Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, February 10, 2006

Doctor Dwight

What a boost for his Liberal leadership aspirations! Dwight Duncan could not buy publicity like this. Not only are we getting a medical school but jobs: "up to 5,000 direct and 12,000 indirect jobs as health-care sector companies locate nearby, in addition to hiring at the university and local health care facilities."

This is pretty heady stuff coming out at a really good time with every single, federal, high-profile Liberal running away like a scared chicken from running for the Federal Liberal leadership. And Dwight won't care about starting low because he has nowhere to go but up. Look at what he has achieved after his political melt-down years ago. Associating with a powerful figure like Tony Toldo won't hurt Dwight either.

Locally, the announcement solidified Dwight's "control" of Windsor (We are supposed to forget now his $500 million border Gong Show non-announcement a few months ago).

My sources told me that the Mayor was at the announcement but almost "invisible" as a politician. I was told his name was barely mentioned at all by anyone. I guess Joe Comartin better worry now more about Dwight than Eddie.

I wonder how much involvement Jane Boyd, Executive Assistant to the University President, had in the setting up of the program, who would speak, seating arrangements etc. I heard it was a very exciting time.

Another Canadian politician and potential PM for Windsor. Prime Minister does have a certain ring to it doesn't it! Perhaps he will be able to cure the federal Liberals' ills with a new blood transfusion.

Mister "Governor" Mom

I feel bad for the Mayor. Can you imagine what may happen if the Detroit media get ahold of the story about the husband of Governor Granholm, Daniel Granholm Mulhern, working for the City of Windsor.

In case the Governor's husband has second thoughts about coming, if the US media get involved, I do not want Council's Strategy session to fall apart. We do not have to go outside of Canada to find a person who can do the job. We do not have to get a person who might embroil the City in a controversy.

May I suggest a replacement. Glenn Pothier, who is a Canadian living in Oakville, has been the outside facilitator for the CCG groups for DRIC in this area. He is the President of GLPi. It is his job to be the "referee" at the meetings and to keep them under control. Not only has he done an excellent job but he also does leadership training courses too for major corporations in Canada.

I am certain that Glenn, with a whip and chair in hand if necessary, could handle the Councillors

I think the Mayor and CAO may want to reconsider what they have asked Mulhern to do. After all, he is an "at-home dad" and we are taking him away from his three kids ....well, he would be with eleven other "children" who need help so maybe it is not so bad!

Here is a story about him that I found on Family and Home Network .

“... I have a relationship with my children that I wouldn’t trade for a million-dollar job...” --Daniel Mulhern

  • Michigan recently elected its first female governor, Jennifer M. Granholm. Her qualifications for the governor’s office include an honor’s degree from Harvard Law School, a 98 percent conviction rate as a federal prosecutor in Detroit, a stint as Michigan’s Attorney General where she established the state’s first High Tech Crime Unit, and being the mother of three young children. As people celebrated her inauguration, they wondered how to address her husband, Daniel G. Mulhern. While titles such as “first man,” “first gentleman,” and “first spouse” were considered, Mr. Mulhern was already getting comfortable with an unofficial title: at-home dad.

    During an interview with CNN’s Paula Zahn on January 17, 2003, Mulhern spoke eloquently about his role as primary caregiver to his three children ages five, eleven and thirteen and what made him decide to leave the workplace. “Well, this is just a huge challenge for Jennifer and for the people of the state of Michigan, and we’re partners. And I thought the best thing I could do is to make it my number one priority to be behind her, to support her, care for her and to support my kids.”

    In addition to caring for his own children, he is continuing the work of Michigan’s former first lady Michelle Engler by working on the Mentor Michigan program, which recruits adults to mentor children who have had a light brush with the law. Mulhern, who has taught leadership at several universities and is working on a book about character and leadership, reflected on his new role at home, “This is just a shift. It’s still leadership, just in a different domain.” He recently led a conference for men married to high-profile women and men fulfilling non-traditional roles. When asked about the conference Mulhern stated, “The biggest lesson...was that it wasn’t about sacrifice..., but this incredible opportunity that men have in this era that our fathers didn’t have because of the economic and social expectations that were laid on them.”

