Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, February 02, 2007

Uncovering The Real Dirt In Windsor

What is it about "dirt" that so fascinates Windsorites.


The most famous dirt issue in Windsor has to be the lack of dirt known as the "engineered slope" or Bill Docherty's hole downtown. This saga seems to have gone on forever and is still not finished:

  • "City moves to fill hole at Docherty property; Jan 4, 2007

    The hole in the ground will remain a hole for a bit longer.

    The city has hired an engineer to inspect the site, next to the Radisson Hotel, and prepare a report on the work required to fill it.

    "We can't just bring trucks in and start dumping dirt in there," said city lawyer Mark Nazarewich."


Then there was the archaeology dirt tempest in a teapot involving the new bridge

  • "The local archeological society wants the city to halt expansion of the Ambassador Bridge because the company may be digging on historically sensitive lands that include First Nation burial grounds."

I never did understand the issue since the City's Heritage planner had said in relation to an item at Council a few days ago about lands at Huron road and Lambton that if the land was already "disturbed" no archaeological assessment was needed.

So why was there this big deal about the houses on Indian Road that had already "disturbed" the lands when houses were built or is it just because it is the Bridge Co. involved. Silly me, that is the answer.


Who can forget the extra $200K, so far, to clean up the mess where Mr.Fahri is to build his new condo on the river that the City is paying for.

"The city will have to pay up to $200,000 to remove a foundation left behind from an old brewery on the Riverside Drive site that is part of a land swap for the new arena development."

Now reduced to only $100K for a 2 year extension on taking ownership


The lack of X-ray eyes in Don Sadler's head means that the City's Peace Beacon costs have increased by $300K.

  • "The soil conditions encountered when digging began included wood, woodpiles, large concrete foundations and organic fill. The materials had to be removed and shipped to the landfill, causing unforeseen costs of $104,000. The fill that was removed had to be replaced with engineered fill in order to hold the footings to support the new structure, Sadler said.

    "Soon as we got digging down a little bit deeper to place the footings, then we ran into a tremendous" problem."


Then the arena. Thank goodness there are no dirt problems there right.

  • "An environmental assessment has been completed and a clean bill of health given to the new east-end arena site."

I wonder actually if it was just like the same assurance that Don gave us at the same time that

  • "An environmental assessment was also completed on land next to the Art Gallery of Windsor, which will be given to a London developer in exchange for the east-end site. The downtown property has also been cleared for environmental contaminants."

As the story above suggests, there may not have been environmental damage but other problems that might cost us dearly.


Anyway, I would not be surprised if there will be a lot more dirt flying around Windsor in the very near future. It seems to be the Windsor way.

Downtown Dirt Alert

Judith Veresuk, Executive Director of the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association, wrote a nice guest column about "a few realities not covered in recent Windsor Star coverage" about the downtown. She spent a good part of the column talking about the "clean team" removing litter, sweeping up and cleaning the streets amongst other issue.

Unfortunately, no one has dealt with an issue that should be front and centre with the debate that Council will have on Monday about tunnels: Detroit/Windsor Tunnel exhaust and its effect on downtown and other areas of the City.

I raise this issue because there seems to be a bit of a battle going on between Gord Henderson and another local, lonely Blogger Chris Schnurr over tunnels.

The issue seems to me to be a very simple one to deal with. Why not use scrubbers to solve the dirty air problem IF such technology exists. Gord claims that there is technology, Chris says that there is no such technology.

These two can go back and forth on the matter with no real determination being made. It struck me however that the way to get the answer is a simple one. Someone merely should call up the Chair of the Windsor Tunnel Commission and get the answer from him.

Oh in case you have been living in a tunnel, the Chair is also the Mayor!


Not only a building but a heritage building at that. Oh, I am waiting to see how Eddie uses that designation to try and stop something in the future too. Hmmmmm if the Bridge Co. dared to try to buy the Tunnel, since it is "heritage" building, the City could use that designation to disrupt operations. Wow, another Sisters of St. Joseph building-type matter that could wind up in the Courts for years.

Actually, we don't need to look at studies from around the world. We don't have to ask some consultant what the answer is. The Chair should have the answer at his finger-tips. It is part of his business after all to know this.

Now the Mayor/Chair has been conspicuous by his absence in this debate. Is it because he knows that previously, there was no scrubber on the building and that the dirty Tunnel air was spewed out into downtown and other areas of Windsor? We know that million have been spent to repair and upgrade the building but we do not know if scrubbers were included. If not, why not? Surely, money is no object in downtown Windsor when the health of citizens are involved. If we want scrubbers on the DRIC road, then Council must be consistent downtown too. Mark Boscariol should demand no less from Eddie.

I had another idea---if we can demand air monitoring on Huron Church Road, why aren't we monitoring the air around our Tunnel now to get an indication of what may happen if we build a series of new ventilation buildings. Why hasn't our Mayor/Chair demanded that DRIC do this research work too and immediately?

I think I may know the answer. If the air coming out of the Tunnel is dirty, is being spread all over the downtown and Chris is right, then the City has a problem. Would it be a violation of a law? Would the City/Tunnel be forced to correct the problem? If it could not be fixed, would the Tunnel have to be closed down?

Now that would be a fine kettle of fish wouldn't it!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

What Is It With Gord Henderson

There, isn't that the question that everyone is asking but to which no one knows the answer.

He is still as amusing as ever and as controversial too. But then again, isn't that why the Star pays him. I bet that he can set off a person's day with some of the views he expressess.

I have pretty extensive databases from which I draw information for my BLOG. I obviously have the ability to find what persons say in the past and do use it. What impresses me the most about Gord is the insight that he brings to issues early on.

It is clear that certain politicians in town won't make a move until Gord signals what that person is expected to do and will run to him, like a cry-baby, for protection and support if someone dares attack.

I can imagine a politician dreading opening the paper and wondering if his/her name will appear in Gord's column that day and whether Gord will be in a good or bad mood. All politicians that is except one.

Except for secrecy, and what choice did he really have, Gord has played the role of being the biggest booster in town for Eddie. He can do no wrong it appears in Gord's eyes. He will go after potential mayoral opponents far in advance of an election, will start attacking potential opponents in a provincial election and will hammer anyone who dares step out of line on the border issue. His extreme position on tunnelling for instance has me scratching my head in light of what a fellow, lonely Blogger, Chris Schnurr, has written on the subject. Check out Chris' challenge to Gord's "scrubbing" remarks at his Blogsite.

I have wondered about Gord's viewpoint for a long time and the reasons for it but his column today just was enough. I may now actually believe that Councillor Halberstadt, Gord's buddy, is NOT a front for the Mayor with his point of view in light of both his attack publicly on the Mayor at Council last Monday and in Henderson's attack on him today.

"Waving the white flag" is hardly what Alan is doing. He is being realistic. You have to talk if you want to deal. Why doesn't Gord understand that, or the Mayor? Alan is trying to prevent a war that I, as a litigator, can see coming and which the City, if it loses, may not have insurance to cover. The hit to taxpayers in fighting the Bridge Co. and/or the Senior Levels could not only cost millions in legal fees but could cost hundreds of millions in damages if unsuccessful.

Is Alan being irreseponsible in making citizens aware of that and questioning the Mayor and his tactics? I think not. He is doing his job as a Councillor and fulfilling his legal obligations! Frankly, if he did NOT do so, then he is opening up himself to a personal action by a disgruntled taxpayer for not doing what he was elected to do.

