Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, June 22, 2007

Masse's Border Authority

I see that NDP MP Brian Masse is out there promoting his Border Authority again.

  • "Renewing his call for a public authority to oversee the Windsor-Detroit corridor’s border crossings, MP Brian Masse (NDP — Windsor West) said it should include elected representatives who “are answerable to the community and its constituents.”
I would assume that Brian would insist that whoever was the MP from Windsor West needs to be part of that Authority too since the bridge is part of the riding. I would hope that he would also insist that the elected members of the Authority would not expect any salary for their work since taxpayers are already giving them money!

And now it looks like Detroit and Windsor want to be involved with a Border Authority.

Before we get too hung up praising this concept, it might be worthwhile taking a bit of time and looking at their pros and cons.

There are concerns about Border Authorities that were revealed by the New York Governor when he was Attorney General [BLOG, Tuesday, June 27, 2006 "More On Public Authorities"].

Now Brian likes to talk about the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority. I do not know if he intends to use it as his model for a Border Authority or not. If he chooses to do so, he should understand that this one seems to be a very unique institution. It calls itself "an international compact entity."

There are consequences if "an international compact entity" is set up here. Read what some of them are below and decide for yourself whether you want this model for Windsor.



Civil Action No.
Petitioners, 04-CV-0465(Sr)



Petitioners have alleged that the Authority is a New York State agency, subject to all obligations and duties of New York state agencies, including the New York Freedom of Information Law (FOIL), the New York Open Meetings Law and the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act ("SEQRA"), as well as a certain site plan review ordinance of the City of Buffalo, and they seek a declaratory judgment to that effect.

However, it is now the law of the case that the Authority is an international compact entity, the product of a compact between New York and Canada, approved by Congress, as the Second Circuit has ruled, and not an agency of the state of New York. Therefore, this Court must reject the petitioners' request for a declaration that the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority is a New York state agency subject to all obligations and duties of New York state agencies.

As set forth herein, it is settled law in this Circuit that state and local law cannot apply to compact entities unless all sovereigns who are parties to the compact expressly agree. Thus, the claims alleged by the petitioners, i.e., violations of SEQRA, FOIL, the State Open Meetings Law, the Buffalo Code or any other state or local law, cannot be interposed against the Authority unless the consent of the governments of New York and Canada appears in the compact documents. An examination of the documents comprising the Authority's compact reveals that there has been no such consent allowing either New York or Canada to unilaterally impose such law upon the Authority.

B. The State and Local Laws in Issue Do Not Apply to the Authority

State and local law cannot apply to compact entities unless all sovereigns who are parties to the compact expressly agree. State and local law can be applied to a compact entity only if the compact specifically reserves to such governments the right to do so. The compact documents plainly show no such reservation pertaining to the Authority. Accordingly, the Authority, as an international compact entity, is not subject to the unilateral legislative fiat of either New York or Canada.

Because the express terms of the compact do not refer to SEQRA, FOIL, the State Open Meetings Law, the City of Buffalo site-planning review ordinance or any other state or local law,the petitioners cannot interpose the same against the Authority without the consent of the governments of New York and Canada, unless the Court interprets the compact to intend such application implicitly.

AFFIDAVIT OF Ron Rienas, is General Manager, Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority.

9. Because our operations are so highly visible and because so many of our activities are political in nature, we may choose to voluntarily apply laws and regulations on both sides of the border to the extent that they do not conflict with our compact documents. Our goal is to maintain a political balance and be a good public citizen in Buffalo and Fort Erie, while accommodating the needs and desires of the federal agencies from both countries that operate on our plazas.

10. An example of such voluntary compliance is that the Authority voluntarily undertook a New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”) review of the BIF Project on the U.S. side.A Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (“CEAA”) review on the Canadian side was also completed.

17. Although the terms of the Authority’s compact do not require it to comply with New York State’s Environmental Quality Review Act with respect to the BIF Project, for political reasons we voluntarily undertook a SEQRA analysis with respect to the U.S. plaza project components.

A Co-incidence Or More

Is this the reason for the Star story today?

11th-hour bid made for tunnel; Offer could thwart Windsor-Detroit pact;
Dave Battagello, Windsor Star 05-31-2007

The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel LLC, on behalf of Alinda, pays the city of Detroit about US$600,000 per year to operate the U.S. side of the tunnel.

The corporation in its letter made an offer open only until June 22 to provide the full $60 million up front for the tunnel operations to remain in its private hands until 2080.

Buy Low, Sell High

Isn't it only a few days before the Tunnel deal with Detroit is to close?

Who knows since I do not recall seeing anything definite about it. I'd ask a Councillor but he/she would not dare tell me anything, if he/she actually knew anything in the first place, for fear of being integrity commissionered! Or has it fallen apart as the Star now claims?

I really do not get it. With so many good investments out there, why would anyone want to put big money into the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel whether as an outright purchase of it as an asset or a 75 year operating agreement. Wouldn't Windsor be better off using US$75M that we don't have for preparing shovel ready land at the Airport for all these investors who are just waiting to come here?

Here are the latest traffic stats for the Tunnel. It is another dismal picture. The fall in traffic between May 2007 and May 2006 is about 70,000 vehicles in total. For the year, the drop from last year is about 380,000 vehicles or about 16%!

Can it be that poorly managed? Or is Eddie playing a game as he did with the Cleary? Run it down and then deal with it at a bargain basement price. In the next stage, hope to make a fortune on it if the traffic can be built up.

With the Cleary, he got rid of it by saying it was losing a million a year. Let St. Clair take it off the market so that the Casino would not have the Hilton as a competitor.

With the Tunnel, let the volume drop so that Detroit will be glad to be rid of it since it is NOT a core asset for them anyway and then build the traffic up again to get better value out of the Tunnel subsequently. After all, it paid a dividend of $6.6M to Windsor supposedly just out of the Canadian side.

There may be some validity to what I am saying. I hear that Mark Galvin of the Tunnel Plaza Improvements Project has just been named "Executive Director, Windsor Tunnel Commission on an interim basis." So I guess after all of this time, Eddie has someone who can "breathe" the Tunnel. Interestingly, it was announced just before the Business Case meeting of Council so he can pretend that he is going to do something with the Tunnel to make it better.

My expectation is that within a short time after the Detroit deal is closed, Windsor's Tunnel and the operating agreement will be dealt with somehow and whatever price we get will be said to include premium, a factor built in for the traffic that will be gained back ie Eddie is a hero for doing such a great deal.

But it will NOT be a great deal no matter how it is spinned. The value of the Tunnel has fallen dramatically since Eddie has been Mayor. As I wrote before:
  • "Back in February, 2005, the Mayor claimed that "We're sitting on a $200 million to $300 million asset." But that was when he said that Windsor was getting $6.6M as a dividend. At that time, the City was looking to hire someone who would live and breathe tunnel business to make it prosper. After all, the Tunnel was called as well "our greatest revenue-producing asset."

    In November, 2005, Representative Steve Tobocman, D-Detroit said "Factoring in inflation, Detroit's side of the tunnel is worth at least $62 million up front, Tobocman said. In 2020, the city could ask for $118 million for its portion of the tunnel, he said." (He's probably using an inflation factor of around 4.5% and that is after DCTC was gone).

    I assume that Rep. Tobocman got the number from someone in Detroit City government. If we multiply it by 2 to include Windsor, then we would get a value today of about $125 million for the Tunnel. That is quite a drop in value in less than a year!"

The co-incidence with Detroit's net number of $58M and Steve Tobocman's $62M number is nothing short of amazing! Even if we double the $75M and reach $150M, it is a far cry away from what Eddie said the Tunnel was worth in February, 2005. And I have to assume that Eddie's number was the Canadian side only so double it to see how much he has cost us!

Oh this is a great deal after all....but not for City taxpayers in Windsor no matter what the spin doctors try to make us believe.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Who Will Save Eddie's Tunnel Deal

Don't you just hate it when you have found out that you have been played, that someone has made a fool out of you.

