Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, December 07, 2007

Some Surprising Thoughts

Just some news stories that I found fascinating and that I wanted to share with you.

  • "Mary Ann Cuderman, who owns a bakery in Sandwich, said she thinks the debate around the location of a third border crossing somewhere in the city's west end might have hurt growth in the area.

    "In the Malden Road and Prince Road area, people want to get out," Cuderman said. "The whole crossing conversation has made people queasy. That's probably what is driving that."

    Cuderman doubted vacant, boarded-up houses close to the Ambassador Bridge -- which bought them to accommodate its proposed twin span project but can't tear them down because of a city freeze on development -- significantly affected the population in the neighbourhood.

    Those homes had been rented mostly by students, Cuderman said. Students wouldn't have made it into the population counts because it was conducted in late spring of 2006 when most of the homes would have been unoccupied."

Clearly Eddie has missed his calling. He should have been a professor or a teacher rather than a politician or Mayor or leader. Look at how quickly he educated John Tory in only an hour or so.

Windsor Star 04-03-2007

  • "Asked how likely it is Windsor would have to deal with a surface- level super highway to the new crossing if he were elected premier, Tory replied: "I can't answer that question," and pointed to his lack of access to information on the border file. "
Windsor Star today

  • "Tory said he supports Windsor's GreenLink proposal to resolve the border truck problems."


  • "You can only be told so many ways to take a hike before you get the message," Francis said Thursday."

That was our Mayor when the County did not do as he told them with respect to the Tourism Board.

Now if he would only listen to Windsor taxpayers too and the message we are giving him.


It's just like the movies... boy meets girl etc. However in this case I don't think there is going to be happy ending.

  • "I don't think Tecumseh was ever really interested," said City Coun. Caroline Postma, chair of the Transit Windsor board.

    Transit Windsor hasn't received a resolution or even a letter from Tecumseh's council indicating a serious interest in planning a bus route and stops, Postma said Thursday. "They are a reluctant suitor..."
  • But when it came time to present a financial proposal to Lakeshore -- which was done Nov. 27 -- Tecumseh wasn't invited to the meeting, Postma said."


Don't you find this coincidental. The amounts are so similar:

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis tried to calm fears Thursday, following Wednesday's budget deliberations when city councillors discussed cutting the program's $474,000 funding, as one way of reducing a tax hike for Windsor ratepayers that currently sits at 3.1 per cent."

  • "Francis was upset by county council's decision Wednesday night not to contribute $500,000 more annually to help bolster the local tourism industry -- reeling from a tighter border and stronger Canadian dollar."

Item 2 on Council's Agenda says that the City will spend about $400,000 on Star advertising. How much of that did we pay for Greenlink ads? Has the City put in its DRIC response yet by the way? If not, why did we need to spend money on ads?

I wonder how much was paid to CKLW this year too.

Do the other media in town get City ads too?


I thought everybody at City Hall was scurrying around trying to complete the budget. Apparently not now. I guess we don't have to with a Standard & Poor's AA rating. Who cares what that Western think tank and CIBC think about our economy. I dismiss them too.
  • "The mayor said given the early status of the city's budget deliberations, it would be premature for anyone to "jump to conclusions" that the crossing guard program would be cut, but the city is looking for ways to trim costs. The budget will likely not be finalized until early February."


Given that there is almost about two months before the budget will be finalized, there is only one thing that can be said:

Do You STILL Want A Public Authority For Windsor

There is one thing I will say about Brian Masse. He is a very smart politician. He knows when to pick up an issue and when to drop it. In other words, he is a very good follower.

Take Greenlink for instance, it seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth. It's after November 15 which I thought was the date by which the City was going to submit its position to DRIC. Does anyone know what the City said, have we been told, or, as is the usual around this Mayor and Council, has it been submitted secretly and without giving the Public any information.

What I find fascinating is the lack of comment by Brian on the subject. To me it means he knows that it is a non-starter for most of the people in his riding, people who would be directly impacted by the road. Most people just don't care and will be happy with the DRIC road. Brian is not going to waste his political capital on something that is a loser, even to help of his good buddy, the Mayor.

If you want proof of this just check out Brian's latest Windsor West Update. His Dear Friends introduction talking about his role as NDP Transport Critic did not mention a word about Greenlink. Instead his newsletter dealt with Brian's latest boondoggle, a Public Border Authority.

You know already what I think about the value of public border authorities in relation to international crossings. I note that Brian wants to have elected board of governors for this Border Authority. Naturally as the MP for the area, I'm sure that he'd want to be on the Board.

Should we go along with Brian on Public Border Authorities? Let's take a look at the Blue Water Bridge and some activity that has been going on there.

Here are some interesting tables for you to consider and maybe you can figure out the rationale of the Blue Water Bridge tolls.

Interesting quote from Mayor Bradley of Sarnia that should again destroy the myth of Public Authorities running border crossings in our area. I wonder what Brian Masse would have to say about this:
  • "On Thursday, tolls on the Canadian side of the Bluewater Bridge will change to $2.75 in both Canadian and U.S. funds.

    Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley said he was surprised by the announcement, especially since the fees will remain unchanged on the American side of the bridge...

    Bradley said Sarnia residents feel like they "don't have much of a choice" when it comes to bridge tolls.

    "People tend to be fatalistic about it," he said. "The bridge is an independent entity.... What they do and how they do it is up to them."

Just so you know, the US rate for cars was INCREASED from $2.50 to $2.75 instead of the Canadian rate being DECREASED from $2.75 to $2.50. I guess that makes somebody a few extra bucks.

So having a Public Authority doesn't seem to be the nice, friendly border operator that Brian Masse has been urging us to accept for the Windsor area.

What's also very interesting, and this was not in the story, were the toll rates going into Canada. Either the rates going into the US are much too high or the rates into Canada are much too low. Take a look at the table below.

The difference in toll rates is similar to what takes place at the publicly-owned Detroit/Windsor tunnel too. Except at the Tunnel, the rates into Canada are more expensive than the rates into the US. And there is a huge rate difference on the Detroit side between the Canadian toll and the American toll.

Oh dear, I just find these public bodies just so confusing. Thanks Brian but no thanks!

UPDATE: Kevin Black, Windsor/Essex News Director of Blackburn Radio Inc. 96.7 CHYR tells me that they ran this the day after the Schwartz Presentation

  • "The latest Sam Schwartz proposal looks good according to Windsor-West MP Brian Masse.

    But he says he's upset Schwartz felt he had to downgrade his original proposal because of cost.

    Masse says cost shouldn't be an issue for something that is being put forward to two upper levels of government.

    He also says the provincial government still hasn't committed any funding to the border plan, and that they should be prepared to fund the infrastructure that's needed.

    The new proposal is the cities response to the DRIC proposal which outlines a new approach highway to a new border crossing."

What is interesting in going back is that the Windsor Star only reported on October 13:

  • "MP Brian Masse (NDP -- Windsor West) has expressed concern DRIC and Queen's Park may negotiate down many of the key features of the Schwartz plan to save funds.

    "It's clear the province has negotiated down the plan (away from full tunnelling) and the question I have is, will they continue to do so? Are they going to pick apart this plan and lower the expectations of the community's residents."

