Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, March 24, 2006

Three's A Crowd

It was a crowded day for me yesterday from early morning to late at night. Lansing, Toronto via radio and Tecumseh oooooooops Windsor Council meeting I mean.

What I want to do is give you an overview of the events yesterday and then try and make some sense out of it for you.


Sure not as exciting as the Army/McCarthy hearings or Watergate hearings or impeaching Bill Clinton but probably more important. It was an hour and a half of a presentation by and questioning of MDOT. I was told that the way the system works is that the real work is done by staffers who help out the Senators and Representatives in reaching a decision. What was very interesting though were the number of people asking questions and each of them asking specific ones on different topics. When put all together one can see a comprehensive position being taken.

Let me just briefly set out some of the questions in no particular order:

  1. what is the charter for DRIC, its structure
  2. who are the decision makers
  3. what is the cost, how much has been spent to date, who is supplying the money for it
  4. explain the traffic projections especially the reason for the dip in 1998 and why traffic should pick up
  5. what is the role of Port Huron in reducing traffic to Detroit/Windsor
  6. didn't the Ambassador Gateway project for which hundreds of millions were spent solve the problems and if it is now no longer part of DRIC , why should more money be put into it
  7. what is the cost of a new plaza
  8. what good is redundancy if there is improper security at Michigan bridges
  9. is there Federal/Homeland Security money around to help pay for a new crossing
  10. has there been "sunshine" on the process
  11. what are the cost diffferences between a short and long bridge
  12. can freeways handle bridges so close together
  13. how many homes will be taken
  14. compare costs with the economic impact
  15. why is it viewed that "public" can do a better job in operating a new bridge
  16. Is Canada paying its share

From my perspective, MDOT did a poor job of responding. As an example, to answer #6, MDOT said it was a "short-term" solution to "accommodate" a new crossing and is just needed until a new bridge is built. Everyone else seems to know it was designed for a Twinned Bridge.

MDOT's quoting of figures was inconsistent with their own written materials, as if the spokesperson had not done his homework. That was inexcusable to me.

My reaction when I heard that only US$5 million of $21 million budgetted for DRIC was spent was to close it down and save $16 million!


"We'll be moving forward with the federal government on our $300 million investment in the Windsor Gateway." That's it

In the backgrounder:

"Investments in infrastructure will create a competitive advantage, economic growth and a higher standard of living for Ontarians. The government's key infrastructure initiatives include:

with the federal government and other partners, an investment of $623 million to enhance border crossings in Windsor, Niagara and Sarnia;" That's it too.

Windsor Council's "Special " Tecumseh meeting

It was "special" now, not public.

It was truly deja vu all over again. Here we were 3 years later ranting and railing against what the Senior Levels were going to do to us. We had the pitch to save Talbot Road as before but with a slightly different way of "sharing the pain." (although not too many Talbot Road people spoke for some reason). We had the environmnetal pleas but more emphasized because of Ojibway and the pleas re our health and well-being. My friend Moe was there trying to salvage DRTP. Still.

I have already posted Alan McKinnon's speech. When the crowd was down to about a quarter of its size or so, the most bizarre incident of the evening took place. Eddie a la Perry Mason tried to cross-examine him into conceding what I am still not clear.

More likely our august Mayor decided that he could not stand being attacked as Alan did and thought he would embarrass Alan. Unfortunately, our Mayor who has not practised much as a lawyer, should learn that, to cross-examine a "witness," one should know what your opponent will say and be careful when you take on someone almost as smart as you and someone who knows his field better than you. All Eddie appeared to be was a bully trying to harrass a citizen. It did not go over well with the crowd. A number of people came up to Alan afterwards to congratulate him.

I guess our Mayor has a thin skin for a politician.

Council passed a Resolution last night. I hope it is published soon so I can know what it is since it was quite confusing. How a Resolution is passed at a meeting which I consider improper is something else too. How it was passed within the rules of the Procedure By-law I am not sure either . Of course, we were never told in the City materials beforehand that a Resolution was to be passed at all! It does not really matter anyway. DRIC will ignore it.

But the star attraction was Gridlock Sam again who gave us the good news (darn, he violated the Procedure By-law too by going more than 10 minutes but the Mayor ignored the time-limit for him for some reason but not for delegations) and his assistant Marko who had to deliver the bad news. And then there was our Toronto lawyer who told us how he would argue against DRIC ie what his litigation strategy would be frankly. I am disappointed though he did not set out what his fees would be as well.

Sam gave us the tunnel under Talbot Road although I do not remember that being a big part of his pitch before, while Marko gave us the "area of disruption" that scared everyone out of their minds

I was terribly disappointed in the rest of what Sam had to say to be direct. He said that he wanted a spectrum of alternatives for an Environmental Assessment for a road west of Huron Church. I did not; I wanted his solution. He obviously listened to Marko who had advocated for a "a yellow fuzzy swath." He did what the Mayor accused DRIC of doing: "too vague and broad."

But that lead perfectly into David Estrin's legal argument that a Municipal-Provincial EA should determine the road not DRIC who should only be concerned about the bridge and plaza. (That concession, in my opinion, will prove to be a major reason why the City will lose if it is ever litigated.)


In the end, Lansing or the Governor or the Detroit Mayor or some combination thereof will determine what happens with DRIC. We have no input. From the tone of the questioning (although that is not always a good sign) there was a strong anti-MDOT mood.

Building a bridge and infrastructure a mile away from the Ambassador Bridge for billions makes little sense when the Legislators know that MDOT does not have enough money to build and fix roads in Michigan. By the next meeting, we should get a better feel for where they want to go.

