Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, November 23, 2007

Tolling Water Usage

Poor Larry Horwitz. After saying all those nice things about the downtown and being quoted so much in Gord Henderson's column, this happens to him. Is there no justice?

You know already that the Santa Claus parade has gone to Sandwich from the downtown killing business for his members. Then, just after he becomes the head of the Downtown business group, the Windsor/Detroit Tunnel participates in an offering by a US mall owner of $20 each to the first 2007 users of the Tunnel on the big shopping day in Detroit.

  • "Horwitz said the Downtown Windsor BIA represents 650 businesses. “I’m working extremely hard trying to bring business to the downtown core ... and the corporation that is funded and paid for by our taxpayers is actually giving out incentives to shop in the United States,” he said.

    “The fact that this is happening just shows that there’s no grand vision in terms of creating a balanced and stable downtown core, as well as the city as a whole."

Obviously, the expectation is that if a shopper makes the effort to get up at 5 a.m. in the morning and will go to a shopping mall in Detroit to cash in the voucher, that person will spend a whole bunch of money in Detroit. Which means that Horwitz's members and other Windsor retailers lose out on all that money. If it is a couple of hundred dollars per person, well you can figure out the math as well as I can.

I thought that the Mayor's response was rather muted don't you think. Mind you, he is the head of the Tunnel Commission, or should we be saying Tunnel Corporation, as well as being the Mayor of Windsor. I wonder if the US mall developer paid the Tunnel some big bucks for the promotion. That helps out the Tunnel but what does it do for Windsor retailers? You see what I mean about the inherent conflict of interest that the Mayor/Chair of the Tunnel Commission has!

It seems all that the Mayor could say was

  • "Told of the promotion, Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis said it was the first time he’d heard about it.

    Although the City of Windsor owns the Canadian side, Francis said tunnel staff aren’t city employees.

    “The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel is operated by the Alinda corporation, and the Alinda corporation, under the former DCTC, are the ones responsible for the operations of the facilities,” he said.

    Francis said companies which arrange advertising promotions at the tunnel deal with the operators directly, and don’t need the City of Windsor’s permission.

    Francis compared the vouchers to Detroit businesses taking out an ad in a Windsor newspaper or a Windsor radio station. “They run ... a variety of advertisements through local media, and this is one media they’re choosing to use.”

    Francis said with the Canadian dollar so strong compared to the U.S. dollar, more shoppers are bound to be going to Michigan."

Lots of excuses. A rather defeatist attitude I thought too. Where was the gung ho, pro-Windsor Mayor that we are supposed to unite behind to speak positively about our region? Where is our Civic Booster par excellence? Where is the "Shop in Windsor" rhetoric that I would have expected from a Mayor in a situation like this? Where is the "I can't stop the promotion this time but by heavens it's never going to happen again at my Tunnel" anger that I would have expected and the calling up on the carpet of the operator's manager?

This silence on the Mayor's part really bothered me. Could it be that he didn't want to get his friends in Detroit upset at him so that they would not let him sponsor more of their events like the Super Bowl and the Detroit Grand Prix? In the past and with the predecessor company to Alinda, if they did something wrong, the Mayor had no hesitation in taking a shot at them:

  • "The tunnel commission has expressed its position to the DCTC," Francis said. "The (joint operating agreement) is very specific."
Who knows, maybe there is nothing in the JOA that deals with this. Or is there something more that we don't know about?

Could it be, and this is just absolutely pure speculation on my part, that the operator of the Tunnel, Alinda, will be your next water supplier? Yes, that's right...responsible for clean water and fixing up watermains.

You must be thinking that I have too much lead in my waterpipes to make such an outrageous statement like this. Well just a minute, there is a reason for my observation.

If you read the financial pages, you may note that
  • "Alinda Infrastructure Fund I also closed earlier in the year on $3bn - three times its original $1bn target."

Three times higher than expected! It has "approximately $10 billion in purchasing power." Well that's a lot of cash to have to spend to keep investors happy.

And what would make investors happy these days: infrastructure. Alinda Capital Partners is an

  • "independent private investment firm specializing in infrastructure assets that provide essential services to communities, businesses and governments....Specific sectors of interest include transportation, energy, power, water and wastewater, and utility services for residential, commercial and industrial customers."

How many times have we heard Councillor Lewenza, the chair of the Windsor Utilities Commission, tell us how important water is for drinking and showering. Why it is so essential to our well-being. Starting to make sense yet?

Alinda is already involved in the Tunnel and bridges in Alabama. And take a look at this! Is this why Eddie didn't dump on Alinda? Could Alinda be a potential saviour for our Mayor by providing him with a ton of money for the Tunnel, WUC and maybe even Enwin too? You remember that Gord Henderson column involving his secret friend Jim and the statement:

  • "It would take immense political courage, but the only real fix for the Windsor Utilities Commission and Enwin might be to blow up these bloated organizations and start over...

    The way to really fix this mess, said Jim, would be to shut down WUC and Enwin Powerlines operations and hand them over, on contract, to the private sector to run on a turnkey basis."

Making more sense now?

Here's the clincher. Read about "South Staffordshire Plc [which] comprises South Staffordshire Water, a regulated water supply company, together with a number of complementary non-regulated activities focussed on customer contact management, supply of spring and mineral water and repair and maintenance of water and sewerage infrastructure" and what Alinda did. Now you know why I am speculating the way I am. Is our infrastructure next:

  • Arcapita Announces Sale of South Staffordshire PLC to Alinda
    29 October 2007

    London – 29 October 2007 – Arcapita Bank B.S.C.(c), a leading international investment firm headquartered in Bahrain, announced today that it and its affiliates have sold South Staffordshire Plc, the UK based water company, to the Alinda Infrastructure Fund, a USD 3 billion institutional fund managed by Alinda Capital Partners LLC, an independent private investment firm, for an undisclosed amount.

    Arcapita acquired South Staffordshire in November 2004. Since then, Arcapita has worked closely with the management team in building the business and this is particularly reflected in the growth of the three non-regulated businesses, which include the establishment of the Echo outsourced customer contact management operation in Belfast and of the specialist Water & Wastewater businesses serving the UK water utility industry.

    South Staffordshire Water has been consistently ranked in the top three in Ofwat’s performance assessment for the past seven years and has 99.97 per cent compliance with EU water quality standards.

    Qaisar Zaman, Arcapita’s European Head of Asset-Based Investment, commented:

    "We have been very pleased to have owned South Staffordshire and to have contributed to its growth. We are particularly proud of the high levels of service and quality it has achieved. It is one of the best performing water companies in the UK with one of the lowest household bills for customers."

    Chris Beale, Managing Partner of Alinda, said:

    "This is an excellent strategic fit for us. South Staffordshire is a well established business with an outstanding operating history, a reputation for customer excellence, a strong management team and dedicated employees. This transaction will be seamless for South Staffordshire’s customers, who will continue to receive the same high quality and service."

Border Ferry Tale

In a Communications item at Council the other week, I noticed the above with reference to work being done by the private enterprise Detroit-Windsor truck ferry. I see that work is "expected to start" in the middle of next year.

I wonder where all of the anti-private enterprise people are with respect to this project. The value of the project seems to be $3 million. Oh, I forgot. Since the truck ferry is supposed to take away business from the Ambassador Bridge Company, it is perfectly acceptable to provide this project with money.

It will be interesting to see more details and to see how much of this is being paid for by the Ferry Company and how much is being paid for by taxpayers. I would be surprised if the Ferry Company can pay very much since they were looking to receive money from the Government as I recall it for another truck ferry that was supposed to reduce the backups at the border and improve capacity. I do not believe that another ferry was ever purchased.

It is part of the first phase of the "Let's get Windsor Essex Moving" agreement. I am too polite to say that very little has been moving over the past several years in this area with respect to the border. The money to pay for this work comes under the Border Infrastructure Fund... you know, the money that was supposed to provide a solution for getting trucks across the Ambassador Bridge on an intermediate basis.

