Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Saturday, February 24, 2007

I Am A Windsor Star Now

Oh my Goodness. I got my 15 minutes of fame. A page two story in the Windsor Star with a nice picture too.

If you are a regular reader of this BLOG, you knew it was coming didn't you. It was totally predictable. It was done in the usual Star fashion too. Over a period of some weeks with several news stories building up to the big climax.

I am sure that you understand now why the front page "lonely" Blogger story was done. A smear. I am sure that you understand now why Councillor Budget said at Council that only two or three people out of 200,000 are concerned about secret meetings followed up with a big page 3 story and photo of Councillor Budget. A smear. I am sure that you understand now the reason for the big months old story about the Bridge Co. wanting money from the City for legal costs run recently. A smear.

And then the "big" story.

I am so foolish. It's not my fault. I did not know that it was part of the secret sections of the City's Procedural By-law not to say anything good about one of the largest taxpayers in Windsor. When I moved here, no one told me what I could and could not do. I was not told that I had to hate everything about the Bridge Co. and Matty Moroun personally to be accepted here.

For quite a long period of time, and as recently as a few weeks ago, I have been told that the Star, and, one person in particular, had opened up a "file" on me and was trying to find out information about me. One of the Star senior reporters used to write to me---I called him/her the Star's designated hitter--pointing out all of my so-called errors and suggesting what I should write about.

I have to admit that I found it all a joke and still do. At least I have not been physically threatened like another BLOGGER in town!

Was I that important in this City to get all of this attention? Was I that much of a concern to the powers-that-be? If you have been with me since the beginning, you know why I stopped allowing people to comment freely on here but that online comments had to be "moderated." Right at the start, some people tried to destroy this BLOG by writing what I considered to be inflammatory statements designed to discredit me and to form the basis of a potential lawsuit by those whom they also were attacking.

I was "cultivated" by those who were "praising" the work I was doing but was also being told by them that I should "lighten" up and not write so much about the City but "broaden" the choice of subjects. Interestingly, I was even offered other "inside info" as stories to enhance supposedly my reputation as I could go after others. I could go provincial if I wanted and was given info to do so. In fact, I was even told recently that if I was not so aggressive in my BLOGs, a border solution might even be possible. There was a common thread in all of this as I guessed early on. To distract and divert my attention for the clearest of reasons. I was appalled.

Clearly, I am a "trouble-maker" to many. I am not afraid to file Municipal Freedom of Information applications to get the truth. I am not afraid to set out the relationship between the Star and City Hall that the Star has not yet seen fit to tell its readers in the pages of their paper (although it was mentioned on Cogeco). I am not afraid to let people know what I think of Councillor Budget or my distinguished NDP MP, Brian Masse. Or the Mayor (Don't you find it interesting who was quoted in the Star story and who was not). I am not afraid to attack politicians who are hurting Windsor in my opinion. I am not afraid to give solutions even if unpopular. I am not afraid to tell people how they are being hurt by inexcusable actions.

So what's next?

You, dear reader, are expected to abandon me and to stop reading my BLOG. I have been discredited. You are supposed to phone or email me and tell me how awful I am. After all, that is the purpose of all of this isn't it?

But it's more---it's a signal to those who are Blogging now or who may choose to do so in the future that they are only allowed to go so far in Windsor and no more. If the powerful Construction Association won't take on City Hall over the non-tender of an arena, then what should an individual think. If a smear job can be done on me, then who will risk their reputation in this City. You can be an alternative voice but only so far.

I must admit that I debated in my mind whether I should lower myself to answer the story.

It brought back a memory though. I really do not remember exactly what influenced me to become a lawyer. Believe it or not I think it was when I was very young and watched the Army-McCarthy hearings on television. I was impressed by the Army's lawyer, Joseph Welch. From that time on, I wanted to be a lawyer

As Battagello wrote “Arditti, a lawyer who operates WindsorCityBlog and describes himself as an "interested observer of local politics," regularly posts blog entries supporting the bridge company's plans to twin the span and attacks its opponents, including Mayor Eddie Francis, MP Brian Masse and councillors Ron Jones and Dave Brister.” Hey what about the BLOGs on the arena or the budget or Canderel or the Cleary or Super Bowl or, well, any of the approximately 1,000 BLOGs I have posted since I started doing this. Or the ones on stories that the Star chose not to cover or covered incompletely. I guess my CBSA story the other day was the straw that broke the Star's back!

Now I know how some of the people felt way back then when they were smeared by association. It's McCarthyism all over again.

"Are you now or have you ever been seen with a member of the Ambassador Bridge Company?"

Isn't this what the smear job is all about? Because I write BLOGS that give my opinion what is practical to do in Windsor and without years of litigation! And about other embarrassing issues.

My reply is in the words of Attorney Welch responding to McCarthy when he attacked one of Welch's young colleagues for an association he had:
  • “You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

That is precisely how I feel today.

So let’s take Battagello's smear story apart:

  • “A Windsor Internet blogger who promotes himself [“promotes” what a word! And exactly how do I do that? That is Battagello’s characterization of me, not mine.]

  • has worked with the Ambassador Bridge on a lawsuit filed against the city [Actually, the issue was the Rail Lands By-law matter which was a City action. The Star conveniently forgets to mention that I was the one who broke the story about the City’s by-law possibly allowing DRTP to be built because the wording of the by-law may have permitted it! The Star forgot to mention as well that I and 2 other citizens had “standing” in front of the OMB. I was working for my Group OJIBWAY NOW in the hearing!]

  • according a document obtained by The Star. [Hmmmm I wonder how the Star got a copy of that document? Did they get it from the OMB or was it provided to them. If it was provided to them, who gave it to them? Of course the Star only reported a few days ago about the Bridge Co.’s fight for costs although the story has been around for months!]

  • Ed Arditti was involved with e-mail exchanges and conference calls [Geez I was a person with standing with the OMB, lawyer for my group. Lawyers call other lawyers in a file whether they are on the same side or not. I would not be surprised to see other lawyers’ names in the affidavit as well. Are they linked to the Bridge Co. too?]

  • Arditti said he was unsure why he was listed in the Paroian affidavit. [I was called out of the blue by Battagello and asked about an affidavit I had not seen about something that took place in July, 2005. Battagello did not tell me about the other dates.]

  • Paroian received and perused a letter from Arditti "regarding privilege…"he [Arditti] may have had contact with the bridge in his bid to gain access to information pertaining to the city's dealings with Estrin [The issue was exactly whether Estrin had waived “privilege” on all of his City files so that I and anyone else could get access to see what the City was doing on the border file. We discussed the law on the subject]

  • Arditti refused Friday to say whether he has been paid by the bridge directly or indirectly [I have been attacked on that for 4 years ever since I joined STOPDRTP and I will NOT deal with it any more. Are those who support a tunnel as an example, asked if they are paid by City Hall or by those who would have an interest in building a tunnel? Nope---just if you support something that seems pro-Bridge Co. I asked Battagello who asked him to ask this question and he said “the Editors.” When I asked him who “the Editors:” were, he refused to tell me. Can you guess who “they” were?]