I saw Steve Salmons at the Council meeting last night. He must have been gloating after Dwight kicked Eddie you know where with NO more money for the Windsor border. Let's get for tunneling along Talbot Road. Nope, just enough to pay for the expropriation. Another E-machine problem. No money for what Eddie wants to do which means he cannot pull it off before November. (Infrastructure is not a Conservative priority either.)

And the pre-election campaign kick-off meeting, I thought I saw oxygen being taken to some E-machine members as the applause swelled for McKinnon. A Councillor called me this morning and spoke to my wife claiming only a few people clapped. Well I have the tape of the applause and it was loud, the loudest of the night!

It was a farce...a meeting that does not meet the Municipal Act in my opinion, passing a Resolution that Councillors had trouble understanding that will be ignored by the decision-makers. Were the DRIC people there able to contain their laughter?

Macho Councillors were almost begging for litigation so that they can say for the next few months until after the next election: "Sorry, talk to our lawyer about it." Councillors so worried about re-election that they are forgetting that we have serious problems here in our competition with Sarnia.

Joyce Zuk's cry about the level of hostility...well who caused it, not citizens. Just like three years ago too. Perhaps the causes should be discussed secretly in camera when the Governor's hubby comes back.

Again, the Chamber of Commerce bashed Council. Is that twice in two weeks?

My friend summed up the meeting well. He described it as the throwing of nuts and bolts into moving machinery. All that was happening he said was the creation of confusion and concern.


Here are some excerpts from the speech that received the biggest round of applause in the evening at the Mayor and Council's now Special Council meeting in Tecumseh.

Mr. Mayor and members of council:

My name is Alan McKinnon. I represent several hundred people from across Windsor and Essex County as the founder of Citizens Protecting Ojibway Wilderness.

Concerning the City of Windsor’s response to the DRIC, I would like to say the following:

The most immediate threat we should be considering is not the threat to the neighbourhoods along Talbot and Huron Church, or the threat to neighbourhoods in Lasalle or the threat to the natural areas of Ojibway.

Those threats are indeed very serious and we are all correct to be concerned about what the future holds.

But what is being threatened and bulldozed at this very moment is the truth.

This Mayor and council were elected on a platform of INCREASED openness and transparency.

This Mayor and council were elected on a promise to work toward a SOLUTION to the border problem.

Instead, we got a border plan created without any public input at all.

All real details of that plan remain hidden from citizens using solicitor client privilege between a New York City consultant and a Toronto lawyer.

We got a record number of secret in camera meetings on the border. Its been 14 months since you tabled the first Schwartz report. The Windsor Star says it cost over 2 million dollars so far.

Real leadership doesn't wait 14 months to have a public meeting about an issue that will affect us all so profoundly. Strange that the City spends considerable time and re-sources having public meetings on their “guess” as to what DRIC may do next.

Its been over 4 months since the DRIC released their map showing the Talbot/Huron Church corridor. Ask yourselves, residents of Talbot/Huron Church....why the last minute rush to get "public input" from you now?

The city hired a 500 dollar an hour lawyer to make sure the DRIC heard them loud and clear about the DRTP... they made sure the DRIC heard them loud and clear about the EC Row Expressway.

They are not rallying behind you..what is happening here tonight is purely political.

Ask the residents of Talbot road... That same five hundred dollar an hour lawyer made sure the DRIC heard the city loud and clear about Talbot road back in January 2005 with the original Schwartz Report.

Loud and clear The City recommended Talbot road as the route. There was no tunnel demanded then. They served all of you up.

Now they're trying to say they are rallying behind you. Newsflash: It's an election year. Thats why after 14 months without a public meeting, suddenly they have to save face. They have to save votes.

The threat to the truth is evident in everything the City has said about the Schwartz Plan. We've all heard, "If its a choice between saving trees and saving children's lungs, we have to choose saving children's lungs".

Well I'm a tree hugger, but I couldn’t agree more. I am a father first. But the City's own consultant showed that the City's preferred route through Ojibway would affect MORE homes and businesses, including schools and churches, than the Huron Church route.

The only difference? Those homes and businesses are in Lasalle and don't vote in Windsor. It is despicable that even when this was brought to City Hall's attention they persisted with this rhetoric. My children's lungs, because they breathe in Lasalle, don't count.

That's not the 21st century solution we've been promised. Betraying your neighbour and paving a protected forest to save votes is as old as the hills.

The threat to the truth is evident in the Mayor repeating over and over this week that the DRIC are coming in from out of town to destroy our quality of life. Nonsense. The DRIC did not stop the 401 out there 50 years ago. They are here to try and find the best solution. They are not the enemy. That is divisive and counter productive rhetoric.

I know we all feel like we are the only community to experience such a difficult situation. The truth is it is happening all over this country every day...highways are expanded, communities are disrupted. But from these experiences a huge amount of regulatory policy and legislation has been created so that these processes can find the best solution in a way that is fair and transparent. A cornerstone of these policies is meaningful public participation.

This meeting is not meaningful public participation, your resolution is already drafted, your submission to the DRIC is already drafted. This is a campaign stop, a mere photo-op.

The threat to the truth is evident in the way the City has dealt with senior levels of government. When the Prime Ministers Office, the Premier, the federal and provincial transportation ministers came to town last April, the City didn’t even show up. They say they were standing up to the senior levels. Let me ask you, if the decision makers where you work wanted to visit you, even if you had serious disagreements, would you just not show up?

