Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, June 30, 2006

Brian Masse and Star Apology Required

The Windsor Star story today "B.C. Grit pushed to twin bridge" and Brian Masse's comment disgust me!

The strong suggestion being made was that Mr. Bell did something in the last minute that was awful. Something to help the Ambassador Bridge too!

Brian stated "Why a member from North Vancouver was making bridge-friendly amendments is peculiar to say the least...It was shocking because it could have undermined our community and the whole process for the next border crossing."

The true facts are totally different as a reading of the House Committee hearings would have disclosed

A few facts need mentioning first. Don Bell, the MP referred to, is one of the Vice-Chairs of the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities which dealt with Bill C-3. Brian Masse is NOT a member of the Committee but merely an Associate Member along with over 100 other MPs.

Why should we listen to Mr. Bell...As Hansard stated, he has the the Lion's Gate Bridge in his jurisdiction. In case, Brian did not know it, there is a lot of discussion in Vancouver about twinning the Port Mann Bridge so it would be a subject that he knows about.

A proper reading of the Committee hearings would have showed why Mr. Bell did what he did. He wanted to act fairly. He was NOT pushing anything. He wanted the Bridge Co. position to be put before Committee members for a proper hearing. What a crime!

Here are the excerpts and you be the judge:
  • The Chair: We have an amendment on clause 6 that was circulated and submitted by Mr. Bell. I'll ask him to make a comment, please.

    Mr. Don Bell: Thanks, Mr. Chair.

    This is again further to the discussion I had with the department with respect to, number one, the issue of alteration. I heard that argument, and there was no deletion of the definition of alteration. I guess it's the application of alteration.

    There are two aspects to this, and I would refer you to clause 6 as it now reads, which is basically that:

    No person shall construct or alter an international bridge or tunnel without the approval of the Governor in Council.

    This is suggesting that, first of all, the first subclause would be more or less the same:

    No person shall construct an international bridge or tunnel without the approval of the Governor in Council.

    The deletion is the reference to “alter”.

    The second part is:

    Despite subsection (1), the approval of the Governor in Council is not required in cases of replacement, substitution, expansion or twinning of an international bridge or tunnel at an existing international crossing.

    My understanding is that there has been clarification. I have a copy of a letter from the U.S. Department of State clarifying to the Detroit International Bridge Company, which is the incorporated Ambassador Bridge, as we know it: “We have determined that the DIBC does not require a Presidential permit to expand or twin the existing bridge at that location.” The location is the Ambassador Bridge.

    I realize that is the U.S. government's position, and we make our own decisions. I only wanted to talk about consistency in terms of going back to the original agreement of 1921. I said that I would bring forward this proposal for discussion by this committee so that there is at least an opportunity for discussion.

    I again heard the argument from the department that it relates to the question of a fifth lane, for example, and the impact of expansion and/or twinning. I'd appreciate comments. It's in that same light, but I would appreciate any further comments that the department wanted to make on that.

    It's the concern, as it was expressed, because of the uniqueness of the Ambassador Bridge, the historical relationship that it has, and the fact that it was built with private funds, with both the Canadian government and the U.S. government's presidential permit allowing it in terms of its ability to function in the marketplace, in terms of boring capacity, and things of that nature.

    Could you comment on that?

    Mr. Brian Hicks: The bill relates to all 24 international crossings. We've been very careful in the wording so that what we've put in the bill is applied fairly to everybody.

    Our intention with this particular clause is that if you are going to construct, twin, or alter a bridge, you would then need Governor in Council approval.

    I know that we use the word “twinning” a lot with bridges. In effect, you're building a new bridge. Whether it's a twin or not, you're actually constructing a new bridge across the border. The wording in this bill as it currently stands would require Governor in Council approval.

    Mr. Don Bell: Twinning is another word for expansion, I guess, realistically. I appreciate you say it's a new bridge, but if you have an existing bridge...and I can relate it to a bridge in my jurisdiction, the Lions Gate Bridge. The alternative was to expand the number of lanes, and the question was whether the structure of the bridge could hold the additional lanes, or whether the way to obtain that extra capacity was to parallel or twin it. So it's a little different from a new bridge at a physical location that might be moved in the general proximity, which could be a mile or two miles away. You're talking about the impact of a particular bridge at a location.

    I guess the difference, as explained to me by the witnesses from the Ambassador Bridge--and I just want to ensure that their interests are well vetted by this committee before we make our determination on this bill—in the distinction of those 24 locations you made reference to, in the financing and capacity of those bridges, is that there is no private liability, if you want to call it that. If the governments want to do something, they have the ability to raise the money. They don't have to go to the market to do so; they can do it through taxation, and make a government decision to apply funds to that, as opposed to a private operator, who has to make an economic case that will get either bond holders, banks, or someone to provide that money. Restrictions that might seem not unreasonable in a government owner context are unduly restrictive in a private owner context.

    It's a question of what the interests of the Government of Canada are. I gather we want to ensure that safety and protection are the primary concerns--and the integrity of these international crossings. That's why I said I would raise this issue on behalf of the witnesses.

And speaking of amendments, which MP taking part in the hearings had the most amendments rejected as INADMISSIBLE? Not Don Bell but Brian Masse.

And which MP introduced an amendment during Third Reading of Bill C-3 in the House? Not Don Bell but Brian Masse.

When will the Star and Masse apologize to the Member?

The Clock Has Started Running

When will the documents under the Municipal Freedom of Information Act be supplied?

Eddie's Tunnel Nightmare

Do I ever feel dumb, with a capital "D." But you know what, I am in good company!

I read an article in The Journal of Commerce, June 26, 2006, that was given to me by a loyal reader. That article changed everything.

I admit it; I missed seeing the obvious. It confirmed to me that a good part of what is going on in the border file has nothing to do with the real facts but that it is completely directed to put the Bridge Co. out of business or to force them to sell out.

The article made clear to me that the real risk to us is NOT terrorists blowing up the Ambassador Bridge but rather terrorists using the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel to destroy the symbol of American Capitalism, the GM headquarters building at the foot of the Tunnel!

Read what else:
  • There’s an inherent security concern with the proximity of that tunnel to the downtowns of both Detroit and Windsor
  • the tunnel’s limited space makes it difficult to use as a commercial port of entry
  • Customs said the tunnel doesn’t meet their requirements
We've all been deliberately deceived. We have had information kept from us. We were pointed in the wrong direction. We have been played like fools to fit an agenda that has been hidden from us that we only suspected.

