Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Betrayal Is Deemed Over




The Mighty Windsor Star and Gord Henderson have spoken. Eddie's career has been saved for yet another crisis on another day.

If you ever wanted proof about how poorly served we are in Windsor, being a one newspaper town, the Star Editorial and Henderson column on the Halberstadt/Lewenza dispute are the prime examples. They are hiding the main story: Eddie's tunnelling betrayal.

The facts in the 2007 betrayal are the same as with the 2003 betrayal...Say one thing in public by Resolution and do another in private that reverses the public position and try to keep it away from the voters. Unfortunately in both cases, the story came out.

In 2003, Councillors backed off their new position. What will happen in 2007?

I told you that Eddie wears horseshoes. He does not face a STOPDRTP citizens group ready to mobilize the population against him as Hurst did. Just a few tunneleers. In fact, the former Chair of STOPDRTP is on Council now and he has not been quoted about this episode in the Star surprisingly. He used the word betrayal in 2003. I wonder how he rationalizes the two events.

I almost gagged when I started reading Henderson's column:
  • "Dangerous game
    Gord Henderson, Windsor Star
    Published: Thursday, May 31, 2007

    There's a good reason why newspapers and most other media enterprises sever ties with reporters who enter politics. They recognize an individual cannot work both sides of this dark and grubby street without opening a can of worms.

    If I were to run for public office, and God forbid, The Star would haul my butt out of here, and rightly so, given the inevitable conflict involved in answering to two masters -- the electorate and the news gathering business -- whose aims and objectives often coincide but are bound to clash from time to time."

Oh Gord, not a word about the Star, John Coleman, Norma Coleman and the Mayor's Office. The Star recognized that there could be a conflict but has only mentioned it on Face-to-Face, not to its readers directly. We learned that the husband of the Chief of Staff of the Mayor is also Gord Henderson's editor and that they work collaboratively together and that they hash out ideas together. Was this Henderson column one they worked on together and hashed out ideas?

Be fair, was there one word in the column that even hinted that there might have been an Eddie flip-flop. Nope, just a nudge that perhaps Alan gave something away. Not a word about Eddie's legacy statement that gave it all away:

  • "Our starting point is a tunnel."
Why didn't Gord admit that the City's so-called "enemies" did not have to look any further than the Mayor's statement to know his poker hand and that he held a loser and was bluffing:
  • "I don't know how many regular folks read Halberstadt's blog. But you can bet it's being parsed by the brightest minds of the Ambassador Bridge company, the DRTP and the DRIC looking for nuances and subtle clues that might, by accident, provide a clearer view of the city's bottom line."
Nuances....subtle clues...Eddie's statement was absolutely like hitting someone right between the eyes with a 2 X 4! It could not be clearer that Eddie is desperate to negotiate anything to save his career.

Really, the DRIC guys have to be laughing themselves silly. It was a strain before I am sure talking about a tunnel with a straight face. Thanks to Eddie, they do not have to do so any longer.

Nope, the column was about whether Halberstadt crossed over some Henderson defined line. DUH...Gord, Alan is not being a journalist; he is being a Councillor, reporting to his constituents using the internet as a tool. You don't need a bunch of PR hacks to do that!

The column was good. Deflect attention away from Eddie's disaster and make it a Halberstadt issue. Make it all go away for Eddie. Pretend that the betrayal never took place. Rewrite history also so that Eddie cannot be blamed.

And speaking of blame, did Alan take the sword for Eddie or will it be positioned that way? It was not Eddie's fault, Alan gave it all away:
  • "there's now wiggle room in dealing with a city that was previously iron-clad in its insistence on a tunnelled route. And if they know Windsor is prepared to meet them part way, they'll offer even less."
Honestly. I cannot stomach this stuff any more. A tunnel only became an issue and an expedient for re-election when the Schwartz Report failed miserably. You remember the Schwartz Report... it was a "starting point" too even though millions were spent on it and we wasted how much time promoting it!

Will Gord and Alan remain canoeing friends. I am not so sure. This is the third brutal attack on Alan in recent memory.

Why the nasty words by Gord in 2003 and the spinning in 2007. Who was the Mayor then and who is the Mayor now? There's your answer.

How do I know the "betrayal story" is over. An "epilogue" is "a short speech addressed directly to the audience by an actor at the end of a play."

What was the title of the Star Editorial:

"Blog and epilogue"

Did the Star attack Eddie on his betrayal of the tunnel position, his flip-flop? Nope....they talked about an integrity commissioner. Now that really diverts attention away from Eddie's failure doesn't it. They are trying desperately too to cover up the disclosure of Eddie's poker hand and that Eddie did it.

Here is the Star's solution to help out the Granholm family finances:
  • "It's possible a case could be made that justifies the appointment of an integrity commissioner to oversee Windsor and Essex County municipalities -- with the costs shared on a regional basis -- but only a commissioner who works on a contract basis. It can be a lawyer or a retired judge or a respected businessperson who would be asked to probe specific matters and only paid on a case-by-case basis."

Why didn't the Editors just say to hire the Governor's hubby?

Then the most threatening words in the Editorial

  • "Until then, city councillors should try and get along forget about positioning themselves for the next municipal election."
How do you protect a lame duck Mayor for the next 3 1/2 years so he can build his new career? Simple, warn Alan and other Councillors like Mayor in Waiting Bill Marra or Mayor Wannabe Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget and everyone else. Stay onside or face the consequences. If the Star and Gord can hammer Gord's canoe buddy, if they can try to destroy a powerful Cabinet member like Sandra and keep Dwight quiet, then you are doomed if you dare cross Eddie.

I just cannot believe the timidity of the Councillors. Why did they run in the first place? Previous Councillors took on Hurst and the Star and beat them both. Why are they so meek now?

So dear reader, the big flap is over. We can all go back to sleep. Who cares if we were betrayed. It's OK if Eddie does it. We'll just pretend it did not happen. They'll just keep a better lid on the in camera meetings that's all. And now, no one will dare say anything anyway with all of the personal attacks.

Star Wars: Is Windsor Being Well Served


Compare the two Stars: Windsor and Toronto

Seriously, my comments about a one newspaper town, especially a newspaper on a mission, are even more frightening now. Thank goodness for the Internet where we can read what others say easily.

Imagine, getting the real story about why the CMVA letter was written from the Toronto Star and not the Windsor Star. Oh we got a hint in the Windsor Star:

  • "Michigan's government is considering an amendment in the state's budget to withdraw DRIC support.

Here was their follow-up:

  • "Bill Shreck, spokesman for both the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and Granholm on border crossing issues, did not respond to a message Thursday."

One whole message. Wow....that is investigative journalism that should win the Windsor Star some more newspaper awards. Imagine if Mr. Shreck had actually been contacted. Imagine if he said that the State had no opposition to the Ambasador Bridge moving forward with their Enhancement Project as was said before or that it was a ""viable private option" as the MDOT Director said. That might have ruined the story.

Obviously, the DRIC people have been out there lobbying for anyone to say anything to try to prevent the State from cutting off their funding. After all, drilling bore holes at around a million taxpayer dollars a hole is more vital than closing police stations.

And of course the Leakor was active feeding the "Exclusive" to Today's Trucking first.

Fortunately, the DRIC people got the auto association letter just in time to put it out into the media for the Mackinac Policy Conference. I am sure that Michigan Legislators will appreciate being pressured by their public servants in this manner or by the Canadian Governments.

It's time I did something about starting an Internet newspaper for Windsor! Writers, advertisers, investors, etc.....we should talk.

Here is the TORONTO Star story so you can put everything in a context.

  • New bridge to Michigan hits a bump

    Manufacturers say a second Windsor-Detroit crossing is crucial to relieve congestion, but some Michigan state legislators are balking at the costs.

    The cash-strapped state could amend its budget to cut funding support for the planned project


    Jun 01, 2007 , Tony Van Alphen, Business Reporter

    Michigan says it is close to stopping project funding for a multi-billion-dollar bridge between Detroit and Windsor that is critical to the future of the Canadian and U.S economies.

    Alan Cropsey, majority leader in the Michigan senate, said yesterday that legislators will likely pass a proposed amendment to the state budget within 60 days that would cut financial support of a continuing study for the bridge project.

    "There is a huge concern that many of us have in the legislature about whether the state of Michigan should be funding another crossing," Cropsey said in an interview with the Toronto Star.

    Cropsey, a Republican senator, said cash-strapped Michigan is questioning why the state should be spending money on a project when the owner of the Ambassador Bridge wants to twin it, owns the necessary property and has received government approvals.

    A Michigan move to cut money for the study will be seen as a sign the state will not support the cost of the American half of the project – a tab that could run from $1.5 billion to $3.5 billion (U.S.), according to Cropsey.

    "This is such a boondoggle," he said, noting the state has far more pressing budget needs.

    A pullout by Michigan could further delay any relief for a worsening border traffic problem. It has dragged on for more than a decade and already cost business millions of dollars annually.

    "It puts the new bridge for completion by 2013 in jeopardy," said Gerald Fedchun, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association. "This would be a very serious setback."

