Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Jobs, Jobs, Ego


One person almost lost his job yesterday, almost. Whew, Eddie's job was on the line!

So Eddie's agenda had to dominate the discussion at the Joint City/County Councils meeting. Why it was just like Eddie's still unfinished Tunnel deal that dominated the first Joint Councils meeting in Detroit.

For the rest of you with no job or a mortgage about to be foreclosed, why you can just wait until he figures out how to move you out of town! Heck, the unemployment rate comes down too. A Two-fer too.

That meeting in Detroit was 2 years ago. Is that the time period for Jobs Today to really start!

On Monday, Eddie's State of the City Speech identified his, Council's and our main priority:
  • "Let there be no mistake. Creating jobs, and re-invigorating our local economy, has to be the number one priority of Windsor City Council.

    And it has to become this community’s collective and shared responsibility.

    Bringing jobs and prosperity, to continue positioning Windsor for success in the new economy, must be at the heart of each of our decisions.

    More jobs for Windsorites has to be our primary goal.

Look for "Jobs Today" on Wednesday's Joint Councils agenda. NOT THERE!
  • Essex County and Windsor City Councils Hold Special Joint Meeting
    A Special Joint Meeting of Essex County/Windsor City Councils will be held on Wednesday, March 19th, 2008 4:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Essex County Civic Centre, Council Chambers, 360 Fairview Avenue West, Essex, Ontario N8M 1Y6.

    Meeting Agenda:

    1. Call to Order
    2. Declarations of Pecuniary Interest
    3. Opening Remarks by Warden Nelson Santos and Mayor Eddie Francis
    4. Business Items:
    a) Discussion on Regional Transit
    b) Discussion on Regional Tourism
    c) Discussion on Border Issues
    d) Discussion on other Regional Opportunities
    e) Future Meeting Dates
    5. By-laws: Confirmatory By-law – County of Essex, Confirmatory By-law – City of Windsor
    6. Adjournment

What did they actually discuss at the Wednesday Meeting. Jobs Today? NOT THERE!

  • "The debate over GreenLink dominated the first meeting of city and county councils during this term of office. The joint meeting was extended an extra two hours to give Francis time to make a full presentation about GreenLink and allow the county to debate a motion of support.

    Discussion about regional transit and Francis' proposed $100-million job creation fund were deferred to a future joint meeting."

Jobs Today just became Jobs Tomorrow!

The unemployed and about to be foreclosed can wait until he next meeting whenever that is. Eddie's job is safe! His position is secure now that Greenlink was supported. Now we know what priority means when it comes to employment.

Here Come More Letters



Here are some more reader comments for you to consider. Finally, YOU decided to write and let your views be known. Now that was not so hard was it!

1) But Ed you are missing the point.

By sending all the workers out West, the City of Windsor will no longer need the Development Commission and can fire everyone associated with it including Remo Mancini.

Just think of how much money that will save the City which can then go to paying down the debt. After all, if the future of Windsor is luring companies to Saskatoon
so that they can employ Windsorites via a commute then why would you then
need a Development Commission to lure companies to Windsor?

A brilliant plan by our esteemed Mayor. He has once again found a way to unwind a terrible mistake that he has made. In this case his incompetent handling of the
Development Commission.

2) Hi Ed,

Our mayor, whose intentions one would think are good, seems to have trouble saying yes when it comes to jobs and job creation.

Since assuming office in 2004 he has infuriated senior levels of government and effectively prevented creation of thousands of jobs by saying no. For starters he nixed sorely needed expressway upgrades because trucks might do what they already do, travel on the expressway. The Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project? No again, because we're going to get a long, long S-shaped bridge downstream that neither the US or Canadian governments would ever pay for. No to the DRIC road proposal because it just might make sense. No to the DRTP-Canadian Pacific Railway tunnel project which would allow double stacked freight cars to cross the Detroit River and put Windsor in the big leagues of rail transport. Why? Because such a tunnel might magically turn into a road! And finally, he says no to tearing down a bunch of eyesore houses that do nothing except degrade a west end neighbourhood. Quite an array of negativity.

So, what has he said yes to? The Schwartz horseshoe road to nowhere through the pristine Ojibway Complex. A loser from the get-go. Yes to a fully tunneled road from Highway 401 to the EC Row Expressway, an impossible dream if there ever was one. Yes to his Greenlink proposal with thousands of metres of tunnels that no financially prudent senior government would ever approve, with or without parkland on top.

All of these factors make Windsor, and Windsorites, look silly. But what's most upsetting is the fact that the mayor talks to the citizens of Windsor as if we're a bunch of morons. Sad.

3) Hi Ed

Yep! Took three years of philosophy, presented many a paper for discussion
(debate or argue) in many a dry run that we had to do if we were full time
philosophy majors! Truth is always elusive if presented in a philosophical
way, what is truth at that time of my argument, may not be the same exact
same truth for those listening and or opposing. I believe in today's blog,
that I would have to agree with the Dragnet detective.."The facts ma'am,
just the facts!" And the fact being is that Eddie doesn't have a deal and
can't broker one for the tunnel. But as you said he will spin it, that it
was the mayor of Detroit who did him in. I'm feeling dizzy already.

How about one way chartered flights leaving every midnight with Windsorites
and their families to go west. Talk about giving away the farm! Doesn't
Eddie understand that or get it, that news of any kind is sent around the
world in an instant, and anyone at anytime can find anything they are
looking for. That investors can read the stories and the comments in almost
an instant! What he says locally is really international and he isn't making
this city look any better today than he did Monday and all the years
previous. We must look like fools to the world, let alone to ones who might
want to invest here!

Keep writing Ed!

4) Problem points.....
1) People out west DO NOT want outsiders taking jobs from them, especially high paying jobs. Which, of course, SUPPOSEDLY there are training funds for.
2) The issue comes up once in a while in Windsor where they get upset when people from the county work in Windsor but do not pay Windsor property tax.

