Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, August 17, 2007

Choosing To Send Tax Dollars To The Salt Mines

It's not easy being a politician. Look at what is happening with our Mayor and City Council. Has there been one significant file that has gone smoothly for them?

Politics is the task of choosing amongst competing needs and wants. Why can't they just do the right thing every time is the obvious question?

If only life was that easy!

If you are a politician in the Windsor area or at the Senior Levels or in the US, here is what you are being faced with today with recent bridge, road, tunnel and mine events in Montreal, Boston, Minneapolis, China and Utah fresh in our minds:
  1. "According to reports this week, Canada may need as much as $100 billion to fix bridges, roads and other physical plant that is rusting out as we use it. Quoting Statistics Canada, an Ottawa Citizen article says bridges in this country have reached about half their useful life - meaning it's high time to think about what happens before they get closer to the end. There are almost 3,000 bridges under provincial jurisdiction and many more under municipal authority."
  2. "The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that we [in the US] need to spend over $1.6 trillion on infrastructure improvements and expansions in the next 5 years."
  3. "[In the US] 26 percent of bridges are "structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

    Over 2,000 bridges on the interstate highway system are in need of an overhaul, according to Frank Moretti, TRIP's director of research."

Do you really think it makes sense to spend billions on a DRIC solution when government money could be used instead to inspect and fix up existing infrastructure especially when private funds can be used to build the bridge! And in Michigan, billions more can be obtained in federal matching funds.

What's the condition of the overpasses on E C Row as an example and are you concerned when Cansult says:

  • "It is understood that the existing condition of the concrete base on the expressway and at least several of the interchange structures is less than satisfactory due to alkali-silica reactions occurring due to the type of aggregate used. As a result, it may be appropriate to consider the possibility of coordinating the rehabilitation/reconstruction of the expressway at the same time that the median widening is undertaken to take advantage of the traffic staging and cost efficiencies."

What would YOUR choice be?

Let me ask a further question that offers a choice and that seems appropriate given the horrific bridge and mine tragedies recently.

Why would anyone want to take a chance and spend billions dollars to build a new road, plazas and a bridge where there are salt mines and brine wells especially where they have been sink holes and other buildings not developed because of soil problems. Does it make any sense whatsoever?

If you had two places to build, one a risky one and another absolutely safe, which choice would you make?

The Star reported several years ago:

  • "Salt mines, underwater pipelines and brine wells which caused a massive sinkhole in the 1950s are posing a threat to a proposed Ojibway Parkway border crossing. The west-end industrial corridor, preferred by Windsor and Detroit city councils, as well as New York traffic engineer Sam Schwartz, has several obstacles threatening to make a new bridge in the area extremely costly or impossible, says a top official with a binational team assigned to choose the crossing location.

    "People would expect (an Ojibway Parkway crossing) to be a short- list option, but we are not prepared to make that decision at this time," said Leonard Kozachuk, project engineer for the binational Detroit River International Crossing project. "There are a lot of challenges in that location. "It's an area we are looking at closely because of the potential, but there is key infrastructure there that makes it not easy to do site planning…

    Kozachuk added that along with the brine wells, area salt mining, expansion of the Lou Romano sewage plant and massive gas and power pipelines buried in the riverbed in the area have also emerged as other obstacles."

Is someone trying to prove how clever they are no matter how much it costs as an extra with the public taking all of the risks if something goes wrong? Who is the big gambler on DRIC, the bureaucracy or the Government in all of this? It boggles my mind.

Which engineer (and its insurers) are going to certify that there is no problem with collapse, ever? Which politcian is going to make the decision that this makes sense to do? Which user will cross the river using that bridge if there is a safer one down the road? Which private investor is going to finance and operate a P3 bridge without absolute guarantees of safety? Which insurer is going to insure the risk once the bridge is operating with which exclusions and at what premium, assuming insurance can be obtained at all?

I understand that the borings are not yet completed and that more work and a report has to be completed. I am also told that the final report will then be subject to a "peer review" to ensure that the results are right.

Here is a nice definition of what a peer review is:

  • "the evaluation of the conceptual and technical soundness of a design by individuals qualified by their education, training and experience in the same discipline, or a closely related field of science, to judge the worthiness of a design or to assess a design for its likelihood of achieving the intended objectives and the anticipated outcomes."

In other words, another group of people brought in to look over the work of the DRIC engineers and their consultants. There may have been other cases where this was done in the DRIC exercise to date but I do not recall any. I do remember the first public Schwartz Report being subject to a peer reveiw as well.

Peer review now. Unbelievable. Isn't this a cover-your-ass exercise since there could be a major problem? I can just imagine the fingerpointing if there is a catastrophic event down the road and trying to pin the blame on someone. A lawyer's retirement fund to be sure.

Imagine doing all of that work, spending countless millions on borings and taking all of that risk just so to try to take away the Ambassador Bridge business and then build another bridge at the same spot as the Enhancement Project with some other private investor.

You know what the excuse DRIC would give to build there if the Moroun family had sold out: downriver was not safe.

Isn't that why the Planning/Need and Feasibility Study way back in 2004 didn't toss out the Ambassador Bridge as a crossing and ranked it as high as the Central crossing. Why with the new DRIC road in place, it would be just as easy to make a right turn to go to the Ambassador Bridge for the last mile as it would to make a left turn and go to a DRIC bridge in salt mine territory!

Wasn't the right turn going to happen if the Morouns sold out? Isn't someone still hoping that this might still happen? What choice will there be when their best laid plans do not work out and reality sets in!

It's your move next Ambassador Wilson.

MORE Letters To The Blogmeister

With all of the news going on, there is no space to post all of the emails I have received. I mean after all, your coffee break is only so long and how much can I give you to read.

Here are a few of them that I have saved up.

1) Hi Ed,

I’ve been collecting articles on some pretty big issues lately and I’m beginning to worry that these big problems may land on this city with little warning and frankly I believe that we are going to get hurt.

First thing is the price of oil. The price of oil for the past few years has been trending upward. Now the pace is gaining momentum with many economists now warning that $100 dollars per barrel will be reached before the end of the year.

What will $100 oil mean to the North American economy? It will continue to slow down. Auto sales for large, North American built vehicles will evaporate. The North American automakers, unless they can pull an affordable 60 mpg car out of their asses, will have to cut back even further. Kiss the rest of this city’s auto workers good bye.

Second, and this will be an even bigger problem, is the continued decline of the US dollar against all major currencies. As the US dollar falls so does the buying power of Americans. As Canada’s largest trading partner the weak US dollar will hurt what exports we have left. The weak US dollar will also keep OPEC from moving to reduce the price of oil because it will further reduce their revenues from oil sales transacted in US dollars. Increasingly oil producers want Euros for their oil.