Real leadership doesn't pout. Real leadership is mature and diligently works to find common ground and grow compromise. Real leadership builds relationships, it doesn't poison them by embarrassing those very same people who will make the decisions that affect us all.

That's not standing up to them, that is lying down. That says "We don't respect you" and invites them to disrespect us in return.

Real leadership is not secretive.

One part of the Schwartz report I think was correct was the notion that we should GO BIG. Paving a nationally significant wilderness area and betraying the 50 year legacy of community conservation effort behind it as well as the City’s Official plan is not going big.

Thrusting the problem onto your neighbours and saying "problem solved" is not going big.

Real leadership would build a regional coalition and put an end to neighbourhoods battling neighbourhoods. A regional coalition could stand up to the senior levels and get a real 21st century solution.

Mr Mayor, You promised us a solution but you have become part of the problem.

Real leadership knows when to step up, and when it can't step up, it knows to step down.

Real leadership is exactly what has been lacking on the border issue, and exactly what is lacking in the City’s response to DRIC.

The Threesome

You are just going to have to be forgiving. It was a long day and I am just too tired now to think and to write!

I started at 9:30 AM going to Lansing for the Michigan hearings. By the time I got out it was about 3 PM.

I listened to Dwight on the radio delivering his budget and when I finally wnet home, I checked his speech on the Internet to see his references to Windsor.

I then went to Tecumseh to attend the City of Windor Special Council meeting (It changed from "public" to "special" now. Someone must have read my faxes or BLOG finally). That lasted until aobut 11PM. sicne there was so much Timmie talk, I went out with some friends and had a Coffee and Bagel to help them with their IPO (Hmmm I wonder if my broker go t me some shares!)

So what I am telling you is that it will not be until later today before I post soemthing on here about the three events. I need sleep and time to think.

All I can tell you is that all three events in total represented a bad day for Windsor. And after that teaser, you better come back later to learn why.

DRIC And The Blue Water Bridge History

Is DRIC more than just a project to build another crossing in Detroit/Windsor? Is there a bigger story that the Michigan Legislators need to investigate at their hearings?

Is the DRIC exercise that has lasted years already--and is to last longer--that has cost millions--and is to cost millions more--doomed to fail no matter what and then to be shelved?

If so, what are the consequences to South East Michigan and South West Ontario?

There is a competition going on between Windsor/Detroit and Sarnia/Port Huron to be the major North American border crossing point. I already reported previously that U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Twp., said "the Blue Water Bridge could challenge the Ambassador Bridge as the No. 1 crossing point between the U.S. and Canada." Miller helped secure $43 million in federal funds to build a new U.S.-side inspections plaza for the Blue Water Bridge in Port Huron.

Several years ago at a conference, former Windsor acting CAO and University of Windsor Professor Alfie Morgan stated that "If we don't (preserve our market) Sarnia could replace us in no time," Morgan said. He said "Sarnia's plan [is] to position itself as the Canadian trade route link. Their objective is to bring the NAFTA Superhighway to the doors of Sarnia."

As you know, I have also posted a number of items about the east-west corridor for the auto industry as described by Dennis DesRosiers that by-passes Windsor/Detroit.

What is prompting this posting today is discussion I had with a reader the other day who asked me why is it that Sarnia can have a 103 km (64 miles) expressway built from the Blue Water Bridge to Highway 401 in London while Windsor cannot have a 14 km road built from the end of Highway 401 to the Ambassador Bridge. I tried to explain about the mistake made 50 years ago when the Highway was not connected here because of local bickering. I had no real answer when I was asked why the Senior Levels were still making the same mistake today and giving in to local bickering so that a road to the border was not being built yet. He asked me "Haven't the Senior Levels learned yet?"

Strange isn't it. When I first started being involved with the border, it was US (Windsorites and Council) against THEM (the Senior Levels) with their JMC Report and 9-Point Plan. Now it seems it is US and THEM against Our Mayor and Council.

Sarnia has had some good fortune in improving their border crossing. They got a new bridge so they have twin bridges, their old bridge was refurbished, they got the double-stack rail tunnel, some great highways and yet their volume is substantially less than ours. I don't get it.

Here are a few examples:

  • Oct 5, 2004--- share the cost of more than $10 million in infrastructure improvements including transfer Highway 402 lands in the vicinity of the bridge plaza to the BWBA.
  • Sep 27, 2004--- five-year plan to improve infrastructure around the twin spans
  • May 6, 2004--- Six projects will be undertaken at a total cost of $115.5 million to improve access to the bridge, and improvements to Highway 401, to improve access to Highway 402 leading to the Blue Water Bridge.
  • Sep 23, 2002--- $40 million in infrastructure money for improvements to Highway 402 near Sarnia and plaza upgrades at the Blue Water Bridge
  • Feb 27, 1993--- A second span beside the existing bridge will be started in 1995, and finished in early 1997, at a cost of $85 million.When the second span is finished, another $15 million will be spent to re-deck the existing bridge.

Going back into history is an experience too. There is then Mayor Mike Hurst saying in 1992

  • "I just learned that Highway 402 had a contribution from the federal government. Now, why wouldn't there have been a federal contribution to improving Huron Church Road?"

    HURST was angry about the Highway 402 funding. "The obvious question is, where have the feds been? If they contributed to the 402 because it's an international link, well, what do they think the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel is? It's one of the busiest crossings in Canada. The same can be said of Huron Church Road.