It comes to mind CKLW had a talk show about charging county residents a levy or
a fee for using EC Row. Remember that?
Eddie mentioned this once where the county does not pay it's fair share.
So with this in mind how can Eddie justify keeping families here and flying out workers who will take money out of their area but not contributing to the local economy.
They will spend some, yes, but they still will be taking dollars out of the region.

Maybe that brick hit him too hard or not hard enough.....

5) Why would anyone want to buy the tunnel with its ever decreasing usage unless they could get it at a very, very low-ball figure. And even then there are better investments than this.

Of course, Detroit is trying to sell its interest based upon its vision of a comeback of Downtown Detroit which is the main attraction for tunnel traffic.

Let's just bet on black (or red) at roulette and be done with the anxiety.

6) [A few of the written responses to a question I asked about where Eddie found $30M for Jobs Today]
---Wish I knew!
---Haven't a clue where he's finding it

7) KEEP UP THE FIGHT SOME PEOPLE ARE READING AND MIGHT COME TO THEIR SENSES

8) We are the most southern Canadian city with a strong french settlement, french heritage/streets and several outdoor hospitality cafes - that is before the Casino (B.T.C.)- let's play on this in selling our Hospitality destination --similar to New Orleans french quarter etc. -- only we do not have their crime--

9) http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070919/BIZ/709190395

I hope the Mayor reads this article about incentives.
Maybe he won't get hit in the head so much.

[NOTE: And we want to send people AWAY from Windsor:

"A key factor in the decision was the availability of engineers in the Ann Arbor region, he said. Many of them are available to begin work now, and the company plans to begin hiring immediately"]

10) http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080318/POLITICS/803180369

I wonder if they took the same flight to Germany.
They have tax breaks as incentives.
Eddie got two people to look at flying onions in three years.

[Note: As the Governor said "We've been working this, man," Granholm said in a telephone interview Monday. "I went to Germany (on a trade mission). I've spoken to the head of companies...We beat out states from South Carolina to Florida to California. We beat Illinois twice. {And Eddie too I guess}. And the Guv was not sending onions to Germany either.]

11) Hi Ed

After his wartship's speech last night, can we go ahead with the recall
proposal to amend the City of Windsor act..please! There was absolutely
nothing in the speech that would make me strap on "W" And nothing for the
county either.

Maybe with Eddie spending so much time in airports, his song should be: "I'm
leaving on a jet plane, and won't be back again," It would make me happy to
join in the chorus!

12) Not necessarily news but the City is going to have a kiosk at the mall this week to promote Greenlink.

13) Hey Ed, I actually like your recall proposal. You should consider changing the eligibility from a "resident" to an "individual eligible to vote in a municipal election." This would allow property owners who do not live in the municiaplity the right to participate in a recall. As it is, they do have the right to vote. So if they can vote someone in, they should be allowed to vote them out as well.

14) Good morning Ed;

Recall the Mayor and the whole of Council! Would that not make them wake up in a hurry!! somebody is coming after us!! Poor Eddie would not know what to do with himself, Norma baby they are picking on me, help me!! and he may have to call in Ken Lewenza to call for a strike against those who favor this thought. Alright who's on first!!! remember Abbott and Costello in this brilliant performance, who has the balls to carry this out as a team mind you???

Ed, if you go to the "Boy who will be Kings speech" just so you will not have a heart attack, please turn off your hearing aid.

Have a Happy Day with these thoughts in mind.

15) Why not throw it out there with the idea that may be a group of
concerned citizens meaning the leaders in the community will stand up
and say enough is enough. Do they have any balls or are they going to
stand by and watch this city nose dive into the ground. I hear it all
the time that this is the worst Mayor and council in Windsor's history.
Amen

16) Still watching closely all the strange happenings from down here.
Amazingly can watch CBC 9 News live on streaming internet. I see my buddy Buzz is now an expert on Afghanistan affairs according to the University address. I think he and Kenny would make great candidates to serve on the front lines... at
least it would keep the negative things out of the media.i think we need a strong campaign from the public to get the media to refrain from showing up and flashing the cameras at Lewenza all the time in the .hope of getting some positive things out to others. Maybe the media could just be "busy" doing a baby contest when
Local 444 wants to rant and rave before the camera lights. It's not censorship..

Another thought, how about a live debate between concerned citizens of windsor/essex and Ken Lewenza regarding the negative image he is portraying Windsor. (I'd love to go head to head with him!!!!) Maybe we should run this one past John Fairley at Cogeco.

17) Hey Ed

We're quickly reaching the tipping point as many fear.

Here's a little FYI
- the chief of Police in Saginaw Michigan makes around 90K
- our Chief 218K
- the governor of Michigan 180K to run a state with 10M people versus a Police Department with 500?

There other differences - the chief of Police in Saginaw has a PHD in criminology - worked as a lieutenant in the Detroit Police department during the Colman era.

The US has a different system - they lay off cops/firemen if budgets don't jive. Saginaw hasn't had a tax increase since the 70's.

Keep up the good work

18) Hi Ed

I can see and hear Aretha Franklin belting it out now D-R-R-T that is what it means to me!

19) Ed

Remember the Scorpion and the frog. The scorpion stung the frog in mid stream because that is what scorpions do. Unions often do what they do with little regard for the consequences.

20) ED;

YOU JUST HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD ALL THE BUSINESS PEOPLE AND A NUMBER OF THE ELITE IN WINDSOR HAVE BEEN SAYING THIS QUIETLY WHAT YOU JUST BROUGHT OUT...

This crap with the CAW every time they open there mouths the Windsor Star blast it right front page...

