Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Monday, February 18, 2008

Fisking The Mayor

Poor Daryl, I bet he enjoyed being Municipal Affairs Reporter for A-Channel News. It must have been fun while it lasted, all of that hobnobbing with the Powers-that-be in Windsor. Alas, who knows where he will go next.

Don't worry about him, he will probably be promoted and be given additional responsibilities that might make it impossible for him to cover City Hall.

It is probably one of the most foolish interviews that I have seen the Mayor give. Daryl Newcombe of A-Channel absolutely devastates, in about three minutes, the Mayor's past and future activities with respect to Greenlink and the advertising extravaganza. He has just about the right amount of sarcasm in his tone as he tells the story that you need to hear rather then just read his words.

Who can resist? It is time for the Blogmeister to fisk the Mayor!

Anchor: With an April deadline looming for the border announcement, Windsor City Council is busy planning a last push to get the Province to support its Greenlink border access road design. But how much is this going to cost the municipal taxpayer? A-Channel's Daryl Newcombe reports previewing the City's eleventh hour attempt to rally the public behind Greenlink.

[Why does everything have to be a “last push” in this City? How many times have we heard recently that we are at the 11th hour in some project? Is there a reason why we can’t be negotiating with the Senior Levels on a road to the border in a timely fashion?

We have only been at it since last October. Mind you, I recall someone from Administration saying at the last Council meeting that there have been no dealings with DRIC for about 2 months now. Moreover, the Provincial Cabinet Ministers seem to have just about had their fill of the Mayor and his strong-arm tactics while the County is not going to let him do to their towns what he is doing to Windsor with his stalling. I guess that is why there is panic now.

You may want remember the wonderful Gord Henderson football analogy at the time “it's now first-and-goal inside the 10 for the City of Windsor's border plan.” Given the mess we seem to be in, again, it seems of that our quarterback may have fumbled the ball.]

Darryl Newcombe, Reporter: This is the team of City staff working on Windsor`s last chance to bring about its own border solution. The team is quickly assembling a new advertising campaign to promote the City`s Greenlink border access route proposal.

[As you can tell there are five people involved. I wonder how much time they will spend working on this project and whether their salaries will be charged to the file or just buried so that it does not show up on any costing. If this team is doing the advertising, then why do we need an agency too?]

Mayor Eddie Francis: City Council is going to engage the residents of the City of Windsor a call to action asking them to stand up against the Provincial government against the cheap solution that the Provincial government wants to implement in this area. Saying to them we deserve better.

[I am tired of being "engaged." Our engagement is in its 5th year now. I'd like to be at the altar already.

I thought we just had a call for action after Sam gave us his Greenlink presentation months ago. Did that call really bomb out even though the Mayor claimed it was a great success? We had our first advertising blitz including Ward meetings didn’t we? Why do we have to call for action again?

I wish that the Mayor would stop using the word “cheap.” I suspect that the Eminence Greasie told him to use that word but, seriously, it has been overworked already. Just like PLAN. Does the Mayor actually have one or does he make it up as he goes along? Interestingly the amount the Mayor wants to spend on Greenlink, $1.6B, is the same amount that DRIC wants to spend. Will DRIC therefore start saying that the Mayor is offering Windsorites a cheap solution too? As will be shown below who knows what the Mayor’s proposal really costs.]

Reporter: The City`s Greenlink plan was unveiled back in October by traffic engineer Sam Schwartz. It includes longer tunnelled sections than the design presented by the Detroit River International Crossing study, however it may also cost billions of dollars more.

[I wonder why Daryl made this comment about the extra billions of dollars of cost and on what basis. Was he wondering why Gord Henderson mentioned the figure of $2.6 billion so many times? Did he, as I, notice that the Greenlink figures published were in 2007 dollars (the DRIC figures were 2011 dollars) which means that by the time that the road is finally started, the costs may well have increased dramatically. That seems typical in other Windsor construction projects. I wonder if Daryl noticed that the Greenlink proposal stopped at E C Row. I would wager that the Reporter was wondering why Eddie has refused to give the DRIC people his numbers with respect to the costing if they are so accurate. What does he have to hide?]

This will be the second and likely last opportunity the City has to rally public support around Greenlink. You remember the first campaign relied heavily on this mailing that was sent to all the homes in Windsor as well as the creation of a website and some advertising in local media.

[Trust me on this one, we will be rallying for Greenlink many more times before this matter is finalized. Greenlink is nothing more than the Mayor’s latest stall tactic. It has many more good months ahead of it before it is put to rest like Schwartz’s first Plan and then full tunnelling. Daryl is being modest… What was there... at least five full-page Star advertisements and many CKLW radio spots. What do you think that cost?

