Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Gag Order

Democracy no longer exists in the city of Windsor.

Now you know why BLOGGERs in town have to be discredited or even destoyed at all costs. You see, we cannot be controlled by the powers that be. We cannot be silenced. We are free to comment. We are free to question. We are free to criticize. We are free to think and to say what we believe is right and wrong.

I am sure that you saw this shocking and disturbing remark from Councillor Marra in Saturday's Star:
  • "Council approvals in Windsor and Detroit are required to sign off on the deal

    Coun. Bill Marra, a member of the city tunnel commission, said councillors have been asked to refrain from commenting until the negotiations are complete."

Obviously, this was done in relation to comments that he and Councillor Dilkens made the week before that were quoted in the Star. They must have caused major problems. I wonder if they've received scoldings, gentle or otherwise, from Detroiters or others locally the way I did:

  • "Coun. Drew Dilkens said despite the mounting legal fees, pursuit of the deal remains worthwhile.

    “The fees are high but so is the expectation of due diligence to make sure the deal is right,” he said. “I would rather spend the money in advance and not worry about this after the fact.

    There ought to be a very strong business case before we jump into any kind of deal of this magnitude. At this point, we haven’t seen that.”

    Coun. Bill Marra, a member of the tunnel commission, said his comfort level has declined since the federal and provincial governments backed away.

    “Initially, it was based on being able to secure funding from the provincial and federal governments. I understand those opportunities don’t exist. Regardless of how this is set up, it falls on the municipal taxpayer and there needs to be a good business case.”

    He noted that tunnel traffic has drastically declined in recent years to the point where the city’s dividend from tolls has dropped from $6 million to zero.

    “(Sutts) is the best you can have on this,” Marra said. “My concern is not legal finds, but ultimately is this decision favourable for the taxpayer. What looked good eight months ago might not be good today.”

My goodness. Imagine that. Councillors doing what the Municipal Act says they are obliged to do:

  • Sec 224. It is the role of council,

    (a) to represent the public and to consider the well-being and interests of the municipality;

    (b) to develop and evaluate the policies and programs of the municipality;

    (c) to determine which services the municipality provides;

    (d.1) to ensure the accountability and transparency of the operations of the municipality, including the activities of the senior management of the municipality;

    (e) to maintain the financial integrity of the municipality;"

Something is very wrong with this transaction for a Councillor to be told to be quiet. It is even worse for a Councillor to obey this direction! A Councillor has received information in camera but is now forbidden to think and speak out even if he/she thinks the deal might hurt taxpayers. What is everyone so afraid of?

It is Councillor Marra's duty to tell us who put the gag order on. Who told him to keep his mouth shut and not perform his legal role as a Councillor. Not only is he on Council, but he is also a Tunnel Commissioner and will be a member of the Board of the new Tunnel Corporation.

It is interesting to note that he is not allowed to speak "until the negotiations are complete." By then it is too late isn't it. The deal is done. What a wonderful time for a Councillor to go public then with concerns.

Do you really believe that our Mayor if he has completed the transaction with Detroit will go back to renegotiate some terms merely because a Councillor thinks there's not something right. After all he is the lawyer isn't he, even if his only time in practice was for a very short time between his Call to the Bar and when he announced he was running for Mayor.

Can you imagine someone telling a Detroit Councillor to keep his/her mouth shut. Why are our Councillors so accommodating?

And if you truly believe that this matter will come in front of Council publicly for approval, then you have not been following events lately. The Tunnel is owned by a Tunnel Corporation that is private. This is just a borrowing transaction whereby the Corporation will get money from someone, perhaps the Provincial Government, and then somehow transfer that money to the City of the Detroit and receive in return some interest in the other side of the Tunnel. Maybe.

Why would it need to go in front of Council where delegations could appear and perhaps convince Councillors to reject it. It is not needed for a private Company just like with the airport lands and its private Company. It is only a borrowing after all. Money is borrowed all of the time. It is NOT a sale which Mr. Sutts said would have to go to Council.

I really wonder what the Ward Councillors know about the Tunnel Transaction. What business case has been prsented to them so far? When you have two Councillors being this concerned that they speak publicly about it, then I am concerned. When you see them being gagged, then there is cause for alarm.

Councillor Marra in particular should be concerned if he intends to run for Mayor. If he wins, then he is burdened with Eddie's Folly and will take all the flak as Eddie goes on to do his bigger and better things.

Just imagine, if Council approved all of Eddie's recent grandiose transactions what the Mayor and Council for generations to come will be stuck with: $30 million of money we don't have today for the Engineering Complex, $30 million of money we don't have today for the Jobs Today Fund, $75 million of money we don't have today for the Tunnel deal. Never mind how much it is really going to cost for the East End arena. Don't forget, we still have 2 1/2 more years of Francis extravaganzas.

Have you been as mystified as I am about the silence of the Windsor Star and Gord Henderson on this deal? What do they think? Does it make sense from a taxpayer perspective? Is this what the City should be spending its money on? Why have we not seen any editorials or comments about this deal?

I wonder who put the gag order on them also.