Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Brief News Briefs

I tried to keep this as short as possible. But I could not [sigh].

There is just too much to talk about.

I just had to ensure that you have the background for some of these matters so that you would understand what is going on.


Can you imagine, if we keep having all of these questions about audits in the City, our kids might be encouraged to become forensic auditors when they grow up rather than artists preparing renderings for all of the City's THINK BIG DREAMS.

I found the story respecting the audit on 400 City Hall Square bizarre. Apparently, it was alleged that
  • "delays that have kept an audit of the recently constructed 400 City Hall Square government building under wraps."

Our two Councillors on the Audit Committee, Marra and Halberstadt claim it seems that they are unable to get the report released:

  • "It's been in front of administration and legal for a long time now," Marra said. "We don't have a good explanation for the delay.

    "There is no good excuse, no good response to why this has been delayed, but the reality is it has been. I think a lot of people are anxious to see the results of this."

Now it would seem to me that there is no reason why this report cannot be released very quickly if it has been around for awhile. Private industry would not sit on a report for a long time. They would want to know right away if there was a problem and correct it.

  • "City administrators had called for more time to respond to the audit and for city lawyers to go over it to determine what names and details should remain confidential and what details should be made public."

Apparently it seems that Administration may need as much as two more months before the report can be released.

You know that all that this does is create the impression that there is another mess and that somebody has something to hide.

Here we go again. I don't get. I thought everything was fine. We learned that

  • "Brodel Management was paid $13,811 to review the construction of 400 City Hall Square."

Back in February of 2006, the Star reported:

  • "Councillors approved a report by an independent consultant who found the building was constructed under budget and filled an important need by bringing several city departments under one roof. "Overall, the assessment was that it was done well" and it met the objectives of the city, said John Skorobohacz, the city's chief administrative officer...

    Skorobohacz said the project came in under budget and the city will have an extra $1 million, based on projected revenues and operating expenses.

    "Because we're paying ourselves, the entire building gets paid in 20, 21 years time," he said."

The contractor wrote a Letter to the Editor in which he said:

  • "After much speculation, allegations and innuendoes, it is vindicating to read in The Star report of Feb. 7 that the municipal building at 400 City Hall Square was constructed under budget. Not that we, the design builder, had any doubts about the conclusions now reached by Coun. Fulvio Valentinis, the independent consultant and the city's chief administrative officer."

So what's the big deal? Everything is perfect. Why the delay? If everything is okay, then why does the report have to go to Legal to determine

  • "which names or issues should remain confidential."

Why, those people who are involved in keeping this project under budget should be praised and promoted, and their names should not be hidden.

Now here's a concern that I have. If there is something wrong at this building and if in fact it did not come in under budget as we are told then we had better get very worried. Councillor Brister as the arena Chair better get out his sharp pencil.

My recollection is that Council passed a Motion

  • "That Administration UNDERTAKES their due diligence in the review of the offer of PCR Contractors Inc. for the purpose of finalizing the design, equipment and fixed final price including engagement of construction cost analysis by a licensed quantity surveyor, commissioned by the City of Windsor."

There was a presentation that resulted in this note:

  • "Greg Curan, representing Curan McCabe Ravindran Ross Inc., appears before Council to provide an overview of their cost review for the proposed Greater Windsor Recreation and Sports Centre, and concludes that overall, PCR’s Design Build proposal of $47,920,000 excluding GST is a fair market value for the project given the scope included, and that the budgetary allowances for “fit-up costs’ and “site servicing costs” are reasonable, and reiterates that should the project be delayed, there would be a potential for the cost of the project to increase."

This is all so curious. If there may be problems at a building that has come in supposedly under budget, then are there problems now at the East End arena? Should the City's auditors be instructed immediately to do a report on the arena finances to see if they are on budget or not. If there are problems, we should know about them now, not after the arena has been constructed.

After all, Council Brister's political career is at stake.

UPDATE: Now there is a different version of what is going on. Is some or all of what I said above based on the first Star story incorrect? If so, then should the Audit Committee including the Councillors be blamed not Administration?

Now the CAO according to today's Star claims that Administration is NOT holding things up. His email as published suggests that the delay is that of the Audit Committee of which the Councillors are the members! If that is true, then have the Councillors maligned Administration and if so, why? What is going on? Why are there such attacks taking place?

There seems to be a conflict too between the Audit Committee who wants the Legal Department to review the Report and the CAO who has instructed Legal NOT to do so since Councillors have alleged that Administration is delaying the release of the report and he wants external counsel involved.

And here comes the Integrity Commissioner again.

I am sorry, I have no idea what the truth is now. Do you? Is this how a half billion dollar corporation is run?

And what do the Mayor and the Audit Committee Chair, Mr. Zalev, have to say? I'd like to know.

I think the Minister of Municipal Affairs better take notice. Time for a real forensic audit of the entire City don't you think! WUC, Fleet Operations, 400 City Hall Sqaure, the Library...what a farce.

Just so you know, I rewrote part of this BLOG based on the new Star story and CAO email.


Perhaps the stories I've heard are really true. It seems strange. If the Mayor was so concerned about the DRIC road that he was going to spend a ton of taxpayer money on advertising in support of Greenlink, then shouldn't the ad campaign have started by now.

