Is Our Leader Fearless
I have to admit that was the Eddie I worked so hard for to become our Mayor. Our leader-to-be who was not a politician like the others. The smart, young leader-to-be who was going to take Windsor to greatness. Unfortunately, he has morphed into something else I am afraid and that makes me so disappointed today.
Am I being harsh on him? Yes. Am I too harsh? Probably. But if you lead people to expect much and you do not deliver, then you must suffer I am afraid from your failure to perform.
Eddie chose to run for Mayor. He chose to run at a time when Windsor was facing some very difficult issues that needed to be dealt with. He claimed that he could help solve our problems. I am judging him not on whether he is a nice guy or not but whether he has done what he was elected to do. In my opinion on the border, at least, he has failed.
Let me give you a quick overview of history on the border file so you will understand my position.
I remember hearing several times the Eddie/Schwartz patter about what each of them said to the other at the beginning of the relationship ie setting out the groundrules. Then I read a Star story and wondered what was going on. I read:
- "Estrin planned to tackle the province and federal governments' "nine-point plan" and fight off proposals by the Ambassador Bridge and DRTP. He told council his hiring of a transportation planner [was] vital to help council achieve its objectives. The transportation expert would come up with a traffic bypass plan...Estrin soon after hired New York traffic expert Sam Schwartz to come up with a bypass plan."
Looking back now, it's clear that by July/August of 2004 the Senior Levels had shot down the first version of the Schwartz Plan. I suspect that it may have been very similar to what Eddie is proposing today but I do not know that as a fact.
Did our leader tell us that...Nope. He did not dare or else we would have thought he failed. Did he rally us at that time to fight for Windsor and the quality of life we deserve as he is doing today. Nope. What did he do? He hid and ran and rewrote Schwartz. Even then he waited for 5-6 months to reveal it to Windsorites.
When the Schwartz Report came out, did our leader rally for the long-term? Nope. He did not dare or else the Senior Levels would have slapped him down. What did he do? He had the billion dollar short-term dream for which he and Council rallied. As you remember, its highlight was the expensive Horseshoe Road that did nothing and which was utterly destroyed by the Cansult Report.
And then the nerve of our leader. He conceded on Detroit televison two days after the Schwartz presentation that the Bi-national was the final decision-maker. He did not dare say that it was the City and people of Windsor. How could he say otherwise when he knew he failed.
Then we had the charade of the selling of the Schwartz Plan. Did our leader tell us it had no chance of success? Nope. He did not dare. What did he do? Months and months of speeches by Sam, trips to various groups trying to salvage the unsalvageable. When that failed, Schwartz became a thought provoker, a "starting point" rather than our Plan as everyone thought. That was the beginning of the end of that PLAN and the beginning of a new border strategy for the Mayor. I wrote about it on October 4, 2005 "The Valentinis Shocker!"
Then a slight distraction. You remember the Phase 1 deal on the Tunnel Plaza that came out of the blue. Did our leader tell us what his reasoning was about that? Nope. He did not dare. What did he do? He tried to get the infamous Agenda Item #5 passed which would have given him the authority to do what he wanted to do on the Tunnel: scoop it from Detroit so he could be the big border operator and then operate it or lease it out.
That Plan failed too when the Bridge Co. outmanoeuvered him. How did he react? He tried to have a public "sales meeting" in Detroit to get Detroit Council to buy into what he wanted to do. Instead, he destroyed Windsor's credibility by having the Joint Councils session which confirmed just about everything the Bridge Co. said, especially that we have been sitting on $300 million of BIF money for roads to the border for over 3 years. We did nothing while the Ambassador Gateway is solving their problems. And we told them that a City and region whose population is 1/10th the size City of Detroit and its region is receiving 10 times more Tunnel revenues than they are!
Now fast forward to today: the four point plan of our leader to save Windsor and improve our quality of life; what I have called, the "Failure Plan" because it will never happen but might get him re-elected. Let us look at it in more detail.
