Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, November 16, 2007

More Interesting Comments

More and more ideas just keep on coming.


Here's a story I saw in the Globe and Mail. Assuming that Customs will not take place at the border crossing any longer, then please explain to me why we need to spend billions of dollars on a new bridge for capacity reasons. Most trucks will go right through the border as if there was no Customs from what I understand the Ambassador is saying.

Of course, it seems that the Ambassador has never been told by his staff that the Ambassador Bridge Co. already has 3 processing areas away from the border to allow this to happen. Maybe someone should inform him of the facts. That seems to be something that is lacking with the Government it seems these days on the border issue and other controversial ones that are making the headlines.

Has the Ambassador been made aware of technological advances and the various programs that can speed trucks through? If not, why not? If so, why does the Government want to spend so much money on a new crossing?

Does the left hand of the Federal Government know what the right hand is saying?

How about if the 2 Ambassadors got together and spoke to each other!
  • U.S. security turning border into parking lot, envoy warns
    BETH GORHAM, Canadian Press, November 14, 2007

    WASHINGTON — U.S. Customs and Border Protection should review and reduce excessive security measures at the Canada-U.S. line or risk turning it into a parking lot, Ambassador Michael Wilson told the agency Wednesday.

    Idling trucks on both sides of the border aren't secure or profitable, he said, and fees are being slapped several times on the same products as parts travel back and forth during manufacturing...

    Canada wants much of the border clearance process to move away from crossing points, as well as a bilateral vision of what the border should look like 10 to 15 years down the road...

    Canada has long advocated cutting red tape and fees while expanding bridges and other infrastructure built two generations ago, when two-way trade was a fraction of the $1-million a minute it is now.

    There are particular fears about longer lineups once passports are required at land and sea crossings into the United States as early as next summer.


Whew, poor Ross Paul must feel that the entire world is attacking him. I would suggest that he contact Sandra immediately to find out how she was able to resist the Henderson/NDP attacks on her. They came in his column and on the floor during Question Period at Queen's Park with respect to the arena.

Oh I forgot she knuckled under and is now Eddie's best friend, calling him every day, especially after he sent a letter of support for her nomination as the Liberal candidate. I guess that big, multi-million dollar, Provincial donation to the arena helped too.

Story after story, column after column, editorial after editorial slamming the University for not capitulating and jeopardizing its financial future and its students' education so that Eddie can pretend that there may be redevelopment in the downtown core. Who needs Beztak, who needs an arena, who needs the Junction, it's all the University's fault.

I thought though that the funniest story that puts all of this into a proper perspective, especially the nonsense about the St. Clair students rejuvenating the downtown, was the following that was printed in the Star:

  • "For more than 40 years, Dominic Giglio and his family have operated businesses in the vicinity of the University of Windsor.

    "We've seen the university grow from 4,000 students to more than 17,000," says Giglio, whose family owns and operates a grocery store, flower shop and residential rental units. "But you don't see any trendy shops and cafes around here."

    Giglio says Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis and the downtown business association are "dreaming" if they think locating the new engineering building downtown will revitalize the core.

    The main campus, with 10 times the population of the proposed new engineering school, has failed to spawn one trendy retail outlet, coffee shops or loft conversion," says Giglio, a U of W engineering graduate.

    "Expectations for the engineering school's transformation of the downtown area are wildly unrealistic and optimistic."
Check out also what Don McArthur had to say. I guess he's tired of doing a BLOG and is waiting to get a pink slip. With what he is writing, it should happen very quickly:
  • If you want an engineering school downtown...

    ...just tell Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis and city councillors that the University of Windsor is considering building it in Tecumseh instead.

    You'll have a sweet deal done overnight and the shovel will hit the ground in less than a week.

    We'll work out all the pesky details later. "

Fortunately for Marty Komsa, he can't be attacked since since his tenure as the Chair of the University Board has ended or is about to end. As for Ross, he shouldn't care since he will be leaving the University shortly as well.

We all know that this is nothing more than a salvage attempt on another Eddie Francis failure. Enough already. Save the printer's ink for the Greenlink failure.


This seems to be the new defence that you should consider using at work if there's a problem and your boss calls you into the office to give a heck. It seems to work very well.

We first heard this excuse being used by the Mayor when he blamed the Windsor Utilities Commission mess on the previous administration. He had said, if you remember, that some of the problems were due to "politics." Fortunately someone corrected him since that would mean, since he was "political," that he would bear some responsibility.

Then at City Council, the Chair of the Economic Development Commission put the blame on the previous administration for the fact that they had no marketing materials. Mind you only took him about a year and $1 million to figure that out but fortunately he did.

At County Council this was set out in much more detail:

  • "We don't have the resources yet to compete (with other regions)," said Mancini. "Help us to build the marketing and promotional infrastructure that we need.

    "I need you guys on my side," said Mancini. "I'm sorry if I offended anybody but we were given a big mess to clean up."

    Mancini said the new board for the revamped commission found it had no plans, promotional material or strategy."

A bemused reader who is very knowledgeable about the comings and goings of the Commission wrote the following to me in response to my BLOG about this matter:

  • "Your blog was on the mark; the unanswered question in light of the"empty shelves"--what have they been doing these past 43 months?"

Compare the lack of speed of the Commission with that of the airport General Manager:

  • "But it isn't all about squeezing the airport nickels. Nazzani, a fast study and born salesperson, has been on the road repeatedly to pitch the city-formed company she runs, YQG (trademarked as Your Quick Getaway), at airline industry conferences as far away as Frankfurt, Stockholm and London.

    In four months, starting from scratch, she's developed a power-point presentation that leaves a listener wondering how an asset with so many advantages, from its strategic location to its relatively clear weather, from its lack of noise and weight restrictions to its exceptional 9,000-foot runway and quick aircraft turnaround time, could be such a dismal performer."

What more can one say!


Mr. Mancini wants to spend a whole bunch of money on "a much needed update of the commission's website, basic printed and multi-media promotional materials and billboard promotions near airports." Obviously this is being done to generate good publicity about the area and to capitalize on our almost 1 year old position as the FDI "best small city in North America for investment."

In passing, speaking of that award, did anyone go over to Europe to collect the plaque for it. Surely it should be hung on the walls of the Commission for people to see as the first thing they see as they enter the office. If there was a plaque, perhaps it was shipped here by FedEx or UPS instead. But I digress.

The Report on "Windsor Airport/Update on RFP 73-07 for the Operation and Management of Windsor Airport" is very enlightening given what happened at Council.

16 parties apparently were interested in running Windsor's airport but only three actually put in a proposal, three very experienced operators as you can tell from their description in the report. They were all rejected.

If we can't get anyone to run our airport, what does that say about this City? Does anyone truly believe that billboard presentations near other airports is going to bring us new economic development as Mr. Mancini is suggesting?

