Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, December 21, 2007

Some Almost Final Thoughts

It is getting close to the end of the year and I wanted to leave you with a few more comments


I'm accused of overreacting with respect to the border crossing issue and the failure of the Mayor to perform. Here's the reason why this accusation is totally invalid.

Does anybody remember Greenlink? You remember it don't you... we had the Schwartz and Parsons Brinckerhoff extravaganza, we had all of the Ward meetings. The Mayor spent tons of money on buying full-page ads in the Windsor Star, four or five anyway, on CKLW radio ads and nice glossies to send around. A website was created and phone-in surveys begging support were asked for using 311. Didn't it cost us about half $1 million for all of the consultants and lawyers involved?

Do you remember the claim for the "scientific" survey that showed overwhelming support for Greenlink, you know the one with a few percent of the total population in favour.

All this effort was undertaken by the Mayor and Council and huge amounts of money were spent on media blitzes and consultants fees to demonstrate to DRIC that the City found a way to move trucks to the border in the best possible way. The City was to prepare a DRIC response and send it in sometime in November I believe.

I wish I could see that response to see what the City said. Unfortunately I'm not sure that anyone has seen it or if in fact it has ever been created. Citizens haven't seen at and it would appear that neither has DRIC. Here's the latest e-mail I received from DRIC this morning:
  • "Mr. Arditti:

    Thank you once again for your inquiry. At this time, we have not received a report from the City.

    You may want to contact the City for further information."

You'll have to explain this to me because I don't understand it. As far as I'm concerned this Mayor and this Council are totally useless in solving Windsor's biggest problem. It should be fascinating to see what the border issue to be discussed at the first meeting at Council is all about.

In the end, if it was not for the Ambassador Bridge Company spending its own money to solve the border issues, the biggest crossing in North America would be in total chaos. No wonder nothing is going on at the City-owned Tunnel.


Everyone on this Commission from the Mayor on down ought to be fired! Do Councillors have the balls to do anything yet or does the Tunnel have to be ground up into the dirt before somebody does something.

Here are the latest numbers that I have seen with respect to Tunnel volumes:

The car volume is down in November by 6.68% while it is down 10.12% year to date. The respective numbers for trucks are -10.24%, -13.81% and buses -33.02%, -8.99%

Whatever happened to the Public Open House that was postponed early in the year with respect to the Tunnel Plaza improvements? Whatever happened to the US$75 million Tunnel deal?

What was the conflict of the Mayor with respect to the Duty-Free Shop and why did he not reveal the general nature thereof?


It is so nice to see the Councillor formally known as Councillor Budget snuggling up to the County. Prospective Windsor mayors have to do that don't they to show the differences in Administration approaches. After all, the relationship cannot possibly be any worse now.

  • "On Thursday, Ward 1 Coun. Dave Brister announced that at the next city council meeting, he will raise the idea of setting up a schedule of joint meetings between city and county councils.

    "I think there's room for improvement in terms of creating an environment where there's sharing of ideas, back and forth, between the city and the county," Brister said."

Sure I should give him some credit for it and I will but you'll have to excuse me if I'm very cynical about it as well.

Knowing how City Hall operates, I cannot believe that this was done without the permission of the Mayor. I'm sure that Councillor Teacher's Pet would not dare face an "Eddie Stare" when he introduces his Notice of Motion. Did he give Eddie the wording too for approval? His Council-mate, Councillor Dilkens had the balls to introduce a Motion without tipping off the Mayor in advance.

If I am right in what I am saying, then the County politicians will understand it as well. They will see it for what it is... a political move merely to pretend that the City is trying to mend fences but the Mayor and Council really don't mean it.


We really should run a contest to figure out why the Capitol Theatre was placed in limbo for about a year. The announcement by the Trustee in Bankruptcy that the Capitol will reopen is certainly great news.

There is no need for litigation. With a new Board, the Capitol and the City could solve all their problems with a five-minute telephone conversation. It is really that simple.

Why hasn't it been done? That is something that I do not understand. Why wasn't the theatre reopened since it seems from the Trustee's action that it was so easy to do? That is something too that I do not understand.

Here's where the childishness and immaturity come in, the finger-pointing. What is fascinating to me is the lack of communication between the parties. That seems to be par for the course with this Mayor as can be seen with examples such as the lack of communications with the Ambassador Bridge Company and with the Senior Levels on the border issue, and with the County and Mayor McNamara in particular:

  • "The city was not prepared to grant any more hall licenses, so we couldn't have any more shows because the city was not letting us."

    "The city is now letting us, so we take that as great news."

    But the trustee's claim angered Francis, who countered the theatre has remained closed because it was deemed to have been a fire hazard after inspectors learned sprinklers were not operating during the Les Miserables performances.

    "They were told they could not have more shows until the deficiency was corrected," the mayor said. "That's why there hasn't been any other shows. You can't have shows in a theatre if it's a fire trap.

    "(Funtig) is in control of the theatre. He was told once that was corrected he could have as many shows as he wanted."

So the Capital sat in limbo for a year while expensive litigation is being carried on all because we lack leadership in this City. There is certainly something going on behind the scenes with respect to this and I wish I knew what it was.


Here is another report that shows the problems that Windsor is in. It probably does not have much validity. After all, the data was only prepared by Statistics Canada.


What is the matter with the national media, especially the American media. Haven't they received the memo yet saying that the only news that you can report on Windsor is good news. Where is the "W" strapped to their chests?

Here is the Time US comment about Windsor in a story about the strong Canadian dollar:

  • "In the meantime, Mayor Eddie Francis of Windsor, Ont., near Detroit, is trying to cope with an 8.6% unemployment rate in a town known as the automotive capital of Canada. "It's a challenge and we're going to have to get through it," he says. The strong loonie may be great for cross-border shopping excursions, but it's of little help to anyone without a paycheck."


I thought that the Agenda item dealing with the Windsor Star was deferred so that the City could try and get a further reduction from the newspaper for the advertisements placed in it. I thought that Councillor Lewenza wanted a 10% reduction if my memory is correct. Whatever happened to that idea? When the item was brought back to Council I don't remember the reduction being discussed at all.

By the way, how much is CKLW receiving?


I must have missed this story in the Windsor Star and on CKLW.

It appears that Santa came early for the Ambassador Bridge Co. The Michigan Strategic Fund will allow them to issue bonds in the amount of $212,600,000 for their Ambassador Gateway project.

Michigan seems to have had a silly reason for doing so... it would only improve the flow of commerce between Michigan and Ontario and create hundreds of construction jobs.