Poor Senator Kenny. I feel sorry for him. He should have been told to worry more about who is to provide redundancy for the Tunnel, not redundancy for the Bridge. His wartime urgency should not have been directed to building a new crossing for a bridge to duplicate the Ambassador Bridge, but building a twinned bridge in case something happens to the Tunnel! It is all upside down. It is all topsy turvy.

We do not have to worry about redundancy at the bridge. Redundancy is the chief reason given for building a new bridge. It is all a lie. Redundancy was just the excuse being used.

If redundancy at the bridge was a real issue----reverse customs was the obvious answer and could have been implemented quickly and easily. Why don't we have it----Now we know why---redundancy is not an issue.

I wonder if this is why Eddie made such a big deal about reverse customs at the Mackinac conference all of a sudden. As WTC Chair, he must have known that his Tunnel had major security problems that reverse customs could fix. Perhaps this is the real reason he needed $30 million to fix up the Tunnel. It had NOTHING to do with moving vehicles through the Tunnel more quickly or getting traffic off City streets around the Tunnel. He needed a huge pre-clearance area if the Tunnel was to survive financially!

How much did Gridlock Sam know about the Tunnel's risks since he obviously knows tunnels from being in New York. We know he received $40,000 to prepare a traffic routing report at the Tunnel. What did he tell Eddie about the state of the Tunnel. We know he made a lot of noise about the Ambassador Bridge's problems but I do not remember him saying much about the Tunnel.

Sarnia is an obvious answer for bridge redundancy for many trucks already since mileage via Sarnia or Windsor to many locations is virtually identical.

However, the truth has come out. We already have real redundancy for the bridge. It is Eddie's Tunnel. As Neal Belitsky said "If anything happened to the Ambassador Bridge, the industry is smart enough to figure out how to put their goods on smaller trucks to get it across....Right now we serve as the redundancy." Had you ever heard this before?

In other words, we did not have to worry about this issue as much as some wanted us to do. We were being manipulated to serve another's objectives.

Who has been thinking or talking publicly about security issues at the Tunnel. There has not been much discussion about that has there? It has all been directed to the bridge and the problems it may have. Interestingly, it was the US Customs and Border Protection service which raised an issue not our own Canadian security people. The article talked about a truck "from Windsor" as the threat too

Really, why would someone raise that as an issue? They would not if they are trying to put the Bridge Co. out of business! Why change the focus to the Tunnel which is owned by the City instead of fingering a private company.

Our poor Mayor/Windsor Tunnel Commission head. Now not only is he, as Mayor, being blamed by the Americans for not building the road to the bridge using the $300 million BIF money, now he, as WTC Chair, can take the heat for the "unique security risk" which makes CBP officials "nervous!"

To top it all off, Eddie has just increased the toll at the Tunnel by some significant amounts. Now the article points out that the Tunnel could lose up to 15% of its revenues through loss of truck traffic or about $1.5 million in income.

If this article does not scare away potential investors to finance Eddie's Tunnel master plan, then nothing will. This article, the failure to build a road to the border, the toll increase and Marko's leaving are the nails in Eddie's border dream.

From having everyone waiting with bated breath for him to speak on the border, can it get any worse for Eddie, and for us?

Tunnel Vision
The link between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, presents tricky security challenges.

The tunnel that connects Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, is unique. It’s the only underwater tunnel in the world that crosses an international border. Since 1930 it has allowed drivers to shuttle from downtown directly to downtown, arguably a key ingredient in the economic cement that has bound the two cities.

In the post-Sept. 11 world, the tunnel has become a unique security risk, which makes Customs and Border Protection officials nervous. If terrorists smuggled a truck loaded with explosives from Windsor, they would have the heart of downtown Detroit within their reach, especially the landmark Renaissance Center, which sits atop the tunnel entrance.

"CBP’s concerns at the tunnel are security and facility-related," said Robert Perez, Customs port director in Detroit. "There’s this inherent security concern with the proximity of that tunnel to the downtowns of both Detroit and Windsor." Perez was the first director of the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism program.

There are mitigating factors. Most of the trucks using the tunnel are local folk, who use the tunnel as a convenient link between the east side of Detroit and the east of Windsor, said Neal Belitsky, executive vice president and general manager of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel Co., the operating company that runs the tunnel for the two cities that own it.

"We don’t get the trucks that go from Toronto to Florida. These are all the local guys," Belitsky said. Long distance traffic uses the Ambassador Bridge, about two miles downriver from the tunnel. Customs processes 6,000 to 7,000 U.S. bound trucks a day at the bridge. Tunnel truck traffic is some 550 a day in both directions, a figure that has dwindled since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. For example, under the Bioterrorism Act, trucks carrying food products must be cleared by Food and Drug Administration inspectors who are stationed at the bridge.

In fact, an 18-wheeler won’t fit in the tunnel. Belitsky said that most of the trucks haul such commodities as aggregate, auto parts and scrap metal. DaimlerChrysler has a special fleet of flatbed trailers that meet the tunnel’s clearances to shuttle parts between Detroit and Windsor manufacturing plants.

Drivers use Customs’ Border Release Advanced Selectivity System, a paper-based manifest system that expedites the release of goods. Drivers who use BRASS must have a FAST card, one of the security measures that went into effect after the terrorist attacks. Under the Free and Secure Trade initiative, drivers undergo background checks and receive a photo identification card to be able to move goods across the border.

But BRASS is obsolete and is being replaced by the Automated Commercial Environment electronic truck manifest system. Belitsky said Customs wants to phase out BRASS by the end of the year, and wonders what the agency will use for truck manifests until the e-manifest becomes mandatory. Not true, Perez said. BRASS will be replaced by the ACE e-manifest system, but when that will happen will be the decision of ACE executives in Washington.

While primary booths at the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel are equipped with the e-manifest system, the tunnel’s limited space makes it difficult to use as a commercial port of entry, Perez said. There is no room to install an x-ray scanner or a dock where inspectors can unload a truck. To do a full inspection, Customs must escort a truck to the cargo facility at the Ambassador Bridge. Customs targets about a dozen trucks a week for inspections in depth.

Perez said Customs is open to proposals for expanding the tunnel’s commercial facility. But finding more space is a serious problem. "We’re in a quandary. We’ve continued to meet with Customs, and it’s been a frustrating experience," Belitsky said. Customs said the tunnel doesn’t meet their requirements, but they won’t say what their requirements are. "They expect that an operator will submit a proposal to them, and they would review it. It’s very subjective."