The whole airport RFP scheme had many fatal flaws in it as are identified in the report on pages 8 and 9. The key concern obviously was the exclusion of the airport lands. That's why Serco, the former operator, really was involved. That's where the real money would be made.

This whole exercise is hilarious if it were not so sad. It is nothing more than an excuse so that the City can take over the airport, become a land developer for the airport lands and create, using taxpayer money, shovel ready industrial lands. That's so much more fun than actually operating a City. I'd like to be a land developer too at no risk to my personal finances and at taxpayer expense.

It was a slamdunk that Council on Monday allowed Eddie to run the airport under his Corporation. Surprise surprise it will take another year for a master plan to be created. That's Eddie's technique stall it until you're ready to do something. Another plan, another year.

After all:

  • "Based on our assessment, the Windsor Airport staff possess the requisite expertise to successfully manage and operate the Windsor Airport... in our research there exists tremendous opportunity for new economic growth and development. Opportunities to position the Windsor Airport asset at the leading edge of new economic prosperity for the City and region are significant and real."

If that was really true, private enterprise would be knocking down the doors of the Airport and Serco would not have left town before their contract expired.

0h, one other matter. I just thought I would let you know that the airport manager is Federica Nazzani. In case you thought you recognized that name, she has held positions on the City of Windsor Audit Committee, WFCU Board, finance and tax committee with the Windsor and District Chamber of Commerce and on the Enwin Energy Board.


You have just bought a new motor vehicle. You deserve it after all. You work hard, you've been successful and what the heck, you really do need all of those luxuries in the fully loaded model. That seat warmer is nice on those cold blustery days after all.

Of course you're going to wait until after the GST is reduced by 1%. On your $35,000 vehicle, that's $350 in your pocketbook. It's not that much really but you might take your spouse out for a fancy dinner on Erie Street or buy a new suit or use it to help buy that big screen TV or who knows what.

But hold on there. You are not alone. Eddie wants that money instead. Here's what he said in the Star, the Toronto Star that is, not the local paper:

  • "Canadian families may save $150 a year from the federal government's GST cut, but their cities will still be crumbling down around them, say mayors across Canada.

    The mayors had pleaded with Ottawa to give them one cent on the dollar of the GST, instead of cutting the tax to 5 per cent. They say their cities are plagued by inadequate public transit, ancient water and sewer lines, potholed roads and needy neighbourhoods without services...

    One cent of the GST would have put $5 billion into municipal coffers, but Ottawa ignored their call...

    It's not just about improving life for residents, it's about the national economy, said Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis.

    Canada's busiest border city is in desperate need of infrastructure upgrades, he said.

    "Twenty-eight per cent of all trade between Canada and the U.S. is being transported on infrastructure built by our grandparents. If the border isn't working in Windsor, Toronto stops. If Toronto stops, Ottawa suffers ... the national economy suffers...

    Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis:
    The millions would help the city of Windsor deal with a sudden influx of refugees and help the area's manufacturing and tourism industries, devastated by the high dollar.

    "The federal government needs to recognize that there's a place for cities (at the national table) and cities can't do it alone."

Oh really. Does he think that this money would be used for the Windsor/Detroit border. He knows better than that and so do we. It is abundantly clear from his comments that it won't be used to fix up watermains because we're already paying that due to an 86% percent increase that hammered taxpayers. I didn't see anything about helping to fix up roads and sewers either.

My heavens, it will help us pay for the cost of illegal aliens! And to help Mr. Mancini create his brochures.

Come on now, that 1% will do nothing more than help Eddie with his shovel ready lands at the airport. It will probably take time for the municipalities to beat up on the Federal Government before they get what they want. Maybe 12 months.

So on which side do you land? The taxpayers get the money so they can spend it on items that interest them as Finance Minister Flaherty wants to do it (especially because we will be having a federal election soon) or Eddie gets the money to let him spend it as he wants.


I don't think that can be said anymore.

Expect a giant debate at City Hall soon over the new proposed bylaw. It will make the debates at City Hall on feral cats and pit bulls looked like nothing. It will increase the number of hours that City Council holds in public debate so that certain Councilors will be able to point at how much more time was spent in public debate than in in camera sessions.

No, it looks like Windsor is against the birds. According to the Star:

  • "Windsor could soon have a bylaw that prohibits people from feeding strays and pigeons.

    The proposed rule, if approved, will target people creating a public nuisance or generating neighbourhood complaints by "bulk feeding" a flock of birds or strays, said Coun. Fulvio Valentinis."

Remind me not to go to Council on that night.


I want to welcome Senator Alan L. Cropsey to the "Smeared Club."

Membership in the Club is only available to those few brave souls in the Windsor/Detroit area who have dared take a position that certain people view as supporting the Ambassador Bridge Enhancement project and have been smeared accordingly.

The Senator was viciously attacked in Metro Times. The story started off in the following manner so you understand what I mean. Ad hominem attacks are fun:

  • "State Sen. Alan Cropsey (R- Dewitt, west of Lansing) isn't a guy you would normally think of as a transportation expert. During his college days at that intellectual powerhouse, Bob Jones University, he studied how to teach math (fundamentalist math, naturally) to little kids.

    Nor is he on the transportation committee. But he has been fighting hard to protect the interests of Matty Moroun, the shadowy billionaire who wants monopoly control of commercial traffic across the Detroit River. Old Matt has that now, thanks to his ownership of the Ambassador Bridge."

You see, the Senator's crime against humanity was:

  • "2007 Senate Resolution 123

    Introduced by Sen. Alan L. Cropsey on October 31, 2007, to support the plan of the Detroit International Bridge Company to establish an enhancement span to the Ambassador Bridge and to urge the Michigan Strategic Fund and U.S. and Canadian authorities to take certain actions regarding this project. Passed in the Senate (18 to 15) on October 31, 2007."

You are not allowed to think in Windsor or Detroit when it comes to the border crossing. You must accept the position that you are against the Bridge Company. You have no alternative. Or else.

The Mulroney Affair

Fate has its own sense of timing and of humour that we humans just do not understand. How ironic that the new Airbus 380 just landed in Montréal this week on a promotional visit, the same week that an Inquiry into the Mulroney/Schreiber affair is being set up.

It is pretty clear that Canadians still love to hate Brian Mulroney. How else to explain the recent poll numbers:
  • "A new poll suggests 67 per cent of Canadians want to know why Brian Mulroney accepted $300,000 from Karlheinz Schreiber, while 51 per cent approve of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's appointment of an independent investigator."

Even amongst Conservatives

  • "57 per cent wanted the matter investigated."

Really, what a slap in the face to Stephen Harper. Can you remember a matter so controversial involving a former politician? Get serious, Mulroney was Prime Minister until 1993, 14 years ago, and he still can make headlines that overshadow our present Prime Minister.