Congratulations and best wishes to Joe and Lou Mikhail for generously contributing "500 turkeys and fixings to hand out to Windsor's low-income families."

Perhaps Santa can give them a present too by filling up their building with Provincial civil servants and by allowing their TD Bank project to move forward.

Come to think of it, that would be a nice present for Windsor as well.

Talk To The Animals

Do you remember the movie Dr. Dolittle? I thought about that recently in relation to the border.

Oh you are a cynic aren't you. For heaven sakes, I didn't mean to suggest that the Mayor has done little on the border file. Although the name seems appropriate.

No, I read an interesting quote from our Mayor dealing with pet shops that triggered the memory. Mayor Eddie Francis said:

  • "I would be the first to admit that if council passed a law banning pet stores from selling cats and dogs there may be an issue, because that's what pet stores are in the business of selling," Francis said."
There may be an issue on the border. Didn't Council passed a bylaw that prevented the Bridge Company from tearing down their empty homes on Indian Road and partnering with the Green Corridor from the University to green the area. Maintaining their bridge is what the Bridge Company is in business to do is it not, just like pet stores are in business to sell cats and dogs.

The problem is that Eddie and the Bridge Company people aren't talking to each other. Perhaps that's because the Mayor is afraid to do so without his lawyer. Councillors aren't allowed to talk to them either since the Mayor has made it clear that he is the Leader on the border file. Accordingly no one is talking to anyone.

It seems to me that Dr. Dolittle may be around and if he can talk to animals then he could talk to everybody involved in this file. Perhaps the Mayor could retain him as well....heck we have paid millions to Schwartz and Estrin so far. What's a few dollars more for Windsor taxpayers?

Finally, Eddie could be known as Mayor Dosomethingalready.

Windsor In The Windy City

In light of the article that claims that passports will not be needed until 2009, I thought you might find this story of interest. I found it over a year ago but did not post it until now.

What is interesting to me is how little anything has changed here in since May, 2006. If anything, things seem worse off now.

The Chicago Tribune ran the story about our City and the border issue. I think it is quite well done. It is something that our two Ministers from Queen's Park should be telling their colleagues if Windsor ever comes knocking on their doors looking for more financial help for our businesses. Either that or Eddie better start talking to the Rolling Stones about a concert in the area as Toronto did after the SARS scare.

Canadians also paying price of 9/11 security
By Tim Jones
Tribune correspondent
Published May 24, 2006

WINDSOR, Ontario -- At this spot along the world's longest unprotected border, the cost of security is measured in terms of Americans who don't come around much anymore--not for dinner, not for Cuban cigars, not to gamble and not to watch the nudie shows, delicately known here as the "Windsor Ballet."

The heavy traffic of people coming through Detroit to enjoy the quaint and quirky charms of Windsor has plunged by millions since the Sept. 11 attacks. And now these neighbors separated by an international border and connected by a bridge and a tunnel are fighting identification mandates in an anti-terrorism law that they fear will deliver a crippling if not fatal blow to their long, friendly and enormously profitable relationship.

Often overlooked in the white-hot debate over protecting the border with Mexico is language requiring people traveling between the United States and Canada to have passports or similar identification before they can cross the border.

That requirement, part of a law approved by Congress in 2004, does not take effect until January 2008, but the approach of the law already has dampened tourism and injected uncertainty over future conventions and events that have historically lured large numbers of Americans into Canada.

Although serious border issues with Canada are rare, the porous nature of the 3,145-mile border along the lower 48 states is such that unusual events carry outsized impact.

In December 1999, U.S. border officials in Port Angeles, Wash., arrested a Montreal man, Ahmed Ressam, as he tried to drive his rental car from a ferry out of Canada. The vehicle was loaded with 130 pounds of explosives and four timing devices and was believed headed for Los Angeles International Airport, where it was to be exploded to mark the new millennium.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the number of U.S. border guards at the Canadian border has tripled, to about 1,000, according to Jarrod Agen, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security. That compares with about 9,500 agents from the U.S. Border Patrol stationed along the 1,989-mile border with Mexico. President Bush announced plans this month to bolster the force on the Mexican border with 6,000 National Guard troops.

Even with the stiffened security on the northern border, the number of arrests from Canada are, at best, a smidgen compared with apprehensions of Mexicans. The Border Patrol reported 7,345 arrests on the Canadian border in fiscal year 2005, with fewer than 1,800 in the Detroit region. Just under 1.2 million people were apprehended at the Mexican border in 2005.

Balancing the interests of security with personal freedom has always been tricky. Since Sept. 11, Windsor has borne the brunt of the damage from this awkward balancing act--perhaps more than any other Canadian border community.

Sandra Bradt, director of tourism for the Convention & Visitors Bureau of Windsor, Essex County & Pelee Island, said the issue is troubling.

"So what price security?" Bradt asked. "What good is security if people can't make a living?"

Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis said this industrial city of 208,000 people is trying to adjust to a new reality because the "balance has shifted."

"The bigger threat is our own fear and how we deal with that," Francis said.

This is not easy for a city that for decades has lived on offering what Detroit lost long ago, if it ever had it: quiet, tree-lined streets, cozy Italian restaurants, a haven from the turmoil of urban America. Windsor has thrived on the impulses of Detroiters wanting to get away for a while.

That has changed dramatically. Windsor counted 7.1 million visits by Americans from Detroit in 2000. In 2004, the number dropped by nearly half, to 3.8 million. Sam Ambrosio operated his popular Italian restaurant on the patronage of Americans, who came for mussels and veal and were 90 percent of his clientele. Now it's 20 percent.

"We've had a good feeling about each other for years," Ambrosio said of his American friends, whom he calls his "special guests, not customers."

"You can't make everyone a criminal," said Ambrosio, bitter about the tightened security at the border and the prospect of even more restrictions. "Pretty soon they'll be putting a machine gun on your chest."

Windsor's troubles are not entirely related to security. The yo-yo-like Canadian dollar is the strongest in three decades, giving Canadians new incentive to shop across the border--and to take their dollars to gamble at Detroit's three casinos instead of Windsor's one.

Eighty percent of Casino Windsor's customers are American, said spokeswoman Holly Ward. The casino has aggressively tried to hold onto the American gamblers, offering double and triple winnings in response to the weaker U.S. currency. Every Saturday the casino has prize drawings, giving away a total of $100,000. In February the casino gave away 20 new automobiles.

The casino's challenge will increase at the end of the month when the government of Ontario enacts a province wide smoking ban. "It's just a whole can of worms," Ward said.

