Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day Bouquet Of Comments

I could not afford to send you flowers or chocolates, dear reader, because I had to put aside money to pay for the higher rates on my Enwin utility bill.

I have very little left since I just finished paying my WUC bill and had just filled up my gas tank at a service station. [Bet you thought I would make some snarky remark too about Fleet Operations but how could I when everything was reconciled.] So let me give you these ideas to ponder instead.


What a wonderful way for the Windsor Star to welcome our new University President. And to let him know who the real boss is in this City in case Ross Paul forgot to tell him.

Considering that it is Valentine's Day, I thought a little poem was in order to let the new President in on the facts of life in this City:

Roses are red,
Violets are blue
Your story and pic on our back page
Support Eddie or we'll teach you!


Oh my goodness, Brian Masse may be in big trouble right now. That's right, our Windsor West MP who may have thought that he would have no competition in winning his seat in the next election may be in a serious jam.

Why do I say this... here is what the Globe and Mail reported:

  • "Canadian Auto Workers president Buzz Hargrove emerged from a half-hour meeting with the Prime Minister saying he is also prepared to publicly praise the Conservative government if it does act [to rescue Canada's endangered auto sector.]

    “I told him I'd be happiest guy in the world to praise him, but if he does nothing I'm going to clear my schedule and I'll make a speech in every major community and every small community during the 60 days of the election campaign,” Mr. Hargrove said."

Does this mean that Buzz who traded in his NDP shirt for a red Liberal one will be switching again to the Conservative side?

Can you imagine, the Windsor Labor Council endorsing the Conservative candidate? What about a May Day parade in praise of Stephen Harper? How about Councillor Jones wearing a Conservative Blue suit as he goes knocking door-to-door during the election campaign?


No need to spend $400 per hour or so on expensive out-of-town lawyers. Since I'm always trying to help this City save money and do things more efficiently, here is a part of a note I received about outsourcing legal activities:

  • "Over the past few years, in-house lawyers and law firms in the U.S. and U.K. have been taking advantage of outsourced legal services using offshore lawyers in India..

    [Clients have access] to a team of 430 lawyers based in Mumbai and Punei in India, each of which is fully trained and qualified in English common law. The lawyers have varying levels of experience and areas of expertise, and their work is vetted for quality control by lawyers in Canada...

    Offshore legal services can save between 30 to 70 per cent in costs while improving speed and delivery of service."

Given our Mayor's long days with little sleeping, this service would be terrific for him to consider using:

  • "The time difference between Canada and India allows offshore team members to work overnight to dramatically improve turnaround times."


Do you remember a Star story on this matter that took place at Council on Monday? It was quite nasty and possibly could lead to a lawsuit. It would be interesting to see City files on this one.

Downtown seems to be the area where Councillors can't figure out which end is up and keep changing their minds.

Can you imagine how frustrated the Burger King people must be. Several months ago, they came to City Council with a proposed plan for their new restaurant, which was rejected, and are told to take certain action. They do it. They come back to City Council and then a Councillor introduces a Motion to go back to doing something that they had been told to change. Fortunately that Motion was defeated.

However all is not well. They are prevented from getting another access entrance to their site that they call a deal breaker. Now what happens?

It looks like they own their existing site and they have bought the Top Hat site but may not be able to use it. In any event, all this action being done because of the Tunnel Improvement Plan which may not happen for years now since the City has not set aside any money in the Budget for this project.

In passing, if the Senior Levels walk away from this project, is the road to the border next so that we lose billions in infrastructure money and 15,000 jobs?

Poor Burger King. Perhaps stuck with two properties, one that can't be used, and the other that is blocked by Tunnel traffic on busy days with no improvements in sight. If I did not know any better, I would think that they were just hit with a Big Mac attack.


No I do not mean that they were given a turkey. However, their lawyer might argue that they received a turkey of a decision when Council rejected their offer to house the 311 Call Centre.

Ironically, it was Joe Mikhail whose family gave out turkeys at Christmas to the needy who appeared as a delegation to have the RFP reconsidered. His big objection, for which I have a lot of sympathy, is that Council should have looked at a downtown site.

My recollection may be faulty but I thought that the downtown was rejected as a site because of redundancy concerns. In the case of an emergency downtown, there was a desire to have the centre in a different location. If so, I do not understand why the Mayor allowed Mr. Mikhail to speak at all since his remarks were off-topic. It may be that no one visited his site, something of which he complained, because his bid was nonresponsive to the RFP. If, on the other hand, any location anywhere in the City was eligible, then it was in order to listen to him.

In any event, the Administration decision was rejected not because of anything wrong with the Mr. Bay site. In fact, I don't even think the site was discussed by the Councillors. Rather, Councillor Jones in particular thought that the RFP was too narrow in scope and should be completely redone.

I don't know the legal side of this but I wonder whether this is a proper basis upon which to reject the Mr. Bay bid. I'll let their lawyer worry about that however.