    Other industry groups, including big auto makers on both sides of the border, are lobbying politicians and urging senate leaders to keep the bridge funding. Manufacturers have called a new crossing imperative and "a bottom line issue."

    Cropsey said he believes a strong majority of the Republican-controlled senate will support the amendment, part of the next fiscal budget in the fall of this year. Governor Jennifer Granholm, a Democrat, "is leaning" toward support of the amendment, he added.

    The bridge study has also received money from the Canadian, Ontario and U.S. governments. It should be complete by the end of the year and could cost up to $38 million, Cropsey said.

    "My guess is they have expended more than half of the costs so far," he said. "We want to stop it now. It's just a waste of money."

    Meanwhile, trucking magnate Matty Moroun, who owns the Ambassador Bridge, and other executives of his company said this week they have been frustrated over what they describe as recent meddling by government politicians and bureaucrats into border crossing operations where they have no expertise.

    Like Cropsey, Moroun said the study to select the next crossing location is a waste of money.

    Adding to the uncertainy, Moroun told the Windsor Star that he would sell the Ambassador Bridge if the price is right.

    Cropsey's revelation about strong support for cutting project funding follows a letter from auto makers to Cropsey and more than two dozen senators that urges them to continue financial assistance.

    John Whatley, vice-president of the the U.S. Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, and Mark Nantais, president of the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association, said in the May 11 letter that the amendment will stop progress toward this "critical infrastructure."

    Fedchun's struggling auto parts group has sought a resolution for years because the Windsor-Detroit border bottleneck is increasingly hurting its competitive position.

    He suggested the Michigan amendment would seem to favour Moroun and give him some leverage in resolving the long crossing controversy.

    "It sounds like someone who owns an existing crossing would want this to happen," said Fedchun, a Windsor native who has watched the problem grow ever larger over the years.

    Fedchun said his group and Canadian governments prefer a public bridge because of security concerns and the need to avoid someone holding a monopoly on commercial border crossings.

    "The twinning beside the existing bridge would create a security risk," he said. "If you have a big truck and blow up one bridge, you would damage the other one."

    He noted a new bridge could be operated privately, as long as its was subject to public control."

Windsor Betrayal: The Sequel





Oh my goodness. We better call the Governor's Hubby again. Windsor Council is dysfunctional. Time for him to make some more money at the expense of City taxpayers to control the children! Well it's either him or SuperNanny.

It really is Eddie now being Mike Hurst in 2003 all over again no matter how you want to look at it. It is nothing more than a reversal of a public position by the Mayor and Council carried out in secret. What more needs to be said? Try and spin it any way you want, it is a betrayal.


And only 2 or 3 people out of 200,000 care what goes on in camera according to one Councillor so they think they can do whatever they want with impunity. Too bad for them that I am one of them and I suspect that a couple of other Bloggers are the other two.

It will be interesting to watch how the Star plays this since Eddie has made a fool out of them completely on a tunnel. Will Henderson finally go after Eddie or will he back off as he did when he undercut his friend the Councillor and flip-flopped on fixing up the Barn? How will the Editorial writers deal with this? Will Battagello do the kind of stories he did with Hurst? We saw their tentative position taken today...more to follow.

Or will it all die out to be forgotten with Eddie forgiven as he now tries to spin what he did to pretend it did not take place? You will have already the transcript of his CKLW interview that I posted. It's fascinating how history is rewritten

Last time around Councillor Halberstadt thought he had been bushwacked....This time he was not. He knew what was going on. What did the unfortunate, under personal attack Councillor tell us:
  1. There was an in camera meeeting----what else is new
  2. Schwartz was back----we'd find that out anyway when the legal bills were revealed or when Sam made his next presentation. His involvement would hardly make anyone shake in their boots anyway. His credibility has undergone a transformation when Fulvio said his Report was just a "starting point." Hmmm no one dumped on him for saying that did they?
  3. Schwartz is ready to work with the Province to reach a solution----what a revelation that is
That BLOG information really prejudices the City's position...It tells me everything I need to know and I am sure that the Senior Levels learned everything too about the City's position [sarcasm intended]


I wrote at the time since there was nothing of siginifcance in Alan's BLOG:

  • "But Alan, tell us the real secrets discussed in camera. Don't give us just dribs and drabs to make it appear that you are letting us in on something.

    You aren't part of the PR exercise to soften up poor Windsorites for the big news are you?"

Who actually leaked first that the City's position changed....Why the Mayor himself at his State of the City speech. As I wrote:

  • "If Schwartz is in town "to engage in intense modelling with the provinces's engineers to hopefully find a compromise on the route's many nuances." then we know why Eddie and Donnna Cansfield had a nice lunch recently! Why else would Eddie say in his State of the City speech "We are continuing to work with the DRIC on a new border crossing solution" and never once mention the word "tunnel" in his speech!
Where was Councillor Lewenza hammering the Mayor then? If it was in the media, I missed it. Is there a double standard? Only attack Councillors? Is Junior merely doing Eddie's dirty work since Eddie does not have the guts to do it himself. It might damage his squeaky-clean image. Branding and all that.


Isn't the real complaint that the Mayor and Council's hands were caught in the cookie jar? They made us believe one thing to stall the process and to get themselves elected and now did something else. In other words they are angry that we found about their betrayal. Here again is what I wrote:

  • "So we learn that the DRIC corridor is to be used and that Schwartz is here to "compromise" the "nuances" whatever those are.

    Now please excuse me but didn't Council demand that the entire corridor be tunnelled? Wasn't that the object of the Marra Motion? Isn't that how certain Council members got elected or re-elected? Wasn't that the basis for so many Henderson columns? Were Windsorites played?"
Now who really leaked out what was said. For this one time only I will share with you who my source is and who told me what was the City's position.

Oh surely, you cannot think it was Councillor Halberstadt can you? Now watch for the witch-hunt as the Mayor tries to find out who else I called and spoke with. Here is the startling disclosure Alan told me when I asked, and I always do try, to get a statement out of a Councillor on an issue:
  • "You'll have to wait and see"
Wow................that told me all I needed to know! Let's set up an Integrity Commissioner for that!

No my source was:

MAYOR EDDIE FRANCIS

Yes he leaked the information or to be more precise, he gave a "tell-all" story to the Star for Saturday's edition. I did not have to speak to anyone after Eddie opened his mouth and spilled the beans . Now Councillor Lewenza should dump on him. But does he dare? Here is what Eddie said:
  • Council met for two consecutive nights this week behind closed doors [No big deal since most of Council's work is done out of the glare of public oversight]
  • Mayor Eddie Francis said he briefed councillors on his discussions last week with DRIC officials [so he knows what DRIC will do and now we know it is NOT the entire route that is to be proposed by them. So much for negotiations now. Eddie's self-justification need killed that chance to get a resolution]
  • attempted to reach a consensus among them on how much of the route they want tunnelled. [He is saying that not all will be tunnelled. We already learned in the story that the area north of E C Row would NOT get a Tunnel, only the 6 KM in the south. Here Eddie was seeing how much of a tunnel he could get away with and how much he could screw the "heritage" Sandwich area before the Ward 2 Councillors, Postma and Jones, would complain. Funny, where are the West End activists and politicos like Brian Masse speaking out? Eddie's road will do more to destroy the West end than will the Bridge Co.'s enhancemnt project.]
  • The city will assemble its own technical information on tunnelling [but Eddie did not tell us the name of his consultant. Is he ashamed of Schwartz or did not want us to know how many people are involved since the fee will be huge. Sam has to cover his costs for his Windsor office somehow!]
  • We will not accept a cheap solution. [Eddie must have read another book in which "cheap" was the word of the day. Is he telling us the truth making us believe that the entire route is all at-grade so if there is some tunnelling we will call him a hero? That might have happened but it cannot now. It has to be all or nothing for Eddie now or he has FAILED again on the border. How many times is that?]
Finally, the ultimate comment, the one that will haunt Eddie's next 3 1/2 years as Mayor and could truly make him a lame duck Mayor if a few Councillors started reading what their legal duties are:
  • "Our starting point is a tunnel."
That line is the betrayal statement for which Eddie must take full and complete responsibility. He, after all, is the Voice of Council! It is his "Legacy Statement." It is his failure statement.


One last thought. This whole issue has nothing to do with Halberstadt. It is nothing more than a desperate move by a micro-manager who cannot stand that anyone other than he has a brain. It is to keep people from butting in with his PLAN. He used Junior who had to make up for attacking Eddie's Diane Francis soiree! Let him shoot off his mouth attacking Halberstadt. As Junior said, as only he can do:

  • "Just keep your mouth shut."
By the way, who leaked what happened at the in camera Council session to start this all off? Should that person be censured too?