  • He said he has not received any money to operate his blog [Same point isn’t it? Actually Batagello asked me this question first]

  • Arditti has been seen in recent months attending public meetings [Oh my goodness….”public” meetings like being in the audience at City Council meetings or the Joint Councils meeting or at the Lansing hearings. In fact, I go out of my way now to be seen with Dan Stamper at meetings since I know it annoys people! Oh and Nora Moroun…I had a coffee with her and a number of Bridge people after a Lansing hearing. Battagello was in the same restaurant and saw us then. After all of this time, he saved that up and reported on it. Hmmm can it be said that he has been seen having a coffee with Bridge Co. Execs too since he was in the same restaurant? Heck Battagello also told us he had a four hour meeting with Mr. Moroun himself and has attended public Bridge Co. press conferences. Oh my, I think I may have to do a BLOG on that now]

  • He has also been spotted in Moroun's private box during a Detroit Lions game at Ford Field [I guess the several dozen other people from Windsor who were invited and shown the Bridge Co.’s border plans were not “spotted.” Oh and the Lions lost]

  • The Star has photographed him with Moroun at the bridge owner's private party at Windsor's art gallery a year ago [Guilty. I along with several hundred others attended a party to support the Art Gallery! I wonder how I can get a copy of that for my photo album. Oh and by the way, I knew the Star had that photo and cropped it in one of their stories!]

  • Brister, former president of the South/West Ratepayers Association, said he became "suspicious" [Brister knew that I was talking to the Bridge Co. for heaven’s sake. That subject was discussed within the group. He was afraid to talk to them and is still afraid as a Counsellor. We had a mutual foe, DRTP. STOPDRTP’s objective was to stop DRTP. If the Bridge Co. could help, I would not turn that down. I also talked with Gregg Ward of the Ferry company, Ross Clarke of Mich-Can as part of my General Counsel's role as Councillor Budget knew as well. I even talked to a rep of the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel. Oh my, I just admitted I am linked to them too]

  • Once he decided to run for council, Brister said: "That's when I left the group and cut off all ties with Ed Arditti because I felt uncomfortable with what his motives might be." [No, Councillor Budget asked me to be involved with his campaign and I declined because I was deeply involved with the campaign of Eddie Francis for Mayor. Councillor Budget ended our relationship when I told him that I did not care which two of him, Charlie Hotham or Joyce Zuk were elected as Councillors in Ward 1 since they were all anti-DRTP. He considered that not being “loyal.” I helped force Councillor Budget out of the group when he announced he was running even though he wanted to remain as Chair and he argued that there was no conflict in him doing so]

  • Masse said .. outside of here it can confuse people and damage the city's reputation." [I guess my anti-Masse BLOGs are part of hurting Windsor by telling the truth. I am not the one who has spread errors that I have pointed out and corrected in my BLOG so I think I am helping Windsor, not hurting it.]

What shall I take from all of this attention? Obviously, I am guessing correctly on something that has to do with the border. Obviously, I am disclosing plans that others want hidden. Obviously, I am hurting some people's goals on other matters too.

The Star, and the others, made a big blunder, a tactical error, a strategic mistake.

They should have continued to ignore me as they tried for a long time. I was and am a nobody in Windsor...I made the odd appearance at Council and had a media clip or two. But now they have made me a SOMEBODY. They have drawn attention to my BLOG in a way I could never have done.

I should thank the Star rather than sue them. By smearing me, they have made me credible. They have let you, dear reader, know that I am telling you what is really going on in Windsor. And they do not like that.

If they, and anyone else think I am going away, I am not. I started this BLOG because the Star ignored me and would not publish a Guest Column I had written and submitted several times. By smearing me, they are just encouraging me to move forward, to find out more. And there are lots of secrets to tell!

I am a threat to some because I am consistent and can express my point of view forcefully with a bad habit of using the "facts." I worked for Eddie Francis to help make him Mayor. I thought he of all people would develop a long-term solution on the border that we could all rally behind. What a personal disappointment to me he has become. He failed us, miserably. I have no idea what the City wants to do and neither do you.

But I have a point of view that I have expressed on was a position put forward by STOPDRTP a looooooooong time ago and presented to the media and to Council. Not exactly the same but close enough to show that I am not just jumping on someone's bandwagon.

I have a position and it supports forming a powerful alliance with a smart private entrepreneur with money who can help us out of our economic woes. It is real economic development, not pretend. It is more than just the border, a lot more. Should Windsor negotiate hard with him...absolutely as I wrote in a multi-page document to Council years ago. There is a solution that can and ought to be reached with the Bridge Co., a company that has hundreds of millions of non-taxpayer dollars to invest here before this City collapses.

Do you agree with me? I hope so. If not, that is OK too PROVIDED that you come up with something that works.

In the end, you know what, it does not matter what the Star, and others, say about me, good or bad, as long as they say it. At least, the Star spelled my name right and that will lead people to my BLOGsite!

Friday, February 23, 2007

What The Star Did Not Dare Tell You

No I do not mean about the change in the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel operation with Alinda that I disclosed yesterday.

I am sure that you read the Star story: "Advanced truck clearance expected to reduce delays." It talks about what Canadian Customs is doing to get trucks across the border more quickly (and thereby reduce the need for a new crossing, but that's another BLOG). All of a sudden at the end, the Bridge Co.'s Skip McMahon was quoted.

That seemed so bizarre, so I went out and looked at the press release that was issued. It turns out it was a "joint initiative" between the Government and the Bridge Co. to solve a problem it appears. For its part, the Bridge Co. "has established an Advanced Border Processing Center in Detroit, Michigan" to help in the process.

What is even more interesting is "CBSA will provide a resource person at the Center to provide additional assistance and guidance to carriers and importers during the initial phase of implementation." Sounds like the beginning of reverse customs to me, a baby step at a time!

Now I wonder why the Star did NOT tell its readers about the Bridge Co.'s role. Do you think the Star, who is the Title Sponsor of the Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards night, is trying to influence the vote? After all, the Bridge Co. has been nominated for an award for International Business.

Nawwwwwww, that's not the reason. You know the real reason as well as I. Who dares say anything positive about the Bridge Co. and their role in moving traffic in Windsor to help out our regional economy.

I guess it's better for some to continue to talk about non-existent truck back-ups at the Bridge to fulfill a political agenda than to talk about what is really being done to encourage economic development here.

Here's the full Press Release:
  • Joint initiative introduces new procedures to strengthen security and expedite trade at the Ambassador Bridge

    Windsor, Ontario, February 22, 2007 - Canada's New Government and the Ambassador Bridge have announced a joint initiative that will enhance security controls and expedite the processing of commercial trucks entering Canada at the Ambassador Bridge.

    Starting April 1, 2007, all commercial importations entering Canada at the Ambassador Bridge will be required to use one of the Canada Border Services Agency's (CBSA) existing line release clearance options, including CSA/FAST, PARS, FIRST, A49, Post-Audit and In-Bond.