YOU HIT IT ED AND I HOPE YOU CONTINUE TO HIT THIS STATEMENT WHAT YOU WROTE TO-DAY THIS IS MORE OF A CRISIS THEN THE BORDER SITUATION RIGHT NOW.

21) Eddie's plans to ship Windsorites out west to work but send home the checks made the National Post today, complete with picture.

How embarassing that Windsor has sunk to being the temp agency for companies out west. Does the mayor and city receive a commission for every successful placement?

22) The correct line is: DING DONG! THE MAYOR IS WRONG!

Laughing Stock





Get real. Our Mayor was quoted in the Winnipeg Sun as saying:

  • “Employees could go to work during the week and come home on the weekends,” Francis said Tuesday in a telephone interview.

    “That would keep their paycheque here and keep their family together. It helps cities out west because they get an immediate supply of labour.”
Oh sure.

As an example, Saskatoon's vacancy rate is under 1% with "rents in urban centres averaging $660 a month." Cheapest rate for a room or sharing an apartment I saw on a Saskatoon site was between $350-500 per month. Food, transportation etc are extra.

One example of airfare via Toronto for Friday-Sunday flights was over $1100, 6 1/2 hours each way. Even assuming a half rate, it is still almost $550 per week. After paying all of that, how much would someone actually bring home to Windsor after taxes? What would the pay rate have to be just to break even? How much wear and tear would that person suffer mentally and physically by commuting every week as Eddie suggests?

I am disgusted. Let me express my outrage in as strong a fashion as I can!

Eddie Francis ought to be on bended knee in front of the the citizens of the City of Windsor offering his deepest and most sincere apology. He needs to beg for our forgiveness for trying to put one over on us. He certainly owes an apology to those people who are in economic distress today and who might have believed for a fleeting second that his Jobs Today program might actually offer some hope. It did, false hope!

In my opinion, no naysayer or whiner could possibly do the damage to the reputation of Windsor that our Mayor has done with his State of the City speech. No single person here could embarrass this City around the country the way he did with his Jobs Today plan.

Can you imagine if the investor from Tennessee happened to call back to ask the Mayor about our skilled and educated workforce. The Mayor would have to say honestly, if his Long Distance Comuting scheme came into being, that our best and brightest workers were sent out west by him because we had no jobs for them here, because our economy was crumbling and he had no other solution. If that did not chase the investor away, I don't know what would.

Don't you find it interesting that the Windsor Star has not quoted yet one single Councillor nor asked a Councillor what his/her opinion of Jobs Today is? Why is that? Is it because the Councillors would be able to say nothing because the whole concept was sprung on them as the Mayor was speaking at the Cleary? Is it because the Star knows that everything must come from the Mayor and that the Councillors mean nothing? Is it because any Councillor with a shred of self-respect would call the Mayor's plan a farce and a joke and an insult and the Star dares not let Windsorites know what the Councillors really think of the Mayor's PLAN?

Another built-in Mayoral excuse too just in case Councillors get carried away with themselves:
  • "If council doesn't agree to it, then nothing happens."

It's ironic that the Councillors this year shared some of the spotlight with the Mayor on stage on Monday night. In reality, they should have sat in the area where the audience did. They were just as much in the dark about what the Mayor was going to say as were citizens.

My inside moles tell me that Remo Mancini, Chair of the Economic Development Commission, was seen going into Eddie's office on Tuesday. I have no information whatsoever about what they discussed. However, I wonder whether he was going there to thank Eddie for the confidence shown in him and the Commission by giving them all of this responsibility under the Jobs Today Plan or whether he was going there to offer his resignation.

I know Remo from his days as an Executive at the Ambassador Bridge Company when I was with STOPDRTP. We chatted on many occasions since our interests were obviously similar. In all honesty, I cannot figure out how a former employee of the Bridge Company, which the Mayor describes as the "enemy" of the City and who obviously must have helped in formulating their plans, could have become the Chair of the Commission. It certainly says to me that people recognize his ability to achieve results for him to get the appointment.

However, as a former politician, he is smart enough to understand if he is being set up. Can you imagine taking on a position in a program with no money right now, no criteria for investment, staff who may not be sophisticated in these types of business transactions, in a down economy and to be told to produce results immediately! I would hope that he is smarter than the Councillor formerly known as Council Budget who took on being Chair of the East End Arena Committee so that he could take the fall for the Mayor if it comes in over budget. I cannot believe that Remo would be prepared to take the hit for the Mayor for failure with Jobs Today.

But it's more than that. How many times when this Mayor has opened his mouth has he shown disrespect for the Commission. He must not trust them or is it that he is such a micromanager that he can trust no one. He was the one who flew to Germany, not Remo or members of the Development Commission. Can you believe that it was the Mayor who did the cold calling to an investor in Tennessee and not someone on the Commission staff? Why was the Mayor "trolling websites and business publications looking for investment opportunities for Windsor?" That is the job of the Commission.

Did Remo have enough? Did he give Eddie an ultimatum and tell him that if he crossed the line again he would resign? How can the Commission dare ask the County for money to support its work when the Mayor is doing it all? Is the concept of a joint City/County Commission now being viewed as a joke since it is really the City that will prosper if new investment is made and the County is merely footing part of the bill?

I don't know any of the answers. Only time will tell.

What I do know, and as I have told you before, is that the Jobs Today PLAN is nothing more than a variation of the approach taken with the Schwartz Report. Huge on THINK BIG dreams and vision. Tiny on substance.

I hope I am wrong but there has to be some huge job disaster about to hit the City. Why else would the Mayor deliver his State of a City speech almost 2 months earlier than he normally has done so? How would you like to give that speech after another economic catastrophe. At the least, he would be able to say now if a crisis happens that we are fortunate that he has started on his Jobs Today program.

