Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, August 03, 2007

The DRIC Road Diversion

I don't get it.

I do not understand the difference between the DRIC short tunnels and Eddie's tunnel. Eddie's newest proposal is

  • "a few cut-and-cover tunnels -- a trough covered with landscaping -- to bury the traffic...Tunnels built in Windsor would unlikely require ventilation towers or filters as long as they were no more than about 200 metres in length."

We don't know how many shunnels are in Eddie's proposal (Henderson said "eight to nine tunnel sections of varying lengths") but it sure sounds and looks an awful lot like what DRIC proposed in that brochure I posted a few days ago.

A big difference is that Sam now says only 4 lanes of traffic are needed, not the 6 as DRIC suggests. That should lower the cost somewhat. But there is a problem for Sam. When Sam rejected the Ambassador Bridge's proposal, he said:

  • "Since the bridge is eight lanes wide the approach is most likely to be eight lanes wide (although the CTC has said six lanes would be adequate).

    The widest swath would pass though the Sandwich community and also affect the University of Windsor. South of E.C. Row we agree a six-lane roadway would be adequate."

So now it is ok to have a smaller road to reduce the budget when before a larger road was needed! Make up your mind Sam. So that must mean the Bridge Co.'s Enhancement project is back on the table for Sam especially with the drastically reduced traffic volumes.

And speaking of Parsons-Brinckerhoff. I am glad to see that we can afford so many American consultants but not watermain replacements. Three of them came in along with Sam for a meeting with Council. How much have they spent so far? I hope though we were not charged for Sam's full day here since he was giving out so many interviews.

Parsons-Brinckerhoff was involved in the Big Dig where costs escalated from about $3B to over $14B. Here is a recent Boston Globe story about the ongoing Big Dig mess that does not give me a lot of comfort:

  • "Big Dig deal could hit $1b
    By paying, consortium would be free from criminal charges
    By Andrea Estes and Sean P. Murphy, Globe Staff July 14, 2007

    State and federal officials are demanding that Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff pay as much as $1 billion to settle claims for shoddy work on the Big Dig, in exchange for a guarantee that the consortium will not face criminal charges in last year's tunnel collapse that killed Milena Del Valle, according to four sources with knowledge of the negotiations.

    Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff, which was paid more than $2 billion to manage the design and construction of the Big Dig, would also be released from civil liability from the state and federal governments, the sources said yesterday.

    The settlement would relieve Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff of responsibility for any defects that become apparent after the agreement is signed, as well as those previously discovered on the $15 billion highway-and-tunnel project, such as the ceiling collapse and the leaks that continue to plague the Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill Jr. Tunnel, the sources said.

    All the sources have been briefed on the negotiations and spoke on condition of anonymity, because the private talks are still ongoing."
It seems that nothing that is proposed works for Windsor. Thanks to Eddie , we have lost the $300M BIF funds and the jobs that will be created. What can possibly happen next other than to chase out every business from Windsor so we do not have to worry about any trucks again. Maybe that is Eddie's secret plan...turning Windsor into empty pasture land. Take a look at downtown if you want to see what Windsor's future could be!

So the game is that Eddie will stall and huff and puff no mattter what is offered and no matter how much he has to spend of Windsor taxpayer money to bring in American experts. This will last until after the Provincial election when E C Row will be imposed on us so Eddie can say it was NOT his fault OR a Report will be disclosed saying the overpasses on E C Row are deficient and there is a need to rebuild the Expressway given the latest collapses.

More diversions perhaps? Sam was brought in to divert our attention from the WUC diversion that was no diversion and make DRIC the story for the weekend. {SIGH}

Flush Out The Truth

If you want to show your disgust at what is going on and to find out the truth, here is what you can do (other than flushing your toilet).

Circulate a petition in the following form to all of your friends, neighbours and colleagues and ask them to do the same. Gather up signatures and I'll let you know where you can send the completed petition next week! As many signatures as possible please but a minimum of 50 signatures per petition would be wonderful!


In light of

  • (a) the financial fiasco surrounding the affairs of the Windsor Utilities Commission and
  • (b) the unprecedented increase in sewer and water rates that are causing sever hardship to taxpayers in Windsor,

we the undersigned hereby demand that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs pursuant to the Municipal Affairs Act:

  1. direct a provincial municipal audit of the financial affairs of the City of Windsor and the Windsor Utilities Commission and

  2. make an inquiry into the of the affairs of the City of Windsor

Is WUC Windsor's WATER-Gate

It's an old political cliché that can come back to haunt people:

  • "It’s not the crime- it’s the cover up."

Do we have an element of this in the whole mess around water levy and sewage levy rates? Oh not that kind of a crime but has the effort of the last few days been designed to hide matters from the public? I'll let you be the judge after reading this BLOG!

There are several issues of concern that have arisen in the WUC financial fiasco that have to be addressed. They include:

  1. Was there a diversion of water levy funds from capital to operating and for how long

  2. If yes, when was the decision made to keep the the levy funds separate and to be used for the purposes for which users supposedly paid the money

  3. If yes, why was the diversion needed

  4. Did WUC pick numbers out of the air for watermain replacement costs and levy charges.

  5. Who on Council knew about all of this and when

  6. What should the consequences be

Eddie has no hesitation in attacking the period when Roy Battagello was Chair of the WUC and blaming the WUC management as the cause of the problems. Yet a year before at the State of the City speech, Eddie had praised Roy for his Riverfront views. You may not know that Roy was

  • "elected in 1982 to the Windsor Utilities Commission. He was re-elected five more times before the commission was eliminated in 1998 and then served until earlier this year [2005] as chair of Windsor Utilities and Enwin Powerlines."

What troubles me is that no one from the Commission in the relevant time period seems to have been interviewed by the traditional media. What we have received so far is a one-sided explanation about what took place. Don't you find that strange? Is there not another side of the story or is it so open and shut?

Well, my moles have been active again. I received some materials that seem to be WUC documents. I want you to read the following:

September 16, 2002

Water Distribution Network-----Watermain Infrastructure Renewal Needs Report (Detailed 17 page Report)

2002 09 19
The attached report outlines the composition and estimated condition of the Windsor Water Distribution System and is for information and discussion purposes only…. A combination of rehabilitation, where prudent, and replacement will be necessary.

The attached report provides data outlining the construction history of our system, including the various materials used and when they were used along with the break history.

With this data, an assessment has been made of the renewal requirements for the next 50 years. The graphical representation of this data is known in the industry as the "Nessive Curve…"

In the worst-case situation, an annual expenditure of $7.2 million is required, while in the best case situation an annual capital expenditure of $5.6 million is required. The average expected annual expenditure based on these two extremes is $6.4 million.


The Commission noted the Chief Engineer’s recommendation that until further studies can be completed the Commission should implement a proactive annual renewal program of at least $6.4 million as contained in the "Water Distribution Network Watermain Infrastructure Renewal Needs Report" circulated with the Agenda...

The Chief Engineer also explained a new product/process used instead replacement ageing watermains that entails cleaning the watermains and then applying epoxy to seal/repair the watermain thereby significantly extending the life of the watermain…He said the new process is estimated to reduce watermain replacement/repair costs by one-third and cause less system interruption and inconvenience to the customers.

