Eddie On Face-To-Face
What would we do without John Fairley in Windsor?
Oh, we can hear the Mayor being lobbed softballs for a few minutes on his weekly CKLW show or read Gord Henderson's column in the Star. After Council Close-up was cancelled (and Bill Marra was the commentator), other than 5 or 10 minutes of Patty Handysides' commentary on Melanie Deveau's show on Mondays, Joe McParland's wrap-up after Council and the odd Percy's Panel on CBC, where does someone in town go to understand what is happening on Council. We are not well-served by the traditional media in this City on in-depth commentary of local politics so BLOGs like this are starting up.
So if you want to know what's happening, John's show is our only real outlet.
I have already commented on what Councillor Valentinis revealed on his show which was a big surprise to me and which has not really been reported properly yet in my opinion. ["The Valentinis Shocker!" on October 4.] That show disclosed the start of the City's re-writing of history and its new position, something that Eddie developed during his interview as you shall soon see.
John has the knack to get the inside scoop and to take it just to the right point to let the viewer watch the guest squirm without being so harsh as to put the knife in!
I am not going to discuss everything, just the highlights, giving my observations on what was said and not said. It is worthwhile for you to watch the program on January 2 at 6 PM or January 3 at 8 PM (or 5 or 10 minutes after the hour depending on Cogeco's schedule).
What happened to the Chief in the media was not discussed. He is NOT in trouble according to the Mayor. All that is happening is an operational review, just like several other departments, that will be made public in the new year.
I wonder if the personnel in the Fire Department view it that way too.
Vacant space in Downtown Windsor
Thank goodness for The Keg or Eddie would be in serious trouble. He can spread their opening all over. Good thing that the Henderson story may have prevented DCX from leaving the Canderel Building for at least the short-term or there might have been trouble.
I am tired of Eddie blaming the past for problems. He has been Mayor for two years already and he cannot stick everything onto Hurst as his excuse forever. Yes we know that City policies allowed commercial buildings to be built on industrial lands. The question is what is the Mayor going to do about the 30-50% vacancy rate in downtown buildings (depending on whom you ask) Why even at $10 per square foot now for a Triple A building, the City's two floors of space at Canderel are still empty!
Eddie's answer: a Plan (another one by George) to build up a sense of confidence in investors....Voila The Keg deal. The Mayor did not answer the direct question about incentives to The Keg but instead talked about his Vision for the downtown that The Keg must have bought into.
Of course the new convention centre at the Casino was a good part of the Vision ie the extra number of conventions and delegates that the City will have, more than ever before. We are being forced to swallow the view that convention traffic will go from the Casino all the way to downtown if we are to believe that Vision rather than people staying in the confines of the billion dollar Casino complex as the Mayor calls it.
I thought the function of a Casino was to keep people there to gamble and not let them escape! I am sure that the Mayor must be right...why just look at our thriving downtown today. Have we seen downtown being revitalized by the existing Casino? Why shall we think otherwise with the new complex? As for all of the St. Clair students who may come downtown, want to bet how many of them will eat dinner at The Keg?
I thought I heard mention of an urban village too. I just hope no one asks Beztak what they think of Windsor for new urban development.
If the Mayor's Vision is not 20-20, then what will reduce the vacancy rate?
In Camera meetings
Eddie thinks the criticism is unfair. What he means is that he has finally learned his lesson from all of the Star/Henderson criticisms ("The Media Is The Government BLOG, October 11)
Eddie loves talking process, explaining how agendas are set and so on. Why he even shares with the media "in a scrum" every issue they talk about in camera.
IF HE CAN TELL THE MEDIA, THEN WHY CAN THE ISSUE NOT BE SHARED WITH THE PUBLIC AND IN A PUBLIC COUNCIL SESSION?
Of course, if an issue is on the public agenda, then Eddie is unable to control what may happen (No, he told John, he is not a micro-manager) ie the public can appear as a delegation and dare to disagree. If it is in camera, the public hears only what the Mayor wants us to hear through the media.
The obvious example is the border. The Schwartz Report was endorsed in camera by Council and when it reared its head in the infamous Agenda Item #5 in public, when 16 delegations opposed it, Council ran and deferred it!
