Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Chocolate News Eggs

Just a few tidbits before you go away for the Easter holiday


So the public school board thought that "twinning the Ambassador Bridge was a "terrible" idea...Trustees voted unanimously to send a letter of opposition to Transport Canada, which will decide whether to allow the Ambassador Bridge to go forward with its plans."

Is this the same school board that the Star said "met in secret with Mayor Eddie Francis to discuss the border issue?"

Is this the same school board along with the Catholic Board that "are moving ahead with million-dollar construction projects on two elementary schools despite their proximity to a proposed new border [DRIC] route."

Is this the school board who seems to be playing a political financing game: "If it's determined not useable, the powers that be will have to give us funding to go somewhere else." and "The public school board could launch a campaign to pressure the federal government to cough up cash for six new schools if the new border crossing cuts through the heart of West Windsor..."The government will have to compensate the board."


Page A5 of today's Star. You be the judge. Compare the 2 stories' size, the headlines size, the headlines wording, the language used. Which group is the more important---mayors or trustees. Shouldn't Windsorites be informed in more detail what the County thinks since we are one region after all!


Now we know why the games were played about the Capitol! The City's position was weak with respect to having the right to take over the building.

Have Councillors been given a copy of the City's lawyer's opinion on the matter. Oh, silly me, what a dumb question to ask. Eddie is in charge of this file too.

  • "Throughout the process, councillors met mostly behind closed doors on the matter, with only Francis as official spokesman."

What is it that Councillors do again other than show up, bi-weekly soon, at public Council meetings with a handful of agenda items?

Instead Eddie is playing a game with taxpayer money to try to bully the unsecured creditors and the Trustee. Doesn't he know that the Trustee is obliged to get the best deal possible.

Here is the issue:

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis said newly appointed estate inspectors appear to favour a city offer to pay off the theatre's creditors -- which a preliminary bankruptcy report estimates will cost about $190,000 -- as long as the building, land and assets are signed over to the city.

    "From the city's perspective it was important to secure the building and land and to avoid costly arguments in court," said Francis, noting that some creditors had suggested the city -- which claims it holds a $1.8-million mortgage -- had no right to the building."
I've done enough bankruptcy work to know that if you are a secured creditor, you tell the Trustee and the unsecured creditors to shove it. You don't say I'll pay for this if you give me that.

Gee "costly arguments in court"....I thought we were told:
  • "If the Capitol declares bankruptcy, city hall will take over the building and its land, to which the city contributed $1.8 million in 1983."

No fuss, no muss.

That does not seem right now. Well it looks like Ward 2 coun. Ron Jones' desire will not work out now so easily:

  • "we have to protect the ratepayers."

And unfortunately, although “Council is not in the business of writing blank cheques,” Mayor Eddie Francis said," taxpayers may have to write some big ones for outside law firms by the time this is done!

There was a possible solution but unfortunately Eddie has put himself in the position where he is unable to take action. You see, two parties that might have been able to help out are classified as the City's "enemies" and two others have been threatened with a lawsuit!


Do you think we will ever find out for how many months the airport was losing money? It had to be prior to November 2006 since that was when the "bleeding red ink" remark was made.

It seems that the City was on top of this disaster almost as well as they are on top of the Tunnel losing money. Hmmmmm was that the objective at the Tunnel: to drive the manager away so the City could take it over and then lease it? If so, how does Alinda fit in with all of this now? How much have taxpayers squandered if this was the Mayor's game-plan?
  • Serco Aviation Services Inc., which took control in 1998, has relinquished control to the city after nine years of failing to turn the business around. The airport has been losing an average of $40,000 per month.


I like reading stories about famous and successful people. I hope that reading about what makes them tick can help me in my life. One is never too old to learn about ways of being a success. I know, I my age you are thinking that Col. Sanders ought to be my inspiration.

I happened to be looking at the biography page of our Mayor on his website when he first ran for Mayor and saw the following:


    Eddie Francis was born and raised in Windsor.

    In 1978, he and his brother saw an opportunity in baking pita bread and so, with the help of family members, they established Windsor's first pita bread operation, all the while maintaining their full-time day jobs.

    It was in this environment of hard work and determination that Eddie first learned the lessons of leadership and success.

What the bio did not state however is that Eddie was born in May 1974. I was very impressed...a 4 year old with all of that business vision while working full-time in a job too.

