Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, February 01, 2008

Saving Private Dilkens

Sure, sure, sure, someone will say that the Star will make the excuse that the difference between the online story and the published story is because the Star ran out of space.


The Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget should understand now that the Star has no interest in him becoming Mayor. Even taking the hit for the Mayor on the arena file won't help him.

Obviously Dave Cooke is the leading candidate in the "Anybody But Bill" camp right now but just in case he decides not to run for Mayor or stumbles, the Star needs a back-up, someone else to rally behind. Right now that person is the rookie Councillor, Drew Dilkens.

The Councillor needs to ensure that he does not overexpose himself by being in the media too much since saying the wrong thing could be fatal even though the next election is three years away. He's in the paper again on the Zalev story with his picture too! People have long memories. Just ask the people around Superior Park what they would think of a certain person who might decide to run for office in the next election.

He may be popular right now because he introduced the Motion with respect to more openness at City Council and wanted to please his constituents by trying to end truck traffic on Dougall Avenue but that does not mean that he will always be the people's favourite. Moreover, hitching himself to the Mayor's ridiculous war over the Greenlink scheme that is doomed to failure may not be the smartest move politically either.

I'm happy to see that I am not the only one to understand this, look at that the two Star stories and try and find the name of Dilkens in the published version. Drew was saved, this time:
  • City to launch ad campaign to get GreenLink support
    (Online version)
    Dave Battagello, The Windsor Star, Published: Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Expect to see billboards, flyers, direct mailing and other forms of advertising from the city, urging residents to express their support for GreenLink, the city's preferred $1.6-billion border plan.

The city is launching this grassroots lobbying campaign just two months before final recommendations are released by a binational government team on locations for a new border crossing, plazas and roads.

"The question is simple -- do people want to see a cheap DRIC solution or better solution in GreenLink," said Mayor Eddie Francis. He said it's vital for citizens to express what they want -- the GreenLink plan that offers more truck tunneling and parkland on the border route to a new crossing, or the plan touted by the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) team.

"We know there is border fatigue, but we need to ensure the public is vocal on this," the mayor said. "Otherwise we will get a cheap solution we don't want."
People's lives are impacted by these diesel fumes, he said. "All we want is a solution that improves our quality of life."

One of the DRIC team's recommendations will address how the Huron Church Road-Talbot Road corridor will be improved to allow for improved access for international trucks and traffic to reach the border.

Provincial government officials from DRIC released a plan last summer that shows 25 per cent of the corridor should be tunneled to alleviate impact from diesel truck emissions, while the city's hired expert Sam Schwartz delivered the GreenLink plan that calls for 66 per cent of the route to be covered.

"We are trying to ensure the solution is going to be the right one and in the best interest of Windsor," said Coun. Fulvio Valentinis.

"There are all kinds of mixed messages out there and misleading messages. The city is seen as an obstacle, so that's why it's important to get our message out there on what we are trying to do.

"We have concrete solutions, analysis, technical information, so there is no reason not to go forward (on GreenLink)."

Dave Wake, program manager for DRIC, was unavailable Wednesday for comment.

"We are at the 11th hour," said Coun. Drew Dilkens. "There is no more important time to get involved than now. The people who came up to me at the grocery store or on the street saying 'We love the plan,' we need for them to speak up."

He expects provincial government officials to counter with information on the DRIC and GreenLink plans designed to confuse local residents about which plan they should support.

"It's quite clear GreenLink is separate from the DRIC plan," Dilkens said. "It's necessary to continue full force to make sure everyone understands how (GreenLink) will benefit our quality of life for the next 100 years."

Residents should not be overly concerned about added costs of the GreenLink publicity campaign, given how city expenditures on legal and consultant fees on the border are already approaching $4 million.

"To skimp out at this point would be terrible waste of the investment we already made," Dilkens said. "This campaign is not open chequebook, but we are reaching to residents to make sure they are informed and we have their support."

  • City touts border plan
    (Published version)
    Dave Battagello, Windsor Star Published: Thursday, January 31, 2008

Expect to see billboards, flyers, direct mailing and other forms of advertising urging residents to express their support for GreenLink, the city's $1.6-billion border plan.

The city is launching the grassroots lobbying campaign just two months before final recommendations are released by a binational government team on locations for a new border crossing, plazas and roads.

"The question is simple -- do people want to see a cheap DRIC solution or a better solution in GreenLink," said Mayor Eddie Francis. He said it's vital for citizens to express what they want -- the GreenLink plan that offers more truck tunnelling and parkland on the border route to a new crossing, or the plan touted by the Detroit River International Crossing team.

"We know there is border fatigue, but we need to ensure the public is vocal on this," the mayor said. "Otherwise we will get a cheap solution we don't want."
Residents near the border route are affected by diesel fumes, he said. "All we want is a solution that improves our quality of life."

One of the DRIC team's recommendations will address how the Huron Church Road-Talbot Road corridor will be improved to allow for improved access for international trucks and traffic to reach the border.

Provincial government officials from DRIC released a plan last summer that shows 25 per cent of the corridor should be tunnelled to alleviate impact from diesel truck emissions.

The GreenLink plan delivered by the city's traffic expert Sam Schwartz calls for 66 per cent of the route to be covered.

"We are trying to ensure the solution is going to be the right one and in the best interest of Windsor," said Coun. Fulvio Valentinis.

Three Little Words

It was a vicious mean-spirited column. And yet some dare condemn Bloggers for being negative or being similar to "American style attack-ads" Rubbish!

The Windsor Star is the major media outlet in this region. As such, I believe it has an obligation to its readers to ensure balance in its new stories and fairness in its opinion columns and Editorials as well.

That is not to say that the Star and its columnists are not entitled to have an opinion that differs from its readership. Of course opinions should be allowed to be expressed to present a different point of view. The Ontario Press Council says that opinions are entilted to a "wide latitude." I would expect that. But when it does present an opinion, especially if it is controversial, the Star should at least ensure that the comments are reasonable and not unnecessarily hurtful before they are published. It should ensure that a fair conclusion can be drawn from the stated facts.

It seems that the Star's Editor may actually care what his readers think. After all, without readership, the ad revenues would decline. Something must have happened with the Kwame coverage for him to write a Column about why the Star printed so many stories about the incident as it did. Was someone afraid of offending a powerful person? Did the Editor have to placate somebody who was outraged and did he feel the need to try to pacify that person or group by justifying what they did:
  • "At morning news meetings, editors asked themselves, Is this our story? Do readers care? If our mandate is to deliver outstanding local coverage, is Detroit local enough?"

I would respectfully suggest to Mr. Beneteau that instead of looking at stories from across the river, he ought to check his own newspaper to see how Windsor is covered. If he does that, then he ought to insist that his columnist, Gord Henderson, and whoever approved his column for publication, should offer an apology for the disgraceful column that was allowed to be published in the Star yesterday. It was despicable as far as I am concerned.

It is a shame that readers' comments were not allowed to be made at the end of the Henderson column. You see the Star Editor learns

  • "reader appetites by monitoring page views on, and by the volume of responses to poll questions and Sound Offs."

He would have had his eyes opened had he done so in my opinion.

Henderson's column really had nothing to do with the University. That was the excuse for Henderson to write his attack. What was the column really all about? It is very simple, these three little words:


Those three little words were capitalized, right smack in the middle of a column so they stand out clearly for everyone to see. I suspect that someone else at the Star was responsible for that insertion but it clearly shows that this person understood what this column was all about as well doesn't it. The column was nothing more than an attack on those people whom Henderson believes have prevented our Mayor from achieving whatever results Henderson had hoped that he would have achieved by now. They have prevented Eddie from being a political Superstar and are slowing down whatever career goals he set out for himself when he first ran for Mayor.

It is hardly earth shattering news to say that Henderson is probably Eddie's biggest media booster. There is no doubt that Henderson supports Eddie for all the reasons that he has pointed out in his columns starting even before Eddie ran for Mayor. I believe, as Henderson told me years ago, that Gord is still of the view that Eddie is all that we have to fight for us against the "enemies." That may well colour Henderson's view of Eddie.

It appears, with some few exceptions, that Eddie can do no wrong in Gord's eyes. Good luck to Gord on that; he is entitled to his viewpoint as I am entitled to mine. However, in my opinion, this column went too far. This column in my opinion is really Gord lashing out at certain individuals for not allowing Eddie to achieve Gord's vision of greatness for him.