I admit it. I was one of the people who stood up for Sam to give him a standing ovation when he spoke to us first in January 2005 with his THINK BIG PLAN for Windsor. Within days though, as far as I was concerned, his plan fell apart. Then we had full tunneling after his area of mass destruction presentation. Again, it sounded fantastic but it wasn't workable. Then Greenlink... and I'm still waiting for the answer to 69 questions that I and other people have asked that have never been dealt with.

When one takes a look at what Sam proposed, they were always concepts that sounded terrific, looked great but were not workable in the Windsor context. Is it any different with what Eddie Francis did with his State of the City speech? Obviously, Eddie learned from the Master, or rather thought he did!

As for Jobs Today, once one read Gord Henderson's column, one knew that no money was forthcoming for years. That killed the plan there and then. It was a joke, just like Eddie's University proposal for the Engineering Complex. It was the same product, merely repackaged for a different use. A promise of money after Eddie left office. Stick it to the new Mayor and Council to work out and budget for but Eddie can take the glory today! Tell an investor to come to Windsor to create jobs but not get any inducement or incentive for years and years.

Then the Saskatoon Mayor said:
  • "Saskatoon won't be aggressively participating in the plan at the moment..."
If anyone thinks anything will happen quickly, well the Mayor of Regina said respecting the Loooong Ccommuting Plan:
  • "Fiacco explained that Francis will be identifying the skill sets available in Windsor and if those workers would be willing to commute to the prairies for employment. Once that inventory is done in about 30 days, a meeting is expected to be held between the mayors of Windsor, Regina, Saskatoon, Calgary and Edmonton...

    However, there are several issues that must be addressed before such a plan is put in motion.

    "This is not just a question of bringing workers here. We have to make sure the airlines are onside so we can get the proper charters here. We have to make sure we have enough housing as well. It is one thing to bring workers in but if they're going to be displaced, then we have an issue," Fiacco said.

    "There is a lot of co-ordination that is going to have to take place with the Regina Real Estate Association, with the (Regina and Region Home Builders' Association), with our provincial government because they are very much a stakeholder here and, more importantly, with the private sector. Those are the groups that are going to be hiring these individuals."
Jobs Today eh! Here is How Eddie was quoted in the Saskatoon paper but not in the Windsor Star:
  • "The next step, said Francis, who announced the plan in his state of the city address Monday evening, will be to gauge local interest in the program. The city's economic development commission will be hosting an open house in the coming months to find the number of people already commuting to the West, how many people would be interested in doing the same and what their skill sets are. The city will then match people with appropriate job openings in Saskatchewan and Alberta."
Wow, that is action-oriented: "coming months."

Then the Star ran a story on Wednesday about the County's reaction. I was pleased to see at least that our Councillors were not upstaged:
  • "Santos said Francis did not ask for the county's input on the regional fund before delivering the state of the city address.

    "It's never been presented to myself or any county council members that I'm aware of," he said. "The county hasn't received any information about what the total terms of the fund are."

In other words, Eddie did not tell anybody anything about it. He just threw it out at the speech and then Gord Henderson told everybody what they should think.

As far as Eddie is concerned, it's only money. The Warden had the nerve to say

  • "We don't have any funding built in in our current budget that accommodates that type of funding. Any attempt to try to put funds toward this initiative would have a significant impact on the county budget...

    But in Essex County, coming up with a similar amount can only be done through budget and tax increases, Santos said.

    "For example, if we're going to put forward ($30 million) over a five-year-plan, that would be about $6 million a year and that cost alone represents close to a 10-per-cent tax increase," he said...

    it's not realistic for our community and our residents to have to try to pay that bill."

As for the Province, as I predicted, when the Liberals were hammered during Question Period at Queen's Park, Sandra said:

  • "the Liberal government "has invested $1.5 billion in Windsor and will continue to invest in Windsor.

    "We have invested in Chrysler, we hope to invest in Ford and our investment in a casino expansion, a new medical school and a new engineering school will all bring new jobs to Windsor."

What that means is no more cash from the Province and if Eddie has not yet phoned Jeff Watson, no money from the Feds either.

So here we have it: no money, no details, no buy-ins. So what does Eddie do... he backpedals and pretends that he really never had a Plan. It must be a figment of our collective imagination. Too bad that it appears nobody told Gord that it was nothing more than a big trial balloon:

  • "I presented it as an idea to talk about.... Obviously what I wanted to do is put it out there to see what everybody's reaction was," Francis said...

    "What I'm trying to do is provide a vision.... It's not meant to be the end of the overall solution, but it's meant to be a beginning. If others have better ideas, that's what we need to do. If council doesn't agree to it, then nothing happens."

It was nothing more than headline grabbing. It wasn't serious; it could never have been serious. Within hours, it was demonstrated to be laughable. Within days, even the Mayor now is forced to admit it. No new jobs, no help in paying for the mortgage just more talking and talking and talking.

It is just like what he did with the University in his speech that he delivered to the Downtown Business group. He knew that he was going to be criticized over the urban village. Lo and behold a scheme was put forward to put the Engineering Complex downtown. That extravaganza took months to resolve and probably has cost the University considerable sums due to the delay. In the final minutes, at the 11th hour, the Mayor put forward the same kind of ridiculous financial proposal that he offered on Monday night. It was rejected by the University Board.

Does he think that Windsorites are really that stupid? Does he really think that he can fool all of the people all of the time?

What more do Councillors need before they take over the running of this City from a Mayor who is a failure. How much more do they want citizens to endure? How much pain do people have to suffer? How many false hopes, how many tears?

Is there anyone on Council who will stand up and say "Enough!" Will anyone on Council stand up and be a leader for the people. Will anyone on Council stand up and say what most people know now:

"THE MAYOR IS WRONG.
THE MAYOR IS WRONG.
THE MAYOR IS WRONG!"

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tunnel Truth


I wonder how many of my readers have taken a Philosophy course in school? One of the questions that philosophers have discussed over the ages is what is "Truth."