    While Mulhern takes pride in his wife’s new role as governor, he finds satisfaction in raising their children. “I mean I’m sitting next to the most talented leader I think I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been an executive coach, worked with a lot of people. To be able to savor and celebrate that success is extraordinary. And I have a relationship with my children that I wouldn’t trade for a million-dollar job, to be president of Microsoft. I wouldn’t give it away. I just wouldn’t.” [Daniel Mulhern pens a weekly opinion column on the Internet (, coaches his two daughters’ basketball teams, and tries to keep up with his five-year-old son.]

Oh my goodness, does this mean Windsor taxpayers are paying him so much money for the seminar to take him away from home! No wonder there is no money for seniors for Tylenol tablets at Huron Lodge.

Disclosures Of Pecuniary Interest And The General Nature Thereof

As I am sure that you know, at the start of every Council meeting, the first item is "Disclosures of Pecuniary Interest and the General Nature Thereof"

You have heard Councillors say that they cannot take part in a matter because they are personally involved or have property in the area or have a spouse or child employed with a person involved or is a member of a union involved or receives or about to receive retirement benefits.

I thought for those of you who were interested (or for those of you who wanted something to help put them to sleep) I would set out some of the relevant sections of the Ontario Municipal Conflicts of Interest Act that governs this matter.

Note that the consequences of breaching the Act can be very severe if a member of Council breaches the rules.

1. In this Act,
“elector” means, (a) in respect of a municipality, a person entitled to vote at a municipal election in the municipality
“interest in common with electors generally” means a pecuniary interest in common with the electors within the area of jurisdiction
“meeting” includes any regular, special, committee or other meeting of a council
“member” means a member of a council or of a local board; (“membre”)
“parent” means a person who has demonstrated a settled intention to treat a child as a member of his or her family whether or not that person is the natural parent of the child; (“père ou mère”)
“spouse” means a person to whom the person is married or with whom the person is living in a conjugal relationship outside marriage. (“conjoint”)

Interest of certain persons deemed that of member
3. For the purposes of this Act, the pecuniary interest, direct or indirect, of a parent or the spouse or any child of the member shall, if known to the member, be deemed to be also the pecuniary interest of the member. R.S.O. 1990, c. M.50, s. 3; 1999, c. 6, s. 41 (2); 2005, c. 5, s. 45 (3).

Where s. 5 does not apply
4. Section 5 does not apply to a pecuniary interest in any matter that a member may have,
(j) by reason of the member having a pecuniary interest which is an interest in common with electors generally; or
(k) by reason only of an interest of the member which is so remote or insignificant in its nature that it cannot reasonably be regarded as likely to influence the member.

Duty of Member
When present at meeting at which matter considered
5. (1) Where a member, either on his or her own behalf or while acting for, by, with or through another, has any pecuniary interest, direct or indirect, in any matter and is present at a meeting of the council or local board at which the matter is the subject of consideration, the member,
(a) shall, prior to any consideration of the matter at the meeting, disclose the interest and the general nature thereof;
(b) shall not take part in the discussion of, or vote on any question in respect of the matter; and
(c) shall not attempt in any way whether before, during or after the meeting to influence the voting on any such question.
Where member to leave closed meeting

Disclosure to be recorded in minutes
6. (1) Every declaration of interest and the general nature thereof made under section 5 shall, where the meeting is open to the public, be recorded in the minutes of the meeting by the clerk of the municipality or secretary of the committee or local board, as the case may be.

Who may try alleged contravention of s. 5 (1-3)
8. The question of whether or not a member has contravened subsection 5 (1), (2) or (3) may be tried and determined by a judge. R.S.O. 1990, c. M.50, s. 8.

Who may apply to judge
9. (1) Subject to subsection (3), an elector may, within six weeks after the fact comes to his or her knowledge that a member may have contravened subsection 5 (1), (2) or (3), apply to the judge for a determination of the question of whether the member has contravened subsection 5 (1), (2) or (3).

Power of judge to declare seat vacant, disqualify member and require restitution
10. (1) Subject to subsection (2), where the judge determines that a member or a former member while he or she was a member has contravened subsection 5 (1), (2) or (3), the judge,
(a) shall, in the case of a member, declare the seat of the member vacant; and
(b) may disqualify the member or former member from being a member during a period thereafter of not more than seven years; and
(c) may, where the contravention has resulted in personal financial gain, require the member or former member to make restitution to the party suffering the loss, or, where such party is not readily ascertainable, to the municipality or local board of which he or she is a member or former member.