Windsor Education

Here are a few thoughts from kindergarten through to university.


I thought you might find this photograph of interest since it talks about the first school safety patrol in Ontario. Thanks to Elaine Weeks of the Walkerville Times for allowing me to use it.

In which town was the first patrol... in Windsor and after an accident took place.


Do you know really think the City cares if a bunch of University students come downtown or not. It's another PR gesture.

The whole exercise of moving the Engineering Building downtown, or is it now the law faculty or music school, is just to divert attention from the fact that nothing is happening in the City's core.

After all, Eddie did get elected the first time on building an arena downtown and then he took away Bill Marra's idea of an urban village for the downtown. Do you see any of those projects being started? Mind you, we did get a funky bus terminal although the business deal structured gives part of it away to Greyhound.

In this way, Eddie can point his finger at someone else and blame them for the fact that the downtown is on life-support

I wondered what all of those signs saying WE WANT U on the doors of some businesses downtown meant. Then I saw the story that said

  • "The Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association is turning up the heat on the University of Windsor to locate its new engineering building downtown.

    Larry Horwitz, chairman of the DWBIA, is giving out a couple of hundred posters for merchants to put in store windows urging the university to create an urban campus. The signs read "We Want U" in blue and green."

Speak about mixed messages... do you see this story as well about how this City can save money:

  • "Council cuts 5 student jobs
    Windsor Star, Tuesday, December 04, 2007

    City council made several minor service cuts Monday during another 2008 budget session that helped trim a projected tax increase to 3.1 per cent...

    Among the cuts was the elimination of five parks department student summer jobs. It is the beginning of several anticipated job cuts likely to be approved before the budget process is completed later this month or early in the new year."

I guess they can always go to Toronto to find job and perhaps to work there after graduation rather than stay in Windsor.

Heck, the excuse this year about the City's lands looking a mess was that we were waiting for the University students to join the Parks Department before the grass would be cut. I wonder what the excuse will be next year...not enough students

And as for Greenlink, we will probably make it a nature preserve so that the grass never needs cutting and we won't need any university students at all. Gotta save all that money.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Getting Angry

There is no doubt but that people in Windsor are getting very angry. I'm really not sure what triggered it. I don't think it was one specific instance but rather the culmination of a number of things:

86% WUC increases, a costly arena, US $75 million Tunnel deals, possible property tax increases, high unemployment, lack of economic diversification, stalled border solution, falling house prices and mortgage foreclosures with a Mayor and Council that just seem to be playing silly games as evidenced by the openness debate.

The latest joke is school crossing guards. Check out the Star's Forum

When our leaders seem out of touch with what we know instinctively, then they lose all credibility. We are in a time of crisis notwithstanding that the Mayor is prepared to dismiss anyone out of hand who dares say otherwise. We all know the problems but the politicians cannot admit it because then we would ask what they have been doing while the perfect economic storm clouds gathered.

Isn't that the WUC affair and why people are so angry about that. For years, the decision-makers within that organization knew that there were problems and it seems did very little about it. Then, bang... a huge increase that taxpayers have to pay even though taxpayers in other cities seem to be paying significantly less. We had hoped for a true examination of the affairs of that organization but instead we're going to get a whitewash audit. That does not sit very well. All it does is create dissension.

The demand for rah, rah, rahing by a media who have not served this City well just seemed to be the straw that broke the camel's back. Attacking Bloggers for heaven sakes. Is that the best that our media can do.

That's all background for a letter that I wish to post today that came from one of my readers. It's from a very successful business person with operations in both Canada and the United States. He sent this note to a number of people including me and he gave me permission to post it for your consideration. When a business person gets this angry to write a note like this, then you know that he is but one of a number of business people who feel the same way.

He's had enough and who can blame him. My only hope is that he and his colleagues do not walk away from this City but hang in for a little while longer. We can't afford them going elsewhere and taking jobs and investment opportunities with them. I also posted a letter from a person who left and why he did and the consequences!

They don't need the Mayor and Council... they can do it all themselves in spite of our local politicians. They can prosper and the City can prosper. We have to encourage them.

In my opinion, and I saw it happen before and can see it starting now, a number of Councillors have had enough. They know the mess that we're in better than we do. They're on the inside looking out with a lot more information than we will ever have. They learn about it in gory detail every Monday night. They get the phone calls and e-mails and letters from angered constituents who demand answers. We have to encourage them as well.

I hope this letter strikes a chord.

  • "If anyone wishes to view a classic textbook example of how to get things done, cross the Ambassador Bridge from Windsor into Detroit & when you enter U.S air space, look to the left. You will see hundreds of millions of dollars being dug out of the ground & put to work on new on-ramps, off-ramps, freeway changes, buildings, toll lanes, utilities, bridges & area streets. The attitude in the United States is to play it safe is not to play – let’s roll.

    Thankfully, Dan Stamper & the bridge company are no Eddie Francis & the corporation known as The City of Windsor. You see folks, inaction breeds doubt & fear. Action breeds confidence & courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit in your council chambers & think about it behind closed doors. Go out & get busy. Pity the leader caught between unloving critics & uncritical lovers. For the City of Windsor, doing nothing is very hard to do because they never know when they’re finished. The City of Windsor must realize – without labor, nothing prospers, there are no free lunches. This applies to everything they participate in, not just the twinning of the Ambassador Bridge.

    My experience in business has taught me that when it comes time to getting things done, we need fewer architects & more bricklayers & carpenters. Some would argue that Manny Moroun & Dan Stamper are going out on a limb with these statements but I would shoot back by saying, “Why not go out on a limb? Isn’t that where the fruit is??” I applaud Dan Stamper’s comments this morning in the Windsor Star because he is setting an example. Setting an example of leadership is not the means of influencing another, it is simply the only means. As President of my Group of Companies I can relate to this line of thinking because an example has more followers than reason.

    The City of Windsor’s leadership policy of “Fake it ‘til you make it” is in full bloom on this subject. When Mayor Francis discovers the center of the universe, a lot of people (city councilors mostly) will be disappointed to discover they are no longer in it.

    A word to the wise is not necessary here. Dan Stamper has already spoken. It’s the stupid ones who need the advice & my advice to them is, “Shut your mouth, get on board or get the hell out of the way.”

    Merry Christmas to all & to all a good night."

Just one more short one from another business person:

  • "I went from 12,000 a year in property taxes to 1,200 a year by moving from Windsor to [Name of town outside of Windsor]. Created jobs in the process.

PS. School Crossing Guards

Happy Anniversary for your award, School Crossing Guards. This will demonstrate how much we appreciate what you do for child safety.

Eddie then and now on school crossing guards.


Judy Lesperance, President, Crossing Guard Association; and Mary DiMenna, Crossing Guard Coordinator

Mayor Francis, on behalf of members of Council, advises that recently he had the pleasure of sending letters of appreciation to the 95 crossing guards, who on a daily basis,work tirelessly to ensure the road crossing safety of the students in this city, and concludes by presenting a certificate and memento of appreciation to Judy Lesperance, President and Representative of the Crossing Guard Association, and Mary DiMenna, Crossing Guard Coordinator.

WINDSOR STAR, December 6, 2007

"If it's taken away there will be issues," conceded Mayor Eddie Francis...

