It means one less possible opponent next November.

I think that a meeting with Detroit Council makes great sense, but at the right time. I had argued for one months ago but was ignored by our Council. At least Councillor Zuk recognized the political reality that there is an election over there going on. Perhaps Councillor Gignac missed that bit of information as well.

I remember that I had talked to the Mayor of River Rouge (he was the Mayor that actually wanted a bridge through his community) and had arranged for him to meet our Mayor and Council. However, I was told by Norma Coleman, the Mayor's Chief of Staff and wife of the the Star's Editorial Page Editor, to effectively mind my own business.

Anyway, the long and short of it is that I wrote the following email to Councillor Gignac:
  • Councillor,

    RE: It would be nice if you got your facts right

    I am shocked that you would appear on CBC TV news and not have the faintest idea what you are talking about respecting the Ambassador Bridge Co. plan.

    Spreading misinformation around the Community is hardly the way for a Councillor to promote a proper dialogue on this most important subject!

    I would suggest that you and your colleagues might want to meet with the Bridge Co. first before you go across the river to understand their plan so that Detroit Councillors will not laugh you out of their Council chambers. They at least have an understanding of what is going on.

    The first thing you should learn is who will actually "own" the US side of the Tunnel.

    $700 million...hardly!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

DesRosiers Speech

Help Me Understand Windsor:

Presentation to the Export Development Corporation Tooling Conference by Dennis DesRosiers, October 25, 2005, Windsor, Ontario

Thank you for the opportunity to speak once again at this conference. It is a true honour. I’ve spoken at every one of these EDC conferences and firmly believe that EDC is providing an invaluable service to the MTDM sector in W-EC. Every company in this room should embrace their services and the services of the other sponsors to this conference like PWC. They have provided you with an invaluable process for discussing and debating serious issues in your sector, a process for better understanding your industry and a process where you can better understand the products and services that you need to succeed.

During the past 10 days I’ve been in Japan looking at the vehicles that will shape the future of our industry. I’ve been meeting with automotive parts suppliers encouraging them to invest in Canada. I’ve spent a lot of time with investment development officers at all level of Government on this trip. I’ve learned a lot that is relevant to the audience today but is somewhat off topic from what I was asked to speak about. While away I’ve struggled whether to go off topic and get into some of the issues that Windsor-Essex County need to address to help make everyone in this room more successful.

EDC, of course, wants me to stay on topic and address the outlook for the tool sector and I will talk about this, trust me. But I’m also very frustrated with the City of Windsor and I have to touch on some of the other local issues that are equally important to the Machine, Tool, Die and Mould sector in this City. I see my hometown losing thousands of automotive and MTDM sector related jobs and we need an action plan to reverse this trend.

I see so much untapped potential in Windsor’s automotive and related sector. But I’m also very concerned because I also cannot identify any ‘Champion’ for Windsor. Windsor desperately needs an Yves Landry style of ‘Champion’. Windsor desperately needs leadership, someone who will put the City and this region ahead of political gamesmanship and their own self-interest. And unfortunately, I do not see this leadership coming from City Hall and I don’t see this leadership coming from someone in local industry.

I am willing to stand up and address many vexing issues that face the MTDM sector and the City of Windsor. If you have been here over the years you know that I say it like it is. And I do this, not to be entertaining, but because I find that Windsor needs to be hit over the head with a two by four to get any message.

Last year, I tried something different, I stuck to my text and I didn’t offer much in the way of straight talk. Dozens came up to me after my speech and told me they preferred the old ‘Dennis’ that cut through the crap and addressed the issues the automotive and MTDM industry in this City wants and needs to be addressed. Well I’m back.

Let me start by stating to you in as blunt and clear words as possible. Windsor’s automotive sector is in serious trouble … your suppliers are in trouble, your OEMs have very serious issues to resolve, your tool sector is in trouble and the ordinary citizen walking down the street is in trouble. This City’s automotive sector is in trouble and when the automotive sector is in trouble, Windsor is in serious trouble.

This City needs a wake-up call. This is not new to the City. When Mike Hurst was first elected in 1991 the auto sector and Windsor was in big trouble. Plagued by high unemployment, a high dollar and a bleak outlook just like it has today. Your former Mayor rolled up his sleeves and focused on the auto industry. The result of his leadership and others in the community was billions in automotive investment and thousands of jobs.

Look into your future Windsor. Within three years everything that the previous mayor and his councils accomplished in terms of the automotive sector will be wiped out, gonzo, kaput, finito. Indeed much of it is already gone.

This is not rhetoric it is fact.

Based on their current performance, I don’t see a lot of reason for hope with the current politicians running this City. This City Council has demonstrated that they are unfocused and lack vision. They are more obsessed with media spin, secrecy and perception than any other council on record. They have abandoned every one in this room, they are certainly not showing leadership for your industry.