2003 01 13

there is a need to begin the systematic replacement of the older cast iron water mains. This program is anticipated to extend over the next 45 to 50 years and will require rehabilitation or replacement of water mains with an annual cost of $6.5 million based on 2002 dollars...

It has been determined a new Capital Levy of 5% of each customers water bill will be required to provide the additional funding ($1.2 to $1.5 million) to allow this program to proceed.

JANUARY 22nd 2003


It was moved by M. Hurst second by D. Cassivi that:

a) a new Capital Levy of 5% of each customers water bill required to provide the additional funding ($1.2 to $1.5 million annually) to allow for capital improvements to infrastructure be confirmed
b) said levy be indicated as a separate line on customer bill;

The Commissioners noted that the capital levy funds can only be used solely and exclusively on watermain infrastructure.

2003 11 11

With the increasing capital spending on watermains required in the next thirty years there will continue to be a cashflow shortfall on the capital side of at least $4M

As a model for determining rates in the future, there should be a split between the capital costs plus debenture repayment amounts, which should be financed through the WRL [Water Replacement Levy], and the operating costs which should be covered through the consumption, fixed and summer levy charges.


It was moved by P. Carlesimo, seconded by B. Wood that the Commission:

a) increase the watermain replacement levy to 13% from the current 5% of the Consumption and Meter Fixed Charge (representing a 7.5% increase) which will increase the average residential bill by $1.90 per month;

The Interim General Manager confirmed that the consumption rate was not increased in 2003 and that monies raised through the watermain replacement levy will only be used to watermain infrastructure.

01/26/05 Agenda

The water main renewal program will proceed in 2005 with $6,500,000 budgeted comparable to the 2004 expenditure level.


To: Chair and Commissioners of Windsor Utilities

For many years, water revenues have not been sufficient to cover all operating and capital costs incurred by WUC. Over the past decade, operating costs were recovered, but capital spending was below necessary replacement level and was not recovered in ratesThis has resulted in a serious infrastructure deficit…

In 2004, the water main replacement levy was implemented. This levy was intended to be used for capital, but has been required to fund operations. From the effective date of the new rate increase, these funds will not be included as operating revenues and will be accounted for as a fund for capital contribution.

Were the first and last douments the "smoking guns?" Do they destroy the nice case that was built up and demonstrate that the first Star story and the A-Channel News story were correct after all? Is there some other reasonable explanation?

Obviously, I have not seen everything that the WUC has produced but just a selected number of documents. Unless there is contrary material, these documents make it clear that:

  1. There was a diversion of water levy funds from capital to operating for a number of years since 2004 and that fact was known at least in May, 2007 by the Chair of the WUC and the Commissioners including the Mayor and Councillors Lewenza (the Chair), Jones and Marra. (I told you before about the 2004 Annual Report comment)

  2. The decision had already been made to keep the money and accounts separate by the time the Mayor told us about it

  3. When the levy was increased in 2003, the Commission stated that the funds could only be used for the watermains

  4. In fact, the funds were used NOT for capital but to fund operations

  5. The WUC had a report presented to it 5 years ago that was extremely detailed about the condition of the watermains and made decision on replacement costs based on information provided and NOT numbers pulled out of the air.

Frankly Eddie and certain Councillors owe citizens an explantion. What was said at Council seems to be inconsistent with the documents I have provided. I would like to know why other Councillors on the Commission did not tell us what happened.

Based on this material, the Province has no choice but to step in to determine what the true facts are! We seem to have two different stories and I, for one, do not know which is true. I would think also that those involved in WUC in the past should demand that the air be cleared as well for the sake of their reputation if for no other reason. They have been made to look incompetent to say the least.

If in fact, citizens have not been told the truth, then there is no alternative but resignation for those who have kept information from us!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Eddie's Water-loo

The WUC story just keeps on dripping.

It is obvious that Eddie has lost control of the WUC issue instead of containing it. The unusual presentation at Council, the radio show on CKLW yesterday all mean to me that Eddie is feeling the pressure in a way that he has not felt before unless it was the time that the Ice Track people went to Tecumseh. The letters to the Star are brutal

Eddie is desperately holding on until the DRIC presentation so he can change the subject and hope people will forget.

Clearly, the tactic is not working.

Here are some more questions for you to consider when thinking about the issue. Make sure you ask Eddie and the Councillors for answers. Don't worry, their answer will be that we spent more on capital projects than we took in on levies.
  1. What did the previous Administration do if anything about the issues raised..Were they really that incompetent?

  2. Were previous managers all fired for cause if they were that bad

  3. Everyone is focusing on the huge increase in water rates...How about focusing now on the sewage rates. Councillor Halberstadt stated "What Council did with the sewer surcharge at the tail-end of its July 16th Council meeting will actually hit residents much harder. Council voted to set the surcharge at 150 percent of the water rate, which will mean a $225.72 annual increase to the average homeowner.

  4. Just out of curiosity, how many official WUC Board meetings were held annually before Eddie was on the Board and how many when Eddie was on the Board

  5. Francis said using his "core business" argument: "We decided as a group, let's get out of the businesses we don't belong in, and take this back to basics." Is running an airport, international border crossing or an arena a core function of municipal government or is Eddie just bored?

  6. "Now, three years into cleaning up this mess." Eddie will never make it in business if it takes this long to clear up problems. You are supposed to fix them immediately but hey, it's only taxpayer money so take action leisurely

  7. Some in WUC prior to Eddie and Max's arival may take offence at the statement "They're shooting the messenger. We're the ones finding all this stuff out and they want to kill us."

  8. 311 message centre--WHATEVER HAPPENED TO CITISTAT

  9. Where did the number $600M for watermain replacement come from? What were previous estimates?

  10. When was the decision made by the Board to sell the Hot Water tank business...before or after Eddie became Mayor?

  11. How much money was WUC making from its remaining billing contracts and has WUC lost any clients as customers now? If so, why?

  12. If Telecom is NOT a core business, why were millions recently spent to install infrastructure from Windsor to Chatham and Sarnia?
  13. I know the Water Training Centre was sold so now WUC employees can be charged fees for training

  14. How much has WUC/Enwin spent in consultants' fees since Eddie took over compared with the past Administration

  15. How much has been paid out in Directors' fees compared with the last Administration

  16. Were the cross-charges from Enwin increased and if so, by how much? What did Enwin do with this increased amount?

  17. Are the problem pipes the cast iron ones or the Ductile Iron and how many kms of each are involved
  18. What other techniques are there for prolonging the life of pipes

  19. Is the infrastructure age of Windsor pipes comparable if not better than other cities

  20. What is the cause of the watermain breaks and when do they occur ie are most in winter when water temperature drops quickly

And here is the latest public action in reaction to the WUC financial fiasco:

  • Dear Mr. Arditti,

    I am equally frustrated with the lack of accountability coming out of the WUC and Mayor Eddie Francis and glad you are discussing the issue on your blog.

