Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, March 09, 2007

Even More Thoughts

My mind just keeps on racing with all of these thoughts going through my head that I want to share with you.


Consider this. You are the Mayor of a smallish town in Ontario and you invite two big shooters from Toronto to impress the home folks by having a session to talk about their future.

The day before the big show you find out that about 100 tickets have been sold along with the 80 Comps that you are giving out. You know how people are in your town...last minute action so that you can expect a bunch of tickets more to be sold.

The theatre that you have booked is the mid-sized one of "three theatrical spaces of different natures and sizes." The theatre, " seats 232 people and is very intimate. A small thrust stage makes it perfect for drama and children's theatre, or any productions where you want a close audience."

Doing the math, about 180 out of 232 seats are full or three quarters of theatre capacity.

As Mayor, would you:
  1. Freak out and say cancel the session in the last possible minute since it is a quarter empty OR

  2. Say hooray, the theatre is three quarters full and make a few phone calls and twist some arms to fill up the last quarter.

It appears that our Mayor chose (1), to cancel. The Daniel Patrick Kelly Theatre was booked for the "Looking Forward: Windsor’s Future in a Changing World" session. It is the mid-sized theatre as part of the Capitol Theatre and holds slightly over 200 seats.

I am sorry but I cannot accept, based on these numbers, that the session was cancelled as was claimed by the Mayor: "Francis said the event was postponed due to low ticket sales." That is a pile of hogwash.

Was the reason for the cancellation:

  1. Eddie was afraid of the picketing and confrontation from Arts supporters who are angry at him for the possible Capitol bankruptcy

  2. Urban strategist Glen Murray who was to speak on strengthening the links between arts, culture and the economy to enhance quality of life would him mock considering what was going on with the Capitol

  3. Eddie's reputation with the Toronto people, his "brand," would be negatively impacted

  4. Eddie's speechwriter could not come up with an idea for a new speech for him

  5. All of 1, 2, 3 and 4

  6. None of the above

It may be all moot anyway. From the Star, it appears that:

  • "John Funnell, president of IndCom Leasing Inc., donated $50,000 to the troubled theatre to allow it to wipe a loan, also from IndCom, off its books and open the door for the City of Windsor to lend the Capitol money as first secured creditor."

What Council should be asking, however, is why this session was booked in the first place. If the 232-seat theatre, not the 696-seat theatre was booked, how much would this extravaganza have lost even if at 100% capacity? Even if the larger theatre was booked, the loss would have been huge! How much more taxpayer money is now going to be wasted since it was postponed and now has to be rescheduled.

Do we have this much free taxpayer cash around that we should spend it in this manner? Sure, debate about $35,000 dinners and let this matter go unresolved. Pathetic!


Wrestlemania $60,000 for a "partnership opportunity."

Capitol Theatre $0

You explain it. I cannot!


I really should not be so harsh but I will be. The City-owned Tunnel is MY asset and the loss of its dividend means I as a taxpayer have to pay more taxes out of my pocket...about $6.6M more if the entire dividend is gone! Doesn't anyone on the WTC care yet?

The reality is that the cross-border business is terrible. All crossings are down in traffic volumes since their peak in 1999 and one wonders if we can ever get back to those numbers again in the foreseeable future, both cars and trucks.

I am not going to talk about the DRIC projections since actual does not meet their projected. Accordingly, unless someone can provide a good reason for it, their overly optimistic traffic projections cannot be used to justify building a new crossing.

The issue for me is how well the City-owned Tunnel is doing in a bad market-place. Is it holding its own against the competition, the Ambassador Bridge? Sure the numbers will be lower than 1999, and we should not expect miracles, but is the "public" Tunnel outperforming or at least matching the "private" Bridge Co.?

Based on information I have seen, where the Tunnel in 1999 processed more automobiles than the bridge, in 2006 and so far in 2007, the positions are reversed. The bridge processed over a half million more cars than did the Tunnel in 2006.

As a percentage, the Tunnel business has dropped by more than 50% since 1999. Frankly, if it keeps dropping, one has to ask why we will need any Tunnel Plaza Improvements. We can save $30 million (or much more) of taxpayer dollars by scrapping the project now. Perhaps this is why the Mayor cancelled the Public Open House. He knows we will NOT have any more traffic back-ups in the streets downtown!

In February, 2007, the Tunnel car traffic dropped by another 70,000+ units. It is interesting that the Tunnel volumes started dropping like a stone right around the time of the increase in tolls by the City in mid-2006. Can you imagine what can happen if Alinda increases the tolls!

In looking at truck traffic, while the Tunnel only processes a relatively few trucks compared with the bridge, its volume has dropped almost 43% since 1999.

Does anyone at the WTC look at the numbers and have any alarm bells rung yet? Do you think the Bridge Co. owner would sit around if he had these kinds of traffic losses? But then again, it's only HIS money, not taxpayers'!


A reader asked me if I knew if the members of the Economic Development Commission Board get a payment for their efforts. I must admit I thought the role was a volunteer one, includig that of the Chair, but since I did not, I decided to write a simple note to the new CEO and his VP asking for an answer:

  • From: Ed Arditti
    Sent: Tuesday, March 06, 2007 3:52 PM
    Subject: Board salaries/honorarium

    Would you please advise me what the compensation for Board members is whether salary or honorarium or otherwise and the manner in which it is paid eg by meeting attended, fixed per year etc. Please advise if there are any additional perks or expense account payments provided.

No response so far although both read the message. Those economic gardens need tending after all.


Remember that line from Hamlet? I just can't help but feeling that there is a game being played and we taxpayers are being played for fools again.

The words of the Mayor in the paper today did not give me any feeling of comfort that the Capitol will be saved. There was no joy whatsoever in what he said such as being thankful that a "jewel" downtown and a symbol of our desire to have a vibrant artistic community in Windsor may be saved. Instead we read:

  • "But Lynd said on Thursday night that he has yet to hear anything new from City Hall on the $65,000 loan, and his instructions from the board still stand: sign bankruptcy documents at 4:30 p.m. today if there's no word from council.

    "Hopefully, first thing in the morning, we're going to get through to them," Lynd said.

    Reached Thursday afternoon, Mayor Francis said council is aware of Funnell's donation, but still needs to review financial information before moving forward on the loan.

    "Given the circumstances and given what has taken place over the past week ... the reasonable step for us to take right now is to ask for them to provide us with updated information."

    Francis said council needs to know how much the Capitol owes, to whom they owe, what liabilities they have, who their unsecured creditors may be, and the order those creditors are arranged. "Then we'll be in a position to make a decision ... we're going to have to wait until we get that information."

This is ridiculous...Surely after all of this time, Administration must know this information and what the Capitol's financial position is. The Council Resolution required that "Administration prepare a further report within 30 days to update Council on the due diligence review." Was there no sense of urgency on Administration's part? What had Administration done BEFORE the Council motion was passed? Is only an updating needed?

Perhaps I am wrong but I just do not see a big desire to keep the Capitol around in the form it is in.

Maybe someone is afraid that it can compete still against the new Casino complex, for smaller "lounge-type" acts anyway. Or perhaps there is a desire to give its management out to another firm, say if the new East End arena is going to be bid out so that it would not be burdened with high costs for City unionized employees.

Don't forget that Global Spectrum was at a Council meeting re the arena some time ago for some reason. "Global Spectrum provides innovative management, marketing, operations and event booking services for public assembly facilities, including arenas, civic and convention centers, stadiums, ice facilities, equestrian centers and theatres." What a nice package this would make for a Tender request: the Arena and the Capitol management! All non-City union workers too.

You know who is really to blame for all of this mess: Joyce Zuk!

If she were on Council now, the Capitol would be alive and well. Read this from a Henderson blast about Joyce and the Science Centre after it received from City Council a $70,000 grant and a waiver of another $61,000 in taxes and lease payments "while the facility gets its financial house in order:"

  • "The Bank of Zuk. Free money. No strings attached.

    They should slap that up in blinking red neon on city hall now that council's Spineless Six, led by Joyce "Call Me Santa" Zuk, have confirmed they'll shovel taxpayer dollars into just about any outfit with a half-decent sob story.

    In September, by a 5-3 vote, council forgave $432,142 in back taxes, interest and penalties assessed to the Windsor Essex Non- Profit Support Network. Bailout supporters, including Zuk, explained that they didn't want to deal a damaging blow to a body that offers a valuable public service.