"It's not the city's responsibility to take kids from the front porch to school," Francis added. "The practice is in place, but it's not a mandated service."

WeACT Kills School Crossing Guard Program

That's what the Mayor and Councillors will say.

I am so f*****g angry this morning. To dare to use children as pawns. What a disgrace. But then again, what else can Windsorites expect from this bunch of local Government officials!

If you ever wanted to know the power of the Bloggers in town and of WeACT, then the scare front page story in the Star that Council "is considering cancelling the city's school crossing guard program" demonstrates our strength. Citizens are being played as suckers and fools. I can hardly wait for CKLW to do their thing too since it is on their News Headlines.

Sure, don't cut out the self-promotion funds wasted on Super Bowl or Wrestling or the Grand Prix in Detroit. Don't cut out the millions wasted on consultants and lawyers fees to design Schwunnels. Certainly do not cut out the extra salaries that Members of Council receive as Board Directors' fees that boosts their income dramatically. No posture instead and blame others for your failures.

Stop the cheerleading! Jason Moore watch out, you may lose your listeners. Windsor Star watch out, your circulation numbers may decrease. It is time that you knuckle under to the real power in this City. Oh for heaven's sakes, I don't mean the Mayor or City Council. I mean the people!

Do you really believe that any local official is that stupid to end a program that is so essential. Can you imagine what would happen if one child was injured because there was no crossing guard? Any politician who voted for that cut would be run out of town. And do you really think that the City is going to assign police officers to perform that function? Get real.

Here is what was said in the past:
  • "Moved by Councillor Zuk, seconded by Councillor Lewenza, M174-2004
    That the Deputy Clerk BE DIRECTED to extend an invitation to the representative from the Crossing Guard Association, to attend a future meeting of City Council, to be recognized by Council for the good work being done by crossing guards."

Obviously, the Star headline and story was designed to create hysteria. It was designed to work everybody up. Oh my goodness, the politicians are laughing, do you want higher taxes or service cuts? Gee, we'd like to save your children's lives but you know we have to slash taxes.

You know that is phony designed to make people upset since

  • "Council agreed to defer a decision on the issue at the request of Coun. Ken Lewenza Jr. so that administration can prepare a report on the ramifications and explore alternative funding in the community."

It should give people lots of time to be worked into a frenzy by the sycophants publicizing the story to demand that the program be kept even have taxes have to stay high. That's the plan anyway. What a cynical manipulation of the public. It is unworthy of our local politicians and they should be forced to apologize for their trickery.

We know that the Mayor and Council have a hate on for about Library so it is not a big surprise to see their budget being proposed to be slashed. But school crossing guards?

Don't you find it coincidental that this matter is being publicized right after Blogger and head of WeACT Chris Schnurr announced "Tax Cut Now Day."

  • "The Windsor Association of Concerned Taxpayers (WeACT) is announcing that Tuesday, January 9th, 2008 will be observed as “Tax Cut Now” day in Windsor.

    WeACT spokesperson, Chris Schnurr, said that the purpose of the day is to send a message to City Council that any tax increases given current economic conditions are simply unrealistic. Taxpayers expect that Council will reduce taxes - not increase them."

Do you see what I mean? They are scared of the people, very scared. Normally it is the closing of parks that gets people so upset. This time the Mayor and Council decided to scare parents. Use children's safety as their tool. They should be ashamed of themselves.

It is time that citizens of Windsor take back this City. Make the Mayor explain why we can afford a $65 million arena and a US $75 million Tunnel deal and stalling of the border crossing thereby losing thousands of high-paying jobs but we can't afford school crossing guards.

It just makes me vomit!


Ooops Has The Governor Done It Again

Remember when the Governor of Michigan made her dramatic but unilateral decision to kill all of the downriver crossings for a new DRIC bridge. There is no doubt that part of the reason for her acting in that fashion was political. She was running for re-election.

There is no doubt as well that there is a major battle going on in the State of Michigan between the Republicans and Democrats over the budget. One of the issues that almost resulted in there being a stalemate at the end was the DRIC project itself. The fight over money for this project even made it to the various Michigan media outlets believe it or not.

The Governor is term-limited in Michigan so she is looking for a new job. It would not look good for her resume to say that she was responsible for a huge war between the Executive and Legislative branches in Michigan that resulted in the closing down of the State Government as almost occurred. Moreover, if the rumours are true, her hubby might like to take over as Governor. He would not need any negative baggage either.

Michigan, like this part of Ontario, has been hard hit by the decline in in the automotive industry. It is suffering financially as well because of the mortgage debacle. As I wrote the other day, Michigan needs to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on their road network. The obvious question to ask is how can that be done if the money from the Michigan Transportation Department is to be used to duplicate what the State and the US Government are ready spending on the Ambassador Gateway project. Why would the State give up billions in Federal Matching Grants by building a public bridge? It makes no sense to do so.

That is why this story from Today's Trucking Magazine is so important. The Leakor has struck again. We have found out some astonishing news. In an exclusive report the Magazine states:

"Michigan governor urges permits for twin span."

In a sense this should not be too surprising since the State has already said that it does not oppose the Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project. What is surprising however is that the Governor wrote to the US Secretary of Transportation, Mary Peters, telling her that.
  • "In a letter obtained by, Granholm writes U.S. DOT secretary Mary Peters to request that the department "give every consideration to advancing federal applications for the Ambassador Bridge enhancement project."

    "It has been my administration's consistent position that the Ambassador Bridge Company's private efforts to twin its current structure can be achieved more easily on the American side (of the border), and I am strongly reiterating that position today."

The US Secretary will have to be extremely considerate of that request since the President of the United States through the Department of State has already said that the Bridge Company does not require a Presidential Permit and in fact, as far as I'm concerned, has killed any DRIC bridge when you read the letter that was sent sometime ago. That was the letter whereby the US Department of State did not give its concurrence for a new DRIC crossing in the central area even though asked to do so.

The central area is the area of salt mines and brine wells where DRIC has spent millions to test to ensure that a new bridge would not collapse when built. They have so much confidence that a separate peer review group has been set up to check out their conclusions. Nawww, I won't be cynical and say to share the blame if something goes wrong.

Politically in that State, it means that the Republicans and the Democrats, as headed by the Governor, may finally want closure on this very divisive issue. The telling point is why should the Public pay money for this project and duplicate what has already been done if private enterprise is willing to risk their funds using the Ambassador Gateway project. Effectively, she has told Democratic House Majority Floor Leader Steve Tobocman and Democratic Senator Ray Basham to back off their opposition and do it now!

It is just another step in doing the obvious. Can we be so bold in thinking that the meeting between the Bridge Company and Transport Canada that took place several weeks ago might also have had a conversation about the Bridge Company's project moving forward as well? As I mentioned in a previous BLOG, their relationship seems to be a lot better. According to the Star:

  • "Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun travelled to Ottawa a few weeks ago to meet with Cannon."

What makes me think that there is something going on behind the scenes is that the Star predicted

  • "Cannon is expected to again vow the federal government's commitment to get bridge construction quickly underway today, during his keynote address to the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnership (P3) annual conference in Toronto."