Look at Junior's charges:

  • leaking confidential information on his Internet blog---what did Alan say compared with Eddie's remarks
  • We are in the middle of negotiations," Lewenza said----oh, what are the negotiating boundaries since Council just met with Schwartz and there have been no meetings yet with Schwartz and the Province. How could there be negotiating sessions or was Eddie acting on his own without their knowledge
  • Just keep your mouth shut---if only Junior would follow his own advice

  • This is a billion-dollar file and he [Halberstadt] is out there saying we want a compromise," Lewenza said. "I challenged him on that.---Did he challenge the Mayor on his starting point remark?
  • There have been many times each of us as a councillor wanted to say something, but the mayor is the lead.---and when others spoke, did Junior chllenge them or only Alan
  • Halberstadt's actions have emphasized how the city needs an integrity commissioner to handle altercations and protocol issues, Lewenza said---that is desigend to scare Alan but it won't. And I wish we had one in Windsor. I personally could keep him/her going on the things that I think are wrong with this City!

What a farce. The irony is that it seems that Eddie learned nothing from the Mike Hurst experience. He will make the same mistake subsequently with the Eddie "Made-in-Windsor" solution.

Oh and in case you are wondering, we won't find out soon what the DRIC position really is. Neither Dwight nor Sandra have held their nominating meetings yet for the October election. I contacted their offices to find out when the meetings were scheduled and no dates were set yet.

Nothing will come out from DRIC until after those sessions. Do you think Sandra and Dwight want to have to field unhappy questions or face an opponent at their "love-ins" if there is NO DRIC tunnelled solution? Now they have Eddie Francis to blame for his betrayal of them and of Windsor!

Isn't politics fun?

Short Items Of Interest




Here are more stories for you to savour



ARENA vs. TENS OF THOUSANDS OF WINDSORITES


Looks like the Arena won the first game of the series for the Windsor Cup. The Buskers enjoyed by "tens of thousands" of people is the latest City event to have difficulties. The Star reported

  • "Windsor Buskers Festival cancelled for 2007

Jan Wilson, the city's excecutive director of recreation, said ...that organizing the festival requires year-long work, and the department found itself "stretched a little thin" due to its commitment to "other major projects," such as plans for a new Windsor arena and recreation complex."

You see, the City learned well. If you want to cancel a Festival, do it in the last minute so it cannot be revived by others such as the Bridge Co. and DRTP did with Festival Epicure.

Oh well, the downtown business people do not need that business anyway. They can wait until next year or perhaps longer since the East End arena has been delayed.

The Arena did not cause any tax increase so stop complaining.

ENGINEERING COMPLEX COST

It is so quiet about a possible move downtown? Is anything happening?

I can tell you one thing: University dollars are being wasted.

It's not much mind but they add up in the end. Check out the University site for a virtual tour of the facility that may have to be scrapped. Figure out what THOSE costs are and who will be stuck paying for them. Not the City I would think.

HOFFA'S VISION SIGNALS DRTP'S DEATH

James is the latest convert to the logistics business being the driver of the economy in this part of the country. He was quoted in the Detroit news this way

  • "In his interview with the News, Hoffa called for doing more to make Michigan a logistics hub, noting the world's busiest crossing point in terms of trade is the Detroit-Windsor border.

    "Remember the movie 'The Graduate' when the guy pulled Dustin Hoffman aside and said 'plastics?'" Hoffa said. "Well, now when the guy gets pulled aside its 'logistics.' That's the magic word."

However, he also talked about DRTP...not DRTP the Truck highway but the DRTP for a new rail tunnel ie 500,000 rail cars per year.

So here comes a new name for DRTP: It's The Rail Tunnel--logistically speaking

CMVA AND THE BORDER

If the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association is talking about "new" capacity, of course they want a DRIC bridge. They want as many crossings as possible. Who cares if taxpayers pay for it.

The Star made a big point about the fact that the Ambassador Bridge was not mentioned. Why would it be? The letter had nothing to do with them.

What has the CMVA said before about the existing crossings. Here is what it said in the letter supporting the Schwartz Plan interestingly enough:

  • Toronto, Ontario (January 21, 2004)

    “This is one step in the process towards real, and long overdue, infrastructure improvements in Windsor, and we encourage the federal and provincial governments to continue working closely with the region and City to work out the details of an implementation plan as soon as possible,” added Nantais. “We strongly support interim improvements designed to optimize existing crossing infrastructure that can be implemented while the Bi-National Review continues its work towards a much-needed new border crossing.”

And frankly, I personally would not get too excited about CMVA. They thought Schwartz was a good idea and the Nine Point Plan too!

WHO IS GOING TO NEW YORK

Surely if Schwartz needs information to do another Windsor presentation, he needs local help. Or if Eddie needs him to do something on the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel, he needs someone from Windsor to give a local flavour.

So which lucky City Hall employee won the lottery to spend time in the Big Apple with Sam?

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Real Tunnel Deal





My only big surprise so far is that DRTP is not involved, yet.

I always suspected that Kwame had a back-up plan if Eddie faltered. He was not going to leave himself exposed if Eddie could NOT come up with the cash because the Feds were not going to be bullied by another childish tantrum of the Mayor.

It looks like it may turn out to be an unfair fight, the one for the control of the Detroit half of the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel. It was the inexperienced Mayor of Windsor, Eddie Francis, trying to buy control for 75 years of the Tunnel from the most powerful man in Michigan and his advisers. Oh no, not him, Eddie's straw man, but him, the next US Senator from Michigan, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Oh Kwame will have fun at the session tomorrow afternoon at MACKINAC ISLAND if something about the Tunnel is asked....the Big 4 1/2 meeting where Eddie is invited to appear. He will be nice to Eddie's face while laughing at him behind his back. Eddie just made Kwame a hero no matter what happens.

Kwame used Eddie beautifully! Kwame's ultimate revenge for the unstated Hendrix support by Eddie that almost cost Kwame his election. Perhaps next time Eddie will butt out of Detroit politics.

Now we know why Kwame was not worried about the Tunnel deal....he had Alinda in his back pocket. It did not matter to him one bit whether Eddie won or not. He would get the money needed to end Detroit's budget deficit. In fact, the ultimate irony is that he got Detroit Council mad at the Windsor Tunnel proposal too. So much for Eddie wooing Detroit Council for over a year! He did not understand them either. And they won't need to go out and issue bonds so they will be happy with Alinda!

Kwame is a good negotiator, you would have to be as a Mayor of a Big American city. Eddie was putty in his hands....Kwame must have played him like a violin, playing to Eddie's ego, making him feel like a big man! Eddie was a useful tool. Kwame knew how desperate Eddie was to do a deal and got the price up to US$75M or a million a year all payable upfront. The Alinda deal is exactly that amount too but only for 60 years. The difference between $58M and $75M has to be the amount to buy out Alinda's contract that was not to expire until 2020. Now that will not have to be done and Detroit gets the Tunnel back 15 years earlier

Now we can guess how the $75M price was set....I'll bet that Kwame let Eddie know that there were others interested out there. He only had to mention the Bridge Co. and Eddie would grow weak at the thought! It would not surprise me if Kwame gave Eddie a range of what others might bid supported by his expert's report. Poor Eddie figured he had to match those deals or he would lose the deal! Eddie probably thought it was still the Bridge Co. that he had to beat no matter what Dan Stamper said on Face-to-Face! No wonder he bad-mouthed them so much. He counted on the Feds helping him out.

With Eddie's big number out there, Kwame knew that Alinda had to match it. So he just waited as they did, just in time to ruin Eddie's bid. The big difference between Alinda and Windsor....Alinda can write the cheque tomorrow without having to cry to the Feds for cash as Eddie has to do.

Let's see how Eddie reacts now.

As an aside, I wonder what the relationship between Alinda and Macquarie Bank is. I hope there is one. Then Eddie can get mad at David Estrin if his partner, David McFadden, was involved in getting the Tunnel away from Windsor for Alinda/Macquarie!

Imagine the pressure Eddie will try to put on the Feds for cash for the Tunnel if they want a "compromise" solution for the border road. That's Eddie's last card he can play. Why one might almost think that the whole Halberstadt/Lewenza brouhaha was a phony to allow Eddie to pressure the Feds ie you have to salvage things after Halberstadt "leaked" the details. I need your cash for the Tunnel if you want me to do a deal on the border road now.

I just hope that the Feds are not that foolish. They ought to know that Eddie has NO bargaining position after he said that the tunnel along the DRIC road was a mere starting point. Eddie will cave now for anything or he can be ignored under Bill C-3 as was pointed out in the Senate by the Mayor himself! He undercut the City's legal position on the DRIC Road out of his own mouth.

So let's assume that Eddie's Tunnel deal falls apart. How will he salvage his reputation as a deal maker when he failed again?

He has a quick mind so here is what he will say. He'll claim it's no big deal. Sutts will be the one in front saying that Windsor could not be protected so he would not allow the deal in any event. (Cliff's law partners will breathe easy now). Eddie will say that he will try and do something with the Windsor half, say a lease deal to someone. He will try and say that Windsor's half is worth at least US$75M or more. He will try and find someone to take it over or perhaps even buy it, probably the Federal Government if they want a border road deal---you know, Canadianize it.