Concern on the American side, in the Detroit metropolitan area of more than 4 million people, is not so evident. It is clear, said Sarah Hubbard of the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, that the area faces an economic threat from Canadians not attending sporting events, museums, restaurants and shopping malls.

"A lot of people don't realize how closely integrated our economies are," said Hubbard, the chamber's vice president for government relations. "There's just so much focus now on the southern [Mexican] border."

The connection between Michigan and Ontario is the largest trade exchange in North America, the international link to major transportation routes. About 16 million cars and 5.3 million commercial vehicles crossed the Windsor-Detroit border in 2004, and the value of trade exchanging hands at this crossing and Port Huron totaled $450 million a day.

It's the discretionary travel, though, that has outsized importance, and requiring visitors to provide passports at the border would almost certainly put a crimp in travel. Fewer than 40 percent of Canadians have passports, compared to about 20 percent of Americans. The cost is an impediment to many, officials say. Currently, drivers crossing the border can proceed with a valid driver's license or a birth certificate.

Niagara Falls has not suffered much falloff in tourism since Sept. 11, in part because it is a destination spot. Windsor is spur-of-the-moment, the epitome of discretionary spending. Jack Shanfield knows that all too well.

Shanfield runs what might be called a grandmother's paradise, a sprawling downtown corner store crammed with Royal Doulton figurines, Wedgwood crystal, Lenox china and other delicate specialties. Commemorative plates are tacked onto nearly every open wall space.

"American stores don't have this," Shanfield said proudly, adding that his unique advantage may be sharply diluted if the passport requirement is enforced.

"This is all in the name of security," Shanfield said scornfully. "These are not the people we should be worried about."

But worry they do. Mayor Francis and others complain that the perception of trouble at the border--long lines, a passport requirement that is not yet in effect, hassles from border guards--is scaring people away. A passport requirement is overkill, they say. A better and cheaper alternative would be an enhanced driver's license that could be quickly checked at the border.

Opponents of the passport requirement won a victory last week in the U.S. Senate with the approval of an amendment that would delay implementation of the security procedure by 18 months, to the summer of 2009, allowing more time to develop a less-expensive alternative.

"We're friends," said Ambrosio, the restaurant operator who wonders if he'll ever see his longtime patrons again. "You don't check friends who have been going back across the border for 50 years. There's got to be another way."

Thursday, December 20, 2007

CRTC Complaint About CKLW Commentary

I am going to convey a personal message in this posting in the strongest possible terms. Go after me unfairly, and I will hit back. Hard!

I am a big boy. I have been attacked before because of my BLOGs and I expect it will happen again. You know the reasons why as well as I do.

And I am sure that it will become much worse as more and more Windsorites start agreeing with what I and others in town are expressing.

People are starting to complain openly by deciding who is responsible for the mess that this City has become and are begining to understand what needs to be done immediately to transition us out of this into what will become our new economy:
  • high-end automotive R&D research,

  • medicine (focusing on and supporting the needs of aging baby boomers if we have any brains)

  • international trade

  • building on our existing industrial, agricultural and tourism strengths.
I know that you, dear reader, do not agree with everything I say. In fact, some of you may agree with very little I write about. That is OK with me. I do not ask you to support what I write. But the reason you read me is because I give you an alternative point of view and some insight about what is going on in this City in a way that the traditional media do not do.

As I say in my BLOG's Profile:
  • "Here are some musings about the state of events in Windsor from the perspective of an interested observer of local politics. Sometimes we just have to help out! I have the luxury of time to do and say what I want. Agree with me or disagree, it does not matter as long as you take an active role in ensuring that the Community we live in prospers."

I can take the heat. I am thick-skinned. I comment very strongly about others in this BLOG and others have made cracks about me in the media and on other BLOGsites. That is to be expected and endured. However, every so often someone crosses the line. In such a case, I will NOT tolerate it and will fight back.

In my opinion, Jason Moore's commentary crossed the line. It was an unfair attack on "Bloggers" generally and on me personally! We are painted as harming Windsor when instead it is our desire, and that comes out clearly when reading the BLOGs, to wake up citizens to what is happening so that positive change can be accomplished.

I am sure that he thought he was being oh so clever with the "Muppets" characters as well as a mocking device. I did not think so.

I sent him a note immediately after I heard his commentary asking for equal time on the air. I thought that was only fair in order to express a different point of view. I have not received a response to date from him or anyone from the station.

I have no intention of being ignored. It is not the first time that I have had an issue with CKLW. In case Mr. Moore does not know it, Canada's Broadcasting Act states that :

  • "the Canadian broadcasting system, operating primarily in the English and French languages and comprising public, private and community elements, makes use of radio frequencies that are public property"

CKLW is regulated and accordingly, I filed a complaint with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). My letter of complaint and the responses by the CRTC and Canadian Broadcast Standards Council to whom my complaint was referred are below.

My message is clear... go after me as hard as you want. Say that I am wrong, say that my ideas make no sense. That is your freedom to do so. And part of what I have to expect if I criticize others. What is needed is a debate in the open about the future of this City with many different points of view taken.

BUT if you choose to try and smear out!

    I wish to file a complaint against Radio Station CKLW in Windsor, Ontario.

    On December 3, 2007, the News Director of CKLW broadcast the following commentary which was repeated several times during the day I believe:

    "Commentary by Jason Moore
    AM 800 CKLW
    December 3, 2007

    I don't think a day goes by that some blogger doesn't send out a mass email pointing the finger, laying the blame condemning the actions or taking a shot at Mayor Eddie Francis and Windsor City Council.

    No matter what the elected do or say you hear this. (Audio of man shouting "awful" and "I hate it").

    Yeah, these bloggers and from time to time outside "experts" love to share their wisdom from on high, of course. It's just like the grumpy old guys from the muppets. (Replays above audio).

    The difference is they were funny. These constant panic button pushers just aren't.

    And while it’s important to keep a critical eye on the issues, there comes a point you have to look at the big picture.

    Some good folks from Essex recently provided AM 800 some old clippings of the news from 1963. There were threats to the Windsor economy from across the border. There was a push to keep Windsor moving. The United Way was looking for funding.

    Is any of this ringing a bell? Remember, its 1963. But doesn't it sound an awful a lot like 2007?

    Which brings me to my overall point.

    The Mayor and Council are the elected officials for the City of Windsor. The majority of voters decided not that long ago that these councillors have the city's best interests at heart.

    They have goals, they have objectives and they have the dubious task of trying to deal with everything in a politically driven fish bowl.

