Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, June 09, 2006

Detroit News Strikes Again

Wasn't it the Detroit News that first called us "Sin City" at Super Bowl time? Well that story backfired on them and, in fact, probably increased the number of people who crossed the border to visit with us (the relatively few in number that it turned out to be in the end!)

Well they are trying again. Here is an interesting story they published that should scare off visitors from Detroit.

I was looking to see what our Mayor had to say but I did not see his name mentioned. I wonder if the reporter called him and if he did, did the Mayor return the phone call. [I guess Eddie does not like the News. They reported on the Conyers Tunnel proposal that "Calls to Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis were not returned Wednesday." Not such a smart idea to make enemies of the press on the other side of the river is it?]

And by the way, news travels quickly. On WWJ Detroit today, I heard that 2 out of the 3 roof patios were turned down in Windsor as well for zoning reasons. That was part of the story on "no smoking" on this side of the river.

Windsor to smokers: Butt out
Businesses fear customers will disappear
Joel J. Smith / The Detroit News
David Coates / The Detroit News

WINDSOR -- Walk into the Paradise Bingo hall and the odor of cigarette smoke is overwhelming.

The air should smell sweeter at the end of the month when an Ontario-wide smoking ban takes effect in all public facilities, including bingo halls, bars, restaurants, sporting venues, stores, office buildings and Casino Windsor.

But many Windsor business owners fear revenues will disappear with the smoke as tobacco-craving customers, many from Michigan, take their business elsewhere. Some owners say it could cost them millions of dollars or force them to close their doors.

"We expect to be devastated by this smoking ban," said Mike Duval, who opened Paradise Bingo 21 years ago in a former bowling alley. "At least 70 to 80 percent of our customers are smokers. If the players can't have a cigarette while they play, they just won't come anymore."

The smoking ban, which takes effect next Wednesday, adds to the challenges facing Windsor businesses.

A stronger Canadian dollar, fueled by the country's robust economy, means Americans don't get as much for their money in Canada, which has always been part of Windsor's appeal for Metro Detroiters. A few years ago, $1 could be converted into $1.50 or more in Canadian currency; on Tuesday, the Canadian exchange rate was $1.11.

Also threatening to keep Americans at home is the prospect of tighter border controls, including requiring a passport for travel to Canada, amid growing concerns about illegal immigration and terrorism.

But the biggest and most immediate challenge for Windsor businesses is the smoking ban.

Half of patrons cross border

Duval estimates that 50 percent of his customers cross the border from Metro Detroit. Some visit two, three or more times a week and many have told him they won't come if they can't light up.

Betty Brown of Detroit is among them.

"You can't sit and play bingo for four hours and not smoke," Brown said. "You'd have a nervous breakdown. You're not going to be able to smoke anymore; the exchange rate is so low there is no advantage for an American, and now they are talking about everyone needing a passport. I'm just not coming here anymore."

Windsor's loss may be Detroit's gain. The city's three casinos -- the MGM Grand Detroit, Greektown Casino and MotorCity Casino -- expect to benefit from the Ontario smoking ban.

About 80 percent of Casino Windsor customers come from the United States, many from Metro Detroit. They drive right past the Detroit gaming houses -- where smoking is allowed -- on the way to Canada.

"We do anticipate a positive effect on our business," said Roger Martin, who represents Greektown Casino. "Like always, we welcome all guests to our casino."

Bingo hall builds patios

In a bid to keep his customers who smoke, Duval is building two outside smoking patios at Paradise Bingo and will offer free wireless Personal Bingo Verifiers that pick up the numbers and mark players' bingo cards. The devices, which weigh 2 or 3 pounds, can be carried outside to the smoking patios. Still, Duval has reason to fret that few bingo players will want to be inconvenienced.

Karen Quatrain, 44, lives in Lincoln Park and works on her feet all day at a Farmer Jack supermarket. She plays bingo twice a week and has no intention of walking outside to smoke.

"I'm sure I won't be coming back when they ban smoking," she said. "Smoking goes with bingo."

Casino Windsor also is building two outside patio areas for smokers that will include chairs, tables, umbrellas and, during cold weather, heat.

The casino is owned by the Ontario government, which imposed the smoking ban as protection against health problems created by cigarette smoke. Government officials believe the ban could cut $1.7 billion in annual health care costs in Ontario attributed to tobacco-related diseases.

"We fully expect in the short run there will be an impact in our revenues," said Teresa Roncon, a spokeswoman for the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., the government agency that owns Casino Windsor. "We just can't speculate on the impact."

In addition to building the smoking patios, the casino is undergoing $400 million in renovations that include a new 400-room hotel tower, a 5,000-seat entertainment auditorium and restaurants.

The casino has been pushing money and car giveaway promotions since the beginning of the year to show patrons there are advantages to coming to the casino even if they can't smoke.

"Absolutely, it's being done because of the smoking ban," said Holly Ward, a spokeswoman for the casino. "It's been on our radar for quite some time. We are concerned about losing customers."

Casino Windsor will lose Calandra Anderson, 35, of Detroit, a Ford Motor Co. supervisor who visits four or five times a week. She'll start going to the Detroit casinos.

"I'm not coming anymore," she said. "This is my form of entertainment and relaxation. Smoking is part of it."

Jim Bentimiglia, 53, of Clinton Township, who drives a semi-truck, said he likes Casino Windsor and will try to tough out the smoking ban.

"I hope the casino can survive," he said. Beyond Paradise Bingo and Casino Windsor, some bars also are constructing outside patio areas for smokers. While not a perfect solution, bar owners hope it will be enough to keep the smoking crowd coming. But the new law prohibits putting a roof over the patio, which could pose a problem during bad weather.

Windsor restaurants are expected to feel the least impact from the smoking ban. Smoking sections have been shrinking for years, partly because most people can go for an hour or two without a cigarette.

Paradise Bingo has a plan if its revenues nosedive -- layoffs for 25 of its 65 workers, a step the bingo hall hopes won't be necessary, said co-owner Karen Duval.

She said Paradise Bingo and other businesses won't be the only losers if Metro Detroiters stay away from Windsor. In Ontario, all bingo games must be sponsored by charities. After the winnings are paid out, the proceeds are split between the charity, which gets 60 percent, and the bingo hall, which gets 40 percent. Last year, Windsor's seven bingo halls raised $17 million for 650 charities, including $3 million from Paradise Bingo.

Saying "No" To A Friend

Woodstock, Ontario, is the Dairy Capital of Canada. Its population of 34,000 offers "tree lined streets, century old homes, abundant parkland and friendly citizens. We are known as The Friendly City and with good reason."