    And now, less than three months later, the giveaway artists, an informal alliance of ardent Liberals and New Democrats, are back in action, approving, in a 6-4 vote, a handout to the near-bankrupt Canada South Science Centre that will cost city taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars but which left supporters agog at the city's benevolence.

    They came seeking a loan. They left with a $70,000 grant dumped in their laps, courtesy of a stunning display of generosity with our money on the part of Zuk.

    "Maybe Christmas comes early here in the City of Windsor," explained the councillor for Ward 1...

    Other groups lining up at the civic trough, including supporters of the financially distraught Capitol Theatre, should learn from the science centre's example."

Frankly, the Capitol and the Mayor and City Council should have learned from that experience: Here is an interesting letter I found about the Science Centre on October 16, 2006:

  • "In my December 2005 Letter to the Editor, I wrote about developing a strong partnership between the Faculty of Science at the University of Windsor and the local science centre, Canada South Science City.

    I am happy to report this partnership has been successful in receiving nearly $150,000 from the Ministry of Research and Innovation under the Youth Science and Technology Outreach Program. This grant will be used to bring Grade 10 students to the science centre and then to the science labs at the university to interact with science researchers through a variety of hands-on activities.

    The grant will also fund "Science Cafes" that will bring internationally recognized scientists to the science city to engage the public on topics such as the hydrogen economy and global warming. This partnership is one example of how the faculty of science is reaching out to the next generation of Canadian scientists.

    Richard Caron
    Dean of Science
    University of Windsor

Additional Thoughts

Here is some more food for thought to go along with your morning coffee. It makes for some appetizing reading


I really cannot get too upset if taxpayers pay for meals for Council members and Administration who have to work late on Monday nights. And let them eat some hot food. We ought not to be so petty. After all, if they were in private industry, that would happen too.

It works out, if one includes Administrators, to about $20-25 per person per meal so what's the big deal. Catered sandwiches don't come that cheaply either and they get boring after awhile.

But I find the story interesting from a different perspective.

How can anyone accuse the Star now of being a mouthpiece for City Hall with this giant expose on the front page with the massive headline. Wow, that is real investigative journalism. No one can accuse the Star of being soft or being a cheerleader for City Hall with this kind of revelation. I wonder if this will win the Star another ONA nomination.

After a Henderson column and a few Letters to the Editor, I would not be surprised to see Councillors brown-bagging it from now on. That will demonstrate how responsive our Council is to the needs of citizens in this time of budgetary cut-backs.

And don't you like the open and transparent attitude of City Hall too. I wonder if the Star got this information without a Municipal Freedom Of Information application. Why the Clerk and CAO are so open that we even got a peek into the menu selection too.

Remember my BLOG on September 12, 2006, "Haligonian Style Open & Transparent Mayor?" I wonder when Eddie will have such a webpage on the City website so we can learn how he is spending taxpayer money. Check it out for yourself. When also will Chris Schnurr's request be answered


Come clean Eddie. What's going on with Alinda and the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel, if anything.

An Alabama newspaper claims that "Alinda CEO Gordon Jarvis confirmed that the company has been working with Fine & Geddie, an Alabama-based lobbying group for the past year on state-related business."

Has Alinda been involved in discussions with the Tunnel for a year too? If so, that may explain what the Joint Councils meeting with Detroit Council was really about a year ago. It was a Windsor sales pitch rather than a meeting between two legislative bodies.


So the Premier and PM met for 90 minutes recently. I wonder if Windsor was part of that discussion the way that Toronto was. That City got a ton of money for a subway, transit and roads.

Didn't Minister Cansfield say that "I want to assure you that increasing border capacity at the Windsor-Detroit Gateway is the McGuinty government’s number one economic infrastructure priority."

So don't you think it odd that Windsor was not mentioned? After all, in Stephen Harper's website there is a reference to the Province's MOVE ONTARIO program:

  • "The province’s role in the partnership builds on its commitment to infrastructure, as first announced in the 2006 provincial budget under Move Ontario, a major, one-time $838 million investment in the province's public transit systems. The Ontario government has allocated an additional $400 million under Move Ontario, which municipalities may use for improvements to municipal roads and bridges."

So something has to be announced in the Federal budget and the Province has to match it.

Ok, Ok. I already have it on good authority through usually reliable sources that there will some goodies for Windsor. No the Finance Minister does NOT have to resign for a budget leak. I was told by Brian Masse via the Windsor Star about 2 months ago what would happen.

There will be some money:

  • "Ottawa needs to start budgeting funds now to help pay for the planned new bridge and border crossing feeder roads in Windsor, MP Brian Masse (NDP -- Windsor West) warned Monday.

    "I want to see some budget allocations to slowly increase the amount of capital required so there is not sticker shock at the end of the day," Masse said."
Clearly, since Harper and McGuinty are now friends, the announcement has to do with something under Provincial jurisdiction AND it will be about the border road:

  • "there hasn't yet been much discussion surrounding the feeder road, where the province is likely to have ownership of the new border highway."
But don't get too excited. The announcement does NOT mean anything will start soon. In fact, the Liberals claim the transit stuff was something that they announced back in 2005:

  • "The federal Liberals in Ottawa accused Harper of reannouncing transit and climate change funding originally committed by their government in 2005."
So dear reader, forget about the Budget, forget about the border. It's all election politics. Nothing is changing!


Wow, he got out just in time to salvage his mayoral aspirations (Even though he said he was never going to run for mayor ever!)

Imagine how shocked I was to see on Councillor Halberstadt's BLOGsite that he was now "newly appointed chair of the operating budget committee." Poor Alan, he can take the hit for the big tax increase while THE COUNCILLOR FORMERLY KNOWN AS COUNCILLOR BUDGET can go smiling in the sunset saying it did not happen during his watch!

See, it did not take me long to find a new name for the former Councillor Budget.


I understand that former Councillors Wilson and Cassivi both applied for positions on Boards and Commissions of the City--Enwin and WUC respectively I believe-- but neither was successful in obtaining an appointment.

Apparently ex-Councillor Wilson was elected to the Enwin Board and then unelected.

How can this be? I would think that this may be a "Corporate Governance" issue since "[Enwin] Powerlines (now merged) also adopted new rules for Corporate Governance, consistent with TSX rules for public corporations." We should expect clarification of how someone could be elected and then shortly thereafter no longer be on the Board. It gives rise to serious questions that need to be answered forthwith.

We probably need a corproate governance expert to help out Enwin with this one. Fortunately there is someone close by and involved with the City already who can help.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Let's Play Post Office

Remember playing Post Office when you were younger. Well these readers are NOT playing games with their notes to me:

  • 1) I read with some interest your blog (March 7) and felt compelled to write and say that I (and several others whom I have spoken to) share your suspicion as to the real reason the Diane Francis "Looking Forward" event was cancelled.

    What was billed as an opportunity for Windsor to learn how to "secure a stronger presence in the national and global economies" has turned out to be nothing short of shameless contempt for Windsorites by the Mayor himself.

    Let's be clear - if the event was cancelled it had little to do with low ticket sales "Due to uncertainties surrounding the operation of the Capitol Theatre". If the sales were low - I suggest that it was due to the fact that Windsorites did not want to shell out $10 to hear more prattle from a Mayor who has done little, if anything, to secure Windsor's presence in the national or global econony. Perhaps the real reason is that one of the scheduled speakers was to talk on "how strengthening the links between the arts, culture and the economy enhances our creativity and quality of life, creating a more attractive city and urban wealth." (and we all know now how this city encourages the arts). More realistically I think, the cancellation was most likely due to the fact that our Mayor was concerned about facing a picket outside the venue. Some may claim that to being politically astute - I call it cowardly.

    In fact, this Mayor appears to harbour some significant fear of confrontation and has developed a record of hiding out when the going gets tough. He declined to participate in a mayoral debate, refuses to deal with sensitive issues in a public forum, and now cancels a much-touted talk under the guise that ticket sales were affected by "uncertainties" that he and his council perpetuated.

    What is perhaps more galling is that this Mayor and council seem to have such unmitigated contempt for Windsor taxpayers and really must think us to be a bunch of nitwits. Not so many weeks ago, an information session on the redevelopment of the tunnel plaza was cancelled at the last minute. As a downtown resident and one interested in the rehabilitation of the core, I planned to attend. The reason for cancellation - a new tunnel commission member had to be briefed before the public could be. At least that was the official reason. It is now several weeks later and the session has yet to be rescheduled. Perhaps the new tunnel member and the mayor's office had some difficulties setting an appointment for the briefing between city paid lunches. I can only assume that once again this mayor and council are hiding themselves and information from those who elected them.

