Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, February 15, 2008

Media Battle

You better set aside Tuesday evening to watch on Cogeco cable the drama at City Council on the issue "Canadian Transit Company Request for Lane Closure and Detour Traffic." In case you're wondering exactly what that means, it is all about what today's Windsor Star says:

  • "Bridge barrier annoys mayor"

In all seriousness, this is nothing more than a headline fight for the Mayor to try to take away some of the positive momentum that the Bridge Company has been achieving lately.

Before everyone gets too excited about all of this, please remember one thing. Under Bill C-3, the Bill that Brian Masse takes credit for passing, the Federal Government can close down that entire stretch of Huron Church anytime they want. In fact, as Eddie and David Estrin conceded in the Senate, the Feds have the power to take control of the road all the way to Highway 401 if they really want to do so. So far, the Feds do not have the political will to do anything nor do they want to have the financial responsibility of the road if they can pass it off to the Province.

I wonder who will be the person assigned to take on the Bridge Company at Council. Of course, the Mayor and Councillors don't give out tasks in camera or coordinate approaches or prepare questions to ask or discuss voting. So I am certain that someone spontaneously will do so.

I doubt if it will be the Mayor because he doesn't like getting into confrontations with Dan Stamper if he is going to be there and last time around Paula Lombardi, their lawyer, walked all over him on the Interim Control Bylaw issue.

I doubt if it will be one of the Councillors in Ward 2 since they don't want it to appear as if they are anti-Ambassador Bridge with the Interm Control Bylaw issue coming up again next week.

So the first big issue will be who will take on the Bridge Company or will they try and let Administration do the dirty work for them. Or just not say anything at all to keep the Agenda Item short.

It really is amazing. Did you know that this tiny stretch of road is so vital to the survival of Windsor and its downtown. If that is really the case, one would have thought that City and the Bridge Company would be talking. Instead, the parties joust and exchange soundbites on A-Channel News and in paragraphs in the Windsor Star.

Obviously, this road is not that important. I am not aware that there have been any face-to-face conversations between the Senior people in both organizations. One would think that the Mayor would have contacted the Bridge Company by now if it was that crucual an issue. Mind you, how can he talk to them if the Ambassador Bridge is classified as the "enemy" by him? Who would be his intermediary, his Henry Kissinger? It's a real shame that the Bridge Company cannot convince the Mayor to treat them as a "friend" the way Eddie treats the Casino.

Mr. Battagello got his story slightly wrong. If you want to know the difference between a "Young Entrepreneur of the Year" and a "Real Entrepreneur," then Battagello's mistake is quite telling. He wrote:
  • "City administration has recommended council deny the request until the bridge company provides more information about the exact nature of the construction work."

Read what I have posted right above which is the exact recommendation from Administration. Do you see the word "deny" in it? I don't. What I see is another City stall tactic as part of the process to do whatever is possible to prevent the Ambassador Bridge doing anything in this City without a war.

Give us more information, demonstrate to us, do more studying and review, spend weeks doing a report... more of the Mayor's do-nothing tactics. How much stall time will that buy the Mayor, a month, six months, a year?

Unfortunately for the Mayor, the Bridge Company is not the Federal or Provincial Governments whose members are afraid of the Windsor Star for their political future. You see, the Bridge Company has to run a business because, unlike the Mayor, they cannot increase Enwin utility rates or increase water rates to bring in money. They do not have the Mayor's luxury of time nor can they afford the stalling of Administration reporting. As the Star story states:

  • "He said the road needed to be closed this week because the company is "doing inspection on work that's going to be done."

There is a business need to take action now and not when the Mayor decides it is time for them to be allowed at his whim to do something. They will stand up for their rights and are not afraid to do so.

Dan Stamper has a business to run and it seems to be forgotten that what he is doing is on the Bridge Company's "private" property. I do wish at least his opponents would get their stories straight about what his real motive is. There are several that are attributed to him in the Star story. No one wants to believe what he says but then again he is a City "enemy" so how can you believe anything that he says.

I am not 100% sure why Stamper is saying:

  • ""The City of Windsor is not willing to do anything to be helpful for us," he said."

Do you think that he is comparing his Company's request to temporarily close down a small part of a street with what the Casino has been able to do for how long now with respect to how many street closings downtown? Why the difference in treatment?

Speaking of the Casino, don't you like the way that they are shooting down what the Mayor says, and Mr. Horwitz as well. I wonder if they have finally learned that the East End Arena is their competition now thanks to the Mayor. Here is the scare, according to the Mayor,

  • "They know I have expressed (that) any closure of the road will hurt downtown. "We need that exit to secure access to the casino, to downtown businesses and restaurants. This clearly eliminates that."

I guess that Americans coming over here are so stupid that they can't figure out how to get to downtown Windsor.

It is not as clear as the Mayor suggests I am afraid. It appears that the Casino has solved that problem very easily. They put up a few signs. As the City does when it puts up "Detour Signs" on road construction, say like on Walker Road:

  • "pointing U.S. customers coming off the bridge to use eastbound College Avenue and Crawford Avenue to get downtown.

    "The signs seem to be doing what is intended," Ward said."

That is the difference between a bureaucratic mentality that the Mayor has and how a business really operates. There is a problem and they solve it simply and easily. And of course cheaply! Of course the City could put up signs too to prevent problems but then Eddie could not complain could he and could not slam the "enemy."

This reminds me of the huge cost of Eddie's Horseshoe Road which was to solve the truck border backup problem at a price tag of several hundred million dollars. The Bridge Company solved it by opening up four Customs booths at a tiny fraction of the cost. A bureaucratic mentality compared with a business mentality.

The Mayor got elected in part because he was this so-called business genius. He should be rubbing his hands with glee now. Look at all the business that his Tunnel could take away from the Bridge because it is a direct exit to the downtown. Instead, the Mayor is really saying that he is not a good business person. He does not know how to react. He still has no idea what to do from a marketing perspective. He is still so afraid that the Bridge is the main crossing for people to use to come to the Casino and to the restaurants and the few retailers in the downtown area.

As for Mr. Horwitz, perhaps it is time that he start wearing his marketing hat. Instead of fighting with the Bridge Company, he ought to be talking with them to see how they can help him get people to go into the downtown. I can think of one way to do it now that is relatively simple but then again he has a downtown guru who knows everything who should be helping him out.

Let's call this silliness what it really is. It's not a fight over a tiny stretch of road that all of a sudden has become a key route to the downtown. It's a public relations war between the Mayor and the Bridge Company. The Mayor believes that he will get some points by showing that the Bridge Company is the City's enemy. He believes that the Bridge Company will back off because they are getting good publicity right now and cannot afford a setback. It just shows how wrong Eddie is and how he totally misjudges situations and his opposition.

Unlike the Mayor, they don't run their business based on what polling and the headlines in the Windsor Star say. They run their business as a business. They don't run to Gord Henderson to get him all worked up so he can write a blistering column. That is why they are successful and why the Mayor has failed in what he has promised to do for the City.

Eddie can feed the Opponents of the Bridge Company. Others in the City will applaud the Company for taking a stand and making the border work at their expense. In the end, this is a tiny skirmish in a huge war that the City wants to create. It makes no difference whatsoever in what will happen in the end.

For those who think that the Bridge Company will lose this publicity battle, it just goes to show how shortsighted they are. In my view, the Bridge Company cannot lose, no matter what the Decision at Council. A negative decision here and a negative decision next week with respect to the Interim Control Bylaw are what the Bridge Company are expecting I am sure and what they have factored in already.