The vote at the University is nothing more than an excuse. How hypocritical it was for Henderson to write about behind closed door meetings at the University. I don't recall seeing an open door meeting of the City Council about the commitment to spend $30-40M of our tax money for the University either. Who were the 8 who voted in favour of whatever it was that Council approved since we still do not know officially and who were the 2 opposed? Didn't Gord want to know that? Make a slight change in what Gord wrote in his column and you would see this:

  • "I guess we'll never know for sure, given that this publicly funded institution's [City Council] made the most critical site decision in decades behind closed doors."

Who was the Chair of the City Council meeting that allowed the in camera session? Why didn't Gord condemn him for his actions?

The column was nothing more than attacking people who have contributed to Windsor in order to save Eddie's neck. He attacked people to hide that Eddie failed again as a business person to complete a deal. He wanted to attack people so that everyone will not learn that Eddie has no interest in the Western Super Anchor site, while pretending he does, as he allows the "new" downtown to be created eastward to the Casino area. He attacked so Windsorites would not focus on how absurd the Mayor's offer to the University was.

He first went after Tom Burton, deputy mayor of Tecumseh. He was not the real targt was he? The real target was Gary McNamara, the Mayor of "a town that's in a take-no-prisoners war with Windsor." So much for City-County co-operation on anything.

Wasn't it McNamara who almost took away the arena right from under Eddie's nose? What if the arena goes over-budget or is a financial flop? How many private suites have been leased out so far, how much did it cost to construct and fit them out and where are the costs shown as just one example. It wasn't supposed to be built now anyway if you remember the Administration Report. It was still to be studied but for the Project Ice Track move to Tecumseh. No wonder Henderson has set up the Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget to take the fall.

Isn't it also McNamara who wants Manning Road to be constructed. He can't afford to wait while our Mayor dithers and delays and stalls. He is ruining whatever plan that the Mayor has which he refuses to tell anyone with respect to the border and the border road.

The next victim is Dennis DesRosiers. I wonder whether Dennis will cut off the reporters from the Star and their sister newspapers again after this attack. He should and force Henderson to write another column in which he is forced to grovel. I guess neither Eddie nor Gord can forgive the fact that Dennis was hired by the ex-Mayor to help develop auto policy for the City. If the Mayor actually had one, perhaps I could understand the animosity, but then again the whole idea behind the Engineering Complex is one that Dennis has promoted for years. Imagine the University listened to him and not to our Mayor. Isn't Dennis allowed to express his opinion about Windsor, his hometown, and its leadership in speeches to local groups now?

Thank goodness that Henderson brought in the son of the owner of the Ambassador Bridge. What would a column like this be like without making the Bridge Company the enemy. Just because Matt happens to be around Eddie's age and has the skill and training to be responsible for helping to run a multibillion-dollar organization is no reason to be jealous of him. It is not his fault that he has the ability to complete a business transaction in a timely fashion and make a profit on the deal. It is not his fault that his father's company has been able to figure out how to solve the border problems at their Bridge while the Mayor's Tunnel business is dropping like a stone. It is not his fault that the Mayor tried to become the Border Czar by trying to take over the Detroit half of the Tunnel, by trying to improve the Tunnel plaza and finally by trying to control the border road and failed miserably in all of these matters.

And then finally to bring in Tony Toldo! What an insult! He is not a member of the Board. He didn't have a vote. All he did was contribute some money for the construction of a building that was named after him. And for that Henderson insults him. Yes it is a shame that Toldo decided to go Tecumseh with his project thereby forcing Eddie's hand and yes Toldo did sponsor a luncheon for the leading business people in the region to help make this area prosper rather than feed Gazelles, but is that the reason to try to discredit the man.

I am surprised however that whining, nay-saying, negative, anti-Windsor Bloggers were not included in the list. What a letdown.

I cannot believe to the depths to which Henderson would sink.

Henderson knows as well as I do that the arena sucked all the cash out of Windsor. He wrote in fact "city contribute $25 million over a number of years, beginning in 2010." Wasn't the arena to be paid off by then so that is the first time that money might be available? 2010....isn't Eddie leaving office in that year too since he dare not run now for a third term? The University could never accept that deal. I'm sure that the Board Members remember the Hurst letter! Gord also knows whose land would have had to be expropriated as well for the Engineering Complex to go downtown.

Eddie had all the time in the world to negotiate a deal with the University since last year and did not do so. He never even got his colleagues onside.

In case you, dear reader, missed it, I am reposting what Councillor Halberstadt had to say had to say about the University transaction:

  • Written by Alan Halberstadt
    Saturday, 26 January 2008
    There are people who like to leave the impression that City Council is united on just about everything of greater importance than an alley closing. This could not be further from the truth, nor should it be in a democratic society.

    For instance, no-one from the media ever asked me my opinion on the wisdom of the University of Windsor’s new engineering complex locating downtown. These deliberations were held behind closed doors on the grounds that city land and possible expropriation of surrounding private lands were up for discussion.

    On January 25, at an in camera meeting, Mayor Eddie Francis received approval from City Council, in an 8-2 vote, to concoct a business case to offer free city land, $25-million in cash, plus expropriation costs, to convince the University of Windsor to build its new $110,000,000 engineering school on the western anchor site.

    Two days later, details of this closed meeting were leaked all over the pages of the Windsor Star in the wake of a January 26 decision by the university board of governors to reject the downtown site and locate the new faculty on campus.

    Columnist Gord Henderson told us that Mayor Francis was to come back to Council in three weeks with a business plan, a rapid timeline I do not recall being pinpointed to Councillors.

    I am not sure what the mayor communicated to university President Ross Paul regarding Council’s closed-door decision prior to the board of governors meeting. As one of the two Councillors who opposed the resolution, it offends me that it is now taken for granted that Council gave the green light on the $40-million package.

    In fact, all the Council majority did was to give the mayor permission to develop a business plan. Once that came back, I would certainly presume that it would be vetted in full public view, including details of the obvious hit to the property tax base, the city’s financial plan and the much-acclaimed debt-reduction policy.

    In my view, the university governors saved Councillors much stress and teeth gnashing by deciding to build on their own land."

I'm sorry for Mr. Henderson in his view of the world. It is a shame that he has to attack people who have contributed to our region in such a hurtful fashion because the Mayor has failed. It is a shame that he cannot recognize the flaws in the Mayor that have contributed to his failures and point them out as one would have expected a columnist in his position to do. How he can draw his conclusions about the University vote from the facts that have been disclosed to date I do not understand.

Three little words. "Foe of Francis." Isn't that what it is all about?

I don't care what Henderson's position is frankly on anything. It is his opinion and he is entitled to it. However, when the leading columnist of the major newspaper in town writes a column such as this, it is the duty of the Editor of a Newspaper to take action. It will be interesting to see if Mr. Beneteau has the nerve to write an Opinion justifying this column.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

More Thoughts

It has been a busy few days. So much to write about. Here are just a few more things, some quite surprising, that I was thinking of that I thought you might find of interest


Obviously, someone thought they were being very clever. The double entendre I'm sure was considered brilliant. If that is the case, I might be persuaded that there is a need for proper public relations department within the City, one that understands their public. Think I am overreacting, take a look at this from the City's newsroom. If you don't understand it...just watch out for the warm fuzzies.
  • "Eat My Valentine!
    What better way to say I love you than with chocolates and a card... that you create! Mackenzie Hall offers Eat My Valentine, a one-night program to create delicious sweets.

    Let artist Pina Bernardi show you how to make hand moulded chocolates and a card so unique and filled with warm fuzzies, your favourite person’s heart will melt.

    Eat My Valentine is offered on Feb. 7 from 6 – 9 pm. Cost is only $54 including all materials. Call 519-255-7600 to register, or register online at"
This is a job for Councillor Postma. As a wife and mother and one who attacked that sign on Huron Church Road on behalf of her constituents, she should demand that the name of the program be changed immediately especially since it is taking place on City property and in her Ward.


Now that the final peace talks have ended and war has been declared by the City of Windsor, and against everyone, I wanted to set out for you in full transcripts involving both the Mayor and Councillor Lewenza to show you why any kind a resolution was virtually impossible.

Unfortunately I can't type that quickly. There was no way that someone with my poor typing skills, even with using Dictation software, could ever possibly type the number of words that those two gentlemen used in a very short period of time. Let me therefore set out some of their comments so that you will understand how productive the meeting could not be on Saturday between the Mayor of Windsor, the Mayors of various other local governments and our MPPs.

Eddie on CKLW:
  • "Everyone said that they didn't want it. So to have this meeting right now whereby they are going to attempt to gang up on the City of Windsor... and beat up on the City of Windsor to accept the cheap solution and accept EC Row. So if this is a meeting where that is the intent .... we are not going to sell out the city."

