Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, November 25, 2005

MFP, KPMG And Prejudice

As you will recall, dear reader, I am on a mission to try and recover some of the $68 million lost by the City in the MFP file settlement. Unfortunately, I cannot get 11 key people in the City interested. Obviously I am referring to the Mayor and Council.

I understand that they are acting like "corporate managers." Write off the bad debt and bury the file since every time it is mentioned people might blame them for the mess again. I know it is only money and the $68 million will be spread over a number of years BUT it is taxpayers who will suffer, not a company that gets tax write-offs.

I have asked before about why the City is not trying to get the $68 million back. Perhaps the City has already asked Counsel to give a legal opinion on issues I have raised (I even talked to George Wilkki, the City's solicitor about them the day after I fell at City Hall Square when we happened to meet.) No one has told me yet that what I am suggesting is without merit.

A Star Editorial has again prompted my demand for action by Council. In that Editorial the Star mentioned that KPMG was Essex County Council's auditor at the time that the MFP deal was signed.

But wait a minute....wasn't KPMG's forensic arm hired by Windsor's Counsel to investigate the MFP fiasco? Who were the City's auditors? According to an email from Onorio Colucci, Windsor's Acting Treasurer, it was KPMG for 2000 to the present.

The obvious action to consider these days in a matter like MFP, whether fair or not to the auditing firm, is to look at suing one's auditors for professional negligence. Unfortunately that is life. How then could KPMG Forensic be retained to look at a matter in which KPMG Auditing might be involved and in which it might potentially have a liability? Didn't anyone realize the potential conflict of interest? Didn't anyone care?

When one reads the KPMG forensic audit report as I have done, one is sickened by the mess that the City was in respecting leases. Did the City's auditors, KPMG, have a responsibility to point that out, did they and to whom?

Of course I am not suggesting that KPMG did anything wrong or was negligent...But it is an obvious matter that needs addressing and needs finality one way or the other in my opinion.

The other matter still outstanding is who released the KPMG Report improperly so that the City's case was badly weakened. Mr. Sutts, the City's lawyer, said "It would be extremely prejudicial to our case if it [the KPMG Report] was widely circulated." Shouldn't that person have a responsibility to pay as well since presumably the settlement was worse than otherwise could have been reached?

Simply, I would like to know the answers. It is only $68 million at stake of taxpayer money!

Danger Warning

Don Rogers, a 62-year-old retired city councillor from Kingston, Ont, (just a tad bit older than I am by the way) found out that a U.S. company processed his bank's credit cards. He felt it put his personal information at risk. Accordingly, to protest, he paid his $230 Visa bill in 985 installments -- often pennies at a time.

Rogers jokes that the moral of the story is:

Don't mess with a retiree -- "retired folks are dangerous. We have time on our hands"

Some New Thoughts On The Border

The News-Herald Newspapers has been the “Voice of the Downriver” area of Detroit for well over a century. I was sent a very interesting news story outlining information that I had never seen before. If one reads what is said carefully, it must mean that a decision has been made already and that we are truly going through another sham exercise with the Bi-national.

I really do not mind going to their CCG meetings where they try to make us believe that they have not decided anything yet--as long as they remember to serve those delicious strawberry tarts from TBQ's bakery instead of the stale cheese without crackers! Read the story carefully and then I will comment on it briefly afterwards.

  • Border link in the future? Connector could cut through Melvindale

    By Bobby Ampezzan, The News-Herald

    PUBLISHED: November 20, 2005

    LANSING — Just when Downriver thought it was out, it could be back in.

    On Monday, the Detroit River International Crossing Project, a partnership of U.S. and Canadian government agencies examining the need for another border crossing in the area, announced that southwest Detroit would be the home of the third Detroit-Windsor border crossing.

    The partnership caused concern early this year when it announced a number of crossing locations Downriver. All of those proposed sites were eliminated by Gov. Jennifer Granholm last month.

    But a graphic on the partnership's Web site outlining the affected area also announces plans to examine the need for a freeway "connector" from I-75 to I-94 through Melvindale, along either Schaefer Highway or Outer Drive.

    According to Michigan Department of Transportation spokesman Ben Kohrman, the U.S. State Department has asked the partnership to examine the need for redundancy in the infrastructure leading to the Ambassador Bridge.

    We "need to provide redundancy in the road network so a breakdown on I-94 on the way to the (Ambassador Bridge) does not shut the border crossings down," Kohrman said Thursday.