I am told that the Mayor has apparently reconciled himself to the fact that the Province will not listen to him with respect to the road to the border. In other words, Greenlink is going the way of other Eddie border concept proposals like the Horseshoe Road and full tunnelling. None really were viable solutions although they served their purposes of stalling and delay.

It won't be so bad though for Eddie. He can play our hero and martyr who has been crushed by the insensitive outsiders imposing a solution on Windsorites that will detrimentally affect our quality of life for generations to come. It brings a tear to my eye just writing this.

So then are we going to have an advertising blitz... you better believe it. But what exactly it is going to be for I'm not sure. It was strongly suggested to me that the Ipsos Reid poll was undertaken on behalf of the City. If the results show that the City is considered more trustworthy than say, the Province, then expect the City to use the ad money to campaign for whatever it is they think they can get out of the Province or to use the Province against the Federal Government.

The only thing I can think of offhand is that the City might want the new DRIC Plaza to go on its Brighton Beach properties so that the City can get as much money out of the Senior Levels as possible in negotiations or, if necessary, in an expropriation. Lots of land already taken over should mean big bucks for Eddie to upgrade E C Row and build a Lauzon/Highway 401/E C Row connection.

Hey wait a minute, wasn't that John Tofflemire's idea years ago?


Can you imagine if the Bridge Company made a presentation to Windsor Council and said that they wanted to build their Enhancement Project but in doing so, they might have to tear down 324 to 414 homes in Sandwich and uproot up to 56 businesses with as many as 920 jobs. In addition, the relocation of seven churches and three historic structures would be required as well as affecting the Community Health and Social Services Center and three recreational areas.

If that had happened here,

  • the Star would have thundered that no private company should be allowed to destroy a community,
  • Gord Henderson would do another column praising Eddie and telling us about the tunnel project in Ottawa where that City is "counting on upper levels of government to pay at least a third of the cost of whatever plan goes forward." The cost of the project is around $3-4B
  • Brian Masse would argue that a Public Authority was needed immediately to build a Public Bridge,
  • Sandra and Dwight would have no comment because they are respecting the process,
  • the Mayor would have threatened another lawsuit and an advertising blitz,
  • the Ward 2 Councillors would invoke the Interim Control Bylaw
  • the West End politicos and activists would be staging protests in which 20 or 30 people would come out, less if it was windy or snowing.
  • And Transport Minister Cannon would be in a Québec riding trying to win the seat for the Conservatives in the upcoming election.

Seriously, what I have outlined is what DRIC presented to Detroit Council with respect to their new bridge as reported by the Detroit News.

I am rather disappointed that the West end politicos and activists have not joined forces so far with their friends in Delray to mount a rally against what DRIC wants to do.

Perhaps they are doing so but in a stealth mode because when I was near MacKenzie Hall the other day, I thought I heard a bunch of people practising the singing of "Kumbaya." I also heard them chanting:

"2, 4 ,6 ,8
Whom do we NOT appreciate.

I bring this up because of a story I recalled in the Windsor Star:

  • "Windsor Star 06-17-2006
    Bridge site joins neighbourhoods

    Activists and politicians from the west-end community of Sandwich are vowing to work hand-in-hand with their southwest Detroit counterparts in Delray following a bus tour of the historic industrial community across the river.

    The two communities are hoping if they have a common voice on a preferred location for the next Windsor-Detroit border crossing, they will influence a binational government team assigned to select the best option.

    "We've said time and again to people over here, we consider this family," said Mary Ann Cuderman, leader of residents' truck watchdog group in Sandwich.

    The two communities have already been confirmed as the location for the next border crossing. Only a final decision on its exact location remains. But there is a major hurdle. The best location in Delray for a bridge and plaza is its less populated eastern edge, but that lines up roughly across from Watkins Street, the most heavily-populated part of Sandwich. Meanwhile, Brighton Beach, the preferred choice on this side of the river, lines up across from the most populated and valued section of Delray.

    It means only a diagonal crossing or more lengthy and costly S- type bridge can satisfy residents on both sides of the river."

They better help out because: That's what friends, and family, are for!


DRTP has gone through a number of transformations in their name over the years, from the Tradeway to the Jobs Tunnel. It has gone from a truck expressway above ground to a tunnelled route below ground.

Now it appears that they have transformed themselves again. It is now a rail project to build a doublestack rail tunnel although it is not clear if they have completely given up on building a truck expressway. Moreover, the name has changed from the Detroit River Tunnel Partnership to the Detroit River Rail Tunnel, from DRTP to DRRT.

You know that this project is a loser because in the Windsor Business Magazine article, Mike Rohrer, DRRT's community and business relations representative is telling people to "THINK BIG." You remember what happened to the projects of the last person who told Windsorites to do that.

I'm looking forward to seeing their new website, to see all of the PowerPoint presentations, to receive copies of the glossy brochures and to see billboards all across the city. I wonder whose ad blitz will spend more money, DRRT's or Eddie's ie the ex-Mayor or the Mayor.

DRRT are going all out now. They have commissioned a new song for their new name unveiling which I can post here now first, exclusively:

Banana, fanna fo-Frt,