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

    (Audio plays with muppets shouting "Wonderful" and "Spectacular" and "We love it")

    That's better. At least that's what I think."

    On December 3, 2007 I wrote to Jason Moore by e-mail asking if I could have rebuttal time on air. To date I have not even have the courtesy of a response from him.

    While the word “bloggers” was used in plural, there is no doubt that the attack was directed against me personally since I am a strong critic of the Mayor. Moreover, Mr. Moore receives one of my “mass e-mails” each day in which I set out the topic of my Blog.

    Here is what the Windsor Star wrote about me and my BLOG to demonstrate that it would be understood that the attack was directed to me:

    “SUBJECT: To blog or not to blog

    Ward 1 candidate Coun. Dave Brister is not a fan of blogs.
    “I don’t read blogs,” he said recently.

    He may not read them, but a lot of other people do.

    If Brister isn’t reading blogs, then he’s missing all sorts of interesting stories that are being posted about Windsor municipal politics. Coun. Alan Halberstadt has one. Brister’s rival candidate in Ward 1, Al Teshuba, has one too. The juiciest one of all though – the one which is considered a must-read among city hall workers and political hangers-on – is the one that’s posted by Ed Arditti, a municipal politics muckraker and not a big fan of Brister and Mayor Eddie Francis.

    Most city councillors will never admit they read Arditti’s blog, but they do. Be certain of that. Privately, city hall employees have said they’ve been surprised from time to time at the accuracy of some of his inside information. He has moles. But no one seems to know who they are.

    The problem with Arditti’s blog is that he goes on and on and on – and on – about border issues. An organizer of the Stop DRTP campaign way back when, he now shamelessly plugs the Ambassador Bridge every chance he gets.

    Arditti has pet names for a few politicians. Brister’s is Councillor Budget, a jab at the councillor who sat last year as chairman of the operating budget steering committee and fancies himself the guardian of fiscal fitness policies at city hall. (It’s interesting to note that he did not support a $60,000 grant to a women’s homeless shelter, but was there for the yes vote on a $48-million-plus arena).

    Brister should give a blog a read. (The Election Notebook here is a good start). They’re a lot of fun.

    Posted by Roseann Danese on October 19, 2006 9:37 PM EDT

    In my submission, the failure to provide to me on air rebuttal time, especially given the personal attack, is inequitable and is a violation of the Broadcasting Act since
    (a) it does not provide a balance of information
    (b) it does not give to the public a reasonable opportunity to be exposed to the expression of differing views on matters of public concern:

    3. (1) It is hereby declared as the broadcasting policy for Canada that

    (i) the programming provided by the Canadian broadcasting system should
    (i) be varied and comprehensive, providing a balance of information, enlightenment and entertainment for men, women and children of all ages, interests and tastes,
    (iv) provide a reasonable opportunity for the public to be exposed to the expression of differing views on matters of public concern.

    Accordingly, in my submission, CKLW should be required to apologize to me publicly on air and to provide me with an equivalent amount of time on air in which to put my position forward.


    Dear Mr. Arditti:

    Thank you for taking the time to contact the CRTC.

    The broadcasting industry has its own self-regulating organization, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC), which administers codes of industry standards and mediates complaints from members of the public.

    Given the concerns you have raised, I have asked the CBSC to pursue this matter with CKLW on your behalf.


    Dear Mr. Arditti,

    The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council (CBSC) has received your correspondence concerning Commentary by Jason Moore on December 3, 2007 broadcast on CKLW on December 3, 2007. It was forwarded to us by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

    By copy of this email, we are asking CKLW to respond to the concerns you have raised and to hold a copy of the logger tape of the broadcast which concerned you. This is always the first step taken by the CBSC in pursuing a complaint.

    You should know that broadcasters who are members of the CBSC take their responsibility to respond to audience concerns very seriously. The dialogue between broadcasters and members of their audience is a cornerstone of the CBSC's complaints resolution process. Concerns are often resolved satisfactorily through this dialogue phase. We hope that the response you will receive from CKLW within the next 21 days will resolve the issues you have raised to your satisfaction. If, however, after you have received and carefully considered the broadcaster's response you remain concerned, you may request a Ruling by a CBSC Panel by filing the form available on our website at
    You should do so within 14 days of receiving the broadcaster's response. More information on the CBSC complaints process is available on our website in the FAQ section ( ).

    The CBSC is a national voluntary self-regulatory organization created by Canada's private broadcasters to deal with complaints made by viewers or listeners about programs which they have seen or heard broadcast on a member station. The CBSC administers four industry codes, namely a code of ethics, a code concerning television violence, a code concerning sex-role stereotyping and a code of journalistic ethics, which set out the guidelines for television and radio programming.

WeACT Counts

Huh? What? Eh? What the heck is going on? Citizens actually have a strong voice in Windsor.

Do you read Gord Henderson's column on Saturday? If you did, then you know that the politicians are terrified of WeACT!

If you think that a bunch of citizens can't get what they want in this City than all you need to do is take a look at what the proposed property tax rate is supposed to be. Of course that .95% is a phony number since you have to add in the various levies that so far the Mayor has not talked about. But it is a start.

The beginning of Henderson's column was a shocker
  • "Step up and take a bow if you were one of those curmudgeons who spent August and September popping blood vessels over that stunning 86-per-cent hike in water rates imposed by the Windsor Utilities Commission.

    To give credit where credit is due, it was the collective ranting of outraged WUC customers that helped stiffen the spines of Windsor councillors and made them determined, come hell or high water bills, to deliver one of the lowest property tax increases in the province, if not the lowest. Those shock waves of indignation rattled even the most pro-union and pro-spending councillors and injected some much needed steel into their left-leaning spines.

    No question about it. Some won't be satisfied with the 0.95 per cent tax hike - $25 on the average tax bill - sanctioned this week. Hardliners will argue there should be more blood on the floor to achieve a freeze or, better yet, significant tax cuts, given Windsor's economic woes."

This was from a guy who only a few months ago was an apologist for the Mayor on the Windsor Utilities Commission matter and praising him for doing the tough things. I'm sure that Gord will be just as disgusted as everyone else in this City will be when the Ministry whitewash audit is brought forward shortly. Here is how Gord tried to explain away things at the time:

  • "Now, three years into cleaning up this mess, Francis, Zalev and others are being eviscerated for taking the unpopular actions others dodged over the years.

    "They're shooting the messenger. We're the ones finding all this stuff out and they want to kill us," sighed Zalev. "That's OK," he added. "I come from a rough and tumble business and I'm used to getting banged around."