The poor Mayor was "troubled" by what was said about Councillors Wilson and Cassivi since he has tremendous respect for elected representatives. But not so troubled as to scold the Star in public or in private for their actions when John asked him if he had even contacted the paper.
The Mayor said he had conversations with Councillor Cassivi but it does not seem he had any with Councillor Wilson. I guess Tom did not feel so bad so there was no need to be "protective" of him. (Anyway, Eddie could not comment on Solid Waste Authority matters)
Oh sure, the Mayor talked process again, the role of the IRC and how the attack was taken out of context since David was the rep of Council and attended when the Mayor could not.
But where was the criticism of the Star for using such inappropriate language and calling Councillors by the name it did. Where is Eddie specifically stating that three of the trips David went on trips were those where he stood-in for the Mayor. Where was a proper defence for his colleagues!
Of course the reason for all of this was stated in my December 5 BLOG "Has The Senator Been Fields-ed"
Income and Security Building
I am sure that you are waiting as I am to see the results of the audit of this project that was to find out what the City did right and what it did wrong so that we can discover best practices eg making sure that prospective tenants like St Clair College actually sign leases!
I wonder who did the work for the $15,000 and if we will ever be given the results. Of course no one was fired or will be fired because of the Report.
It is a soap opera now. It is too hilarious;
--who is telling the truth about the dinner that Eddie was invited to attend but was a no-show. Was it with auto execs as Dennis said or with the University Board as Eddie claimed.
--will Eddie ever use Dennis as a "sounding board" about the auto industry or will E C Row and the $5 million to the Unviersity get in the way
--will Eddie ever forget that Dennis was a friend of Hurst and that Marchand introduced him to Eddie
--will Dennis and Eddie ever speak again since the last call was in the April-July time period and Dennis has not yet called Eddie even after John invited him to do so
--at least we know that Eddie did not ask Alfie Morgan to write to the Star and that Alfie is a volunteer on a City small business task force.
Will there be a big controversy over this garage in the new year?
The Star said "Francis defended council's enthusiasm for the project, saying they were misled when a staff report painted the project in the best possible light." The Star reported that Cliff Sutts, the City's lawyer, said "The forecasts that he made were so faulty that they began losing money almost right out of the gate." Chuck Mady wrote to the Star saying "To suggest that the City of Windsor was misled is absolutely untrue. A very comprehensive due diligence analysis was undertaken and peer reviewed by the city's outside auditors."
On John's show, Eddie claimed that he never said he was misled. His issue is not with Mady since the operational model changed because of the high dollar, tourism was down and because of 9/11. His issue is whether proper steps were into place to protect the City's interests.
Two interesting points come up.
First, if these operational issues were the cause of the problem, compounded by the City's free parking for an hour, and free parking in the downtown during last December as John mentioned, shouldn't the City have talked to its garage partner to try and salvage things rather than have a receivership? Mady claimed to have "attempted to have dialogue with the city over the past year to discuss the problems at the parking garage, but we were essentially put off and ignored."
That leads to the second point. The City's loss could be its entire investment in the garage....around $3 million. The problem may have been internal City procedures. But wait a minute---who was on the Windsor Tunnel Commission at the time, who was on Windsor City Council at the time, who made the motion at a Tunnel Commission meeting to approve the partnership agreement: Eddie Francis.
Who should be at fault? Eddie said ""All I know today is when agreements come on my desk, before I sign them I read through those agreements." The question I have is did he do that "yesterday?"
Eddie does not regret doing it and does not think we are paying for it.
Of course, it is put in the best context of standing up for the City on E C Row and keeping 30,000 trucks a day off of that road. [I am not sure where 30,000 comes from but why be picky!]
The significance of the snub is that it happened and not why it happened. Until that time, Windsorites had NO idea that our position with the Senior Levels had deteriorated so badly. We were supposed to be a partner at the table according to the our Mayor, the PM and the Premier with everyone listening to the local community. Now all of a sudden things were so bad that we had to snub them at a meeting.