In August, 2005, Woodstock's Council generously passed a Resolution (see full resolution below) to "give consideration during the 2006 and 2007 Budget deliberations to providing financial assistance of approximately $17,000 for each fiscal period with the funds to be exclusively directed towards the costs incurred by the local levels of government on future Windsor-Detroit joint studies."

Representatives of Woodstock will be at Council making a Presentation on June 12, 2006 "to present the City of Windsor with a cheque in the amount of $17,000 as Woodstock's contribution towards the development of improved access to the
United States."

It is a magnificent gesture of solidarity with the Citizens of Windsor who are fighting the border battle. "The amount isn't much, [Woodstock] Coun. Pat Sobeski acknowledged, but it's meant to send a strong message to senior levels of government about the importance of the border."

However, Windsorites must reciprocate. We must also, as Woodstock was prepared to do, put our money where our mouth is. We must decline to receive their money. We should not force Woodstock to "consider" its decision.

How can we do otherwise?

Just over a month after the Woodstock resolution was passed, Councillor Valentinis shocked everyone by saying that the Schwartz Report was merely a "starting point." It was clear recognition that the Mayor and Council had failed to convince the Senior Levels to adopt the billion dollar short-term dream.

We spent millions on legal and consulting fees but citizens have no idea if we received value for money since the fees are cloaked under "solictor-client privilege."

Out of the blue, Windsor's position changed. All of a sudden tunnelling and quality of life became the rallying cry. Council had to go to Tecumseh to hold a Council meeting to listen for the first time to its citizens on the Schwartz proposal since the time of its introduction in January 2005. The best that the Mayor and Council could come up with was a "Schwartz/Estrin solution, which was no longer the old Schwartz Solution, which they endorsed saying:

"ENDORSES the Schwartz/Estrin Proposal, which includes

-tunneling under Talbot Road from Highway 401 to Todd Lane, with a full environmental assessment in terms of all alternatives west of Huron Church Road..."

Are "costs [being] incurred by the local levels of government on future Windsor-Detroit joint studies" which is a condition precedent for providing the funds from Woodstock? Can Windsor Council truly accept the funds if no such studies are underway? If there are such projects, I as a Windsorite would like to know what they are! After all, the Council Resolution said "That this process continue with the full involvement of the citizens of Windsor." [Other than sharing details of legal and consulting fees I assume!]

So Mayor and Council, pass a Resolution thanking the citizens of Woodstock but do not take their taxpayer funds. It would not be the right thing to do in the circumstances.

Mayor Michael Harding - Support for Windsor-Detroit Gateway
Moved by Councillor P. Sobeski
Seconded by Councillor C. Lauder

Whereas the Windsor Detroit Border accounts for 25% of all trade between Canada and the United States, representing $150 billion annually thereby impacting the economic health and welfare of all cities in Ontario and Canada;

And Whereas the significant economic impact of trade that crosses at the Windsor-Detroit gateway is a critical element to the economic future of all Ontario cities as well as the City of Woodstock;

And Whereas the Windsor-Detroit gateway has a direct impact to the community of Woodstock and its residents;

And Whereas the City of Windsor retained Sam Schwartz to develop a comprehensive plan to resolve current challenges at the Windsor-Detroit gateway;

And Whereas Sam Schwartz has recommended investment in a truck by-pass, rail, ferry and other subject to the appropriate environmental assessment studies;

And Whereas the City Council of the City of Windsor is in unanimous support of the Sam Schwartz plan as presented and in sequence;

And Whereas the New Deal for Cities calls for meaningful respect and consultation with affected municipalities;

And Whereas AMO has signed an MOU with the Provincial government recognizing the same;

Now Therefore be it Resolved That all orders of Government, Canada, Ontario and the local municipality arrive at an agreed upon solution;

And further that the City of Woodstock endorse and support the City of Windsor and the Schwartz report as presented in sequence and call on the Province of Ontario and Government of Canada to support all elements of the Schwartz Report and commit funding to the appropriate studies and to do so on a timely basis;

And Further that the City of Woodstock give consideration during the 2006 and 2007 Budget deliberations to providing financial assistance of approximately $17,000 for each fiscal period with the funds to be exclusively directed towards the costs incurred by the local levels of government on future Windsor-Detroit joint studies.


System Changes Needed

I wanted to post comments received from readers to my BLOG on Bill Marra yesterday as they came in but unfortunately my BLOGhost for the service, Google, had technical problems. It's not the first time either that Google has had a major one but surprisingly there has not been much publicity about their failures.

I know that Google wants to take over the Internet world and beat Microsoft (they now have a beta spreadsheet online) but first they should get their act together and make sure their servers work properly! Can you imagine the outcry if Microsoft had the problems that Google is having? What business would ever rely on them if they needed access to their work if the service was down for this long?

The lack of adverse publicity when things are going wrong must mean that the honeymoon for Google is still not over. Hmmmm Eddie and Google have a lot in common that way.

It is not the first time they have had a major break-down. Here is their notice this time around:

  • Blogger Status
    Thursday, June 08, 2006
    For many users, Blogger will have been extremely slow or down for most of the morning. We continue to work on fixes for this problem and hope to have it resolved as quickly as possible.

    Wednesday, June 07, 2006
    This morning, a hardware problem we had been struggling with over the past several days suddenly worsened. As a result, and to stave off future downtime, we have had to take Blogger down for an extended period of time as we address the problem. We will continue to update this blog and the homepage with more information.

    Update: We've brought up new hardware which has allowed us to restore the site. We try hard to avoid downtimes of this length and apologize for the inconvenience.”
Now that changes have been made, hopefully everything is back to normal. Hmmm another possible comparison with Windsor isn't it.

Here are some more of the comments I received:

  • I would love to see him run for mayor he would have my vote

  • I would like to see Bill Marra run for mayor. I would like to hear his views on the border and how he feels about protecting the Ojibway wilderness area.

  • He should not run for council. He should run for the Mayor's office.

  • If Bill ran, I would support him just like I did before

  • Someone should run against eddie and it should be someone familiar with city government so yeah, in that respect he should run.


  • Bill should go up against him in a very heated contest.

    If you look at the overall state of Windsor compared to 4 Years ago, absolutely no issues have been settled. Big issues. Not burned out bulbs in a street light.

    Business as usual is not a phrase coined today. Windsor has not had new development to jump up and proclaim as "relevant" This city is overtaxed and under advertised. We have seen very little drive towards diversification in our area.I can write a book on comments that customers from all over southern ontario have cited to stay away from here.

    None have given indications to set up here "because of the border proximity".

    Water parks, ice rinks, museums, science exhibits are springing up in other cities but we seem to be stuck, out of gas (no pun), and sit back on our ever widening butt and complain.

