Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Monday, April 28, 2008

Long And Winding Road

Sensationalist photo? Absolutely. However, it really happened in a tunnel in California 6 months ago. Imagine all of those tunnels from Highway 401 to the border with both the DRIC and Greenlink roads. Has anyone figured out the risks from going into and out of tunnels so many times in so short a distance?

20 year storms, 100 year storms...that California highway had problems when it rained! And the picture shows the consequences. Big tunnel shoulders, narrow ones...who cares what the emergency services say about that! Wouldn't it be easier for Eddie's Tunnel if it had wide shoulders in case of an emergency!

Now that we know that Greenlink is really dead---oh sure more press releases are coming to demonstrate why and a counter-offensive to reply---how does the Mayor huff and puff now and will he bring an end to the ad blitz to at least save a few taxpayer bucks? Probably not. He needs the postcards as the basis of a lawsuit. He has no other choice unless he accepts what is done and declares a victory when the DRIC road is released.

"They added Shunnels because of me," he can claim as the Star and Henderson can praise and congratulate him for standing up for Windsor. If only he could have delayed the process a bit longer, he could have used this "victory" to propel him into his third term as Mayor.

He has to have a Plan; Eddie always has a Plan. We'll see it unfolding soon.

At least DRIC was gentle on Eddie this time around. They did not put a stake right into his heart as the Feds did before. Sandra and Dwight must have told them to be more gentle with the Mayor.

DRIC at least did not retain an expert do a public report in the same manner that the Federal Government had Cansult do one on the Schwartz Horseshoe road. You remember that one... it effectively ended the Schwartz Report by demonstrating that Schwartz's proposal was not acceptable.

There is no doubt that this first press release by DRIC is the first of several, gradually escalating in intensity. This one was rather mild I thought with the issues being very technical. I'm still waiting for Sam and Eddie to send me a note on my "October 29, 2007 The 69 Questions Sam & Eddie Must Answer." They must have been too busy.

I wonder what the subject matter of the next press releases will be. I hope there is one on the terrorism threat of Sam's Schwunnels. The number and size of the Schwunnels are the real risk to the border crossing if someone wanted to disrupt traffic, not the bridge itself, as was made clear in Port Huron.

You see Eddie is going to have to form a private corporation with him as the CEO for each of the Greenlink Schwunnels. Can you imagine the Directors fees for Eddie and all the Councillors who are on the Boards.

There is no doubt but that Cliff Sutts will be concerned again:
  • "For example, if there should be a terrorist act that causes extensive damage and injury to parties, it wouldn't be a burden on the taxpayers of the City of Windsor," he said."

Of course, Eddie as Mayor, based on his experience as the Chair of the Tunnel Commission, or is it the new Tunnel Corporation, will have to do is as he is told by outside counsel in this matter. Whew, he and his colleagues would be exhausted in attending so many Schwunnel meetings in one day at several hundred dollars a meeting.

I am not going to get into the technical side of this. It's the he said/she said type of war the really bores me and accomplishes little.

I was amused at how quickly Gord Henderson was able to get out his column since it was posted on Friday night. It came out almost as quickly as his column after the Mayor's State of the City speech. Obviously, it is designed to get us to think one way and to get us to react before we can think it through. It did not work before on Eddie's speech and I doubt it will work now.

I'm sure that we are supposed to take some comfort from Gord's description of the Parsons Brinckerhoff senior vice-president with all of his degrees. And to be quite concerned about the DRIC expertise. Perhaps Gord should have asked some questions of Mr. Munfah as well to give a balanced perspective to his company concerning the following:

  • "$458m Big Dig settlement exempts firms from criminal charges in tunnel collapse
    January 23, 2008 By BostonGlobe Staff

    State and federal authorities announced a settlement of $458.2 million with the firms that designed and managed the Big Dig to avoid criminal charges and civil liability stemming from leaks, the fatal ceiling collapse, and other flaws that have plagued the project.

    Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff, the consortium that oversaw the Big Dig design and construction, will pay $407 million, and 24 other companies will pay about $51 million, US Attorney Michael Sullivan said this afternoon at a press conference.

    "Massachusetts Highway and the citizens of Massachusetts entrusted Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff to act as their eyes and ears on the Central Artery Project," Sullivan said. "They grossly failed to meet their obligations and responsibilities to the citizens of Massachusetts and the United States."

    Approximately $415 million of the settlement money will be placed in a special trust fund and used to pay for future Big Dig costs and repairs. The settlement allows authorities to seek additional damages from Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff in the event of a major failure in the project in the future causes more than $50 million in damage.

