Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, November 17, 2006

The REAL Border Plan

I am so tired of the Windsor Star to be honest. Why can't the Star even report a story from a sister newspaper properly. Sorry, I forgot. The Star Editor had said previously that the Star is fulfilling its mandate by "helping to bring about positive change through its coverage."

The headline and first paragraph in the Windsor Star were:
  • Private Sector Announcement

    Federal Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon is expected to reveal Monday Ottawa will back construction of a link between Ontario's major transportation artery, Highway 401 and the U.S. interstate highway system at the congested Windsor-Detroit border.
The Vancouver Sun headline and first paragraph were:
  • Ottawa to announce highway plans involving private sector
    Conference on public-private partnerships to hear plans for Windsor-Detroit link

    OTTAWA -- The federal government is poised to announce plans for an highway megaproject at Canada's busiest border crossing that will include full private-sector involvement in its design, financing, construction and operation, The Vancouver Sun has learned.

Frankly, my first reaction when reading the Star story was that the Bridge Co. had won. After reading it a couple of times and knowing what the conference was about, I figured out what it meant. And then found the Sun story to confirm my suspicions. Cannon was NOT supporting an Ambassador Bridge victory but advocating for a P3, a public-private partnership. Note the word "ownership" was NOT used in the Sun story.

But the story will mislead most people here and work up the West End activists and politicos into an anti-Bridge Co. frenzy. Was that deliberate?

Naturally when the real story comes out, the Star will say that the approach makes great sense ie Government ownership run by a private sector company.

Can't our Senior Levels get along with each other either. First it was Ontario's Minister Cansfield (along with her underling Mr. Salmons) telling us that it was going to be a public bridge and no private parties. They scooped everyone. Now Federal Minister Cannon is telling us that it will be a P3, one-upping them.

I guess there really was no purpose in DRIC if these ad hoc remarks can be made by each Government without, it seems, the others knowing about it. I wonder what the Americans must be thinking although Michigan cannot say much after the Governor's actions. We can now see more clearly that DRIC was nothing more than a stall to the Bridge Co.'s plans and to provide a justification to do what the decision-makers wanted to do anyway.

We all know that the Ontario Government wanted to own the new crossing---Cansfield's magazine article statement a few months ago and Steve Salmon's slip the other day told us that. It appears as if the Feds are saying that they will own it and that private enterprise will finance, build and operate it. That's a kick in the you know where to the Province.

What do all of these permutations mean? How about this as a theory...pure speculation of course.

Eddie and the Province worked together to pressure the Feds into a P3 since the Province does not have the money. Just yesterday the quotes about the Province's financial position were not good:

  • "Ontario's newly elected mayors were probably hoping for a warmer welcome, but Premier Dalton McGuinty had little more than a warning yesterday: don't bother asking for any more money -- the province has fiscal problems of its own.

    With election-night victories still fresh, McGuinty sent a clear message that while he understands municipalities are hurting, the province is also strapped for cash and that they should take their begging bowls to Ottawa."

Cannon's speech on Monday will be confirmation that there will be a P3, a public-private partnership. Of course, Eddie's close friends in Ottawa, Brian and Joe, have been feeding him political intelligence so Eddie had a good idea what was going on.

Eddie now has had enough of the Provincial Liberals. They have served his purpose by helping him pressure the Feds. He has his own political aspirations and his own agenda. Ergo the attacks on the Province and especially Sandra and a little spank to Dwight. He won't be upset at Ottawa's ownership. In fact, it fits into what he wants (If you think I am kidding, who provided a box for the Tigers baseball game at Eddie's big Mayor's conference. None other that a Federal Government rep in Detroit!)

Now we can also understand the money spent by DRTP on the "Green Solution." It had nothing to do with a border crossing or linking to the bridge. It was nothing more than an advertising campaign, a brand management exercise to re-invent DRTP as a kinder, gentler project. Or rather, to allow OMERS/Borealis to climb out of the shadows. It was given away in Henderson's column again: "[Francis] thinks the Zalev scrapyard, the city's biggest eyesore and a major environmental concern, could become a rails-to-trails starting point." DRTP was not selling their project but "Rails to trails." Just take a look at their banner on the rail overpass at Dougall near the South Windsor art gallery. Interestingly, it talks about stopping at the riverfront!

OMERS will get its money back on the wasted DRTP project by selling its corridor to the City as part of a huge brownfields redevelopment project at the Zalev plant by which the entire corridor and scrapyard will become green. It is a variation of what Schwartz said. There will be a massive new development at Zalev, blocks from the OMERS owned Devonshire Mall. I know someone Eddie can call in as needed with the Zalev negotiations too. He has helped Eddie out before in tough situations.

There will be Government grants for this project (It will fall under rail rationalization, brings in the bleeding airport, brownfields redevelopment and infrastructure). But there will still be the need for a massive amount of private investment. Who has the pool of money required---pension plans.