In any event, unlike the DRIC project or the Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project or even the Tunnel Plaza Improvement Project, I do not remember seeing anything whatsoever about public hearings for what is to be done. In fact, I do not recall hearing much about this project at all. Presumably that should happen at some point in time don't you think.

Here is what this project is all about:
  • "NOTICE OF COMMENCEMENT of an environmental assessment

    Detroit-Windsor Truck Ferry Road Infrastructure Improvements
    Windsor (ON)

    October 15, 2007 -- Transport Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada are required to ensure that a screening is conducted commencing on October 12, 2007 of the project: Detroit-Windsor Truck Ferry Road Infrastructure Improvements.

    The scope of the project includes modifications of the existing truck ferry terminal, the construction of new infrastructure, and operations of the facility. The purpose of the project is to enhance the efficiency and safety of the existing truck ferry operation. Proposed upgrades will include: widening and paving the access road and marshalling area, a new customs kiosk, replacement of the ramp and barge and the installation of improved illumination and security measures. The project also inlcudes dredging and other construction activities within the Detroit River.

    Under section 5 of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, an environmental assessment is required for this project because Transport Canada may provide financial assistance to the proponent for the purpose of enabling the project and Fisheries and Oceans Canada may issue a permit or license under subsection 35(2) of the Fisheries Act.

    Transport Canada will act as the Federal Environmental Assessment Coordinator for this environmental assessment."

It's a road-building project as well as other actions ie improving the access road to a border crossing. Given the precedent set, I wonder how much money Transport Canada will be providing to the Ambassador Bridge Company for a road to their bridge or, more precisely, to build that road. If they don't, will Transport Canada be seen to be supporting only one private enterprise border crossing proponent at the expense of another? Ooooops they are putting big bucks into the Tunnel too. That makes two proponents.

I do not want to jinx the matter for the Ferry Company but there is an obvious question to ask. Why are we wasting any money whatsoever to do anything? If DRIC is so confident that it is going to build another bridge, then why do we need to do spend the millions of taxpayer dollars? I assume that the new bridge will be just like the Blue Water Bridge and will be allowed to carry hazardous materials across the border. If so, no one will use the truck ferry. It also will not be needed for capacity reasons.

If the money is designed as an intermediate step, then why isn't the road to the Ambassador Bridge being built as well since the BIF money was supposed to be used for that precise purpose? The same with the Tunnel. If money is provided by Government to provide better access to the Tunnel, why not to the bridge too? Is there favouritism going on? Part of the desire to put the bridge out of business.

I assume the gentleman who owns the truck ferry must realize that his business is doomed. If I am correct in my assumption about hazardous materials using the new DRIC bridge, then his business only has a few more years to last. I wonder what happens then... does he get a pay out from the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario since his business has been taken away from him? I mean who would want to buy his business since it has no possibility of lasting very much longer. Or, do the Governments just say "tough luck" and let his business go bankrupt.

I wonder when he will start complaining to the public about what is happening to his business. It doesn't really seem very fair to have it driven into the ground. I'm sure there will be a groundswell of support by the Ferry advocates to make sure that he is treated fairly. Brian Masse will be at the head of the list!

I have no idea what the legal position in this matter is. I bet that the Governments probably will buy his business for some agreed amount. What would be ironic is that if they buy the business they would have to include in it the value of the amount of the improvements that they already had paid for under this Application.

To give you another example...if Transport Canada decided to buy the Tunnel after the Tunnel improvements were done and for which they had contributed $10 million, the value of the Tunnel would have been increased by the improvements. So Transport Canada double pays!

It solves a lot of problems by buying the ferry business. For the owner anyway. Or does it? In my opinion, it may just make matters worse since precedents are being set.

Oh me oh my, another wrinkle in Windsor's border crossing fiasco that will keep litigators active for years to come!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

More And More Comments

I need your help. There is just too much to write about and not enough time to do it all in a timely fashion.

If any of you are interested, feel free to send me Guest BLOGs or short articles that I can post. You are welcome to send them anonymously or provide your name.


As I explained previously, Marty Komsa structured one heck of a deal for the East End arena naming rights. [September 24, 2007 "Komsa Shoots, He Scores"]

The present value of the price paid by the Credit Union is probably around $1 million. It is all part of the other goodies that were negotiated that means that the City did another one of their poor deals.

Let me point out why I think that.

We learned from the Star about the value of the private boxes. The Naming Rights deal gave to Marty use of a private suite. It was not just for hockey since it was not so restricted as set out in the Administration Report nor did it say that the Credit Union has to pay any extras for playoff games or other events the way mere mortals have to do.

Using the Windsor Star numbers, the cost of a private box for 10 years per annum is for 14 season tickets (playoffs extra) $27,826. Would Marty want anything less than a premium suite at an additional cost of $10,000 plus GST per year.

Even if it is a standard box, just reduce that million dollars by a few bucks more and you can see how good a negotiator the City is. Scary when you think of other big deals that may come up soon.


I was told, but did not hear it personally, that Eddie had made the comment on the radio recently that he was not going to be Mayor in Windsor for a third term. Obviously someone at City Hall saw the rumour comments in my BLOG and wanted to set the record straight. For that openness, we should be grateful.

So here is some pure out and out speculation for you thanks to recent Gord Henderson columns.

I can see Eddie getting a job with a major international consulting firm telling mayors around the world how they can do their job based on his experience. According to Henderson, so many North American mayors now want him to help them out. Eddie's prime advice would be to study problems to death I am certain. That way you cannot be blamed for anything. Let Councillors and outside consultants take the hit instead.

But that would be so tiring doing all of that travelling. Of course, it would also mean being away from Windsor which clearly is something that Eddie would not want to do since he is so pro-Windsor.

More likely, given Eddie's errrrrrrr Windsor's sponsorship of the Super Bowl and the Detroit Grand Prix, I could see him working with Roger Penske's organization. After all Roger and Eddie worked together closely on those two programs in Detroit. Roger could see so well how Eddie operates and where he could fit in.

Think I am kidding. As Gord said,
  • "DesRosiers ... sees a leadership vacuum here involving business, academia, labour and politicians. In other words, there's plenty of blame to go around.

    He has a point. Other cities have key corporate players, visionaries with deep pockets and oodles of influence, like Roger Penske in Detroit, who make the calls and drive the agenda. In Windsor such players are, sadly, few and far between.

    It's a bloody shame, given this city's enviable location and enormous potential."

Mere co-incidence that Roger's name was used. Hmmmmmmmm


Do our Councillors really have any guts? Take a look at Alan Halberstadt's BLOG dealing with Members of Council being on Boards. "Cuff Views Expose Council Mockery"

I had raised this issue before with respect to Windsor Mayors' inherent conflict of interest by being Mayor and also the head of the Tunnel Commission.

The obvious thing to do, and the simplest, is to restructure the various boards and ensure that the Mayor and Councillors are not members of the Board. The same with the Airport and Tunnel Corporations.

However, in my opinion, Eddie would not dare give up control since being in charge is fundamental to what he wants to do in Windsor, whatever that is. And he would dump on them if they even tried. He would throw in their face that they voted just a few months ago to set up the Corporations with him as the Head. How could they change now.

So what can they do to ease into becoming a Council that performs its legal responsibilities. They should do exactly what the House Ethics Committee is doing. They seem to be taking the initiative and not waiting months for an Inquiry.

  • "The opposition parties have struck a deal to have the House of Commons Ethics committee study the Mulroney-Schreiber affair, CTV News has learned...

    The opposition parties, which outnumber the Conservatives, want the committee to have a broad study of Brian Mulroney's dealings with Schreiber.

    They also want to examine Prime Minister Stephen Harper's conduct and that of the Privy Council Office in the way they handled letters Schreiber had sent Harper in March 2007."

Clearly, Opposition MPs are afraid of very narrowly drafted Terms of Reference that will not look into all of the matters that are relevant to the public and which the Government may not want disclosed.

