Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, April 04, 2008

60 Days Hath September, April, June And November

Yes I know I am 30 days out on the days of the month but keep on reading and you will understand where I am coming from.

As I told you before, I have a very strange mind. Small things bug me especially when they seem irrational and out of the ordinary.

Take for instance the advertising blitz for Greenlink. Someone came up with the nice and very clever slogan:

  • "Our actions over the next 60 days will help define our community for the next 100 years."

I thought this was strange. The time period seemed very long to me if one wanted to influence DRIC or the Governments who are going to be making decisions within that time. Why would one wait until the decision had practically been made before putting on the pressure. Why not a concentrated campaign within 15 days or perhaps 30 days at the most?

If I had $300,000 of taxpayer money to blow in a town of 200,000 people, I certainly could do the job a lot better I thought and much more quickly. Heck overnight, when I was with STOPDRTP, we rallied the City, with hardly spending any money at all, when it appeared that the Council flip-flopped on a Resolution against DRTP. I remembered how angry people got virtually within a day when Project Ice Track went to Tecumseh or with the Windsor Utilities Commission levy matter.

It does not make sense to require 60 days and the spending of $300,000 of taxpayer money to get an immediate reaction especially when we have just gone through a previous ad campaign. It certainly does not require 60 days when it seems that the City has spent a lot of money on polling recently with respect to Greenlink and has already published a lot of material on their website.

It just seemed irrational.

Then I saw this comment by Cliff Sutts, the lawyer for the City in the Tunnel matter and wondered if this was just coincidental:

  • "Sutts said the transaction should be complete within 60 days, pending certain surveys "that are holding things up at the moment."

I have to admit I found that statement peculiar as well. If the transaction with Detroit was supposed to have closed in June, 2007, I would have thought all of the surveys would have been completed by that time as well with respect to the Canadian transaction. One could hardly close with Detroit if the new company was not ready to go.

So I got to thinking whether there was a connection between the 60 days for the Greenlink process and 60 days for the Tunnel deal. Then another Eureka moment... it hit me.

I have been rather shocked at the traditional media on this side of the river who have not yet seemed to have reported on the US DRIC Environmental Impact Statement. There are all kinds of lovely things in there to write stories about or around which to do radio and TV spots.

The most interesting fact that I saw in relation to the Tunnel was that the new DRIC Bridge might result in severe financial hardship to the Tunnel such that it might incur giant losses every year. The DRIC bridge would take a large amount of traffic away from the Tunnel, about a quarter of its business. It would also mean that the Tunnel would now have two competitors for car and truck traffic, not just one, and that there could be a huge battle over tolls which could result in a lowering of tolls for some considerable time. We already know that its dividend has dropped from $6.6M to $0 within a few short years. Here is what US DRIC said:

  • "The Detroit-Windsor Tunnel would register a 20 to 26 percent decline in total traffic, with the most significant reduction expected to occur in auto traffic in the U.S.-to-Canada peak direction."

Can you imagine the Tunnel losing a quarter of its business! Imagine what it would do to its valuation which I note was done in June, 2007. The US study was published in February, 2008.

It is no wonder why the City in its recent transaction used the earlier time period or the value of the Tunnel would have decreased significantly. That has to have a negative impact on the whole business deal.

Obviously, Eddie has to be desperate to complete this transaction, whatever it is, on the Canadian side within 60 days. If it takes any longer than that, the Canadian DRIC study will come out and probably will get much more coverage than the US study. It will have to confirm as well I would expect a significant drop in traffic at the Tunnel. That would be one of the major headline stories.

As you will recall, the Report from DRIC was supposed to come out around the end of March. That certainly was not something that Eddie could tolerate. It was probably a bit of a relief to him when DRIC announced that they might not produce their materials until June/July.

But of course, Eddie had to open up his mouth and accuse them of delay to show how smart and tough he was and to point the finger at them for stalling. Unfortunately for Eddie, his words backfired on him. It now appears that DRIC will split their announcements with respect to the Plaza and the road to the border with one to come in April and one to come later.

That of course puts Eddie behind the 8-ball again. He needs to stall them off for two months. What's the best way to do so... to have a 60 day advertising blitz followed by the time necessary to do a report to submit to DRIC for their consideration. I figure that's good for four to six months at the speed at the City works.

In the meantime, Eddie is in effect telling DRIC not to release anything because if they do, he will slam them for acting quickly and improperly and not being prepared to listen to the people of Windsor. It's a beautiful plan isn't it.

Obviously, this gives Eddie 60 days to buy time to do whatever it is he wants to do with the Canadian new Tunnel Company. That is the same time period within which Mr. Sutts said he needed to complete the surveys. The most obvious problem he must be having with the subprime mortgage meltdown is finding anyone to finance an asset that is decling in value as the Tunnel is.

Perhaps all of the Tunnel newspaper ads and billboards and the roadsign on Huron Church directing people to the Tunnel has nothing to do with the Ambassador Gateway detours but is designed to get the volumes up to get people to believe that the Tunnel has a future. Tunnel bus failures however will do more to scare people away from ever using the Tunnel.

The whole purpose of all this is to keep quiet as far as I am concerned for as long as possible the news about the Tunnel traffic decline. So far, the local media have not reported the story.

Am I right? Am I wrong? Who knows. The way that this file has been handled in secrecy disgusts me. All I can do is guess using my best judgment. If we had Councillors with guts who should have demanded that the Tunnel meeting be public, guessing such as this would not be required.

I am doing my duty now for the media. Here's another News Tip Of the Week for them.