    Even the auto industry is outsourcing overseas and not keeping support local.(I can attest to that)

    We need a leader. Ralph Kline is retiring and not interested. That is the type we need now. I know the Mayor's office cannot do much on its own, however direction and focus is evidently needed.

    Eddie did state that at the beginning. I just can't stand a typical "lawyer"(in jest) response that tells you what you want to hear and completely evades a yes or no answer.

    Yes we need a jumpstart. Can Bill do it? Sure he could. With the right agendas.

  • Running for mayor is a hard, tough gig, especially when some local media loves the incumbent. Personally I like Bill and hope he does whatever he thinks best for him and his family.

    Would I want him as mayor? Of course. I voted for him in 2003 and would do so again. But if he wants to run for council in any ward I'd support him. We need councilors willing to stand up to bullies and we need them now.

    Good luck to him, whatever he chooses.

For a guy who has not been much in the public eye since the last election and since Council Close-up was cancelled by Cogeco last year, if Marra ran, there is no doubt that he would get a lot of positive support.

The question remains: will Bill run and, if so, for what? We should know soon if CKLW is right!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Another Step Closer For DRIC's Ending

DRIC is one step closer to being ended as both the Michigan House and Senate budget actions were accepted

SB-1097, As Passed Senate, May 24, 2006
Sec. 384. From the funds appropriated in part 1, the department shall not use any funds to support the Detroit River international crossing study or to implement any recommendations made from such study.

HB-5796, As Passed House, May 24, 2006
Sec. 393. No funds appropriated in part 1 may be expended for the study of a new crossing of the Detroit River between Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario without prior approval of the house and senate committees on transportation.

Should Marra Run For Council

According to CKLW, Bill Marra is to make a decision about his future soon

I have heard recently from several people who know those close to Bill who claim that Bill is not going to run for Mayor and will instead run for Council in Ward 4. Some are even saying that Bill may run in Ward 5 (as Gord Henderson suggested some months ago).

And why not…according to everyone, Eddie is unbeatable. Notwithstanding that he has accomplished virtually nothing over the last three years, people still seem to like him. Or are prepared to give him another chance. Who has been a voice of criticism publicly during this period of time saying the Emperor is wearing no clothes? No one (except perhaps for the Blogmeister).

Why should Bill take the chance and lose when he can run in his old Ward, win back his seat and then four years from now mount a campaign that is sure to land him in the Mayor’s seat.

Is it all very, very simple and very, very straightforward—--Or not?

If I were to advise Bill, I would tell him, as I have said before, to run for Mayor or not run at all. Sure it is easy for me to say as a “backseat driver” or as a “Monday morning quarterback” what Bill should do. But don’t you really think that Bill will be painted with the epithet that he was “Chicken!” and afraid to run. Is that what we want from a future leader, afraid to act just because the going is tough! How could he deal with the Senior Levels on the border or the President of St. Clair on the Cleary or developers for the urban village if he had no guts to fight for us.

Sure but what if he loses, his political career is over. I have heard it said that Bill is not afraid of losing so that is not an issue. He is a big boy. He knows the risks. He also knows that there is more to life than just politics. Who knows, showing courage and running might even get him a nomination for a seat Provincially or Federally.

His life changed dramatically for the better after he lost the first time around so that is not a consideration at all for him. Who would hold it against him that he ran because he wanted this City to succeed, even if he lost? Frankly, with the anti-Eddie mood in the business community, I could see several companies offering him a job with his new higher profile!

The two fundamental risks in the reasoning for those who want Bill to run for Council now and run for Mayor later are:

1) Can Bill win a seat as a Councillor in Ward 4
2) Will Bill be a shoo-in for Mayor in four years?


Frankly, Bill has a better chance to be elected as Mayor than to win as a Councillor. How can that be? It seems to make no sense!

Actually it does.

David Cassivi will be re-elected as the top vote-getter in Ward 4 as he has been in the past. Marra was not able to beat the Senator before in the Ward race and no one will either this time. So the fight is really for the second seat

Ed Sleiman is running again in the Ward. He barely lost last time, by about 200 votes to Junior. (How many of the people who voted for Ken thought they were voting for his Dad, the CAW President. Now they know better). By announcing already, he clearly is gunning for that second seat and has a good chance at it because of name recognition.

In the normal election, I would say that Ken Lewenza Jr. has no chance of being re-elected. He has been up and down as a yo-yo as Councillor and seems to have lost his drive and/or interest in City politics. However, he will have a good chance to win since both the CAW and the NDP will be out in force for him. Rumour has it that Comartin will not run again federally and Junior wants his seat. In order to get it, he MUST be re-elected or his chances are gone.

If that were not enough, if Bill decides to run, it probably means that no one credible will run for Mayor against the incumbent. Do you really think that Eddie wants a strong Councillor to stand up to him for 4 years and rally the Councillors away from him. Eddie saw what happened to Hurst in his last year when the majority of Council united and opposed everything he wanted. Eddie does not want that to happen to him when he is polishing up his CV for his next career move.

So the E-machine will go all out to make sure that Bill loses, probably supporting Junior as well since Eddie can use that CAW help for some of the issues he will pretend to tackle in his second term. After all, they helped him on the border the first time didn’t they?

So it is NOT a slam-dunk for Bill and chances are good that he could lose.

As for Ward 5, he would have to face Gignac, Rick Limoges and perhaps even a famous media type. Even though he did well in that Ward last time in the mayor’s race, he would look really scared if he did that, never mind opportunistic, wouldn’t he?


So let's assume Bill wins as Councillor, what next?

Imagine the dysfunctional Council over the next 4 years if Eddie is re-elected. Eddie would be a lame duck mayor since he would be in his last term as he has told everyone. He would be unable to control his Council (He barely can do it now without the Governor’s hubby and holding the border over their heads).

I would hate to see what this City would be like in four years. Why would anyone want to run then? It would be horrific trying to fix up the mess the City was in.

Forgetting that, where Bill would only have one opponent now if he ran for mayor, at least 5 Councillors will be positioning themselves over the next four years to take the plunge as well as some people who are not on Council now. Utter chaos; lots of competition.

Who is to say that Bill will be in a stronger position then? Everything he says and does will be looked at with suspicion by his colleagues who may be his opponent. He will be accused of grandstanding, trying to get votes for his new job. You can believe that they will not be helping him out too much.

The Star will “profile” him again and the amount of coverage he will get will be minimal and I would not be surprised to see it being negative so that he will not be able to challenge Eddie.

Again, not a sure thing at all. (Of course, there is the rumour whom Eddie favours and it is NOT Bill!)


Don’t even go four years, it will be Bill Who?

