Why STOPDRTP Succeeded And Greenlink Has Not
We were a very smart bunch, if I may be so modest, who quickly learned how to use the media to our advantage even though a number of significant media types were opposed to us. We learned how to capitalize on opportunities that were presented to us. We learned how to scare politicians successfully at every level.
In reality, our power was not what we planned or did but that we had the strong backing of the people who supported us for our actions. We knew that any time that we needed people to attend a meeting or to write a letter to the Government or to phone in to a talk show or send a Letter to the Editor that we could mobilize the Community as we did on many occasions. Everyone knew that too!
We were smeared by our opponents. Oh we were called NIMBYs but that was an easy way to attack us. Was it that hard for people to understand that our residents were trying to protect their homes? The nasty names did not stick for very long because early on we came up with a plan that we believed would solve the border problem that was good for the entire City, not just our area.
I can remember when the Star changed its editorial position on DRTP. They did not have the courtesy to mention our group but they did say that no politician could be elected in Windsor who dared support what we opposed. And it was true.
Can you imagine what we could have accomplished if we had $1 million for advertising blitzes the way our Mayor did? Can you imagine what we could have accomplished had we had Mayor Hurst on our side? We had to fight to get Council to agree to support us but we did. Can you imagine what we could have accomplished if we supposedly had 17,000 or more families supporting us?
In hindsight, we were probably one of the most successful citizen groups ever. Even now, I cannot believe the power that we were able to gain so quickly. I remember Letters to the Editor accusing us of controlling Council and hearing that Councillors were our puppets with us pulling the strings.
What we accomplished we did in a few months time. We were responsible for stopping DRTP.
Compare that with our Mayor and Council to see how little they have achieved after so much time and after spending so much of the taxpayers' money. To be direct, that is why the Mayor and certain members of Council are a huge disappointment to me. They squandered the opportunities that STOPDRTP and the Citizens of Windsor gave them on a silver platter over all of these years.
It is push come to shove time and I am afraid that Eddie as far as I’m concerned has fallen short. I wonder if he goes to bed every night praying that the Owner of the Bridge Company will start a lawsuit to stop DRIC cold to get him off the hook personally.
It is clear that our Mayor does not have the nerve to do so or else he would have taken action by now to support his words. Instead, he keeps telling us that the process has another year to go and that we can make submissions to the Minister of the Environment to show our outrage.
Eddie knows that he cannot act. The consequences would be too severe for him and his future. Why else would that blatant addition have been made to the Sandwich Community Improvement Plan to target only the Bridge Company homes on Indian Road. Why else would Greg Heil resign because the Heritage Plan presented to his Committee was political in nature against the Bridge Company as far as he was concerned. Why else does Eddie keep baiting with comments such as someone cementing up the Tunnel.
Eddie has good reason to be concerned about what he does based on the comment made from a representative of Sandra Pupatello to one of the Bloggers in town. I wonder what Dwight really told Eddie on the way to the airport.
Take a look at the jail story in the Star. It is not that big a deal in the scheme of things such that if the Province wanted to teach Eddie a lesson they could pull it out of the City quickly. I am sure that Eddie knows that and that is why he is so quiet now about the jail going to Brighton Beach. He knows that the Province is not kidding anymore and that they are tired of his whining and his constant opposition. Instead of being grateful, he does nothing but cause misery to our two Cabinet Ministers.
At some point in time, the Premier will say enough is enough. There are other areas of the Province that would be happy to receive the Province’s largesse at a time when the Province is in financial hardship itself.
Take a look at the story:
- “No new jail, no new jobs, officials warn
Valuable construction jobs will go somewhere else if the community succeeds in blocking approval of a new $50-million jail on the city's outskirts, the president of the Essex and Kent Building Trades warned Monday.
"The jail may not go in Windsor, there's so much opposition," Sol Furer said. "It's not a done deal…
Furer's warning was echoed by a spokesman for the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.
"There's a lot of steps that this has to go through," Stuart McGetrick said.
"We want to listen to what the community has to say. If at the end of the day we fail at one or more of the hurdles, then (we'd) obviously be in a position at that point to maybe reconsider the site."
Is it “fear mongering” as one resident complained. You better believe that it is. And our Mayor is well aware of the message that has been delivered.
That is why the Star in its editorial today stated:
- “Specifically, the suggestion that continuing to push for a made-in-Windsor solution could somehow derail the entire border process and put residents and jobs attached to the project in jeopardy.”
Just look at how weak-kneed Eddie is with the DRIC road matter. Where is the Estrin legal strategy that is months overdue? Or has it been delivered and has it been shelved because the Councillors have prevented the Mayor from even talking about a lawsuit now? Has there been polling done and if so what are the results? Based on the response of the Mayor, it has to be that people are more concerned about jobs than Schwunnels!