Third the collapse of the US housing industry and the hedge funds associated with them is starting to do some bad things in the markets. If the US economic markets collapse, well I bet you can guess where we’ll be.

If you look at these possible problems from Windsor’s perspective we may have already missed the opportunity to build a second bridge (anywhere) because the fallout from any economic “correction” (that’s what economists call depressions now) may cause cross border trade to be reduced even further. Now if these worries, that I have, really start to gain momentum no reasonable person will invest in infrastructure that would be redundant or surplus, there is no profit in it. Mr. Moroun and DRIC will pack up and tell us that they’ll be back later. (How much later?)

If there is no bridge constructed there will be no job creation and no new tax revenues associated with it. If the NA auto industry collapses there will be more unemployed and less tax revenues. Is Windsor in any position to continue operating on less? Can the city’s social services department ramp up their operations to be of any real use? Will there be a mass exodus from the city and if so what will be left to work with?

There are cities that are working to plan for a future without affordable oil that are thinking about how to keep businesses and people working in a future that does not look very good. But our mayor and council have no vision and it is going to cost us all.

I know the focus of your blog is the day-to-day adventures of the city government, but I think people here need to look and the big things that are going to shape our future. If the unemployment rate in Windsor jumps to 25% are we going to care if the Junction has a liquor license?

2) The real issue with all of this is not the water rate increase, as Windsor rates are still relatively low compared to other jurisdictions, but it is the sewer surcharge. A minor issue in all of this is the fact that the politicians did not allow the WUC to raise water rates for the past three years when WUC was already dealing with the need for greater infrastructure requirements. Isn't it amazing that the original water rate/sewer surcharge announcement occurred just after the City budget was finalized.

3) I know I have said this before but this is your best one yet! [Teflon Memo BLOG]

4) Just a second.....
Maybe I am missing somthing here. When did the new segmented tunnel become a linkage for wildlife?

Is that so the raccoons and skunks have a right of way?
Maybe they are referring to the nightclubs downtown.

Maybe Eddie should make the Province pay for new water mains. He could point the finger and say it was the trucks that did it.

5) Hello Ed;

I think the Windsor Mayor should resign. The message I am hearing from all over this area is that people are really mad over this water issue and the way the city is being run and they want him out. One thing for sure Eddie would have a hard time running for dog catcher, let alone for Provincial or Federal office.

Thank God I live in Tecumseh.

And even more to add salt to the wound the current Windsor council says nothing. what a bloody disgrace the whole bunch of them.

6) [Re Parsons Brinckerhoff whom Sam brought in for their tunnel expertise] It is all very disingenuous and full of bravado isn't it - New York engineers attacking Canadian engineers when, if you read the article, they really aren't disputing the needs for ventilation shafts or addressing the issues of how you construct a bored tunnel through Windsor's soupy soils.

The idea that taxpayers in other communities should help Toronto with its problems irks people when David Miller cries he needs provincial help with his budget shortfalls. I see the same sort of thing in Windsor - money shouldn't be a question with tunneling - sure, just ask the rest of the province to pay for it. Ya right. Nobody here in [my city] sees a tunneled truck route in Windsor as important as a new hospital or two.

7) I also do not understand how they are going to move the emissions to less
populated areas. Apparently some people are more important than others in Eddie's world. Perhaps his engineering consultants have determined the carcinogens only go where there are fewer people.

8) Interesting that there is not a story or picture about the opening of the new bus terminal [Grand opening on July 20]. There is one story about bus routes (and of course the obligatory picture of the mayor but none of the photo op of him and the other two levels of governmnet who paid for the new terminal) and that story is critical of the county and adjoining municipalities re sharing of buses. (Whatever happened to his speech saying that everyone should be a supporter and never a nay sayer).

I also like the shot at the federal government (Hayes Jones, general manager of SMART "Windsor is our neighbour, and why should a body of water and federal laws prohibit us from being creative to improve the quality of life for Windsor's citizens and citizens of southeast Michigan to be able to travel throughout both countries"). Well Mr. Mayor - those federal laws help Canadian (read Windsor) businesses. By not allowing foreign transportation companies to suck up potential Canadian business (besides - wasn't Council concerned not too long ago about Detroit taxis operating in Windsor)

Also intersting that neither the city nor Transit Windsor have any pics or story about the new terminal (guess to help underscore the need for more communications staff). The text from the Transit Windsor page speaks volumns (and I quote):

Check this page often for news on the latest Transit happenings. Whether it's a new initiative, new service or special event, this is the place to find out more:

I wonder how often we have to check? the event was Friday at 10 am. Surely there must have been enough time to post a pic and a pre-written text. Guess Transit really does not find it of interest enough.

[NOTE: Big advertising special in the Star today re the bus terminal a month later]

9) Thank you for your question about E.C.Row Expressway. The Expressway was transferred to the City of Windsor in 1997. The City is the current road authority, and is responsible for all operations and maintenance on the expressway. I encourage you to contact the city with any questions regarding current conditions on the Expressway.

Fausto Natarelli
Director, Windsor Border Initiatives Implementation Group

10) Eddie really has lost hasn't he? He has conceded a) that the entire route will not be tunnelled and b) that the route will be in the DRIC corridor and not elsewhere. Are they chuckling somewhere in Toronto?

He is, by the way, very Clinton-esque in his parsing of words.

He may do both before and after - show council the new Schwartz stuff prior
and then have a public meeting after where he asks people to compare after
they've seen both.

11) With all the budget cuts happening in Windsor, I wonder how much was cut from the new arena?
The new Peace Beacon was not cut but the surrounding parks sure were.
Will the City cut it's budget for legal fees?
Every week it seems there is some kind of need for legal assessment or investigation.
With the high rate of unemployment, City council must have figured out by now that the tax base is dwindling. When the big plants change their status to warehousing instead of manufacturing they will lose even more.
The Junction. Unbelievable tactics from the city.
Why would business locate here again?
In all this time council still finds the time and effort to fight the Bridge Company.
A corporation who wants to spend money, pay taxes and just be a business.
Can we say enough already?
The construction jobs lost and delayed on the bridge access road is large. Probably more than the city's budget.

Can we say ENOUGH already?

12) I hear from someone who has seen a draft of Schwartz part 2 that it includes a picture of one of the proposed parkettes on Huron Church that has a water feature or pond of some sort. They swear there is a man and his son pictured fishing in the pond.

(and I thought they would never beat "the new Champs D'Elysses" in terms of ridiculousness...)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

WATERMAIN-GATE: Who Will Survive The Investigation

I am sure that you understand that we are in the middle of a political crisis in Windsor whose scope may well be unprecedented in a Municipal Government in Ontario.