One of the functions of lawyers for competing parties in the adversary system that we have is to determine "Truth." How does one tell what is true or not or who is telling the truth or not when different people have different perspectives on the same set of facts. That is what Judges are there for. They have to determine credibility in order to decide who is more likely be telling the truth as between two parties. One of the ways that they determine credibility is by looking at "objective" facts, if there really are such things, and then drawing conclusions from them.

If you want to see a classic example of a Judge doing so take a look at his comments in the Paul McCartney divorce case decision.

www.judiciary.gov.uk (Then click on "Court Rulings" and then "What's new in this section")

Now tell me, which other media outlet in town would compare the divorce of a former Beatle with the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel. You only get that kind of analysis here.

Why don't we try and play Judge today and see how hard or easy it is to determine what is true or not. Here is what I'm getting at. We read in the Star today the following:
  • "Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis, chairman of the tunnel commission, said Tuesday that negotiations are continuing in the city's bid to gain control of the U.S. side of the tunnel, owned by Detroit.

    "Those discussions are coming close to a conclusion," he said.

    Lawyer Cliff Sutts has been negotiating on the city's behalf and was in Detroit for talks on Tuesday, the mayor said.

    A price tag of US$75 million was discussed earlier in the talks. The City of Detroit included that money in its municipal budget last year, but had to make alternate arrangements after a deal fell through when Transport Canada withdrew its support of the Windsor bid.

    How Windsor can fund a deal to take full control of the tunnel remains unknown.

    "Our legal team is looking at different financial options that are available," Francis said."

There is a meeting we know between the Council and the Windsor Tunnel Commission on March 27 to discuss something about the Tunnel. We know about this only because of the of BLOG of Councillor Halberstadt who speculated that there might be a deal to be announced.

Is he right since from the information I have received, no one has yet been let in on the Mayor's secret.

If one reads the Mayor's words, since we know that the lawyers of the City and Detroit have been meeting constantly it seems for the last year, it would suggest that there will be a deal because "Those discussions are coming close to a conclusion."

But wait a minute... go back to the top and read what I have shown in the image above. That was part of the recent Detroit Council Resolution that was passed asking Kwame to resign as Mayor of Detroit. Those few paragraphs suggest very strongly that there is no deal and that there won't be one for months, not until after the end at the least of Detroit's fiscal year at least.
  • "The transaction is in its preliminary stages."

How can this be after a year, and at how much money that City of Windsor taxpayers have paid for outside legal services? How do we reconcile these two seemingly different points of view as to what will happen with the Tunnel?

If I were to ask you, dear reader, to decide today what is the truth about the Tunnel deal, what would you say? Would you say that the possibility of a deal is strong or not? I will let you decide that for yourself but if I were the Judge here is what I would determine.

I would say first that the likelihood of getting anyone to finance the Tunnel deal for US $75 million is remote. Never mind that the Bridge Company was only going to pay a fraction of that amount. And they understand the Detroit/Windsor Border crossing better than anyone.

Who is going to invest in an asset that only has a bump in traffic for a maximum two-year because of the Ambassador Gateway construction project. After that, it is likely that the traffic numbers will decline sharply especially since the Gateway will be so smoothly operating and the new DRIC bridge, if ever built, will take away so much of the Tunnel's traffic.

Even if the entire Tunnel was mortgaged, and especially if payments were non-recourse and guaranteed from Tunnel tolls, who would take a chance that the tolls in the future would be sufficient to cover the payments? If there was a default, one would be stuck with an old Tunnel with all of the business risks that would entail.

And if the City only received US$75 million from a financier to cover the cost of the acquisition of the US side, then what is in it for Taxpayers? Even if we got a few extra million dollars, if there was a default and a financier walked away, then the City would be on the hook to spend many millions to fix up the Tunnel if it was in a bad state of repair.

  • "without the vehicles diverted from the bridge to the tunnel, traffic numbers would be down about five per cent compared to 2007."

In passing, I'm not quite sure where the Tunnel spokesman got the 5% number because in 2007, the drop in annual Tunnel volume compared with 2006 was just over 10%.

In addition, what the story did not say, is that the annual dividend that Windsor received from the Tunnel dropped from $6.6 million annually at the time of the Joint Councils meeting in Detroit to $0 today. And the Tunnel is still a unique security risk.

Accordingly, even if the parties wanted to go forward, and especially because the Federal Government seems to have pulled out, the likelihood of a deal being concluded would be low because there is no money.

However, the real determinant in my mind is what the Mayor of Detroit presented to his Council and what they concluded. I would have thought that if Kwame wanted to demonstrate to Detroit Council that there was going to be a Tunnel deal, especially because it was so important to the Budget of the City of Detroit, he would have provided convincing information to eliminate the Tunnel issue as part of the attack against him. That apparently was not done.

It could well be that the Detroit Mayor decided that since the Resolution was so unimportant, he need not give his Council at this time any information, especially if there is a confidentiality clause with the City of Windsor. I would assume that the Mayor would have said something about confidentiality to the Councillors but he did not.

The only conclusion that I could draw based on what a responsible elected body said after reviewing the facts and determining that the likelihood of a deal in the near future is "unlikely" is also to conclude that the truth is that the deal with Detroit it is still very much up in the air, at a very preliminary stage.

Therefore if I was a Judge today, I would say that there is no deal that will be announced on March 27 or any time soon.

So how do I reconcile what I am concluding with what Eddie said? It's quite simple. I could be absolutely wrong, and that could well be the fact. Or will the announcement be nothing at all?

It could also be that Eddie is being cute and hedging his bets. Is he leading us to believe that there will be a Tunnel deal but in reality what he will announce at the meeting on the 27th is that the deal is dead ie "concluded."