    The initiative also builds on the existing CBSA security measures to ensure an appropriate level of border security and improved control of vehicles reporting to the CBSA commercial offsite facility. The number of vehicles required to report there will be significantly reduced, allowing for enhanced monitoring and convoying of vehicles that are referred to the offsite facility.

    "The Security and Service Enhancement Initiative demonstrates that our new government is taking action to strengthen border security and facilitate the smooth flow of legitimate trade and travel at the Ambassador Bridge," said Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day. "This Initiative will help reduce congestion and back-ups, expedite commercial processing, as well as allow the Canada Border Services Agency to concentrate more of its efforts and resources on enhancing border security. "

    In coordination with ongoing outreach activities to ensure all affected parties are aware and able to comply with the regulations, the Ambassador Bridge has established an Advanced Border Processing Center in Detroit, Michigan. The CBSA will provide a resource person at the Center to provide additional assistance and guidance to carriers and importers during the initial phase of implementation.

    "We are committed to increasing the service at the Ambassador Bridge," said Dan Stamper, President of the Ambassador Bridge. "Over 90% of the trucks entering Windsor today already clear their goods through one of these preferred clearance options. We fully support this initiative and are taking the necessary steps to ensure that the new procedures are implemented without difficulty. One such measure is the establishment of a new Advanced Border Processing Center in Detroit, Michigan, which is available to assist all carriers and importers to prepare for and comply with the new requirements."

    Only commercial importations that are not able to use line release clearance options will be exceptions and will continue to be processed at the offsite facility. This small percentage of commercial importations will be strictly monitored between the bridge and offsite.

    Last year over 1.8 million commercial trucks entered Canada at the Ambassador Bridge, making it the busiest border crossing in Canada.

Co-opting The Environmentalists On The Arena

I am tired of secrecy in this City since I have great fear that taxpayers will wind up holding the bag. Let me tell you about another incident involving what I am told was a secret meeting--or at least a non-public one--involving environmentalists and the East End Arena.

As you know I have written to the Ministry of the Environment asking that they require the City to comply with the Environmental Assessment Act and do an Environmental Assessment. There are signfificant issues that need to be dealt with.

Let me pause and give you an excerpt from an article that I just saw:
  • "Ron Duchin gave a speech to the US National Cattlemen’s Association describing how MBD works to divide and conquer activist movements. Duchin explained that activists fall into four categories: radicals, opportunists, idealists and realists, and that a three-step strategy was needed to bring them down.

    First, you isolate the radicals: those who want to change the system and promote social justice. Second, you carefully ‘cultivate’ the idealists: those who are altruistic, don’t stand to gain from their activism, and are not as extreme in their
    methods and objectives as the radicals. You do this by gently persuading them that their advocacy has negative consequences for some groups, thus transforming them into
    realists. Finally, you co-opt the realists (the pragmatic incrementalists willing to work within the system) into compromise.

    “The realists should always receive the highest priority in any strategy dealing with a public policy issue . . . If your industry can successfully bring about these relationships, the credibility of the radicals will be lost and opportunists can be counted on to share in the final policy solution."
I give you this excerpt because the City, via a Councillor, invited a number of environmental groups in the City to meet to discuss the groups' letters about negative environmental aspects of the arena's parking lot and their suggestions and recommendations to fix up the problem.

What bothers me is that if this is such a big issue that a number of groups felt the need to join together to deal with the City, then why is it not the subject of a PUBLIC meeting so everyone can be let in on the big secret! While the groups may think it shows their "power," in reality, they are being co-opted by the City who will play on their weaknesses.

Once the City "solves" the issue with their "assistance," to arrive at a "compromise" solution, then these groups have become a useful ally of the City both against other citizens and against the Ministry. How can you argue against the City when the environmentalists are onside! Aren't they the defenders of the faith!

A perfect example of how the City has done this in the past is "Windsor Area Green Party Activists Endorse The Schwartz Report."

I am not knocking the groups. They are doing their best. What I am absolutely against is the groups following the non-public route. There is no reason for them to keep it quiet. What they need to understand is that they do not need the City. The City needs them desperately.

It's time the groups let the citizens know what their issues are and support a full EA for the site. Otherwise, they will be piecemealed!

Friends Forever

AWWWWWWWWW, it's just like the movies

Canoeing buddy Meets Canoeing buddy

Canoeing buddy Loses Canoeing buddy

Canoeing buddy gets Canoeing buddy back as friend helps out.

As I told you before, "Cherchez Le Mayor." The two canoeing buddies had a four decades long friendship that was on the verge of being torn apart.

The Columnist Canoeing buddy viciously attacked his Councillor Canoeing buddy all to help out the Third Party Mayor. Flipflopping on the Barn and arena, calling him out on his possible conflict of interest and then accusing him of waving the "White flag" of surrender. Very harsh talk.

Fortunately, a canoeing friend of theirs for over 25 years wrote a Letter to the Editor to the Star---frankly, I would have called them in private not gone public, but I'm quibbling--and begged them to combine their total brain power for the good of mankind....errrr Windsor.

Frankly, and no disrespect to Fred, whom I knew a long time ago before either of them, if he wants them to use their brains to follow his solution for the border, I would prefer that they keep on feuding!

Hmmmm I wonder, does portaging and carrying a canoe on your head have this effect on people?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

A Bit Of This, A Bit Of That

Just six bits that I thought you might find of interest


$300 Million BIF money is sitting in some account somewhere to fix the road to the Ambassador Bridge and to create infrastructure jobs for Windsor contractors and workers while Eddie and Council dither. In other parts of Canada, the money is actually spent. Thanks to a reader for pointing this out to me. Here is a story
  • Highway construction underway to U.S. border
    By: Steven Macleod

    SURREY, B.C. -- Work has begun to complete the widening of the Hwy. 15 corridor, from Surrey, B.C. to the U.S. border, in an effort to ease congestion and travel time.

    Having a continuous four-lane highway from the Trans-Canada Highway to the Pacific Highway border crossing is expected to improve access for truckers to and from the U.S.

    "This $15.4-million project is the latest component of the joint federal-provincial program to improve the movement of goods and people to and from the Lower Mainland's border crossings," said Transport Minister Kevin Falcon. "We are committed to working with the federal government to open up our transportation gateways and improve the movement of goods and people."

    The Government of Canada and the Government of British Columbia are cost-sharing this latest project, with most of the work being funded through the Border Infrastructure Fund. Supplemental funding is provided through the federal-provincial Strategic Highway Infrastructure Program border crossing component.

    "Improved links will also reduce freight costs, and enhance the economies of Canada, British Columbia and the Greater Vancouver region," said Lawrence Cannon, federal Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities.

    This project will see the widening of Hwy. 15 in Surrey from 32nd Avenue to the Roger Pierlet Overhead, and from 68A Avenue to 92nd Avenue. Work includes grade construction, soil preparation, asphalt removal, paving and electrical installations."

Whew, if you think I am hard on the Mayor and Council, check out Roseann's recent BLOGS. They will make your hair curl!