People must still think that Brian Mulroney is Prime Minister of Canada for them to get so excited about this matter. The frenzy upon which a public inquiry is being based is amazing to me frankly. Everybody is upset about allegations in an affidavit that has never been tested yet by cross-examination. I saw one story that suggested that this Public Inquiry could go on for years and cost millions of dollars.

  • "Desbarats says the latest inquiry will be "a field day for some lawyers, or a payday anyway."

    Norman Spector, a former Mulroney chief of staff, predicted that the inquiry will head in unexpected directions and end up costing three or four times the $40 million spent by Gomery's commission."

I guess that this is payback time for the Adscam scandal that brought down the Liberal party. The allegations there were scandals within the party. Now there are allegations with respect to a scandal involving the former Prime Minister.

  • "John Gomery, the retired justice who headed the sponsorship inquiry, said the latest inquiry will be sensational.

    He predicted that opposition parties will try to link the affair to Harper and that Mulroney will try to broaden the scope of the inquiry to include the conduct of journalists, bureaucrats and the former Liberal government, which Mulroney successfully sued for libel.

    "There'll be lots of ripples."

The tactics though that are being used by the Liberal party are very interesting to me. They're going after the Government on peripheral issues that may result in the resignation of Ministers. They have to do that because according to the same poll

  • "66 per cent of those surveyed believe the allegations about Mr. Mulroney are totally unrelated to the current Conservative government."

Check out your Mulroney connections. You may find yourself on the hit-list if you are not careful. Why even the head of the Inquiry set up to determine the Terms of Reference of the Public Inquiry has been attacked. According to the Globe, David Johnston, the head of the University of Waterloo

  • "Probe chief had links to Mulroney"

Oh my goodness, that damning word "links," I know how Professor Johnston must feel. According to the Globe, Johnston

  • "once worked with and reported directly to Brian Mulroney on environmental issues."

Fortunately for Johnston, the Opposition understands that an attack on his character would go nowhere and would hurt them.

Not so lucky however is Justice Minister. He is being attacked in the following way as well:

  • "the opposition charged that Justice Minister Rob Nicholson should withdraw from Schreiber's extradition case because his close connections with Mulroney place him in a conflict of interest."

However the more interesting part to me is the role of the Justice Department. In my view, the Liberals are going to focus on this part of the matter for a very long time in order to tie the Harper Government into the scandal. Otherwise, I don't see how it helps them politically whether anything is proved against Brian Mulroney or not.

Here are some of the allegations raised in the House of Commons:

  • "Hon. Stéphane Dion (Leader of the Opposition, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, after the new Minister of Justice was appointed in early 2007, the justice department's internal investigation into the $2.1 million in compensation paid to Mr. Mulroney was conveniently blocked.

    Why wait for the public inquiry? The Prime Minister should tell us the truth.

    What role did he, his Minister of Justice and their respective offices play in blocking this investigation?

  • Hon. Robert Thibault (West Nova, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, Canadians find it hard to believe that the Prime Minister was kept in the dark about something as sensitive as criminal allegations about a former prime minister and his political mentor, Brian Mulroney, but if that is true, it suggests the Prime Minister deliberately insulated himself from the facts in this matter.

    Ignorance is not an excuse. He should have known and he should have demanded to know. Instead, he demanded to be kept in the dark. Why? What is the Prime Minister hiding from?

  • Hon. Robert Thibault (West Nova, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, apparently the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice did everything they could to be kept in the dark in order to be able to plead ignorance.

    Why did one of the minister's representatives say: “A decision has been made and this note concerning Mr. Schreiber will not be forwarded to the minister's office”?

    Did that order come from the minister? Where did it come from? From the Prime Minister?

  • Hon. Lucienne Robillard (Westmount—Ville-Marie, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, through access to information, we know that the Department of Justice produced files on the Airbus affair. Furthermore, we learned that the minister refused to look at those files. Yet, the minister wrote to Mr. Schreiber twice, informing him that there was no new evidence to delay his extradition.

    If he never agreed to receive information about the file, how can the minister affirm that there was no new evidence? How can he make such an important decision without even examining the file?

  • Hon. Scott Brison (Kings—Hants, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the justice minister was a parliamentary secretary in the Mulroney government. Now evidence suggests that he or his office tried to avoid responsibility by selectively receiving and evading information on the Schreiber affair."

  • Mr. Mark Holland (Ajax—Pickering, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Prime Minister made jokes rather than answering when his office received explosive letters about Mr. Mulroney, letters containing the same information that the Prime Minister claimed was new, and the same information that forced a full public inquiry.

    Canadians are not laughing. We know every piece of paper that goes into the PMO is tracked. We know these letters would have been given to senior staff in the PMO. Canadians know his office knew everything yet did nothing until it was forced months later.

    Will the Prime Minister table in the House all routing slips and dockets pertaining to this correspondence and reveal the truth, yes or no?"
You get the picture. By the time this is done, Brian Mulroney will be long forgotten if the Liberals have their way. What this will turn into is how the Conservative party as the Government tried to cover up matters.

How long do you think that this defence will last:

  • "Hon. Rob Nicholson (Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, the government has acted with responsibility and has put in process a scheme that I think will work in terms of an independent third party and a public inquiry. If the member has any questions, I am sure he would like to direct them to that."
As Watergate taught us and as the Liberals are learning in their attacks:
  • "It's not the crime. It's the cover-up."
This whole matter is going to turn very ugly by the time it is finished. It seems to me that in Canada now federal elections are won or lost not on a policy platforms but on scandals.

What will then next big scandal be and which political party will be involved?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

More Letters

Here are emails received from readers like you. Where is yours?

1) Ed:

You really should express things more positively. For instance:

" We are talking about an arena that will cost in the neighbourhood of $100 million ..."

[Note: In my "negativity" BLOG, I had used the phrase "may cost"]

2) Ed, in the waste at City Hall, there is one expense that we in private business have to contend with, And that is to keep our wages in control. When companies get in trouble, contracts have to be re-negotiated for survival.

Try that one on with our municipal employees. We the tax payer, through our spineless representatives, have allowed the Public service, on our backs, to amass one of the largest pension funds in North America. Its time some of this was used To reduce taxes and pay back those persons who created it in the first place, the taxpayer !

Want to work on that one ?????

3) Hi Ed,

You tell us in your blog today what makes you sick. Here's what makes my stomach churn.

This mayor spends millions of dollars on a new arena, forks over millions more on outside lawyers and traffic gurus to fight senior governments and implores us to get behind his latest "border plan", as yet unseen by us mere mortals. Open and accountable government. Yah sure.

So, says the city, let's save some money for a change. Hmm, what's the easiest target? Libraries! Let's close four. Libraries, the backbone of any community that wants its citizens to be literate and informed. One of them in Olde Sandwich no less.