That is not a scare tactic but a reality check. If Eddie had been lulled into a false sense of security by his friends that the Bridge Co., as an example, would not sue, despite Dan Stamper's comments in the Star, Eddie knew exactly what the game was when Stamper put him down at Council. You had to be there to feel the oxygen being sucked out of the room when Stamper stared Eddie down! Alan was there and must have felt it too.

Poor Drew Dilkens. He has disappointed Gord. Well he did not disappoint me and I am in his Ward too. He had the nerve after all to say "It stinks" in relation to Eddie's stealth move on the Interim Control By-law. It was HIS move that many Councillors only learned about when they opened their Council package on the weekend before the Council meeting. What kind of respect is that from the Mayor to his colleagues.

I guess that Eddie learned that Drew has a brain and is prepared to use it. By the way, wasn't his Ward colleague a member at one time of the recently disbanded Border Issues Communications Committee that did not do a damn thing as far as I can recall since it was set up! I guess there are no "issues" if Eddie calls the shots.

And Bill Marra, how dare he not follow Gord's orders and not be a team player after all.

All of the scare-mongering words are being thrown out:
  • pandering to the Bridge Co.
  • renegade Councillors
  • trucks on E C Row
  • no longer a cohesive team speaking with one strong and defiant voice
  • folks have lost faith in politicians
  • pull the plug on costly plans for a downriver bridge
  • betraying Sandwich

What rubbish! Oh dear, that is the problem with democracy. People are allowed to think and say NO.

Eddie of course never does his own dirty work. It would mess up his squeaky clean image. Why does Henderson feel so obliged to help him?

Henderson's message is a simple one to Councillors. Follow Eddie. Period.

Sure he does not give you information (although he gives it to the Star), sure you do not know what he is planning, sure you are caught by surprise, sure you may look like fools. Stay united.

Councillors are no longer to be allowed to carry out their Municipal Act obligations. They are no longer allowed to think. They are only allowed to vote 10-0 and do Eddie's bidding.

Eddie has been successful in keeping unity at Council by using the border issue to get Councillors to do what he wanted. In his first year, it was say nothing since Sam is working. In the second year, it was stay united as we sell Sam. In the third year it was, oh-oh, Sam is gone so let's pretend we want a tunnel costing billions because Windsor deserves it or we will not get re-elected.

He has nothing now to keep Council together. Surely Councillors, especially the newbies, were concerned when they found out that Eddie was doing things behind their backs and not giving them information that he knew about. They had to be worried that the public found out that the Bridge Co. wanted a meeting with the City since November and nothing was done. Who does Eddie think he is, Tranport Minister Cannon who refuses to come to Windsor!

I would have not wanted to look like a fool and admit that the Interim Control By-law had not been discussed with me before it was introduced and impacted hundreds of property owners in Sandwich and perhaps killed development there for years as it gave out the wrong signal to investors in Windsor. If I were a Councillor, I would have said to the Bridge Co., how many millions are you going to spend in Sandwich and how many jobs will you create if we allow you to build a bridge in our City. They have $500M to spend along with the $300M Government funds. How many out of work people would have jobs if that started?

The Three Wise Men of Council, the Three Musketeers scared the hell out of Eddie. That is really why we had the Henderson column.

It really had nothing to do with the border or the Bridge Co... It all had to do with a lame duck Mayor's attempt to control Council for at least another year while he works diligently at his next career move. He cannot have failure now when he can taste success. He cannot have a united front against him

Eddie remembers well how Council turned on Mike Hurst in his last term of office so that nothing Mike wanted ever got passed. He lost border votes 7-3, police votes, art on the river votes and even Hospice votes. Eddie should know well about blocks being formed because he helped form the block against Hurst. He is deathly afraid that the same Fate will befall him and he does not know what to do about it.

So that's what the column is about. It is all about Eddie, nothing to do with Windsor. Do not dare form a block to defy the Mayor or else.

And as to why Gord is doing it---I think it is really simple. He believes that all we have is Eddie to protect Windsor whether it is here as Mayor or as a Minister in Queen's Park. Sure he is doing dumb things but he is all we've got in Henderson's mind. Accordingly, he has to protect and defend him.

How sad for Gord and for or us if that is true.

Interim Eddie

It may well be that Eddie Francis with his Interim Control By-law manoeuvre has caused more damage recently to Windsor than anyone else on the border file so far.

He is not dealing with small, timid downtown bar owners that he can push around with this issue. The Interim Control By-law, we now know thanks to Councillor Jones' slip, was introduced to achieve a number of objectives of the Mayor. None of them will be accomplished. And it had nothing to do with, as Gord Henderson said in his column today, "preserving one of the most significant historical and archeological areas in North America."

Eddie does not like it to appear that he has failed or lost anything since he is so success oriented. So there is Brian Masse, Eddie's NDP buddy, trumpeting the passing of Bill C-3. Brian's role in it was so insignificant. In fact he was ineffective in having most of his proposed amendments put into the statute as I have written before. Remember that many of his amendments were rejected as "INADMISSIBLE."

Masse introduced a number of amendments on behalf of the City of Windsor in the House of Commons. These were designed to give the City more control over the process if a new bridge was to be constructed. While the idea was laudable, there was too much City "overreaching." One Senator said that changes suggested by Eddie when he was in front of the Senators could "gut the entire bill."

The view taken by the members of the House and Senate during their hearings in this matter was that they were not prepared to give a municipality like Windsor a virtual veto over something that was Federal in nature. They would have none of it.

To be fair, a concession was given requiring the Minister to consult but what a concession:
  • "The Minister may, if in the opinion of the Minister it is necessary having regard to all the circumstances, consult with the other levels of government that have authority in the place where the international bridge or tunnel is, or is to be, situated and with any person who, in the opinion of the Minister, has a direct interest in the matter."
When you read the language, the Minister has such a wide discretion such that he/she is not obliged to do anything so there is no protection for Windsor. You don't have to be a truck driver to drive a huge international truck through the section. The loop-hole is that big.

For all of Brian's and Eddie's efforts not much was achieved. As for Eddie personally, Dan Stamper of the Bridge Co. was called "candid" while Eddie was called a "politician!" Eddie lost there too.

Now I have to admit that I forgot my cardinal rule when trying to figure out what Eddie is doing. Rarely take anything he says at face value. Look always for the hidden meaning.

I erred, I thought the Interim Control By-law was directed only at the Ambassador Bridge Co.. Clearly it is but Councillor Jones' speech told me I was wrong. It finally hit me that he was inadvertantly spilling the beans. He said that the Interim Control By-law was bigger than the Ambassador Bridge.

It took me a day to figure it out what the Councillor meant. Then I had another "eureka" moment. What the by-law meant to do was to thumb Windsor's nose at Ottawa and Toronto and to try to give Windsor the VETO power over the border that Eddie and Masse failed to get in Parliament. It was designed to thwart what the Feds wanted to accomplish. Stick it to them right in the eye.

Now that is a great way for Eddie to win friends. Instead of supporting Councillors Halberstadt and Brister, Eddie is undercutting them at the exact time they are trying to make friends with the Senior Levels. Demonstrate that Council is NOT united but pulling separately so again no one knows what Windsor's position is.

Would Windsor be successful in any Court challenge about the by-law? Unlikely given the passage of Bill C-3. (Odd isn't it...Masse hurt Windsor that way too by making it even easier for the Feds to beat us!) But Eddie must think that by introducing the Interim By-law that he can stall the process and muck it up until the Senior Levels blink. That must be his rationale for what he did. Would the Senior Levels fold...if they did, wouldn't every municipality try the same game on them. They cannot afford to let interim Eddie do what he is trying to achieve.

