Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, October 06, 2006

DRTP's White Flag Of Surrender And Other Stories

I'll do some other arena stories next week. With all of the arena excitement, some old ideas just did not get distributed in as timely a fashion as I would have liked. Here are a bunch of notes about things that interested me. Better late than never.


Here is some heresy. Rails to Trails may be one of the dumbest ideas around. It sounds so "ecological" doesn't it, so environmentally friendly.

Geeee. Do you think it might be time for open and transparent Government in Windsor? A meeting on the Arena and then this. This subject must be a vital subject for the Community since City Council called a special meeting for it:

    The Council of the City of Windsor will meet in public session to receive a presentation from officials with the Ontario Trails Council. This presentation is open to the public and will be held: Thursday, September 28, 2006, Council Chambers, Windsor City Hall at 5:00 o'clock p.m.
Strange set of priorities at City Hall don't you think for a Special Meeting?

And speaking of rails and trails, John Middleton, the Ward 4 candidate for Councillor, asked me a good question in a conversation we had: if the DRTP corridor is tunnelled, all of the many KMs of it, then who will be responsible for policing it? Who will be responsible for maintaining it? The city?

If we do not have enough money for policing now, and we are struggling with finding tax money for essential services, is this a "gift" that we really want? If we can get rid of Superior Park, to get money from the sale surplus park assets as Councillor Zuk claims, why would we now take-on more park-space.

In fact, Chris Schnurr in Ward 2 suggests that we NOT remove the rails since they will never be put back in but that we ought to look at all of our rail lands in the City and County for public transit services eg like a GO Transit-type service perhaps to get cars off the roads!

So do not get sucked in by a gift and a slogan that may wind up costing us money!


...when the election is not covered completely by the only major newspaper in town.

Take a look at the email that Chris Schnurr, the candidate in Ward 2 for Council, sent to the Star's Editor. It is very troubling. The Star's policy of "vigilant fairness" and refusal to cover candidate's "kick-off" meetings where positions are outlined make it very tough to beat an incumbent in this City.

CKLW could send out a reporter but the mighty Star could not. Geeez, what if Schnurr actually wins. Then what will the Star do, ignore that too since there are nine other winners on Council, a Mayor and School Board Trustees to interview.
  • Dear Mr. Beneteau:

    I am writing to express my deep concern regarding a statement made by your newsroom with regards to my official campaign launch tomorrow, for the Time for Action Campaign for Chris Schnurr, Council Candidate Ward 2.

    According to my campaign manager, Jason Silvert, one of your staff stated, "If we had to cover all the campaign kick-offs, we wouldn't be doing anything else."

    As a community newspaper that has given ample coverage to incumbents thus far (Labour Council meeting with incumbents,Bill Marra through Gord Henderson's columns, etc.), I expect that equal opportunity will be given to candidates in this
    election who have serious concerns with the direction that the city is taking.

    It is my expectation that the Windsor Star will be presenting a balanced report of this year's municipal election, given that terms for councilors have been extended to 4 years. This next term is of upmost importance to the city with
    regards to our economy, border infrastructure, taxation and city services, and a balanced debate is essential.

    I quote below the Ontario Press Council's recommendations regarding this matter:

    "...Therefore, voice should be given to diverse opinions, edited faithfully to reflect stated views."

    I do appreciate the amount of work that covering candidates will require, however, as John F. Kennedy said, "The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all." Failing to give balanced reporting to all candidates stifles open and transparent debate and seriously undermines the democratic process. It is imperative that voters be presented all the information necessary to make an informed decision on Election Day.

    It is my expectation that the Windsor Star will cover campaign launches, as they are the most important aspect of any campaign at any level. Again, my campaign launch is Tuesday evening 6 p.m. until 7 p.m. at The Coffee Exchange, 343 Ouellette Ave.

    Chris Schnurr
    Council Candidate, Ward 2

Marty Beneteau, the Editor of The Windsor Star replied and I will post his letter if he allows me to do it. The gist of what he said was they cannot cover everything and but that they do try to provide full coverage after the nominations. They only have so much space in the paper and the number of staff members is limited.

I can understand Mr. Beneteau's issue but it does not appear that every candidate had the initiative of Mr. Schnurr to contact the Star. Moreover, not every candidate would hold their campaign kick-off on the same night.

I am sure that there are stories more important than Windsor's Government for the next four years and the people running for it. Schnurr's campaign kick-off was on a Tuesday night and stories in the Star in Section A on teh following Wednesday included: "Dog killer on the loose," "Barn to make showbiz debut," "Lakeshore voters to have more choices," "School safety patrollers don new coloured vests," "Kids Day event set."


What does DRTP's CEO know that we mortals do not know?

Here is a news headline from the CKLW News Website:

  • BORDER CROSSING ELECTION ISSUE 2006-09-21 06:58:36

    Mayor Eddie Francis is being warned that his stand on a new border crossing may cost him his job come election time. The CEO of the Detroit River Tunnel Partnership, Mike Hurst, expects candidates who support a tunneled route to a new bridge to have the support of most voters. He says the tunneling option is what Windsor residents deserve to protect Ojibway and Sandwich Towne and to reduce pollution by 50%. Francis opposes the plan

First the comment about Eddie and his "job" can only make sense if there is a candidate for Mayor who will run against Eddie. Obviously, Mike took my CBC "campaign speech" too seriously!

How does Mike know what candidates will support DRTP? Simple, he has been courting them. If you cannot beat Eddie directly, do it indirectly by lining up Councillors against him to make his life hell. He learned that strategy from what happened to him in the last year of his term when Eddie was part of a coalition of Councillors against him on border issues. Payback time for Eddie!

The most important comment though was Mike's huge concession that means that the DRTP under the river is dead and that his only job is to gather enough support so he can flog the now useless DRTP corridor to salvage the millions wasted on this project!

He now supports a "tunneled route to a new bridge" to protect Sandwich and Ojibway. The only "new bridge" that he can be referring to is the new Ambassador Bridge "enhanced" project.

In case you did not get it, that is the DRTP's "White Flag of Surrender" to the Bridge Co. and the signal that DRTP now is begging the Bridge Co. to work with them.

I don't get it...why doesn't Mike just pick up the phone and call them. Their number must be in the phone book if he lost it. Or has he done so and knows what their position is? Most strange to me.


As reported in the Star:

  • "ESSEX - A $16.9-million twin pad arena proposal was rejected Monday by town council as too expensive to even present to the public for comment.

    "We can't afford this," recreation director Doug Sweet told council during a review of almost a dozen options that have been costed out by consultants following tours of Ontario rinks.

    Instead of the deluxe arena that meets everyone's wish list, the town will focus its planning on a scaled-down version of the two-pad rink that St. Thomas built in 2004 for about $11.4 million....

    Allowing for inflation since 2004, a rink like the one in St. Thomas, but with about half the seating, would cost roughly $12.5 million to build in 2007, council was told…

    Miller said council can't make any major financial decisions before the Nov. 13 elections, but some realistic options can be developed for the new council to choose early in 2007.

    Deputy-mayor Percy Dufour, who heads the town steering committee that's been touring arenas across Ontario and meeting with consultants, said he was disappointed the costs came in much higher than consultants initially promised. "

Strange, the cost of an arena went up by $1M even though half the seats were taken out but the proposed East End extravaganza which was to cost $60M in 1999-2000 in Port Huron would cost us only $48M.