Oh my goodness....the need for a public-private partnership using pension plan funds! Exactly what OMERS does

Here's the deal:

  • Estrin will spend City money to stall off the Ambassador Bridge enhancement project in both the US and Canada on litigation re appeals re the EA process in both countries. After all, the Bridge is the "enemy!"
  • Watch for the City to partner with OMERS/Borealis to offer to run the new border crossing as the "private enterprise" partner ("Sole Source" deal so no tenders need go out if the Fed rules are the same as the City's. Eddie can do a deal with whomever he wants under the Purchasing by-law which he had amended after he took office since it allows P3 sole source deals).

  • The City-owned Detroit-Windsor Tunnel will be thrown into this too. May as well make it the complete deal.

  • I would not be surprised to see the Duty-Free shop operator being part as well as part of the consortium since they know how to sell to consumers.

  • It would not surprise me to see the operations sub-contracted out as well to....a new entity who has a border operator involved
  • This would all be run as a huge SW Ontario Public Authority including Sarnia and Niagara/Fort Erie
  • There would be the talk of massive new developments in Windsor guided by the new head of the Economic Development Commission in locations determined by him.

Why the City you ask, what can it contribute---the City is a border operator didn't you know. A lousy one mind you, but a border operator who "knows" the Windsor market. And OMERS/Borealis is involved with the PEI bridge. True experience and as close to "public" as possible

So we have the complete package of "design, financing, construction and operation."

Why do you think that Eddie is looking for a manager for the Tunnel now and not 2 years ago? The Tunnel cost is cheap too now that it has been driven into the ground financially over the past few years. Why was there the big push to partner with Detroit? And the piece de resistance, the icing on the cake: the private consultant, Remo Mancini, the new recently-appointed Economic Development Chair.

The only dilemma for Eddie---can he do it within a year! No wonder Halberstadt is floating the trial ballons about working together with the Senior Levels! Eddie will graciously give in to Gord's good buddy!

Geeeez, if Eddie makes nice with the Harper Conservatives, maybe he will run for them instead and Alan can run for Mayor!

A Tunnel Contest

I had this really weird dream.

Remember I told you that back in February, 2005 the Mayor thought we should hire someone to look after the Windsor Tunnel's business. It is, the Mayor said, a multi-million dollar asset that "requires more attention than it's getting."

Well nothing was done and the Tunnel has been going downhill to the point that revenues will be almost zero to the City next year so that taxpayers will have to come up with another $6 million of lost revenues in its budget. In September, 2006 an ad was placed looking for an Executive Director.

Since I had not heard that anyone was hired, I dreamt that the Commission had a choice to make to decide who the next head would be. It all came down to 2 choices: hire the Bridge Co. to run the Tunnel since they are the best border operator in North America or hire Remo Mancini who used to work for the Bridge Co. (Many people have seemed to have forgotten his previous job now that his past life is in the processs of being re-written). He's the new Chair of the Development Commission. From reading his Bio, it looks like does consulting primarily so I figured with his experience he could squeeze the position in. He would have some background already about the Tunnel and would have an opinion on how to make it work better.

Just as the decision was to be made, my alarm went off so I do not know who won!

Oh well, to help out who is ultimately selected, let's run another contest:
  1. Compared with last year, how many vehicles less have gone through the Tunnel this September and October after Eddie increased the tolls earlier in the year

  2. Compared with last year, how many vehicles less have gone through the Tunnel year to date

  3. If the numbers continue downward at the same rate, compared with last year, how many vehicles less will have gone through the Tunnel and what percentage of total yearly volume does that represent

  4. When will Eddie hire someone "to live and breathe tunnel business" (is that after they clean up the dirty air being exhausted via the new and improved Tunnel Ventilation building in downtown Windsor)

  5. If the losses keep mounting will anyone want to lease it or securitize revenues or is this all part of a different Plan

  6. With the volumes crashing, why would the Senior Levels want to invest $30 million in the plaza improvements? If the volumes are decreasing so quickly, will the need to get vehicles off of City streets disappear too

  7. Has Eddie mismanaged the Tunnel operations since he is also Chair of the Windsor Tunnel Commission

  8. If the answer in #7 is yes, would you trust him to make decisions about a new border crossing

  9. How much has the value of the Tunnel decreased since Eddie has become the Chair?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Whole Paragraph

And as the last paragraph of a Henderson column too.

That's what the Senator got for his years of devoted service to the citizens of Windsor and a loyalist to the Mayors under whom he served.

I wonder what his colleagues will do at Council on his last night. Something genuine with some real class I trust. And publicly too.

I also hope that someone honours his wife who did so much to assist David in his job too with her work with constituents. They made a great team that helped David get re-elected so many times.

The Columnist's Trilogy

Let's try and figure out why Gord Henderson has this fixation on Bill Marra. He had it before Bill even decided to run and he has it again now.

I know that Eddie has greater ambitions that have to be protected from any negativity but there is an easy way to smoke out what Bill's real intentions are. Surely the E-machine's Eminence Grise has figured out how to do it so that we do not have to be bothered by any more Henderson "Marra" columns for awhile.

Over the past week, we have seen three interesting stories that all impact Bill in one way or another:

Story #1 (The good cop Henderson)

  • Henderson's Favourites "But I believe Ward 4 would be better served by Bill Marra and Ed Sleiman. Marra has convinced me he'll be a constructive influence and ally of Mayor Eddie Francis and won't play an obstructionist role. I believe him. I also believe it's important to keep him in the game and maintain his currency as the most likely heir in 2010."