The election results for the 2003 election are set out above. From what I know, Bill's base of support was very low at the start, his campaign made a number of foolish mistakes that cost him dearly and he was running against the Goldenboy. Even then, it was hardly a landslide... Eddie only got 53% of the vote! Bill personally worked like crazy and by the end had a solid block of supporters whom I believe will still vote for him today. If you add them up and the disappointed Eddie backers, then Bill has his majority now.

I do not know what Bill will do but whatever it is, he better act and better act quickly. He has to be decisive no matter what he decides.

My own personal view from dealing with Windsorites for almost 4 years politically, is that one can capture the imagination of the public quickly. If Bill announces and if there is the big opposition to re-electing Eddie, as I think there is, you will see a huge and powerful movement flowing Bill's way almost immediately. Moreover, Eddie's funds to run an effective campaign will dry up since the disillusioned will see that there is an alternative whom they can support.

Windsor needs a credible alternative to Eddie Francis. Bill only has one choice in my opinion: to run for Mayor now, in 2006. Forget the ---Or not!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Smoked Eggs

Can you imagine what it will be like if you are a bar owner in town or a restauranteur. Heaven forbid if you have an outdoor patio or run a Bingo Hall. Are the same people who attended at Art in the Park from the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit of the same mentality as the new no-smoking enforcement officers? If so, the courts will be jammed with prosecutions for violations of the No Smoking law

Really, were the Health Dept inspectors wrong in what they did at at Art in the Park? Can you imagine the outcry if there was a salmonella outbreak and a number of people got sick and someone died! "Salmonellosis is a bacterial disease that can be transmitted by eating food from infected food-animals such as raw or undercooked eggs.." So why are we dumping on them for doing their job? Damned if they do and damned if they don't.

I guess we are mad because the pouring of bleach seemed like "overkill" and because "senior women" were involved. Can you believe that inspectors thought that grannies would try to poison people!

Minister of Health George Smitherman called their actions "asinine" and "has vowed to change provincial regulations to ensure it doesn't happen again." Now that is fast action....

Sandra Pupatello, Ontario's Education Minister called another action at the event, removing an inflatable castle for children to jump and play "ridiculous behaviour." About the egg salad, Sandra said "He's [Smitherman] really not impressed, and neither am I."

Too bad the Cabinet Ministers could not function that quickly on the border issue that is a real concern in this area! I am surprised that Brian Masse also has not used this incident to condemn the Ambassador Bridge for allowing the transport of hazardous materials across the bridge. I am certain that people carry egg sandwiches across the bridge along with inflatable toys for swimming for their kids! Can you imagine if they had in a cooler Lemon Pepsi as well. Chaos!

A few of my readers made the folowing comments that I wanted to repeat:

1) Sandwiches


I am so glad they literally DESTROYED the ferocious animal called the
"egg sandwich made at home".(Heavy handed policy for sure. Is Halloween Candy next????)

They sure showed that Old Ladies club. Getting tough on Crime should be a priority.

Too bad they couldn't be as diligent on other real issues.

Meanwhile back at the ranch...............

2)An egg salad solution

Being that this in Ontario and whats good is bad and whats bad is ignored, and Windsor is Windsor, if you really want Eddie and Strasser to get an agreement for the Cleary...its pretty simple really. Lock both in a room to with two Pit bulls.....both having been fed egg salad sandwiches 10 minutes before. ....willing to bet that deal would be over in 5 minutes or less. Who needs a lawyer!

3)The Egg debate

If you were sitting in a restaurant and the Health unit came in and SUSPECTED your food was tainted would they destroy it then and there?

Seems they may be flaunting more power than they have a right too.

What about Pit Bulls? They are suspect to bite. To save people from health concerns why haven't they destroyed the dogs?

I guess beating up on an Old Ladies Club is easier.

Better yet would they have raided a Hell's Angel's party to save them?

Get real.

Kwame Power

I still believe that the key person on the border issue is Detroit's Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick---at least for the next few months. Here is an interesting Free Press story:

  • "Gov. Jennifer Granholm may see Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and state Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer as much as her husband. Here's what she should learn: Will Kilpatrick turn out more than the 210,000 Detroiters who voted in 2002, or will his endorsement and effort be like those former Mayor Dennis Archer gave mayoral candidate Freman Hendrix last year: late and lackluster?"

Note the reference to Dennis Archer. Hendrix was the former chief of staff and deputy mayor of Detroit under former Mayor Dennis Archer. On December 10, the Detroit news reported that "Dennis Archer has stepped down as head of Gov. Jennifer Granholm's re-election campaign to make it easier for her to work with Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick."

For a guy who did little for Hendrix, the News said that "Archer backed Hendrix by appearing in ads, campaigning in churches and making financial contributions during the campaign." In a press release on May 31, 2005, Archer endorsed Hendrix for mayor. Archer's wife and sister-in-law appeared at Hendrix's campaign kick-off announcement.

In other words, when push comes to shove in the election for Governor, Granholm needs Kwame. If it means re-writing history to do so, so be it!

9 Waterloo lessons

Here is another article about how the K-W area became successful.

As for Windsor, we are very, very concerned about egg salad sandwiches--or not.

Lessons from Kitchener-Waterloo

1. Be entrepreneurial

German immigrants created a New Berlin of hard work and self-reliance out of the Southwestern Ontario countryside of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. "The early history of Berlin was all entrepreneurial," says Charles Greb, whose second-generation immigrant grandfather started a shoe-making business in 1910 — just before Berlin's name was changed to Kitchener during the First World War. Successive waves of immigrants built on this pro-business foundation, even as the old family companies closed down or evolved into something new. Mr. Greb, 76, was once operations boss at the family shoe company, whose products included Kodiak boots, Hush Puppies and Bauer skates. Today, shoe making is gone from Waterloo Region, and Mr. Greb, an investor and corporate director, has gone through several careers since the family company was sold in 1975. But he has few regrets about the loss of the family's manufacturing legacy. The entrepreneurial spirit lives on — in son Ross's services company, Greb Tele-Data, which sells telephone systems from an office on Shoemaker Street in Kitchener. "Things evolve," says Mr. Greb, who sees shoe making as an ideal industry for low-wage developing countries. As for Ross, 52, his only disappointment is that the family surrendered its skate business. He figures he is a salesman at heart, and could have made a nice career out of selling skates to Canada's hockey addicts.