Let's hear it for Windsor. A town that loves expensive arenas and outside "experts" while its neighbourhood libraries and their patrons can go to hell. When's the
next election?

4) Good morning Ed. I am not one to pick but some things just stand out.

I was at the official NFL playground with my granddaughter, (yes it is a nice facility, pricey but nice) and enjoying a great day. A few of us noticed an advertisement for Windsor Casino.

It stated you could win 10 million credits and the go spend them at Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe? We wanted to know what is wrong with that picture. The government is spending millions to get people to the Casino. They want someone to win and then want them to spend the winnings elsewhere. This really can't be a good tourist picture for our area.

Seems to me we should be trying to keep them here to spend rather than advertising another tourist vacation spot. If I was on City council or even any BIA I would be incensed.

Are they really trying to develop this area?


But there's no green grass for them to graze on without water mains...........

6) Breaking news: I understand that Eddie was just narrowly beaten out by Al Gore for the Nobel Peace Prize. What a shame, because the Greenlinking of Windsor is clearly more important and monumental that drawing attention to Global Warming…

7) Hi Ed,

Re your comments today about the re-branding exercise of the DWBIA.

As a small business solutions company, I find the name weird- Is The Downtown Mosaic a bar, restaurant, retail shop- all of the above, none of the above. It is confusing for me so how will it be perceived by anyone from out of this local trading area? It also removes the BIA from the title, so they, as an association will no doubt be lost in this confusion too.

The strangest part of dividing the downtown sector into “zones” I feel, is that the Riverfront Festival Plaza is not part of the mix. The DWBIA boundaries end on the south side of Riverside Drive, so the painstaking process of assembling the riverfront land for Windsor’s citizens is not being utilized to promote the city centre area. As you know, we have tremendous events booked on the waterfront all summer long, and this is not being used to leverage downtown. It is one of the best sites anywhere for events- just ask any Grammy, Rock N’ Roll Hall of Famer, Maple Leaf Blues award winner or Blues Foundation award recipient, who performs at Bluesfest International, what they think about our site. Aside from the stage, which the city hasn’t done a thing about, (it was if you recall, the “waiting area” for the original casino when there were lineups, do you remember those days?) Performers say we have a unique and remarkable event venue that is world-class. They play cornfields, block buildings etc. and when they get here, they tell us that, they as artists, are inspired by the view and will play longer and harder.

Just wanted to share my rant with you.

8) [Excerpts from a long letter that has been blogged elsewhere but I was asked to post it here too]
Amid great fanfare and theatrics, the City of Windsor rolled out its new "GreenLink" border initiative. Within hours of its release, the...Windsor Star... revved up...

Experience the rapture, they proclaimed! Call 311 and give us the thumbs up, they exclaimed! This is your final chance, they shrieked! The messiah has arrived, save yourselves! "Gridlock Sam" and his "Garden of Eden" caravan have just pulled up to Huron Church bearing gifts: 300 acres of parkland!

To a weary population beaten down by years of record smog, pollution and the endless rumble of trucks, the promise seemed enticing. To a city over-run by urban sprawl and cancerous growth... to a sick, bloated worn-out shell of a city mired in its own waste, the second coming of "Gridlock Sam" appeared like a godsend.

I too wanted to be a believer. I picked up the phone to dial 311 and register my approval, when my eye caught a glimpse of an almost imperceptible headline on the front page of the Windsor Star, "Lure of Big Box Jobs Sways Council". I put down the phone and read…..

No! This can't be true I thought. Who in their right mind would propose such a ludicrous plan, a big box sprawlmart supercenter, complete with 48 acres of asphalt right at the gates of the internationally acclaimed, federally and locally funded, provincially protected, Ojibway Prairie Complex.

Imagine taking the family for a nice Sunday drive out to Point Pelee and upon arrival finding a Walmart Supercenter right outside the gate. As you enter, a Walmart greeter hands you a cart and proclaims, "Welcome to Point Pelee". Have they all gone mad?

There are numerous sites throughout this city more suitable for this type of predatory development, than the "Garden of Eden" that is Ojibway. The Lou Romano Sewage Lagoon comes to mind…or how about the Central Avenue Transfer Station? For a highly visible site that could act as a Big Box Beacon, I recommend building it atop of one of the city's numerous reclaimed landfills.

The well oiled, snake oil salesmen at city hall claim this big box monstrosity is a compatible development for this site. "There will be no negative impacts to the surrounding Ojibway corridor" they spout...

Equally not surprising, although very disheartening is the fact that the city's own... Environmental Planning Advisory Committee (EPAC) “reluctantly” supports the project. According to their sad logic, “a commercial development is preferable to a residential development”. They don’t realize that either option is like a Trojan horse that will open up the entire area to further encroachment and fragmentation, thus destroying the very fabric and connectivity of this sacred “GreenLink”. The EPAC naively believes they can somehow lessen the impact of this “Boxing In” as long as they “get a seat at the table”, apparently when the feeding frenzy begins...

environmental groups, citizens, the MNR, the racetrack, the Windsor Business Association Advisory Committee (WBAAC} and the Town of LaSalle are outraged and opposed to this project. In fact, the Town of LaSalle’s planning department issued the following statement from its commissioned peer review of the Applicant’s Market Impact Assessment and Planning Justification Report which concludes….. “….It is difficult to imagine a more inappropriate location to plan a major big box commercial centre such as that proposed on the subject lands….”

The one hope for the “Ojibway Complex” is that the progressive and farsighted Town of LaSalle take up the fight to the Ontario Municipal Board. LaSalle has already publicly stated that it does not support this Big Box commercial development. The project “does not represent good planning, is contrary to both the Town of LaSalle and the City of Windsor’s Official Plan and does not meet the requirements of the Cabinet Approved Provincial Policy Statement” and most certainly is in conflict with the Endangered Species Act. There are many citizens in both LaSalle and Windsor who would stand up and fight if LaSalle would take the lead.

The renown conservationist Robert Marshall stated, “It is exigent that all friends of the wilderness ideal should unite. If they do not present the urgency of their view-point the other side will certainly capture popular support. Then it will be only a few years until the last escape from society will be barricaded. If that day arrives there will be countless souls born to live in strangulation, countless human beings who will be crushed under the artificial edifice raised by man. There is just one hope of repulsing the tyrannical ambition of civilization to conquer every niche on the whole earth. That hope is the organization of spirited people who will fight for the freedom of wilderness”.

It is glaringly obvious that the Mayor and City Council, with the exception of Councilor Halberstadt lack both the vision and intent to safeguard the natural habitats that so many citizens, many of them children, have fought so hard over the years to protect. All the rhetoric and public relations propaganda in the world can not hide the fact that this council has no regard for its citizens or the earth. This council makes a sham out of the city’s motto: “The River and the Land Sustain Us”. Just look at the area of the “Little River Enhancement Group”. Children spent years of toil rehabilitating this site, only to witness the city’s encroachment with roadways and bridges, urban sprawl housing projects, and the soon to be $100 million dollar future “white elephant” arena and 2400 car parking lot.