Saving by reason of inadvertence or error
(2) Where the judge determines that a member or a former member while he or she was a member has contravened subsection 5 (1), (2) or (3), if the judge finds that the contravention was committed through inadvertence or by reason of an error in judgment, the member is not subject to having his or her seat declared vacant and the member or former member is not subject to being disqualified as a member, as provided by subsection (1).

So there you have it...a bit of learning about Council and the law courtesy of WindsorCityBlog.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

It's The Election, Stupid

Remember the election phrase used by Bill Clinton that helped make him President in the 1992 campaign. Well that was my immediate reaction when I read the headline story in the Star last Friday: "City tax increase under 1%."

I was pretty excited frankly to see that my taxes were not going up by too much and that service levels were not going to change much either.

Then I read the comments from the junior Councillor in Ward 4. You know the one who tells us that the expensive price is only $X per household per year for so many years. Like the $1 down and a $1 a week to pay off the $168,000,000 extra costs for MFP as an example. Obviously working for a car company rubbed off on him.

Ken Lewenza Jr, said "there's very little wiggle room in the budget and taxpayers should not expect to see the frugality of the last two budgets repeated next year. "This is probably the last go- around," he said, adding that there will be either higher tax hikes next year or a reduction in services."

Junior better learn to be politically correct for heaven's sake. His councillor buddies will be furious at him. However, whatever you want to say about him, he is at least honest in admitting that we will be screwed after he and his colleagues are re-elected!

It's the re-election, stupid!

And The DRIC Winner Is

Here is another exclusive scoop from the Blogmeister. No matter what is said and however it is played out eg we need to do reports for another 18 months to do all the studies required, DRIC has made its choice for the border crossing location and where the plaza will go. It was revealed Wednesday at DRIC's Community Consultation Group meeting.

The West End loses out again notwithstanding the hard work of their two Councillors, Postma and Jones in trying to convince DRIC otherwise. Where their colleagues were while this was going on is a question that should be asked. I hear that instead of being assisted by some of their colleagues, they were scolded and criticized in camera for daring to even talk to DRIC.

  • Ambassador Gateway Plaza is not acceptable
  • The likely bridge crossing and plaza area is Livernois/Dragoon in the US and Sterling Fuels in Canada
  • The likely Canadian Plaza is CC2 in their materials (Ojibway Parkway, E.C. Row Expressway, Malden Road and Armanda Road/Broadway Avenue.)
  • Brighton Beach is out since it is too small and the bridge location is such that there are problems with the 1 km landing
  • Tunneling has major problems with cost, soil conditions, water table.

Notwithstanding West End concerns such as the relocation of both Sterling Fuels and a gravel yard, Indian burial grounds, sulpher baths near the site and other environmental concerns, having 2 bridges so close together, their concerns did not seem to matter.

Dr. Phil To Tape His Show In Windsor

No, not really. But he should. Not only do we have sex, booze and gambling in Sin City, we have the most dysfunctional Mayor and Council in Ontario. I am only going to quote a bit of the story in the Star this morning. You can read the rest.

Of course this is too absurd even for Windsor right! There is a diabolical plan being hatched that is behind all of this my sources tell me

  • Council to get 'group therapy'
    Roseann Danese, Windsor Star, February 09, 2006

    A Michigan consultant who specializes in developing effective leaders has been hired to help bickering city councillors set aside their differences and focus on what's important.

    Dan Mulhern, the husband of Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, will hold a private session with councillors on Monday, in place of the city's regular council meeting. The meeting was arranged by Mayor Eddie Francis and chief administrative officer John Skorobohacz.

    "I guess they think we need some group therapy,"

    Coun. Alan Halberstadt said Wednesday. "It can't hurt." Halberstadt said an outburst at the last council meeting is indicative of the mood on council. "And I don't think it's healthy."

I am here though to tell you the real truth. Since the Governor is the real decision-maker on the border, the Governor's husband will be kept in Windsor until the Governor agrees to the Schwartz Plan!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

City Hall Meltdown

I am doomed never to watch what is now being called the "meltdown" at City Hall on Monday night. I heard that or similar terms yesterday from several people who are intimately involved with Council. I got some emails late last night from several readers telling me that the Council meeting repeat was on cable so that I had better watch it.

Unfortunately I was on the phone and did not start watching until 12:30 AM. I decided that sleep was a better alternative and so put on my VCR to tape it. Of course, I did not let the tape run long enough so just when it started getting good, it ended and I missed the fun. Oh well, I'll try again.

