Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, February 09, 2007

When Is Joyce Zuk Running In Windsor West


Hurry up Joyce. Get your name in for the Liberals to be their candidate in the next Federal election in Windsor West. Or is it now going to be Sandra moving up into the big leagues? Somebody has to beat the incumbent!

Lucky me. I have Brian Masse as my MP. Hey, don't blame me, I did not vote for him!

Do you ever get so mad when you hear a politician speak that you want to throw your shoe at the TV or if you read a news story, you want to rip apart the paper? Well that's how I feel about Brian on the border issue as I am sure you can tell.

His Party, NDP, held the balance of power in Parliament and did absolutely nothing for Windsor on the border issue. Now their member here claims credit for his non-achievements in Bill C-3. Brian do you know what I-N-A-D-M-I-S-S-I-B-L-E means?

You come to this BLOG for information that the Star does not print since they don't have the space and to get an alternative point of view. So let me present to you excerpts of comments made in the final debate about Bill C-3 in the House of Commons and my critique.

WARNING: Please do NOT destroy your PC when you read Brian's comments.

Mr. Brian Jean (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, CPC "All members of the House are aware that the government is concerned about stakeholders and listens to stakeholders...The Minister of Transport told the Senate how supportive the majority of the stakeholders were with this initiative and how important this bill was to Canadians regarding safety, security and transportation of goods. He indicated that the government had demonstrated its willingness to consider stakeholder input at all times and that it was very important for the government to listen to stakeholders and implement their needs if they meet the needs and priorities of Canadians." [Except if it has to do with Windsor since the Transport Minister has not come down here to actually visit the facilities and see the border or if you are the Ambassador Bridge Co. since Minister Cannon refuses to meet with you]

"[Bill C-3] reinforces the federal government's exclusive jurisdiction with respect to these structures as stipulated in the Constitution" [Bye -bye to Windsor's Interim Control By-law]

Mr. Brian Masse (Windsor West, NDP): "New Democrats can feel very proud about the amendments that we put in this bill relating to public consultation for municipalities" [No requirement is given at all except if the Minister chooses to do so. Brian also forgot to mention the absolute requirement to "consult with the owner or operator" including the Ambassador Bridge in certain situations!]

"One of them is the excavation of land on that site which is moving forward that has aboriginal status to some degree and has raised concerns with the municipality about that property and the way it will be done...The most recent one I noted was the concern of the municipality as well as an aboriginal population that there was disruption of work on that piece of property which was on traditional lands. " [You will remember what I wrote on this subject a few days ago. I find his remarks to be disgusting!]

Hon. Joseph Volpe (Eglinton—Lawrence, Lib.): "There were a lot of people who thought that perhaps we should not get involved because, as the member for Windsor West indicated, there is a private owner. People in the NDP do not like private enterprise and said that was bad and that these people were holding us to ransom.

No. Our response of the day, the fact of the matter, which has now been put into this bill even though nobody wants to give credit to the minister of transport or the former Liberal government and the Liberal government as a whole, is that what we do is safeguard the role of that private owner as we safeguard the maintenance and the management of all of the border crossings...No one wanted to take things away from those who had a legitimate right to them in the private sector." [Oh my, the Bridge Co. has the right to survive after all. How shocking that will be to some]

Brian Masse "What would that have done[a proposed Liberal amendmnet]? It would have given the opportunity for border crossings to actually expand, twin or do what they want with no accountability. In particular, that could have been done without environmental assessments. Why the Liberal Party would want to introduce that type of motion is puzzling at best.

Also, the motion comes at a time when it is counter to the Detroit River international crossing study being done and the Windsor border corridor that was set up by the previous administration [Brian is rewriting history. The amendment was introduced to allow the Bridge Co.'s position to be put forward as a discussion item just like Brian tried to do with the City of Windsor's suggested changes. I have written about this before. Brian is also well-aware that a twinning would require an EA and that it was DRIC that said the Bridge Co. could move forward outside of DRIC.]

Please do NOT destroy your PC when you read Brian's comments.

Brian Masse "...we have the highest fares [at the Bridge] by far compared to any other border crossing...The Ambassador Bridge in my riding has made millions of dollars over the years with respect to tolls. I do not have the official number but some of the estimates are $50 million to $60 million a year. This is significant. However, at the same time we have to ensure that investment will be made to the infrastructure at the end of the day for perpetuity.

This is a definite problem because the toll rates at this particular operation are much more expensive than at other operations such as those at Sault Ste. Marie, Sarnia, the Blue Water area, and Niagara Falls. All of these areas have lower toll rates for passengers as well as for transport trucks. This has caused extra costs to be added to businesses, especially local and regional commerce, in order to compete. [Gee Brian, did you conveniently forget that the car tolls at the "public" Detroit/Windsor tunnel are higher than those at the bridge? But why tell something that hurts your case when misinformation works better. After all, you are only an MP from Windsor.

What do you think about how some public crossings charge tolls---to please their bondholders first, not their customers. Does Brian favour charging the customers "what the market will bear?" Read some of my BLOGs about pricing techniques of public bridges. Or read his colleagues' remarks about underfunded public bridges in the Comons debates.

One wonders if Brian is correct when any truckers who could use either the Ambassador Bridge or the Blue Water Bridge for their trip decide to come to Windsor. In Sarnia, the highway runs right to the bridge, here there are those stop-lights. Tolls are lower there than here. Perhaps truckers understand, unlike an MP, that the Bridge Co. invests its tolls in improving its crossing---the four booths that ended backups as an example--- so that truckers do not have to sit in a border crossing for an hour or two at $125 per hour, but that they generally can go across the Ambassador Bridge without waiting!

I wish Brian had taken some business courses while at University and not just Sociology so that he might understand how business and markets work.]

Brian Masse "in the Windsor corridor we need to get a border authority developed." [Oh Brian, read my BLOGs about what Governor Spitzer said about public authorities in New York State. "a semi-secret fourth branch of government with little or no accountability and many have developed a culture of arrogance." No thanks]

Brian Masse "We have a city tunnel for vehicle traffic and transport trucks that is owned by the City of Windsor on the Canadian side which we just got back after many years. It is paying a profit back to the people and has lower fares and will do so in the future." [An absolute lie. Dividends have been cut and there may not be one this year. The Tunnel's tolls are higher! I hope other MPs do not rely on this misinformed data!]

