Dead Men Don't Pump Gas In Windsor...
...BUT IN DETROIT THEY SIPHON IT
I do not know obviously all of the details about the Detroit system for fueling vehicles but there are similarities with the one in Windsor.
I thought there was supposed to be a new audit undertaken of the Windsor fleet operations soon. I would suggest that the Audit Committee read this Detroit article first:
- Workers may be siphoning Detroit's gas
Auditors say lack of oversight leaves city's fuel supply vulnerable.
DETROIT -- City auditors say there's strong evidence that employees and others are misusing and even stealing fuel from city pumps, warning there is a "total lack of control" over the city's nearly $7 million a year gas supply.
The city has issued more than 7,500 electronic gas cards to city employees -- more than half of the city's entire staff -- since May 2005 and auditors say upper management is not monitoring their gas use at city-owned stations, even though they have the tracking system to do so, according to a report from the Office of the Auditor General.
Among the auditors' findings:
• Gas cards aren't recovered from fired or retired staffers.
• Noncity vehicles, including a Honda Civic, have been seen filling up at city pumps.
• Suspicious gas use by some employees, including one city police officer who used the same gas card to get gas seven times in one day for a total of nearly 85 gallons. Some of the fill ups were just minutes apart...
The concerns couldn't come at a worse time as gas prices are at all-time highs and the financially struggling city is contemplating layoffs if the City Council doesn't agree to sell its share of the Detroit-Windsor tunnel for $75 million to plug the deficit.
In May 2005, the city introduced a tracking system at 11 of the city's fueling stations in part to prevent misuse of city fuel and to track employee use. The system, when operating correctly, requires the user to enter in the vehicle's identification number and mileage and swipe the gas card.
Among the other problems cited by the auditors:
• Last month, an auditor was able to go to two different stations where the tracking system was down and fill up a gas can without a fuel card or any identification.
• There are nine accounts spread over several departments, including the Police Department, in which "high-ranking" individuals have unlimited, untraceable access to gas, but over time the access has been given to unauthorized staffers...
• Three of the fuel stations have pumps that have been in a "bypass mode" since March because of equipment problems, which means gas can be obtained without a card. City employees told auditors they believe gas has been stolen because vehicles that were filling up didn't appear to be city-owned vehicles.
• Security is lax. Spot checks last month found that auditors were able to pass by security officers at three fuel stations without showing identification and another check found no guard at a post for an hour. The city has opted to activate the lowest level of security on the tracking system as "a matter of convenience," city staffers told auditors.
• Gas cards are unaccounted for. When employees retire or are fired, the cards aren't always returned and those responsible for tracking the cards aren't notified when an employee leaves the city. The Detroit Fire Department never sent confirmation whether nearly 1,600 of its employees assigned cards ever received them.
"The Office of the Auditor General ... obtained compelling evidence, which suggests that the city's gasoline supply has been, and is continuing to be misappropriated," auditors wrote in the report submitted to the City Council. "Conditions exist which demonstrate a total lack of control over the city's fuel supply."
IT WAS MORE LIKE A SUMMER DRIZZLE
Wow, I was excited when I saw the headline in the Star online. It read:
- "Cash rains down on mayor
Businesses line up to fund the waterfront feasibility study"
The story said:
- "cheques rained down on Mayor Eddie Francis Tuesday."
I expected a summer thunderstorm of money to have flooded in from businesses all over the City to pay for the study. Instead, all I saw was $25K from Mr. Farhi who owns property nearby and from the WFCU, the Windsor Port Authority re the ferry taxi service and CAW Local 444.
Wow, we naysayers have power... attacked before anything is even public.
- "Francis, who, like Lewenza and other speakers at Tuesday's announcement in the foyer of the art gallery, denounced the "naysayers" already lining up to predict this latest in a string of grand plans for the downtown west side will similarly lead to nothing."
Just in passing, ask your Councillor if he/she heard anything about this BEFORE it hit the press!
I AM A LAWYER
Come on now. We all know that there is more going on behind the Brian Bell story than we are being told. Please do not tell me that our master micromanager, the Mayor, retained a lawyer in March but did not follow up.
- "Francis said the city brought in human resources lawyer George King to provide advice on how to end the situation.