    The city and province have already spent more than $40 million widening Huron Church to six lanes, helping to increase traffic and putting more money in the hands of federal excise collectors.

    The final $8-million phase of the job - which has already taken more than five years because of the lack of money - is to be completed next year."

My reader asked another interesting question as well that I could not answer. In a nutshell, he asked whether the I-69 corridor movement was a deliberate attempt to move industry away from union cities like Detroit and Windsor into "less confrontational" locations. The auto companies, the imports or "new domestics," seem to be happy away from here.

In 1996, it was said

  • "Sarnia's Blue Water Bridge, main competitor for the border crossings between Windsor and Detroit, is doubling in size and looking to increase its share of a growing business.

    There's no question that the twinning of the Blue Water Bridge -- the fourth busiest U.S.-Canada border crossing -- is a big deal. By late 1998 the bridge will have three traffic lanes in each direction, the equivalent of the Ambassador Bridge and Windsor-Detroit tunnel put together.

    Maybe so, said Windsor Mayor Mike Hurst, but there is still strong competition between the two regions for the growing amount of commercial traffic between the U.S. and Canada. "

I did see the comment in 1997

  • "The triangle enclosing Sarnia, Wallaceburg and Chatham is showing an industrial resurgence with Sarnia adding a broader range of industries to go along with its recovering petrochemical industry...Chatham and Wallaceburg have established strong links to the automotive industry."

And in 2000

  • "The purpose of the Great Lakes Trade Corridor Association will be to promote and represent the interests of communities located along the trade corridor, which includes Interstate 69, Interstate 94 and Highway 402. That includes Michigan, Indiana and Ontario communities.

It's not just an academic argument. We have had a battle with Sarnia before and lost. The issue then was the double-stack rail tunnel back in 1993. You should take a look at the Canadian Transportation Agency decision for some interesting reading

As an example:

  • "the construction of a rail tunnel at Sarnia would have, among other matters, an adverse economic impact on the Detroit/Windsor area, shifting industrial, warehousing and intermodal transportation activities away from Detroit. According to the interveners, creating a double-stack corridor through Sarnia/Port Huron cannot rival a double-stack corridor through Windsor/Detroit in terms of creating primary and secondary industries as the Sarnia/Port Huron corridor would completely bypass the vital industrial centers of southwestern Ontario and southeastern Michigan."

I found this quote as well in a document outlining the construction of the Blue Water bridges:

  • "I-69 in Michigan and Highway 402 in Canada provided an attractive low-traffic alternative to the Detroit-Windsor route. Ironically the original Blue Water Bridge Commission planned for the bridge to serve the Montreal to Chicago International route, but the descendent of this route did not become a freeway reality until the 1990s."

I could make the argument that DRIC is nothing more than an exercise to fail and to buy more time to build up Sarnia/Port Huron to allow that region to move forward at our expense. The desire seems to be to move industry away from unionized Detroit/Windsor and also provide an alternative to the Ambassador Bridge/Detroit-Windor Tunnel crossings.

It looks like that strategy is working well.

Someone who is much more experienced than I in this matter should write an article on this subject, especially about the movement of industry. All I know is that this silly jockeying of position by our local politicians is hurting, not helping us. Instead of developing a strategy to compete effectively against Sarnia, we are creating a strategy so that we can sue someone to keep the border dispute in litigation for years and have no improvement in our border roads. We are just making it easier and easier for truckers and industry to keep on by-passing us.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

My Address To Council

I am torn. I do not know what I should do. What is the correct decision to make?

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:


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.
Did it really take nine months for you to keep your promise to us?

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.

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. You had the PM, Premier and US Ambassador eating out of your hand, and now we do not have a seat at the table.
  4. You snubbed people we need for our future rather than building relationships with them
  5. 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
  6. 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.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Learning from the Blue Water Bridge

I found a document on the "Construction History of the Blue Water Bridges" in a State of Michigan website. It was a very interesting story.

But the part I found fascinating and very applicable today was how they determined where Sarnia's new Bridge should go. I wondered as I read the document whether it could give us any insight. After all we are talking about spending up to $6 billion on a new crossing on both sides of the river on a new bridge, plaza and infrastructure. We have engineers looking at straight bridges, twin bridges, S-bridges and diagonal bridges.

Just like my BLOG ["A Waste Of Three Years"] on the Report on the "Michigan-Ontario Railroad Border Crossing Infrastructure" which was completed in December 1991, I wondered why no one seems to have mentioned this history. I am disappointed that MDOT has been sitting on a document that could have given us some guidance. I wonder what else is sitting on the dusty shelves of the bureaucracies in Michigan and Ontario that could have saved us years of work and millions of taxpayer dollars. Perhaps the Michigan representatives could ask that question too in their hearings.

You be the judge after reading this excerpt about what we should do in our region. Doesn't it sound eerrily familiar to what we have been going through:

  • "At 6,535 feet long, construction of the Blue Water Bridge spanning the St. Clair River between Port Huron, United States and Point Edward, Canada posed its own challenges during the 1930s. Nearly sixty years later, construction of a second bridge just south of the historic Blue Water Bridge offers a unique chance to compare past and present stories behind these two monumental structures...

    Increasing traffic on the Blue Water Bridge prompted the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and Communications and the Michigan Department of Transportation to find a location for a second bridge. They assembled an international team of engineers, transportation planners and environmental planners to direct the study. Much thought went into the location of the second bridge. The team selected three locations to examine: one adjacent to the existing bridge, another to the south, between Marysville and Sarnia and yet another even further south between Marine City and Sombra, Canada. The study team wanted to know if a new bridge at any of these three locations would divert enough traffic from the Blue Water Bridge to significantly extend its life. The study also looked at a tunnel option.