Brian Masse "It gives me great concern that if we do not have the same commitment for the next Windsor-Detroit region border crossing to be publicly owned and operated" [As for me, I'd rather have the best operator run our border. Guess who that is.]

Brian Masse "we have to deal with the most important border crossing between Windsor and Detroit which is owned and operated by a private American citizen...we have seen the introduction of Black Hawk helicopters, drone planes and river gunboats at border crossings. When a border crossing facility is owned by a private American citizen... " [Jingoism is not appropriate. I wonder if Brian would dare make a similar remark about the Big Three owners considering so many CAW members work for them!]


Oh there is more but I have to find my shoe...I threw it at my computer and it found its way under the sofa!

Super Bowl XL And WWE Rasslin'

Did you watch the big Super Bowl game yesterday on TV? I was researching a bigger game being played out in Windsor.

Remember how our huge taxpayer investment in the Super Bowl was to help out or tourism industry, and of course also the image and networking for the Mayor. I was skeptical of the numbers being thrown around especially when we heard not a chirp from our Mayor gloating over the success of what he personally achieved to advance the interests of our City. (Oh sure, there were a few volunteers around who may have helped out too).

I have been proven correct after all of this time

I am not knocking what was achieved and the publicity that Windsor received by it but if our Mayor could be that mistaken on something sports related, then should we be concerned about his economic justificastion for our new arena. I am now and so should you!

Eddie predicted the following to justify the spending of the US$250,000 to be part of the Super Bowl XL TEAM.
  • 02-03-2006 Francis figures the Super Bowl will bring in between $80 to $100 million to Windsor and help the city attract a CFL expansion team.

    02-04-2006 Mayor Eddie Francis said the city is projecting Super Bowl XL will pump at least $80 million into the city's economy.

    "Francis noted that all hotels are at capacity throughout Windsor and beyond with 4,400 rooms booked and added that the NFL estimates each Super Bowl visitor spends about $3,000 over the course of the weekend and are "conservative" estimates..

    02-07-2006 "In the short term, officials estimate between 20,000 and 30,000 tourists visited Windsor last week, spending millions of dollars."

    03-27-2006 "A preliminary study suggests Detroit's big game was a cash bonanza for Windsor and Essex County.

    Mayor Eddie Francis said that economic impact studies indicate the average football fan spent $966 US during their visits for goods and services beyond the costs of travel and accommodation."

While the results are good, they do not even come close to what the Mayor predicted. The actuals are a mere fraction of what he hyped!

Here is the official result as stated by Gord Orr at the November Convention and Visitors Bureau Board meeting held just days before the last municipal election. Such perfect timing too don't you think:

  • SuperBowl XL Economic Impact

    G. Orr reports that SuperBowl brought in 8,541 room nights with an average of 3.2 people per room, staying an average of 2.8 nights and spending an average of $339.00 per day. That equates to $9 million in direct spending and an overall impressive $21 million in economic impact. (The economic impact formula was based on an industry average also used by Detroit).

Of course what was also not factored in was that hotels were normally 50-60% booked over the weekend so that Orr's figures have to be discounted by half.

Here was my guess at the economic impact as I Blogged on Tuesday, June 20, 2006 "Hyping Suckers:" $10 million

Here is another item passed at that same meeting, again days before the election:

  • World Wrestling Entertainment Canada, Inc. (WWE)

    G. Orr provides an overview of the Wrestlemania Event that will take place at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan on Sunday, April 1, 2007. He outlines the WWE Canada partnership opportunity that would provide our region promotional leverage and would not require increased funding but rather an allocation of 2007 funds.

    Moved by G. Zec, seconded by M. Boscariol,

    That the CVB BE SUPPORTED of the fact that in 2007, part of the marketing strategy for the Convention & Visitors Bureau will include a $60,000 partnership with World Wrestling Entertainment Canada, Inc., which will support and enhance Windsor’s role in this international marketing opportunity.


And then the CAO got involved giving the approval as can be seen by the image above with his "Delegation" authority.

Now do you remember Council approving this spending with the Mayor making great speeches about how WWE will help out the Windsor economy? Do you see teams of volunteers out and about for Wrestlemania? Do you notice any hype coming from the publicity machine at City Hall?

Perhaps you can explain the difference in approach. The only thing I can think of is that 2007 is NOT an election year and Roger Penske is not involved or the elite in Michigan.

After all, how can Eddie drink beer once he has tasted champagne!

Is This Another Arena Cost--Revised

The RFP for this has been changed according to a reader.

In checking the City's website, the RFP is now for "proposals from qualified consulting firms for engineering services related to design, construction drawings, specifications, contract administration and inspection, of the McHugh St Extension Phase 2 from the eastern entrance of arena over Little River to Florence Avenue."

The engineering services from Lauzon to the eastern entrance of the arena was dropped.

However, I got this note from another reader as well:

  • "Read this afternoon's post and it left me asking questions or is something missing from the big picture here?

    McHugh (from west of Lauzon Road) sits at an entrance way to the north end of the Trim Plant (a Tim Horton's and a traffic light to the plant entrance are the most prominent markings). I read the jpeg and it said extending to the east end of the arena entrance and then to Florence Avenue over Little River. That left me confused.

    Florence Avenue runs north/south.......but its hardly a long road lengthwise from Riverside Drive and in fact if the posting were accurate from the City, they are covering a lot of roadspace (going in a very pronounced "J" pattern) up to Florence.

    It was also confusing as Firgrove would be more readily accessible as it would the the shortest distance between two points! And it has easy access to Clover Avenue which if you go over there and look is maybe 300-400 yards short of being connected to Riverside Drive!

    And what about the Bridge to Nowhere....surely theyare working on a road extension there."
Since I have trouble trying to get from Point "A" to Point "B" if someone can explain what that all means and its significance I would be most appreciative!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Short Star Shorts

Help I cannot keep up.

The Star had a few interesting stories over the last few days so let me comment on them:


My Liberal friends in town are abusing me verbally over my assertions that he is running for the PCs against Sandra. He is a Liberal they keep telling me.