In fact, what is surprising is that Cannon did not do so. I did not read in his speech any sense of urgency whatsoever.

Couple all of this with the fact that there was nothing mentioned in Ontario's Throne Speech about the Windsor border crossing, that our own Minister of Finance has not talked about Greenlink and that the City has not put in their response to DRIC and one would have to believe that there is something happening.

So much for the Cannon meeting with Granholm a few months ago. In the end, it's all poltiical isn't it.

Perhaps Windsor might get a nice gift from Santa after all...a border resolution thanks to the Governor!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Big Pat On The Back


I am going to give myself a pat and also one to every other Blogger in town and citizen who has been and is prepared to stand up for his/her City. We've done a damn good job keeping this City honest notwithstanding major attacks by the sycophants, cheerleaders and hangers on who ought to know better. And as you may recall, a physical one as well.

The Windsor Star Editors are a very strange bunch. Take a look at the opening and the closing of their editorial today "Open Debate." If you can figure out how they made their leap of logic, then you are a better person than I.
  • "A mayor and councillors who have shown a disturbing penchant for keeping information from taxpayers opted for more of the same Monday when they voted down an accountability motion that would have increased transparency in city politics...

    Despite the unacceptable defeat of Dilkens' motion, though, it was refreshing to see council actually hold a spirited debate in public, and comforting to see councillors speaking their minds, voting their conscience and calling for increased openness and accountability.

    Debate, dissent and the clashing of divergent opinions are essential to the functioning of any robust democracy. It's nice to see they've finally arrived in Windsor."

Where has the Star been for the last few years? In denial? We have had debate and dissent and divergent opinions. Unfortunately for Windsorites, the Star has not been not part of it and I do not think it is yet. With a few exceptions, they have been cheerleaders and recently spectators.

Let me see now... the Newspaper on a mission who recently told us all to shut up and use our paddles to row to our coxswain/Mayor's command has all of a sudden discovered openness at Council.

Somehow the words "Eddie Francis" or "Mayor" did not appear in several recent editorials written in the Star that attacked what was going on at City Hall. The finger was directed right at the person who is responsible yet the Star Editors did not have the guts to name names.

I guess they never read their Lead Columnist's writings either and see how those who dare question the Mayor or point out what is going wrong in this City are mocked and ridiculed by childish name-calling.

I guess the Editors don't listen to CKLW and especially not to Jason Moore who told us to strap a “W” over our hearts and become cheerleaders.

Sure Councillors had their "public" debate and then went back into an "in camera" meeting right after the public meeting ended. Do you really think that the citizens of Windsor will be invited to attend the Council border meeting that the Mayor has scheduled? Heck, Councillors will not even be invited to attend the Mayor's meeting with business leaders. That shows how much he is prepared to share the glory.

Openness... don't make me laugh. What is this, another charade by the Star to try and fool its readers by saying that everything is all right now? One crummy debate where openness lost and we are supposed to cheer? Have the Star Editors lost their senses completely? Do they really believe that their readers are that dumb or can be fooled so easily?

I am hopeful that what we have seen is a start, that several Councillors have finally figured out that they have a legal responsibility to perform on behalf of those who elected them and not sit there like dummies merely to show a united front. Only time will tell.

From what my City Hall moles tell me, there is tremendous dissatisfaction at Council over a lack of leadership and sharing of information. There may even be a lack of trust amongst Councillors themselves. But I have heard that now for a long time and seen nothing happen. Were the two Motions on Monday a sign that this dissatisfaction has finally come to the fore or will Eddie try and pull and another rabbit out of the hat to keep Councillors quiet as he has successfully done for so long?

I really do want a "dysfunctional" Council like the one after March, 2003 that actually ran the City, not the Mayor, on the important issues. I'm hopeful that the Three Blind Mice can add a few more members as well. I hope that we can have more of the Valentinis/Halberstadt and Lewenza/Hatfield blowups so we would know that everything is not stage-managed over lamb chops before the Council meeting. I wish there was a Councillor like Joyce Zuk who would have told the Mayor by now to get out of the Chair if he cannot control the meetings in a better fashion.

If there is openness in this City, then it is not because of the media or the Councillors but because of me and Chris Schnurr and Paul Synnott and the Mayor of Monmouth and Chris Holt and Al Nelman and WeACT and Alan Halberstadt when he wears his Blogger hat and our readers and certain members of the media who are prepared to buck their management and Star letter writers and the Capitol supporters and Dennis DesRosiers and Citizens of Windsor who are prepared speak at Council even though they are ignored by our decision-makers and a whole bunch of people that I'm sure I have forgotten but who have had enough of seeing this City decline.

I better go out and try and find a bigger phone booth! Our numbers are increasing.

Bridge Company Moving Forward, Faster

Here's what the local media in Windsor and Detroit said about the Bridge Co.'s latest announcement.

  • "Bridge ups ante for crossing"

  • "Trading of punches to build Windsor's next border crossing escalated Tuesday when the Ambassador Bridge announced it has completed its environmental impact statement"

  • "Officials from the Detroit International Bridge Co. are surging ahead with plans to build a replacement for the 78-year-old Ambassador Bridge"

  • "Officials from the privately owned Ambassador Bridge filed a study with the Canadian government today that concluded a replacement bridge would have no "significant adverse environmental impact."

What is humourous is that the sports analogy of the race between the Bridge Co. and the Governments has changed to a boxing match in the Star or a poker game while CBC and the Free Press keep it as a race.

What was supposed to take a couple of years according to Transport Canada, took the Bridge Company three to four months. According to Susan Pedler of CBC News in her news broadcast last night, the Bridge Company seems to be in the lead in the race to build the new crossing ie "one step closer to winning the race."

I attended their press conference yesterday just to get a feeling for how the media would cover the story. There were more media reps there than I expected including Susan Pedler of CBC. Does she now leave the studio to do reporting or more on the scene interviewing? What was interesting watching the CBC News later was that she did an interview of Dan Stamper for the News right at the meeting room rather than in the studio as most hosts do.

There were lots of questions, none of them hostile but more along the lines of gaining insight and information. Why should the reporters be hostile... it is the BRIDGE COMPANY after all and aren't they supposed to be the "enemy" of Windsor? If you listen to the Mayor, they are. But then again it seems that fewer people are listening, including three or four City Councillors that I can think of.

While the tone was professional, it seemed also to be friendly as well given that the Bridge Company had made the effort to meet with reporters a number of times over the past year. That certainly was a big change in the relationship between the Bridge Company and the press, a failing of theirs that they have acknowledged and tried to rectify.

I was shocked to see a senior representative from the Mayor's Office there. Now I haven't attended every one of their press conferences but that is the first time that I recall seeing this person at one of the Bridge Company's press sessions. I may well have missed her appearance before but I was surprised. I did see David Estrin previously at an Open House though.

It made me a bit sad I must admit since I believe that at least one of the Councillors said that she got all of her border information from the BLOGs in town. Perhaps the Mayor actually wants to learn something now.

The biggest revelation as far as I was concerned was Dan Stamper's expectation that the bridge construction would start towards the end of 2008 after getting the required permits in both Canada and the United States within a few months. It would then take about two years to build a new bridge.