Well I am in good company. Included are the Mayor and Council of Detroit, Windsor Councillors and Windsorites. Now we can strongly suspect it was a "done deal" between the Mayor and...whom, and for how long a time.

It became so obvious once one started looking at the Tunnel deal. Eddie is effectively now in total control of the tunnel companies since he and two subordinates will be the only directors of the Boards. No Councillors, no Tunnel Commissioners to ask questions. As for taxpayers, oh no, they are "private companies" so we have no rights.

And after watching the titillating performances of Council on Monday nights, I have pretty much given up on them anyway. They have been neutralized by the "Integrity Comissioner" threat as Councillor Halberstadt warned.

To me, there has always been a real question whether the City has the legal power to set up the two tunnel companies because of the Municipal Act. And now Queen's Park has been prorogued. How convenient when action could have been taken when the Legislature was in session but wasn't!

Why did Eddie wait for the last minute when Bill C-3 could take months to gain the required approvals. And I cannot get an answer out of he Feds as to the Bill's application. Why won't they answer a simple question since I have asked it several times. Very would kill Eddie's deal if I am correct! It could NOT be done by month end.

Obviously, the business case study for Council was so bad that Dr. Alfie Morgan would have given any student an "F" if it had been submitted to him.

So if it was going to die if an application were brought to set aside the "public consultation," and for all of the other reasons, who might salvage it for Eddie? There are a number of possible saviours.

The Province---nope, they cannot run an international border, don't have the constitutional power to do so and don't have the cash to pay for it.

Some private investors...perhaps but why would they buy into an asset losing volume, known as a unique security risk, facing strong competition from the Ambassador Bridge, a possible DRIC bridge and a possible DRTP Tunnel. Guarantess would be needed I am sure.

That leaves only one party, the Feds. Just watch, Eddie will back out and the Feds get a seat at the bargaining table with Detroit. Eddie has softened them up for the Feds. The deal will be done. No wonder the Feds got so upset when the Bridge Co. announced their 200 booths and said they wanted to operate the Tunnel for Detroit. The Feds were planning on doing it. That's why the Deputy PM was so aggressive in trying to stop the Bridge Co.

Now the cost is outrageous and the Feds may be balking now to try to cut the cost down [for the Windsor side anyway since Kwame won't back off. I would love to see Eddie's Tunnel appraisals wouldn't you?] but in the end they won't care. You see this is part of their pressure tactics to try to make the Bridge Co. sell out.

And you fooolishly thought that Eddie and the Feds were feuding over the DRIC road too!

Here is what may happen if I am right:
  • Canada will run the US half and will buy out Alinda, maybe (Alinda may operate the whole Tunnel still. See below)
  • Canada may be forced to pay at least another US$25M to do the deal and keep the Detroit Mayor and Council quiet and to get Council on-side
  • Canada will buy out or lease for a long term Eddie's interest in the Tunnel so that he gets the money he wants to spend on his frivolities.
  • Canada justifies the deal based on it being in Canada's national interest to control an important border crossing no matter what the price
  • Eddie is painted as a hero as we all praise his genius
  • Don't worry, there will be a P3 for the Tunnel deal with a Government guarantee to back it so that taxpayers do not pay out cash in the short term and a private investor backs Canada---probably Alinda but maybe Borealis or both....why else is Alinda bidding $60M. In any event, "Alinda Capital Partners has closed its Alinda Infrastructure Fund I on $3bn - three times the original $1bn target."
  • a precedent is now set in Windsor for a P3 for the DRIC bridge

Just to complicate matters a bit, this may not take place directly but indirectly by including the DRTP Rail Tunnel deal as part of it. You see, with Windsor deals, if there is a choice to do something in a simple manner or a complicated way, the complicated prevails most times. This has been years in the planning.

As for Alinda's bid of $60M, or is it $70M, is it a real one? Are they a real bidder or is it all part of the drama? Who knows? Was it designed as a pretend bid to justify Eddie's $75M bid? One can say, Eddie was right in his amount even though we have not yet seen any appraisal he has, since a private investor bid almost the same price as he did.

Oh there is a complication...Canada running both sides of the Tunnel itself. Perhaps the US Homeland Security will get mad as the Detroit Councillor suggested, perhaps Canada and the US will set up an Authority for the Tunnel....who knows how that issue gets resolved.

But why do you think that Canadian Ambassador to the US, Michael Wilson, is involved and not the Transport Minister, Lawrence Cannon. We are dealing with a possible international incident here now. We need the big shooter involved to smooth things over. Transport Canada has failed in its mission to scare off the owner of the Bridge Co. Wilson's Mackinac comment is proof of that. We don't need another "softwood lumber" incident that sours Canada/US relations for years so the Ambassador is out there schmooooooooozing.

And one other matter that ties eveything together. Why do you think Eddie pulled the Tunnel Plaza Improvements meeting and has not rescheduled it. Everyone knows it is for "reverse customs" or at least Shared Border Management. As you know, SBM has died in Fort Erie so far because of the excuse of "fingerprinting" under the Charter of Rights. I would bet that very soon after Canada takes control of the Tunnel, we have the Tunnel Open House rescheduled and SBM talks re-open as Canada "bows" to the US pressure. It's all so contrived isn't it and so obvious already.

Didn't I predict a lot of this some time before. [BLOG, March 15, 2007 "Did Alinda's Detroit/Windsor Tunnel Deal Give It All Away."] And the border fun is just getting better and better since so much is involved.

Now you don't have to feel like a fool. I don't!

Have You Thought About This

Just some strange thoughts that I have been having about a number of issues


Tie these statements together and you get only one possible answer:

1) Our highs cancer rates are said to be a myth.

2) "Windsor is not "the cancer cesspool" of Ontario as many people believe, a medical oncologist and Windsor Regional Cancer Centre researcher says" and

3) "cancers and other disorders in rich countries aren't caused mainly by pollutants but by a vitamin [D] deficiency,"

Obviously if these statements are true, and it may require more research, we may not need a tunnel to protect us from truck pollution and can save mega-billions of taxpayer dollars that would otherwise be wasted.

If that is the case, then it may not be so foolish for our politicians to demand that the DRIC team study bovine flatulence as an issue as I have suggested before! [BLOG January 05, 2007 "Apocalypse Cow: TEOTWAWKI"]


There is so much "chatter" around by those who are "in the know," or at least say they are, about what Schwartz will supposedly say that one has to assume that taxpayers should know about it shortly.

The issue from Eddie's perspective is whether he should have the Schwartz Plan revealed before or after Sandra and Dwight's nomination meeting. Dwight's meeting is on the 21st according to Chris Schnurr so he is ok (Whoever said that Eddie and Dwight made a deal a long time ago to be be buddies may be right after all!) That leaves Sandra to twist in the wind.

Now if I were Eddie, politically, I would have Schwartz give his report BEFORE her nomination meeting and before DRIC does their open house. Let them react to what Schwartz says and not the other way around.

Imagine the pressure she will be under to approve what Schwartz will say or else face an angry electorate and a possible Ron Jones NDP candidacy.

Why it is enough to make a woman want to run to Dalton to ask for a big but meaningless announcement in Windsor too as he did in the Golden Horseshoe area recently. Except I just hope that Sandra does not say as Donna Cansfield did: "In fact, it was Transportation Minister Donna Cansfield who let the cat out of bag at the end of the event held at a Mississauga bus garage when she said, "Now, let's get elected and get on with it!"

Gong Show 3 coming up! Watch for it.


I have still not received an answer back from Transport Canada on my questions to them respecting the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel deal notwithstanding numerous requests:
  • "Will you please advise

    if this transaction is subject to the International Bridges and Tunnels Act with respect to transfer of ownership and with respect to the transfer of its operating, managing, repairing and maintaining

    would any subcontract be subject to the same provisions

    what is the procedure that the City must go through for approval

    what time period would be involved

    will public hearings be undertaken."

Usually responses back are very prompt from Transport Canada. Accordingly the only conclusion I can make is that Bill C-3 does apply but Transport Canada does not want to say this since they would be accused of killing Eddie's deal. Politicially that is not a smart idea.