    That's just as well, because no matter how obvious and pressing the need, people will never say thanks for raising prices and making their lives more difficult."

The word used in Henderson's column "curmudgeons" is a buzzword that a number of people in Windsor will recognize because it identifies one of the members of WeACT, Al Nelman. That is a clear reference to WeACT but Gord feels that he cannot go further and mention the name of Chris Schnurr and the WeACT group. Politics are politics after all in Windsor and he does not want to be branded as the leader of the Star Rogues.

His last line of the column is the one that is going to be most appropriate

  • "Stick around. The budget is pretty much settled. But the fun is just beginning."

He knows why the budget was slashed and so do the politicians. It was only cut so dramatically AFTER WeACT announced that January 9, 2008 was going to be TAX CUT NOW day in Windsor. The giving out of hundreds of TAX CUT NOW stickers by WeACT volunteers around the City did not hurt either!

Do you want to know what is even more interesting. As a matter of fact, my understanding is that WeACT has asked the Mayor to proclaim January 9 TAX CUT NOW day in Windsor at a Council meeting.

Let's see if that is done or whether City Hall will censor that proclamation. If it does, then you will know how strong WeACT and the curmudgeons really are.

Now you know how WeACT can help you. You need to help WeACT too. Your donation may be paid into the WeACT Legal Fund by visiting any branch of the Royal Bank and making a deposit to Account #08152-1008275. Donations can be made anonymously too.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

And More Thoughts

Too many things to think about at this time of year. So here are a few musings that I had.


Nice picture of the Coco Paving truck cleaning the snow. I'll bet the storm helped a lot of contractors with some extra money before the holidays.

The headline in the Star certainly helped the Mayor and Council but made a joke out of Councillor Brister's remark re saving $200,000:

  • "Snow removal cost to jump... It's $250,000 and counting, say city staff"

After all, if you want your snow cleared, you have to pay taxes don't do.

Of course, nowhere in the story does it say how much the costs jumped. The City would normally expect that there would be a major snowstorm that would cost some money and would budget for it. How much was budgetted so that we can see how much costs increased? Nope nothing about that.

I just hope that there are no accidents along a local road. The City maintenance managers said that residential streets will not be cleared to the bare pavement. He said there might be snow or slush on the streets but I think he forgot to mention the word ice. Yes we will be able to drive down them but will also be able to skate down them as well. He may have potentially opened up the City to a major legal claim in case of an accident.


That is what the agenda will be for the first Council meeting in January. Frankly I can't see the point of it but I guess I will have to wait until I see exactly what the agenda says.

Here's what we will not talk about:
  • failure on the US$75 million deal with Detroit on the Tunnel
  • failure on the Tunnel Improvement Project
  • failure on Schwartz #1 report
  • failure on a tunnelled solution to the border
  • failure on a Schwunnel to the border
  • failure to explain how a fully tunnelled solution became a partially tunnelled solution without a Reconsideration of Council's Motion
  • failure on Greenlink
  • failure to get the County onside with the City
  • failure to convince the Province to support Greenlink
  • failure to file a response to DRIC
  • failure... oh I just can't go on anymore.

What can the purpose of the meeting be then? The only thing I can think of is that our fearful Leader of the Council and the Voice of Council on the Border file needs to keep the Councillors in line in 2008. Make them vote on something, no matter what, and tell them they have to remain united. If they try to change down the road, rub the vote in their faces. OR, if at Council, wave the Procedural By-law and scream Reconsideration.

Too bad that Eddie cannot use Schwunnels any more as his stalling tool!


The discussion at Council on the Convention Bureau certainly suggests to me that the rift between the City and the County is growing.

It should hardly have been a surprise when Councillor Dilkens appeared at the County asking for money. I guess he forgot that the Gazelle Feeders were there a few weeks before asking for money for the Economic Development Commission without a business plan and without saying who was going to contribute the $150,000.

The County politicians paid their $50,000 once but to expect them to pay half a million on blind faith was asking too much.


Now wait a minute here. What's this deal about signage at the arena? Was there a tender for it? Why are the Spits announcing it and not the City? Who owns the arena after all?

I see that the Windsor Electrical Contractors Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 773 paid for the signs but will also have billboard ads for 10 years on the signs. Is that worth $300,000, the cost of the signs, or is it worth more or less. Does anyone know in the City Administration?

Are the only ads that are going to be shown on those signs from those two groups alone or are other ads going to be sold? If so who gets the proceeds, the City, the Spits, the two groups or a combination thereof.

Wouldn't it be nice to know.


This is quite strange. The Star Reported that Transit Windsor received almost $4 million in gas tax funding which is going to be used to buy new buses along with other capital acquisitions. Interestingly, the Transit Windsor general manager said:
  • "Windsor's share is consistent with the funding allocated in previous years... that amount has been fully allocated in our 2008 budget."
How can that be when the Mayor said previously:
  • "Before we buy new buses, I'd like to streamline practices," Francis said. "I move we not buy new buses and reconsider the issue in 2008. Before we add to services, we need to get a handle on the service we provide."
Did 2008 come early?


Monica Wolfson of the Star is certainly not letting the Windsor Utilities Commission file disappear. Unbelievably, she reported that notwithstanding the huge increase that the Commission has been charging its customers and the sorry shape of our watermain system, the amount spent on capital replacement of watermains will not increase.

You have to ask then why we have to pay so much money. And even when money is to be spent it is about $4 million less than consultants said were necessary.

I am so glad to be told that this is merely something we are going to have to "deal with" by the acting general manager, Max Zalev. Don't you get the impression that Mr. Zalev has learned from the Mayor and has just "dismissed" us.

If that is bad enough, 46% of the work that they were too this year has to be carried over into next year. Lack of coordination with the City was blamed. Imagine that, one City department cannot coordinate with another City department. What system can the Mayor point to to say that this is now under control and will never happen again. I thought that this co-ordination issue had been solved before. How much money was wasted and went down the drain?

I'm getting lost in numbers... the budget is $2 million short, services fees to Enwin increased by million dollars, extra engineering staff and call center staff have to be hired...

Well Council Marra, after the first Ministry whitewash audit is reported, and citizens are not happy, will you be asking for another one to try and satisfy the demands of citizens for a full investigation into this farce?


The Mayor tried to close down Councillor Halberstadt when he started asking questions about the LAS agreement by saying it was a Reconsideration. That ridiculous proposition was shot down. It was an agenda item after all. Fortunately the Clerk said it was not Reconsideration and the Councillor was allowed to continue.