Stamper was asked about the relationship between the City and his company and if he was concerned that the City would try and stop him. His response was interesting saying that his Company had complied with the processes required. He almost dared Eddie to try and stop him if he got his approvals from the Senior Levels without actually saying it.

Mark Butler of Transport Canada was also there and he was tackled by a number of the reporters after the meeting was over. In the scrum, they tried to get him to say whether the Bridge Company's timeline was reasonable or not. Being the good spokesperson that he is, he gave an answer that everyone would feel comfortable with IE they would examine what was presented to them thoroughly but, of course, since he had not seen anything yet, he could not be precise. My guess is that the examination time frame cannot be much longer than the time it took for the Bridge Company to prepare their materials in the first place.

However the more interesting answer that he gave was that the Bridge Company would have to comply with both the EA and the Legislation under a Bill C-3. It is unlikely that Transport Canada could stall off the Bridge Company under the EA process for a long time as I said above but could certainly do it, or at least try, under the legislation since the Regulations have not been drafted yet. I assume that this is the last clear action that the Federal Government could try to take to slow down the Bridge Co.'s steady path to the construction of the Enhancement Project to keep DRIC in the game. That should keep some lawyers employed for a while too if true.

As an aside, did Eddie get an early Christmas present: a subscription to Readers' Digest? Their Word Power word of the month must have been "dismiss" recently. If Eddie does not like something, he merely "dismisses" it arrogantly. Reasons are not required since the subject is unworthy of discussion by him.
  • The speech of Dennis DesRosiers was dismissed as "the analyst’s annual attack on the city"

  • The "2007 Local Government Performance Index (LGPI) of the Frontier Centre for Public Policy in Winnipeg was dismissed and written off.

  • Now Eddie "dismissed the bridge's announcement as lobbying in the battle to build the next crossing."

I'll let you read the Bridge Co. notes for yourself.

  • FOR RELEASE DEC. 4, 2007


    WINDSOR, ONT. December 4, 2007 — The Ambassador Bridge today formally submitted to Transport Canada its Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), prepared as part of the federal environmental assessment for the proposed replacement span.

    The filing is the latest step in the formal approval process for a new six-lane, cable-stayed replacement bridge that would connect Windsor and Detroit just west of the existing Ambassador Bridge. The U.S. Coast Guard is presently conducting a similar environmental assessment. The project already has received approval from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Construction of the replacement span is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2008.

    “The document that we filed today represents a very detailed study into the environmental impact of Building a Better Bridge,” said Dan Stamper, President of the Ambassador Bridge. “The EIS found no significant adverse environmental effects from construction of the replacement span. This is consistent with information we have already presented to the public, and our report reflects feedback we received during our public forums.”

    Although not specifically required under the environmental assessment process, the Ambassador Bridge held three sets of public hearings in Windsor and Detroit, met with numerous groups and organizations and met with municipalities and officials of the City of Windsor and Detroit to invite questions or answer concerns. “We understand how important this project will be to area residents, and we want to continue to invite their participation,” Stamper said.

    The EIS follows guidelines established for the environmental assessment process by the Canadian government earlier this year. The Ambassador Bridge hired leading experts in the fields of air and water quality, noise, archaeology, habitat and other quality of life issues to determine the potential effects of the project, and to recommend mitigation where warranted.

    The Environmental Impact Statement indicates the proposed replacement span would have an overall positive effect on air quality and would reduce existing noise and vibration levels. Also, the proposed replacement span would not result in any harmful effects on local plants or animals, local aquifers, the Detroit River water resource or historic sites or buildings.

    One key quality of life improvement planned as part of the replacement span project is the Green Corridor that would be constructed along Indian Street to the west of the bridge plaza. This would provide natural vegetation to complement the adjoining neighborhood and serve as a buffer.

    The Ambassador Bridge replacement span would modify the existing crossing by shifting traffic that currently crosses the Ambassador Bridge approximately 100 feet to the west. The new 1,890-meter (6,200-foot) long bridge with a 670-metre (2,200-foot) span over the Detroit River would replace the existing Ambassador Bridge and link directly into the existing plazas in Windsor and Detroit.

    The new span would have the same vertical clearance above the Detroit River as the current bridge, 46 metres (152 feet). Structural supports would be located on land, thus avoiding any impediments to navigation. The existing historic suspension bridge would be retained for emergency and approved public events.

    Cost of the new bridge is estimated at $500 million, in addition to approximately $500 million already spent by the Ambassador Bridge for land acquisition, surveys and site preparation. The entire project, which would immediately create 3,700 new jobs, is privately funded.

    The Michigan Department of Transportation is currently reconstructing the Ambassador Bridge interchange with I-75 to improve bridge access. This more than $220 million Gateway Project is expected to be opened to traffic in December 2009, according to the MDOT web site.

    Highlights of the Ambassador Bridge Environmental Impact Statement include:

    Air Quality
    The study area of the current Bridge, the area of the replacement span, Huron Church Road / Talbot Road, and arterial roads, including sensitive receptors, was used to determine air quality and results were modeled using state-of-science software developed by both Environment Canada and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. There are no significant environmental effects on air quality from the construction of the replacement span.

    Using the Ontario Ministries of the Environment and Transportation guidelines, existing sound levels were measured at noise sensitive sites, which include heritage structures, and future sound levels were modeled. The current background sound levels are 64 decibels and were predicted to be 65 decibels in 2025 with the proposed replacement span. The predicted average sound level without the Enhancement Project would be 66 decibels in 2021. Sound impacts would be further mitigated with the use of noise barriers along the west side of the Ambassador Bridge replacement span.

    The ground-bourne vibration study revealed current vibration levels can be perceived by people standing on the ground but are below the range at which any cosmetic or structural damage to buildings occur. Ground-bourne vibration would be further reduced by constructing new bridge piers on piles driven to bedrock using state of the art 21st century construction methods.

    In accordance with provincial regulations, the replacement span has addressed archaeological issues by having the London Museum of Archaeology undertake Stage 1 (background study) and Stage 2 (archaeological field assessment) studies of the project corridor. Stage 3 (expanded field assessment) is underway. A licensed archaeologist will be on site during all stages of the construction of the replacement span.

    An inventory of vegetation species by a licensed biologist concluded that vegetation consists of manicured grass, mature trees, shrubs and river bank vegetation. No rare or endangered species were identified in the construction area. Measures will be taken to ensure minimum loss of mature trees in proximity to the Study Area.

    The replacement span is situated within an urbanized area and does not provide suitable habitat for either threatened or endangered species. There is no degradation of habitat quality as a result of the replacement span that would cause, or result in, any long-term impacts on species population or diversity.

    Surface Water
    The replacement span will have no impact on surface water quality and quantity.

    The Study Area is not a recharge area for the underlying aquifers due to the large percentage of impervious surface materials and the presence of the surface aquitard.

    Fish and Fish Habitat
    There are no adverse impacts on fish and fish habitat from the construction or operation of the replacement span. No piers are situated in the Detroit River and structural pilings would be located approximately 30 metres south of the river bank. All of the runoff from the replacement span will be collected and directed to a new stormwater management system to avoid any impacts from runoff.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Keep Your Mouth Shut. Or Else

Oh I am shaking in my boots. What have I done to deserve this abuse?