Perhaps they are right. Why else would Eddie be meeting only with the Provincial Liberal Government over "federal" matters like the border, airports and railways. No Federal "Conservative" presence so they can be continued to be painted as the "bad guys." And why else are people telling me that Eddie and Dwight are so "friendly."

Want more proof. Eddie says in the Star frontpage story
  • "Significant decisions" must be made quickly because a final decision on route and crossing locations is to be announced this summer by the binational team, he said. "
And what he did not say is that there is a fall Provincial election. What could be better than Son of Schwartz-- a gigantic vision for all of Windsor with all of the transportation modes tied in together. Instead of Gridlock Sam, expect a big name Canadian engineering firm to be used as the front.

Gord will really have something again to gush over as he did before with Schwartz that will also allow him to back-off gracefully from his tunnel support.

So for my Liberal friends: Sandra runs federally against Brian Masse and Eddie runs for the Liberals provincially. (Sorry Brian and Joyce, you are both expendable. Politics you know)

There are you happy now!


If you want evidence of the collective power of Bloggers in this City, Thursday's Star should provide the definitive proof.

Don't you find it interesting that Marra's pulling back of his City Hall Motion on a tunnel solution was not reported by the City Hall reporter on Tuesday? A non-story perhaps in the view of the Editor?

Yet on Thursday a front-page story by the Star's border reporter and headline that "Tunnelling among Grit border plan possibilities; Marra defers council motion"

Then Gord's column with perhaps his newest outdoorsy canoeing buddy now that Alan may have been harpooned (Wait until the anti-baby seal hunting community reads this column!):

  • "He's had it with the inexplicable myth that's been spreading around Windsor like a cancer since December that building a tunnel on Talbot-Huron Church Road would be a waste of money because it wouldn't reduce air pollution and might even make it worse.

    "There's been a communications failure and it's had an enormous impact. Somewhere along the way the interpretation (of test results) became absolutely ass-backwards," said Weis, shaking his head. "I held my tongue for a long time. I thought this would get fixed. But it's misinterpretation that has spread widely, and when it becomes that ingrained, someone needed to call in," he said, explaining why he contacted me. "It was time to put my foot down and open my big mouth."
Now, dear reader, we know who raised the issue about Marra's motion, who has attacked the "tunnel myth," who suggested that the Ambassador Bridge may know what it is talking about and was "blind-sided" and who called Council an ostrich. WINDSOR BLOGGERS!

It's time that you circulated the addresses of the different BLOGs in town to your friends and colleagues to let them in on why you know so much about what is really going on in Windsor:
My BLOG please
Chris Schnurr
Paul Synnott
Councillor Alan Halberstadt

And this one too but don't tell anyone since her bosses may find out:
Roseann Danese


Don't you remember the story about a year before the last election on 11-24-2005?
  • "A story by Star columnist Gord Henderson published Wednesday quoted DaimlerChrysler Canada president Steven Landry saying the company has been studying the possibility of transferring its Canadian headquarters from Windsor to the greater-Toronto area.

    Landry said the issue will be on the back burner for at least another year and the company plans to focus all its attention on operations for 2006. But he did not rule out a move in the future."

Clearly the object then was to prevent Chrysler moving out so that Eddie would not have their HQ moved under his watch and before his election. Why else run the "rumour" story. You know, where there is smoke, there is fire!

Well hellooooo, it's the future, just over a year later. And the Star is softening us up for a big blow. "Hargrove warns DCX cuts may hit home" on Wednesday:

  • "This is a major restructuring, much more so than we had anticipated, and Canada isn't going to escape the knife," Hargrove said."
On Thursday, "Fewer cars, jobs for DCX" with Ken Sr. admitting
  • "The only thing I will be looking for next Wednesday is ... how much money will there be to make sure the human part of the restructuring gets taken care of?" Lewenza said. "These jobs are gone forever."
  • Lewenza said he had already started negotiations with the company this week for early-retirement packages and hoped something similar could be found to the last offer of about $70,000 for each worker eligible for retirement.

    "We've been talking all day."
Of course IF the announcement is made, then Eddie will have his built-in excuse won't he so we won't treat him too badly.

However, an interesting side-effect....What happens to the the several floors of space in Canderel when they become empty if HQ moves to Toronto? Does Chrysler keep on paying the rent or is there a term in their lease that allows them to move out?

If they can go, then who would pick up the tab for the empty floors?

OH you think, not it could not possibly be, could anyone have been that dumb, could it be the taxpayers again?

And if so, when did the Mayor and Council know that and why have they never told us!


Chris Schnurr has done a good job demonstrating to us why the Mayor has totally backed off tunnelling. I don't have to repeat his analysis.

Clearly, Bill Marra's action was very similar to Project Ice Track moving to Tecumseh. It forced the Mayor to show his true colours and made him act before he intended to do so.

I, for one, and perhaps Councillors, for 10, would like to know what the Mayor's newest border Plan is. Will it be approved in camera again? How will he sell it to us?

I wonder if he will try to use Gridlock Sam again? Or why not keep it in Canada and use Stantec (they are doing the Sandwich Heritage job) Isn't Sam's former assistant working there now?


There was an interesting exchange at Council the other week between the Mayor and Councillor Halberstadt about letters sent to the Transport Minister and to the Premier. They were to be released. Since I have not seen them yet, I wrote this email. Want to bet that they will be covered by solicitor-client privilege so the public cannot see them!
  • To: Brenda Andreatta
    Sent: Wednesday, February 07, 2007 5:04 PM
    Subject: Border letters

    The City recently sent letters to Transport Minister Cannon and to Premier Dalton McGuinty and other provincial government leaders requesting their support to dismiss the Ambassador Bridge's application to twin its span.

    I believe that the Mayor at Council said that he would make them available to Councillor Halberstadt and that they were to be placed on the public agenda.

    Since I have not yet seen them produced, please provide me with a copy.

Obviously, Eddie must have fully briefed Councillors about what he and Minister Cansfield talked about as they so quickly "gave its approval for Francis to be the leader on border discussions with Cansfield and other provincial government authorities."

Is it true that Alan was appointed as leader on border discussions with the Ambassador Bridge and that Fulvio was appointed as leader on border discussions with DRIC if anyone would listen to him. Who is the leader with the Feds?