Our Councillors should do something very similar and right now. It is perfectly clear that we are getting nothing more than a whitewash audit on the WUC matter since it is a section 9 audit only dealing with financial issues with no public involvement.

A proper forensic audit probably would have cost in the range of $500,000 or more. Our audit is only costing $150,000. For the difference, $350,000, our Councilors should set up an Inquiry to look into the WUC matter and allow that Inquiry to answer all the questions that the public want addressed. A good precedent is what happened in Toronto with the MFP matter.

Councillor Marra has already suggested something like this when he said that after the Ministry Audit came out and if people were not satisfied, we would do another audit. He should take the lead.

Why wait, DO IT NOW. I'm sure that Councillor Halberstadt would be agreeable too and Councillor Dilkens as well given his initiative with respect to openness on City Corporations affairs.

Which Councillor, or even the Mayor, would dare vote against it! Does any Councillor have the guts to put this forward at Council?


Nice to see that the deputy chair of TD Financial Group, Frank McKenna, was in town.

I'm sure that his PR people gave him a copy of the Star article in which two developers in town want to build a huge complex for the Bank downtown. It's pretty clear now why that story was written since it just appeared out of the blue.

  • "several sources pointed to TD Bank, which has been exploring options to build a new downtown headquarters in Windsor to replace its outdated building at Ouellette and Wyandotte Street.

    "With a business of 58,000 employees, we are always evaluating our (property) arrangements based on evolving needs," said TD spokesman Nick Petter. "In this case, no decision has been made."

However, I wonder if any of the Gazelle feeders talked to him about it or were they too busy preparing marketing brochures. Did the Mayor convince him to do so or was he too busy arranging transportation for those whom he told to get out of town?


Back on November 8, 2006, I wrote:

  • "The Lear workers better start looking for a new was suggested by Mr. Duben that their plant may close down sooner than expected presumably so that Mr. Farhi can redevelop the property...

    Mr. Farhi said in the Star today "Farhi said he foresees the Lear plant moving to an industrial area in a few years, which would pave the way for him and other landowners in the area to create a commercial and recreational hub surrounding the new arena. "This place, the way I see it, it is going to be transformed into a new development."

Wow, those fellows sure can tell the future. What did we see in the Star:

  • "Twelve years after it was spun off from General Motors, Lear Corp.’s Windsor, Ont., plant is slated for closure in June of next year."

It wouldn't surprise me if the property values in the East End around that area jump up terrifically now given what may happen with new developments. I hope that the City had an option to buy more of Mr. Farhi's land for extra parking spaces since they seem to be required. I would hate to see taxpayers have to pay an inflated price.

Sam's Next Windsor Job

You don't have to worry too much about Gridlock Sam. I believe that he will be getting a job very soon that could be even bigger for him than solving Windsor's border crossing issue and much more important.

Yes, he will be given a major assignment by the Mayor and Council that, given the vital role that it will play in the revitalization of the downtown errrr... the east end, may cost taxpayers even more than we have spent on his fees for the border.

It will be his task to try and figure out if it is humanly possible how to prevent a massive East End arena traffic jam before and after every Spitfires game or other big event that may take place at the arena.

Can you imagine what would happen if there is a sold-out hockey game and full use of all of the other icepads for tournaments. That would be 6500 spectators plus another 900 people who can sit in the three other rinks.

Someone complained now about the Barn and parking:
  • "being there an hour ahead to drive around in circles trying to find a spot, like we do now"

What would it be like looking for spaces in the boonies and how long would it take to do so?

I notice that the Spitfires were offering one guaranteed parking space with the purchase of two platinum memberships. If one does some simple division, the possibility could exist that between 3500 to 4000 or more vehicles could be scrambling to get into and out of the arena parking lot. I believe that the parking lot holds less than 2000 vehicles so there would be a horrific traffic jam. I've not even figured out yet how many buses would be needed even if people decided to park away from the arena.

Therefore Sam will be needed here desperately before long to try and figure out how to solve the arena traffic jam issue. He will have some experience mind you. Here's what he is doing in the interim:
  • Warning: Traffic gridlock ahead for Newark drivers
    by Maura McDermott Wednesday October 17, 2007
    Drivers, get ready for gridlock.

    That's the message officials are sending to Newark motorists, as the city braces for the Oct. 25 debut of the Prudential Center.

    The opening night concert by Bon Jovi is likely to kick off at least two weeks of traffic tie-ups, according to "Gridlock Sam" Schwartz, the city's traffic consultant. The band is playing 10 shows expected to draw as many as 17,000 fans a night, and the Devils hockey home opener on Oct. 27 could attract more than 18,000 spectators.

    The city is issuing "SlowGo" traffic advisories for event nights, encouraging Prudential Center patrons and commuters to use mass transit and stay away from the busiest routes.

    This morning, Schwartz and city officials offered advice to those driving to the Prudential Center:
    -- Plan to arrive 90 minutes before the show or game begins, to leave time for traffic and parking.

    -- Check parking maps at prucenter for the lots closest to the most convenient highway.

    -- Try to avoid Route 21, which is expected to be heavily congested. The city and state are posting signs directing motorists to other routes, such as the New Jersey Turnpike to Exit 15E to Raymond Boulevard; Routes 1 and 9 to Raymond Boulevard; Route 280 to First Street; and Route 78 to either Elizabeth Avenue or Broad Street.

    Newark commuters should try to avoid driving in the city - especially on Route 21 - in the two hours before events, Schwartz said today. Either drive out of the city before 5 p.m., or stay late for dinner to avoid the rush, he said.

    But all that advice is for those who can't avoid driving.

    The city and the Prudential Center are encouraging commuters and patrons to use mass transit instead. The arena is located three blocks from the Penn Station rail hub and less than a mile from the Broad Street station. NJ Transit is adding extra trains - including standby trains at Penn Station and an additional 11:40 p.m. westbound train at Broad Street - and the arena will post up-to-date train information after events.

    Free shuttles and city buses will take commuters to and from the Broad Street station. NJ Transit will post yellow-jacketed "ambassadors" in and around train stations.

    Also, the city will assign extra police officers downtown, and it is adding signs and new lighting in an effort to make the arena safe for visitors.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

McKenna And The Gazelle Feeders

Don't you think it is time that someone woke up the Gazelle Feeders already and made them accountable for doing something other than spending money and then asking for more.

Compare and contrast:

  • Frank McKenna in his Star Opinion piece:

    We worked hard to promote cities like Moncton in order to diversify its economy. At the time, it was reeling from job losses. We job prospected relentlessly, with the aim of conveying the community's hunger for new business.

    All the hard work paid off. Moncton's unemployment rate has dropped by six percentage points since the early 1990s.

    I am confident Windsor-Essex can experience similar success.

Sorry Frank, you must have missed these words of wisdom from our Economic Development gurus. This is the attitude of the Report that set up the new Commission:

  • "Because of the nature of the region’s strategy, traditional performance measures such as the number of new plants attracted, or the number of jobs retained, albeit significant, should not be the primary indicators of success. These could actually be counterproductive by driving the wrong behaviour."

Bluelight Special: Calling All Windsor Shoppers

It is going to be very ugly for retailers in Windsor this Christmas season. With the highest unemployment rate in Canada and others concerned about layoffs, one wonders how much money there will be available to spend on Christmas presents this year.

Naturally with a high dollar and the perception of border tieups thanks to certain politicians it will be unlikely that we will see lots of Americans coming here to spend money as well.

To top it off, the Detroit Convention & Visitors Bureau with its brand-new logo (no it is not Detroit Mosaic) will be targeting Canadians to come over and spend their money in the US. Here's an example of a recent press release.

I wonder if they were targetting any specific Divas in Windsor.

According to the Star, the Mayor had not heard about the Tunnel promotion. Darn and I thought he was a reader of my BLOG too. After all, I wrote about it on Monday. Well here is more he does not know about. Perhaps someone could let him know.

  • Calling All Shopping 'D'-vas: Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau Targets Shopping Campaign to Canadians From London to Windsor

    DETROIT, Nov. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Whether it's through the Windsor-Detroit tunnel or over the Ambassador Bridge this holiday season, Canadians will find some of the best shopping in Detroit.

