It's Story Time
Gather around. It's time for some more stories
I don’t care what any politician says but none of them give a damn about what happens to this region. And by that, I am including our Mayor and Council who have stalled a border solution for years and put off the creation of 15,000 jobs.
I expect that I have some idea about what our Mayor's plans were with respect to the border but the problem is he should have acted on them a long time ago. His problem has always been lack of execution because he is terrified of failure and being criticized and blamed. Perhaps he has learned that sometimes real world events overtake even the most brilliant of PLANs. One can never deal with every possible contingency in a business model.
Stephen Harper… when he came down here to generously provide money to Ford, said nothing about the border file. He did not even say as politicians usually do that it is one of the most important priorities for the economy. He was supposed to come here during the Thanksgiving weekend but did not.
The only ones doing anything about our border is the Bridge Company. And they are vilified for doing so by certain people, not thanked. I found this comment of Gord Henderson amusing:
- “I like Susan Whelan. I really do. But I couldn't vote for a Liberal candidate who, in my view, has been too closely aligned with the Ambassador Bridge company and its all-powerful, billionaire owner, Matty Maroun.”
To be blunt about it, we are fortunate that Mr. Moroun has money in the bank and that he is prepared to risk his money to build the Enhancement Project. With the meltdown in the Canadian economy that will be disclosed after the election and with the financial problems in the United States, do you really think that with traffic down the DRIC bridge will be built?
HUGE TAX INCREASE COMING
Do not blame the Mayor and City Council for this one. Believe it or not, it won’t be their fault.
As I have told you before, we have an unofficial taxing Authority in this Province that is all-powerful and against whom no one can appeal. This Authority can touch almost every resident in this Province and yet their actions are taken in secret and none of their members are elected by taxpayers.
Of course, I’m talking about OMERS, Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System. This is the pension plan for “local government employees across Ontario.”
As we know, a good chunk of the OMERS money is in the stock market as is common with most pension plans. These huge drops in the market means that there are going to be some problems in the overall financial health of these plans. There will be shortfalls unless the market increases dramatically:
- “The latest evaluation of the plan’s funded status showed a small surplus ($82 million) at year-end 2007.”
I’m not trying to bash OMERS. Here is what was said about the automotive plans:
- “The worldwide collapse of stock markets and automotive sales have emerged as a double blow to Big Three retirees, who this week watched the destruction of their RSP values while worry mounts that Detroit bankruptcies could slash their pensions.
The retirement plans of GM and Ford each also own more than 10 per cent of the shares of both companies, and the shares lost billions in value this week. That means that both pension plans took a beating, too.
"A lot of us are scared to death," said Pete Middlemore, a 70-year-old Windsor resident who retired from GM's former Windsor Trim Plant 11 years ago.”
- “The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board says recent volatility on the stock markets has ebbed away the fund's assets…
Board spokesman Ian Dale acknowledged the fund's assets have waned amid a worldwide financial crisis that threatens to kneecap the Canadian economy.
Dale declined to say how much the CPP has lost since the summer, when it last reported the value of its investments.”
Take a look at the change in the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan:
- “The partners decided to modify the fully indexed pensions after it became clear that increasing contributions could not keep the pension fund out of the red. Despite raising contributions in 2007, 2008 and 2009, the new $6.1-billion infusion was simply used to wipe out OTPP's 2005 shortfall. The hike did not make a dent in the current deficit, which is estimated at $12.7 billion.
"The current state of the market had nothing to do with this," said Jim Leech, president and chief executive of OTPP.”
That Plan has even more interesting problems with its $52 billion purchase of Bell Canada!
To be extremely cynical about it all, I was disgusted with this comment
- “Officials with the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan and the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System said Thursday their plans are designed to weather market declines and they will not make any rash moves during a period of volatility.
"Good pension plans are built to endure market cycles, so staying the course is a very rational and appropriate response," said Deborah Allen, spokeswoman for the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan.
"Pension plans are designed to deliver incomes over many years."
How are they able to do so? Here’s a hint from OMERS:
- “Several years ago, there was major volatility in the market and OMERS was equipped to weather the storm. OMERS is prepared for the long-term.”
What OMERS did not say was that one of the ways that they were able to “weather the storm” was to demand a contributions increase from their members and from every municipality in Ontario. That translated into tax increases for everyone for a number of years.
As I wrote previously:
- “I am glad that Standard and Poor's and Dominion Bond Rating Services have ranked OMERS "AAA." You will remember how the contribution rate for municipaliites and their employees rose dramatically over the past few years to cover the OMERS deficit.
It's a nice position to be in isn't it? Make some investment mistakes and no worries---the taxpayer pocketbook is there to bail you out. No wonder the ranking is so high.”
Remember the fuss that was made when $10,000 was spent to create some artists’ drawings of the Mayor’s Canal vision.
The CAO has done it again. This time he has approved an increase in an amount of over $22,000 to the consulting agreement with respect to the Sandwich Community Improvement Plan. There are some unexplained extra tasks necessary to complete the Plan.
The amount of the original contract was around $65,000. It was a CAO approval too.
I wonder why this increase was never brought to the attention of the public or Councillors in a Council Meeting. Oh, what a silly comment to make. It is obvious why that was not done. Taxpayer money is no object when it comes to trying to stop the Bridge Company.
MORE TUNNEL PROBLEMS
I don't claim to understand this one but here it is to suggest another reason why a long-term deal financed by Windsor Taxpayers makes no sense:
- "Lake Erie and Lake Ontario water levels will become largely dependent on the rainfall they pick up from additional hurricanes and tropical storms. More violent weather is anticipated as the climate warms. Lakes Superior, Michigan, and Huron are too far north to pick up substantial amounts of rain from storms, the report stated.
Every inch lake levels fall affects the shipping industry and its economy by millions of dollars a year. That's especially true in Toledo, the most heavily dredged harbor in the Great Lakes.
"I don't think there has been much thought put into it by anybody," said Scott Thieme, chief of the U.S. Corps of Engineers' Great Lakes hydraulics and hydrology office.
He said he's aware of forecasts for water-level declines and perplexed why the government hasn't taken the issue more seriously, given what's at stake.
A big enough drop in water could even affect the future of the U.S.-Canada tunnel between Detroit and Windsor, he said."
I think it has to do with dredging and lower water levels:
- "Even now, the Corps of Engineers spends $20 million a year to dredge 4 million cubic yards of sediment from all Great Lakes harbors and channels, the equivalent of 400,000 truckloads of soil...
The solution isn't simply more dredging.
The Corps of Engineers is struggling to find places to put dredged silt from the Toledo shipping channel...
There is a bigger problem in the Detroit River, where only so much more dredging can occur before hitting bedrock. The river bottom was blasted in the 1920s and 1930s for a shipping channel. Blasting it deeper today would be a multibillion dollar project.
Toledo is one of several harbors with pipelines beneath their shipping channels. The lines carry chemical products, natural gas, as well as electrical, phone, and fiber optic cables. The cost of relocating those would be astronomical.
Even if relocating pipelines and blasting deeper through the Detroit River bedrock became viable, there "would be an awful lot of concern and resistance for environmental issues that there weren't years ago," Mr. Thieme said.