Think of it...the actions of the Mayor and four sitting Councillors, amongst others, will be under review by an investigation undertaken by the Province of Ontario. What if the report is a damning one. What happens next?

I will tell you what Councillor Halberstadt has written about below but another news story has shaken again the WUC story we have been told to date and necessitates a full investigation and all questions answered!

You remember from A-Channel news the Mayor's explanation blaming the past for how they determined what the water rates should be and why we are having the big increase today:
  • "In the past, they just picked the number out of the air and that was it."

(Here it is if you want to see it

As I have tried to show over the past few days after reviewing WUC documents, that comment does not seem to hold much water given the very thorough 2002 WUC Report and the levy action following. To me, what happened starting in 2004 needs close examination as well.

Now based on the Star story today, who picked numbers out of the air for the huge increase!

  • "More WUC hikes on horizon

    The WUC board increased water rates in May, but didn't have the Watson report to use as a guide. WUC chief operating officer John Wladarski said administrators had preliminary information from consultants to aid them in proposing the 87 per cent rate increase that took effect Aug. 1.

    "Even though we didn't have this draft report, Watson confirmed the decision WUC made was well within what Watson was going to bring to us," Wladarski said."

Here is some more interesting data according to the Star:

  • "According to the Watson report, the yearly average water bill jumped to $406 from $219 -- an 86 per cent increase. But a May WUC report had different data. It said the annual average water bill would increase from "$219 in 2006 to $298 in 2007," a 36 per cent increase."

So WUC did not wait for a few more months to get the Consultants' Report but picked a number out of the air although it was a well-educated one it seems. Why couldn't they wait? Did they consider the alternatives mentioned at the Council meeting about how to pay for the increases or did they just increase the rates much higher than they thought in May? If the rates were to be increased, why not increase them at 36% and warn people that once the Report came in, the amount could be increased dramatically? Or why not try and increase over a short period of time by staged increases?

Of course, when the WUC number went up so dramatically, the sewer surcharge number did too and that surcharge is under Council control as the Mayor told us so many times at Council too. That sewer surcharge increase blame was pointed directly by Eddie at the Councillors who are to take the blame for it aren't they? Not the Mayor! He can never be blamed for anything that goes wrong.

Back to Councillor Halberstadt. He said on his BLOG, correctly, that the main issue is:

  • "It is becoming clear that the key to the provincial municipal audit of the Windsor Utilities Commission will be how the terms of reference are framed, narrowly or broadly...

    Who knew what when? This is the question that is emerging surrounding the dramatic 83-percent water rate increase on August 1st. The present WUC regime, which has been at the helm for almost four years, has blamed the old regime.

    Ontario Auditor General Jim McCarter told me (if he did the audit) that he would request a list of issues or concerns from the municipality. Once he went in he would have free rein to look under all stones."

Frankly, I am shocked that the Mayor called the Auditor General directly as he said at Council. I would have thought that this was a job for Administration, perhaps the CAO or the City Solicitor, not the Mayor. I am shocked as well that the Auditor General even accepted the call from the Mayor in the circumstances since the Mayor's actions might have had to reviewed by his Office! Perhaps the Auditor General was unaware of the situation or else his position may now be compromised too.

To make life easier for everyone at the next Council meeting where Councillor Halberstadt's Motion is to be heard (assuming that no more procedural tricks will be played and that the Councillor will actually get a seconder), here is what a proposed Motion that is already circulating should say:

  • WHEREAS serious concerns have been raised about the finances and operations of the Windsor Utilities Commission,

    WHEREAS the water main levy funds were intended to be used for capital, but may have been spent instead to fund operations in violation of the specific directions of the WUC Commissioners

    WHEREAS the estimated replacement value of water mains and other system requirements is $830 million

    WHEREAS one thousand or more customers of WUC may have received water but not paid any charges for the water and other fees for a number of years, and

    WHEREAS the unprecedented WUC financial demands are causing severe hardship to citizens/taxpayers in Windsor


    1) Council hereby requests that the Ministry of Municipal Affairs & Housing, pursuant to the Municipal Affairs Act of Ontario, conduct:
    a. A Provincial, Municipal Audit of the financial affairs of the Windsor Utilities Commission
    b. An inquiry into the business practices and affairs of the Windsor Utilities Commission

    2) Council also requests that Sandra Pupatello, Minister of Minister of Economic Development and Trade and Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues and Dwight Duncan Minister of Energy and Chair of Cabinet request that the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario undertake a special assignment and perform a “value-for-money” audit of the WUC.

    3) The Ministry and the Auditor General shall be requested to investigate and report publicly to the citizens of Windsor on the questions raised into the financial affairs, and business practices and affairs of the Windsor Utilities Commission including but not limited to:

    1. What are the facts involving the watermains and costs of replacement
    2. What are the costs of replacement or repair since they have escalated to over a half a billion dollars
    3. Were numbers picked "out of the air" by the previous WUC Administration or did they exercise sound judgment in what they were doing
    4. Why were rates kept as low they were and not increased to cover capital and operating costs
    5. Why was debt paid off at a time when watermains needed replacement
    6. What role did "politics play in the decision-making
    7. Was water levy money diverted from the capital account to the operating account in violation of the Commissioners' express directions
    8. What is the true financial position of WUC today
    9. Did KPMG spot the diversion and what did they do about it
    10. Do the WUC Financials have to be restated
    11. The Investigator must name names and tell us who should be praised and who ought to be condemned
    12. What are the facts about the 1,000 or more customers who have not been charged for their water and what steps have been made to collect funds, in particular, how did this happen and how was the loss discovered
    13. Has there been an attempt made to "cover-up" this matter and to attempt to fool citizens. If so, who was involved
    14. Did the WUC Commissioners carry out their function in a proper fashion both with respect to oversight of the WUC and with respect to the issues now causing such concern in the City

    4) The investigators shall make recommendations that they consider advisable based on the factual findings to prevent mismanagement in the future

    5) The investigators be authorized to adopt any procedures and methods that they may consider expedient for the proper conduct of the investigation including taking evidence under oath

    6) The investigators shall be requested to submit their reports to the Windsor public, on an urgent basis, as soon as reasonably possible.

Who Made The Phone Call

  • Something happened. I just do not know what yet but it had to have been done at the highest levels.

The support for Schwartz and the City position by the Province has evaporated into thin air. The political decision has been made to sell the DRIC road aggressively.

I wonder if the Engineering Complex downtown was the final straw! That has been so quiet for so long. Perhaps it was the increased demand for money for the Tunnel Plaza improvements or for money for Detroit for the US Tunnel operation. Those two matters are off the radar screen now.