  • "This Community has been held hostage to the border file for some time...It is time to get moving."

  • "I hope this is not going to be a situation where they believe they are going to get everybody to gang up on Windsor because Tecumseh, Lasalle and the County of Essex think it is the right thing, that the City of Windsor is going to surrender and put trucks onto EC Row."

  • "But the infrastructure doesn't carve through their Community...It builds a wall through this City."

  • "We have a better plan. Don't you think that you would, that the residents of this region deserve a better plan? Why settle? Why settle?"

  • "I promise you and on behalf of myself and members of City Council, we are not going to sell out this Community."
There is Eddie as the poor victim but still our champion, our martyr. Pssst, don't tell him though that trucks have been using the exiting corridor since 1929 and was there before the City was allowed to be built up around it. So much for the carving argument. People bought hones knowing they lived next to the truck corridor didn't they after the City approved the subdivisions being built. From the guy who is responsible for stalling the border wrote solution for years, the desire to act immediately rings hollow.

You see it's Eddie's better way and his highway!

Then there is Eddie's pitbull. The guy who can shoot off his mouth to get Eddie's point across and then can be disowned by the Mayor when he becomes an embarrassment. Wasn't that called "plausible deniability."
  • "Melanie: Now you are claiming that some of our neighbouring municipalities have been bought by the province. What do you mean by that?
    Ken: Well I think that is pretty obvious"

  • "I find it awfully frightening that the time we were launching GreenLink...that both Tecumseh and Lasalle consistently came out speaking in opposition and also come out supporting DRIC...the province can come in and just pay for some of their projects that they currently don't have the money for."

  • "we have had a lot of discussions with DRIC and there has been a lot of questions going back and forth and I can just tell you that it is not a very healthy environment of discussion and that's all that I can say."

  • "Sam deals in the world of, you know, practical, sensible and common-sense practices."

  • "it is very interesting that a lot of things that we have somewhat predicted - I can assure you that I strongly believe that that happened. That's what I predict" [I told you that a psychic was a City consultant now!]

  • "I have no doubt that this is a set up where they are going to tell Mayor Francis, you know how this is going to unwind, which again won't be in the city's best interests. It is very predictable."

  • "I think he [Dwight] needs to check his address and find out where he lives"

  • "they keep ramming a solution down our throats."
You see, dear reader, if you do not agree with Kennie, then you are "bought" or the discussion is not healthy or it's a set-up. If money is the criteria, then was Windsor bought when the City received a $4M grant for its arena?

As for practical Sam, he has given us THINK BIG, the Champs Elysee, the Garden of Eden and "we're writing the guidebook here in Windsor on sustainable highways."

I keep calling Kennie Eddie's pitbull. That is a mistake. If he was one, he would have to be muzzled!


Still waiting and waiting and waiting. For all of the money spent to send 2 people to Europe, you'd think we would have heard something by now!

Oh, by the way, do you think there will be a press release issued if the Mayor has to go to Mexico to try to get more Mexicana flights to land in Windsor? Will he go through YQG?


I wonder if DRTP has told SEMCOG what happened on this side of the river about their rail tunnel. Here is why I ask:

  • SEMCOG invites public comment on amendment to the
    2030 Regional Transportation Plan for Southeast Michigan

    SEMCOG, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments, announces the public comment period for projects being considered for amendment to the long-range 2030 Regional Transportation Plan for Southeast Michigan (RTP).

    Three projects are proposed to be added to the RTP:
    Detroit River Rail Tunnel, construct replacement rail tunnel between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario (Wayne County)

    Detroit River Tunnel (ID #4425)
    The Detroit River Tunnel Partnership (DRTP) is proposing to construct a replacement rail tunnel between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. The existing tunnel is approaching 100 years of age and cannot accommodate all modern sizes of rail cars used to transport freight between the U.S. and Canada. The new tunnel would be constructed immediately adjacent to the existing tunnel and would accommodate double-stacked container cars and high-capacity Auto-Max cars, which would enhance economical freight shipping in the region. The total cost of the tunnel is $358.5 million, to be funded privately. The U.S. portion of the cost totals $172.8 million.
I assume that the City will retain Mr. Estrin to oppose this project the same way that they opposed the Bridge Company's project when he ran to Cleveland and the Close Guard hearing.


I am trying to control the market in Branding Irons. In case you did not know, a branding iron is a tool used by Cowboys "that is heated and used for indicating identity or ownership."

I think that there will be a big need for them so that brands can be put on all kinds of merchandise, publications, letterheads, business cards, brochures and so on, not just on cows. Councillor Halberstadt warned us that the City wants to spend $900,000 on branding itself. That got me all excited until I saw this note and I decided that I'm going to corner the market and become filthy rich:
  • “Our efforts are focused on building the Ontario brand in India, and helping Ontario companies bring their innovation and competitiveness to the lucrative Indian market,” said Pupatello."
You got it right. Our Sandra said this in a press release which she issued recently with respect to her trip to India "leading a business mission of 12 automotive parts firms at the Delhi region’s largest Auto Expo."


That was the Company that Sam brought in to be the consultant on the Greenlink Schwunnels. They must be thrilled with their lawsuit settlement:
  • "Big Dig Lawsuit Settled for $400 Million
BOSTON (AP) — Contractors who worked on the long-troubled Big Dig highway project have agreed to pay more than $400 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the state over a fatal tunnel ceiling collapse and to cover the costs of leaks and design flaws.

Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff, the consortium that oversaw design and construction of the nation's costliest public works project, has agreed to pay $407 million, while several smaller companies will pay about $51 million collectively, U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan said in announcing the deal.

Under the agreement, Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff would not face criminal charges in the July 2006 Interstate 90 tunnel ceiling collapse that killed Milena Del Valle, 39, of Boston. She was crushed by 26 tons of concrete as she and her husband drove to Logan International Airport. "

Fisking A Star Editorial

I'm sure you remember when one of the Star writers called me a "Fisker" in one of his BLOGs. A fisk if you have forgotten is
  • "A point-by-point refutation of a blog entry or (especially) news story. A really stylish fisking is witty, logical, sarcastic and ruthlessly factual."

Of course, my BLOGs are very stylish and fit this category perfectly wouldn't you agree.

The Star's Saturday Editorial was so bad that it called on me to fisk it. I had no choice. I wonder who wrote it. It didn't seem in the style of the usual Star Editorial, more along the lines of a Guest Column.

I'm still trying to figure out its timing since there really doesn't seem to be too much on the horizon calling the need for it. I thought that it might have something to do with the MPPs/Mayor's meeting but that seemed a stretch since it was so anti-Ambassador Bridge rather than dealing with roads. I had not heard that the DRIC report was coming out soon so that didn't seem to be the need for it. It did not seem that the Bridge Company's Enhancement Project Environmental Assessment was ready to be approved by the Federal Government so that was out. The only thing that I thought the Editorial was about was to teach Dave Cooke that if he wanted to be in Mayor of Windsor he had better follow the Star's party line or else. Even that didn't seem to make too much sense yet.

By the way, if Dave thinks I am kidding why he need only read Henderson's Thursday column. I cannot believe how ridiculous one man can be with his animosity to the Bridge Company owners. Did you know that one of the reasons that Eddie lost, according to Gord was:

  • "what if other board members, mindful of the bridge company's high-stakes standoff with city hall over plans for a second bridge, became nervous about choosing sides in entering a big-dollar partnership with the city? Could ... have worried unduly about alienating their bridge partner."

I'll give you a little secret if you want to save some time. The Editorial is complete nonsense. Don't read it and don't read my comments. Just go right to the bottom of the BLOG and read the last paragraph of the Editorial and my comment on that.

For those of you who are glutton for punishment, here is the Star Editorial and my comments:

"The reason residents of this community aren't more frustrated with government inaction on the border file is because most of us have learned to avoid the big rigs accessing the Ambassador Bridge via Huron Church Road. We read stories about congestion and pollution and the need for a dedicated truck route to a new border crossing but, unless we live in the corridor or are forced to travel through it, those issues have no real impact on our lives. For most of us, the problem is out of sight and out of mind.

[No, the real reason residents are not more frustrated with government is that the Ambassador Bridge Company has solved the problems of Huron Church Road, as most people will admit, by their actions. The opening of four tollbooths at a fraction of the cost of the Eddie/Schwartz Horseshoe road eliminated most of the Customs truck backups.