Help me understand my hometown of Windsor; there are many issues I just can’t seem to get my head around. I need someone to explain these things to me.

Why, for example, is the City spending millions on Toronto lawyers fighting senior Governments? The Federal and Provincial Governments want to spend hundreds of millions on infrastructure in Windsor yet we snub them and we fight them – Why not work with them? Help me understand this.

Why is there is a refusal to acknowledge that Windsor’s reputation as a stronghold for organized labour is impacting the new reality of the auto sector – strong growth in non-union jobs and heavy declines in union jobs?

Here are the facts: in the automotive sector in this country, 15,000 union jobs have disappeared over the last 5 to 8 years and we are about to lose another 5,000 union jobs with the current labour contracts, many of these jobs will be in Windsor. During the same time frame 40,000 non-union jobs have been created with very few in Windsor and these non-union jobs should grow by about 15,000 over the next few years. It is unlikely that any of these new non-union jobs will be in Windsor.

So help me here … on one side the equation you have thousands of union jobs disappearing and on the other hand you have 10’s of thousands of non-union jobs being created. What is Windsor doing – courting union support for an 8 km road to nowhere? Help me understand why this City embraces the declining union side of this industry rather than facing the challenges of the industry and embracing the non-union side of this industry? Help me with this.

Help me understand what Windsor is doing relative to the possible Honda investment. First of all Honda has vehemently denied they are planning to build another plant in Canada, but City Hall is going to fly to Japan and ask Honda to build this non-existent plant in union town Windsor. Help me understand this.

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, not only is Windsor the last place in Canada they would build a plant but Windsor is the last place on the face of the earth that Honda would build a plant.

Why would you waste taxpayer’s money on this junket? City Hall is again, focused on perception and spin rather than developing a solid plan to get results.

Help me understand why investors would come to Windsor where a sign states: ‘no trucks on our expressway’. This is one of most anti-auto things Windsor could possibly do; make no mistake -- it is hurting investment opportunities in this City. Help me understand this. How can you tell Ford that they can use your roads for the Essex engine plant but not those related to Oakville. GM can do the same for their transmission plant but not those related to Oshawa. DCX can do the same for the Pacifica plant but not their plant in Bramalea. How stupid can your politicians be? Help me understand how the MTDM sector can grow with these types of ridiculous by-laws.

Help me understand how Windsor can have one of the highest local tax loads in all of Ontario, tax loads that are driving businesses out of Windsor, indeed driving many in Windsor like all of you in this room out of business, tax loads to pay for Toronto lawyers, New York consultants and proposed flights to Japan to get automotive investors to come and build non-existent plants when the auto sector can’t drive their trucks on our expressway -- EC Row. Help me understand this.

Help me understand Windsor’s land problems. Windsor has little in the way of serviceable development property. Yet this issue has been lying dormant in City Hall. So help me understand how the City of Windsor expects to attract investors to the area when they don’t have land ready for these same investors to build their plants on. Help me understand this.

Help me understand why an overseas investor would come to Windsor with the following attributes: ‘town with no trucks on our streets’, ‘town with high taxes’, ‘town with limited development land’ and “town with a strong union presence”, help me understand this.

The previous mayor worked with the great Yves Landry and set out a bold vision for the automotive sector in Windsor. They envisioned Windsor as a leading centre for automotive research, design, development and testing of vehicles and parts. A city with a high tech MTDM sector.

Their vision has been partially fulfilled. A billion dollars of intellectual capital has come into Windsor-Essex County since they set out this bold vision.

But to make Windsor an intellectual centre in the automotive sector absolutely requires deep and ongoing co-operation with the U of Windsor and St. Clair College. It can’t be done without higher education. So help me understand why the current City council has neglected their role of providing Capital funding to these institutions to build classrooms and lab space for future automotive employees. Help me understand this.

Help me understand why City Council doesn’t embrace the University of Windsor and our College and jump through hoops to help make these institutions the best in Canada. Help me understand this.

Just about the only positive automotive developments over the last number of years in Windsor have been on the intellectual side of this industry. ARDC, Auto21, the CARE building, International Truck, engineering chairs at the university, the Ford Centre for Advance Manufacturing and many more positives. But the City pretty well ignores these positives and instead goes after plants they have no possibility to land into Windsor and doesn’t fund the institutions at the center of these successes. Help me understand this.

Assembly employment in this province has declined by 10,000 workers in the last decade; automotive parts employment has grown by 55,000 workers. Yet Windsor has a fixation for trying to attract assembly plants they have no possibility of ever getting and pretty well ignores the parts industry and MTDM side of this industry. That’s you in this room.

Help me understand this. Is it because investment promotion in this City is about politics not about building a great City…. you decide.