Now I wanted to know if the Province agreed with the Star article since a lot seemed to have been discussed but the Province was never quoted. As an "accredited journalist" by the Province, I sent this email:

  • I would appreciate if you would provide me with the details of the Cansfield/Francis meeting as reported in the Star today. I noted that no one from the Ministry was quoted.

    I would appreciate if you would advise in particular:
  • what are the "broader discussions" that are being dealt with
  • Does the Federal Government have any interest in the feeder road since they would pay a good part of the cost and since Bill C-3 could make this completely a federal matter
  • I note only the City and Province were involved. Was the Federal Government asked to attend the lunch and/or meeting. If not, why not
  • Borders, airports and railroads are all federal responsibilities---why is the Province discussing these matters with the City alone and not in combination with the Federal Government
  • Does the Province intend to discuss these "federal" matters with the Federal Government and if so when
  • Does the Province know why the public session for the Tunnel Plaza Improvements was cancelled
  • Is it true that the cost of the improvements has increased over the initial $30 million and if so, will the Province increase its contribution
  • I intend to do a story on this matter at noon for my BLOG today and would appreciate your prompt reply
And here is the prompt response I received:
  • Mr. Arditti:

    Thank you for your email regarding Minister Cansfield's lunch with Mayor Francis.

    Minister Cansfield had not had the opportunity to meet with Mayor Francis since his re-election and she wanted to meet with him as a courtesy call as part of her monthly visits to the Windsor area.

    This was simply an informal, friendly lunch to renew acquantainces and discuss transportation and other provincial issues.

    Minister Cansfield also met with the Mayors of Techumseh and Lakeshore as well as the County Warden on this trip. She will continue to meet with municipal officials, and businesses as part of her continuing visits to the Windsor-Essex area. She feels that meeting face-to-face and personally touring the area are the best way to find solutions.

    Feel free to contact me should you have any questions."

None of my questions were answered but that was ok. Do you think there were 2 separate lunches since the Star story and the Ministry response seem so completely different!


There seems to be a controversy over who suggested this first publicly. Joe Tessier had a letter published on February 1 and then he was answered by Russell Martin who said

  • "I really think your idea is wonderful. Unfortunately you're about a year late. I proposed a second level road from the end of the 401 to the bridge with reverse customs booths on each side."

However, here is a letter from SINAN KHALAF published on 05-10-2003

  • "Build truck-only route above Huron Church

    The DRTP highway had many people opposing it, so I have decided to suggest a better use of the millions of dollars put out for this highway.

    People are always complaining about the trucks on Huron Church, so why not use the money to build a highway directly above Huron Church made only for trucks? The stores on that street won't lose business and residential areas won't be disturbed."

Windsor Is "SportsCity"

The excitement is certainly building in Windsor to a fever pitch for the WWE WrestleMania extravaganza.

Surprisingly, it did not cost Windsor hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money to be involved either as we had to spend in Detroit for Super Bowl.** But then again, Roger Penske is not involved, no trips to Florida to preview the event, no big parties, no rubbing elbows with the glitterati.

I saw the most recent Press Release issued outlining the events that will take place here. Aren't they exciting! I hope that police are on hand to direct all of the traffic at the Via
Station. I wonder if a brewery will be sponsoring that train too.

And just so you know, that special event with the Mayor....It will be an arm wrestling contest with Tecumseh's Mayor Gary McNamara to see who can get money out of the Provincial Liberals first for their arena! By the way, I hear that Eddie has made a deal to be announced before the fall election.

Our Mayor is certainly getting into the spirit of things and is making Windsor "SportsCity!" [I created that tagline for free. No need to hire a consultant for it]. How did I think of the name---Easy. It was so SimpliCity.

Money for wrestling and the Spitfires, money for culture but not for Brentwood. What a bizarre state of affairs in this City. I wonder if taxpayers agree

**Correction--the Star reported that "Windsor, which will hold a number of pre-events [are] sponsored to the tune of $60,000 from the local Convention & Visitors Bureau. I'll tell you how it was done too in another BLOG!

World Wrestling Entertainment Canada, Inc. announces WrestleMania(R) 23 events in Windsor, Ontario


At a news conference in Windsor, Ontario today, WWE(R) Canada President Carl DeMarco and City of Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis announced the line up of events planned for the City of Windsor during WrestleMania week. These events are:

  • March 27 - Welcome to Windsor - Join WWE Superstars as they arrive at the Windsor train station to kick off the week. Arrival on VIA Rail train 73 at 3:54 pm at the Windsor train station.
  • March 28 - 29 - Wrestlemania Fan Axxess - don't miss the only Canadian stop on the WrestleMania Fan Axxess tour at the Devonshire Mall with interactive exhibits and autograph signings!
    3100 Howard Ave., Windsor, Ont. Wednesday March 28 - 2pm - 8pm
    Thursday March 29 - 2pm - 7pm
  • March 30 - Listen to AM800 and pick up The Windsor Star for your chance to win tickets to a very special WrestleMania event to be hosted by Mayor Eddie Francis!

Additional information on World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: WWE), can be found at and For information on our global activities, go to

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Is This Another Arena Cost

Here is an interesting RFP that just came out from City Hall. An engineer suggested to me that this was the first City call for consultant bids on any road/bridge project in over 6 months. Strange, why wasn't it done in-house rather than farming it out to outsiders.

Add the cost of the consultants and the construction costs to the $62M for the arena. Oh those of you who do not think it is fair to do so should be reminded what the Windsor Star Editorial fumed about the LaSalle arena and its skyrocketing costs:
  • "These additional costs are significant -- $352 for every resident of the town or $1,408 for a family of four -- and, on a per capita basis, represent the equivalent of Windsor building a $160-million arena complex and overshooting the budget by more than $70 million.

    The costs can hardly be chalked up as unanticipated. They are not the result of escalating construction costs associated with oil or steel prices and they are costs taxpayers could more easily bear if the complex was more limited in scope. These additional costs are part and parcel of the project and, in fact, are part and parcel of any large construction project, particularly in underserviced areas.

    The town knew, or ought to have known, about these expenditures - - down to the dollar -- when it embarked on the project. If administrators and councillors didn't know these costs were coming, they are irresponsible planners. If they did know they were looming but persisted in perpetrating the myth of a $20-million complex, then they can charitably be described as poor communicators."