I am sooooooooo confused. I am missing something somewhere

Read My Lips: No New Taxes And Other Gems

Well she did not say it exactly like George Bush the Elder, but Councillor Postma's neck is now on the line (assuming she gets re-elected) when she was quoted as saying "voters are not going to see a difference on their tax bill as a result of this project." I hope she is right for her sake.

That was one of the gems about the Arena meeting now that my brain has cleared up. Want some more observations:

1) One delegation pointed out that supposedly 7 Councillors were going to vote for Project Ice Track which means that 7 Councillors thought the PCR proposal was not as good. Since there are 11 members on Council including the Mayor, is this the 7/11 group? Yet some or all of these 7/11 members reversed themselves in order for PCR to be chosen. Why?

2) Do you think Councillor Halberstadt can now take down his BLOG "Help Me Decide On Arena." In the surprise of the night, Alan revealed that his spouse was under contract with the Spitfires to do an anthem so out of an abundance of caution, he declared a conflict of interest and did not vote. Geeee Alan, it took you all of this time to remember that. He at least apologized on his BLOG and finally took it down. [I was corrected, he did not take it down.] We'll have to see what the consequences to him are for the election but he does not have a legal concern in my opinion.

3) Did you like the "trust us" answer respecting the site selection and what it would cost. The Administration who could not price the bus terminal properly as an example are telling us that they can figure out what the land will cost! I am sure that the big developers in the east end are asleep not knowing about the arena. When someone comes knocking on their door asking to buy 70 acres of land they will scratch their heads and wonder who the buyer is. We know the real reason for not disclosing price don't we. Clearly someone was smart enough to figure out that yesterday's Star headline would have read $70M arena rather than $48M. Do you think taxpayers would be as happy today seeing that price?

4) The land will cost us "nothing." We are considering to do a swap as an alternative. Hooo we have appraisers involved who are going to price things out properly. Yea right. At least Alan may be right about that since he talked about a land swap.

5) Don't you find it odd that we might have an RFP for land but not for building the arena.

6) Repecting the Single Source issue and the rationale for dealing with PCR, Administration kept saying that negotiations were allowed where it is determined by Council that it is in the best interest of the City to do so. I looked for that provision in the Purchasing By-law but could not find it. If I am right, there is a major problem. I think Council has opened itself up for a lawsuit and a potential risk to their arena plans. However, does anyone who does business that requires the City's involvement have the guts to fight City Hall?

7) Here is what bothers me about #6 above. I was going to raise this issue at the meeting so I thought I would write Michael Duben about it since he was quoted as saying something odd to me in the Star. So I did:
  • "You were quoted in the Star today in the following manner:

    "Michael Duben, the city's general manager of client services, said Windsor's purchasing bylaw allows for single sourcing under special circumstances. "I think the bylaw allows itself to be waived," if the city believes it has the best possible deal it could get."

    Please advise me of the the authority for that Statement if in fact this is what you said. I would need this information by noon today so that I might prepare my remarks for Council tonight."

I did not have the courtesy of a reply. My assumption is that if he had a legal position, he would have written back immediately.

8) If the arena is built, financing becomes restricted until 2010 and can tie up other projects until that time. Did you hear any conversation about priorities and what needs are really important in Windsor that might now be delayed? I guess helping out the millionaire owners of the Spitfires so they will not look "foolish" for making their investment is a high priority for this Council. Anybody else have a busines that needs help, say like some bars or restaurants or the bingo industry due to the No-smoking Law?

9) If the Spitfires take up 40 out of the 48 nights that the arena is to be used, I guess that makes them an important tenant. Like the anchor tenant in a mall for instance. Now my recollection is that when the City was leasing its space in Canderel, it offered extra assistance to tenants. I wonder if the Spits will ask for inducements from the City. Why with a 20 year lease, their lawyer, Mr. Leslie, could ask for millions. That's one way to make sure that the Spits do not change their mind and go to Tecumseh too. As for me, if the City has to pay out millions to do that, then we may as well buy the Spits too.

10) If the building of the arena is fast-tracked, and wouldn't it have to be if the Spits want it soon, the Treasurer admitted that there would be $4-5 Million of "temporary costs." I hope we have the budget for that or we might have to raise taxes and then Councillor Postma would be in big trouble if she was still on Council.

11) The CAO offered Council an alternative to "Noting and filing" the other two "unsolicited letters." Remember the PCR letter was "unsolicited" too. Council could have drawn a line in the sand and said no more solicitations after a certain date. But Council chose not to do that. It would not have taken that much work for Admin to check out the others. Why they must have done 90 days work in only 2 weeks in order to flip-flop on their Recommendations re PCR.

12) Didn't you like how Council chose a project without knowing where it was going to be sited! But its OK, Admin will tell Council their alternatives for a land process in camera.

13) The City is so confident in the fixed price PCR deal that it still has to go out and hire a consultant to check the PCR construction costs.

14) I must admit that I am not quite sure how Global Spectrum fits in. Has that Company been hired already? If so, what was the process for doing that? I wonder if they bid for the Project Ice Track job too? If so, why did they leave and when?

15) I sure hope the hotel poeple have updated their reports on Windsor hotels. Perhaps I could introduce them to people in the hospitality business here. Weren't some major hotels in downtown Windsor, where the Casino is located, in major trouble? Isn't their vacancy rate low too? I had an interesting thought---have they started working on drawings and plans for their hotel? If so when? Where is it going to be located---if it is the East end those guys really gambled that Project Ice Track would lose. With that kind of luck, they could "break the bank" at the Casino and help pay for their project! Is the hotel going to be called the "Spitfire's hotel" or something like that?

16) Who from Council and Administration went to the Keg after Council the other night and in whose company? Who paid the bill? Will the City people who attended admit it? My bet is that they will not.

17) Speaking of Business Plans, it does not seem like the Spits have presented one to the City yet but they have arrived at something called "Principles of Understanding." Should we be concerned as the CAO has told us that the Spits have less than a year in business under their belt? Apparently we are in the charity business since we need to give them the opportunity to put their feet on the ground. Hmmm. I hope they do not put their feet in quicksand after we have committed to them and started building an arena or taxpayers might need some charity.

18) I am afraid to ask---who is negotiating on behalf of Windsor and what does that person know about negotiating arena deals? MFP, Canderel, Parking and garages, Bus terminal....OH MY GOODNESS!!!!

19) I am really confused with that components stuff that PCR had from the Port Huron job. Wasn't that why prices for the arena were so low? We never did get a clear answer on amounts but PCR did say if all new components had to be used, it woudl be at theri cost. Geeee, doesn't that mean they must have factored into their price the use of new components so how are we getting such a deal. And as for the drawings, wasn't the cost said to be about $2M.

20) We have a major financial crisis in this City. The CAO and several Councillors attacked the Price Waterhouse Report. Imagine, they were hired by someone to give an opinion. Presumably they should do it pro bono and that would make it legitimate. But did you know, that same firm was hired by the City? Yes sir, PriceWaterhouseCoopers did an audit about financial controls and procedures after MFP. They "recommended 49 steps be taken to improve the procedures that are in place." don't yuo get it. If their work is so shoddy as has been suggested then an MFP can happen again!

