Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, April 25, 2008

Digging For A Tunnel Answer

I may as well be uncharacteristically blunt. The Tunnel deal stinks. Or maybe it does not. Who knows.

I have no idea what Detroit Council knows about the transaction but from the comments made from the other side of the river I don't think they know much.

I have no idea what the Windsor Council knows about the transaction nor the members of the Windsor Tunnel Commission.

What I do know is that the taxpayers of Windsor and Detroit have very little idea about what this transaction is. After all, it is only an asset worth several hundred million dollars if we are to believe our Mayor and an important international border crossing point that is vital to the economy of our region.

One would have thought that, if the transaction made some sense and that our politicians would become heroes over it, they would want us to know what is going on to show us how smart they were. We would be fully made aware of everything. Instead it is wrapped in secrecy and confidentiality. That makes me nervous given Eddie's deal-making ability as we have seen before! I can hardly wait to see the Spits contract.

I won't speak about the other side of the river because I don't know what is going on there but their Council seems upset. I do have a better idea what is going on on this side of the river. And I am upset as you, dear reader, should be as well.

What I do know is that this transaction was supposed to have been completed about a year ago but for whatever reason it was not. I have no real idea what the transaction was a year ago and why it could not be concluded. I assume that it has to do with financing but I would suspect that there is a lot more to it than that.

I don't know why our Mayor has to hide things from taxpayers. As you know, I have filed a complaint with respect to the March 27 Joint Windsor Council/Windsor Tunnel Commission meeting. If you look back at the BLOG I wrote, there is no doubt in my mind that the Mayor did not want people speaking at the public session with respect to the rollover. It is never mentioned in the press at all before the event and was not mentioned the day after either.

The only conclusion I can reach is that the whole process was designed to hide the transaction from the public. Why, what's to hide if the deal is a good one?

You want to see something curious? Take a look at the Council Minutes page on the City website. Try and find the Minutes for the March 27 meeting. You cannot. They are not posted. Why not, what are they hiding? They posted the Minutes for March 25 and for March 31 but they did not post the Minutes for March 27. Well, that is not quite true NOW. They were posted AFTER I asked for them.

I asked for and received a copy of the March 27 Minutes. Want to see something strange again:

Don't you find it interesting that the only two people who did not attend the meeting were non-Councillors. In other words the only truly independent members of the Windsor Tunnel Commission were not there. I know that one of them was out of town and I believe that the other one was as well.

Oh I am sure that the excuse will be given that is so hard to coordinate so many schedules that a date had to be set no matter what. If they were out of town on that date, tough luck. Yet, our Council at a Council meeting can defer matters because Councillor Jones was unable to attend at a Council meeting because of a personal emergency. I am rather surprised that the Council and Commission could not so arrange their approvals such that the outside members could be present and ask questions.

Now this is a very complicated transaction, or it could be depending on how it is structured, involving cities on both sides of the river, incorporating new companies, dealing with laws that cover both sides, sophisticated financial transactions. How much time did the meeting take: Around an hour and a half. Council spent more time on feral cats!

Oh I forgot, Councillor Gignac does not need to look at agreements in order to approve million-dollar legal and consulting bills. Councillors do not need to read agreements or are willing to do major deals without agreements as with the Arena. Did Councillors read and understand Canderel, Mady Garage, MFP? Haven't we learned anything in this City.

I have asked the Councillor to provide me with information to give me the same kind of comfort that she has but I have not yet even received the courtesy of an answer from her. I have asked the City Clerk to provide certain information and again no documentation received.

Is the reason for the denial because I know how to read these documents and can understand the transactions. Is someone afraid that I might blow the whistle on a dumb deal? That is my conclusion; you may have your own.

I do not trust this Mayor and Council to do the right thing for Windsor on this deal. It is simple as that. The secrecy makes me extremely nervous.

While I'm thrilled that the City of Detroit may do very well on this transaction and have their Budget hole plugged, what bothers me is that Windsor may well be taking unacceptable risks that we just don't know about. If that happens then who will plug Windsor's Budget hole?