    He added that the graphic is strictly conceptual, and, like the need for another border crossing, the study may yield a "no need" conclusion.

    "I've been telling (people in) Melvindale, you guys have I-94 and I-75," state Rep. Edward Clemente (D-Lincoln Park) said. "You guys should still be concerned."

    But Melvindale Mayor Andrew Luzod is receptive.

    He said Wednesday that while the business and home development along Outer Drive presents obstacles to a freeway infrastructure project, the Schaefer corridor is feasible.

    Outer Drive between the I-75 and I-94 interchanges winds through three cities: Allen Park, Melvindale and Lincoln Park. The Schaefer corridor involves fewer residential areas of Melvindale and Detroit, but runs perpendicular to the Ambassador Bridge.

    Both Luzod and Clemente said they had only heard about the freeway connector this week, and both officials promised to investigate. "
Now I have never heard the need for redundancy of the road system before. That is a new one on me. Redundancy for the bridge, sure, but for roads? It does make sense though.

But note that it is the road to the Ambassador Bridge that is being looked at! That can only mean that the Americans are serious about the Ambassador Gateway as the truck plaza on the other side. (After all, only about $200 million has been spent there which would have to be duplicated at another crossing.)

The other interesting remark is the "no need" solution." I thought we were well past that possibility since volume projections showed this huge increase in traffic over the next 30 years. Obviously the Bridge Co.'s 200 booth proposal now has some legs since the Bi-national had claimed before that it was NOT going to look at it.

I wonder if some US Legislator woke up one morning and has asked the silly question about why we really need to spend $600 million or more of taxpayer money if the Bridge Co. is right and traffic can be handled at the Bridge for the next 20 years or more. Maybe the politician is thinking that the answer is to let THEM spend their $200 million and see what happens down the road ie. DO NOTHING NOW (other than protect the corridor for a new crossing if needed)

I am sure that the answer has been already made and that we all know what it is. However, I expect that those in Government are afraid to say it publicly for fear of the supposed backlash. So we have to go through more misery a step at a time and cause people not to sleep at night for a few more months.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

An Auto Lesson For Windsor

Here is a very interesting story that may give us some hope that all is not lost in the auto industry for Windsor. We just need to look at the issue differently. Frankly, the R & D reputations of the University and St. Clair College can help us immensely to attract new business here if we play it smartly!

GM, Ford aside, U.S. auto industry is doing just fine
By Daniel Howes / The Detroit News

Here, in the epicenter of America's alleged automotive meltdown, grows the belief that the death of the American auto industry is nigh.

You hear it on radio, TV and from politicians. You see it in the newspapers and feel it in the community. It is, in short, pure gospel to the fatalists who equate the health of General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. -- and only GM and Ford -- with the American auto industry.

Except that it's not true. GM and Ford, in the throes of wrenching change, may be "the auto industry" to the industrial Midwest, Michigan and Metro Detroit. But out there on the fruited plain, far from Detroit's half-empty assembly plants, recurring retrenchments and tiresome labor-management battles, the auto industry in America goes by other names, too, and it's doing fine.

With each monthly sales report and each passing year, the painful reality is that the auto industry in America is less Detroit and more foreign-owned, less United Auto Workers and more non-union. The forces threatening to gut Detroit as we know it are not the entire auto industry's problems. They are Detroit's, and their fixes will be painful.

The Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor estimates that foreign-owned automakers and suppliers it dubs "the internationals" could account for nearly 40 percent of the nation's 1 million automotive jobs by 2010, up from 27 percent today.

As a whole, the industry could employ more people nationwide by 2012 than any time in history, but Detroit's -- and organized labor's -- share of that employment are likely to be at all-time lows.

Right now, the internationals employ roughly 250,000 across the country -- some 93,000 of them in and around assembly plants -- and produce nearly 5 million cars and trucks each year, double what they built a decade ago.

"Since 2000, they have been the only auto companies growing employment in the U.S. motor vehicle industry," says Sean McAlinden, the think tank's vice president for research. "Everyone else has declined."

He estimates that the internationals -- Toyota, Honda and Nissan of Japan, Hyundai and Kia of South Korea, BMW and Mercedes-Benz of Germany -- could, among them, add another eight to 10 assembly and parts plants in the United States over the next few years while GM and Ford are likely to cut almost as many, mostly in the Midwest.

