City Hall In The News
We are going to journey far afield today. Here are some recent thoughts I had about City Hall.
I'D FLY A MILLION MILES FOR...
Looks like the Mayor will fly off to Germany to get 50 jobs but won't drive across the river to the Bridge Co. offices to get several thousand. Instead of flying to Germany, he could fly to Toronto and Ottawa to get 10,000.
The deal will wind up being something like this:
- the land will be serviced to be shovel ready at the huge expense of Windsor taxpayers
- the land will be sold at a low cost to a developer who will build the warehouse facility
- the German company will then lease the warehouse
- the Senior Levels will throw in more taxpayer money for grants and financing and worker retraining funds to get the deal here
- Manning Road will be stalled off some more using the EA process and the Lauzon EA and upgrading E C Row will be expedited as Administration wants.
The German company will get a great deal since they will take advantage of the politicians by throwing in their faces all of the "perceptions" about border problems. Can't have perishables perishing.
Ironically, guess who will supply the German company's trucking needs!
Hey, who gets the airplane frequent flyer points since the trips are paid for by the City?
I wonder why Mr. Mancini as head of the Development Commission did not fly over to Germany but the Mayor felt the need to do so. Is this a vote of non-confidence in the Chair and the Commission by the Mayor on their ability to close a deal? Is this Mayoral micromanagement? Or is the Mayor that desperate for publicity, any publicity given the negative reaction to him by Windsorites?
I don't think that they have their act together and that they are working at cross purposes. That can't be good for them or for us because the Credit Union might decide not to provide any funds next year and the County might actually be interested in finding out whether the Economic Development Commission has been able to produce brochures to hand out to prospective investors.
Here's what I mean. And I still can't get over this comment, I am sorry, about the Commission:
- "Because of the nature of the region’s strategy, traditional performance measures such as the number of new plants attracted, or the number of jobs retained, albeit significant, should not be the primary indicators of success. These could actually be counterproductive by driving the wrong behaviour."
Eddie on CKLW had a different point of view.
- "Everything we do has to be focused on jobs. Everything we talk about. Everything that we strategize about. Everything that we act on has to be about bringing more jobs to this community."
See what I mean. If they're confused, no wonder no one wants to invest here. They would get a mixed message. Pass the hors d'oeuvres please.
ANYTHING THE BRIDGE COMPANY AND DRIC CAN DO, EDDIE CAN DO BETTER
I guess that the Mayor must be tired of hearing how many new jobs his enemies can create. The Bridge Company's Enhancement Project and the DRIC road would create over 10,000 direct and indirect infrastructure jobs in Windsor, many of them very high paying unlike the call centre jobs.
So Eddie has to top them. Again on CKLW he told us about this exciting economic development at the airport (no wonder he wants to stall Manning Road). It will bring a tremendous amount of jobs in the City except no one knows when the announcement will be made and what it is all about.
So now we find it that it is between 50 and 500 jobs for a food distribution company from Germany. That secret was revealed quickly wasn't it?
I see that Eddie and Windsor Airport general manager Federica Nazzani are going to Germany to try to get the business. I wonder if they fly via Detroit Metro Airport to Europe or via Toronto so they use YQG!
IT'S THE INTERMODAL HUB STUPID
Of course, the leaks on CKLW and in the Windsor Star really have nothing to do with bringing a few jobs in a food warehouse to Windsor. No, it is the start of the new Eddie dream for Windsor. Seriously, when Eddie and Donna Cansfield met for lunch, what you think they were really talking about. It was not the border but the intermodal hub.
Eddie will come back from Germany as a hero whether the plant is built are not and will say that this is the beginning of the Intermodal hub at the airport that will revitalize Windsor and diversify our economy. Remember when he visited Texas. Here's what the Star talked about:
- "Mayor leads NAFTA lobby: Francis named co-chairman of political, business coalition;
Windsor Star 04-11-2006
Mayor Eddie Francis will serve as co-chairman of a political and business coalition formed in Dallas that is striving to become a lobbying force for communities along the NAFTA highway corridor...