21) Does anyone know what PCR actually includes and what it costs? I read their August 31 proposal which said

  • "All items included within this listing are for the arena area only; all other work beyond the arena footprint is by the city"
They said at Council that it includes everything.

22) If there seems to be no objection to an East end arena by the Casino, why couldn't it go downtown

23) Best line of the night: The Tecumseh Green Giants for the name of the hockey team

24) Actually I thought it was baseball night and not hockey with all of the lobs being pitched

25) Do we really want to have the excitement of an arena designed in 1999 or earlier for Windsor? Is that a state-of-the-art arena we are getting? Has nothing changed in the arena design field in 7 years?

26) Were the Spits serious that they were going to buy a Jumbotron on E-Bay. Perhaps they could buy other equipment there too. That would impress me alright if I was a young hockey player trying to decide if I was coming to Windsor. Ebay equipment in a 1999-designed arena. However, have they purchased it already for the $600K since I just went to E-bay and I did not see a Jumbotron for sale?

27) Is there sound equipment in the plans so that there can be concerts and entertainment or is that an extra cost for the City?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way FROM Council

Did you watch the Council meeting on Cogeco last night? I did. Wait a minute you are saying, I thought you were at the Council session. I was...the problem was that the Council chambers were absolutely full by the time I got there, about 30 minutes before the session started, and were full most the night too. Standing room only by the way inside. Someone conveniently set up several TV sets and chairs in the hallway for people to watch so I sat there instead.

No image today. It's not the time to be amusing. Perhaps later tomorrow if I get my sense of humour back.

You didn't really think that I was going to stay up all hours of the night to write a BLOG after attending the comedy that took place at City Hall last night did you? You have to be there to feel the adrenalin pumping to know that you need to stand back a bit and get your thoughts together on something like this after watching the farce play itself out.

Am I upset about better believe it. As I said in my speech to Council:
  • "I don't think that I have ever been more disgusted at this Council since February, 2003 when, in secret, Council supposedly reversed their public decision and supported DRTP North.

    In the last minute, you update your Recommendation and totally changed what Administraion presented only 2 weeks. You will do anything to prove how tough you are."
You will guess why I want more time to reflect so I do not say anything too untoward! But so you will understand, Administration 2 weeks ago did NOT recommend signing an agreement with PCR but rather said it would spend ninety days reviewing their offer and then report back to Council. Last night at some time in the afternoon (I heard about it at 5 PM and it appeared that several of the Councillors did not hear about it all) Administration totally changed and recommended approval of the PCR deal! Wow fastest this Adminstration ever acted. (You'd think they could undertake due diligence of the new two proposals in that time too wouldn't you if they could do it for PCR that quickly. Hmmmm I wonder why it took them so long for Project Ice Track?)

Do you understand why I have little respect for this Mayor and Council except for David Cassivi who had the guts to stand up for what was right! He was the only one to oppose what seemed to have been agreed to in advance.

A couple of other comments. Did you like the Mayor's 10 minute or so campaign speech at the end? Doesn't he know that the Procedural By-law applies to him too and that he is supposed to stay on topic? Councillors Jones and Wilson can interupt delegations, Eddie's Mayoral candidate David Wonham for one, for supposedly going off topic, but I did not see them or their colleagues raising a Point of Order to quiet the Mayor down! I thought the Chair makes those types of rulings not individual Councillors. Of course, trying to throw one off of his/her speech is an old political trick but heaven forbid that our nice guy Mayor be accused of that! Oddly enough, in both cases that it happened, the Mayor allowed the delegations to continue talking, overruling the Councillors.

When I saw a Councillor in the hallway before I made my speech, I smart-alekly asked who the designated hit man or woman was whose job it was to interupt me. Unfortunately no one did. I had some good lines worked out too if someone did. I guess I must have stayed on topic since no one tried.

I remember Mayors cutting off applause by the public in the Chambers, but not last night. It was rally time for the Mayor and incumbents for the election. Those people who sat in the Chambers for about 6 hours needed to do something after all. Their arms and legs were probably getting stiff from all of that sitting and listening

Interestingly no delegation was asked a question who opposed the Recommendation. No the Councillor East End cheerleaders merely called people who were in favour and asked leading questions about how well the complex would serve everyone's interests.

And don't worry, we have money in the bank to pay for building this $50 million PLUS project. Hold Councillor Postma to her word that taxes will NOT be impacted negatively by the building of this go-it-alone complex. That is assuming her Ward will re-elect her after she and her Ward-mate failed to get the Arena built at the Western Super Anchor site.

Anyway, more to come such as how the price can be so low when the so-called Port Huron components may never be used or perhaps some unknown as yet percentage. Or why the CAO cannot tell us an approximate price for the land or why we can have proposals for land sites sales but not for building an arena or....well, you get my drift.

PS. I just read the start of Gord Henderson's column today "The fix is in. If Dwight Duncan and Sandra Pupatello could abandon Windsor on the arena file, what faith can we have that they won't hang this city out to dry on a far more important issue -- fixing the border?"

Oh now I understand why Councilor Valentinis made his allegations about Provincial Cabient Ministers. Eddie has decided to go after the Province too.

I think that Dalton McGuinty may have to fire Michael Kergin. Obviously Eddie has learned nothing from his sage advice. "Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is enlisting former Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Kergin to accelerate improvements along the gateway to the Windsor-Detroit border." Some Improvements. Eddie has just declared war on the Senior Levels.

I trust that now, Councillor Valentinis can stop asking why no one listens to Windsor! And now I know why he did not apply for a Judicial Inquiry last night.

CBC Council Arena Meeting Commentary

Get your tickets early. It’s going to be standing room only. The Council chamber seats are going fast for the next great arena debate that is to take place on Wednesday evening.

We were supposed to compare project ice track with 2 other proposals. Except now, the raceway people have left us and have been welcomed by the Town of Tecumseh. So what are we going to talk about? According to the mayor, it was about something to be built in the east end. However, yesterday two new proposals were just put forward for downtown arenas.

I assume the focus will still be that big, thick report from administration. But in my opinion, that whole report was a mere diversion, to distract our attention. The deck was stacked so that the mayor and council got exactly what they wanted: namely an east end deal.

After all, they agreed on that last April in a Thursday council meeting. Why consider anything else now? Of course at the time, news reports said that “the meeting to present the proposal came out of the blue and had a few Councillors concerned about the lack of public notice.”

But that’s just a detail.

Getting it rubberstamped by the public must be the purpose of the meeting on Wednesday.

Now I say this because in the in the report, no matter which option was picked, there was one key action item. Administration was authorized to enter into negotiations for the acquisition of the required lands in the East end of the city.

Tell me though. Can anyone actually figure out why council wants to go to the East end so badly? I know that ward 5 is the Mayor’s home base but is there any other good reason?

Honestly, I have no idea why the City all of a sudden wants to go it alone there. When the Mayor was running for office he said specifically:

  • "We need to revive the idea of public/private partnership for a new arena. It is the only realistic strategy available that will ensure that this project will become a reality.

    A multipurpose facility cannot be built by public nor the private sector interests acting alone. The synergy created by the private/public partnerships gives better service to the taxpayer, and allows a much needed multipurpose facility to be built in our city.