No, the auto industry in America is not in decline. Its fastest growing chunk is booming and shifting the industry's employment base south. Overall, the industry is boosting its productivity faster than the nation's gross domestic product is growing, according to government statistics.

Scant comfort, that, because higher productivity typically means fewer jobs.

My Bags Are Packed And I Am Ready To Go

I wrote this BLOG about a month ago but just had not posted it. I still believe it to be very relevant, especially after the GM announcements of huge job cuts and plant closings. I guess my US friend whom I quoted was right after all!

Buzz Hargrove thinks the GM health deal won't affect Canada and Governor Granholm just came back from a trade mission to Japan.

I hope that Buzz is right, but I am not sure that he is. I am glad that the Governor took the lead again and that her trip means that some people have figured out that there is a need to be proactive. The automobile world is more than just the Big Three. After all, the objective is economic development for this region.

Buzz stated that "A deal between General Motors and the United Auto Workers to lower health care costs in the U.S. won't dissuade the company from investing in Canada... Hargrove hailed the deal as being positive for the overall health of GM and said it wouldn't affect spending in Canada."

A friend of mine in the US had a different view. Since his company works very closely with the Big Three, I take his viewpoint seriously.

He was greatly surprised that there was a health care deal. It suggested that GM's condition might be very bad and that the UAW had good reason to make concessions.

His view is that no matter what the so-called advantages are in Canada, that we should not expect more work to be placed here in preference to a US location. After all, GM has to please the much more important and larger UAW as a trade-off for their agreement. If there is a choice, Canada loses he believed.

Another reason can also be seen in the US attitude in general which I consider to be very practical. "The UAW said Monday that it agreed to the changes after an in-depth analysis of GM's financial situation. "GM had asked the UAW to help it lower its health care costs before its contract with the union expires in 2007, and both parties have been negotiating since the spring...We believe it is clearly in the best interests of UAW-GM active workers, retirees and their families," UAW President Ron Gettelfinger and chief GM negotiator Richard Shoemaker said.

You remember that Eddie was prepared to go to Japan to see if Windsor could get a new Honda plant. Well Eddie's Japan trip justification was dashed quickly. As the Honda rep said "I hope he enjoys Tokyo and attends the Tokyo International Auto show and has a wonderful time," Miller said of Francis' trip. "Because it ain't so," he said of the plant rumour."

It looks like Honda may have been Eddie's excuse. In reality, Governor Granholm's decisivie action on the border probably gave him a new role model to follow. After all, she lead a trade mission to Japan recently. Being the follower that he is, so would he! If the Governor of the Big Three state could go to Japan, then so could the Mayor of the Big Three city. Yesterday's front page Star story "Big 3's market share at new low More than 50% of cars sold are offshore makes" surely gave Eddie all the justification he now needs for an out-of-country trip to the Orient.

Eddie better get going soon if he is going to go.

Back in January 2003, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. president Rolf Eckrodt confirmed his company was looking for a second manufacturing facility in North America and was willing to look at Canadian locations. In January 2004, Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn said at an auto show in Detroit that the company would consider a new North American factory if its market share continues to improve. Audi has been a name for more than a decade for those considering sites for a new car plant. VW is looking for a new plant and "municipal economic development officers are already aware of their intentions and on the hunt for new investment." Hyundai Motor has opened its first manufacturing plant in the US, marking the start of an aggressive expansion in North America by South Korea's largest carmaker. Has anyone from the City approached the new Chinese auto companies for an alliance?

As for Toyota, here is an interesting comment I found to help out Eddie win a new plant for Windsor:
  • Paul Krugman ("Why jobs head north," Views, July 26) oversimplifies the factors that go into the decision to build a new automobile plant.When a company like Toyota decides to build a $650 million plant, there are many criteria, such as infrastructure, access to highways and rail systems, utility costs, tax and regulatory climate and, yes, the cost of providing comprehensive benefits. The primary reason for the selection of the Ontario site was its proximity to our existing plant in the province, which will manage many administrative functions for the new plant. Toyota is growing its operations all over North America... We opened a plant in Huntsville, Alabama three years ago, and have expanded it twice. The work force there has been highly motivated, well trained and productive. Almost 30 percent of our hourly team members are college graduates, and 97 percent are high school graduates.*Dennis Cuneo, New York senior vice president,Toyota Motor North America

More importantly the Toronto Star reported:

  • "A senior executive of Hino Motor Sales Canada Ltd. confirmed yesterday the Japanese parent company will probably decide in the next month whether to build a plant in Canada next year to assemble medium-duty trucks.