Story #2 (The let's build up Eddie again Henderson)

  • The Battle Plan "Look for border infrastructure, the Zalev scrapyard and Windsor Airport to top the must-do list when Mayor Eddie Francis and his new council meet with a facilitator in early December to draw up a battle plan for the next four years."

Story #3 (The bad cop Henderson)

  • A clear message "Bill Marra's supporters were warning him as far back as May that a rematch with Mayor Eddie Francis would be an exercise in futility because of the mayor's lofty approval ratings in phone polls and focus groups.

    According to a source close to Marra, polling conducted among various demographic groups in May, with the assistance of University of Windsor researchers, revealed Francis was untouchable...

    the former Ward 4 councillor's closest friends and supporters, including influential fellow Liberals, urged him to reclaim his old seat and position himself for a mayoral run in 2010 when Francis departs."

What does this all mean: Bill, be a good boy and don't bother upsetting Eddie's grand plans and we will not destroy your mayoral goals for 2010. Eddie is untouchable and so don't even think of going there as Leader of the Opposition.

Why the E-machine is so afraid is beyond me if the Mayor is so invincible. I guess that they know that Eddie really has a glass jaw. One good punch and he is down for the count.

They know as well as we do, that Dr. Dave, with no campaign other than a 2-week one with no money and only a Chicken suit as publicity, received about twice as many votes as private pollsters had predicted. If Eddie was allowed by his handlers to debate in public, Wonham’s numbers would have gone even higher. They also know that with virtually no criticism of him for the past 3 years, the public does not know the true story behind the failings at City Hall---the airport “red ink” is the tip of the ice-berg. They are bound and determined to keep it that way at least for the next year so Eddie can run for the PCs with an unblemished record against Sandra (or maybe even federally for the Conservatives if Comartin retires).

The person who is Gord’s source also knew that Marra’s name recognition was unbelievably high 5 months before the election, over 80% I am told. He also knew that the public's mood was that Eddie had accomplished nothing but the blame was put on the shoulders of the Councillors. Bill could have capitalized on that and beaten Eddie badly with Eddie’s poor record. Bill is one of the few people politically who could handle Eddie in debates as we saw last time around.

Could you imagine what Bill could have done with the Ice Track arena going to Tecumseh! No, there is something more that kept Bill from running than being afraid of Eddie’s numbers. We may find out what it is one day. But I suspect I know who was the main influence in Bill not running.

We are in a war preparation mood right now for Eddie’s big battles ahead--body counts, flooded the ward, foot soldiers who ensured supporters trooped to the polls, army of volunteers, irresistible force, powerful machines.

Gord talks about the “armies” that helped out Bill and Ken. Presumably Ken’s army, since Ken supports Eddie, are there in waiting in reserve and would be used to “hurt” Bill if Bill dared defy the E-machine. Yet it was acknowledged that Sleiman did well with friends and family only. I think the armies were more like paper tigers.

Bill, if he dares consider being an Opposition, will be painted as a Liberal so that “The CAW, especially Big Daddy's Local 444” will have a target next time around too. It was just a subtle hint since Gord did say that it was a “triumph by a diverse, non-partisan Marra team, not, as some suspect, a Liberal victory orchestrated by Energy Minister Dwight Duncan.”

As an aside, there was no “slate” of candidates but the Liberals ran at least 3 of them or perhaps 4. As for Dan Petoran, he was groomed for bigger and better things so he should be happy with his numbers as a rookie. Name recognition for next time and learning the ropes. As for Ice Track, McNamara’s winning percentage in Tecumseh was greater than Eddie’s!

The accepted wisdom is that Bill will sit back for a few months rather than making it appear that he is a potential rival to Eddie. He will be quiet, working in the background with the new Councillors and his old colleagues as the consensus builder that he was in the past. He should not rock the boat he will be advised. If that is what he is being told then his advisors are wrong! Are they the same ones who hurt him the last time he ran for mayor by making crucial mistakes and who hurt him this time too by telling him not to run for mayor? Bill needs to get rid of some of his friends who have agendas that are not necessarily good for Bill. They are using him for their advantage, not his!

In any event, Bill will not be allowed to follow that plan. There are 2 things that Eddie can do right away to neutralize Bill and to find out his true feelings and what he wants in the future. Eddie can know within weeks whether he has a friend or foe. And we can learn what Bill is made of and what happened to him over the past three years.

In the first place, the E-Machine can….wait a minute. I am not going to help them. Let them—and Bill---figure it out for themselves. I will let you know if and when they do!

The Finance Minister's Speech

The Toronto Star reported:

What PM, premier discussed at secret talks

Infrastructure: Harper reportedly indicated that a major new federal infrastructure program is forthcoming that will be weighted in favour of Ontario to help with improvements at border crossings, especially Windsor-Detroit.

As I said before, once the Federal election is over, watch for the Senior Levels do what they want as they push Windsor aside. And our friends in high places, thanks to Eddie, who will help us are....?