Help me understand why City Council has wasted millions of dollars on the Schwartz 8 km ring road to nowhere while your automotive sector has been crumbling around them. Talk about fiddling while Rome burns. Your City council has added years to a viable solution to the border and the automotive sector is the biggest loser. Help me understand why they have done this.

Help me understand how the City can allow the Development Commission to go without effective leadership for three years. Instead of putting proper leadership at the Development Commission, they take someone who has little if any experience in attracting investment in the auto sector, rename it Enterprise Windsor and put him in charge. Help me understand this.

There are a lot of things I don’t understand about Windsor. I could go on, I won’t.

Now I’m told quite explicitly that I’m a negative SOB. Read the letters to the editor in the Windsor Star. I’m told that I should come to Windsor with solutions rather than come to Windsor and rant about the negatives. Well yes, I quite often tell Windsor things that it doesn’t want to hear. After all, apparently now in Windsor you have to toe City Council’s line of “deny, spin and put on a happy face” or you are drummed out of town. Well I’m already out of town so I guess I must frustrate the heck out of those that want me to leave town because at the end of the day I go home voluntarily.

Let me tell you very honestly that my comments are born out of frustration not a desire to be negative. Indeed I believe I’m a lot more positive than negative and I see a lot of positives in Windsor but at the same time a City that frustrates me.

You have a young mayor who may develop into a very capable Mayor but one that can’t admit mistakes or change directions. You have an incredibly talented group of professionals at the University of Windsor and St Clair College who are not being given the resources necessary to build great Institutions and in the process help build a great City. You have sitting in this room the best tool, mould and die set makers in North America but the City doesn’t help our College train the highly skilled workers they desperately need to survive.

I have been positive. I laid out a comprehensive plan for the previous mayor to develop Windsor into the intellectual capital of the automotive sector in Canada and one of the key intellectual capitals anywhere in the world. A report, by the way, that is currently sitting on a shelf.

I’m on the Board of Governors at the University and this Board has spent thousands of hours helping the University address its fundamental issues. The Board of Governors at the University of Windsor is facilitating huge change at the school and I’m proud to be a part of this effort.

I’m told I should talk about what Windsor should do rather than talk about Windsor’s problems. Well here are some things that Windsor can and should do.

First of all, take the Development Commission out of the Mayor’s office and put it in the hands of capable business professionals in the region who know what it takes to be successful. Only a regional Development Commission, independent from the politicians can be successful. The Mayor is having trouble getting businessmen involved with the Commission because these businessmen hate the politics. Well then eliminate the politics.

Second, properly fund the Development Commission. How does the City expect to get investment when they don’t invest in the Commission whose role it is to attract investments? Your interim Develop Commissioner is one of the most talented development officers in this land, you made the right decision appointing him now give him the required resources and then get out of his way and let him do his job. Save the money you’ll spend on a job search … you’ve got your man.

Third, in this same vain, get an action plan in place for Development of the region and I don’t mean some generic 10-mile high look at economic development theory and practice like the one that City Hall recently commissioned. I mean the nitty gritty, get your hands dirty, kind of action plan that clearly spells out the steps you need to take to move forward to make this area a great City again. A plan that clearly spells out the strengths in the area and the steps you need to take to address your weaknesses.

Third, support and work with Gary McNamara the Mayor of Tecumseh who was instrumental in the land deal with Windsor. Someone, by the way, who quite rightly supports the expansion of EC Row Expressway and Lauzon Parkway. Work with Tecumseh to get some properly serviced development land in place and get it done quickly.

Fourth, forget about chasing after the ‘pigs in a poke’ assembly plants … believe me, if there is an assembly plant in the cards for Windsor then we have very capable people at Queens Park and in Ottawa that will take the initiative and land these plants. Canada has been more successful than any other country in the world with this task. They know what they are doing. There is a role for a local Development Commission but let the higher levels of Government guide the process. Get out of their way.

Fifth, embrace the vision of Yves Landry and the previous mayor. Put in place the infrastructure and other tools to make Windsor – Essex County a dynamic centre for research, design, development and testing of vehicles and automotive components and tools and molds and dies and machinery. This also means providing the base funding for a new engineering building at the University of Windsor and funding to help St Clair College with their programs. In this same vain, W-EC is developing a very important intellectual cluster focusing on diesel engine technology, sit down and brainstorm a strategy to take this to where it ultimately needs to go.

Sixth, eliminate the ‘silos’ that exist between the University and the College and City Council. While you are at it, eliminate the ‘silos’ that exist between City Hall and other levels of Government. Eliminate the silos between City Hall and industry and your MTDM sector. The first step is to admit you have silos. No one seems to want to work together down here, you have to change this.