    The exchange rate is better than ever, so over the border visitors can shop large at Great Lakes Crossing in Auburn Hills, Somerset Collection in Troy, the new Mall at Partridge Creek in Clinton Township or the newly-renovated Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi, to name just a few.

    Shoppers may also opt for Detroit's distinctive hip boutique neighborhoods that dot "The D," from Fashionable Ferndale to Royal Oak, Birmingham and Rochester. Downtown and Midtown Detroit shops include the expanded Detroit Institute of Arts Museum Shop and historic Pewabic

    "The exchange rate is at an all time high for Canadians shopping in Detroit," says Christopher Baum, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau (DMCVB). "There's no better time to shop in The D, and we invite our Canadian neighbors to indulge in Detroit's best high-end and outlet shopping for distinctive merchandise and great values close to home."

    To kick off the holiday shopping season, the DMCVB launched a creative newspaper and radio advertising campaign that began Thanksgiving week and runs through mid December in the Windsor and London, Ontario markets. Other holiday shopping highlights include:

    -- The DMCVB has partnered with Macy's to offer an international savings card for 11 percent off merchandise for Canadian visitors to Detroit.

    -- Taubman Centers, Inc.'s four Detroit-area malls are giving away $20 (U.S. dollar) gift card vouchers to the first 2,007 vehicles that enter the United States from Canada through the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel on Friday, Nov. 23, from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. or while supplies last.

    -- The brand new Mall at Partridge Creek and the Best Western Sterling Inn Hotel in Sterling Heights are offering Thanksgiving weekend hotel and shopping packages, including a $50 gift card and a hotel stay on Nov. 22 or Nov. 23.

    -- DMCVB member Allstar Transportation is promoting special transportation packages Thanksgiving weekend to make the drive to the mall easier.

    Discover more deals and details about shopping in Detroit this holiday season at, or call 1-800-DETROIT.

A Potpourri Of Ideas

Lots and lots of interesting items to talk about that I thought you might find of interest.


Now I know why they called it "Your Quick Getaway." The real reason, not the contrived one that we were told:

  • "But if Windsor is as awful as some homegrown critics suggest, and he gets that message at least twice a week in hostile letters, Francis wonders why they stick around. "If you think it's the worst city in the world, what are you doing here?"

That's our Eddie....always thinking ahead. Making it easy for personality-driven naysayers who undermine Windsor's best interests to advance their own agendas to get out of town.

It truly is Eddie's way or the highway, Greenlink probably!

Hmmmm. I wonder if I could be an immigrant in Mexico.


I wonder if the Governor's hubby is furious at Gord Henderson. Imagine the huge contract he could have received to provide assistance to an entire City that our Mayor believes to be dysfunctional now since it will not follow him unthinkingly.

It would be a bargain for us if paid in US$ too.


If I asked you, dear reader, which is the toughest Windsor occupation to be involved in what would you say?

Would you say it is being a fire fighter or police officer since every time they go on a call their life is at risk.

Would you say it was being an outside worker since you must do your job no matter how hot or how cold it is or how rainy or snowy?

What about being a doctor or nurse with life-and-death situations in your hands?

Nope you're all wrong. Clearly the toughest profession Windsor is being an Editorial Writer for the Windsor Star. Imagine the pressure that you are under. The City is a mess and nothing is getting better. Financial decisions have been made that are costly and make little sense and when they get out into the open, stories change every single day. Open and transparent government, what is that in this City?

You need to criticize the person in charge, the Mayor by name, the only full-time municipal politician in Windsor, but you don't dare. Can you imagine the pressure that the Editorial Writer is under! How can they survive the stress?

I wrote before about the Windsor Star Editorial dealing with the "WUC fiasco; Give public a proper forum." The Star had no choice but to slam our elected officials but interestingly, the one Editorial that really did so did not name the Mayor. The best they could do was use the words "City Hall."

Check Monday's Editorial about the airport. Understatement of the year:

  • "the dearth of information that preceded council's decision to reject a private operator in favour of maintaining the current management arrangement was disquieting."

Now that language was superb wasn't it!

Oh Eddie was mentioned once by name:

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis was named CEO of the corporation called YQG."

Now come on Windsor Star Editorial writers. Who is responsible for

  • "The lack of details presented before councillors voted on the airport's future last week is emblematic of broader problems with this city and its arms-length corporations, which are not accountable to residents in any direct and meaningful way."

Even your own Don McArthur is blocked from getting basic information.

Name names Windsor Star.... trust me, it won't hurt! And the Editorial Writers will feel so much better.


Take a look at the Star "Sound Off" website if you want to read what people think about the City proposing to increase taxes, again! Quite a few people took time out to comment.

Here is the link

Naw, the Mayor and Councillors won't go there. They will just congratulate themselves on another job well-done.


Remember the incident involving the nice ladies at Willistead Manor during Art in the Park. Our guardians of health were so concerned about people becoming violently ill that they poured bleach over egg salad sandwiches. All that took place in June, 2006.

Now whatever you want to say about how our Windsor-Essex County Health Unit undertook its actions in that incident, at the least one had to say that they were looking after our health and well-being. For that we should be thankful.

Imagine then my shock when I read the Saturday Star and headline "Salmonella outbreak spurs inspection blitz." And then imagine my disgust when I read

  • "The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit has stepped up food preparation education at the city's shawarma restaurants after a 2005 salmonella outbreak traced to a restaurant that has since closed.

    In a report provided to Thursday's meeting of the board of the health unit details of the outbreak, which had not been previously publicly reported."

Does that explain the actions of the Health police in 2006, a year after the shawarma scare and perhaps justify what they did? After all we learned:

  • "A total of 46 people reported a food-borne illness after eating at the restaurant that year."

No, what we learned is that the Health Unit hid from the public a very serious health problem in which "8.5 per cent [of the samples] tested positive for organisms like salmonella, which can cause illness." In other words, the Health police put at risk a significant section of the population of the area that eats at shawarma restaurants.

It appears to me that the Minister Of Health needs to investigate our Health Police. If he can intervene with bleach on egg salad sandwiches, then he can intervene in taking a look at a Health Unit that doesn't have enough sense to warn the public of a significant health risk.


I'll talk about DRTPs new proposal in another BLOG.

In the meantime, if DRTP is serious that they have ditched the idea about a truck expressway into the heart of Windsor, the easy way for them to prove it is to sell their corridor to the City for dollar for new parkland. Isn't that the ultimate Rails for Trails?

In this way, we don't need Greenlink to provide us with parkland since we will have kilometres of it along the DRTP corridor. Since we have all this new parkland, we can now allow the DRIC road to be built to the Ambassador Bridge.

The money that we don't pay to David Estrin, Sam Schwartz, and Parsons Brinckerhoff would go a long way to pay for the maintenance of the new parkland.

Problems solved.


Canada has never produced enough doctors. We always counted on significant number of doctors coming from out of the country to make up the deficiency. The doctor shortage is due to mistakes being made a number of years ago about the number of doctors required resulting in admissions to the medical schools being cut back.

I saw this story:

  • To compete with regions offering incentives to lure doctors, Leamington, Kingsville, Essex and Leamington needs a $2.43-million strategic plan, Frank Ricci, chairman of the Leamington and Area Physician Recruitment and Retention Steering Committee, said Wednesday.

    “If we don’t do it, it’s going to be difficult to attract doctors,” said the Leamington lawyer. “It’s going to put us in the game if we have a properly funded plan.”

    Ricci unveiled the strategic plan this week at Kingsville council. It recommends spending $2.43 million to attract 23 family physicians and a handful of specialists and ER doctors over the next three to five years.

What a huge waste of money. That's not the way to attract, and more importantly, keep doctors. A better strategy is needed.

I was amused by this story in the Windsor Star as well:

  • "Under pressure to produce doctors more quickly, Canada's medical schools are weighing the merits of allowing students without undergraduate degrees to enrol in physician training.