    It may not be politically correct anymore as it is perhaps somewhat sexist, but my father would most likely encourage our mayor to "be a man".

  • 2) Hey Ed,

    You are really on to something with the public truck subway.

    Maybe you could map out a strategy of how Eddie missed the boat on getting the tunnels to the border funded (and thus, relegated to trying to keep the exorbitantly expensive idea alive…when it is all the while doomed). Yeah, if Sam Schwartz had used his “gridlock creativity” and coined the phrase “public truck subway” instead of tunnels, it would have been sexy to Ottawa… because, subway is the only way you can get the bureaucrats to throw money at a hole in the ground.

    If Eddie had talked about the great service provided by these underground monstrosities and Gord Henderson had extolled the virtues of transit mentality, in this case applied to trucks, it would have reframed the debate. Instead, Windsor citizens “DESERVED” a … steaming hole in the ground???

    The aesthetic vision of a truck free horizon was always utopia (fully 1/3 of border trucks are local origin/destination per the DRIC study) and the environmental consequences were never thought out before the big PR push began to call for tunneling. Ventilation shafts, however unsightly and gargantuan, are more pleasing if they are for a subway as opposed to for a truck tunnel. Perhaps Windsor’s leadership just suffers from Tunnel vision – because when all you have is a stinking, money-losing, ownership changing, parking lot creating Detroit-WindsorTunnel under your control, well now that is the solution to everything.

3) Here is a note from a contractor who tells me that he and others remain solvent only because they find business outside of Windsor since there is not much going on here. He is totally frustrated with $300M BIF money sitting in the bank doing nothing for the region.

If he and his contractor colleagues had any sense, they would realize that they are about the most powerful group in the area and, in this election environment, should take on the politicians. They would fold like accordions.

Hmmmm perhaps I should offer my services. Been There, Done That with STOPDRTP! With powerful contractors that actually create thousands of well-paying jobs rallying behind me , it would be a piece of cake.

  • Hi Ed,

    I've been reading your blog now for about 4 months and I think your doing a great service for the whole community.

    As a contractor in this area it has become painful to sit and watch our local politicians play politics with our livelihoods. Eddie sits back in all his arrogance and claims to be doing his best for us , all the while we are losing thousands of jobs. He'll make large announcements about a few hundred call center jobs, cry about a few hundred CAW jobs being lost, but nothing about the thousands of high paying construction jobs that he is holding up.

    I have not done all the math on the amount of jobs, but if you did, it would amount to ten thousand minimum. Instead of being highest in unemployment in the country we would surely lead the country.

    The provincial and federal government are almost begging us to take the money, but he sits on his hands. The plans for the upgraded EC Row expressway sit gathering dust(they have been done for ten years) 120 million project while Eddie plays politics for his own self interests.

    I think if the pressure is applied to Eddie on the jobs front, he'll have no choice, but to move on these projects. Heavy Civil construction workers earn about the same as CAW workers, but with less overhead.

    Why has the Windsor Star not even mentioned the jobs issue? The capital budgets for infrastructure in all of Essex County including the city amounts to less than 70 million a year. He is holding up an additional 100 million a year for the next 20 years minimum.

    Thanks for letting me vent, good luck with your new newspaper let me know if I can help, Lord knows we need it.

4) I thought you might be interested in reading a note sent from a local MPP to a reader of this BLOG in the area who is deciding whether to keep his operation in Canada or move to Michigan. Since this is NOT a Golden Triangle problem you can see how uninterested the MPP, or rather the Government, really is. Too bad as well that he is merely a small business. I guess the MPP knows little about gazelles and how they are to help us prosper.

  • "Thank you for your e-mail regarding industries re-locating to Michigan.

    I certainly share your concerns about this matter. Ever since Ontario overtook Michigan as a #1 auto producer, the state has been revamping their subsidy programs, some of which include free hydro, property tax freezes, etc. which are illegal in Ontario. There are new programs available for large firms, but nothing specifically for small business. While we examine our options on how to compete with Michigan subsidies, I would urge you to contact the local Small Business Advisory office in Windsor 519-252-3475. They are best placed to assist with financing sources, etc. in the short term.

    I appreciate you taking the time to write."

  • 5) amazing, isn't it?

    that it took them until you pointed it out in your blog to realize how inappropriate that [Looking Forward] seminar would be, how ill-scheduled, and how nothing-but-hot-air it would be, in light of the current circumstances

    thanks for blogging on this yesterday

  • 6) Ed at this rate the most successful business in Windsor will be U-Haul

  • 7) I may be lonely.
    don't be we need you
    keep up the good work

Another Star Re-write

I have trouble figuring on what is going on at the Star. Here is another re-write below that changes the Star's story completely between online and published.

Of course, you have to read to the end of it to find out about the postponement. I noticed also that they did not quote the number of tickets sold or how much the postponement cost. Where was that investigative zeal that was so evident on the Council "dinner" expose.

Oh, I do understand that the "online" is a quick and dirty posting to get news out quickly since a newspaper only prints once a day. And obviously the story is amended and finally edited before publication. I have no objection to that. However, when stories are changed so dramatically, as this one and the one on the Assumption meeting were, then one has to ask why.

Perhaps we can explain it away merely because the National Post is a sister publication of the Star and who would want to admit that its "Editor at large" did not have the drawing power to fill such a smallish theatre.

Or is it due to an Editor with a wicked sense of humour and tickets for a Capitol performance that was cancelled linking and emphasizing Eddie's failure on the Arts in Windsor.

I wonder if the Star saw my "BLOG Special" BLOG first so that they also got rid of that silliness about ticket sales being low "which he attributed to the uncertainty over the Capitol's future."

Frankly, this fiasco can be used by Eddie to suggest that the City needs to spend a quarter of a million dollars on a PR department badly. City Hall PR is a disgrace.

Here is the Star story online and the Star published story:


Francis stands by council decision

Dalson Chen, Windsor Star Published: Thursday, March 08, 2007

Mayor Eddie Francis isn't budging on City Hall's rejection of the Capitol Theatre's grant request.

"It went from a loan to a grant," said Francis Wednesday evening. "Council is still in the position that we are prepared to assist. We are prepared to offer a loan -- subject to the condition of priority."

Francis said no further council discussion on the matter has been scheduled. The Capitol board has threatened to file for bankruptcy Friday if a grant isn't forthcoming.

Asked what impact the theatre's closure would have on the city centre and the arts community, Francis replied: "What we are doing now is basically waiting to see what actually does happen with the Capitol Theatre, and what steps they take. Until they make their decision, we're taking a wait-and-see approach, and we'll deal with that issue when we need to deal with that issue."

A municipal event booked at the Capitol tonight has been cancelled. The event was entitled Looking Forward: Windsor's Future in a Changing World, and was to feature a talk by National Post editor-at-large Diane Francis.

Francis said the event has been postponed due to low ticket sales, which he attributed to the uncertainty over the Capitol's future.



Dalson Chen/Star staff reporter

Mayor Eddie Francis isn’t budging on City Hall’s rejection of the Capitol Theatre’s grant request.

“It went from a loan to a grant,” said Francis Wednesday evening. “Council is still in the position that we are prepared to assist. We are prepared to offer a loan — subject to the condition of priority.”

Francis said no further council discussion on the matter has been scheduled. The Capitol board has threatened to file for bankruptcy Friday if a grant isn’t forthcoming.

Asked what impact the theatre’s closure would have on the city centre and the arts community, Francis replied: “What we are doing now is basically waiting to see what actually does happen with the Capitol Theatre, and what steps they take. Until they make their decision, we’re taking a wait-and-see approach, and we’ll deal with that issue when we need to deal with that issue.”

A municipal event booked at the Capitol tonight has been cancelled. The event was entitled Looking Forward: Windsor’s Future in a Changing World, and was to feature a talk by urban strategist Glen Murray on strengthening the links between arts, culture and the economy to enhance quality of life.

Francis said the event was postponed due to low ticket sales.

BLOG SPECIAL: Windsor’s Future Is Being Postponed!

I may be lonely but this BLOGsite has power, real power! Don't ever forget it.

Why just one word of criticism and the Mayor's Office jumps!