Seventh, get rid of the foolish and selfish ‘no trucks’ bylaw – just for a moment pretend you want automotive investments. The automotive industry across Ontario needs access to EC Row and yes that means trucks on EC Row, get over it – in fact trucks are already using it. They will not invest in Windsor until this happens. This is the first and easiest step.

Eight, build out EC-Row to its full potential and extend Lauzon Parkway. EC Row was designed for 8 lanes. Why do this? Simple, to open up land that can be developed to help attract investment and jobs which the city desperately needs. You have the second highest unemployment rate in Ontario. Why would you eliminate the only land available for investment is a mystery to me.

The Town of Tecumseh wants EC Row expanded. Lakeshore wants it expanded. Industry wants it expanded. Our senior Governments want it expanded and will pay for much if not all of it. Windsor cannot afford the $100m in capital costs. So, why the city wants to protect the grass between the lanes on EC Row but wants to bulldoze the Ojibway nature preserve for a expressway to nowhere remains yet another mystery.

Ninth, talk with governments and stakeholders, rather than use lawyers. Indeed, fire the lawyers, pollsters, and lobbyists. All you have done is delay the border solution process and upset the other levels of Government that you desperately need for resources to build a great City and solve the border issue.

Tenth, phone up the Deputy Prime Minister and the Premier whom you snubbed and apologize.

Eleventh, step up to the table and address your negative image. The University is last in the MacLean’s ratings not because the school is under performing per se, but because it is in Windsor and suffers from Windsor’s poor image. The University is a great school that has a process in place to become an even greater school but doing this under the negative umbrella of the City is difficult.

Twelfth, step up to the table and properly fund the capital programs so desperately needed by the University of Windsor and St. Clair College. At City Council this week, not next week but this week, I’d like to see the City pledge $25 million in capital financing to these great institutions. Financing that would flow to them over the next 10 years. Financing that would be tied to key benchmarks that ensure the money is being well spent. Financing that would be guaranteed if these benchmarks were met which would allow these institutions to be able to properly plan in an environment of certainty rather than doubt and miss-trust.

You must find this funding. One idea -- instead of wasting the $3 million a year on Toronto lawyers, lobbyists and New York consultants – invest in the University of Windsor and St. Clair College. Invest in Windsor’s future.

Do what previous mayors did and spend some political capital, show leadership and pledge to work with the U of Windsor and St. Clair College to make these schools the best they can be. They are critical to the future of the automotive sector in Windsor, it’s your future.

Thirteenth. Address your high taxes. Businesses in this room provide Windsor with thousands of jobs; it is time to thank them with lower taxes.

Fourteenth. Make public statements early and often in your belief that Windsor is open to non-union investment and you will do what ever it takes to make non-union investment happen. Work with the existing unions to change their tactics and their perception.

The unions must re-invent themselves and find a way to add value to the automotive sector or face extinction.

Lastly. Stop focusing on media spin, hype and blame. People in business and industry see through it, so stop it.

Memo to Mayor and Council: securing jobs and investment for Windsor makes for good politics. In other words if do your job and then you don’t have to worry about media spin hype and blame.

I am hopeful that the Mayor and council will listen to what I have said today and consider it. Unfortunately, I can see that they will likely lash back at me. This is what some have done in the past and I expect the same again. It’s sort of sad – exposing reality can often be tough.

But remember I’m only the messenger; I’m not the problem. Do what is right and think about what I have said today.

I hope all parties can work together to build the great region of Windsor-Essex County that we all want and envision. A great Windsor-Essex County is good for the MTDM sector, it is good for the suppliers it is good for GM, Ford and DCX. It is good for all the citizens in Windsor.

Now let me get back to my slides

It's Time For The Mayor To Come Clean

Poor Kwame Kilpatrick. Some claim that the nasty people from the Bridge Co. are trying to take advantage of him because he needs a few dollars for his budgetary woes. But would these same people sing a different tune if a “public” body wanted to do a deal with him at this time of Mayoral vulnerability? Would that be OK?

A source yesterday confirmed to me some of the story behind the goings on about the Tunnel. Obviously, the complete story is not yet out.

I was told that several months ago the Windsor Mayor sought and was given permission by Windsor Council, again in camera, to approach the Mayor of Detroit to buy Detroit's interest in the Tunnel. I had heard rumours about this some time ago. I was told then that our Mayor was “giddy” with excitement as he talked about the proposed deal. I assume our Mayor must have known about Detroit’s financial problems too at that time so that would help him get a deal or was he doing this merely as a charitable act to help a neighbour? (and we know that the Star has made it clear what it thinks about the City and charities).

Obviously, this would be huge expenditure on the part of the City and one that demands the question answered about whether the City should be in the border crossing business at all. We have already had the start of the discussion about whether the City should sell the Tunnel among its other assets.