First the Windsor Star and now CKLW. All of this attention is just too much for me. I did not know that I had this power that I can apparently use for good or for evil. People are hanging on my every word, especially those on my mass e-mail list.

Sure I have people at City Hall and elsewhere leaking all kinds of information to me anonymously. But that's to be expected in a City where if you stick your head out out of the foxhole, it gets shot off. It's not my fault if they can't give me anything positive to write about.

I only have a few thousand readers per day, mind you most of them are pretty powerful people so I guess that's why some are so frightened of me. And I know that my other Blogger colleagues have similar kinds of hits to their BLOGsites with similar kinds of readers. However, that hardly compares with the Star's readership or CKLW's listeners.

But in this City it appears that if you dare defy you must be slapped down. Or rather, if you dare to think. At least I did not get the "Spit it Out" stare from the Mayor.

You would think that it is enough that the 7:20 a.m. Tuesday interview show on CKLW allows the Mayor to get across his message as the hosts throw him lobs that he can hit out of the park for a home run each week.

Now CKLW has to do more to prove that it is worthy. CKLW's Jason Moore did a commentary on the radio about the Bloggers in town. Not just any old CKLW newsreader or reporter but the news director himself. I am suitably impressed.

It's a continuation of earlier Star exposés, columns and editorials about naysayers and attacks to come. CKLW, not to be left behind probably because they were not being given enough scoops, decided to join in. After all, getting breaking news first brings you listeners doesn't it.

Bloggers, according to Jason, are
  • "pointing the finger, laying the blame condemning the actions or taking a shot at Mayor Eddie Francis and Windsor City Council."

DUH Jason, whom are we supposed to talk about...the perfect economic storm of miseries? Should we blame it on Fate rather than the people we elected? According to you, that must be what we should do. That is the answer.

Gee, Eddie in the Star only went back to the 1990s. Jason went all the way back to the '60s to prove his point. Yea, it's same old thing... we've experienced this before and came out of it... just bury your head in the sand, tough it out and we will get out of it all right.

That's delivering the Mayor's Message loud and clear. Just like the good media messenger/cheerleader that he is. That ought to get the Station's advertising department a few more Greenlink advertisements too.

There's a problem though that Jason has not recognized. I am sure he has seen CKLW's listener numbers increase over the past little while. It's all of those unemployed auto industry workers who have nothing better to do than to listen to Dr. Joy and call her about their depression or have time to phone in to the "number one morning show."

Jason states that "there comes a point you have to look at the big picture." Perhaps he needs laser surgery on his eyes. It's pretty clear that he must be very nearsighted. He obviously fails to see what is going on in the City. I'm not going to list all of the items that are going wrong because frankly I would find it too depressing. He knows what they are better than I do anyway with his team of reporters chasing down all of the stories.

But you know what, dear reader, it's not about me or my Blogger friends. We're not that important. It's designed to shut certain people up, to scare the wits out of them and to put at risk their future. Mention Bloggers to make it less obvious but the target is clear.

It's all about the Councillors isn't it and the City Hall paranoia that the March, 2003 Revolution is starting to take place again. A bunch of the Councillors have had enough haven't they. The two Motions were the first signs. The Revolution needs to be crushed but it cannot be done directly. So go after the Bloggers and the outsiders (Didn't Jason have the nerve to say Dennis DeRosiers?). Blame us for everything. That's the technique to use. Scare the Councillors.

I hope Patty gets a big scoop after Jason's last line. She deserves it:

  • "It’s time the vocal minority backed away from the glass, strapped a “W” over their heart and started championing what Windsor can be."

Rah, rah, rah, sis boom bah. I and my friends have already put on the Big "W" as you ordred as can be seen from the picture above.

Thanks for giving me and my fellow Bloggers the publicity. Our readership numbers are sure to go up now even higher. CKLW has given us more credibility.

CIBC Is An Enemy Too

OMG! Jason Moore will do another CKLW diatribe against Bloggers. The Star will force its reporters to go out and find "positive news" stories-- they are out there the Star tells us--so we can row, row, row together. Gord Henderson will tell us to withdraw our money from the CIBC and put it into the WFCU!

As for the Mayor, with a sweep of his hand, he will dismiss this report too! He will say that it is not fair to compare us with other cities since they are not border cities depending on manufacturing. It is a perfect economic storm he will say, and not his fault. After all, we have an S&P AA rating that is good for investors. Won't that help you sleep at night.

I am talking about the CIBC "Canadian Cities: An Economic Snapshot" December, 2007 Report. That report gave Windsor a -3.3 rating.
  • "Reflecting the difficulties in the manufacturing sector, cities such as Windsor and Saguenay still face major challenges. The recent appreciation in the dollar and the weakening in the US economy are probably adding another layer of difficulties facing those cities."

Here are the charts that demonstrate our difficult situation in comparison with other cities. But do not worry, it was like this in the 60's and 90's and look how well off we are today and how well prepared!

Has The Council Revolution Started

Perhaps when we say Council is revolting, it can viewed now in a positive sense!

I don't want to be too dramatic but last night was a big night for a number of Councillors. They actually took a stand based on their own principles and doing what they thought was right, not what was politically expedient. It was a baby step but at least they are learning how to walk.

Whatever happened to 10-0 votes on fundamental issues? Whatever happened to unanimity so that no one could pick apart Council and say that they are dysfunctional. Is that era over or was last night an anomaly, never to happen again? We will have to wait and see before we can form a firm opinion.

It's funny, the Council of 2003 was the best Council that the City has seen since that time. Generally, they were accused of being dysfunctional because they were supposedly not united. They were of course, against the Mayor of the time, Mike Hurst. He lost every significant vote by a 7-3 margin. There was no need for Council to pretend that they were united when they were not. We actually had some interesting Council debates where both sides were able to present their points of view. That has not been the case for a long time.

The votes:
  • 7-3 against DRTP, or rather the Rail Tunnel proposal (The Mayor voted) and
  • 6-4 against Openness and Transparency. (5-4 if the Mayor did not vote. Note, Councillor Jones had to leave for a personal family matter and did not vote on either Motion).
Councillors Marra, Hatfield and Halberstadt united on the first Motion while Councillors Dilkens, Marra, Hatfield and Halberstadt came together on the second one.

Oh by the way, the Mayor asked for a Motion to be introduced to support Greenlink in between the two Motions. Of course, the Procedural Bylaw had to be waived in order to do so and the Public was never given notice of it in advance so that no one could attend and speak on it. (I am too polite to mention that Councillor Valentinis objected on the Rail Tunnel Motion that the Public had no chance to debate the issue. For whatever reason, he did not raise the same issue with respect to the Greenlink Motion.)

That Motion passed unanimously. It made me slightly queasy that the Council might be going back to bad habits but, then again, it had to pass that way given what the Councillors had said to date on the issue. You can't expect too much on the first day of the rest of their Council life after all.

I'm also quite surprised that the City Clerk did not raise the matter that the Greenlink Motion was in conflict with the City's Tunnel Resolution that was passed earlier. I think she should have done that to avoid inconsistency. Does anyone know what the City stands for now since one Resolution wants full tunnelling and the other just partial?