Perez said Customs has a good working relationship with the tunnel operator. "They’ve been open to the notion of eliminating trucks at the facility at some point. I don’t know right now that’s where they want to go, but I’m encouraging that they’re receptive at least to having that discussion."

Loss of truck traffic will cost the tunnel company about 15 percent of its revenue, Belitsky said, and the cities of Detroit and Windsor each will lose $1.5 million in income. Closing the tunnel also would give the privately owned Ambassador Bridge a de facto monopoly on tolls. Right now bridge and tunnel tolls are competitive.

The tunnel is also the only alternative border crossing in the Detroit-Windsor area if something happened to the bridge, Belitsky said. Federal, state and local officials in the U.S. and Canada are in a political tangle over construction of a new crossing. It’s not likely that any new crossing will open before 2013.

"If anything happened to the Ambassador Bridge, the industry is smart enough to figure out how to put their goods on smaller trucks to get it across," Belitsky said. "Right now we serve as the redundancy. It’s very shortsighted of Customs in this day and age to cut off their nose to spite their face."

Thursday, June 29, 2006

MFOIA--Open And Transparent Government

I just do not have the patience any longer to wait for City Hall to provide open and transparent Government on the border file so I thought I would spend my $5 application fee and file a Municipal Freedom of Information Act application. Below is what I submitted with the City yesterday.

The Act's purposes are very noble:

"(a) to provide a right of access to information under the control of institutions in accordance with the principles that,
(i) information should be available to the public,
(ii) necessary exemptions from the right of access should be limited and specific"

Information is supposed to be provided to me within 30 days of the date of my request. Of course, I do not expect that to happen. There is a section that allows for an extention of the time limit set out for a period of time that is reasonable in the circumstances. I am sure that will be used first.

And you know that solicitor-client privilege will be used to deny information as will certain other exemptions dealing with confidential "commercial" or "financial" matters.

Why I would not be surprised if this disclosure did not occur until after the next Municipal election.

I will of course be posting a calendar setting out the number of days it takes for the City to respond. Perhaps I will be proven wrong by their quick and complete response. I hope so.


1) All records dated between November 1, 2002 and the current date concerning any plans or proposals to operate, manage, own, sell, transfer, exchange, lease, or otherwise dispose of all or part of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel including but not limited to any records with

  • the Government of Canada,
  • Province of Ontario
  • the Government of the United States
  • the State of Michigan
  • City of Detroit
  • the Mayor of Detroit, any member of his Administration
  • Council of Detroit
  • any agency, Department or Ministry of each of the preceding
  • Detroit Councillors
  • any administrative or elected officials in Detroit
  • the Bi-national Partnership,
  • Detroit River International Crossing Project members and consultants
  • OMERS and any of its subsidiaries or affiliates including but not limited to Borealis Capital, DRTP
  • Macquarie Bank and any of its subsidiaries or affiliates including but not limited Macquarie Canadian Infrastructure Management Limited
  • Detroit and Canada Tunnel Corporation

2) All records dated between November 1, 2002 and the current date concerning the opposition to any plans or proposals to operate, manage, own, sell, transfer, exchange, lease, or otherwise dispose of all or part of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel including but not limited to any records with

  • the Government of Canada,
  • Province of Ontario
  • the Government of the United States
  • the State of Michigan
  • City of Detroit
  • the Mayor of Detroit, any member of his Administration
  • Council of Detroit
  • any agency, Department or Ministry of each of the preceding
  • Detroit Councillors
  • any administrative or elected officials in Detroit
  • the Bi-national Partnership,
  • Detroit River International Crossing Project members and consultants
  • OMERS and any of its subsidiaries or affiliates including but not limited to Borealis Capital, DRTP
  • Macquarie Bank and any of its subsidiaries or affiliates including but not limited Macquarie Canadian Infrastructure Management Limited
  • Detroit and Canada Tunnel Corporation

3) All records dated between November 1, 2002 and the current date concerning any studies, plans or proposals to finance all or part of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel operations or to securitize the revenues or in any way obtain revenue for an agreement, arrangement, divestiture or acquisition of assets of the Tunnel including those from third party funding sources.

4) All records dated between November 1, 2002 and the current date concerning the Duty Free Shop at the Windsor Tunnel including but not limited to rent reductions

5) All records dated between November 1, 2002 and the current date concerning improvements, changes and alterations to the Tunnel and Tunnel Plaza including but not limited to any records with

  • the Government of Canada,
  • Province of Ontario
  • the Government of the United States
  • the State of Michigan
  • City of Detroit
  • the Mayor of Detroit, any member of his Administration
  • Council of Detroit
  • any agency, Department or Ministry of each of the preceding
  • Detroit Councillors
  • any administrative or elected officials in Detroit
  • the Bi-national Partnership,
  • Detroit River International Crossing Project members and consultants
  • OMERS and any of its subsidiaries or affiliates including but not limited to Borealis Capital, DRTP
  • Macquarie Bank and any of its subsidiaries or affiliates including but not limited Macquarie Canadian Infrastructure Management Limited
  • Detroit and Canada Tunnel Corporation

6) All records dated between November 1, 2002 and the current date concerning any plans or proposals respecting the Burger King, Top Hat Supper Club and Bus terminal sites including but not limited offers of purchase and sale, matters involving expropriation, assessment appeals, matters involving land uses such as Drive-throughs

7) Records respecting the border file between November1, 2002 and the current date concerning:

1. law firms involved including those in Canada and the US
2. "lobbyist," strategic and consulting firms involved including those in Canada and the US
3. polling and survey firms involved including those in Canada and the US
4. technical and engineering firms have been used including those in Canada and the US including but not limited to transportation planners, air, health and noise experts, land use planners, government/media relations expert, social impact analyst and an environmental assessment expert
5. all reports, proposals and studies prepared by each of the above firms
6. bills and accounts charged by each of the above firms by file including Finance Department accounting records showing payments whether charged directly or through law firms or other parties
7. what work did they do for the fees incurred
8. disbursements and expenses paid out to those firms and to the Mayor, Councillors and staff setting out the reasons for such payments.