The mayor will travel to Dallas next Thursday and Friday (April 20-21) where he will assist in leading the coalition's meeting and also tour the city's transportation hub where rail, road and air freight is exchanged...
Dallas has emerged as a major U.S. transportation hub within the NAFTA corridor, which includes major cities such as Cincinnati, Nashville, Memphis and San Antonio.
Goods arriving from China at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach head west to Dallas, then either north to central U.S. states and Canada (through Windsor) or south to Mexico through the border town of Laredo, Tex...
Francis was looking forward to touring Dallas's transportation hub, a concept he is striving to introduce to Windsor on lands near the airport.
The goal is for Windsor to become a hub for international trade in relation to freight transfers, the mayor said.
He estimated funds required to establish such a transportation hub locally would cost between $200 million and $300 million -- an investment that would help maintain national productivity and remain competitive in a global economy.
"The dollars are significant, but everyone realizes the cost of not doing this would be greater," Francis said.
The previous Eddie dreams are dead--Schwartz, full tunnelling, Schwunnels and Greenlink. Long live the new Eddie dream, the intermodal hub, for the next three years anyway.
WILL A CHINESE AUTO PLANT COME TO WINDSOR
When I first heard the story on CKLW about jobs near the airport, my immediate thought was that the Engineering Complex was going to go near the airport. However I remembered that the University gave up a whole bunch of land recently that they had there so that didn't make too much sense to me.
When I found out that it was a food distribution company, what a let-down. Here is what I was hoping it was:
I remembered that an inside source at the Casino told me that the Development Commission took over the VU bar a few months ago and held a big party for about 20 to 30 people, most of whom were Asian.
That I imagined might be a precursor of good things to come now that we see all the stories about the Chinese auto companies during the Detroit Automobile Show. Can it be, I hoped, that one of these companies will open up a gigantic plant here that will employ thousands of people? Is that the reason why Eddie wants everything so positive about Windsor so that when these people read the newspapers they will see nothing but good here?
So much for that theory!
I truly hope that Eddie has kept his Councillors in the loop and that he is kept all of them advised as to the status of whatever he is doing. I wouldn't want this to happen. Gee, it was just five years ago wasn't it when the Star wrote this editorial:
- "Monday night, Windsor city council will be asked to retroactively approve more than $350,000 in payments to consultants and lobbyists. The money was spent on a project that councillors knew nothing about.
However, the mayor, members of the development commission and some senior city administrators did know about the "Blue Bell" project, which turned out to be an attempt to lure the $1.2-billion DCX Sprinter van development to a site near Windsor Airport.
Some members of council are furious that they were purposefully left in the dark over several months while the Blue Bell project proceeded. They should be. The $350,000 had not been budgeted by city council and was spent without the authority of councillors.
Essentially, councillors were prohibited from fulfilling their duty to constituents, which is to oversee the city's business and mind the interests of taxpayers.
Mayor Mike Hurst defends the decision to leave out council due to the fact that the discussions were being kept confidential at the insistence of the automaker."
- "However, if the development commission and senior bureaucrats could be part of the process, why not council? As Councillor Eddie Francis says, one of the central issues that's been raised is one of trust.
"The fundamental issue here is that someone decided that the most important people in the equation -- councillors -- couldn't be trusted with the information and that's infuriating," says Francis. "As councillors, we have a professional obligation to maintain confidentiality and we have to be in the loop. But someone decided to neutralize council on this issue and screw the Municipal Act."
I see that the Economic Development Commission is going to contribute $25,000 for something at the Detroit auto show. While the cheque will come from the Commission, it is actually taxpayers in the City and the County paying for it. You see when it comes from the Commission, no one really can get too mad about it just like when cheques come from the Convention and Visitors' Bureau rather than from City Hall directly.
It's just like WUC levy increases. They aren't tax increases but you will have to pay for them out of your pocket.
Dinner prices in Detroit must have gone up, skyrocketed in fact, even with the higher Canadian dollar. In January, 2006 for example,
- "Ed Agnew, Inter-Governmental Grants and Special Projects Co-ordinator, Strategic Services appears before and is available for questions regarding the last minute request to participate in the 2006 North American International Auto Show’s Automotive Dinner to be held on January 18, 2006, where four local restaurants will be featured and will be attended by approximately 2000 representatives of the auto industry, and states that it would cost the City $12,500 in U.S. funds to participate, which would be a step forward in developing our Windsor/Detroit area as one economic unit for our mutual benefit."