I wondered if I should be inspired by that. I thought that I should take a look at what he has done so far as a Councillor and Mayor in handling major business issues:

  • Canderel subleases which has cost the City millions

  • 5 cent a day Keg parking

  • As WTC Chair saw the Tunnel traffic volumes plunge downward resulting in the end of the $6.6M dividend to the City

  • Giveaway of millions of taxpayer dollars in City assets at the Cleary even though the Westmont offered to do a deal

  • $68m loss on the MFP settlement

  • Mady Parking garage fiasco which cost the City millions

  • An arena deal that so far has no end of cost in sight

  • Cost over-runs at the Tunnel Ventilation building, Bus Terminal, Peace Beacon

  • Capitol theatre bankruptcy mess

  • Airport $40K a month loss

I had enough....This was not so finger lickin' good!

Fighting For Windsor Auto Jobs

I thought you might be interested in this London Free Press article about Ontario Mayors for Automotive Investment. I did not see it reported in the Star.

Wow, that Capitol Theatre Bankruptcy meeting must really have been important considering that the Star reported today:

"1,275 auto jobs wiped out

Chris Vander Doelen, Windsor Star Published: Thursday, April 05, 2007

Windsor lost 1,275 more of its bestpaying CAW assembly jobs this week as members took early retirement, buyouts and transfers from Ford and Chrysler to avoid layoffs."
No show 'not a snub,' LEDC head says

Thu, April 5, 2007

WOODSTOCK -- London was a no-show yesterday at a meeting of Ontario mayors fighting to save the automotive industry.

The Ontario Mayors for Automotive Investment held a day-long meeting, discussing strategy on lobbying the federal government on budget and trade issues to better the auto sector -- but London was not there.

City officials had an important board of control meeting and could not get away, Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best said yesterday.

"Unfortunately, that happens sometimes," said DeCicco-Best.

"We are still part of the group, we support the initiatives they take, but we have important issues here today."

Woodstock Mayor Michael Harding declined comment except to say, "It would have been nice if they were here."

The matter was referred to the London Economic Development Corp., but there was not enough time to free up staff to attend, said John Kime, LEDC chief executive.

"We were just made aware of it last week and everyone here was occupied," he said. "It is not a snub, we just didn't have anyone to go."

Mayors from St. Thomas, Woodstock, Oshawa, Collingwood, Brampton, Ingersoll, St. Catharines, Chatham-Kent, Kitchener, New Tecumseh, Tillsonburg, Orillia and Stratford agreed to oppose the federal budget and the tax it placed on gas-guzzling vehicles.

Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis had to cancel at the last minute, Harding said.

Limited Dollars: New Bridge Or Old Bridges

If you have applied for a job lately, you know that the Human Resources people are very picky in whom they choose and very sophisticated in their techniques of recruitment.

One of the tools they use is to give to a person a fact situation and see how he/she would react.

Let's pretend that you, dear reader, are applying to be the financial/budget director of MDOT. Here is the kind of question that you might be asked:

MDOT, like every Department in the State of Michigan is under intense financial pressure. The Governor has warned that the State could run out of money in a few months and would have to shut down.

You are being asked to choose between two programs. One is to build with Canada a "public bridge" that might cost the State a billion dollars. The other is to allow a "private bridge" to be built where private money is used to build the bridge so it costs the State nothing PLUS the State gets from the Federal Government matching grants of $2 billion.

Just as you are about to make a decision, an aide rushes into the room with this newspaper story about bridges in Michigan which will cost MDOT hundreds of millions of scarce taxpayer dollars.

  • "Crumbling bridges tied to bad concrete

    Nearly 10% of state's bridges built with faulty material; fixes will run $500,000 per structure.
    Christine Ferretti / The Detroit News

    State transportation officials blame bad concrete for a crumbling overpass that sent boulder-sized chunks onto cars last month on Interstate 696, and fear as many as 10 percent of Michigan's 13,000 bridges may have been built with the same material.

    That's the grim conclusion from the Michigan Department of Transportation, which is racing to identify structures like the Groesbeck overpass in Warren that were built with an experimental concrete.

    The material was used for eight years in the 1970s before officials concluded it's prone to falling apart, said Richard M. Smith, manager of the agency's bridge inspection program.

    The repair bill isn't cheap: $500,000 per bridge. Smith estimated as many as 1,300 bridges may be vulnerable. That would cost $650 million that a state in a budget crisis can't afford, and Smith said stopgap measures are the only option.

    "We are trying to determine how much of it may be in the system and where it's at," Smith said. "We cannot live with unsafe conditions. It is totally unacceptable."

    The new worry comes atop a string of incidents involving bridges breaking apart and sending concrete onto vehicles. Several vehicles were hit from March 16 to 20 in Warren, Livonia and Melvindale.

    The Livonia and Warren bridges were deemed sound in recent state inspections obtained by The Detroit News. Another 16 percent of Michigan bridges are structurally deficient, placing the state in the bottom 10 nationwide, according to TRIP, a Washington, D.C.-based research group.

