My Address To Council
I have a big dilemma. I cannot be in two places at once. Either I go to the Lansing hearings to hear what the Michigan Legislators and Senators have to say about DRIC or go to the Council "public" meeting to hear Sam Schwartz talk about DRIC.
Now that I have typed out the alternatives, the decision is easy. I may as well go and see the real decision-makers in action in Lansing. I'll do a note on the session for the BLOG tomorrow.
However, I know I am disappointing certain people by not speaking Thursday night at the City of Windsor meeting held in Tecumseh. So here is the "address" I would have delivered had I attended:
ADDRESS TO COUNCIL
Why are you so afraid of the citizens of Windsor, the people who elected you and trusted you to do the right thing for us?
This is the first time in almost 2 ½ years since you were first elected that we as citizens have had the right to address you on the border issue. Five whole minutes too for each of us! And we have to do it at an improper City “Public” meeting in Tecumseh. What a disgrace! You cannot even set up a meeting according to our Procedure By-law and the Municipal Act. Finally we understand now why, as Councillor Valentinis asked, no one listens to Windsor.
It’s strange that we are having a meeting tonight to discuss a response to DRIC. The City has had to respond to DRIC before and never asked our opinion. I went back in time in my research database and saw a story on June 25, 2005.
- Council defends secret meeting
City councillors are defending a closed-door meeting they held with a lawyer this week to discuss border-crossing options presented by the binational committee…
The binational committee, which unveiled 15 crossing options this week, has asked area stakeholders for a response by the end of July...
[A councillor] said there are "legal ramifications to every decision we make and in order to protect the city's interests, we have to make certain we take all the right steps. On Thursday, we conducted a general discussion of our legal options and when the response is formulated, it will take place in a public setting with full and open debate.
Clearly there is a hidden agenda here. This meeting is not about DRIC comments. Why their next meeting is only in a few days. They may not even have received Gridlock Sam’s comments before new decisions are made that will impact us.
I wish I knew what was really going on. I know that a lot of this tonight is mere posturing for the re-election time in November. If you really wanted to hear us, this meeting would have been scheduled a long time ago, not in the last minute, and in a convenient location in Windsor.
Our Mayor and Council have never explained anything to us before or took us into their confidence. I suspect that our leaders want to be able to point to tonight and say the public has had its chance as they go and take more actions in secret. Just like they tried with the infamous Agenda Item #5 so that the City could become the Tunnel Operator. However, you cannot do this with an improperly set up meeting can you? This meeting cannot give you the legitimacy that you crave so desperately.
I wonder what I am allowed to speak about tonight before I get cut off. There is no agenda. There is nothing in the press release that says what I may or may not speak about. All it says is that “Persons interested in addressing Council at this meeting must register.”
Am I to be restricted only to replying to what Sam Schwartz, our traffic guru, has said in his presentation: City’s response to the Detroit River International Crossing Partnership. Surely not.
How can it be fair to require us to speak about such a complicated matter as Gridlock Sam presented when we have just heard what he has had to say? We need time to digest his commentary so that we may speak intelligently about it.
I would have thought that the easy answer, if this meeting was just about his presentation, was to make his presentation and report available in advance so that we had the chance to think about it. I understand that the Councillors saw it in advance. Did any other stakeholders see it too before citizens as happened previously?
But this Mayor and Council did not dare let us see the new Schwartz Report. They learned what happened the last time around with his Report. Within days, thoughtful observers dismissed it as not meeting our needs, never mind our expectations. From being the City’s position on the border, it eventually was transformed into being a thought provoker and then a “starting point.” If the materials were provided in advance, would this Report meet the same fate?
Tonight is just an exercise in “make-believe.” Let us pretend that we have given citizens a true session where they can speak. Let us make-believe that we are interested in what citizens have to say. Let us pretend afterwards that we have the authority from citizens to express their position. It does not matter. No one will take our Mayor and Council seriously after tonight, after this sham.
So let me take up the last few minutes of my five-minute speech telling you how you have let Windsorites down.
- Weren’t you elected to achieve a long-term solution? Why did you waste so much time and money instead rallying for a short-term billion dollar dream
- You conceded that the Bi-national was the final decision-maker and now you are forced to eat your words as your worst night-mare is coming true
- You had the PM, Premier and US Ambassador eating out of your hand, and now we do not have a seat at the table.
- You snubbed people we need for our future rather than building relationships with them
- The Walker Road project is 18 months behind schedule while the Tunnel Plaza expansion is a $30 million Disneyworld queuing project since not a single vehicle will move more quickly through the Tunnel
- The Joint Councils meeting in Detroit let everyone know that it is our roads that are the problem and that we have sat on the $300 million BIF border monies for three years while the Americans have done their job through the Ambassador Gateway project.
You should be ashamed. This Mayor and Council knew early on that they had lost but they tried to hide that information from their electors. They hoped that somehow everything would turn out happily ever after.
They preferred to hide behind closed doors spouting “solicitor-client privilege” if someone got too close or asked the tough questions. They preferred to act in secret to endorse in camera rather than to pass a formal Resolution about the Schwartz Report knowing that Windsorites would have rejected it. They refused to come to the people until it was too late, until tonight.
Now you expect us to make it all good again. I am sorry but I personally cannot. If I could under the Procedure By-law, I would introduce this Motion of “no confidence” for a vote tonight:
- WHEREAS the Mayor and Council were elected to achieve a long-term border solution for the Citizens of the City of Windsor
WHEREAS the Mayor and Council have failed to achieve their objective
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT we the Citizens of Windsor no longer have confidence in this Mayor and Council.