His questions must have been difficult ones. When Councillor Halberstadt started asking questions about the role of LAS and Amberley Gavel Ltd. the Mayor chose not to answer the questions but told the Clerk to do so. Such deference to the Clerk or was it rather to let her take the hit if there is a problem in the future. She must realize now what is NOT included in her job description!

What Councillor Halberstadt was driving at was what is the role of the principals of Amberly and is there a conflict with the City. Fred Dean who is an experienced lawyer who has "acted extensively for municipalities and municipal associations in Ontario" is involved with Amberly. I believe as well that Mr. Dean acted for our Mayor in his issue with respect to his possible conflict of interest in the WUC matter.

The Clerk's position was that since Mr. Dean would actually not be doing any of the work since it would be the job of outside retained individuals to do investigations, there was no conflict.

The good news is for the first year it least citizens will not be charged with fees for investigations. Get your requests in early before Council changes its mind.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Speaking Of Talk Shows

John Fairley did it again! It's no wonder that the Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget is afraid to appear on his show. In 30 minutes less commercials time, John could completely destroy the budding mayoral career of Brister and the Councillor wouldn't even know what happened to him.

It's not that John is aggressive like a Mike Wallace on 60 minutes. He just asks these simple, straightforward questions that go to the heart of the interviewee and quite often provoke answers that the person did not want to give. It is done in such a friendly way that the person doesn't figure out how badly they appeared until they see the taped version.

So the Councillor does not go and the residents of Ward 1 are deprived of listening to him pontificating about the issues of the City. Mind you, that could be a blessing.

By the way, have you gone to John's website If you have, you will note that he will be interviewing our Mayor shortly. He just interviewed Mayor McNamara of Tecumseh a few days ago.

That interview was another one of his shockers. To be direct about it I can understand why Councillor Brister would not want to appear on this program. Mayor Francis will have a very difficult time explaining some of the bombshells that Mayor McNamara dropped during John's show.

Let me just summarize quickly some of the things said:
  • When you listen closely to what Mayor McNamara says, there will be very little regional cooperation and certainly no amalgamation of the various cities and towns while Eddie Francis is Mayor of Windsor. The rift is just too great.
  • The Mayor makes it very clear that he thinks that regional development and cooperation is extremely important while at the same time preserving the interests of his own community. That was very clear in his conversation about Project Ice Track
  • There was a very long conversation about the Convention and Visitors Bureau. It was clear that the Tecumseh Mayor was not prepared to write a blank cheque just because Eddie hoped he would do so. He actually wanted to see a business plan before spending money. That should be a warning to the Gazelle Feeders that they will not have such an easy time the next time they asked the County for money
  • There seems to be a lack of communication on a number of issues between the City and Tecumseh at least
  • Mayor McNamara supports the Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project, one of the few politicians it seems that has the guts to say so publicly
  • He also said that he supports the DRTP doublestack rail tunnel. He made it clear that he was not supporting the truck tunnel
  • Believe it or not, especially given his town's location, he has not been briefed on Greenlink by our Mayor
  • He is not a very big supporter of a tunnelled solution to the border like Greenlink pointing out the obvious security risks and problems if there are accidents
  • It seems as well that he has had a very few communications with Transit Windsor about bus service in the County.

I must admit that this is one of the few times that I have seen Mayor McNamara in action and I was suitably impressed. He seems to be a straight talking individual with a good head on his shoulders. There was not a lot of visions and grandiose schemes in what he said but rather, good, straight, honest-to-goodness, well thought out actions to create a municipality that works.

Yes, there could be a lot to share between the City and the County about accomplishing results.

I wonder if Eddie watched the program. I'm sure he did and we will hear his rebuttal to what the Tecumseh Mayor had to say. After all, we saw THE EDDIE STARE at Monday night's Council session when Eddie talked about the County and Greenlink. I was waiting for him to ask the County to "Spit it Out" too. Maybe he was saving that up for John's show!

Even More Reader Letters

Here is the latest batch right from Cyberspace. What is fascinating to me is the anger and frustration showing. I am sure that it has been around for some time but it is becoming more and more public.

If I were the Mayor and Councilllors, I would start worrying! And the media too.

1) Good blog on the University

2) Do you remember the Seinfeld episode that had Jerry Stiller (and ultimately Kramer, George, etc.) uttering the phrase “Serenity Now!”? It occurs to me, the cure for negativity (even if it is accurate) is “Serenity Now! for Windsor” – Maybe Eddie can put together a campaign, embed the phrase with all good, loyal media types, and get retailers to sell t-shirts proclaiming “Serenity Now! for Windsor”.

3) Keep up the great 5th estate work.

4) I subscribe to a magazine for railroad enthusiasts called, no surprise, Trains. They have a website with weekly news updates available to subscribers.

A short article in this week's update caught my attention. Of particular interest is the line that reads, "Fifteen gateways, including Chicago, Minneapolis, Calgary, Superior, Wis., and several southern Ontario locations, will see lesser volumes of interchange." The article doesn't mention which southern Ontario cities are going to see less interchange, but sense it says "several".

I'm guessing that means all that have interchange points - Windsor, Sarnia and Fort Erie - are included. (My understanding is that the railway deck on the Whirlpool Rapids bridge in Niagara Falls is passenger only.) I thought the grand plans for Schwartz (trans-shipping freight on vacant airport lands) and DRTP (bigger, better railway tunnel) included more trains and less trucks? But apparently that's not in the cards either.

Aren't these people, and our politicians, talking to the railroad companies? Why, I would have expected to read an article saying, "Rail interchange in Windsor to increase with new and improved gateway infrastructure." Anyhow, thought you might find this interesting. Maybe the railroads' websites have some press releases or more detailed information.

5) [Part of a Letter to the Editor of the Star] It is interesting that the editors of the Windsor Star would choose to paint the U of W as a villain because they decided that downtown was not the best place to locate their new engineering school.

Just because the Star says the university is wrongheaded in its decision not to build downtown does not make it true. And, just because the U of W is funded by taxpayers does not mean we can bully them to do our bidding. The needs of students must be the primary factor when colleges and universities make decisions on how to spend their budgets. Apparently the University of Windsor decided that it was in the best interests of its students not to build downtown.

6) The Ratepayer’s Lament

Bought in a sub-division at 150K,
forever and ever shall I rue the day
With real estate markets on fire,
when it reaches a million, will be time to retire.
But Council after Council and Mayor after Mayor,
the life in Windsor moved from hope to despair.