    A public/private partnership is the key to our arena’s ongoing success and viability. Council has already allocated the required money and land for this project – we need to aggressively seek a partner."

What changed now… interestingly, he was talking about a downtown arena then. Why is what the Mayor said 3 years ago wrong today.

We found a partner. Project Ice Track was proposed by two respected families in Windsor. I know it was in the West end, at the Raceway, but wouldn’t that be easier for American tourists to find rather than say, some land near Tecumseh and Lauzon road?

The Toldos and Rosattis are not fly by night operators. They proposed a public/private partnership in which they were willing to take on many risks to make this project go forward. Obviously, there were some concerns in what they proposed. It requires negotiating an agreement. The Mayor should know something about negotiating shouldn’t he since he went to law school.

The Collavino proposal in the East end is a "design-build" only. In the end, the project is the City’s risk. Once Collavino builds it, they walk away from it and taxpayers are stuck with any deficiencies.

If we need new icepads, why do we need to go out and buy land in the east end and spend more millions of taxpayer dollars when Riverside can be rebuilt? I am told that there is sufficient property for a twinned ice rink there if we need it.

I am sorry. I think something strange is going on. All of a sudden we have to be the first to put the shovel in the ground in the east. Why?

We are being pressed to make a decision on Wednesday night when we do not have the complete facts. As an example, do you really think that an arena complex in Port Huron that was priced in 1999 at around $60 million can be built for $48 million today?

The Mayor and Council need to be in the business of running the City, not running an arena in the East end.

I feel that I am being played. And the game is not hockey.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

CBC Commentary

Listen to my commentary on the arena on CBC Radio AM 1550 this afternoon on your drive home!

Is David Wonham Moving In Already

That's Eddie's opponent in case you wanted to know what he looks like. That's Dr. David Wonham carrying a boxful of what every Candidate must know that is received after he/she files the nomination form.

I believe that this was the photo that was expected to be in the Star last Friday until someone must have decided that a wrestling manager's picture was more important to be placed on the front page. At least David received a whole line of coverage in the Star after his press conference outlining his concerns for the City... I guess I should have taken better notes on what he said. I did not since I had expected a lot more coverage of the issues he raised from the Star! (The picture eventually made it in on Saturday along with Eddie's)

For those of you who think that Eddie Francis is starting to sound more and more like Mike Hurst who may have taught Eddie some mayoral lessons when Eddie was a Councillor under him, you are wrong. I have it from an insider deep within City Hall that there is a Mayor's handbook that is passed on from mayor to mayor giving them standard cliches to use when certain situations come up. What else do you think Mike and Eddie did at their transition meeting.

Here is what Mayors Hurst and Francis said when advised about opponents running for office against them:

On September 20, 2006, Francis said
  • "he's in no rush to file nomination papers for the Nov. 13 election. He said he's too busy doing the job of mayor. "I will file," he said Tuesday, adding that he welcomes potential challengers. "I think competition is always good."

On July 25, 2003 Hurst as mayor said

  • "While his two main rivals turned up the campaign rhetoric Thursday, Mayor Mike Hurst declined to join the fray and said he wouldn't announce his intentions until after Labour Day.

    "For the time being, I will continue doing the job of mayor because there are a number of important continuing items that deserve full attention," said Hurst."

On March 6, 2003 when Bill Marra announced he was running for mayor, Hurst said:

  • "Until then I am not paying a hell of a lot of attention to (re-election)," he said. "I have more important things to do."

Project Ice Track Strikes Back

Here is the complete letter that Project Ice Track sent to Council. Click on an image to make it bigger

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Is This The East End Arena

And rumour has it that one or perhaps two arena proposals are coming out over the next day or two including one for the Grace Hospital site!

The animosity in this Community right now is horrible. And frankly, from what I have heard from candidates , it is directed at the Mayor and Council.

There may be a bloodbath on November 13 for the elections if this keeps up, no matter what happens tomorrow! Candidates seem to have been energized by the huge miscalculation. Only time will tell.

Is A Port Huron Arena In Our Future

Nah,Na,Nah,Na,Nah,Na My Dad's tougher than your Dad.

Isn't that the childish game we are coming down to. Tecumseh managed to put together a business deal with Project Ice Track. Windsor did not (but of course Windsor never wanted to do a deal with Project Ice Track). Windsor offered in its Report Options A & B where the only real action item was:

"Administration be authorized to enter into negotiations for the acquisition of the required lands in the East end of the city."

The deck was stacked in advance. If you do not believe me then go and read Administrations' Report for yourself. It is on the City's website.

This whole exercise is a gigantic farce designed to get Windsorites hot and bothered to approve something that Council decided a long time ago but did not have the guts to bring forward until about a month before the election. Ram it though, stuff it down the throats of taxpayers.

Do you honestly believe that taxpayers in April would have approved a $70-100 million transaction (pick your number since no one knows the real one) when the economy here is going to hell? The Mayor and Council would have been run out of town.

So dither, delay, stall and then act. Forget cost, don't ask about Business Plans, be a MAN or a WOMAN. Show those County people. You cannot push around Windsor. Can you picture Eddie, the gunslinger, in a black Cowboy hat and outfit with guns hanging at his side with his cold, steely eyes staring down Mayor Gary McNamara of Tecumseh at High Noon at Festival Plaza (why give business to the dying downtown when the Casino is beckoning).

Gord Henderson's opening today was so funny and ridiculous:

"Tomorrow night is gut check time. That's when we'll find out whether Windsor councillors, some of them mad as hell after getting their collective bell rung by a Tecumseh sucker punch, have the intestinal fortitude to get up off the canvas and go for the jugular...

Anything less than a green light for an east-side arena in partnership with the Windsor Spitfires and the Collavino construction firm will only confirm what their snickering critics have been saying...

Any waffling on Wednesday, any hint of indecision, any delay to get more facts and do more soul-searching, will be viewed, amid gales of derisive laughter...

If the city blinks on an issue that's been pursued for 20 years, that will amount to throwing in the towel and slinking off to the showers..."

This is not governing. This is not acting as prudent administrators of the public trust. This is ramming a business deal down our throats so that the Mayor and Council can be "tough guys and gals" for the election campaign.

There is a serious legal issue that requires examination before Council takes rash actions that could give rise to a massive lawsuit.

Gord gave Council their orders:
"a green light for an east-side arena in partnership with the Windsor Spitfires and the Collavino construction firm."

Now I have real problems with this frankly. Check out the Report of Administration. Even the tame City Administrators did not have the nerve to recommend what Henderson suggested. How could they? They have no idea about the PCR deal.


Let's get real. Pages and Pages and Pages of the Report were spent analyzing Project Ice Track to death but in about one page there was some discussion about the PCR offer with no real analysis.

Everyone seems to be holding their noses about the so-called "secret" Tecumseh dealings. Well check my BLOG the other day about the secrecy surrounding PCR. I'd like to know exactly when each Councillor was told about the PCR deal.

Was it July 6 when the PCR deal came in? On 7/11 when the Project Ice Track letter came in? Was it on 7/11 when the Mayor responded to the Raceway letter? Was it September 22 when the PCR became public or some time in between? Hmmm September 22 to today is how many days until today and yet Administration needed months to examine the Raceway proposal!!!