Why just a few weeks ago, on June 16, 2007, Dwight Duncan said:

  • "My expectation is to have the province and city be on the same page on this and we are working towards that."

    Duncan said he has seen the options Schwartz offered to DRIC.

    "I thought they were fascinating," he said. "They show his insight and talent. I look forward to speaking with him and hearing more of what the city has to say."

Sandra Pupatello said:

  • "Pupatello called the [DRIC June] delay announcement a "good sign" since it means serious discussions are taking place.

    "I think we are being respectful of the city because we all want the best solution," she said. "In my discussions with the mayor I feel we are very much of the same mind on what we would like to see.

    "If anything we are trying to hurry this up. I want (the recommendations) out. We can't afford to slow this up."

Why Eddie even sent a letter of support to Sandra's nomination meeting.

It's all changed now. Check out Sandra and Dwight on A-channel news.

What a spunky guy Spanky has become all of a sudden. Why Dwight and Sandra are even going to go out and have a dialogue with us over this. Wow are we ever lucky that we are so honoured before the election! I'd like to be around when Dwight and Bill Marra have some harsh words over their conflicting positions.

In the Star, Duncan and Pupatello were supportive of the DRIC Road with Dwight calling it

  • "the "most expensive use of roadbed capacity in the history of Ontario.

    "We have rejected the low-cost alternatives," he said. "We think we have found some creative solutions. This is not a moat. It's a well-planned out (solution) that will enhance the community.

    "In terms of urban landscapes, not only is this better than anything we have in Ontario, this is also on par with anything you will find in the world."

    Pupatello believes further discussions with mayor and city officials will prove fruitful.

    "I anticipate when we get to the end we will be very close to what the city is looking for," she said. "Is it perfect today? I don't think so. There is still room for improvement. I'm just happy we are moving closer to what the city is looking for."

    Both ministers welcome further discussions with Francis and council to discuss an agreeable solution, but Duncan added: "This community is struggling. We can't waste time anymore. There are too many people without work and (investment) opportunities lost. We have to move forward with a resolution."

Schwartz, who is Sam Schwartz?

Obviously, we have just been told that we are going to get a promise of 10,000 plus jobs when the DRIC road is started and if it is delayed, it will be Eddie's fault, not that of Sandra and Dwight. It will be sold as Parkway with "short tunnels" as the Premier's Office must have decided on language as the final olive branch to the Mayor several weeks ago .

I expect it was the Prime Minister's Office calling the Premier's office or perhaps the Ministers of Finance talking or the Deputy Ministers in the Transportation groups who spoke with the Feds telling the Province here is all the money we are putting whatever you want to find the extra money for a tunnel because we are NOT putting in any more. That ended it.

Or perhaps the Premier had enough of Eddie thinking he was someone in a position of strength and told our two Ministers to grow up and shut him up since their seats are safe anyway. They are Ministers after all and should start acting like it. I was told months ago by a Liberal political operative that the Province had their own game plan re the border that would come out before the election and that Eddie was irrelevant in their plans

It's all a wink-wink game anyway. Councillor Dilkens' Council question re the conditions of the overpasses on E C Row at Council on Monday will allow the Mayor and the Senior Levels to use possible catastrophic collapse as the justification for re-building E C Row with the connections to the County. Eddie will graciously give in or pretend it was imposed on him (why else make a big fuss about being involved in the Manning Road EA).

In the end, we will hear Eddie tell us how much money we are saving in not having to maintain E C Row and how much we will not have to spend to upgrade it. He will tell us , or rather his sycophants will, about how he outsmarted the Senior Levels over the Expressway expansion. Then he can use those millions he is saving on E C Row to buy more acres at the arena site for more parking while we can pay for the sewers and watermains.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

WATERMAIN-GATE: Revenge Of The Amoebae

Wow, that would be a great movie title wouldn't it! Or the Amoebae Strike Back! Or how about Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Amoeba-nator.

Councillor Halberstadt suggested that "Mayor Francis and his chorus" are treating me and my fellow harsh Eddie critics --"Al Nelman, Ed Arditti, Chris Schnurr, Les Chaif and Bob Harper"--- "little more than amoeba who have nothing constructive to say about anything." Poor us. We were just lonely before. Now we are a mass of protoplasm.

And then to add to our backhanded praise, we may also be irrelevant. I guess it's because we are mere taxpayers who have the ability to think and are not afraid to confront His Royal Worship. Unlike most Councillors that is who cower in his presence:
  • "Even if you believe these citizens are irrelevant (I personally believe that sometimes they are relevant and sometimes they aren't), they should not be excluded from contributing to the municipal debate by high-handed tactics."
Gee thanks, Councillor. Allowing me to participate in our democracy. Imagine, me, an irrelevant amoeba. What a come-down!

Some reflections on WATERMAIN-GATE after a long day running off to DRIC meetings twice, the first time not being able to find a parking spot.

This is a key turning point for this Mayor and this Council and for the City. It is exactly like the vote in March, 2003 over the border. It will impact our future in many ways.

We amoeba have not done too badly after all have we. Remember that Consultants' Report that was not going to be disclosed until after the Council meeting, well the Consultants were there at the Council meeting spilling their guts and answering questions on what they reported. Not too shabby eh.

I assume that we should be given some credit for Eddie folding like an accordion. He was forced to have a Section 9 Municipal Affairs Audit, a huge insult and embarrassment to any Municipal Government in Ontario. It says that citizens have so little confidence and faith in what the Mayor and Council say that we have to go to an outsider to tell us what are the facts! That is not something to have on one's CV.

Seriously, who broke the story of the Zuber memo that ultimately forced the Mayor to have an inquiry. Two of the amoebae!

It did not take the amoebae long to see through the myth of Eddie as the experienced and successful lawyer and business person who would lead us to a better future. The rest of the City is now catching up to us too after the WUC fiasco as the story keeps changing.

No matter what the results of the investigation, our opinion of Eddie will no longer be the same. What a slap in his face. Are you concerned that he is in charge of the US$75M Tunnel deal, or CEO of the new Tunnel and airport corporations, or running the Tunnel. The arena deal is proving to be a huge waste given what the Raceway people would have spent of their own money. We lost at least $50M that could have gone for water mains. As for his handling of the border, well you know my views of that.

I am quite enjoying Monday Night at Council. ABC-TV may have a tough fight for viewers come the fall. Who wants to watch football with this drama, or is it comedy.