The Bridge Company has continually been opening up new booths on both sides of the border. The opening up of processing centers, especially one on the US side, has meant that the number of trucks going into secondary inspection has been reduced to a handful per day thereby eliminating the need for a huge Customs Plaza.

The issue of Huron Church Road, as the Star Editor wrote some time ago, is the speed of trucks going on that road. One can hardly say that there is congestion if the Star Editor talks about speeding.

The Bridge Company is its own worst enemy. By acting responsibly in keeping with the border running smoothly it has allowed the Governments at all levels on both sides of the river to dither and delay. It is ironic that by succeeding in being the best border operator in North America it has hurt itself with Governments who are trying to destroy them by taking away their business]

That's why it is difficult for many to understand the opposition of Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis and council to the Ambassador Bridge's enhancement project -- a billion-dollar project that would help ease border congestion and create jobs in a recessed local economy that needs every job it can get. What's not to like about that?

[That is the point that mystifies everybody. It is very interesting to me that the issue of jobs has only been raised recently, including by Minister of Finance Duncan, while the obvious need for a properly running border crossing with thousands of infrastructure jobs being created has been apparent for years.]

For residents of west Windsor, which includes historic Sandwich and the university, the answer is obvious. The footprint of a new span, to be built next to the existing one, would be significant and affect the quality of neighbourhoods and lives. If both bridges ever became operational, the possibility exists for 10 lanes of traffic.

[I am sorry but I do not understand this point. What "significant" footprint? The Enhancement Project Bridge does not require 100-120 acres of land that DRIC said it does. That was a deliberate scare tactic to create opposition to the Bridge Company in Sandwich. The new bridge would fit in within the existing Plazas on both sides of the river as that Star well knows. Again, the Star tries to stir up controversy by talking about 10 lanes of traffic on the bridge, and not on City streets, when the Bridge Company has said that the old bridge would be redundant and only used for limited purposes.]

There are serious environmental concerns with that kind of traffic flowing through the heart of a city and it is distressing to hear claims the Ambassador Bridge is freezing Windsor out of the environmental assessment process. It was also distressing to learn the Ontario government could order a stringent provincial EA but has failed to do so. Local cabinet ministers Dwight Duncan and Sandra Pupatello should ensure one is ordered.

[I did not know that Huron Church Road was the centre of Windsor. I thought that Sandwich was in the West end. Oh please, freezing out the City. You mean the City Council gave the Bridge Company a whole 10 minutes to present their billion-dollar proposal while of allowing their consultants to speak for hours on a road that will never be built. The Bridge Company is complying with the Federal Environmental Assessment Act for heaven sakes. Did the Star forget already what the Bridge Company's President said about these allegations and how wrong they were? I think that the Star should talk to their champion, NDP MP Brian Masse about what his support to Bill C-3 did to a Provincial EA]

But a bigger problem is that the bridge's enhancement project could change the business case for building a third crossing downriver, away from built-up areas. It could also change the business case for constructing a dedicated truck route like GreenLink, which would likely please Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, who appears to favour E.C. Row as the next Huron Church Road.

[The business case for a third crossing... there is none. A third crossing would be a total financial disaster and would bankrupt all of the crossings in southwest Ontario because the traffic volumes are not there as a Star Headline quoted a few weeks ago. In fact traffic is below that of the year of 9/11. Even the Federal Transport Minister has admitted that as have MDOT. The Ambassador Gateway project alone even without a new crossing can handle almost 2 million more trucks that are actually crossing the border now.

The Star editorial is absolutely deceptive with respect to Greenlink. The Greenlink is nothing more than the DRIC road with a few extra Schwunnels that is based on the city's own WALTS proposal. In fact, the Ambassador Bridge Company proved years before that this approach would work to link communities while at the same time allowing for traffic flow and all that has been done is that Schwartz has proven them correct.

As far as EC Row being the new Huron Church, the Star knows that DRIC could not change in midstream or else it would have to an entirely new EA. In fact, Windsorites should encourage the upgrading and reconstruction of the Expressway so that the Senior Levels pay for it rather than us and our taxes. At best, it would be be redundant road to the Enhancement Project bridge if there was a problem.]

The senior levels of government say they are committed to a third crossing in a location that will be announced by a binational group this spring. But the reality is everything changes, likely for the worse, should the Ambassador Bridge take advantage of bureaucratic dithering and follow through on plans to begin constructing a span this fall.

[The reality is that the Senior Levels need to meet with the Ambassador Bridge to try and resolve the issue in the best interests of all the parties and the region. There is no point trying to ignore the bridge that is there now. It is not going anywhere. The Bridge Company has for the last decade been planning to upgrade their crossing. No one has said that they should not do it until the Governments decided that it was somehow in their interest to put the Bridge company out of business. If it was your business would you knuckle under? I'm glad to see that the Star has acknowledged the work will finally be done on the new crossing by the private proponent at its expense this fall]

The possibility exists the enhancement project would derail plans for a third crossing and a dedicated truck route linking it to Highway 401. Trucks would continue rumbling through the city like they have always done and this community would be ill prepared to meet the transportation challenges of the future.

[The Star is mixing apples and oranges. The WALTS/DRIC/Greenlink road can lead to both crossings. The same argument would apply to a new bridge since it only would be located about a mile away from the existing bridge. A new road, something similar to what the Ambassador Bridge proved can be built years ago, would remove trucks from city streets whether a truck would be going to a DRIC bridge or to an enhanced Ambassador Bridge. Unfortunately, the Star has forgotten that 30 to 40% of the trucks that cross the bridge today are "local" international trucks that are essential to our economy. Like it or not, they are going to continue to use City streets because they have to do so in order to serve local industry. No one has ever objected to that and in fact, Council has never opposed their use of the Expressway. If there is a good new road to the crossing, international trucks are going to take it and will not need to go through city streets.]

A new crossing located well west of the bridge is essential to preserve communities and to ensure redundancy in the event of natural disasters or terrorist attacks. It is also essential the crossing be publicly owned. Allowing one company to set tolls and control border access at the nexus of the North American economy seems neither wise nor reasonable. A downriver bridge would provide planners a fresh start to get right all the things that went wrong with Huron Church. They could build a dedicated truck route that facilitates cross-border commerce while creating greenspace.

[Get real about redundancy. If a bridge and Tunnel in Windsor are going to be targetted so will a bridge a mile away. As far as redundancy goes, the old bridge will provide redundancy as well the Tunnel and the Blue Water Bridge. The Star Editor certainly does not understand transportation in southwest Ontario. As far as public crossings go, just listen to the the Star's hero, Sam Schwartz on the NBC Today show. Sam said that "government officials should be taking care of these bridges...we neglected our infrastructure. We didn’t do the very basic things...That’s what we’ve done with our bridges...If you pay a toll, by the way, on a bridge, your bridge is safe. They, they’re taking care of it; they’re doing the daily maintenance."

I just hope the Star recommends that the same people who messed up the Blue Water Bridge which requires a half billion dollar new Plaza and who have not been able to build a bridge in Buffalo for how many years are not involved in some new crossing in our area.

The Editorial is quite disingenuous. What the Governments will do is "own" a DRIC bridge and then turn it over to a private company to run it for probably 99 years just like Highway 407 in Toronto. Financially, since the existing bridge will compete with them, they will go broke because their tolls will be about three times higher than the existing bridge. Or does the Star favor taxpayer subsidization of a private entity? The Star should know was well that generally P3 operators require a monopoly. The last thing that they want is competition because they need to get back the amount of money that they invested and a return on it as well.]

Increasing capacity at the existing bridge before building a downriver span, though, would exacerbate existing problems. Trucks would still use alternate routes -- like Dougall Avenue, E.C. Row, Wyandotte Street and Tecumseh Road -- to access the bridge. And the heavily congested corridor would still divide the city.

[There is no need to increase capacity Mr. Editor and the Enhancement Project bridge does not do so. The existing Ambassador Bridge is only at 50 to 60% capacity and the Ambassador Gateway project without another bridge can handle 2 million more trucks according to the consultant that now works for US DRIC. Can't the Star get it through its head that a new row to the border solves the issue of trucks on City streets or is it your intention to confuse the situation so that no one can understand it?]

While it is true the city's GreenLink plan could lead to the bridge or to the Brighton Beach area, the interests of residents and businesses north of E.C. Row would be much better served by a crossing constructed to the west, away from built-up areas. The best way to ensure a public crossing is constructed that protects this community's interests is to beat the Ambassador Bridge to the punch and get those shovels in the ground with no more delays and dithering.