    7K bridges may be affected

    That worries motorists such as Christine St. Clair, a Redford Township motorcyclist.

    "It looks like we don't need helmets to protect us from traffic, we need them to protect us from the overpasses," she said.

    Smith said state inspectors examining large pieces of concrete from the 34-year-old Groesbeck overpass in Warren discovered it was made from blast furnace aggregate made from slag, glassy residue left over from smelting.

    State inspectors aren't sure how long it will take to evaluate 5,500-plus state-owned bridges, and they suspect some of the 6,700 bridges owned by municipalities may also be impacted. The problems could cut the lifespan of the bridges, which should last 90 years with regular maintenance, Smith said.

    "It's a complicated problem and we are very sensitive to making sure the public is safe," he said. "It is worrisome to us, thinking that things will be predictable when they aren't."

The HR person, now asks: What would you do?

If your answer was to look for another position, then you would be hired on the spot! You have common sense.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

New News Headlines

Just some information that I have read that I thought you might find of interest.


You remember that DRIC is spending multi-millions on drilling bore holes to see what sub-surface lands are like. I saw this note about the State's approaching government shut-down:

  • "Granholm has issued a series of directives telling departments to stop spending money. On Tuesday she told department heads to begin preparing for a suspension of some state government activities when the state runs out of money in May. "
I wonder if this applies to the MDOT drilling.

I also saw that the Governor was proposing to close "two Michigan State Police posts in the fall because of the state's budget crisis."

Police or drill holes----which would you choose?


That's Premier-to-be John Tory in case you did not know. Or did Eddie tell him thanks but no thanks as he did with Ernie Ees?

I got to hear the clip on A-channel about John Tory saying that he thought Windsor could get a CFL franchise. Geeez, someone should tell him that we have the arena now. The suggestion of Eddie during Super Bowl to build a CFL stadium is dead now

Isn't it?

Tory certainly is up on Windsor issues. Makes me feel a whole lot better that he would be in charge as Premier:
  • "Calling the border "the single most important issue" that affects the region and its economy, Tory charged that Premier McGuinty and his cabinet have been treating Windsor as a problem rather than an opportunity...

    Asked how likely it is Windsor would have to deal with a surface-level super highway to the new crossing if he were elected premier, Tory replied: "I can't answer that question," and pointed to his lack of access to information on the border file."


I attended the press conference of the Bridge Co. the other day but saw no Star reporter there. As an accredited Blogger and magazine columnist, I was able to attend. Too bad I still have not heard from City Hall about my accreditation and media mail slot.

I learned and now you are learning too that:
  • The existing bridge would provide redundancy and could be used for operational and governmental purposes eg for emergency vehicles to cross the border quickly
  • The new bridge will be a cable stayed one 6200 feet long with 220o feet over the river. No piers will be in the river
  • The impact on Sandwich and Delray is minimal
  • No modification to the circulation pattern on Windsor streets is required
  • The new bridge uses the existing plazas
  • The extra bridge lanes are for the FAST vehicles to help eliminate back-ups
  • The Bridge Co. enhancement is viewed by them as a maintenance project while they view DRIC as adding capacity
  • Traffic volumes have plunged since the highs of 1999
  • The Bridge Co. will pay for the bridge using non-taxpayer money
  • The EA should be completed by year end and the bridge built by 2010
  • The artistic renderings of the new bridge are dramatic!

I saw Mark's comment on Alan Halberstadt's BLOG:
  • "Meanwhile the city still doesn't honor its commitment to issuing the RFP for the Urban VIllage. Basically this was promised to the DWBIA in return for remaining silent about the arena moving out of downtown. Now its starting to seem as a bait and switch scam pulled off by the city."

No Mark, you and your association were foolish! You failed to recognize that the downtown was moving eastwards to the Casino area and you allowed yourselves to be suckered.

But hey, I am no genius either. I helped get Eddie elected the first time around.

Welcome to the ever-expanding telephone booth. A lot more people are starting to understand what is going on in this City but unlike Mark seem afraid to speak out. Until they do, more of the same!


How are you going to keep Eddie down on the farm after he's seen Jacksonville with Roger Penske?

John Tory will have had to have made a pretty big offer when he was down here if he hopes to have Eddie run in October for the Progressive Conservatives. He has a competitor.

Is it true that Eddie really wants to work with Roger Penske's corporation and not run for office? Those rumours were flying around during Super Bowl time.

Now they can start up again:
  • "City to join Prix party

    Detroit will host Grand Prix car racing again and, for the first time, Windsor will help.

    "It will be the first international event for motor racing here, tying in Detroit and Windsor as we've done recently with other big sporting events," Roger Penske, chairman of the Downtown Detroit Partnership which is promoting the Labour Day weekend race, said Monday. "You're seeing more and more of that because people today commute between the two markets."