    With everything that came to light this last week I created a Facebook group last Friday and sent several letters to the Mayor's office cc'ing the Windsor Star and A Channel News. I expressed my unhappiness and made several recommendations in order to address it with the residents of the city. I would love it if we can get as much of this displeasure out there and hope that you may consider placing a link to the Facebook group I set up on

    Here is the URL for the Facebook group I set up:

  • As many avenues as possible for people to discuss and express their displeasure is great. I do hope that you would consider sharing this Facebook group with your visitors and members by linking to it from your site(s).

    Note: I invited Eddie Francis, the Windsor Star, and A Channel news to check out the Facebook group so the message will hopefully be getting stronger in the coming days/weeks/months.

    Thank you for your time.

    If possible, I would enjoy getting a response from you in regards to this request.

    Thank you,
    -Drew Varsava

The Tunnels Sell-out Of Windsor

"When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less," as Humpty Dmpty said to Alice.

Humpty has spoken:

  • "When is a covered below-grade DRIC road not a covered below-grade DRIC road...when Eddie, Dwight and Sandra call it a tunnel!"
I got this notice by email. I would expect a similar ad in the Saturday Star. The short tunnels are now going to be our salvation; Or as someone is calling them, "shunnels."

In reality, it is a sweet-heart political deal. We are being sold out for political expediency regardless what your position on a tunnel is. It's another con job with a Windsor love-in with DRIC the expected result.

Now we know why Sam's proposal was "leaked" to Gord Henderson. The fix was in. Surprise, surprise. We were being set up:
  • "The Schwartz proposal, which involves eight to nine tunnel sections of varying lengths, designed to shelter adjacent communities and create new parkland atop the tunnels, was presented to the DRIC as an olive branch -- the city's first significant concession since this process began -- but it apparently made little impact."

You see what Gord called in the same column "depressed roadway plan, including three extra-wide bridges adorned with a number of trees" will now be called tunnels. That is why Eddie wanted to have Schwartz "respond" to DRIC. Sam can congratulate DRIC coming around to his point of view and that of his tunnel experts.

Now we know why a Star Editorial said:

  • "Schwartz has presented the DRIC team an option involving several smaller tunnels that could be constructed less expensively than a six- kilometre tunnel"

It all has to be well-orchestrated so that DRIC and the City make "concessions" as the Star Editorial conceded was necessary to get a deal finally.

  • "This community is prepared to compromise on some points"

By calling what DRIC always proposed to do "tunnels", the Mayor is going to try and say that Council's tunnel motion has been met. DRIC will go along with it because they are getting exactly what they already proposed. Who cares about the language. It is like the CAW calling what they achieve a "victory" over the auto companies as plants are closed and union workers laid off.

It is just Windsorites after all who are being treated as idiots. Heck it's the summer anyway and who reads the paper! Didn't I tell you that Eddie's Eminence Greasie was good at his/her job!

The new DRIC notice uses "short tunnels" in it along with Parkway with a capital "P." (They dropped the word "enhanced" so the Bridge Co. would not get too mad.)

As I said before, the Bridge Co. should sue for trademark infringement. Not only is DRIC stealing their language but also is taking their concept of road building which they proposed. Heck it is just a short step from Governments trying to grab what they have built up over the last 30 years: their business which has made their crossing the #1 crossing in North America.

Now let's get this straight. This is an Eddie/Dalton/Dwight/Sandra move. It is the PROVINCE that decides where the road goes. It is the highest office in the Province who must call the shot on the language too. The Feds just put up half of the cash and look pretty.

It is all politics not engineering now. There is an October election and Dalton needs to keep his seats in this area if he is to stay in power.

The use of the word "tunnel" is to make it appear that Eddie has won and that the Province is going along with his re-revised Schwartz Plan # (who knows). And after all, Eddie did support Sandra at her nomination meeting. So you know everything was cooked up in secret again

It's wonderful face-saving for everyone isn't it and a huge deception of Windsorites. But we are too stupid to know that aren't we especially after the Star gets through brainwashing us. Heck we swallowed Eddie's WUC stuff didn't we!

Expect to see smiling photos of Eddie, Sandra and Dwight around the time of the DRIC "concession" but it will NOT be over the border. You see, since the Feds are paying half, then a Federal rep would have to appear in the Photo-op....That would be Jeff Watson, the Conservative MP. The three locals will NOT give him a chance to be involved in their glory for heaven's sake!

Dwight and Sandra can now claim that they are responsible for this in order to be re-elected. It's like Eddie and certain people who ran on "tunnelling" in order to be re-elected

Of course, this has totally politicized the process so the Feds should be upset. All of this work to beat the Bridge Co. and the Provincial Cabinet Ministers and Eddie make a farce of DRIC so that the process is no longer "respected" but has become legally attackable!

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

Should the Bridge Co. be concerned? Not really since the road proposed can go directly to their Enhancement Project as the City's WALTS proposed years ago. And their lawyers have just been given another arrow in their quiver to shoot at the process.

The amusing part will be watching Bill Marra on Cogeco, the first one to speak in the WUC debate, thanking Eddie for knifing him and his tunnel buddies in the back as they approve the deal "unanimously." Tunnel Motion, what Tunnel Motion.

The gyrations will be fun to watch. In fact, I had been told a few days ago by a senior Municipal Politician that a majority of Council had already disowned the new Schwartz idea as disclosed in the paper. He/she claimed also that Council had not yet been shown the details of the Schwartz Plan!

Yea right. Nothing like thinking I believe disinformation. Why that line was just as funny as Councillors introducing a Motion for a Provincial Inquiry of the WUC matter. I wonder if Henderson will call Marra the next Windsor Mayor again as a reward for his support of Eddie on the matter when it comes to Council. That assumes that Bill will forego his principles and knuckle under on the "shunnels" approach!

What a gutless bunch of wusses we have as Councillors. Which one will pretend to introduce a Motion to oppose the short tunnels deal and then back off as again happened with the WUC Provincial inquiry Motion.

Never fear though, the real deal has been made over E C Row a long time ago. That won't happen until after the Provincial election.

As for the Feds, they just sit and fume and pay as the City and Province plot against them! Now they know how the Bridge Co. feels!

Flush Floods Overflow Windsor Sewers

Thank goodness that Gord Henderson reminded us of the East End arena today in his column. You rememeber, when Eddie became Mayor, he advocated for a public-private arrangement where the City's maximum payment was $15M.

Well that idea got royally flushed away. Now we are doing it ourselves at a cost of who knows how much more. That $50M plus money could have been used for our Water system.

Those WUC people are real party poopers! We now need a virtual toilet it seems since too many flushes could bowl over the system. That means more money would go down the drain if a fix was required. We'd get it in the end is effectively the warning we are getting now.

I wonder if it is a load of crap but who knows. That may be why we need caution for the wind.

From A-Channel News:

  • "An internet blog is pitching a synchronized toilet flush to show displeasure with WUC.

    ...the Windsor Utilities Commission warns there could be impacts on the sewer system that taxpayers would then have to pay to fix.