Why would Eddie meet only with Minister Cansfield for lunch yesterday. Weren't there any Federal Level people in Windsor yesterday who wanted a good meal? Eddie tried to get her onside to help him in his fight with the Feds I would think. Divide and conquer. As if the Province has the cash or authority to help him realistically. Does he forget that the Provincial Liberals need the Federal Conservatives' cash for the 905 subway extension in Toronto for their fall election!

Look at the timing of the by-law. Eddie could have introduced it at any time after October 30, 2006. Instead he waited until a late Friday afternoon just before the Commons was to vote on Bill C-3 and just before it would be proclaimed in law. That will show them who is boss in Eddie's mind. If Justice Department lawyers had to work on the weekend to prepare a preliminary opinion on the validity of the Interim By-law, they will not be too pleased and their answer may not be too friendly either.

I suggested before that there are rumours swirling around about the fate of the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel too. Was the By-law also designed to help Eddie out by having him mess up the border issue and then have him graciously agree to back off if the Senior Levels contribute to the Tunnel plaza improvements cost over-runs?

Of course, the interim by-law was designed to stop the Bridge Co. but Leon Paroian's "bad faith" speech and Dan Stamper's reminder that there is a public record of Eddie's comments may have scared him off. His backpeddling in the Star is proof of that. I trust that Stamper staring him down when Eddie tried to bully him taught Eddie a lesson in RealPolitik!

The Feds already figured out what Eddie's interim action is all about I am sure and will understand what the new Eddie lunch snub means. Can you imagine if Bill Marra's Tunnel Motion is passed? I would not be surprised to see the Senior Levels say to hell with Windsor and take their $300 Million and leave town OR impose a solution here that no one will want. It is all positioned to be Bill's fault if that happens. No wonder Henderson demands unity but does not state the consequences.

What a mess.....The Ambassador Bridge is angry, the Feds and Province are angry, MPs and Senators ought to be angry, Windsor residents ought to be infuriated as to the stealth manner in which the interim by-law was introduced, Council is split again. Who knows, perhaps Detroit is angry too now.

I think that Interim Eddie may well be advised by his Eminence Grise to back off a bit and be more involved with WrestleMania 23 photo ops such as the one taking place in Windsor on February 2 with WWE Superstars Hillbilly Jim(TM), CM Punk(TM), Carlito (TM)and Chris Benoit(TM). He won't get into any more trouble that way.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Tunnel Expansion "Postponed"

The poor Windsor Star must be red-faced.

On Friday, they published a very nice story about the Tunnel Plaza Improvement public session where Windsorites would have the opportunity to view what was going to be done at the Tunnel. Some time earlier, Eddie killed the meeting. Oh sorry, "postponed" it as the ad said in Saturday's Star

I would have thought that he would have had the decency to call up the Star the night before to suggest that they not run the story. He tells them almost everything on the border in advance doesn’t he? Oh well, an oversight. I hope the Editors do not get too mad at him since he must be pre-occupied with his skating lessons.

The meeting was designed to allow to showcase what was being proposed especially the main justification: “The expanded plaza should have enough space to accommodate the queuing traffic instead of on the streets.” Well, that problem was already solved by a change in queuing rules at the Tunnel and the 10% drop in traffic numbers since July but let’s pretend we forgot about that.

I heard that the City initially wanted to say that the meeting was cancelled so the new Tunnel Commissioners could see the project plans before the public. That ruse was so obviously not the case, that the explanation was pulled.

Let’s try and figure out what really happened. The chatter around town was that something was going on with the Tunnel, something big on the financial side. I was not sure if that meant change in ownership or management on the Detroit side or both sides or what. Given Eddie’s cancellation, it was pretty clear he was caught by surprise. I wonder who he called on the Detroit side to talk about it on Friday. The rumour mill was active on that one too.

I must admit that I wondered if the Feds knew about the rumours too given their strong reaction about a year ago with proposed Tunnel changes and the passing of Bill C-3 by the Commons and Senate. My guess was that were not in the loop either or they would never have let the proposed public meeting take place in the first place. Why would they allow Eddie to embarrass them too.

I doubt if the the Bridge Co. was involved or it would have been plastered all over the front page of the Star to try and stop anything they would try and do.

Then I got to thinking. I saw the story in the Star on Friday also about the Peace Beacon and its $603K increase or about 25% over the original cost. Then I remembered the funky Bus Terminal downtown. Wasn’t its cost over-run about 35% over original estimate? Streetscaping costs downtown had tripled I thought. The overpass on Huron Church Road was higher than expected. And the Tunnel Ventilation building---who knew what the excess costs there were!

I got this cold shiver down my spine when I remembered the $200K extra for soil problems at the land downtown for the arena exchange and recalled what Don Sadler said about contaminants at the Lear site:
  • “There are no environmental issues," said Don Sadler, the city's director of parks.
    The area, which sits behind the Lear plant on Lauzon Road, was inspected for metals and other contaminants, Sadler said.”

What did Sadler say at the Peace Beacon site:

  • “Every shovel full was another nightmare," said parks director Don Sadler. "There was no way of knowing without x-ray eyes the extent of everything that was in there….

    "Soon as we got digging down a little bit deeper to place the footings, then we ran into a tremendous problem.

    Sadler doesn't blame the firm hired to conduct the test because the problems could be missed when digging so deep. "At 50-foot intervals, you don't always hit every pocket."

My goodness, I hope they did not do 50-foot intervals at the arena site…BRRRR my wallet gets cold and emptier just thinking about it!

So I made a big leap. I bet that the meeting was cancelled when Eddie finally saw the real estimates for the project. One of the obvious questions that the public would ask is what would this cost since so much property is going to be expropriated and then built on. There would be tough negotiations with Burger King and the Duty Free Shop who own property there. Expropriation would cost a lot of money given the Casino expansion and the expected increase in business. And who knows what contaminants could be lurking under the soil.

The original deal signed some time ago was $30 million, $10 million for each level of government. So after almost 3 years of “study,” and their timetable for construction (2009 start) what would the cost be now I thought.

If I looked at the various projects the City has failed in estimating properly, I figured a cost over-run of about 25-35% or say $9 million averaging amounts (Eddie likes to average doesn’t he!)

Doing some simple math, that means Eddie has to find another $3M somewhere if the costs are split or $9M if the City has to pay it all.

I wonder if we will see the accounting magic of bridge financing to see this through. Unfortunately, since the Tunnel has lost traffic volume, revenues have decreased and dividends ended. He cannot get money from there. City Reserves are down dramatically too so that is out. A tax increase---hardly, when Eddie wants to run on a fiscal responsibility platform provincially.

So Eddie has to grovel now….no wonder Halberstadt and Brister are making nice to the Senior Levels. Eddie loves them now and needs their friendship desperately….they are his allies against the big, bad Bridge Company.

But what if they say NO! We agreed on $10M each. Go fund it yourself since it is your asset.

Oh well, cancelling the public session gives Eddie time to try and pull another rabbit out of his hat or to allow another Star attack on the Senior Levels, especially Sandra so they will knuckle under.

This time around, I think they have Eddie by the short and curlies and they will know it when he comes to visit, cap in hand.

Hmmm I have an idea to help out. But Eddie would have to have the guts to phone Dan Stamper. How would Eddie explain that away to the Senior Levels and the public after what he did and said before. And how will he dare face Stamper after putting forward the Interim Control By-law to try to hurt the business of the Bridge Co.

