It's A New Year After All
Here are some thoughts to start the year. If things keep on like this, I won't be lacking in matters to Blog about. In fact my real problem is going to be how to deliver so much information to you to keep you knowledgeable about the state of affairs in this City
Come along for the ride it should be a fun year:
WINDSORITES ARE ILLITERATE
I'm sure you saw the story:
- "Canada behind U.S. in reading books
In this, the month of resolutions, Canadians wanting to turn a new page might find the best -- and most literal -- place to start is with a book.
According to a Ipsos Reid survey, which was commissioned by CanWest News Service and Global Television, nearly a third of adults (31 per cent) across the country didn't read a single book for pleasure in 2007."
With Windsor being last, number 27 out of 27 on literacy in a recent study, it is no wonder that the average was brought down. But then again how can we expect Windsorites to do better when the City wants to decimate the Library System by slashing its budget. I can hardly wait to see how far behind Canada will be next year due to Windsor's actions.
Here's the real tragedy for Windsor. We don't understand what a library is anymore. If we did, we would be increasing its budget rather than reducing it so drastically. Here's what a recent study in United States informs us:
- "More than half of Americans visited a library in the past year with many of them drawn in by the computers rather than the books, according to a survey released on Sunday.
Of the 53 percent of U.S. adults who said they visited a library in 2007, the biggest users were young adults aged 18 to 30 in the tech-loving group known as Generation Y, the survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project said.
"These findings turn our thinking about libraries upside down," said Leigh Estabrook, a professor emerita at the University of Illinois and co-author of a report on the survey results.
"Internet use seems to create an information hunger and it is information-savvy young people who are most likely to visit libraries," she said.
Internet users were more than twice as likely to patronize libraries as non-Internet users, according to the survey.
More than two-thirds of library visitors in all age groups said they used computers while at the library.
Sixty-five percent of them looked up information on the Internet while 62 percent used computers to check into the library's resources.
Public libraries now offer virtual homework help, special gaming software programs, and some librarians even have created characters in the Second Life virtual world, Estabrook said. Libraries also remain a community hub or gathering place in many neighborhoods, she said."
DON'T EXPECT THE FEDS TO SALVAGE THE BORDER
A couple of interesting stories over the last few days tell me that not only the Province will be a big loser with respect to getting more federal money but so will the Windsor border.
- "Experts say PM's remarks suggest a tame budget
Stephen Harper's gloomy forecast of economic turbulence in the year ahead is likely meant to cool expectations before the release of a new budget, financial experts said Friday.
Don Drummond, TD Bank Financial Group's chief economist, described Harper's remarks as "political conditioning" ahead of a tame budget next year.
"We are so used to, in Canada, to have blockbuster budgets that always have billions and billions of dollars in new spending, or billions of dollars in tax cuts, and I just don't think we're going to have that in 2008," Drummond told CTV's Mike Duffy Live.
"If you don't want to get nasty surprises when you release a document, you try to do pre-conditioning."
During year-end interviews, Harper said there would be no more federal tax relief in 2008. There would also be no major spending increases either, as the government focused on cutting debt.
He said a cautious fiscal policy would be needed to combat a global slowdown and a fragile U.S. economy, which is expected to impact Canada.
"There is no way we can be completely insulated from what is going on in the United States or in the global economy," Harper told CTV News' Chief Anchor and Senior Editor Lloyd Robertson, and Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife on Thursday."
- Government surplus shrinks by $2.7 billion as retroactive tax cuts slice into revenues
OTTAWA - Retroactive tax cuts introduced in October by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty have had a dramatic impact on the government's budgetary bounty, reducing the accumulated surplus by $2.7 billion after recording the first monthly deficit of the current fiscal year.
The government reported Friday that its accumulated surplus for this fiscal year has shrunk to $6.6 billion for the first seven months of the fiscal year as of the end of October, down from the $9.3 billion at the end of September.
This marks the first time during the 2007-2008 fiscal year that the government has recorded a monthly deficit, and it is almost entirely due to a $2.5-billion adjustment to revenues as a result of Flaherty's Oct. 30 mini-budget.
SEASON'S GREETINGS TO YOU TOO SAM
A reader of mine sent me the following note:
- "I just received Gridlock Sam's annual Season's Greetings card and calendar. In the accompanying boast he states that:
"In Windsor, Ontario, headlines called SSC's visionary green roadway/park a 'Garden of Eden.' In recent Windsor polls SSC's plan achieved an unprecedented 99% public approval rating."