    The tunnel did not fare well in the analysis. Building a tunnel would cost three to four times more than a bridge. Likewise, new bridges at the two southern locations would cost two times more than a bridge next to the existing. New access roads and toll/customs facilities drove up the price of these options. More importantly, the existing highway systems in both countries led to the Blue Water Bridge site and a new bridge to the south would not divert enough traffic to benefit the old one.

    The study also established a maximum capacity for the Blue Water Bridge. When the traffic volumes reached 1,500 vehicles per hour, then construction of a second bridge should be planned and implemented. It also made several short-term suggestions for improvements including re-striping the pavement markings on the bridge to provide for a truck-climbing lane and expanding the Michigan bridge plaza.

    After holding public meetings and studying several alternative locations for a second bridge, the team members recommended that a second bridge be constructed just to the south of the existing bridge...

    A new bridge to the south of the existing one would require less displacement of property and homes than one to the north. The southern location would also accommodate the expansion of the bridge plazas on both the U.S. and Canadian sides of the bridge...

    Both countries completed major freeways leading to the bridge. I-69 in Michigan and Highway 402 in Canada provided an attractive low-traffic alternative to the Detroit-Windsor route. Ironically the original Blue Water Bridge Commission planned for the bridge to serve the Montreal to Chicago International route, but the descendent of this route did not become a freeway reality until the 1990s."

In other words, a twinned bridge at the existing location made the most sense from a cost and plaza perspective and disrupted the fewest number of people. The road system in the region already was geared around the existing bridge. Moreover, they just did not build it but waited until traffic justified its construction.

An interesting lesson to be learned from all of this no doubt.

Is Our Leader Fearless

I heard the "tough" Eddie leadership voice at Council on Monday when he was letting us know what Windsor wants on the border. Then I heard the "tough and determined" Eddie leadership voice when the cheerleaders on the morning CKLW interview show on Tuesdays read him the e-mail from a listener about the 10-lane superhighway to be built on Talbot Road. (Luckily, it was a question that Eddie seemed to have the answer for too).

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."
That got me to wondering. Who was really creating the strategy? It looked to me like DRTP and the Ambassador Bridge proposals were never going to be acceptable right from the beginning and only a by-pass would be the choice. But did this action doom the City process from Day #1? If it did not work as planned, then what? Does this help explain the mess we are in today? I wish I knew.

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.

Like MPP, Like Mayor

Remember when I wrote a loooooooooooooong time ago asking "Is Dwight Duncan the role model for Eddie Francis? Preposterous you say. Well think about it." ["Like Two Peas In A Pod" October 31, 2005]

Oh some of you mocked me. How could that possibly be that Dwight and Eddie are the same?

Did you read the recent Editorial in the Star talking about a financial bailout for Toronto or "$1.5-billion subway extension that will cater to voters in Toronto and surrounding regions?" The Editorial writer fumed:

  • "If the Ontario government has money to throw around, it should give it back to the people it took it from and let Toronto make the hard choices necessary to hold the line on taxes. This is the provincial government, after all, that slammed taxpayers with a health levy after explicitly promising not to raise taxes.

    Any extra cash in provincial coffers should be used to lower taxes for residents of every municipality in the province, not just vote-rich Toronto."

I wish that Editorial writer would fume about the "wiggle room" that we have in Windsor next and suggest that it be used to deal with the serious issues in Windsor or to lower even more our taxload rather than use it for a frivolity like making 3 millionaires richer at our expense with a taxpayer paid arena.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Bob Rae For PM

I cannot believe that anyone is even taking this idea seriously! If so, Stephen Harper may be our Prime Minister forever.

Back in my days, it was the PCs who were incapable of finding anyone who could run against the Liberals and win until Mulroney became PM. Are the Liberals that devoid of talent that they have to look to a failed NDP Ontario Premier? I figure it is just material for the newspapers to keep the Liberals in the news.

I read a Toronto Star story on Leadership hopefuls. They include: Martha Hall Findlay, Etobicoke-Lakeshore MP Michael Ignatieff, Belinda Stronach, Joe Volpe, Carolyn Bennett, Ken Dryden, Tony Ianno, John Godfrey, Ralph Goodale, Maurizio Bevilacqua, Stéphane Dion, Denis Coderre, Hedy Fry, MP David McGuinty, Ontario Education Minister Gerard Kennedy and former deputy prime minister John Manley.

Why won't they listen to me. The name they forgot is Dwight Duncan (unless there really is a big Budget leak scandal).

I just read that the Liberal Leadership Convention is to take place in Montreal on December 2. This announcement comes just days before Dwight's Budget! A co-incidence...I think not!

And don't tell me that Dwight's speech was timed to be delivered now because of some rules in Ontario. It was timed for the Liberal's big announcement!

Dwight Duncan for Leader. Remember, you read it here first!

The Failure Plan: The City Meeting In Tecumseh

Good thing you read my BLOG or you would not know what happened last night about the City meeting in Tecumseh. I assume that the Star was embarrassed for Eddie and Council and did not have room to provide any information about the fiasco (I assume you saw the page 4 story the other day too, page 4 mind you, not the usual City Hall pages).

I went to Council last night rather than watch it on cable. I just wanted to get the "feel" of what was going on. Yes you see it better on TV but it's not the same as being there. Like a hockey game.