Is Windsor Closed To Business

Something bothered people yesterday about what is going on in Windsor. My BLOGsite hits spiked upwards rather dramatically which meant a lot of people came to my site. I would expect that my BLOGS today will get people very concerned as well.

To be honest, if I was going to take Chair Remo Manicini's offer to become the head of the Economic Development Commission, I would reconsider today. Do you want to be the one whose job it is to turn off the last light in Windsor?

I cannot think of any two worse signals that this City has given about how adverse we are to business, and how bad our economy is than what took place yesterday. It tells me that nothing will happen in the downtown for years, no matter how much Mark Boscariol may wish it differently, and how badly the blackmark about this City as a place to invest is growing.

One story has to do with Sandwich. The message to business is take your billion dollar project and shove it. Windsor doesn't want your money here.

Oh Councillor Jones can talk about a building or two being occupied on Peter St some day as his "proof" of the Sandwich renaissance (after Leon Paroian had said that nothing has happened there in 50 years) but he has not told us what happened to the big investor who wanted to put $100,000 into Sandwich. Why won't Councillor Jones tell us who he is and what he is going to do.

Here's a hint to his/her possible identity--I bet that the investor must be a real guru who can see the value of Sandwich. Unfortunatley, the last guru who was in Windsor seems to have "downsized" his office and staff here!

But that is not the big story in Sandwich....that one is that Councillor Valentinis has to compare the Bridge Co. with some developer who sneaks in at midnight to chop down a tree as justification for the unseemly haste of "freezing" all of Sandwich with an Interim Control By-law.

Let's see, the Bridge Co. has spent $500 million so far to develop their project in Sandwich and wants to spend $500 Milion more. If my math is right that is ONE BILLION DOLLARS--and our Council opposes them. Not only opposes them but has not had the courtesy to answer a letter sent out by the Bridge Co. last November to the new Council asking to meet.

I guess that there are no unemployed in Sandwich and in Ward 2 and that businesses are booming such that there is no need for jobs and customers.

Oh well, it is Dan Stamper's fault. He is after all only the 4th largest taxpayer in Windsor. Our Mayor only talks to the Olympic Gold, Silver and Bronze medal winners it seems.

However, if Dan waits long enough, as the Big Three quietly wind down their operations here, and as the Casino does not get the business it expects as the perception of the border not working grows, by default he may be the biggest business in town! I wonder if he will want to talk to Eddie then at all.

However, that is not the most troubling story to me. This one should make Mark Boscariol reconsider his comment to me:

  • "My support for Mayor Francis is unwaivering, I only wish to work with him more to continue the momentum and not let it stall."

Hey Mark, this kind of momentum scares me. I have had enough of it. Haven't you yet?

I am sure that you saw the small story at the top of page 2 in Tuesday's Star: "Developer gets 3 years to complete land swap." Oh my, real estate must be in very bad shape here now.

When the arena land swap was done, what we were getting at our Crown jewel of land beside the Art Gallery was a huge development. I believe Mr. Farhi when he said:

  • "he will use the year to line up potential buyers for a "first-class" condominium development overlooking Windsor's waterfront, with retail on the ground floor.

    "The building next to the Art Gallery is going to warrant a first- class facility," he said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "I am not building anything unless it is first class."

Well several months later, as he began to understand our market, we learn that in exchange for the City not paying $200,000 but only $100,000 for soil clean-up, Mr. Farhi won't have to build for three years!!! He extended his development time by 2 years.

In other words, it seems he must NOT have been able to find buyers for the condo or he would be building it now. He must need the extra time or else he might have a huge financial disaster on his hands if he built a building that no one occupied. Is that the real reason why he was so generous with us? He bought 2 years of time for a mere $100,000.

Now Mr. Farhi should not be so shocked about how bad the condo market is. Remember, Chuck Mady a few months ago was offering huge discounts off of the price of units in his first-class building to get rid of the final ones. Why would the market be any better now after all of the lay-offs in Windsor? Who would the buyers be?

Now I have a great idea. Out of adversity grows opportunity as I heard so many times during the Capitol fiasco at Council. However, I need someone with a large pocket-book who can afford to hold land for a long time to be my partner. I have the brains but not the cash to make this work.

Think about this though as a plan, if you want to partner with me, so we can both make a huge fortune in real estate in Windsor. It is a long-term investment in Windsor--a very, very long-term investment--of prime real estate. It is better than the TV infomercials that show you how to buy property with "No Money Down" for only $39.95.

Windsor's real estate market is a shambles right now. The best property on the river has been exchanged with the gentleman from London. Eddie could barely give away the river-front Canderel space. Mr. Farhi has said that he now needs three years to build his condo project.

Everything is so bad that it is so good.

Here's how we can make money. Let's take advantage of distress pricing. You know a buyer's market or when someone is in default in their mortgage payment and is desperate or going through a messy divorce or having to leave town for a new job in Alberta.

The RFP for the Urban Village has not gone out yet but didn't Eddie say it would be soon?

  • "Francis said a report to council in February will enable the city to issue a request for proposals and there are strong indications of developer interest."

I hope those developers were not the friend of Councillor Jones in Sandwich or Beztak before they got chased out of town or Chuck Mady before he moved most of his operations outside of Windsor or Eddie is in trouble. Frankly, who would be an developer in the urban village area now that Farhi owns such a good piece of property.

Anyway, when the RFP goes out, no one will probably submit a Proposal because of Windsor's anti-business attitude that we saw in Sandwich and bad real estate market so YOU, dear rich reader, should partner with me and make a low-ball bid.

You know what, the City will be so desperate since we are the only bidder and Eddie needs a WIN that they will accept it, no matter how bad it is! You'll have to hold on to the land for a bit but we will make a fortune once Eddie is no longer the Mayor and when the new Mayor and Council come to their senses.

We will be rich, partner. 60-40 split in my favour right since I thought this up? Trust me, have I ever lied to you before!

PS. I really like Mr. Farhi's style from reading about him online even though I do not know him. He is a tough and shrewd operator in the best sense of the word. Darn, he may also be my main competitor for the Urban Village too if this story is right.

It looks like he is playing the Councils of London and Windsor off against each other. Good for him! Do you really think he cares about building condos only in Windsor or is he just as interested in making a ton of money at the Lear plant location with commercial developments. He can always sell off prime water-front property at a profit.

Here is an interesting story about how he might be playing the game. He holds out a carrot to Windsor and threatens to leave London. Who will throw the most money at him to keep him around. What a great position to be in:

  • "Wed, November 8, 2006


    London developer Shmuel Farhi has cut a big deal in Windsor.

    He's agreed to a land swap that sees him get 0.4 hectares of prime downtown waterfront land in exchange for 16 hectares in the city's east end where the new arena for the Windsor Spitfires Ontario Hockey League team will go.

    Farhi plans to build a $45-million, 20-storey condominium tower on the downtown site and another $50-million commercial and residential development near the new arena, he said yesterday.

    The deal may be just the beginning of what he sees as an ongoing relationship.

    "They called me and said they wanted to make a deal," Farhi said.

    "Here's a city that picked up the phone and said they wanted to work with me. They sent people here and we got a deal done in three weeks."

    Farhi has been at loggerheads with the City of London in recent years over developing parking in the downtown for his commercial buildings.

    At a recent city council meeting, he threatened to tear down his London developments or invest elsewhere...

    Windsor also will develop a four-hectare property, immediately behind the land Farhi now owns, as a downtown urban residential area and Francis said he expects Farhi to bid on the

Now Mr. Farhi likes Heritage buildings in London and bought their Capitol Theatre. Do you think Eddie can convince him to invest in ours as a new "good neighbour?" What a great coup that would be!