But I do owe you, dear reader, some juicy inside stuff to make up to you. So here goes:

  1. Another "in camera" resolution on the border on Monday night.
  2. You should hear how a one-day strike at Transit Windsor was averted.
  3. Word is that there is a push on to relocate the new arena to Ward 5 to the Lauzon area around the Lear plant. As I mentioned before, Riverside arena needs rebuilding so the thought is to use the money for that ($12 million?) and combine it with the $15 million "budgeted" for an arena and try to build something or at least be able to announce something before the next election. Why here--strictly votes. It's Eddie's Ward. Gignac, an opponent to the arena financially, cannot oppose something in her Ward can she if she wants to run for Mayor. It is being presented to Wilson, who wants an arena downtown, as his legacy to the Ward
  4. While you may think it is prestigious being a Councillor, and it is, it is also dangerous. One of the Councilors has been receiving death threats to the point that the Police are involved. Over what, no one is quite sure. I saw one of the hate mails, perhaps to see if I could figure out who the person was from what was said. Just like in the movies, it came in a plain brown envelope, using nasty language and was unsigned.
  5. Some Councillors are furious at the Mayor over Super Bowl. Eddie is very generous in sharing certain glory and a lot of the blame for problems with Council but who was front and centre basking in the Super Bowl fame
  6. A question being asked: Who went with the Mayor to the Super Bowl game
  7. It is interesting that the story re the Blackberrys became public. Eddie tried to curb its use during Council sessions before and Councillors ignored him. Making the issue public has just gotten certain Councillors' backs up. Guess who is accused of using a Blackberry during meetings with business people.
  8. The Brister incident on Monday really had its start in a very nasty phone exchange that took place over the weekend. The straw that broke the camel's back?
  9. A certain media person needs to be very careful what emails he/she sends out and to whom. Fortunately, the recipient I am told of a very bizarre one deleted it from his/her computer so I cannot publish it here.
  10. Eddie is telling Councillors that Michigan DRIC is dead. I assume he gets that from the media stories rather than inside info because no decision has been made to do it, yet.
  11. There is a major split on Council about working with DRIC. Up to 4 of them are talking to or are proposing to talk to DRIC officials on their own.
  12. Which Detroit Councillors are visiting Windsor soon, with whom are they meeting and why?
  13. Windsor and Detroit Councils are to meet together on February 28.
  14. Windsor Council's strategy session on the 13th will focus around the border
  15. A number of Councillors are coming to the view privately that "No Action" is the "Best Action" on the border and that our real problem is moving trucks across the Ambassador Bridge so we need a road system that works. They will find common ground with a number of Detroit Councillors if that is their position
  16. Who is going to be the real Mr./Ms. Conservative in Windsor? Word is that it is NOT going to be Jeff Watson

Windsor The Union Town

Terry Belanger is a friend of mine whom I met when we both joined STOPDRTP. As you will see, Terry works at Ford and has definite ideas about certain things and knows how to express his point of view.

Oh boy, does he know how to express his point of view. When he gets angry, watch out. Just ask some of the politicians who have received a blast from him over the border issue. And he always gets his Letter to the Editor published!

Here's a blast that Terry sent out that I asked if I could post as well!

  • The other day I had a friend ask me what could a union Town like Windsor offer a Company, say like Toyota, or any of the foreign Auto Industry. I know the Auto Industry as a whole is not doing too badly it is the original Big Three that are hurting...

    Let’s look at that exact problem here in Windsor. I have read a lot of the Toronto Star and the Toronto Sun, and other papers and I keep hearing all these nasty things about Windsor, we are a Union Town not capable of working for these big Auto Companies looking to come to Canada. I also hear these so called auto specialist state that they refer people away from Windsor.

    Well one thing I got to say is that these specialists need to look for a new job since they are not good at what they are doing. For one they don’t have the right or knowledge to state that about Windsor. Yes we are a proud Union town, who by the way just went thru another contract with the original Big Three without a strike. We sat and listened to what they had to say and worked out a mutual contract for this day and age.