I have a question that needs an answer and so does the Construction Association. Why are we handing a massive job to PCR without a tender? What makes them so special? Is it merely because they just lucked out and sent in an unsolicited offer. Geee, don't you think Beztak should be offered the chance at least too?

Let me repeat what I wrote the other day about price:

"Now PCR’s proposal is interesting. An associated Company was a subcontractor in 1999 on a $60M arena and 4 icepads project in Port Huron. That project failed financially. They propose to use the unused components and plans in that job for Windsor to reduce costs.

Remember, the Bus terminal.. well its cost was estimated in 2000. We just learned that its actual 2006 cost has increased by 35%. If we use that same percentage, then the PCR arena should cost $81 Million to build

But wait a minute. In the Administration Report, PCR’s price with parking is $50M. How did a $60 M project in 1999, that might be costed out at $81M in 2006 be offered at $50M. That’s quite a discount.

If you read the PCR proposal carefully, the cost is described in this manner:

  • PROJECT CONSTRUCTION PHASE—“All items included within this listing are for the Arena area only; all other work beyond the arena footprint is by the City”

    Is the Administration Report incorrect on the numbers since the PCR price may NOT include the icepads?

    If that is the case, would the view be that the whole PCR project is much too expensive and would have to be thrown out so that all we would be left with would be the icepads. This must be clarified immediately."

No I am sorry. I do not like what is going on. I know when I am being played. And I bet YOU do too.

Oh and if you wondered, the pictures are recent shots of what is remaining of the project that PCR or its associated company was building for the arena project in Port Huron until the developer went broke there. A recent news story there said that

"Dozens of other bikers, off-road vehicles and pickup trucks were zipping along impromptu tracks, jumping over mounds of dirt and spinning around abandoned construction debris.

"They should charge admission," said Brum, 22, of Warren. He and others like him had arrived early in the day to practice for their upcoming motocross season. His girlfriend lives in Port Huron, and he's been coming to the site for two years.

The problem is, the site is the idle unfinished hockey arena on Range Road at the Horizon Outlet Center, and township officials want to curb activity there because of accidents and complaints...

Cliff Dease, Kimball Township's deputy supervisor, told the township board on March 21 that the partially built arena site continues to attract vandals, troublemakers and is a dangerous eyesore. The board unanimously agreed to get legal advice, which Supervisor Tom Portis expects to discuss Tuesday at the township board meeting.

The building and unfinished concrete structure are home to an elaborate set of race tracks, which have led to accidents and injuries there, township Fire Chief John Gorski. The grounds are littered with glass shards, chunks of concrete and trash, and the bowl of the arena is filled with rainwater. "

Is that our future too in the East end if this Council acts stupidly?

AHL Team Moves To Project Ice Track

The action is hot and heavy and I do not mean along the boards.

It looks like Eddie's tactic to tie up the Spits for the East End arena did not work. The Spits' millionaire owners who paid a lot for the team are probably sweating now!

Here is an AHL Press Release that was issued:

Mon, October 2, 2006

AHL Board approves franchise move

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League’s Board of Governors today granted conditional approval of the sale and relocation of the inactive AHL franchise owned by Gardens Hockey Inc. of Cincinnati, Ohio, to Ice Track Corporation of Windsor, Ont.

Project Ice Track is a proposed multi-purpose entertainment complex to be built in the Windsor area, to include a 6,500-seat arena and an adjacent practice facility. The arena is scheduled to open in time for the 2008-09 AHL season.

In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 80 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and for the fifth year in a row, more than 6.3 million fans attended AHL games across North America in 2005-06. The AHL’s 71st regular season begins on Wed., Oct. 4.

What Do The Truckers Think about the Border

Are you bored already with the Arena story? Windsor's Mayor and Council dithered and Windsor got burned. Gee...doesn't that story sound familiar on another major file. Windsor's Mayor and Council have been dithering and industry is choosing not to come here because of the border mess.

I bet that you were really upset that I have not been doing border stories lately. Well it's not my fault that the Arena farce butted in and took up my time.

To make up and apologize, let me give you the results so far of a poll on the website of Today's Trucking magazine. The poll has been around for some time I believe. I assume that the respondents have generally been truckers since the poll has not received a lot of publicity and so cannot be "packed" by people who have a vested interest.

Assuming that the results are generally industry related, it seem that DRTP support is very low as can be expected by those who would have to drive many KM. in a Tunnel. A Bridge is overwhelmingly supported.

The big surprise though is the huge amount of support that the Bridge Co. received. Or maybe it is NOT such a surprise---I assume that the professionals to whom "time is really money" and who have a choice of using the "private" Ambassador Bridge or the "public" Blue Water Bridge have given us their answer. .

They prefer to use the crossing run by the best border operator between Canada and the US, the private Ambassador Bridge Co.!
Oh and stop complaining, wait until you read my BLOG this afternoon on the Arena. You'll get the stuff that no one else writes about here.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Arena Judicial Inquiry Demanded

Here is what I wrote to Councillor Valentinis and his colleagues

Dear Councillor Valentinis,

I read your shocking remarks quoted in the Windsor Star today.

Ward 3 Coun. Fulvio Valentinis

"said he believes there is a larger plan at play that hasn't been made public.

"The best way to put it is it was a very well-orchestrated charade," Valentinis said. "There is no question there is a much bigger agenda here. The part that is most disturbing is this could not have been done, would not have been done, without the co-operation of provincial cabinet ministers. I am extremely disappointed."

He didn't elaborate on what that larger agenda might be.

"I would start with asking members of provincial parliament that question," Valentinis said. "It is very suspicious. Why would you do this four days before the meeting? We were used, there is no other way to put it. No other spin-doctoring is going to change that."

What you are suggesting is that there has been impropriety, including at the highest levels in the Province.

As you may know, I wrote a BLOG on city politics in Windsor . Accordingly, if the City has nothing to hide and there was a "very well-orchestrated charade" by third parties, would you please arrange for me to view all of the City files involving the arena and the Spitfires forthwith so that I might write a BLOG about my investigations. As you know, I can file a Municipal Freedom of Information application to obtain the files but I would not get them until long after a City decision has been made.

However, your charges are most serious considering the huge amounts of money involved. I regret that you did not "elaborate on what that larger agenda might be" since that may suggest to taxpayers that something illegal has gone on. The air must be cleared forthwith.

Accordingly, on behalf of City taxpayers, I seek your support and that of your colleagues for a Motion that I intend to raise when I speak at the Special Council meeting on the 4th for a Judicial Investigation under the provisions of Section 274 of Ontario Municipal Act.

Since the City has clearly nothing to hide, I trust that you will be the one who introduces that Motion officially at Council and that your colleagues will support it unanimously!

I am very troubled by what is going on and what impact it will have.. First the Mayor threatens to sue the Province over the border and now you allege improper actions by provincial cabinet members. You better be right. Or else, you will know why no one listens to Windsor! These actions have the potential to chase away new investments from this area. What business would want to come here now with this turmoil!

Our Arena Day Of Shame: 7/11

Mayoral candidate, David Wonham, must have been smiling broadly at about 10:15 AM Friday morning. His chances of becoming the new Mayor of Windsor just increased dramatically. His campaign slogan of "Empty Words and Broken Promises" may have been proven to be true without him lifting a finger!