    Vice-President of Water Operations, John Wladarski says, "There is some risk i suppose to the system. I won't say for a moment that it will cause a catastrophic failure but it really is not in the best interest of the system."
I wonder if Eddie will now tell us, to justify sewer increases, that he needs more money for the sewer system since too many people might flush their toilets at the same time.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

So You Want A Public Bridge Eh

You really do need to read this story when you hear Brian Masse whinging about private enterprise running a border crossing. The concept of the "public" bridge acting in the public interest and keeping tolls down low has such a strong appeal. Except look at the negatives.

And we can sympathize as taxpayers seeing how our "public" Tunnel has deteriorated so rapidly in traffic volumes, dividend payments have almost ended and how long it takes to do anything and with such secrecy. Never mind its unique security risk that has never been dealt with and its unscrubbed Tunnel Ventialtion building that sends out unclean air all over the downtown and further.

Ahhh public enterprise. Low toll costs to keep users so happy are great until traffic falls and you run out of money to do proper maintenance and capital projects. Heck who needs reserves anyway. Look at the Soo revenues ($4.1M) compared with costs ($3.4 for operations and maintenance only), factor in their miniscule reserves ($5M) and then try and figure out how they will pay for their massive upgrading ($70M).

Don't you find it re-assuring that "hoping" is a great way to run a business rather than marketing to try and build up traffic. I an thrilled that they are "somewhat concerned." It's better than not concerned at all. That's the public authority way.

Remember when I told you that public authorities recognize that the private enterprise model is the way to go [June 05, 2007 "Is V-DRIC Day Near"]. My question for Windsor/Detroit:

  • Why do we need wannabees, when we have the real thing with the best border operator in North America with the #1 crossing!

Truck tailspin puts dent in International Budget coffers

By Brian Kelly, The Sault Star
Local News - Sunday, July 15, 2007

An ongoing slump in commercial truck traffic could cost the International Bridge as much as $400,000 US in anticipated toll revenues this year.

For an operation that largely depends on crossing fees to pay for maintenance and capital projects and receives no government support, that's potentially very costly news.

Transport volume slumped 7.1 per cent in 2006 and is down another 10.2 per cent during the first half of 2007.

If the trend continues, fewer than 110,000 trucks could cross between the Twin Saults this year. That would be the smallest number since 1993.

Commercial traffic represents about seven per cent of bridge traffic, but contributes nearly half of all toll revenue.

In 2006, total toll revenue was $4,153,000 US. Of that amount, 48 per cent, or $1,998,000 US, was paid in commercial tolls.

"I'm somewhat concerned that this will have a significant impact on our financial resources," said Phil Becker, general manager of Joint International Bridge Authority.

"It may impact our ability to operate and maintain the bridge."

Truck traffic has headed one way, down, since June 2005. October 2005 marked the only month in the past two years that commercial traffic increased.

The slump is the worst since an 11-month period that stretched from July 2000 to June 2001.

In June 2007, commercial numbers slumped 14.2 per cent compared to June 2006.

Becker blames a slumping American house market for the continued downturn in commercial traffic.

An estimated 40 per cent of transports crossing between the Twin Saults haul building materials such as sheeting material and softwood lumber.

The American housing market is grappling with spreading troubles in the riskier subprime mortgage market which targets buyers with tarnished or low incomes. Plus, sales are down and prices have fallen in many formerly red-hot markets.

A toll increase introduced in April is not aggravating the transport tailspin, said Becker. An average 20 per cent hike faced by truckers, he said, is passed on to the customer.

"Commercial truck traffic is usually not so price sensitive," he said.

The International Bridge has recorded the steepest drop in commercial traffic of all 11 members of the Bridge and Tunnel Operators Association.

Those other crossings between Ontario, Michigan and New York have seen an average 3.2 per cent dip in commercial traffic so far this year.

Other association members such as the Ambassador Bridge between Windsor and Detroit and the Peace Bridge between Buffalo and Fort Erie carry significantly less building materials than the International Bridge, said Becker.

The commercial traffic freefall is a far cry from the 1990s when transport numbers between the Twin Saults nearly doubled from 76,000 vehicles in 1991 to an all-time peak of 146,000 in 1999.
The signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement by Canada, United States and Mexico in 1994 helped drive those numbers, said Becker.

Trade magazines he has read suggest the building slump will ease late this year or in early 2008.
"We're hoping an end is in sight," he said.

The International Bridge receives no state, provincial or federal operational subsidy.

A bridge redecking, to be done in the next 10 to 15 years, is expected to cost $70 million US.

An estimated $3.4 million US is spent on bridge operation and maintenance costs.

IBA has a reserve of about $5 million.

JIBA's board of directors will receive a report from bridge staff during their next quarterly meeting Aug. 16 in Port Huron, Mich.

• Bridge traffic was up slightly in June.

There were 172,628 one-way crossings last month. That's an increase of 2.3 per cent compared to June 2006, a JIBA release said.

Full-fare and passenger care traffic were up 6.4 and 2.4 per cent respectively. Car pulling trailers and commercial trucks were down.

During the first half of 2007, 877,797 vehicles crossed the bridge. That's a drop of 1.75 per cent compared to January to June 2006;

Flush And Vote

Express your displeasure with the W.U.C 60% rate hike and how Council has handled this issue

You must read this now and promise to vote!


Then you must go to and get a copy of the poster

Diversionary Tactic

I am not going to drop the diversion story that quickly since there is still the need now, even more, for a Provincial Investigation. There is more fun to be found in it and more importantly to see how Eddie dealt with it. It should help define the character of the man too.

You must read Chris Schurr's BLOG today that absolutely destroys the praise beign poured on Eddie for making the tough decisions respecting water mains. Chris points out the problem was known as far back as 1994

I know no one ran off to Brazil with water main funds to enjoy the rest of their life on the beaches of Rio. That was not the diversion that anyone was talking about. Although the use of the word "diversion" was an interesting one. It could be considered a "Fraudian" slip couldn't it!

You will have to excuse me but I was always slow in math and Eddie did the numbers so quickly on Monday on the Whiteboard. I just wished he did not rub off things from the Whiteboard since it was so hard to copy it as he spoke. Good thing I videotaped what he said so I have a record of it.

The simple question to ask is: was the sum of budgetted capital amounts for watermains PLUS the amount of the water main levy equal to the amount spent on watermains.

The question is not: did we take in a levy amount and spend more than that on water mains. Obviously we did for heaven's sake. The levy was to provide additional funds. That was the diversionary question Eddie answered not the real one.

I am shocked. Even Gord Henderson fell for that one in his column. Well, not really. He knows better than that. He too was helping out Eddie and not asking the real question that Eddie never answered.

At first, the Mayor, the Acting GM and the WUC Chair all said yes there was diversion of funds to the Operating Account because of politics. Literally the next day they all said they were wrong and there was no diversion.

No denial of that was ever given by the Mayor other than the bald statement that there was no diversion.

Even if Eddie is right in what he said at Council, gosh I am concerned. These people give out totally incorrect information that caused a major brouhaha. I have little confidence in them I am afraid when they cannot get their facts correct. After all, they are running a multi-million dollar corporation that gives us water for showers, drinking and flushing toilets never mind providing water to fight fires so people won't die. I am nervous about giving them Junior's $1 per day to let them drip it away drop by drop.