Here is an interesting question to ask which one of my readers did:

  • "I think the issue here, is that 50-75% of the cost, if not more, would have been paid for by the developer of the site if it were not the city's. McHugh street would have been a residential street, and the developer of those homes would have paid 100% of that cost. So the city, by insisting on use of that site, has burdened itself with these costs."

And what do you think the cost of all of this will be. Here is a rough guess from an engineer as well:

  • "1500m of roadway @ $1,750/m = $2,625,000
    200 sq m of bridge @ $2,500/m2 = $500,000
    Total construction cost = $3,125,000
    10% contingency = $312,500

    Typical engineering fees = 5% of construction costs for project this size and complexity (low) = $156,250
    Construction administration/inspection costs = 8% of construction costs for project this size (low) = $250,000

    So... all told I would guess that this work will come to about $3,843,750 or more approximately just under $4,000,000."

Fire The Windsor Tunnel Commission Chair

Do they have any guts?

Councillors Brister, Marra and Valentinis have been appointed as members of the Windsor Tunnel Commission recently.

Take a look at the operation of the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel. It's a disgrace. Cost overruns at the heritage Ventilation building, last-minute postponement of the Public Information session concerning Tunnel Plaza improvements, a "unique" security risk that has not been dealt with, loss of its $6.6M dividend and no one yet hired to "breathe" Tunnel business. I won't even get into the issue of scrubbers and dirty air downtown.

What is happening now with the Tunnel? Eddie has tried for a year to do something with it. It is about the one year anniversary of the Joint Councils meeting in Detroit after all. I wonder when we the taxpayers and owners of the Tunnel will find out what is going on. Do the other Commissioners know or are they in the dark too? I am hearing a lot of stories about some corporate machinations involving the Tunnel or DCTC but that is all I know.

Boards of Directors of Companies are taking a much stronger role in the operations of their business. Why I bet a corporate governance expert like Remo Mancini could teach the WTC Commissioners a thing or two. Just take a look at OMERS the other day.
  • "Mr. Haggis... clashed with the board over their differing view of the CEO role.

    Mr. Haggis argued the CEO was responsible and accountable for all aspects of the pension fund's business, according to a source familiar with events at the pension fund, who asked not to be named. This contrasted with the view of some board members, who wanted to get more involved in the management of the company."
Haggis was ousted by the Board so guess who won and whose views prevailed. Where is the WTC Board?

Let me be direct about it. January was another disaster for the Tunnel.

The volume of vehicles compared with last January was down again. Car volumes compared with last January were down over 75,000 cars. How much more traffic can the Tunnel afford to lose?

It has been that story month after month since rates were increased. I laughed so hard at what George Wilkki said, picking up the Eddie mantra from the Senate hearings
  • "City lawyer George Wilkki disagrees and says the two border crossings are not in competition.

    "Their primary traffic source is trucks and very few trucks use the tunnel."

It's true, they do not compete...the Tunnel is not in the Ambassador Bridge's league as a business operation. The Bridge Co is in the Big Leagues not the minors, the best border crossing operator between Canada and the US. Where the Tunnel had 47% of the car business in January 1999 and the Bridge only 37.7%, the Bridge now has 41.6% compared with the Tunnel's 36.8% in January.

I hate to disagree with such distinguished City officials but if the Tunnel is NOT primarily in the truck business, then why did the City's Plan 3A at the last public session propose to build a new "on-site Canada-bound truck secondary inspection area."

Is this another example of management not even knowing what they are proposing? By the way, the Tunnel lost over half of its volume in trucks in January 2007 compared with January 1999 while the Bridge Co. was up a few percentage points.

Why is the Tunnel being run into the ground? Is there an ulterior motive, a hidden agenda, that we do not know about? When and if we ever do decide to deal with it, it will only be able to be sold/leased/revenue securitized at distress pricing. A far cry from the $2-300M that Eddie said it was worth at one time! I have heard the number of between $25-30M being bandied about even as late as last year. A huge percentage drop in such a short time! What is it worth now with volumes dropping like a stone!

If the price goes down any more, then expect the Duty Free Shop to be allowed have it as an item for sale beside the duty-free booze, cigarettes and watches in its showroom! When will Mr. Taqtaq get angry because his revenues are decreasing with reduced volumes and demand a lower rent too? Or has he already done that and we just don't know about it?

As a taxpayer, my asset is being devalued and my taxes will have to be increased to cover the dividend lost. It has not been and is not getting the attention it deserves. There are major problems there that clearly have not been addressed.

The WTC Board no longer has a choice. They must call an immediate meeting and replace Eddie Francis as the Chair!

I have made this plea before and will make it again if required. I have lost my confidence in him! Haven't you?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

I Don't Feel So Lonely Now

Wow, did you read Alan Halberstadt's BLOGs "Blind Mouse Musings ."

If not, run do not walk to

His last BLOG (Part 3) could actually be the start of an intelligent debate in Windsor about the border crossing. Is this also the start of a separation of Council from a Lame Duck Mayor who has an agenda that no one knows about except perhaps for a few "trusted" colleagues. The rest are left out in the cold.

After the Tunnel fiasco at Council, can we expect Gord to hold out an olive branch to his friend since he should know now that he along with many residents of Windsor have been used for crass political purposes?

If so, then Eddie is done.

And as Alan said on Council Close-up last night, you ought to be reading the daily BLOGs in town to get a different view of the world. Pass them on to your friends and colleagues or subscribe to any of the BLOGs!

Councillors better get on board Alan's bandwagon....there may not be room soon.

Now We Know: A Windsor Tunnel Was Always A Joke

Did you hear the big crashing sound last night, a few minutes after Council started. That was Windsor's phony Tunnel dream collapsing in front of us.

I wonder what justification the Star Editorial Board and Gord Henderson will use to deal with this turn of events. I wonder if Gord's canoeing friend, Councillor Alan rub it in his face?

"City of Windsor advise DRIC that they must have a tunnelled solution as the design of the highway through the selected corridor with an absolute imperative to mitigate any and all impacts on local residents and the community as a whole from Windsor Border Traffic."

That was the Tunnel Motion "resolution" clause that Bill Marra introduced: simple, straight-forward and to the point.

