Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, July 27, 2007

Who's Afraid Of The Big Bad Bloggers

It seems that some people at City Hall are!

I was told some time ago by a Councillor that his access to my Blogsite was denied. It seems that Chris Schnurr has had the same thing happen to him if you read his BLOG today. I was also informed that another Councillor tried to get his IT group to block my emails as well.

I have still not yet received media accreditation from the City although I have received it both from the Province and the Federal Government.

I thought you might find this article of interest about Bloggers and local politics. Geeee, we in Windsor are tame by comparison. It's hilarious how the politicians, and now the media, try to smear BLOGGERS, including all of the lonely ones.

Hmmm I guess that must mean that Bloggers cannot be controlled as easily as the mainstream media in town. We are a big threat it seems. Allowing an opposite point of view must cause a problem for some.

However, just wait until next week when we BLOGGERs do our research and get our information down about the shocking water fees diversion scandal at City Hall. Is that just the tip of the ice-berg with more to come?

  • Riled bloggers rant about local pols

    Christina Stolarz / The Detroit News July 24, 2007

    BROWNSTOWN TOWNSHIP -- Diane Philpot knows what people have said about her in online blogs. And, for the record, she says none of it is true.

    "I've heard everything from being a lesbian to everything else," said Philpot, the Brownstown Township treasurer since 2004. She said she has never seen the offending blog entry, but was told about it by friends. She said she was also told she was accused of stealing money.

    She has plenty of company -- she's among many local politicians who have suffered blasts from bloggers, ranging from their sexual orientation to their age, how much they drink, how much they weigh and their physical appearance.

    The Web logs are changing the nature of municipal campaigns and are forcing office seekers to find ways to counter what many find to be scurrilous attacks from gadflies who now have a new way to express themselves.

    "It's a difficult thing to be in politics in these times. You have to have a thick skin," said Charles Shaw, an Internet law attorney with Charles Regan Shaw & Associates PLC in Clinton Township. The blog posts "can transform public opinion whether right or wrong. You need to balance it and get the truth out there via a blog, campaign or a news story."

    Brownstown isn't the only place where blogs have become facts of life. They're part of the political fabric in Warren and Grosse Pointe Woods, for example.

    Philpot says she doesn't give the blogs a second thought because it would be a waste of time to defend herself online.

    Her only hope is that her critics have the courage to sign their names. Because as much as she agrees that public participation in local government -- even online -- is a good thing, she believes the philosophy has veered off course.

    "I think it's very out of hand and very inappropriate," Philpot said. "I don't think just because you're a public figure people should say lies and horrible, nasty things about you. The same decorum should apply to everyone. It's detrimental to the people who are out there trying to make a difference."

    While some messages posted on blogs highlight legitimate civic issues, others veer into hurtful personal attacks that some fear could discourage grass-roots participation in local government -- especially because there are few options for fighting back against anonymity.

    And the personal vitriol -- sometimes even generated from public officials to their opponents -- is only expected to continue as the Aug. 7 primary campaign draws closer.

    The only other way for a public official to combat these blog messages is after they turn threatening, said Shaw, the Internet lawyer. Then it becomes a criminal matter and can be handed over to a police computer crime unit to determine who is writing the posts and where they are coming from.

    Sometimes, blog moderators remove particularly nasty messages, or they don't allow such personal attacks on the sites.

    But many local officials, including Warren Mayor Mark Steenbergh, create their own blogs to counter cyber-lies. Steenbergh added a blog to the city's Web site in January to share his perspective on important city issues and policies.

    In Grosse Pointe Woods, Councilman Pete Waldmeir started his own blog to counter the "lies, distortions, character assassination and slander from garbage-blog losers." On his site, called Grosse Pointe Woods' Truth, he dares the "gutless trash" to leave their real names.

    "I call them the garbage blogs because nobody ever signs them," said Waldmeir, a former Detroit News columnist. "I wouldn't mind as long as people had guts enough to sign their names. There are laws against libel and slander, and this gives them a free ride ticket."

    Waldmeir posted this week that he believes he's "unmasked" the blogger who's attacked him and other Grosse Pointe Woods city officials. And, now, that site is down.

    Warren resident Henry Krzystowczyk said he likes to read the posts to try to figure out who the players are. "The blogging is a game," he said. "You have to take it with a grain of salt. I think what they're set up to do is give up misinformation, chastise and defame."

    Steenbergh agrees. While he thinks blogs play an important role in allowing public participation in city government, he also says they should be used to discuss important issues.

    "Once you've seen it, you know it's being used by people to further some hidden agenda," Steenbergh said. "If you're going to do something like that with interaction back and forth, you should talk about real issues and real solutions not just a bunch of gossip."

    Howell school board Trustee Wendy Day said she's often targeted on other "mean-spirited" blogs. They've discussed her alcohol consumption at social events, tattooed ankle and her weight, even though she's pregnant with her fourth child, she said.

    Still, Day believes blogs are an important alternative arena -- with fliers and underground newspapers -- for residents to express their opinions. But she says they don't hold any credibility because the messages are anonymous.

    "We're struggling to learn how to make them effective," she said. "As an elected official, people aren't going to like what you do. But, if you hold to your ethics I believe, in the end, there's a place to find mutual respect."

    You can reach Christina Stolarz at (586) 468-0343 or


    Blog entries
    Here are some excerpts taken from resident-generated blog sites. The Detroit News removed names of elected officials in the entries.

    · "It is not 'correct' to call 'little people' a 'midget' anymore. With that said, I'd like to make an observation of XXX: A MIDGET in stature. A MIDGET of mind. A MIDGET of intestinal fortitude. A MIDGET of a politician. Make sure you put them lawnmowers on the right height for cutting (can you even reach the handles when you mow?)"