    The details aren't worked out, but Penske hopes to hold promotional events in Windsor leading up to the race, as well as attract some Canadian corporate sponsorship...

    Mayor Eddie Francis said that after the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix was announced, bringing the race back for the first time since 2001, he called Penske to discuss a cross-border component. Francis worked with Penske last year when the former race car driver served as chairman of the Detroit Super Bowl XL, also billed as an international event, as was Wrestlemania 23 at Ford Field on Sunday."
No money for the Capitol, no money for the Festival Epicure. Oh my, how much will this cost Windsor for a Sponsorship this time to boost Eddie's career and will Eddie dare to have it come before Council to approve in one of its bi-weekly meeting?


I used to practise bankruptcy law and I am sure that Eddie must have had a course in it while going to law school.

I do not like my intelligence being insulted. Anyone who knows anything about a Trustee in Bankruptcy would have known that he would take a shot at the City's so-called mortgage on the Theatre.
  • "Questions have been raised whether the city is entitled to the building's assets. It may not have a valid mortgage because $1.8 million advanced to the theatre in the 1990s was structured as a financial grant instead of a loan, according to the trustee's lawyer."

If the City has no interest, then the City would have been dumb to put it into bankruptcy. That is why the Capitol had to be manoeuvred to do it. It had little to do with employees as stories claimed.

I do not understand why the City did not just grab it when it was insolvent and take it out of the bankruptcy process. The City could have done a deal with creditors.

Now the fun will begin as someone will put in an offer to the Trustee to buy the whole building and equipment and then threaten to tear it down and turn it into a parking lot.

Who will be the white knight to save this "jewel" for Windsor and earn plaudits. Of course there is a PLAN...there always is a PLAN....we taxpayers just do not know what it is yet. Heck , we just pay the bills and nod approvingly.


Now let's get real

I am indirectly a shareholder in the Windsor/Detroit Tunnel as are all residents of Windsor. It is our asset that at one time was a "jewel," a cash cow that contributed millions to the City's bottom line.

No wonder it has fallen back. No one seems to pay it any attention. Everything is focused on the new border crossing. The most recent and obvious example is that Eddie has still not hired the person who is supposed to breathe the Tunnel. Moreover the Tunnel Plaza Improvements meeting was cancelled and still has not been rescheduled

Can you imagine what was said at Council on the tunnel to the border debate even by Councillors who are on the Tunnel Commission! It was shocking and disheartening for me as a shareholder.

The new tunnel would put us on the map. It would make us a world leader in transportation. It would get vehicles across the border in a very efficient manner. People living nearby in all of the subdivisions rhymed off would be healthier. It would allow us to diversify our economy (someone on Council has been reading my BLOG!)

Why are they helping out a competitor to the City-owned Tunnel pray tell. Aren't they possibly in a potential conflict of interest when helping out an organization--a P3 bridge--that may take away business from the Tunnel and perhaps even put it into bankruptcy?

This has got to stop. Fair's fair! There are people and businesses beside the Tunnel and especially if the Tunnel expands. There are idling vehicles on city streets. There are fumes being spewed all over the downtown. The Tunnel has to be made a world leader too or else all of its traffic will leave.

There is only one solution. We need to have Council pass a Motion demanding that the Senior Levels tunnel all of the roads in downtown around the Tunnel. That would include roads subject to back-ups including Goyeau, Wyandotte, Ouellette. If it is right for the West End, then it is right for downtown.

What's another billion or two if they could build the Confederation Bridge for Anne of Green Gables. They owe it to us. We deserve the best!


It's not just bleeding it, it is awash in red ink!

Serco is, for your information:

  • "the only significant non-government provider of air traffic services in the world. We operate on a global basis and handle about 6 million aircraft movements each year at airports in Europe, the Middle East and North America...

    In the US, we operate 54 air traffic control towers for the Federal Aviation Administration. We also provide air traffic engineering, meteorological services, rescue and fire-fighting services, electronic and electrical maintenance services and other airport support services such as catering and cleaning."

The story says that "The airport has been losing roughly $40,000 per month" but it did not say for how long. It has been since at least November 2006 and probably long before Eddie spilled his guts to Gord Henderson in his column the day AFTER the election. (I don't remember hearing about this problem before the election)

And who will take it over? Our airport will probably be like

  • "London Airport, which is booming under the inspired leadership of a non-profit transportation authority."

Hmmmmm. There are those words "transportation authority." I wonder if the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel might be folded into it, our THINK BIG transportation hub, maybe other border crossings down the road and the port too. I bet I can guess who would head that huge organization too if it took place.