Eddie can now totally ignore Council. He will figure out that he will get his Provincial amendments and transfer the Tunnel to a new Municipal Services Corporation that will have its own Board separate from the City with him as the Head of course. They will now do their deal and who cares what Windsorites want to know. It's a confidential business matter after all! Not even the Privacy Commissioner would be able to intervene if they do it right!

As for Councillors, once they transfer the assets to a new company, they are out of the picture. See how easily they can be fooled too by that Motion that Councillor Brister put on the Consent Agenda with NO REAL QUESTIONS ASKED BY ANYONE!

The Feds will laugh and keep on moving forward with the "cheap" solution with a tunnel or two to keep people quiet so they can claim they listened to the people.

In the end, Eddie will have to do a deal with Alinda, he has no choice since no one else will want half a tunnel. They won't offer him anywhere near what he wants but it does not matter. It will be characterized as a huge win for Eddie by his cheerleaders.

So that is Windsor's price for inexperienced and ego-driven leadership! Oh and expect a big Tunnel toll increase now.

The Francis Transcript





What a Star headline. Bloggers are no longer lonely. Everyone is reading us:

  • "Council uproar sparked by blog"

Gee, I thought I had done something right again! I figured I was being slammed for my "Betrayal Blog." Hrumph...darn, no such luck. It was about Councillor Haberstadt's BLOG and the border. He gets front page with his BLOG and I only get a Page 2 story.

I have to do something that might just provoke some controversy to get my reputation back. How about this:

  • I hear that in camera meetings are a disaster with Councillors getting more and more upset at the lack of leadership and lack of information.

  • Some on Council are claiming, that contrary to his protestations to Gord Henderson, it looks more and more that the Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget is lining himself up to run for Mayor. Just watch how he votes on issues. He is being viewed negatively by some of his colleagues!

  • I also hear that Councillor Gignac's budget calculator broke down. I am pretty nervous as she is viewed as one of "the crusaders for fiscal responsibility." According to the Star,

    "The two-year upgrade and restoration of the University Avenue tunnel ventilation building wrapped up about $2 million under its $20-million budget, city officials announced Tuesday.

    Many people have the perception that the city of Windsor is always over-budget, said Coun. Jo-Anne Gignac.

    "This is a great achievement."

    Except the original cost was $13M so it is $5M over-budget! Heaven help us if she says that the East End arena will come in under budget

Nawwwwwww, those stories are not big enough. Let's do something really juicy. I got it. Here it is folks. What you all have been waiting for. The Francis interview on CKLW. Watch how he twists and turns and makes a so-called non-issue that has been in the Star for days now, his BIG issue to slam down any Councillor who dares open his mouth.

I must admit I have no idea why the CKLW show needs interviewers....they just ask a question and then let Eddie ramble for as long as he wants. On some shows, I swear it seems he is reading from a script he has prepared or had prepared for him. They never ask a tough question or do any follow-up. So I will have to do it for them. I just wish that Eddie would slow down when he speaks. He makes transcription difficult

Interview with Mayor Eddie Francis

CKLW AM800
May 29, 2007

Host (1): Well lets talk about the big, the big story of the morning as people are hearing on AM800, some heated words between a couple of City Councillors last night

Host (2) Yeah, well specifically Councillor Halberstadt walking out of the in-camera meeting yesterday and as we understand it he was accused behind closed doors of leaking confidential information on his internet BLOG and he said he absolutely did not leak any information. Did he? [Hmmm I wonder, if this story was leaked, who leaked this story of what happened in camera and what was said]

Mayor Francis: Yeah of all the issues that we have this is the one that I guess that I have to deal with today [You did NOT have to do so. Are you ever lucky Mayor so no one can ask you about how you mishandled the Capitol file or why you manipulated the agenda or what the Tunnel deal is all about. Let's spend the whole show on something that Eddie claimed is insignificant]

And with regards to this particular issue it really goes to the border and on the border issue it is so sensitive in that members of City Council are wanting to deliver the best possible solution and there is a lot of special interests and there are people, third party, that want to see the City fail because they want to deliver a cheap solution. [Who are these people, DRIC, the Bridge Co., both. Eddie's newest, most favourite word is "cheap." Can't you just see him sneering in the mirror in the Condo he rents as he practises saying the word.]


So members of City Council are very cognizant of their responsibility and their obligations and they are consistently ensuring that they don't take any mis-steps in this process because they want to make sure that they deliver the best solution for the residents of the City. [How can they make any mis-steps when he does not tell them everything that goes on. OR rather, how can they NOT make mis-stps since it appears that they do not have full information]

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and the last thing that we want to do is allow some cheap solution to be introduced that will forever prejudice our right to a better quality of life. [There is his other bestest word "quality." If Eddie knows that DRIC will put forward the at-grade solution say it or will he take credit for any tunnelling. Eddie just killed any chance for a good solution for Windsor and for anything to be done soon]

Having said that, members of Council by resolution have authorized myself to be the only person to be the lead spokesperson on the border as well as the lead negotiator on the border. And implied in that is that all members of City Council through resolution will certainly allow myself to act in the best interests of the corp. and follow their instructions and their directions. [The Motion did not talk about negotiator..."with respect to communications on the border matter, to allow the Mayor to continue to be the voice of Council on this matter." if he is the lead negotiator, I'd like to know what his instructions from Council are, say on the Tunnel]

Each and every one of them would like to speak upon the border, each and every one of them have different opinions on the border, [What???? There is no unity??? It's all a false front!!!] but given the nature of these issues and the significance of these issues, each and every one of them has certainly through resolution put their confidence in the whole, the collective whole, the collective majority. [Obviously not!]

Last night there was an issue that was raised as we were discussing the border as it relates to Councillor Halberstadt and the issue was quickly dismissed. It was raised by one Councillor to Councillor Halberstadt then we just moved on. [Wow, if it was that insignificant, why is the whole interview show devoted to it? I assume that it must serve some purpose for Eddie to spend so much time on something so meaningless.]

And the issue was if we all agree to a resolution, if we all agree to a course of action and you vote for that course of action, implied in that is that you are going to support that course of action. So the argument, or the issue that was raised was - you voted for one person to be a spokesperson, you voted for us to be as a collective moving on this file, why is that you are going in writing, why is it that you are going and saying something that is contrary? [HUH. Where was the Motion on moving forward as a collective? Is that another in camera Motion that is still hidden from view? Alan was not acting as spokesperson for the City but doing his duty as a Ward Councillor by telling constituents and others what is going on at Council. That is still his job or has that been removed too]

And that is an issue that we deal with all the time, not just this Council but any Council. When a Council passes a resolution you expect the Councillors to abide by that resolution because it's not what's good for you it's what is good for the entire City and if 6 or 7 or 10 members of Councillors vote one way, you expect that, you can say that you disagree with it, but don' t vote for something and then go the next day and take a different position when you have voted for something. If you disagree with something, then put your hand up. [Sheeeeesh Eddie forgot to invoke the Procedural Bylaw...a perfect opportunity to do so]

Host: At that time?

Mayor Francis: At that time, be counted against it but don 't vote for something and the next day or the next week change your mind and say well I didn't vote that way when you didn't. [I got lost on this one!]

I think that is what the issue is but I think that when you really look at the issue it is really about the underlying issue is that members of City Council do not want to take a mis-step on this file. [No the underlying issue is Eddie's attempt to completely control everything! I don't even remember the "Voice of Council" Motion being on the agenda. Now THAT would be a good issue for an integrity Commissioner to look at!]


They are, and we are engaged in a very aggressive process right now where we have senior orders of government that want to impose a cheap solution on us. We have private interests that want to see their position is advanced and all those proposals compromise the City's position. [It is not a cheap solution----Eddie has made the tunnel a phony issue and he is now caught on it! He is the one who said the tunnel is the starting point and gave away the City's strategy. He undercut himself and now he is flipflopping again. Oh and another Ambassador Bridge Co. insult for good measure]

And all of those proposals will saddle the City with a position that is unacceptable so members of City Council are very astutely, very prudently wanting to make sure that we follow the best course of action and that we do not sell out the City and that we do not prejudice the City's interest. [Sell out, prejudice, astutely, prudently, best--all in one sentence too]

And when one Councillor or a group of Councillors or others seem to say one thing by resolution, do something else, members of City Council 's frustration is growing in that regard. [Just like when Council says something in a Resolution about a tunnel and reverses themselves in private. Now Eddie knows how Mike Hurst felt as Mayor and why people were furious at him.]

Host: OK so did he leak any information?

Mayor Francis: Well I think the issue is that on one of his, on one of his writings, Councillor Halberstadt indicated that the City was looking to compromise its position. I noticed that he's since then changed that but the issue is that some Councillors have taken some serious, serious issue with the fact that he would characterize that the City is prepared to compromise. [Good now Eddie has pinned himself down to a tunnel from Highway 401 to the border. Now he has made himself totally irrelevant. Who talked about capitulating---Eddie with his starting point remark!]

I can assure you, and anyone that knows the Council and that knows our position on this file. We have been consistent and we are not prepared to compromise on anything and we want the best solution for the City. [What IS the City's postion now? If he wants the best solution, why isn't he working with the Bridge Co.?]

