Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, September 22, 2006

A Mediator Is Being Appointed

Action on the Privacy Commissioner Front. Full details next week. Stay tuned.

The Mayor** Holds The Key For Harper On The Windsor Border Issue

**No, not that Mayor silly, the REAL Mayor, the one from Detroit.

Kwame Kilpatrick, the Mayor of Detroit, and Stephen Harper, Canada's Prime Minister, may be talking a lot to each other over the next few months. The subject: how to fix the Windsor border. They both have an interest in seeing that road to the border is fixed now and not be delayed by some so-called threatened litigation by Windsor's Mayor. [I am sure that our legal technocrat knows about Provincial uploading powers and Federal constitutional paramountcy, specifically what Bill C-3 says]

Big changes may be coming to Windsor federally and that is why Stephen will listen to Kwame-he's the real powerbroker on the border. It should now be obvious that the NDP in Windsor are in big trouble. Yes that is right, Brian Masse and Joe Comartin may be the last of the NDP members to hold office in Windsor for generations to come.

Clearly the Conservative election machine is gearing up and the 2 Windsor seats in South West Ontario are being targetted. Obviously, a ton of money will be poured into this area now by the Harper Conservatives to win the 2 seats on their way to a national majority Government. Transport Minister Cannon will not only focus his attention in Quebec to win seats, and in BC, but will now direct his troops to deal with the border after the Municipal election is over. No point becoming an election issue.

OK, Ok, you are laughing yourself silly thinking I may have eaten US spinach and something is wrong with my brain. Oh ye of little faith. In a major speech, Prime Minister Harper mentioned Windsor and, more particularly, the Ambassador Bridge. On September 20, in a speech to the prestigious Economic Club of New York, the PM said:

  • "But our partnership on all of these issues depends vitally on our maintaining a secure and efficient border...

    We are operating the largest commercial relationship in the history of the planet.

    Think of how closely linked our economies are - the Detroit-Windsor corridor, for example, the heart of our integrated auto industry and the busiest border in the world -10,000 trucks a day crossing the Ambassador Bridge."
I read that and it took my breath away. Imagine, Stephen Harper knows where Windsor is and has heard about the Ambassador Bridge too! There was no reason for him to put in that reference, yet he did just like Governor Granholm did in her Labour Day speech.

Does this mean that something will actually get done soon? No, not really if Canadians have to make a decision. We cannot figure out on our side what to do yet, where the border route should go and who should own the new crossing.

We need someone to threaten us, to push us, to tell us what to do. Like a big brother does with his small brother.

There is only one person who can solve this problem for us. The only man with the wisdom to know what the correct answer is. The King (or perhaps in this case, the Queen) maker in Michigan, the next US Senator from Michgian, the most powerful person in the State of Michigan right now and in the foreseeable future, the ultimate powerbroker, the political genius because he won: Kwame Kilpatrick, the Mayor of Detroit.

I know that some people have written off the City of Detroit and think that power really resides in Lansing. Some may even have written off Kwame as a significant political force as our Mayor may have thought incorrectly. How foolish. They do not understand the US mayoral system. There are still a lot of voters in Detroit and politicians do not live in a vacuum. They understand power and as one Detroit councillor stated, as I have related before, more people voted for the Governor from Detroit than in all of the combined Downriver communities.

Kwame will determine who the next Governor of Michigan is either by working actively for the Governor or sitting on his hands so that the Republican Devos wins. Now remember that the Governor is term-limited too. This is her last term. Kwame does not have such a restriction. He can run again and again and again. What it means also is that the Democratic Party still has to listen to him as does the Governor, even though she is lame-duck. He has a tremendous influence on the next Democratic choice for Governor.

Just so you, dear reader, understand where he comes from, you need to know a bit about his Mother, Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick. Most of what follows comes from The Congressional Black Caucus website (she is on its Board too):

  • she is in her fifth term as a Congresswoman running for her sixth with no real challenge
  • she is the only Michigan Democrat on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, which authorizes spending for all levels of the federal government
  • as a member of the Transportation Subcommittee and the Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee Congresswoman Kilpatrick plays an integral role in determining the funding of important programs such as highway projects and transportation programs throughout the United States
  • She has been selected to serve as the first chairwomen of the Congressional Black Caucus' Political Action Committee, a national platform.
  • The Capitol Hill newspaper "Roll Call" named Kilpatrick to its list of future Capitol Hill leaders.
  • She is a former City Councilwoman and a long-standing State Rep so she knows her constituents and the border issue.

That is a nice political heritage. It will help Detroit that the City has such a powerful person as its advocate in Washington.

Kwame is no slouch either. After all he won the last Detroit Mayoral election after just about everyone, including DRTP's Marge Byington, wrote him off. He was won a seat in the State House in 1996, became Michigan’s youngest-ever and first African-American House Democratic Leader and in 2001 was elected Mayor of the City of Detroit. In winning, Kwame drew into his camp a whole new generation of voters who will support him and will be his new power base.

He knows how to play power politics too. As an example, the Governor's nominee for Attorney General was not selected but his was! The secretary of state was endorsed by the Labor Caucus and by Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick who the News described as "a major player at the [Democratic] convention." Right after Kwame was re-elected, former Detroit Mayor "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." He received a great deal of the credit for solving the recent Teachers' strike.

Kwame was praised for his actions at the Rosa Parks funeral, an event that may have helped him win the election. "Kilpatrick's classy hosting of such names as former President Bill CLINTON, the Rev. Jesse JACKSON, the Rev. Al SHARPTON and Louis FARRAKAN not only made the incumbent look mayoral, but it dominated news stations." He was viewed "At the end of the election, [as] largely positive, talking about an optimism for the city and it resonated. He did a better job focusing on this...He got his political machine to run when he needed it to run."

A truly important fact to consider though is who helped him this time around get re-elected. As the Detroit News pointed out:

  • "The Rev. Al Sharpton, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, author Michael Eric Dyson and the Nation of Islam's Minister Louis Farrakhan ...came to Detroit to campaign for Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick's re-election, and they all say that with his surprise victory, Kilpatrick could become the next big thing on the national African-American political scene."
  • Jackson went door-to-door with Kilpatrick and did 20 radio spots for him before the election.
  • National Urban League President Marc Morial made a couple of appearances with the mayor
  • Most surprisingly, Farrakhan held a rally in Detroit for the mayor, and the minister's son, Mustafa, campaigned for Kilpatrick. Farrakhan rarely gets involved in political campaigns, but came from Chicago to rally votes for Kilpatrick.

I tell you all of this since it is clear to me at least that the big winner on the US side after Kwame's February letter to the Governor, the Michigan Republican Legislator's budget amendments with the Governor not daring to veto them and her Labour Day speech is the Ambassador Bridge Co. And my suspicion is that it has finally sunk in with the City of Detroit and the State of Michigan that Eddie's recent threats to litigate to stall off the DRIC road to the border could impact negatively the economies of Detroit and Michigan for many years! They cannot and will not tolerate that.