Last Monday we had it again. The outside consultants brought in to tell us about the catastrophe we will have unless we spend Councillor Lewenza's one dollar per day (Has anyone added up yet how much we are spending using the Councillor's Math? Talk about being nickled and dimed to financial ruin. If there is an issue, the Councillor comes up with the pennies per day it costs in order to tell us we ought not to worry and can afford it. He ought to be selling cars on the installment plan not working for the CAW!)

I am not going to spend much time on what the Consultants said other than to say that about a third of other Ontario cities are doing what Windsor is doing so we are NOT at the forefront as has been suggested. And yes, I know that money is needed to fix up old pipes but I am not confident that WUC knows what it is doing as you shall see.

Of course replacing watermains is not the issue. It's a tactic to steer our direction away from the big story. Was there a diversion of funds, what role did politics play, who is responsible for the mess and has there been a cover-up to fool us?

But what was revealed at Council suggests to me that we have major problems in this City. Can you believe that we do not know how many problem customers WUC has. Is it 1,000, or even more or the new number, 156? According to the WUC rep at Council, the number of 156 was known in February, 2007---120 residential and 36 commercial.

If that was true, then the problem is the Mayor and the Mayor alone. He is spreading disinformation. Was it to make himself look good by showing how 311 (and NOT Citistat) solved a problem? In his State of The City speech on May 14, 2007 after February, he said:
  • "With the new system in place, we discovered that there were one thousand water meters that were hooked up to water consuming customers, but the Windsor Utilities Commission didn’t know, and wasn’t charging them.

    And, of course, the customers never called in to tell us that they were getting free water."

The latter remark was wrong it turns out; people did call in. But who told us about the 1,000 customers. None other than the Mayor. Can't he get his facts correct? Is he that sloppy? WUC knew it was only 156 customers 3 months before. And as far as WUC goes, they are not much better. Sylvia de Vries, WUC spokeswoman said recently the number could be 1,000 or more!

  • "We did an audit subdivision by subdivision. The audit is still ongoing as we speak. It may not have been a thousand. It could be higher."

    On Friday it appeared the utility lost millions in unpaid bills. Francis and acting general manager Max Zalev said the utility couldn't recoup the lost money.

    But now it seems the utility is collecting the unpaid revenue and hasn't lost any money.

    "The residents have been paying back the bills," said Patricia Devin-Doan, director of customer service."

In fact, it was stated at Council that the meters registered water usage so it was just a matter of reconciling the accounts. Not a big deal after all.

It was great news in May and then when it turned out to be the disaster and seeming incompetence in August costing us millions, we found out what now purports to be the real facts as the Mayor tried to escape blame!

How can we believe anything the Mayor says if he cannot get something so simple right. How can we believe WUC if they cannot get their story straight!

As for the issues of diversion and who knew what when, it is getting worse and worse for the Mayor. As I said in my previous BLOG , we have another story about the use of money in capital and operating accounts. That makes three inconsistent ones so far. Diversion, no diversion and something in the middle. Don't you think it would be nice to know the truth now.

Remember the old regime pulling numbers out of the air and how politics was responsible That changed to unnamed members of previous WUC Administrations who were at fault. On Monday, that position started falling apart too. Let me describe what I mean about that.

Oh sure, perhaps not enough money was initially set aside back in 1988 and then in 1994 but amounts were budgetted. That time period was before Walkerton too, a bogey-man word being thrown around to scare us into submission.

The real crunch came in September, 2002 when the WUC prepared a detailed water main report as I stated previously. It was called a well-done report on Monday night which was used by the new consultants as well. That report detailed what needed to be done. The Report said said:

  • "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."

Hardly picking numbers out of the air was it. It was a well-reasoned analysis that gave rise to a number to help solve the problem. Multiply $6.4M for 50 years, add in some inflation and the number is not that far off the number being thrown around today. It looks to me that the 2002-3 WUC Administration didn't do too badly.

As for alternatives to replacement, they looked at that too:

  • "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."

It became clear that more money was needed and in 2003,

  • "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."

I read where the WUC general manager, said in November, 2003

  • "the increase was necessary to allow the utility to continue a $9-million project to upgrade the watermain system over the next several years. The hike takes into account required capital spending over the next 30 years to improve the system, which the commissioners decided should be paid for through increased billing rather than debt financing."

Again, it appears to me, based on the facts I have seen to date, that someone seemed to be doing his/her job at that time.

To be direct, it seems to me that the whole thing fell apart after 2003 unless there are additional facts that say otherwise. Guess who was Chair of WUC at the time (and it was NOT Junior). The same guy who introduced and had passed a Motion at Council on Monday instead of having a discussion! Eddie Francis.

We learned from the Consultants that staggering of costs can be undertaken, financing is possible and the life of pipes can be extended. Did you hear any of this before? Was that ever discussed with the public? I do not remember it if it was. All we heard were huge numbers justifying huge water rate increases and even bigger sewer surcharge increases. What's scary is that this surcharge money is under Council's control!

To be blunt about it, I think our Mayor and several members of Council who are or were on WUC have a lot of explaining to do. Why it was only in 2005 when the Mayor said:

  • "The Windsor Utilities Commission will have to justify any water rate increase this fall, Mayor Eddie Francis said Wednesday.

    "I pay for water and I want to know what we pay these rates for," Francis said at a meeting of the commission.

    "(The rates) have to be justified. We aren't going to stand by when they say 'We need this.' We are going to ask why."

    Francis said in an interview he believes water rates are too high...

    When the study is completed, Francis said he hopes it will show water rates can be decreased."

Can you really believe that remark in light of what has happened with the huge increases! Perhaps decreasing rates in 2005 and in 2007, mammoth increases. What is going on here?

In the end, the Eddie-myth is over and now he has been brought down to earth with the need for an outside investigation. We do not know if there is a problem or not since stories keep changing. We are not sure if what is being spreading is the truth or misinformation.

Sure we know we have watermain problems in Windsor. We are not dumb for heaven's sake. But every month when the bill has to be paid we will look to the Mayor and Council and wonder what really is going on. Even with complete exoneration from an independent audit, will they ever be able to recover from this financial fiasco?

Interesting Ideas

Here are some ideas that should get your creative juices flowing:


CKLW reported that:
  • "A Windsor City Council committee is trying to figure out what to do with the old Armouries building in the downtown core. There are several options on the table, including using it for court operations or as a Windsor Symphony concert hall. A report is expected in September."

Come on now, this is Windsor. Time to "THINK BIG!" It's time for Eddie to become a huge land developer downtown and change the face of our City. After all, BLOG readers have known in advance that we are getting new City Hall soon at the BARN site once our mega-dollar Arena is finally built.