Is Eddie just putting us off again, for as long as possible, so that he can blame the conclusion of the deal on Kwame because of all of the problems that he has with the Text Messages scandal. After all, Eddie is never at fault and can never be blamed.

You be the Judge!

BREAKINGBLOGNEWS: Saskatoon Mayor Responds To Jobs Today

video


Absolutely and totally unbelievable. Another of the planks of the Mayor's Jobs Today program may be falling apart and so quickly too!

Atchison Responds To Windsor-Saskatoon Commute
Tuesday, 18 March 2008

The Mayor of Windsor says a long distance commuting program between his Ontario city and the Cities of Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatoon is truly a win-win situation.

The plan would apparently allow long distance commuters to travel weekly, back and forth, between western Canada and Windsor - which is suffering from high unemployment.

Mayor Don Atchison says Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis and the community would first have to be on board along with various businesses from Saskatoon to make it work.

Atchison says our city's housing shortage is a problem, so something would have to change in order to allow people to live here from out of province.

http://www.saskatoonhomepage.ca/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=10889&Itemid=374

The Mayor also said in a newspaper article:
  • "Quite frankly, for cities to go into other cities to start asking people to leave their communities to come to other ones, I don't know if that's really the right thing to be doing, but Mayor Francis is certainly anxious to be able to do something for his citizens," Atchison said.

    With Saskatchewan's most populous city in the middle of a housing shortage, finding accommodations for new workers may be the most difficult part of the plan. Atchison said it would be up to employers to provide adequate housing for employees coming to Saskatoon through the commuting program.

    "We certainly don't want to end up with a situation that they've had in Calgary in the past where people have had to live in trucks," he said. "I think that you want to make sure that everyone has a place to live that would come out here."

    Atchison, who said Saskatoon won't be aggressively participating in the plan at the moment..."

Here is another comment that is made in a Regina newspaper that tells me that this could turn into a horrible deal for Windsor but potentially a great deal for the Western Provinces:

  • "RREDA president and CEO Larry Hiles said there is definitely a need for skilled tradespeople, both temporary and permanent, in the near future due to a number of big projects that have been announced in the city. While on the surface it looks positive, Hiles also noted housing, transportation and Windsor's possible talent pool are things to consider.

    "(We'd) certainly be more interested in workers who would permanently move here than people who would come here for five days a week ... because all their investment and spending goes somewhere else," said Hiles, adding this is just one of several avenues being looked at for bringing skilled workers to the city."

In other words, all Eddie is doing is creating a nice recruitment program for Western employers to convince our best workers to move out of here and become permanent residents of the Western Provinces. And we don't even get a recruiting fee for doing that!

Tying Up Loose Ends


Believe it or not there are still some things to talk about with Eddie's State of the City speech. I thought I would give you some information that you may not have heard about yet.

HOW MANY PEOPLE SHOWED UP

I found it very interesting that the lights in the auditorium where Eddie spoke were turned off for his speech. A friend of mine who was there commented on that fact as well.

One would have thought that there would have been TV shots taken of people applauding the Mayor as they interrupted him while he spoke. At the least, there should have been shots of the standing ovation (if he got one) at the conclusion of his speech or of people leaving.

However we never did see on Cogeco an audience shot in order to judge how many people showed up. From the sound of the applause both on radio and on TV, it did not sound like there was a big audience. If that is correct, then having the camera focus on the audience would probably have shown more empty seats than full ones if the crowd was small.

I can remember in previous years seeing the size of the crowd and being surprised how small it was for one of the Mayor's most important speeches. Was that the concern this time around as well? Did it mean that people were not supportive of the Mayor?
If there was a concern over numbers, why hold it at the Cleary in the first place? Obviously, the intent was to make people believe that there was a big crowd. You cannot do that if you hold the event in a small space now can you! I wonder who stage-managed the performance.

In any event my friend claimed that he thought that the audience size was between 150 to 200 people. Of course in that number one has to include all the various City managers, police and fire officials and family members who attended. It means few ordinary citizens were there.

If someone from City Hall has a more accurate number, then perhaps they could provide me with that information and I will be pleased to post it.

THE BIG CONTROVERSY

I understand that e-mails were going back and forth fast and furious. Some Councillors were in an uproar. Decisions were not made until the very last day.

The question that the Mayor and Councillors had to deal with was whether the Councillors would sit onstage or in the audience as in previous years.

In the end, an Executive decision was made that the Councillors would sit onstage behind the Mayor, always behind the Mayor, to pretend that they are supporting what he had to say.

WHO KNEW WHAT WHEN

I was so pleased to see the Councillors clapping so heartily at the Mayor's speech. Clearly I thought they had bought into the five-point program, Jobs Today, and they were very proud to see their leader saving their necks by helping citizens get jobs, even if it meant that people had to commute thousands of miles every week.

Guess who was the first Councillor to stand up to give the Mayor a standing ovation when the speech was over. I'm not going to tell you so you will be forced to look at the speech on Cogeco yourself but it is not the Councillor that you thought it would be. Whew, THAT Councillor had a very loud clap however.

So imagine my surprise when I found out that a number of Councillors at least had no clue what the Mayor was going to say until he said it on stage. I must admit I found it shocking that he would think that he has the power to commit Council to some of his schemes without getting a buy-in from the Councillors in the first place.

I asked as well where the $30 million was coming from and to my chagrin I did not get an answer. No one that I dealt with had the faintest idea where there was $30 million in cash lying around just waiting for a project like this.

The best answer that I got was that it could come from the same pot he was going to give to the University to re-locate the engineering building downtown. That amount was in the $30-million range, as you might recall. I had already Blogged about that so I was pleased that my own thoughts were matched by those of others.

As you will recall, that University money was not to be provided until after 2010, around the same time period that Gord Henderson mentioned that the $30 million for Jobs Today would be available.

In other words, there is no money today for Jobs Today if that is correct.