Did you like Councillor Lewenza's praise of the Mayor over the urban village by the way? Even Eddie was embarrassed by it and had to cut off Kennie's microphone (but not too soon though). When Kennie started and said he wanted to praise someone about the urban village, I foolishly thought he was going to mention Bill Marra. Wow, am I ever dumb!

I just thought I better let you know too that Thursday's meeting will probably NOT be broadcast on Cogeco. They have a responsibility to cover playoff hockey I was told. So make sure you go to Tecumseh if you want to hear what the City wants to do (As Councillor Wilson said: The "Made in Windsor" border solution in Tecumseh!)

Of course the Procedure By-law was waived so now Council is in breach of the Municipal Act as I read it. But who cares anyway...The Mayor MUST get a formal City resolution passed at that session or his PLAN will not work.

That's right, the Mayor has a Plan, a Plan designed with failure in mind, and it is based on ex-Mayor Mike Hurst's strategy too when the JMC first made its report known three years ago. How can that be you say... well just read on and I defy you to tell me that I am wrong.

You do not have to go to the meeting now. A Resolution will be introduced after everyone has spoken and asked their questions. Now Council's in camera position will be legitimized in an improper Council meeting I guess. I told you back on March 7 "Another Secret Council Border Resolution" what it will say:
1) tunnelling under Talbot Road
2) road west of Huron Church
3) plaza in Brighton Beach
4) a bridge as far away from Sandwich as is possible.

Just between us, everyone knows that the City's position is absurd and is not going to happen, especially Eddie, so why is the Resolution going to be put forward? Easy, it is precisely because Eddie knows it cannot happen that it is being put forward.

Remember Mike's famous line: "I am a Mayor of a small town. I have no authority; I have no clout." Well Eddie did not believe him at first (after all, he had been reading his Windsor Star press clippings for too long) but then he learned the facts of life when Schwartz was shot down by the Senior Levels in July-August of 2004. Why else do you think Eddie said on Detroit TV two days after the Schwartz Plan was revealed that it was the Bi-national that was the decision-maker. He knew he could not win way back then.

But why be so upfront as Mike had been. Nope the E-machine is much more calculating than that. Their strategy was smarter: take an impossible position, fight it like crazy even though you have no possible chance of being successful and will fail and then when the Feds and Province have had enough, they will impose it on Windsor. Nevertheless, Eddie can then claim that he had fought the good fight for Windsor and for our quality of life. How could he be denied re-election after that?

Brilliant move isn't it! We saw that start tonight with the "tough Eddie" speech at the end of Council and we will hear that "toughness" over the next few days with its climax being the magnificent speech at the Tecumseh meeting dutily reported by the Star.

That E-machine, it's supposed to be real smart. I have a good idea who the leader is. That is why I am so suprised they would pull a jug-head manoeuvre like an improper Council meeting that means any Resolution passed is suspect. Oh well, maybe the leader was away on March break.

When is a failure not a failure.....when it re-elects the Mayor.

Not Living On The Edge

I must admit I had trouble with the Windsor Star story yesterday on Delray since I did not understand the reason for it. Obviously, it would make me very concerned if I were a Delray resident and should make me nervous if I were one from Sandwich. Maybe that was the reason: to get Sandwichites (or is it Sandwichers or Sandwichians) to come to the "Public" meeting and the DRIC meeting to protest.

At least one thing about it was positive. We can stop spending millions on DRIC. Dave Battagello told us in no uncertain terms:
  • "Delray will be the location for the next Windsor-Detroit border crossing which Michigan transportation officials have said will go either on the west side or east side of historic Fort Wayne, which is surrounded by the community."
No ifs, ands or buts in that statement. And since it got past the eagle eyes of the Star's editors it must be true. Too bad he did not tell us where it was landing on our side. But if he did, then we could cancel our Star subscription since there would be no more border news.

Now my understanding is that on the US side they now want a 300 acre plaza. I thought they were looking at 100 acres before or was that just on our side. So it must mean wiping out a good part of Delray altogether, East and West, or at least making the life of those who are left hell no matter where they live in that area. Hmmmmm I wonder if Detroit Council knows this.

What does this mean for Windsor? Well first of all, I want a huge 300 acre plaza in Sandwich too darn it. If the Americans can have one so can we. If it means wiping out Sandwich well, the residents can move too can't they to the better life described in Dave's story. Thank goodness the 110 acres in the golf-course sized DRTP Customs area in the heart of the City seems to have disappeared. All we may be left with is 300 acres in Sandwich for trucks to sit and idle and belch out diesel fumes. Whew, thank goodness DRIC did not think of putting the plaza in the industrial area where the Bridge co. proposed it. If they did, then no one would have to be moved out!

I AM NOT SERIOUS. I AM BEING SARCASTIC. No hate mail or crank phone calls please.

Did you read this line---"The decision has left hundreds of Delray homeowners on edge, fully aware the bridge and plaza locations, should they become a reality in the next few years, will determine how many of the community's blocks will be seized under eminent domain."

Well, notwithstanding the efforts of the Ward 2 Councillors, now hundreds of Sandwich residents can live "on edge" too! They can wonder which of their homes and businesses will be needed since the bridge seems to be going in at Sterling Fuels along with a plaza nearby.

I must admit that I do not think I could "live on the edge" like this for years without knowing. The pressure has to be enormous since it is always there and is about your and your family's HOME! I know what people on the DRTP corridor were thinking and know that some actually moved or were thinking of moving out of the area.