Host: All right, Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis. Thank you very much, we appreciate your time.


Hmmmmmm. Well if you are NOT interested in that story how about this one from Chris Schnurr's BLOG:

Marko Paranosic, Gridlock Sam's right hand man who left Sam a year ago, denounces Mayor Eddie Francis saying

  • "I, and others, had been led on and that there would be no action or follow-through on the Schwartz Report or any type of proactive City endeavours....I wasn’t going to waste my engineering career waiting and waiting for ...border work to magically appear....Without that public consultation and process transparency the public is left to trust their representatives, whether they are elected or bureaucratic, to bring their concerns and issues to the table. And so we are left with the trust issue; can the public trust that their representatives are not carrying alternative agendas into meetings, trust that they are not posturing for political gain and trust that they are competent to address the issues at hand...you may include me in the camp that disagrees with the continued in-camera secrecy and Solicitor-Client privilege that shrouds engineering work being done by the city on this file.

http://chrisschnurr.wordpress.com/2007/05/29/border-shrouded-in-secrecy-and-councillor-targeted/#comments

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Blame The Council Leak On El Nino





Sheeeesh. I am away for a day for a bit of a break and all hell breaks loose over leaks from Council meetings over the border. No I was not forced out of town by the controversy I seem to have created

I just got back so I want to hear what my moles have to say. What I do know already is that it was not Councillor Halberstadt's BLOG that caused the issue. It was MINE on Monday "Betrayal: It's The 2003 Déjà Vu All Over Again" and "Part Two: Mayor's Real Agenda" that got some people upset.

I did find it hilarious frankly that Council Lewenza did not deny what Councillor Halberstadt said but instead got involved with ad hominem attacks and threats of an integrity commissioner.

I'll write more about the border tomorrow

I better be careful what I write....too many poeple at City Hall are reading it and reacting to it it seems!

It seems that I have been given credit by a number of people for being responsible for grass cutting starting finally. This was after I posted a photo of the median near my house showing the dandelions reaching almost as high up as the fire hydrant. [BLOG May 14, 2007 City Of Roses]

I bring this up again because of the QUOTE OF THE MONTH that I read in the Star the other day. It is by the same Councillor that asked why no one listens to Windsor, as if he did not know.

According to Councillor Valentinis, the reason why " Grass cutting at city parks [is] falling short" is
  • "with global warming, grass appears to be growing earlier and faster every spring"
Whew, that was a mouth opener. It was not due to lack of funds because of other commitments for funds say for arenas or Tunnel deals or not having enough staff (yes, yes, the "student" excuse was runner-up in the QUOTE contest) but the City's problems were due to "global warming." How can you argue against that.

So I thought I needed to compile a list of "force majeure" excuses for Windsor politicians that they can use when the going gets tough. If you can think of any others, be sure to send them along:
  1. The border will be completed by the next time the cicadas come out to sing. It's not our fault that the insects live 17 years underground and emerge to "to hook up once and die."
  2. Sure our Economic Development Commission is looking to expand local businesses at a time when they are going bankrupt rather than when they were booming, but it is just like the PR flack who posted the Mayor's statement signalling an "end" to the State of Emergency on the City's website but not the "start" of it.
  3. The reason that people cannot read the Canderel or Spitfires agreement is that the explosion in the East end that gave rise to the State of Emergency "sent so much toxic smoke billowing into the air that it blocked out the sun... [The] Thick, pungent smoke turned the daylight black"
  4. It's not that the East end arena is delayed, it is just that the Spits want to open earlier
  5. While "Spitfires owner Warren Rychel said the [East end arena] site was "perfect," it is rain falling on the parking lot that is the problem
  6. The East end arena needs "an emergency generator that would allow it to be used as an evacuation centre" since scientists predict that the 2007 hurricane season will be very active.
  7. Pollution problems in Windsor are not caused by trucks but by bovine flatulence since emissions of almost 20 pounds per cow mean that cattle in large numbers can produce more organic compounds than are generated by either cars or trucks or pesticides.
  8. It's not that Windsor politicians are slow, they are waiting for the province's water czar to tell them to get the lead out
  9. Several members of the University of Windsor Board are investigating what the "unknown force origin" (or UFO) was that raised the issue of moving the Engineering complex downtown.
  10. While the new documentary film "Toxic Trespass" about "the health impact caused by thousands of diesel trucks ... plus the huge volumes of industrial pollution produced across the river" is interesting, Michael Moore did not make it so I do not have to see it

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

More Quick News Items











Here are some more quick stories for you

WHY DIDN'T BUZZ GET THE MEMO

Both the Windsor Star and Ken Lewenza Jr. paid lip-service to the Mayor's comment at his State of The City speech

  • "For example – some believe we have militant labour unions in our city. That turns them off.

    Regardless as to whether this perception is real or not, it is something we need to address...

    The Minister and I have had to counter some of the negative perceptions that are being used against us, as she attempts to attract more jobs and more investment to our city.
    That’s why I am calling upon our labour movement to show Windsorites, and to show the world, that we are modern and sophisticated. That we have moved on.

    That we share a common interest that balances job security and corporate success.
    That the perception held by some, that we still have militant, old-fashioned unions, simply isn’t supported by the facts.

    And that our words and our actions from this day forward will not give our competition the fuel that they need to spread these distorted perceptions."

Hardly anyone outside of Windsor will read the nice words in our paper about how wonderful the rally was Instead, they will read the Globe and Mail. Here is what they will read:

  • "Thousands protest loss of manufacturing jobs

    Canadian Press May 27, 2007 at 4:47 PM EDT

    WINDSOR — More than 38,000 people converged in Windsor Sunday for a massive rally to threaten action if the manufacturing sector continues to bleed jobs.

    The Canadian Auto Workers union organized the rally to draw attention to what President Buzz Hargrove called a crisis in the industry.

    Mr. Hargrove told those assembled that General Motors workers in Windsor are willing to do whatever it takes to keep their jobs, which are being threatened by plans to locate a new transmission plant in St. Catharines.

    “I want to send a message on behalf of the General Motors workers at the transmission plant to Mr. Harper but especially to General Motors that, by God, we've started the fight to save our jobs, to get a new product in Windsor, and we'll carry it through to the bargaining table and a strike if necessary in 2008,” he said.

Thanks for your help Buzz!

DUPLICATE EVERYTHING

An interesting story about the terrorist threat:

  • "Plan to protect infrastructure from terrorists
    Andrew Mayeda, CanWest News Service, May 26, 2007

    OTTAWA - The federal government plans to roll out a national strategy this summer to protect critical infrastructure such as oil and gas pipelines from terrorist attacks and other threats, according to documents obtained by CanWest News Service...

    The national strategy would reach far beyond the oil and gas sector to cover everything from power plants and telecommunications networks to banking systems, hospitals, transport routes, food-distribution networks, manufacturing facilities and the water supply."

I assume that the Ambassador Bridge is included under "transport routes." The funny thing is that it seems everyone wants another bridge in Windsor because of the security risk but the Report in the news article does not say to duplicate all of the other potential targets.

It's interesting as well that everyone wants Shared Border Management in Fort Erie yet when the Bridge Co. offered it here withtheir 200 b00th proposal they were opposed and their advocacy of "reverse customs" has gone unheeded for years.

What I also found amusing is this part of the story:

  • "Canada has identified 10 critical sectors that require protection, such as energy and utilities, as well as communications and information technology. But the Canadian plan could run into resistance from industry, which owns and operates much of the infrastructure, and provincial, territorial and municipal governments, which in many cases claim jurisdiction."

So others including government are so "private" even with respect to security issues. It's not just the disinformation being spread about the Bridge Co.

Can you say "double-standard" to try to force the Bridge Co. out of business!

POWER FAILURE

Interesting co-incidence.

The day of the big power failure at the University was the same day its Board was to discuss possibly moving the Engineering complex downtown to the urban village lands.

I wonder if the they blew the transfomer cranking up the air conditioning since there was an expectation that the meeting was going to be hot and heavy!

It was.

MORE EDUCATIONAL NEWS

I hear that many of the programs at the state of the art Ford Centre for Manufacturing Excellence at St. Clair College need students: Manufacturing programs, tool and die programs, mold maker programs.

So when you need students, what should a school do---go out and recruit them. That is what St. Clair is doing

I figured that the recruiters were heading out to Alberta and the land of plenty since the weather was much nicer now and they need workers in that Province.

Well I was wrong. I was told that the recruiters were heading out west, further west.... across the Pacific....to CHINA. (or is that to the East?)

There is a disconnect somewhere.....Rally for jobs in Windsor and recruit Chinese students and train them to take our jobs for China.

CAPITOL MEETING

From CHYR but not from our local media:

  • "Over two months after the Capitol Theatre filed for bankruptcy it’s fate is still in the balance.

    Capitol Theatre bankruptcy trustee Stephen Funtig met yesterday with inspectors, creditors — possibly about a third party interested in buying the venue.

    The group gathered for an hour and a half at Funtig’s downtown office.

    Nobody in attendance would comment after the meeting.

