Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sleep And The Interim Control By-law

You will have to excuse me, dear reader, but I had to make a choice last night. Should I go to sleep at an almost normal time or should I stay up half the night to write a BLOG to try and explain the farce that took place at City Council yesterday. As I’m sure you can tell by now, sleep won out.

In case you were wondering, yes I was at the Council meeting last night but only for about an hour. I chose as well not to sit around for hours at a time while City Council stalled as long as possible so that the Interim Control Bylaw issue would go on late so that few viewers on Cogeco would watch it. Isn’t that what they did the week before as well with respect to the Bridge Company matter to obtain City permission to do maintenance work on their bridge?

I taped the meeting but I wanted to be at Council to see what was actually happening. It’s like going to a hockey game as distinct from watching it on television. In the end though, I decided that I was not going to waste my life away watching a Council in action whose only action is inaction.

The conclusion last night with respect to what Council going to do was obvious even before the meeting was held. I heard from several inside moles that people were being told to apply for exemptions. That meant to me that the extension was a done deal and the Council meeting was merely window-dressing!

I must admit that the speeches given by all of the residents were really quite excellent, no matter which position they took. The resident part of the debate was at a very high level given the intensity. It is a shame that Council could not have delivered speeches that were comparable.

In any event, I took great comfort in my decision since we were told by Councillor Postma before the vote was taken that “This is going to pass tonight.” I wish she had told us that earlier in the evening so that no one would have had to have stayed so late and in fact I wish she told us that before the meeting so that no one would have had to appear at all.

Effectively, what the Councillor was saying to us is that it doesn’t matter what anybody says, Council had a ready made up its mind. That should be a good one for the Bridge Company lawyer to use to show bias on the part of the City.

I wonder if you noticed the little bombshell that the Mayor dropped. He had had a meeting with the Bridge Company last week, obviously between the two meetings at Council. Clearly, the meeting did not go well at all. How do I know that… very simply. Last week, the Star out of the blue ran another story about Eddie attacking the Bridge Company with respect to Huron Church Road. There was no reason for that story. I understand now however that the story must have been the Mayor’s response to what he and Dan Stamper talked about during their meeting. The negative stance taken by Council on Monday is nothing more than confirmation that the meeting must have been a disaster or else Eddie would have ensured that Councillors were less antagonistic to the Bridge Company.

What I found hilarious frankly about the session was that almost all of the questioning of the delegations was directed to the Bridge Company and it dealt with matters that had really nothing to do with the Interim Control Bylaw. Did you find it odd that so few of the other delegations were asked questions, especially the residents who were suffering. No one asked them what they wanted to do or what suggestions they had. No, it was all about the Enhancement Project and security and a replacement bridge and so on. Yet remarkably when speeches were given by the Councillors, there was little conversation about that at all. It is all very odd.

Speaking of odd, it seems the Procedural By-law has been repealed or else it is used AGAINST citizens only. How else to explain its possible violation again. It was raised last night that the Interim Control By-law may now be invalid because of improper procedure at the last Council meeting that dealt with the subject. Both the Clerk and Chair of the Meeting, the Mayor, ignored the request for a ruling. Why…because they would have been forced to admit in my opinion that there was no By-law in existence any longer! They would have looked like fools!

I have some advice for the Bridge Company. If they want to get any kind of results with respect to their attempts to tear down the homes, then they need to get the assistance of Councillor Postma. She is all powerful in dealing with this matter. She said last night that people should put in their applications and that she would be there for them, lobby for them, and help them work through the process. She is their Councillor too remember! The bridge is in Ward 2.

Never fear though, if that doesn’t work, apparently she has the ability to tell residents that merely because their buildings have problems, they can demolish them. Even without going to Council to get a permit to do so. That’s what happened in one case it appears from what a resident said. She granted her permission for demolition and no exemption was obtained. I wonder if that will be the advice she gives to the Bridge Co. since the precedent has been set by her.

There is no doubt whatsoever that Council made a mistake when they passed the bylaw last year and they are suffering for it now. Why else are they going to treat the 15 applications for exemption with such haste and speed, virtually guaranteeing approval. They did not think through the process but acted in a knee-jerk reaction because of legal matters IE to stop the Ambassador Bridge. They did not recognize that they were helping to destroy Sandwich and especially the people who lived near the homes that were to be torn down. It made me almost throw up frankly when I heard the pious “ Feel the pain” comments by some of the Councillors.

I did not believe a word of it nor do most residents in my opinion. It is all about stopping the Bridge Company as many of the speakers talked about and as several of the Councilors alluded to.

Don’t you find it fascinating that in the last 12 months for consistency purposes no property could be exempted. Now Council has religion and they can deal with matters on a case-by-case basis and somehow that won’t impact their case against the Bridge Company. The reason for that is obvious. By the time anything happens, the second year of the Bylaw will almost be over. It served its purpose to stall off the Bridge Company for two years. The hypocrisy of this Council is about the worst I’ve ever seen from any politicians at any level.

The one speaker last night that surprised me the most was that of the representative from the Chamber of Commerce. His attack on Council was quite strong, much stronger than I would have expected. Mind you, I should not have been shocked by this because after all this Council is killing business and chasing away investors from this area. That is the point that he made last night, loud and clear. But it is also loud and clear that this Council just does not care.

The other thing that was fascinating to me in watching Council last night was that it was obvious that the Councillors had no idea what they were doing last year. Apparently many did not realize until last night that the Demolition Bylaw was permanent, forever, they needed to do nothing about it last night. They all seemed to be totally taken by surprise by it, including the Mayor. Do they have the faintest idea what they’re doing?