It should be amusing to watch the E-machine spinmeisters try to salvage the mess that the Mayor is in. I suspect that the Tecumseh deal over the past few days was known in advance by some at CityHall and expected by the E-Machine, as you shall see below. Eddie expected that there would be a negative reaction but that he could manage it to his advantage.

He was wrong!

I think Eddie totally misjudged the intensity of the negativity directed towards him and how the banks would overflow with the flood of disgust of voters for three years of inaction! People finally realized that Eddie was NOT what he and his E-machine painted him to be: an extra-ordinary politician who would achive greatness for Windsor. Rather, he is a run-of-the-mill big talker who has PLANS, lot of PLANS and who promises but does not deliver!

It almost seemed as if Windsorites were waiting for an issue, any issue, so they could show their negativity. Unfortunately for Eddie the issue was the arena. Remember what he said in his platform about the arena three years ago...see how far he has strayed:
  • We need to revive the idea of public/private partnership for a new arena. It is the only realistic strategy available that will ensure that this project will become a reality.

    We need to move forward, recognizing what other municipalities already know. London, Mississauga, and Sarnia all have new structures that have become successful entities and address community needs. Their example is worth noting: a multipurpose facility cannot be built by public nor the private sector interests acting alone. The synergy created by the private/public partnerships gives better service to the taxpayer, and allows a much needed multipurpose facility to be built in our City.

    A public/private partnership is the key to our arena’s ongoing success and viability. Council has already allocated the required money and land for this project –
    we need to aggressively seek a partner.
I believe that Eddie thought that he could capture the mood out there and use it to his advantage to show that he was the only one sticking up for Windsor---exactly like the game he is playing on the border where he is standing up for Windsor against the big bad Senior Levels. I don't think that charade will work any longer now either!

Eddie guessed incorrectly....I have never heard such animosity directed to a Mayor and Council since the time of ex Mayor Hurst and Council when it appeared in March, 2003 that they had reversed their position on stopping DRTP North. The Council meeting on March 3, 2003 was the beginning of the end of Hurst's mayoralty. I expect that the Special Council meeting on the Arena on the 4th may do the same for Eddie and certain Councillors.

My belief---the mood in Windsor is unforgiving against this Mayor and Council after blowing the arena deal. Interestingly, the only person on Council who may come out of this deal smelling like a rose, if he projects himself properly, will be David Cassivi. He was the only one standing up for a proper process in dealing with Project Ice Track!

Let's get down to the nitty-gritty. What really is going on.

Was Windsor “blindsided.” Or, are Windsorites being played as fools since there is something more going on than we know. Was there a desire to move to the East End and no matter what Project Ice Track did or did not do, they would be made the fall-guys and the pretext to move to what was wanted for many months? You be the judge


Oh it is not so dramatic as December 7 when Pearl Harbour was attacked or so earth-shattering as the 9/11 terrorist attack or so tragic as November 22 where everyone knows where he/she was the day JFK was shot but now Windsor has its own day of shame that will live in people’s minds for a long time “7/11

July 11, 2006--7/11-- is the day Windsor lost Project Ice Track to Tecumseh. That is the date that Project Ice Track told the Mayor that there was a chance that someone else might scoop our arena from us:
  • “please be advised that during the last few weeks we have been approached by other municipalities interested in discussing and potentially hosting the Windsor Raceway Large Venue Sports and Entertainment Destination Project.”

I am going to explain to you the what I think may be the game-plan behind what happened last Friday respecting the arena and what made the Tecumseh deal happen.

I would expect that every candidate for office in Windsor would be at the Special Council meeting on the arena on October 4 as a speaker to express their disgust about how our City is being run. The meeting could be brutal so get there early to find a seat.

I wonder if Eddie Francis and his Eminence Grise were splitting their sides laughing themelves silly early on Friday morning when the news of the move to Tecumseh first broke. Eddie's PLAN was coming to fruition. He must have thought that everyone was stupid in Windsor as he outmanoeuvred them. The beauty of it was going to be that he would not have to manipulate events to get what he wanted. Rather, people would beg him to do it. He wanted the Raceway out of the picture and instead of him having to do the dirty work, the Raceway saved him the job by partnering with Tecumseh. By early afternoon, I wonder if they were scrambling fast trying to put a brave face on a horrible situation that they miscalculated. Damage control big-time needed!

If you think this happened out of the blue, then I have an "about to be albatross around taxpayer neck" Detroit-Windsor Tunnel to sell you. Here is Councillor Halberstadt’s BLOG on September 18. You remember Councillor Halberstadt----the only Councillor who publicly supported Eddie for Mayor last time and Gord Henderson’s good buddy. Alan gave it away:

  • “Meanwhile, rumors and accusations are swirling that the Raceway, if rejected by the city, has a deal in the works to rebuild the horse track, and add the arena facility, in Tecumseh, on land donated by the town near the soon-to-be expanded Manning Road.”

DUH!!!! If Halberstadt knew this, then the Mayor did as well. But Alan also did us a favour by telling us on the same day what the real game in town is and why what happened on Friday fits perfectly into Eddie’s Plan:

  • “It has become evident to the west-end proponents – the Toldo and Rosati families -- that Mayor Francis opposes their proposal, which would entail a public-private partnership with the city throwing in $15 million to the $38-million project.

    The mayor is said to favor an east-end four-plex proposal to be financed entirely by taxpayers at a cost of some $50 million. The Collavino family has ready-made plans to build this facility at a reduced cost since a similar project in Port Huron went south in mid-construction when a private investor ran out of bucks. The $50 million would not include the cost of the land.”

It will be made obvious to everyone that this is the PLAN:
1) Make sure that the competitive position of the Casino is never damaged

2) Use the Raceway to chase out Beztak when they appeared in town and buy time by “negotiating” with them for as long as possible

3) When the “unsolicited letter” of PCR comes in, do not tell the public about it but hold off for as long as possible

4) Have the Administration do a massive Report that no one will read, other than the Raceway people (they forgot about the Blogmeister I am afraid), and structure it so that the pre-selected option wins no matter what Council chooses

5) Spin, Spin, Spin---Bad mouth the opposition by spreading Secrecy stories and hiding Ethics issues.


It was all given away last Saturday in Gord Henderson’s column. Nothing would be done by Eddie that would even hint that the Casino was going to be double-crossed after they announced their expansion plans.

  • “Could the $400-million Casino Windsor addition be the elephant in the living room that everyone involved in the arena debate is choosing to ignore?

    Call me a raving conspiracy theorist but I have a sneaky suspicion that assurances given to OLG, formerly the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, prior to its Valentine's Day, 2005 casino expansion announcement, could be a key factor in this struggle over who gets to build a replacement for Windsor Arena…

    But what if that same city then turned around and invested $15-million of public money in a privately operated arena/entertainment complex at Windsor Raceway, just a few kilometres to the west and in a prime location to attract U.S. patrons? Would that violate the spirit of any no-compete commitment, verbal or otherwise, that the city might have given the province?”
Did you notice there was nothing mentioned about the Casino being angry about investing in a "publicly" operated arena/entertainment complex in the East end for a regional market and not a US patron market.