    Funtig says something might be announced within the next few weeks.

    The theatre went bankrupt on March 14th."

HE PULLED A WHOPPER OF A MOVE

I see that Burger King is going to appeal the City decision not to let them relocate:

  • "Burger King Restaurants of Canada has filed an appeal with the Ontario Municipal Board after city council rejected its zone change application to build a new restaurant on the downtown property of the former Top Hat night club...

    "Burger King has filed an appeal, but our administration is continuing to work with them on this," said Mayor Eddie Francis. "They also may file a new application (to council)."

I wondered why Eddie voted on the Motion. It had been lost on a 5-4 vote and he then voted in favour to make it 5-5. Under the Procedural By-law, the Motion fails on the tie vote. His vote made no difference at all yet he voted. Can anyone remember the last time he voted on something, especially to make a tie which did nothing?

That tells you the character of the man. Always thinking, usually ahead of everyone else. Very calculating. Very protective, of himself. Good at "branding." As for me, I always try to look behind what his public statements say to understand what is happening.

I can just hear him at the OMB hearing. "Why I am pro-business. Look I voted FOR Burger King's move. You cannot blame me for anything. Why I even offered them the old Bus Terminal site as an alternative"

Another application might be filed???? For the same site???? Clearly there is a big story about everything that has gone on for years with this. One day, someone might actually tell us what it is. Perhaps my MFOIA might do so!

I wonder if this is a taste of what may happen on the Bridge Co. demolition vote?

MY SNOW WILL BE PLOWED AND THE MEDIAN GRASS CUT

Remember I told you that a Senior Windsor politician is thinking about moving into Ward 1.
Well I hear that the politician and spouse are still looking in South Windsor. In fact, I hear that the home they are looking at now is around the corner from me. They did not do a deal it seems on the other home they were looking at. Probably bid too low hoping to get a bargain.

The new home is also quite near the home of that famous Cabinet Minister Sandra Pupatello. Imagine how often they could speak together as they are cutting the lawn or planting flowers.
I hope that they buy.....I won't have to worry any more about Enwin power outages or the streets not being plowed or grass being cut. Politicians have some value after all.

NO ONE TOOK ME UP ON MY OFFER


I was hoping that a Motion would have been passed asking that the City call me to solve the Capitol problem for them but none was.

Oh well, the Capitol matter will drag on for a year or two at a cost of how much as the theatre deteriorates. Why the lawyers cannot even agree in which Court the matter should be heard.

Thank goodness that Eddie was able to tell Fulvio that if people were concerned about the Capitol to tell them that the City tried to do everything to help out including getting an asset worth a couple of million dollars for lands and building for a payment of about $200K to unsecured creditors!

Heck that was a great deal for which the Trustee could have been sued if the City had no valid position. Trustees aren't supposed to act that way. They have to get the best price for the Estate, not just Eddie's price!

And I really liked his threat that unless everyone knuckles under to him that he just might not want the theatre if it has been dark for 9 months! [Yawn]

Go back on read my BLOG March 14, 2007 "Don't Cry For Windsor, Councillor Valentinis" to find out why there is a mess. All the City had to do was take over the Capitol once it was insolvent but it chose not to do so. There would have been no bankruptcy and no issue as to the validity of the "mortgage." Why didn't Eddie act then is the real question to ask but no one has yet.

Two Thumbs down on the drama that the Mayor tried to orchestrate at Council. However, he needs a better script writer who can create a happy ending.

Heritage Bathroom



My wife has been nagging me a lot these days.

She has this silly notion that we need to redecorate our bathroom after living in our house for only about 20 years! Sure the house is about 50 or so years old but bathtubs were bathtubs way back then.

Oh I get the argument that "bathroom redecorating always provides significant returns in home value" as if that is to make me feel better when I have to write a big cheque to a contractor.

Tankless hotwater heaters for instant and continous hot water, a whirlpool, body spa, heated towel rack, heated floors, fog free mirrors...you name it, she wants it.

She must think I am made of money. Doesn't she remember that I am a pensioner and am watching my pennies, especially in Windsor with all of the money that our local politicans want to spend playing entrepreneur with our tax money!

You know in the end that she is going to win out....I know it too. So I started thinking how I could get some extra money, particularly without working.

I have such an interesting life that I read Council Communications for excitement. Oh you can laugh all you want but it hit me. I knew how I could get all the money I wanted to redecorate to keep my wife happy and not worry about spending money.

All I had to do was to try and get my house designated as "heritage." It would be easy after that.
Now I have to admit that I have not looked into it fully yet but if my house was a Heritage property, then
  • "municipalities [can] provide tax relief to owners of eligible heritage properties. The legislation gives municipalities the option of passing a by-law to establish a local program to provide tax reductions or refunds to owners of eligible heritage properties...municipalities can determine the amount of tax relief they wish to offer (between 10 per cent and 40 per cent)."
It got better especially if the value of my home was increased by the renovations
  • "Some municipalities... have used these powers to provide "Conditional Heritage Grants" or tax back grants to qualifying property owners. The grant is equal to the amount of the annual increase in the municipal portion of the real property taxes for such property that is the direct result of a re-assessment arising from an approved restoration/rehabilitation project. The amount of the grant is calculated to match the increase in property taxes that would result from improvements to the heritage property."
If that was not enough, then there was the piece de resistance, the ultimate boondoggle. I thought I had died and gone to heaven:
  • "The council of a municipality may pass by-laws providing for the making of a grant or loan to the owner of a property designated under this Part for the purpose of paying for the whole or any part of the cost of alteration of such designated property on such terms and conditions as the council may prescribe."
Taxes reduced by up to 40%, no tax increase because of the bathroom improvement and then having it all paid for by the City as well. I thought that I could get a heritage designation for my house easily enough. It met a number of the criteria. However, I needed the help of someone who had gone through the process.
And there she was in the Communications Package:

MARY ANN CUDERMAN

She owns the McGregor-Cowan house on Sandwich St. and has applied for grants and loans for her house. Actually, it is used as a commercial establishment as well, her bakery.
I noticed that she had received money from the City on several occasions:
  • $87,900 for a loan/mortgage
  • $17, 630 grant for a cedar roof (I was not sure if she also got a requested interest free loan in the amount of $5,876. However the City newsletter said "When the cedar shingle roof needed replacing, Cuderman turned to the City for funding, and received it.")

Now she wanted 25% of the cost of restoring the main entrance door and sidelights of the house or $826.88. Normally only 15% is granted I read but that amount can be increased depending on the circumstances. In fact, the Heritage Planner even suggested adding a 5% contingency. Now that was very helpful too!

I saw that she had in the past appeared

  • " before Council to speak in support of the use of the Ontario Heritage Property Tax Relief Program as a pilot project to assist the owners of designated heritage properties in Sandwich, and states that based on her own experiences with her property, it is definitely costly in terms of maintenance and rehabilitation, and this program would encourage people to conserve their properties."
I have decided that I am going to go to her bakery one day soon, buy a coffee and brownie and see if she can give me some help in filling in the application for my wife's bathroom restoration extravaganza project. My wife will be so pleased

Heck, I may even call the Bridge Co. after that and get them to make their Bridge "heritage" too. Then they can approach Eddie for their multi-million dollar restoration on the old bridge after the Enhancement Project is completed and get the City to help pay for it!

I better act fast though...I want to get there before a good part of Sandwich is declared "heritage." With all of the City-paid fixing up, there won't be a contractor left within 200 miles of this place to do the bathroom.

Isn't heritage wonderful!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Part Two: Mayor's Real Agenda


This is Part Two of today's venting BLOGs! Can you guess how angry I am at how this City is being run!

I read this quote from Peter Drucker who was called "the greatest management thinker of the last century" that I thought was appropriate:

  • "Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things."

We have a manager in charge at Windsor Council, a legal technocrat he was called. We do not have a leader who inspires confidence, not for me at least.

Let me show you why I feel as I do by dealing with the Council Agenda for Monday now

The agenda is a prime example of how immature and petty our Mayor is in running a Government and how untrusting of the electorate who voted him into power. It is nothing more than manipulating matters politically to ensure that he gets his way without criticism about what he is doing or revealing anything of significance.

Just ask Alan McKinnon about how the Mayor likes to be told he is wrong or that he personally is to blame. Teflon Eddie goes ballistic; he cannot deal with it and has to justify himself. It has to be someone else that messed up, not him.

What is the message that he is communicating to outsiders with his actions, his "branding?" It is almost laughable recalling his words of two weeks ago. His actions speak louder than his whispers:

  • "We need to put narrow interests aside – and promote the greater good.

    We need to think about the long-term, and not get distracted by arguing with one another over small, petty and personal issues in the short term.

    We need to end the fragmentation – where narrow interests compete with one another within Windsor.

    We need to recognize and sideline the special interests that seek to divide us.

    And we need to stop distorting our Windsor in the name of advancing other agendas – political or otherwise."

If only he really acted on what he said in his State of The City speech!