If you want to know what is really going to happen, you need to know what the money man will do ie the Federal Finance Minister. Here are excerpts from his speech that he delivered recently that are relevant to Windsor:

  • 1) Every year millions of trucks run along the 401 corridor from Montreal to Windsor directly through the heart of the GTA. According to transportation experts in Canada and the U.S, the 401 at highway 400 is the busiest piece of highway in the entire world. Because of 18 hour a day stop and go traffic, it’s been called a "linear warehouse, " full of goods destined for millions of consumers worldwide, seven days a week.

    We must ask ourselves, how much more traffic can the GTA handle? There is overwhelming evidence to suggest that we surpassed our limit long ago and are heading down a road that is neither desirable nor sustainable.

    2) Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to say that within 100 days of taking office our government took significant steps to address this issue.

    In Budget 2006 we committed significant dollars to transportation infrastructure and public transit.

    Over the next four years, we will invest a total of $16.5 billion in new infrastructure initiatives, including $3.5 billion in 2006 and $3.9 billion in 2007.

    The budget provided $2.4 billion over the next five years for a new highways and border infrastructure fund, which will be used to improve key infrastructure such as the Windsor-Detroit Gateway. The Prime Minister and Minister Emerson recently announced $591 million for Canada’s Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative.

    Under the Canada-Ontario Agreement the province will receive an additional $300 million for infrastructure. And this fall we provided $900 million to the provinces for public transit, which includes $351.5 million for Ontario alone.

    3) As part of the discussions to restore fiscal balance, the Government committed to adopting a long-term funding framework for infrastructure. The federal government has a huge stake in that ensuring the flow of people, goods and vehicles—these are key to ensuring a vibrant and dynamic national economy, something of great concern for this Government. In today’s interdependent world of trade and security, modern, smart infrastructure is not a luxury; it is a necessity.

    Under the leadership of Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Lawrence Cannon, the government has been consulting with the provinces and territories and reviewing the scope and design of the various federal infrastructure programs to ensure they are accountable and strategic in approach.

    I understand he is just wrapping up his work and will be providing me with a report shortly.

    I think you would all agree that it’s time to set out on this important journey. It’s time to blaze a trail to infrastructure renewal. It’s time to ensure that rhetoric never again takes precedence over action. The goals are too important and the consequences of inaction too severe.

    Over the past several months my staff and I have been consulting with community leaders throughout the GTA. We have spoken to Mayors, Regional Chairs, Municipal Councilors, University and College Presidents, Police Chiefs and various community groups.

    We asked them to share their ideas, to list their priorities, and provide us with insight into transportation projects that will benefit their communities now and years from now. At the end of the process, we compiled a list of vital projects that are worthy of consideration. I will have more to say on this in the not-too-distant future.

    Investing in transportation infrastructure is about more than roads and bridges and buses and trains. It’s about keeping our country moving. It’s about creating a seamless, modern, safe and secure transportation system. It’s about reducing unnecessary highway travel and providing transportation options so goods can get to market on time, without massive losses in productivity. It’s about using the human and financial resources of both the public and private sectors so that major infrastructure projects are built efficiently and effectively with a minimum of taxpayer funding.

    We are embarking on a journey that is not for the faint of heart. It will require all of the political will and cooperation we can muster. It will require innovation, new approaches and new ways of thinking. It will require, not only the resources and expertise of the public sector, but the wealth of experience and knowledge accumulated by those in the private sector. We must engage those who have designed and constructed some of the most complex and successful transportation projects around the globe.

    We must rethink our approach so that we can take advantage of P3s, innovative financing and land value capture. It’s time, not just to think outside the box, but to reinvent the box.

    This is our path to a reduction in traffic congestion, improved air quality, better communities and a stronger local and national economy.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

More Thoughts On The Election Aftermath

I love it when readers write notes to me. Here is one that I thought was of interest:

  • A small correction Ed in your note this morning. You mentioned that the E-machine win would be plastered all over every newspaper across Ontario. Not so, the National Post and the Globe did not even mention it in their papers this morning. London was mentioned, so was Ottawa but not a word about Windsor. Maybe the rest of Ontario doesn't give a rats ass about what happens in Windsor.

    My take on this election. Re-enforces in my mind the fundamental problem in W-EC. That is there is a culture bias in the area that can't recognize broader trends outside their jurisdiction. Call it insular if you want. Look at the incumbent factor across major centres and for the most part the rest of Ontario through their local incumbents out on their butt. Oakville, Hamilton, Vaughn, Whitby, Clarington, Ottawa to name just a few. Even David Millar was given a stiff run for his money by a no-name.

    Not in Windsor who overwhelmingly put incumbents back in their chairs. I see this as a culture thing. Windsor has this victimization culture and the politicians play to that and thus get re-elected. I firmly believe that until this culture bias is cleaned out that Windsor will struggle meeting its expectations.

    So the election played out exactly as I thought it would. The old guys who played on fear get back in and the new blood gets pushed to the back row. Even worse, in the future, new blood will be hesitant to come forward. At the end of the day Windsor can't handle the TRUTH that new thinkers bring to the table and continue to re-elect the backward thinking do nothing politicians that got them into this mess to begin with.