There has to be a plan in place to salvage the deal. I think I know what it is but to find out you will have to read my BLOG this afternoon!


I see that Eddie and his two subordinates are now the Management of the aiport corporation. If you believe this line quoted in the Star then I have a Tunnel for you to buy from Eddie and his two subordinates who are also the Board of the two Tunnel corporations:

  • "The mayor will serve as CEO of the corporation with the city's chief administrative officer John Skorobohacz and treasurer Onorio Colucci also serving as signing authorities.

    "We will just get it up and running," Francis said. "Our hope is that there will be a new operator in place soon and no need for a new board."

Gee if we do not need a Board soon, then why was a corporation set up in the first place? Does the Mayor think that taxpayers are as gullible as his Council?


I still have not received word from Parks and Rec about why they needed to "operate" 2 American Boats "to carry...passengers for excursions on the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair originating and terminating in Windsor, Ontario." I must be on their "do not call back" list.

I figured out that this is a way to give the Mayor and Councillors some extra cash over and above their salaries since some people are wondering why Enwin is giving them so much extra money. They need another source of revenue.

Here's what I think the positions on the boat will be to justify the extra income to which they have become accustomed:

Captain---Eddie obviously,who else
Executive Officers---the CAO and Treasurer just like with the airport and Tunnel corporations
Cruise director--Drew Dilkens since no one is more bubbly on Council
Ticket collector--the Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget since he will watch that every penny is collected
Look-out---Ron Jones since he can spot a 2,000 year old spear head a mile away
DJ---Caroline Postma since in her lounge you can listen to music or dance but not both
First Mate---Fulvio Valentinis as he is now
Gossip Columnist on the boat newsletter--Alan Halberstadt since with him as a Blogger "Whatever happens in Las Vegas, doesn't necessarily stay in Las Vegas"
Deck Hand--Junior since union members need to run the boat
Captain in Waiting and Waiting and Waiting--Bill Marra
Ships' Photographer--Percy Hatfield has had a lot of CBC experience doing this
Security---One of Councillor Gignac's looks would stop anyone

All ashore who's going ashore!


Unless Eddie is prepared to pay over a good chunk of his Tunnel deal windfall to the University, both the Engineering complex downtown and the medical school are at risk.

The delay alone in starting the Engineering complexl, if it moves downtown, will cost countless extra millions in construction costs. Just like with several other City projects that were delayed. Who will pay for that? The public.....hardly since we will be "donated out" after helping to pay for the medical school.

The medical school's original cost in 2006 was $11M with "the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities [contributing] between $7 million and $8 million." Now the costs are said to be $20M or more. That's quite a shortfall that someone has to make up.

Now rumour has it that the Provincial contribution is $7M but payable over 20 or more years! In other words only a few hundred thousand dollars a year. We need to know from the big medical school booster, Liberal Minister Dwight Duncan, if this is true or not. The annual grant would almost pay for the interest on borrowing the $7M that would have to be paid for construction costs right away.

So if Windsorites have to pay for that $7M too on top of donations to pay for the medical school in the first place, where will the money come from to pay for the Downtown Engineering building?

This financial math is too complex for me. It's given me a major medical condition, a migraine!


On Chris Schnurr's BLOGsite, if you look under Comment on June 17, you will read about a Swiss Tunnel, "A 21-mile over-land tunnel has opened in Switzerland." The Tunnel is called "Loetschberg."

What's interesting is that the comment was totally out of place since Chris wrote about his computer problems and that he was not doing a BLOG that day. The anonymous writer, it seems, just had to get that message out.

Today, what do we read about in Henderson's column, why the Loetschberg Tunnel.

And to justify what he wanted to do, Henderson used Bill Marra. Now THAT is sheer desperation on Gord's part to try to unify the opponents to Francis by trying to get them on-board the Francis train through the Swiss Tunnel. How obvious and how pathetic.

Can we say someone using comments in BLOGs to spread the pretend-tunnel-support-until-the-Schwartz-Greenlink-extravaganza-message is disclosed to the adoring fans. I guess BLOGs in Windsor are more powerful than even the BLOGmeister knew!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

No Excuses Left

DRIC and the Governments themselves are running out of excuses as to why a DRIC Bridge is needed in Windsor costing billions of taxpayers dollars. These people are not stupid. They can figure this out as easily as anyone. There has to be some hidden, unstated reason driving this waste of money and the efforts of four Governments for years using so many people.

It is not that hard to figure what the agenda is but who is guiding the effort is the real question.

As I BLOGGED recently, here are the excuses that have been given that I can think of so far:
  • Traffic volumes increasing---wrong.

    Capacity of the Ambassador Bridge---wrong.


    Destruction of Sandwich or Delray or both by the Enhancement project---wrong.



    Road system---wrong!...that's a Government issue that they won't address---right!
Let's get to the real specifics to see what Canada is saying today...tomorrow it will all change anyway.

Mark Butler on behalf of Transport Canada quoted in the Globe and Mail used "security" as his basis:
  • "...a new gateway that distances itself from the Ambassador Bridge is essential to Canadian and U.S. economies.

    DRIC has "rejected the twinning of the Ambassador Bridge," Mr. Butler says, citing concerns that Mr. Moroun's twinned structure would hurt neighbourhoods and also be vulnerable to a terrorist attack that could wipe out both bridges at once.

    "What we do know is that any new crossing must be safe and secure and be managed and maintained for the long-term benefit of both countries," Mr. Butler argues."
Ambassador Wilson in Mackinac went back to "capacity" and security:
  • "Drilling down even further, our trade over one bridge - the Ambassador bridge- represented 25% of all Canada-U.S. trade. Trade between our countries across this one span is greater than twice the value of all US EXPORTS to Japan. If we add to this the huge volumes of trade and passenger traffic that crosses the Blue Water Bridge at Sarnia-Port Huron, just north of the Windsor-Detroit region, the strategic importance of this region to both countries is further underlined.

    I would like to add a few additional points on the Ambassador Bridge and the plans for a new crossing.

    This crossing is strategically very important for both of our countries - for the reasons I just stated. Both of our countries agree that we nee a new crossing - both to handle the current daily traffic and trade volumes, as well as to provide additional capacity to cope with the inevitable future growth in passenger and commercial traffic across this critical Gateway. Equally, we also need reliable infrastructure in place in case, god forbid, there is another major event that may affect our access across the border."

Now we have dealt with capacity before and volume numbers. They have dropped significantly after their peak in 1999, before 9/11, and DRIC has had to revise their numbers downward several times already. The ABPC project of the Bridge Co. effectively quadruples capacity and their new booths allow trucks to go through faster assuming they are staffed by Customs on both sides of the border. Speeding trucks is the big issue on Huron Church Road these days not congestion!

There also seem to be no Free Trade or NAFTA agreements on the horizon or new Just-in-time type approaches that should increase volumes dramatically while the high Canadian dollar will scare away business and tourists.

So forget the capacity issue.

Now security. It seems somewhat disingenuous of the Canadian Government to be concerned about "security" when they will NOT allow reverse customs or Shared Border Mangement to be used because of a Charter of Rights argument re "fingerprinting."

How is it done at airports now without a Charter issue? Surely someone could put up a big sign saying


Informed consent should eliminate a Charter argument. The signage is similar to what I have seen re baggage searches for example.

As far as security is really concerned, a solution will have to be found and will be soon or our economy will die. Read this from the Ottawa Citizen:

  • "Security measures at the Canada-U.S. border introduced since the 9/11 terrorist attacks have not slowed the flow of goods into the U.S., but have added to costs for Canadian companies, the Conference Board of Canada said yesterday.

    The think-tank calls for a variety of remedies to keep Canada an attractive place to set up shop to feed the rich U.S. market -- including pre-clearance of shipments, simplified security rules and improved border infrastructure...

    Canada could be a preferred place for companies to locate to serve the U.S. market if pre-approval programs were implemented more effectively -- separating trusted cargo from unknown-risk cargo -- to get goods to market efficiently and securely."