What really concerns me however is the following:

  • "Another major component of the termination agreement sees the city regain control from Serco of land development of over 1,000 acres on the airport’s grounds."

If they gave up the land, which is probably where they anticipated to make the real money on this deal, what does this say for Windsor's future.

One interesting fact that should be obvious---people from Windsor leaving town to travel out West for new jobs are not flying. They are going to be taking the Greyhound bus from the new funky bus terminal! They cannot afford to fly.

For Sandwich/Delray Residents Only

The rest of you should skip over this BLOG.

You might have seen the map in the Star except their reporter was not there to cover the story and get the handout material.

This map provided at the Ambassador Bridge press conference is only important for people who live in Sandwich and Delray. This shows how little the Ambassador Bridge enhancement project would impact residents since the enhancement project fits into the existing plazas.

Given the minimal intrusion into those communities, I do not understand the opposition to the project.

Oh well, perhaps a DRIC bridge at Sterling Fuels makes more sense to the West end activists and politicos. Being sandwiched between bridges in Sandwich makes little sense to me. Just like being forced out of my home or business in Delray makes little sense.

Contempt For Windsorites

I was only partially correct....There was another more important reason for the Mayor's Motion requiring that Councillors endorse his role as chief and ONLY border negotiator.

As has happened before with the Star, one had to read to the end of a story that does not deal with the subject to find out the important news.

The headline in the story was misleading "City council endorses tunnel to the border" since that did NOT happen. The only part of the Motion quoted was "(DRIC) advised they must have a tunnelled solution." The story completely ignored the amendment which totally weakened the Motion: "DRIC must have a tunnelled solution as the design of the highway through the corridor as determined by the final DRIC process." It was only ONE route that had to be tunnelled.

You would have to be really smart to understand that the comment in the story "Francis encouraged Marra to stress in his motion that it would pertain strictly to the DRIC process--which has already ruled out the DRTP rail corridor plan" eviscerated what Marra wanted to do.

But then again as the Star's Mr. Beneteau said in the past "We did things that newspapers can do to bring about change, positive change. I think we got a lot of results this year and this now validates the results we got."

The important part of the story was:

    City council has no plans to meet with officials of the Ambassador Bridge as part of the environmental assessment process regarding its twin span.

    The bridge company on Monday unveiled plans for a series of public consultation meetings across Windsor and Essex County. As part of the process, a request was made to meet with city council and the mayor.

    "It will be up to council through a majority to decide whether they will act upon the request," said Mayor Eddie Francis. "No member of city council has expressed a desire to meet with them."
I don't get it...Didn't Council just vote unanimously that the Mayor was to negotiate on the Border. (I thought I heard Eddie say after the vote that it was unanimous, presumably so that goes into the Minutes) so how would talking to the Bridge even get to Council to vote on in the first place? Eddie decides not Council. How could they turn around and take back the authority they just gave Eddie? They would look like idiots. It's just Eddie protecting himself from criticism again---the Teflon Mayor--by laying the blame on Council if something goes wrong.

And if the Three Blind Mice even thought of talking to the Bridge Co., well "No member of city council has expressed a desire to meet with them." So none of them dare defy now either. Does this mean that they are banned from speaking to one of the City's largest taxpayers? Certainly a good selling feature for the Gazelle feeders.

While I admire that Councillor Halberstadt has shown some guts on the Ambassador Bridge issue, voting in favour of a tunnel Motion that he thinks has little merit is strange. Is he afraid of being muzzled?

He stated on his BLOG:
  • "To summarize, the motion passed by City Council last night, while perhaps necessary to satisfy some one-dimensional thinkers, on its own is a short-sighted approach to our border woes."
Now here is what is bugging me. Back in 2006, the City must have paid both Gridlock Sam Schwartz and lawyer David Estrin some good money to prepare reports attacking the Bridge Co.'s project since both appeared at the US Coast Guard hearing in Cleveland (Remember, that was the day that Estrin was sued by the Bridge Co. as well).

Now one wonders why the US Coast Guard would care what happens in Windsor since the City is outside of its jurisdiction. Why was all of that money wasted?

Instead "City council has no plans to meet with officials of the Ambassador Bridge as part of the environmental assessment process regarding its twin span." Clearly, the Mayor is afraid to face the Bridge Co. after Dan Stamper faced him down at Council. Let his lawyer do the talking for him must be his motto.

Why talk and see if differences can be overcome. Why sit down in a room and see what the Bridge Plan is in reality. Sure, why learn first-hand that the Bridge Co. project has NO impact on Sandwich. (Didn't you find it strange that neither Councillor Postma nor Councillor Jones spoke on Marra's tunnel motion even though it impacts their Ward the most?) Moreover, that would focus attention on the Mayor and Council who would then have to do what they get paid for but are afraid to do---choose the road to the Ambassador Bridge!

