Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


It started with a small hole in the dam. A few Bloggers in Windsor started digging and writing to try to explain to their fellow citizens what was really going on in town.

The hole started getting bigger. More people started writing BLOGs and more importantly, more people started reading them looking for an alternative viewpoint. Smears, innuendo and name-calling were used to try to close up the outpourings but the patches did not work.

Rather, it backfired giving Bloggers increased credibility. Renegade media types, Editorials, the people speaking out in Windsor Star Forums and finally Dwight Duncan’s saying publicly “THE MAYOR IS WRONG. THE MAYOR IS WRONG.” That made it official when the second most powerful person in the Ontario Government said what we suspected but many were afraid to say.

The dam burst and all hell broke out.

It has all happened so quickly. The question that should be on your mind now is what happens next. It is easy to tear down something but it is so difficult to build it up. That’s what we’ve been hearing for so long. City Hall was supposed to have the Vision and the Plan and was supposed to be our salvation.

Instead, the simplest of matters have become complicated. Lawyers, consultants and outsiders are doing our thinking for us. Does it need to take almost a year in the Capitol Theatre matter to get agreement on which Court should hear it? Is it really that hard to find a solution to the border crossing? Do we really need to threaten the Senior Levels and the County with litigation? Is it really that difficult and takes so long and costs so much to try to diversify our economy. Is it that hard for the Mayor and Council to be open with us on mattes like WUC or the Tunnel deals?I don’t think so. These problems have become overblown for political reasons.

Let me show you what I think the future can bring for us. Sit back, relax, and enjoy your coffee. Over the next three days let me try and help bring a resolution to some of these issues and to show us what our future can be. I’ll try to demonstrate that it really is not as difficult as some people would lead us to believe.


Who would have thought that the Blogmeister would be hired by the Windsor Star to replace their main columnist when he retired. But then again, the Star started transforming itself into an online newspaper due to the popularity of the Star Forums that gave its subscribers an easy way to react to matters that were taking place within the City. It became the unofficial Town Hall of Windsor and helped bring change, positive change in this City.

Today was a momentous occasion in Windsor and the Mayor deserved to feel proud of what he had been able to accomplish in such a short time. It was another ribbon-cutting ceremony, the latest of many but the biggest so far. He had learned early on not to just talk and deliver speeches but to execute on his ideas. He learned that he had to complete the deal and be ready to face the consequences of his decisions! He knew that if he were open with his electorate, they would understand and be supportive. No one would dare stand in his way then. Today was the culmination of his efforts.

Looking back, no one would have believed that what he achieved was possible just by working hard and actually accomplishing something. From stagnation to exhilaration in only three years. What a remarkable success. He never let on though that it was a lot easier to achieve than most people thought. It became especially easy when he admitted to himself that he did not know all of the answers. He brought around him a bright group of individuals whom he could trust to give him sound advice in their areas of expertise. He had no ego in drawing on their talent whenever he needed help.

Windsor is a small town after all and in small towns things happen very quickly.

He had seen it happen before, three times in fact. But this time he became front and centre as the new Head of Council, the beneficiary of citizen disgust. The first time it was Council’s supposed DRTP reversal. The next time was when Project Ice Track pulled out of Windsor and moved to the Town of Tecumseh. And then there was the WUC fiasco and the 86% increase followed by the whitewash audit.

Within a day in those matters, Windsorites reacted immediately. The Mayor and Council were forced to retreat. This time it was an innocuous trip to Germany that just drove everybody crazy. The former Mayor decided to hop on a jet and take a jaunt to Germany to capture perhaps 50 jobs, or maybe a few more, just as London announced up to 1,000 jobs with new Korean plants.

It was too much for a City that had the highest unemployment rate in Canada, with house prices crashing and mortgage foreclosures increasing and people being forced to move out of town away from family in order to get a job to survive. The former Mayor flies to Germany and does not report back the results of his meeting as people leave the City in droves. Instead, he declared war and threatened lawsuits for the umpteenth time virtually guaranteeing that the City economy would lose thousdands of jobs.

We all know the story. How the new Mayor raised a ruckus, said enough is enough and talked to the movers and shakers whom he knew were ready to save the City that they all loved and where they had all prospered. He didn’t have much convincing to do. They had just attended the Toldo Luncheon and were eager to get together and to follow someone who was not afraid to lead.

He had ideas. Oh boy did he have ideas. But because he was not part of the Establishment of the time it was fair game in the past to mock him and to discredit him and to ignore what he had to say.

In hindsight, it is not a surprise. The trade-off was 50 jobs or 15,000! That was an easy message to deliver, it very easy for people to grasp. The Minister of Finance legitimized the question that the Bloggers had been asking for a very long time. Why didn’t the Mayor just drive across the Bridge to the Bridge Company headquarters or fly to Toronto or to Ottawa and talk to his “enemies.” He could have negotiated an agreement that would have resulted in all of those jobs.

Within six months, WeACT pressured the Premier into passing an amendment to the Municipal Act allowing for the right of recall. It did not hurt that the two local Cabinet Ministers had had enough of being brutalized and used by a bunch of ungrateful local politicians.

It didn’t take much effort to get the petitions signed and the recall vote started. Several of the Council members saw the handwriting on the wall and decided to gracefully retire before they were kicked out of office anyway. The Three Blind Mice had no worries and they were supportive of their new leader. The new Mayor and Council promised action and they delivered.

The message was clear and it did not need PR flacks and expensive branding exercises to trumpet it:


It was like a breath of fresh air. People actually started to talk to each other and found that they were not as far apart as they thought they were. It was remarkable what could be achieved by getting people in a room together and telling them that they could not leave until a deal was hammered out. Sure there were differences and there still are but both the public and private sides found that they had a lot in common. It was the failure to communicate that caused the problems not their differences.

Success on the DRIC road was the icebreaker. Homeland Security and CSIS along with the Customs services of both countries explained the security facts of life and why Schwunnels made no sense. They were the obvious target and not the bridge if someone wanted to paralyze the border crossing and ruin trade.

The meltdown of the economy didn’t help either. And yet it was the impetus for the resolution of differences. On the one hand there wasn’t enough money around to pretend that some grandiose vision of a road would be built. Yet on the other hand, the creation of so many infrastructure and spinoff jobs helped ease the transition into the new economy and created badly needed jobs in the region.

The Bridge Company people learned to hold their tongue and did not rub it into the faces of the politicians and bureaucrats that what was being done now had been proposed almost a decade before by them. Everyone was learning how to save face for the other parties to achieve the deal.

There was almost an audible sign of relief in town when the ink dried on the Agreement amongst the Governments on the border road. The signatures meant that Windsor was finally open for business and that not only was new investment wanted, it was welcomed with open arms.