It can be done quickly too. All Eddie has to do is call up Chuck Mady who has great plans and drawings to redevelop the area around the Armouries. Chuck's propety is right beside the Armouries so a mutual deal could work out well for everyone. I am sure that his plans are adaptable to almost anything that the Mayor would want to do. Heck, if Chuck won't listen, why Eddie would just buy him out!

It would not be difficult for Eddie to find Chuck I am sure even though he has moved most of his operations to Toronto and elsewhere and been very successful after doing so. Councillor Junior could probably help Eddie find him as well if there was a problem.

I just hope that Eddie does better on this deal. When he was a Councillor, Eddie introduced the deal on the Mady Parking Garage and look at how many millions that cost us!


I was never very good in school in multiplying and dividing numbers with decimals. I just kept putting the decimals in the wrong place.

I wonder if Council is any better.

Here's my problem:

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis said the city has no choice but to counter with the best, to prove a tunnel for trucks can — and should — be built...

    The Parsons-Brinckerhoff team’s preliminary work locally has determined a few cut-and-cover tunnels — a trough covered with landscaping — to bury the traffic is the best method for Windsor and can be done fairly cheaply in the six-kilometre corridor stretching from Howard Avenue to E.C. Row Expressway...

    Tunnels built in Windsor would unlikely require ventilation towers or filters as long as they were no more than about 200 metres in length."

Council has seen the Presentation, Battagello spoke to the P-B people, informed sources told Gord Henderson what's in Schwartz's Plan. Everyone it seems knows everything about it but taxpayers. All we get are trial balloons to see how we react!

Now according to Gord's sources

  • "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."

If we have only shunnels since we do not want that ventilation buildings that would blast exhaust at people, then according to my math, only .2Km X 9 or 1.8KMs are underground. If the road length is 6 KM. What happens in the other 4.2 KMs?

Interestingly, Dave Wake of DRIC said

  • "DRIC's project coordinator Dave Wake boasted of the positives of the "parkway" plan, citing its 10 short tunnels which add up to a total of 1.5 kilometres or 25 per cent of the border route being covered with parkland and recreational trials."

Are we really only fighting over only .3 KM? I am sure that you now saw the hint in the Star today that the City shunnels can be one KM long. Gotta keep those delays and stalling around don't we!

Will I have to learn new math now too?


Again, Gord's column gave us some idea about what Schwartz might do. The idea that seemed the strangest of all was

  • "a two-level roadway on E.C. Row west of Huron Church Road (with the lower level for trucks)"

Now I had already suggested something similar in my BLOG January 18, 2007 "A Different Windsor Champs Elysee." I suggested building an elevated road either on Huron Church or on the E C Row. We'd call it "Double-decking Windsor." How about that for a new slogan.

I had heard that:

  • "a rough plan has been developed that could build an elevated road on Huron Church Road between E C Row and the new border crossing for well under $100M."

Oh no, you say, the Gardiner in Toronto is a mess so why would we want something similar here. Au contraire mes amis. If you think that, read the Sunday Toronto Star The Gardiner:

  • is not really a barrier to the waterfront any more
  • There's a bit of hum from the traffic, but it's not the nuisance it used to be [just a bit of hum from the traffic]
  • In Shanghai, a dizzying maze of highways is illuminated at night in vibrant neon colors. [and] they are consciously trying to make a place that people would enjoy walking through, beneath and beside. And they do – it attracts wide public use."
  • could have "a creative mix of shops and studios under the Gardiner. "
  • is "beautiful, totally sculptural"
  • could have "a skating rink on the land under the tall pillars west of Bathurst, bike ramps rising over Parliament St. onto the railway viaduct, and replacing overhead lighting with a dazzling open basket weave of coloured lights arching across the Gardiner. "So it becomes a sinuous river of light moving through the city, something enormously bold, and a counterpoint to the CN Tower."

That Sam is sure helping us become a great city like Shanghai, London, New York, Louisville and Portland with a new Champs Elysee and now a sinuous river of light.


That was strange. I tried to find the press release about the opening of the new terminal on the City's website and could not find it. Is someone ashamed about it or something or is there something in it that we are not supposed to see? Wasn't it going to rejuvenate the downtown after all?

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis defended the project, describing it as a catalyst for further investment in the urban village that's been envisioned downtown. He said the deal that will see St. Clair College moving hundreds of students into the Cleary International Centre would not have been reached without the transit deal."

Now here's the funny part about the financing. The issued press Release says:

  • "Canada's New Government contributed $2.7 million through the federal Public Transit Capital Trust. The Government of Ontario contributed $3.2 million in transit expansion and provincial gas tax funding to the City of Windsor. The City of Windsor has contributed $1.6 million, including $300,000 from the City Centre Revitalization Program, and $100,000 from the Windsor Accessibility Committee (WAC)."

I don't understand that since the City's contribution was to be the land worth $1.6M. So why did the other groups have to contribute $400K? Does this mean that the City's land was only worth $1.2M? Or did the City have to put up cash too? It is so confusing

Hmmmm...where is the Greyhound money in that press release? The City was supposed to receive about $2.2 million from Greyhound for which Greyhound got a 50% equity interest in the terminal. That was not in upfront cash actually but in paying operating costs: payment was to be 30 years at $48,000 per year (or about $700,000 in today's dollars). Plus "the city will also take over ownership of the old terminal on Chatham Street East, which is estimated to be worth $800,000 and can be sold."

I told you before that Greyhound was not really paying anything for its interest. What a deal that is:

  • "Instead of them giving up-front cash, this is what they're giving, which still allows us to pay off the operating expenses," Francis said. The cost to operate the building is projected to be about $64,000 a year.

    The rest of the annual payments from Greyhound [ticket agent commission] will be put into a capital reserve account so that, as the building ages, money will be readily available to make repairs and pay taxes."

The numbers just did not seem to add up. My head started swimming. All I knew is that the City got half a terminal. In other words, only half of the "FUNK" or FU!


Hmmmm....the Star reported in relation to the water and sewer bill 60 per cent increase that

  • "Even Ward 2 Coun. Caroline Postma will be feeling the pinch. She said the property tax and utility rate increases will wipe out profits she makes on nine rental units she owns."

Wasn't she the Councillor that introduced the big Blockbuster Motion?

Whew, thank goodness that she was involved in drafting the By-law. I assume that the definition of "blockbuster" did not catch her properties. Therefore, she must not fall under the category of buying proprty in bad faith or she might have been charged under her own by-law.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Some DRIC Questions

Oh the Bridge Co. people have a good sense of humour and of timing.

I am sure that you saw their ad in the Star today on Page A9 congratulating DRIC and the City on coming up with their novel ideas on how to build a road to the border---using a technique that the Bridge Co. proposed over 5 years ago and with a corridor based the City's WALTS road proposal that is effectively now the DRIC route! And they also asked why the Senior Levels have broken their promise to build a road to the Ambassador Bridge using the $300M BIF funds.