I make this remark especially in relation to Councillor Dilkens. It appears that no one on Council after he was elected told him the reasons why the Bylaw was important. Apparently there are some legal reasons but no one saw fit to tell the new Councillors what they were. Somehow during the last year he found out what those reasons were and therefore voted against the position that he took last year. I wish I knew what those reasons were but I assume that it must have been something that was discussed in camera because he did not share them with us last night.

Sorry but I want to know why my Ward Councillor does what he does. Now you can see the evil of this Council spending so much time in camera! The truth behind their decisions is hidden from the electorate.

The obvious question to ask is why are Councillors kept in the dark by the Mayor and Administration and Legal Counsel. Heck, I wonder if the Councillors even knew that the Mayor was dealing with the Bridge Company and what they discussed and what the results were. Call your local Councillor today and find out the answer.

I was so amused by Councillor Jones and his discussion about “themes.” It appeared to me, especially after he was attacked on the heritage matter by the Bridge Company lawyer, that the only theme that he was interested in talking about is why this bylaw wasn’t directed at the Bridge Company.

His Wardmate, Councillor Postma, admitted that there were no criteria that had been developed for exemptions to the Bylaw. That prompted Councillor Marra, playing his usual compromise role, to suggest that criteria be developed for both the Interim Control Bylaw and the demolition bylaw and that a report be prepared. Although it should be done with urgency, I believe that no matter can be dealt with until such time as those criteria are developed and passed by Council. That may mean that Maryvale again next week must be deferred and Mr. Wilson’s garage cannot be built.

Wasn’t it Councillor Postma who introduced an anti-blockbusting bylaw? She admitted that the Interim Control Bylaw did not stop blockbusting as some thought it would but that it had the opposite effect. If that is the case, then again it is confirmation that Council acted without thinking and all that happened with this bylaw is that the neighbours suffered because of Council antagonism towards the Bridge Company. I guess that happens when you own a competitive border crossing that is doing badly.

Someone must have received a matchbook cover that had the expression “No pain, no gain” on it or just ate a fortune cookie with the lamb chops at the Council pre-meeting dinner. It is such a cute saying. Councillor Postma made a comment that she “feels for them” i.e. the residents who live across the street from the boarded-up mess and who live around horrible conditions. But she brightened up with her optimistic comment of hope that we are now entering into the “Dawn of a new day.” I am sure that those who live with mice, rats, skunks, drug dealers and vandals are truly encouraged.

Why Councillor Lewenza also said that he “Felt their pain.” Listening to him speak, I felt pain too!

Junior smeared those that dared have a point of view differing from his. He attacked residents who did not live in Ward 2 for daring to speak out because obviously they were nothing more than stooges for the Bridge Company.

Frankly, the Mayor should require this Councillor to either apologize or shut his mouth. He is a true embarrassment already. His remark was insulting and a disgrace. It was designed to put a chill into any residents who dare come out and say something against this Councillor. This is consistent with his attitude of speaking out against residents on the WUC matter. And I’m sick of it.

His smear of “private enterprise” was also quite disgusting considering that were it not for business people, he and many Windsorites would be out of a job.

The essence of Council’s hypocrisy was Councillor Gignac’s remark that this Council was there to help out Sandwich. She knows as well as anyone else that there is no interest in helping out this part of the community just like there was no interest in helping out the other part of the West End when the arena was moved eastward. She pointed out that her grandmother and grandfather had also looked at building up Sandwich given its historical value and that nothing was ever done.

This Council is being consistent with ignoring the area although pretending to do so merely to block the Bridge Co. What is Council going to do in Sandwich… as was pointed out, nothing, given the result of other CIPs.

She also talked about the “growing pains” as this process continued since it was not an easy time for residents. Listening to her my pains grew.

Councillor Brister was so eager to help out his residents too in fighting against a possible bank location at the corner of Dougall and Cabana. However where was his help in assisting residents in Ward 2 who wanted to see homes that were boarded up across the street from them having them torn down? It is fine to be “objective” in a Ward that is not your own and where the voters don’t count because they don’t elect you. Perhaps this is a signal that Council Brister has understood that he can never be elected mayor in the city so that he is written off Ward 2 in his own mind at least.

The only Councillor who was consistent was Councillor Halberstadt and he was the only one who voted against the bylaw being continued. He did admit however that if the Demolition bylaw had been repealed, he probably would have voted to continue the Interim Control Bylaw. I believe that Councillor Dilkens also said something similar.

Oh there were other comments that were made and I know I have not talked about several of the Councillors but you get my drift I am sure.

Now you must surely understand why my desire for sleep prevailed so that you had to wait until the afternoon to read my words of wisdom on the Council meeting. The sad part about all this, especially given my legal background, is the question now is not if the Bridge Company will sue but when. I expect that the tape of the meeting will be transcribed and Ms Lombardi, their lawyer last night, will be asked about her comments on what was said. It should not be a great leap for her to give a legal opinion that Council acted in bad faith against the Bridge Company. The Councillors is made it so easy. Imagine the damages when they sue that taxpayers will be forced to pay.

2800 jobs due to the Ambassador Gateway project in Detroit, 6,700 infrastructure jobs due to the Province’s $450M program. And 0 jobs for Windsor as our Council spends about 3 hours on an Interim Control By-law that probably is invalid anyway and is designed to stall.