    You who have this big image that we sit around the shop floor figuring out ways to go against the companies, boy are you missing the real picture. For one I have worked at Ford Motor Company for the last 30 years, and I can’t believe the worry that is going on in these plants. Everyday I hear how this one, who got laid off not that long ago and how they have lost their homes or cars. I also hear the ones who are worried about being the next ones out the door. I’m waiting for the ones who don’t work in the Auto Industry who think they don’t have to worry about this, it won’t affect them. I would like to see who is going to buy all these extras, which is pretty well a lot of things from a lot of companies if we are unemployed. I have 30 years at Ford and I’m cutting back on a lot of things that I might want but I know is not good for us right now.

    For the ones who think Windsor is such a bad idea. Think about all those unemployed auto workers who would jump at the chance to get a job with any auto company. We have the experienced work force just sitting here waiting for a chance, but yet you tell these companies stay near Toronto, Hamilton, Woodstock etc... Do they have experienced work forces, are they nice and close to the border like we are.

    Oh I forgot you also claim that our borders are dead locked all the time right?? When is the last time you have gone over the border here in Windsor, I bet it was before the Ambassador Bridge opened their new booths right?? Just for your info we haven’t had a good back up here at Ambassador Bridge in years, think about what you say about our border. I’m hoping one of these years one of our dear levels of Governments will get the border issue solved,

    We will be back and we will be a strong Union town here for the future.

    Come and visit, ask someone who lives here, not someone living out of our Town. As far as our Unions go, yes I hope they are still here 30 more years from now. We are not stuck in the 40’s we are here and now...

Tommy LaSorda And His "Slim Fast" Plan

Allenparkpete gave me the idea for this BLOG and provided the source material too. He and I have exchanged emails and he started feeding me story ideas. Well I am going to do this one for him but I warned him: he better start writing too. I would be happy to accept proposed BLOGs from any of my readers who have something to say.

I am sure that it would be a great idea to get a different perspective from mine here and on subjects that I have not written about because of my lack of knowledge. So keep those ideas coming.

I did not know that the former Dodgers' baseball manager was now running Chrysler. I know, I am kidding but the two men have one thing in common...they know how to get improvements quickly and to get into better shape!

According to the Star, "the layoff list at DaimlerChrysler Canada's Windsor Assembly Plant has reached 753 people...there has been no indication Chrysler's layoff list would shrink in the near future...The Chrysler layoffs...are considered "indefinite."

Should a Chrysler worker be comforted when Ken Lewenza tells his members that the situation is just not as bad as they might think right now.

Well Allenparkpete says: This article appeared in the Detroit News...of significance is that this is what will happen to Windsor Assembly and if you read between the lines, the system is set up to take 2 or 3 cars...more likely 3 which means besides the new mini-van and the Pacifica replacement (CT), possibly...possibly..although I do not know this...a 3rd vehicle could come in. I have some friends on this launch right now at Belvidere (100 miles from Chicago) and for the most part they are not complaining so things must be going well...

DCX plant shows way of future

Changes at Ill. factory offer glimpse into how Chrysler plans to catch up with Asian rivals.
Josee Valcourt / The Detroit News
BELVIDERE, Ill. -- Giant presses at Chrysler's assembly plant here produced just one steel door panel at a time when the defunct Dodge Neon was built. And changing robotic welding guns to assemble a different part took weeks.

Today, four door panels can be built at once and tooling changes take just hours.

After a $419 million makeover, Chrysler's Belvidere factory is embarking on a new era of flexibility, efficiency and team-oriented work practices. Built 40 years ago in this rust-belt town, the factory provides a glimpse into Chrysler's strategy to catch up to Toyota Motor Corp. and others in manufacturing efficiency by 2007.

The plant's 1,650 workers are now grouped in teams of six -- rotating between jobs and troubleshooting problems that arise while building the new Dodge Caliber five-door hatchback. In the past, rigid job classifications restricted workers to specific duties.

Newly installed robots -- 780 to be exact -- can automatically make tool changes within 45 seconds, allowing Chrysler to quickly shift production in response to market demands. In addition to the Caliber, the plant will assemble the new Jeep Compass compact SUV and is expected to begin building the new Jeep Patriot later this year.

The new equipment and work rules reflect Chrysler's effort to install more flexible manufacturing processes, reduce production time and increase the number of vehicles built at one site, while also reshaping the way workers interact with the vehicles and with one another.

"It's a cultural change. They're used to doing a certain job every day, all day," said Alan Schwandt, a Belvidere worker who's a team leader. He's worked at the plant for seven years.

"With the change now, they're rotating on six jobs on a daily basis. It makes it easier on the body. It utilizes everyone's potential. You're not limited to one particular job all day and that's where the quality comes in."