The border file includes but is not limited to all matters involving the border such as the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel plaza improvements, possible Detroit-Windsor Tunnel purchase/lease/operation/management/financing/securitization, opposition to any Detroit-Windsor Tunnel purchase/lease/operation/management/financing/securitization, Walker Road changes, the Huron Church overpass, OMB hearing, Schwartz report, meetings with all Governments in Canada and the United States.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The CAW And King Canute

A very interesting article in Bloomberg about the auto industry in Ontario and Michigan is set out below. What is also interesting for us is the lack of mention of anything significant happening in Windsor and what Governor Granholm has realized and what she is doing about it.

I wonder if the Star's circulation will increase dramatically today. I would think that every Economic Development office of cities along the East-West corridor will buy several copies of the Star to put into their files to show prospective investors and auto industry manufacturers and suppliers :
  • The front page picture of Buzz Hargrove in the Star,
  • the headline "No cuts, Hargrove tells parts plants;
  • the subheadline CAW pledges strikes over pay reductions and early retirements"
  • the story with Hargrove saying that "he will "take down" any company that tries to do what Delphi, the U.S.-based parts maker, and General Motors have done this week to cut wages and reduce their workforces with early retirements." and
  • Ken Sr. saying "The minute they attack our jobs, we will not build minivans."

Would you want to build or invest in Windsor after seeing that?

What is the answer to the dilemma for Windsor?

How does a CAW town deal with the significant auto industry changes? How do we deal with the fact that the automobile industry is passing us by as our manufacturing plants keep shrinking in size? How do we deal with the fact that the industry is growing rapidly in Ontario but decreasing dramatically in Windsor? How do we deal with the fact that we have one of the highest unemployment rates in Canada after years of prosperity?

I am certain that you can think of dozens of questions to ask but what is important is to start thinking about answers.

Given what is happening in the auto industry, the image that came to mind when reading about what Buzz and Ken Sr. said was that of King Canute trying to hold back the waves and tides.

However it seems, as the legend goes, that the good King understood at least that he did not have the power to control the forces of nature. When he talked to his fawning royal officers and courtiers as the water lapped up against him "Well, my friends," Canute said, "it seems I do not have quite so much power as you would have me believe. Perhaps you have learned something today."

Michigan Rues `Buy American' Kick, Loses Car Plants to Ontario

June 27 (Bloomberg) -- In the 1980s and 1990s, Michigan unions and politicians urged U.S. citizens to ``Buy American'' and told Japanese carmakers to go elsewhere. The auto companies took their dollars next door to the Canadian province of Ontario, and haven't looked back.

Today, Ontario is North America's biggest car producer, turning out more cars than Michigan by building for companies including Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. The gap is widening after carmakers announced C$7 billion ($6.23 billion) of plant expansions in Canada's most populous province.

``Michigan completely messed up on this,'' Dennis DesRosiers, president of DesRosiers Auto Consultants, told a meeting of businesspeople in Oshawa, Ontario, home to General Motors Corp.'s Canadian plants. ``Would you rather go to Ontario, where we like you, or Michigan, where we don't like you?''

Honda seems to have found the answer, announcing plans last month to build a C$154 million engine plant in Alliston to supply its nearby car factory that has made almost 4 million vehicles since 1986. Toyota unveiled plans in February to build a C$1.1 billion assembly plant for its RAV4 sport-utility vehicle in Woodstock, with production starting in 2008.

All of Ontario's car factories are within a two-hour drive of the U.S. border, as both Japanese and U.S. makers keep their Canadian production close to the world's largest auto market. Carmakers save about 10 percent on the cost of each vehicle because of Canada's government-funded health-care program. They also receive incentives from the provincial government and tax breaks from the North American Free Trade Agreement.

`Logical Place'

``The automotive corridor in Ontario is great,'' Adriaan Korstanje, spokesman for Toyota's Canadian unit, said in a telephone interview. ``Lots of existing suppliers, great infrastructure, so it's a very logical place to establish a plant.''

Canada's unions have made concessions to attract work. In March, workers at three General Motors plants that build the Chevrolet Impala and Monte Carlo agreed to let the company use some contract workers and reduce break times. Industry Canada says last year's average hourly wage for vehicle assembly was C$30.43 in Canada, compared with C$39.16 in the U.S.

So many carmakers have flocked to Ontario that a C$500 million fund set up by the government to entice them has almost been emptied in the past two years, with just C$37 million left.

GM, Ford

Even Michigan-based car companies are expanding in Ontario. Ford Motor Co., the world's second-biggest automaker, plans to spend C$1 billion on a plant that will make four models in Oakville, as well as a fuel-cell research and development center.

GM, the biggest producer, is spending C$2.5 billion on research centers and plant upgrades. And Canadian car-parts maker Linamar Corp. plans to spend more than C$1 billion on a research center near Guelph. They all received funding from the Ontario government.

It was a different story three decades ago. Starting in the late 1970s, auto unions in Michigan promoted a ``Buy America'' campaign as more fuel-efficient Japanese cars gained popularity, said Al Warner, former director of the U.S. Commerce Department's motor vehicle division.

``There was serious `Buy American,' anti-Japan bashing going on,'' said Warner, now president of consulting firm Automotive Strategies. ``They banned foreign cars from parking lots at the union halls.''

In 1992, Michigan Governor John Engler, in his state of the state address, urged residents to ``Buy American'' and put a ``Made in Michigan'' car in the garage.

Out-Producing Michigan

By 2004, automakers were building 2.7 million vehicles in Ontario, more than Michigan's 2.6 million, according to, the Web site for industry monitor Ward's Automotive. A decade earlier, the state produced almost twice as many cars as Ontario. Ward's predicts Ontario will make 3 million vehicles in 2008, to Michigan's 2.4 million, with about 85 percent shipped to the U.S. Canada now ranks eighth among global car producers.

Ontario has been making cars since Henry Ford opened a plant in Windsor, on the Canadian side of the Detroit River, in 1904. The industry received a boost in 1965 when the Canada-U.S. Auto Pact was signed, eliminating trade barriers between the two countries for cars and parts. The number of workers in the Canadian auto industry soared to 491,000 in 2002 from 75,000 in 1965, according to government figures.

Japan's automakers still have only one assembly plant in Michigan, a joint venture between Ford and Mazda Motor Corp. in Flat Rock.

Southern States

Michigan has also lost plants to U.S. states including Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee, which like Ontario, offered incentives to attract assembly and parts plants. Alabama more than doubled its auto employment from 2001 to 2004, adding more jobs than any other state, according to the U.S. Labor Department.