The Windsor Star must believe that the Bridge Co. and Kwame have started up their Tunnel talks. Why else the series of articles culminating in Kwame's Tunnel Vision. Kwame is a lot smarter than they are. Kwame is not going to wait, if true, for Eddie to run the Tunnel into the ground any more than he has already thereby diluting its value to Detroit. He may as well partner, if true, with the most successful border operator in North America, not some Windsor wannabe! Do you think he is going to deal with the Windsor Mayor who almost cost him his job on something big like this? He won't be pushed around by some Canadian politicians and bureaucrats as they tried last time either.

The Governor's Labour Day speech was the answer to the Letter that Kwame had sent 6 months before. She had to make amends and publicly. In it, if you will recall, Kwame said "Together, we need to call upon Windsor and Ontario to do what Detroit and Michigan have long ago accomplished: fix the roads to the current border." That was a wake-up call and the Michigan Legislators picked up on that in Lansing as well. (Remember also the foolish Joint Councils meeting where Eddie admitted he was sitting on $300M of border road money. That did not play well in the US)

Kwame will force Michigan to demand action on the border directly and indirectly through Washington, the family connection being the obvious one as well as his Democratic friends (Kwame is one of the "100 To Watch" of the Democratic Leadership Council, a national network of elected officials and community leaders.). If you think that Stephen Harper's reference to Windsor and the Ambassador Bridge was not important and deliberate, then you are mistaken. Something significant has happened and it was NOT by chance.

It is a signal just like the Governor's speech. It has to mean that things are happening that we do not about, as usual. It may well be that Transport Canada has taken Matthew Moroun's comment in the Bill C-3 hearings to heart and are saying to the Bridge Co. too that they are prepared to talk:

  • "We are asking this committee, and especially Transport Canada, to please put down your sword, set this legislation aside, and instead engage in meaningful dialogue, not just at a very formal hearing to discuss the legalese of this legislation, but rather to discuss and brainstorm and cooperate with one another toward an even more successful Ambassador Bridge for the advantage of the operation, the government, and the public."

It may mean that someone has finally recognized that litigating won't work and that the Bridge Co. has a vested interest in a business that it built up that has to be dealt with. When one analyzes the differences between Canada and the Bridge Co. on Bill c-3, they really are not that far apart.

Why is there the need to fight with a party that has taken on the Canadian (and US) Government before on the ownership issue and won in a dozen year litigation war. [I guess "ownership" mean more to prideful bureaucrats, some of whom are still angry that they lost out on FIRA, than actually running the most efficient border crossing in North America. Doesn't it scare you if they want to use Eddie and his Tunnel as their operational model!]

It does nothing for the border or Windsor to be involved in the litigation process so people are chased away from investing here. I am afraid that if some bureaucrat thinks that the Government can force the Bridge Co. to the table using Bill C-3 or environmental laws or zoning or whatever, then he/she has been living in La-la land too long. He/she needs to understand the real world of business and what can be done if someone threatens the financial viability of a Company. And when it involves a bridge linking two countries, then it is a litigation lawyer's retirement plan dream file.

I trust that the Feds can learn from Eddie’s experience and mistakes. We had the chance to partner with the Bridge Co. on the border and on economic development and we blew it. Now we are irrelevant to them. Kwame chose to work with them and Detroit will share in the gains with jobs and new developments.

It does not matter what we want if the Detroit Mayor is opposed. The new crossing has two sides to it. And one of them happens to land in Kwame's backyard. Kwame will choose where that backyard is located. Kwame has said he wants the new bridge in Detroit but not in a location that will cause more pain. At least he has a postion unlike our Mayor who has lost his Schwartz guru and who now can only sloganeer. The roads to the Interstate system in Detroit are being fixed. Our connection has not yet even been started, never mind even picked during Eddie's term in office.

The Bridge Co. offers a solution that Kwame wants and will get. Kwame will explain the benefits to Stephen and help him make the right decision. Now that is the ultimate YIMBY!

Is Halberstadt Running Now For Mayor Of Windsor.

Ward Three Councillor Alan Halberstadt may as well run for Mayor if he is actually taking shots at the Mayor on the arena on his BLOGsite.

I told you, dear reader, that the Power of the Blog is all-pervasive! No power on Earth can dare stand in the way of BLOGpower, not even the mighty in Windsor!

A perfect example is the BLOGsite of Councillor Halberstadt. To be direct about it, Alan and his colleagues, as individual Councillors, have little voice on Council or with Administration. They can huff and puff on Cogeco or get a sound bite on the news or even a headline in the Star but so what. They can ask Council questions which are ignored for years and then written off when they clean up the list.

Poor Alan was shot down on fixing up the Barn rather than spending uncounted millions on a new East End arena. Even his buddy, Gord Henderson, turned on him after Eddie got through with Gord. In other words, after almost three years on Council, Alan and his colleagues were totally ineffectual on the Arena with no action whatsoever. But now, after a BLOG or two by Alan, everything miraculously happens all at once and he can pat himself on the back for it too:
  1. Eddie caves in
  2. “decision [has to be] made on an arena before next Friday's final day to register for the November 13th election. [or else Eddie has mayoral competition]
  3. In quick order, a special meeting of City Council was called -- next Wedneday at 6 p.m. -- to debate the arena sweepstakes. [Now it is put off until early October AFTER the day nominations close]
  4. City Councillors are to receive the long-awaited administration report electronically today”

Sounds like the White Rabbit in the Disney movie of Alice in Wonderland who has to get things done now after stalling things off for 3 years until the last minute before the elections:

  • I'm late
    I'm late
    For a very important date.
    No time to say "Hello." Goodbye.
    I'm late, I'm late, I'm late.

If you believe this stuff, then I have a Tunnel under the Detroit River to sell to you because you'd really be in Wonderalnd.

Do you really believe that Eddie Francis is going to worry about Dr. Wonham? Isn’t it amazing that Administration's Council report just happens to be ready now after all of this time?

Eddie has his own time-table for whatever he is going to do and nothing but nothing ever changes it. What could be better than an answer just after nominations close so that the Mayor and Council have another check-mark. By announcing something will be done, that will try and prevent anyone else putting in a last-minute nomination! Of course, it will be up to the next Council to actually do something but this Council can pretend it acted.

Such perfect timing isn’t it. And set up so beautifully too. Do you really think that Alan would commit political suicide by going against Eddie and Henderson? Get real! And the sight of poor Eddie panicking over this is a joke. It’s so amazing that the media picked up on Alan’s BLOGsite so quickly too, especially the Star.

Come on, do you really think that Alan is going to break Council confidence on the arena or any other matter by blogging something that could get him in serious trouble.

Alan better be careful what he writes from now on...They may feel that he accomplishes more in one Blog than he and his colleagues have accomplished in their entire term. His constituents on November 13 may think he is a better Blogger than Councillor and decide to send him on a new career path.

The Parks Champion

Did you see Ward One Councillor Dave Brister portraying himself as the Champion of Superior Park. I did not see the show but I was told that he was interviewed about it by Joe McParland after the Council Meeting recently.

Unfortunately for Councillor Brister, a "pesky environmentalist" saw the show too and decided to write to the Councillor "congratulating" him. He wrote to the Councillor on September 13. I wonder if that is an omen for November 13 too:

  • From: Alan McKinnon
    Sent: Wednesday, September 13, 2006 4:04 PM
    To: ''
    Subject: SuperiorPark

    09 13 2006

    Dear Councillor Brister,

    I want to applaud your position taken in respect to the possible sale of Superior Park, as revealed by your comments on "Council Wrap" with Joe McPartland on September 11, 2006.