Hmmmm, did Eddie cancel the public information session when he found out about the Alinda deal? My sources tell me that it was the Mayor's office that put the order out to cancel the open house, supposedly so that the "new" Tunnel Commission members could be on board. Having said that - when is the open house rescheduled. Don't the taxpayers (both individuals and businesses) living in the area deserve an opportunity to see the plans (after all, Councillor Budget and the Mayor have been lauding the new openess at City Hall).


I wonder if John Millson applied for the Economic Development job. If he did, should he have been hired?

Interesting Henderson column about John Millson who went out to Alberta knocking on doors to promote work for our area and his job creation out of Fort McMurray. Henderson discussed
  • "a 100-job venture, in co-operation with a Calgary-based firm, to make composite utility poles in an existing plant.

    The Tilbury plant, which is to be in full production by June, is the first big payoff from Millson's Alberta door-knocking as president and point man of OilSands Development, a company looking for joint business opportunities involving Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.

    Millson, who keeps reinventing a career that has seen him peddle flowers, the City of Windsor, restaurant furniture and racehorses, said it clicked in August, after an Alberta cabinet minister spoke in Oshawa about potential joint ventures, that he needed to be out west selling our area."
Contrast his style with what our new Economic Development Czar is doing
  • "And while today is his first on the job, Fischer has already prepared a first draft of a report he'll deliver to the economic development commission Saturday, setting out a 120-day action plan and outlining his plans to restructure the office with a stronger focus on business attraction and retention."

Councillor Gignac's purchase of Lottery tickets certainly helped didn't it. I wonder if she won anything and donated it back.


I am a member of this group set up by DRIC for the border crossing matter.

At our recent meeting, there was a discussion of the air quality monitoring during the last quarter of 2006. It is clear that the likelihood of a tunnel is just about ZERO. The results show that generally pollution from trucks is not a significant risk along the DRIC route with most readings in the "acceptable" range. Generally, any high readings are due to non-Windsor causes such as trans-border pollution.

As for Windsor's "interim control by-law" and heritage designation stopping anything border-related, it was pointed out that the Province and Feds are "senior" to the municipality.

One strange thing I thought about during the DRIC meeting was the emphasis on the Ambassador Bridge's program and the reference to the website to find out information about it. It was admitted that a discussion about that subject was a "distraction" to what we were discussing at our meeting but nevertheless it was talked about as part of our agenda.

This fixation of Government people about the Bridge Co. is really interesting to me. I am sure that you can guess as well as I can why that discussion took place.

BLOGEXCLUSIVE: The Tunnel Secret Is Out

Who needs Councillor Budget anyway to find out the big news about the Detroit Windsor Tunnel. Chances are that he probably does not know anything about it anyway. He's only a City Councillor.

You need to come to this BLOGsite if you want inside info about City Hall. Too bad Councillor Budget never comes here so he too could be in the know.

As I have been telling you over the past few weeks there has been a lot of whispering going on about the big changes at the Tunnel.

Through digging, with the help of a variety of overseas sources, I was able to discover that back in May, 2006, it looks like there was some kind of refinancing/restructuring going on in the Macquarie Group since the Bank acted as "Adviser on the acquisition and refinancing of the second busiest US-Canada border crossing." There was a US$70M deal involving the Macquarie Infrastructure Group (MIG).

My inside moles tell me that there were top-secret meetings over the last year involving the Tunnel with the Mayor being involved in many of them. They took place in several different capitals. As you will remember, Eddie was desperate to do a deal with Detroit. The Joint Councils meeting about a year ago was his attempt to do a sales pitch on Detroit.

He needed a deal so that he could lease out the Tunnel on a long-term basis or securitize toll revenues so that he could make a ton of money as his fellow Mayor did in Chicago. Eddie claimed that the Tunnel was worth $2-300M. Imagine if he brought in that kind of cash in to pay down the debt or fix up sewers or build roads or even do a border crossing bridge deal. What a hero he would be. What a great section it would make on his CV for his new career as an infrastructure guru either as a politician or as a 7 figure salaried lawyer or deal-maker in Toronto or New York.

Unfortunately Eddie's management skills were such that he knows now that, during his watch, the Tunnel is worth only a tiny fraction of that amount as traffic volumes plummetted downwards drastically. He has a unique security risk that needs fixing too that he has to pay for.

Then the big announcement!

Well, actually, there has not been one yet. Fortunately, I read an Alabama newspaper as part of my morning news coverage to find out interesting stories for you (Yes, I have eclectic tastes!) There it was:
  • "Toll to grow on Foley Beach Express
    February 20, 2007By RYAN DEZEMBERStaff Reporter

    Alinda Roads LLC, a private Michigan firm that recently acquired the Foley Beach Express toll bridge, announced Monday that as of March 1, it is raising the fee to cross the span from $1 to $1.50 for Orange Beach residents and from $2 to $3 for others.

    Alinda Roads, which operates the Detroit Windsor Tunnel, also owns Alabama's three other private toll bridges...

    Alinda Roads is owned by the Alinda Infrastructure Fund. The multibillion-dollar fund invests in North American and European infrastructure -- roads, power, gas distribution and ports -- and is managed by Alinda Capital Partners, a company run primarily by former Citigroup bankers."
Alinda Roads' CEO is Gordon Jarvis. You may know him as president and chief executive officer of the Detroit & Canada Tunnel Corp (DCTC).

Now I have several very simple questions to pose. What did our Mayor know about this deal, when did he find out about it and why didn't he tell us about it? What is the impact on the Tunnel since it seems that Macquarie has sold out its interest to Alinda. What is the relationship between Alinda and Windsor? Did the City or WTC consent to the change in the Tunnel operator or in the ownership change? Is Alinda happy about Tunnel volumes decreasing so much in so short a period of time so that they were able to pay less for the Tunnel operating agreement?

The Mayor/Chair of the Windsor Tunnel Commission needs to come clean and tell us what is going on. After all, this is a prize asset of the City of Windsor! I also would like to know what the members of the Commission knew and when! What about Councillors?

Frankly, why do I have to read about a deal that impacts Windsor so significantly in an Alabama media outlet and not the Windsor Star? Did the Star know about this given its close connection to the Mayor and Councillor Budget? If it did and did not report it, should we take the Star seriously as a newspaper any more?

With Bill C-3 passing, the other interesting question to ask is what role the Federal Government played in this. Did they consent to the deal and if so on what basis? Did they even know about it?

This is getting disgusting. Councillor Budget whispers to Star columnists about problems and gives out tidbits at Council meetings. Council's legal role under the Municipal Act is to "represent the public and to consider the well-being and interests of the municipality." It is time that Councillors started to act this way and stopped being so secretive and selective in information distribution.

I and my one or two other friends out of 200,000 citizens are getting more and more annoyed. And when we get annoyed, watch out.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Councillor Budget's Secrecy Continues

Honestly, I was NOT going to do another Councillor Budget BLOG but it is the Star's fault that I am writing this.

I know that you are as sick as I am about reading anything more about the Councillor's ridiculous comment on Monday BUT...

Journalism students might be interested in the comparison between what the Star's City Hall Reporter Roseann Danese wrote on her BLOG on Monday night {Check out the Star website, it's very good} "A new way of gauging the public" and what she wrote in the Star today "Council reduces meeting secrecy."