    · "As I watched him (a city councilman) up close last night, he looked so old and feeble."

    · "Don't forget she tried to 'Buy' votes. Ask her how she 'laid' the groundwork to get votes for council. Someone needs to check her little black book."

    · "It was fun to see the mayor put his foot in his mouth Find me a 'BIGGER' bigot. I dare you."

    · "The Mayor and Council remind me of the Capitol One commercials with the dirty and inept marauders tripping over themselves as they try to pillage and clobber their way to power. Thanks to FOIA, we know what's in their wallets."

    · "XXX said he was confused with the city hall elevator. OK XXX you press 2 for the second floor, 3 for the third floor, NOT TO HARD, even for a 70 year old."

    · "Is XXX's IQ over 70? Thought not."

A Few More Thoughts

Here are some quick thoughts for you


Somebody may be able to pick up this site for a song, a real bargain, if some resolution is not arrived at very soon.

My understanding is that the Junction is mortgaged and whoever is the financier may be getting a bit nervous these days for repayment.

The partners in the Junction cannot be too pleased either after pouring several hundred thousand dollars into refurbishment and now not being able to use the facility.

Get real, who would want to lease it with a fight to be expected with the neighbours if it is something that someone in the neighbourhood does not want. As for a sale....someone would have to be prepared to be a scrapper.

PLUS, the owners have to fight in court for the supposed by-law infractions for the Teen Function.

All this is not good news for George Sofos. And probably not good for the City if he sues and wins big time.

If a fly in a Culligan bottle is worth at trial almost $350K (although overturned on appeal and awaiting a Supreme Court hearing) and a cyclist received more than $800,000 in damages over a raised sewer grate, what would this business claim be worth if successful?


You'd think from reading Eddie's remarks that the Detroit-Windsor transfer bus service is a huge success:

  • "We can get Detroit, but we can't get the county."

    Mayor Eddie Francis rolled his eyes in frustration Friday at the thought that Windsor transit users can now travel on board Detroit-area buses, but can't make connections into the county."

Just so you know:

  • "During an average week, between 30 and 40 passengers take advantage of the transfer exchange."


In doing some research on Transit Windsor, I discovered that

  • "The bus fleet, which consists of 99 coaches, is on average 12 years old.

    "The useful life of a bus is 18 years," Williams said.

    A quarter of the fleet is 18 years old and two buses were bought 28 years ago. Administrators had hoped to buy six new buses this year at a cost of $2.7 million."

Our Mayor said on March 16, 2007

  • "Before we buy new buses, I'd like to streamline practices," Francis said. "I move we not buy new buses and reconsider the issue in 2008. Before we add to services, we need to get a handle on the service we provide."

Then during final budget deliberations in early May:

  • "In finalizing its budget, council did end up helping the landlords by re-directing a $1-million savings by agreeing not to buy any Transit Windsor buses this year and instead apply the money to reduce this year's multi-residential rate increase from 3.25 per cent down to 2.95."


The new Sandwich Art gallery that opened over the weekend on Indian Road drew throngs of visitors from both sides of he border.

Residents from the Windsor and Detroit areas flocked to see one of the largest displays of interactive "urban art" in the world.

A spokesperson for the gallery stated that "We were thrilled that so many people came to see the murals that local Windsor artists created for the enjoyment of the community!"


We must have one although I admit that I must have missed the ribbon cutting for it. At the opening of the new bus terminal, the Mayor said:

  • "There is definitely an increase in activity in the Urban Village with the addition of the bus terminal. "

Or does he mean that his lack of action on economic development for years has turned Windsor into a village?


If Sam gets his way and we have parkettes all along the new route to the border, I have a question.....who will pay for the ongoing maintenance of these parkettes? It won't be the Senior Levels I am sure. Their position will be that they paid for them and so Windsorites are responsible for the day-to-day costs as in Sam's NYC. However, there's a problem. Where is the money coming from to do so:

  • City plan guts parks spending for sewers; Infrastructure the focus of 2007's capital budget;
    Dave Battagello, Windsor Star 04-10-2007

    "More of Windsor's bone-rattling roads and outdated sewers are to be fixed under the city's 2007 capital budget, which will be unveiled at tonight's council meeting.

    But the work would come at the expense of the city's parks and recreational facilities. Spending for new parks, playground equipment, trail upgrades and swimming pool renovations would be chopped from close to $10 million last year to roughly $2.5 million...

    "It's going to be tough," said Coun. Jo-Anne Gignac. "Nobody in Windsor would say our parks are unimportant. They are a focus of pride, but that comes at a big cost.

    "In moving forward, we are going to have to dialogue with residents on what they expect. We can't be all things to all people."

    Overall, funds for parks will fall from 14 per cent of last year's capital budget to five per cent.

    "The past several years, parks and rec certainly commanded a high budget," said Francis, pointing to work along the riverfront. "Our parks will be maintained. You will not see any new parks being built."

    Among the planned items cut in the proposed capital budget are $250,000 in playground equipment replacement, postponed until next year with funds only for repairs.

    Spray pad/water play additions to several parks across the city have also been cancelled indefinitely. Another $225,000 in tennis court and basketball court resurfacing was also cancelled this year and will likely be delayed for several years.

    More than $200,000 in work at Coventry Gardens to improve walkways, the fountain plaza and landscape restoration has been put off until next year. A planned $240,000 addition for a new Ojibway Park education centre has also put on hold until beyond 2012.

    No upgrades or renovations will be done at any of the city's swimming pools -- only repairs. One line of the budget indicates "should any major breakdown occur it could lead to a pool closure for the balance of the season."