    "The parent company (Hino Motors Ltd.) is looking at its options right now and is committed to expanding in North America," said Axel Breuer, vice-president of Mississauga-based Hino Motor Sales. "But it would be inappropriate to comment until the parent gives the green light to the option it approves."

I wonder if Dennis DesRosiers will be invited to go along.

Sayonara Mayor-san.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Eddie's, and Council's, Last Stand

Don’t you just love the Windsor Star! Finally an editorial on the border. After all of this time.

In reading the tea leaves, I would expect that they have had a tough time figuring out what to say. I am sure they have figured out by now who the real winner is and hate it since they are opposed to anything the Bridge Co. does!

At least we know now what City Hall’s strategy is for the future. Let me explain.

I have been quite surprised by the lack of “official” comments from the Mayor’s Office about the decision of the Bi-national. The Gord Henderson column in the Star gave praise rightly to the Community rather than Council for what has been achieved to date.

The Editorial is an interesting one. No praise to the Mayor and Council since none is deserved by them. It is a totally different approach which builds on the only thing that can be done: be an irritant.

Why was it necessary to spend so much time on Sandwich’s past? We all know it. No one wants to destroy its past or its future. Ahhh the future…If I did not know any better I would have thought that our new urban village is going there! Or maybe now it is.

Remarkably, just the other day Councillor Jones wanted to “designate all of Sandwich Town as having historical significance” to prevent the building of a new bridge there. So the Star directly supports what Jones wants to do, without saying that, by setting out its history. That history is not for us by the way but presumably for the politicians and bureaucrats out of town who get the Star through their clipping services or online. Of course, who had the foresight to set up the Sandwich Development Commission a year ago as a bridge blocker---our fearless Mayor!

Finally the Star concludes by supporting the “isolated, industrial area” in the West End for the crossing. Notice also that there is not a negative word about the roadway to the border crossing selected. Again that is close to what the Bridge Co. wanted to do with the City’s WALTS suggestion. Clearly that is our new road to the crossing since even Brian Masse indirectly supports it. He's onside too now!

But then there is a big, big problem for the Star which they neglected to mention in their Editorial. If you were not careful though you would miss it.

There, buried on Page 13 if you can believe it, not Page, 2 or 3 or even 5 where border stories are usually positioned, is the story on the Detroit Council Resolution opposing a bridge through Delray! It is the Sandwich equivalent on the other side of the river from Prospect where the Star wants the crossing! It would be destroyed if the bridge goes through there! Check out my BLOG on November 2------“Environmental Justice And The Border.” How does one reconcile saving Sandwich and destroying Delray! The Star does not tell us because there is NO intention of putting a bridge there now.

In reality, the Mayor, Council and the Star know that the Bridge Co. has won. After all, the Ambassador Gateway is the preferred US plaza. That does not fit into the Mayor’s business model which I believe was to control both the Detroit Tunnel and the bridge, either a new one or the Ambassador Bridge. [That was the purpose of the infamous Agenda Item #5]. He wanted to out-Hurst Hurst.

The Bridge Co. in effect destroyed his main Plan with the 200 booth proposal and the deal with Kwame. So Eddie is now in his fall-back position---provide all kinds of roadblocks and irritants to the Bridge Co. by such things as the Sandwich Development Corporation (which he told the Ward 2 Councillors about minutes before he introduced it at the Sandwich Town Hall meeting I was told), favouring the Prospect corridor, designating Sandwich as “historical” and who knows what else until the Bridge co. blinks and begs the City to partner with them.

I hate to break the news to Eddie but if he had followed this alliance concept about 6 months ago when the Bridge Co. ran the series of ads asking the City to partner with them, then they might have done so. Now they can tell the City where to go since they no longer need Windsor’s approvals as they spend their money in SW Detroit building up its economic future as our auto jobs and perhaps even now the Chrysler HQ move out of Windsor.

Deep Throat's Masse Conquest

I finally got a copy of Brian Masse's Press Release and Letter to the PM and Premier.

To be blunt.....I was shocked and surprised. Had Deep Throat been speaking with him right after we had had our Erie Street "public" dinner? Was there any other reasonable explanation for what he wrote?