I wonder why no one asked the WUC Finance Director the real question. Actually she already answered it in the 2004 Annual Report:

    The net income for the Commission in 2004 was $282,000, an improvement over the loss in 2003 of $48,000. The most significant factor was increased revenues from the water main replacement levy."
So the water levy payments allowed them to make a profit! This seems to me to be proof of it being used for operating revenues ie Eddie's, Max's and Junior's Thursday story.

But let's try the Mayor's math.

In 2004, he said the levy was $2.8M and the capital spending for watermains was $9.5M. But the annual report sated that
  • "On November 26, 2003, the Commission approved an increase of the water main replacement levy from 5% to 13% to become effective January 1, 2004. This provided additional water revenues of $1.8 million."

It is not clear if the levy total was $1.8M or an amount of $1.8M on top of the 5% amount. I think it may be the latter.

WUC originally was going to spend $5M per year on watermain replacement, then needed the 5% levy to get it to $6.5M. Then the business plan said $40M for 5 years or about $8M per year.

So if we look at 2004, if the budgetted amount was $8M and there was $2.8M for the levy, that meant that $10.8M in total was available for the capital project. Eddie and the 2004 Annual Report said $9.5 M was spent.


In 2005, everything seemed fine. The budgetted amount must have been $8M again and the Mayor said that the levy was $2.9 million meaning a total of $10.9M. However only $8.3M was spent [Interestingly, the 2005 Annual Report said "To ensure the quality and reliability of Windsor’s water, we placed a high priority on infrastructure projects during 2005, spending $7.5 million on watermain replacement and improving the system."]


In 2006, the budgetted amount must have been $8M again and the Mayor said that the levy was $2.8 million meaning a total of $10.8M. However only $9M was spent


Want to read something that makes no sense to me in the 2005 Report:

  • "we’ve spent less money on capital build programs, giving us greater cash flow and allowing us to meet key debt reduction targets. Our focus on debt reduction will help us to sustain financial stability and will allow us to continue to reinvest in our infrastructure and operational programs."

So there is another admission that capital projects were cut to decrease debt so we would have money to do capital programs. HUH!!!! What a circle!

That was the crucial political decision that helped make a mess out of WUC. Cut debt to look good for the election and then sock it to the taxpayers afterwards and blame it on the need to replace watermains, a need known since 1994!

Now I have no idea if my budgetted numbers are correct and were actually budgetted to be spent or not since there is nothing in the financial reports to give me that figure. Maybe I am all wrong and everything is OK. Who knows? If the $8M was NOT budgetted and less was, then we know that politics really was at play don't we and the revenues were needed for WUC sustainability.

If I could do this basic math, then a Councillor could too and then ask the question I am.


Since that would have been too embarrassing to all it seems, instead, they wussed out!

Someone needs to answer this question. If the City and WUC will not, then a Provincial Inquiry must. Sandra and Dwight have to be supportive of this or else. After all, citizens will vote for or against them in October.

Are there 49 others who will sign a petition with me asking the Ministry of Municipal Affairs to get involved?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Virtual Postman Rings More Than Twice

His virtual back is hurting from all of the emails you are sending:

1)The latest traffic data shows that the Windsor crossings and the DRIC study in particular are following the same pattern as the Blue Water Bridge crossing. Fear of ever growing traffic, followed by a bridge, followed by diminishing traffic. There is no longer any traffic justification for another bridge!

2)The blog you wrote today regarding EC Row expressway was great. I personally believe that our expressway should be handed over to the provincial government and expanded to handle the influx of trucks entering the city. If you recall, in my note that I sent you a while back I stated:

EC Row as link to Bridge
Put maintenance into the hands of the provincial/federal governments and expand EC Row. The expressway is in drastic need of maintenance/repair, which would cost the city millions upon millions. By offloading these costs to the provincial/federal governments, not only would we no longer have repairs and maintenance costs for the expressway, but also a move in the right direction to solving the false preconceptions of the “border issues”.

It is the only pre-existing option that could provide access to the Ambassador Bridge and a new border crossing (if one is ever built). Windsor is the only city I can think of that refuses to have trucks on their expressway. Add that to the fact they want to remove them from city streets as well, we might as well tell ALL trucks, and the businesses they supply, they are not welcome to do business in our city.

After the embarrassing display our mayor put on during council on Monday regarding The Junction, not to mention the Ambassador Bridge, its already clear investment isn't welcome in Windsor. Very sad.

3) I have been faithfully reading your blog for the past few months and have to commend you on your "no holds bar" approach on various city matters. Its about time that someone writes what everyone else is thinking or has lack of knowledge in.

This letter is a friendly thank you for seeing the truth about how the city railroaded George and Chuck.

However there is another fact that I would like to point out about the possibility and most likelihood of the Junction going bankrupt. The Junction is one of Windsor's oldest buildings, being erected in the late 1800's. The building once house Windsor first streetcars (original tracks still remain under the floor), then house the Windsor Rollerdome and so on. George
understood the importance of this building in society and during various reconstructions kept in mind its historical significance . In doing so, The Junction as it stands now still has original brick, 120 year old sliding streetcar doors and a few original Edison lights.

The city is only looking at the business and has no concerns about what will happen to this building that once played a vary important role in our community. Much like the Capitol (a whole different story!). Today, it seems like most of our heritage is only being preserved if the city owns the building or has majority of say.

As you can tell I have very strong feelings towards the Junction and what will happen to it. I can tell you - Windsor will need to hire the best lawyers OUR money can by to get out of this situation they put themselves in. George and Chuck are very savvy business men and have largely documented every step they took and formal or informal steps from the city.

I have attached a photo of The Junction when it was used as Windsor's Transit in the 1930's. You can see the original wood sliding doors.

I look forward to your next blog!

4) Ed, is it me or just the thought.....
They are going to announce the probable, not firm new truck route for a crossing in August, I think?
Maybe I'm being petty, but why is it being presented just before elections?
Spend our money to fix a problem and buy votes.
The road could and should have been engineered years ago. Like when the Flibby's took office.
There was some kind of promise then I think? Or was I dreaming.
I can hear it now just as we go to the polls....
We fixed the border. Elect us to finish the job, 2020.
Excuse me while I beat my head against my desk. It's not as painful as listening to more lies.

5) RE the Teflon memo...I know I have said this before but this is your best one yet!

Interesting Council Tidbits

I thought you might find these items of interest


For the second quarter, here are the results:

Open: 12 meetings, 33 hours and 43 minutes

In Camera: 12 meetings, 15 hours and 17 minutes with 5 hours and 55 minutes for the border file


A lot of watermains could have been built with this and what have we really accomplished?

Council Wussed Out

It is really no wonder that this City is in such a mess in so many ways. Any business person who watched Council last night must have gagged!

When the going got tough, Councillors chose to save their necks instead of looking after the interests of taxpayers. Fall in behind Eddie. Unity above all. Now we see the kind of Councillors we have and what they will fight for.