    Colucci said Monday that is unlikely, noting the city has the ability to pull from its reserve funds in such an emergency.

    Aside from completion of the Peace Beacon at the foot of Ouellette Avenue, work on Windsor's riverfront parkland will be cut back under the proposed budget."

I wonder if Sam's artistic renditions will discuss this subject. Remember the outcry earlier this year about grass not being cut becuase students were not hired. Imagine what the City would look like with miles and miles of uncut parkettes.

And how can we have new parks when the Mayor said we cannot have any new ones?

Do you think the amnesia disease struck again or is my anti-Bridge Co. conspiracy theory looking better every day?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

FONSI and Bridge History

The document from MDOT is dated 1997, ten years ago, in case you miss it on your first read-through.

Anyone who suggests that the US and Michigan Government officials were not aware of exactly what the Bridge Co. wanted to do with a second span is delusional. The Ambassador Gateway project was designed to accommodate a second span as the Bridge Co. is planning today with its Enhancement Project.

Don't you find the "partnership" language remarkable as well. We already have a "P3" deal don't we yet someone in Government has decided that Governments should have a different private partner. I guess the Bridge Co. being the #1 border operator is not good enough for some bureaucrats.

Interestingly as well, the US Government signed a "FONSI" on the project ie a report indicating that a proposed project is environmentally safe. I wonder how the Government can justify today saying that replacing one older bridge with another is a problem especially when the same plaza is being used.

This whole file is becoming curiouser and curiouser the more one discovers. You are welcome to join with my conspiracy theory that this is all directed to force the Bridge Co. to sell out.
Contact: Gary G. Naeyaert (517) 335-3084
Agency: Transportation

December 5, 1997
Statewide Media Reports Misrepresent Facts in Story About Ambassador Bridge

LANSING-Recent media reports about the Detroit International Bridge Company's Ambassador Bridge, the Gateway Project and access between Michigan's highway system and the bridge contain inaccuracies and do not reflect either current project plans or funding issues. The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT ) is working diligently to ensure clear and concise understanding of the issue.

On October 23, 1997, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) signed a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) on the $100 million Gateway Project, providing approval to move the project to the design stage. Project objectives are threefold: to improve direct access between the Ambassador Bridge and Michigan's highway system, to accommodate future border crossing capacity needs and to accommodate access to a proposed private Travel Information Center/Retail Complex.

"The opportunity for FHWA and M•DOT to partner with the privately-owned Ambassador Bridge for these access improvements is one step closer to reality with the FONSI agreement," said State Transportation Director Jim DeSana. "This project is an ambitious and creative partnership between the federal government, M•DOT and the privately-owned Ambassador Bridge. We need changes in federal transportation law, which we expect in the reauthorization of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA), to allow for federal participation in the access improvements," he continued.

Under current federal law, public funds may not to be used to connect highways to a privately-owned bridge, like the Ambassador Bridge. Michigan transportation officials are working with federal legislators to ensure the new version of ISTEA, when enacted, allows for the potential for funding access improvements of this type.

Any improvements to the actual bridge, or a potential second span of the Ambassador Bridge, would be entirely the financial responsibility of the Detroit International Bridge Company and no public funds would be spent on the bridge itself.

"We will not fund improvements to the actual Ambassador Bridge structure or any potential second span," stated DeSana. If the Detroit International Bridge Company decides they want to build a second span, that's their decision and financial responsibility," DeSana concluded.

The Ambassador Bridge is the busiest international border crossing in North America, carrying more than 10 million vehicles. Direct access between Michigan's highway system and the bridge will facilitate international trade for the state of Michigan, the Midwest, including Chicago and St. Louis, and the entire U.S. via the interstate corridors of I-94, I-96, I-69 and I-75.

PACE Yourself

I have a feeling that Windsor will need more that a $250,000 PR team in the Mayor's Office to counter a negative story like this.

In effect the Detroit News is telling people NOT to come to Windsor. You'd think that the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel and Ambassador Bridge along with the City ought to be working together to get people to come over here and to worry about who gets the specific customer later. After all, if the pie gets bigger, then both can get more. Unfortunately, that is NOT how our Mayor/Chair of the WTC/CEO of the new Tunnel Corp thinks.

Good thing that the story did not encourage us in Windsor to go over for all of the bargains in Detroit since our dollar is so high. It could become "PACE" all over again.

Retailers are lucky the Star is not telling us about this!
  • Day trips to Canada plunge to new low
    Security hassles, gas prices, exchange rate deter U.S. tourists from crossing the border.
    Andy Henion / The Detroit News

    The pain of a waning U.S. client base goes beyond Windsor's bars to the casino, hotels and eateries, says the local tourism office.

    WINDSOR -- Americans are taking fewer day trips to Canada than at any time in living memory, a major blow to border cities like Windsor that rely on tourists for their prosperity.

    Officials say a "perfect storm" of economic and social factors is fueling the downswing, including an unfavorable exchange rate, high gas prices, a year-old smoking ban at public buildings in Ontario and, perhaps most of all, border security issues.

    Tony O'Rourke of Detroit, for one, would love to dine in one of the city's renowned Italian restaurants, enjoy Point Pelee's sandy beaches or simply grab a pizza and beer with friends.

    Yet the social-services case manager hasn't made the trip in several years because of hassles at the border. U.S. customs agents would routinely search his car for up to 40 minutes, said O'Rourke, a 41-year-old Latino who believes he was singled out because he looks Middle Eastern.

    "It's all about comfort level," he said. "If I have other options for places to go and things to do, I'm going to choose the path of least resistance."

    The number of U.S. citizens driving to Canada for the day has dropped steadily each year for the past seven, hitting a record low of 13.7 million last year, according to Canadian government data for all U.S.-Canada crossings. The peak was 27.3 million in 1999.