The purpose of the press conference was to publicize his letter to the Senior Level politicians in which he "requested [what a weak verb that is] the federal and provincial governments do all in their power to stop the Sandwich/Prince" crossing option." That was it!

I then read the letter which discussed this and suggested going to Ojibway without actually naming the corridor. Then the key sentence in the whole letter
  • "In addition, it [the Ojibway corridor] has also been presented by the Committee in a way that recognizes the important environmental concerns for the Ojibway nature preserves." FULL STOP!
Not a word about the road to getting to that crossing. No direct support of it but no attack on it. Fascinating, the chosen road must now be acceptable to the MP for Windsor West. How different when the Bridge Co. was putting forward almost the exact route.

Here is another point that was brought to my attention that Brian might already know. The big sinkhole at Prospect!
  • "A huge sinkhole on Feb. 19, 1954, ended brine mining operations by the Canadian Salt Company below riverfront land near Sandwich Street and Prospect Avenue, just off Ojibway Parkway.

    In a few hours, a hole more than 60 metres across and nearly eight metres deep formed.

    It swallowed parts of four buildings at the former Canadian Industries Ltd. (CIL) plant on the west end.

    The $6-million plant, which employed 300, shut down permanently two months later."

    [Read Marty Gervais'column in the Star about what happened on February 19, 1954]

So Brian gets it, finally.
  1. NO to Brock for the votes for the upcoming election,
  2. Support of the other crossing but not too strongly because of the sinkhole issue,
  3. NO for a road going through Ojibway nature reserves
  4. NO mention of the "diagonal" bridge or Ambassador Gateway project which the Americans want
  5. NO mention of the WALTS Road that can and probably will be built for the 200 booths and the Twinned Bridge years from now.
  6. After the election, that's when he gets tough on the Bridge Co. and and demands the "enhanced" WALTS Road.

That Deep Throat deserves a toast!

No Parking

It may be difficult to find a parking spot in Windsor these days. The parking garage behind the Hilton has just gone into receivership as has Mady's Garage on Wyandotte previously.

What would the two hotels (and other users) do if the garage is closed down? Where would their patrons park? Would there be enough space, for example, in the Canderel parking garage to allow hotel guests, Chrysler employees, other Canderel tenants and Keg customers all to have spaces? At the least, the extra traffic would help out the City's coffers. I guess with all of the unused land around the Western Super Anchor site, spaces could be found.

A Reader wrote to me offline about what was going on. Here are some excerpts:
  • "I just read the Windsor Star and the article about Docherty’s garage going into receivership as well.

    You would think the idiots at ______________ [fill in the blank as you wish (LOL)] would see some connection between the only 2 private garages going under and a lack of business in downtown. Are they that clueless ... My God!! Bells should be going off!!!"

Who would buy the garages? A question that may have to be addressed is that if there are no buyers from the Receivers of the two garages will the City be forced into buying them if it means keeping them around until the good times eventually come back downtown, if they ever do. At least the price will be cheap since there cannot be many buyers for parking garages that cannot pay their bills!

I wonder how much parking there will be at the new Casino Complex. Isn't that where the new downtown is moving anyway, one step at a time?

Where's the Bacon Man? His ad ideas for the garages and parking meters are starting to look better and better!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Two Thumbs Down

I can truly say that the performance last night at City Hall was a disgrace. And I use the word “performance” as in theatrical deliberately because it certainly was not a proper Council meeting.

I cannot think of a meeting that was so poorly run and so confusing to an electorate. The sight of a Mayor running down to a Councillor’s seat to introduce a Motion, saying at the same time that he was going to show the Procedural By-law in action was farcical. I lost track but was he trying to introduce a motion to defer after a motion to defer had already been lost? I am not really sure since I turned off the TV in disgust.

Does anyone really know what happened with the Benson school issue after the referrals and deferrals? There seemed to be an issue with what Administration suggested since it did not seem to make sense? If so, why was it signed off and put on the Agenda in the first place? Isn’t the Mayor part of the agenda setting review group?

And then the pay equity debate. For heaven’s sake, it was only whether they should receive an information item and not re-opening the whole issue. Why didn’t someone raise a Motion for Reconsideration if they were so concerned about what they had unanimously agreed to a year before. Why were they ranting and raving as if they did not have proper advice before and if they did not have it, someone’s head should roll since it will cost the City millions! I loved it when, if anything got too touchy, the Mayor told the Councillor to be quiet since it was “legal.”
Councillor Valentinis, David Estrin came to Council a number of times so do not be too harsh about Mr. King being around to answer a few questions.