The Increasing Power Of Windsor Bloggers

Oh it is hurtful all right. I am powerless and part of a
  • "lonely and isolated lot, rebels against the mainstream living in the make-believe world of cyberspace, where truth is often a casualty of fingers tapping at a keyboard."
First I had to endure that my writings were "Blogaloney." Then personal shots directed at me and perhaps some others calling us all kinds of nasty names that I dare not repeat.

And now, the indignity of it all, a front page Star stories about Bloggers.

Wow, we bloggers in Windsor must be gaining in power in Windsor. Perhaps we are becoming a threat to the Windsor Star itself. I know that many people read my BLOG as an alternative to the Star, to get a different point of view. I would expect that the total number of daily readers must be in the many thousands if you combined the total hits of all of the Bloggers in town. I know from what ex-mayoral candidate David Wonham said that a brief mention of his website during the election campaign from me here resulted in him getting several thousand hits more than his normal number.

I would be curious to know how many hits the Star's Bloggers get. Frankly, I prefer reading Roseann Danese's BLOG rather than her news stories. She is much sharper in the BLOG and she has terrific insight that she cannot "report" in a news article.

Hmmmm perhaps we Bloggers should start seeking local advertisers too to have some real fun by using that money to let the public know we are around. Or maybe it is time for a full-fledged on-line Blogging "newspaper" with various sections. The cost of starting and running that would be a lot cheaper than buying a building and newspaper presses

We certainly are a big threat to City Hall since we really are the only ones commenting daily on what is going on in town. Note I used the word "comment" not report. We break news, we explain, we analyze, we deal with the absurdities of the day and we do it from a different point of view too. We do not have to be careful NOT to offend the politicians either.

Oh well, it does not really matter. Sticks and stones and all of that. Trying to be philosophical at 6 AM in the morning without having a cup of coffee yet is just too hard. I'll just stick to writing a BLOG.

And I hope that you continue reading it!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Council First Impressions

There is no sense in trying to make sense out of last night's Council meeting. I cannot do it. You read about some of the things that were done in the Star but let me give you my first impressions:

1) R-E-S-P-E-C-T

That is one thing that this Mayor has little of for some of his Council colleagues at least it seems.

RESPECT---Imagine hearing Councillor Halberstadt say that he knew nothing about the Interim Control by-law, not a word, until he read his Council package on the day before Council. How many others had the same thing happen but did not have the guts to say it so boldly last night. My respect went up for Alan considerably! [I bet that this line shows up in his federal election campaign brochure as an indication of his strength. Today at least, he has my permission to use it]

RESPECT---It was just like what Alan had to do to get letters from the Mayor over the border issue. Stand up at Council and demand them. The Star saw them but not a City Councillor. I wonder if he has read them yet. If he has them, Alan should post them because I bet they will make good reading!

RESPECT---I wonder how many Councillors knew about the Estrin lawsuit or did the Star know about it first again, for months?

Back to the by-law. It's a step that could stop a billion-dollar project, that freezes hundreds of homes in Sandwich, that can give a message to investors to stay out of Windsor and Council does not know about it.

The Mayor acts on his own it seems. Well, not completely. Councillor Jones seemed to have a hint something was coming by his quote in the Star a few days before.

I guess that Alan is on the "outs" these days for daring to question the Mayor. Quack, Quack to you if you dare defy his Worship!

2) Good thing Bill Marra's tunnel motion was withdrawn last night. It gave Gord Henderson another chance to attack Councillors who would dare not support a tunnel. Hey, kids are involved you know.

Bill by now knows he has been played. He should withdraw the Motion. That would be fun too for him and a way to hit back with a smile on his face as he says that there is a need to do more research. I'd love to see how Eddie would scramble then

3) Poor Les Chaif. He must have thought that someone wanted to hear what he had to say about Benson School. Now he knows how the Superior Park people felt. At least he was not called a racist!

4) I really don't know what to make of the Brentwood matter. We can save buildings with hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer aid but we cannot save souls. I wonder which is more important to the community.

I am glad to see that Councillor Gignac opened up her cheque-book publicly so that everyone will know how generous she is. I expect that, if she wins the Brentwood Lottery since she bought lottery tickets too, she will donate the prize to Brentwood too. Sniff, sniff {wiping away tear}.

5) If you want to stop Eddie cold in his tracks when he tries to bully you at Council, as he tried unsuccessfully with Dan Stamper, just tell him that he is wrong and that you have his words from the Windsor Star to prove it.

It was hilarious to watch Eddie trying to be the Teflon Mayor and divert crticism of his actions and see Stamper have none of it. You had to be there to see it in person.

I hope the people from the Capitol stayed around and saw it as the real drama of the evening!

I bet that Eddie stayed up more than his usual 18 hours trying to find the words Stamper was talking about.

6) Congratulations to lawyer Leon Paroian. He has suffered several tragedies in his life over the past few years and it was nice to learn that he is remarrying last night. "Once every 50 years" as he said.

However, his new wife is a lucky lady too. As Councillor Halberstadt pointed out, he will become wealthy as he fights on behalf of the Bridge Co. against the City's Interim Control by-law. She will not have to worry financially about anything! Unfortunately, taxpayers will not be as lucky if the Bridge Co. wins since not only will we have to pay for Mr. Paroian as the losing side must do but our lawyer as well, whoever that is. I wonder how the Mayor, Council and Mr. Estrin will deal with this now.

7) Councillor Valentinis really annoyed me last night. I could not believe the story he gave about the need to introduce and approve the Interim Control and Demolition by-laws in such a stealth manner and to reject a request to defer.

Notwithstanding the undertaking by the Bridge Co. not to take action on new demolitions, they were not the only enemy it seemed. Someone else, who no one knows, might come in and knock down buildings, which no one can identify, for this huge project that is unknown.

Let me give you an example of ONE interim control by-law: the one used to stall downtown development while the Casino moved forward on its plans.

  • April 26, 2001 “Jeff Watson, a senior planner with the city, said he's been asked to examine whether an "interim control bylaw" would allow the city to temporarily stop new bars from opening while permanent solutions are found.”
  • April 7, 2003 “City of Windsor officials will be watching as Guelph prepares an interim bylaw to halt new bars while working on solutions to their city centre problems.

    Citing problems with policing its growing downtown bar scene, Guelph is considering an interim control bylaw which would place a moratorium of up to 12 months on new bars while it seeks other ways to deal with the issue.”

  • October 7, 2003 “City council's decision Monday to delay a one-year moratorium on downtown bars outraged one councillor who said the issue has "been studied to death" while injuries pile up.

    "The suggestion that we have not provided due process is bunk," said Councillor Alan Halberstadt.

    "This has been going on for three or four years, it has been dealt with by a consultant who held public meetings, by the resource team and by the revitalization task force. It has been studied to death.

    "It's merely a tactic to put pressure on council to back off," said Halberstadt. "Closed-head injuries downtown are piling up and we need to deal with this now."

    The delay was requested by Michael Duben, chairman of the City Centre Business Association and was approved by a 6-4 vote following a 20-minute debate. The issue will come before council Oct. 20.

    The remaining 13 recommendations in the long-awaited report from the City Centre Security Enhancement Resources Team (CCSERT) were approved by council.

    "Many of our members were not aware this was going to be discussed tonight and believe that it should be looked at more closely before we jump to conclusions," said Duben. "We believe it should be delayed so that a full public process can be undertaken. But we have no issue with the remaining recommendations which we believe should be implemented as soon as possible."
  • November 5, 2003 It became an election issue too “Eddie Francis and Bill Marra agree on 13 of 14 recommendations made by Peter Bellmio, who conducted a study and survey of Windsor's downtown last fall.