    The downswing worsened during the first part of this year. The 3.2 million day-trippers from January through April -- the latest available data -- is the lowest tally for any four-month period since Canada started tracking the flow in 1972.

    The dearth of American visitors is a major blow to Windsor's $515 million-a-year tourism industry. More than 4 million of the city's 5 million yearly visitors are U.S. citizens -- most of them from Michigan, officials said.

    "It's as simple as saying that not enough people are filling seats in restaurants, they're not filling the hotel rooms and they're not enjoying the nightlife here like they once did," said Gordon Orr, managing director of the Convention & Visitors Bureau of Windsor, Essex County & Pelee Island.

    "We're definitely feeling it," said Chris Ryan, owner of Patrick O'Ryan's Irish pub in downtown Windsor. Business is down nearly 10 percent over last year at this time, but Ryan considers himself "one of the lucky ones."

    "Some are down 30 to 60 percent," he said.

    Border issues are key

    Most officials agree the trend is due in large part to a misconception of unbridled border congestion and confusion about the documentation needed to get across.

    The long lines at security checkpoints in the months following September 11 have largely disappeared, although the Ambassador Bridge and Detroit-Windsor Tunnel still back up at times. And those motorists singled out for a vehicle search, like O'Rourke, can expect longer waits.

    Further, a passport is not needed to drive across the U.S-Canada border, as many believe. A driver's license and birth certificate will suffice, though the Bush administration plans to start requiring a passport in the summer of 2008.

    Partying in Windsor -- where the drinking age is 19 -- is a rite of passage for many U.S. citizens such as Megan Single of Macomb, who recently celebrated her 19th birthday in the city. But if that means paying $100 for a passport in the future, she said, it may not be worth it.

    "Why would you waste all that money when you only come over here once in a while?" said Single, who thinks a birth certificate and license should remain sufficient.

    But several other factors are also helping keep Americans home, officials say. They include:

    Metro Detroit's soaring unemployment rate -- it was 7.2 percent in May, well above the national rate of 4.5 percent -- which is fueled largely by the automotive industry's decline.

    An unfavorable exchange rate. The U.S. dollar is worth about $1.05 in Canada, compared with $1.53 five years ago.

    Gas prices that hover well above the $3-a-gallon mark.

    A smoking ban at all public buildings and workplaces in Ontario that took effect June 1, 2006.

    The entrenchment of Detroit's casinos -- which have cut into Casino Windsor's client base.

    "With all these factors, it's being called the perfect storm," said Keith Andrews, vice president of corporate affairs at Casino Windsor, the city's biggest attraction.

    Flow to U.S. still strong

    Casino business is down 20 percent to 25 percent from last year, but officials hope a $400 million renovation and expansion, slated for completion early next year, will help reverse that. The casino also will change its name to Caesars Windsor.

    The 133-room Travelodge in Windsor is boosting marketing efforts on a smaller scale by offering a room deal that includes free breakfast and a $10 gas coupon. The hotel, which relies heavily on U.S. customers, is filling only about 50 percent of its rooms, said Angela Santin, general manager.

    "That number is not making us profitable," she said.

    Meanwhile, Canadians continue visiting the United States in relatively strong numbers. Nearly 23.5 million day-trippers came here in 2006, up 9 percent from 2004. And although January-April traffic was down 4 percent from the same period in 2006, it was still higher than the first four months of both 2004 and 2005.

    Hart Hodges, a Western Washington University professor who studies border issues, said Canadians historically have "put up with more" at the border to take advantage of large retailers in the United States. U.S. citizens, on the other hand, are more apt to skip the trip when the negative factors pile up.

    "At some point, you would expect Americans to say, 'Why bother?' " Hodges said.

    But keeping a steady flow of trade -- and tourists -- between the two countries is vital, said Sarah Hubbard of the Detroit Regional Chamber.

    "Strategically, it's in the best interest of our region and the U.S. to maintain a good relationship with Canada given their position flanking our country and as our largest trading partner," Hubbard said. "Americans may think they don't really need Canada, but I think they'd be surprised if that piece of our economy disappeared."

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Windsor's Major New Museum Destination

There it was in the Star story, right at the end where the important stuff is always placed:
  • "Other ideas talked about by council included...a new major museum somewhere in the city."

I told you yesterday about having a family destination location at the Junction incorporating a number of Windsor historical Landmarks including the Junction itself and the Chimczuk Museum which is the key element in the whole plan.

  • "Joseph Chimczuk, an autoworker who bequeathed $1 million to the City of Windsor for a museum, library and archives, stipulated in his will that the money was to be used to "build a building."

The individual components could probably not succeed finacially on their own but together in a "destination" could make a success of it.

It works out fantastically from a financial perspective. There is around $3 million dollars in the Chimczuk Estate account that has been gathering for over a dozen years I believe. Those funds could be used to generate around $20M in grants from various Senior Level Government Departments I have heard. One needs cash to get cash and so Windsor is well-positioned! It makes Windsor's proposal look serious with real cash on the line.


  • "With more than $10 million in the bank, the Greater Windsor Community Foundation is still in need of donations and bequests in order to continue acting as the money manager for a variety of area charitable organizations, said the foundation's chairman....Freed admitted deciding how to spend Chimczuk's bequest has "become a little bit tricky because determining the exact needs, requirements and definition still needs some work." "

The Junction location is ideal, near both the Bridge and Tunnel so it would be a great tourist draw. It is near the University and the downtown so it has a large target market. It is a place for all age groups and can be used for school groups as well. It preserves Windsor historical landmarks while opening up a new one.