The WUC website talks about "WATER MAIN REPLACEMENT. Water Main Replacement Levy is a 13% levy upon a customer's fixed meter & water consumption charge." Was the money used for the purposes for which it was taken from Windsorites--to replace water mains or not? That is the reason people got mad when they heard about "diversions!" Did rates increase abnormally high becuase money was not used for that purpose?

Not one of the Councillors asked the obvious question about how much WUC budgetted for new infrastructure and how much was spent. No one asked whether the levy was to generate additional funds for capital works and if so, was it used for operational purpose or capital purposes.

That was the simple issue that needed to be addressed to clarify everything that has been said and written over the past few days.

Councillors failed us, again by ignoring the issue! They let Eddie and the WUC Commissioners off the hook by an explanation that told us nothing other than we have a water main issue, something known for years.

There was such a love-in after the Mayor delivered his remarks on the WUC financial fiasco that I was waiting for the singing of Kumbaya to follow.

We got an explanation that does not satisfy or answer any of the questions but allows Councillors to wipe their collective brow and wuss out for another day. Why Councillor Junior, the Chair of the WUC was so relieved that we could spend a dollar a day (or $365 per year) so that we can be relieved when we flush our toilets.

And our Mayor, by golly if there is a need for better communications to taxpayers so that he can justify hiring all of those PR flaks, then this was it! He took the blame for that and he can spend another $250K to solve that problem. Whew!

Oh Councillor Halberstadt raised the possibility of an audit so that he can write something in his BLOG about it but did not press very hard to get one. I guess he knew he had no chance of getting the votes so why offend your colleagues or not even get a seconder and appear foolish. I am sure that he must be kicking himself now after the reference in today's Henderson column to Marra probably being the next mayor. Bill must be pleased too at the comment since he was so accommodating to Eddie at Council as well as the lead-off praiser of the Mayor.

Now the odd part about the Presentation is that Eddie neglected to talk about what the Acting General Manager Max Zalev discussed. I guess it was better to ignore what he said since it did not fit into what Eddie wanted to say. We received the Saturday Star explanation from Eddie and not the Friday "Funds Diversion" one or the A-channel News story.

Eddie said there was no Funds Diversion but that is not what his AGM said nor the Chair of the WUC. Eddie himself said (until the new story came out):
  • "Money that was being raised for water main replacement was actually funding operation costs," Mayor Eddie Francis said Thursday."

HUH....isn't that diversion. In fact, Eddie admitted that the funds were placed in the General Revenues. Did you see him trace where the funds went as they left that account? Of course not, he could not do so. That is why he now says:

  • "If this is what dollars are going to be established for, this is where the dollars will have to go."

A big point was made that 3 times the amount of money was spent on Capital projects than came in from the levy. DUHHHH...Amounts were already budgetted in the WUC budget for replacement! That is why so much more was spent! There was no co-relation between amounts. The levy was to fund shortfalls.

What's this BS about "shooting the messenger." The problem of the water mains has ben known for years. That's why we had the extra levy. Eddie has told us nothing new or dramatic although it is being presented as such. In 2002, it was suggested:

  • "Mayor Mike Hurst said it was time to look at ways to raise the necessary funds and suggested a water rate increase or a tax increase were not the only solutions. He said the city could look at a special capital levy to be used solely for watermain renewal and rehabilitation."

Here is what the Star said back in 2003:

  • "The Windsor Utilities Commission has some good news and some bad news for their residential water customers.

    First the bad news: The average homeowner can expect a levy of about $1.50 per month, or $18 annually, added to the water bill beginning today. Now the good news: there will be no increase in either consumption or fixed meter charges in 2003.

    The five-per-cent capital levy will appear as a separate line on water bills. The money generated by the levy -- $1.2 million to $1.5 million per year -- will be used for replacement and improvements to Windsor's ailing water main system.

    "We have to provide for the future," said Wayne Miller, chief engineer of the water division.

    "Many of the (mains) will reach the end of their useful life within 10 or 20 years."

    $6.5 million

    The need for a systematic replacement of the city's older water mains -- some of which are cast iron relics more than 100 years old -- is imperative, said Bill Prestanski, WUC marketing manager.

    It is projected the program will extend over 40 or 50 years at a cost of $6.5 million annually. A total of $5 million was approved for the water main program in 2002.

Here is what the 2004 WUC Annual report said:

  • "We continued to invest in our aging infrastructure.We spent a total of $10.75 million in 2004; $9.5 million in capital improvements for the distribution system...

    Our capital expenditure program over the next 5 years is quite intensive. We are scheduled to spend approximately $40 million to improve our distribution system and water treatment facilities

    ...In January 2005, WUC initiated the development of a five-year business plan... This plan focuses on reliable delivery service, dependable water quality, infrastructure upgrades...

    On November 26, 2003, the Commission approved an increase of the water main replacement levy from 5% to 13% to become effective January 1, 2004. This provided additional water revenues of $1.8 million...

    The net income for the Commission in 2004 was $282,000, an improvement over the loss in 2003 of $48,000. The most significant factor was increased revenues from the water main replacement levy."

The point being made is that capital amounts had already been budgetted for capital projects as can be seen above. The levy was to generate additional funds needed. And it did. It was responsible for the net income of WUC improving from a loss to a profit but it seems not for the purpose intended.

Max Zalev (if he was the person on the A-channel news broadcast) admitted clearly that the levy funds on the water bills were used for operations. He said that, now, separate bank accounts would be set up and that levy charges will only be paid out for infrastructure capital charges and not for operations. That is diverting funds whatever else someone wants to say

Why didn't the Mayor address what Junior said in the Star story. He is the Chair after all and should know what he is saying:

  • "Coun. Ken Lewenza, who is chairman of the Windsor Utilities Commission, said he didn't know how long the commission had been diverting funds.

    Officials were vague on the details about why a designated fee would be used for other purposes, or whether doing so is illegal...

    "I don't want to say I'm not concerned (about the practice). (The issue about whether the practice is fraud) hasn't been raised before. I would refer to legal on that question."

    Lewenza said he understood the commission started diverting the funds to pay for overhead costs to avoid raising water rates. He suspected it's been a practice for several years and said it appeared politicians didn't want to raise rates, so utility administrators had to find money somewhere."

I guess that Eddie forgot to deal with the last part about politicians being responsible. I guess he does not like to admit that it was his fault. That changed from Thursday too it seems.

You remember his comment that numbers were picked out of the air for rates. I would think that WUC people ought to feel very offended by that. The AGM stated:

  • "Despite the economic and political change impacting the water business, our Commission and Management have established a performance metric that is representative of being “best-inclass.” To achieve best-in-class status requires ranking among the top 10 water treatment and distribution organizations in the Province of Ontario in several key financial operating measures."

That hardly sounds like an amateurish organization.

So now we can see what parts of the Teflon memo were used in the end by the Eminence Greasie to create the Mayor's talking points. He/she is smiling today:
  • "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" WHERE'S THE ISSUE (I had to clean up the language)
  • Set up the Levy account so no more diversions
  • No one went to Brazil with the money
  • We have auditors already so who needs an investigation
  • Who would set up an inquiry to investigate colleagues...there but for the grace of God go I!
There were several rough and tough Councillors who had spread the word before the meeting that they were going to demand an investigation or were going to support the motion in order to separate themselves from their colleagues for the start of their Mayoral run. They all backed off. They chickened out in the end. I know, I know...wait for the right opportunity. Yea, right!