If you stay, you could be doomed. If you try to sell, no one would buy your place. And if you are expropriated, will you get enough money to find a new place? Of course, since you are living in a poorer area, who will act on your behalf since you cannot afford expensive lawyers and consultants?

I am having trouble figuring all of this out to be sure but my wife asked me a key question and when I answer that, then I will share my answer with you.

Give me a few days though. Right now, I have to go and talk to a lawyer about a meeting.

Monday, March 20, 2006

More On The City Meeting In Tecumseh

Why am I bothering and making such a fuss over such insignificant matters you may be thinking?

Two reasons:
1) I do not want City business "sprung" on us such as confirming any "secret" resolutions that Councillors have already passed that no one knows about. I frankly do not trust them! If they want a resolution passed, tell us first and let us appear as delegations to give our point of view

2) I want to demonstrate how our Mayor and Council have lost whatever direction they had on the border. They have no idea what they are doing frankly since they cannot even set up a meeting properly. How can we trust them to lead us now?

We better build that new arena downtown after all and turn it into a multi-use facility. No room in the City anywhere for a meeting. Wow, this City is jammed with events going on. The hotels must be full, the restaurants packed!

Can you believe this silliness in the Star today:

  • "City council scheduled a special meeting on the border traffic debate outside city limits because there were no other available venues large enough that day, says a spokeswoman for Mayor Eddie Francis."

Really...I did not see any events scheduled on the 23rd at the City-owned Cleary or at the Capitol theatre. What about the Armouries (it could be used for the super private NFL Canada Super Bowl VIPs so why not Windsorites) or a high school gym or at the University. A reader suggested the Tilston Armouries too. He said that there’s plenty of room for a large crowd; public transportation to the site. In any event, I will let Ms Coleman worry about the logistics.

Here is another letter to the Mayor and Council I just faxed.

To: Mayor Eddie Francis and City Councillors
RE: Council Communication
Notice of Public Meeting of Windsor City Council
Response to the Detroit River International Crossing
Partnership (DRICP) Environmental Process - Border
Ciociaro Club (Salon A & B), 3745 North Talbot Road

Further to my letter dated March 18, 2006, I note Agenda #9 on the Council Agenda for today’s meeting.

I would appreciate if you can explain to me how it is possible to “waive” the Procedure By-law given the mandatory requirements of the Municipal Act.

The Municipal Act provides that:
236.(1) The council of a municipality shall hold its meetings… within the municipality or an adjacent municipality at a place set out in the municipality’s procedure by-law; however, in the case of an emergency, it may hold its meetings and keep its public offices at any convenient location within or outside the municipality.

If the provisions are “waived,” then how does the City have a Procedure By-law that meets the requirements of the Act?

Would you please also point out to me the provisions of the Procedure By-law that allow a “public” meeting to be set up and to allow it to take place outside of Windsor. Our by-law does not deal with “public” meetings at all.

I trust that I shall receive a written reply by 4 PM today. I specifically reserve the right to appear as a delegation tonight to speak to this matter if I do not receive a satisfactory response.

It's Creep-y To Me

Obviously, someone made a mistake and did not shred the minutes of a super secret E-Machine strategy session. I cannot vouch for the truth of this document so you will have to judge for yourself.

My source claims that he found this strategy paper in a garbage can around City Hall and he brought it to me. He swears he did not break into anyone's office a la Watergate.


The CREFAAC (Committee to Re-elect Eddie Francis At All Costs) office wishes to congratulate the team members who developed the plan for the Mayor to divide, confuse, and infuriate the masses over the “in-action” alternative for the border. We hope to win by continuing to do nothing while pretending to be doing something

We still have a tough road to hoe. We need to bridge the gap in time between the public meeting on DRIC and voting day.

We know that Mayor Francis was very pleased with the turnout at the Ward 1 Saturday meeting. It was just as he had hoped with the technique of targeted invitations designed to obfuscate and enrage. “It worked like a charm.”

The Mayor stated,
  • “I would not have missed the gathering for the world except that I wasn’t sure if the thinly veiled fear-mongering was going to hit the target. Was it my fault it snowed and I got stuck in Ottawa.

    As it was, it was impossible for me to know which plan I would endorse/oppose. Now I know that “tunnelling” is the topic du jour that I must speak about in order to get re-elected. As Mayor, I must lead only where I determine the citizens wanted to go already.”

But the Border, well… Eddie knows it’s a winner of an issue some how. We all support giving him enough time, enough unlimited resources and enough pointless dithering to somehow, someway map out a position.

We do want to ensure however that no one talks about the past because, as Desi would say, the Mayor would have a lot of ‘splainin’ to do. We know that:
  1. He was elected to arrive at a long-term solution but rallied Windsorites for the short-term Schwartz Plan
  2. He was given a seat at the table but squandered it by conceding that the bureaucrats were the final decision makers
  3. The Horseshoe Road is not so lucky since Cansult shot it down
  4. The Walker Road project is 18 months behind schedule
  5. The Tunnel Plaza expansion is Disneyworld since it will cost us $30 million but will not move a single car more quickly through the Tunnel
  6. Instead of building relationships, we snubbed the Senior Levels and almost cost Kwame his election
  7. 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.

So we need to get positive folks. When Dwight does not mention a word about Windsor in his Budget speech, let’s get out there and declare a huge victory. We have to let the world know that it was only because of Eddie that the $300 million BIF money was not taken away from us and given to Sarnia. And if Dwight does mention something about Windsor, but just as an after-thought, well we can blame it on jealous Torontonians, angry because they did not get their subway. And no matter what, it is all Stephen Harper's fault since Windsor is not one of his top five priorities!