How could Windsor possibly finance this? It could not on its own. Presumably the City would partner with a financing source to buy and then lease the Tunnel for say, 99 years. That fact alone scares me after MFP and Canderel. Windsor seems incapable of doing sophisticated financial transactions.

And here is how the infamous Agenda Item #5 could fit in. It was the way “public” approval could have been given, as I guessed, without us being any wiser. It was the authority to the Mayor and Council to do what they wanted with a blank taxpayer cheque.

Remember also the strange language used in that Item, the use of the word “fund” instead of “pay for.”

  • “City Council, at its discretion, may fund new roadway capacity projects deemed necessary which would solve urgent problems being created by border traffic.
Interestingly, here is how Macquarie talked about their role in the Detroit & Canada Tunnel Corporation.
  • “In January 2001, the owners of DCTC agreed to sell their shares to Macquarie North American Infrastructure Inc. (a wholly owned subsidiary of the Global Infrastructure Fund (GIF)). The acquisition of DCTC was funded by $US53.5 million of senior debt supplied by WestLB, subordinate debt originally supplied by Macquarie Bank Limited, and equity provided by GIF.”
Macquarie could be the finance choice again. David McFadden of Gowling and Henderson is “Chair of the Board of the Detroit and Canada Tunnel Corporation ... and Deputy Chair of the Board of Macquarie Canadian Infrastructure Management Limited.” He is also the partner of environmental law guru David Estrin who is retained by the City on the border fiasco.

But then remember the survey poll that I told you about that asked the persons being surveyed about whether he/she is in a labour union or teachers federation. Check out the OMERS deal just announced with a Quebec union that the Globe and Mail said was a Teacher’s Union. Or their relationship with the OTPP, a teachers’ pension plan. Interestingly, Gowlings also did work for Borealis Capital in the past.

It is time for Eddie to come clean and tell us what is really going on. It is our City, after all, and our pocket-books. I would draw to your attention what happened in Chicago on their lease deal and consider how they handled the process.

One should remember as well…it is our future relationship with Detroit that is at stake too!

Our 50 Yard Line Super Bowl Tickets

Someone called my bluff. They wanted me to find out how many Super Bowl tickets Windsor received for our $345,000 contribution, errrr Francis relationship building payment, errrrrrr Sponsorship payment errrr "lock-in involvement" payment that Council approved just before Christmas in December, 2004. I assumed those details were hammered out when the Mayor went to Jacksonville, Florida in the middle of winter to promote Windsor at last year's game. I saw that tickets cost US$6-700 each and were probably sold out so I figured that it would not be too difficult to find out the answer.

I started doing some digging and prayed that Mayor Kilpatrick had not cancelled Windsor's role after Mayor Eddie might help cost him his re-election by arguing against what he wanted to do with the Bridge Company.

I understand that we had to make a contribution to ensure our involvement. I wondered if Toronto paid any money since "organizers of the Feb. 5, 2006, game said they've been booking hotel rooms as far away as the GTA." But then they do not get "a flag football championships for 13 and 14 year olds, an interactive theme park, a charity dinner and fantasy pool draft, an international VIP party and a tailgate party on game day" as the Star reported.

In my research, I saw a Windsor Star story in November, 2004 that said "The city's new transit terminal, which will be shared by Transit Windsor and Greyhound Canada, is expected to be open in time for fans to be shuttled to Super Bowl XV at Detroit's Ford Field in February 2006." Has the deal even been signed yet so construction can start?

I was going to ask Gordon Orr of the Convention and Visitors Bureau but I thought he might be too busy going to the movies with the Mayor's wife for their CKLW movie review show so I did not call him.

I looked on the Super Bowl website ( and saw this:

  • 8. Will Windsor, Ontario be involved in Super Bowl XL planning?

    The Host Committee receives many questions related to this topic. The City of Windsor has become involved in a variety of ways including:

    Establishing their own Windsor Super Bowl XL Planning Committee, whose members include Windsor ’s mayor, Eddie Francis and Gordon Orr, Managing Director of the Windsor Convention Visitors Bureau. The Planning Committee is exploring a downtown Windsor festival.

    Windsor hotels are part of the NFL room block

    NFL Canada, one of three international NFL affiliates, will promote Windsor as a destination for Canadian NFL football fans to celebrate and enjoy the game.

    Windsor venues are under consideration for Host Committee and NFL events during Super Bowl Week.