2. Innovate

Brad Siim, 38, is poster boy for the Waterloo Way. He is one of five co-founders of Sandvine, a five-year-old tech startup that has just gone public on the London Stock Exchange, raising $37-million. This is actually Mr. Siim's second foray into high-tech moguldom since graduating from the University of Waterloo almost 15 years ago. The computer engineer was co-founder of PixStream, a Waterloo venture that he and an earlier configuration of partners sold to Cisco Systems for $369-million (U.S.) in 1999. (It was closed down two years later when Cisco retrenched.) PixStream spawned a spinoff of its own, called Kaparel. In each case, Mr. Siim surrounded himself with the classic recipe: Tech brains from the computer-mad University of Waterloo and business smarts from Wilfrid Laurier University, which sports a large commerce program. (The other key ingredient in each case was a timely investment by Sir Terence Mathews, Canada's telecom billionaire.) Unlike many Waterloo startups, Sandvine's network intelligence products are not the direct result of research undertaken at the University of Waterloo. But Mr. Siim is convinced that the university, along with WLU and Conestoga College, lie at the heart of why people build companies here. He is a serial entrepreneur who has been in on the start of three companies, and will be involved in more. The educational institutions are like anchor tenants in a shopping mall of creativity, he says — they are magnets for new ideas and new ventures.

3. Network business and educators

In the 1950s, there was Gerald Hagey. In the 2000s, there is Mike Lazaridis. You can draw a straight line between these two business leaders who pulled together public-private collaborations with the dream of putting Waterloo on the intellectual map. The late Mr. Hagey was a sales manager for Goodrich who, along with other local business leaders, conceived of a new-style Canadian university founded on engineering and math. He was the first president of the new University of Waterloo in the late 1950s and 1960s, and the key figure in breeding 250 to 300 spinoff companies that in their current variations, generate almost $1-billion in annual revenue. The university evolved into a computer science powerhouse, which attracted bright young people. One of those was Mr. Lazaridis, who dropped out of school in the 1980s just shy of graduation to run his own company, Research In Motion. But he had soaked up all the computing tools the university offered, including a precursor of today's e-mail. Years later, Mr. Lazaridis hit on a gadget called the BlackBerry that provides wireless e-mail — and it changed the world. Now, he is tackling something even more ambitious — a Waterloo big-idea complex that can predict "the science of the future." Working with governments, he has given $100-million to the new Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and $50-million to the Institute for Quantum Computing. "We have passionately invested personal money into it," Mr. Lazaridis says of his science dream. As with Mr. Hagey's university, it could be the seed of Waterloo's next flowering of wealth creation.

4. Build on strength

By rights, Joseph Fung should be living in Markham. That's where he grew up, it's close to where his family lives, and there are plenty of high-tech companies in the Toronto suburb to employ a 25-year-old computer engineer. Instead, Mr. Fung owns and runs Lewis Media, a five-year-old Kitchener company that develops software for powering websites. One reason for choosing Kitchener is that he co-founded the company while studying at the University of Waterloo — and he still hasn't found time to graduate. But the main factor is the support and networking for startups like his — not only through the university but through organizations such as Communitech, the 350-company non-profit group that knits the tech community together, and Canada's Technology Triangle, the local economic development bureau. That support system keeps drawing people back. Randall Howard recently moved his firm, Software Innovations Inc., and its 30-plus jobs, to Kitchener from downtown Toronto. In the 1980s, he had founded MKS Inc., a Waterloo high-tech hopeful that hit a bump in the downturn of 2000. MKS is back on track, but Mr. Howard has moved on — to another company, if not another region. Although his new company is now based in Kitchener, he tells international contacts that its home is a "suburb" of Waterloo — the Waterloo brand is that strong.

5. Diversify

Old Order Mennonites, who have traditionally shunned electricity, cars and insurance, would not seem the kind of folks who would foster financial services innovation. But the Mennonites are also believers in community co-operation, which retired life insurance executive John Panabaker believes has driven the growth of a financial cluster that employs about 12,000 people in the region. The Mennonites' sharing culture helped breed Waterloo's mutual insurance companies in the 19th and early 20th century. It inspired the founding of policyholder-owned Mutual Life in 1869, which grew into a national force and employed Mr. Panabaker for almost 40 years, including tenures as president and chairman. In the 1990s, it demutualized, changed its name to Clarica and was absorbed by Toronto-based Sun Life Financial in 2002. But the legacy lives on in a body of insurance expertise and a talent pool that continues to be tapped by Sun Life and other companies from outside the region. Manulife Financial has its Canadian headquarters with almost 4,000 employees here; Equitable Life is based in the region, as is Lutheran Life (known as FaithLife). The general insurer, Economical Insurance, now 135 years old, is locally based. The financial sector provides a steady balance to cyclical manufacturing. "Over the years, financial services have provided stable employment when breweries, distilleries and furniture companies shut down," Mr. Panabaker says.

6. Attract smart people

David Chilton is a financial guru, author of the phenomenally successful Wealthy Barber book and head of a publishing venture. But he has never dreamed of leaving Kitchener-Waterloo, which has been home for all his 44 years. "People who live here really like it," he says. "They don't move." Waterloo Region is home to a cluster of seminar leaders, consultants and speakers who appreciate the combination of small-city feel with proximity to major population centres. Mr. Chilton runs his international business within a stone's throw of farmers' markets and rural life around St. Jacobs and Elmira. Others point to the region's symphony orchestra and growing theatre scene. The Perimeter Institute for Applied Physics has an outreach program with speakers and concerts. But there are gaps — no five-star hotel, for example, and a small airport, although Toronto's Pearson International Airport is less than an hour away. Wilfrid Laurier University business dean Scott Carson says the region has developed almost overnight "from a collection of small Ontario towns to a collection of large Ontario towns." The next step is a social and arts infrastructure that will retain senior executives and head offices, even after the companies have outgrown their rustic roots.

7. Built an outsider mentality

Historian John English says the economic prosperity of Kitchener-Waterloo was built by people operating outside the mainstream of Canadian business and society. Prof. English, who heads Waterloo's Centre for International Governance Innovation, says the early business families — shoe makers, furniture makers and food producers — were German-Canadians and often evangelical Christians whose education and beliefs took them outside Ontario establishment thinking, often moulded at the University of Toronto. In the same way, University of Waterloo was founded by unconventional academics who saw engineering, not arts, as the core discipline. That maverick thinking has carried over into the era of RIM, ATS, DALSA, and Open Text. The region is far enough away from Toronto that it sees itself not as an outpost but an economic hub of its own. But Kitchener-Waterloo knows it is tied, for better or worse, to the global economy — as home to manufacturers such as Toyota, ATS, Com Dev and the auto parts companies, linked by highways to large U.S. cities, and connected through its major university and tech wizards to Silicon Valley and the U.S. Pacific Northwest.