That has convinced Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to take action. Granholm has visited Japan twice in the past 10 months to woo automakers to the state, said Mike Shore, spokesman for the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

``We're doing our damnedest to erase those memories'' of `Buy American' campaigns, he said. ``They're welcome here.''

Schools Daze

Thank goodness that taxpayers have deep pockets. Isn't that what our School Boards seem to be saying?

I must admit I have trouble understanding any of this. Here is what the Star published the other day dealing with our local School Boards concerning schools near the border route.

  • School expand despite border plan
  • Monica Wolfson, Star Education Reporter, June 20, 2006

    "The Catholic and public school boards are moving ahead with million- dollar construction projects on two elementary schools despite their proximity to a proposed new border route...5,500-square-foot expansion of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and 15-classroom expansion of Bellewood elementary school."

Yet only 2 months before Penny Allen, superintendent of business and finance said,

  • "Unless the route is tunnelled, Oakwood, which is on Cabana Road, Bellewood, which is on Labelle, and Sandwich West, which is on Wyoming Avenue, may face closures."
It's not something new either. Back in November, 2005,

  • "Trustees decided to send a letter of concern to all participants of the DRIC. [because] Oakwood, Bellewood and Sandwich West elementary schools might also be impacted by the new border crossing route and traffic diversion from Highway 401."
So given the "concern," why would the Boards spend money to build when perhaps there should be a different solution considered.

I think the Board's reality was expressed by Trustee Beaudoin in October, 2005. He said "he's skeptical a crossing will be built in his lifetime." Peter Marchini, superintendent of business for the Catholic board said, "We have a need there for the next year and year after... "I’m sure this proposal [DRIC]will take a good number of years."

Talk tunnelling, keep on spending and if it doesn't work out as planned, it is no big deal. After all, what are taxpayers for? As Penny said,
  • "If it’s determined not useable, the powers that be will have to give us funding to go somewhere else."

And as expected, today's Star reported:

  • "The Catholic school board will build a four-classroom addition to Our Lady of Mount Carmel elementary school despite its location on the edge of a proposed 10-lane highway bringing traffic to the new border crossing."

And didn't you like the comment that Trustee Alexander made that proves my point:

  • "After a short debate trustees agreed Monday night to listen to a 15-minute presentation in August by the DRIC.

    "I'd like to make certain the board has full information on this crossing and make an informed decision on the environment assessment," said Joe Berthiaume, director of education.

    Despite a lack of interest among some trustees, Porcellini has been pushing for trustees to meet with the DRIC. "This is exactly what I asked for," Porcellini said. "This is going to significantly impact our students and ratepayers and the capital of the board."

    But trustee Fred Alexander registered his opposition. "What is the point of this at all?" Alexander said. "Obviously there is a school there and (the freeway) is going to be near the school. Why do we need a presentation about that?"

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Border Entrepreneur

I posted earlier today a BLOG on public authorities. Perhaps you understand why I am leery of them. My 3 1/2 year border involvement makes me even more leery of what bureaucrats and politicians are trying to achieve. Do these smart people actually believe that they can defeat a determined private enterprise opponent?

Lets go back about 2 years ago. You have to admit, it could not have been any better for Windsor. We had the Prime Minister, Premier, and US Ambassador all eating out of our hands. The Mayor of Detroit was our friend calling us more important to Detroit than his own suburbs. Citizens groups were at their highest strength ever with politicans afraid to come out against us. Even the almighty Windsor Star had changed its postion on backing DRTP.

And we accomplished what?

Marko Paranosic's decision to leave town confirmed what we all know: our Mayor and Council blew it. The Schwartz Report was dead and there was nothing to replace it other than "quality of life" arguments and demanding a tunnel. The brilliant solution to our problems just could not succeed. [In a fascinating academic paper I read, three University of Windsor Professors and another colleague using their model of conflict resolution predicted almost immediately after the Report was introduced "that it is most likely that nothing will happen, at least in the short term" and that Eddie's pitch "to give Windsor what it “deserved...” contributes nothing to the likelihood of the City getting its way."]

Instead, the City's approach rebounded against us. Windsor, through the Mayor's actions, was now the problem by not building the road to the border notwithstanding that there is $300 million available (for how much longer, who knows!). If the City had a solution that worked, then obviously the Schwartz office would be getting the project and Marko would be at the centre of it. His leaving tells you all you need to know.

In the same way, the increase in tolls at the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel signals to me that Eddie has failed in his Grand Ambition concerning leasing and/or operating the Tunnel. He is desperate for revenues now even if he loses traffic.

Will anyone on Council publicly admit that they and our Mayor has failed us? Don't be silly. How can they when they backed the Mayor on Schwartz? How can they when they risk being slaughtered by the only newspaper in town if they dare criticize the Mayor? How can they when they have to pretend they did something on the border in an election year?

Talk about chaos. DRIC kicks out the two main private enterprise proponents on criteria that DRIC itself determined suggesting that "public oversight" of a new bridge really means "public ownership." Bill C-3, legislation that is clearly anti-private enterprise, goes through the House of Commons in a blur of speed and action sponsored by a supposedly pro-business Conservative Party.

DRIC itself may have a short life as Michigan Legisaltors and the Detroit Mayor at least see little value in its continued functioning. The Michigan Governor will be under intense pressure to kill DRIC if she wants to gain the Mayor's support for her re-election and to prevent the Republicans from painting her as someone who cost the Michigan Treasury up to $3.5 billion. Notwithstanding all of this, multi-million dollar spending programs are being started now by DRIC on both sides of the border. It's as if they do not care what the Legislators say.

DRIC's solution suggests that either Delray or Sandwich or both will be faced with a new bridge even though the US Department of State has not given its concurrence for a new DRIC crossing in the central area even though asked to do so.

Opponents of the Ambassador Bridge on both sides of the border seem to welcome a new bridge in their area as their economic salvation. In what startles me, they work with the people who want to place a bridge in their community rather than fighting them. Somehow a "public" bridge in their community is better than a "private" bridge that would not touch their community at all.

Talk about about-face, the WALTS/Schwartz/Windsor road to the border has now been opposed by the City when DRIC adopted most of it. It was replaced by who knows what.

We go through exercises on road building and locations and demand tunnels when all we have to do is read the Letters to the Editor section of the Windsor Star where the Executive Director, Windsor Gateway Project of Transport Canada tells us what will be done and where.