Plant manager Kurt Kavajecz said the new approach allows him to work closely with teams to constantly improve their performance.

"My focus is more on what I can do from a leadership standpoint to support team members building a car," Kavajecz said. "Part of the way my job has changed is I spend an hour a day on the floor doing nothing but reviewing team boards with teams leaders and team members."

During these meetings, Kavajecz and workers work through problems and discuss solutions for maintenance, quality, product or material issues that can crop up.

Chrysler invested $419 million in new equipment at the Belvidere plant, made the body shop completely robotic, and is working with the United Auto Workers to whittle a roster of job classifications down to further improve flexibility. Kavajecz said a new labor agreement is expected to be completed this year.

UAW Vice President Nate Gooden, who oversees the union's Chrysler department, said he doesn't foresee any problems ironing out the agreement on work rules. The union agreed last year to implement the team concept at the factory.

While the some union members have resisted efforts to reduce job classifications, Gooden said workers support actions that would improve plant productivity and take "waste out of the system."

"They're willing to give it a chance because they want to see this plant survive," Gooden said. "They know in order for this plant to survive, there are certain things that they have to do and they have to make changes. They're willing to make the changes."

He said workers that aren't willing to change with the times could be left behind.

"I always tell them all the time that the train is leaving," Gooden said. "If you want to be at the caboose and get left at the station, then you'll be left at the station."

The Belvidere plant will add 1,000 workers, including 400 laid-off workers, in March when a second production shift is added. A third production shift may be added later this year, said Frank Ewasyshyn, Chrysler's vice president of manufacturing.

Chrysler next plans to install similar flexible robotic body shops at its Sterling Heights assembly plant, which makes the Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Stratus; and the St. Louis South assembly plant in Fenton, Mo., which builds the Chrysler and Dodge minivans

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Pork chops

I missed the action last night at Council. Oh I watched part of it but not everything. It just seemed so boring.

I did see Councillors Brister and Valentinis have a minor skirmish over 400 City Hall Square. Fulvio's valiant defence and Brister's snide remarks with his patented smirk but it did not seem like much.

Then there was OMERS and I found it extremely hypocritical but then again I have a vested interest.

Then the real match started and I missed it: the war between Valentinis and Brister over the traffic calming in the streets of South Windsor ie the "pork chop barriers."

I heard that the Brister's interview with Joe McParland on Joe's show after Council was even better to watch. I missed that too.

I was at City Hall today paying my taxes and a Senior Adminsitrator asked me what I thought of last night. A business person called me at home and asked me what I thought of it as did a couple of the Councillors. A media type also emailed me and blasted me in a joking manner about why I had not blogged it this morning!

Ok Ok..enough already. I'll try and watch it on replay.

It is not unexpected however. There is no unity at Council. There are personal animosities. And next week, the cabbies may come back.

This is better than anything I ever saw with STOPDRTP. Cogeco cable sales are going to go through the roof.

The moral for Eddie Francis: do not ever leave the Mayor's Chair again.

OMERS Bill 206

Did you listen to them at Council.

Councillors crying about the $6.1 million increase in OMERS contributions that would suddenly and outside of their control raise taxes here by 2.1%. Wow I was impressed by Councillor Gignac's display of anger. That should get her a few votes when she runs for Mayor in November. Then the CAO, John Skorobohacz, wants to "engage" the public on this matter. (Could someone please buy him a copy of Roget's Thesaurus so he can use a word other than "engage" for once!) Is he going to lead the protest march?

May I remind you, dear reader (self-interest disclosure too), that I and a major Bank in Canada have a possible solution for our Councillors that we worked on. It is a departure from what is done today. See my BLOG on November 28 "You Can't Fight City Hall."

Did the Operating Budget Committee on which the angry Councillor Gignac sits want to listen to us? Nope! Why didn't the Chair of that Committee, Councillor Budget, deal with this rather than cutting $1,000 for Tylenol tablets for seniors if it is such a big issue? (At least Councillor Halberstadt offered some suggestions on how to appear but none worked)

Perhaps it is my bad eye-sight, but I do not remember seeing Item 24 on the Council Agenda until Monday so that I could not register as a delegation to speak to Council as of right.

Why bother anyway. It is easier to pass a resolution than to do something. Let Brother Ryan and CUPE fight the fight!