[Amazing, even the Star picked up on the comment made by the Mayor at Council a few weeks ago which told me that Eddie knew he had lost. The Star knows it now too after Dwight Duncan's outburst saying that "THE MAYOR IS WRONG. THE MAYOR IS WRONG."

Nice to see at the end of the Editorial which most people will not read because it is so excruciatingly long, boring and incorrect that the Star knows what this is all about.

It has nothing to do with the issues that it raised. Those were all red herrings. All the Star wants to do is beat the Ambassador Bridge Company! The purpose of this Editorial is to try to change things. The Star hopes that they can pressure Ontario Transport Minister Bradley who is in the region for the MPPs/Mayors' meeting to convince the Feds to start spending money to beat out the Bridge Company. What a waste of newsprint.]

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Did The Arena Kill The Tunnel Deal

I want the rumour ended right now. Yes I know that our Mayor is a Blackberry user and that he is very adept at multi-tasking by sending and receiving Text messages even when he is in a meeting. Remember when he was annoyed at Councillors with all of their messaging during Council meetings too.

To put your mind at ease, I would doubt that there are thousands of text messages exchanged between the Mayors of Detroit and Windsor. Over the Tunnel deal I mean for heaven's sake! Rest easy Windsor.

However, just the other day I Blogged about the Tunnel Plaza Improvements and also about the deal with Detroit over the US half of the Tunnel.

I had a feeling that both of these projects were dead and not just because of the problems that Kwame has. They were just taking forever to do. I could be wrong but since nothing seems to have gone on with both transactions for such a long period of time, except I would assume paying legal fees and consultants' fees, one has to wonder what is really happening and why the Mayor refuses to tell us.

I wonder if any of the Councillors who are also on the Windsor Tunnel Commission have any idea either. If so, maybe one of them could tell us.

I remember the Treasurer saying at one of the Council meetings when the arena was being discussed that, in effect, that project will suck up most of the City's free cash for the next few years until it is paid off. Perhaps that is why the University was not going to get any money until after 2010 from the City. If so, can it be said that the arena killed the University deal? Who at the University would make a commitment to spend $110 million downtown without absolute assurances that the City was going to pay its share of the funds. The University got burned from the City once before.

2010 is a popular year for money flows. Remember Dwight Duncan's Gong Show performance promise of $500M for the border. It was supposed to come after 2010 too.

I started going through the City's budget documents the other day and to my shock, here's what I found:
  • "Subsequent to the Capital Budget Committee of Council meetings and upon further due diligence, Administration made 3 further revisions to the 5-Year Capital Plan as follows:

    2. The phasing of the Tunnel Plaza Master Plan & Environmental Assessment project."

I don't recall anything in the materials with respect to the EA for the Tunnel dealing with phasing. The City's five-year plan is supposed to accomplish the following:

  • "The proposed plan fully funds the following major projects by no later than 2010:

    o Huron Lodge

    o WFCU Arena & Community Centre

    o Corporate Radios and Related Infrastructure

In passing, in going through the documentation even more, I saw the following which confirms to me how poorly the Tunnel has been managed:

  • "Tunnel Dividend - Due to Reduced Cross-Border Traffic 1,000,000."

Was it just a short time ago when the City said at the Joint Councils Meeting in Detroit that the dividend was $6 million a year. Losing $5 million a year is a disaster for the City budget.

But there was more that suggested to me that the Improvements may never get done. Take a look at this page:

There are no expenses for Improvements in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 as well. Nothing is now budgeted until 2013 or later. If the project is going to cost $30 million today, or rather, back in 2004 when it was agreed to, what will it cost in 2013? Are the Senior Levels going to pay the increased amount after about a 10-year hiatus? The experience in Windsor after 4-5 year delay is a 30% increase in construction costs. What would the increase be in 2013?

We already know that there are issues with respect to the cost of the project. What happens now with respect to the Burger King deal as an example? Will the City buy the property or back out? If the City backs out, does that kill the Top Hat deal? The question I have is who will pay for the Burger King land. If I were a representative of one of the Senior Level Governments, I would tell the City of Windsor that it is all their responsibility because they are the ones who are now saying that the project will be put off in the future at some time. That is not what they signed up to in the 3-party Phase 1 Agreement.

I do not think that the City can afford to pay the expropriation amount on its own these days!

How about the people who have property around the Tunnel? The Duty-Free Shop owners, as an example were said by the Star to own many of the properties around the Tunnel. What happens to them now? Are they in limbo for who knows how long? Would they have an action against the City for effectively putting them out of business because of the delay? Who would become their tenant and put in any kind of improvements in the buildings around the Tunnel not knowing when they might be expropriated? Or not!

Do you believe that the Senior Levels would pay damages if there was a lawsuit by a land owner around the Tunnel or would they stick it to the City?

Does this mean that the US$75M Tunnel deal with Detroit is over too? I must admit that I assumed that the Improvement project was designed to enhance the operations of the Tunnel to make it more attractive for someone to lease the whole Tunnel after Eddie got the US half. I mean it had to be more attractive if the Senior Levels put in $20 million that Eddie could utilize to increase the Lease price. However is that deal dead now too because the Improvements are not going to be made?

This is so confusing. We see Eddie running off to Germany on behalf of YQG and jobs and being thrilled about Mexicana airlines coming to Windsor but we don't see him incorporating a company with respect to the Tunnel, an asset of the City.

I'm rather shocked that the improvements have been put off for so many years. It has to mean that the City does not have the $10 million to finance its part of the three party deal. What other projects will not be done and will they not be done because of the East End arena needing all of our City's money?

If I am right in what I'm saying, then there was no possibility of the University moving downtown based on financing by the City. Any University Board member would have had to have his head examined to go for that kind of a deal. I wonder how St. Clair Board members will feel now since it appears that the City may not have any money to finance a move for them to go into the Western Super Anchor site.

Obviously, we are about to hear a whole bunch of THINK BIG statements about taking over the Zalev site. How are we going to pay for that too?

It seems very clear to me that this City is in poor financial shape because of the Arena transaction. Obviously now, in order to maintain the City's Standard & Poor's rating, this Mayor will be under intense pressure to start selling off or leasing for the long term assets such as Enwin and WUC. Of course, with the financial markets in a turmoil, Eddie's timing is off and the price that we would expect to get will be much lower than if he had acted promptly. That assumes that it makes sense for the City to sell or lease out the Assets in the first place. The gun is to our head, a very bad position to be in when one wants to negotiate a major transaction.

Just remember what Chris Schnurr pointed out: WUC is looking at relining pipes that should last for about 50 years rather than replacing them. The cost of doing so is significantly less. Can you imagine if the assets had been sold or leased to some private equity firm... they would have done the relining and made a ton of money on the transaction at taxpayer and user expense.

I just hope that we do not have a major calamity between now and 2010. The cupboard seems bare.

Sleep Deprivation

Has WAR been declared by our Generalissimo, the Mayor of Windsor, against new enemies? Eddie is already fighting the Ambassador Bridge Co., DRIC, and the Senior Levels. Has he not learned from history that you don't open up a second front? Has he now declared war on the County too?

Hold on, perhaps we need to give Eddie Francis the benefit of the doubt.

I am sure that you saw this comment by Hillary Clinton with respect to the absurd statements that her husband, the former President, has been making during her Presidential campaign:
  • "you know, maybe [he] got a little carried away," she said.

    "But you know, that comes with.. sleep deprivation which, you know, I think is marking all of us."

My recollection is that Eddie said that he was working 18 hours a day as Mayor and now with a little one who may be still keeping him up at night the number of hours of sleep have probably been reduced as well.

How else can one explain these two recent stories in the Windsor Star and make any sense out of what he is doing:

  • Windsorites leaving in droves
    'It's probably 10 to one, people leaving for every one coming in'

  • Mayor unmoved by talks

    Unconvinced that the Ontario government is listening to Windsor when it comes to the border file, Mayor Eddie Francis wants to "mobilize" the community and recruit residents to send a strong message to the province.

    A blitz of billboards, media advertising and direct mail will be used in the campaign."
Didn't we just have a blitz in Windsor for Greenlink? You remember those full-page ads in the Star. The radio spots on CKLW. The Ward meetings. All that was done and the money spent so that the City could present something to the Senior Levels. For my information, although I have not asked recently, nothing was ever presented by the City. Does that mean that Eddie did not get the "overwhelming" support he thought he could get?

And now the Mayor wants to do it all over again. This is craziness.

The sales people whose job it is to get advertisements at the various media outlets ought to be thrilled. With a down Windsor economy, here comes the City to fill in all that empty ad space. The media better learn however to be nice to the Mayor and to keep on having "W's" strapped to their wherevers or else they may not get in on the gravy train respecting advertisements. You don't want to bite the hand that feeds you do you.