8. Get on with it.

When companies are under pressure, there is a Waterloo tradition of just adapting and surviving. The business culture is action-oriented, which means not just talking about change — and not waiting for massive handouts. One example is Canadian General-Tower, a family-owned company in Cambridge that has evolved over the past century from making wagon wheels to the manufacture of plastic auto parts and pool liners. The secret, CGT president Jan Chaplin says, is to attract, develop and hold on to good people who can take a company forward, in whatever form it takes.

9.: Generate venture capital

Proximity to Toronto has historically given Waterloo good access to capital sources, but it is far enough away to avoid being unduly influenced by Bay Street's short-term thinking. In recent years, the region has tried to develop its own financing pool — it has developed a locally based $100-million venture capital fund called Tech Capital Partners. Now, it is also beginning to develop its own corps of serial entrepreneurs — company builders who reinvest their wins as they move from startup to startup.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Cleary As Mud

Can you figure out what is going on with the negotiations over the Cleary? I cannot. It almost sounds like the CAW-auto company negotiations

I gathered together most of the Star headlines over the past few weeks.

  • 06 June 2006 Crunch time for Cleary

    01 June 2006 Cleary deal on track

    30 May 2006 Cleary deal stalled

    27 May 2006 Cleary talks revived

    24 May 2006 City, college reach impasse in Cleary negotiations

    20 Apr 2006
    Win-win scenario Windsor Star Gord Henderson

    19 Apr 2006 College, city near Cleary deal

Here is the latest from the Star. Strasser and Francis are sure telling us a lot aren't they:
  • "A deal for St. Clair College to take over the Cleary International Centre will happen within the next week or two -- or not at all, according to Mayor Eddie Francis and college president John Strasser.

    "There are only a few things that have to be wrapped up," Strasser said. "They are clear items. Either we will agree on them or not.

    "This is going to get settled quickly or it will never get settled."

    Added Francis: "That's why John and I are involved. Given how much priority we are giving this, something will come out of it shortly -- or not."

Geez guys, show some imagination at least. "Or not" is that the best you can do to keep us totally off-balance? If you are going to play with our minds at least be creative

Be Shakespearean in your answers:
Hamlet-- A Cleary deal, To be or not to be, that is the question

Or if you want to be "one of the folks," copy from the NBC game show:
Howie Mandel--The Cleary, Deal or No deal

Or for us oldsters:
Monty Hall---The Cleary, Let's Make a Deal.

This could very, very bad for our City if this very, very important deal does not get done for our very, very empty downtown. We were counting on very, very many students living and working in our very, very new urban village and using our about to be very, very funky bus terminal and shopping at the market at our very, very own Armouries. Some very, very difficult decisions will have to be made very, very soon--or not.

I am not going to think about this any more because it gives me a headache. Instead, I am going to have my lunch now. Nothing better than an egg salad sandwich on a nice day like this!

Oh, and do not worry about terrorists in Windsor. With three food inspectors from the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit on the job at Willistead Manor to put bleach in food and the Health Unit hiring an additional five enforcement officers to ensure compliance with the Smoke-Free Ontario Act we are well-protected if the terrorists have a "dirty" bomb!

I Am A Fisker

I learned a new term the other day.

One of my readers called me a "fisker." It did not sound too nice when I looked up its dictionary meaning.

Then I saw the term on the BLOG of Chris Vander Doelen of the Star in reference to a Blog I wrote in reply to one he posted. Since he was good enough to give a link to my site, I will reciprocate

Well at least he did not spell my last name incorrectly. I am just "the other guy" to him.

I did not realize that there was a Blog meaning for the word "fisk." I am sure that both Chris and my reader meant that my BLOG was "witty, logical, sarcastic and ruthlessly factual" didn't they? {LOL}

It appears that I may have committed the ultimate Windsor sin however. One can praise DRTP, boost the commerical position of the Ferry, root for Mich-Can and get away with it. However, one dares not say a nice word about the Bridge Co. In fact, if one does say something that is perceived as positive, then it is nothing more than spouting Bridge propaganda.

If one looks realistically at what the facts are---and not how one may wish them to be---then it is obvious that one must deal with the Bridge Co.

I have still not figured out why that is so hard to understand for some in this City, especially certain Councillors at City Hall who may lose their seats because of border failure. The Mayor cannot bring himself to deal with the Bridge Co. now because their actions have prevented him from achieving his Grand Ambition of being the Region's main border operator.

That the Bridge Co. is in the best position, and that has been known to me since a colleague of Chris wrote a story setting out their "lands" position over 3 years ago, should be obvious since they have been the operator at the border for so many years. They would be foolish business people otherwise, and they are not.

I did read Chris' article in the Star as well about the remarks of Steven Landry, president of DaimlerChrysler Canada Inc, that "A leader is needed to rescue Windsor's auto industry from the political "merry-go-round" snarling the international border."

I was most interested as well in the comment of Patrick Persichilli of Nemak. He said "the entire industry is hoping for action... I don't know if the leadership needs to change but we need to be more aggressive," Persichilli agreed when told of Landry's comments. "The gauntlet needs to drop. We need to get on with life and make a decision about a new border crossing."

If you have been reading my BLOG, then you know that I am of the opinion that we need new blood at City Hall. Can you imagine four more years of this kind of leadership, or rather lack of leadership. As to who that leader should be....

Terrorist Trash

A story from CTV News is not a surprise. A number of US politicians will try and raise border concerns about Canada and terrorists after the arrests in Toronto. And others will use the arrests to further other causes. As an example, Senator Levin from Michigan has used "security" as an argument to keep Toronto garbage out of Michigan for some time now so this will fall right into his lap! That's how the game is played.

The arrests over the weekend may have other political fall-out as well and in Canada too.

I can just hear opponents of the Bridge Co. using the arrests as an excuse to demand that Bill C-3 be passed immediately! The entire Bill, and right now! After all, it will be argued, the pressure is now focused on the US border with Canada. With Mexico, it is merely illegal imigrants but with Canada it is terrorists! We certainly do not want the Prime Minister to be embarrassed when he meets with the US President in early July. We had better do something to show the Americans we are serious it will be said.

Others will demand that a new crossing be built for "redundancy" purposes even though that argument is absurd when "reverse customs" is what is required. The Star did not disappoint "Security and redundancy----Prime Minister Stephen Harper is scheduled to meet with U.S. President George W. Bush July 6 and must make the expedited construction of a new and public border crossing between Windsor and Detroit an urgent priority."