Now I do not want to smirk too much (oh yes I do) but did you see the announcement about the big event that was to be hosted by the Mayor tonight at the Capitol Theatre. You know, the event "Looking Forward: Windsor’s Future in a Changing World" with Diane Francis and Glen Murray.

In case you missed it, here it is:

"Looking Forward Seminar Postponed
  • Due to uncertainties surrounding the operation of the Capitol Theatre, ticket sales have been affected. Looking Forward: Windsor’s Future in a Changing World, which was scheduled to take place at the Capitol Theatre on Thursday March 8 with speakers Diane Francis and Glen Murray, has been postponed. The event will take place at a future date convenient to the presenters later this spring.

    Ticket holders should contact 311 for information on how to obtain tickets for the rescheduled event or refunds."

Now do you want to know something funny. I contacted the Capitol at 5:52 PM last night to see when the session was going to be re-scheduled. The Box Office was unaware that it had even been cancelled! I wonder if the guest speakers have been advised yet!

Now the Press Release went up at some time on Wednesday, March 07, 2007. I am just curious to know the exact time the decision was made to postpone. I'd like to know if it was after my first BLOG yesterday "MADE IT BY A DAY" or after my second BLOG "The BLOGmeister Gets Letters" with the two letters in the afternoon.

Well to be honest, this notice may have helped out a wee bit too:

  • Capitol Rally Tomorrow Night
    Wednesday, 07 March 2007

    Save the Capitol Theatre! Show you care about the imminent loss of one of Windsor’sgreatest cultural icons by attending a peaceful demonstration and rally tomorrow,Thursday March 8th, 6:00 PM. sharp, in front of the Theatre.

    If you care, be there!!!

    If possible, come in costume and bring a sign: Save the Capitol!

Here is the interesting part--if the Capitol goes bankrupt, are the ticket-holders all unsecured creditors so they cannot get back their $10!

Of course the Press Release and this fiasco has to be blamed on the Mayor's Office who has to take responsibility for this event. Remember the big Mayors meeting last May that was postponed and the Tecumseh meeting:

  • "According to the Star the session "has been postponed, largely because the date conflicted with the beginning of the U.S. Memorial Day holiday weekend, city officials said on Wednesday...

    Of course, if there had been proper planning at City Hall, this would never have happened. It is another failing of this Administration. I guess no one there had a calendar that showed holidays in the US. It sounds so reminiscent of the fiasco involving the Windsor City Council meeting in Tecumseh. Everything last minute and then scramble."
And why didn't someone tell the Capitol that the session was postponed? Do the two invitees know yet or are they still coming to Windsor expecting to speak.

Now let's see. I am sure that there will be cancellation penalties. Probably loss of money for transportation for the speakers if they were coming by plane, their fees. All the money wasted for advertising and the money that will have to be spent again when it is rescheduled. There will be a cost for hall rental and the refreshments that cannot be served (I wonder if that will be dinner for the next Council in camera meeting.) The handling fees to refund money and then to sell tickets again etc etc etc.

Wouldn't it be a real hoot if all of that money wasted totalled around $60,000--the amount the Capitol needed.

Let's get real. The session was not postponed due to uncertainty but because the Mayor would have looked like a fool hosting the session in the first place. He would have looked like a fool in front of 2 people he was trying to impress for his future.

The Mayor is insulting the intelligence of Windsorites by his excuse. Can't he ever admit that he screwed up? Actually, he cannot as we saw with his exchanges with Alan McKinnon and Dan Stamper. He is after all, the Teflon Mayor. What a shame he cannot blame Council. Poor Norma Coleman will have to take responsibility.

I really wonder how many tickets were sold. I also wonder how many people in the crowd would have booed the Mayor when he started talking about the Arts and Windsor. I wonder how many members of the Arts Community were actually going to come out and picket.

The Mayor won't be saved if the session is rescheduled unless the Capitol is saved. In fact, it will be worse for him since people will have had time to organize properly. All that has happened is that he has bought peace from complete embarrassment for a few weeks.


If this information is true, and I have no reason to disbelieve it, Capitol Theatre supporters may storm City Hall!

Apparently, as of Wednesday, my inside moles tell me that there were "80 tickets sold and about 80 given away to dignitaries....whoever they are." The speakers I am told were not inexpensive either, costing many thousands.

The City claimed "ticket sales have been affected." Heck, they were nonexistent if this is true! The whole event was a bomb, a stinkeroo, a total collapse.

Doing the math, even if the Capitol was sold out, the income would only have been $6960 (seating capacity in the main theatre is 696). Deduct from that the cost of the reception and hall rental and the losses would have run into the multi-thousands. With the income of $800, well, it would have been a complete farce. I do not know to whom the freebies were granted. I'll let the Star do that work.

This appears to have been a City function. At a time when Council will not give any money to the Capitol forcing it into bankruptcy, this shameless waste of taxpayer money is a disgrace!

And the Mayor has the nerve to say about the Capitol:
  • “Council is not in the business of writing blank cheques.”

These are the people who claim that the arena will make a profit....HELP!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The BLOGmeister Gets Letters

Keep sending in those letters so that others can read different points of view!

By the way, if you are a member of an ARTS group or have had a connection with the Capitol Theatre, you might want to read the last letter sent in by a reader.

Why pay $10 to support the closure of your theatre when you watch true theatre unfolding---real life drama--- instead as my reader suggests in front of the Capitol on Thursday evening.
  • 1) "Why don't we "turf" the Commission and the whole bunch and have John Millson do the job. It was reported that he is currently spending a lot of time in Alberta attempting to put together joint venture business deals for Windsor/Essex County.

    John is an excellent Ambassador of the City and all of Essex County, well respected, knows the area like the back of his hand. John may not know much about gazelles but he sure knows a lot about race horses....and it is going to take a true Northern Dancer or Triple Crown winner to get things done in this area under the current economic conditions.

    Gazelles may run faster but I'll put my money on the horse for intellligence and stamina."

  • 2) "We can already see the gazelles losing weight. Fast.

    They should put up a higher fence so none of them can jump out to feed on the other side of the fence, (Other side of London for geographic purposes).

    Okay let's see here.......If creditors are not behind business, and we have seen places closing,(no names be said)it doesn't matter how much fertilizer is spread out there gazelles are going to starve.

    So the creation of this position will benefit how exactly?

    I have a letter from a local MPP that knows jobs have been packing up and leaving yet they won't do anything about it.

    What's left to sell about this area except empty buildings?

    I think we need less analogies and more action.

    If the new position's office were in Calgary, that would show a lot of forward business thinking.

    It's about time for visionary people. Windsor deserves it.

  • 3) The Star mentioned local politicians that were at attendance [at the Assumption School border meeting].

    Were there any politicians that are significant enough to do anything? Or were they there to complain?

    I quote.."You want to eliminate those international trucks ... coming through our neighborhoods and communities," said Windsor West MP Brian Masse.

    Elimination? Come on. Strong rhetoric. Why not just tell the business world to stay away. Like that isn't already happening. I read that loud and clear from an opposition MP at that.

    Where are we going on this? Nowhere fast. And trucks continue to roll.

  • 4) Outside of all our problems with no action from Toronto Central (the center of the universe where all is focused) or even the federal side which continues to commit billions of dollars to aid Toronto (which does not need such aid, only wants) we get nothing here with the real Canada ending somewhere near Chatham (look at what it has taken, the years, to finally get 3 lanes of the 401 near Windsor!).

    Therefore I am suggesting we separate from Canada, join the states, build our crossings, a few of them, let us develop fully as South Detroit (as we are called by them anyways) and then put large toll booths on our newly named I - 98 where it meets up with the 401 near Chatham and charge proper tolls to pay for the new massive custom areas build on cheaper land.

    Of course all this new work would be highly environmental and we would be commended on doing such natural net zero energy developments in all our new work with wind farms, green roofs and highly effective buildings. An environmental and financial win win while letting the governments that continually push us aside know that we will not take being at the end of the road any longer.

    Keep up the good work, we need more of it, thank you.

    5) With the current planned last day of operations of the Capitol Theatre & Arts Centre being March 9, 2007, this still allows the Mayor to have his showcase event, "Looking Forward: Windsor's Future in a Changing World" on March 8. It still allows the City to give the illusion that it's "doing something" with respect to arts and culture.