Well that's not exactly the way I remember it. Sure the headline said
- "City's border plan 'Garden of Eden'; $1.6B proposal includes parks, 6 big rig tunnels."
However, if you read the story, the Garden of Eden was a term that Sam himself used:
- "People will be calling this the Garden of Eden of North America," Schwartz said. "It will be adopted worldwide. People will come here to study what should be done in their own cities. (Windsor) will become a tourist destination because of its beauty and all it has to offer."
I guess Sam as well was using the same "scientific" surveys that the Mayor was using. Mayor Eddie Francis said
- "a request for people to call the city's 311 information line and register support for the GreenLink plan has yielded a nearly 99 per cent rate of approval...
As of Nov. 21, Francis said 3,120 people -- 98.98 per cent of respondents -- had called in support of GreenLink, the city's border crossing plan."
Unfortunately for both Sam and Eddie, it seems that about 200,000 people did not respond to the Mayor's request and did not call in to support Sam's Greenlink proposal. Perhaps that is why the City has not yet formally responded to the DRIC road proposal even though thousands of taxpayer dollars were wasted on media ads and Ward meetings and websites.
WE NEED A RESCISSION IN WINDSOR
Please note that I said rescission not a recession!
Here is something that we can take from Port Huron that actually has some value for Windsor rather than the plans for an arena that failed there that we took over and that will cost us dearly.
From the Times Herald:
- "Favorite son,' Moeller wastes no time making impact in city
"With Port Huron City Manager Karl Tomion saying the city was going bankrupt, I decided it was my time to step up to the plate. I wasn't going to just sit there while my city went broke; I decided to run for City Council." - Brian Moeller, Port Huron's new mayor
In November 2007, the voters of Port Huron ushered in a new era in city government with a massive shift in leadership. Grabbing the reins was one of Port Huron's favorite sons, Brian Moeller...
"The previous City Council (members) lost not because they made tough, hard decisions, but because they failed to listen to the citizens. They did what City Hall wanted - they failed to do what the citizens wanted." - Moeller
Much has been accomplished already. This council moved quickly to rescind the 47% water/sewer-rate increases the previous council mandated for July 1, 2008, and beyond.
When City Hall stalled, the council wasted no time. It honored the pledge each of the current council members made to have the city's entire city budget available to all citizens by arranging for it to be posted on a private Web site, www.local-opinion.com.
This council will provide a budget that won't be balanced on the backs of its struggling citizens or the city's lower-level employees. It will, in the short term, deal with the Blue Water Bridge Plaza expansion, budget issues and five union contracts covering two-thirds of the city's employees that actually expired last July.
In the long term, the council quickly will advance an agenda of dealing with a struggling downtown, the McMorran Complex and important developments, such as the Terra Land Group, Acheson development and the proposed casino.
There also are council members who want to reopen this year's budget for possible revision "
Thanks to the Premier, we have no right of recall for our politicians and the next election is three long years away.
PUTTING BILL MARRA TO THE AUDITOR GENERAL TEST
It is fine for Councillor Marra to get a story in the Star in which he advocates for an Auditor General's position to be a safeguard over taxpayers money. In this City, with local politicians playing entrepreneur with our money, that position is urgently required. It is so boring fixing potholes when you can a run airports, arenas and border crossings while at the same time doing sophisticated financings to build up one's CV.
We'll see what the Councillor and some of his colleagues are made of when they get the WUC whitewash audit. Will the Councillor follow up on his comment about undertaking a proper forensic audit if the Ministry one is not satisfactory especially given the recent Star stories?
If he does not do so, then this is all mere political posturing.
I'd like the Councillor to ask at Council on Monday and in public a Council Question and to demand an immediate answer about what the Star story said respecting Mr. Dunbar and what it means:
- "Marra comments follow the recent resignation of city auditor Mike Dunbar, who wrapped up his municipal duties on Dec. 31.
Issues had been raised around Dunbar's inability to access information because of municipal rules governing his job."
LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL
What a headline and congratulations to the Professor:
- "Research cash to spur jobs
Windsor is moving one step closer to a dream of diversifying its economy and becoming a hub of technological research.
On Monday, the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation will announce it's giving University of Windsor physics professor Roman Maev millions of dollars to expand the university's Institute for Diagnostic Imaging Research.