BLAME IT ON THE ARENA

It is pretty obvious now why we don't have any money to do anything. The Treasurer did warn us about that. He made it clear that until the arena was paid off we had no funds to do anything extra in this City, especially if there is going to be a crisis as there is now with respect to jobs.

Let me take you back to the past again when Eddie first ran for mayor. He was in favour of a public-private partnership with a maximum financial exposure to the City of $15 million. Remember as well that we were able to finance the East End extravaganza because we were in such a strong financial position.

How strong are we today? It looks as if we cannot finance anything until the arena is paid off, hopefully by the end of Eddie's term as Mayor. If another major crisis hits, then what happens.

Doing simple math, if Eddie had stuck to his promise, then it would be up to the private investor to find the difference between $15 and $65 million, assuming that is the real cost, and the City would have $50 million to invest in jobs for its citizens.

DOES SASKATCHEWAN WANT OUR WORKERS

Here are a few of the remarks that people out West had made about the Mayor's Commuter program:

1) I wonder how many more tonnes of greenhouse gases this ill thought out plan to start helping people 'commute' to work over 3000 miles will result in? Coming from a mayor who claims to care about the environment when it comes to the city's border solution, this plan seems a bit hypocritical to me.

2) One of the stupidest ideas I have heard of. HMM lets hire people who will work 5 days a week then fly out of here and take the Saskatchewan money back to Ontario and spend it there.

3) The logistics of 5 days on 2 off with at least 2000 miles in between would never work. Where is the money going to come from to train these people and transport them?

It's like this guy was sitting at this desk with nothing to do and the light came on upstairs "Hmm we have a shortage of work and the west has a shortage of workers. I've got it!"

4)...unlike the Mayor of Windsor I didn't just fall off a turnip truck.

5) It is very obvious this mayor wants to have his cake and eat it too. Think about it, these Windsorites would still be residents (i.e. Mayor would still have his tax base) and they would all be adding to the Windsor economy.

6) The plan is 3 weeks on and 2 weeks off or 5 and 2.Which hundreds of NBer's have been doing and loving it. 100'000$ a year is handy...But you got to be qualified. And an auto worker might not make it.

BRISTER IS BLISTERED

I know this has nothing to do with the Mayor's Speech but I just cannot let it go by. Did you see Graston's Editorial Cartoon in Saturday's Star? Its significance is that I cannot think of another Cartoon in which the Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget has been in. This one shows him in a butcher's uniform and the Mayor ready to carve up Councillor Halberstadt on the Library audit.

My view... when the Editorial Cartoonists go after you, then you really are in trouble. It was not meant to be and certainly was not flattering to the Councillor or to the Mayor.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Wrath Of Gord



I better be careful what I say in this BLOG. I do not want the Wrath of Henderson to fall on me as happened to Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock.

We do have a new image I believe, a new brand. Truly, Windsor is now the Tijuana of Canada!

I just couldn't help thinking about this as I listened to the Mayor on the radio and then read through his speech.

I was the one who came up with the expression Montréal-to-Tijuana trucks to describe international trucks going through Windsor when I was with STOPDRTP. With our bars, Windsor ballet and a young American drinkers being lured to come over here, this is a party town between Canada and the United States just like the southern city.

And now to top it off, we are making it easy for our citizens to fly out West to get jobs and to send money to the folks back home. It sounded so much to me like the Mexican farmworkers who flew here on a Mexicana airlines to help our agricultural industry. No wonder the Mayor was so happy to see them here since they clearly had given him inspiration.

What struck me about Eddie's speech is how Schwartz-like it sounded and Henderson's reaction to it. Here was the grand Jobs Vision, the THINK BIG way that we would solve our jobs crisis. Never mind the details, buy into the vision and the dream and do not dare criticize. Mind you, if it had been Sam giving the speech, I expect the amount involved would have been $250 million not $100 million. Doesn't quarter of a billion with a "B" sound an awful lot better. It would have made a huge headline too.

Come on Eddie, THINK BIG. If you are going to be shot down in flames, at least go down in style

Isn't that why Gord wrote the Column that he did, front-page stuff too. In case we did not understand the message, Gord's column was distributed even before the Mayor's speech was finished last night to tell us what we should think. I saw it just after 8 p.m. on the Star website. In other words, you are a naysayer if you say anything negative about what Eddie spoke about. Get on board or else.

To be real, why should Eddie "fully expect screeching and squawking" if his PLAN has merit. If he can be negative about it so quickly, then all he is doing is inviting people to pick holes in it and to find out what is wrong with it.

I would have thought that everyone would applaud him this morning. Why wouldn't we after all when our City is at risk with jobs leaving here and homes being foreclosed? Could it be that both Eddie and Gord know something that we don't know about this PLAN? Could it be that they both know that the PLAN is utter nonsense designed to protect Eddie's failing mayoral career?

Could this be the secret? Perhaps this is why people will squawk and screech. Perhaps Gord gave it away when he said the following which sounded like Eddie's University deal that failed and was about the same sum of money:
  • "The fund envisioned by Francis wouldn't require an annual levy or taking on new debt. Because the city is in relatively good financial shape, courtesy of its debt reduction plan, it will have an extra $20 million available in 2011-2012 and tens of millions more at its disposal in subsequent years."

Isn't Gord saying that we have no money until after Eddie is Mayor. This PLAN and all of the work necessary to bring it to fruition is like the Services Delivery Review... that program will take 30 months to achieve. Nothing will happen other than Eddie giving speeches until 2011 when money is around after the arena is paid off supposedly. If that is the case then, frankly this is all a huge joke on the people who are suffering and they should be furious about it. As should the Councillors who will have to run for re-election after the Mayor is gone.

  • "Francis said the need for local incentives hit him, like a brick between the eyes."

I wonder if the Mayor still has a concussion from the blow. Did he get emergency treatment right away in Windsor or did he have to go into the United States to get help?