    The schools are also considering shortening the time it takes to train doctors."

The answer is not lowering standards as this seems to be suggesting but rather making it easier for foreign trained doctors to be admitted into practice in Canada. As I have said before, there are doctors who are highly trained just waiting to come to Canada but cannot do so for a variety of reasons or who already live here. At one time, when I was deeply involved in this, I had the equivalent of a Boeing 747 full of well trained doctors waiting to come here. All of them would have paid for any upgraded training needed out of their own pocket and would not require any subsidy from taxpayers.

What is needed is for our medical schools to take on the responsibility to ensure that foreign trained doctors are brought up to Canadian standards as quickly as possible thereby eliminating the doctor shortage quickly and easily. What is needed is a program at a school where all foreign trained doctors must come and pass the required tests so that they can be admitted into practice.

What better place for this medical school program to be located than in Windsor which is probably one of the most underserviced areas medically in the Province believe it or not. A partnership with St. Clair College would make a tremendous amount of sense as well since the College could assist in ensuring that the family of the doctor also makes a smooth transition into the Canadian way of life.

I have suggested that this approach to City Council before and to the University and suggest it here again.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

WUC And The Mulroney/Schreiber Inquiry

What possible connection could there be you are thinking between what is going on in Ottawa now in relation to the Public Inquiry involving the former Prime Minister and the Windsor Utilities Commission fiasco.

You are also probably thinking that this is the usual tabloid-type headline designed to tease a reader into looking at the story.

Now really, would I do something so transparent as that?

On the contrary, I am serious. There are a lot of lessons to be learned from what is going on in Ottawa compared with what has happened already in Windsor.

Let me set out first for you the relevant questions and answers being asked in the House of Commons in Ottawa during Question Period so it should be obvious to you what I'm getting at:

  • Hon. Ralph Goodale (Wascana, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister wants to limit the political fallout from the Mulroney-Schreiber affair, so he prevents Dr. Johnston from investigating the behaviour of the Conservative government over the last 22 months.

    The terms of reference for Dr. Johnston include only specific financial dealings between Mr. Mulroney and Mr. Schreiber. They do not include any negligence, wilful blindness, interference, invasion or concealment by the Prime Minister, his office, his ministers or Conservative insiders.

    Why did the Prime Minister exempt himself from this investigation?

    Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, we did no such thing. Mr. Johnston is free to propose any terms of reference that are in any way connected with the events in question.

    Canadians understand that the events in question occurred between 10 and 20 years ago. These are rather pathetic attempts by the opposition to link them to this government.

  • Hon. Ralph Goodale (Wascana, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, it is not Dr. Johnston's credibility that is at stake here; it is the Prime Minister's.

    Dr. Johnston has been hired to look only at Mulroney-Schreiber financial dealings, nothing more. He cannot examine Privy Council officials or political staff about the paper trail into the Prime Minister 's Office. That would be beyond his mandate. He cannot find out who ordered the justice department to stop a fresh investigation, which the department began last year, because that would be beyond his mandate.

    What is the government so afraid that he will find?

    Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, as I have said, Professor Johnston can recommend any terms of reference that are in any way related to the affairs at hand.

    I would not say the only person's credibility, but one of the people's credibility who is very much in question this week is the member for Wascana, who actually suggested that the government would break the law and release private tax records.

    When we hear that kind of recommendation, we understand why the previous government had to pay out $2.1 million in taxpayer money.

  • Hon. Ralph Goodale (Wascana, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the question was whether Mr. Mulroney complied with the law.

    The Mulroney-Schreiber issue reignited in the media only days after the government came into power. There are damning letters in the Prime Minister's Office, but the paper trail is hidden.

    Ministers deliberately refused to be briefed. A justice department review was started and then suddenly stopped. Some ministers consult Mr. Mulroney daily. He has numerous personal encounters with the Prime Minister. Was Mr. Schreiber ever discussed?

    Will the Prime Minister change the mandate to include specifically whether the government was involved in a cover-up?

    Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, all the allegations made by the member for Wascana are completely baseless. They are complete fabrications.

    All they are is designed to try to prove that other people are just as corrupt as the Liberal Party of Canada. I am afraid the Liberal Party of Canada has the trademark on corruption.

  • Hon. Lucienne Robillard (Westmount—Ville-Marie, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, it is clear that by not asking Mr. Johnston to investigate the actions of the current government, the Prime Minister is trying to do some damage control. His government's actions with respect to this issue have been questionable.

    The Prime Minister admitted to having met with Brian Mulroney at Harrington Lake in the summer of 2006, as Mr. Schreiber indicated. However, we still do not know whether they talked about Mr. Schreiber. Mr. Johnston's terms of reference do not allow him to investigate that.

    What is the Prime Minister trying to hide from Canadians?

    Hon. Stockwell Day (Minister of Public Safety, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, the process is very clear. Right after Mr. Schreiber testified that there were allegations, the Prime Minister started the process. That process will give us the answers we are looking for. Canadians want answers. We launched the inquiry process.

  • Hon. Lucienne Robillard (Westmount—Ville-Marie, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, that is not all. Mr. Johnston will not investigate whether the letters Mr. Schreiber wrote to the Prime Minister actually reached his office. He will not investigate why the Minister of Justice is refusing to accept any information about the $2.1 million paid to Brian Mulroney or whether the minister put an end to his own department's investigation into those millions.

    Will the Prime Minister let Mr. Johnston find out whether political interference occurred to hide these facts?

    Hon. Stockwell Day (Minister of Public Safety, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, once again, the process is clear. Mr. Johnston can set the terms of reference for the inquiry and ask important questions for himself, for Canadians, and also for us.

  • Mr. Michel Guimond (Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, BQ):
    Mr. Speaker, the mandates given to David Johnston and Justice Gomery are completely different. After appointing Justice Gomery it took the government nine days to establish the terms of reference for the inquiry. The Prime Minister has just told us that he is giving David Johnston 57 days to determine the parameters for the future public inquiry, which takes us to January 11, 2008. That is too long.

    Rather than dragging things out, should the Prime Minister not be ensuring that the facts come to light as quickly as possible?

    Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, Mr. Johnston is free to provide his report much more quickly, if possible. That will be up to him.

  • Mr. Michel Guimond (Montmorency—Charlevoix—Haute-Côte-Nord, BQ):
    Mr. Speaker, given that there are allegations about the involvement of other individuals, Conservatives and Liberals, in the activities of Mr. Schreiber, it is important to establish as broad a framework for the commission as possible. If the Prime Minister wishes to get to the bottom of it all, it is in his best interest for the commission to review all of Mr. Schreiber's dealings with Canadian politicians in general.

    Does the Prime Minister have something to hide?

    Right Hon. Stephen Harper (Prime Minister, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, once again, Mr. Johnston is free to recommend any terms of reference for the commission. That is up to him. The government has given that power to Mr. Johnston, an eminent and impartial individual. The government has not written the terms of reference for this public inquiry.

  • Ms. Yasmin Ratansi (Don Valley East, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, legal experts agree with the official opposition that Dr. Johnston's mandate is constrained because it is limited to a review of Mr. Schreiber's allegations about his financial dealings with Brian Mulroney.

    In other words, it does not include any examination of how this deeply conflicted government has managed this whole mess, nor will it answer the key question about what the government knew and exactly when it knew it. Why is it so?

    Hon. Stockwell Day (Minister of Public Safety, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, members opposite apparently wanted to see a full public inquiry and it really is curious to see that as soon as one is announced they are shocked. Their leader could not get over it, but he finally understood that it is going ahead. Then they came out supporting Professor Johnston's appointment, but now they are critical of work that is really just beginning.

    I think they should just settle down a little and send recommendations to Professor Johnston, by all means, but not prejudge the man before he gets to work. This is going to be a full public inquiry. We want answers to these questions.

  • Ms. Yasmin Ratansi (Don Valley East, Lib.):
    Mr. Speaker, the minister is just grasping at straws. Words in the House of Commons do not change the legal mandate.