    Your statement that people who buy or build homes near a park have a right to expect that the park will not be sold or re-zoned for other purposes is a position I believe has broad support not just in Windsor, but across our entire region and country.

    As an elected representative, your commitment to informing and receiving input from all affected residents near Superior Park reflects the very best of municipal representation.

    I wish you every success in your efforts to preserve Superior Park. As a pesky environmentalist, I hope you will consider applying the same principles that inform your position on Superior Park to any consideration of re-zoning within the park lands of the Ojibway Complex.

    Specifically, the Spring Garden natural area is identified in the city's Official Plan as a "community park, prairie and woodland".

    A close reading of Sam Schwartz's report on possible routes to a new border crossing reveals that a route through Spring Garden and Ojibway Provincial Reserve would have the greatest number of residential impacts of any of his four final route options.

    Since tunnelling has never been suggested for the portion of the route that goes through Spring Garden, the impact on area residents would be particularly severe.


    Alan McKinnon
    Citizens Protecting Ojibway Wilderness

Will the Councillor reply? And if so, what can he possibly say? How does he reconcile preserving Superior Park with possibly damaging Ojibway?

After that interview, it is no wonder that Councillor Brister chose not to be interviewed by John Fairley on Face-to-Face. Wasn't he the only Councillor who did not appear?

I wonder what shoe leather tastes like.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Another Day Gone

A long wait I am sure

A Transport Canada Contest

I took this material from the Transport Canada website,
"Surface Infastructure Programs-Bridges"

The contest is open to residents of Canada and the US only who are over the age of majority. The prize is a coffee and muffin or bagel at a Tim Hortons location near me.

You are responsible for your own transportation to get there and YOU have to clear Customs if you are a non-resident. Good luck on that.
[Note I reserve the right to eat and drink your prize if you are late!]

The skill-testing question is: how much money has been wasted so far on useless border work

The questions:
1) What is missing from this website
2) Why

All responses will be posted (provided that the language is appropriate for family viewing). The one with the closet correct answer wins.

Since no one else follows the rules in relation to the border matter, neither will I! Therefore, my arbitrary decision is final!

Just to give you some background:
  • "The Surface Infastructure Programs Directorate (Bridges) is the focal point for the government's involvement in Canada's bridges.

    The Directorate monitors issues and developments with respect to:

    1) international structures that are owned and/or operated either privately or by federal authorities;
    2) interprovincial structures owned and/or operated by other federal departments or provincial governments; and
    3) provincial or municipal structures owned and/or operated
    by provincial or local governments.

International Structures

Blue Water Bridge (Point Edward, Ontario - Port Huron, Michigan)

Clair, New Brunswick - Fort Kent, Maine Bridge

Detroit - Windsor Tunnel (Windsor, Ontario - Detroit, Michigan)

Edmundston, New Brunswick - Madawaska, Maine Bridge

Lewiston - Queenston Bridge (Queenston, Ontario - Lewiston, New York)

Ogdensburg - Prescott Bridge (Prescott, Ontario - Ogdensburg, New York)

Peace Bridge (Fort Erie, Ontario - Buffalo, New York)

Pigeon River Bridge (Thunder Bay, Ontario - Duluth Minnesota)

Rainbow Bridge (Niagara Falls, Ontario - Niagara Falls, New York)

Saint Leonard, New Brunswick - Van Buren, Maine Bridge

Sault Ste. Marie International Bridge (Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario - Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan)

Seaway International Bridge (Cornwall, Ontario - Rooseveltown, New York)

St. Croix, New Brunswick - Vanceboro, Maine Bridge

Thousand Islands Bridge System (Ivy Lea, Landsdowne, Ontario - Collins Landing, Alexandria Bay, New York)

Whirlpool Rapids Bridge (Niagara Falls, Ontario - Niagara Falls, New York)

"Campaign" Kick-Off Speech

Here it is. My speech delivered on CBC radio. Actually, I heard it was broadcast twice, once in the morning and then the afternoon. Make your vote count---only vote for me.

And just in case you do not know, I am NOT running for office.... however being Mayor does have its attraction and nominations are not closed yet and all of those telephone calls........naw I had better not.
  • My friends, who would have thought three years ago that I would be running for election today?

    We voted then for a young, bright, smart and energetic Mayor who told us that he would not be the typical politician.

    We demanded change and elected a Council that promised us that things would be different, that things would get done. They were action-oriented.

    They all promised us an open and transparent government that would listen and be responsive to the people.

    Ask yourself Ronald Reagan’s famous question: are you better off now than you were since the last election?

    Do you remember 3 years ago when the Senior Levels tried to impose a border solution on Windsor? Our Council went out and hired David Estrin as our expert lawyer and threatened litigation. Is it better now? Hardly. The Senior Levels are trying to impose the DRIC road on us today. So what are we doing? We are retaining David Estrin as our lawyer and are threatening litigation.

    The arena….why that was supposed to have been built already like our funky bus terminal. The terminal was supposed to have been finished for Super Bowl. I have no idea where the arena stands now. I am petrified that our civic leaders may want to go it alone and build a monument in the East End that will cost around $70-75 million, and probably way more.

    If you think our finances are under control, think again. Our debt in 2007 will be around $60 million more that it is now. Our reserves, already amongst the lowest in Ontario, are dropping like a stone. We have been warned that our post election budget may result in higher taxes or a reduction in services. Enwin has had major financial woes as has the Tunnel to Detroit but we have still not been told the full story.

    We cannot blame our Mayor and Council for the woes in the auto industry and the loss to our economy of thousands of jobs. But where have they been hiding? Have their heads been in the sand too long? Our unemployment rate is about the highest in Canada. Our housing starts are at the lowest level since 1984.

    We can and should hold them responsible for acting in such a leisurely manner on economic development. After three years, we still do not have a CEO hired for our Development Commission. We have not figured out a way to diversify our economy. And who would want to set up a new business in a City where the border does not work

    Yes my friends, the situation we are facing in Windsor is grim. There are no easy answers. There are no quick solutions.

    We need to elect people who are successful in life, who have achieved and who are prepared to roll up their sleeves to make Windsor a winner again.

    We need people who can work with the Senior Levels to solve problems, not snub them and then ask why no one listens to Windsor. We need people who can work with our unions and our business leaders to destroy the negative image that this City conveys. We need to draw upon the skills of our successful business leaders to attract new industry here to create jobs

    We need people who are neither penny pinchers nor spendthrifts but who understand that a City needs to set priorities, to decide what are the essential services for our Government. We have to stay away from building monuments to ego while sewers overflow when it rains and roads remain pot-holed.

    There is still time for good people to run. Closing date for nominations is September 29 at 5PM.

    On election day, I trust that these people will have your support. It is in our best interest to have them, and us, succeed!

    For CBC Radio, this is Ed Arditti

Handicapping The Council Horserace

It's almost a week now before nominations close for the election of the Mayor and Council. You'd never know it since it has been so quiet, even in the media. You would almost think that the incumbents agreed, in another in camera meeting, not to do anything to stir up the pot so that taxpayers would forget there is an election this year. In this way, they could all come back for four more years.