The City has truckloads of taxpayer dollars for lavish projects that primarily benefit the wealthy few; the developers, lawyers, planners, consultants and so called hired experts. This is the real “Green-$-Link” of which the city refers to in the new improved Schwartz Plan 2. A green-$-link that has already cost Windsor taxpayers upwards of $5,000,000! ...For this same council to now advocate a disneyscaped 300 acre parkland Greenlink border plan while aiding and abetting the destruction of the real green-link, the Ojibway Provincial Prairie Nature Reserve, is hypocrisy at its finest.

I urge everyone who still cares about the natural world, who still values community and integrity, who still envisions a world worthy of leaving for our children, to stand up and fight against the City of Windsor’s betrayal of its citizenry, its neighbors and the natural world. Call or Write LaSalle and encourage Council to oppose this sordid plan at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). Call Windsor’s 311 or write/e-mail Windsor City Councilors to object to this Big Box Boondoggle!

Spit It Out

If you watched Council, then you will know exactly what I'm talking about. If you did not, then you were fortunate.

Do you know what is worse than the arrogance of Eddie Francis as Mayor of the City of Windsor? It is the timidity of the Members of Council who sit there and are abused by the Mayor and who refuse to tell him where to go. They should have the guts to walk out of the Council Chambers publicly when he gets into one of his moods. How can they have such little respect for themselves and for those who voted for them by allowing Eddie to get away with such childish behaviour?

They need to put him in his place already. It is as simple as that. We saw the precedent set with ex-Mayor Hurst. It would be much easier this time around.

Another Eddie Francis lecture and dressing down of Councillors, on the airport this time. Another scolding by the teacher of the errant pupils. It is remarkable to watch grown adults allowing themselves to be treated in such a manner.

Only Councillor Dilkens had the nerve to say that he was not pleased with what was going on. He never received any airport minutes, he never receive any financial reports about the airport. The answer to him was disgraceful. He's not entitled to anything don't you know. Council approved the airport being a separate, private company. It's not like the Windsor Utilities Commission which is part of the City. The airport is separate and distinct. It gets our money, as I will point out below, and the Mayor is the head of it but unfortunately the Airport Corporation does not have to tell us anything about its operations.

I guess Councillors didn't understand what they were voting for when they set up an Airport Corporation. They voted for secrecy. They voted for lack of openness and transparency. They voted away control of a valuable City asset. Oh well.

And again this view that the Mayor has of the world that if you say something negative than that is terrible and is destroying the unity that he is trying to create. What it really means is that he cannot tolerate anyone saying that he might be wrong or anyone criticizing him.

That's what is wrong with this Council. They are afraid to open their mouths when they know that the City is falling apart because they can see it firsthand. They are part of it.

Their sin is not saying something negative. Their sin is not saying anything when they know that something is wrong. It is time for the sinners on Council to start repenting and doing their jobs for which they were elected. They have a legal responsibility to the citizens of Windsor.

It is not that Eddie is so smart frankly. Look at his negotiations that I've talked about before. Look at his failure to manage the Tunnel properly, losing revenues and market share, no finalization of the deal with Detroit and no Tunnel improvements. I won't even talk about his border failures because it is becoming so tedious. The joke of it all now is that the Councillors just gave him the airport too.

What a nerve. He sits at the front with all the information at his fingertips since he micromanages everything and apparently shares very little with his Council colleagues as Councillor Dilkens pointed out. What a lack of respect. What a disgrace. And they sit there and the Councillors take it like children.

You had to watch it. You had to see the look on his face as the Mayor demanded of the Councillors that they "Spit it out." They had to tell him which slide out of all of the slides that were shown was the most important. Just like a teacher. When no one answered, I was surprised he did not give them all a detention and make them write lines.

The airport debate at City Council was enlightening. The Star headline reads:

  • "City airport turns corner on losses."

Oh please, the Star has to stop this kind of nonsense. The only reason given why money was being made is that the airport did not have a full complement of staff. In other words payroll savings was the reason for a "profit" being shown not revenues.

But don't you worry, the City will continue to pay each month $27,000 to the airport although it wasn't needed. A nice reserve don't you think and a nice chunk of money being built up. Why in a year that will be over a quarter of a million dollars for someone to spend. And you know that Council can't control that spending because it's in a private corporation headed by the Mayor.

The one thing that hit me immediately was that the Woodslee Credit Union should ask for its money back and so should the Councils of Windsor and the County. All that Mr. Mancini needs to do now is to call up the airport general manager and ask her for her presentation. With a bit of tweaking, the Gazelle Feeders could use it.

If you listened to the presentation and the discussion afterwards, I believe that Detroit airport was barely mentioned. Do you remember Detroit airport and Aerotroplis? Did somebody forget about this and neglect to mention it:

  • "By increasing passenger and cargo traffic at Detroit Metro and Willow Run airports, the Detroit area could create a model for economic development that is ahead of the international curve. An aerotropolis between the two airports would take advantage of 25,000 acres of undeveloped property for industrial parks, hospitality centers, entertainment, and rapid transit centers."

With the City's opposition to anything to do with the border crossing, do you really believe that the international cargo companies are going to set up operations at Windsor Airport? Speed and efficiency of the transportation network are important but we can't even agree on a road to the Ambassador Bridge yet. The only cargo that will land in Windsor is that bound for Puce and Chatham.

You just have to listen to the amateurs who think that they can play in the big leagues. I am certain that Federica Nazzani is a very bright person but what's her experience in running an airport or developing a multimodal hub? I'm certain that the people who work at Windsor airport are all very loyal and caring employees but what do they know about running a major international airport hub?

  • "Aerotropolis centers exist or are being planned in Ontario, California; Las Colinas in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas; Paris, France; Campinas, Brazil; Lantau Island, Hong Kong; Seoul, Korea; and Wayne County, Michigan."

I did not see Windsor's name being mentioned there.

What's wrong with this City? It is the arrogance that we see every day. Can you believe it, 16 of the major aviation companies in the world were interested in Windsor Airport, and three them actually prepared an answer to the Request for Proposal. We dismissed them out of hand. We're not interested in them. We know more than they do.

Did we tell the people who we are disqualifying that there were problems with their RFP? Absolutely not. Eddie told us that they knew they were not answering the RFP properly so why bother telling them anything. When did we tell them that they were disqualified... right after the closing in June? Absolutely not. We never told them. They learned about it when the Administration report came out four months later. That's the way to treat international companies. That's the way to be inviting to business investors. Use them and then get rid of them after they have served their purpose.