The amphitheatre could draw thousands to the City. With the Cleary, Capitol and other smaller theatres including the one for sale on E-Bay, it could make our City another Niagara-on-the-Lake or a Stratford over time given our nearby large market in the US. Imagine the music and theatre groups who could perform there! Just like at Ontario Place in Toronto.

The possibilities are huge and at hardly any cost to taxpayers if carried out properly. Former Mayoral candidate David Wonham is an expert in the area so he could be a good resource to the City as well.

George Sofos has already worked out artist's renditions of the site using an architectural firm in town. (See above) His plans have been submitted to the Mayor and Council some time ago I believe. David Wonham has met the Mayor on this as well but got a very cold reception. As he described it over a year ago:

  • "Though he kindly listened to my presentation, and thanked me for it, he had no questions, expressed no personal opinion, certainly did not take ownership of the concept, but merely said that he would have to consider this at a Strategic Planning meeting in the indefinite future, to see what Council wanted to do about it.

    Assessment of meeting: not overtly positive. Felt either lack of leadership, or his interests lie elsewhere."

Now all of a sudden, the Mayor is interested in family attractions. Do you think it is because he is a new father? Heck, a lot of what Councillor Postma decides is based on her kids. This is his chance to make up for his attack on Councillors over the Junction and to allow the Junction owners to avoid a bankruptcy.

For the Ward 2 Councillors, it is a chance for them to do something positive for their Ward finally! It is time they started fighting for their Ward.

The Junction must be part of all of this. Why else would Eddie have put his neck on the line by speaking out at Council as he did.

West End Shocker

Oh my goodness. What a shock!

Is the Star wrong? If it is, an immediate correction is required! Has she moved? If so, when? Or has she lived there all of the time?

I thought that Mary Ann Cuderman lived in the McGregor-Cowan house on Sandwich Street not on Indian Road. You know the's the one that received money from the City as a heritage building:
  • $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)
and she was requesting "25% of the cost of restoring the main entrance door and sidelights of the house."

She had in the past appeared as well
  • " 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."

When she was in front of the Ontario Municipal Board in July 2005 to oppose the City of Windsor's approval of an application by Canadian Transit Company for variance from the provisions of By-law 8600, it was said in the decision:

  • "The appellant, Mary Ann Cuderman resides at 3118 Sandwich Street, Windsor and she testified in opposition to the motion to dismiss. She stated that she was a lifelong resident of Windsor."

In April of this year, the Detroit Free Press said

  • "Mary Ann Cuderman, ... lives in a 200-year-old home 2 blocks from the bridge..."

In passing, Ms Cuderman made a very damaging remark at the OMB hearing for those who think there is a need for more capacity. In other words, she was stating at the hearing that there was NO need for a DRIC bridge since the Bridge Co. had more than enough capcity to handle traffic:

  • "She raised many concerns about the proposal. She questioned whether or not the expansion of the Bridge Plaza was necessary since only a short time ago there had been approval given for 3 new booths. An additional 6 booths would bring the total to 9. In her opinion, the additional 6 lanes were not required. She pointed out that the Deputy Prime Minister had asked for a 25% increase in capacity for Canada Customs to alleviate the slowdown for the quick and efficient flow of goods and services from the United States and Canada. She stated that 3 new booths, which had already been approved, would more than meet this capacity."
Perhaps DRIC should have listened to her on this issue. Why then Mary Ann has not supported the Bridge Co. Enhancement Project for all of this time remains a mystery to me since it is a "maintenance" project not a "capacity" project.

If Mary Ann moved from Sandwich St to Indian Rd. after mid-2005 or after April, 2007 you have to ask the obvious question: if the area is so bad, then why did she move there? Why would someone knowingly move to an area that could be impacted by a bridge and then complain about it? She knew what she was getting into. I would have to draw the conclusion that it is not as bad as the Ward Councillors are saying it is.

It's like the fellow in the Star story the other day:

  • "Neil Misquitta peers over the backyard wall of his rented Indian Road home and shakes his head at the newly constructed hulk of bricks and steel -- massive customs booths to clear border trucks entering Windsor off the Ambassador Bridge...

    Misquitta and his family of four, ages nine months to 12 years old, are among the last remaining residents living among the weeds and boarded-up homes on the east side of the 700 block of Indian Road.

    Every house on the block borders on the new truck plaza.

    The homes were long ago purchased by bridge owner Matty Moroun...

    Misquitta, who expects to be relocated at month's end to another bridge company rental home on nearby Bloomfield Road, applauds the heritage plans because he loves the neighbourhood."

HUH....I don't get it...Why would he rent on Indian Road in the first place and then why would he relocate to another Bridge Co. home if it was so awful? I don't get it at all! Given his negative comments, I would have thought he would be pleased to look elsewhere in the City for a home. Again, maybe it is not as bad as some would have us believe!

Frankly, if Mary Ann moved to Indian and now lives there after 2005 or 2007 with all of the information she had about the border fight and given her opinion of the Bridge Co., then she knew what she was getting. She moved to the area by choice and why should any one listen to her complaints now. As I learned in first year law school "Volenti non fit iniuria." In English: "to a willing person, no injury is done."

I must admit that my first reaction after seeing the address where she lived was one of surprise. Perhaps the references in the Council Minutes to her Sandwich address were just to be used as her mailing address.

Some may now want to question the description of her as "a west-end community activist." After all, isn't she now just a NIMBY-type merely protecting her monetary interests and not looking out necessarily for what is good for Windsor or Sandwich in particular? Is she also in a conflict as an Indian Road resident and as a member of the Sandwich Heritage Conservation Task Force?

Frankly, one could write her off very easily and quickly. One could easily now explain away her opposition to the Bridge Co. as self-interest not Windsor's interests.