    But as far as the other recommendation is concerned, Francis favours an interim control bylaw which places a 12-month moratorium on new entertainment lounge licences in the downtown while Marra opposes such a bylaw.

    Francis believes it will give the city a 12-month grace period to conduct a planning study but Marra believes it will create an unnecessary drag on downtown development."

That interim control by-law was years in the making, fully publicized, postponed because people affected were not aware of it and a major election issue but there was a need to pass this one so quickly. No stealth concerns there but one directed against the Bridge Co. here.

What did Mr. Paroian say about "Bad Faith" again last night!

8) Quick call a Doctor. The Mayor's amnesia attack is getting serious. Now his famed photographic memory is failing along with a bad case of amnesia.

Here is the complete Windsor Star story about $400,000 to be spent for a Peace Beacon not $3.2M

  • "Dieppe pavilion to cost $400,000; [Final Edition]
    Dave Hall. The Windsor Star. Windsor, Ont.: Oct 7, 2004. pg. A.2

    Demolishing the aging concession stand in Dieppe Gardens and replacing it with a pavilion built into the banking along Riverside Drive is expected to cost $400,000.

    A suggestion by Councillor Alan Halberstadt that the historical facade of the former Toronto Dominion Bank at the corner of Riverside Drive and Ouellette Avenue be used in the design of the peace beacon in [Dieppe] has been rejected by administration."

It is nice to know that Alan still reads my BLOG although now it appears that the Mayor does not. I guess he cannot stand to see his words thrown back into his face. I guess he does not like it when something sticks.

There's more, but I have had enough as I am sure you can tell.

Windsor Airport Leases And Canderel

I did not get home until after 11 PM last night from the Council meeting and was so angry at one of the comments that Councillor Valentinis made that I spent about an hour going through my databases researching the matter. I am afraid that his actions last night may have cost him his mayoral appointment if Eddie makes it as the PC candidate for Windsor West. If he offended several of his colleagues personally as he offended me last night, then he is finished!

I'll tell you about it later today. I am also taking the advice of fellow Blogger at

Windsor Municipal Shadow stated that:
  • "It usually doesn't pay to do anything while you're angry, and that holds true with blogging. After watching last night's Council meeting, I may even have to wait two days."

If you want to read someone who reacted quickly, then take a look at the BLOG of Chris Schnurr

I'll give you a small taste of why I am so disgusted.

Ssomething is very, very strange here. And inconsistent.

Items 13 and 14 on the Council agenda last night (and on the Consent Agenda meaning there was going to be little debate about them) had to do with with "Land Lease for Windsor Airport." We are given freely a lot of information about these leases and in great detail. Funny though, Municipal Freedom of Information Act applications have to be obtained to try to obtain similar information on other leases that the Mayor has been involved in.

Can the explanation for the differences be that he is that bad a negotiator?

We learn that:
  • Dr. Murray R. O'Neil will lease space at a cost of $1,377.30 with a rent escalator tied to the CPI
  • Great Lakes Flight Centre Incwill lease space at a cost of $24, 058. 06 per annum with a rent escalator tied to the CPI and with the right to renew for 3 five year terms but with the rent to be renegotiated

In both cases there is no right to assign or sublet without the City's consent.

I am rather shocked to be honest. We learn everything about the rental on these properties but not this kind of detail at Canderel

Remember what Eddie said about rents at Canderel:

  • "Francis said the figures that have been disclosed are average costs, and the numbers won't be further broken down."

But here they are broken down and we are given exact numbers.

We learn what the rent escalator is at the Airport but we are not given that information at Canderel.

The leases do not allow assigning or subletting without consent but at Canderel, it seems there was sub-subletting (see )

There were tenant confidentiality clauses at Canderel but not it seems at the airport.

We know that there are renewal terms at both Canderel and the airport but we do not know what the renewal terms are at Canderel.

If you can explain the openness with the airport leases but not the Canderel ones, then you are a better person than I! As for the arena lease with the Spitfires, I won't even go there!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Why Is Council Really Freezing Sandwich

It's too obvious. It's just like the imposition of the Interim Control by-law downtown so the Casino had time so it could do its thing. The By-law that then-Councillor Marra opposed. It is the same pattern exactly!

I am so sick of being manipulated. You should be too.

If you think the scolding by the Star of secrecy at City Hall has changed anything, then you are sadly mistaken. It is even worse: manipulation of the Council agenda for political purposes is the norm now as I shall demonstrate below.

There is no "open and transparent" Government in Windsor and I doubt that there will be for the next four years. All I wonder is how 10 people can allow themselves--and Windsorites--to be used this way. Do they have no respect for themselves and their legal obligations under the Municipal Act to "represent the public and to consider the well-being and interests of the municipality?" Or do they really think that they are acting in the best interests of Windsor!

He is Teflon after all. And he tries to remain hidden as others are placed front and centre, supposedly to get the glory. He does so because he cannot tolerate being blamed or criticized, and lashes back when he is, because he never does anything wrong. He is afraid to fail but knows how to grab the praise. He is clever in how he gets others to do his work for him since they take the fall if something goes wrong.

He claimed he was not a politician yet a Senator, after seeing him perform once in front of him, called him one

Obviously I am talking about our Mayor.

I just had this feeling about the Council meeting on Monday that something was going to happen that we would only find out about in the last minute and I was right. I checked the Council agenda at noon on Friday and not much of significance was posted. There was nothing on the Capitol nor were delegations posted.

I did not check the Council agenda page until later and there in plain view now right before the weekend was all the important stuff. It was too late to speak as a delegation at Council as of right. A delegation that wanted to speak now had to get Council's permission, which is NOT automatic.

What was added:
  1. Capitol Theatre report although it was dated as at January 15 and was only signed on behalf of the CAO and no one else in Administration (shades of the key report on the Arena)

  2. University of Windsor Program & Service Delivery Survey (the public opinion survey that was prepared a few months before the last election at taxpayer expense to let sitting politicians know what bugged citizens. A draft was available in September, right before the election.)

  3. Olde Sandwich Town Community Improvement Plan dated January 24 which was not a PLAN but a request for an interim by-law to freeze everything in Sandwich for up to 2 years (see how subject titles mislead, just like the infamous Agenda item #5)

  4. Delegation List

Here's how manipulation works.

On the Capitol---Star news stories, a Henderson column to soften up Councillors (including the resentful Councillor Postma who gave a radio interview) and the public before the Report was posted to work up the locals to get everyone on side reluctantly to save the Capitol. All followed up by an approving Editorial in Saturday's paper. That should give Councillors backbone to vote "AYE Eddie!"

On Tunnelling---I already informed you how Councillor Marra is being played by introducing the "tunnel" Motion. I loved his line in his Letter to the Editor last Friday:

  • "Why tunnelling is the best option. "If they are serious about the well-being of Windsorites, they (DRIC) can commit to a tunnel," stated Mayor Eddie Francis on March 29. I could not agree more with the mayor."

Way to be a team player Bill!

How generous of the Star to give him space on the Friday before his Motion. Such a remarkable co-incidence. His Letter and the one from Moe Haas that happened to be put in at the same time paints Bill as a possible pro-DRTP-type and the fall guy when Eddie has his new Plan when the Tunnel concept is shot down. Oh and I defy most people to be able to find Marra's Notice of Motion in the city website in the first place. I see that only pro-tunnel Al Teshuba is speaking on it.