"We hadn't heard anything since then," Francis said. "But to city council, to myself and to this community, it's insulting that he's able to article at a firm while he's on sick leave..."
It looks like Frere Jacque was not the only one who has been sleeping.
It is amazing how the story hits the A-channel and then the Star a few months before the articling period would be over. Amazing as well that there should be a big Star Editorial dealing with this issue so quickly.
Note the use of the royal "we" by the Mayor in the story.
- "People are livid," Francis said. "Just like we are."
Perhaps the Mayor knows now why people are mad about actions being taken behind closed doors!
- "Library chairman and city Coun. Alan Halberstadt -- who last week said the board does not feel Bell "is fulfilling his contractual obligations by articling" -- suggested the mayor does not know enough details about the legal ramifications.
"We've sought legal advice and the mayor is not privy to that advice," Halberstadt said. "If the mayor would like to involve himself in this situation we'd certainly invite him to one of our in-camera meetings...
"He has doctor verification for his sickness and we have to respect that," Halberstadt said. "If the mayor wanted to call me I could apprise him of all these issues, and what the board is trying to do.
"But I can't discuss it publicly."
The issue about Bell taking a law course is nothing new. It was reported back in March as was Bell's desire for a leave of absence. According to the Star:
- "Several sources indicated Bell recently completed his law degree and needs time to complete his articling duties."
Just so you know, dear reader, articling is a full-time job.
- "The articling term is ten months. Within this ten month period, an articling student-at-law may take up to two weeks of vacation."
The Articles of Clerkship state:
- "The Student-at-law agrees to serve the Principal as an articled student-at-law commencing the___ day of____, 2008, for___consecutive months.
5. THE STUDENT-AT-LAW AGREES:
a. to fulfill all lawful and reasonable instructions;
c. not to be absent from the service of the Principal without leave;
The lawyer who supervises Bell will have to fill in a form "Principal’s Certificate of Service under Articles" stating:
- "6. During his/her service (disregarding any vacation, not exceeding a total of two weeks during the ten month articling term, or examination preparation time mentioned in paragraph 2), the Student-at-law was absent with my permission, details of and reason(s) for are:
7. The Student-at-law did not at any time during the period of service to my knowledge or belief (disregarding non-law-related part-time employment after office hours or on weekends which need not be mentioned), hold any office or received any remuneration or engage in any employment other than that of an articled Student-at-law, except as follows:
The Student has to fill in a form, Student-at-law’s Affidavit of Service under Articles:
- MAKE OATH AND SAY THAT:
1. Under Articles of Clerkship (and any assignment(s) or temporary assignment(s) of articles), I was employed by and diligently served as an Articled Student-at-law for Mr./Ms. ______________________________ , a Solicitor/Justice/Judge, from the _____ day of ______________ , year ______ , to the _____ day of ______________ , year ______ ,
3. During the period of periods of service I was not absent from service (disregarding vacation, not exceeding two weeks, or examination preparation time in paragraph 2), except on leave granted me by the Solicitor/Justice/Judge for the following time periods and reason(s): (attach additional sheet if necessary)
4. During the said period or periods of service I did not hold any office or receive any remuneration nor was I engaged in any employment other than that of an articled Student-at-law (disregarding non-law-related part-time employment after office hours or on weekends which need not be mentioned), except as follows:(attach additional sheet if necessary).
On A-channel, the claim was made that Bell was simply
- "fulfilling an agreement with the Library to fund his law degree."
- "the reason that I am not there right now [at the Library] is confidential. I am...going with whatever was agreed to on any [unintelligible] agreement that we had."
Presumably, articling might be a part of it. Was using "sick leave" payments part of it too? If so, it would be interesting to know what that arrangment is since that would resolve the issue wouldn't it! On Monday, the Chair denied that such an agreement existed
Bell also claimed that he kept the Board Chair up to date and advised on an on-going basis.
I am shocked that the Mayor is making the kind of comments that he is making in public. Forgetting about the issue whether or not this matter should be discussed at all since it could be considered a personnel matter, Brian Bell is on leave of absence since he claims:
- "he has legitimate stress and medical concerns confirmed through regular doctor visits -- something he thinks city officials should not discuss publicly."
Can you imagine the stress he may be placed under now especially if he has an arrangement with the Library that the Mayor knows nothing about.