DRTP also has surprisingly come to the Bridge Co.'s defence by offering to build the rail tunnel. It makes capacity and security a non-issue.

As U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, said in a CRAINS article

  • "the tunnel and a new bridge in the works could co-exist. Two separate plans call for new bridges.

No capacity and security are not the issue in Windsor. The issue is the Bridge Co. ownership. That's what it has really been all about, right from the beginning. Transport Canada and the other Governments thought they could force a sell out. They could not.

And every day, the Governments do something that makes their actions seem more and more ludicrous and help build up a huge damages claim for the Bridge Co.---more money taxpayers will have to pay out. Whether that action is failing for 5 years to build the road to the existing Bridge under the $300M BIF program or considering financing the Bridge Co. opponents.

Ambassador Wilson's remarks above were part of his set speech spouting the "party line" re the border. In answer to the question afterwards, the Ambassador shockingly echoed Canada's Senate. He did NOT have to talk about the Bridge Co. but he did so. It must signal a change of attitude from the Prime Minister's Office rather than Transport Canada which is still trying to save DRIC.

There now must be recognition by the Foreign Affairs Department finally that Transport Canada's actions may give rise to an international incident. That is why the Ambassador is cooling down the rhetoric! He gave a clear indication when he said:

  • "we have to take into account the interest of the private sector to make sure that the things that they feel are important, the things that feel must be taken into account in the decision making process are critical to the success of whatever comes out of the other end process.

    An over-riding principle has to be that we have got to do this carefully, we have to listen to all those different points of view as we go through this."
Is the war over...and now are we just negotiating the peace terms? Or will someone come up with a new excuse?

Woof, Woof, Woof

Nice to see that the Star has finally chosen to print a story about what happened at Council respecting the Tunnel. Good thing you read my BLOG so you'll know what goes on.

I am pleased to see that the Star has deemed me "respectable" again. Oh if only CKLW's Patty Handyside would do so too then I would be so happy. After all, I and the other speakers at Council were called "taxpayer watchdogs." I can live with that description.

I do wish though that the Star had given us more than 3 lines to express our point of view but what can one expect from that newspaper these days. You understand why a competitive online newspaper is needed in this City to give the whole story and in a timely fashion.

Of course clarification of the Star story is required so that you will understand it fully. Here are Battagello's story and my comments:

Tunnel liability fears raised [Scare tactics raised]
Dave Battagello, Windsor Star, June 15, 2007

Windsor's taxpayers will be better protected from costly liability by the formation of a corporation to oversee the Canadian half of the tunnel, says lawyer Cliff Sutts, who is overseeing the move. [The whole liability issue is a phony one. It is really the pretext for teh City's actions as set out in the Business Case Study the City put forward. If there was an issue re liability, the City should have taken action years ago to solve the Tunnel's "unique security risk."]

Council has agreed to proceed with a business plan for a new tunnel corporation -- among the first steps in the process. [Oh my, the Business case study was NOT complete. How could Council pass the Recommendation? Their action does not meet the test under the Municipal Act! The public consultation was only given part of the story, not the complete one]

The city's ownership of the Canadian side of the Windsor-Detroit tunnel leaves ratepayers subject to claims if they are not covered sufficiently by insurance -- especially dangerous in the new age of terrorist fears, Sutts said. [That's why you buy lots of insurance. If there were catastrophic damages above the insurance limits, the Tunnel assets owned by the City would be taken to satisfy the judgment so taxpayers would lose out as well.]

"If there are substantial damages, it would be added on to every taxpayer in Windsor," he said of the need for a new tunnel corporate entity.

"That's an unacceptable risk in my mind." [See above]

With the corporation in place, any successful lawsuit against the tunnel would be paid by that corporation, and not by city taxpayers, he said. [Will Mr. Sutts give an absolute and unqualified legal opinion that no court will ever "pierce the corporate veil" and make the City liable? Councillors must demand it given Mr Sutts' comments. I'd like his insurance and his and his partners' assets on the line for that if he is so confident. Might be hard to do with the Mayor and 2 direct City managers as teh Board and City Employee Mark Galvin as the Acting Tunnel breather! If I were a Plaintiff's lawyer, I would seek to do so]

Detroit owns the U.S. side and leases it to a private investment firm, Alinda Capital Partners. [and Alinda's contract does not end until 2020 so we pay out US$75M now and get no recovery until 2020! How do we pay for the interest costs on that for 13 years? Raising tolls by about a dollar per car will kill Tunnel volumes]

Several taxpayer watchdogs expressed concerns about possible implications of the move, but they were most worried about the city's negotiations to take over full operation of the tunnel in a US$75-million deal with Detroit. [Three whole lines. Read my Tunnel speech in my BLOG to see what I was worried about]

Mayor Eddie Francis said the pricetag is justified based on third-party evaluations requested by both sides. [Then why won't the Mayor provide them?]

Unless a deal is competed by the end of the month, Detroit could walk away from the table. It is hoping to use $58 million from the deal to help balance its budget for this year. [Yet several paragraphs later we are told the process will take several more months]

Francis said it makes sense to shield taxpayers from liability by creating a separate tunnel corporation [Sure, who can argue against that but why was it never done before? Did our lawyer-Mayor leave us at risk while he was a member of the WTC and of Council for so many years? Is he admitting that he was negligent? Why was the Tunnel given such broad powers including the right to mortgage its assets!]

He cited the recent example in which the city was forced to pay a cyclist $844,450 after he ran over an unmarked raised catch basin that threw him from his bike and permanently injured him. [A red-herring...There was insurance for that. How many claims has the Tunnel had?]

Once the business plan is complete, the next step will be to create an organizational structure and bylaws. It is expected to take between a month or two to complete the process, Francis said.[This is bizarre....The deal is to close this month!]

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

More Letters

More comments from readers:

1) Does it really surprise you that the City of Windsor is dragging its feet on the Bridge issue? how long did it take to build a arena? and why did they act so fast after 30+ yrs of dragging their feet, spending money on studies, and turning down a offer where the company would have ate most of the cost? they jumped into this after the Town of Tec announced a new arena, how much over budget is this Windsor arena already? the mayor jumped into a deal because he had egg on his face, and now he will drag his feet on the bridge issue untill Windsor becomes a ghost town!

2)Hi Ed,

Looked at the Windsor Star June 15 and read the mayor's words regarding the border road. "We are certainly frightened and fearful of a cheap solution."

And wonder of wonders, Sam (doesn't he ever stay home in New York?) Schwartz is back in town on the taxpayer's dime with a new, innovative "tunnel solution."

Let's see if I've got this straight. There's a road called the EC Row Expressway, originally designed for cars with a dedicated lane for trucks. It connects with Highway 401. Talbot Road also connects with 401 and both EC Row and Talbot eventually meet Huron Church Road.

Are the taxpayers of Canada expected to foot the bill for a tunnel UNDER existing roads? This makes as much sense as the Eddie-Schwartz bypass to nowhere which included a road through (and a tunnel under) a pristine forest. Oh well, another 2 to 5 years will be wasted wishin' and hopin' for the impossible.

Sounds like material for a standup comedy routine.

3) Good Evening Mr. Arditti,

I was pointed to your blog from a friend - after reading it I thought that maybe you could use a break from all the negativity you are fighting and watch something positive. I am working with scores of people across our community to make a difference. I managed to get a TV show to air nationally on PBS - and yes I am doing it all from Windsor. I won't lie - it's been a struggle. From the very beginning when people told me that there wouldn't be enough good content to fill my show (rolling eyes here) to short sighted individuals. But we've prevailed.

We're in a desperate call for help as we are risking going off the air if we don't get funding shortly. We air to 3.4 million households through PBS (WTVS Detroit Public Television). If this happens we will continue the fight. We're doing this because we believe in this area.

So enjoy a breath of fresh air!

4)Dear Ed:

I read with interest your note about nobody wanting to work for the Development Commission. Can you blame them? And it has nothing to do with being in Windsor and/or Windsor being a union town and/or the lack of a development strategy. No the reason no one wants to work for the Development Commission is because of the way they treat their workers.