Sure there are lots of people running but who knows it. The Star claims that "Several people have been approached by businessmen in the community to run against Francis." Without a mayoral race, the incumbents on Council have a strong advantage. It will be difficult to unseat them since, frankly, who cares what prospective councillors think the issues are. Even the Labour Council told candidates to butt out of their meeting and say nothing (while letting the incumbents say what they propose to do if elected!)

The races in several of the Wards will be hot and heavy. If voter turnout is low, in some cases, anyone could win. Let me give you my best guess about is going on in in the Wards where we actually have a contest now.


Will it be a race between the former Mr. STOPDRTP and the new Mr. TUNNEL as the top vote-getter for the two spots in the Ward? Or will people remember Drew Dilkens from the last time around when he came in third? What about newcomer Greg Baggio who is working like crazy now or former Clerk Tom Lynd who has the background and experience to be a Councillor?

With Councillor Zuk not running, is the Ward that is notorious for tossing out Councillors going to do it again?

Most would say that Councillor Budget is an automatic winner with his huge vote last time. But his lack of action on the border has offended his community base and he is almost "knee jerk" when money items come up on the agenda. While Al Teshuba is getting some publiciity for name recognition, the whole Tunnel thing is a yawn as a senior Councillor admitted to a friend of mine privately the other week. Al's pushing for a DRTP tunnel will hurt him as well. Anything DRTP is too scary in the STOPDRTP corridor!

My view--any two of the five main candidates could win with the only sure bet being Drew Dilkens


Will Chris Schnurr be able to knock off one of the "joined at the hip" Councillors? Councillors Jones and Postma are portraying themselves as a team working hard for the good of the Ward.

However, there is a big undercurrent of discontent in the Ward that Schnurr may be able to capitalize on. There is a real split developing between Sandwich residents and the rest of the Ward. The two Councillors are being viewed as ignoring anything in the Ward other than the favoured Sandwich.

The Councillors were unable to prevent the arena going to the East End and have done little on the border. The urban village-----Councillor Jones still claims that developers are just waiting for an RFP before the West End is transformed. They have been sitting in the wings for a long time now.

Schnurr's vision for Ward 2 is very different than theirs with a different political philosophy. He is much more of a "red" Tory; progressive on social issues, conservative on business matters, investment and jobs. That approach may find support in a Ward that has a low voter turnout. Will Schnurr's secret campaign strategy surprise the incumbents as well? Now that should be fun to watch for.

Jones should have strong union support and is popular personally. The race should be for the Number 2 spot if Jones' cannot bring Postma along with him.


I just do not see the incumbents losing, especially after the last vote is analyzed.

I expect that Councillor Valentinis will work harder this time around since Councillor Halberstadt beat him in the last election and he may have mayoral thoughts for the next one. Alan always works as if his life depends on him being Councillor. And his supporters want him as mayor. Whoever wins the top spot could be the one to beat next time around for the City's highest position.

I do not see Tony Blak making any in-roads here. He is quite bright and articulate and seems to know the issues from my conversation with him. Rumours are out there still that he may run for Mayor. In my view, he has a better chance to be Mayor, even as a relative unknown politically, than to become a Councillor in the Ward. We do need an experienced business person on Council. Imagine, a bakey owner competing against a former bakery owner. Both will knead a lot of dough if there is going to be a race!


The Vegas line is that David Cassivi is a shoo-in and that we are awaiting the coronation of Bill Marra as the next Mayor in 4 years after he comes back as Councillor now. But the bookies are wrong! The big unknown factor will be the Mayor in this Ward. If Eddie is acclaimed, the E-machine will do everything in its power to ensure that Marra and Cassivi are not returned to Council.

This Ward will have the toughest fight. It will be expected that both the NDP and CAW will provide workers for Councillor Lewenza. He must win if he is to take over MP Joe Comartin's seat if the rumours are true about him not running again. But now voters know now that Junior is not his dad and his perfomance on Council has been very uneven. His support for anything the Mayor wants may well provoke a backlash against him.

My view is that Bill Marra would have had an easier fight running for Mayor than he will running for Council. He can be expected to have his Liberal friends bring out workers to assist him but they helped cost him the mayoral election the last time around too with some bad tactical advice. Will Bill not running for Mayor hurt his chances with voters? Lewenza used some strong language against him since it took Bill so long to decide where he would run which could mean a negative campaign.

Bill is viewed as probably the most attractive candidate in the City but will the Mayor allow him to be the Leader of the Opposition for 4 years? We all know that Eddie folds under attack. He is the attackor and wilts as the Teflon attackee quickly. Watch for vicious attacks on Bill as the campaign progresses.

Will David Cassivi fall finally as the two main political parties help their favoured son win? David certainly does not have the resources to match their people-power. He was hurt personally by the unfair and vicious Windsor Star "trash" attack but more by the Mayor's lack of support when David took the hit for doing Eddie's work. That to me was the sign that Eddie did not want him back although David is always "loyal" to the incumbent Mayor. The uncalled-for and unprovoked attack on David, which someone hoped would hurt him, will work to his advantage by gaining him sympathy.

I expect David to win again. He does not need legions of people since he is so well-known No one will beat the Senator...all he has to do is make sure his lawn signs are out there, knock on doors so his constituents know he is running again and he is back! We need a senior voice of reason as the next Council takes office.

The dark horse in this election is Ed Sleiman. Believe it or not, he almost knocked off Ken Lewenza the last time, losing by only a few hundred votes. If you want to make big money with the Vegas bookies bet on the 100-1 shot Sleiman. If he works as hard as he did the last time, he will give everyone a run for the money. You read it here first...if he plays his cards properly, he could be the #1 vote-getter in the Ward. I am not going to reveal his strategy but if he follows through on it, his election would be the big news of the evening.


Imagine Sean Connery coming to your door and asking for your vote on election day. Well Percy Hatfield is no 007 but he's the closest person to "star power" that we have given his long CBC City Hall reporter job. I have heard that his name recognition is very strong which helps a new candidate.

Jo-Anne Gignac is someone I do not understand at all. What she stands for has always mystified me. Smart lady, asks lots of good questions but I cannot get a good grasp what her political philosophy is. She's a Budgeteer so that should help her out and Henderson likes her so she should be fairly secure.

I must admit I know little about the other candidates but unless they already have good name recognition or make a big splash and quickly, I do not see them coming close.

So that's it..My views. There is still a week or so to go before nominations close and we shall see if there are any surprises.

Oh and as for mayoral race, I'll comment when someone announces they are running against Eddie. I mean...the salary is good...lots of free meals...ribbon cutting ceremonies...meeting important people...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I Am Tired Of It Too

Yes I know. You ignore the top BLOG every day since you are sick and tired of seeing this calendar. Well think of me having to put an "X" every night!

To me, the matter is of vital importance. It is to obtain information that I as a taxpayer should be entitled to see since it impacts me and my City.

I'll talk about this more in another BLOG. If it bothers you still, ignore it. It bothers me and I won't.

My CBC "Campaign Kick-Off" Speech

I am not sure what time it will be broadcast but listen to CBC 1540 today or tomorrow morning to hear what I say with my "campaign speech!"