And he withdrew it last night at Council to be heard as part of something else who knows when!

In effect, Bill called the bluff of Eddie Francis and his Council colleagues and showed them lacking. He at least advocated for a tunnel in the 2003 mayoral race so we can excuse him. But the others, they all backed off. None had the guts to have it heard. No wonder there was no seconder. Poor Gord, poor Windsor Star, played like the suckers they now know they are.

Windsor deserves a tunnel----BS! We demand a better quality of life---BS! Elect us and we'll fight for you---BS! Just elect us is what this was all about!

I expect that Eddie finally realized that his Tunnel, Tunnel, Tunnel cry had played as long as it could. It was about as good as his Schwartz, Schwartz, Schwartz losing campaign. But he got a year out of it to stall off the Feds and Province so he accomplished what he wanted, just like the 2 year stall with Schwartz. That was his version of an "interim control by-law" on the border!

Eddie is just so brilliant isn't he and so tactical as Windsor dies a slow death waiting for a border solution.

Eddie could not afford to have the Motion voted on and passed. That would have been the City's position and could not have been changed under the Procedural By-law for the time period set out in the By-law. No wonder some Councillors had doubts that they expressed in the Star. I have heard several Councillors say that Eddie has a new plan (although they do not know what it is ) so that is obviously why the Motion could not go forward. As one Councillor told me a long time ago, Eddie always has a PLAN.

Eddie is not dumb. He must have known that we were never getting a tunnel: cost, lack of scrubbing, new diesel and fuel technology, bad precedent. He must be furious at Marra that Bill ruined his timing with his Motion.

Now we know why Bill was asked to defer the Motion last week too. In fact, I heard that several Councillors were going to blindside Bill with a new Motion or an amended one, if needed, so he had no chance whatsoever.

So tell me please, what is Windsor's position today? Schwartz is gone, the Tunnel is gone, our friends are gone. What's left other than negotiating from a position of weakness with the Bridge Co.? Oh don't be silly, I know that Eddie's real interest is the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel but he messed that up too. So to boost his so-called power to negotiate, he tosses grenades at the Bridge Co. to stall them too---enemy talk, Estrin letters, Interim Control by-law, Heritage designation for Sandwich, refusal to meet etc etc etc. Such immature childishness.

And what is Mike Hurst to do now since a tunnel won't be built. That means no Rails to Trails. Now no one will want his corridor even to link it with the Ambassador Bridge's enhanced bridge! I guess it is truly now "Rails to Fails!"

I expect that Eddie will want to meet again soon with the Senior Levels to try out some new, brilliant ploy of his. His Chief of Staff will call demanding a meeting. "Reluctantly," they will let him come to Ottawa or Toronto. I can just imagine though the joy that certain Senior Level bureaucrats will have in cutting him short and telling him that the $300M BIF money is gone. They will tell Eddie to come back when Windsor knows what it wants--say in 10-15 years.

Just so you won't worry, they will come back but our road to the enhanced Ambassador Bridge will incorporate E C Row. And Eddie will grab it as his career life-preserver. He will declare that as a victory too.

Hmmm I wonder when Eddie will tell the Councillors about all of this and then us. I would think that this is one story that he won't tell the Star in advance either. As Gord said "Little wonder folks have lost faith in politicians."

Letters To The Blogmeister

Here are some more notes that readers sent me recently:


I find some humour in the resolution in the fact that two of the "whereas" reasons are that Lasalle endorsed a tunnel, and Tecumseh endorsed Lasalle's endorsement, so why not let Windsor get in there and the ring-around-the-rosy too? Windsor should endorse Tecumseh's endorsement of Lasalle's endorsement of a tunnel.

The "$3.2 billion is a drop in the bucket compared to $100 billion in trade every year" argument is kind of fallacious... it is sort of an infantile cost-benefit argument, except, the benefit is there already isn't it? If they don't spend the $3.2B is the $100B going to go away? No. If they build a new bridge and highway, and say that this will increase trade between the US and Canada by an additional $100B per year (and that depends on soooo many other factors) then the cost-benefit ratio actually scores better for a cheaper below-grade freeway, because really, does industry care whether it's a tunnel or not? No.

Teshuba was, I think, on the right track if you are going to argue cost-benefit in trying to index health costs agains the costs of the project but, of course, once you factor in that air problems are regional and not route related, and that new diesel emission standards will clean things up and on and on... that cost-benefit argument falls apart too. But whatever happened to Al and his big economic benefit study? Still, the city had its chance to document all of its perceived impacts and decided no need for hard facts in hand.


It seems to me that since the US side opened up the extra customs booths, the border problem is, if not solved, at least greatly reduced! I frequently drive on Huron Church Road, and - yes, there a trucks - but they are moving smoothly and expeditiously. They are no longer on Wyandotte West. E.C Row is moving along just fine. Where is the problem? I'm obviously missing something significant, because I no longer see a problem. However, with all the hoopla and millions spent, surely I must be wrong. Please set me straight.

(BTW - years ago, when NAFTA was initiated, Windsorites whined to get the truck route to go down Huron Church.)

Is this - what Stewart/Colbert call - a "phantom problem"? A strategy to divert attention from real problems? Has anyone noticed the dismal state of the streets of Windsor? Do people know that one of the reasons that professional don't come to Windsor is because of that? ... they even stated that with such a lack of diligence in doing what the city is supposed to be doing, they have no confidence in this city.


Ed, I have the pleasure of reading your posts daily at work, as well as Chris Schnurr, the Windsor Municipal Shadow, and Alan Halberstat. Enlightening to say the least, the views of normal everyday taxpayers, who have the stones to say things like they are.

With the way things appear to be spiraling out of control regarding the border issue, I fear the worst for this city. Watching council this past Monday night, I wonder why the Bridge Company even bothers trying to deal with the City management. They want to spend a BILLION DOLLARS, and all we hear is from the NIMBY residents.

The Bridge Company needs to totally bypass the municipal level of government, due to their inability to get ANYTHING done. Deal with the Feds direct. Same goes for DRTP, and any other projects that might benefit society in general, but might inconvenience someone. Granted, I live in Riverside, so the Bridge does not affect my property or it's value, but there is NO incentive for any development in Windsor and/or Essex County, due to this issue, and as well the militant unions that scare off so much potential industrial investment, it's scary.