I would be interested to know, dear reader, if you see a difference in tone and can explain why. Perhaps it is the duality that a Reporter has between "reporting" and "editorializing." Roseann maintains the distinction while perhaps others of her colleagues have lost that ability.

That's NOT why I am writing this BLOG however. Councillor Budget said this:

  • "He said the number of private meetings versus open ones is a signal to residents that council is following the rules under the municipal act. "When they see this becomes an issue again, on issues like the tunnel file, on issues like the border file, and even to the extent this has occurred already on the arena file, I'm hopeful the community has the trust in this council to know when an item has to be in-camera under the municipal act."

What the heck is that all about concerning the Tunnel? What is Councillor Budget keeping secret? He shot off his mouth once before, about TWO years ago, on the Tunnel with Gord Henderson on May 12, 2005,:

  • "It appears the fix might be in on a new home for the Spitfires at Windsor Raceway. But city council's money guy, Dave Brister, thinks it would be a huge mistake to pour tax dollars into an arena at this time.

    "There's a vocal minority in favour of an arena. But at this point in time we should not be proceeding with the project," warned the Hiram Walker financial analyst who led the city's 2005 operating budget deliberations.

    Brister and his Ward 1 seat mate, Joyce Zuk, were the only councillors to vote on the weekend against renewing the arena quest.

    Brister, who groans at the thought of taking a public stand that will get him in hot water with the mayor and his council colleagues, sees "a number of big-dollar issues on the horizon that lead me to believe we should not be proceeding this way. I don't think we need to be spending more tax dollars on bricks and mortar at this point. In my opinion, we're going to need those funds."


    The budget chairman said he cannot provide any details but there are major issues pending involving the Windsor-Detroit tunnel and Enwin that will onsume "a significant amount of taxpayer resources..."

    Brister doesn't buy the argument that the city has already budgeted $15 million for an arena and therefore the expenditure is a non-issue.

    "That logic that it's already budgeted escapes me," said the financial analyst. Compared with real needs like deficient sewers and pothole pandemics, he said an arena would be far down on his list of priorities. "Not even my 10th or 20th choice."

    He fears the city is getting involved in a project that will cost taxpayers far more than anticipated.

    "Do I believe it's going to be limited to $15 million? No way. And if we enter into a partnership with somebody, who generally ends up entertaining the risk? We do."

    I don't know about you. But it scares the daylights out of this taxpayer to hear one of the sharpest councillors, an individual who doesn't welcome controversy, sound a heartfelt warning that the city could be going in the wrong direction once again.

    Think Canderel. Think Cleary. Remember how lonely were the voices of dissent.

    If Brister is worried, we should all be more than a little edgy. And damn anxious to know what misery is coming at Enwin and the tunnel."

Oh come on, give me a break. Let me have some fun. I had to throw in the extra about the arena and Brister's position back in 2005. How he changed and so dramatically didn't he.

Now he is the arena steering committee Chair who just allowed the arena cost to increase by another $3.7 million.

But back to the Tunnel. What was Brister hiding in 2005 about the Tunnel? What was he hiding in 2006? What is he hiding in 2007 so far?

Does it include:

  • The huge financial losses at the Tunnel since supposedly the $6.6M dividend ends this year and I assume will have to be made up by taxpayers at Budget time
  • cost over-runs at the heritage Tunnel Ventilation Building
  • failure to hire a manager who will "breathe" the Tunnel
  • lack of scrubber to clean the exhaust from the Tunnel
  • 10% drop in traffic
  • its unique security risk
  • Eddie trying to sell/lease it,
  • DCTC's change.

Councillor Budget won't tell us. You see that is what makes him so important in his own mind. He has secrets and we don't so that makes him superior to us. But actually only 2 or 3 of us care.

Where The Deer And Antelope--And Gazelles --Play In Economic Gardens

We have a new CEO for the Economic Development Commission. I wish him the best of luck. He has a very difficult job to do after years of neglect by our Mayor.

I happened to get a copy of his speech on February 16 and was most interested in his "gazelles" and "economic gardening." Obviously, he must have known that Eddie read the book "The World is Flat" at least 5 times since that was thrown in too

Gazelles are "high growth companies" in the community and are small-to mid-sized companies that experience 20% and more growth per year. Only 2% are in the high tech sector (Darn, there goes Eddie's IT dream).

"Economic gardening" is a new approach to job creation. It is identifying gazelles and then cultivating and encouraging them in our community.

At least his travel budget will be kept down since in his view, out of 100 new jobs, 55 will come from existing businesses increasing jobs, 44 will come from new local "mom and pop" shops and only one will come from a new business attracted here.

But with businesses closing down here, there go a lot of those "55" jobs but then again, maybe more "44" jobs will be created as the unemployed start new businesses with their new skills from the Provincial Liberals' job retraining programs to be announced just before the election.

Here is some heresy for him. Start telling people we do NOT have a border problem and trucks are moving in Windsor. Perhaps he might even convince the Mayor to talk to the Bridge Co. properly and get them to help both with the border and new "distribution and logistics" job creation as part of an economic diversification strategy to take advantage of our unique border position.

In case he does not have their number, the Chair, Remo Mancini, must still have it in his Rolodex since he used to work there for many years!

Here is a letter Mr. Fischer sent out recently. I really got concerned however when I read the line "This will be a chance for me to put my theories into practice in a real-life, fast-paced environment."

Perhaps if we had hired someone who had actually brought in new jobs and had practical experience, I might not feel so nervous.

Sounds like we are guniea pigs for his theories doesn't it? I hope they work!

  • Dear Clients and Friends:

    On Friday Feb. 16th it was announced that I had accepted an appointment as the new CEO of the Windsor-Essex County Development Commission.

    Obviously this means putting my consulting practice on hold.

    I want to thank each and every one of you for the business you have given me over the last ten years, for the support I have received throughout my career and the valued friendships which I trust we will be able to carry on.

    As many of you will know, the City of Windsor and Essex County are facing a significant economic challenge. This will be a chance for me to put my theories into practice in a real-life, fast-paced environment. I am very excited about this opportunity.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Only Diamonds Are Forever

Councillor Budget's ridiculous comment at Council really bugged me. In fact, someone phoned me and asked if I had seen the Council meeting. He asked why the Councillor made such a big deal on a matter that he claimed only 2 or 3 people out of 200,000 were concerned about. Who knows, perhaps the Councillor has the need to loved by everyone.

Well here is a BLOG I did a year ago but never posted. It seems appropriate to post it today. Then that's it from me about Councillor Budget until the next time he puts his foot in it again. You may just have to wait until next Monday night!

That Eddie Francis Juggernaut is a formidable force and no one has even announced that they may run against him. I guess the theory is to close 'em down before they even start up.
Clearly the so-called invincibility of the Mayor and the inevitability of him winning again is so powerful, or some want it to be that way, that not only did Councillor Brister run right to Gord Henderson to announce that he was not running against the Mayor but he praised Eddie to the heavens!