    Yet an event scheduled to begin at the Capitol on March 10, 2007, a production of "Dorian Gray" directed by the President of the Arts Council - Windsor & Region no less, is getting axed. And it's getting axed for the 2nd time, mind you; the Capitol postponed the "Dorian Gray" production once already last fall.

    Now the director of this production, its actors, set designers, tech. people, all of whom have been working tirelessly without pay -- and certainly without the kind of pay the two consultants visiting our fair "arts-friendly" city on Thursday are going to be seeing -- these folks are now simply expected to say what? "Okay, thanks Capitol Theatre and City of Windsor. Thanks for giving it that old college try"? Right. Some try.

    I can only hope, though in my heart I know it's foolish to do so, that this is dumb luck and sheer coincidence. What is further ironic about the Mayor's event taking place on March 8 is that one of the speakers, Glen Murray, will talk about "how strengthening the links between the arts, culture and the economy enhances our creativity and quality of life, creating a more attractive city and urban wealth." That is a direct quote from the press release for this event. And 2 days later, the community arts venue where Mr. Murray will be saying these things will be closed.

    It's like a scene out of some poorly-written movie. No one would believe it. I'm embarrassed for Windsor -- as if our image isn't bad enough to start with. And I'm embarrassed over the behaviour of the City and the Capitol in this entire matter.

    We should all be ashamed.

    6) If there were ever a time for this community to be outraged enough to do some picketing and protesting that actually showed some legitimate outrage, that time and place would be Thursday evening, March 8, at 6pm, in front of the Capitol Theatre.

A Few More Interesting Thoughts

Just a few more ideas that I had which might be of interest to you.


Wow, is Mayor Eddie Francis ever a lucky man!

Seriously, he must have horseshoes and rabbits feet to be this fortunate.

The Star reported that the last day of active operation of the Capitol Theatre may well be, in the event of bankruptcy, March 9.

What a fortuitous break.

I just got an email from the Downtown Business group that on Thursday, March 8, 2007 at 7:00 p.m.-10 p.m. with a 6:30 reception, there will be a meeting on "Windsor's Future in a Changing World."

That night, "Mayor Eddie Francis will host a thought provoking and inspiring evening with Diane Francis and Glen Murray...Together they will discuss our strengths and weaknesses and suggest how to secure a stronger presence in the national and global economies."

And where will this amazing event take place: Capitol Theatre, 121 University Avenue West.


Oh my. There may be another convert to the those who can think on their own in the City and are not afraid to express a politically incorrect opinion about the Bridge Co.

I wonder who will try to smear him and how.

Check out That BLOG is Scnurr's praise of what the Bridge Co. wants to do.
  • "There were no declarations of war; no political mud slinging - just good old fashioned constructive discussion at the 2nd community forum hosted by the Ambassador Bridge company I attended tonight. Quite frankly, I’m perplexed as to why some councillors and our Mayor are engaging in destructive rhetoric, fear-mongering and blatant misinformation.

    Tonight’s presentation by the company was eye-opening. The sky did not fall and the earth did not open up to swallow the City of Windsor. What was presented, was literally a birds-eye view of the bridge company’s project. We were taken on a detailed 3-D journey which silently demonstrated just how off-base the actions and words of our city council are."

I have not yet seen the "3-D journey" but will try and do so shortly. It sounds like you might be interested in seeing it too.


Remember the BLOGs I wrote about this subject.

Chris Schnurr the other day had a fascinating BLOG about "Ooops! Caught ya: Manufacturing consent and the border" :
  • "the purpose of manufacturing consent is to create numerous possibilities with the objective of implementing the preferred, usually most unpopular “possibility.” Ultimately, the goal is to make the unpopular the popular option. This is to say, confuse and obsfucate the issue and gradually implement the preferred option."

See what I mean about how E C Row will be brought back.


According to the Star (and from what I heard in an exclusive interview by Susan Pedler on CBC), here is what the Premier said when he was in town yesterday:
  • "McGuinty said the province will continue to seek out partnerships with the private sector.

    I think we're up to $100-million now in the auto sector that we have used to secure investments that were made in this community recently," he said. "We will continue to work with this community if there are any particular proposals that they bring to us. We're always looking to proposals from the private sector in particular ... we've shown that in the auto sector when any of the major auto manufacturers and auto suppliers came to us and said 'we think we could expand,' we'd say 'is there anything we could do that will act as an impetus to make that investment here or to expand it beyond your original plan?' But yes, there is a challenge, there's no doubt about it in this community of Windsor as there are in a number of other communities."
Sandra and Dwight, do you need the Bridge Co.'s phone number? They are a private sector partner. I found it in the White Pages!

They have this teeny-weeny proposal for a project for which they have spent a half billion dollars so far and want to spend about that much more and you can put in with the Feds another few hundred million of BIF funds for a new road and other infrastructure.

Think of the work for contractors, the jobs for Windsorites, the votes for you both!


If you want to try and save something in Windsor, it becomes a jewel. Here is what I mean:

Did you know that "Mackenzie Hall on Sandwich Street is considered an architectural jewel of the west end"

Superior Park was a jewel

The Capitol Theatre is a jewel that must be preserved.

Riverside Drive the other night at Council was called a "jewel" as a scenic drive.

Willistead Manor during the egg salad war at the Art in the Park festival was called a Walkerville "jewel."

"This city's waterfront is an irreplaceable jewel and Riverside Drive, from Sandwich to Tecumseh, should be a shining chain."

And as for Sandwich, well, the effort with the interim control by-law and heritage designation has to be seen as the desire to "transform an undervalued jewel into a vibrant, eclectic community."

What silliness. There is only ONE real jewel in Windsor:
  • "The landmark lights -- erected for aesthetic and not navigational purpose -- have lit up the border skies almost uninterrupted since Windsor mayor Bert Weeks joined Detroit mayor Coleman Young to switch on "the glowing necklace of lights" at 5:20 p.m. on Nov. 22, 1981. "
So do you really think that this piece of jewellery is not going to be reset and modernized! I hear the owner of it has the money to enhance it! It's the Ambassador Bridge if you did not know.


Geez, Administration is dumb. They proposed to Council to spend a quarter of a million dollars to hire some publicity flacks. You'd think that the CAO should have figured out what to do with the announcement by Harper and McGuinty about the new Toronto subway extension and how that announcement can work for Windsor to justify the new staff. But he did not.

Why just a few days before, the Big City Mayors called "on the federal government to invest $2 billion a year in public transit." Lo and behold, there the cash came.

Why didn't the CAO issue a press release saying that Windsor was announcing the building of a rapid transit, public truck "subway" between the border and Highway 401 and wanted the Senior Levels to contribute. I figured that would have been worth a few billion to us for sure!

Expect DRTP CEO, Mike Hurst, to come up with a new name to support the initiative:"Rails To Trails To Rails" comes immediately to mind. He wants something along his corridor to get someone to use it for anything before the FSCO OMERS report comes out.


Hey it's an election year. It's a slam-dunk that Sandra and Dwight are going to be re-elected unless Eddie runs in Windsor West and no Conservative will be elected here federally so why would the Senior Levels of Government put in cash here after all of the City's snubs. The key voters are in the 905 area.

However, expect the new buddies, Harper and McGuinty, to propose some money in the Federal Budget to be ear-marked for here to be matched by the Province for the "new" border crossing. No point taking any chances on the incumbents losing right?

But did you read about the new subway extension in Toronto:
  • "The Government of Canada is committing up to $697 million towards the eligible project costs. The Province of Ontario has already provided $670 million into a trust for this project. The City of Toronto and Regional Municipality of York previously committed their contributions and will be responsible for the remainder of the project costs."
Yes I know that our Federal NDP members told us Saturday that Windsor is "owed" a tunnel at no cost to us. Typical NDP talk. But if we want it so much , they why isn't Eddie offering to put up a third of the price. After all, Eddie graciously offered Windsor taxpayer money to help out the Tunnel without asking taxpayers.

Of course, if he did that, we would all move to Alberta!


Ron Jones at the Assumption border meeting kept on telling people again and again to go to Page A14 of the Star to see the Transport Canada EA announcemnet.

Apparently one or two people did go to that page and found nothing and are mad at Ron. Just to be helpful it was the next page, A15, Ron. You are most welcome.


Remember that the new Economic Development Czar needed time to find "shovel-ready" industrial land " in Windsor and Essex County.

Here is a website he might be interested that came also from
  • "Potential investors have a new tool to help them find the site they are looking for in Windsor-Essex County. The Essex County Prospector is an electronic site selection tool that...provides time efficiencies through information consolidation."