I will give Mr. Mikhail credit. At least he admitted that some of his comments could be considered self-serving since he wanted the project to be located in the downtown where he has properties. According to the Star:

  • "He has vowed to build a new 14-storey office tower on adjacent vacant property his company owns, by 2010.

    He has been courting the provincial labour ministry to be a main tenant."

He was really at Council it seems to make a pitch for a City/private enterprise partnership to revitalize the downtown. A very commendable idea.

A previous Star story suggested that he was going to build a four-story Bank building plus a 14 story office tower. The recent Star story was not clear whether or not Mikhail wanted to move the Call Centre into his new building when it is built or into one of his other buildings that is vacant downtown. My impression is that he wanted the Call Centre moved to one of his existing buildings.

The four-story building was to be occupied by the Toronto Dominion Bank or if that deal fell through, by "other banks [who] have expressed interest." Apparently,

  • "Conditional agreements have already been reached with tenants to occupy seven of the planned 14 floors."

It was a nice artist's renderings that he showed of that new building at Council wasn't it. What a fine addition it will be to the downtown when it is completely finished.


I wonder if City Hall has statistics about the number of buildings empty in the City. As one of the Councillors pointed out, 41 sites were made available by owners for the Call Centre location.

It has to tell you that this City is hurting badly.

To be direct, the additional examples of the Burger King matter and the RFP rejection make it very difficult to do business here.


Finally, a Ward 1 Councillor appeared on John Fairley's show. No, not the Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget. He must be petrified to go on there and probably never will.

It was rookie Councillor Drew Dilkens who appeared. He at least has picked up a couple of tricks from other politicians, one of which is to take so long to answer a question so that time runs out on the interview show. Heck, he is still a newbie and needs to learn how to deliver soundbites. To be fair though, I thought that he needed to give a very long explanation about what was going on with Trucks on Dougall.

A couple of interesting things that will not make him many friends amongst certain of his Councillor colleagues. He said that as far as he was concerned the Interim Control Bylaw was a directed towards the Ambassador Bridge Company. Mind you, I thought just about everybody in town knows this except for a few Councillors.

The other interesting matter that was raised was the relationship between the rookie and his Wardmate Councillor Brister. Given what Drew said, and also the way he said it, it is obvious that relations are strained between the two of them. One wonders how they actually work together or if they do.

As a resident however of Ward 1, I know what I'm going to do if I ever need a problem solved. I will write to both of them at the same time and copy in each other. In that way, they will know that the other is trying to solve my dilemma and so they will be competing to see who can solve my problem first. Pretty clever eh!


It must be really nice for a Councillor in a responsible position not to answer questions from lonely BLOGGERs. I asked on here the Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget, who is the fallguy for the East End arena, to let me know some answers with respect to the private boxes. So far no response.

In case he has forgotten, because I have not, here are the questions again:

  • "I just read the Budget for the arena on the Council Communications Package. I have a challenge for the Councillor to answer some question about the arena. Let's see if he has the guts to answer them. Oh, and here is another news tip for the media:

    We know that the arena will have 31 private boxes. Did the Port Huron arena have provision for so many private boxes? If it did not, who is paying to have those boxes constructed in our arena and how much is it costing? Private boxes have to be fitted up... who is paying for those costs and how much are they? Where are all of these costs set out in the budget for the arena? Alternatively, are these costs in fact being charged to the City and if so to which Department? Where are those costs in the budget of that Department? Are those costs going to be considered to be part of the $64.9 million cost of the arena? Or has the arena cost just sky-rocketed?

    That's something for the traditional media to ask. It might make a nice news story for them since the Councillor I am sure will never answer me directly. I will be interested in hearing what the Councillor has to say as will taxpayers.

    I expect that Councillor Brister might pass the buck to Don Sadler to answer. No matter as long as the questions are answered promptly."


Remember this BLOG I wrote:

The story states:

  • "This practically unheard-of largesse is courtesy of Crestwood Mayor Chester Stranczek and his trustees, who have engineered such an efficient village government for the nearly 12,000 residents that they literally can pass out money to ease the property tax burden..."

Here is the story rewritten Windsor-style

  • "Council Keeps Taxpayer $4 Million; Citizen Recall Movement Started To Retire Mayor And Council"

The story states:

  • "Coun. Fulvio Valentinis, an Enwin board member, defended the board's decision to give the $4-million dividend, noting the money is going back to the local taxpayer.

    "Shifting from one pocket to another, I guess that argument that can be made," he said. "If you didn't do this, well that's another one per cent increase on (municipal) taxes. It's a decision the (Enwin) board made...

    City treasurer Onorio Colucci said the dividend funds are not earmarked in the 2008 budget for any specific purpose and will be lumped into overall operating revenues.

    "(Enwin) is an asset of the city," he said. "This is normal business practice. If we didn't have it, council would have to find $4 million from other services or reduce services by that amount. "

Due to popular demand, I will BLOG about "recalling" politicians next week.