    The agreement, which the Globe first reported in today’s paper, will allow Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff to avoid state criminal charges in the Interstate 90 connector tunnel collapse that killed Milena Del Valle. She died on July 10, 2006, after concrete panels weighing 26 tons fell and partially crushed the car she and her husband were riding to Logan Airport."
And do not forget how much the Big Dig was to cost at the beginning--about $3B-- and how it escalated to about $15B. Did Gord ask about that? We know that Greenlink's number is too low for a number of reasons already.

Gord's tendency of name calling is getting tedious already. Sticks and stones work better. The crack about the "former librarian" may help explain why the Library System is in such a mess due to the actions of the Mayor and Council. If one wants to talk about "petty vindictiveness," this is a prime example that is resulting in the destruction of our Library System. I cannot believe that a grudge is being held that long against the institution itself because of one man. Absolutely asinine if true.

I did like this line though:

  • "Nasri Munfah ... sounded like a irritated professor going over an incompetent pupil's term paper"

The picture I had in my mind as I read this was Eddie scolding and lecturing down to his Councillors at the Council meetings. You know "Spit it Out" and all that.

Wow, we're up to 10,000 residents who have sent in postcards. The postal system has become extremely efficient if postcards can be sent out last week, returned to City Hall and counted, all to meet Gord's Friday column deadline. Have you ever seen the Postal Service and our City act that quickly before?

I guess that 10,000 responses after spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in total is better than just 3,000. I wonder if the 3,000 were included in the 10,000 number. No matter, Eddie's target of 20 to 30,000 postcards received will clearly be met so that there will be political justification for the lawsuit to be started soon.

I expect when the DRIC announcement is made that it will be a very big show with lots of high priced politicos mulling around. Of course the Mayor and Council will snub it, again. On the other hand, if they had any sense of theatrics, and they don't given what is happened to the Capitol, it would be lots of fun to have them holding picket signs and marching around chanting "DRIC MUST GO" and "2-4-6-8, DRIC WE DON'T APPRECIATE." I wonder if Dwight and Sandra would shout back along with MTO's Dave Wake "THE MAYOR IS WRONG. THE MAYOR IS WRONG."

Imagine if the police were called out to keep separate the two warring chant lines. Now that is real drama for the 6 o'clock National news and the political talk shows for the weekend. That's better than the Believe Windsor-Essex project for getting Windsor in the news and cheaper too!

I was very interested in reading Eddie's remark:

  • "It's really embarrassing and unfortunate that DRIC has really become a political process," Francis said. "They have really arrived at their conclusion, and they have sold the city out.

    "They should just come out and tell people what their final conclusions are."

It's very much like hiring a world renowned, independent expert who is going to look at the situation and come up with what makes the most sense and then finding out the following:

  • "Toronto lawyer David Estrin, the city's border traffic expert, outlined a $2.2-million legal game plan for himself...

    A document obtained by The Star in which Estrin outlined his border "work plan and budget" shows how he originally planned to tackle the province and federal governments' "nine-point plan" -- which focused on making E.C. Row Expressway a border truck route -- and fight off proposals by the Ambassador Bridge and DRTP.

    He told council his hiring of a transportation planner and govern- ment/media relations expert were vital to help council achieve its objectives.

    The transportation expert would come up with a traffic bypass plan, he told them, while the media expert was needed to ensure council's position was well presented locally, provincially and federally, according to the document...

    But to fight the DRTP, Ambassador Bridge and the city's rail land use bylaw before the Ontario Municipal Board, the lawyer's fee schedule was much more elaborate...

    The total to fight DRTP, Ambassador Bridge and the railway lands use bylaw was $1.87 million plus GST, he told council -- bringing the overall proposed sum to $2.2 million."

To be fair, Sam at his presentation at the Cleary said that no one could force him to do anything to jeopardize his good-name and I am certain that he meant it and acted professionally. However, we read what it appears someone wanted him to be hired to do which was to arrive at a pre-determined solution. That makes the City's actions political too doesn't it?

Anyway the road fight is over except to hope that the road is actually built. I have my doubts whether this will really happen or whether we get the at-grade solution since money is drying up with both Senior Levels.

Now all we need is for the Governments to throw in the towel when they recognize that the Bridge Company has won and negotiate something proper with them so that we can get this border matter off of our table.

One last small point. Do you think that Eddie's favourite movie is "The American President" with Mike Douglas or that he just rented the video from Blockbuster. Eddie said:

  • "This is a serious project that requires serious consideration"

That reminded me of what President Andrew Shepherd said in the movie:

  • "We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them."

Oh well, movies/real life, who can tell the difference these days.