It is all a farce. We are where we were more than 5 years ago and Eddie still wants to stall and delay matters and to continue to spend taxpayer dollars on foreign consultants. I do wish that Sam would tell us how what he said on national TV on the Today show matches what he said here about the condition of private bridges!

Read the Bridge Co.'s letters as well (below and on their website) to Prime Minister Harper and to the Michigan Governor's Policy Advisor Transportation and Human Services Policy and Management Division. The letters will blow your socks off especially about bridge maintenance.

All we have lost is time, jobs, investment, reputation. But hey we have a WUC audit to set up and a new East End arena complex front page story for which the Mayor and Council have some more explaining to do on the finances. Heck who needs $50M for watermains anyway. I guess Councillor Lewenza is wrong. Ice rinks are more important than water as a Municipal priority.

I am going to attend the DRIC meeting not because I intend to learn anything new but because I want to fill in the comment cards with questions I would like to ask. I trust that they will be answered and I will let you know what they are.

May I strongly suggest that you go and do the same. We need to pressure Sandra and Dwight before the election since the road is Provincial responsibility (Eddie is irrelevant) and get them to build the road to the Ambassador Bridge now.

We need the jobs and the investment. We cannot afford any longer the waste of time and the destruction of our City's reputation!

Here are my questions...what are yours:
  1. The bridge collapse in Montreal (as well as the collapse in Minnesota) opened a dialogue on the condition of existing bridges and tunnels across Canada. This led to the discovery that billions of dollars will be needed in the near future to rehab and safety certify the existing infrastructure. Why then is the provincial and federal government still looking to invest over $1 Billion in Windsor when we have a private investor ready, willing and able to do so?

  2. Why aren't the Governments fixing the publicly owned infrastructure deficiencies in Ontario with public dollars and let the private investor fix any privately owned infrastructure deficiencies with private dollars.

  3. The Ambassador Bridge has purchased the property it needs to build their new span and plaza in Windsor. Why is DRIC looking to uproot hundreds of residences and many businesses when the Ambassador plan with appropriate highway connections would greatly limit these property takings?

  4. Everyone knows that the real problem in Windsor is trucks on the city streets when there is a back-up. Why wasn’t the City of Windsor WALTS study recommendations for access from Highway 401 to the existing Ambassador Bridge that the Bridge Co. engineered given more consideration especially now that the DRIC has identified areas in their plan that could be partially or completely tunneled?

  5. Why does the DRIC team want to sandwich Sandwich? With the prevailing winds from the west this makes no sense.

  6. Windsor has the highest unemployment rate in all of Canada. Why isn’t the Government working with the Bridge Co. to move their proposal for a new span through the environmental process in a timely fashion so as to allow thousands of new construction and post construction jobs in our City?

  7. Why hasn’t the DRIC team explained the toll structure for their new publicly owned bridge? If it is going to be a P3 then who sets and controls this structure as a private investor will want that control and then how does that really differ from what happens today at the existing bridge and tunnel?

  8. Who decides what the true property values are during the expropriation process? The Bridge Co. bought their properties at above market value to be fair to the property owners. (Brian Masse should congratulate them for that!) Can DRIC guarantee the same?

  9. Now that the DRIC and the City of Windsor are in potential agreement of tunneling sections of the new highway connection to the border, why doesn’t the DRIC finish Highway 401 to the existing bridge?

  10. Since DRIC has made “redundancy” one of their staple argument for the need to build a new crossing, why aren’t they taking the same position on highway access and finishing Highway 401 to the Ambassador Bridge as well? Why are they relying on one road to a border crossing only?

R.I.P. Windsor Democracy

So now there is a third story as to what happened with the water fund levy.

You remember, the first story which said the money was diverted from capital to operating, something that seemed to be improper since it was a capital watermain levy to replace old mains. Then at the Mayor's dog and pony whiteboard show at Council, we were told there was no diversion and that story was repeated by Councillor Marra on Face-To-Face. Of course, my fellow Blogger, Chris Schnurr, and I broke the bombshell of Finance Director Zuber's memo. Now a new story as reported in the Star is a different twist:
  • "Our books are audited annually by KPMG (accounting firm)," said John Wladarski, CEO of the Windsor Utilities Commission afterwards. "The reality was it all went into general revenues. There was no particular earmarking.

    "All funds were used to operate the business either on operating or a capitol basis. We fixed more watermains than we said we were going to fix."

This comment makes a total mockery of the Mayor's actions respecting his so-called audit. It proves that the funds were used in a manner not mandated by the WUC Commissioners. It is also interesting to note that he did not say that the money that was supposed to have been spent on capital watermain projects was actually spent on the watermains! "Fixed" can include operating costs on watermain repairs too can't it!

Are we being set up already for the excuse that will be used if the audit is a negative one? Is the distinction between capital and operating being blurred:

  • "Oh we used the money to fix and repair broken watermains so that is sort of like it being used as capital isn't it!"

We should be happy for small miracles. I guess we should take some comfort that the people still have a voice in this City since we are at least getting a Section 9 Municipal Affairs Act Audit.

The story refused to die no matter what Eddie tried and how hard. Even his whiteboard gimmick failed too when the Zuber memo was disclosed! Clearly the Eminence Greasie finally explained to the Mayor the political fact of life that he had to shut down this issue quickly because he was losing control of it.

In the end, however, Democracy in Windsor died last night at Council. What took place in front of us was an attempt at damage control.

Here is what Section 9 says:

  • 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.
So the big headline will read "Eddie introduces a Motion for a Provincial Audit to clear the air." What we will not read is who decides what that audit will be and how limited or extensive it will be! The Terms of Reference are the key elements and that was NOT discussed at all.

It is very late now as I write this BLOG (obviously I added in some of what I wrote last night after reading the Star story this morning) and frankly, I have too many thoughts going around in my mind to write very much. Some reflection time is needed to put this into a context and then I will write more fully.

However, let me tell you my immediate reaction as I watched the farce unfold.


At least Councillor Halberstadt did what he promised to do this time and maintained respect for the electorate. He refused to back down when he could easily have done so.

