Row, Row, Row Windsor's Boat
I told you, dear reader, that the Star is on a mission. The real challenge however is to try to figure out sometimes what that mission is since even the Star Editors seem to be confused on what they should be doing.
To paraphrase Shakespeare in Hamlet to explain the problem that the Editors have: To criticize or not to criticize the Mayor, that is the question.
Last Saturday's editorial was one of their funnier ones but it made clear what they believe their role is. Part of their job is to stifle dissent and to preserve unity. They do a good job of hammering those that they don't care for except, ironically, they actually give credibility to those whom they attack. These days, the more ferocious the attack, the more believable a person becomes in the eyes of Windsorites.
The Star, and City Hall too I would wager, were terrified about what Dennis DesRosiers would say this week in his speech. As time goes on, it is clear that the speeches made by DesRosiers in the past are bang on when he criticized what is happening with this City. How else to explain this comment about him other than to discredit him in advance.
- "But his characterization of Windsor as a dysfunctional community riddled with dissension and incompetent leadership is counterproductive."
The Star did not know what DesRosiers is going to say yet they are trying to protect Eddie in advance since they are assuming that he would be dumping on the Mayor.
You see as well that they echo the Mayor's theme which is their positive way to stifle any discouraging words by anyone. Their last line in the Editorial was priceless:
- "This is a rough storm but we can weather it together. We're all in the same boat. We'll find safe harbour soon enough if we all just grab a paddle."
Why doesn't that that sound just like the Mayor? There is that "we" word. Whenever something goes wrong, our Mayor is united with his Councillors. When they go right... who is front and center alone?
Do you want to know, dear reader, why you cannot take the Windsor Star seriously, if you ever did. It is because they make the news; they don't report it. That's part of their mission too. Did you actually read what DesRosiers said about leadership in his speech in the Star? Hardly! You read it in my BLOG!
Here's what they say their role is:
- "The Star and other media outlets have a responsibility to focus on positive stories -- they are out there -- instead of focusing only on the negative ones that land with a thud on the community's doorstep. People are still opening businesses. People are still imagining new and better ways to trap that mouse."
Yes, focus on the positive. Tell us the good news. Don't tell us what's wrong. Don't place responsibility where it belongs. Blame it on the "perfect storm" and not the Mayor as if nothing that he has done so far is responsible for anything.
- "You can't blame Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis and city council for the strong loonie, border congestion, 9-11 and adjustments in the international auto sector. You can't blame the unions or the province or the federal government either.
That's the imperfect thing about perfect economic storms like the one battering Windsor. No one person and no one thing is to blame."
For whatever reason, and I have my own theory about it, but Star cannot blame Eddie for doing anything wrong. The WUC fiasco Editorial and the recent one on the airport on openness are pointed right at the Mayor and yet the Star Editors refuse to name names. Try and see who is at fault in Monday's Editorial about the arena. They are shirking their responsibility as the major news outlet in the City. But I guess their excuse is that there is a greater cause that they are fighting for, whatever that is.
What is so ludicrous about the Star's position can be seen in the story about the Tunnel. There we have it: the Mayor talked to the Tunnel Commissioners in confidence on the US $75 million deal but we mere citizens who may have to bear the brunt of it financially cannot know what is going on. Do you have any idea what the legal fees must be since they are working nearly day every day on it? Not only that, the Tunnel is soon being transformed into a private corporation of which the Mayor is the head, like the airport, so that we will find out nothing about it unless Drew Dilkens' Motion is approved by Council.
How does one deal with the Star other than to say that within the Editorial ranks there is a conflict when you read an Editorial like the one on Monday that goes completely against what was said on Saturday:
- "If it was only a loonie that will be buried beneath the ice of the arena under construction in the city's east end, taxpayers would have no business inquiring about the sale of luxury suites by the Windsor Spitfires. But when 65 million loonies will form the foundation of that publicly funded arena, taxpayers deserve some answers and a little respect.
The Spits' new home is being built with public money at a time when jobs are leaving this city, and residents, already reeling from water rate hikes, are facing the prospect of property tax increases...
Taxpayers deserve to see this contract because the arena is being built with their money and they also deserve to see the agreement because this city has a dubious history when it comes to inking deals. The fact that councillors themselves never saw the contract -- they voted in favour of the deal based on an administrative report that was taken away from them following in-camera discussions -- is all the more reason why this deal must be made public."
I cannot stomach the excuse about a "perfect storm." It is not as if it just happened. It is not as if we did not know that there would be problems with the economy. Isn't it the job of a great leader to anticipate and to plan for action to minimize any pain? Not just to sit back and tell us that what is happening is cyclical and that everything will be good again just like in the past. That's what Eddie told the realtors as reported in Saturday's Star.
- "once the economic cyclical wheel turns, the city will be better positioned to compete."
- "it is up to them to "sell" the city, one deal at a time."
