Even More Thoughts
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."
As Mayor, would you:
- Freak out and say cancel the session in the last possible minute since it is a quarter empty OR
- 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:
- Eddie was afraid of the picketing and confrontation from Arts supporters who are angry at him for the possible Capitol bankruptcy
- 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
- Eddie's reputation with the Toronto people, his "brand," would be negatively impacted
- Eddie's speechwriter could not come up with an idea for a new speech for him
- All of 1, 2, 3 and 4
- 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!
WINDSOR CIVIC CULTURAL PRIORITIES
Wrestlemania $60,000 for a "partnership opportunity."
Capitol Theatre $0
You explain it. I cannot!
DETROIT/WINDSOR TUNNEL TRAFFIC VOLUME FREE-FALL
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'!
PAYING THE GAZELLE FEEDERS
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.
THE PLAY'S THE THING WHEREIN I'LL CATCH....WHAT
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.
Dean of Science
University of Windsor