Now here is what one does to find a property:

  • DIRECTIONS: To search for an available site or vacant building:
  1. Select the type of property you want.
  2. Type in a number for the minimum or maximum size property you want.
  3. Select if you want the search to be in Square Feet (for buildings) or Acres (for land)
  4. Select if you want a property that is for lease
  5. Select if you want a property that is for sale.
  6. Click on the search button

Darn it, if only they had kept on some of the fired staff, the new people would have known this. That should save them 100 days out of the 120 day action plan time-frame!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

120 Days Of Active Inaction

Clearly the growth industry in Windsor and Essex County is the industry of growth.

I see that the Economic Development Council is certainly spending money like it is going out of style.

It has a new CEO, Matt Fischer. If that was not enough, a new Vice-President was appointed…Mike Burton. I am not sure if his position was advertised or not since not too much has been said about him. I don’t remember anyone saying he was needed either since the Commission seems to have a very active Chair too.

Mind you, someone has to spread the fertilizer around in the economic gardens of Windsor and another is needed to feed the gazelles.

It seems as well that “three other employees were let go Thursday and provided with severance packages” and that “Roman Dzus, the current acting director, has been offered a six-month position working directly for the commission.” Whew, that is a lot of $$$ and presumably new people had to be hired to replace them.

I wonder with this additional staff if it will be necessary for them to expand their offices space or perhaps move to new digs. Too bad that the Canderel space was taken up! That would have been a nice location. Oh well, if Chrysler Canada HQ moves out, then there will be a lot of room there.

I wonder if they will hire a Webmaster. Who am I to be a spoilsport but in checking on their website, the last big news was in December, 2006 “Remo Mancini elected chair of development commission board” and the Sutherland call centre jobs. And the last big win was in July, 2005! It also looks like Development Activity ceased in 2004.

I have to tell you that I am disappointed so far in what has been accomplished and I hope that more is achieved.

When Mr.Fischer was appointed, on February 16, it was said:
  • “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.”

On the 17th it was said,

  • “Fischer, who will deliver a report today to the development commission board outlining his 120-day action plan, said he wants to focus on business retention and expansion as well as small business development along with business attraction.”

I was surprised not to see that draft described in the Star. In the Star story of February 20, not a word was said about that 120 day action plan. In fact, it seemed that there must have been a horrible scheduling error. On the Saturday, he was meeting with “community leaders in Leamington” learning that “the greenhouse industry burns natural gas to create carbon dioxide to stimulate plant growth in summer. As a byproduct, they can generate electricity to sell to the grid to help offset demand from air conditioners” and talking about agri-business.

It was not until March 2 that the Star reported:

  • “Reorganizing the development commission office, adding staff and conducting an inventory of "shovel-ready" industrial land are the top priorities for the new chief executive officer of the Windsor-Essex County Development Commission.

    Matthew Fischer, who has been on the job for two weeks, unveiled a 120-day action plan Thursday and said "this is housekeeping. What's really important is what we do after these 120 days, but this has to be a starting point…”

    Fischer unveiled his ambitious restructuring plans a day after sources in London said that city is poised to land two auto parts suppliers, creating as many as 600 new jobs within four months."

Whew, I am overwhelmed compared with what is going on in London. I can see the shovelling going on in Windsor already but I do not think it is land that is being shovelled.

Is this guy ever moving hard. More staff have to be hired. That interview process is really time-consuming. I wonder how much his budget will be increased this year alone. He certainly will have to lay-out the space too for all of these extra bodies. This will take a long time too for heaven’s sake and the packing and moving time cannot be done in a day.

However, he was about 2 weeks late with his action plan. Not a very good sign on his first major task. I wonder if Mr. Mancini was pleased or the rest of the Board members. Geeez, I thought this guy said that he wanted to put his theories into practice “in a real-life, fast-paced environment.” I guess he can wait a while after all.

Perhaps I could help out a teeny-weeny-bit about the industrial land to get him started. If he goes to the website, there is a link that reads “Industrial sites/buildings.” Perhaps if the old staff had not been fired, then the new CEO might have known what was already done.

Mind you, he should know it all anyway since he had been “retained to carry out a review of the programs and services of the Windsor Essex County Development Commission” previously. And Mancini said “Fischer, who has prepared reports for the local commission in the past, clearly "knew the Windsor community better than any other candidate."

Now excuse me if I am confused. It now looks like real action won’t get started for another 120 days. He has to do all of this restructuring first.

Now this does not make sense to me. I don’t get it. The man knows the area but won’t start doing anything significant for 4 months. In other words, not anything significant until July. Now I know that Mr. Fischer is house-hunting and that takes time but he should have no trouble getting a good deal with all of the people downsizing their homes since the economy is so bad. I am sure that a guaranteed salary of $169,000 for three years will help out in obtaining a mortgage if he needs one.

If you will recall, in the Windsor–Essex County Regional Economic Development Strategy Report, it did not seem that jobs were all that important anyway:

  • "Because of the nature of the region’s strategy, traditional performance measures such as the number of new plants attracted, or the number of jobs retained, albeit significant, should not be the primary indicators of success. These could actually be counterproductive by driving the wrong behaviour."

Jobs are counter-productive. Then why did we have to hire anyone? I just cannot keep thinking that there has to be a reason for all of this delay and seeming inaction.

Hmmmm. You don’t think….. naw it could not be that.

I know that there is an election campaign in October. Can you imagine the help it would give someone around that time if good news on the economic development front started to pour in and lots of jobs were created.

Forget that, I am just too damned cynical after all of this time. No one would dare play politics on this issue. I mean weren't we told about two and a half weeks ago on the same day of the Chrysler bloodletting by the big front-page Gord Henderson story that:

  • "a key player in the information technology field will soon unveil plans for a downtown Windsor call centre with more than 500 jobs.

    Business sources say the announcement, to be made in the next two to three weeks if there are no last-minute hitches, would involve leased office space on Ouellette Avenue and, combined with the St. Clair College Cleary campus, would boost pedestrian traffic and have a significant economic impact downtown."

I hope someone makes that announcement soon. Those gazelles get hungry fast.

Detroit/Windsor Tunnel Toll Trolls

Gosh, there may be a new troll in town at the border but not under the bridge. The troll may have taken residence in the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel:

"I want somebody to stop the 'toll trolls,'" said Emerald Mountain resident Robin Pate about Michigan-based Alinda Roads LLC, which owns two toll bridges in Elmore County."

Does Alinda also operate the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel now or not and will we say the same as Mr. Pate soon if tolls are dramatically increased at the Tunnel? I'll explain why below.

I quoted an article about Alinda operating the Tunnel ["BLOGEXCLUSIVE: The Tunnel Secret Is Out" on February 22, 2007] but we have seen nothing in the Star about it (must be those radio gigs that take up time), nothing official from Alinda, nothing official from DCTC, nothing official from the Mayor's office, nothing official from the WTC Chair (ooops that is the Mayor too!)

Now I don't want anyone to think that I am trying to help out the Bridge Co. by sending traffic to their bridge. Perish the thought. I know now not to mess with the Star! But I am torn. I want to continue using the City-owned Tunnel but should I? And it is all Mayor Eddie Francis' fault!

I wish His Worship would come clean with us and tell us what is happening at the Tunnel. Ever since the Tunnel Plaza Improvements public open house was unexpectedly and mysteriously cancelled with no new date in sight, rumours and gossip have been circulating. Why just at the end of November, 2006, the Mayor said in relation to deals such as the Canderel leases and Spitfires deal:
  • "Francis insisted he would prefer to have such agreements made public. "It's easier for me to have the information out there to prevent speculation and rumours, and that doesn't help us in any way; it doesn't help us when we're trying to attract business."
So why is there no information about the Tunnel "to prevent speculation and rumours." I have guessed that perhaps the Alinda deal, assuming there is one, has caused a problem or a massive cost over-run at the three Governments Tunnel Improvement Project or problems with security or financial difficulties since the dividend is going away. Who knows what it is.

I am in the in the throes of a dilemma. The Tunnel is convenient for me but Alinda is my issue.