When Eddie first became Mayor I suggested that he read two books: one was by Nathan Phillips, the popular Mayor of Toronto, and the other was the Prince by Machiavelli. Had he read Phillips' book, the Mayor of all the People, then he would understand how a Mayor truly unites a city and how a Mayor "sells" a city without the need of a huge PR department. Had he read the Prince, then he would have learned how to deal with Fate and perfect storms.
- "What Fortune Can Effect In Human Affairs, And How To Withstand Her
IT is not unknown to me how many men have had, and still have, the opinion that the affairs of the world are in such wise governed by fortune and by God that men with their wisdom cannot direct them and that no one can even help them; and because of this they would have us believe that it is not necessary to labour much in affairs, but to let chance govern them. This opinion has been more credited in our times because of the great changes in affairs which have been seen, and may still be seen, every day, beyond all human conjecture. Sometimes pondering over this, I am in some degree inclined to their opinion. Nevertheless, not to extinguish our free will, I hold it to be true that Fortune is the arbiter of one-half of our actions, but that she still leaves us to direct the other half, or perhaps a little less.
I compare her to one of those raging rivers, which when in flood overflows the plains, sweeping away trees and buildings, bearing away the soil from place to place; everything flies before it, all yield to its violence, without being able in any way to withstand it; and yet, though its nature be such, it does not follow therefore that men, when the weather becomes fair, shall not make provision, both with defences and barriers, in such a manner that, rising again, the waters may pass away by canal, and their force be neither so unrestrained nor so dangerous. So it happens with fortune, who shows her power where valour has not prepared to resist her, and thither she turns her forces where she knows that barriers and defences have not been raised to constrain her."
In other words, no one can predict when disaster will hit but provision can be made in advance to deal with it and to minimize it. In Windsor's context, it was obvious that the Big Three were in trouble and that our economy would suffer. What did Eddie do about it? Our Economic Development Commission was years in the making and is a huge joke. It took them a year for heavens sake and a million dollars to figure out that they do not have any marketing materials. Where is our economic diversification plan or is our plan just to bring in speakers from out of town to tell us how well we will be doing in the future?
Where is the border solution that would have produced thousands and thousands of high-paying jobs for Windsor that would have provided a soft landing during the transition from reliance on the Big Three to our new economy? Why are we spending millions of dollars on an arena at taxpayer expense when we could have partnered with private enterprise and limited our financial exposure? How can we help out citizens in distress in these tough economic times when part of our budget is going for bridge financing of a $65 million and counting ego extravaganza? (Ooops, I forgot that our tax base is not going to be impacted by the arena.) Where are we going to find the money to build shovel ready land at the airport or a new City Hall or pay for infrastructure like roads and water mains and sewers except if we lease out City assets?
If our future depends on partnering with the University and building an intellectual R&D Centre for automotive excellence in Windsor, then both the Star and our Mayor have to be condemned in the strongest terms for the hatchet job they have done on the University. Instead of being thrilled that the University had the foresight to put forward a proposal that may save the City, all we have are attacks by the Star and the Mayor. Build where we tell you in the downtown to save the Mayor's career or you get no money from the City. How shortsighted and how perverse.
Take a look at this story in the Detroit Free Press to see what a city should be doing to embrace what the University wants to do.
- "Michigan has tools to fix its economy
Using colleges as a resource is key, groups are told
BY TOM WALSH, FREE PRESS COLUMNIST, November 23, 2007
If Michigan has the nation's worst case of jobs migration and stunted economic growth, North Carolina is the oft-cited flip side of that story -- a place once saddled with dying industries that has recovered to become a high-technology growth mecca.
Rick Weddle runs the huge Research Triangle Park in the Raleigh-Durham area that has been a key driver in North Carolina's economic comeback.
And he has a provocative message for those wringing their hands about Michigan's malaise:
• Shame on Michigan for failing to capitalize on its tremendous assets.
• Quit whining and do something. A strong bias for action is critical to re-energizing the state's economy...
The Research Triangle Park, now 7,000 acres, was formed in 1959 on scrub farmland located midway between three major universities -- Duke, North Carolina and North Carolina State. It now has more than 40,000 full-time workers at 160 companies and research agencies, including IBM, Cisco, Nortel Networks, Lenovo, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences."
Imagine that, building a University complex at a spot where it can expand to 7000 acres and not in a downtown where it could not expand it all.
What I have discussed has nothing to do with the excuses set out in the Windsor Star Editorial! They represent a failure by the person who is the Head of this City and who rightfully deserves criticism for his failures.
Remember before what I wrote about the Star:
- "Take Saturday's Star as an example. We should have a debate some time whether the Star is performing a service to this Community as the major media outlet in town or a disservice. Are they providing the news or making it or manipulating it for their own purposes...
[Windsor Star executive editor Marty] Beneteau [said] "We did things that newspapers can do to bring about change, positive change. I think we got a lot of results this year and this now validates the results we got."
- "Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream. "