Take Roman Dzus for instance, he works his tail off for 23 years as a very loyal employee and is deeply involved in all of the most successful projects to land in the area. Indeed, he is the guy responsible for the Financial Times award that the Mayor boasts about all over the place! He did all the work to get it. He survived the Ex-CAO of Windsor who the Mayor placed in the Development Commission for two years. When he leaves, Mr Dzus steps in as interim Commissioner and does a great job holding the fort. When they decide to look for a new head of the Commission he steps aside and doesn't go for the job because he tells his bosses they should have some new blood in Windsor. Instead he will take a big pay cut and go back to being Deputy Commissioner where he can have the greatest impact.

And his reward for 23 years of great service to the City is ????????? They let him go and have not yet completed the arrangements for his severence pay after all of this time. Some thanks. If I was someone looking at a career at the Development Commission I wouldn't even apply given the incredibly poor treatment of Mr. Dzus.

Note to Roman .... if nothing gets finalized soon, stop being the nice guy and sue the pants off these bastards. They are not worthy of any other treatment.

[NOTE: "Here is what Councillor Halberstadt said in his Biz-X article: In an ironic twist, credit for winning this award has to go to Roman Dzus, the longtime Deputy of the Windsor-Essex Development Commission, who was shunted aside when the commission was overhauled by a new board and CEO Matthew Fischer earlier this year."

I am curious....who did the work to bring HBPO to Windsor? Was it Dzus?]

5) Ed,

I think you are doing a fantastic service by providing insight that is often at odds with the reality that the Star is trying to convince us of.

I believe that a town hall type of event with speakers from the automotive and other manufacturing sectors (no politicians) to explain the real reasons why Windsor is getting left behind is the wake up call we need.

Now the query. I was speaking to a friend who happens to be a city department manager. We were talking about all the money the city is wasting and he mentioned the legal cost of the city's fight against the newly formed managers union. He heard the cost will [huge]. Of the 314 managers the city claims 300 are essential and cannot be part of the union. The union of course is fighting this position. Perhaps one of your city hall moles can find out for sure and you can let us know the real cost of this legal battle.

Finally a look into our future? Here is a link to a photo essay of downtown Gary, Indiana. It is a sobering scene for sure.

Keep up the fine work. Maybe you will inspire mayoral and council
candidates with real plans and a real passion for our city.

6) With all due respect, it seems to me that the Parks and Rec folks have their hands full now and the cruise business (not what you would call a core endevour) might be a bit beyond their competence.

You would probably put the wind up their kilts if you called and asked about
their intentions.

7) [NOTE: I had an exhange of emails with a well-known University of Windsor Professor. I congratulated the Prof on obtaining a new position and here was the email I received]

I am going to the University of X. Many others are leaving UWindsor -- the best
researchers. It is not a pretty picture.

And yes, I am happy indeed to be departing....

[On the Engineering building going downtown]

Yup. Like a squirrel that cannot figure out whether or not to cross the road and runs back and forth perilously because it is indecisive! This latest is the one of many, many 'takes' on the Engineering School.

And did you see that the plot of land for which detailed architectural plans had been developed and redeveloped more times than twice, is now converted into an almost $1 million parking lot! How can a flat, bare piece of land cost $1 million to make into a parking lot?? Only here!

8) I said it before and I'll say it again.If they decide to put a new road around so as to cut off the existing bridge crossing, the Bridge company should just say oh well and close it down for repairs for a time.There is a tunnel right?

But,I think, sorry, I know the Bridge Company directors are much better equipped and much more savvy than the counterparts they are up against. Besides, politicians come and go.If we get some leadership this time, there really could be a solution to the problems.

Can we say "enough already?" Can McGuinty or Sandra appoint Eddie to be an Ambassador to China? Sorry that would be cruel. China deserves better too.

Windsor Buskers And The Detroit Grand Prix

If you were the young and ambitious Mayor of a border City and had 2 competing events asking for your money, which one would you choose if you were going to choose any of them in a tough Budget year.

Would you choose the one in your City, the Windsor Buskers Festival, or the one in a neighbouring city, the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, headed by a successful businessman, Roger Penske of Super Bowl fame?

You'd think the answer was an easy one wouldn't you when your local economy was suffering.

Now let's complicate it a bit. The local festival attracts tens of thousands of local residents especially families with children. The neighbouring festival allows you to rub shoulders with VIPs and is covered by a major American national TV network and is also broadcast to 180+ countries .

Still a tough decision...How about this. The City's CAO makes it a lot easier for a decision to be taken. According to a Councillor:
  • "Indeed it was ironic last Monday when Council was told that it was not notified, early in the year, that the 2007 Buskers Festival might be threatened because the CAO was not sure the $40,000 in the parks budget would survive Council cuts.

    The operations budget committee, which I chaired, did not cut the Buskers budget, but by the time the final budget was passed by Council in May, administration determined that it was too late to properly organize the August Buskers Festival.

    So why then was the Communications budget item reported to Council prior to budget deliberations, and not Buskers? Do senior administrators place a much higher priority on hiring two or three more communications officers, to perform at their beck and call, than holding a Buskers Festival?"

Let's make it even harder by talking about costs. Now here is an interesting note I saw from someone at City Hall about costing out the Buskers:

  • "Thank you for your question, and thank you for giving us the opportunity clarify this issue for you.

    There is much, much more involved in presenting a Buskers Festival than simply bringing in a roster of talented performers. The artist you spoke to did not provide you with accurate information.

    The Performers Contract provides for the provision of a per diem, travel expenses and performance fees for each artist. In 2006, those costs were approximately $14,500.

    In addition, the artists are provided with hotel accommodations for the duration of their stay, which added another $5,500.

    Other expenses include the contracts of the festival producer and site manager, tents, tables, chairs, staging, PA systems, lighting, electricians and electrical inspections, security, communication equipment, golf carts (for use on festival site), marketing and promotion (TV, radio, newspaper, posters, flyers, etc.), first aid personnel, refrigerated truck (for perishable food storage), various supplies, and other associated items.

    In 2006, the budget for marketing and promotion was significantly reduced to respond to a reduction in funding for the festival and the total cost of the festival was approximately $71,000.

    Revenues for the festival are limited to the City's base funding, vendors fees, and sponsorships from the business community (which were minimal in 2006). Ideally, a budget of $100,000 is required to properly present a 4-day festival."

So here is another complicating factor. The cost of the Buskers is $70-100,000 while the cost of the Grand Prix sponsorship is US$80,000. Virtually the same.

The final factor to be considered: open and transparent government. The Buskers matter makes the pages of the newspaper and goes in front of Council several times to be examined in great detail. The Grand Prix is NOT discussed at an open Council meeting in detail but Council is told about it and in the last meeting of the Budget Operating Committee, the Mayor is to tell Council how much has to be paid for the sponsorship. So far there is no information what that money gets for the sponsor. are the Mayor....What do you suggest be done?

Darn, today's Star headline spoiled everything. Those Councillors made it so easy:
"Council rejects buskers fest"

More On The New Schwartz Dream

It really has to be the old Schwartz Report re-packaged with a lot more details and artistic renditions. It has to be "context sensitive designs" under a new name. Land bridges as in the Schwartz Banff photo in the first presentation---"land bridges preserve "connectivity" between two areas of the park on either side of the Trans-Canada Highway"---will be applied to Windsor. And it has to be green, very green to counter the Bridge Co./Green Corridor alliance.

I mean really...Sam received a nice big fee for all of that work before. It was perfection from the world's leading traffic guru. How can you improve on perfection? It's impossible. So it has to be a variation of perfection that won't cause too much damage either or the whole DRIC EA would have to be re-done too!

We poor taxpayers have to scrounge around for information about the new Schwartz Plan while the biggies like Minister Dwight Duncan get it handed to them on a silver platter. Mind you, it is a lot more impressive for a letter of endorsement praising Eddie and Sam to be published by the City from the President of some big company or the head of some national organization than to get the endorsement of Windsorites.