CFL Expansion Update

You saw the Star headline and the story on Friday: "Mayor hints at CFL bid" Wow, nothing better than capitalizing on Super Bowl excitement

CFL commissioner Tom Wright said "I've not spoken to Mayor Francis yet but I hope to have a chance while I'm here." Wright, in town for the Super Bowl festivities, said Friday. "I'm interested in speaking to any civic leader on how we can grow the game...I've heard his interest in expansion but it's pretty premature"

I am sure that Ross Paul will be pleased that "Francis says his city has a new facility at the University of Windsor that currently has a seating capacity of 4,500 but could easily have more seats added to reach the 25,000-seat target." Perhaps when Eddie's $5 milion cheque is delivered, the University President may actually speak with him.

Just to put things in its context, the Arena Football Leagues's attendance was over 12,400 people per game in 2005. However, Detroit's team, Detroit fury, had its franchise terminated in 2004.

The CFL's Toronto's 2005 average was 30,196.

If you want to read an interesting story about owning a CFL franchise, check out

And someone better have a deep pocket to own a CFL franchise since the League was looking to boost league reveneues so that all CFL teams either break even or make a profit.

Of course this is all a waste of time. Commissioner Wright "believes the CFL needs a 10th franchise and teams in each region of the country." So does that mean Atlantic Canada has the edge over Quebec City to get an expansion franchise? " I see it being in Eastern Canada ... and if I had to handicap it, I'd probably say that Atlantic Canada is where we are leaning, but it's too early to say."

CFL football for'll take our minds off of an Arena for the Spitfires.

Spin, Spin, Spin.

Perhaps if the Mayor thought more about running the City than running a border crossing or a football team, we would all be better off!

Reread my November 1, 2005 BLOG "Toronto Stadium To Get Senior Level Funding" if you want to know why the "SNUB" is still hurting us.

Spanky Update

Oh ye of little faith who think I just make uninformed guesses. From the "Blue Blogging Soapbox" blogsite:

  • "When I first blogged about Spanky, it was just a rumour on a local Windsor blog. I wasn't really putting much behind it.

    Seems like Mr. Arditti's info might be pretty valid. Word around town is that Duncan is burning up the phone lines, seeing if it's possible to build an organization and raise the money.

    I guess the thought of playing second fiddle to McGuinty doesn't appeal much to Duncan. When Sobara returns, Duncan will most likely get shuffled out of finance.

    Supposed to be a big announcement for Windsor soon regarding a full fledged Medical school, and Duncan will be the one making it. Should help raise his profile, at least provincially.

    Time will tell."

Another big name Liberal actually called me up and gave me hell for not mentioning his name too (He was kidding). I told him that I had a better idea for him: leader of Canada's Green Party. The truth is that if decided to do it, he could be our next PM in 10 years after he re-built the Party and if proportional representation is introduced!

Maybe I would get a Senate appointment!

Monday, February 06, 2006

Sunshine "Super Bowl" Dreams

You may have seen the story on A-channel television on Friday night about the young boy who received Super Bowl tickets.

From their website:

  • "Sunshine makes dreams come true Some kids can only dream of things most of us take for granted – like a week without painful treatments, running and playing with other kids, or making plans for the future. Sunshine Dreams for Kids was created so these children could live their most cherished dream.

    So far, we've fulfilled over 6,000 dreams all over Canada. But research tells us about 50,000 children in Canada would qualify medically to have a dream fulfilled. Our work has just begun, and we invite you to play a part!"
I received a copy of their Press Release about Matthew and thought I would share it with you. [Click the image to increase its size]

It seems that for some, Super Bowl is more than just commercialism.

Border Statistics

I wanted to find out what the border traffic was like over Super Bowl weekend.

I did not hear of any traffic tie-ups at the border so I agree with the Mayor that there is no crisis at the border any longer, at least for the immediate future. As Eddie said, "the border is a way of life for us, it's not an impediment."

I also did my own investigations to see what the numbers were like . My sources tell me that:
  1. Traffic was down significantly at both the Tunnel and Bridge compared with a normal week-end, about 40% over-all
  2. There were not 600-700 Super Bowl buses (obviously, it depends how one wants to count buses. There was an increase in buses over a regular weekend but not a number close to 600 more)
  3. When looking at bus traffic, how many of the buses were used for the international media for their Windsor reception and guests at the private NFL Canada party at the Armouries
  4. If those numbers are down, then I expect the Duty Free Shops numbers were down as well (in fact, I heard they were down considerably but I cannot confirm that)
  5. I expect that both the Bridge and Tunnel were fully staffed and more since no one wanted to be "blamed" if a fan was stuck at the border and missed a second of the super Bowl. The same for both US and Canadian customs. If numbers were down by that much, how much extra costs did they incur?