When Mr. Lewenza became the Master of WUC,
a signal from God, I am out of Luck!
The Holy Water is priced out of sight,
like a famine in Revelations, where day becomes night!
When our baby Jenny turned 16, we could not afford any birthday candles
‘Cause our taxes are still paying for the Candarel.

No money to party in a restaurant,
our riches in Windsor have turned to want.
As I muttered aloud this is a crock,
I collapsed on my bed and remember the Keg
So we went to look, and parked on the neighbours dime
But the prices on the menu required the Proceeds of Crime!!

My job in auto is a job no more, and the banker did a repo on my unpaid wheels
Now my bicycle is the way I will ride,
start with the trails in Riverside
A wonderful life I try to think,
the future will bring me the Mayor’s Greenlink
But at each overpass it is near my last gasp,
the jet fans blast me with second hand gas.

Twill soon be the night before Christmas and all through the house
The hunger and freezing will scare off the mouse
If we can fast till past New Years Day we'll save enough
For next year’s taxes to make a down pay!

7) True Story.

I have been trying to get one of my machines repaired due to a computor cable glitch. It has taken six months and then some. The company is in the TO area.
I found out why they don't want to come down here.

My message left on their phone to get action, literally was "I am in talks with legal assistance since you are the contracted to repair my machinery by ***** and I will put their name on the petition since I have lost considerable amounts of time and work. If I am not satisfied this week I will start the process, rather quickly."

They did call back and schedule an appointment for today, however the very cold response was... "I have over 500 customers and we don't give a s**t about Windsor".

This is typical of attitudes outside of our area. I am encountering more and more of this attitude.

Good thing I'm moving

8) CIBC Metro Monitor is obviously influenced by your scandalous blogs and the other “yellow journalists” that have obscured the truth that everything’s coming up roses in Windsor…

That is scary in reality. And sad that elected leaders fail to acknowledge & address some of the problems to the extent they can locally. Instead ... attack anyone who questions the economic strategy. Heck, its only a matter of time until even the gazelles migrate – or starve…

9) Maybe the Gazelle feeders would have had some money had they not let people go, and because of such, had severences to pay.

10) I couldn't help notice on the DRIC website the amount of homes and businesses that will need to be purchased for the completion of the 401. It also states that these will be purchased at present market values, when the time comes. Do you think that keeping this area economically depressed has anything to do with the millions of dollars that will be saved when these purchases take place. These homes and businesses will certainly be worth thousands of dollars less than if we had a vibrant economy. The more bad news for Windsor the cheaper it gets for the province or city. Just a thought.

11) I'm going to assume that....if you can't afford $400k for crossing guards, you can't affort $75 million for a tunnel? Or am I wrong on that?

12) Can you believe this council taking a motherhood issue like school crossing guards and throwing it out to the masses like blood before sharks.

How stupid do they think we are? Apparently really stupid!

Wait for the uproar from parents and teachers who will tell us how many of our children have to die for the sake of tax cuts.

Why not deal with the real issues like garbage collection, meter maids, parks maintenance and privatizing marinas and golf courses.

Give me a break - this City continually shows its colours - yellow.

13) What a way to get people to accept tax increases.
They should be ashamed just for even trying it.
Cut the f****** lawyer's fees, there's literally millions there.
Sorry for my language, that is not like me but there are times.

14) If a child is hurt due to lack of crossing guards (like that will happen), culpability will rest personally
on all of the councillors and the "budget" challenged Mayor.
I wouldn't hesitate to sue.
It's amazing how short memories can be when selective.

15) The bridge is almost ready to start building.
The Michigan Gov seems today to back the twin bridge.
The Canadian Government is still planning a proposal.
The Mayor of Windsor's shorts must be in a knot.

16) Mr. Arditti

All I can say is THANK YOU. I was just pointed in the area of your blog today, and I have to say that I think you have almost single handedly restored my faith in humanity. The behaviour of the mayor and council have long been making me ill, and from all the press info I have seen on it, I might as well have been the only one... Local news is unbelievably biased - I won't even purchase the Windsor Star these days, let alone subscribe to the rag... And it seems like anyone brave enough to speak against City Hall is quickly silenced by unknown sources - or is attacked due to their brazen audacity to dare question.

Thank you, Mr. Arditti - I will certainly be reading your blog now that I have found it!

Hope you and your family have wonderful holidays!!!!!

17) Well, I just watched the 6 o clock news and can't believe it!!!

The City dropped their membership at the Chamber of Commerce... how dumb is that!!! Yep, just another example from Mr. Charm that if you don't go along with his ideas you get slapped.

The trouble is... the Chamber is the "heartbeat of business" in Windsor and Essex County.

He also keeps "harping" about Greenlink yet, the way I see it, the deal is "done" regarding the bridge. It will be a twinned Ambassador Bridge, no if's and's or but's about it!

Is there anyway we can legally recall (as in impeach) this Mayor for the betterment of the community?

18) $75m for the tunnel
$80m for arena
$10m for Greenlink/Schwartz/DRTP (so far)
$1m for NFL/Wrestlemania/Detroit GrandPrix sponsorships

$166m and counting. Hmmm. I hope Tory hasn't got Eddie penciled in for Minister of Finance.

19) Haven't talked to you since I moved. What a different world. Even without the manufacturing meltdown, there actually is a future for the GTA. Windsor - No Hope and this comment comes from a optimistic person. I read the bloggers daily write-ups and keep up with the Windsor Star's misinformation or information management program and have concluded that until unemployment is 15% in Windsor and the last few people have turned the lights off, there is no future.

What I got a kick out of today is Eddie's ranting against the county for not wanting to spend another $400,000 for the Tourism Commission. Duh - Would anyone in there right mind want to tie into Eddie and his clowns now even, if there were any virtues in the new plan. It is clear that Gary McNamara and the others are fed up with Eddie. They gave him the benefit of the doubt initially, but see him as a significant detriment to the long-term viability of their communities, let alone Windsor. If Eddie had been smart, instead of just a whining kid, he would have got the county to buy into a new cost sharing concept and phased in the increase over a number of years. Instead, he assumes everyones' stupid and he can pull the wool over their eyes. Eddie needs to stop thinking he knows everything as the results of his "high level of intelligence" has cost Windsorites in so many ways. Unless he truly pulls a rabbit out of the hat, Eddie will go down in history as the worst mayor that Windsor has ever had.

I hated to leave Windsor, but thank God I did.