Why would Alinda be a problem? Alinda bought a bunch of bridges and supposedly operates the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel now. Here is what they are doing with the bridges:

  • Black Warrior Parkway: toll increase from 75 cents to $1.25 (67% increase)
  • Foley Beach Express: toll increase from from $1 to $1.50 for Orange Beach residents and from $2 to $3 for others (50% increase)
  • Alabama River Parkway: toll increase from from $.75 to $1.25 (67% increase)
  • Emerald Mountain Expressway: toll increase from $1 to $1.50 for non-commercial vehicles and from $2 to at least $3 for commercial vehicles (50% increase)
Now to be fair, CEO Gordon Jarvis said
  • "that the fee increases were to pay for overdue infrastructure needs...[and] said the fees never had been increased since the Alabama River Parkway bridge opened around 1998 and there had been only one 25-cent increase at Emerald Mountain since it opened in 1994."
Alinda also said:
  • "The extra money generated by the increased tolls will be used for bridge maintenance and add a second span to the Foley Beach Express bridge to double its capacity" and to build some new roads"

So there are good business reasons to increase tolls but those percentages are pretty big. I am sure that there are good business reasons to increase tolls at the Tunnel too, especially if big bucks were paid to buy these assets and operating agreement. (It might be $70M for the Tunnel alone for the acquisition and refinancing of the second busiest US-Canada border crossing.)

If the Tunnel increases are anywhere near the magnitude of the Alabahma increases, we could be looking at tolls rising from $8.75 now to about $10-15 for a round trip depending on what the increase is and on which side of the Tunnel or both (New tolls could be: Entering US [now $4] $6-6.50, Entering Canada [now $4.75] $7-8)

Now I do not expect them to rise that much with the cheaper Ambassador Bridge private enterprise tolls at $8 (sorry Brian Masse and Transport Canada...that's what market competition does) but I would expect them to go up.

So perhaps we Tunnel users should consider now what the good folks in Elmore County, Alabama are threatening to keep tolls down BEFORE an increase is introduced:


In fact, even before the scheduled boycott there, a news report stated:
  • "Days before the scheduled boycott of the Emerald Mountain toll bridge, alternate routes into Montgomery are so gridlocked that sheriff's deputies have been posted at the busiest intersections.

    In the past, many of these commuters used the toll bridge, but it appears they now are using U.S. 231, observed Elmore County Sheriff Bill Franklin.

    "There is no doubt this traffic backup is a direct result of the boycott already being successful...

    The toll bridge could be in trouble if this trend continues," Franklin said."
Now what will the Mayor/Chair of WTC do? He and Council have a problem. Will they support a boycott and send traffic to the bridge thereby helping to put the City owned asset into a deeper financial mess, do nothing and see traffic go to the bridge anyway or what? Or have they solved that problem already?

Will the increase, if it comes, further kill the tourist business but for the Bridge Co.'s lower tolls? Oh my, Mark Boscariol and the DWBIA will have a fit! Mark fussed recently about "the Bridge’s proposed plan to move tunnel customs to the bridge," the advantages of which for Windsor downtown I still do not think Mark grasps. I wonder what he will say about the Alinda risk.

Don't you wish we knew what is going on in our City? I wonder what the Tunnel traffic volume for February was? In the meantime, I hope that the Bridge Co. is ready for more vehicles and US Customs has those booths at the bridge fully staffed.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Councillor Dilkens Is A Non-Person

I demand a new election in Ward 1. The person I thought was my Councillor has disappeared off the face of the earth it seems.

Now I attended the Assumption School meeting on Saturday and I thought that Councillor Drew Dilkens was the only political person who spoke who made any sense there. He talked about the reality of the Bridge Co. being at the river as a border crossing and that we should talk to them and not fight them. He also said that no matter what, even with a new bridge, truck traffic would still go over the Ambassador Bridge and that we had to deal with it.

The Star quoted him in an early story but something happened between then and now. He must have been abducted by aliens. The published Star story did not mention his quotes. Oh it also did not mention that our tunneling Mayor was invited to come to speak but he did not even send regrets for not showing up to a tunneling meeting in Ward 2. That's bad for his election fight in October!

Here is the online story that the Star first published after the meeting:

  • Tunnel only option for new border crossing
    Dale Molnar, Windsor Star

    WINDSOR -- Tunneling the access road to the new border crossing isn’t the top priority. It’s the only option. That was the message Coun. Bill Marra and other local politicians presented to representatives from the Detroit River International Crossing group Saturday afternoon at Assumption High School.

    The school council held an information meeting on the new crossing that drew about 50 concerned citizens, Windsor MP’s Brian Masse and Joe Comartin, councillors Ron Jones, Drew Dilkens and Bill Marra as well as Dave Wake the manager of the planning office of the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and Murray Thompson, DRIC project manager.

    Wake said the tunneling option is still on the table.

    He said he has heard opinions for and against tunneling at the open houses on the preferred options for the crossings and the plazas.

    “People in our ministry and the people at Queens Park are well aware of the sentiments in this community and all of the issues including the desire for tunneling,” said Wake.

    Truck Watch group coordinator Mary Ann Cuderman and Coun. Ron Jones also spoke out about locating the new bridge on the Sterling Fuel property in Sandwich Towne.

    “We have the potential of the loss of at least a third of Sandwich Towne when you consider access roads and plazas,” said Cuderman, including a twinning of the Ambassador Bridge, which she and Jones also spoke against.

    Coun. Drew Dilkens angered a number of audience members when he suggested traffic congestion on Huron Church Road had dropped dramatically since Sept. 11, 2001.

    He also raised their ire when he suggested the city needs to ensure smooth travel along Huron Church to the Ambassador Bridge.

    “I don’t view this as being at war with the Ambassador Bridge. I would rather engage them and make them part of the process,” said Dilkens.

    City council is holding off passing a resolution on a preferred option for the crossing, the plaza and tunneling the access route until Mayor Eddie Francis can hold further meetings with Ontario Transportation Minister Donna Cansfield.

    However, he said all councillors are in favour of the tunneling option.

Here is the newspaper version of the story . Notice the difference? Drew Dilkens did not exist except in name only!

  • Tunnelling option supported
    Dale Molnar, Windsor Star Published: Monday, March 05, 2007

    Tunnelling the access road to the new border crossing isn't the top priority: It's the only option.

    That was the message local politicians presented to representatives from the Detroit River International Crossing group Saturday afternoon at a town meeting at Assumption High School.

    "You want to eliminate those international trucks ... coming through our neighbourhoods and communities," said Windsor West MP Brian Masse.

    "I don't know of any other community in Canada ... where kids go to school with backpacks for air monitoring. That's how obscene the situation has become."

    The meeting, sponsored by the school council, drew about 50 concerned citizens, Windsor MP Joe Comartin, councillors Bill Marra, Ron Jones, Drew Dilkens and Dave Wake, manager of the planning office of the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, as well as Murray Thompson, DRIC project manager.

    Wake said the tunnelling option is still on the table.

    "People in our ministry and the people at Queens Park are well aware of the sentiments in this community and all of the issues, including the desire for tunneling," Wake said.

    He apologized for a report in an internal Transportation Ministry newsletter that suggested "many visitors" to recent public open houses were opposed to tunnelling and aghast at the $3.8-billion pricetag.

    Windsor-St. Clair MP Joe Comartin said the upper levels of government have to realize they're going to have to spend "billions and billions of dollars" on the new crossing and route.

    "There were some really stupid mistakes made historically ...we cannot let that happen again this time," said Comartin, referring to decisions to end the 401 outside Windsor rather than continuing it to the bridge.

    He said the community is entitled to have a new bridge that is a "high quality, architecturally significant structure.

    "We may be able to argue that this is the most important crossing in the world and it should be a signature piece."

    Truck Watch group co-ordinator Mary Ann Cuderman and Coun. Ron Jones spoke out against locating the new bridge on the Sterling Fuel property in Sandwich Towne.

    "We have the potential of the loss of at least a third of Sandwich Towne when you consider access roads and plazas," said Cuderman, including a twinning of the Ambassador Bridge, which she and Jones were against.

    Transport Canada has issued a call for public comment on the Ambassador Bridge enhancement project, which includes twinning the span as part of an environmental assessment."

Notice also, according to the Star, that Dave Wake "apologized" in the second story for the newsletter that the Transport Ministry circulated. Well....... maybe he did but my recollection is that he said that what the Star story consisted of is one line in an article in an internal publication that was published to give people a flavour of what was going on in Windsor. Perhaps the Star could publish the whole newsletter so we could read it for ourselves.