This is so out of control like many matters in this City. Once could not possibly script something like this. No one would be believe it
While this is unrelated, the factual situations are not similar and the legal positions are completely different, after reading the Star story, I could not help but recall this story in the Globe and Mail dealing with a lawyer in the public service:
- "Public servant finds she can't have it both ways
Globe and Mail, June 24, 2008
Like any driven professional, Diane Way was always looking to advance her career. But while most people leave one job before taking a new one, Ms. Way tried a different strategy – she started a new job, kept her old one and didn't tell either employer as she juggled both.
She was hoping to keep her options open in case the new position didn't work out, according to an adjudicator's ruling. Instead, she ended up being fired from both jobs and embroiled in a four-year legal battle over her actions."
IF YOU CAN FIND A BETTER MAYOR...
Now we know who to blame for everything concerning our municipal political mess: Lee Iacocca and other big name CEO's. Fascinating article by Tom Walsh in the Free Press. It does not apply in just Detroit either.
- Blame Kilpatrick mess on charismatic CEOs
BY TOM WALSH • FREE PRESS COLUMNIST • July 27, 2008
...How did it all come to this for Kwame Kilpatrick?
Perhaps we should blame it on Lee Iacocca.
Or on CEOs Jack Welch, Martha Stewart or Enron's Jeff Skilling...
So taken was the American public by these superstars of business that people started asking, "Why can't we run government like we run our private-sector businesses..."
During a long layover in the Amsterdam airport, I had the mayor to myself for a couple hours and we talked about his philosophy and goals. Kilpatrick had no business experience; he had only worked as a schoolteacher and state legislator after college and law school. But he had bought fully into the run-government-like-business philosophy, or at least the appearance of same.
His gave his department heads corporate-lingo titles -- chief financial officer, chief development officer, chief administrative officer, chief information officer.
And he was already chafing at budget limitations, which were frustrating his attempt to hire a strong COO as local business leaders were urging him to do.
"A lot of city managers around the country, they have pay packages as high as $400,000. I mean, these guys are making real money," Kilpatrick told me, noting that his budget called for a COO salary of $140,000. "We don't need a B-team person in Detroit; we need an A-team person."
Only the best for Detroit's ambitious young CEO...
That same year , a book was published titled "Searching for a Corporate Savior: The Irrational Quest for Charismatic CEOs" by Rakesh Kurana.
Kurana traced the rise of the American CEO from anonymity to superstar in the last two decades of the 20th Century.
"Previously, CEOs were about as well-known as their chauffeurs," he wrote. "But something happened when Lee Iacocca was credited with single-handedly saving an American icon. Most people forgot about the $2-billion federally guaranteed loan to bail out Chrysler, or the United Auto Workers' givebacks. Iacocca made other CEOs look bland -- there was even talk of drafting him for president.
"The image of a CEO changed from being a capable administrator to a leader -- a motivating, flamboyant leader with a new task. In the late 1980s and early '90s, business tried to redefine itself; it was no longer about the profane task of making money, but concerned with vision, values, mission -- essentially religious terms."
Clearly, Kilpatrick has swallowed whole the concept of the charismatic CEO, including viewing his mission in sacred terms. "I believe I'm on an assignment from God in this position," he told radio show host Frankie Darcell in February...
So don't look for Detroit's CEO to retreat quietly, or impoverished, from the scene.
He has fully embraced the cloak of the modern charismatic CEO. And he won't give it up easily."
One slight problem with all of this. If it is so bad, where have the media been for so long!
REVERSE CUSTOMS NEEDED NOW
The existing crossings between Canada and the US could not solve this problem nor would a new DRIC Bridge. There is only ONE solution as the Bridge Co. has been advocating for years.
- "Grenade found in car crossing bridge from Canada
U.S. Customs officials discovered a grenade in an SUV crossing from Canada into the United States over the Ambassador Bridge late Sunday night.
The Detroit Police bomb squad was called in to examine the grenade, which officials hadn't yet determined was live or a souvenir, according to one fire official.
Three Canadians and three Americans were in the SUV, the fire official said.
Homeland Security officials also were on hand, as was the Detroit Fire Department. Homeland Security was notified because a potentially explosive device was found.