    Canadians want to know what the Prime Minister knew about the allegations against his political idol and chief Quebec adviser. Dr. Johnston's written marching orders handcuff him from looking at what steps the government took over 22 months to shield Mr. Mulroney.

    Will the government make it clear, in writing, that the government itself is included in Dr. Johnston's review?

    Hon. Stockwell Day (Minister of Public Safety, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, if the member opposite knows anything about the sterling reputation of Professor Johnston, she would know that he is not the type of person who would take kindly to the thought of being, as she said, handcuffed. That is not going to be happening. We want a full public inquiry.

    Professor Johnston has served governments at a variety of levels. The Leader of the Opposition has come out in support of his appointment. His reputation is very well known. We expect that he will deliver that mandate for a full public inquiry.

I'm sure that you understand exactly what I'm getting at now. What is fundamental in any inquiry are the Terms of Reference. Let's be more precise, the Terms help determine the result.

If you look at the questions raised by the Opposition, the whole point of what they are asking is whether the Terms will be framed broadly or narrowly. Of course the Prime Minister is stating that Professor Johnston can do whatever it is that he chooses to do. But I would suspect that as a lawyer, Professor Johnston will stick exactly to the Terms of Reference that he has been given for setting out the Terms for the Public Inquiry.

I must admit that the Conservative approach of appointing an expert to determine what are the Terms of Reference for the Public Inquiry strikes me as being very sensible in a political matter such as this is. Of course, the expert must be given freedom to determine those terms are or else the entire process is just a fraud designed to fool the public into believing that there is a proper Inquiry.

The other interesting comment was the one that stated that the Gomery inquiry was set up so quickly while this one may not get a decision on the Terms of the Public Inquiry until mid-January. By the time the Public Inquiry gets rolling it could be several months later. By that time a lot of the brouhaha would have died down.

So if we look at the Windsor Utilities Commission fiasco... what do we see:

  • no investigation into the political side of this matter even though it was alleged that "politics"played a role and why we had this fiasco in the first place
  • no investigation to determine whether previous Administrations were the cause of the problem or the Administration in power after 2003
  • why did it take so long to start the process in the first place and why was the public tendering process not followed
  • a section 9 inquiry only as determined by the Minister limited to financial matters and not a sections 9 and 10 as requested by the City or a full forensic inquiry dealing with the financial, business, and operational affairs of WUC including its relationship with Enwin as desired by citizens
  • Terms of Reference determined by the Ministry without any involvement by those affected namely the citizens of Windsor
  • a fee for services of around $150,000 which means that a full forensic accounting investigation will not take place given the low amount of the fees
  • everything being done in secret with no public involvement that I'm aware of at all
  • an Inquiry that was put off for months even we were led to believe that the Inquiry would be started immediately
  • a Report that may or may not be released to the public
  • questions about why the Mayor contacted the Auditor General and what was said
  • questions about what our two Senior Cabinet Ministers/MPPs said to the Minister Of Municipal Affairs
  • questions about why the Ministry of Finance was involved
  • questions about why the Minister Of Finance attacked the head of WeACT personally
  • lack of OMB response in a timely manner
  • no investigation into whether there has been a cover-up.

And the latest development from the OMB...just read Chris Schnurr's BLOG about the latest shocker

It just gets uglier and uglier.

I am sure if you sat down and thought about it for a few minutes, then you could add in additional matters that are of concern.

What happens next... in a perfect world, a letter to the Premier would get a thoughtful response back and perhaps an examination into what happened so as to satisfy the Public's need that a proper investigation is being done. But we know that's not going to happen.

I am certain that WeACT will do the right thing for Windsorites again now!

Waiting For The Ambulance To Cross

As we are learning more, are we seeing a pattern of artificial hysteria being created respecting the ambulance affair? And if so, why?

I am just as upset as most people I am certain about the story of US Customs not allowing the ambulance with the heart patient to go through the border quickly but rather pulling it over for secondary inspection. But is there more involved with this story than we know? Are politicians using us again for their own agendas?

This follows a story about a Canadian firetruck that was delayed by US Customs in entering the United States to assist in a fire. ( Subsequently, we learned that "The border guard didn't want to let them through because they didn't have identification." We also learned that "tighter restrictions may be in place because of the May 24 incident in which Andrew Speaker, who was infected with a rare, drug-resistant form of tuberculosis, entered the United States from Canada at the Champlain crossing." Are those good excuses or not? I will let you be the judge in these days of terrorism.)

I am sure that we will find out a lot more details over the next few weeks that may actually explain what went on without the noise that seems to be taking over now. Is there a protocol in place and was it followed are the most obvious questions to ask.

However I was intrigued by the comment of Dean Wilkinson of the Windsor-Essex EMS

  • "Nevertheless, Wilkinson said he is not worried about the practice, given that most of the 150 or so yearly ambulance transfers to Detroit occur without a snag and that those which are stopped usually wait less than five minutes.

    "Our staff were not concerned about the stop," Wilkinson said Sunday. "Because they understand that it may happen and that it has happened in the past...

    Canadian-American protocol allows border guards to inspect emergency vehicles."

Here is what our Fire Chief said:

  • "It's unlikely paramedics, firefighters of medical staff on an emergency run would be delayed at the Windsor-Detroit border while their paperwork is thoroughly checked, thanks to protocol and informal agreements in place, emergency and customs authorities say.

    "We are always testing for emergency planning," said Chief Dave Fields of Windsor Fire and Rescue Services.

    "We have developed great relationships, so I believe we are OK."
The professionals involved in this every day did not seem to be too upset. If that is so, then why has the Mayor been making headlines about this for the past few days? Why have there been headlines in the national media about the story? The Mayor surely has the ability to contact the ambulance service and to ask the questions about what happened and to give us answers and reassurance quickly.

Here is why I'm so cynical about all of this. The Star headline also said:
  • "It's happened 10 times within the past two years."
Where were all the headlines and the Mayor's protestations on all of the other occasions? Why now? Why didn't he react then? How many times does something have to happen before Eddie gets off his rear end and does something? Here's an interesting quotation from the Mayor:
  • "What happened on Monday is something that you don't expect to happen with the protocols in place," Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis told CTV News."
How can he say that when he knows, or should know, that this is happened before even with protocols in place? How can he say this when he knows, or should know, that the protocol allows for inspections?

Is it all a phony story designed to create headlines? Is there perhaps another reason behind all of this? How about this for an explanation. Brian Masse, Stockwell Day and the Canadian Ambassador to United States have given it away. Here is what Brian had to say:

  • "It's another sad chapter of what's happening at the border," New Democrat MP Brian Masse told CTV News. "It's becoming a militarized zone."
Here is what Ambassador Michael Wilson was talking about a few days before:
  • "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."
And Stockwell Day:
  • "CTV News reports Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day has expressed concern and asked for a review of border procedures in a letter to U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. "
Is it all part of the border game? Are our politicians really using the fire truck and ambulance issues to achieve their agenda with the US, whatever that agenda is? How low can we sink if it is? Now we can use heart attack victims and fire trucks as pawns to accomplish a political purpose. I can hardly wait to see what is next.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Dilkens For Mayor

  • Remember when I wrote that BLOG about Councillor Drew Dilkens being a nobody. Well he is now a somebody. And how.

    Can you imagine, he is mentioned in the first line of Henderson's Saturday column dealing with the Council airport debate and in today's Editorial too. All that Drew did was ask for some information that was necessary for him to make an informed vote. Is that asking too much? In fact, Henderson stated that what he asked for was perfectly reasonable too:
  • "objections over timing and lack of information before voting against it [The Airport Resolution]."

Don't you find it fascinating that Eddie had to run to Gord. I sure do. Does it mean that every time that he is in trouble, he has to run to Gord as his protector? Does Gord feel obliged to be an apologist for the Mayor when he does something stupid, to make excuses for him? Or is Gord there to play the heavy, to beat up on anybody who dares oppose the Mayor?