Here are the relevant parts of Monday's agenda:

Council Agenda for the Monday May 28, 2007
Windsor City Council meeting, 6:00 p.m., Council Chambers
3rd floor, Windsor City Hall

PLANNING ADVISORY COMMITTEE

PAC 1 Boardwalk Reit Properties Ltd. (8325 Riverside Drive East and 8312 Clairview) - Deferred

CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER/STRATEGIC SERVICES

Item 8--- Capitol Theatre and Arts Centre

GENERAL MANAGER, CORPORATE SERVICES

Item 7--- Windsor-Detroit Tunnel - Establishment of a Municipal Services Corporation

GENERAL MANAGER, PUBLIC WORKS

Item 1--- 686, 718, 738, 750, 778 and 784 Indian Road - Request Exemption from Demolition Control By-law and Interim Control By-law for the Olde Sandwich Towne Community Planning Study Area

The Mayor controls the Agenda. Let's deal with the easy matter first.

The Bridge Co. matter (Item 1) was supposed to have taken place last week. Why wasn't it? It was instead put on the agenda for this Monday, a known holiday in the US, Memorial Day. Try and ruin the holiday weekend for the Bridge Co. people and their experts. Who cares. Make them work over the weekend and come in early for the Council issue.

Was it an innocent mistake? Oh the Mayor knows all about Memorial Day. Remember what happened to his big mayors meeting last year around this time when US mayors did not show up because of the holiday weekend:

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

Hasn't the Mayor's Office bought a calendar yet that shows holidays so we don't have these embarrassments? Are they that incompetent? Or is it something more? Is there a double-standard, one for the Bridge Co. and one for others?

In fact, if you look at the Order of Business, there are TWO letters from the Bridge Co. asking for a postponement until June 11. That's the day when they are finally going to be able to tell the Mayor and Council about their Enhancement project. Hmmmm I wonder why the Mayor and Council flip-flopped and now want to be educated. Did they lose my BLOGaddress? Or did their lawyers tell them that they were acting in "bad faith" so they should pretend to listen?

It would seem that the deferral should be granted out of courtesy given the holiday anyway or because it makes more sense to understand the demolition as part of the whole project. Where is the deferral? It has not yet been given. It's not on the Consent Agenda either. Why could the PAC matter be deferred on the Agenda (PAC 1) and not the Bridge matter?

Here's my guess; Eddie IS the Mayor and HE decides! Let Dan Stamper, the Bridge Co. President, or his lawyer come and grovel in front of him and beg. That will teach Stamper to take him on as he did the last time he appeared in front of Council and put Eddie in his place.

How childish of our Mayor! He had the chance to debate Stamper on TV on Channel 4 WDIV's Flashpoint on Sunday morning but could not attend because of another commitment (It was taped earlier in the week).

As for ITEMS 7 & 8, when were they put on the Agenda and posted on the website publicly? It appears that they were not added until some time on Friday after the noon deadline for people to appear as delegates as of right. The items could have been posted earlier with a note to come back when the Administration Report was posted.

It was not done. That would alert the public. We cannot have that can we? Someone might actually want to speak on the items or perhaps those artsy-types might want to hold another demonstration!

Better to hope that no one sees these matters until the last minute so no one can appear and oppose. Eddie cannot have another episode similar to the infamous Agenda Item #5 when all of the delegations lined up to oppose him! Imagine, daring to argue against our Philosopher King!

Manipulate the Agenda to control the situation.

The Capitol Theatre matter---read the Administrative Report. It's nothing more than an 8 page diatribe telling us that it is not Eddie's fault if he loses the Theatre! Pages and pages of past history that are irrelevant now given that the objective still is to save the Capitol. We are to be persuaded that it's all the Trustee's fault and his lawyer that we have to go to court since the City has been acting in the Community's best interest.

It is NOT the past that is the issue but Eddie's failure to perform, again.

It was going to be so easy...we were told the City had a right to the building. If so, then why did the City offer to pay off all unsecured creditors on the condition that the Trustee transfer to the City the land and buildings. Was the City being kind to unsecured creditors? Hardly!

Eddie must have known that the Trustee would find it almost impossible to do that legally. Was he trying to bluff his way through and hoping the Trustee would fold? What was the legal advice he was given? Heck, the Trustee has a whole bunch of assets to sell that will finance his fees and lawyers too from the sale of equipment.

Nope, Eddie overplayed his hand and was called on his bluff. Now we have to spend thousands in legal fees with no assurance of victory in a lawsuit that may last a year or more.

You know what bugs me....The CAO says in the Report that the amount outstanding to creditors is about $200,000 and that "no new claims have been put forward." Yet only a few days ago, the Mayor said:

  • "Francis said city officials were under the impression that the Capitol, which went bankrupt March 14, owed about $200,000.

    “Now we’re hearing rumblings it might be even higher,” he said."

WHHHHAAAATTTTTTTTT? We start lawsuits based on rumblings not facts? Facts that the CAO has now said had not changed! Did we start a lawsuit for the WRONG reason? Let a judge decide it to provide the excuse for failure.

What a way to run a matter. Such inexperience. No resolution. Now it is time to get Council onside to pass a Resolution so Eddie cannot be blamed. The City knew everything [BLOGs March 14, 2007 "Don't Cry For Windsor, Councillor Valentinis" May 18, 2007 "Spending More Capital On The Capitol"]. What a screw-up.

With all modesty, I am pretty good at problem-solving. I did it for 30 years as a lawyer. I think I could have worked it all out to give everyone what they wanted and do it in a legal manner. It might have taken take me 1 or 2 phone calls, maybe a few more depending on a couple of issues. It would have been easier right at the time of bankruptcy to be honest, a bit harder now. However, I'd still be happy to act as I said before as a "consultant" in this matter and on a contingency basis too. Payment only if I succeed.

My fee would be modest too: only $50,000 (out of pocket fess extra) which should be below the legal costs after a one or two year lawsuit and appeals are completed. OR, my preference, instead of money, the City agree to name a significant public area in the Capitol after my parents!

I even have a plan what to do afterwards that I would throw in gratis. But action has to be taken now! Or else I have no interest. Otherwise I expect that the Theatre could be torn down for a parking lot or a new condo!

And now the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel. Let's see...set up a services company to which the Tunnel should be transferred since the City cannot do the deal otherwise, adopt an asset transfer policy and then seek to have the Municipal Act Regulations amended. I am sure that Eddie and Donna had a nice lunch over this matter too.

I believe the matter has to be deferred. Has the City complied with the Regualtions since they require:

  • "8. Before establishing a corporation under section 3, a municipality shall consult with the public about the proposal to establish the corporation. "

Ummmm where is that public consultation? Is posting something on a Friday afternoon before the vote on Monday enough time and is this all the Act requires? How can we have an informed public consultation without facts? I would tell you to speak to your Councillors about it but I don't think they know anything either. It has all been handled by the Mayor.

Which Councillor has the nerve now to ask for a deferral? Who will insist that the Act be complied with? Oh no, heaven forbid that it messes up the deal with Detroit. Of course the public consultation could have been done months before but why do that. The concept might have been rejected. Instead force silence by threatening a Councillor with destroying the deal!

Gee I have a few silly questions to ask as part of my "consultations:"

  • is it a core function of a municipal government to be a border operator...Detroit did not think so

  • whatever happened to the City assets review report

  • what's the Tunnel deal anyway

  • how can the US half be worth US$75M when the Bridge Co. only offered $US20M for a 25 year longer deal

  • Where is the appraisal report and who did it

  • what due diligence was done as to profitability

  • what due diligence was done as to its condition and its security risk

  • how will it be paid for

  • if the Tunnel is such a liability risk then why did the Mayor keep it in the City and not transfer it before

  • How can it be said that the Tunnel is profitable with the traffic volumes decreasing drastically, with the dividend decreasing drastically and no one hired after all of this time to "breathe" the Tunnel

  • how can it be self-sustaining if it had to borrow money from the City

  • how can the Tunnel survive if a DRIC bridge, another competitor for border traffic, is built

  • is there a side-deal to buy out Alinda's contract and at what cost otherwise the City has to sit around until their agreement ends in 2020.

  • what are the terms of the JOA with DWT Inc.

Oh I could go on and on but you get the picture. There are serious matters that have NOT been discussed and there have been absolutely no discussions with the public.

Eddie does not want such a discussion with the public and from what I have heard, has not had such a discussion with Councillors unless I have been lied to or something happened over the last few days. He does not dare tell us the truth does he because he is afraid we may say NO. He cannot take that chance.

RAM IT THROUGH. DO IT IN THE LAST MINUTE. DO IT IN SECRET. DON'T GIVE OUT ANY DETAILS.

Geez I am waiting for the confidentiality argument as with Canderel or the arena lease or solicitor-client privilege as with Estrin and the Schwartz materials.

Actually we don't have to worry since I assume that Cliff Sutts and his partners and law firm are on the hook if the deal messes up. That should allow me to sleep at night. After all, he

  • "emphasized the deal will not be completed until he is fully assured local taxpayers will not be hurt.

    "We will be extraordinarily cautious so costs of the acquisition will be self-supporting of the project itself," he said. "That there will be no need to go to the well of the city to support this transaction."