Windsorites May Not Apply For This Job

Some of my readers reacted to the story about the search for a new Executive Director of the Economic Development Commission. (My error, it is now the CEO). Just in case you did not see the comment I posted, one reader told me that the ads are being placed in the Globe and Mail and on websites for the Economic Development Officers of Ontario and the International Development Officers Association. A copy of the ad follows the BLOG.

I think that a rep from the Star's Advertising Department or Management should contact the Mayor's Chief of Staff, Norma Coleman, immediately and demand that an ad be placed in the Windsor Star. After all, should only people who read the Globe or go by a fluke to the websites be made aware of the job and be allowed to apply? Or is the subliminal message being delivered that there is no one in this City smart enough or good enough to do this job?

As is usual, I received a comment from a reader that I thought you would find of interest. Obviously, he has experience with creating jobs in this City and has a point of view:

  • "I finally read your non-Development Commission story. What is even worse about this job ad is that The City of Windsor, with Roman Dzus, has one of the best Development Commissioners in Ontario (although interim) and thus there is NO need to look for someone.

    Any top drawer person with lots of experience in the same size or larger City would never in a hundred years give up their job to come to Windsor so what they will end up with a bunch of novice DC's who would like to move up to a bigger "B" sized City from a smaller "C" or "D" sized City or losers that currently run a "B" size DC and want to escape because they are about to be ousted for their incompetence. Of course they will interview well and have lots of rosy references (after all the group they currently work for want to get rid of them).

    The problem with this, of course, is that this new person would need to go through a long learning curve. It is risky since no CV or interview can really get at the ability for someone to meet this challenge AND, at best, they would end up with someone only a tiny bit better than who they currently have in the position, more likely equal or less talented. They would be no further ahead, have spent a ton of money, would be taking a lot of risk, delayed getting on with the job (they have already delayed two years) AND most importantly would be undermining Roman's ability to do his job if not troubling him totally. If he is displaced and walks then this City is in even bigger trouble.

    Can you imagine what is going through his mind at this point. He has been given near zero resources and even less authority to do a very difficult job where the politicians have screwed up big time. The City has one of the worse reputations in the Country: Unions scare away many potential new companies, the old industrial based is getting clobbered and they are trying to do economic development by Committee.

    I guess they must believe that a 'sucker is born every minute.' Unbelievable ... no I correct myself, given the people that run this City, this is very believable."


Chief Executive Officer:
Economic Development

The City of Windsor and the County of Essex, on behalf of its seven constituent municipalities, have approved a new, proactive Regional Economic Development Strategy. The vision is to create an economic environment that will continue to provide a high standard of living and quality of life for the residents of the region. A copy of the strategy can be found on:

The newly elected board is seeking a qualified Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to lead the regional economic development organization, the Windsor-Essex County Development Commission, in the implementation of this bold new strategy.

The CEO will be accountable to the Board of Directors for results and will work with the Board of Directors and the economic development team to develop the strategic priorities and goals for the Commission, establish and implement effective business plans. As the leader of the organization, the CEO will have responsibility for building, managing, and leading the economic development team. The CEO will direct the active recruitment of new business and the retention and expansion of existing business in the Windsor and Essex County region. In addition, the CEO will provide leadership in the development of an extensive network to foster economic development within the region.

The Board is looking for an entrepreneurial individual who enjoys the challenges of building something brand new. The ideal candidate will have demonstrated leadership skills, a well-developed network system, experience in the economic development field, and also possess a thorough understanding of the global economy and how North American regions must respond to remain competitive. A master at communications and relationship building, the ideal candidate will have experience in balancing core operations with high profile initiatives and in building and maintaining a united team.

Academic criteria will include a post-secondary degree in Business Administration, Economics, Public Administration or a related field. A designation in economic development will be considered an asset.

Interested persons are asked to submit a letter outlining their qualifications to:

618 Greenwood Centre
3200 Deziel Drive
Windsor, ON
N8W 5K8

ATTENTION: Ms. Sally Larkin

Fax: 519-251-3530

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Even More Of The Same

Who knows when the Privacy Commissioner will even contact me. No wonder citizens do not get information in a timely fashion.

Unfair Blog Competition

It may be over now. Finished. Done. Kaput! It's a City Hall plot, that's what it is!

The Blogmeister has worked diligently over the past year to uncover the real story behind the headlines to keep you informed and aware.

Notwithstanding the huge number of in camera sessions, you, dear reader, have been privy to some of the deep, dark secrets that City Hall did not want you to know about. You have been able to read in this BLOGsite materials that never saw the light of day in the traditional media. How many stories have been revealed here first?

But now I have competition, unfair competition, if I may be so rude. It is bad enough that I have to compete against the resources of the mighty Windsor Star, now I have to compete against an insider---Councillor Alan Halberstadt.

The good Councillor has decided that as part of his election website, he is going to do a BLOG. Now I don't mind if he does a BLOG about his campaign experiences but about City politics. Come on now, play fair GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

How can I compete against a guy who has the inside stuff? I speculate, he tells what is really going on. I phone around begging for a favour, he has it handed to him on a silver platter by Administration. I have to figure out what the Mayor or a Councillor really means, he just uses his Blackberry and finds out immediately.

Seriously, I welcome Alan to the world of the Blogosphere. The more we learn about the City the better for us all. I would hope that others follow suit. We need some true competition to the only newspaper in town after all as you shall soon discover! I still have a scoop or two up my sleeve!

Oh yes, I suppose I should give you his Web address. He's got some stuff on there that is very interesting and potentially of great significance. Reluctantly mind you

A Good News Day In The Star

Lots of small items that interested me especially in the Letters section:


Terry Kennedy and Mary Ann Cuderman are the border twins of the West End. They both spend a lot of time supporting their views as to what should be done, even though my view differs a lot from theirs.

When you read Terry's Letter today in the Star, you will figure out that my theory yesterday re Malden Road was not that far off (one of the Councillors was a big booster of the concept). This clearly means as well that Spring Garden ANSI may be sacrificed for "progress."

And those of you who accepted that there was no plan to announce an EA hearing, as disclosed here, for the lands west of Huron Church Road and that no thought had been given to it, think again after hearing about the September 5 Council meeting!

My question: is this a Province-Windsor deal to be sprung on the Feds or are the Feds involved too? My suspicion is that the Feds did not know a thing about it.


Greg Baggio, running in Ward 1, took top spot in the Letters column today. He talked about "the State of New Jersey's role as a distribution hub to the Eastern seaboard of the United States." As you will recall, that is exactly what I have been advocating in my BLOGs.

However, Greg needed to go further as I have done. Of course it is NOT politically correct in Windsor to talk about working with a successful entrepreneur.

Obviously, we need a border that works if we are to be able to distribute goods. Fort Erie understands this while our Council cannot even arrange to have a CEO for our Development Commission hired after three years!

Why I support a relationship between the Bridge Co. and the City should be clear to anyone:
  1. the Bridge Co. runs the best border crossing in North America
  2. their Parent Co.'s major business is distribution
  3. look what they are proposing and actually doing in Detroit.