So the crisis is over for Eddie and Council or is it? I heard about a group of people who met this weekend who have had enough. It was this event that was the catalyst to bring them all together. I wonder where it will lead. And guess where they met!

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Teflon Memo

My Inside Moles have done it again. They have raided the garbage bins around City Hall and found a memo from CREEME (Committee to Re-Elect Eddie Mayor for Eternity). This is clearly a rough first draft of talking points but it will be interesting to watch and see if any of the ideas outlined are followed through.

From: the Eminence Greasie

To: His Most Excellent Worship

RE: Blaming Others For It All

You carried out your assignement with near-perfection. In the middle of summer near a week-end and after Council already passed the matter, you held a public meeting to explain that the big increases in rates were everyone's fault but yours. And then to top it off, the beauty to confuse everyone, the next day you said there really was no problem anyway! Brilliant.

By the time anyone figures out what is going on, Liplock Schwartz will be issuing his Report and we can talk about your genius again and how only you are fighting for Windsor!

However, dear Excellence, have you forgotten the lesson I have taught you: when there is praise to be taken, stand out in front and take it. When there is blame to be taken, let others take it and be invisible. What do you think Ken Lewenza and Max Zalev are for! They are there to take the hit, not you. After all, why was Junior named Chair this year of WUC!

So far, both the Star Editors and Henderson have treated the matter as a non-issue. Since nothing was written, we can assume that the wusses on Council will do little tonight so we have 2 weeks of time to bury the story forever.

However, it's those damn seniors with their small pensions and the BLOGGERS whom we cannot control that we have to worry about. Here are a variety of ways that we can diffuse the issue and actually blame others for it:


Oh sure on Thursday we thought there was a problem of the diversion of funds and not keeping our word but by Friday we determined there was none. So what if we cannot figure out things involving millions of taxpayers dollars, there is no reason to be concerned. Heck you only ran a small business not a gigantic operation so how can you be expected to know what to do. Books and records are merely numbers aren't they. People still have water after all.


Trust Account, general account. They are only accounts. So what if we told you one thing and did another. It's not like someone ran off to Brazil with the money after all. There was just some confusion which was cleared up overnight. The new bank account idea was it the Levy account and everyone can go back to sleep.


Now that would be a good idea. That's what Audit Committees do after all. The fact that Max Zalev is a member of the Audit Committee and WUC Acting General Manager is his problem not yours.


After all of these years of keeping taxes and rates artificially low, you get no thanks. Now we are just bringing things back to where they should be since you may get another job elsewhere and don't care. We are just paying a tiny bit more for our delays. That's no reason to dump on you. Where's the gratitude for the past? So what if the FRAM oil filter commercial is correct: Instead of paying him now, we can pay him later. And how!


If he had increased the pensions to Seniors they could afford to pay the huge increase without moaning and groaning about it. Heck, they can go live in the County with City Administrators if they don't like the taxes and rates here. Just wait until we get amalgamation and fool them all!


Sure you supported her nomination. But now that there is a crisis, she can be blamed for everything since she is the weak link and won't dare fight back. She is our scapegoat. You see, it is Provincial downloading that is at fault and is taking up so much money for taxes. The City should be given new ways to tax people just as Toronto is being allowed to do so. We need equality of being able to have new taxes imposed on Windsorites to protect politicians from their own mistakes.


Come on, get real. There were more of them on WUC Committees than just the Mayor. Why they outnumbered him. If they are so smart, why didn't they pick up on the problem. It's because they were part of it.

Do you really think that they are going to set up an Independent inquiry to examine themselves that might demonstrate that they were negligent or worse! Heck, there may not even be a quorum possible because Councillors could say they have a conflict of interest and cannot vote on the matter. Nothing like using the Procedural By-law to paralyze Council!


Blame the Bridge Co. Say that you have had to spend so much time fighting the City's "enemy" and preserving the citizens' quality of life that you just did not have the time to devote yourself to this problem. After all, you work so many hours a day now making the simplest things complicated like the Capitol Theatre!

As I have pointed out, if this tempest in a teapot is managed properly, you will come out smelling like a rose in the City of Roses. But for Heaven's sake, the only meetings that you can attend are the in camera ones from now on.

Your most humble and obediant servant,


Windsor's Financial Fiasco

There are two people smiling broadly after the big Windsor Star headline: "Water fees diverted"

Yes a load has just been lifted from the shoulders of our two Cabinet Ministers, Sandra Pupatello and Dwight Duncan. Now they do not have to be worried about Eddie pressuring them any more before the election. He is self-destructing in front of them

He will have his own concerns that will take up time over the next few months when the Province sends in forensic auditors to examine the books and records of the Windsor Utilities Commission and Councillors finally stop being a bunch of wusses and hire outside legal and accounting firms to do a complete and thorough investigation of the WUC.

The Province has no choice...either money was diverted as the Star story claimed on Friday or it was not diverted as the Saturday story said. What it means is that the WUC, of which Eddie is a member, has no idea what is going on with millions of dollars of taxpayer money if the story changes that dramatically and that quickly, virtually overnight. Doesn't the WUC understand its own books and records?

However, something does not add up. What is the real story here?

First there was supposedly a diversion of capital money into the operations account. We were told that on A-channel news and in the Star. Then we were told in the Star that
  • "In a presentation Thursday at an open house to explain a water rate increase, Francis said that the money collected from the water main replacement levy was going into operation costs. He implied that the money wasn't being spent on water main replacement, but it turns out, that wasn't true. After implementing the water main replacement levy in 2003 that brought in about $3 million in revenue, the utility spent about $10 million per year replacing water mains. But it should have been spending $20 million per year, Francis said."

However, in the 2004 WUC annual report, Victoria Zuber, the Finance Director said:

  • "On November 26, 2003, the Commission approved an increase of the water main replacement levy from 5% to 13% to become effective January 1, 2004. This provided additional water revenues of $1.8 million."

This was after Maxwell Zalev, Acting General Manager, said in the Report

  • "We continued to invest in our aging infrastructure. We spent a total of $10.75 million in 2004; $9.5 million in capital improvements for the distribution system...

    Our capital expenditure program over the next 5 years is quite intensive. We are scheduled to spend approximately $40 million to improve our distribution system and water treatment facilities..."

Doesn't that seem to be people who knew exactly what was going on rather than a disorganized mess with money going every which way?

What we saw, as the Mayor stated on A-channel news, is what we have always suspected with elected representatives. The problem arose because of politics at its ugliest. The issue was never addressed apparently since no one sees the water pipes. What took place using the Mayor's word was a "shell-game" and taxpayers were the victim. Of course, now that it has come out, the problems will be dealt with so it never happens again. Sort of like what happened with MFP. End of story it must have been hoped!