The money will be used to broaden the high-resolution imaging research technology Maev developed so it can be used for a wide range of industrial, medical and security purposes."
Unfortunately, but not wishing to be a downer, there are probably a hundred steps that are needed to be taken until that dream is successfully completed and my bet is that this is merely one of the first steps to accomplish that goal.
Nevertheless, it is a wonderful achievement and hopefully we can build on that.
As I am certain that you will appreciate, this is part of the media tactic to support the Mayor's call for being positive about the City and strapping a W to our collective chest. It's supposed to be good news that we are all supposed to cheer about. It is similar to the news stories about the Keg restaurant and our downtown. The fact that a chain steakhouse happened to open in our downtown was supposed to prove to Windsorites that the downtown was now rejuvenated and that all was well.
It's the third story in the Star within a month about Professor Maev. Why he has received almost as much coverage as Larry Horwitz.
Just the other day we are told about all of the other gazelles that might grow in the City:
- "Owners of high-tech companies and innovative entrepreneurs are among the Windsor and Essex County business leaders to watch in 2008, say observers.
They provide a snapshot of what Windsor’s industrial sector may look like in 10 years."
I don't feel so bad now when Alfie Morgan
- "cautioned against relying too heavily on high-tech industries to rescue the city’s economy.
“The high-tech field is getting very crowded and it would take a massive effort to become even a small player."
What I find discouraging is I don't see anything that the Gazelle Feeders are doing to promote the City and to produce jobs here. Frankly, if the Councilors would only get up enough nerve, we could produce 10 to 15,000 jobs almost immediately if the Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project and the road to the bridge were started now to provide the transition from our old economy to whatever it is that we wanted to become.
Here though is what is very disturbing about the cheerleaders. They just don't want to face reality. Here's something that a reader sent me that appeared in the University's Lance newspaper. Who is this man kidding. I think he ought to meet Dennis DeRosiers and have a nice chat with him about the automobile industry in Windsor and its future:
- "Matthew Fischer, Chief Executive Officer for the Windsor-Essex Development Commission, sees no reason for students in Windsor to worry about whether they will be able to find jobs here after finishing school.
Fischer points out that all ‘Big Three’ auto makers have announced their restructuring plans.
Furthermore, Statistics Canada maintains that total income per person in Windsor remains above the national average, at $28,700.
“Essentially, what’s happened in Windsor is we have just come off a 15-year growth spurt in which the economy expanded by a full third,” said Fischer.
“The city’s economic base is undergoing a massive restructuring, and it’s been a long time coming...
While most Windsor citizens look at the city’s dependency on the automotive industry as its biggest downfall, Fischer firmly believes Windsor’s ties to car production will not evaporate overnight. “The auto industry is not going to go away. We’ll always be known as an auto town,” he declared.
When asked why the disappearance of manufacturing jobs has had such a significant effect on Windsorites, Fischer did not deny those jobs are missed.
The problem is that manufacturing jobs were high-paying. They gave Windsor a very high standard of living.”
Though he admits the city is currently going through troublesome times, Fischer suggests Windsor residents be patient during this key time in the community’s history.
“There is a very bright future for Windsor because of our geographic location. We are in an enviable location. The economy just needs a little time to go through this transformation,” he stated...
Fischer says that the local economy needs to be more diversified. Students cannot expect the process to be quick, however. “We can’t speed it up, we can only maybe nudge it a bit.”
Windsor's economy is good.....nudge, nudge!
NEW CONSULTANT FOR THE CITY
It looks like Windsor may be hiring a new consultant for City Hall and she has may have been put to work immediately. It is just another step that Windsor is taking to increase the size of the W on its citizens' chests to make everyone feel good. It's so much easier than actually doing something.
- "Psychics are predicting things for Windsor this year.
According to seer Linda Doyle...three or four large companies are interested in investing in the city.
Doyle says that investment will pay off."
Here is a technique that Linda uses that I believe that the Mayor and the Gazelle Feeders might adapt since it took them a year to find out they didn't have any brochures to give out to prospective new investors:
- "A technique that I teach within my creative visualization courses is to start affirming your ideal mate is now here. Write it out daily “I am now with my ideal compatible mate. We have a healthy, happy, loving relationship” and of course set the table always for two. In the not to distant future you will be having dinner for two."
Accordingly, they should be writing....Windsor will get more jobs. Windsor will get more plants. Windsor will get new investment.