Does that mean that the City has dropped its opposition to the enhancement project. Hardly! it just means that there is some half-baked strategy to stall off the Bridge Co. for some more time while Eddie's plan moves forward in secrecy. Let Estrin or whoever takes his place sabre-rattle instead of the City dealing with the Bridge Co. as a professionals would do. Why try and reach an understanding at a time when Windsor can use a billion dollar boost to its economy when one can play silly games.

Ask your Councillor if he/she knows what the Mayor's Plan is. Ask him/her which "special" public Council bi-weekly meeting will deal with it. Ask him/her how it will be put on the public agenda buried somewhere so no one can appear on it just like the Tunnel Motion. Ask him/her how much this will cost Windsor not only in legal fees but in loss to the economy at a time when we have the highest unemployment in Caanda.

Ask him/her how Councillors can look Windsorites in the face!

Ask him/her how Councillors can look at themselves in the mirror!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Eddie's Marra Motion Manoeuvre

For his sake, I hope that Eddie never plays poker. You can tell when he has something good going. There is that certain look that he gets that says that he is outhinking you. He justs sits there seemingly unconcerned but you know he is waiting to catch his victim with a good poker hand.

Poor Councillor Marra. He got caught by Eddie on the Tunnel motion. He got outmanoeuvred by Eddie's amendment so that his Motion is now totally meaningless. You have to remember though that Eddie had a long time to think about his wording change while Bill had to react immediately so it is understandable.

Not only that, the Three Blind Mice and any one else who wanted to join their ranks are finished!

Dealing with the Marra Motion first, the key part originally said:

  • "DRIC must have a tunnelled solution as the design of the highway through the selected corridor."

Now I don't know about you but to me that seems to be very simple and straight-forward. No solution unless tunnelled anywhere in Windsor. Not to the Mayor it wasn't. He suggested an amendment and then Councillor Lewenza suggested a slight variation so it now reads I think:

  • "DRIC must have a tunnelled solution as the design of the highway through the corridor as determined by the final DRIC process."

Now I don't think it is that big a change to be honest, and that is the beauty of the Mayor's amendment, but what it does is restrict the concept of tunnelling to one road only: "the corridor as determined by the final DRIC process." No longer any corridor, which was wide-open, but now just one.

See how clever this is... If it had passed in the original broader wording, it might have caught Eddie's preferred road, whatever that is, since that road would have been the "selected corridor by Eddie." Now it only covers a specific corridor. With the new wording, as an example, there would NOT be the need for a tunnel on Lauzon/E C Row since it would be Eddie's road and not DRIC's!

So everyone is seemingly thrilled we have a tunnel but it is really irrelevant to what Eddie wants. What a legal technocrat our Mayor is!

Of course there was no debate by members of the public at Council because of the game played by not posting the Order of Busines in a timely fashion. The fact that not one member of Council raised this issue leads me into my second point:


Eddie asked for and received endorsement in "public" by Council unanimously in a Motion that he was the negotiator for the City. That really means that no one on Council better talk to a proponent, DRIC or THE AMBASSADOR BRIDGE or they may violate what Council voted on, including what they voted on too. Only Eddie can wheel and deal.

Can you really believe that the people that we elected can act in this fashion!

Anyway, the Mayor is too smart for his own good. He stated that the reason for the first amendment is so ensure that no proponent could "shop the Motion around" saying it supports their position.

The only problem for Eddie is that it allows DRIC, the Senior Levels and the Ambassador Bridge to take that exact action.

We all know that "the corridor as determined by the final DRIC process" is similar to the City's WALTS road and is similar to what Gridlock Sam said as well. This now allows the Bridge Co. to say that the City is not opposed to a road to the bridge which is built using the City's WALTS route. Since the road to the Ambassador Bridge is NOT exactly the DRIC road, then it need not be tunnelled.

Heck, if DRIC were smart, they would suggest to the Senior Levels to build the road to the Ambassador Bridge now using BIF money---that makes the road a BIF road not a DRIC Road--and then if ever necessary, complete the DRIC road by adding a spur to a new crossing.

What a nice Easter Egg to receive from the Mayor!

Festival Epicure Makes Strange Bedfellows

Can you imagine, a photo of Dan Stamper of the Bridge Co. and Mike Hurst of DRTP standing together and doing something co-operatively together for the City of Windsor. Who would have thought it possible.

The two companies announced that they were going to co-sponsor the Festival Epicure after its sponsor of a dozen years, the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel, pulled out just a few months before the start of the festival.