What a joint effort they and the City could have made over the past few years such that our dependence on autos would not have been so great and so devastating when people were laid off! We might actually have had now one of the fastest growing areas in Canada as New Jersy does. And the border would have been smooth-running so that business would not be chased away

When was the last time Councillor STOPDRTP/Budget, Dave Brister, in Ward 1, Greg's incumbent opponent, talked with the Bridge Co.? Oh and didn't Councillor Dave also threaten litigation over the border road?


Read this and have a good chuckle about an arena that will probably come in at over $80 million when finally done, if ever, not including horrific cost over-runs such as at the bus terminal.

  • "With plans being developed to build a new twin-pad arena next year in Essex at a cost of $8.5 million or more, nobody should expect to get discounts on ice time , council agreed Monday...If we're looking at building a new facility, reducing fees may not be the direction we want to go in," [Recreation director Doug Sweet]said."


Every few days we see another supportive Letter in the Star pushing the Raceway arena. "We have had the opportunity to review the Toldo and Rosati Family Ice Track Project. This is a win/win project for the people and the city of Windsor. Our city is fortunate to have this opportunity" is today's contribution. I am sure that you may even have seen the Project Ice Track lawn signs although they are very hard to read when driving.

To be blunt, this is hardly the way to get support for one's project in this City. Is Councillor Halberstadt correct when he says:

  • "It has become evident to the west-end proponents – the Toldo and Rosati families -- that Mayor Francis opposes their proposal... The mayor is said to favor an east-end four-plex proposal...The Collavino family has ready-made plans to build this facility."

Playing nice with the Mayor and being co-opted by the system means they are dead in the water! They are engaged in a vicious battle and they are losing it badly in my opinion. They are letting the Mayor determine the time-table and he has held them off successfully. They obviously listened to Gord Henderson who told them to cool their jets. Instead they should have recalled that when they were obnoxious and very vocal in the public eye, they actually got somewhere.

Alan states "it would be prudent for the mayor to stretch this whole mess out until after the election." Prudent for Councillors too who would otherwise have to answer how they can justify this outpouring of cash when Windsor is in trouble! Once the Mayor is in for another 4 years and is not going to run for re-election again as a 2-term only Mayor, who can stop him!

Alan has also said that

  • "Dr. David Wonham, a citizen who has been involved with the Ice Track proposal,[and the Chimczuk Museum Inc.] has indicated that he will run for mayor against incumbent Eddie Francis if the proposal to build a 6,500-seat arena, plus extra pad, at Windsor Raceway, is delayed beyond next week."

The effect of that statement will really be to draw out who might actually run against the Mayor in the last few days before nominations close. An interesing name has been dropped by several sources recently. As was said, this person is looking for work so being a Mayor might not be so bad after all.

No offence to the good doctor whom I have met before, Dr. Wonham running will hardly terrorize the Mayor. Now if Alan had said Joe Krall was going to run....

A Terminally Classic Mega-Project

I had hoped to hear a good debate on the new Bus Terminal last night. I did not.

The result was inevitable when you heard that we paid already $1.7 million for the land and $500,000 plus for architectural and engineering fees. As well, we would lose $2 million in Provincial funds. We were so far into the deal that what else could Council do but approve the building of the bus terminal even with the huge cost over-runs.

What a fiscal disgrace. This mini mega-project financial mess fits into the Danish Professor's book perfectly. Original cost of building was $6M less the cost of land at $1.7M or $4.3M. Actual cost is $1.5M higher than original building cost. Doing the math, $1.5/$4.3 equals a project 35% over budget. Can you imagine what the arena extra costs will be on our City "go it alone" extravaganza!

I normally do not reprint large parts of a previously written BLOG but I am doing so this time because the deal is such a bad one for the City economically in my opinion. I wish these questions had been answered at Council so citizens could see how poor this deal is. I listened to Councillors trying to justify what was being done and was disgusted. Did you hear anyone talk about the costs of running the terminal last night? It is all a City issue now since it is our terminal. How are those costs shared over time?

We need some real business people on Council. What scares me is that the same people who negotiated this deal and approved it may still be around to negotiate other business transactions for us after the election. I wonder what the Keg parking deal is or the sub-lease at Canderel or the negotiations over land for the East End arena. It troubles me even more when they talk about Public/Private Partnerships because that allows negotiations with a "Single Source."
  1. Francis said the old bus terminal will most likely be sold. To whom and at what price? (Perhaps Burger King can now move here since their other land purchase deal fell apart) But what if the $800,000 value for Greyhound's land is wrong and less is received. Who makes up the short-fall, the City?
  2. For Greyhound's remaining $1.4 million , they pay $48,000 per year for 30 years. It looks like no interest is paid by Greyhound. Now someone has to pay for the construction costs upfront so who does that? Perhaps one of the math geniuses can figure out the present value of that sum of money to see if there is a shortfall too
  3. But wait a minute, some of that capital amount is going to pay the terminal's operating costs. How can that be done? So we are NOT receiving $48,000 per year for the cost but less.
  4. The City gets a 7.5% commission for selling bus tickets. Is that the same rate as travel agents or lower? (I have seen that in some Greyhound promotions, the rate is 10%). Can Greyhound cut commission rates?
  5. $64,000 is the building operating costs. What are the total operating costs?
  6. If operating costs go up over the 30 years, who pays for the increase
  7. Does Greyhound have exclusivity in the building for bus service and how much did they pay for that?
  8. To become a 50-50 partner, isn't Greyhound's contribution less than 50% and the City's more

This is another example of amateurs playing entrepreneurs with taxpayer money and not understanding what they are doing.

  • We are told that the private sector is a better negotiator than the public sector, especially when the City ran after Greyhound to do this deal. So that means taxpayers will be taken in every single P3 deal we do . And this is something to be proud of!
  • Who negotiated a deal that if costs increased, as they have, Greyhound pays none of them
  • Who negotiated a deal that gives 50% of the building to Greyhound even though they pay less than 50% of the cost (forgetting now about the Province's contribution)
  • Do you mean to tell me that Council is so naive not to undertstand that 2000 estimated costs would not be the same in 2006 actual and that the amount to be paid out was much higher. Where was Administration in not providing this information in a timely fashion?
  • Can you believe that this project took 6 years to achieve...6 years! At this, pace with an arena deal taking 20 years as another example, we will never do a border deal until our grandchildren's days.

I was most amused at the Mayor speaking on this subject. He rarely speaks at Council. However, he had to fit this project into his pretend economic revitalization of the downtown that has not achieved anything for 3 years. He talked "soft costs" language to justify a financial mess so it won't stick to him. But as Councillor Zuk said--a big checkmark, so that all is now well with the world!

Oh and the new buzz word---who dreams up these things at City Hall---is no longer the urban village but "the new urbanism." Eddie cannot have Bill Marra's words haunting him for four years if by chance Bill should win in Ward 4.

But do not worry if it is a dumb deal. According to the Star, Mayor Francis "said the bulk of the city's cost will come from the federal government's gas tax subsidy and not from Windsor taxpayers." Whew, that makes me feel so much better now. We are wasting instead other money that we could have used for other works in the City.