If the Mayor does not believe yet that the snub hurt us then he has forgotten about the Cansult Report that the Feds ordered up that destroyed the Schwartz report! He has also clearly forgotten Councillor Valentinis' cry of anguish in front of DRIC at Council that no one listens to Windsor.
He knows he lost but cannot admit it can he? He may have cost Windsor dearly!
The Bridge Company
A smart politician locally told me that Eddie is concerned about talking a deal with the Bridge Co. since it might look like he is in their pocket. He does not want the criticism that Kwame has received. If that is the case, then Windsor has major problems.
The Mayor has said that he will talk to anyone but clearly there have been no significant discussions with the Bridge Co. or if there have been any, they have been in secret. He claims not to have had a conversation with them for several months, around the time of the Tunnel dispute.
The Bridge Co. had to buy three sets of full-page ads in the summer in the Star in order to communicate with the Mayor and Council it seems. An expensive way to send a message isn't it? All they wanted to say is that they wanted to partner with Windsor over the border. Obviously they were rebuffed by our Mayor for reasons unknown.
I think the Mayor needs to keep up-to-date more on the border. DRIC has said that the Twinned Bridge is not part of their process since it is an expansion of an existing crossing and not a new crossing.
While Eddie would not admit the Schwartz Report is dead, how can he, it is. You need to go back to Fulvio's Face-to-Face appearance to see how the new Eddie strategy is developing.
It is not the border crossing any more. It is the road to the border for which he and Council will now be our CHAMPION. After all we have not had any new infrastructure since our grandfathers' days.
The battlecry will be:
WE NEED TO FOCUS ON A BETTER WAY TO IMPROVE ROADS, GET TRUCKS OFF CITY STREETS AND OUT OF NEIGHBOURHOODS. WINDSOR DESERVES IT FOR A BETTER QUALITY OF LIFE!
So we lost. We are at DRIC's mercy as Eddie so graciously conceded on Detroit TV 2 days after Schwartz delivered his Report to Windsor! What a betrayal!
What a rewriting of history too over the past year. Oh no, the Mayor and Council really did not try and sell the Schwartz Option #3 as the best one.
What a pathetic attempt attempt to salvage failure. Eddie is back to the "full environmental hearing" defence too. Schwartz was going to be subject to a hearing that would take all options into consideration and determine the best way to go. I guess the decision-maker was going to be some other bureaucrats not our politicians.
Can't you picture it: the Mayor, Councillor Zuk and Councillor Brister standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the people on Talbot Road to protect our roads from trucks. What a sight to behold.
Eddie finally admitted the obvious: traffic is moving at the border because of the actions of the Bridge Co. But we have an obligation to put into place a solution now since we are so dependant on infrastructire built 75 years ago. Wasn't that what the Bridge Co said?
Now here comes CODA [You will hear more about that in the new year!] This will be Eddie's rallying cry for re-election which he said he wants.
Trucks have taken over our community he says. His experts say (I guess that means Gridlock Sam who is coming back for a second time) that we do not have to build roads the way we did 50 years ago.
SO WINDSOR'S ISSUE NOW IS ROAD BUILDING TECHNIQUES ALONG THE DRIC ROADWAY AND NO LONGER THE BORDER CROSSING PER SE!
What does the acronym CODA stand for: the failure of Eddie Francis on the border!
Odds and ends
No public meeting on Estrin's legal fees and it does not matter what Halberstadt wants in this regard. $1.7-1.75 million spent so far, the bulk of it on the Rail Lands By-law issue in front of the OMB.
There is no deal yet with Greyhound over the Bus Terminal (which was supposed to have been built in time for Super Bowl XL) No reaction from the Mayor about taking the Top Hat lands either.
Eddie would like an arena but there has to be a business case for it.
MFP has been dealt with even though Bill Marra said we are out $68 million.
And then some conversation about Super Bowl and how Windsor was part of the guidebook!
So there you have it...Political posturing at its finest. No significant discussion about achievements, no recognition of failure to involve the community in essential decision-making, involvement of Council with everything so he cannot be blamed, failure to accomplish what the was elected to do. All in all, John did a heck of a job!