Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

More News Features

I think I need an assistant soon to help me out with all of these breaking new stories. I need a staff of people to look after all the things that are going on in Windsor and Essex County these days.


In light of the fees charged by Mr. Sutts, here are the fees charged to the border file as at year end:


Given his schoolteacher stare when he dresses down his Councillor colleagues, he is certainly not afraid of any of them and treats them accordingly when he tells them to "Spit it out."

However, there clearly is one person that he is so afraid of that he will do anything not to be near him, especially on a platform. Let me give you some hints:

  1. Eddie went to Germany at taxpayer expense to meet some people from a startup company so that he would not have to confront this person at a pre-Budget meeting.
  2. Eddie preferred to attend a read-a-thon at a public school rather than be there when Sandra and this person gave out over $11 million to Windsor for infrastructure
  3. Eddie was not invited to the session where the Premier gave money to Ford, presumably because the Premier's Office must know that Eddie was terrified of this individual, but since Eddie needed to be there for political reasons, he showed up but was lost in the crowd of people watching the Premier
  4. Eddie was front and centre when Sandra gave money to the Economic Development Commission on Friday when this person was NOT there.

Have you figured it out yet... the person who scares Eddie the most? Why it is none other than the person who said "THE MAYOR IS WRONG. THE MAYOR IS WRONG."

If you don't know who that is by now after being a reader of this BLOG, then you never will!


There were a few billboards on Huron Church Road and near the Central Library branch a few months ago talking about the H2O Highway. In case you don't know what it is, it is another opportunity that Windsor is wasting while a city like Hamilton is trying to become a main terminal for ships:

  • "Comprised of the St. Lawrence River, St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes, HIGHWAY H20 is a 3,700-kilometer (2,400 mile) marine highway that runs between Canada and the United States. Hwy H2O flows directly into our commercial, industrial and agricultural heartland, home to some 100 million people, roughly one quarter of the Canada/U.S. combined population."

I was reminded of this because of the story in the Star about wind turbines:

  • "Two years of meticulous planning, including computer simulations, will be put to the test after the ocean freighter BBC Delaware arrives from Denmark at Morterm Windsor docks next Wednesday.

    It's the first of six freighters that will unload the massive sections of the 44 wind turbines to be erected at Kruger Energy's $200 million wind farm in the Port Alma area of Chatham-Kent.

    Each ship will take Morterm three days to unload."

What are we doing as an example to become the western terminus of the H20 highway so that every ship that goes through the St. Lawrence system with goods for the US Midwest offloads in Windsor? Instead of fighting over the Greenlink nonsense, who at City Hall is making sure that we are a player in this game?

If you want to know the difference between the foresight of private enterprise and the lack of attention to economic development by our City, ask yourself the question who saved the Port of Detroit from bankruptcy. That Group should be Windsor's partner in the border crossing file in helping to improve the Port of Windsor but thanks to our Mayor and Council, they are our enemy! Instead of working together for the betterment of the region, our City throws up roadblocks preventing that Group from tearing down their homes on Indian Road, to forcing them to remove a traffic light and not allowing them to close down a road temporarily and intermittently.

But it's okay, we can send our people out West to work and let Hamilton get the upper hand.


Honestly, I don't know what everybody so excited about. We are getting a bargain from Mr. Sutts. Remember the other day when I quoted something that he said from the Windsor Star. Can you imagine if we were being charged "private enterprise" fees rather than "reasonable" fees.

Give Cliff a break for heaven's sake. As the Mayor said months ago:

  • "The discussions are proceeding, the teams are meeting nearly every day."

Note the use of the word "team." Clearly, more than one lawyer is on our side, not just Mr. Sutts. Eddie has said before:

  • "Our legal team is looking at different financial options that are available," Francis said."

So when you have a bunch of lawyers working almost every day for two years, you have to expect the fees to be substantial. However, what you have not seen yet disclosed is the real reason that the fees are so high.

How do you think that the lawyers cross over into Detroit? They use the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel. Of course, to keep revenues high at the Tunnel, they pay the standard fee ie the highest toll in the region, $8.75 return. Naturally, they bill that out to the City as a disbursement I am sure and get reimbursed. Too bad that Mr. Sutts never uses the bridge. He would have known that their tolls were lower and he could have bought cheap gas there too!