Of course the easy answer is to pass the "health, safety and security" provisions of the Act as the Bridge Co. supported at the Bill C-3 hearings but that will not be enough for some. Nope, they want the Ambassador Bridge Co. put out of business so that a new "public" bridge can be built at an expenditure of billions.
If they have to use "terrorist" arguments to do so, it does not matter. You see, their cause is in the "national interest" isn't it. What garbage!
  • Arrests raise security concerns about border News Staff

    A weekend raid ending in the arrest of 17 suspects on terrorism-related charges in Toronto has renewed security concerns about the U.S. border, and accusations that Canada is a haven for militant Islamic groups.

    News of the arrests made the front pages of both The New York Times and the Washington Post.

    "Americans should be very concerned, because Canada is our northern neighbour and there's a large al Qaeda presence in Canada," New York Republican Peter King, chairman of the House of Representatives homeland security committee, said Sunday on CNN.

    "I think it's a disproportionate number of al Qaeda in Canada because of their very liberal immigration laws, because of how political asylum is granted so easily."

    Most of the suspects are Canadian citizens and all are Canadian residents.

    Democratic Senator Carl Levin, who has already complained about Canadian garbage entering Michigan landfill sites, said the trash makes a perfect hiding spot for bombs or weapons.

    "Most of (the garbage trucks) are not inspected, and particularly in the way garbage trucks from Ontario cannot be inspected, represent a real significant security threat," he said.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Destroying Windsor, Clause By Clause

I am rather surprised that neither the City of Windsor nor the Windsor Chamber of Commerce have made submissions yet on Bill C-3. That legislation can do considerable damage to the Windsor economy yet there is no reaction from our political and business leaders.

I am sure that they think it is merely a Bridge Co. issue and why help out that firm. After all, for the City, it is a competitor too so anything that supposedly hurts that Company helps the Tunnel. Never mind that a smooth running border helps create business and brings tourists. It is a piece of legislation that no pro-business Government should ever introduce either and the Business lobby is silent.

Are we that short-sighted in this Community? I have already written how the proposed Tunnel toll increase could hurt businesses, consumers and commuters under Bill C-3.

Are our leaders so blind that they do not see that certain provisions of the Act can direct traffic away from Windsor to Sarnia/Port Huron? Do they forget how they fought to prevent the double-stack rail tunnel from going to Sarnia but lost? Do they want to lose this fight as well?

Have they not heard enough about the East-West corridor to be concerned yet? Do they not understand that an “enhanced” bridge can make Windsor a major distribution centre in North America and that can create jobs and wealth?

I have already commented on the Act but let me do it again from the Windsor perspective as well.

We all know that the Bridge Co. will protect its business. It seems that our political leaders would rather fight with them than talk to them. The Bill C-3 hearings seemed to open up the eyes of some of our MPs to the misinformation being spread around. It did so in Lansing given the budget amendments to stop funding DRIC. However, will it be enough to stop determined bureaucrats who want to put the Bridge Co. and perhaps Windsor as well out of business?

We all know that if the Bridge Co. litigates, it will last for years—we learned the FIRA fight lasted for a dozen years until the Conservative Government settled with the Bridge Co. in 1992. Is that lawsuit being re-opened in effect?

If we have a dozen years of lawsuits here, then kiss our economy good-bye. Is that what we want---hardly! Is that what someone wants---who knows. We do know that the Bridge Co. has the right to build its bridge on both sides of the river. Why are we not talking with them to do a deal rather than sabre-rattling.

Obviously, some think Bill C-3 is the key to “victory.” It may be but it would be a pyrrhic one for Windsorites!

Here are some of the key sections that cause concern:

2. The following definitions apply in this Act.
"alteration" includes a conversion, an extension and a change in the use of an international bridge or tunnel but does not include its operation, maintenance and repair. [What does this mean? Does it mean that one needs Government permission for anything? It is designed to stop DRTP as well so they may litigate too. The private sector was to be stopped at any price it seems!]

"international bridge or tunnel" means a bridge or tunnel, or any part of it, that connects any place in Canada to any place outside Canada, and includes the approaches and facilities related to the bridge or tunnel. [How far does this extend? Is this the way EC Row expressway or the DRTP corridor gets turned into a truck road notwithstanding what we want]

3. This Act is binding on Her Majesty in right of Canada or a province. [Federal supremacy. Take that Dalton McGuinty and Eddie Francis! No one cares about local interests. We have seen that since the days of the Joint Management Committee and the Nine-Point Plan. By the way, Paul Martin is no longer PM either so who cares what Windsor was told in the past about its role]

5. International bridges and tunnels are declared to be works for the general advantage of Canada. [See 3 above which means the Federal Government makes the rules constitutionally]

6. No person shall construct or alter an international bridge or tunnel without the approval of the Governor in Council. [You cannot breathe without Government permission. And that applies to Eddie’s dreams for the Tunnel too. The Government as your competitor also controls your destiny. What conflict of interest?]

12. If a person requires an interest in land, as defined in section 2 of the Expropriation Act, for the purposes of the construction or alteration of an international bridge or tunnel and has unsuccessfully attempted to purchase the interest in land, the person may request the Minister to have the Minister of Public Works and Government Services have the interest in land expropriated by the Crown and section 4.1 of that Act applies to that person, with any modifications that are necessary, as if the person were a railway company. [Obviously, everyone knows that the Bridge Co. owns key pieces of property. So just expropriate it for a competitor to make money and, to rub it in, at their expense! And if the City owns land that could be used, say for a new roadway, take that as well]

13. The Minister may order the owner or operator of an international bridge or tunnel to take any action that the Minister considers appropriate to ensure that it is kept in good condition. ["Any action"...You have no control or say and YOU have to pay for it too! MPs complained about the Feds acting but not providing financial assistance. Another variation of “downloading” responsibility but without funds]

15. The Governor in Council may, on the recommendation of the Minister, make regulations respecting the operation and use of international bridges and tunnels, including regulations
(a) respecting the use that may be made of international bridges or tunnels by different types of vehicles;
(b) respecting the tolls, fees and other charges that may be imposed by owners or operators of international bridges or tunnels for their use, to ensure the efficient flow of traffic; [The Government can control who your customers are and how much you can charge too. Clearly this is how the Government will put the Bridge Co. out of business by controlling their customers and prices in the name of the “efficient flow of traffic.” This is also how a new Government bridge would be able to compete since financing is to be pro ved by tolls which would be Government controlled. Traffic can be diverted away from Windsor to Sarnia using this section if we take away too much business (especially if the East-West corridor is Government policy.. It can be the end of our economic well-being in Windsor. It is the bureaucracy now and not market forces that rule.]

16. The Governor in Council may, on the recommendation of the Minister, make regulations respecting the security and safety of international bridges and tunnels, including regulations
(a) requiring persons who own or operate international bridges or tunnels to develop and implement security plans and establish security management systems; [As above]

23. (1) No person shall, without the approval of the Governor in Council,
(a) purchase or otherwise acquire an international bridge or tunnel; [If you want to retire or sell, good luck in finding a purchaser who will give you a price that equates to the value of your business! As for the owners of the bridge, they may not be able to pass it on to family members now.]