    The Host Committee works with the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Windsor, Essex County and Pelee Island

I looked at the Sponsor page since Mayor Eddie said "we are a major partner in this event," at least with respect to snow plowing, but surprisingly that did not help. Windsor's name was not shown as a "Sponsor." I guess we are NOT a Sponsor even though the Mayor described Windsor's role in his State of the City speech as a "full participant." [UPDATE: I was told that Windsor is shown as a member of the Host Committee and there was a "Windsor" logo on the right of the Host Committee page. When I clicked on it, I was sent to the website]

I checked the Detroit Free Press website where a number of the A-List parties were identified and their locations. I know Windsor made a presentation to "150 corporate clients in Detroit extolling Windsor's virtues as a location for parties and receptions." I saw parties in Detroit, Troy and Novi as examples but unless "Location not known" really is the code-word for Windsor, I saw no big party here.

The media would surely know. Windsor is supposed to be doing something with the media I thought although most of the Super Bowl media will be staying in Detroit and Livonia. Perhaps someone can tell the Detroit News about that since it ran a big story on how the Host Committee was courting the media. Windsor's name was not mentioned.

Finally, it dawned on me. I decided I had better call Ward One's Mr. Budget to find out the true answer. I knew what the Mayor was doing when I saw that a suite for the All-Star baseball game in Detroit was going for $30,000 on E-Bay and a ticket for around $2,000. Obviously, a Super Bowl ticket would go for much more.

Clearly, the Mayor had arranged, while in Jacksonville, that the City could sell all of our Super Bowl tickets. Thus, he would single-handedly solve Windsor's budgetary woes for 2006! The "cooling centres" trial run in the summer. A Fiasco, hardly. Oh ye of little faith. It was the dry-run for renting out the centres for visitor accommodation to give us a budgetary surplus! If an Amherstburg home is listed for $8,000 US a week during Super Bowl, think how much we could get by renting out the South Windsor arena.

How clever, but then again the Mayor had been "Young Entrepreneur of the Year" hadn't he.

I'll let you know the answer when I find out.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Why Can't The Tunnel And Bridge Be Friends?

Gord Henderson said, “Some of us snickered in July when the bridge company rolled out its grandiose and seemingly preposterous plan … Nobody's laughing now.” Do you want to bet on that? I hear some laughter coming from the foot of the Ambassador Bridge.

Didn’t Gord understand, as the Bridge Co. did, that with the falling traffic projections and the changes to the auto industry, we might not need another crossing for years, if ever.

If Gord had remembered that their project would only cost about $200 million rather than the amount of $600 million for a new bridge, then he would have known that this was a no-brainer. Who wouldn’t want to save the $400 million that may never have to be spent?

The real bombshell was the massive land redevelopment in Detroit but I guess that was deemed to be “non-news” since the Bridge Co. had already talked about using some of their land already for an expanded Cobo Hall and new hotels. Of course, there was their deal with the Port Authority that will make all of their projects so much easier to do.

It was interesting to read what the City’s rah-rah newsletter said about the Bridge Co. deal, errrr I mean the Windsor Star. It was truly “hot” off the presses, so hot that the paper had production problems and I did not get the Saturday Star until late in the day and then again on Monday.

And it was predictable.

“No more tunnel bus” were the first words in our favourite Columnist’s story. I did not understand that one to be honest. I frankly thought that the solution would improve service since “service” and the “Tunnel bus” seem to be oxymorons. With 100 booths into the US and a huge plaza, buses could be cleared quickly. After all, we want to make it easier for Americans to go back home too don’t we.

Here are some excerpts from recent horror stories:
  1. More than five dozen regular tunnel bus commuters have signed a petition asking for improved service

  2. Transit Windsor is telling tunnel bus passengers it can't guarantee leaving a half-hour before baseball games or other events at Comerica Park will get riders to the start of the event.

  3. Transit Windsor has cancelled its tunnel bus service on fireworks night due to lack of downtown access on both sides of the border. That means no Tigers shuttle to Comerica Park.

  4. Public transit buses are not given precedence over long-haul tour buses or inter-city buses, which arrive with more passengers, more to declare and thousands of pounds of baggage

  5. Penny Williams, spokesperson for Transit Windsor, acknowledged Thursday that orange alerts in the U.S. following the July terrorist attacks in London resulted in buses being backed up on the Windsor tunnel plaza well after the first pitch for recent Detroit Tigers games... On several of those buses, more than half the passengers disembarked in Windsor and went home frustrated after further delays were announced due to the slow pace of processing tour buses through customs and immigration on the Detroit side of the border.

  6. Bus searches at the U.S. border are disrupting Transit Windsor's service to Detroit sports events, stranding angry fans and raising concerns among Super Bowl organizers… Chief Ron Smith, spokesman for U.S. Customs and Homeland Security… suggested the problem was because of the volume of buses coming through the tunnel -- there is room on the Detroit plaza for only two at a time.
Then we had No more direct commutes to jobs in downtown Detroit. Sheeeeesh, there is going to be an exit for NEXUS card-holders right at the existing tunnel.