Just think of how much money the Tunnel has made on this team of lawyers crossing over to Detroit so many times over the last two years.


I wonder if I should start a new feature setting out the most absurd statements made by a Member of Council over the past seven days and then giving out an award. Clearly the first winner would be Councillor Joanne Gignac.

She said in the Star in relation to the Tunnel legal fees matter:

  • "With the information put in front of me, I'm comfortable with (the legal costs)," said Coun. Joanne Gignac."

I'm glad that she is comfortable because frankly I am in a great degree of a discomfort.

She seemed in the past pretty eager to protect business interests over that of the City

  • "She said if the city wants to get into business with private companies, it must agree to protect the business interests of those companies. Otherwise, no one will want to do business with the city.

    "I think it's for a pretty good reason," she said of the confidentiality clauses in the Canderel leases and the agreement with the Windsor Spitfires for the team's use of the new east-end arena.

    "There's a mayor and 10 councillors there and we hash these things out."

Dealing with the confidential Spitfires' agreement, she seems to have caught the City Hall amnesia disease along with the Mayor:

  • "But Mayor Eddie Francis said he didn't remember whether the Spitfires document contained a confidentiality clause. "I don't recall," he said this week.

    Coun. Jo-Anne Gignac also claimed not to have known about the confidentiality clause. "What I do remember is we got what I consider to be a fair bargain for the residents."

We'll see pretty soon how good a deal that she was able to get for residents once that contract is disclosed to the public.

You have to remember mind you that:

  • "Councillors have not seen the agreement itself."

In order to get my comfort level up, I sent the following e-mail to Councillor Gignac. I don't expect an answer from her because she hasn't done so in the past when I've written to her. Oh well, I'm a mere taxpayer:

  • "Tunnel story in the Star today

    In the Star today I read the following comments that you made:

    "With the information put in front of me, I'm comfortable with (the legal costs)," said Coun. Joanne Gignac."

    I would appreciate if you could provide me with a copy of that information so that I too could be comfortable with a legal and consultants bill of over $1 million.

    As you may know, I've been waiting now for about a week to receive a copy of the PWC Tunnel valuation and the Trust Agreement set out in the Asset Purchase agreement.

    Anything that you could do to expedite the delivery of those documents and to provide me with the balance of information will be much appreciated."


What a knockout punch was sent by Councillor Halberstadt in the direction of CAO John Skorobohacz. If this wasn't a vote of nonconfidence, then I don't know what is:

  • "A city councillor is calling for at least one elected representative to serve on the board of the Windsor Essex County Development Commission in the wake of the abrupt firing this week of Matthew Fischer, the commission's chief executive officer.

    The board currently consists of nine appointed members, including the chief administrative officers of the city and county...

    Halberstadt said having elected representatives on the board would enable councillors to get more information about the workings of the board."

Now that was a hard shot to the midsection that should leave the CAO gasping for air! I would have thought that the City's CAO was supposed to be performing that function. However, in another hard blow to the CAO, Councillor Jones stated:

  • "Coun. Ron Jones said council as a whole had received "no information whatsoever about the situation and that is unacceptable."

I would think that "unacceptable" is being generous considering that the Mayor wants to entrust this Commission with $100 million of taxpayer money. It is extremely disturbing that Councillor Jones seems to be so far out of the loop in this matter when the Vice-Chair of the Commission has said:

  • "Schumacher -- who heads the commission's CEO evaluation committee -- said the decision to terminate Fischer was discussed by the board "for some time..."

    "We can say that over the last several weeks, we moved in that direction," Schumacher said."

Council needs to ask of the CAO why they were not informed of the troubles at the Commission much earlier so proactive steps could have been taken.

Finally, I hope that Councillor Jones finds out why he was not invited to the conference call with the CAO.

  • "Jones said he wasn't aware of any conference call. "For me, there's been a complete lack of information and that is troubling in the very least."

Moreover six other Councillors need to explain why they weren't in the call either. Or don't they care?