And as for Gord, well he did jump on the Star Editorial Board bandwagon on a recent Saturday and criticize the Mayor and by name. But here he was on the next Tuesday making up again by using the words of the Ward 1 Councillor.

Councillor Brister suggested that he would never run for Mayor.

  • "Write that rumour off's just never going to happen."
But should the Councillor be that hasty? He may need a new full-time job soon. The Star reported that "Windsor's famed Canadian Club whisky will continue to be produced at the 150-year-old distillery in Walkerville for the "foreseeable future" but the future of office and production workers at the plant is less certain....But the future of 100 salaried employees, who continue to work for Hiram Walker and Sons Ltd., is in doubt."

It's a good thing though that Dave does not run for mayor this time around. It would be unlikely that he could win! Dave has to be realistic. If he is going to run, Dave is going to have to live down:

  • his "sell the unhung paintings at the Art Gallery to get money" remark and use a Transit Windsor bus to save gas to throw a piece of art in the city dump

  • his comparison of building an airport in Hong Kong Harbour to building a border corridor on land through the populated area of Windsor

  • the fact that his operating budget committee was unable to deliver on its intention to hold the line on taxes

  • his flipflopping on the arena--opposed to the proposal with Beztak, who wanted to do it at no cost to the City in downtown, but minutes later, voting in support to examine the Jebb/Raceway combo for a Raceway arena that may require up to $15 million of taxpayer money

  • His seeming reversal of his previous Schwartz Report support when he voted against the Ambassador Bridge proposal to add new booths into Canada, a concept Schwartz encouraged

  • His failure to force this Council to hold a "public" meeting on the border when, as STOPDRTP Chair, he accused the previous Council of betrayal after their secret session that supposedly endorsed DRTP North.

As the former General Counsel of STOPDRTP, I am angered every time that Councillor Brister reads off his "conflict of interest" legal script when the border issue comes up. If this was an issue, then why didn't he raise it during the election campaign? If it is not an issue, why raise it? I know, I know "abundance of caution" but I still get mad.

I especially liked this quote of Dave as reported in a Henderson column when speaking about the bus terminal:

  • "The fact that the money is budgeted doesn't mean we have to spend it. We have many examples in Windsor of spending on bricks and mortar for projects that haven't panned out," he warned. Brister fears council is itching to give the green light in order to show progress downtown. "To push this forward so that we can say we're doing something isn't the right approach. That's just not in the best interests of the taxpayers."

So given his bus terminal position, was the Councillor consistent on the arena? We know that $15 million was budgetted for it (or only $75 per household for "X" years as Councillor Lewenza said) and Dave seemed opposed to spending money on the arena at all.

He voted down Beztak even though they offered to do it at no cost to the City. A few minutes later he voted in the affirmative to give time to the Jebb/Raceway Group for their project which requires up to the budgetted $15 million. I did not understand that vote of his at all.

It is most likely that Councillor Brister will just running for Council in Ward 1 again. It is the safest alternative it would seem. Dave could build up his reputation and wait until the end of Eddie's second term as the Juggernaut is trying to convince everyone to do.

However, Dave might be faced with Drew Dilkens who came out of nowhere and came in third in the last election and Charlie Hotham determined to recapture the seat he lost last time.

Of course he still has to worry about his Council-mate Joyce Zuk who may wind up in the #1 spot if she runs again. I believe that she is one of the smartest and toughest members of Council. She has the ability to cut right to the heart of a matter. After all, she stood up to the former mayor and told him to get out of the Chair if he could not conduct a Council meeting properly.

It will be a doozie of a battle since there is no love lost between the two of them. She had surprising strength last time around and is building on it now. She ran a superb campaign and did extremely well against the guy who grabbed the headlines as spokesperson of STOPDRTP.

Thus Dave faces being knocked out as #1 and could have strong competition for the #2 spot. Moreover, if this Council is viewed as not living up to its promise and expectations, Dave and others could be swept from office.

It's going to be tough to make a decision. However, a lesson for Councillor Brister at no charge. As James Bond said. "Never say never again."

The Butler Did It

That's the answer to the question: who let us know the DRIC bridge is on life-support.

Mark Butler of Transport Canada suggested in a Toronto Star article that the new DRIC bridge would cost $1-2 billion and that there would be a tender process for it. I am sure he was misquoted ie he probably said that a P3 was one of the possibilities and the cost of the Federal involvement--bridge and plaza--might be that amount.

Finally, it appears that the truth is starting to come out. For the sake of this BLOG, let's admit it's true.

Taking Butler's amount, it is up to 4 times higher than the cost for the Ambassador Bridge's Enhancement Project which means its tolls should be 4 times higher too (assuming fair and unsubsidized competition which, if not happening, would allow the Bridge Co. to sue for damages).

Who would ever use the highest cost crossing. Its toll would be comparable to that of the Truck ferry that few ever use because of price.

Get real now, no one will finance it either. Even if it got 50% of the truck business, which is higly unlikely, it would be in the red for millions every year for who knows how long. I am not really prepared to see my tax monies wasted for that to be honest. I would expect that if it survived, it could only do so by taking away business from all of the crossings in SW Ontario. That could result in financial problems for the Ambassador Bridge, the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel and the Blue Water bridge.

I have said this before but now we have some real numbers to work with so do the math yourself and see that I am right.

Use as your basis for calculation the OMERS benchmark rate of return for infrastructure investments which is 11.8 per cent. After all, why should a pension plan, the only ones with this kind of money accept less (In fact, why would OMERS want to invest in a this type of an asset when they can invest in other such investments and get an average of 23.2 per cent in 2005. Their DRTP experience should teach them that volumes are dropping).

Figure out the salaries and benefits of Customs officers on a 24 hour basis for each booth of traffic at the new bridge plus back-up staff. Add in maintenance, other operations charges, customs recovery charges, reserves amounts and so on. I will guess that it is not too hard to generate a figure over $150 million per year when everything is added in togther.

Let's also assume that the Bridge Co.'s revenues are $60 million since that is what Forbes magazine thought it was and Forbes cannot be wrong. Since traffic is not going up as DRIC projected, for the sake of argument, let's not factor increases in (If we add traffic in, then we have to factor inflation in too and things get too complicated). With a new bridge in play, let us also assume that each bridge gets 50% of the traffic. Accordingly, each bridge's revenue would be $30 million.

So unless my math is incorrect, there is a shortfall of over $120 million per year on the DRIC bridge. Errrrrrr who will pay for that deficiency? You and I, dear reader, in our taxes. Frankly, I can think of a lot better things on which to spend tax money. (Don't expect the Americans to pay half of the costs either. They have their financial woes. Ask the Governor)

Now be honest, who would suggest building the DRIC bridge at this financial cost when the traffic volumes are not growing and there is no foreseeable reason why they should rise dramatically to reach the DRIC projected numbers.

Come on, if the auto industry is in permanent restructuring mode, not the usual volume hiccup, shouldn't we rethink traffic volumes too.

I'll be the first to say it publicly:


Of course the West End activists and politicos will not believe me. They will need more proof. We need to look to the other side of the river for that.