My goodness, if the best we can show for the growth of a new Downtown urbanism is the Keg and a bus terminal, then we are in serious trouble. How many bus terminal patrons will be able to afford dinner at the Keg anyway? I am not sure that the Casino brings in their big spenders on Greyhound buses do they. And don't even get me going about the Cleary and St. Clair students as the salvation of Downtown and the "they need a bus terminal" justification.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Action This Week

I doubt it but we shall see

Is There A New Border Compromise Route

Good morning Malden Road residents. You are the new border road!

Will you be waking up one morning from a good night's sleep, just like the residents of Todd Lane or Riberdy Road before you, to discover out of the blue that your homes may be taken away from you for a new truck highway? Is there a new, "old" compromise border route? [Click the photo to enlarge it]

This BLOG is pure speculation so be warned upfront. I have no idea whether it is true or not and neither do my sources. It is based on pure hunch since certain events have taken place that seem out of character. When something is illogical, it forces people to ask why and to put together pieces of a puzzle. One may not come up with the exact answer but, quite often, one can get very close to the truth. This Blog is meant to be nothing more than a thought-provoker for you.

There is no doubt that the City needs a route to the border, and may have one. In fact, it may have had one right from the beginning. You never reveal all your cards at the beginning of a poker game do you?

The City cannot just rant and rave and shout its negative slogans. That gets tiresome after awhile and is not at all productive. They need a border road whose objectives are to keep vehicles away as much as possible from the Ambassador Bridge and to discredit the City's own WALTS Road that would lead to the Bridge. The road also has to go to Brighton Beach.

The bargaining chip in this for the City is a Customs plaza at Brighton Beach which was never intended to be an "industrial park." It was the lever to get money out of the Senior Levels for a Lauzon Road/E C Road upgrade eventually. That has been the goal of the City for a very long time. I suspect that this "compromise" road has been around too.

When the Schwartz route was introduced, I think even the Mayor was shocked at the strength of the pesky environmentalists over using Ojibway as a route to the border, even if it was tunnelled. He expected some outcry naturally but he expected also to fool people over Schwartz and have them drown out the tree-hugging, rattle-snake loving CPOW supporters. He gambled and lost when even DRIC/Cansult supported them!

Eddie learned a lesson from that as we saw in the Tecumseh meeting and the Resolution passed there. Do not talk about a specific route but just talk about an EA west of Huron Church to study all alternatives. Remember what Schwartz's Marko Paranosic said in a Henderson column:

  • "'s now clear the Schwartz plan's one mistake was drawing a specific line through the grasslands.

    He said if they had produced a yellow fuzzy swath like the DRICP did, as many as 50 potential routes could have been considered."

But never give up is the rule, even if it makes no sense, and carry a grudge to get even too. Why else would Eddie have talked about Ojibway when he threatened a lawsuit recently. He knew that his reference to the Ojibway Nature Reserve being tunnelled would be like a red cape to a bull when the Star published it. It would immediately provoke outrage amongst the tree-huggers and, more importantly, also divert their attention from his real route:

  • "He said the Schwartz proposal, which was commissioned by the city and completed by New York traffic expert Sam Schwartz, moves the traffic off city streets and creates a tunnel under the Ojibway natural area. "They've not even looked at that alternative," Francis said."

Eddie got in his dig but he may have signalled what he was thinking too. Someone is still looking to build a road that will impact that area.

Behind the scenes, there may be a compromise solution being worked on. Rather, it may be the real City position being put forward since Schwartz was a mere diversion.

In a sense the economic situation will be more helpful to the Mayor to ram something through the Ojibway Complex since we desperately need short-term infrastructure jobs and time for economic diversification. We need to find a way to keep the local economy moving as we wean ourselve off the auto industry and the unions re-adjust to the new reality. We need a border that works if we want new investment here for our new EDC CEO to try to get for us.

To accomplish the objectives, and if most of Ojibway can be saved, then who will be around to complain other than the Nature extremists who will be positioned as wanting to save grass over children's health and lives and our economy! We will see the attacks as Henderson has done before:

  • "It speaks volumes about our society's twisted priorities that maintaining a strip of tall grass prairie in a pristine state takes precedence over protecting the quality of life of generations of Windsor residents...

    I'm all in favour of grasses, rare or otherwise. But sacrificing entire neighbourhoods on their behalf?

    There must be a better way."

It is a good tactic if you did not know about it in advance. If what I am writing about is true, and obviously I am not on the inside, then now you do too and will see this for what it is.

Why not be honest about it all? Open and transparent government and all that.

So since we get no information, let's start speculating so you can understand what is behind all of this.

Prior to July 2006, The Spring Garden ANSI was the only protected area in this region that had a population of the endangered Massasauga Rattlesnake. In fact "The Federal Habitat Stewardship (HSP) program and, more specifically, the Corporation of the City of Windsor's 'Tallgrass Prairie and Savanna Habitat Acquisition: Spring Garden Natural Area, Windsor, ON Project' (aka Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake Habitat Acquisition Project: Spring Garden Prairie) has provided a total of $1,250,000 to the Spring Garden Prairie Project since 2001. "

  • "The Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake, Sistrurus catenatus, is the only venomous snake still found in Ontario. Although the venom is potent, this snake's small size and retiring habits make it a minor risk to humans....Rattlesnakes were common in the Windsor area fifty years ago but their population has seriously declined with development and urbanization of the area....Ojibway supports small populations...Due to the rapidly disappearing habitat and declining population, the eastern massasauga rattlesnake has been officially designated as threatened and is protected from harassment or killing under Ontario's Wildlife Conservation Act."

In 2003, home construction in the Lasalle Woodlot area uncovered a nest of Massasaugas. As an endangered species, the snake has a "recovery plan" and a "recovery team". The recovery team took the snakes, including a pregnant female, to the Toronto Zoo. These snakes were successfully raised, and the team proposed a plan to reintroduce the snakes to the Ojibway Provincial Prairie Reserve.

Massasauga's are considered a "keystone" species of the tallgrass prairie ecosystem. Reestablishing a population in the Provincial Reserve was considered a priority to the recovery team, as the Provincial Park has the greatest degree of protection of any of the areas within the Ojibway Complex. Indeed it was designated a provincial park because it is one of the very few remnants of tallgrass prairie in Ontario, and has been studied and shown to be the richest in terms of rare plants and animals.

It seems that the recovery teams proposal to put the snakes into the Provincial Reserve was not approved initially.

The 2 areas of the Ojibway Complex most directly threatened by the Schwartz bypass/border route are Spring Garden and the Ojibway Prairie Provincial Reserve. The Provincial Preserve's higher degree of protection as a natural area is reflected in Schwartz's proposed "tunnel". No tunnel was ever proposed for Spring Garden.

The best thing Spring Garden had going for it in terms of the battle against Schwartz was its uniqueness as the only protected area in the region with a population of a federally protected species: Massasaugas.

However, MNR approval was received in May 2006 and the snakes were released in June into the Ojibway Prairie. There is now an interpretive sign in the Reserve that gives some details. The snakes are being tracked via implants and radio-telemetry devices.

With the reintroduction of snakes into the Provincial reserve, Spring Garden lost its best chip against Schwartz. Spring Garden is no longer the sole protected area with a population of Massasaugas.