So much for the Motion that was passed by Council to try and be nice-nice with the County. Eddie is barely out of the meeting with the MPPs and the County Mayors and now he is starting a war against them. They must be Windsor's new enemy. It is not just an ad campaign that the Mayor is starting but rather:
  • "Mayor Eddie Francis wants to "mobilize" the community and recruit residents to send a strong message to the province.

    A blitz of billboards, media advertising and direct mail will be used in the campaign."
Funny, if Eddie believed so much in what he is saying, why wouldn't he have started the lawsuits he has threatened so many times before. It is because he knows he has no strong legal position. I'm sure that Eddie will not want to be a witness at a trial and to have his files opened for examination. Look at how the Bridge Company's lawyer, Paula Lombardi, walked all over him at the Special Council Meeting. Can you imagine what would it would be like when he was examined on discovery for hours and days and weeks on end by lawyers acting for his "enemies!" It would not be a pretty sight.

He knows that he was completely outmaneuvered by Sandra and Dwight before, and now after, the Provincial election. They don't have to be afraid of him anymore because they will still be in office in 2010 when he leaves the job as Mayor. He has completely lost any leverage over them.

Aren't you tired of hearing about the "cheap" solution of spending $1.6 billion? It does not play well either. Eddie better go out quickly and do some polling because he is still relying on polls that are out of date if he thinks that this message is being accepted by people in Windsor. Or he can just read what people say about him online.

What Windsorites are interested in, and that is confirmed by Dwight Duncan's outburst after he did polling I would think, is JOBS, JOBS, JOBS. The story in the Star, and more interestingly the comments in the Windsor Star Forum on the subject, ought to be a concern to the Mayor and to Council. People are leaving Windsor in droves. We have the highest unemployment in the country. We have no economic development strategy because our Gazelle Feeders took a year to find out that they didn't have any brochures. Eddie went to Germany and came back with nothing after spending thousands of dollars in taxpayer money. Is a trip to Mexico next for him?

Building the road to the bridge and building the Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project will produce between 10 to 15,000 infrastructure and spinoff jobs now. Those jobs are absolutely essential at this time to tide this City over until such time as we can figure out what we want our new economy to be. That project along with the construction of the medical school and the Engineering Complex by the University will help not only the people who are working but the businesses in the City since people have cash to spend in Windsor.

And what do the Windsor Star Editors say about all of this. They attack the University for not going downtown and go after the Ambassador Bridge Company in Editorials. Are they that foolish?

What they should be writing is that this Mayor is incompetent. Read Councillor Halberstadt's BLOG "City Council Not Respected"

The Mayor after all the time that he had to negotiate with the University had not prepared a business case for bringing the University downtown and had not discussed with Council what it is that they were prepared to do financially. How could he then possibly expect the University Board to agree to a downtown campus! The University Board members would have been derelict in their duty if they had listened to the Mayor. Not only was his offer "vague" it was nonexistent!

Eddie does not want a border road solution. I don't know what he wants. If he wanted a solution, he should have accepted the word of two Senior Cabinet Ministers that the road to the border would be completed before the Manning Road project was finished. It certainly would be easy enough to prepare an agreement saying that. Wouldn't that end the issue?

It does not matter what anybody says or what anybody does. Eddie will keep shifting his ground. He has to. He has been boxed in by some of the absurd statements that he's been making over the past few years with respect to the border matter.

Our Expressway is in bad shape and the City has not enough money to maintain it or to upgrade it since it is at capacity. Administration needs money from the Province to fix it up for heavens sake or we could have a calamity with respect to the Expressway bridges. It is their number one priority and a public safety issue as they have said in a Report to Council. Cansult warned us about the problems with respect to the Expressway a long time ago. What has been done to remedy the situation? Perhaps we should take money from the East End arena to fix up our roads.

Insulting the County doesn't make sense. Insulting the Senior Levels who give out grants and who will create infrastructure jobs here doesn't make sense. Insulting the Ambassador Bridge Company which has solved the truck backup issues at its expense and who wants to create thousands of jobs here doesn't make sense.

What makes sense to Eddie is a salvaging the career of Eddie Francis. Eddie is desperate to do something to save his political life before it is shown to be a total failure. He needs to mobilize the troops. He needs to create a brouhaha. He needs the Senior Levels to impose a solution so that he can be our martyr. He needs a way out.

We need to focus our attention now on City Councillors and stop thinking about a Mayor who is so out of touch with citizens.

I cannot help but think of Mayor Mike Hurst in 2003 and compare that situation with Eddie Francis in 2008. Councillors recognized then and should do so now that they have a legal obligation to act in the best interests of citizens of Windsor. They can no longer allow a Mayor to waste money and time to save his legacy. The Senior Levels have an obligation to act as well not only for the good of Windsor but for the good of the Ontario and Canadian economies.

In my opinion City Councillors and the Senior Levels should accommodate the Mayor and take away the border file from him. Let them be seen as decisive by taking action to help protect this City. Eddie can no longer be the Leader And the Voice of Council on the border file.

Eddie needs a long, long rest.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Letters To The BLOGMeister

The tone of the mail I am receiving is becoming much more harsh towards the Mayor and Council. I would like to know how you feel too!

1) I am now firmly convinced that Francis is living in another world, another dimension, the twilight zone!

He is about to embark on a spending spree, at taxpayer's expense to advertise for support of his lost cause, no improvements until Greenlink is approved.

This will be an interesting study in political posturing. When will Geenlink be approved ? If approved when, if ever, will it be built ?

The next two months will, indeed, be very interesting along with the interim control by-law at February end.

2) comes the article about him being the right person at the right time. [Dave Cooke's Windsor Star article] Of course when comments came pouring where "one person" claimed the rumour was that Dave Cooke was going to run for mayor I decided to put my two cents in. Well, when my comments were not posted (negative) I decided to write another comment with a different name (positive) then the comment was published.

My sister was over and told her to read the article and have her own comments (negative) well not only her comments were not published but the whole thing (the comments) dissapeared all together. So what that tells me is that the rumour is probably true.. Pretty clever eh!

3) It appears that [Council] are still hell bent on thwarting the Bridge Company. The delay [on the Interim Control By-law] was a real feather in the caps of all the opposition who turned up. Extremely important was the acceptance of the manipulative timing of the meeting was undemocratic. This is a first! I woke up this morning with a smile on my face and a bounce in my step...I will still be making a presentation when the next meeting is scheduled.

4) Isn't misdirected rage amazing?
I just read the article about Bubi's venting anger at the University.
Too bad their efforts weren't directed at the city. What a shame all that energy is wasted. If they only read your blog to see where to vent the anger maybe Windsor would be better off.

The University made the best possible choice looking at the current situation.
Can you imagine 3 years from now when Windsor would cut them off due to no funds left?
The next Mayor is in for a really rough time.

Still no press release about those jobs from Germany.

5) They will have to expand Zalev to hold all of the scrap deals Eddie has laying around.

6) Good Morning Ed,

I just read the U OF W editorial on Thursday. The Statement

“The arguments against the downtown, as expressed after the board of governors’ meeting, were considerably less than compelling: It might be inconvenient for students. It would mean forgoing a chance to make the university look more attractive to prospective students. It would eliminate the “on-campus” experience.

When I was looking at Universities to look at, ok, 30 years ago, my main concerns were – how does the university looks, how far would I have to go inbetween classes, and was looking forward to meeting tons of like students and mingling on campus. I’m sure that students look at that as well today. These are not “less compelling reasons” These ARE the reasons for students wanting to come here

Now if the city would have shown its support of the downtown area, by putting, say, an arena – where we already had most of the land, and some type of assurance of the urban village – putting the center downtown wouldn’t even need a vote – a no brainer – but since the city won’t help the downtown, why should the U

7) With a $110 million decision on its plate and the advice of almost all outside advisors to stay on-campus the Board did the right thing for the students and the University.

And now by doing the right thing the University is being slammed by a newspaper.

By saying that the facility is worth $40 million to the City if it goes downtown but worth nothing to the City if it is built on campus clearly shows that they viewed this in pure political terms and not what it means for the City and for the University. This facility is worth a lot to the City where ever it is built pure and simple. Maybe more if downtown but it is still the largest single investment in education in the history of Windsor and extremely valuable to the City. And relative to almost all other Universities in Canada the University of Windsor IS downtown. Certainly more downtown than Waterloo, Laurier and Guelph which are the schools being used as sterling examples of the benefits of a downtown vision. These schools took the bribe of money and located facilities downtown under some vague and unproven theory that this is good for the University and each City. A theory that has never been proven in practice and in some case has proven to seriously hurt students and their academic goals. McGill is a good example.