A sheepish Francis, boy wonder Mayor of Detroit’s Sister City, observed, “Were it not for the patience of the wonderful residents of our fine community, they never would have tolerated my inaction on job creation, my inaction on economic development, my inaction on … well, just about everything. As the citizens realize that what I say is really a reflection of what I think they want to hear, only then will my forward thinking border strategy be accepted.”

Concluded Francis, “That is my firm commitment – the ‘inaction alternative’ is the only alternative! It worked for the Rhetorical Arena, it worked for the Mythical Schwartz Plan, it even worked for the Covert, Double Secret Deal with They Who Must Be Obeyed– I know it will work for the border.”

Francis delivered his remarks with a backdrop of statistics and PowerPoint presentations indicating trucks, traffic, employers and jobs were all departing Windsor for Sarnia, allowing Windsor to once again become that idyllic, serene countryside that it never was.

Longstanding friend of Eddie Francis since the Super Bowl in Detroit, the Governor's hubby, Dan Mulhern, agreed with Francis in his encouragement to the Council and citizens: “With no EC Row, No Talbot Road Tunnel, no Huron Church by-pass, no WALTS road approach, not much of the DRIC and no access to the current bridge and tunnel, Windsor is well on its way to reaching its dream – inaction on the border is the key. I applaud Mayor Francis’ avoidance of the issue and the opportunity for me to resolve the artificial hostility he has generated with a future workshop on anger management.”

- END -

"Public" Meeting of Windsor City Council in Tecumseh

Did you know that lawyers fared somewhat better this year in Leger Marketing's annual survey of the most-trusted occupations, while politicians lost even more ground in public confidence. Here is a good reason why.

I wrote about the farce in my BLOG on Thursday "Who Is Running This City." The following is a letter that I sent to the Mayor and Council about Thursday's City of Windsor "public" meeting to be held in a location in Tecumseh.

Check the update after the letter to see what the geniuses at City Hall decided to do to try to "legitimize" the meeting and why it will not work either.

All that is happening is that it is getting worse and worse and embarrassing the City more and more.

Admit a mistake...not this Mayor and Council. Nope, they keep moving forward regardless. Just like with the Schwartz Report.

And you wonder, dear reader, why no one takes Windsor seriously any more. We cannot even set up a Council meeting properly!

To: Mayor Eddie Francis and City Councillors

RE: Council Communication
Notice of Public Meeting of Windsor City Council
Response to the Detroit River International Crossing
Partnership (DRICP) Environmental Process - Border
Ciociaro Club (Salon A & B), 3745 North Talbot Road

I am very surprised that, of all the locations in the City of Windsor available to it, the City chose to have a “Public” Meeting outside of the City in Tecumseh, Ontario. As I am certain that you know, such a location is improper for a regular or special City meeting as I read the Municipal Act and the City’s Procedural By-law.

The Municipal Act provides that:
  • 236.(1) The council of a municipality shall hold its meetings… within the municipality or an adjacent municipality at a place set out in the municipality’s procedure by-law; however, in the case of an emergency, it may hold its meetings and keep its public offices at any convenient location within or outside the municipality.

    238.(1) In this section and in section 239,
    “meeting” means any regular, special, committee or other meeting of a council or local board.

    238 (3) The procedure by-law may provide that meetings be held… at a place outside the municipality within an adjacent municipality

The City of Windsor’s Procedure By-law as published on the City’s website provides:

  • 1. In this By-law:
    s) “Meeting” means any regular or special meeting of Council or Committee.

    3.2 Regular Meetings
    Location of Meetings
    a) All regular meetings of the Council shall be held in the Council Chambers of Windsor City Hall at 350 City Hall Square (3rd Floor), or at such other place within the City of Windsor as Council may from time to time determine.

    3.3 Special Meetings of Council
    a) In addition to regular meetings, the Mayor may at any time summon a special meeting of Council by providing written direction to the Clerk stating the date, time and purpose for the special meeting.

Under the Act, a meeting must be held in Windsor or within an adjacent municipality at a place set out in the municipality’s procedure by-law or at a place outside the municipality within an adjacent municipality if permitted by the By-law.

The Procedure By-law only sets out Windsor locations and there is nothing in it that permits a meeting to be held in an adjacent municipality.

I am also not quite sure what a “public” meeting is since the only meetings that the Procedure By-law mentions are regular and special ones.

Accordingly, would you please confirm by noon on Wednesday, March 22, 2006 that the “Public” meeting described above is NOT a meeting under the provisions of the Municipal Act or under the City’s Procedure By-law and that no City business will be undertaken at this meeting including but not limited to introducing any notices of motion or passing a resolution.

Yours very truly,

Edward Arditti,

Well you knew it was going to happen. A motion to "waive the Procedure By-law." It is listed as Agenda Item #9 to be passed on Monday night at Council.

If passed, that means that we have "no" Procedure By-law respecting where the meeting is going to take place so that the meeting can now take place in Tecumseh, right.


It is the Municipal Act that states that Council shall hold its meetings at a place set out in the municipality’s procedure by-law. If there is none, then there is a violation of the Act itself which Council cannot waive at all.

I will be very interested to hear how the City's Solicitor handles that slight inconvenience.

I am also interested in learning how a "public" meeting became a "special" meeting rather than an "other" meeting under section 238. "Other" meetings are not even dealt with under our Procedure By-law so how can they even be held.

The answer to deal with this is so easy. But then City Hall never asks me for my help so why should I offer it.