And is there some fund where contingency matters can be dealt with and if so, how much is in there? Has that money been ear-marked for something already that we just do not know about yet?

It is interesting also to watch the inter-personal dynamics at Council. They are getting worse weekly

When will Councillor Halberstadt finally blow up with Eddie trying to silence him? It is now twice in the last few weeks that things got testy between them when Alan dared question what the Mayor wanted to do.

And poor old Ken Junior. Will Eddie ever let him speak and say what he wants to say?

Joyce had better learn also to stop saying in interviews that Council works when everyone knows now the obvious---it does not. [A word of warning to Councillors---Be careful being inteviewed by Joe. He is asking questions now that Councillors may not want to answer.] I was half hoping Joyce would have used her famous Hurst Chair remark as Council was getting totally out of control.

I can hardly wait for next Monday. NOT!

South Windsor Magazine Encore

OK Ok already........For those of you dumping on me for not including Pero's contact info because you want to place an ad here it is:

Pero Kovacevic at (519) 791-7910

Heritage Designation As A Political Tool

CKLW reported that "In an effort to prevent construction of a third border crossing in the Brock Street area of west Windsor, the Sandwich Town Development Commission may designate all of Sandwich Town as having historical significance. Commission member, Ron Jones, says 38 sites of historical significance have been identified."

If you lived in that area is the Councillor's proposal a good idea or is it overkill?

The City states that "Pursuant to Ontario Heritage Act, the City of Windsor has the authority to grant legal recognition to properties of historic and/or architectural importance by means of a heritage designation. This designation helps to ensure the protection of these properties so that future generations are able to recognize and appreciate them as symbols of our history and our civic pride."

Councillor Jones it seems wants to use this designation as a "political tool." Is that what the Heritage Act is to be used for and is it proper to use is that way?

Obviously there is a big concern in Sandwich that a new bridge will be proposed in that area some place and then get tied in by a "diagonal" bridge to the Ambassador Bridge Co.'s Gateway Plaza as the Americans want.

This "designation" must probably be helpful to a Masse re-election strategy since he has done little on the border even though his NDP caucus held the balance of power in Ottawa. The election possibility also must be the reason the big rally that was going to be held in the spring, if you can believe it, is now going to be held at month end with Big Labour supposedly promising to get the bodies out.

However, how would you like to wake up in the morning as a property owner in Sandwich and having this designation hitting you in the face. Like the Todd Lane or Riberdy Road residents getting up and learning that that their neighbourhood was now part of a truck route to the border.

If the plan is to "designate" all of Sandwich as a "heritage conservation districts," here is what the Ontario Ministry of Culture says are some of the consequences:

  • "Ontario's Heritage Conservation Districts

    In many areas of Ontario, the built heritage extends beyond the individual buildings to include the spaces between the buildings, the surrounding natural and man-made landscape, roads, footpaths, fences, lighting, street furniture and other features which collectively contribute to the area's special character.

    Part V of the Ontario Heritage Act provides for the designation of heritage conservation districts. Following approval of a local designation by-law (and confirmation by the Ontario Municipal Board) any alterations, additions and demolition to property within a heritage conservation district requires a permit from the local municipality. The approval or denial of a permit will usually be determined in accordance with approved guidelines and district plan."

It should not be too surprising after all. Over a year ago, one of the purposes of the Sandwich Development Corporation that Eddie sprung out of the blue at a Ward 2 Town Hall meeting was to "empower" the Community to block the Bridge Co. rather than using zoning and by-laws as I recall he said at the time!

Check out Toronto's website for how designation will work in practice

If this is "'empowering," then it is also adding another layer of bureaucracy to the mix. But I guess that is what the game is all about.

Monday, November 21, 2005

South Windsor Magazine

I wonder if some of the monthlies like City Times or Windsor Life should start worrying. A new publication is coming out and targeting one of the most attractive areas for business.

STOPDRTP did a flyer distribution some time ago and we wanted to cover just the area surrounding the DRTP corridor. Using Canada Post was a possibility but that was too pricey for us when you included the cost of the flyer. Distribution by the Star was an alternative but the zones they covered were broader than we wanted.