What Gord said is hardly the surprise he is now making it appear. Eddie had said before, within his first months of being Mayor:
  • “I wanted [Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission Chair Stanley Sadinsky] to understand that we also have a commitment to improvements in the city and the future of the casino...

    We want to be partners with the casino, not compete with them or duplicate services they offer. I made it clear that city council will work with the province to do whatever we can to turn things around."

Here is an additional thought for you. Gina Leslie is Vice President and General Counsel, Windsor Casino Limited and past Chair of the Windsor Chamber of Commerce. She was also just appointed as a member of the Board of the Economic Development Commission. Do you really think she is going to receive an appointment and shortly thereafter have her employer hurt badly so that she might have to resign and embarrass the Commission?


You know the story about Beztak. They were going to dare and build an arena in the Western Super Anchor site and be a direct downtown competitor with the Casino.

You remember the Council Inquisition that chased them out of town and how the Raceway deal was used as the alternative to them. How convenient that was. Now ironically, the Raceway was chased out of town, all the way to Tecumseh!


The most interesting part of the story is the “unsolicited letter” from PCR.

Administration needed a “stalking horse” to chase the Raceway away. Enter PCR Contractors. They sent in an “unsolicited letter” in early July about their idea of a design-build project for the east end. Lo and behold, Administration suggests in Option B of their Report that they be instructed to undertake a due diligence review of their proposal.

Now I have to ask a question… how did PCR became the contractor of choice? Are there no other contractors who could build an arena? Whatever happened to the Tender process in this City? The Construction Association ought to be fuming and demanding fairness! Every contractor in the City ought now to send in an "unsolicited" letter. There should be a level playing field for everyone.

I think George Wilkki, the city solicitor, needs to give a legal opinion whether any deal can be made with PCR at all. Is it a "sole source" purchase under the City's Purchasing By-law if it is NOT a Public/Private Partnership (it's a design-buld deal) and it is NOT for the sale of goods (is constructing an arena "goods?")

When did we hear about PCR? Their letter was dated July 6, 2006. Yet the Star only reported on September 22 that

  • “A prominent Windsor construction family has teamed up with a Toronto architectural firm to propose a 6,500-seat arena and three ancillary ice pads in a taxpayer-funded project that will cost less than $50 million.”

Imagine, no public disclosure of that for 2 months. Why? What was the reason for all of that secrecy?

Another interesting question---when did Councillors know of PCR? By 7/11 the Mayor knew of it. He must have responded to the Raceway people's letter. Did he make available to Council all of the information as it relates to proposals received to 7/11 at the time? if not, why not? How did the Mayor repond to the Raceway's 7/11 letter?

Interestingly, on July 5, a day before the PCR letter, the Star reported that

  • “Francis said a report on the Toldo-Rosati arena proposal would likely be presented to council at this month's final meeting on July 24 or possibly sooner at a special meeting.”
It was not presented.

On July 17, the Star reported that

  • “Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis promised Sunday that city councillors will quickly get details of the two arena proposals now under consideration to replace the 81-year-old Windsor Arena.

    Some councillors hoped that could happen as soon as Thursday, [July 20] when a special meeting is already scheduled, but Francis doubts detailed reports will be ready that soon. At least one city councillor is on vacation, and procedure requires at least a week's notice of meetings, the mayor added.”
It was not presented.

But let me point out something quite strange in that story. “Francis said he wants councillors to have detailed analysis of both proposals so they can clearly decide what's in the city's best interests. "We're working on that," he said.”

Those proposals were “a municipally financed, $55-million, four-pad arena complex, including one with 7,200 seats, at a site yet to be chosen on the city's east side” and the raceway proposal.


In his September 12, BLOG, Councillor Halberstadt said that “I am told that the debate should be at a special meeting later next week, or one day the following week. It's at the call of Mayor Francis.”

Then the Councoillor told us “it would be prudent for the mayor to stretch this whole mess out until after the election. The administrative report on the issue has already been held up for several months as speculation abounds on how many votes there are on Council to bless or repudiate Ice Track.” Or was it beinng held up for another reason?

Finally we received the word from Alan “In quick order, a special meeting of City Council was called -- next Wednesday at 6 p.m. [crosed out ie September 27] Wednesday October 4th at 6pm.

Why weren’t meetings held before as scheduled? I note that the firm PCR proposal was not submitted until August 31. Does that have any bearing? Were matters delayed so that they could finish their work? I have no problem with that but why weren’t we made aware of PCR until September 22, five days before the supposed September meeting which was later changed.

Interestingly in Saturday’s Star it was reported
  • “Francis said the Oct. 4 meeting will proceed and council will deal with the proposal by brothers Paolo and Renzo Collavino for an east-end facility.”
Does that make sense now? Why is this moving forward so quickly now? Shouldn’t Council regroup.


Heaven forbid that alternative since many of Eddie’s colleagues may not be around after November 13 nor might the Mayor if the public mood remains so nasty. Let’s rush a decision immediately. Appear decisive, right!

Or rather, is it, we need to get out Plan in place NOW?


Why would the Project Ice Track people want to stay around after they read the Report. It is a huge joke. Why stay around when it is obvious that you are not wanted? To humour the Mayor or Gord Henderson? This is a business deal for huge sums of money not a high school dance party!

Seriously, who has read it other than the Project Ice Track people who knew that they had no chance after they read it, the Blogmeister and a few others who are political junkies!

Now the Report is pages and pages and pages of nonsense. Numbers, figures, commentary, proposals, letters designed to hide what was really what was desired no matter what happened at Council on the 4th. Compare the many pages in which Project Ice Track was torn apart with the few pages dealing with other proposals. That should tell you something...just like the Beztak Inquisition did.

You and I probably thought that we were going to get a comparison of 3 alternatives: fixing up the Barn, the Raceway proposal and an East End arena complex.

Were we ever wrong!

We need not bother reading. In my opinion, the whole Report was a mere diversion. The deck is stacked so that the Mayor and Council get exactly what they want no matter which alternative is chosen: namely an east end deal.

Let me explain that now.

Read carefully what I have to write about the relevant parts of the 2 options being presented to Council:

Option A
Council supports in principle the Raceway proposal and [here’s the key part] Administration be authorized to enter into negotiations for the acquisition of the required lands in the East end of the city to develop a twin ice pad facility

Option B
Council thanks the Raceway for their proposal and tells them the City “is not interested in continuing further discussion,” and [here’s the key part] Administration be authorized to enter into negotiations for the acquisition of the required lands in the East end of the city to develop a Recreational complex.

I hope you read carefully. I did not read anything about a comparison did you? BUT, did you note the similarity of language in the 2 Options!

Option A does not mean that the Raceway wins. No way. It just means that Council “supports” them, whatever that means. No one is authorized to deal with them at all, ever

Option B tells the Raceway, to be blunt, to get lost.

However, there is one common statement in both Choices:

  • Administration be authorized to enter into negotiations for the acquisition of the required lands in the East end of the city…”
In the end, it does not matter which Option is chosen. In the end the only thing that Administration is authorized to do is to go and try and buy some east end land. No matter what, east end land will be bought and something will be built there.

Isn’t that the REAL PLAN?