- "That the City of Windsor PARTICIPATE as an associate sponsor for the 2006 North American International Auto Show - Automotive Industry Dinner to be held on January 18, 2006 at a cost of $12,500 in U.S. funds to BE CHARGED to the budget stabilization reserve fund."
The 2008 payment almost slipped by unnoticed but for Councillor Halberstadt asking the question. Is Roger Penske involved in this event as well?
WORKING, PLAYING AND INVESTING IN DOWNTOWN WINDSOR CAN BE MURDER
Wow, Eddie at Council sure made it attractive to come downtown didn't he. I just can't wait for people to flock downtown now after he said:
- "There will be another murder. There will be another gunshot in our downtown... it is going to happen."
I'll bet the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Casino will be thrilled to put that statement on their brochures as a positive statement about coming to Windsor. Their competition surely will. That should bring us some very big groups don't you think. And yet, the Mayor had the nerve to tell us to be careful what we're saying if we want to bring conventions downtown. Such hypocrisy and such arrogance make me sick.
Aren't the Councillor-children tired of being scolded by their Kindergarten teacher, the Mayor. Another Eddie lecture after the vote was taken. I don't see anything in the Procedural Bylaw that allows him to take centre stage and to mouth off after a vote is taken. But it's easier then isn't it, nobody can tell him that he's wrong to his face because the debate is over. If anyone tried, he would merely rule him/her out of order. Why does he do this, and he's done it on a number of occasions. We know how well it he takes criticism. NOT. Just ask the pesky environmentalist.
Why he didn't speak before I don't know... he was clearly opposed to the Motion. However since he did not vote, he has it both ways doesn't he? If the three a.m. closing works, he did not vote against it. If it does not work, all he has to do is point to what he said at Council. Of course no one will remember what he said exactly.
He's getting bolder now. Not only is he scolding Councillors but is also scolding the Downtown Business Association and the public as well. What's the matter with everyone, haven't they bought into his vision yet?
Now when the Mayor tells us that something doesn't happen quickly, it's probably true. But it also means he can't be judged on performance or results. You can tell him he's doing nothing downtown because the vacancy rate downtown is huge and retail is nonexistent. That doesn't bother him one bit. You see we just don't understand. It's all part of his overall scheme to bring in people downtown so the retailers can prosper. You know the funky bus terminal, the St. Clair students and the Engineering Complex. I think he forgot about the Keg restaurant which used to be the basis of his revitalization of the downtown. It's all part of his Plan.
Just give it time. Just like with stalling on the Border road. Eddie will be proven right in the end oh ye of little faith.
The reality is that Eddie has to shut everybody up. He has to keep them quiet and get them to agree that this is a long-term problem. He has to do this so that he can build up his resume to become the next Attorney General in the John Tory Government if the Progressive Conservatives ever get elected.
Who dreamt up the line "Guns, Drugs and Gangs." It plays so well in the media and captures all of the buzzwords that scare us. Clearly it was the Eminence Greasie who is manoeuvering Eddie for his next job. I lost count how many times Eddie used that expression at Council. However I am glad that Councillor Postma picked it up in her talk. She is on the team all right.
Thank goodness for the Ward 2 Councillor. She gave us a lesson in the subculture that she knows so well it seems. I sure would not open up a restaurant downtown after listening to her. I would not want to be run out because my windows were broken by those after-hours people. Her words help create an investor reality that will scare them off whether she understands that or not.
She at least kept the same theme as the Mayor telling us that a wrong look means that something will happen. IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN.
Eddie is right about one thing however. After listening to his comments I know that the problems will not be solved quickly in the downtown. With no urban village, the downtown being shifted towards the Casino area, the arena in the East End, a faltering economy in Windsor, talk of murder that is going to happen again, Judith Veresuk who is going to Vancouver with her husband and leaving the job as executive director of the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association is probably the smartest person around.