Clearly Windsorites should be pleased that the festival will be saved by the two foes who decided to bury the hatchet for gaining the new crossing temporarily and who worked together on this deal. They should be congratulated for doing so since this is a prime event for many tourist businesses in the City who can use the exposure and who can make some money during the festival.

It will be interesting to see how the Mayor plays it. Will he thank the two companies for "stepping up to the plate, doing what needs to be done" since they appeared to be Windsor's "enemies" or will he be angry they did. I have to say that he almost seemed to want the Festival to fail and be taken over by someone else:
  • "Although Windsor's popular Festival Epicure may be cancelled this summer due to lack of sponsorship, some residents and local businesses have expressed an interest in creating a "new and different" food festival, Mayor Eddie Francis said Sunday.

    Francis said he wasn't overly concerned that the spirit of the successful food and drink festival won't be revived in some other form since Epicure's executive producer, Ken Brandes, announced Friday the withdrawal of the event's title sponsor, the Windsor- Detroit Tunnel.

    "I've received several indications from people who are interested in stepping in to do some type of similar festival," Francis said."
Now the interesting part---what does this co-sponsorship really mean? Is it nothing more than helping out an important City festival at a time when the City is suffering from one economic shock after another or is it something else?

Is this the beginning of a beautiful friendship between the two companies, who were formerly bitter enemies? Do they have a deal or are they working on one and if so what could it be?

Let's speculate:

1) DRTP is dead and has been for a long time. However, OMERS/CP Rail have spent a ton of money on it and need to recoup that amount. Will the Bridge Co. buy their corridor or help DRTP convince the Governments to buy it to use as a road, whether tunnelled or not, to the Ambassador Bridge? It would make some Talbot Road and West enders happy but not the people in South Windsor living beside the corridor.

2) Is OMERS to become the Canadian financial source in the Bridge Co. enhancement project? Five hundred million dollars or so are needed and pension fund money may be cheaper than bank money or bondholder money.

3) Does OMERS want to buy the bridge outright or become the Canadian partner in a 50/50 split with the Bridge Co. or get involved in a long-term lease? That would certainly give Governments here pause to reconsider a "public" bridge when one of their key financial sources has a partnership with the Bridge Co. or is the new owner. After all, infrastructure financiers are chasing projects to put their money and bidding up prices. Something has happened at the Tunnel---I wish Eddie would tell us what---so why shouldn't something happen at the Bridge too.

4) And then there is the Blue Water Bridge. Did DRTP take me seriously about bidding to take it over to help Michigan (and Ontario) out of their financial miseries and are they trying to take over the Ambassador Bridge too (and perhaps the Tunnel) so that they control all of the crossings. Sure it gives them a "monopoly" over the crossings but financiers in infrastructure do not like competition when a lot of their money is at risk.

5) Is this the start of a new business for OMERS in the infrastrucutre area (and for Michael Nobrega to make his mark) with the Ambassador Bridge being the prize jewel, a financing dream that OMERS will point to in the future to attract more business?

I wish I knew the answer to all of this. My only hope is that it is not #1. I carried around a picket sign once in my life with STOPDRTP. I really do not want to do it again!

I am going to have to digest all of this new information to try and figure out what is going on. In the meantime, bon appetit!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Where Was Paris Hilton

Or the news stories about John Travolta and Hugh Hefner dining at a very famous restaurant in downtown Windsor?

Scalpers in Windsor should have been concerned. It's not that the police would catch them but that they might get stuck with Wrestlemania tickets!

I happened to see on the CKLW website the other day that the Hilton was having trouble getting rid of their Wrestlemania packages:
  • "Expectations for hotel bookings in Windsor for this weekend's Wrestlemania are falling short. The Hilton Hotel on Riverside Drive says it has sold about 3 packages for the weekend when it was hoping to sell between 20 and 30. Hotel Manager Saleem Jaka says it now is trying to sell the wrestlemania ticket at face value."
Then I got a copy of an email sent out by a City employee to "undisclosed-recipients" with a Convention Bureau email embedded in it whose message was:

  • "Please see the attached files for ticket information for WrestleMania."
There certainly seems to be a lot less excitement in the air than there was with Super Bowl don't you think. I wonder if the hotels will do well at the last minute since I received a copy of this note:
  • "We are not fully booked, I don't think we will sell out. Wrestlemania is not as big as they claimed. I have spoken to all the hotels, nobody is sold out for this event. Hope this helps!"

I just wonder how Gord Orr will explain what we got for our $60,000 sponsorship. Perhaps Council should ask him to justify the expense in this time of restraint. Heck, I did not even see one Sin City story to get Windsor on the front pages again. Look at all the free publicity we missed out on.