DRTP really has dropped its plans to be a border crossing without admitting it and offers up its corridor as a Green Solution for trucks to the Ambassador Bridge in the hope of convincing someone to buy them out. After all, Borealis needs some more money to help pay for the bidding war price of nearly 2.8 billion pounds it has agreed to pay out as part of the Associated British Ports cash offer in an auction.

With all of this confusion, can anyone figure out what is going on? How can all of this mess be created by such smart people? Where is the logic to all of this? Where is it all leading?

Would it surprise you if I said that none of this matters? That it is all irrelevant. That nothing has changed other than millions of taxpayer dollars have been and are being wasted by these smart people.

It will hardly be a shock to you what I think if you have been reading my BLOGs. I have been saying for about three years now that someone has to bite the bullet and deal with the Bridge Co. because, like it or not, they are there now and "own" the border traffic. Hasn't this whole exercise been nothing more than an attempt by envious, smart people to try and put them out of business or to force them to sell out at bargain basement prices?

It does not matter to them. The Bridge Co. just keeps on moving forward. In spite of everything, they are the party to beat and everyone is trying to do it. We know that on the US side, they do not need a Presidential permit to build their enhancement project and on the Canadian side, it seems that "at this point, there seem to be no roadblocks to the second span proposal from a federal or provincial perspective."

Why then has the Bridge Co. been so successful in spite of opposition from other proponents and from Government? DRTP has a lot more money than the Bridge Co. The Government money supply is limitless and they make the rules, even retroactively. Our Mayor has a PLAN for everything.

In the end it comes down to whose money is at stake and who is accountable!

OMERS/Borealis/DRTP---they are nothing more than managers of other people's money. Government bureuacrats use taxpayer money. The Mayor wants to be a border operator using Windsorites' funds. None of these parties exposes their personal assets to a business risk. If they guess wrongly, they still get a salary and benefits.

If OMERS has problems, as they did with $600 million of write-downs a few years ago, well they just tell municipalities and contributors that their contributions are increased. When was the last time you heard about a bureaucrat being fired for a SNAFU like the gun registry. In Windsor, who even knows what is going on. To date, the media has not even reported Marko's departure since, heaven forbid, some might start asking questions.

The Bridge Co. is different. Matty Moroun is using his money and not that of some pensioner or taxpayer. If he "writes-down" assets, it comes out of his pocket and he cannot just ask someone to pick up the tab. He has to be right or he is in trouble financially.

Moroun is certainly not as smart all of these politicians and bureaucrats who have intellectualized a model of the world that looks good on paper but bears little relationship to reality. His "business model" is based on years of experience as the owner of trucking companies, dealing with and understanding the needs of shippers and operating for over 25 years the Number 1 border crossing in North America.

I am amazed at the arrogance of some who think they understand how to operate a border crossing better than he does or who think that he has not considered before what they want to do and where they want to build. None of them are real entrepreneurs. None of them have built a business from nothing to a multi-billion dollar enterprise

Does anyone believe that he is going to sit idly by as some money manager or bureaucrat tries to take away his business? He has fought and defeated Government before. Do they think he is a push-over?

The question to ask is: why are these smart people so afraid of him that they will not sit down and deal with him?

I have quoted Gord Henderson before: "I’m in awe of Moroun and his hired hands. These folks are the masters. They’re always two or three cunning moves ahead of the other players…"

Really, do they have any other choice?

More On Public Authorities

Seriously, if I asked you which agencies of the Government in the US are the most secretive, what would your answer be: the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency/Central Security Service, FBI, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Homeland Security, or Defence Department?

Would you be concerned about a "semi-secret fourth branch of government with little or no accountability [which has] developed a culture of arrogance." Would you want to have entities that "supposedly were created to benefit the public, but they operate without any real oversight by, or accountability to, the people they are supposed to be serving." Would you be concerned about organizations involved in "major cases of corruption, waste, mismanagement, unethical and, at times, illegal activity." Are you in favour of "a system of taxation without representation?"

You may be surprised to read this news release that I found that was issued by New York State Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. Their target: "public authorities" in New York State. Given the pro-consumer reputation of Spitzer, this is obviously a major concern!

I raise this issue again because of Bill C-3. Our NDP MP out of Windsor West, Brian Masse, is the big advocate of a "public authority" to control border traffic. Something like that may have to be created under Bill C-3 if the legislation is passed.

Under the Act, the "public authority" would have the power to control the use that may be made of international bridges by different types of vehicles and setting the tolls, fees and other charges that may be imposed by owners or operators of international bridges for their use, to ensure the efficient flow of traffic.

Can you imagine the potential problems that would create. Can you imagine what would happen if such an organization was created at the political level by the Federal Government? Unless the most stringent controls, oversight and reporting requirements were placed on that body, I hate to think about the possible consequences. It could make Adscam look like Kindergarten!

Read all about these public authorities in New York and decide if you want them here.


Citing the many serious problems discovered at public authorities, New York State Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer today called for major reform of authorities. Comptroller Hevesi issued omnibus legislation to make public authorities more accountable, which proposes new laws regarding awarding of contracts, strict requirements for registration and disclosure by lobbyists, governance reforms of authority boards including a majority of independent members, and increased oversight powers for the Comptroller's Office. The Comptroller also issued a report detailing many gaps in current oversight.

“Authorities have made major contributions to New York, including building and expanding our transportation systems, our public universities and water systems. But authorities have become a semi-secret fourth branch of government with little or no accountability and many have developed a culture of arrogance. It's time for a major reform to bring authorities under control and ensure that they use their resources to serve the important public tasks they have been given, unhindered by waste and corruption,” Hevesi said.

"We need to put the word ‘public' back into the phrase ‘public authorities'", said Attorney General Spitzer. "These entities supposedly were created to benefit the public, but they operate without any real oversight by, or accountability to, the people they are supposed to be serving. The time has come for sweeping reforms to the entire system."

In addition to the 113-page reform legislation, Hevesi released a study which found that there are more than 640 authorities in the State, including 169 major State public authorities and affiliated subsidiary corporations, 43 authorities that are affiliated with State agencies, 425 local authorities and three interstate authorities with three subsidiaries. Authorities issue more than 90 percent of State debt. State general obligation debt makes up the remaining 10 percent. The 17 authorities that have issued at least $100 million in debt have a total of $105 billion in debt outstanding, including $33.8 billion in State supported debt.