Our support is taken for granted anyway especially after the Windsor Star will deem it to be a huge success whatever is presented. And our local MPPS will tell us all of the same kind of stuff that they did after the first Schwartz Report (I am ready. I have their quotes from the last time right in my database!)

I received some information yesterday from several readers. I hope it is accurate but who can tell so be warned. I am told that the big word that will be thrown around is "GREENLINK." I was further told that the work "is truly a green corridor with generous park lands for all to use." It was described as "well thought through, similar to 'greenlink' roadways in national parks and more so in Central Park in New York."

Another word will be "parkettes" like on I-696 in Detroit where there are mini-tunnels where parks are built over top.

The use of the word "link" is interesting. I am told that Huron Church is a link roadway. Because of its location MTO can have veto over any reduction to capacity or changes to its operations. Acordingly, the Ministry would have to be in on any City plans to impact Huron Church eg to reduce the number of lanes on Huron Church, thus choking it and discouraging trucks from using it thereby negatively impacting the Enhancement Project.

And adding "Green" to "link" makes it soooo environmental too! Who can argue against it?

Obviously if a New Yorker, an outsider hired by the City, tells us something it is ok but if it is Toronto experts hired by DRIC, it is not.

Interestingly, I was also told off too:

  • "If you know nothing about it then you should consider keeping your negative comments to yourself. Please, we need this one."

Wow, why be critical is the message being delivered. Stop thinking and let Eddie do it all for you. That's a way to stop any criticism before it starts. Nice tactic don't you think.

If I was a City Councillor, then that is a given. They just ask how high they should jump. Unfortunately, I am a lonely Blogger who does not accept the stories being fed us.

Sorry I was duped once by Schwartz and Eddie. It took me a couple of days to figure that out. Not again!

We have already been stalled off by Eddie with Schwartz I as he builds his border empire with the Tunnel first and now I am being asked to give in to another stall by Eddie for who knows how long as this City deteriorates by this foolishness. I do not think so!

Do you remember the Cansfield session with the Windsor Star Editorial Board [BLOG: "The Cansfield Interview" December 08, 2006]. She gave it all away just as she gave away what the Premier's urban transit announcement really meant ie electioneering. The new Schwartz Report will be nothing more than another attempt to convince the Bridge Co. to sell out since the road to the Bridge, Huron Church, will be, in effect, cut off to trucks!

We have a loose cannon in Queen's Park and a Lawrence Cannon in Ottawa and neither of them seem capable of dealing with this matter responsibly. Here is what Minister Cansfield said:

  • It will be in mid 2007 when a decision for a preferred bridge location will be made and Ontario will say how to get from 401 to there

    The Schwartz Report fitted in with the Province’s planning since all was accepted other than the Horseshoe Road and going through Ojibway ("Information input into their study") ie 2 KM difference at Todd Lane

    People on Huron Church don’t want to mingle with heavy trucks.

    The Government's stated objective was to separate long-haul traffic from local traffic

    They want to have Huron Church as a viable business section again and to maintain economic viability ie have it as a commercial route for tourists, attractions, dinner

    The avoidance of large vehicles on that route is a huge and legitimate issue

    People have had difficult times along that stretch of highway

    Preferred route is a freeway with NO driveways off of it.

Months ago, the Minister signalled the end of the truck road to the Ambassador Bridge ie to cut off all truck traffic to them. They may not have received the message so Schwartz's function is to achieve that and drive that home in the most obvious way possible even though the design will not be built because of the huge multi-billion cost.

If I am correct, then what ideas can we come up with? Let me suggest this as something that Sam may propose. Again pure speculation since I can hardly be said to be a favoured leakee of City Hall. I'll leave that to the Windsor Star people and the proposed Integrity Commissioner:

  • All three new DRIC plazas get access off of EC Row Which plaza? Answer for me the question of which side of Delray gets hit and we'll know. My guess is Plaza B.

    There will be no tunnel where Talbot Road is now. That is ludicrous. It would be far cheaper, healthier and GREENER to simply buy up all the homes in a 200-250m swath on either side and then berm and plant a couple thousand trees to shield the noise and clean the air.

    So the COMPROMISE---ooops Alan will get in trouble again with that word--- is short tunnels under very specific spots. There will be parkettes over top with bike and walking trails. Where it goes underground, there will be "living walls" that allow for vegetative growth like vines to climb the sides, and ledges where trees can grow. Have wetland vegetation planted in the medians to filter run-off

    North of EC Row narrow Huron Church road so that trucks are squeezed into the middle and using the space you create new parks and walking centres along Huron Church to make it a more tourist, commercial friendly area. A re-urbanization of Huron Church. Very chic and NY.

It's pretty close to what Sam said before especially with the picture above isn't it? The report and presentation would not have taken Sam too long to prepare either but with all of the people flown in, fairly expensive.

So the City and Province are working together on the road. That WAS a very productive lunch Eddie and Donna had. Effectively, the Minister has given the City the blessing to reduce the lanes on Huron Church, just do it in the name of a greening effort. Create gridlock on Huron Church to discourage trucks from using it to go to the Bridge. You want to go the twinned bridge? Sure, just be prepared to sit on a one-lane narrow road for an hour or more. Truckers will say the heck with that and go to the bridge that has a six-lane highway leading to it.

Why how can the Bridge Co. sue...they still have their road! It's not the Government's fault if truckers choose a different way to cross the border. It's the law of competition isn't it!

It is a scorched earth tactic designed to scare the Bridge Co. Then Eddie and the Province can go to the Feds and get their reward for helping them beat the Bridge Co. ---probably a share of the Bridge ownership. Bill C-3 be damned!

Of course, the DREAM never gets built but who cares. The object is to force the Bridge Co. to sell out since otherwise they will just lose their profitable truck traffic and see the value of the bridge reduced to nothing!

That is as simply as it can be said what Schwartz II is all about. A lot of GREEN for the private sector to lose and a lot of GREEN for the public one to gain!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Gong Show Re-run

I know it is the start of the summer but to have TV re-runs starting already.

Oh my, if we have re-runs politicially, this election will get quite boring soon enough

I have to admit that when I saw the story in the Globe and Mail, I almost bust a gut I was laughing so hard. Those Provincial Liberals are so funny. Who the heck are their comedy writers.

I know it is only a few months before the next election but seriously folks, did you see what Transport Minister Donna Cansfield said right after the big anouncement about all of this money that was going to public transit. I'll post the story below.

Here's a quiz though. Tell me what big Windsor story was this very was similar to. Do you remember the original Windsor Gong Show comedy with Ministers Duncan and Caplan? Well just keep on reading. The Gong show has returned. Now you know why those two Ministers really made that announcement here. It was a try-out for the big time:

  • Buses, trains set campaign in motion
    Transportation Minister revealed truth behind announcement when she said, 'Now let's get elected and get on with it!'
    KAREN HOWLETT, Globe and Mail, June 16, 2007

    Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's vision to build transit systems snaking through the Greater Toronto Area has all the earmarks of a campaign goodie.

    There was no hint in this year's provincial budget that the government was planning to spend $11.5-billion over 12 years on more than 50 rapid-transit projects. Nor is the spending included in the fiscal plan the government has submitted to the province's Auditor-General.

    In fact, it was Transportation Minister Donna Cansfield who let the cat out of bag at the end of the event held at a Mississauga bus garage when she said, "Now, let's get elected and get on with it!"

    Not surprisingly, cities around the GTA were ecstatic about a plan that promises to improve public transit, create thousands of new jobs and reduce gridlock. One press release lauded it as "the boldest, most visionary development" in the GTA.

    Money for the project, announced out of the blue yesterday, will not begin flowing until 2010 - which is why there was no mention of it in this year's budget, a senior Liberal source said. Opposition members said the funding promise is ethereal because it will go up in smoke if the Liberals lose the Oct. 10 election.

    New Democratic MPP Peter Tabuns dismissed the announcement as nothing more than a ploy for votes.

    "The provincial election started today with a very big promise on the part of Dalton McGuinty. As we all know, he has a bad track record on keeping these kinds of promises."