This column was almost as funny as Henderson's "Shooting the Messenger" column where he gave Eddie credit for the mess that he actually helped create. One very eerie line in that column that is so apropos given what is going on at the airport with the City trying to take it over and run it is the following:

  • "Enwin was a broken organization with a defective top-down culture which stifled employee initiative. It lacked entrepreneurial skills yet gambled, with our money, that it could become a corporate player with investments in hot water tank sales, billing, telecommunications, laboratory testing and training. Heads have since rolled and it's now refocusing on core responsibilities, delivering water and electricity.

    "The problem was that they were trying to compete with the big boys. But they didn't have any experience in the business world," said Francis. "We decided as a group, let's get out of the businesses we don't belong in, and take this back to basics."

Yes just like now, with amateurs trying to run an airport and be a big-league operator in the airport business. All of a sudden we now have experience in the business world I see with our "Young Entrepreneur of the Year" in charge.

Back to the Ward 1 Councillor. Here's another one of those funny Windsor Star "online/published version" changes that I am sure that someone can explain easily. It's probably due to a lack of space.

This has to do with DRTP and its new proposed rail tunnel which obviously can be a concern in Ward 1 because of what DRTP proposed previously. In the online version of the Star, both Councillors Brister and Dilkens were mentioned.

  • "Coun. Dave Brister, who represents South Windsor, was once the leader of a neighbourhood group that fought against the DRTP truck plan because of the potential air and noise pollution impacts. He still resides close to the corridor.

    He declined an invitation to meet with DRTP over its latest plan, saying Thursday he first wants to secure a government funding commitment to build the new truck feeder highway in Windsor leading to the border, which would eliminate any need for the truck-route component of the DRTP plan.

    "DRTP has a history of using the rail issue to mask the larger goal to have a truck route to help fund (with border tolls) the new rail tunnel," Brister said. "I don't see anything different in terms of their end goal.

    "Once we have our (border) road network established, by all means I'll be happy to talk to them about rail, but I'm not prepared to do that until that is nailed."

    His wardmate Coun. Drew Dilkens did meet with DRTP.

    "It was a general discussion of how they are looking to create a new high-stack rail tunnel," he said. "My first question is what happens to the existing tunnel. We don't want to see trucks going through it.

    "The answer was passenger rail, but in terms of business case, I'm not sure it's there. If Via and Amtrack had interest they would be running trains through there already.

    "Let me be crystal clear. I'm against running vehicles and trucks through the city as DRTP proposed in the past."

The Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget put his head in the sand and refused to meet with DRTP. How is that serving his constituents since he has no idea what they're doing? Councillor Dilkens on the other hand went to see what they were doing because perhaps a doublestack rail tunnel makes sense for Windsor and to protect his comunity. I would have thought that this was the responsible thing for a City Councillor to do, to be informed.

However, with the published version we read about Councillor Brister, but Councillor Dilkens was nowhere to be found in the story. Poooooof, it was as if he never existed. That'll teach him to ask those kinds of questions at Council, innocuous or not. No good publicity for him.

What seems perfectly clear right now is that Eddie is not quite sure yet how to deal with Drew. Does he be his friend and bring him back into the fold. I mean Drew is still a rookie Councillor after all. He is entitled to a mistake or two. Or does Drew get hammered so that he stays in line a la Bill Marra.

You know of course that some people will be knocking on Drew's door after his Monday dustup with the Mayor and will be asking him whether they can start a "Draft Dilkens for Mayor" campaign even it is several years before the next election. They will encourage Drew to keep on asking the tough questions that no one wants to ask on Council and distinguish himself that way from the rest of them.

Some people have heard the rumours about Eddie running again and can't stomach that possibility. They don't have to worry fortunately about Councillor Brister because he told Gord Henderson that he was never going to run for Mayor and he wouldn't break his word now would he.

  • "In fact, said Brister, he has zero interest in becoming mayor.

    “Write that rumour off forever. It’s not something I ever want to do and it’s just never going to happen."

Councillor Halberstadt may run federally as might Councillor Lewenza if Joe Comartin retires so they would be out in that case while I don't believe that Councillor Valentinis wants to run to be Mayor. If they ran and lost, running for Mayor would look like a consolation prize and would destroy their credibility.

Would it be a Marra/Dilkens contest unless Councillor Gignac decides not to run for the Liberals federally. You know that she's hedging her bets. It doesn't matter for which position she's running. She started her work to make herself even better known than she is now.

Did you know, according to the website of Dmytro Doblevych, a digital media developer living in Detroit, Michigan

  • "Elderly and disabled people were being moved from their old and cramped Huron Lodge Nursing Home just off Tecumseh Road to a brand new facility at 1881 Cabana Road West. On entering the building, each resident was photographed with the City of Windsor councilwoman Jo-Anne Gignac. In total, 224 photographs were made."

A client in this case apparently was the City of Windsor. I wonder what that all cost and who paid for it?

So Drew, if you are going to run, you better start moving. You need to get involved in a rubber chicken circle pretty soon. And if you hear that he has rented a Segway again, then you will know!

How Eddie's Tunnel Helps Windsor Retailers

I just cannot believe this story. Higher business and property taxes, levies, high CDN$, border backups and now encourage people to shop in the USA!
  • Deals set to lure Candians to local malls on Black Friday
    November 19, 2007

    Taubman Centers, Inc. plans an aggressive push to lure Canadians to its metro Detroit malls on the day after Thanksgiving.

    The Windsor-Detroit Tunnel staff will distribute one $20 voucher per vehicle starting at 5 a.m. on Nov. 23 for the first 2,007 vehicles that enter the United States from Canada.

    The vouchers may be redeemed from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. that day only — the traditional day that kicks off the U.S. holiday shopping season — at four Detroit-area Taubman malls, located within an hour’s drive of the international border.

    “With the Canadian dollar at a record high, there’s never been a better time for Canadians to shop in the United States,” notes Karen MacDonald, Taubman spokeswoman.

    One Canadian dollar was buying $1.018 in U.S. currency on Monday.

    The voucher can be exchanged for a gift card at the customer service centers of The Mall at Partridge Creek in Clinton Township, Fairlane Town Center in Dearborn, Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi or Great Lakes Crossing in Auburn Hills, Mich.

    Bloomfield Hills-based Taubman Centers, Inc., is a real estate investment trust, that owns and/or manages 24 shopping centers in 11 states.

This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both Of Us

Does anyone know a good real estate agent? I think I will need their services shortly.

It's been a fun ride and I have enjoyed writing my BLOG but enough is enough after all. All good things have to come to an end.

I know that my wife and I are just at the beginning of our Heritage bathroom renovation (If the owner of the Paul Martin house can get his roof fixed up with a Heritage grant and so can the owner of a Sandwich bakery, I should be able to get a few bucks too. Now how do I get ahold of Greg Heil to put in my request?). I figure that by the time that it is done and after the Christmas holidays, I'll be able to put our house up for sale and get a pretty good price for it. Bathroom and kitchen renovations are supposed to be a way to encourage people to buy your home aren't they?

No I'm not moving out to Western Canada because I have a job in Alberta. No I'm not going to Toronto or New York to be a big media star because some major media outlet has read my BLOGs. I don't have some big opportunity that is waiting for me. On the contrary, I have recognized that I had better be one of the first to put my house up for sale before the floodgates open and everyone wants to leave.

Oh don't be silly, it has nothing to do with taxes, levies, and failed municipal policies. It has nothing to do with our lack of action on the border or the spending of who knows how much money on the East end arena or a dying downtown.

No, I am being chased out of town. I'm being forced to leave. I'm being hounded and pestered. You see, I assume that I am one of those people in Windsor with an inferiority complex identified by Gord Henderson in his column on Saturday. I am one of those
  • "personality-driven naysayers who undermine Windsor's best interests to advance their own agendas."

I must be providing

  • "Windsor negatives [that] wind up as ammo for cities competing with us for investments."