Didn't Eddie understand the irony of his statement? He just denounced himself in the strongest of terms! He was one of the politicians involved. The Senators in Ottawa recognized him for what he was: a politican and not in the flattering sense. Eddie still must think that we will believe what he said in his kick-off speech when he ran the first time for Mayor or is deluding himself:


It is pretty clear from what the Mayor said that this is not inadvertence or mere negligence but is deliberate action on the part of someone. Whoever made the decision needs to suffer the consequences. The Mayor told us that numbers were picked out of the air for rates and were not based on any studies. Someone therefore must knowingly have decided that the rates were phony ones.

It is even more of a shock given what the Mayor said in the 2004 WUC Annual Report:

  • "It is anticipated that the face of Ontario’s water industry will have a new look as the outcome of recommendations made on behalf of the Swain Report, which is scheduled for release in 2005. It has been suggested that there will be an unbundling of water rates, in much the same vein as had occurred in the electricity industry back in 2001-2002.

    With clarity brought forth on how water rates are established, the foundation will be laid for full cost recovery in terms of water services and, particularly, how they relate to infrastructure replacement projects."

Was it all for re-election? Keep the numbers down and then boost them after. We ought to be thankful to the WUC Chair/Councillor Ken Lewenza Junior for telling us previously what we should expect:

  • "...there's very little wiggle room in the [2006] budget and taxpayers should not expect to see the frugality of the last two budgets repeated next year. "This is probably the last go- around," he said, adding that there will be either higher tax hikes next year or a reduction in services."
No doubt Gord Henderson must have been in shock on Saturday and found it easier to write about "Canada's penal system" rather than a major financial mess. Hmmmm I noticed that the Star used the word "fraud" in its first story. Was his column a Freudian slip?

Where is the Star Editorial in today's paper demanding that Council act tonight to do the right thing and clear the air. Can you imagine the noise if Mike Hurst was still the Mayor! Would the Editors be calling for resignations by now. I wonder why the Star is so silent on such an obvious issue.

The big loser, regardless what happens, is the Mayor. This financial fiasco clearly destroys the myth of Eddie as the successful businessman/lawyer. Trying to blame this mess on past Administrations is a nice attempt to divert attention except who was Mayor in 2004 when the rates increased from 5% to 13%? Yes it was Eddie. He was there when numbers were picked out of the air too. He was there when the money was diverted or was not diverted. Who knows---The WUC does not!

Eddie is a lawyer and he knows from Law Society rules that you do not put "Trust" funds into a "General" account to be used for other purposes. Eddie made this astounding statement at the WUC meeting for which he expected to be praised I am sure:
  • "If this is what dollars are going to be established for, this is where the dollars will have to go."
Nothing like stating the obvious!

I assume it was Max Zalev on A-channel News who admitted that the levy funds on the water bills were used for operations. He said that, now, separate bank accounts would be set up and that levy charges will only be paid out for infrastructure capital charges and not for operations. Except perhaps there was no diversion. Doesn't he know?

Zalev may have his own problem too. He is on the Audit Committee of the City. In the circumstances, should he be allowed to remain a member while this matter is outstanding!

We have seen the Tunnel operation go down the tubes with Eddie as its Chair and yet Council allowed him to be the CEO of new Corporations respecting the Tunnel and the airport. And they allowed him to try to do a US$75M deal on the Tunnel when the Bridge Co. offered a fraction of that! Is it any wonder the Capitol deal is such a mess when it could have been solved easily months ago.

The Eminence Greasie will have to work wonders to save Eddie's career now. Wait until people actually see their new water bills! If you want to see everything there is to know about water bills in Windsor and elsewhere, check out The outcry will be horrendous.

Let's ask a few questions assuming there was a diversion:

  • Do WUC 's financial statements have to be restated and for how many years back
  • Do the City's financial statements have to be restated and for how many years back
  • What assurance do we have that the books are proper today
  • If this has been going on for years, have any dividends been paid from the WUC to the City that may now be improper
  • It was said in the A-channel news report that the WUC admitted it was operating unsustainably.... Does that mean it was insolvent and money was diverted really for that purpose?
  • What will KPMG do now? Will they revoke their Opinion Letter that "In our opinion, these financial statements present fairly, in all material respects, the financial position of the Commission." Will they resign as auditors? Why didn't they catch the diversion if there was one? Should Council fire them if they missed it?
  • Will Standard and Poor's put the City on CreditWatch and will the City's bond rating decrease which could then cause Arena financing problems
  • Whose heads will be cut off or who will be the sacrifical lamb to take the fall
  • Have the problems of Enwin really been cleared up
On Monday night, there is a Council meeting. Will Councillors work out a solution to this problem in camera over a lambchop or two? Or will Councillors refuse to discuss this matter in secret and have a full and open debate about next steps in public.

Poor Junior. What a baptism of fire as Chair. We should not blame Councillor Lewenza as WUC Chair for his unfortunate statement:

  • "We've been focused on how do we fix it, we haven't been looking at blame," Lewenza said.

    "I don't want to say I'm not concerned (about the practice). (The issue about whether the practice is fraud) hasn't been raised before. I would refer to legal on that question..."

Instead of the diversionary statement re legal counsel, he should have acted decisively! Why all he needed to do was to have called up the Chair of another Commission in the area who is a governance expert and he would have told Junior what actions a Chair of a Corporation should immediately take in a situation such as this!

Junior better get advice quickly or he may wind up in serious trouble too.

Councillors who have been on the WUC may now be personally at risk as well given the standards that Board members face after the scandals in the corporate world. To protect themselves, they have no choice but to demand that an independent outside investigation be undertaken immediately along side of the Provincial investigation. They must do so on Monday. They also need to pass a resolution to call for a Provincial audit. They have no choice now.

The Municipal Affairs Act provides:

  • Provincial municipal audit

    9. (1) The Ministry, upon its own initiative or whenever requested by any municipality expressed by resolution of its council, or on a petition in writing signed by not less than fifty ratepayers assessed as owners and resident in a municipality, may direct a provincial municipal audit of the financial affairs of the municipality.

    Extent of audit

    (2) Any direction given by the Ministry may extend to an audit of all the financial affairs of a municipality or may be limited to the financial affairs of any local board thereof, or to any specified phase of such financial affairs or to any specified books, accounts, registers, records, vouchers, receipts, funds, money or financial transactions, kept by or under the charge of any officer of the municipality designated by the Ministry. R.S.O. 1990, c. M.46, s. 9.

    General inquiry

    10. The Ministry upon its own initiative may make an inquiry into any of the affairs of a municipality. R.S.O. 1990, c. M.46, s. 10; 1993, c. 27, Sched.
Oh there is a silver lining to all of this for the Councillors. Here is Councillor Lewenza again:
  • "It's been a long and drawn-out process," Lewenza said. "We are finding out things every day. We still need to do a lot of things to better run the utility."
That means many more meetings over the WUC and that means more payments for their attendance at Commission sessions. Why look how much all of them received as extra salary on top of their regular pay-cheque with Enwin's problems. Now that Enwin was fixed up, they can get some extra cash to fix up the WUC!

Such good luck! At least they will be able to afford the new rates.