Perhaps someone on Council needs to ask the question:

  • Which event is more worthy for Windsor: a sponsorship of the WWE or a sponsorship of Festival Epicure

If only we had that SWAT team of $300K City Hall PR flacks hired that was proposed...why the City would have been "branded" for sure!

I hope the hotels were able to get rid of their excess tickets mind you. I am attaching their flyers.

Festival Epicure And

We can build and finance a hockey arena for a private business, we can pay out good hard-earned taxpayer money to sponsor professional sports like football and wrestling but where was our Mayor to help out a local private entrepreneur who has been around for a dozen years who was having money trouble when the Detroit/ Windsor Tunnel pulled out as sponsor rather late in the game.

I was annoyed by what I considered to be the dismissive tone by the Mayor when talking about Festival Epicure. I know that he has so much on his plate these days like figuring out how many Council meetings per month we should have and whether they are public or in camera or working on the Council dinner menus or putting into his scrapbook all of the WWE photos that were taken of him this weekend.

I thought I heard about nurturing our Gazelles in Windsor. This type of comment is hardly one that would give a person a lot of comfort:

  • "Francis said he wasn’t overly concerned that the spirit of the successful food and drink festival won’t be revived in some other form since Epicure’s executive producer, Ken Brandes, announced Friday the withdrawal of the event’s title sponsor, the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel...

    Francis said he expects to hear more discussions over the next couple of weeks about what can be done to revive the attraction."

"Next couple of weeks" Sheeeesh, hardly a sense of urgency is it!

Contrast the Mayor's attitude with his predecessor, Mike Hurst. Back in 2003:

  • "A committee of downtown business owners is hoping to bring at least two U.S.-based festivals to the streets of the city this summer.

    The idea is to attract families and older adults to the city core, said Rob Katzman, development chairman of the City Centre Business Association.

    Mayor Mike Hurst said he supports the concept of new street festivals that would not conflict with existing riverfront events.

    "I like his thinking," Hurst said of the proposals of Katzman's committee. "If there's a will it can be done."

In May, 2003 when Windsor tourism was suffering, "an additional $50,000 to $75,000 has been made available through the mayor's [Hurst] office" to help fund an ad campaign targeting Michigan residents.

In June, 2003 when Eddie was a Councillor, he said

  • "Don't just keep putting up billboards. We've got to give them a reason to come here. It isn't enough to count on the desperately addicted.[who go to the Casino]" Francis said the Windsor area is starved for attractions, so much so that countless local families patronize the Wheels Inn in Chatham.

    "There's nothing to do here. I'm blown away by the number of Windsorites who go to Chatham." Francis said powerful business cases can be presented for new convention facilities and for diverse family attractions in one setting, ranging from go-karts to an aquarium, that would appeal to residents as well as visitors.

I can remember Councillors Ron Jones, Ken Lewenza Jr. and Tom Wilson going out for money for the Buskers festival.

My point is not that the City should bail out the Festival Epicure but that the Mayor can use his influence to try and find donors to save a function that brings thousands of people downtown and which brings big dollars into the comunity rather than doing nothing.

If he needs help in drafting a letter, here is one from Adriano Ciotoli of the website You might want to go there next time you are looking for a restaurant

  • "At a time when tourism in this region is at an all time low, it is important to keep established events that the community and tourists alike look forward to every year. No, taxpayers should not be responsible for footing the bill, but busineses in our region should come together to ensure that this festival, that provides enjoyment and entertainment to families, continues.

    It's not true that a new festival can take the place of Festival Epicure, as it took Epicure 12 years to establish its current reputation as a great event and reach attendance records of over 35,000 in a weekend. In the last seven years it has generated over $165,000 to the Kidney Foundation of Canada, employed local residents to assist in running the festival, used local businesses and promoted our region to people across the world.

    Windsor is fortunate in that we have some really vibrant and exciting festivals that take place all over our city and make it a great place to live and visit. As a community, we are facing many struggles at the moment. It would be detrimental to lose a festival this successful and of this magnitude. It is a benefit to our community and makes Windsor an attractive place to work and live.

    Again, while we do not expect taxpayers dollars to be used to finance this event, we do believe it is important to have our community show their vocal support and our corporate citizens to show financial support. Events such as this are a benefit to our community and make Windsor an attractive place to work and live.

    People can show their support for Festival Epicure by visiting"

Monday 5:55 AM

Want to know about Bill Marra's Tunnel Notice of Motion? Then you need to go to the Order of Business. Here is what you would have found as of 5:55 AM Monday for Monday's meeting:


The Order of Business was NOT posted.

Who needs Council meetings now anyway. Save the $35,000 dinner money by not holding meetings. I won't be cynical about meetings either. I will suggest instead that you read Roseann Danese's BLOG "Nothing to talk about"