Has education funding come to the point where in order to pay for school infrastructure Universities have to take bribes to fulfill the political agendas of temporary politicians... the University of Windsor Board of Governor's should be proud of their decision to do the right thing.

8) Since the city saved around 35 million on the university, it becomes very apparent
the city has more funds than they know what to do with.*sarcasm inserted here*
I wonder if someone from Ford reads your blog.
They could be knocking on the city's doors looking to save the engine plant.
Where is Mr Lowenza Jr. these days?
Surely he would be a glorious advocate to help save Ken & Buzz's political
future with the union.
35 million is more than enough to save the plant and many feeder jobs.
Nuts, I did it again. Common sense revolution.
That would make a great bumper sticker.............

9) I can't contain my thoughts in just 300 words, [Maximum length allowed in a Star Letter to the Editor]

It's not looking good for Eddie, nor council but it is looking good for the
University of Windsor! I am overjoyed that the university decided to build
the new engineering school ON campus which is still great for this city..not
just for the mare. The Mayor really didn't offer any deal or commitment as
you stated above..just the buzz! Talk about grasping at straws,throwing
caution to wind and gambling with money he didn't have...typical Type A
personality gone wrong. Maybe Fast Eddie can build his own campus
downtown..The School of Denial and Buzzness, with a faculty of neophytes and
foot washers...ah...the majority of city council minus the ones with
backbone (Marra, Halberstadt and Dilkens.) Or maybe a new catherdal..The
Church of Teflon with the doctrine of "I am infallible and can do no wrong,
with the council singing the hynm; "Praise Eddie almighty, he is never
wrong, Praise the wards and screw the gullible."

You're disgusted Ed! I am angry and ashamed to be a resident of this city
NOW. Not in a hundred years plus of my family living in this city, has
anyone one of them ever uttered such a comment. Some even served as city
councillors! Don't they, fast Eddie and the gazelle feeders realize that
they are elected officals in a country that takes pride in the democratic
process, which in one aspect is to be transparent to its citizenry!... this
isn't just your city Eddie!

I think it is time that the province be asked to step in and dismantle this
city council (forget about a recall) and take control while a new mayor and
city council are elected.

10) Very nice job on the critique of the Audit (which appeared to be a recitation of “yeah, what the Mayor said”) as opposed to an legitimate inquiry. You raised the real questions and took them to task for the non specifics, and it was very concise. Nice job

11) The citizens of Windsor got what Eddie and the councillors asked for. No smoking guns, no huge misappropriations, no missed billings, etc. The problem is, why did politics stop raising the rates systematically to deal with future requirements. They could have continued the process of 7-10% increases annually and wouldn't have had the embarassment that was created. Even now, I still don't get why they needed an 80% increase as the money will be coming in faster than they can spend it. Why not 10% increases every year until they are caught up.

12) I just don’t get it, I just returned from a weekend in Chicago where the highways are stacked three high going around and thru the town, with trucks on all of them. Why do the big thinkers in city hall that we should not have traffic on our streets. The people of Windsor have no problem cutting thru the heart of Toronto on there travels with all of the trucks. They seem to have no problem with using all of the highways in Michigan when heading to the airport and the shopping malls. If the people are not aware these highways cut thru every major city, the things that the American know if you build the understructure of highways first the business will follow. I also attended a review of Rahieh North Carolina 2 weekends ago and the work they are doing there is amazing. But they built the highways first and yes right thru the city.

13) Well boo hooo hooo. The belle of the ball didn't get his invitation to the party first.
Everyone's a suspect now in the grand conspiracy. From councillors who are wanting
to take over the Mayoral position to secretive talks on fixing roads.
Hasn't Eddie become a little delusional?
Everyone is closing in on him.
Whoops, wait a minute. Where is the press release on all these jobs he
brought back from Germany?
Or is he hiding the schnitzel again?

14) Is it just me or do you smell a rat as well due to the fact 5 minutes before Council discussion regarding the trucks on Dougall the city only found out about the closing of the interchange from the 401?

15) My gut feeling is that the Fed's are going to let ABC build their bridge and
then pay the city for overpasses and tunnels to get rid of the stop lights
along Huron closed.

Personally I think Eddie is still reeling from his knee-jerk reaction for
having to build the new arena well ahead of the time he really wanted to
build it and the place he didn't want to.

16) It certainly causes me to scratch my head when I read about the Town of Lasalle appealing a Windsor rezoning of commercial (high tax) land in Ojibway, Tecumseh widening a main artery from 401 at their whim due to high traffic volumes, and Lakeshore unable to treat their own water due to overexpansion and poor planning.

This area should have been amalgamated into one regional municipality eons ago. More of the ingredients exist here than all of the other amalgamated regions combined !

Our taxes would be lower. Our planning could be carried out in proper sequence without bickering. Transit services could be extended, hospital services expanded etc. etc.

Maybe we should start a branch of W.E.ACT to include W.E. Amalgamate ?

The mayoral race at least would be interesting.

17) Hope that the Mayor tells these German folks that when they visit Windsor, they can take an Air Canada affiliate (Air Ontario) right into the airport and see it from the sky - not to fly into Metro Detroit and drive by.

18) I am not sure why you think property values will skyrocket if the UofW builds downtown. Did property skyrocket around the UfoW as it expanded? It certainly didn't.

What it did do was push families out of the area and introduced new absentee landlords that can't even follow the fire codes properly.

Instead of the surrounding area surging forward it is now mired with unkept houses and lawns, large parties with increased noise, and vandalism to surrounding residents property.

Have you asked those who still live in the area how great it is to see couches on porches or left to rot out front of the houses? Have you seen increases in business in that corridor? No, you or I have not.

What makes us think that this being placed downtown will be benificial? It sure hasn't been beneficial to the surroundig area of the UofW.

What pisses me off is that I invested in my property on the words of our city leaders that an urban village was going to be built and the RFP's were going to be sent out in a few short months (2006). None of this happened! Now I get to have university students run amok in this neighbourhood as well. So much for my investment and the work I have thus far. In fact I am sure to lose money on this endevour by the city as housing prices have plummeted.

Next time I will be sure NOT to take the words of this city as truth and instead do what is right. Like the rest of the residents I will do what I can to get mine.

19) If I was looking at using a transportation hub that is not there yet, with no final access road, no new crossing, and no sight to unload at, why would I waste my time going to see vacant land.

Excuse me for being sarcastic, it just flows with crap like this.

Has any one ever tried to get a job based on possibly what may or may not happen
in the future? Timelines?

I think the Mayor is wasting precious time and dollars on a project he will never see to an end.

20) Congratulations on having your AIESEC Alumni Story be chosen as one of fifty to mark AIESEC Canada’s 50th Anniversary this year! We would like to profile your story at AIESEC’s upcoming Gala on April 5th, 2008 in Montreal (details from AIESEC Canada to follow).

21) The Old Testament phrase, “Swords into Plowshares” comes to mind – perhaps it is better for eddie stop preparing for war & start attending to jobs at home. He’s willing to go half way around the world for 50 flower jobs, but unwilling to walk to the end of the block for a billion dollar economic stimulus. Which do you think the construction trades would prefer? He needs to beat his swords into plowshares, indeed.

22) First Time writer – I have enjoyed reading your blogs, very informative, and a hell of a lot better than reading the star.

Just watched tonight’s city council meeting, especially regarding the 3:00 AM closing.

What exactly is the city trying to do with this bylaw?

Larry Horwitz want to have a bylaw so that the city can have a down time to clean up for the next day. Great. How is making some of the establishments downtown close at 3, but other stay open going to achieve this. My thoughts would be close downtown up at 3, send everyone home, so they can clean up. But that’s not what he said. He said, close the hip-hop clubs, but the strip bars can stay open. So now we have all these drunk people going out on the street, and if they don’t want to cool down at the local food stops, they get to go and watch naked girls – good way for a 19 year old drunk person to wind down.

You want to market Windsor, you market it as 2 distinct entities – A vibrant day-tiime business mecca, with everything the prim and proper person wants, then let loose at night with the vibrant, multi-facited venues, from fine dining, to great entertainment for everyone’s taste. Now that is something the new convention center can market. Downtown Windsor will be open until 3, no matter how you slice it – its Provincial Law – keeping it open an extra hour to let the power drinkers wind down in a controlled, non-alcoholic environment – is that so bad???