Now PCR’s proposal is interesting. An associated Company was a subcontractor in 1999 on a $60M arena and 4 icepads project in Port Huron. That project failed financially. They propose to use the unused components and plans in that job for Windsor to reduce costs.

Remember, the Bus terminal.. well its cost was estimated in 2000. We just learned that its actual 2006 cost has increased by 35%. If we use that same percentage, then the PCR arena should cost $81 Million to build

But wait a minute. In the Administration Report, PCR’s price with parking is $50M. How did a $60 M project in 1999, that might be costed out at $81M in 2006 be offered at $50M. That’s quite a discount.

If you read the PCR proposal carefully, the cost is described in this manner:
  • “PROJECT CONSTRUCTION PHASE—“All items included within this listing are for the Arena area only; all other work beyond the arena footprint is by the City”

Is the Administration Report incorrect on the numbers since the PCR price may NOT include the icepads? If that is the case, would the view be that the whole PCR project is much too expensive and would have to be thrown out so that all we would be left with would be the icepads. This must be clarified immediately

Now we were not supposed to know that until after the election since Administration had to do another “due diligence” report on PCR which would take 90 days from October 4.

In early January, 2007, that would be a shocker wouldn’t it if the PCR price was arena only. Would we continue on notwithstanding the increased price or would we just build ice-pads and give up an arena? Or might we just walk away from everything, again

Surely the public would demand something then. If it was ice-pads only, PCR would be angry, obviously but they could be calmed down with a $20 or $30 million project for a ice-pads and recreation centre in the East End. The Spits would be in trouble given their support of the East End complex but perhaps Sandra and Dwight could muscle the Toldos and Rosattis to let them in for their e-election.

That could be the Plan but maybe there is more to it than this. Maybe PCR will get to build the arena after all. Interestingly, the Star told us all that we probably needed to know on September 23 and when is the Star ever wrong with matters involving the City:

  • “Buried on the last page of the lengthy administrative report is a single sentence, concluding that an east-end arena constructed by the Collavino group "would be of greatest benefit to the city."
    Also that

    “The Windsor Spitfires released a statement supporting an east-end arena constructed by the Collavino family and the Killer Bs…the Spits organization sees it as key to future success.”
How can we NOT do what the new millionaire owners of the Spits want us to do since we do not want them called “foolish.” How can we let them down after they paid so much for the Club. After all they said, without offering to put up any money for a facility that is for their benefit and pocketbook,

  • “We need a new arena because we're in the Dark Ages here. We'd like to be dropping the puck in a new rink by September 2008.

    "If we didn't feel it would get done, and we're still in Windsor Arena 10 years from now, we're the most foolish business men in the world."
So the E-machine election strategy was for our rough and tough Mayor to posture, gun-slinger styel, to say that Windsor will not be bullied (do you hear that Senior Levels on the border), we will not be rushed, we will deal with the proposal by brothers Paolo and Renzo Collavino for an east-end facility. So there...In your face Tecumseh.

In fact, isn’t that what the Mayor and Council were going to do anyway? In fact, our Mayor will say it is a race to the swiftest: As Henderson said “The prize will go to whoever gets a shovel in the ground first.”

Council already approved an East end deal in April
  • "In an unusual show of solidarity, city council voted unanimously to forge ahead with plans for a $55-million, four-pad arena, featuring a 7,200-seat rink somewhere in the east side of the city.

    Entitled Greater Windsor Multiplex Arena, the proposal was presented Thursday by senior city administrators...
  • several councillors confirmed the east-end location is a done deal. It's now a matter of finding the land."

Alan Halberstadt told us as much in his BLOG too on September 18:
  • "It has become evident to the west-end proponents – the Toldo and Rosati families -- that Mayor Francis opposes their proposal, which would entail a public-private partnership with the city throwing in $15 million to the $38-million project.

    The mayor is said to favor an east-end four-plex proposal to be financed entirely by taxpayers at a cost of some $50 million. The Collavino family has ready-made plans to build this facility at a reduced cost since a similar project in Port Huron went south in mid-construction when a private investor ran out of bucks. "
What about the Casino? The Casino might not be too upset after all with a “sports only” East End arena since it would NOT compete with their complex.

That’s right, no “entertainment.” Interestingly, when one reads what was to be included in the Arena project of PCR, there is nothing there set out about concerts, just sports, and nothing priced for a sound system. Thus one could not have "competitive" entertainment there and so not compete with the Casino!

Somebody thought of everything didn't they (except perhaps how to fill the arena for so many nights a year so it would NOT lose money and cost taxpayers a bundle!) I bet that very shortly we will learn that the City has a deal with a "manager" for the building who can bring in events. It is obvious that this will happen since Project Ice Track must have talked to several companies to do that. When the City makes the announcement, then we must ask when that Company first started talking to the City. I know someone who might be able to pinpoint that date very accurately too!


Gord Henderson fumed:
  • "If someone really and truly wanted a partnership with the city, wouldn't it make sense to wait five more days to find out whether they had won or lost? What logic would there be, as one of two finalists, in walking away almost on the eve of council's decision?"

Eddie Francis whined:

  • "he was disappointed that the Ice Track group led the city to believe it was interested in developing an arena in Windsor while holding "secret meetings," with Tecumseh."

Oh come on Gord. Project Ice Track lost. Be real. It was the City that did not want them at all. Forget Eddie's campaign promise about a Public/Private partnership. They did not need to be embarrassed in public at the public whipping post too for our amusement.

Want to hear about the pot calling the kettle black: Eddie and secrecy! Enough said. No I won't ask about the secrecy involving the PCR letter for 2 months.

But you want to talk secrecy...there is a huge issue of “ethics” involved.

In the Report it is said that, if the Raceway arena is selected, then Administration would try to bring the Raceway and Spitfires together to negotiate a deal. Yet at the same time we learn that the City and the Spitfires have been talking about the East End arena

  • “Through preliminary discussions with the Windsor Spitfires, a framework for a new agreement with the City has been reached.”

The Spits announced on September 22:

  • We have had preliminary discussions with the City of Windsor and have reached a preliminary understanding that also would satisfy the needs of the community and the major tenant, the Windsor Spitfires.

    As the City of Windsor strives to provide the best facilities for the community, we too are committed to being one of the elite organizations in the Canadian Hockey League. To reach this objective, we would need a new facility. The proposal currently set forth to the City of Windsor by the PCR group provides many of the same principles that we, the ownership, believe in—community, junior hockey and family atmosphere.

Wait a minute, a deal done for the East end arena already....the knees of the Raceway were cut off by the same City that wanted to have an arena for the Spits. Unbelievable! Now who was being blindsided?

So you decide, dear reader, was Windsor "blindsided" or was there a Plan, a Real Plan, already in place to acquire East end land to build something? Was the process a true one or just a sham? What game are we involved in now? Should this Mayor and Council be allowed to engage in a game of building something regardless of cost just to get a shovel in the ground first? Are we being stampeded? Is there more to come that will be revealed soon that may be even more shocking? Did the E-Machine misjudge? Is there a need for a Judicial Inquiry under the Municipal Act to "inquire into any matter connected with the good government of the municipality" or "inquire into the conduct of any part of the public business of the municipality" to get to the bottom of this?

Will David Wonham's words ring true as he becomes Windsor's next Mayor:

"Empty Words

Broken Promises!"