I thought about that again because of my friend Pero Kovacevic. If I were a business in South Windsor or wanted to appeal to people living just in that area, where would I put my money to get the most bang for the buck.

Pero came to my place the other day to have a coffee. I had not seen him for awhile and was happy to see that he was well and as feisty as ever! He is an interesting man and a "Canadian by choice" as he puts it.

I met Pero as part of the South/West Windsor Ratepayers Corporation. He did the printing for a lot of the materials that our Group distributed. I expect that he took a beating on some of the jobs since cash was tight for us. (No we could not afford the billboards that our Opposition filled around the city or the glossy, multi-colour brochures).

I remember that we talked about a magazine that he wanted to publish but nothing really came of it. Or so I thought. When he called, he told me that he had seen me being interviewed on Face-to-Face and wondered if I would be willing to write an article for his new magazine. He actually had done it!

Of course I said "Yes" and he came over to tell me about it. The magazine is "SOUTH WINDSOR MAGAZINE." The first issue is to be distributed shortly. Its circulation is 15,000 copies to be distributed in South Windsor only. It sounded like a good deal for an advertiser---up to 50% off the rate card for those who got in early. Designing, printing and distributing an ad for an all-inclusive price of around $100-700, depending on size, seemed like an attractive offer to me!

But would anyone want to read it? That was answered by its press release and when I found out who the editor was:

I saw a draft of its press release and its content sounded intriguing:
  • "Gusto" is the adjective most frequently used by advertisers in describing South Windsor Magazine, Windsor's newest monthly. Audacious and unacademic, filled with "lively learning," written with wit and erudition, South Windsor Magazine promises to meet with lay as well as academic approval.

    The 52-page monthly will differ somewhat in content and look from other Windsor publications. In its pages the editor and contributors will try to give a reflection of the diversity of man's high articulate response to the circumstances and situations in life, and to write of those who have, like Prometheus, brought fire and warmth to their fellow man.

Its editor, Michael Petrovich, has worked for the Montreal Star, Radio-Canada International, CBC, the Olympics Radio and Television Organization, and other organizations. He has worked as freelance writer for TV Times, TV Guide, TV Hebdo, trade, scholarly, and federal and provincial government publications and is the author of a number of books.

To judge for yourself what the magazine will be like and whether one should advertise in it or read it, let me provide part of the answer to the question I asked Pero about why he started the magazine. Expecting the mundane, here is what I received:

  • "I'll try my best to answer your question. Why am I starting this new publication called South Windsor Magazine? There are many reasons, but I will briefly focus on only one, the most important of all.

    In 1990, I was diagnosed with colon cancer and did not know if I would live or not. Faced with such a predicament all I wished for at the time was that I have had printed my own book of poems so that my daughter would better understand who her father was when she grows up. Being fortunate, as I am, to have not just survived, but also cured myself of the ailment, I have learned to appreciate life and "time".

    A while ago, in an old newspaper, I have read that "time" by itself has no meaning and no purpose. For the human race, time is a journey we take in space. It is us, the human race, who give time meaning and purpose, by the way we use it.

    If we use it for creative and constructive purposes, purposes that better us as species and improve the world we live in, then we have used time wisely. Then we take our place among the stars of the universe.

    If, however, we use it for selfish and frivolous purposes, to glorify only one part of mankind at the expense of the rest, then we have wasted time foolishly. Then time has lost its purpose, and we have lost ourselves

    P.S. If you recognize yourself as one of the stars of the universe sky, it is only because you are one."

I will not wish Pero "good luck." He does not need it. He has obviously found his purpose.

Letters, He Sends Letters...Stacks And Stacks Of Letters

You would have to remember the old Perry Como TV show to understand the Title of this BLOG...showing my age I guess. Remember the final line----"Dear Perry . . . would you be so kind, to fill a request, and sing the song I like best?"

Now doesn't that sound like Brian Masse, the Windsor West MP? Another letter from Brian, this time in support of the Ojibway alternative suggested by the Bi-national, hoping that someone will fill his request.

I haven’t seen his letter to the Federal and Provincial leaders yet but it will be interesting to see how he suggests going there.

I doubt if he will suggest going through the Ojibway Nature Reserve. He is too smart for that, especially with an election coming up. By default then, he must be supporting the routing suggested by the Bi-national. OR has he found a new way to get to the crossing?

