Windsor Mayors' Conflicts
It seems that finally someone is concerned with our Mayors' possible "conflict of interest" by being Mayor and also Chair of a Board. Unfortunately for me, it is the wrong Board that was being discussed this time around.
Again, as I wrote once before note the plural "s" in Mayors. This criticism is not directed at just this Mayor but every Mayor who plays the dual role.
- "Mayor's police board role questioned
By Chris Thompson, Thursday, January 25, 2007
A local criminal lawyer is questioning the wisdom of having the mayor of the city serve as chairman of the police services board. “We want to avoid the politicizing of police,” said Greg Goulin"
As you, dear reader must know by now, I am very critical of the inherent conflict of interest with the Mayor being Head of Council and also Chair of the Windsor Tunnel Commission.
I asked before about $9,150. That's the amount that Mayor Francis, Chairman of the Windsor Tunnel Commission, receives as salary to sit on the Commission. Is he overpaid?
As an example, with the operations of the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel seeming to be getting worse and worse with cost over-runs at the Tunnel Ventilation Building, no one hired to run the operation, $6.6m dividend disappearing and a huge drop in traffic that continues and continues, the Mayor should seriously consider teminating the services of the Chair. But do you really think that Eddie will fire himself?
How about the unique security risk at the Tunnel? Should Eddie as Chair demand action to fix it since there is a huge liability when as Mayor he knows that there may not be enough money to do so?
This conflict of interest may be causing Windsor serious problems as well. Is the Mayor concerned about the border from the competitive position as Chair of thte Tunnel or for the public interest as Mayor? The two interests are not necessarily the same. Which one is the dominant one?
The Senate of Canada recognized this conflict during the debate on Bill C-3 :
- "We have seen decreases in numbers of crossings at various places, including the tunnel from Windsor to Detroit. By the way, the committee that oversees that tunnel is chaired by guess who? The Mayor of Windsor. I would suggest perhaps the Mayor of Windsor may have a conflict as he debates how other people see this."
It would appear that the Tunnel Plaza improvements to take vehicles off Goyeau and Wyandotte is more important for the Chair than fixing the road to the border for the Mayor. There seems to be a Tunnel deal between Windsor and the Senior Levels made early on but the potential of a lawsuit between them as both the Mayor and Councillor STOPDRTP threatened legal action over the road.
Just a hint for Eddie. You had better be careful over these Board/Mayor conflicts. It can hurt your credibility in your future career as you dance around as it did in this exchange in the Senate. The use of "politician" here was not a complimentary one!
- Senator Mercer: However, you are the mayor of the city of Windsor.
Mr. Francis: I am.
Senator Mercer: I suspect that the city of Windsor has more than a passing interest in this process or you would not be here.
You are chair of the tunnel commission, is that correct?
Mr. Francis: I am chair of the Windsor Tunnel Commission, yes.
Senator Mercer: Does that come with the title of mayor? Is the mayor always the chair of this commission or is this something separate?
Mr. Francis: No, the mayor has historically taken on roles and responsibilities on a number of committees. In addition to the Windsor Tunnel Commission, I am also chair of the energy company. It is part of our job. Our jobs never end. We work on committees.
Senator Mercer: I have bridges in my province that go from one city to another, not from one country to another.
Mr. Francis: It was established when the tunnel was created and vested in the city of Windsor that a committee and a commission would be struck. The commission is an agency.
Senator Mercer: City council then chooses who the chair is, do they?
Mr. Francis: The commission does, yes.
Senator Mercer: The commission, but who appoints the commission?
Mr. Francis: The city council.
Senator Mercer: I told you he is a good politician.
Frankly, this issue needs addressing by the new Council. In fact, Council needs to look at the role of Councillors on Boards as well. Remember how much extra money Councillors made in salaries by sitting on boards. Enwin had troubles as an example and many extra meetings were required to fix its problems, all of which meant Councillors earned additional income. And did we ever find out what the problems were? If we did, I must have missed it.