    Progressive Conservative MPP Joyce Savoline said even though the project would be good for public transit, she does not believe it will be accomplished. "Given Mr. McGuinty and his track record over the last four years, it's hard to believe that this wouldn't be another in a long list of broken promises.."

    The scale of yesterday's transit announcement, however, puts it in a league of its own. In the past, the government has made major infrastructure projects contingent on Ottawa kicking in its share of the funds. But not this time. While the province is calling on the federal government to cover at least a third of the $17.5-billion project, it will go ahead with or without Ottawa, the Liberal official said.

Huge sums of money that the Province all of a sudden found to spend on infrastructure right before the election. Come on Mr. Henderson, we are waiting for your totally predictable column demanding billions for for Eddie's imaginary tunnel road ot the border.

However, when have we heard something similar before. Yes, right here in Windsor.

The facts are very 2005, Ministers Caplan and Duncan promised us hundreds of millions of dollars out of the blue for infrastructure for the border. It was $500M. However, like this announcement money would NOT start flowing until 2010 ie after the election. Interestingly now, the Province does not need Federal funds while in Windsor, the Province needed to spur the Feds on to action. Wow where did the Liberals get all of that new money?

You remember what happened next. The two Ministers had to apologize. Those Fiberals, they must think we are all stupid. What they have just said is that nothingwill happen here for many years but vote for us anyway:

  • Minister sorry for speaking too soon: Border cash news catches mayor, Pupatello off guard;
    Dave Battagello 05-27-2005

    Ontario infrastructure minister David Caplan apologized Thursday for revealing a closed-door government decision to spend $500 million beyond 2010 for new infrastructure to fix Windsor's border problems.

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

    It was done on the heels of the provincial government's release earlier in the day of its five-year, $30-billion ReNew Ontario funding plan for provincial infrastructure.

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

    It was during the news conference that the infrastructure minister "unintentionally" spoke about a February cabinet decision to commit $500 million to Windsor's border infrastructure beyond 2010, she said.

    "Everybody knows Dwight Duncan and Sandra Pupatello have been working on (the border issue) since the beginning of time," Pupatello said.

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

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

    Meanwhile, stakeholders in the border traffic debate levelled criticism at the province, questioning why the $500-million announcement for funding to alleviate local border traffic woes was not in writing, done with little fanfare and will not start flowing until after 2010.

    "(Caplan and Duncan) had no specifics on spending," said Ross Clarke, general manager for Mich-Can, a proposal to build a bridge off Ojibway Parkway.

    "They say it's available after 2010. Well, what kind of announcement is that?

    "It's political posturing. Show us the money and then we will believe it. I don't want to throw cold water on it, but I don't see a whole lot of hope in this."

    Whether the same government remains in control in five years is a huge question looming over whether the $500 million for Windsor will ever become reality, said Ed Arditti, spokesman for Ojibway Now, a local group supporting a new downriver crossing.

    "I don't think this changes anything," Arditti said. "The $500 million is not part of their five-year plan. This government could be thrown out and if there is a new government they don't have to be committed to anything. This is just a political move."

    Lee said part of Caplan's intent was also to spur the federal government into quicker action on the border.

    "The federal government has indicated they are waiting for the binational (study) before making further decisions," he said. "Obviously we'd like to see them move more quickly on this issue. Any delays by any parties involved, we don't see that as a positive."

    But Arditti countered: "What the province has just said is no new dollars until 2010. They just gave the feds five more years to do nothing. To me that makes no sense whatsoever."

    Pupatello said the provincial government approval of $500 million for the Windsor border after 2010 is simply good preparation for the future.

    "There will be some major spending on this in upcoming years so you have to plan for it," she said.

    "The early numbers in the Schwartz report were not accurate. They were too low. This number ($500 million) is not set in stone.

    "This will require a significant investment in infrastructure and we've got to have those dollars."

The Love Boat Comes To Windsor

I know that Windsor owns a marina but I also thought that Eddie wants to get rid of it. Now that may not make any sense now given this Canadian Transportation Agency Decision.

Thanks to an observant reader I found this out:
  • Decision No. 300-W-2007
    June 14, 2007

    APPLICATION by the City of Windsor, Parks and Recreation Department, pursuant to the Coasting Trade Act, S.C., 1992, c. 31, for a licence to use the "INFINITY", an American passenger-excursion vessel, to be used to carry up to 145 passengers for excursions on the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair originating and terminating in Windsor, Ontario, during the period commencing on June 18 and ending on October 31, 2007.
    File No. W9125/C56/07-2

    City of Windsor, Parks & Recreation Dept. has applied to the Minister of National Revenue for a licence to operate the service set out in the title. The matter was referred to the Canadian Transportation Agency on May 30, 2007.

    The Canadian Transportation Agency conducted a search of the relevant portion of the marine industry and has determined pursuant to subsection 8(1) of the Coasting Trade Act that there is no suitable Canadian ship available to provide the service or perform the activities described in the application, and that there is no identical or similar adequate marine service available from any person operating one or more Canadian ships.

    This determination will be provided to the Minister of National Revenue for any necessary action as provided for in the Coasting Trade Act.

    This Decision does not constitute an authority to commence operations in respect of the service for which application has been made. "
There was also another Decision relating to the "OVATION", an American passenger-excursion vessel.

I contacted Parks and Rec to find out what this is all about but no one called me back me. Hmmm I wonder if I am on a black-list at City Hall since, if the Mayor and Council lack common courtesy to me, it trickles down to the staff level.

Oh well I guess they are not all that busy now with the East End arena since it is delayed. With the Buskers dead, I guess that they have to do something.

So I started thinking about it and I have the answer! Eddie needs another "destination" attraction for Windsor. Since people are not using his Tunnel as much as before since they perfer to use the Ambassador Bridge, he needs to figure out a way to compete against the Bridge Co.

The gondola idea is dead so he had to think of something different and unique. He was supposed to appear on a US TV show (Dan Stamper was there also and appeared) with the gentleman who owns and operates the Ferry that transports hazardous materials across the river and that gave him a fabulous idea.

Now, Eddie will start up a Section 203 Municipal corporation to ferry people back and forth across the river by boat! He will be the Captain of the ship too I guess.

So that is the answer no matter what the spin will be.

Eddie the Sailor man. Toot Toot!

Details Of The New And Improved Schwartz DREAM

Oh let's get real on the border already. It is so tiring being fed this silliness already.

We are now being pre-sold the "new and improved" Schwartz dream to help out both the Liberals for the fall election and our Mayor. The big shooters have already seen the actual proposal while we peons get the crumbs in the Star to mislead us so we will respond properly when the real story comes out.

We will cheer loudly and give another standing ovation to Sam, Eddie, Dalton, Sandra and Dwight who protected us from those evil Conservative Harperites (while at the same time these same politicians are begging Stephen for money!)

Are you tired yet of the big pretend fight that has been going on forever between the cheapo DRIC people and our give-us-everything-I-demand-or-else Mayor? And as you will see below, DRIC really means the Federal Government in this context.

Windsor is nothing more than a chip in the on-going bargaining game between Ontario and the Feds to get more money for Ontario in face of Federal Government spending in other parts of the country for infrastrucuture eg the Pacific Gateway.

You know how it is going to be solved don't you, right before the election. Premier McGuinty, Sandra and Dwight will stand up for Windsor saying the Cabinet decides these issues not bureaucrats. Re-elect us and we'll do the right thing for Windsor. Dwight has made similar comments several times before now:
  • "Local MPPs Dwight Duncan (L -- Windsor-Tecumseh) and Sandra Pupatello (L -- Windsor West) said Friday it was unfair to characterize the province and city as being at odds over a truck tunnel solution for Windsor.

    DRIC will only provide recommendations and final decisions on the access route and tunnelling will be made by the provincial government and its cabinet, they said."

You see it is the Feds at odds with Eddie and the Province.

Here's a question for you. Is Eddie's disclosure in the Star proper? Is he giving away the City's confidential bargaining postion the way everyone claimed Councillor Halberstadt did? I think he has. He made this comment which is completely anti-tunnel:

  • "The city is taking extra steps to make qualified submissions to DRIC for their consideration"
If that is not saying "compromise" I don't know what it is. Call for the Integrity Commissioner!