We already know what Kwame has written to the Governor so we know what Detroit wants.

As for the Michigan Legislature, we know they passed one anti-DRIC piece of legislation which the Governor did not veto. But what the Star has never reported was the "No means NO" Bill also passed by the Michigan Legislators:

Introduced by Senators Prusi and Emerson


  • AN ACT to make, supplement, and adjust appropriations for various state departments and agencies and for capital outlay for the fiscal years ending September 30, 2006 and September 30, 2007; to provide conditions on those appropriations; to provide for the expenditure of the appropriations; and to repeal acts and parts of acts.

    The People of the State of Michigan enact:

    Sec. 1205. (1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the state transportation department shall not, directly or indirectly, expend any funds appropriated in 2006 PA 345, 2005 PA 158, 2004 PA 361, 2003 PA 162, or 2002 PA 561 to continue the Detroit River international crossing study project nor further participate in any manner whatsoever with the border transportation partnership.

    (2) Within 10 days of the effective date of this act, the department shall submit a report to the senate and house of representatives appropriations subcommittees on transportation and to the state transportation commission that identifies the source and use of all funds attributable to or expended in furtherance of the Detroit River international crossing study or the border transportation partnership. The report shall include copies of all contracts, agreements, and expenses associated with the project from October 1, 2003 to December 31, 2006.

Unfortunately life is not that simple. This section was merely a small part of a huge Bill passed in Michigan and the entire Bill was vetoed by the Governor since "lawmakers have not yet addressed a deficit looming from the early elimination of the state's Single Business Tax." In other words, it is part of a political game between the Governor and the Legislators.

Notwithstanding what may actually take place in Michigan, I would think that the Legislators' actions are a strong signal for what their position is. NO DRIC BRIDGE!

And then the US Transportation Secretary gave a speech recently . Here are parts of it that are relevant from a financial perspective:

  • "Today’s challenges require us to rethink traditional tactics. Allowing the private sector to play a bigger role in funding, building, and managing transportation is one of the most promising options available to all of us.

    We have heard a lot about the private sector infusing much-needed capital into our transportation network. This pool of potential resources becomes more and more attractive as state budgets are stretched thin and gasoline taxes become increasingly unsustainable as long-term sources of funding.

    Of course, involving the private sector in transportation is about more than finding new sources of money. It is about promoting accountability and letting the free market deliver to transportation the innovation, cost savings, and quality it has delivered in other industries. As our needs continue to grow and public revenue continues to slow, it is an idea whose time has come."

I know, I know, Governments want a P3 at the Ambassador Bridge. Well, hello, they have had one for almost 80 years with the Bridge Co.! They have had a successful private investor there willing to spend its own money and who has made the Bridge #1 in border corssings. I am still waiting for a good reason why it should not be continued.

Is there a reason to replace one private operator with another? In the end, is that what DRIC is really all about?

Councillor Budget's "Open And Transparent" Government

Does anyone remember how Councillor Budget made his reputation when he was Chair of STOPDRTP? Here is part of the Star Story dated February 25, 2003:

  • "City backs revised DRTP; Residents call decision 'an absolute betrayal'

    Amid charges of betrayal, city council has reversed its opposition to the northern section of the Detroit Rail Tunnel Proposal in exchange for the province taking responsibility for E.C. Row Expressway.

    The decision, made during a closed-door meeting Saturday, comes just weeks after council voted unanimously against use of the rail corridor as a truck highway at an emotional meeting Jan. 27 attended by 800 residents.

    "This is the absolute betrayal of the residents of the City of Windsor," said Dave Brister, chairman of the South/West Windsor Ratepayers Association, a residents group fighting the DRTP plan.

    "Mayor (Mike) Hurst and the councillors who have chosen to turn their backs on the residents of Windsor by now favouring the DRTP proposal have proven that they do not deserve the positions of trust which they hold...

    Several other councillors contacted Monday were hesitant to comment since the matter was discussed behind closed doors...

    Remo Mancini, vice-president of the Ambassador Bridge company, questioned the city's reversal and making such an important decision behind closed doors.

    "It appears what council talks about in public forum is different than what they do behind closed doors," Mancini said. "If this is what they want to do, have a public meeting, make a public decision. Once that's done, then everyone can make an appropriate response."

I bring this up because Councillor Budget, in his fullness, was so proud at Council to tell us that Council only spent 8 hours behind closed doors while it spent 25 hours in public. As if those numbers mean anything.

It is what goes on behind closed doors that bothers me and should bother you, dear reader, but not it seems Councillor Budget. I guess things change when you are elected and sit on the other side. The Councillor seems to forget what got him there in the first place.

I wonder if Councillor Budget, since he is a numbers man, could tell us how many Council meetings there were in his first term on the border that were held in camera and how many were held in public.

So what could have been discussed in camera during the last quarter--the border and the "enemies" list (I am still waiting to get the letters that the Mayor publicly promised to provide. Councillor Budget has them now so perhaps he can reveal them publicly), the arena, Canderel, St.Clair?

I could not believe the Councillor's asinine remark when he said that only 2 or 3 people out of 200,000 in Windsor are concerned about this issue. However, if I am one of them, then I must be travelling in good company. I believe that the Editors of the Star have trouble with the secrecy at City Hall as well.

PS Go to and cast your vote to for your view about "open and transparent" Government.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Is Mike Hurst Lonely Too

Does Mike Hurst now have something in common with the Maytag Repair Man? Is he living in a "virtual world" still thinking that DRTP can actually be the next border crossing? Will his Blogs create unfortunately increased "feelings of loneliness for those who aren't lucky enough to reach "celebrity" status." I and my fellow Bloggers must be "stars" in Windsor such that the big Star in Windsor had to run a front page story on Bloggers.

Yes, dear reader, after billboards, newspapers, media commercials, glossy newsletters, Powerpoint presentation and a fortune in lobbyist fees, has the ex-Mayor of Windsor and the DRTP CEO become a Blogger now too!

My secret internet search tool found a BLOGsite that purports to be created by the Jobs Tunnel. Lets see if it gets active too. So far it seems to be in a Beta mode.

One thing though, if it is a DRTP BLOG, they must be in big financial trouble. It is hosted by a freebie site!

What could be next, A Mayor of Windsor BLOG so Eddie can tell us what a good job he is doing?

Anyway, welcome to my world MIKE! And if you do need a job when the DRTP office closes, Maytag is looking for another spokesperson

Gong Show Players Return

Laurel and Hardy, Abbot and Costello, Martin and Lewis, Crosby and Hope were fortunate they were not around. The dynamic comedy duo from Queen's Park and their booking agent are back in town!

It's getting close to "the time when politicos decide on their campaign strategy for the next Provincial election.

Clearly the Liberals have decided that comedy is the best way to win the seats in Windsor so they brought back the GONG SHOW boys for an encore performance.