The Star has become so predictable too. Do you really think that the Star will ask what the consequences would have been if the fire truck accident had occurred in a tunnel to the border. Instead, it will be made the Bridge Co.'s fault for the accident too.

Here is one quote in the story 'This hits home for us...':

  • "That corner at the mouth of the Ambassador Bridge is a testament to the dangers firefighters face. Copeland and his buddies weren't the first to tangle with it. In 1989, four other firefighters were hurt after their truck spun out on wet pavement and hit a tree there."

Then the story about the accident in 1989: "Tragedy eerily similar"

Wait a minute, I have it. I understand what is going on.

The Star is trying to protect Dilkens just one more time from political oblivion. You remember the Henderson "Three blind mice" column. [ a pathetic display of obsequiousness, decided that currying favour with an expansion-bent bridge company is more important than preserving one of the most significant historical and archeological areas in North America...The three councillors sided with an infuriated bridge company in opposing the passing of interim control and demolition control bylaws designed to halt the bulldozers in historic Olde Sandwich while imaginative plans for the community are moving forward.] Now the earlier Star story and now the later Star story.

The Editors have given Drew a fair warning. Speak out about reality about the border one more time and your political career is over before it even started in Windsor.

Oh and by the way if Councillor Marra ever thinks his Tunnel motion is coming back and if anyone is so stupid as to think we are ever having a tunnel in Windsor, here is what was also dropped:

  • "City council is holding off passing a resolution on a preferred option for the crossing, the plaza and tunneling the access route until Mayor Eddie Francis can hold further meetings with Ontario Transportation Minister Donna Cansfield.

    However, he said all councillors are in favour of the tunneling option."

Notice also the subtle change in the headline. You see there will be no tunnel. It is only the Mayor's E C Row option out there now!

Thoughts To Pass The Time

I had a few minutes to spare and decided I would BLOG a few thoughts that came to mind.


Remember when Eddie took a walk at the mall and the idea of the Youth council popped into his head.

Remember when Eddie took a walk at the Rotary Lobesterfest and he and the St. Clair President started talking about the Cleary.

Remember when Eddie took a walk at that wedding and met Mr. Farhi which resulted in the exchange of downtown land for an arena site in Farhi's Lear property.

My thought was to solve the huge border problem, Eddie needs to take a hike.


You want an an alternative to the Windsor Star (until such time as I get the time and the energy with a few people I know to start up an online newspaper), then you have to read the BLOGs in Windsor. I check them out every morning, first thing.

Each Blogger has a different style and a different view of what is important. Even when we all cover the same story, we take different approaches.

Check out and especially the BLOG "Budget Blues." Paul talks about the three budget "drivers" (There's that "d" word again!) Marketing (ie branding Windsor), Communications, and the Police.

DUH!!!!! when Paul brought the drivers together, what leapt out at me was EDDIE RUNNING FOR A SENIOR LEVEL OFFICE! And we as taxpayers are going to pay for his campaign expenses big-time and are going to be pleased to do so it seems.

I have already told you about crime being a Toronto issue (and now for Councillor Postma!) to help get Eddie his cabinet post. Now we are told we need an expensive marketing campaign to spread the Eddie Francis vision, message (and face) around the world run by a massive "corporate communications" office run by Admin. (And who runs Admin!)

It's scary now. Eddie must think he is Lee Iacocca. I can just see the TV spots and media ads. There is Eddie smiling against the backdrop of the new Eddie Francis Square and our signature City Hall being built where the Barn used to be before it was torn down. Remo Manicini and the new Economic Development Czar are feeding the gazelles in the flowering and blooming economic garden. Activity is all around with happy construction workers giving their "thumbs-up" in the huge construction project. And the catch-phrase said by our Visionary:

"If you can find a better region anywhere in the world in which to invest, go there!"


Will someone please send Gord Henderson the inter-office memo. Dave Battagello finally got it.


It will tie into the DRIC road which will go to the new Ambassador Bridge. Enhancement Project. Isn't that what Eddie and Minister Cansfield talked about at the taxpayer paid lunch several weeks ago when they talked about the transportation hub at the airport for planes, trains and trucks. How else will the vehicles get to and from the enhanced Ambassador Bridge easily except by an uploaded and expanded E C Row. The Province and Feds have wanted that for years and we are getting it.

Don't you worry, Michael Nobrega the former head of Borealis' Infrastructure group (the DRTP boys) is now the new OMERS Pres. and he will kill DRTP to make this all possible (I wonder if someone led OMERS to believe that OMERS has a role in the P3 bridge that will never get built. If true, I have a strong suspicion who it might be).

The Battagello story the other day about the internal MOT newsletter was "leaked" to him NOT to work up people (and Henderson) for a multi-billion tunnel that has no value but to tell the world that the Ontario Government has signalled that a tunnel here is dead. After all "A spokesman for Ontario's Transportation Minster Donna Cansfield also defended the summary. "I don't think the comment is misleading, it's correct," said Jamie Rilett."


Guess which famous Windsor politician I heard was looking recently at a home for sale in South Windsor and my idea as to why he/she was doing so. I'll never tell!


Grosse Ile and the Downriver did it to DRIC once and now they are doing it again.

Assuming Canada was so foolish so as to consider expropriating the Canadian half of the Ambassador Bridge, the Government would need to have the US side condemn the other half of the bridge.

In Township of Grosse Ile vs. Grosse Ile Bridge Co, the Township tried to expropriate the bridge from its private owner for "public" purposes. The Court could find no "public necessity" to do so.

Would that apply if someone tried to expropriate the Bridge Co.'s business merely to give it to some other private entity in a P3? You better believe that the Bridge Co. would use the case as a precedent.

Since Canada was creating the "possibility" of a new crossing but always planned, in my opinion, to expropriate the Bridge Co.'s interests if they did not sell out, this case could be the end of that Plan


The Windsor Star reporter unfortunately was not nominated for one of the 53rd annual Ontario Newspaper Awards. Maybe his story on me will be nominated next year.

However, all is not lost. It looks like he may have a new career as a "talking head" but on radio not television. Good old Dave gave a radio interview in the US radio station about the Bridge Co. and Bill C-3. Nice voice Dave!


I cannot believe it. What makes Star front page news: the possibility that a $177 traffic ticket was "fixed." 27 kM over the speed limit too. I wonder if that "prominent city businessman" is sweating wondering when the Star will publish his name. They have it after all since they have a copy of the ticket.
  • "Stannard said Friday. "We need to deal with this properly and quickly. We were on this right away. We're not wasting any time. We've got nothing to hide...

    The police issue 20,000 tickets a year, Stannard said. He said he doesn't know how often a ticket gets cancelled, but he said it's not fair to assume that it happens frequently."
I expect that the Star will demand that a full-scale public investigation and inquiry take place into all of the cancelled tickets as well, not just this one. Not only that, the Windsor Police should NOT be examining themselves the Star will fume as they did in January, 2004:
  • "Therefore, it's to the advantage of both the community and the police service to determine the best way to restore faith in the department and provide absolute assurances to the community that the allegations are isolated. The way to accomplish that goal is to bring in an outside agency to conduct the specific investigation, or at least a subsequent investigation to ensure everything was looked at. It will remove any perceptions that corners might be cut, or things covered up because city police are investigating their own."
After all, didn't the "Windsor police [request an] OPP probe after they received complaints" in another incident in late 2005. And that was after the Chief "After charging a second officer in a month with theft, Windsor police have formally requested a provincial government review of its property and search warrant procedures " in January 2004.

Hey Glenn, welcome to the front page world of of Fire Chief Dave Fields! It must be that time in the budget process to soften you up.


Perhaps some well-known media type in Windsor could follow the lead of the Weather guy on Channel 4 WDIV-TV and try the same here with the Capitol Theatre:
  • Could plays be the thing?

    With a real estate deal and one step in the city approval process under way, opening night for a new professional theater in downtown Northville may be getting closer.

    Northville resident and WDIV-Channel 4 meteorologist Chuck Gaidica and his wife, Susan, are among those leading the effort to create the Tipping Point Theatre.

    Christina Johnson, executive director of the nonprofit theater, said last week that Gaidica and local developer Chuck Lapham bought the building at 361 Cady St. that will house the theater. The 4,000-square-foot building has been a variety of businesses, including a testing site for car wash equipment, she said.

    The theater board plans a March 10 fundraiser. It has raised about $25,000 of the $100,000 needed to get the basic expenses such as lighting and staging handled. "