The airport's general manager saw 30 companies and made major presentation to all of them. Not one ever said no to hearing what Windsor has to say. What an honour for us. And the result is... nothing. No business. What we learned is that some of the carriers would be interested in coming to Windsor provided that the price was right in City incentives. That's really why they listened to her, to see how much they could sucker out of us.

There is no point in getting all upset about it anyway. The whole thing has nothing to do with the airport. That's all a huge diversion so we will focus on the unimportant. Who the heck wants passengers anyway, there's no money in that. It all has to do with cargo and logistics and distribution. It all has to do with land and the thousands of acres around the airport.

Who will pay to service the lands and who will profit from the shovel ready lands being created are the key elements in this drama. I remember Mr. Fischer when he presented at Council sometime ago making it a given that taxpayers will pay for all of these servicing costs.

Councillor Valentinis set it up so nicely. We should thank him for letting us know that it is going to cost us big time. We need a "funding strategy" to service the lands according to the Councillor. We need to make the airport more attractive before we can ever expect anybody to be interested in it.

Our role model must be Hamilton. The Councillor formerly known as Council Budget seemed to know so much about Hamilton that he was able to ask so many intelligent questions about it. They sunk in a tremendous amount of money I believe into their airport and into what they are doing there. Unfortunately, Hamilton has not received any money from their investment so far. I guess that's our future too.

It's just another example of Council being irrelevant and citizens being kept in the dark. Aren't you tired of it already? Considering how much is going to cost, aren't you scared about it already? Thanks to Gord Henderson's column today, we have another THINK BIG dream on the horizon that Windsorites can salivate over as our taxes zoom higher to pay for it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Big Apple And The Arts

Compare the two mayors and how they react to a dispute.

Our Mayor wants to litigate the Capitol matter rather than sitting down to resolve it.

  • "Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis says he sees no quick end to the city’s battle to take control of the financially troubled Capitol Theatre, despite the good intentions of a newly formed executive board...

    “We are trying to get in front of a court to argue the validity of the mortgage. We believe the building and property belong to the City of Windsor.”

Here is what the New York Mayor tries to do as reported in the New York Daily News.

  • Union rejects Bloomberg's bid to mediate stagehand strike

    BY JOE DZIEMIANOWICZ and STEPHANIE GASKELL, Monday, November 12th 2007

    Picketing stagehands have told Mayor Bloomberg, "Thanks, but no thanks" to an offer to mediate the crippling Broadway strike as it enters its third day.

    "He could not be more of a gentleman, but we have respectfully declined his help," James Claffey, president of Local One, said yesterday of Hizzoner's rebuffed plan for a powwow.

    The mayor said the city had offered "neutral ground" for the sitdown and a mediator.

    "Everybody's got an interest here in finding some ways to get together," Bloomberg said. "And the city will do everything it can to help."

    The producers agreed to the mayor's proposal, but striking workers are furious at being portrayed as moneygrubbing - and say they won't return to the bargaining table until they're shown more respect...

    Bloomberg stepped in to help settle a strike by musicians in 2003 that lasted four days.

    Many on Broadway are hoping he can put a stop to this walkout, which experts say is costing the city at least $5 million a day in lost revenue and is threatening the lucrative holiday season.

    "I assume the mayor will escalate the pressure," predicted Greg David, editor of Crain's New York Business.

    "The mayor's pressure is likely to be most effective on the producers because they are the businesspeople who do business with the city," David said.

    "We would be happy to accept his offer. The union has declined," said a spokesman for the League of American Theatres and Producers.

    Bloomberg said his offer remains on the table.

    "We can't tell them what to do, but we can make sure that we give them every opportunity, and we'll certainly do that," he said.

Perhaps the New York Mayor could get a part-time job to mediate disputes here. We have several matters that have gone on forever that need a business solution.

$15M Contest

A Reader sent me a copy of this note from City Circuit, the Corporate Newsletter for the City of Windsor. In it, the CAO states:

"Administration has been charged to identify savings totalling $15 million from the operating budget."

Apparently there have been lots of meetings on how to achieve the reduction target. They have even asked the union executive to suggest ideas and to provide input. Hmmmmm, I wonder if reducing the number of union employees or reducing wages and benefits is part of that discussion.

I see that the Library Board is first off the mark to get everyone in the City upset so that its budget can't be cut by threatening to close libraries and to cut Sunday service. A smart political move if I ever saw one.

In any event, I wondered what that $15 million was to be used for. Maybe it might actually be used to reduce taxes. Ha ha ha ha that was a good joke!

My reader suggested a couple of uses for that money:
  1. that amount is very close to the difference between the original cost of the arena and the $65 million cost now, oooops, I mean $64,921,387
  2. the increased costs for the Tunnel Plaza improvement project

Well I started thinking about it and decided that perhaps you too had some suggestions about what all that money burning a hole in the City's pockets could be used for. How about these ideas:

  1. To encourage the University to move their Engineering complex downtown or the law and music schools instead.
  2. To fill up the engineered slope
  3. To pay for a new parking lot for all of the excess vehicles that will not fit in to the 1900 parking spaces at the East End arena
  4. To pay for all of the consultants hired to do things that city staff are quite capable of doing
  5. To pay for streetscaping
  6. To pay for City documents to be translated from English into French and now Spanish
  7. To continue sponsoring events in Detroit to enhance Windsor's reputation, provided that Roger Penske is involved

Well, you get my drift. Let's see what ideas you can come up with.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Stories From The Border

Here are some interesting stories about border crossings.


It's no wonder.

Doesn't it get tiresome reading what Chrysler Canada presidents have to say about the border crossing? Have they not yet got the idea that no one is listening to what they have to say? Don't you think that if they understood what they're talking about someone might actually do so.

I saw a quote from Reid Bigland, president of Chrysler Canada Inc.
  • "We need an additional border crossing. There is no substitute at all for increasing infrastructure and a new bridge to be constructed, full stop," Mr. Bigland told a meeting of the Canadian American Business Council yesterday."

How dramatic don't you think. We also learned that

  • "Between Ford, General Motors and Chrysler, we have 3,000 trucks a day that cross over that bridge [Ambassador Bridge]," Bigland said.

    "We're burning at an hourly rate to transport our goods at about $116 an hour."

    The bridge's "unpredictable nature" has forced Chrysler to set up satellite warehousing facilities for some of its lower-cost, fast-moving parts to avoid operational delays."

I am too polite to say that a lot of the problems on the road and at border crossings are due to the automobile industry. Their just-in-time practices mean that they have less warehousing buildings and that inventories are now in trucks and on roads paid for by taxpayers. It has become a governmental expense not a company expense.

