Woof, Woof, Woof
I am pleased to see that the Star has deemed me "respectable" again. Oh if only CKLW's Patty Handyside would do so too then I would be so happy. After all, I and the other speakers at Council were called "taxpayer watchdogs." I can live with that description.
I do wish though that the Star had given us more than 3 lines to express our point of view but what can one expect from that newspaper these days. You understand why a competitive online newspaper is needed in this City to give the whole story and in a timely fashion.
Tunnel liability fears raised [Scare tactics raised]
Dave Battagello, Windsor Star, June 15, 2007
Windsor's taxpayers will be better protected from costly liability by the formation of a corporation to oversee the Canadian half of the tunnel, says lawyer Cliff Sutts, who is overseeing the move. [The whole liability issue is a phony one. It is really the pretext for teh City's actions as set out in the Business Case Study the City put forward. If there was an issue re liability, the City should have taken action years ago to solve the Tunnel's "unique security risk."]
Council has agreed to proceed with a business plan for a new tunnel corporation -- among the first steps in the process. [Oh my, the Business case study was NOT complete. How could Council pass the Recommendation? Their action does not meet the test under the Municipal Act! The public consultation was only given part of the story, not the complete one]
The city's ownership of the Canadian side of the Windsor-Detroit tunnel leaves ratepayers subject to claims if they are not covered sufficiently by insurance -- especially dangerous in the new age of terrorist fears, Sutts said. [That's why you buy lots of insurance. If there were catastrophic damages above the insurance limits, the Tunnel assets owned by the City would be taken to satisfy the judgment so taxpayers would lose out as well.]
"If there are substantial damages, it would be added on to every taxpayer in Windsor," he said of the need for a new tunnel corporate entity.
"That's an unacceptable risk in my mind." [See above]
With the corporation in place, any successful lawsuit against the tunnel would be paid by that corporation, and not by city taxpayers, he said. [Will Mr. Sutts give an absolute and unqualified legal opinion that no court will ever "pierce the corporate veil" and make the City liable? Councillors must demand it given Mr Sutts' comments. I'd like his insurance and his and his partners' assets on the line for that if he is so confident. Might be hard to do with the Mayor and 2 direct City managers as teh Board and City Employee Mark Galvin as the Acting Tunnel breather! If I were a Plaintiff's lawyer, I would seek to do so]
Detroit owns the U.S. side and leases it to a private investment firm, Alinda Capital Partners. [and Alinda's contract does not end until 2020 so we pay out US$75M now and get no recovery until 2020! How do we pay for the interest costs on that for 13 years? Raising tolls by about a dollar per car will kill Tunnel volumes]
Several taxpayer watchdogs expressed concerns about possible implications of the move, but they were most worried about the city's negotiations to take over full operation of the tunnel in a US$75-million deal with Detroit. [Three whole lines. Read my Tunnel speech in my BLOG to see what I was worried about]
Mayor Eddie Francis said the pricetag is justified based on third-party evaluations requested by both sides. [Then why won't the Mayor provide them?]
Unless a deal is competed by the end of the month, Detroit could walk away from the table. It is hoping to use $58 million from the deal to help balance its budget for this year. [Yet several paragraphs later we are told the process will take several more months]
Francis said it makes sense to shield taxpayers from liability by creating a separate tunnel corporation [Sure, who can argue against that but why was it never done before? Did our lawyer-Mayor leave us at risk while he was a member of the WTC and of Council for so many years? Is he admitting that he was negligent? Why was the Tunnel given such broad powers including the right to mortgage its assets!]
He cited the recent example in which the city was forced to pay a cyclist $844,450 after he ran over an unmarked raised catch basin that threw him from his bike and permanently injured him. [A red-herring...There was insurance for that. How many claims has the Tunnel had?]
Once the business plan is complete, the next step will be to create an organizational structure and bylaws. It is expected to take between a month or two to complete the process, Francis said.[This is bizarre....The deal is to close this month!]