Yes comedy fans, Infrastructure Minister David Caplan and Minister of Energy and local boy made good, Dwight "Spanky" Duncan, have brought back their hilarious act and have launched their roadtrip in Windsor at a meeting a few days ago. [Note it took place at a breakfast meeting so not too many people would see it in order to get the funny lines down just right]

You remember the last time they performed in Windsor in May, 2005. Their act was the talk of the town for days and days. No one could believe that Ministers could be that foolish:
  • "The province has committed $800 million to border infrastructure in the Windsor-Detroit corridor between now and 2013 following the recommendations of the Schwartz Report.

    Ontario Infrastructure Renewal Minister David Caplan made the surprise announcement Wednesday at Energy Minister Dwight Duncan's constituency office.

    "The McGuinty government is fully supportive of the vision and investments recommended in the report by Sam Schwartz," said Caplan, who made the announcement on the same day he announced a five-year investment of $30 billion in the province's infrastructure.

    "There is a commitment," Caplan said.

    "There is total support. We're totally in."
Now I can remember just howling at that funny last line at the time, It was so absurd that no one could have taken them seriously. But the boys topped it off the next day with something even wilder if you can believe it:
  • "Ontario infrastructure minister David Caplan apologized Thursday for revealing a closed-door government decision to spend $500 million beyond 2010 for new infrastructure to fix Windsor's border problems.

    The funding was announced by Caplan and MPP Dwight Duncan (L -- Windsor-Tecumseh) late Wednesday in a hastily arranged news conference inside Duncan's cramped constituency office...

    MPP Sandra Pupatello (L -- Windsor West), who was not present for the announcement, said Caplan was in Windsor for a private party function with Duncan when he decided to speak to the media about Renew Ontario...

    The announcement should have been made in a more formal setting and through Premier Dalton McGuinty, she said.

    "Minister Caplan regretted it and apologized this morning," Pupatello said...

    A day after the revelation of what he called his "big secret," Duncan was said by his spokeswoman Thursday to be too busy to talk."
Who are their comedy writers? Jay Leno should hire them on the spot.The guys are about the funniest politicans around too. I am sure that Sandra Pupatello just about burst a gut laughing last time they performed together in Windsor when she was not at the initial "good news" meeting.

Well the boys have topped themselves. Their routine this time is funnier than before. They are pretending that Bill C-3 has not passed and pumping themselves up so that everyone thinks that they have a role in what is decided at the border.

I bet that Transport Canada Minister is laughing so hard that he cannot even pick up the phone to tell Minister Cansfield, clearly their booking agent since she comes to Windsor monthly to line up gigs for them here, that he wants them for the next Parliamentary Press Gallery satire night.

Laugh along with the Ontario Ministers as you hear them say:
  • "Caplan noted the province is $100 billion behind in meeting its infrastructure needs, so whether future funds will be available for recreational projects is questionable.

    The minister, who attended a Windsor and District Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting at the Caboto Club, said Ontario is urging the federal government not to allow private ownership of the next Windsor-Detroit border crossing.

    “Our priority is to maintain control over public assets and ownership of core ones,” Caplan said. “There may be opportunities to have a (private) partnership, but control is the most important thing...

    “The feds are leading the discussion (on construction and funding for the next crossing),” Caplan said. “We are trying to convince them the kind of framework and policy principles we have are the correct ones. We hope they take us up on our offer to work collaboratively on this...”

    Local MPP Dwight Duncan (Windsor Tecumseh) agreed public ownership must be in place at the new bridge.

    "There is an opportunity for private investment," Duncan said. "But at end of day this is a major piece of infrastructure that should belong to all people on both sides of the border.

    "We will proceed on that basis."

The huge show closing line by Minister Caplan nearly brought the house down

  • "Even if we shut down government for an entire year, we couldn't pay for what we need," he said."

In comments afterwards to be used in the Liberal advertising campaing for the comedy routine and election, a rep of the Bridge Co., wiping away tears of laughter said:

  • "These guys are just such great kidders!

    This is the funniest thing I have ever heard Government say on the border crossing for a long time. I know that the Ministers know as do the Feds that the Ambassador Bridge Co. has spent about $500 million of its money to date getting ready for its Enhancement program and are ready to spend another half billion more once it gets its approvals.

    Now that's how an eighty-year public/private partnerhsip works

    What a huge joke it would be if Ontario and Canada paid out money for what the Bridge Co. is prepared to pay for with PRIVATE dollars. I am sure that taxpayers would be rolling on the floor guffawing as their taxes increased to spend billions on the new public crossing and multi-millions every year on operating losses!"

Oh my goodness...I just had a terrible thought. What if this was not a comedy but a serious drama. What if the 2 Ministers actually meant it. Oh my, what a tragedy for us then. Fortunately, the language of Bill C-3 will protect us from the Province:

  • "International bridges and tunnels are declared to be works for the general advantage of Canada."

No wonder Vaudeville died!

Translation Required

I need someone who is learned in Doublespeak to translate into English the following City agenda item tonight.

It is part of the report telling us that our big Star headlined $48M arena is now costing us a lot more money a la LaSalle. The cost now is, without adding in the McHugh road work,


Oooops, I forgot the $1,750,000 contingency


If someone would be good enough to tell me what this means, I probably can add in another $2.5 million, I think:
  • "#12 Land Purchase Cash Outlay

    The City obtained the east side land through an exchange of City owned property resulting in a net incremental City cost of $1,400,000 in the form of a credit against future development. Additionally, although not a direct cost to the project, there is an opportunity cost of approximately $2,500,000 relating to the value of the City land that was part of the exchange."
A couple of silly points that I noticed:
  • I hope X-ray eyes were working and that there is no contamination on the site since if that happens do you really think that $629,915 is enough.
  • I wonder if the site servicing costs include the cost for the grading which will "hopefully" prevent any Little River water run-off problems
  • Fit-up costs have to increase by around $600K for retail space, extension of ticket sales space for the Spits (why can't they pay for that?), possible Sports Hall of Fame but since the work does not have to be done now, the City does not have to include it but can do it later I guess. What other costs can be ignored now this way?
  • I thought that "Francis said the estimated cost to remove the material [on the Farhi site]is between $150,000 and $200,000. "Obviously the cost will be applied to the project budget." Gee, I thought the cost a few weeks ago was only $200K with Farhi agreeing to pay $100K for an extension not to close the deal for up to 3 years. Fortunately the Executive Director of Parks & Facility Operations with his X-ray eyes working now said the $300K was fine now.
  • Costs go up by over $600K to "elevate" the arena since higher costs would have been paid due to elevation differences with the McHugh extension but then funny math takes over to reduce the costs because the other project does not have to pay it out HUH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Whew another $1.5 saved since post construction interest fees until the torrents of money come in will not be charged to the project but to the City's Operating budget.
  • Hey it's interesting that the City originally agreed to pay for the Jumbotron in the lease. Didn't the Spits say that they were going to buy a Jumbotron on Ebay? They must have bought it already since when I went to the Ebay site back in October, there were none for sale. [I wonder what other surprises are in the lease that we cannot get access to without a MFOIA application]
  • Read about the possible factors that could increase the price too on Page 9 of the Report

Oh it's too much for me... go to and you can read the report for yourself.