Did the Mayor win last night? I don't think so. He needed deferrals on both Motions and did not get them. He did not play his cards properly in my opinion. What last night told me was that Council unity is dead. It is going to be an ugly three years as Councillors jockey for position. And he will NOT be able to control them. Just watch the grandstanding, public insults and the name-calling....Where's the Governor's hubby?

The stage was set by Councillor Valentinis for deferral on the Rail Tunnel Motion but he did not follow through on it. Councillor Halberstadt tried to get a deferral on the Openness Motion but it failed. Instead, the message in the end that the investment community got was that Windsor is still closed for business. The message that Windsorites got was that citizens are not allowed to get information and that, at least according to one Councillor, his Councillor colleagues are not trustworthy since they would reveal confidential information.

The pressure of the local media and their cheerleading did not change the minds of the revolutionaries. This was the first time in years that Councillors had the nerve to speak their own mind. We even saw an element of nastiness that has been kept hidden behind closed doors while the Mayor and Councillors pretended to be united. We heard Councillor Lewenza's insulting remark directed to his colleagues and Councillor Hatfield's bitter response. Too bad that we have been unable to see more of this so that we know that issues have been properly debated rather than stage-managed behind the scenes.

The Three Blind Mice, Councillors Marra, Halberstadt and Dilkens, stood together on the Openness Motion while two of the Mice stood together on the Rail Tunnel Motion. (You did not think that Councillor Dilkens could support a Motion that could be perceived as helping DRTP do you since he is a Ward 1 Councillor).

It was not a bad start for the newly forming Opposition. The sky did not fall. Their actions forced the Mayor make another one of his long speeches to justify the fact that he took it upon himself to vote. I was hoping that he might give a white-board presentation too to make my night but no such luck. Try as he might, the Councillors learned not to be intimidated any longer by the School Principal. They were not required to stay after Council and write 100 lines saying "I will not disobey the Mayor."

Imagine, Charles Clarke Square becoming our Tiananmen...Up the Revolution!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Please Tell Me The Answer...

Life is full of mysteries. I do not know the answer to these questions. Do you?


It looks like Stephen Harper is not the only one who should be concerned about confidence in his ability to carry on government. Are the Motions by Councillors Dilkens and Marra really going to the heart of what our Mayor is and wants to do? Is this the beginning of Councillors demonstrating that they are fed up with being ridiculed and abused by the Mayor and not being told what is going on? Is this the start of, or perhaps it is the public manifestation of the Councillors' revolt? Is this March, 2003 all over again with two of the Three Blind Mice taking charge the way several Councillors did with ex-Mayor Hurst?

It will be interesting to see what happens on Monday night at Council. Obviously, who votes for what will help tell us if there is a split on Council. We will see how strong the Mayor is and whether he can still dominate his Councillors as he has so far. We will also see how the Procedural Bylaw is used in all of this manoeuvering as it has been used in the past.

In my opinion, the only way that Eddie can win is if both Motions are deferred, thereby burying them forever. If they do not get seconders so that the Motions can at least be discussed, then the public will know that this Council is nothing more than a joke. What it means is that this Council is not prepared to deal in public with major issues.

Councillor Dilkens' Motion goes to openness and transparency, especially with respect to the new Corporations that the Mayor wishes to set up at the Tunnel and the airport. Frankly, how can anyone vote NO? That would mean that they are against openness. If they vote YES, then it makes it more difficult for what the Mayor wants to do since all of the Minutes would have to be disclosed. Deferral, probably so that Legal can look into this very complicated matter, means that no one has to deal with the subject.

Councillor Marra's Motion really goes to Eddie's control of the border file although the Councillor will be attacked for supporting what DRTP wants to do. If you had watched Council last week, you had seen how offended the Mayor was by the introduction of this Motion. A NO vote means that the City is again chasing out of town people who want to invest here and leaving a sour taste in the mouth of potential investors. A YES vote gives DRTP a big boost up although it will be positioned as if it is good for Windsor. In either case, it takes away some of the Mayor's leadership role on the border issue. Again deferral is the best result for the Mayor, the excuse being that until rail rationalization and financing is in place, it is premature to discuss the subject.


According to Councillor Halberstadt's BLOG,
  • "The early results are finally in on the $289,800 Community-Based Strategic Rail Study, and the rails-to-trails dream of Mayor Eddie Francis is in jeopardy of being shattered.

    The study, two years in the making, examined the feasibility of reducing the number of main rail lines coming through Windsor from three to one, moving the VIA Rail station from its present Walker Road location, and creating a multi-modal transportation hub on Windsor Airport lands.

    To summarize the findings of the consultants, McCormick Rankin Corporation, the potential is great to transform Windsor into a far more liveable city, including those green trails the mayor covets.

    Unfortunately, the challenges are many to rationalize 55 kilometers of tracks, 75 rail crossings and several hundred acres of rail yards, dating back 100 years or more, to clear the way for these amenities.

    The task of transforming Airport lands into a multi-modal facility, another Francis platform, is even more daunting.

    It comes down to money. The consultants estimate it would take a minimum of $275 million to accomplish the alternatives listed above. There is no business case for the rail freight companies involved in the study, to spend that kind of money."

    And VIA Rail, already subsidized to the tune of $176-million annually by the federal government, has no money."

On the one hand, based on the above, I do not understand the pressure to pass a Council Resolution in support of the DRTP's rail tunnel. Is the rail tunnel nothing more than a Trojan horse for a new truck Expressway? On the other hand, it may be absolutely essential for the Resolution to pass followed by real conversation with the Bridge Company to signal to outsiders that the City's attitude has changed and that we are really open for business and welcome investors.

Wasn't that part of the DesRosiers message that the Mayor dismissed? Perhaps Councillors were listening even if the Mayor was not.


It seems to me that the objections Eddie has with respect to the Manning Road construction is not about whether it should be done or not but when.

As he said in the Star article on Saturday:

  • "The concern we have is any discussion on steps to expand ECR ahead of Greenlink could by default lead to international trucks on the expressway and we want to avoid that."

As a sub question, what is the condition of E C Row and why were certain overpasses covered with asphalt recently?

The Mayor admitted as well that

  • "I can't emphasize it enough. We strongly believe E.C. Row is at capacity today and should remain a local and regional roadway,"

That argument unfortunately for Eddie just fits into Mayor McNamara's comment:

  • "We have to start thinking more outside of the box," he said. "This is a chance to improve roadbeds that are antiquated and overcapacity."

Let's see what action the Mayor will take using the environmental assessment process to stall off the improvement of the Expressway. He's done a very good job so far on the Huron Church Road corridor.

Is the real issue not trucks but

  • "A secondary issue regarding the project, is a tug of war over industrial investment in the region and lucrative tax income. Tecumseh and Lakeshore want to develop land near Manning Road while the city wants to attract industry to land near Windsor Airport."


Wait a minute here, there supposed to be a special meeting of the Council within the next few weeks about a "lengthy list of border-related issues the city is tackling." I assume the meeting will be in camera rather than public. I wonder if there is a Councillor with guts to demand that it be open to the public.

I don't get it. Why does the Mayor want Council's input? He didn't seem to wanted over the last quarter. They only spent five minutes in camera with the border issue. Why does he want it now?