And there is the Eddie legal bluff again that we have heard so many times before. He does not have the stomach to litigate:
  • "But if a solution comes out that is not acceptable to this community, this city will be well prepared to challenge the DRIC and make sure whatever solution is implemented is in the best interests of our community."

I feel like gagging. The DRIC results are delayed NOT because of conversations over Schwartz's new plan-----"the city and provincial officials on the Detroit River International Crossing team remain at loggerheads." Eddie and the Province are working together for heaven's sake. Sandra was supposed to speak I hear at the ROTCC session. That would not happen unless Eddie scheduled her to be there.

It is delayed because the Provincial Liberals are afraid that whatever decision comes out now will cost their candidates, Ministers Pupatello and Duncan votes in the October election. So they need a delay. The Liberals want to ensure that the two Ministers are nominated first since the last thing they want are trouble-makers at their nomination meetings.

I hear the next DRIC meeting is scheduled for later this summer although MDOT is furious at the delay (A number of Michigan Legislators want to kill DRIC completely and the delay hurts MDOT!). I would expect the date to be around July 25, the date set out for the next U.S. Local Advisory Council meeting as posted on their website. Canada and the US are supposed to act at the same time remember.

Clearly Sandra and Dwight want an Eddie-Province lovefest right before the election so that is another reason for the delay. Schwartz's solution is done already since Dwight has already seen it.


Clearly we cannot be trusted with important news. Stakeholders have to jump on the bandwagon first as Eddie did the last time around with Schwartz to applaud Eddie's brilliance again. It "Eddie branding" after all. However, last time around, similar endorsements for Schwartz impressed no one.

As a reader wrote to me:

  • "the Schwartz Report II is finished. Ergo the in-camera approval for Sam to be retained and then he comes back - the very next day no less - with an armful of displays and drawings. If this follows previous pattern then he is doing multiple presentations to "stakeholders" for Eddie to consolidate what support he can and to customize the presentation to diffuse criticisms as much as possible."
Oh we will get some kind of a compromise solution that everyone can smile about but it won't ever happen in reality. It will be anotheer "CRY WOLF" dream. How many is that now that citizens have been fooled by?

My local political operatives have been earning their keep this week. Here is what I hear is in the new Schwartz Plan:
  1. Remember this line in Eddie's State of the City speech----“we host the busiest commercial land bridge in the world.” Well if we have a commercial one, the Ambassador Bridge," then we need to have "public" land bridges.

  2. That is the new coined name for a number of quasi cut and cover tunnels that Schwartz's brilliance came up with. It's probably no different than one of DRIC's options but it will be given a new name to make it seem fantastic. After all, who helped coin "gridlock?"

  3. Wikipedia states that a "land bridge" is "a land connection between what at other times are separate land masses which allows animals and plants to cross and colonise new lands." Seems appropriate for what Sam will have to say

  4. Eddie's ego requires that he has to beat the Ambassador Bridge's partnership with the Green Corridor. Sam talked before about creating a Champs Elysee on Huron Church so expect the area to be magnificently landscaped.....It will become a "destination" in itself we will be told as the concepts developed by the Green Corridor are used. I wonder if they will be given any credit

  5. The cost will be huge---megabillions---but we cannot have anything cheap here after all. That's how Henderson and the Star will be able to buy into it and turn their back on a tunnel.

  6. A huge issue given the length of some of these land bridges is whether certain trucks will even be able to use the roadway or are there safety issues involved that may have been overlooked. Weren't there problems raised by our fire and emergency services previously?

  7. It is significant that Dwight Duncan "said he has seen the options Schwartz offered to DRIC. "I thought they were fascinating," he said. "They show his insight and talent. I look forward to speaking with him and hearing more of what the city has to say." Hardly a ringing endorsement

  8. Where was Sandra? Didn't she see the plans too? She is viewed as the target and "weak link" here. No wonder the Star attacked her over the arena. Make her think she will lose so she will beg for money from Dalton for Windsor. Why else is Councillor Ron Jones' name being spread around as a possible candidate for the NDP in her riding. Terrorize her since the PC candidate will be a no-name so it would be a two-way race. Get Eddie what he wants and he will use his influence to call off the NDP nominating Jones by leaning on his NDP friends.

  9. In fact, there is only so much BS that McGuinty and the rest of his colleagues will tolerate from Eddie. Sandra and Dwight's seats are not really at risk even with Jones running since he cannot win Ward 1 so they will be told so back off, get some guts and deal with your Mayor like a big boy and girl. We have to win seats in the Toronto area after all will be the message.

  10. Expect to have Sandra threatened by the famous Star columnist as a shot to help get Eddie what he wants AFTER he tries to force them to get his Engineering Complex paid for by the Province downtown. Here is the story that Gord will use. You know, if there is money for the Golden Horseshoe, there is money for Windsor, Sandra and Dwight better deliver blah blah blah.

Ont. Liberals woo commuter votes with massive plan to expand transit

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. (CP) _ Commuters in southern Ontario are being wooed by a 12-year, $17.5-billion Liberal promise to extend Toronto's subway, expand GO Transit service and install two rapid transit lines across Hamilton.

Premier Dalton McGuinty unveiled details of the MoveOntario 2020 plan at a news conference Friday in this city west of Toronto, saying the massive transit plan would benefit the environment and economy, and shorten commute times.

The provincial government would cover two-thirds of the plan's cost and wants Ottawa to chip in the rest _ about $5.8 billion _ although the federal government would not offer an immediate
commitment on funding.

Ottawa has $33 billion to spend on infrastructure projects, but it will be a few weeks or months before it decides how to spend the money, said Catherine Loubier, director of communications for Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon.

Loubier said she couldn't comment on Ontario's plan specifically because nothing has been submitted to the ministry.

``Minister Cannon has received no specific demand on this specific plan, so once we receive an official demand from Ontario on this new plan they're putting forward, we'll be able to analyze it
and certainly discuss it,'' she said.

A Liberal government source said officials briefed the federal government on their plans earlier this week but avoided any significant talks to guard against the plan being leaked.

The Liberals are confident they will get the federal funding, although the plan will proceed as announced without it, the source said.

McGuinty said the federal contribution would be consistent with spending on other infrastructure projects like the Pacific Gateway in British Columbia and the Manitoba Floodway.

``I can't believe for an instant that the federal government would not seize this opportunity,'' McGuinty said.

``If you take a look at he wealth we generate here, that benefits the entire country. ... I'm convinced they're going to want to come to the table and ensure that they make sure that this particular economic engine is firing on all cylinders.''

McGuinty admitted the total price tag for the plan will likely be in the $30-billion range once interest and other costs are factored in, but he said the expense is worth it, and he relishes the chance to do something big for the region.

``Every once in a while you have an opportunity to do something bold, that speaks to the long-term,'' McGuinty said, adding that his government's plans are similar in scope to the construction of Toronto's first subway line about 50 years ago, which was also Canada's first.

``I thank God that somebody had the foresight to take that on. It was expensive, it was bold, it took a while to put it together, but now we're going to do the same thing for our children and our grandchildren...''

All the construction work would create more than 175,000 direct jobs and would spur the economy by reducing the $2.2 billion that's lost annually to lost productivity due to congestion, McGuinty said...

But the entire plan presumably depends on a favourable outcome for Ontario's Liberal government in the upcoming October election...

Opposition critics said voters can't trust the Liberals to stick to the plan, given their past record of breaking promises and their newly exposed weakness in southwestern Ontario.

``I think it's another promise made at election time, and this premier and this government does not have a good record on fulfilling the promises,'' said Conservative critic Joyce Savoline...

New Democrat Peter Tabuns said he doesn't oppose transportation spending, but questioned why it wasn't in the provincial budget, and why the province didn't seek a solid commitment from Cannon in advance.

``It's a very conditional promise ... with real questions about substance or deliverability,'' Tabuns said.