I did not know that I was that powerful frankly. I am even more powerful than the Mayor of this City it seems. Silly me, I only thought I had a few thousand readers a day come to my BLOGsite, most of them locals. Clearly I am mistaken.

Apparently it is much more than that. My words have spread around the world. Westjet and big air charter operators read what I have to say. Economic development officers in cities everywhere take down what I write and give it to investors who pour their billions in neighbouring cities around Windsor. All of these "outsiders" learn about all of the problems in Windsor that I am dreaming up.

Poor Eddie had to run to Gord Henderson for help and assistance. He could not do it on his own. You see, Eddie's unofficial spinmeister had to write something to protect Eddie from Council disunity and the anger of Councillors. It seems that some of them still have a bit of self-respect for themselves that has not yet been beaten out of them. So far anyway.

Eddie wouldn't dare apologize himself to his colleagues for his rude behaviour because that would mean that he would be admitting that he did something wrong. And as we know, he never does anything wrong. Just like with his non-WUC apology. Let Gord make the excuses instead.

So Gord writes the column and says that our poor Mayor really did not mean to dump on Councillor Dilkens and the rest of Council by telling them to "Spit It Out." Oh no, it is not his fault that he is so arrogant and that he refuses to share with his colleagues. It is just that poor Eddie is filled up with "unloaded months of pent-up frustration over Windsor's penchant for self-loathing."

Yes truly, Gord has told us correctly... Eddie is full of it!

No it is not because Eddie is being criticized for higher taxes, failure on the border, WUC fiascos, arena extravagance, Tunnel deals, Canderel leases, parking giveaways that he is that so upset. No it is our fault Windsorites. I guess we cannot "feel good" about our City when he have someone with his hand in our pockets to try to take our hard-earned dollars so that he can develop shovel ready airport lands or a new City Hall or some other ego monument.

It's fun being an entrepreneur at taxpayer expense. It's fun being able to do all kinds of things without any personal risk to your own personal bank account. It's so much fun being able to meet financiers on Tunnel deals, politicians and diplomats on border crossing matters and transportation leaders from the airline industry. It's so much more fun than being a Mayor and fixing watermains and sewers and roads.

Haven't you figured it out yet, you and I, dear reader, and I include you too because you read this BLOG all the time, have joined the ranks of "enemies" of Windsor. It's all our fault. It is never Eddie's. Gord Henderson just told us so.

Sure "Dissent and debate are both good and essential" provided of course that you are on Eddie's side and attacking everyone that he believes will prevent him from doing whatever it is he wants to achieve.

And what is the remedy if one doesn't like what is going on and dares criticize according to the Mayor:
  • "But if Windsor is as awful as some homegrown critics suggest, and he gets that message at least twice a week in hostile letters, Francis wonders why they stick around. "If you think it's the worst city in the world, what are you doing here?"
That's it. Pack up and leave. Get out of town. Scoot. Go back where you came from. Anybody who's a naysayer doesn't deserve to live here it seems. Unity above all. Eddie's unity that is.

What a bloody nerve. Who the hell does he think he is. I do not think I have ever heard anything as sickening and disgusting as that remark! Frankly, if Eddie cannot take the pressure, he should resign and go into a less stressful occupation that is better suited to his personality. Clearly he cannot handle the stress with public outbursts like that.

Wait a minute, I like my house. I like where I live. I just sunk a whole bunch of money into fixing my place up so that I can enjoy it during my golden years. I like having the best of both worlds by living in Canada but being able to go easily to the US when I want to do so. Why should I go?

I have a better idea. I think Eddie should leave town now. Gord gave us the hint. I think this may happen sooner than later.

As we know, Eddie is not a leader but a legal technocrat. He is a terrific bureaucrat not a decison-maker. His planning, need for reports, hiring of consultants and studying of issues to death---his stalling in other words--are symptomatic of a person who is afraid to be wrong, to make a mistake. He dare not be held accountable personally. He needs a convenient scape-goat.

Is that why Council is made responsible for everything? Eddie clearly pointed that out when he reminded Councillors about their role in previous meetings about the airport and the decisions made. They voted on it didn't they? We heard something similar in his outburst about sewer projects during the WUC Council meeting. It's their fault if something does not work out. Never his.

Eddie is like a prophet in his own land. Never appreciated. He is only appreciated by outsiders. I wonder who told Gord these things about Eddie to show his brilliance to impress us:
  • "He was one of four Canadian mayors invited by Chicago Mayor Richard Daley to attend a late September summit of Western Hemisphere mayors in the Windy City.

    During the summit he was buttonholed by Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan who wanted him to come out and speak to his council about Windsor's success as the second city in Canada to adopt the hugely popular 311 phone service.

    Meanwhile, Toronto Mayor David Miller, involved in a titanic battle over tax hikes to address his city's crushing deficit, asked Francis how Windsor managed to slash debt in the midst of a serious economic downturn while investing in new projects like the WFCU Arena. "They can't believe we've cut our debt and how we're getting things done. It doesn't match up with what they read about," said Francis of Miller's envious reaction to Windsor's budget strategy."

Eddie has outgrown us. He is bigger than this small town. We just can't see what a star that we have as Mayor.

It is not fair for Windsorites to keep him all to ourselves. We need to share him with the world and we need to do it now. I will forego leaving Windsor provided that you and I, dear reader, encourage Eddie to leave town to save the rest of the planet. It is his calling. No, it is his duty!

Will Chris Schnurr Run For Parliament

Interesting news that came out of the Globe and Mail on Saturday:

  • "The entire executive and many senior members of the small political party formed by Progressive Conservatives who rejected the merger with the Canadian Alliance have decided to join the Liberals.

    The Progressive Canadian Party, which expropriated the PC logo and adhered to the ideals of the old Tory party, will likely continue, said Tracy Parsons, who quit as party leader two weeks ago.

    But Ms. Parsons will be taking out a Liberal membership, as will party president Jim Love, the four other members of the executive, several members of the national council, all of the CPC's Quebec organizers and many riding presidents."

Recent history suggests that when Members of Parliament cross the floor, they seem to get significant positions in the newly joined Party. One wonders then, when almost the entire senior executive of the Progressive Canadian Party joins up with the Liberals, what deals have been made.

Here's something to consider.

Watch out Greg Baggio, sorry Joyce Zuk but I expect that part of the deal may be that Chris Schnurr is parachuted into Windsor West to run against Brian Masse in the next federal election. Has Schnurr in fact been offered a Cabinet position if he can knock off Brian? Perhaps something to do with the border?

Masse may well be easily beaten with a well-known and well financed candidate. After all, Windsor West was Herb Gray's riding and the Liberals are desperate to get it back into the fold. With his NDP party credentials, Massey has achieved little for Windsor since he has been a Member of Parliament. It may now be that Windsor voters want to be on the winning side given the problems that the Federal Conservatives are having with the Mulroney affair. The key issue, the border, was one matter that Masse could have had some influence over when the NDP held the balance of power in Parliament. He did nothing for us.

Masse and Schnurr are on complete opposite sides as to what should be done with respect to the border crossing issue. It would be interesting to see debates between those two if an election was held shortly.

Schnurr, a Blogger in town, helped form WeACT as a result of the Windsor Utilities Commission fiasco. He received very favorable press as a result of his actions. His BLOG has also would developed a following. Schnurr was the Communication Director of the PC party.

Poor, old Dwight Duncan, what is he going to do now? First Sandra and then Chris. I expect that Dwight may now have to apologize to Mr. Schnurr for calling him a Conservative when he was not and for saying such rude things about him seeing that he joined the national Liberal Party:

  • "Unlike Mr. Schnurr and his Conservative friends, we don’t believe the provincial government should just go in for the purposes of beating up municipalities."

With his BLOG and media exposure and with the Liberals smelling blood hoping that they might actually form the Government, this could be opportune time for the Liberals to win back Windsor West with Schnurr as their candidate.

The ultimate would be Dwight Duncan nominating Schnurr in the riding. Who knows, even the Mayor might send in a letter of support as he did for Sandra.

You know what they say about politics making strange bedfellows.