“New Yorkers pay for public authorities in the form of rates, tolls and fees, and our taxes offset authority-related tax-exemptions and pay the debt service on authority-issued bonds. In most cases, New Yorkers have no choice but to use authority facilities. But they do not have even indirect control over how these billions of their dollars are used. Authorities have created a system of taxation without representation,” Hevesi said.

The study includes a partial list of major cases of corruption, waste, mismanagement and other significant problems, including 55 that have occurred just since 1990. “A review of past practices by authorities reveals substantial mismanagement, as well as a history of unethical and, at times, illegal activity. Concern regarding the lack of oversight has intensified recently in light of these widespread scandals, resulting in a public cry out for reform,” Hevesi said...

“There has been enormous growth in the number of authorities, but there has been no systematic effort to provide oversight or review existing authorities and make sure their mission still makes sense. That's the purpose of the proposed commission,” Hevesi said.

Authorities are largely unaccountable to State government. Out of more than 640 entities with State and local functions:

Only 11 must receive approval by the Public Authorities Control Board before issuing debt;
Few are subject to debt caps established by the Legislature.
The 2004-05 Executive Budget and State financial plan reports on finances of only 31.
The State Comptroller receives financial data and other reports from only 53.
The Office of the State Comptroller posts on its website ( ) the limited information it receives about authority finances and operating costs such as staff salaries, but much information is not readily available to the public.

The recent efforts of the Office of the State Comptroller have led to meaningful reforms in the budget process at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, new internal controls at the Long Island Power Authority, the pending appointment of an Independent Private Sector Inspector General for the New York Racing Association and the cancellation of a contract that granted exclusive development rights along much of the New York State Canal System for $30,000. But the pattern of problems makes it clear that broad reform is necessary.

The Attorney General's Office conducted a lengthy investigation into criminal conduct at NYRA, which resulted in arrests and convictions, and is currently conducting an investigation of alleged contract improprieties at the Canal Corporation. Spitzer has repeatedly urged adoption of improved procurement, lobbying, ethics and operational reforms for all authorities.

“It is time to rein in this large semi-secret unsupervised government empire. Authorities provide crucial services and borrow and spend enormous sums. They must be accountable to the public,” Hevesi said.

“These authorities must be responsive to the principles of openness, transparency, fairness and efficiency. There is too much at stake to let this opportunity for reform pass us by,” Spitzer said.

It is currently difficult to obtain detailed information about authority contracting in order to estimate how much money contract reforms could save. However, in 2002, nine large State authorities spent $3.95 billion through contracts. It is generally accepted that competitive bidding can save from 10 percent to 37 percent. Assuming only one percent savings from improved competitive bidding, total savings for just those nine authorities could be $39 million a year. That does not include potential savings from reduced waste and mismanagement. Those savings would clearly more than offset the minor cost of the Commission, estimated at $1.5 million a year for three years, or the additional Comptroller's Office staff, estimated at $1.5 million a year.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Kissing And Making Up Politically

There is something to be said for election year politics.

Has the spike been driven into DRIC's heart finally? Is it now over for those who thought that the Michigan Governor would veto the Resolutions of the Michigan House and Senate pulling the funding from DRIC? Will MDOT dare keep on spending the many millions being forecast for their ambitious drilling program in this fiscal year?

Just to put the matter in a context, the Washington Times reported:
  • "Nowhere is the climate more favorable to Republicans than in Michigan, where Democratic Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, elected in 2002 with 51 percent of the vote, has been struggling to overcome the political fallout from an economy devastated by the auto industry's massive layoffs.

    An independent June 13 EPIC-MRA poll showed her Republican opponent, businessman Dick DeVos, leading the governor by 46 percent to 44 percent. Election analyst Jennifer E. Duffy, in the Cook Report's election preview for the National Journal, rates the contest "one of the most competitive races of the cycle."

As I have said before [BLOG June 07, 2006 Kwame Power], Governor Granholm needs the active support of Detroit's Mayor if she wishes to be re-elected. I wrote previously that "given that it is election time in the State in November, what Kwame wants will help elect the new Governor. As much as some may choose to deride him, he got elected and is Mayor for 4 more years. He fooled by his win a whole bunch of seemingly smart people politically."

It is no secret that the relationship between the two was very frosty for a very long period of time after his re-election even though they are both Democrats. But is the relationship now "sizzling?

Governor Granholm had a fund-raiser in Detroit the other week: "Summer Sizzle." What is important is that "Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick had the task of introducing Granholm."

That followed a very strong endorsement of the Governor by the Mayor at the end of the Mackinac conference:
  • "Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick called Granholm's speech "the most clear, comprehensive plan that I've heard about the state of Michigan. I think she was on in a way that I haven't seen her."

    Kilpatrick said Friday he would support and even formally endorse Granholm. His efforts in turning out the vote in heavily Democratic Detroit are seen as critical to the governor's chances come November.

    "When the campaign starts, you'll see Kwame Kilpatrick with her," he said."

If you will recall, the Mayor sent the Governor a very strong letter about what he wanted for the border [BLOG March 28, 2006 A Tale of Two Mayors]. He stated very clearly that he viewed the DRIC study as a threat to Detroit and that if the Governor could end DRIC for the Downriver towns, she can do it for Detroit. After all, more Detroiters voted for her than in all of the Downriver communities combined! Kwame also made it clear that the DRIC alternatives were not acceptable to Detroit.

The border wars may be over very soon if the Governor signals that she will end DRIC. She can blame the Republicans for it, and keep our side from being mad at her, and can appear to be listening to Detroit and the Mayor as well.

If that happens, perhaps we on our side can finally develop a strategy to create jobs here based on a smooth and efficiently-operating border. Windsorites can then thank Jenn, George and Kwame for resolving the issue for us because our politicans could not.


That's the amount that Mayor Francis, Chairman of the Windsor Tunnel Commission, receives as salary to sit on the Commission. Is he overpaid?

Tell me if you still want a "publicly-owned" new bridge after reading about the Tunnel's toll machinations over the last 2 years and the losses of revenue that have been suffered. Compare the Windsor taxpayer-supported WTC's manner of doing business with that of private enterprise!

Back in March, 2005, Eddie, when discussing a toll increase, said:
  • "he would prefer a toll increase to be accompanied by some form of added value for the tunnel user.