    My two cents.

A few more of my thoughts:

  1. Further to my reader's note, Eddie's "massive victory" will be a starting point for the Eminence Grise's negotiations for a Cabinet position in the Tory Government. Eddie really needed 80% to clinch a senior position. Damn that Chicken!

  2. Tecumseh's Gary McNamara's winning percentage was 83%, higher than Eddie's. So does he win the arena referendum popularity contest?

  3. The war has started against our "enemies" although it has not been declared yet. Why do I say that? Henderson's column was titled "A new battle plan." He said "Francis, in an interview just hours before the polls closed, sounded like a politician girding for battle on a border file." Eddie is building up his forces ready to attack. Obviously for the $400K set aside, the Commander in the field will be lawyer David Estrin. The war starts right after "the city's response to border construction proposals from the senior levels of government that could hit the fan in days or weeks."

  4. Is Gridlock Sam coming back to help David Estrin? There was his name mentioned: "the airport transportation hub proposed by New York traffic guru Sam Schwartz?" Pretend he is coming back for one reason and then have him do something else.

  5. Who lied by omission to the electorate by NOT revealing information that is crucial to us. "Francis wouldn't tip his hand on plans for Windsor Airport, which has been bleeding red ink under a contract with a private operator, but said the airport, and especially the airport lands, will be a top priority."

    Did you hear anything about that in our fiscally prudent Mayor's election brochure or campaign speeches? Did the Windsor Star report it? Where were the Councillors dealing with this in the budget process? What other surprises are coming out now since the election is over!

    Lucky Councillors-elect. Their salaries will increase dramatically as they did last year when they have to attend all of those extra meetings to salvage the airport as they did to salvage Enwin. May be they can run up extra meetings for the Tunnel too since its finances are going into the toilet.

    Anyone want to buy a package of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel and airport, cheap? Hmmmm maybe that is the plan after all.

  6. Is "the Zalev scrapyard" our new Urban Village for dreaming for Eddie's second term?

  7. "Confident" not "arrogant" must be the word to describe Eddie's meeting with Gord on election day "just hours before the polls closed." Eddie must have had the "confidence" he would win and so needed Gord to hear his plans so they could be put in print the day after the election.

  8. Do you want to join the pool to guess the date when Council becomes dysfunctional?

  9. How much work will the Govenor's hubby get in Windsor as the Council implodes?

  10. Will Councillor Budget dare take on Councillor Dilkens as he took on Councillor Zuk?

  11. What does Alan know about Eddie's future plans since he is taking on such a dramatically different position on the border than the rest of Council? Who is his campaign Chair for his mayoral-run?

  12. Can you imagine being behind closed doors with Councillors Marra and Lewenza?

  13. When will Bill Marra stop being the nice guy and take on Eddie? What will the issue be? Who would be the first person, if that happened, to beg Bill to back off since we need to keep Eddie's position strong to fight for Windsor? And would Bill give in to such BS!
  14. How much did the Star "trash" talk hurt the Senator, espeically when the Mayor did not back him up even though he stood in for the Mayor?

  15. Which of the two Ward 5 Councillors' hair will be more silver on camera

  16. Will the Star now rein in Roseann Danese's Blog or will they continue to let her say what she wants to show how "fair" they are?

  17. The Liberals, Conservatives and NDP can all take credit for some election wins as can Segway!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Read But NOT In The Windsor Star

It eventually made the online edition of the Windsor Star but not the newspaper this morning that I could find. Here is what a reader wrote to me this morning and a copy of part of the story. You can read the entire story at :
  • "Good morning Ed. I realize this is way "off track" regarding your blog BUT I, as you, are totally sceptical of the Windsor Star and its approach to local issues. You no doubt have read the series of stories this past week written by Doug Schmidt about the Lorie Dupont murder at Hotel Dieu. Take a peek at page two of the National Post today. There is a full page article regarding a Mass to be held tomorrow at the hospital chapel in rememberance of Dr.Marc Daniel. This article appears to be written be someone whose name I am not familiar with locally.

    I am not siding one way or the other regarding the forthcoming mass tomorrow but it sure is shocking to note that none of this came forth locally in the Windsor Star but had to come from a national newspaper...

    My scepticism continues!"
Siri Agrell, National Post
Published: Tuesday, November 14, 2006

For the past year, the chapel at Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital in Windsor has been a place where doctors, nurses and other staff could go to discuss their pain, anger and grief at the murder of nurse Lori Dupont.

But at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow, employees will be invited there for a Mass in memory of Dr. Marc Daniel...

The killing devastated hospital staff and brought to light troubling issues about security and the danger women face at the hands of abusive former partners.

Marking the anniversary of Dr. Daniel's passing, then, is not without controversy in Windsor, a city still grieving and angry.

But a hospital administrator said yesterday that the Mass for the repose of his soul was planned in response to staff requests.

"We're a faith-based hospital, so as a Christian-based hospital it's important that we act in a Christian way," said Kim Spirou, vice-president of communications for Hotel-Dieu...

Anne Forrest...described the hospital's decision to hold a memorial for Dr. Daniel as "a bit jarring..."