If snakes are to be re-introduced in the Prairie, then the Spring Garden portion of the route could remain, but the portion of the route going through the Provincial Prairie could be rerouted parallel to Malden Road. The City could defuse the arguments of pesky environmentalists since the protected area was now Ojibway and not Spring Garden. The rattlesnake people would be happy that their snakes had a home and so would not object or raise a big fuss. In fact, they would have to support what was done Pooof, one group of naturists gone as opponents.

Some people speculated that when Schwartz first came out that "They don't really want the Prairie portion, they are putting that in as a chip to "lose" in a compromise. They really want Spring Garden." Now that's playing poker... just as Brighton Bridge appeared in Schwartz as if by magic when it actually had been around for a very long time as the City's plaza choice.

The federal review of Schwartz done by Cansult in Oct 2005 estimated a tunnel to protect the Provincial Prairie could cost hundreds of millions per KM. No level of government would approve such a budget for a short tunnel under what is essentially an empty field. Even using the latest "bored tunnel" technology, there is no guarantee that the water table of Ojibway would be unaffected. The high water table is the key component of the endangered tallgrass prairie ecosystem. They could spend all that money and still destroy the significance of Ojibway Reserve, which they have spent millions studying and documenting over the last 30 years.

It looks therefore like Spring Garden ANSI is going to be used as the border road compromise.

Is it all over now for the pesky environmentalists? Is Spring Garden now finished since snakes are being reintroduced to the Provincial Reserve? Perhaps not... it is not the only chip it has. Things are starting to look bad though for the area.

Even in the grant applications completed by the City, the focus is not solely on the snake but other elements of the endangered ecosystems found within Spring Garden. Spring Garden is the largest natural area in the City. As the OfficialPlan sets out,

  • "In 1983, the Essex Region Conservation Authority (ERCA) designated a large section of the Spring Garden Planning Area as an Environmentally Significant Area (ESA). The following year, the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) designated approximately the same area as an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI), and in 1994, the City of Windsor designated approximately 165 hectares as a Candidate Natural Heritage Site (CNHS)."

The City is under an OMB ruling to buy out all the remaining privately held lots in Spring Garden to complete its designation as natural heritage. They are under a deadline with stages for different areas within the ANSI. The final stage Dec 31 2007.

  • " That the privately owned lands shown in areas “A, B, C & D” as shown on Schedule “A” of this report BE ACQUIRED by the City on or before December 31, 2005, and the privately owned lands in Area “E” as shown on Schedule “A” of this report BE ACQUIRED on or before December 31, 2007. Any lands not purchased by the foregoing deadlines will have their OP designations, which were in effect on December 16, 2001, restored (Added by OMB Decision #1635 – 11/29/2002)"

The Star reported in March, 2006 however that "Since 2002, the city has acquired almost 40 per cent of the 136- acre Spring Garden ANSI, home to a number of rare Carolinian zone natural species. Sadler said the city's plan remains to have the entire parcel acquired by 2007, either by purchasing private lots, exchanging them for other properties or through expropriation.

There is still a lot to be done before the end of next year and money is getting tighter in Windsor with all of the hits our economy is taking. What if the deadline comes and not everything is taken over? At that point, under the OMB ruling, the the lands not purchased will revert to the 2001 zoning. Now that will make it a whole lot easier to put a highway through Spring Garden.

In passing, there may be a big fight with dozens of private land owners who held lots within Spring Garden and who have already been expropriated. Perhaps these original landowners may try and get their lots back in a class action lawsuit. Wouldn't that be interesting?

Would this compromise road work? I thought the DRIC engineers looked at Malden as an alternative and rejected it because of the high impact on the Community. How can the City fight that one if they are trying to preserve neighbourhoods? If the Mayor is "obliged to deal with "what's on the table now," then how can the City propose a road there if it has not been supported, even if it is a compromise road?

There are many arguments that can be used why this so-called compromise road should be rejected. But that is for another time if there seems to be some fire under all of this smoke.

DRTP's Agonal Respiration

It's appropriate for DRTP after all. It means the last gasp. One definition that I saw is "respirations that are somewhat of a strain, that is seen in a patient who is expiring."

We should not get too excited about the Star's Page 3 story and headline on Saturday: "DRTP refuses to die: Despite rejection by DRIC, tunnel proponents remain hard at work" It fulfills a purpose after all.

It's hard to take the Star too seriously on this issue since the story reporting the South Windsor DRTP meeting was buried on Page 5 on Friday in the "Area Briefs" section. From Page 5 to the top story on page 3 on the weekend with a major headline in only one day.

Wow!!! I can imagine the number of people in South Windsor who gasped when they opened up their paper on Saturday morning. I can also think of eleven people in Windsor who were smiling broadly.

You and I, dear reader, we understand what is going on. It is the typical Star tactic at work...Create a few "bogey man" news stories about an issue to scare the public ie "We did things that newspapers can do to bring about change, positive change. I think we got a lot of results this year and this now validates the results we got."

It will be followed by a "fuming" Mayor Eddie Francis anti-Federal Government tirade in a Henderson column (that is how he will tie the Manning Road deal into E C Row into DRTP without threatening a lawsuit). I would expect the nearly-invisible on the border over 3 years Councillor STOPDRTP, Dave Brister, to fulminate as well in the column to help him garner a few votes given the big name, Tom Lynd, who has decided he will run against him in Ward 1.

The culmination of the Star media frenzy will be a big announcement on the border. The last step will be another Star Editorial supporting whatever the Mayor says and demanding a new public bridge.

It's all so terribly predictable by now isn't it? We'll see the sloganeering that was being practised by the Councillors at the Labour Council meeting during the run-up to the elections and Eddie's new Plan.

And just so you don't think I am guessing, read the last two lines of the Star story, usually where the important bits of info are placed. The City is good at slogans isn't it (Whatever happened to "Love This Place"). Instead of tunnels and quality of life we now have "No trucks on City Streets" as we heard ad nauseum at the Labour meeting:

  • "But Mayor Eddie Francis said the DRTP plan has "been ruled out" and city council is obliged to deal with "what's on the table now."

    He said council has been unequivocal in its desire to get trucks off city streets."

And just so you know, since the Star did not report it, David Estrin was in town last Monday briefing the Council on who knows what. I would think though that the Mayor and Council have created a strategy for being unified on the border until at least November 14.

Just in case you need some cocktail party chatter about why DRTP is on its last gasp and should not be taken seriously, here are some of the reasons why:

  1. DRTP cannot provide the mega-billions needed for a tunnelled "Bigger Dig." DRTP could not afford to build its own original DRTP project without $150 million of taxpayer money. Now they must have taxpayers give them billions to make their private profit.
  2. The City's Rail Lands by-law does not permit DRTP to be used for a truck corridor
  3. The Detroit Mayor is opposed to DRTP
  4. A 2-lane truck tunnel under the river does not meet the needs for future traffic growth
  5. We need auto traffic border redundancy and not just a truck only route
  6. A tunnel being built along the corridor would impact South Windsor negatively since property outside the DRTP right-of-way would be required.
  7. The DRTP Customs plaza (located now on Highway 401) would be too far away from the border for CBSA's liking
  8. It has problems where it "pops up" in Detroit. There are community issues and connection difficulties to the Interstate system.
  9. DRIC Consultants have already shot down their Green Solution.