Perhaps my view of the world is all wrong. Who knows these days. Let me point out what I object to:
  • A possible conflict when a Motion is introduced by the Mayor, a person whose actions may be examined under that Motion
  • Councillors Marra, Lewnza and Brister whose actions may also be examined speaking on the Motion (Councillor Jones at least had the sense not to do so)
  • No Terms of Reference being set out so the public would know the extent of the audit
  • The Mayor speaking and writing directly to the Auditor General of Ontario in private when that person could be the investigator
  • Procedural gamesmanship (Yes I heard the comment too about no delegations after the Presentation, something that I consider debatable) We saw a Motion being introduced, the Procedural By-law rules as to notice "waived" so no member of the public could speak since no one knew it was coming and then having a vote to try to foreclose any public discussion at a Council meeting
  • The Mayor only said there would be a "discussion" in the media not the introduction of a Motion
  • The great need tonight to act on the Motion after some weeks of inaction when there was no advance warning. If the matter was so urgent the Mayor could have called for a Special Council meeting with a few days notice that could have dealt with this matter and allowed the public to speak. It has been done with the border file.
Councillor Halberstadt deserves credit for introducing his Notice of Motion that would have been heard in two weeks and would have allowed public delegations to attend. However, the Mayor tried to outmanoeuvre him by introducing his Motion. Most would have folded then or withdrawn the Motion but Councillor Halberstadt stood to his word and left his Motion on the table so that the public can speak in two weeks.

I hope people come out and speak their mind.

Oh the media will be gushing in their praise for the Mayor taking leadership but you, dear reader know it is not true. Eddie did what he did to maintain control and so that no one would appear on TV denouncing his time on the WUC or blame him for the fiasco.

There is more to come but I need to watch my video of last night's meeting so I can write more.

As I said before, the story is just starting. Who knows where it will end!

Monday, August 13, 2007

WUC Audit, What WUC Audit

Whoop-de-doo. Are we supposed to jump for joy?

"I'm prepared to make a motion on Monday to request council to ask Minister (Dwight) Duncan or (Minister Sandra) Pupatello to request an audit by the Auditor General's office," Halberstadt said."

Oh Alan, our hero....where is the Motion or Notice of Motion on the agenda or the Order of Business so the public can speak about it and make their comments and suggestions. I hope you do better than at the last meeting where the best you could do is ask a Council question that may take forever to answer [sigh]

I did not see anything on the Council agenda about this matter. Does that mean that Council will bring it up as a "discussion" item so that no one from the public can speak since they have no notice?

Manipulate the agenda because our poor Mayor cannot dare to be blamed. He cannot bear to hear citizens denouncing him for his actions to his face! Spring on a motion that limits what can be looked at and then bury any further discussion for months with

  • "No Comment, this is under investigation"

Control, Secrecy, Manipulation...have they not learned their lessons yet! The public wants answers not more games. Careers are on the line now

Can you believe this remark from the Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget respecting an Auditor General for Windsor. He is so totally predictable:

  • "Coun. Dave Brister said he is awaiting an administration report on the issue before making a decision.

    "Since the WUC issue there has been some questions raised on this," he said. "We have got to ensure we do all we can to keep the public's trust, but also that we are not re-creating the wheel.

    "I want to wait for the report on how best to address that. You want to make sure on something like this before we are spending public dollars."

Yes let Administration continue to think for you. Waste more time so people forget about the issue. After all, wasn't the Councillor a WUC Commissioner during the time period when a lot of the mess occurred. Whatever happened to his vaunted budgetary and financial skills. I did not see him catching any of these problems.

Now he wants to penny-pinch. It's a bit late after the barn door was left open while millions in revenues have not been collected, funds may have been diverted and we face massive increases in water main bills

This Council is the worst one of the three that I have followed closely and we have over three years to go with them until the next election! Thanks Dalton!

Adscam and the WUC Terms Of Reference

If anyone on Council wants help in drafting Terms of Reference for a full Inquiry into the WUC mess, I offer as a template the following excerpts from the Adscam Terms of Reference under which Justice Gomery acted. His Fact Finding Report was designed in Part 1 to determine what happened and "who was responsible." Should we expect anything less?


    The Committee of the Privy Council, on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, advise that a Commission do issue under Part I of the Inquiries Act and under the Great Seal of Canada appointing the Honourable John Howard Gomery, a judge of the Superior Court of Quebec, as Commissioner

    a. to investigate and report on questions raised, directly or indirectly, by Chapters 3 and 4 of the November 2003 Report of the Auditor General of Canada to the House of Commons with regard to the sponsorship program and advertising activities of the Government of Canada, including

    i. the creation of the sponsorship program,
    ii. the selection of communications and advertising agencies,
    iii. the management of the sponsorship program and advertising activities
    by government officials at all levels,
    iv. the receipt and use of any funds or commissions disbursed in
    connection with the sponsorship program and advertising activities
    by any person or organization, and
    v. any other circumstance directly related to the sponsorship program
    and advertising activities that the Commissioner considers relevant
    to fulfilling his mandate, and

    b. to make any recommendations that he considers advisable, based on the factual findings made under paragraph (a), to prevent mismanagement of sponsorship programs or advertising activities in the future ...

    and the Committee do further advise that

    c. pursuant to section 56 of the Judges Act, the Honourable John Howard Gomery be authorized to act as a Commissioner on the inquiry;

    d. the Commissioner be directed to conduct the inquiry under the name of the Commission of Inquiry into the Sponsorship Program and Advertising Activities;

    e. the Commissioner be authorized to adopt any procedures and methods that he may consider expedient for the proper conduct of the inquiry, and to sit at any times and in any places in Canada that he may decide;

    f. the Commissioner be authorized to grant to any person who satisfies him that he or she has a substantial and direct interest in the subjectmatter of the inquiry an opportunity during the inquiry to give evidence and to examine or cross-examine witnesses personally or by counsel on evidence relevant to the person’s interest;

    g. the Commissioner be authorized to conduct consultations in relation to formulating the recommendations referred to in paragraph (b) as he sees fit...

    j. the Commissioner be authorized to engage the services of any experts and other persons referred to in section 11 of the Inquiries Act, at rates of remuneration and reimbursement that may be approved by the Treasury Board;

    k. the Commissioner be directed to perform his duties without expressing any conclusion or recommendation regarding the civil or criminal liability of any person or organization and to ensure that the conduct of the inquiry does not jeopardize any ongoing criminal investigation or criminal proceedings;

    l. the Commissioner be directed to submit, on an urgent basis, one or more reports, interim or final, of his factual findings made pursuant to paragraph (a) in both official languages, to the Governor in Council, and to submit a separate report of his recommendations made pursuant to paragraph (b), in both official languages, to the Governor in Council;

    m. the Commissioner be directed to file the papers and records of the inquiry with the Clerk of the Privy Council as soon as reasonably possible after the conclusion of the inquiry.

The only part that I would change is in section k. I want the Inquiry Officer to name names since suggestions have been made that certain people are the ones responsible for the mess. Let's find out who really is and what role "politics" really played.