The service could be especially difficult for the man who will lead it, Father Christopher Bourdeau, the hospital chaplain who knew both Ms. Dupont and Dr. Daniel.

"One of the Catholic traditions during the month of November is to pray for our deceased loved ones and friends," said Father Bourdeau, "and it's not only for the repose of Marc's soul but also for the living, for his family and for the colleagues and doctors here who knew him before he committed this terrible act..."

Father Bourdeau said he was sure it will be an emotional service for everyone."

Fair's Fair

Here is why this election was crucial for the Mayor and why he needed to win big (as will be plastered over every newspaper in Ontario).

The big election stories over the next year, alhtough we will not know it but you, dear reader, are being warned, will be the promises to be made for Eddie's second term and how he will turn that into a nomination for the PCs so that he can run against Sandra.

It cannot be too obvious mind you so expect a few shots at Dwight Duncan and a lot of anti-Liberal talk. Like the recent column by Gord Henderson

After all, he did go after Sandra pretty hard. And he did not want the feminists picketing outside of the Star offices. So I expect that Gord Henderson collaborated with his Editor John Coleman and they hashed out ideas together, since that is allowed under the Beneteau guidelines it seems, and then came the attack on Dwight Duncan.

It has to be a desperate day in November if Henderson has to use Dennis DesRosiers to attack Dwight Duncan. "But someone has to set the record straight when a politician who surely knows better starts making pollyanna speeches about the return of the good old days."

But then again, about a year ago, Gord said:

  • "When he sticks to the field he knows, DesRosiers is close to being prescient. His predictions about job losses that would result from the recent Big Three contract negotiations were almost bang-on and his warning that the city's union label is an investment and job killer must be taken deadly seriously.

    But DesRosiers, seemingly blinded by his buddy relationship with former mayor and fellow Kennedy grad Mike Hurst, goes off the rails when he strays into the local political arena."

So I guess Dennis' comments must fall under the "being prescient" category so Gord can use him to attack Dwight.

Now my Liberal friends who have been attacking me for predicting Eddie will run for the Tories should look at the end of the column where Gord keeps up his attack on the Liberals:

  • Tecumseh Ice Track/slots palace bushwhacking,
  • the $1,000-a-plate fundraiser for Premier Dalton McGuinty.
  • a disappearing school breakfast
  • the region's abundance of polecats
  • McGuinty's election commitment to reveal names of party donors in real time
  • this is a premier who, health premiums aside, remains devoutly committed to his promises.

Just so you know, dear reader, it was confirmed to me the other day by a Liberal insider that Dwight seriously considered running for the Federal Liberal leadership as I had suggested previously (He is working now to get Michael Ignatieff elected), he will run again provincially and NOT take a private enterprise job as had been rumoured and that he may run for the Provincial leadership when McGuinty retires (or perhaps federally depending on time-frames).

So Gord had to attack Spanky but not that hard. You won't hear about any NDP questions to him either. After all, Eddie will not run in Dwight's riding so why use up your IOU's!

More Of The Same

Not much really changed municipally last night. Most people believed that the incumbents were doing a good job for Windsor or rather, gave them the benefit of the doubt, believing that they needed another term to carry out their plans. Now the incumbents better deliver!

It was an interesting night. It looked like the incumbents did a better job of getting the vote out than did their challengers. I think that the tactic of starting the race late--nothing really happened until early October--helped as well. The challengers seemed to wait too long before getting out to make their names and faces better known.

I think most of them were suckered by the Eminence Grise who outplayed them. You do not beat incumbents by starting so late.

The Mayor received big numbers obviously but David Wonham did surprisingly well for a 2-week campaign with little money and a candidate who was virtually unknown. It proves that Chicken jokes still work. What will be interesting to see is whether Dr. Dave sticks around a bit and continues to speak out as one of the few voices to talk against what is going on in town. My suspicion is that a few people hope that he will since they don't want to be the "bad guys," not yet anyway.

The Councillor votes were not that big a surprise. Councillor Budget in Ward 1 will have a Wardmate who knows how to handle himself and who won't let himself be pushed around. His business credentials are more than a match for those of Councillor Brister.

I was shocked about Ward 2, not about Councillor Postma winning---candidates Growe and Petoran split the vote as I said so she snuck in- but by the showing of Chris Schnurr whom I thought was the class of the Ward. Just goes to show that one cannot always believe what is told to you at the door by residents!

Tony Blak did better this time in Ward 3 but did not get the necessary votes to beat the incumbents. As for Ward 5, the expected happened.

Ward 4 was the big shock of the evening: Ken Lewenza winning! It was not a surprise about Bill Marra after the arena fiasco but I am surprised that Ed Sleiman did not win. How Ken and Bill will work together should be interesting to watch. As for David Cassivi, one wonders if his vote would have been the same if he had not done an arena flip-flop.

In the end, not much changed. But a lot did. Eddie Francis is a self-proclaimed lame duck mayor who may leave municipal politics early in a year anyway as he runs for the PCs provincially. He could barely control his Council previously so how will he do it when at least 5-6 of the Councillors have ambitions to be mayor. The Governor's hubby will be busy for this term.