I don't think however that is fair or right to do. She is entitled to her point of view and the right to express it as is any Windsorite. It is no different than what the people along the STOPDRTP corridor did: opposed DRTP to protect their neighbourhood. She is doing the same for her area.

However, what we have to consider now is when she decided to live on Indian Road in order to decide what weight we should give her opinions and comments.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Family Fun City

We won't be Sin City any longer. And it is not because in Windsor one cannot have music and dancing together

I just heard the Mayor say on AM 800 this morning that one of the big items at the City's strategic session tonight is to develop a family destination: a family park where families and children can go to spend the time together eg Storybook gardens. (The other big item is keeping streets clean and attractive. So much for the border!).

Why it would not surprise me if he wants to have a brownfields redevelopment at the Zalev site and have that become a prime example of turning something horrible into a family area that will make Windsor a world-class destination Sam's new road to the border.

Is this another new business that the City will run too--like the East End arena and the Tunnel?

Well I have a better idea for him and for Windsorites too. One that Eddie is very familiar with since it has been presented to him already. It is one that revitalizes a part of the City that needs help as it has been promised the moon but has received nothing so far, no arena, no urban village. The only actual success in that part of the City, in Ward 2, is a new Tim Hortons it seems.

How about this:
  • Completion of a magnificent community park from the river to the international gardens near University: the Gateway public park
  • The building of a huge amphithatre for plays and music just like in Liplock Sam's NYC, the Delacorte Theater, an open-air theatre located in Manhattan's Central Park
  • A location for the Chimczuk Cultural Centre and Historical Museum
  • A location for the City archives
  • The new home for the Spirit of Windsor Engine 5588
  • Home for a new Science And Tech centre
  • Home for a Planetarium
  • Home for an Aquarium
  • Family Fun Centre and restaurant
  • A new home for former bank facade at the corner of Ouellette Avenue and Riverside which now is in storage

Do you know where the ideal location for this massive redevelopment is: at the Junction on University Avenue, right beside the Gateway Park!

That's right, the place where nothing can be done! Even Brian Masse and his neighbours could not be upset as their homes sky-rocketed in value!

I'll tell you more about how it can be paid for without a big expense to taxpayers tomorrow!

Windsor's New Urban R&D Centre

I happened to read the story below about Wayne State's Tech Town.

It would not surprise me to see a similar announcement being made soon by the Province, City of Windsor and the University of Windsor!

Instead of a downtown Engineering Building complex, we would see an R&D Tech Centre with the prime tenant being the University Engineering Building or maybe the University would run the whole thing! I would expect that the Province would muscle all kinds of companies to locate there if they want funding from the Government.

A pipe-dream...maybe, but do you recall from our own lady Minister:

  • "The McGuinty Government is accepting proposals for the fourth round of its Advanced Manufacturing InvestmentStrategy (AMIS), Minister of Economic Development and Trade Sandra Pupatello announced today...

    The $500-million AMIS program provides repayable loans interest free, for up to five years, to support investments in technology and innovation. The innovative projects announced to date under this initiative will generate nearly $400 million in new investments and support the creation or retention of about 3,000 jobs."

One example was:

  • "Successful projects to date include:

    Skyjack Inc., Guelph (May 14, 2007) - Creation of a Centre of Excellence to facilitate industrial research and development, prototyping, testing and commercialization of new aerial work platforms and materials handling equipment. A loan of $2.48 million supports a total project investment of $24.79 million."

In addition, the Premier announced, to encourage green automotive technologies

  • "a new $650-million Next Generation Jobs Fund that will leverage investments in green technologies that help to reduce greenhousegas emissions and improve environmental sustainability."

No wonder Eddie is supporting Sandra's re-election! And it's a good thing that the University is following Ed Lumley's "Think Really Big" strategy isn't it!

Perhaps Amanda Gellman's fund-raising job won't be so tough after all. And the Gazelle feeders might actually accomplish something.

Next stop, Tech Town

Tech Town, housed in renovated warehouses just north of Wayne State’s campus, is home to startups and established companies in life sciences, information technology, advanced engineering and advanced manufacturing. One company is into video-game creation. Another is a “bank” for human tissue samples for medical research.

Wayne State University launched Tech Town in April 2004 with General Motors Corp., Henry Ford Health System, the city of Detroit, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and other state departments in the 12-block area between Wayne State University and the former GM headquarters.

Companies in area include Asterand, NextEnergy, Henry Ford Health and a Delphi Corp. spinout, SpaceForm. Economic development in the area exceeds $90 million.

Wayne State’s big plans

Wayne State University’s campus welcomed more than $170 million in projects since 2000. Among the highlights: a new $64 million home for the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences; three new residence halls; an $18.5 million welcome center and a $6 million university bookstore operated by Barnes & Noble; an addition to the law school; and a new recreation and fitness center. The newest $55 million residence hall, dubbed “The Towers,” just opened this year. Its tallest wing is 11 stories high, and it houses more than 900 students. Long a “commuter” school, WSU now sees a surge in interest in living on campus.

Scolded Like Children in Public

A "wuss" is defined as "A person regarded as weak or timid." "An offensive term that deliberately insults somebody regarded as weak or ineffectual." Do we have 10 of them on Council?

I am sure that you really like being told off by your boss. You try your best and then get dumped on. Can you imagine how small you would feel if your boss did that in front of your co-workers. How about if he/she did that in front of your customers and strangers too.

That certainly would be good for your self-esteem and would lower your worth in front of the others.

Can you imagine then how the Councillors must feel after being ridiculed by the Mayor at Council last Monday and on televison for all to see. It was as if they were children being scolded by a teacher for their stupidity at dealing with the simplest of matters.