I must admit that I thought there would be a cast of thousands speaking in favour of the Motion but I guess Councillors wanted to make it an early evening and wanted to get the vote done quickly. Surprisingly, but for Al, it probably would have gone on the Consent agenda!

On the Bridge Company--- But the most fun is watching how the Bridge Co. is portrayed in advance to accomplish the objective of making them the City's "enemy." It is a long process, meticulously planned, designed with a bunch of news stories in advance to make the Bridge Co. appear evil so that when Council acts, everyone will be so pleased. Just read what I have excerpted below

This time it is Councillor Jones who is the sacrificial lamb if something goes wrong.

Let me show you how it works. Here is the timeline so you will see what I mean:

Friday, October 13, 2006
  • Bridge work raises fears
    Dave Battagello, Windsor Star
    West-end community leaders fear land preparation by the Ambassador Bridge is linked to the company's bid to twin its span or resurrect a controversial ring road proposal in the heart of their neighbourhood.

    The bridge company has been bulldozing its properties, levelling them off. Gone are several former university dorms and custom broker office buildings it purchased, plus a handful of homes.

    The company also continues to purchase residential properties at an alarming rate, they say.

    "I'm very concerned with what they are doing," said city Coun. Ron Jones. "It's incumbent upon us to be very vigilant and watch them closely...

    While the bridge company can bulldoze its own properties, city infrastructure such as roads, sewers and other utilities are off-limits, Jones said.

    "We have (city inspectors) going in there on a regular basis to ensure our concerns are met. I have talked with one inspector who said they have not touched our infrastructure and (are) staying on their property...

    "They are not going to give up on anything," Cuderman said.

    "They are buying up properties and letting them deteriorate. Unfortunately, the way some of the neighbourhood is starting to look, it seems like they are getting somewhere."
[NOTE: Councillor Jones has been on this kick about "watching" the Bridge Co. for some time now, mentioning it several times at Council. Each time he was told by Administration, as it was related in the story, that the Bridge Co. was acted absolutely legally. I am sure that must really trouble him!]

October 30, 2006
  • Council Minutes
    Under CR519/2006 "the Olde Sandwich Towne Community Planning Study (attached hereto as Appendix A) BE ADOPTED as the municipality’s guide for future planning, capital budgeting and community improvement efforts in Sandwich" even though one task force member appeareed at Council and said that "she personally feels that process was not properly followed in terms of notification and receipt of a draft copy of the Planning Study, and concludes by suggesting that the Study being presented before Council is highly influenced by Administration and not a true product of the Task Force."
December 21, 2006
  • West side's demise predicted;
    Dave Battagello.

    "...Homes are being ripped down and mountains of dirt are being shifted a stone's throw from where the family lives. Meanwhile, the bridge proceeds with construction of six new truck customs lanes -- seemingly laying the groundwork for a second span.

    Since their home, like every other on the block, is owned by the bridge company, "there is not much we can do about it," Jones said.

    "But the way they are doing things, it's as if there is no respect for our community...

    "Windsor is not Detroit," said Coun. Ron Jones, who represents the west end and walked the Indian Road area near the bridge Wednesday. He voiced concerns the bridge is moving beyond its approved plaza plans and is laying the groundwork for a second span.

    "I'm not comfortable with what they are doing. There is not a doubt in my mind where they are going with this," Jones said.

    City inspectors have been keeping an eye on the bridge construction work, he said. The bridge has been legally approved to tear down four homes on Indian, with demolition applications pending on several others, Jones said.

    The city can stop demolition only if it involves a heritage building or property designated under a demolition control bylaw."

January 8, 2007

  • Councillor Jones' speech at Council [as taken from the BLOG of Chris Schnurr]

    "Your worship and members of council, I hope all you have received this particular document [editor’s note: reference to The Olde Sandwich Towne Community Planning Study Report], one of which councillor Postma and I are so very, very proud of the hard work that has gone on. Mr. Yanchula and his planning department. More especially Alexander and Carol Chan, Neil Robertson – they have done a marvellous job putting this document together, your Worship, talking about the history of Sandwich Towne, talking about the future of Sandwich Towne, and what we intend and hope to do out there.

    But I want draw attention to a wonderful and decent human being, Mrs. Hildegarde-Ash who chaired that particular committee who worked tirelessly to keep the group together and bring us to where we are now. And we’re hoping in the very near future that this will be a corporation and we can start applying for different funding. We have had word from a well known planner, world renowned, that he is prepared to put forward $100,000 to help us with our projects out there. People have stuck together out there. We have really reason to believe that this is going to be truly a wonderful piece for Windsor. The crown jewel in the Windsor area.

    I want to thank administration, I want to thank members of city council, for sticking together, united, and trying to bring Sandwich Towne back to the glory it once involved. We have a lot of historic nature there. We have a lot of historic buildings. We also have, your Worship, some sacred territories there, some aboriginal terrorities and I hope that this council will see that we stick together and protect all the heritage of Sandwich Towne.”

January 15, 2007

  • CKLW story

    The province has ordered the Ambassador Bridge Company to have a licensed archeologist on site during some of its work on Indian Road. The Bridge is demolishing some homes that it owns on the road to prepare for an expanion to its operations. But the area is identified in the city's archeological master plan as being archeologically sensitive.

January 25, 2007

  • Bridge plans hit heritage snag
    Expansion project may be disturbing historically sensitive, First Nation burial sites
    Dave Battagello, Windsor Star
    The local archeological society wants the city to halt expansion of the Ambassador Bridge because the company may be digging on historically sensitive lands that include First Nation burial grounds.

    Katherine Graham, president of the Windsor Chapter of the Ontario Archaeological Society, urged the city to issue a stop work order pending an archeological assessment of the west-end site.

    The land in the area was once a Huron reserve dating to 1749 and a number of human burial sites have been uncovered there over the years, including a finding in the 1960s, Graham said in a letter to the city.

    She added that according to the city's archaeological master plan, the lands are of "high potential for archaeological remains...

    Under Ontario's Heritage Act, stop work orders could be declared so archeological work could be completed, she suggested to council...

    Council is expected to discuss the matter during Monday's meeting, said Coun. Ron Jones.

    "It was brought to my attention, not only by people in the neighbourhood, but also among First Nations and archeological groups, that they have concerns," Jones said.

    "It's very obvious to them it was a Huron village. They have concerns about some of the dirt that's being moved in the area. Certainly, there is a need for us to look at this."
January 29, 2007
  • Motions to pass an Interim Control By-law to prohibit certain uses of land and a Demolition Control by-law to prevent actions such as demolition which may stabilize the community.
I may have missed a story or two but you get the drift. That's how the manipulation is done.

Don't you just abhor the Bridge Company now! So when the Motions to freeze Sandwich and to forbid demolition are passed, you will feel so happy too. Never mind the huge adverse consequences to the people of Sandwich that they do not know about. It does not matter. It is for their own good whether they like it or not.

So now you know how manipulation takes place in Windsor. When you see a strange story in the Star, cut it out, keep watching and then soon thereafter, when you least expect it, you will see how it plays out. It's not so hard to do.

Then you will learn how not to be manipulated.

Tiny Stories

It's cold out there and you probably need some extra reading this morning as you finish that extra large coffee you brought to work to help warm you up.

Here are some more short and quick notes for you to ponder:


Wasn't it Mark Boscariol who said he would switch from helping his friend to support Mayor Eddie Francis
  • "Boscariol, who backed Bill Marra's failed 2003 mayoral campaign, swore he would switch sides and support Francis in 2006 if he could bring a campus downtown."