No doubt the Mayor is NOT involved in the advertising placement whatsoever since "Mayor Francis discloses an interest and abstains from voting on Item No. 15 being the report of the City Solicitor respecting “2008 Windsor Star Advertising Contract”, as the Windsor Star employs a family member." But if that is the case, then why is he involved in the campaign at all since deciding on media mix is so important {Interestingly, when the Star contract was finally approved in January, he did not declare a pecuniary interest. I wonder if his family member left the Star.}]

However the success of that campaign could best described as limited. Just 3,200 people or about one and a half percent of the City’s population bothered to call 311 to register their support. This time around the Mayor suggests a much more aggressive message presented in advertising, home mailings and even City buses decked out in signage.

[Daryl I’m afraid has been reading too many BLOGs in this City where these numbers are ridiculed. Instead, he should have been listening to the Mayor who said “This allows us to demonstrate to DRIC that there is overwhelming support for GreenLink. Mostly everybody supports GreenLink over DRIC…Based on sheer numbers, I think this shatters any response they've received." After all, according to the Mayor “the survey was scientific because callers had to be at least 18 to vote, and could vote only once.”]

Reporter: How large of a budget have we authorized for administration?

[Actually, my information is nothing has been authorized by Council. There is no set figure because there is no final Plan. That still has to be worked on. My understanding is that at a recent in camera session, Councillors gave a bunch of ideas but many would have been tossed aside to focus on the key areas whatever those are.]

Francis: Again, City Council has directed the different aspects take place. And with regards to budget. I believe that City Council is saying that the lives of our residents of the City of Windsor and the quality of life and the right to a quality of life, you can`t put any price to it.

[Lawyer, businessman, politican...with respect to the project, the Mayor’s comment sounds like he wants to be an advertising guru and spokesperson as well. After all, he is the Voice of Council on the border.

Does Eddie want to be our next Lee Iacocca...."If you can find a better international road crossing, buy it!" Isn’t his last line similar to the punchline in MasterCard commercials? In his next answer, the Mayor does put a price to it, well sort of, if you can make any sense of what he is actually saying.]

Reporter: The border file has already cost the City of Windsor three and a half million dollars and the Mayor hinted this campaign may be the most critical work to date.

[I don’t think that the Reporter in this case got the correct number. But you can’t really blame him because who knows what that number really is. You see as well the Mayor just "hints" he doesn’t “say.” If he “said” he could be blamed if he was wrong and you know that the Mayor doesn’t like to be blamed especially because he is never wrong. Anyway, the next Greenlink campaign will be even more critical than this one]

Francis: We are approximately at 3.5 million dollars right now.

[As I said, I’m not certain that this amount is accurate. Roseann Danese reported that Estrin’s firm alone billed $3.2M up to January, 2007. The fees were reported at $3.4M at the end of September. I thought that Sam and Parsons Brinckerhoff were going to be charging about half a million dollars for their Greenlink work. Has David Estrin been doing any work over the past five months? Does the figure quoted by the Mayor include work with respect to the deal with Detroit with respect to the Tunnel. Those fees must be gigantic by now since we are told that representatives from the two cities “are meeting nearly every day.” What about the cost for the new law firm retained by the City for DRIC property matters. I wonder what the US law firm charged for the US Coast Guard hearings. We should be getting an updated report from the City Solicitor soon I believe unless it was buried in the Communications Package.]

I can see us continuing the trend for the course of the year. We have been spending, if you go back to 2002, approximately $500,000, and I can see us spending that much money trying to get our position out in front of the Provincial government.

[Now here’s a very confusing statement. You see what I mean about hinting and saying. Surely, the Mayor cannot be saying that he is going to spend that kind of money on ad campaign on a project that will never happen. If this number had been reported in the Windsor Star so that citizens can comment on the Star Forum, all hell would have broken loose by now. Frankly, the Cleary would have to be rented for all of the people who would want to speak at the budget meeting to condemn this Mayor and Council if $500,000 was going to be spent.

But our Mayor is pretty slick. He did not say that we are spending that kind of money for the ad campaign but for trying to get our position in front of the Province. Don’t you think that the bureaucrats would be trembling in their boots if they thought that the City is going to spend that much money to advocate for Greenlink. Naaaaaaaw, I don’t think so either.]

Reporter: The City is still obtaining advertising quotes but once the final campaign is decided on, the Mayor says the budget will be made public. The Detroit River International Crossing study will issue its final recommendations in April. Those recommendations will weigh heavily in the final border solution according to the Provincial government. Darryl Newcome, Channel News.

[I wonder where are the City is trying to obtain those quotes from since I checked the City’s website where they have tenders and I did not see anything there at all about it. If there is an RFP, then John Fairley has to be given credit for it because he asked Councillor Dilkens several times on his show whether one was going to be called and the Councillor said he assumed so.

While we are waiting for this new budget to be made public, perhaps the Mayor could make public the budget for the last ad campaign. Perhaps also to show value for money, he should also provide to us a full report about what that campaign achieved including a copy of the report that was to be sent to DRIC by mid-November.]