The Star's comment hardly does justice to what the Mayor did:

  • "Council appeared poised to do just that [to grant the Junction a one-year business license], but then Mayor Eddie Francis took the unusual step of removing himself from the chair of Monday's meeting in order to strongly oppose the option, which had been proposed by Coun. Fulvio Valentinis."

Can you imagine, Councillor Valentinis whom Henderson called "an educator and lawyer" being told off by a 33 year old "legal technocrat" who has never really practised law since he went right from Bar Admission to running for Mayor!

Our Mayor, if he was so clever, should have spotted the problem and not let it go to Council in the first place. Or he could have killed it in one second with a ruling from the Chair.

Yet he did not do either of those things. Gee, that gave him the terrific opportunity to perform his dramatic act to make sure the Junction was killed if anyone thought it could be saved. Who needs theatre at the Capitol when we have this show for free. I should ask the person who contacted me before if this was all "orchestrated" like a symphony in camera as well.

But it was more too. It allowed him to re-assert himself, to dominate his Councillors and let them know who is boss in case they forgot. It reminded them what their respective roles were. It is not enough for his ego that he forced Council to pass a motion in public that he is the "Voice of Council" on the border and that there may well be an Integrity Commissioner appointed who will be there if they dare step out of line. For a guy with so much power, our Mayor seems so insecure.

What was wrong with Councillors---are they so stupid that they did not understand the difference between heritage designation and the interim control by-law such that he had to remind them several times of it. How could they possibly follow what Administration said was a viable option in dealing with the Junction when he said it was not and that if they defied him then he would insist that Administrators be indemnified in case there was a lawsuit.

And the sad part was that they just sat there and took it with a couple of exceptions: Councillors Gignac and Halberstadt.

Why do we even need a Council when he is just so smart and they are just so dumb. No wonder he does not tell them anything significant. They cannot handle it. Remember what Mike Hurst said about the role of the Mayor and Councillors.

  • "Hurst said that as mayor his mandate is to look at the overall picture that will be of most benefit to the city."Councillors don't have to do that but the mayor does," said Hurst. "

Well Eddie is taking that to the Nth degree. What an insult!

Oh there has been quite a change in what Eddie thinks about empowering Councillors from the time he first ran for Mayor:



    City Councillors must become active participants, with the Mayor, in governing our City. Our Councillors come from diverse backgrounds that are rich in different life experiences. Many will have previously served as Councillors. We must leverage the depth and breadth of their knowledge and expertise to the City’s advantage."

The interesting point about the last Council meeting is that Eddie has put his neck on the line about the Junction, something he rarely does. He cannot hide behind Council on this one. He will be the #1 Witness if George Sofos decides to sue and George will not back off if he does. The animosity now runs too deep.

Our Mayor and Administration will have to explain why for instance certain saving provisions in the Official Plan were not presented as options to help George and why no one picked up on my suggestion re the CBO.

Let's see now....we have the Three Blind Mice and Councillor Gignac who have to be offended by the impudence of the Mayor. Councillor Hatfield is looking as if he is less and less pleased at what is going on. Councillor Valentinis cannot be thrilled at how he was treated. That already is a Council majority even not taking into account what I have heard about certain Councillors being very upset in camera as to how this City is being run or have ambitions to be the next Mayor and are looking for a way to separate from the pack.

Did Eddie overstep? Did he get carried away with his own power? Did he forget that he was one of the people who rallied Councillors to beat Hurst?

Will history repeat itself with Francis as Mayor? It will if six Councillors have guts and are tired of being treated as wusses. And Windsorites can only hope that Eddie's own foolish outburst caused that change.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Odds And Ends

Here are a few items that caught my imagination


Let's get serious for a minute.

Do you really think that any Legislator in Michigan other than Steve Tobocman and perhaps a few other anti-Bridge Co. reps will support DRIC? Michigan would have to pay hundreds of millions for new DRIC roads, plazas and a bridge. This is after Michigan agreed to pay for the Ambassador Gateway project. Moreover, Michigan also makes about $2B in matching Federal grants with the Enhancement project which they can use for their purposes.

If there was any doubt, this story should help ensure that the Enhancement project goes forward:
  • Tough Mich. Economy Hits Companies That Build Highways

    July 9, 2007, WDIV news

    Some companies that build highways in the state are laying off workers, Local 4 reported.

    A weak Michigan economy in part has left less money available to fund infrastructure projects.

    Slagter Construction is a Grand Rapids-based road builder.

    It recently said it has cut its work force to 66 from 102 in the past five years -- and plans to open a Florida office for the first time.

    State funding for highway construction and maintenance is expected to drop 24 percent over the next four years -- to $1.23 billion in 2011 from $1.62 billion this year.


It is amazing the stories that Today's Trucking has been able to break. They are a good source for border news I have found.

A few of us have been trying to figure out who the leakor is especially since most of the stories leaked are designed to hurt the Bridge Co. We have narrowed the choices down to a few people but it would not be fair to speculate on names until we are more certain.

It was interesting to read the story they did on the Bridge Co. in their online edition "Stamper fires back." (I posted the poll results from that story)

You might want to take a look at it and judge for yourself. You might learn a fact or two that our local media has not told you.


Now infrastructure funds are again being touted in the Globe and Mail as a good investment for the retail customer:

  • "Toll roads, seaports and utilities may not seem like sexy investments, but they are part of what some see as an emerging, attractive asset class.

    Investing in infrastructure has become a hot sector in recent years for pension funds seeking steady cash flows to meet obligations to retirees.

    But more investment companies are jumping on the bandwagon to give retail investors a chance to profit too.

    Toronto-based Mackenzie Financial Corp. is the latest to join the infrastructure trend with today's launch of the Mackenzie Universal Global Infrastructure Fund."