Eddie is afraid to say anything against the Province. Saturday’s meeting was an “information” session. The Generalissimo would be there to back his troops, far back. It was the obligation of the resident foot soldiers to be cannon fodder while they did his dirty work at the DRIC meetings:
- We're here today to arm you
- Go fight for your neighbourhoods and residences
- you tell them how you feel
- When you go to those meetings next week
- residents must be willing to mobilize into neighbourhood lobby groups
Do you think that I’m over emphasizing the word “You.” I am not. Again read the Star Editorial”
- “he [Eddie] clearly wanted to school the crowd so people would be able to respond to any DRIC suggestions and statements the city feels are inaccurate.”
How apt a description. Just like with Councillors, there is Professor Eddie teaching the lessons to the school children. The crowd is to respond not Eddie. He cannot be blamed if the Province pulls the plug on the DRIC road. It would be YOUR FAULT, dear reader, because YOU corrected their inaccuracies not HIM.
Eddie prefers from my experience that others be front and centre when the going gets tough. That is NOT how the leadership of STOPDRTP acted. We were there with our supporters on the picket lines, hammering in signs in the middle of winter, going around getting letters signed by residents so that we could inundate the Government.
Eddie had his chance to be successful and he did not act. STOPDRTP was able to mobilize the community at election time to ensure that politicians supported our position. We made sure that the Senior Level politicians understood what would happen to them if they did not support the residents of this City. They understood loud and clear.
Our Mayor could have pressured Sandra Pupatello. Instead, he endorsed her. The East End of the City was his base for electoral support. That is where Dwight ran as well. Did you ever see a story about him going out and forcing Dwight Duncan to capitulate during the last Provincial election? Why not? Why didn’t he force these Provincial politicians in the last election to do what he wanted as Mayor of Windsor. Don’t you think that they would have been concerned about their positions if he was going to lead the charge against them?
Where the Mayor was invisible during the Provincial election, the leadership of STOPDRTP was not when we had the opportunity.
The part that I find very interesting in all of this when you read the Star stories is how singularly unsuccessful the Mayor has been. Look at the Saturday meeting story. Out of the hundreds of people who attended:
- “Following Saturday's meeting, several residents said they were on board.”
Once you get past the first paragraphs of the Star's story about all of the angry people who were in attendance at the DRIC meeting, you read:
- “A handful got into heated discussions with DRIC leaders.”
I remember when I first met our Mayor when he was still a Councillor and supposedly had not yet made a decision whether he was going to run for Mayor or not. I think he knew then but he never shared the information with the small group of people that he spoke with that afternoon.
He had been invited over just to explain the background of the border file. It was a way that we could be brought up to speed very quickly. He astounded me by telling me that he thought that the border matter would be over within a few months. He told me that if he ran for Mayor that he did not want it to be the focus of his Mayoralty. There were other issues that he was more concerned about dealing with.
I knew then, and told him so, that he was wrong and that the border file would never be that simple. I knew it would consume him and it has.
I thought about that episode as I am writing this BLOG. I still do not believe that his heart is in the fight the way it was for those of us in STOPDRTP. Oh sure, when he became Mayor he understood the significance of the file and the importance that it had for Windsor. Certainly, he has worked hard to try to achieve what he thinks is the answer, whatever that might be.
Contrary to what you may believe, my comment was not meant to be cynical. His problem in my opinion is that he has never trusted the Community and accordingly has never really shared with us what he hoped to achieve. He has never really been able to get us on his side emotionally. It has all been smoke and mirrors and presentations and scare tactics. We have never been his ally in my opinion but rather just a pawn in his game to be used as required. The Saturday meeting is a classic example of that.
We really are no further ahead now than we were years ago. His fight with the Ambassador Bridge Company makes no sense when that Company has to be dealt with before we will get a final border solution. His stalling is obvious but for what purpose. Do we really know? His phony dispute with the Senior Levels over Greenlink and the DRIC road has gone on way too long such that the project might die in the end because of the economic meltdown. Even P3 companies may not be able or willing to participate.
I remember being asked on many occasions how many members STOPDRTP had. My answer was that I never knew. We were not an organization that had members with a membership list and membership dues so that we could keep count. We never intended to be around for very long time. We were people who were interested in protecting our City and did so. People knew exactly what we stood for and what we were trying to achieve. They participated with us as equals IE people trying to save their homes. When we called upon them, they responded. We never asked of them what we ourselves were not prepared to deliver.
That was the secret behind STOPDRTP and the reason for its huge success. It is a shame that our Mayor was never able to capitalize on what our group was able to achieve for him and his Councils. Now you know the answer to the question.