Naturally, Mr. Bigland thinks nothing of passing the multibillion dollar costs of building a new border crossing onto the shoulders of taxpayers. If we take it to the extreme, perhaps we should build several new border crossing reserved for each of the auto companies so they will have no problems whatsoever in going across the border.

In my opinion, auto industry executives ought to sit down and actually understand how the border really works. Perhaps if they talked to their own Traffic people, they might get an understanding. The issue is not capacity dear Mr. Bigland, the issue is getting trucks through the border efficiently and quickly.

Building a brand new multibillion-dollar border crossing near the existing crossing when the Ambassador Bridge is at around 50-60% of capacity is idiotic. It is a waste of money. All that we are creating is another parking lot over the River. Having more bridges doesn't get a single truck through more quickly if there is not the infrastructure in place to handle them quickly.

I guess Mr. Bigland was not around when Schwartz Report #1 appeared on the scene. That report suggested building a multi-hundred million dollar Horseshoe road to manage the truck backups on Huron Church Road. Of course, that would not move a single truck through the border more quickly, his objective. It would just provide a nicer parking lot for them while they waited and waited and waited.

Instead, the Ambassador Bridge Company spent a few million dollars, opened up four booths on the American side for trucks to go through and the border problem was solved. No new bridge, just a few booths at a cost borne by the private enterprise operator.

Mr. Bigland need just take a look at the Sarnia/Port Huron area. They have traffic jams there too but they are compounded by design flaws on the American side as a result of MDOT failures. At the Blue Water Bridge, they have expressways leading to a border crossing, twinned bridges and they still have a mess that will require over $400 million to fix. Does Mr. Bigland want MDOT, Ontario's Transport Ministry and Transport Canada designing his new border crossing?

Might I suggest that Mr. Bigland contact the Ambassador Bridge Company and have them give him a presentation about their Enhancement Project. He might then get an inkling about what the border crossing issue is all about so that he could be a participant who understands what he's saying. Then, he might be able to use his influence to get a solution and now, when it is needed.

Anyway, the automobile companies have been used so much as a political tool and this is just another case. Mr. Bigland's comment and the timing of the North American Competitiveness Council meeting just happen to fall a few weeks before Transport Canada Minister Cannon speaks at a P3 conference and in which several of his subordinates are participants respecting the Windsor border crossing.

Such a coincidence don't you think.


The Detroit news reported:

  • "the U.S. Senate on Thursday voted 79-to-14 to set aside his veto and authorize $23 billion of water projects nationwide, including a new $342 million commercial shipping lock at Sault Ste. Marie...

    The eventual funding will create jobs in Michigan, which currently has a 7.5 jobless rate -- the highest in the nation.

    Mike Gillhooley, a real estate salesman in Sault Ste. Marie, said pumping $342 million into the hard-struck area for the new shipping lock will help workers with jobs tied to bars, restaurants, hotels and real estate.

    "This is like hitting the lottery," Gillhooley said. "The lock will mean contractors come from all over the country, and they will stay in hotels, buy house, eat at restaurants."

Hmmmm what have I been saying for so long about the BIF money, the Enhancement project and the road to the bridge! 10,000 plus jobs here are being lost for what? Petty politics?

When will our local industrial and business leaders get off their rear ends and start shouting and demanding that we hit the jackpot too.


WJR posted

  • "The Mackinac Bridge Authority is considering raising tolls to pay for a series of bridge renovations over the next 20 years that could total $300 million. Construction plans include a complete redecking of the bridge. This project wouldn’t start until 2017. One plan would raise the one-way toll for automobiles, currently $2.50, to $4. Truck tolls would increase from $3 per axle to $5 per axle. The second plan would levy the same increases, but incrementally, in 2008 and 2013."

Now that is a big jump in tolls brought to you by a public authority. It is 60% for cars, 67% for trucks. OUCH!

I wonder what Brian Masse would have to say about that.


I wonder what Brian Masse would have to say about this as well.

I saw a document posted on the Internet that was created recently by a public Border Authority in the United States.

With all this talk about tolls and who charges the most and who charges the least and all the reasons for it, it seems to me that when we talk about our region we ought to look at the Bridge and the Tunnel. Sure everybody attacks the Ambassador Bridge Company about their tolls in comparison to those in other areas but in this debate no one seems to mention the Tunnel.

Therefore when I saw the comparison made by the Authority between the Bridge and the Tunnel I was shocked. Do you know what the two-axle passenger vehicle toll cost per mile at the two crossings is? At the Tunnel, it is $3.50 while at the Bridge it is $2.14!

If Brian Masse thinks that the Bridge Company's tolls are too high, what will he say about the Cities-owned Tunnel?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Border Infrastructure Fund Disgrace

  • Remember back in August, 2002 what then Industry Minister Allan Rock said

    "Industry Minister Allan Rock pledged Wednesday to remove the backlog of bridge-bound truck traffic from Huron Church Road and Wyandotte Street West.

    "Windsor residents can count on the government to take action that is going to make a difference, not only for access to the border, but in terms of quality of life in this community," Rock said."

He was given responsibility for the Border Infrastructure Fund.

In September, 2002 the Chamber of Commerce advocated for

  • "the development of a controlled-access corridor from Highway 401 to the Ambassador Bridge, which is the cornerstone of the bridge company's is clear to all of us that we must have that continuous corridor from the 401 to the bridge and across to 1-75"

Why even Councillor Francis, as he then was, stated

  • "There is now no reason we can't deal with this report at Monday's council meeting," said councillor Eddie Francis. "We need to move and move quickly.

    "It's my understanding that the release of federal funds is predicated on the recommendations of this and other reports," Francis said. "That being the case, we can't afford to wait until minister Rock has made his decision about the allocation of funds before we make our recommendations clear."

And then remember the joyous news when

  • "high-ranking officials each from the federal and provincial governments -- have been given 60 days by Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Premier Ernie Eves to determine how $300 million of border infrastructure funds should be spent to resolve the border crunch caused daily by 12,000 U.S.-bound trucks."

In case you didn't know, that program was supposed to be over by now since it had a five-year time that ended in September of this year. (However, somewhere along the line it was extended to 2013. I'm not sure where that happened. Perhaps in Budget 2007) Thousands and thousands of high-paying jobs were to have been created by the completion of the road to the Ambassador Bridge. It had nothing to do with DRIC. It was to deal with "intermediate" matters only. It was to upgrade infrastructure at the Ontario approaches to the existing border crossings.

Since "BIF contributions are directed at, or on routes leading to Canada’s border crossings," one can legitimately ask the question what has been done with that $300 million. The answer is pretty obvious... not very much with respect to a road to the bridge, even as an intermediate solution.

