Here are some things that people in the news have said over the last little that you might find of interest.
PLAYING THE SAME OLD TUNE
Councillor Hatfield keeps reminding us that:
- "He said the situation with the symphony is different because council was asked to cough up $15,000 to support that feasibility study -- and he is connected to the process because of his previous role on the armouries re-use subcommittee.
"I keep reminding them they will have to look elsewhere for funding (if the symphony project is deemed feasible)," Hatfield said."
Yet if the canal feasibility study comes back positively, as the Mayor has already told us that it will, will the Councillor remind developers that they will have to pay the $60 million or more of infrastructure costs for the project, not the taxpayers of Windsor. After all they will make a profit on the transaction, not the City.
Taxpayers paid $10,000 for drawings so how are the situations all that different? The Councillor should already know, given his background in municipal politics as a journalist, that the City will wind up footing the bill:
- "There could even be expropriation so council will have a very active role."
Yes we expropriated property for the Western Super Anchor site and it still sits there. And I believe that all of the Canderel expropriations have not yet been resolved either. Perhaps the Councillor does not remember that given the amnesia disease at City Hall.
IN THE LOOP COUNCILLORS
Remember what Councillor Hatfield said:
- "But Hatfield said Tuesday that councillors had sufficient opportunity to be apprised of the marina-canal proposal at the mayor's invitation before it became public knowledge.
"He tipped us off he was working on a deal, that if you want more information before the news conference to drop in the office," he said. "I did -- most of council was in the loop."
A writer on the Mayor of Monmouth's BLOG took that as an opportunity to wonder
- "Maybe we should just refer to the Mayor's office as "the loop" or the "loop portal" and those who are in "the loop" as "Loopers". Those who get sucked in as "Looped".
Doesn't Chicago have the Loop? Eddie looks up to Chicago's mayor, Mayor Daley
I have a different idea for those in the loop in Windsor politics. I would prefer to call those who participate in Government by tips and are proud of it as "Loopy."
WHAT DOES SHE MEAN BY THIS
I hope somebody can explain the last line of this comment in the Free Press because I do not understand it. It must mean something because the Detroit Councillor is one of the bright ones on their Council:
- "Then there's Kilpatrick's star-crossed proposal to sell the city's half of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel to raise $65 million toward balancing the budget. The mayor failed to get council approval by June 30 to avoid running a deficit in the 2007-08 fiscal year, but then rallied to win partial passage July 1 -- only to see the council rescind its support.
Kilpatrick has continued to work the deal, but the prospects appear bleak, and the city warned workers of layoffs in September without the sale.
Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel has said many times she ordinarily would be more open to support the sale, but not with this mayor in these times.
"There's nothing that I hear that I do not feel has to be checked, rechecked, double-checked, triple-checked," she said. "I look at it now from a prism of what is this designed to accomplish. Is this designed to assist and aid the mayor in dealing with his numerous legal challenges or is this just a good plan?"
How could the deal assist the Mayor with his legal challenges? Very odd.
ARE YOU A DATA CREEP
While there are probably are good reasons for it from a security perspective, here is another reason why people may not want to cross the border unless they actually have to do so.
The Washington Post reported that
- "The federal government has been using its system of border checkpoints to greatly expand a database on travelers entering the country by collecting information on all U.S. citizens crossing by land, compiling data that will be stored for 15 years and may be used in criminal and intelligence investigations...
Under the system, officials record name, birth date, gender, date and time of crossing, and a photo, where available, for U.S. travelers returning to the country by land, sea or air."
For non-US citizens, the retention period is 75 years.
Ontario's Privacy Commissioner had this to say about this matter:
- "Because of privacy concerns, Washington state earlier this year opted for the queries-only approach. [The agency to query their databases in real time for information on a traveler] The Canadian government made the same decision. "There was absolutely no way they should have the entire database," said Ann Cavoukian, Ontario's privacy commissioner, who learned about the Canadian government's decision in April.
"Once you have data in a database you don't need, it lends itself to unauthorized use," she said. "You have no idea of the data creep."
FIRST THE GOOD NEWS
Don't you just love how this was done:
- "Becker cautions, however, that despite good news, there remain significant financial challenges associated with the consultant recommendations for the deck overlays, when they are considered with other expected major bridge projects."
I try to help out Brian Masse but he just won't listen.
Here's the scoop---It's nice to want to keep tolls low to help out users. However, they have to be high enough to cover the cost of running a bridge or else taxpayers in general have to subsidize operations, not the actual users.
Here is what is going on at the Soo with their public bridge:
The Good news:
- International Bridge maintenance diligence delays $80 million deck replacement; bridge financial challenges continue
August 20, 2008 - - The Joint International Bridge Authority (JIBA) Board of Directors received a very good report on the structural condition of the concrete bridge deck at its Aug. 20 meeting held in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
The consulting firm of Hardesty and Hanover presented the findings of a detailed inspection and structural evaluation of the bridge deck. It was anticipated the 45-year-old deck would have to be totally removed and replaced within the next 10-15 years, at an estimated cost of $80 million. However, the study found the deck to be in exceptionally good condition for its age.
The report recommends the blacktop overlay portion on the Canadian arch span to be replaced with a concrete overlay in 2009, costing approximately $2 million. It also recommends a concrete deck overlay of the entire bridge in 2023, costing approximately $24 million. The report suggests the deck replacement could be delayed until the mid 2040s.
"The bridge deck is in excellent condition due to the diligent preventive maintenance program in place at the International Bridge Administration (IBA)," said Phil Becker, IBA general manager. "Our IBA maintenance staff is to be commended for the great job they do to get the full service life out of the bridge deck."
And now the bad news:
- Becker cautions, however, that despite good news, there remain significant financial challenges associated with the consultant recommendations for the deck overlays, when they are considered with other expected major bridge projects. Other major capital projects in the next 15 years include:
- 2011 - $11.7 million toll plaza redevelopment project to reduce traffic congestion between the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) border station and the toll booths.
- 2014 - $4.7 million repainting of the Canadian arch span.
- 2018 - $9.0 million repainting of the U.S. arch spans.
- 2023 - $11.5 million repainting of the north approach spans and center girder spans.
And now the very bad news
- "When we consider all of the combined costs for scheduled projects to keep the aging bridge and support facilities structurally sound and safe, we are looking at expending over $60 million in the next 15 years," says Becker. "Given that nearly $4.5 million of the $6 million annual toll revenue goes into the day-to-day operation and maintenance of the bridge, we have little opportunity to put funds in reserve to meet these future needs."
Becker also noted that the $60 million capital project program does not take into account the $40 million cost to replace the Canada Border Services Agency plaza, for which federal funding is being pursued.
And now the most horrible news of all
- The IBA is totally self-funded, based primarily on toll revenue, and receives no operational funds support from state, provincial, or federal government sources. Bridge traffic has dropped from 3.6 million annual crossings in 1994 to about 1.9 million crossings in 2007.