20) You missed the boat on odd stories… from the Windsor Star… Just when you thought we had tough, unrewarding jobs, how about the zoo keeper tasked with collecting samples from frustrated elephants… new meaning to “just in time” deliveries and the new cause of delays at the border: Elephant seed smuggling

21) It was a pleasure to meet you yesterday, and I enjoyed your perspective on the interaction between the media and the various authorities, and particularly how that translated into coverage.

The media aren't used to having the lens turned on themselves. Blogs are changing the game.

22) [Re Star story Maryvale overhaul in limbo; Bylaw blocks urgently needed construction;] And when a deferred item at Monday night's council meeting makes front page news on Thursday, the Windsor Star becomes irrelevant.

23) Good morning Ed.
I've been busy. Moving out of this area.
I will have to sit down and write about it.
One item I did notice is that Mr. Mayor tried to point out that this slowdown was cyclical.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
There have been slow downs but not to this degree.
I think it is just another method of pointing the finger of blame somewhere else.
Why else would he have a meeting with realtors?
Since when do realtors influence investment? If it was that easy wouldn't the government have hired them years ago instead of throwing money at them?
I cannot begin to tell you of the scuttlebutt about the Windsor area. When I cannot get a machine repairman in because of Windsor, it makes my blood boil.

24)...there are areas of the province who would resent the Windsor's (and Toronto's) of the world getting a disproportionate amount of funding just because they were negligent in keeping their own infrastructure in shape. Past practice in Windsor has been to neglect things hoping the provincial sugar daddy will ride into town and rescue council and mayor.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Brister The Snowman

The Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget really has no chance to become mayor if he continually makes these dumb statements.

He put his foot along with his snow boot in his mouth again in Gord Henderson's column. When will he ever learn!

Councillor Brister seems to be so afraid to be interviewed by John Fairley on Face-to-Face. I have to assume that he is terrified that he will say something stupid when John asks him one of his tough questions. In the same vein, someone should warn Brister to stay out of Henderson's column.

I hope that the Councillor's family buys him a barometer for Christmas so that he can understand what the weather will be. I know he does not read BLOGs but it looks like he doesn't read or listen to the weather forecasts either.

Can you imagine a Councillor knowingly doing something like this just before a massive snowstorm is predicted to bury the City and actually taking credit for it:
  • "Brister knows that at least two tough council decisions will sooner or later have the phones ringing off the hook. People will go ballistic when they learn the snowfall threshold for plowing residential streets has been increased from three inches to four inches to save about $200,000."

It's not that Environment Canada hasn't been predicting for months now that this would be a bad winter.

What a sense of timing. That is my Ward 1 Councillor... penny wise and pound foolish.

Mayor's Sloganeers Head West

Will nothing ever go right for the poor man? Is Fate constantly against him?

It is another blow to the Mayor's plans. The positive message about Windsor that he wished to convey may never get heard by the masses outside of this City. In fact, the City may never get rebranded now at all. We have no one to help us.

Apparently a consultant may have to be hired at a huge cost to figure out what to do with the $900,000 that may not be able to be used for rebranding of the City. Adding to that the $250,000 that has not yet been spent to hire the PR flacks for the Mayor means that over $1 million is available.

This "found money" however is burning a hole in Council's pocket. Stay tuned to see how this money will be squandered. Don't count on it being used to reduce taxes or for the Library however. City Hall is on some kind of mission respecting the system that frankly I have never been able to figure out. Perhaps we can get our snow cleared now.

In the meantime, take a look at this story from the Globe and Mail:
  • "Go West, young graphic designers
    The Prairie provinces are seeking out new logos, saying wheat sheaves and wild roses won't cut it any more
    Globe and Mail, December 14, 2007

    WINNIPEG AND CALGARY — The iconic wheat sheaf of Saskatchewan will be scythed from government documents and highway signs in the coming year as the province tries to fashion an identity that reaches beyond its agrarian past.

    It's part of a broader image makeover across the Prairie provinces that has given birth to a more muscular, less "friendly" bison logo in Manitoba, and raised the thorny prospect of having "Wild Rose Country" plucked from Alberta's licence plates.

    "This is probably the right time for all of them to be thinking about it," said Ken Wong, a marketing professor at Queen's University who helped design a tourism strategy for New Brunswick in the mid-1990s.

    In recent weeks, Prof. Wong has visited Calgary, Winnipeg and Saskatoon, which he thinks may be the single biggest indicator — at least to him — that the Prairies are hot. "I can't recall in 25 years of professional life having a reason to be in all three provinces in the same two-week period," he joked.

    Saskatchewan Deputy Premier Ken Krawetz said the wheat sheaf is outdated as a symbol because harvesting techniques made it obsolete by the 1950s. "We want the visual identity of Saskatchewan to be something more modern that depicts what we're all about," Mr. Krawetz said.

    The wheat-sheaf logo was brought in under Allan Blakeney's NDP government in the 1970s. Mr. Blakeney said yesterday that it has been mischaracterized as strictly agricultural. "It was stylized so it could represent several things," he said. "It was thought to be possibly a wheat sheaf and possibly an oil well overflowing … I think it's a pretty good logo because it's highly distinctive and easily recognized."

    Albertans were told last month they'd be consulted on the province's first licence-plate revamp since 1983, to look into a new design, colour theme and whether to remove the phrase "Wild Rose Country." Service Alberta Minister Lloyd Snelgrove will travel around asking people whether they'd like — for example, the province's official motto "Strong and Free" instead, although the "Alberta Advantage" is probably more widely known.

    Debi Andrus, marketing professor at the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary, said all this re-branding of Canadian cities and provinces is linked to economic development and tourism.

    "Perceptions can be real barriers to how people will invest in or go to a destination," Prof. Andrus said. "Saskatchewan is more than wheat and it has been for quite a while. For them to now say we've changed and we need to show the world that we've changed makes good sense."

    After much debate this year, Calgary finally dropped the mascots of the 1988 Winter Olympics, which were played in that city, from its road signs. The cuddly polar bears Hidy and Howdy were replaced with signage that touts Calgary as the "Heart of the New West" topped off with a white cowboy hat, which also received some criticism.

    While some are trying to position Calgary as something other than a "cowboy town," Prof. Andrus said the white hat is a strong image that is known internationally. "You have a symbol that is recognizable and fun. You can't walk away from that," she said.

    But the experts also offer some words of warning to governments looking to liven up their region's image. Don't toss out the entire, long-standing brand, but rather add something new to it and back it up with investment in the areas that are being promoted, Prof. Wong said. "A brand is a lot more than a logo or a slogan," he added, "There has to be something behind it."