But you know what, that is not how a City is to be run, certainly not MY City or YOURS I suspect.

There has to be full information disclosed in a timely fashion so informed decisions can be made on important transactions. We need to have deals completed properly, not wind up in litigation. We need a Council to take a position and stick to it, not take a position for political expediency and flip-flop when convenient. We need a Council that people will believe when they say something and not waste time and money on "starting points."

We need civility re-established and consideration for taxpayers, whether we support them or oppose them. We need a Council that is open-minded that deals with facts and is not afraid to hear them directly from a delegation.

We need a Council that is NOT afraid of the Mayor but works with him. We need a Council who understands and carries out their legal obligations to us. We need a Council who will stand up to a Mayor if required in our best interests.

Most of all, we need a Mayor whom we can trust and who can lead us.

Monday night should give us some answers as to what this City is and what it will be for the next 3 1/2 years!

Betrayal: It's The 2003 Déjà Vu All Over Again



I have to do this as a two-part BLOG. It is too much for me to say and for you to read in one long piece.

You know I lost it over the weekend. I just kept thinking it is 2003 all over again! Time had stood still

First, on Friday, it was the manipulation of the Council agenda, a cynical action designed to keep information away from Windsorites, for self-justification, to spread responsibility and to prevent debate and any negative comments.

Then, on Saturday, it was the Star "City plots DRIC plan" story that pushed me over the edge!

This first part of the BLOG is dedicated to the Editorial Board of the Windsor Star, and the Star Columnist, Gord Henderson, the huge advocates for a tunnelled solution in Windsor. It will be interesting watching you squirm as your position has been totally undercut by your hero, the Mayor!

Oh I know how it will be rationalized, how you will try to explain it away to your readers...trading the DRIC tunnel for the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel. If the Feds give Eddie his $75M to pay for the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel deal, then you'll let them off the hook for not building a complete tunnelled solution from 401 to the border.

It's politics isn't it, trade-offs! You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. It will be all done in secret too, out of the glare of public oversight. Regrettable but needed in this case because of the high stakes involved. I can just imagine reading it all now in the paper and gagging!

You know what. Mike Hurst is back as Mayor in the guise of Eddie Francis. It was the 2003 secret DRTP reversal all over again but this time it had to do with the tunnel.

I can only hope that we have at least one Councillor who will stand up and have the guts to say in public "Enough already!" as Council did in March 2003. However, from their record so far, I am not so sure there is one.

When Charlie Hotham as Councillor faced down Mayor Mike Hurst at the Council meeting on March 4, 2003 and told him that there was going to be a vote on the border issues that night, Mike Hurst was no longer Mayor of Windsor except in name only from that minute on! A majority of Council at that time took over the running of the City. Their success on the border issue has been squandered by Eddie Francis as Mayor and by two Councils, so far anyway.

My disgust Saturday morning was matched by that which I felt when I learned that Council had seemingly reversed themselves four years ago on opposing DRTP. Here is how Gord Henderson described it at the time:

  • "Empty promises
    Windsor Star 02-27-2003

    Forget the cheese-eaters. The real "surrender monkeys" are right here in Windsor where Mayor Mike Hurst and seven councillors abandoned a solemn public commitment to city residents after huddling behind closed doors.

    I thought a co-worker was pulling my leg when he told me that councillors, at Hurst's cajoling, had secretly backflipped last weekend on their unanimous stand in opposition to the Detroit River Tunnel Partnership (DRTP) plan for an international truck route through the heart of Windsor.

    No way, I thought. No way could they run up the white flag after facing more than 800 angry city residents at the Caboto Club on Jan. 27 and passionately professing their opposition to the DRTP plan and the bridge company's proposed parkway through the west end...

    But it boggles the mind to realize that a formal council resolution, passed with hundreds of witnesses present and thousands more watching on cable TV, could have a shelf life of only 26 days.

    Bad enough that they jettisoned their commitments and sold entire neighbourhoods down the river. What's worse is that they didn't have the guts to do it in public where the shocked victims could hear the rationale and judge the intestinal fortitude of their elected representatives. This after they lectured provincial and federal transportation bureaucrats for failing to be open and accountable."
Is it any different today? The idea of a tunnel from Highway 401 to the border seems to be a popular one although probably unrealistic. The Mayor and Council are in support of the concept and have worked the people up to convince them that it is required. Bill Marra, unfortunately for some, called the Mayor and Council's bluff by forcing the passing of the Tunnel Resolution on April 2, 2007 at a public Council session.

That Motion was clear:
  1. Windsor wants a tunnel on the DRIC route

  2. There has to be a tunnelled solution on the ENTIRE route, not just parts of it.
This Council is a bit better than the one in January-February in 2003...They took almost two months before they reversed their public Resolution! And like the other Council, they did it in secret headed by the Mayor!

Look at what happened in 2003 and compare it with what happened in 2007:
  1. We had a Resolution opposing the entire DRTP in public. We had a Resolution supporting a tunnelled solution along the entire DRIC Corridor in public
  2. In private, after about a month, in a secret strategy session, Council supported supposedly a DRTP North solution thereby changing their public postion. In private, after about two month, in a secret strategy session, Council supported supposedly a 6 KM tunnelled solution in the South only thereby changing their public postion and even then was prepared to compromise on other corridor "nuances."
  3. Mayor Hurst opposed all of DRTP yet offered up a partial DRTP solution. Mayor Francis supported all of a tunnelled solution and now offers a partial tunnelled solution.
  4. Mayor Hurst tried to reach a consensus on how much of the DRTP route was to be used. Mayor Francis "attempted to reach a consensus among them on how much of the route they want tunnelled."
  5. Hurst said to justify his new position "I believe we have to put something on the table if we hope to be successful at the table..."You can't keep saying no because the feds and the province are only going to wait so long before they impose a solution on us." Francis said to justify his new position "We are aware DRIC is moving towards a decision in regards to the corridor and what the route will be," Francis said. "Our experience in dealing with them in the past leads to concern on what the ultimate decision will be."
  6. Ward 2 was going to be screwed in 2003 by Hurst's solution. Ward 2 is going to be screwed in 2007 by Francis' solution.
  7. The area with the biggest noise-makers (and the richest home-owners with the biggest houses) would be the winners in both the solutions proposed in 2003 and 2007 while the other area lost out. The South was going to get a park in 2003 and now would get a tunnel in 2007. Ward 2 gets the trucks!
  8. That Council said NO to DRTP as their starting and then as their finishing point. This Council said YES to a tunnelled solution and now says that is merely their starting point
  9. Hurst said "This [his Made-in-Windsor solution] is a framework and it's a beginning not an end. " Francis said "We want something that works. Our starting point is a tunnel."
  10. In 2003, the Chair of STOPDRTP said "This is the absolute betrayal of the residents of the City of Windsor," said Dave Brister, chairman of the South/West Windsor Ratepayers Association, a residents group fighting the DRTP plan. "Mayor (Mike) Hurst and the councillors who have chosen to turn their backs on the residents of Windsor by now favouring the DRTP proposal have proven that they do not deserve the positions of trust which they hold. "We are opposed to the DRTP in its entirety." In 2007, Councillor STODRTP said.....

I was very involved in the 2003 episode and knew what went on then during this reversal. As the story kept unfolding in the Star at that time, it just kept getting worse for the Mayor and Councillors. A certain Councillor had the courage to accept an invitation for a coffee and then take charge and warn his colleagues about the backlash that they had unwittingly released and what it could do to Government in Windsor.

I doubt that Councillor would meet for coffee this time around. It is very unfortunate that the tunnel boosters do not have the power of the citizens in STOPDRTP. We were able to mobilize Windsorites to stop the 2003 betrayal. I am not sure to be direct who can stop the 2007 betrayal unless Council will on their own.


We had Councillors then who were not afraid and were prepared to face up to a very strong and dominating Mayor---seven of them. Dave Brister was involved as Chair of STOPDRTP then, Councillors Valentinis, Halberstadt and Marra were on Council then as was Councillor Jones. Wasn't Percy Hatfield covering Council for CBC TV then too?

Do we have a Charlie Hotham or a Joyce Zuk in Ward 1 now? Was Councillor Halberstadt "bushwacked" again? Who are our Councillors Francis and Valentinis now who can lead their colleagues? Has Bill Marra passed the 6 month period where he has proved himself to be loyal to his colleagues and will now stand up for his Motion and for Windsor?

Councillor Jones was there in 2003 and did not like what went on. What is he doing now and his colleague who replaced Peter Carlesimo? How are they standing up for their Ward? Do they like what they are seeing now?

It has nothing to do with the tunnel as far as I am concerned. It has everything to do with trusting our Government. With a betrayal such as this on such an important matter, regardless of what your position is, who can believe anything this Mayor and Council says any more? Who can possibly have any faith in their word?

It must be that amnesia bug that is effecting City Hall. Did they all forget what happened in that most tumultuous of times? I sure did not and I am hoping that you did not as well today.

This afternoon, Part Two about the agenda tonight and what this City has become.