And then the coup de grace: No more fast and convenient access to Tiger Stadium, Comerica Park, Cobo Hall, the Fox Theater and Greektown. So let me see, if I understand this. Go an extra mile or two and spend a few extra minutes OR wait in a line-up for up to two hours or more going through the Tunnel. Which would you prefer?

Seriously, does the Tunnel have any alternative but to partner now? I am sure that some revenue share can be worked out if that is all it takes. If the Tunnel stays on its own and you were someone who crosses the border, would you go to the crossing that has a few booths each way or one that has 100! And if DCTC thinks that the U.S. Customs is giving the Ambassador Bridge a competitive edge by doing a better job of clearing traffic congestion there, then just wait.

I had this idea too that if we have a better way of getting cars through the Tunnel, then we may not have to spend the $30 million of taxpayer money on the Phase 1 changes at the Tunnel plaza or have to change the roads down there. Or does that interfere with some hidden Master Plan that we do not know about?

If we want to increase Tunnel revenues and improve the City’s slice from Mr. Taqtaq’s Duty-Free Shop, then we need to start thinking and not reacting. Sam Schwartz wanted to direct Casino traffic to the Tunnel too and what good would that be if cars were lined up? We need a border that works for the good of Windsor and not just the good of the Tunnel.

The Mayor has said in speaking about what must be done to improve Tunnel revenues "We have to do something to counter the perception that there are delays at the tunnel by doing a better job of managing and funnelling traffic into the tube." Perhaps a proper conversation with the Bridge Co. might open his eyes or is he afraid to speak with them?

Windsor Mayors' Conflict Of Interest

The word “mayors’” in the subject line was not a typo but deliberate. It is not specific to any mayor. The issue is much broader than just the one that is most obvious now. It goes right to the heart of the relationship between Council and its creations.

Let me discuss the matter in the context of the issue that is front and centre now. But the conversation can apply to other companies and boards as well

As a relative new-comer to Windsor, I always wondered why the Windsor’s mayors seemed so antagonistic to the Ambassador Bridge Co. I would have thought that they should be proud that the #1 border crossing point in North America is in Windsor and of the economic prosperity it brings. Clearly, it must pay a good chunk of money in taxes to the City and provides employment, including jobs for University students at the Duty-free shop. It certainly makes contributions to a number of institutions in town at a time when corporate contributions are harder to find.

Without going into the pros and cons of the Bridge Co’s economic redevelopment/border crossing proposal at this time, superficially at least it seems to make sense and is worthy I would have thought of consideration. After all, the trucks would go right through Windsor to eliminate backups, the Customs inspection areas would not be in Windsor and it seemed that the combination of the bridge and tunnel would make us closer to having an “invisible” crossing to attract tourists and business to the region. The best news for taxpayers is that the Bridge Co., not Windsorites, pay for all of it. More importantly, it was entirely consistent with the thoughts of the international guru who spoke at the City/County meeting recently respecting regional economic redevelopment and could help us create employment in Windsor when we just lost over a thousand high-paying auto jobs.

So I was surprised when the 200 booth proposal was first announced that the Mayor and Councillor Budgeteer were so negative. This time around, the Mayor wants to butt in and look at the anti-trust situation in the US, supposedly, I assume, to see if there can be any roadblocks put forward to hinder or delay or stop the deal cold. I do not remember seeing anyone commenting about the economic impact on the region however.

In passing, I am not sure what gives the Mayor any right to spend taxpayer money on such an issue outside of our jurisdiction or is he spending the money as Chair of the Windsor Tunnel Commission. I wonder if a lawyer was retained and if Councillors understood the legal consequences of taking the action being proposed and approved spending money on legal fees by email or Blackberry again. We shall have a chance to find out and to speak on it when it is brought to Council for ratification after the fact for the third time recently.

But in rereading what they said, I finally understood the problem. “The plan would effectively shut down the tunnel.” “the bridge's plan [is] a serious threat to $6 million in annual revenues for the city as part owner of the tunnel.” Their focus seemed to be on protecting the interest and revenues of the Tunnel and the City's slice of the Tunnel Duty-free shop revenue as members of the Windsor Tunnel Commission. I wondered if they were also looking at the “big picture” as members of Windsor City Council to protect Windsor’s interests as well? Other examples where the same type of issue can arise are the Library Board or Transit Windsor or Enwin.

In other words, is there an inherent Conflict of Interest built in when the Mayor and Councillors are both a Tunnel Commission Chair or member and when they are also a member of City Council. On the one hand the Mayor can say from a Windsor-wide perspective : "We see the tunnel as a public utility while the DCTC sees it more as a profit-generating private operation." On the other hand when the Bridge takes away Tunnel traffic, he says as a true competitor "our traffic has gone to the bridge and we have to do a better job of convincing people that the tunnel should be their crossing of choice."