    He said $13 million worth of ventilation system upgrades is not something the average commuter will notice "and improving traffic flow is largely a product of U.S. and Canadian customs and is largely out of our hands."
There was no increase in 2005. I'll tell you why later even though Councillor David Cassivi who is also on the WTC stated at the time "painful as it may be to consider, we may have to look at a rate increase because it is a business and it is losing revenue."

The Mayor stated in March, 2005 "The general consensus was that until there is a comprehensive plan to improve service, we're not going to proceed with an increase...The last thing we want to do is scare people away."

Windsor kept its rate low at $3.50 while DCTC on the Detroit side increased tolls to $4.75 in January, 2005 [Note the "private" Bridge Co.'s combined toll is less than the "public" Tunnel for all of you publicly-owned crossing supporters. It made its exchange rate adjustment some time ago too]

Over a year later, the Tunnel toll is finally increased. And quite an increase it is too:
  1. Single trip rates increase from $3.50 Cdn to $4 (14.3% increase) and from $2.50 US to $3.50 (40% increase)
  2. 50 per cent hike in the US rate for a roll of tokens from $40 to $60. The Canadian price for tokens will also go up from $60 to $70 (a 17 per cent increase)

Part of it is due to the high-flying Loonie. Don't you just "Love this Place." Eddie's sloganeerers are at it again, calling it the "Fair Currency Exchange Rate Policy." In reality, it is old news that no one acted upon although warned about it a year before ("Commission members were told that toll revenues in 2004 fell $1.6 million from 2003 mainly because of a 10.7 per cent reduction in overall traffic and a substantial strengthening of the Canadian dollar in relation to its U.S. counterpart."

What was the main reason to increase the tolls? Was there a "comprehensive plan to improve service." Nope it was all financial:

  1. $30-million Tunnel Plaza expansion is looming
  2. The tunnel commission is also facing costs from the $20-million replacement of the tunnel's ventilation system which is near completion. (In June,2005 we learned that "A $13-million renovation project at the Windsor-Detroit tunnel is six months behind schedule and facing major cost overruns because of structural problems, says a report to the Windsor tunnel commission)

Of course that is only partially true. We are being fed another line from City Hall. And by the way, note that the cost increased by another $7 million. But the Tunnel Ventilation Building did get the heritage designation recently. Surely, they will not dare call this financing for the Tunnel "bridge financing" again. (sorry, could not resist the pun)

So was there a "value-add?" in 2006 that there wasn't in 2005? NO, since the issues are still ventilation and movement of vehicles.

Will people be "scared away" in 2006 by the toll increase since there was that fear in 2005. NO, since the Mayor now tells us when "Asked about fears the rate hike could hurt business, Francis countered there hasn't been a noticeable increase in traffic numbers despite the Windsor side of the tunnel providing the cheapest cross-border tolls at either the bridge or tunnel in recent years."

It is obvious that an economic case was made in 2005 for a toll increase (revenues going down, known ventilation building expenditures that increased by $7 million, strength of Canadian dollar) but for some reason that now does not hold water, WTC did not make one. Let's try and guess why.

Remember back in March, 2004, Eddie signed the Phase 1 Border deal with the Senior Levels that surprisingly included "Improvements to the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel Plaza in order to provide for more effective traffic management." That was the beginning of Eddie's PLAN to take over ownership of the Tunnel from Detroit and to then lease it out on a long-term deal or operate it. It was going to be a big money-maker for us. Of course that Plan was hidden from taxpayers and only appeared when the infamous Council Agenda Item #5 saw the light of day. When citizens opposed it, the Plan was taken off the table or else Eddie could not have moved forward!

If the Tunnel was going to be financed, then the last thing Eddie needed was possible financing sources being concerned that there was a problem and seeing traffic decreased by the increased tolls. He needed instead, to see traffic increase dramatically so he gambled that low toll prices would bring more business to the Tunnel and to the Duty Free Shop too. (The City gets a percentage from there too). His big gamble did not work as he admitted "there hasn't been a noticeable increase in traffic numbers."

To be blunt about it, do you remember when I described the Windsor Mayors having an inherent conflict as WTC Chair and Windsor Mayor [BLOG October 25, 2005 Windsor Mayors' Conflict Of Interest]. Here is a classic example of the problem that I identified in these terms:
  • "In other words, is there an inherent Conflict of Interest built in when the Mayor and Councillors are both a Tunnel Commission Chair or member and when they are also a member of City Council. On the one hand the Mayor can say from a Windsor-wide perspective : "We see the tunnel as a public utility while the DCTC sees it more as a profit-generating private operation." On the other hand when the Bridge takes away Tunnel traffic, he says as a true competitor "our traffic has gone to the bridge and we have to do a better job of convincing people that the tunnel should be their crossing of choice."
In this case, Eddie's ambition to be a Border Operator coloured his vision to ensure that the Tunnel operated in the best interests of taxpayers. Councillor Cassivi saw the issue properly but the Mayor had his Grand Plan. He tried to become "Entrepreneur of the Year" but this time he did not play with his money but that of Windsor taxpayers. He jumped on the bandwagon of the privatization of high-profile public works projects. When his Plan did not work out, we as taxpayers lost almost 15 months worth of increased toll revenues!

Eddie's PLAN did not succeed for a variety of reasons, the main one being his competition. He underestimated them completely and they beat him soundly. That, after all, was the reason for the Joint Councils meeting wasn't it? He tried to end-run his competition by going directly to the Detroit Council for support but instead his lack of action in building the road to the border became the Number 1 Border issue stumbling block.

If WTC was a private corporation, the Board of Directors would have to consider seriously whether the Chair should still keep his job after this fiasco. Aren't WTC Board members in that position now?

Taxpayers also need to consider whether the Mayor should remain in his job as well after Tunnel revenues have been lost. More importantly, I am tired of the numbers games the Mayor is playing. While it is true that $30 million MAY be spent on the Tunnel Plaza (while in reality, to solve the problem only should cost a few million BLOG May 04, 2006 Paving Paradise To Put Up A Tunnel Parking Lot) only $10 million of that comes from the City. The other $20 million comes from the Senior Levels as Eddie well knows! So much for that as justification for the increase.

Where have our Councillors been as this financial bleeding has been taking place? Why haven't they been asking the multi-million dollar questions instead of just worrying over cutting $1,000 for Tylenol pills for seniors at Huron Lodge. Isn't Councillor Budget on the WTC too? As taxpayers and as owners of the Tunnel, Windsorites deserve better!