1) Tunnelling under Talbot Road
When did Eddie and Council become the Talbot Road champions? Does anyone remember Schwartz pushing for Tunnels when he was "Thinking Big?" I remember him telling us how people could make a ton of money in property increases with cantilevered roads.
He argued that "context sensitive designs be developed where the roads pass through communities or parkland to minimize impacts. Such designs include cantilevering service roads above below-grade highways, short tunnels possibly with parquettes atop, and berms and other design features to muffle sound and air emission."
Seriously, do you, dear reader, recall our leader rallying for a tunnel in 2005? Is he an Eddie-come-lately? I do remember him hiring Estrin about this in late December 2005. And he said in the Star:
- "Council is also concerned whether the proposed feeder road leading to a new crossing will be a tunnel, below street level or at- grade.
"We've heard it's going to be an at-grade, six-lane freeway and the only mitigation is going to be some sort of retaining wall," Francis said.
"I've met with the Talbot Road residents and businesses and they have the same concerns as we do," Francis said.
"We are maintaining that they can't build these new roads like they did in the 1950s. Certain things must be taken into consideration, so there will not be further (environmental) deterioration of our community."
2) Road west of Huron Church but subject to an Environmental Assessment
Where is our leader's nerve and that of our Councillors? Why don't they say they are going through the Ojibway nature reserve as they did before. The reason is obvious. They do not dare.
Here is what they have said before:
- "Coun. Dave Brister...argues that...The goal has to be to keep it away from densely populated neighbourhoods... He said a tunnel under Talbot to Cabana, and then a new route through undeveloped lands to the west of Huron Church, in other words some variant of the Schwartz plan, would have the least impact on populated areas."
"Schwartz spokesman Marko Paranosic echoed that sentiment. He said it's now clear the Schwartz plan's one mistake was drawing a specific line through the grasslands.
He said if they had produced a yellow fuzzy swath like the DRICP did, as many as 50 potential routes could have been considered."
They learned their lessons well. Do not dare give us specifics. We might get too much inforamtion and be able to say something negative. Is that the model for the Tecumseh meeting too? Don't give us information in advance so we can be prepared...dump it on us and then claim we have had our say!
So give it off. Take no responsibility. Let the EA do the dirty work, not our leader. Pass it off to someone else to do the decision-making
3) Plaza in Brighton Beach
I cannot prove this but I do not believe that the Brighton Beach lands were ever intended to be used as industrial land. Why all of a sudden did they come out in the Schwartz Report out of nowhere.
I have been told by 2 very knowledgeable people that its 110 acres already assembled is a dream for any planner. I think it was to be used as a bargaining chip or for leverage with the Senior Levels to get other roads and services built in Windsor eg an EC Row upgrade as an example down the road. After all it is out of the way and requires no expenditure of funds by the Senior Levels for expropriation. I think it has been a part of the border crossing route by the City for a very long time except we as citizens did not know what was the real intended use. Sam just adopted it I would bet and why not?
4) A bridge as far away from Sandwich as is possible
Didn't our leader say about DRIC "The location for the new bridge so far suggested by DRIC is "too vague and broad," Francis said."
What does his suggestion mean? Sarnia? Amherstburg? Prospect? Sterling Fuels? The Twinned Bridge? They all fit don't they. Why be specific when the listener can make up in his/her imagination whatever that means and our leader can take credit for whatever happens.
Our leader developed his game-plan and since he is so smart it had to work. We have seen it again and again, when there is oppostion to his reality, he backs off. Our leader never talks to his supporters who made him leader in the first place until he needs us again. We are not worthy before.
It's close to election time. He and his Council colleagues have achieved nothing on the border. We are back reacting to the Senior Levels as we were three years ago. The Mayor rants and raves about the "out of towners" from the Senior Levels in Toronto and Ottawa imposing solutions on us. Have Eddie's New York transportation guru and Toronto lawyer been made honorary citizens of Windsor?
It does not matter whether the new "Made in Windsor" solution is "Announced in Tecumseh" at a meeting that may violate the Municipal Act. It's all smoke and mirrors anyway
Eddie has become a leader with all growl and no action.