Personally, I'd rather have private enterprise spending their money, and if the taxpayers aren't on the hook, so much the better. The $300,000,000 slated for the border issue will go a LOOOOOONG way towards improving the infrastructure between the 401 and the Ambassador bridge(and it's un-named twin).

I casually met Mayor Francis when he ran his Pita business, and he seemed like a level headed young man, lots of ambition, well organized, need I say more, but butting heads with Provincial and Federal Government levels, as well as anyone that questions or opposes his agenda, whether it's personal or professional, is a troubling sign that should have every taxpayer in this city concerned. There also appears to be several city councilors that do not necessarily have all the facts about what is really going on, and the repercussions of dragging their feet and fighting a no-win situation can not benefit anyone.

Thank you for the space to express my opinion, hoping to read more on a daily basis on your forum.


This is the tip of the iceberg, … But it speaks to the nature of leadership: Leadership by public opinion vs. leadership by vision/agenda.

There is nothing wrong with surveys to determine priorities – as long as they are objective and provide the pulse of the residents. The city should know what services are priorities and how departments are performing, and respond to improve those services. That’s legit. It is the “push polling” and cosmetic citizen involvement that provides cover for a predetermined result that is the issue. I’m sure you can think of dozens of examples.

When City Council doesn’t even know the extent or purposes of all of the contracts, then there is a problem. Out of the $5.2 million, the Star article is a valid inquiry, so far as it probes. But looking into surveys that U of Windsor Students facilitate are not the problem. It’s the Schwartz’s, Estrin’s or Mulhern’s contracts that should be probed. WHO brought them to the table? WHO crafted their scope/agenda? WHO do they report to and WHO edit their recommendations? What results have been produced and how measured? To Whom are these fancy consultants accountable? Certainly not the citizens who pay their tab and have little to do with the publicly stated (i.e., outside of incamera council meetings or closed door briefings) purpose.

Yes, look at the student facilitated surveys, but don’t ignore the whistle of the train load of consultants.


It was recently brought to my attention that the Detroit Metro Convention & Vistior Bureau has revealed a new, hip, branding campaign. After our partnerships in Detroit with the Two Nation Destination campaign, last year's Superbowl festivities and the upcoming Wrestlemania, Windsor is conspicuously absent- not even a dot on their map as a geographic locator. How could this happen when we have spent money to partner together? My impression was that we were marketing as a region, whenever possible. Hasn't our CVB been working with the DMCVB? This is certainly not apparent in Detroit's new bid to bring a younger market into the Detroit Metro area with a cool new identity program and icon...

If the Windsor region is to proceed with any branding awareness, in an attempt to reach our U.S. neighbours, it is now apparent that a multitude of local money is going to have to be spent to reach the market audience that DMCVB has targeted. If you put Windsor in the search box on their website, our CVB website and various hotels and attractions are available. But, first one has to know that Windsor Ontario is the name of the city across the river in order to garner any of that information!

It seems a shame to me that this has occured, and I am baffled as to why. Perhaps someone will be able to provide that answer to me. At a time when we are experiencing a decline in our border traffic and local economy, all the hard work and dollars spent on past initiatives seems very counterproductive at this point in time."


Your Blog has quite a fascinating insight. The opinions here are pretty good.

Concerning the Bridge fiasco, if I was Dan Stamper I would close the bridge for a day and gridlock Windsor. Drastic but effective.

Could Eddie handle the music? Doubt it. Maybe then could political childishness go by the wayside.

Disasters are all over the place. I still think the pressure on the bridge is slight of hand for something else that is going on. Take your pick as to what it is.


Did a quick search of all the newspapers. The Lonely Bloggers story appeared in the Calgary Herald on the front page (no wonder as the story was written by one of their staff reporters) but no pic on the front - it was on the following pages. The Montreal Gazette also carried it on the front page (again no pic there - it was on a subsequent page). Seems that the only paper to find it newsworthy enough for the front page with a picture is the Star.

PS - I didn't check the other papers to see if they carried the article - just if they carried it on the front page

Monday, February 05, 2007

Dueling Buddies

Is it "Cherchez Le Mayor" to explain what is going on?

They are fighting--the canoeing friends, Star Columnist Gord Henderson and Councillor Alan Halberstadt. And is it ever going to get nasty before this is done. Can this be the end of a friendship that Gord said at one time has lasted since the 1960's?

Can this be true? Why do I suspect this? The Councillor wrote not one but two BLOGs to counter the remarks made by Henderson in a recent column

And to be blunt about it, the language used by both is pretty strong.

Let me give you some evidence that Alan may have finally had it with Gord and took the opportunity to hit back at his friend.

At one time, Gord called Alan a "courageous" Councillor who was graded B+ since "I believe he made a solid contribution in 2005 as a dedicated conservationist and equally dedicated fiscal watchdog."

It all started falling apart over the Barn and the East end arena.

On February 9, 2006, Henderson was all in favour of Alan's plan to refurbish the Barn
  • "And if anyone thinks Windsor still needs more than a functional hockey rink, they should stroll over to Pitt and McDougall and check out this city's answer to the Grand Canyon.[the $400-million hotel, convention and entertainment centre being added to Casino Windsor]...

    Now all we need is an improved home for the Spits. The barn reno/ expansion would serve that limited purpose admirably without becoming a drain on taxpayers."

Then a mere few days later, on February 18, Gord dumped Alan, reversing himself saying

  • "In an interview this week, the mayor all but rejected Coun. Alan Halberstadt's proposal to upgrade Windsor Arena and made it clear he'll be seeking council backing for one final push to replace the 80-year-old Barn.

    "My position is quite clear. I want to get one done. This city has demonstrated not only that it wants it, but that it needs it," said Francis...

    He wouldn't put it in those words. But the message I took from his comments is that the city... might have the means to move well beyond the $15 million already budgeted for a new arena, without increasing the load on city taxpayers...