We in Windsor are familiar with 3 infrastructure deals: DRTP, The Detroit/Windsor Tunnel and the new DRIC bridge. Would you invest in any of them today?

Caveat emptor


I see that Ottawa's new Conflict of Interest Act comes into force soon. We in Windsor are still waiting for how many years now for Councillor Postma to bring hers back to a public Council meeting for a vote.


I am glad that Standard and Poor's and Dominion Bond Rating Services have ranked OMERS "AAA." You will remember how the contribution rate for municipaliites and their employees rose dramatically over the past few years to cover the OMERS deficit.

It's a nice position to be in isn't it? Make some investment mistakes and no worries---the taxpayer pocketbook is there to bail you out. No wonder the ranking is so high.

This is due in part to the fact that:
  • "The Dominion Bond Rating Services said the C$48bn pension funds strong investment returns of 16.4% in 2006, coupled with the increase in contribution rates in January 2006, led to a 15.9% increase in net assets and helped lower the plans funding deficit.

    Standard & Poors cited the steady flow of employer and employee contributions into the plan and its prudent and conservative asset-management framework.


Given my past extensive research into bovine flatulence, a reader thought this story would be of interest to me. He wrote that if we could just alter the diets of politicians, who excrete the same substance as offending bulls, we might get somethimg accomplished. So for the pre-Council dinners, no more lambchops:

  • Move to cut methane emissions by changing cows' diet
    David Adam, environment correspondent, July 10, 2007, Guardian

    Burping cows and sheep are being targeted by UK scientists to help bring down Britain's soaring levels of greenhouse gas pollution. Experts at the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research in Aberystwyth say the diet of farmed animals can be changed to make them produce less methane, a more potent global warming gas than carbon dioxide. Farmed ruminant animals are thought to be responsible for up to a quarter of "man-made" methane emissions worldwide though, contrary to common belief, most gas emerges from their front, not rear, ends.

Stacks Of Letters

The letters just keep coming in:

1) Good morning Ed!!!!!

Well Ed I know just what you mean I was there [at the Council meeting]. What a mess!

Talk about comedy corner that sure was one. I wonder what's next?

2) [Re the Junction] They did nothing which is exactly what Francis wanted. He wanted it so badly he left the mayor's chair and threatened council into total inaction.

If he did not say it outloud Leon certainly said it under his breath... "See you in court". They will not go to PAC because the neighbours will likely win again. Leon knows he can win against Sonego's decision, and he will get costs as well, plus punitive damages.

This is another clear example of council not having enough facts to make an informed decision. I did like one part of the debate, where the mayor and Gignac spanked the CAO. I liked that part a lot.

3) Who backed who into a corner? Did not the rodent representative of the people vote FOR the by law & against allowing the houses to be removed? She set the trap for herself, with no end game in mind. Perhaps now the light has just been turned on and the rats are just scurrying for cover. Looked like a big piece of cheese for the taking (harassing the Ambassador Bridge) but now she has to get her tail free from the trap that she set. How ironic.

4) I finally blew a gasket when councillor rat took to the airwaves and tried to bad mouth the bridge company for the condition of the houses on Indian and Edna streets. After refusing demolition permits and freezing zoning in the entire area (hurting all businesses) how can one take such a foolish stand.

The condition of these neighbourhoods has been historically bad and values historically low. To assess any heritage value to this area is hysterical and to require any overly excessive environmental assessment is punitive and vindictive.

The world, yes the world, is looking on this process and laughing at the City of Windsor for it short-sightedness and petty, greasy politics.

The Ambassador Bridge should be universally supported in its effort to twin the span and get on with business. To stop them does not stop the existing span from being used for another 50 years under extensive maintenance and to split the west end with a second span is where the real environmental assessment issues arise on all fronts. What a farce!

The politicians have certainly dug themselves a deep hole on this issue and every day brings more egg on their faces (and it does spill over on the Provincial level as well).

Stop the B.S. support the Ambassador Bridge Company and quit spending taxpayers money on consultants, lawyers and God forbid a billion tax dollar second bridge.

5) Sam has a new client - Piaggio Group America, the Manhattan importer of Vespas (those cute little motor scooters). Perhaps he will suggest the same solution for Windsor's traffic woes.

"Mr. Timoni also said that a Piaggio-sponsored study by Sam Schwartz, a traffic consultant, found that the replacement of 20 percent of the cars in Manhattan with scooters would lessen traffic and free up 100 hours a year for drivers who now spend that time stuck in traffic."

6) I guess this person wanted to bypass how theatres are treated in this town
check out this eBay item:

Fun With Polls

Here are the results from polls that a variety of companies have undertaken over the past few months.

From Todays Trucking Online: Not a exactly a ringing endorsement of a "public" bridge to justify spending billions

From a poll by Angus Reid: not a ringing endorsement of our Mayor's efforts on our behalf. Most think he is NOT doing a good job.

From a CKLW poll: not a ringing endorsement of how the Mayor and Council have treated the Bridge Co. Perhaps trying to make them the "enemy" was a dumb idea since Windsorites did not believe it!

From Today's Trucking Online: Ding, Ding, Ding....a ringing endorsement! Looks like the Bridge Co.'s Enhancement Project wins hands down!

Obviously the polls are unscientific but taken as a whole the results are surprising to me. It seems that the Bridge Co. may not be viewed by Windsorites and those who are in the trucking business as negatively as some people think. Eddie does not do very well either compared with his re-election numbers.

As the Bridge Co. has communicated more and explained what they want to do and why, people are at least listening to what they have to say. Too bad those people do not seem to include the Governments at all levels or we might have had a solution by now!