His unflattering comments in Henderson's column suggest that he should have encouraged Bill to run for Mayor since Bill was the big backer of the Urban Village downtown, a big backer of an exciting downtown and an opponent of Eddie's Interim Contol By-law.

Here is what Boscariol complained about:

  • "Boscariol lambasted city hall for foot-dragging on several fronts, including transfer of the Cleary to St. Clair College, the promised urban village, business incentives and streetscaping... city can get the lead out when it feels a sense of urgency. The arena is living proof we don't have to accept city time...He said too many of the city's ideas sit on the shelf."

Here is what Francis can show as his accomplishments:

  • "He cited work on the downtown transit terminal and Dieppe Gardens Peace Beacon and said the Cleary keys are to be formally handed over to St. Clair on March 9...As for the urban village, Francis said a report to council in February will enable the city to issue a request for proposals"

Geeeeeeeeez Eddie you forgot the Keg! Note none of Francis' results have been completed and the two that he said were started are hugely over-budget. Quite a record achievement eh.


Wow, I thought it was a no-brainer. Tunnelling = "Mother(Father)hood as an issue. Who would dare say NO to it. It was Eddie's fundamental non-strategy wasn't it that got him re-elected and Henderson's command to the forces.

Well in Monday's Star, there are Eddie's buddies Councillors Halberstadt and Valentinis expressing opposition to the nothing Motion Bill put forward to support a tunnel. Even with all of the anti-diesel stories that the Star published on Monday too to help out! This is twice in a few days that Battagello has been by-passed on Eddie moves. What has he done wrong?

That was quick to destroy Bill's mayoral hopes by two of the possible contenders. Make him look foolish right away.

It also tells me that "tunnelling" as a strategy is dead, near-term anyway. That PLUS the comments by Halberstadt and Brister that they want to work with the Senior Levels PLUS the Interim Control By-law for Sandwich are the clearest signals that Eddie is backing off embarrassing the Senior Levels on a tunnel for now and wants to form an alliance against the Bridge Co.

Given their animosity to Francis, will the Senior Levels be fooled or will they try and use him for their purposes?

And what will the Bridge Co. do----what they have been doing: fixing the border themselves at their expense while the politicians fiddle!


A little birdie told me that the City may have found a new CEO finally. The search group headed by Remo Mancini formerly an executive with the Ambassador Bridge Co. (see I did not get the memo about his re-invention either) may have selected a person to take over the job finally.

If it is the same gentleman, he has had experience in London and the Halton region. Interestingly, he may have had a leg up on others since he was "Retained to carry out a review of the programs and services of the Windsor Essex County Development Commission."

We'll see how good my inside moles are.

Speaking of the Development Commission, there are also rumours that, as expected, Tecumseh is looking at pulling their funding from the Commission as well. You guessed it .. the arena issue. They were the ones most hesitant to take the regional approach. They wanted to test Eddie very early in the process and the arena gave them the perfect opportunity.


Nice to know that Gord Henderson was told when the deal between the City and St. Clair is to be done. Too bad the Mayor could not let the peon taxpayers in on the secret. I wonder if the rest of the Councillors were in on the secret

I wonder how everything was resolved...probably giving St. Clair the Capitol Theatre for free will help!


On Monday, it will be interesting how Council turns down putting in a few dollars into Brentwood but will spend who knows how much on the Capitol including writing off a huge debt owed to the City.

With all of the budget over-runs this City is experiencing, are we ever in trouble at tax time!


Wow, take a look at Chris Schnurr's Blogsite. I cannot believe that someone would be so dumb as to threaten Chris at a public meeting. I hope that there were witnesses! I am shocked that City Hall did not take steps to ensure the safety of citizens at meetings like this.

I also received an email from someone who was not too pleased at what went on. I have chnaged it slightly to protect his/her identity. Here is the note:

  • "I never thought in a million years I would have reason to contact you Mr.Arditti through this web site. I have read your blog for about 10 months now, perhaps more and you always call the kettle black and shoot from the hip. I have people at work now reviewing your comments and discuss your blog 'at the watercooler' so to speak.

    I and my friends have just returned home after walking out of the Ward 2 meeting at the College Community Centre. What a bunch of bureaucratic propaganda!

    People were assigned tables and that is fine by me. You register at the door and are assigned a seat. We arrived at 1:25. They said we would have to be split up. Under other circumstances this would have been no problem but since we were the only home owners from [a street], we wanted our neigbourhood represented in a united front. Persons from another neghbourhood may or may not have had the same issues as ours.

    We were asked to fill out name tags and wear them. This I found offensive. Sure it helps to know the first name of persons sitting at your table but I did not go to talk to them. I wanted to address my neighbourhood concerns. Their name did not concern me, their issues did however. For the record that would have been graffiti and rental houses being used for drug running, all of which are a stones throw from my door step. I named myself "X" and my friend "Y" to retaliate. (They have our names and address on the registration sheet and which table we were to be seated at.) We were given new blank tags. (We should have just been told we had detention.) That didn't bother me. It is awful hard to offend me. Been in the west end, this same ward for 50+ years. Street smart? Yes. Educated? Yes. Can recognize a public bl** job when it slaps me in the face? Yes? No I did not complete a new tag. My friend did.

    I understand the importance of structure and discussion forums BUT papers handed to us to review before our group discussion did not list areas we were concerned with. It appeared to be premeditated issues of which someone at the City deemed relevant. I say appeared because I was so irritated I left. The table facilitator had a chart with agree or disagree boxes to be checked during the discusson. Talk about leading the masses to slaughter. Are these people so naive that they are willing to sit around for 3 hours and listen to what the city wants to address? Again, I did not stay so in all fairness they may have covered our concerns and whether they would have been acknowledged, I will never know.

    The organization was a bit under planned but I understand that upheaval at the beginning due to the unanticipated attendance.

    I should have stayed throughout but I was afraid if I sat through 3 hours and not found anything relevant to us I would just boil harder and longer. Perhaps you know of persons who had attended the other Ward meetings? Hopefully, then you could get other feedback. Perhaps from someone who sat through it all. By the attendance numbers, that shouldn't be too hard a feat.

    Thank you Mr. Arditti for allowing me to vent. I hope I have not taken up too much of your time but this letter has been very therapeutic. I would be interested to know if you received other comments.


Gord's friend "Pollyanna is happily awaiting the replacement of a couple of Windsor's most embarrassing eyesores in 2007. She plans to be sipping a chardonnay on the patio of the new Peace Beacon in Dieppe Gardens when they knock down that travesty called the Cleary Guesthouse."

Polly must be a tourist since Windsor taxpayers may be sipping Kool-Aid by the time this project is done. Its cost as outlined in the City Agenda Item is now over $3.2M. It was supposed to cost...well I am not sure after reading the Administration Report.

However, going back in time I found this story:

  • Dieppe pavilion to cost $400,000;

  • October 7, 2004

    Demolishing the aging concession stand in Dieppe Gardens and replacing it with a pavilion built into the banking along Riverside Drive is expected to cost $400,000.

    Dubbed beacons in the city's four-year-old Central Riverfront Implementation Plan, the five park pavilions planned for the riverfront will house washrooms, concession stands, information services and shelters.

    Most will feature a sloping landscaped roof, designed to blend into the banking.

    The Dieppe pavilion will be known as the Peace Beacon."

Eight times higher than what was talked about only a few years ago. You can write a comment as well as I to finish up this story.

Nawwwwwwww I won't talk about the arena and what it will ultimately cost! Too easy a target.