    Now or never. And if it's now, what a coup that would be for city politicians in an election year."
Then in October, a rather nasty comment directed towards Alan as Gord slammed him using these words over the East End arean:
  • "Alan Halberstadt, who suffered a ludicrous last-minute brain warp over a possible conflict of interest, this was the mortifying low point of his career. In future Halberstadt might want to make his own mind up, instead of taking marching orders from anonymous e-mailers who could be residing in Tecumseh, or Timbuktu."
And finally, the Three Blind Mice column with Alan waving
  • "the white flag for some time, mouthing off about compromises and trade-offs. This isn't a rummage sale, Al. This is Windsor's fate for the next century and beyond and you sound like someone prepared to auction it to the highest bidder. Not a becoming role."
You will have to be the judge of what is going on. Is it real though or just theatre? Is a feud brewing or is it all pretend to fool us? Is it a phony deal cooked up by the E-machine to build up Alan's image? I have to remind you that Alan was a big booster of the Mayor when he announced he was running the first time. And Gord, well........

Is their friendship strong enough to continue or is it all done now? The common denominator in Gord's attacks is Gord choosing Eddie's position over his friend's.

Why just today Alan was quoted in the Star saying:
  • "Coun. Alan Halberstadt, who was appointed to 20 committees for the next two years, said he listed police, Enwin and the convention and visitors bureau as his preferred choices. But after being shut out of those, he wondered whether his sometimes controversial positions on issues and his ability to ruffle feathers on council did him in.

    "I think probably, there's a factor there. But what can I do?"
What can you do...Oh Alan, you are a realist. You know who calls the shots at City Hall. Knuckle under and then you will get what you want. Until then, tough luck. You are back in the wilderness again but without a paddle.

Can anyone save their relationship? There is only one person but he has just knocked off already two potential challengers to Councillor Valentinis being appointed Mayor so do not expect him to be of assistance!

Is "Heritage" The Next Windsor Flashpoint

Some people will not like this BLOG. If so, I apologize in advance.

My concern is that there is a situation developing insidiously that may escalate until it is out of control. I do not want Windsor torn apart. We dare not allow this to happen here.

My BLOG has absolutely nothing to do with the people living along the DRTP corridor, Talbot Roaders, people on Turner or Riberdy Road, business owners on Huron Church, West Enders, Sandwich residents, First Nations people, African-Canadians, people in any subdivision that may be impacted by whatever happens on the border issue, pro or anti-tunnellers, environmentalists, or any other group in the City. The only matter in common amongst all of these diverse groups is that we all have been and are being used.

My BLOG has to do with haters who are prepared to exploit a situation, to turn neighbour against neighbour, to make a situation ugly for their own, twisted purposes.

The border is an easy issue to get people upset about. We have seen the passions when people's homes have been put at risk, when there are threats to family and children. I have heard the comments, seen ugly behaviour that could have developed into fist fights or worse. I have read the death threat letters to a politician.

The Bridge Co. is the obvious target so far, but will not necessarily be the only one. Make them the issue and work up Windsorites against them. Make them the devil. Demonize them by lies and disinformation so that if something happens, it is all their fault. Smarmy comments like this are NOT appreciated "Skip McMahon, spokesman for the Canadian side of the bridge, was said to be out of town Friday and unavailable for comment."

I suspect that there are some in this community who hate the Ambassador Bridge Company for reasons that no one yet seems to be willing to articulate publicly. And I have asked. I guess that outsiders to Windsor (I have only lived here about 20 years) just do not understand the feelings. I am not alone it seems. I have asked others if they know why and other "outsiders" and visitors to the City ask me the same question.

But when I saw the stories in the Star about demolitions, burial grounds and then about archeological digs and then the big Saturday Star story about "Dig raises concern: First Nation wants 'proper archeological investigation'" I started to get worried. It was deja vu, another community all of a sudden being worked up like those that have been scared already in Windsor.

Of course there are issues that have to be dealt with. As far as the Bridge Co. is concerned, it was said that "The bridge company has already complied with an Ontario heritage ministry request to hire an on-site archeologist to monitor its demolition and construction efforts." But why deal with facts. They can be so inconvenient when the truth does not match desires.

Check out the map above. Look at the lands marked in yellow, even the ones in green near the "high potential spots." Let's admit the hypocrisy or we will get nowhere. Where were the cries to stop digging when the Casino was built or the bus terminal or the Peace Beacon or the exchanged land for the arena. If you look closely, the East End arena is beside some sensitive lands so shall we slow its construction down as we build the arena by "moving a millimetre of dirt at a time with a trowel" What about the Tunnel Improvement Plaza project, I did not see a concern expressed reaching the pages of the Star.

We need this hypocrisy to stop now. Why did this concern arise at this moment in time and not before? Who raised it first and when? The Bridge Co. just did not spring its plans on the community out of the blue. The project has been around for years. This is all scare-mongering but of a different kind.

The issues discussed in the Star article have to be dealt with in a calm, reasonable and sensitive manner, if there are any issues in the first place. After all, the area on Indian Road has been dug before for homes hasn't it? It already has been "disturbed" without any indication of a problem.

Who is creating the mountain out of a molehill and for what reason? Intelligence is required not flaming passions. Community leaders have to understand that they are being played and used. It is so obvious that it is disgusting.

Where is the Mayor in all of this to calm things down, the Premier and the Prime Minister. Their failure to resolve this border issue is a disgrace. Where is the Federal Tranport Minister--too worried about electing Conservatives in Quebec to do his job. At least the Ontario Minister comes down for photo-ops to pretend before the next Provincial election in the fall!

Have the police started looking into this, to find the disturbers? Windsor, OPP and RCMP since this is not just a local issue. Who are the people behind the scenes stoking the fires of hatred? Let them be identified and forced to come out of the shadows. Let us know who is behind all of this.

Contrary to what you may think, it is not all about money. It involves control. It involves personalities and their jealousies and anger. There is the need for revenge and pay-back for "deemed" injustices. The losers have to win now.

I am sorry to be so dramatic but if you have been involved in the border issue at all then what is happening is so obvious, merely another tactic. It's a new and different neighbourhood put at risk.

However, it is not just about a border crossing. It is becoming so much more dangerous, reaching a new plateau. It is now almost absolute desperation, the ultimate card is being played. It was tried before--a trial balloon--and closed down quickly, before it got out of hand. Now there is nothing left to lose.

Whoever these people are, they don't care what happens here now. We had better!