Oh I get it. Something might turn out wrong. Someone might be criticized. The City might not get what they Mayor wants. We have major problems and that is why that Mayor

  • "will be seeking more direction from council."

So much for being the Voice of Council and being the Leader. When the going gets tough...


He has to be or else he should be replacing Jay Leno's staff by writing jokes while the Writers' Strike is on.

Can you believe this absurdity that came out of his mouth in today's Star about the Armouries becoming a Concert Hall:

  • "Ward 5 Coun. Percy Hatfield thinks it's a "fabulous idea," but not at a cost to city taxpayers.

    "I'm sure the study will confirm it will be a wonderful concert hall," he said. "But it will probably cost $50 or $60 million to convert. I don't think there is an appetite from Windsor taxpayers to pay for a concert hall.... I can't support throwing tens of millions of dollars into a concert hall."

    Hatfield said the project would require provincial and federal arts funding, something for which he believes Windsor gets overlooked."

Oh Percy! That has to be the most ridiculous comment of the year! What did he support throwing millions at in the East End?


It will be difficult enough trying to convince anyone to support the reconstruction of the Armouries into a "world class concert hall" in these times of economic distress.

I guess one way that someone thought it might work would be to use the word "green" in the context of making the building environmentally positive by using "cutting-edge environmental technologies and engineering that will significantly reduce its carbon footprint." OOOOO that is THINKING BIG using terrific jargon.

Yes green is important in answer to the question that the Maestro posed but in a different way:

"But who's gonna pay for it."

John Morris Russell music director of the WSO should learn to stick to the music business and stay away from injecting politics into the issue, especially border politics, if he wants to be successful. Making the border into part of his justification for new concert hall, including the DRIC bridge, "tunnels, highways, and green space" was a foolish move in my opinion since his dream may become mired in the border farce and become politicized.

My suggestion is that he talk instead to Chuck Mady who I believe owns the adjoining property and try to put together a massive redevelopment that might be a "signature" development for the downtown that will turn the Armouries into another cultural "gem" for Windsor. At least, the Maestro did not use those standard Windsor clichés but did throw in "a centrepiece of culture in downtown Windsor" to make us all feel good.


Another classic saying by the Gazelle Feeders. After setting up more committees "who will devise strategies aimed at helping the area weather the economic downturn and spur future growth," should one expect something to happen finally and if so when? According to the Chair,

  • "We can't prejudge when it will begin to pay off," said Remo Mancini, chairman of the WECDC board of directors. "Hopefully, right around the corner. You never know."

Gee, I think there may be a bunch of people who are unemployed who would like to know!

I assume that this makes the Mayor's recent announcement about the meeting he wants to set up with leaders in the City irrelevant. Yeah, right.


I have it on good authority from a usually reliable source deep within the bowels of City Hall that the Council meeting that is to take place on the border will put forward a plan to get almost every citizen in Windsor and the County in favour of Greenlink.

Apparently, the Eminence Greasie has borrowed a technique that was used in a South American country as a means of getting this support. Here is the idea:

  • "Venezuelan businesses spent years conspiring against President Hugo Chavez, but the government now says they have found a new way to play dirty -- hiding toilet paper to sway Sunday's vote on expanding Chavez's powers.

    Venezuelans have been buying large amounts of toilet paper on rumours it could be the next hard-to-find thing amid shortages of products...

    "We know there are sectors that are hiding toilet paper," Finance Minister Rodrigo Cabezas told state television on Friday. "A group of business leaders are playing mean, playing dirty ... of course trying to create the sensation of product shortage during the elections."

Stock up now. You have been warned.

Is Councillor Dilkens The Enemy Now Too

Our "enemies" phone booth may have to grow in size. Will Councillor Drew Dilkens be added as another member?

We all knew that Councillor Marra was an honorary member. All that his rail tunnel Motion is doing is signalling that his run for the mayor's job has started.

But Councillor Dilkens? He's just a rookie. He's been exposed to this nonsense only for a year. Wow, must he ever be fed up.

Is this Eddie's worst nightmare now happening: the beginning of the Three Blind Mice and others on Council finally coming together and working for the good of the Public by standing up to a Mayor who has lost touch with the electorate? Is this the Council revolution against Mike Hurst all over again? We shall find out tonight at Council.

I feel sorry for Councillor Drew Dilkens. He obviously took too seriously the Star's editorial, the mention in the Henderson column and my recent BLOGs

Such impertinence. Doesn't he understand that the Mayor wants a "no surprise" environment. He actually introduced a Notice of Motion at Council without telling the Mayor in advance it appears. If you had watched the Council meeting, you will have seen Drew introduce the Motion without giving too much detail. He merely said that it dealt with the flow of information. Several minutes later Eddie came back to it and he made the comment that he and Drew had not talked about this and that Drew might need to consider the Ontario Public Transparency Act since it might apply.

In the Star, we learned:
  • "Weary of being in the dark over the business dealings of the city's arms-length corporations, Coun. Drew Dilkens wants minutes of every meeting from those entities shared with all councillors.

    Dilkens served a notice of motion Monday that he will bring forward his request to council in the next week or two, once it has been fine-tuned with the help of the city's legal department.

    Enwin Utilities, Windsor Utilities Commission, the city's tunnel corporation and the airport's YQG Gateway Inc. are among entities that frustrate Dilkens because only councillors who sit on those boards are privy to minutes of meetings and business dealings.

    "For me, it's about openness, transparency and accountability,"

What a refreshing attitude.

What I find very fascinating is that this Motion follows along from the Star Editorial two Mondays ago. The timing of the Editorial, on the day of the Council meeting, was clearly deliberate. I wonder if the Star had an inkling that Drew was going to introduce his Motion.

I suspect that Drew must have had this Motion in mind after the airport Council meeting. He was so disturbed about the course of events. It seems that he and the Star are on the same wavelength. That may be troubling to some at City Hall, especially those who might want the Star's support in future electoral endeavours.

It is so nice to see the Star making it up to him for dropping his comments about DRTP.

The actual wording of the Motion needs improvement. Clearly it should not be limited to Minutes only but financial records as well. They may even want to see copies of reports that are presented so they will really know what is going on. What is also disturbing so far is that the information is to be revealed it seems to Councillors only. Why isn't the public entitled to know this information as well since after all they really are our Corporations.

In any event, don't get too excited over it. It is directed right at the heart of what our Mayor wants to do in secret. Why else were companies set up with him and his subordinates on the Board.

Another Legends sports bet pool should be started. The bets I would include are:

  • will the Motion be deferred,
  • what will be the excuse and
  • for how long?

My bet is that it will be deferred so that Legal can do a thorough report on the subject since there are many complex issues of Corporate Law involved and that the Motion will never get heard for years.

I might add another question... who will lead the attack on the Motion. Obviously, it will not be the Mayor. It will however be interesting to see who it is. I can think of several Councillors, probably those who do NOT want to run for mayor. After all, how can one attack openness and transparency.

Oh I know what you're thinking... here he is being cynical again. I'm not. Just remember Councillor Postma's Motion that has been invisible for years after she introduced it. She, like Councillor Dilkens, was a rookie when her Motion was introduced. She got outmaneuvered and never brought it back.