I must admit that I do not see Bill Marra playing the Leader of the Opposition role early on since he would be out by himself for awhile. No one else will stand with him now, especially the rookies, to challenge the re-elected Mayor right away. His mayor-candidates are not necessarily going to help him so he looks good at their expense. He has to pretend to work with Eddie for a bit because he is a "nice guy" and after all, Gord Henderson offered the olive branch by supporting him!

Expect Alan Halberstadt to go out first to try and win the next Mayoral campaign before the others even get started. How else to explain what he has been saying on his BLOG and how he is carving out positions for himself before the others know what hit them.

For all the money that DRTP spent, especially in South Windsor... wow, the OMERS pensioners should be angry at the lack of success! The big DRTP tunnel supporter in Ward 1 did not make it! Both Brister and Dilkens oppose the DRTP tunnel. Poor Mike.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Get Out And Vote

Will we see a major shake-up at City Hall with a lot of angry people coming out to express their disgust of the last three years. Or not.

Who knows what is going to happen in this most peculiar election that will elect a Mayor and Council for an extra year, a four-year term thanks to the Premier. However, the only way that you can have an influence is by voting! So go and do it!

Here are some of the questions that will be answered by late Monday night:
  1. How big will Eddie's vote be
  2. Will Eddie still be attractive for the Ontario Conservatives for the Provincial election 11 months from now
  3. Will Dave Brister be turfed and by whom
  4. Will the hard work of Chris Schnurr pay off or will the vote in his Ward be split
  5. Will Tony Blak make the big upset of the night
  6. Will the run of the Senator end
  7. Will Bill Marra become the Leader of the Opposition
  8. Will Kennie still run for Comartin's seat even though he loses his Council seat
  9. Will this be the worst Council ever with Eddie as a lame duck mayor and with feuding princes and princesses all positioning themselves to run for Mayor
  10. Can Windsor afford 4 more years of this!

Will Eddie Apologize AND The Missing Page

Note to Eminence Grise: Eddie had better apologize and do it quickly. It is "or else" time! The Raceway people are not afraid to take Eddie on and from what I am hearing are prepared to do so.

Eddie has totally misjudged the anger of the Toldos and Rosatis about being used in his dispute with WCA. He should do what their lawyer did when he was called to task by the lawyer for PCR. Admit the mistake and end the dispute. I suspect that Eddie will not admit he was wrong and this matter will escalate into another war for the City! That will allow Council to add another name to the City's "enemies" list.

I have attached to this BLOG, above, the letter sent by the Raceway people to the Mayor along with the attachment, below, their August 3 letter.

There are 2 stories in the letter. Let me talk about the obvious one--the Apology-- since it is easier to discuss first. Then I will discuss the second, more important, one which has the potential to stop the PCR arena in its tracks.

I am not going through the history of the arena war again but the fact that the Toldos and Rosatis had to go to Tecumseh to build their arena ought to give you some indication of the feelings between them and the Mayor.

The Windsor Construction Association's complaint was that "in our opinion, administration was negligent in informing Council that compliance with this By-law has occurred relative to the provisions of the "sole sourcing" procedures as defined." This was in relation to the PCR arena only.

Why it was necesary for the Mayor to drag Project Ice Track back into the story is beyond me. The WCA complaint had nothing to do with them at all.

Trying to answer the Construction Association's complaint, the Mayor stated

  • "Francis noted that the association's complaint about sole sourcing would have applied to Windsor Raceway's proposal for the Ice Track arena, since that would not have been tendered either if council chose that project. "That would have been sole sourced as well."

I must admit that I do not understand the Mayor's comment. He knows or ought to know that there is a big difference between the two projects. Project Ice Track was a public/private partnership with the City contributing $15M. Under the Purchasing By-law, which was amended during Eddie's term as Mayor, "A Sole Source purchase may be used for the purchasing of goods and/or services for Contracts of any Contract value....Where a public/private partnership exists."

The PCR arena is not a Sole Source purchase as far as I can see in the By-law and even if it is, it is not a permitted one. It is a design-build project which is completely different. The Sole Source P3 exemption does not apply at all to it.

The complaint was the legality of the process re the PCR arena not the legality of the process if Project Ice Track had won.

The Mayor must be in panic mode.

  • "Francis wondered why the proponents of the new Tecumseh project would now be concerned about what was happening with Windsor's proposed arena. "I thought they had a deal in Tecumseh that they were happy about. We've moved on, so should they."

    He said it was suspicious that the issue was raised on the eve of election day. "I find all of this very suspect."

What a ridiculous statement. HE is the one that cannot move on. HE cannot let go of Project Ice Track...HE brought them back into the story. HE was the one who raised the issue re the Ice Track a few days ago. What are they supposed to do, sit idly by if they feel they have been maligned? Are they to answer only when the Mayor allows them to do so and at his timing? HE made the election issue, not the Raceway. HE better apologize, or else

However, the BIG STORY is the deletion of Page 2. of Project Ice Track's August 3, 2006 letter from the documents revealed publicly in Administration's narrative of the arena projects and the consequences from doing so.