Are there problems? Of course – but they are problems that are not indicative of the environment that the downtown was created for. They are problems that are created by external forces, as our Mayor has so eloquently said.

Businesses are not closing downtown because of the bars. It is because it is not worth people going downtown to shop there. Windsor Society has shown that. Give people a reason to go somewhere, and damn, they will go. They have nothing to go downtown for, except the bars.

Hope what I said made sense.

Take care, and keep up the good work

23) Boy, if I was Matt Fischer I would be embarassed. Having watched tonight's Council meeting cudos to Bob Willems and his group for organizing the promotion entitled "Let's Get Windsor Going". This apparently is in conjunction with the Auto show and a set up at the Armouries including the University, College and auto dealers showing the new vehicles on this side of the river for those that may not be able to get over to Detroit the next 2 weeks. Mr. Willems quickly slipped in the comment (hope you got it on tape) that "they couldn't get a partnership with Windsor on the promotion." Isn't this part of the Development Commission's mandate... to work with those in the community to enhance exposure and business growth. Guess Matt was out in the field feeding the Gazelles.

Later, mention was made that the city was indeed involved with the Auto Show in Detroit and would be attending a function sponsored by the Consulate General's Office. One Councillor asked for more details and Skorbahacz (sp?) said that someone from Windsor would be rubbing shoulders with worldwide auto executives at the function in Detroit. When asked how much it would cost Windsor the CAO stated he "thought" $25,000.....say what !!!

Mention was also made that the City of Windsor would not be having a booth at the show (as they have had in the past.) Guess Matt hasn't found any brochure printers yet. This Development Commission is a total joke !!

It is high time someone asked some poignant questions as to what Matt and the Development Commission have done for the past year. Has anyone ever heard of an "Objectives and Accomplishments Review?"

24) CANWARN program is a trained volunteer group that assists Environment Canada keeping an "eye on the weather" and reports severe weather events directly to the Ontario Storm Prediction Centre in Toronto. Based on the observation (i.e. a tornado) Environment Canada uses the observers information to either issue or update weather statements or warnings.

The CANWARN program began in Windsor in 1987 and is now a nationwide volunteer group with in excess of 4500 volunteers. It has received recognition from several government organizations as well as police and other first responders.

What has this got to do with downtown crime/violence? I understand currently there have been cameras positioned in various areas in the downtown core. These cameras are apparently monitored by private citizens but I am not sure what protocol or quthority they have with the police. If these monitors were moved to a location either in or near the police communication centre monitored by Auxiliary Officers on weekends they could notify dispatchers of incidents they see happening or about to happen and have officers dispatched to the scene. It could be introduced as a "pilot project" and if proved beneficial expanded by adding more cameras in the downtown core.

Dave Cooke For Mayor

Can you imagine the outcry, the blistering Windsor Star Editorials, another Jason Moore CKLW commentary if the major Detroit media supported a third crossing that would destroy Sandwich.

In effect, the Saturday Star Editorial has chosen to destroy Delray. That is where the downriver bridge will go and the Star knows it. After all, since its readership is in Windsor, the Star has to protect its readers' interests doesn't it? What does it care if hundreds of residents and businesses in Delray have to relocate.

After all
  • "the interests of residents and businesses north of E.C. Row would be much better served by a crossing constructed to the west, away from built-up areas."

Those are the people who are important to the Star not the people in Delray who would be given a few thousand dollars for their properties and told to find a new place to live. Of course, the Star forgot to mention that a bridge could be built at the existing Ambassador Bridge location that would not disrupt homes and businesses on both sides of the river since it already owns all of the properties it needs and the new Enhancement Project bridge would be contained within the existing border crossing.

What a bizarre Editorial don't you think and the timing of it was strange too. But it should explain one thing to you, dear reader. If you want to understand why the Windsor Star supports a Mayor who has failed miserably in everything that he has done so far, it is because of its irrational view of the Ambassador Bridge Company. As long as Eddie continues to call the Bridge Company the "enemy" and take steps to oppose them, the Star will forgive his failures. Oh, it might take a dig at him every so often but they will keep on supporting him for as long as they can ie until they can develop a new champion.

I can just imagine when the Councillor was eating his version of the champions power breakfast, TRIX cereal, on Saturday morning and was reading the Star. He must have gagged and choked when he saw what was happening. The Star had started to pick its favourite for the next mayoral election and he was not their choice.

Oh, you thought I was talking about Councillor Marra. Hardly. He already knows that he is the one to knock off and that the Star does not love him. I am talking about the Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget, Councillor Brister. I'm sure he picked up pretty quickly that what I've been saying about him was true. He was being set up to take the fall for the Mayor over the arena. What he thought was Henderson praise for his diligence in pinching pennies on the arena was really setting him up to eliminate his chance to be Mayor.

Who is the Star hoping will run... the new Chair of the Board of the University of Windsor, Dave Cooke. The headline gave it all away "The right person at the right time." Can you believe the size of the story just because there is a new Chair of the Board.

Think I am kidding, then how do you explain this:

  • "Rae's admiration extends to Cooke's parents, whose health issues and advancing age is one reason he is planning to move back to Windsor from Toronto...

    The slower pace of a smaller city is another draw, adds Cooke. "You know, I love Windsor; it sounds hokey, but it's a great place to live," he says. "There's a much nicer quality of life, friendlier...

    His two-bedroom condo in Toronto will soon go on the market, says Cooke, who is eyeing a new address on Riverside Drive."

Mr. Windsor Casino sems to have the Eddie endorsement that Brister desperately was hoping for:

  • "Even Francis -- who worked closely with Cooke and Paul on the failed downtown campus pitch -- agrees that Cooke is "the right person at the right time. What I've seen from Dave is he's always put the city first and he's always put the right thing first.... The challenge is going to be whether he's going to have support, and I think board members at the university have to recognize the unique talents and skills sets that he brings, and that we have to work together."

Notice how the headline picked up on the Francis remark. As well, there are certain rumours being spread about who is promoting heavily Cooke as the next Mayor.

The guy has a sharp political mind you; he's meeting with Larry Horwitz already and probably hoping that Larry will bring Pam Anderson to town to help him on his campaign if he decides to run. Plus he wants to ensure that Larry does not run either.

If Cooke chooses to run, he will have two years with the platform of being University Chair to give "non-partisan" partisan speeches about Windsor, the downtown, and its future. He can be front and centre in so many ribbon-cutting ceremonies that it would make your head spin. He would be knocking on the doors of all the movers and shakers asking for money for both the medical building and the Engineering Complex. He would get to know a lot of people in a very short period time on top of his existing connections. Being an NDPer wouldn't hurt either.

I don't believe that Councillor Marra needs to be too concerned, at least not yet. He's got his well-oiled machine, "Marra's Marauders" around. They almost knocked Eddie off the first time when Bill ran for Mayor but for a few foolish mistakes and the team was able to defeat the Senator and put Councillor Pitbull into second place in Ward 4. He is well-connected with a broad base of support across party lines within the City. He already knew that he would have a tough fight to be Mayor and that he would be smeared to prevent him from doing so.

He is learning. His end-run of the Mayor on the Interm Control Bylaw was a marvel to watch. He was the one who immediately put forward the compromise solution to extend the Bylaw to give Residents a choice to have a proper hearing and effectively undercut what Eddie wanted to achieve on Friday. Do you think that Bill would be too upset if dozens of residents from Sandwich attend the next Council meeting on the Interim By-law and slam the Mayor for his foolish bylaw that is destroying the Community.

In fact if you read the story about the Special Council Meeting, it is the Bridge Company that has become the protector of the people of Sandwich. What irony. The number of people who congratulated the Bridge Company's lawyer for standing up to Eddie was quite amazing.

It was pretty clear that Eddie was rattled on Friday both by the lawyer of the Bridge Company and by Marra's quick action. Do you think that Eddie was pleased when Les Chaif said that he disenfranchised two thirds of the working people of Sandwich by holding a meeting at 4 p.m. on a Friday afternoon. Marra has just become the working man and woman's choice!

I have traveled far a field from the Star's editorial haven't I. Dave Cooke better understand that if he wants the Star's support, he had better hate the Ambassador Bridge Company too. He might have a bit of a problem doing that. The Star story about him says:

  • "I think he's not afraid of change and not afraid of change for improvement. He found a way to work with lots of people with differing points of view...

    unlike many, he could also be practical and exercise common sense...

    he didn't hesitate to rile some feathers if he found that was the right thing to do"

Hmmmm, Dave better be careful. Eddie may not boost him after all if he can be practical.