Thanks to a memo buried in the Communications package for Councillors, here's how that money has been spent in Windsor....or not really spent:

  • Walker Road grade separation with an estimated cost of $50 million, recently started
  • Howard Avenue grade separation with an estimated cost of $45 million, at the value engineering stage
  • ITS system (signage) at a cost of $60 million [that has to be a typo]
  • Truck ferry facilities improvement for the handling of hazardous goods at a cost of $3 million to be started in mid-2008
  • Huron Church pedestrian overpass... hallelujah it was completed
  • Tunnel Plaza improvements... amounts unknown although budgetted initially at $30 million with no start date set yet and the public open house is not yet finished
  • Widening of Highway 401 to six lanes... technically outside of the city limits with no amounts set out for a cost
  • Long left turn lane at Huron Church and Industrial Drive... another one finished!
What a complete and utter joke this is. People should be ashamed of themselves. To be direct about it, what has any of this really got to do with solving the intermediate problem of moving traffic along Huron Church to the Ambassador Bridge and across the border? How can any bureaucrat or politician claim that they have complied with what the program was intended to do?

Do you understand why Windsorites should be furious? Do you understand now why the Ambassador Bridge Company has the right to be angry at all levels of Government? What was promised was never delivered. Here are just a few examples of what has happened in other parts of the Province:

  • $44 million to rebuild Highway 402 east of Sarnia to improve traffic flow and safety.
  • $45-million, fifth-lane Queenston-Lewiston Bridge expansion project
  • $4.3 million for work on the U.S. Plaza at the Peace Bridge
  • $82.5 million to reduce congestion on the QEW through the Niagara region
  • $323 million to improve highways and bridges in Niagara, Sarnia and London
As I have written before, all that Governments have left to pressure the Bridge Company is trying to eliminate or greatly reduce truck access to their crossing. Please try and tell me now that five years of stalling and inaction on the BIF border road is not part of that pressure tactic.

Congratulations Are Owing

Some people in the region deserve our thanks for some of the things that they are doing for us.


The students at Holy Names high school have a real reason to remember Remembrance Day now. They understand better that but for the sacrifices that many men and women made we would not be free today.

I remember our Remembrance Day ceremonies in high school. We got poppies, we had a school assembly and there was a person who played the trumpet, generally off key, at 11 a.m. on November 11. Even so, it was a very emotional time.

My generation has a reason for remembering the Wars. We probably had parents and grandparents who were still alive and who had fought in the Great Wars. Some had relatives who escaped from the atrocities in Europe. We were in the middle of the Cold War with the Soviet Union.

But that is the distant past for most students today. It is something that you read during history class or you might watch on TV on the History Channel. It is very hard for them to relate to. Actually, we should be grateful for that.

Consider then the actions of the Holy Names students. When their memorial for Remembrance Day was destroyed by vandals, a number of students in their construction classes rebuilt the vandalized crosses and ensured that they were restored exactly the way crosses on military graves would have been positioned.

The students are to be congratulated for their actions. They now understand the meaning in a very practical way of what so many people sacrificed for.


What a great gesture by the Woodslee Credit Union to contribute $150,000 to the Economic Development Commission. With matching $50,000 grants from the City and the County, the budget of the Commission has been increased by $250,000. That is on top of the $1.3 million that they budgetted to spend this year.

I hope that the Credit Union put some conditions on the donation ie. the Commission actually had to do something with the money that would help attract new investors and bring jobs to the region. The word thrown around at Council was "measurables." In other words, the Commission should have been given some objectives to reach so that they could demonstrate how well they achieved them.

If actions such as those by the Credit Union and by business people such as Tony Toldo are matched by others, then there is some hope for this region.


You have seen their signs all around town these days, Petretta Construction. They seem to be the major company building things in the City, in particular projects for businesses and not just for Government.

I've heard about this company before. I asked around about them and friends of the owner gave me some very interesting information about projects that they have been involved in.

According to the Windsor Star,

  • "Petretta Construction, a local firm, has reached conditional property purchase agreements with business owners on the east side of the 100 block of Ouellette Avenue and is in negotiations with others in a bid to lure a major Toronto corporate investor who is considering levelling those properties to construct a commercial building."

What a terrific opportunity this could be for our downtown. Something real and not another paper vision with artists renditions. However, the Star article gives a few warnings that Mr. Petretta I hope will consider.

Obviously, we all know about Canderel and the difficulties in subleasing that property except at bargain rates even though it is one of the finest buildings west of Toronto. I thought the Mayor's comment about the Canderel building was very interesting and concerning as well for any property developer in Windsor at this time:

  • "There is not any incentive to fill in the retail"

In other words, no one wants to move there.

Mr. Petretta will be competing with people like Joe Mikhail who owns several buildings downtown and from the Star article also wants to build a major commercial office complex on land he owns. Apparently he already has "commitments for seven floors."

What makes this exciting for us in Windsor is to have developers competing to build their projects and to draw businesses here to fill up the space. Mr. Mikhail would be a formidable competitor. He was the fellow who praised our Mayor so highly in the Sutherland matter and in whose building the call center employees are located. I believe also that the City is building a parking lot for the employees.

I have seen the plans of another developer downtown who has a magnificent idea about revitalizing the City Centre as well. That too could provide some well needed action for the downtown.

Here's what really scares me:

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis is aware of the proposals being considered for downtown, which he described as being in the early stages of planning."

What the developers need to do is to figure out a way to neutralize and isolate the Mayor and Councillors and keep them from butting in and messing up these deals. We need private enterprise to start spending their money in Windsor.

In fact, I like Joe Mikhail's idea to have Ontario Government employees move down here to work. That would fill up office space quickly. If the Mayor wanted to do something useful, he would speak with his good buddy, Ontario Cabinet Minister Sandra Pupatello with whom he chats every day according to her, and convince her to have the Government send jobs down here ASAP.

It is time that the Mayor and Council act in a positive manner and help out our developers. We have seen too many actions by this Council that are negative towards private enterprise development. It is time that common sense prevailed with our politicians.

Congratulations to Dave for taking a chance by betting on Windsor with his money.

Happy 78th Birthday Ambassador Bridge!

The Ambassador Bridge celebrated its birthday yesterday. It opened on November 11, 1929, nine months ahead of schedule.

From the Detroit Free Press:
  • "U.S.-Canada bridge opens
    November 11, 2007

    Seventy-eight years ago today, the Ambassador Bridge opened. At the time, the suspension bridge had the longest central span in the world.

    The bridge, which connects Detroit and Windsor, carries the highest trade volume of any border crossing in North America, making possible more than 25% of all merchandise trade between the United States and Canada...

    Construction of the Ambassador Bridge started in 1927 with McClintic-Marshall Co. of Pittsburgh as the architect. The bridge is made primarily of steel, but its two towers, which rise 386 feet above the ground, are made of a steel-silicon alloy. It is about 7,500 feet long, with the span between the two towers measuring 1,850 feet.

    The bridge is privately owned by the Detroit International Bridge Co."