The Mayor stated in the Star story

  • "This file has been open to the point that the average citizen knows more about this file than in any other jurisdiction."

How does he explain then that a key page of a document was missing? It is an absolutely crucial document. Citizens were given an incomplete file. Was its omission accidental or deliberate?

That page in effect states that the procedure suggested by the Mayor in relation to adding the East Side facility (2 icepads and community components) to their proposal was, in Project Ice Track's opinion, a violation of the Purchasing Bylaw. Interestingly, in its Report to Council, Administration did NOT give the reason why the "Ice Track proposal does not require that the east end facility be built as part of its proposal."

In other words, the Mayor knew in early August that there could be a major difficulty in moving forward in a manner similar to the way that he moved forward with the PCR deal. He was warned that the procedure may be in violation of the Purchasing By-law. Accordingly, the PCR deal as a "go-it-alone" deal and not a P3 could be in violation!

I believe that the Mayor must now show us the legal opinion he obtained in this matter justifying moving forward in the manner that he did. If he did not obtain one, then he needs to tell us specifically why the process is a proper one.

I have asked Mr. Duben and Councillor Gignac to do so and they have refused to answer me. Now I am asking the Head Guy to do so. If he cannot, then he is jeopardizing the entire East End project.

If the process is an improper one and the East End arena is stopped, then there is only one person to blame!

Page 2

Secret Right To The End

This most secretive Mayor and Council have done it again respecting the border. Taking action and passing Resolutions in secret and not having the guts to let us know about it.

I was interested in reading Councillor Halberstadt's BLOG, "Growing Border Bills" on the border issue. We learned that not only have we spent about $2.8M so far on legal and consulting fees but that Council has authorized another $400K.

What is so typical is that it was done in camera:
  • "What was not reported in writing on Monday was the in camera authorization by City Council a month earlier, on Oct. 10th, of a further upset limit of $400,000 to external border lawyer David Estrin ($275,000) and independent engineering consulting firms ($125,00O)."

It's not funny that we have spent so much money, and will spend more, and achieved what? Do you remember way back a looooong time ago when everyone was waiting on Windsor to come up with the solution for the border: the Prime Minister, the Premier, the US Ambassador? Now they are all waiting for the municipal election to end so they can impose a solution on us. I hope no Senator in Ottawa asks Eddie at the Bill C-3 hearings how he'd fix the road to the border and why he has waited so long with $300M available.... Imagine how many infrastructure jobs that would have created.

I am not taking a shot at Alan since he at least has the guts to spill the beans on what is going on behind closed doors. So I say to Alan, "Better late than never" in figuring out that Windsor is acting like a "petulant child." Alan at least recognizes that:

  • "We need to end our adversarial relationship with the senior levels of government if at all possible and come to the table to discuss technical strategies that will work for all...

    I couldn't agree more. It is time for the City of Windsor to take a more conciliatory stance and discuss pros and cons face-to-face with the other agencies, rather than communicate at arms length through expensive legal letters."

Alan did forget one other party that needs to be involved as well: The Ambassador Bridge Co. Has everyone somehow been struck by memory loss? Has everyone forgotten that there is a bridge at the end of Huron Church Road. Do they not understand that the Bridge Co. will protect their business? Doesn't someone think they might be interested in what is done? Like them or hate them, they have to be dealt with.

Trouble is, the Ambassador Bridge is now the enemy! How can you talk to them? Councillor Halberstadt has used that term twice. This time Alan says:

  • "Estrin is still working on a public report to Council, complete with recommended resolutions and legal remedies, he believes the city should take to protect its interests against the enemies.

In fact, it appears that the City is now going to pay money for Mr. Estrin to work outside of Canada:

  • "The Ambassador Bridge, in a bizarre move, has applied to the United States Coast Guard for a permit to build a second span and the city feels a need to become involved in blocking that process."

Unfortunately Alan must not know that the Coast Guard is involved in the EA process in the US for the Bridge Co.'s project. It's not bizarre at all but is required.

What makes anyone think that the US Coast Guard will care what the City thinks. Obviously, the strategy is to get involved in the US process and when the Coast Guard ignores Estrin, he appeals to the Court in order to stall the process there. What the heck, it is only our money and our economy at risk as businesses will shun the litigious border city whose border does not work. Or rather, that will be the perception.

I wonder if that explains the money that seems to be unaccounted for in Wilkki's report, the $230K or so. Is that being hidden too or is there another explanation why it seems to have been ignored? Estrin must have had to do work to put in a presentation there and that cost money. The $400K seemed to be for future work.

And I suspect as well, that if Estrin has tried to stall off the US process, he will try and do so here too as well in the EA that the Bridge Co. is involved in.

Just so you know, I expect that there were at least 2 secret Resolutions passed at that October 10 meeting: one for what is to be done in the US and one to be done in Canada. How do I know:

  • "M243-2006 That the Report of the special In-camera meeting held October 10, 2006 BE ADOPTED as presented.
    Carried. "

Hmmm I wonder how we can get a copy of those Resolutions? How do we break the secrecy barrier at City Hall? With new Councillors who will have the guts to stand up to the Mayor perhaps!