If he is in favour of that routing, guess what, he supports the Ambassador Bridge’s proposed route! What an irony that would be.

Brian should know that no one would ever dream of building a “diagonal” bridge from the Brighton Beach area to the Ambassador Bridge’s owned plaza, the location the US side favours, (and he must know about the Environmental Justice issue on the other side too).

He is a good politician however. The only thing I can figure is that he gets the best of both worlds: he supports Ojibway and then is positioning himself to be the one who “forces” the Bridge Co. to make huge concessions when they ultimately get their way.

I think Eddie and Council need to learn a few lessons in political strategy from him. (I wonder if Brian read what Deep Throat said in my Thursday BLOG before he sent out his Friday letter.)

PS The BIG question is whether the proposed month-end rally will still go on if Brian is stuck in Ottawa for the “non-confidence” vote. I heard that Eddie wants it to go forward too. What the rally will be about is a big mystery since the purpose of it now makes no sense to me.

Bits and Pieces


Councillor Joyce Zuk, in answering a question about that site from John Fairley on Face-To-Face, said that it was not available at the time for the bus terminal site when the City was looking. So I wondered what it could be used for now since the Club had closed.

I had a brilliant idea. I thought that it would be a great location for the Burger King restaurant! Their present location must have suffered after 9/11 and clearly it will be expropriated when the Tunnel plaza is built.

So why doesn't the City expropriate (or buy) the existing Burger King site, move Burger King over [Similar precedents have been set in other expropriations] and then Burger King could use the cash to buy and build at the Top Hat site. All one neat package!

Canderel Building

Not only is the City paying out good money for the two floors but it seems to be totally unsucessful in getting anyone to lease out the space. To induce real estate agents to show potential tenants the space and to rent it out, Administration is suggesting that the real estate agent commission be raised to a possible $105,000 or about twice what it was before.

Vacancy rate in Downtown Windsor

Administration estimates office space vacancy rate at between 30-35%

Buskers and Brister

I knew it would be too good to last. Councillor Brister would voted against the Buskers again. For Councillor Budget, it seems that "Pocketbook benefits... through increased tourism" should only be examined for those projects that Gord Henderson approves first.

Secrecy and In Camera at Council

A report about those subjects was on the agenda last week. Ironically, the Star reported the next day that in 2004, Council approved "behind closed doors" a pay equity plan that may now cost the City $7 million. Also "behind closed doors," Council directed Administration to negotiate with St. Clair College on a Cleary deal.

Pay Equity

It must be getting closer to election time. How else to explain the actions of five "courageous" Councillors who "refused to endorse a status report on pay equity." Note also the Mayor did not break the tie to support them. Presumably, he knew he could not since it made no sense from a legal perspective.

All they did was defer the matter for a week to allow them to make some fearless quotes to make themselves look good. If they were so concerned about this where was the Group of Five a year ago. If they had wanted, they should have told Counsel to appeal the decision then and not granstand now.

I guess posturing over finances is better for their election brochures

MFP $68 million loss

Has Council received yet a legal opinion about how to recover some or all of this loss or has it decided that taxpayers can afford it? Has Councillor Lewenza done the math to determine how much this represents per household per year?

Medical Assistance required

According to the Toronto Star, the OMA is saying that "Ontario has become much worse since it first warned the doctor shortage problem represented a "looming crisis" in 1999. The year 2005 finds the province in the midst of a deepening physician resources crisis...Family medicine in particular has deteriorated into a dying specialty and requires urgent resuscitation."

It is clearly worse in this part of the Province. Council must take action on our behalf to allow foreign trained doctors to be admitted immediately into Ontatio. Even with more doctors being admitted into medical school, it will take years before they graduate.

At the least admit them as "physician assistants" and don't pay them as doctors if the issue is really one of money.

Take a look at my previous blog, "Is There A Doctor In The House?" for the Emergency Resolution that I believe Council must pass and on which it must take immediate action.

For Tunnel Lovers

Interesting numbers about the Chunnel. It seems the story is like the Big Dig in Boston.

From The Times: "The tunnel was meant to open in 1993 at a cost of £5 billion. In fact it limped into operation with a limited service in 1994 at £12 billion, and in its first year of operation lost £900m. Eurotunnel, the Anglo-French operating company, owes more than £6 billion.

Election Day, November 13, 2006

Will the 13th be unlucky for the Mayor and certain Councillors?