29. (1) The Governor in Council may, on the recommendation of the Minister, issue letters patent of incorporation for the establishment of a corporation, with or without share capital, for the purpose of the corporation constructing or operating an international bridge or tunnel. Letters patent take effect on the date stated in them. [What the heck, if the business can make any money, the Government will become your competitor or your operator!]

57. For greater certainty, this Act applies in respect of any proposal for the construction or alteration of an international bridge or tunnel that has been submitted to any department, agency or regulatory authority of the Government of Canada before the coming into force of this section. [So much for laws not being retroactive. Clearly it is designed to stop what the Bridge Co. has been doing for a decade already]

Clause by clause discussion of Bill C-3 starts on Tuesday. It will be interesting to see what changes if any will take place. My hope is that the “health, safety and security” issues will be passed right away but the rest will take much longer to be proclaimed and not until after serious conversations that take place. If not….

Big 4 1/2

Come on now, in spite of the nice press, you don't really think that Windsor is a full player at the Mackinac conference do you.

I wonder if Eddie missed the Big Cities Mayors Caucus session at the FCM Montreal meeting in order to speak at the Big Five session or was he able to go there and then return in time to go up north. If you did not know, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities' meeting was where the BCMC group set out their position on "fiscal imbalance and its impact on big cities." It was where "Canadian Municipalities [called] for halt to U.S. border passport plan."

It was very generous of our American neighbours to the north to invite the Mayor of Windsor along (I wonder if Eddie mentioned our geographic position so that Americans would have some cocktail party chatter trivia to remember us by after the conference ended). I am sure that this invitation was considered when Windsor was viewed by the Detroit Mayor as more important to Detroit than its suburbs and when Windsor taxpayers generously agreed to spend a whole bunch of taxpayer dollars (in US funds too) to allow Eddie to hob-nob with the power brokers at Super Bowl.

I wonder if the invitation would be extended now when Windsor was viewed as no more than a snow cleaner at Super Bowl time, after Eddie's attack on Kwame before the last Detroit mayoral election and when Windsor's roads to the border became the problem that is preventing the border crossing issue from being solved.

I wonder if the Windsor Star will reprint the Bill McGraw column written in the Detroit Free Press....that is good pre-election material to try and keep others from running against Eddie. Well, maybe it is a better idea that they do not.

McGraw mentioned the Eddie Francis Mantra "Either we work together or we lose together." He did not mention the new increasingly loud Michigan Politicians mantra "Fix the road to the border Eddie!"

Respecting differences between the two, McGraw forgot to mention that while Detroit has about ten times Windsor's population, Windsor receives about ten times more income from the jointly owned Tunnel than does Detroit. The Detroit Councillors learned that fact at the Joint Councils session.

Poor Bill, while immigrant population growth seems to be a good thing, he did not know that, in fact, Eddie blamed those same immigrants in his State of the City speech for being the ones responsible for us having the highest unemployment rate in Canada. I guess auto workers who are forced to retire pre-maturely are technically not "unemployed" or our rate could sky-rocket even higher.

Bill should know that Eddie was right about Super Bowl attracting "out-of-towners." Too bad that the ones we wanted, big-spending Americans out for a good time in Sin City, were not the ones we got. Eddie still has not yet released the Super Bowl numbers he has promised us for a long time so what can we say. Unfortunately, we do know that border traffic tanked the weekend of Super Bowl and traffic volumes were down substantially.

Bill very politely barely mentions border problems in his column. The Star said "The border traffic issue was only briefly discussed, with Ficano noting how it was "ridiculous" a binational study to select the next crossing location is taking so long."

Well there was in fact another issue and I hope for Eddie's sake neither newspaper picks up on it. Eddie talked about "pre-clearance."

I was worried. I had heard that someone was trying to put together a parcel of land, around 100 acres, for a pre-clearance or staging area near the spot where DRTP hits Highway 401. It was claimed that it might be a Government body that was doing so. I heard it was MTO.

Fortunately, it does not seem to be the City of Windsor since to Eddie, pre-clearance meant "reverse customs" as he talked about it on Melanie Deveau's CKLW show about his session. As he correctly said, we do it already in airports and train stations and we've had that discussion in Canada now for some time now and discussed it at the Federal level in Canada and Washington.

The obvious benefit, he said, was to stop terrorists ie to stop them before they go through the tunnel or over the bridge.

Then we see the true Eddie, the non-decision maker: in answer to the question posed to him at the conference as to what can be done at the municipal level to move the agenda forward, he tells us that we need to look at it and that perhaps we need to look at pushing the border perimeter back as is done in Europe. More time-delaying studying! Then the ultimate cop-out: it's within the federal agenda and jurisdiction.

I guess he should have taken that same position on the passport matter but he chose not to do so. He was active on that issue probably because there were a lot of others who were out there so that he would not be alone (And I hope Bill does not know about that Friday before Memorial Day non-event Eddie was going to run for US and Canadian mayors that had to be postponed).

Eddie had the chance to get out there and take a leadership role on the reverse customs issue, to be in the forefront

I thought he supported the "reverse customs" concept when I thought he supported a Windsor Chamber of Commerce report advocating that way back in 2002.

When he had the chance to demand that "reverse customs" be implemented in Windsor in 2005 ie around the time of the Bridge Co. offer to the City of Detroit re the Tunnel, where was his voice? At that time, the Star reported that "Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan sent a letter to Mayor Eddie Francis to emphasize there are no plans to move Canada customs officers to Detroit -- as called for in the bridge proposal." Why didn't he demand that position be changed?

Hmmmmm. I wonder if that is why the Mayor/Chair of the Windsor Tunnel Commission did not speak out. His opponent, the Bridge Co., advocated it (as they have been doing for years!)

But watch, when the Feds and Province agree to spend $30 million on the Tunnel Plaza, Eddie will demand reverse customs so that Tunnel vehicles will have an advantage over Bridge patrons. Sales at the Duty Free will sky-rocket. City revenues will zoom upward. And the Tunnel will be more attractive for financiers to offer the City a leasing deal.

How else can one explaing what is being proposed at the Tunnel entrance now--$30 million for a huge parking lot when there are other and more cheaper alternatives to move traffic through. [BLOG May 04, 2006, Paving Paradise To Put Up A Tunnel Parking Lot] I am sure it is only Step #1 of a plan that few know about.

Let us see what happens next year at Mackinac. Will it be the Big Four and a half again? Or not?