Assuming that the proposal may hurt the Tunnel, (I think the proposal would actually enhance Tunnel business) is that necessarily bad for Windsor's over-all interests? If the Tunnel were not owned by the City, would Council look at the matter from a different perspective? I would have thought that Council would look at what is in the best interest of the City from an economic perspective, and not also as a competitor to the Bridge Co. It would be forced to look at how to keep the border moving from a practical point of view and not also an owner.

What if the City thought the Bridge Co's ideas made sense and took actions that hurt the Tunnel's interests. How would its manager react to a decrease in revenues? Could it take action against the City since it looked at Windsor's interests before that of the Tunnel?

It is hard to wear two hats when legal duties are owed to both entities and the interests may conflict.

I don’t have a solution but one obvious action to minimize the conflict is to remove the Mayor and Councillors from the Boards, even though it may mean a reduction in their take-home pay. Citizens could replace them and matters would be brought to Council with the recommendation of the Board’s directors for action. The structure of the Windsor Police Services Board with Council could serve as an example.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Putting Our Regional Partnership At Risk

We are 2-300,000 in City and County population. They are 5,000,000. Eddie may have a tough time in the future if his buddy Kwame gets re-elected. Or even his opponent.

Two interesting stories in the Windsor Star on Saturday

  • 1)Windsor-Detroit partnership touted
    "Detroit's embattled Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick says the best regional partnership for his city is not with the suburban cities in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, but with Windsor....The best opportunity Detroit has and Windsr has for survival into the future is to join together... Eddie Francis has been working to improve the cross-border co-operation."

  • 2)Detroit mulls bid for half of tunnel
    "The proposed deal...has already received approval from Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick...

    Mayor Eddie Francis said Windsor is investigating the potential violation of antitrust laws should Moroun's bridge company convince Detroit council to approve the controversial deal.

    At Friday's meeting, Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams encouraged council to accept the bridge deal, pointing to the economic and job benefits through construction and others tied with big box retail outlets the bridge has said would be built on property it owns in Mexicantown"

Now maybe it's me, but if the Mayor of Detroit has signed a deal that he thinks makes sense for his City and his Deputy Mayor encouraged Detroit Council to accept it, (especially if it will help him be re-elected as the cynics would suggest), then how happy do you think Kwame is today now that the Mayor of Windsor has stuck his nose into his issue.

Can you imagine the Star headlines if the Detroit Mayor called Windsor Councillors directly to try to kill a deal that Windsor's Mayor thought made sense for the economic redevelopment of the City.

Windsor's lawyer/Mayor might even want to "sue the b......." for inappropriately butting in, especially since he is a politician from a jurisdiction out of the country.

So much for the cross-river partnership.

All Windsor Council Meetings Are Cancelled

Windsor Council ratified last Monday night another vote that was done secretly. Not a biggie, like the work of art/sign, just in relation to the Mayor's Youth Town Hall meeting at Devonshire Mall.
  • "To expedite approval of the requirement for the City of Windsor to sign the "Temporary Occupancy Licence Agreement", the Deputy Clerk conducted a poll of Councillors on Thursday, October 13, 2005 requesting that approval be given to the Chief Administrative Officer and the City Clerk to sign the agreement, satisfactory in form and content to the City Solicitor.

    The poll resulted in the following: eight councillors indicating approval of entering into the agreement; two councillors were not available during the poll."
To "expedite" is so important in a democracy isn't it? More important than following the Procedural By-law that the Mayor is so proud to enforce when a member of the public dares speak beyond the allotted 5 minutes as an example.

At the least, I am so glad to see that Council is ratifying its recent "secret" votes so that the public if it wishes may speak about the subject. Interestingly, what happens if the public does not like what was done before it has had a chance to speak. It makes the whole exercise somewhat redundant doesn't it? Oh well, the Star and Gord Henderson may not do stories again attacking the Mayor. I told you he would learn his lesson. Norma Coleman can rest easy.

There is an issue in my mind whether the process used is "legal" and can even be ratified since the City's Procedural By-law has specific requirements re "special meetings."

I asked the Mayor and Councillors if they would let me know the date when the Schwartz Report ratification vote would take place so that I might be a Delegation. It was done in secret too. I won't hold my breath though waiting for an answer.

In thinking about it, since Council handles all of the important matters in camera or by "polling" and really only discusses issues like CarTunes, feral cats, pit bulls and circuses in public, who needs public Council meetings.

Accordingly, I move that, to "expedite" matters, all public Council meetings be cancelled for the rest of this Council's term. All in favour say "Aye." Carried unanimously.

PS. Will the ratification "hat trick" be approving retaining a lawyer to consider causing problems for the City of Detroit/Bridge Co. deal on anti-trust allegations? I hope there was a big explanation on the Blackberrys about the legal risks involved too.