It was suggestd that the bars were packed downtown. Either Pittsburgh fans came via Buffalo to cross the border OR most of the party-goers were locals ie people from Southern Ontario.

It will be interesting to see how this is spinned over the next week.

Super Bowl Legacy

Well the big game is over. Now we can talk about some of the great things that it will leave behind in our City long after the game will have faded from our memories. AND how our tax dollars will be used to compete against the private sector, again.

The Super Bowl has done marvellous things so far for Windsor. As an example, we will have a new legacy project. No, not that silly playground for children that the Mayor keeps talking about. It's the new South Windsor Art Gallery that just opened its doors the other day: the underpass at E C Row and Dougall.

What an attraction for us. Forget the strippers, lap dancers and Cuban cigars. This is capital "C"ulture at its finest. Why, it will compete with some of the other galleries in its class such as the billboards on the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto or the ones along I-94 to Metro Airport in Detroit.

It will certainly help beautify the entrance to our City for tourists and will enhance the streetscaping along one of our busiest roadways. It may confuse tourists too who want to use the Tunnel but are instead directed to the Bridge! And just you wait until it becomes the street with the most rear-end collisions with people taking their eyes off the road to view the art.

Of course, Super Bowl will give rise to a new mini-convention centre/banquet hall in the heart of downtown Windsor. Really, we do need a place for the City to entertain in a grand style. We cannot use private halls after all now can we. They are so.....commercial. We had the Cleary but you know what THAT was like. Anyway, the Mayor is trying to convince St. Clair College to come and take that off of our hands.

Do you know where our new Centre is? Let me give you a clue:

  • NFL International VIP Party Friday, February 03, 2006

    Event Detail

    More than 800 guests are invited to this VIP party for NFL International executives and corporate sponsors.

    Windsor Armouries
You, dear reader, did not get one of these super-secret invitations did you or you would have guessed. Nope I heard that big bucks were spent by NFL Canada to make this a great party. We do have to impress all of these VIPs after all.

After NFL Canada has fixed it up, what are they going to do, rip it down? After Sunday night, they will want to get out of here. So, they will give it to us.

We had had discussions about what to do with the Armouries. Now we know: compete with the private sector again, just like with the Income and Security Building. I am sure that the private enterprise taxpayers will just love the additional City competition.

And if you think I am kidding, here is what the Mayor said in Saturday's Star
  • "Francis said he believes the armoury party especially is a definitive moment, beyond an evening's temporary glamour. Holding the elite, international affair can help re-define the armoury's image and community perceptions, the mayor said.

    "What this event does is it really shows the community the potential use for the armoury."
Your tax dollars at work!

400 City Hall Square Project Review

The Report on the Income and Security Building for which the City paid $15,000 is not what I expected it to be. It was supposed to be a report telling us what we did right and what we did wrong. I found the report very general frankly with some exceptions. I hope the financial report on the building will be much more specific and detailed.

Some thoughts:
  • The price of the building works out to about $175 per square foot. Is that a good price, or a "luxury" building price or somewhere in-between?
  • The one million dollar cash-flow gives about 3.7% return, about 1/2 - 2/3 lower than a private developer would want before he started a project I am told.
  • Are any taxes paid on this building? If "taxes" were paid (say $5 per square foot), there would be little cash-flow
  • What is the impact on the private development market when the City competes especially if there is so much empty space downtown
  • I really would have liked to see more information about why the St. Clair deal tanked if we are to learn something and I also heard that a Provincial Government group did not come over. I assume no lease was signed with them as well.

The Report read to me like a primer giving the author's view as to how a project should be run. Sure there were discussions about mistakes but very few of them. His best discussions were in the sections about Design Process and Property Management.

In thinking about it, it is geared towards what should be done if we are going to do another project like this again. Oh my goodness, does this mean that the City is in the land development business now too? Land development, running a border operation, setting up a CFL franchise with a new stadium--everything except running a city. Can you blame the Mayor and Council is such dull work. It is much more fun being an entrepreneur with taxpayer money.