To be honest, I thought that the speech was backwards. The most obvious way that we can get jobs today is by solving the border crisis. There are 15,000 high-paying infrastructure and spinoff jobs begging to be taken if only we can get an agreement on the border road and on the Enhancement Project.

What I had hoped to hear from the Mayor was that he was prepared to sit down with both the Senior Levels and the Ambassador Bridge Company to resolve differences. No such luck. Instead all we heard was a plea for Greenlink, a project that is never going to move forward, and that an advertising campaign that is going to cost taxpayers dollars and will stall off a border solution for more time is starting.

Clearly, everyone knows that he has lost on the Border road and is praying that the Senior Levels will impose a solution to get him off the hook. I wish they would act like a genie and grant him his wish already. Get the "cheap" solution road costing $1.6 billion built to the new Enhancement Project bridge already. Create those 15,000jobs!

The hundred million dollar fund. Eddie used Kitchener as his model. I took a look at what their fund is doing in Kitchener and it doesn't resemble anything similar to what the Mayor was talking about. Here is a description from Kitchener:

  • "In 2004 after an extensive public and corporate engagement process, the City of Kitchener created an innovative and creative solution to meeting the needs of one of Canada’s most rapidly growing populations.

    It’s a one-of-a-kind strategy to fund major strategic infrastructure for the next decade, and a strategy that is spurring massive economic growth today, while building strong foundations for tomorrow.

    Through a 10-year tax levy, the City created a $110 million Economic Development Investment Fund that allows Council and staff to address two critical issues: the need for new and creative sources of funding for Kitchener’s future, and the crucial need for industrial employment lands in the city.

    To date, more than $60 million from the fund has been devoted to supporting downtown projects that will grow and diversify the local economy and bring more people to live, work, visit and learn in the core. Additional funding has been committed to strengthening the city’s traditional manufacturing industries through the development of new employment lands in other areas of the cities.

    The City of Kitchener EDIF took home first place at the 2006, Economic Developers Council of Ontario awards in the category of Physical Infrastructure.

    Some of the downtown projects supported by the Economic Development Investment Fund include:

    $30 milliion, University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy, opening Jan. 2008
    $6.5 million, Wilfrid Laurier Faculty of Social Work, opened Sept. 2006
    $5.5 million, downtown parking solutions
    $3.3 million, for major streetscape improvements downtown
    $2.7 million, improvements to downtown’s Victoria Park
    $1.7 million, for Downtown Community Centre, opened in 2005

    $12 million committed to funding industrial employment lands"

Take a look at the brochure at http://www.kitchener.ca/pdf/edif_brochure.pdf

The interesting thing about what Kitchener did and what Windsor is not doing is:

  • "Recognizing that the challenges it was facing required a different, more inclusive, future for municipal government and public service, City Council directed administration to engage the community in extensive discussion and debate about its collective vision for the future of the City of Kitchener.

    By asking for and hearing what citizens were saying, Council and staff were better able to identify community needs and develop policies, programs and projects to address those needs. This citizen engagement took full advantage of the knowledge and expertise within the community and helped target the City's valuable resources into appropriate areas."

In Windsor, the Mayor just tosses out the concept as part of a speech after talking to some fellow in Tennessee who wants local incentives to reduce his business risk. So now we would have the "new tools" for the fellow in Tennessee. We would have $100 million to give away.

The Mayor calls what he proposed, Jobs Today, a beginning that requires conversation. How long will that take? It ought to be good for at least a year's worth of talk alone. And of course the Development Commission can set up another conference to deal with this subject and report on it, eventually.

Please don't tell me than that this speech wasn't anything more than "political." I can just imagine how much money our two German friends with their startup company would have received from the Mayor with the promise of creating 500 jobs at some time in the future in Windsor. Why I bet that we would be a funder of one of their Airbus airplanes. If the deal had been done, there is no doubt but that the spotlight in the auditorium would have focused on them as the Mayor spoke about them and the crowd would have jumped to their feet with a standing ovation.

I have no intention of being accused of being a naysayer when talking about this hundred million dollars fund. I have to change the conversation don't you know. I only heard that about 14 times in Eddie's speech. I don't have to be the naysayer because the Premier already is.

I wondered where Eddie was going to get all of these funds. I guess he wants $30 million from the County. That should create a world of mirth and laughter at the joint City/County meeting on Wednesday if someone asks for that. Then the Mayor wants matching funds to the City's contribution from the Province as he said on the radio this morning. Here is exactly the answer that will be given by Queen's Park. Will it be delivered by Sandra or by Dwight after his Budget:

  • "Your government has received about $800 million in various labour market development funds from the federal government," Hampton said. "Windsor is a community that's desperately in need of an aggressive, targeted refundable tax credit such as Quebec has, Manitoba has, Saskatchewan has, and New Democrats have advocated for."

    Premier Dalton McGuinty responded by pointing out the "close to $1.5 billion" the province has invested in the city of Windsor in the last four years in various projects, including the Casino Windsor expansion and the new satellite medical school.

    "None of those were supported by the opposition," McGuinty said. "I'm afraid to think of what would have happened to Windsor had we not been there working with the community."

That was from the Start story today "NDP pushes for aid to city." And good old Jeff Watson got his little dig in as well respecting federal funds:

  • "a great first step if the city is truly serious about wanting federal funding support for the mayor’s new plan would be a phone call to him."

Who knows Jeff, you might get lucky and the Mayor will call you but it will not be until after he phones people about conventions, businesses and doctors. Has he called you about Ford yet? Just wondering.

As I said this morning, Eddie wants all this money for Greenlink and Ford and for roads and sewers and watermains and whatever else he's asked for PLUS now a big chunk of the money set aside for cities that have problems. He is beginning to sound like Oliver isn't he... More Please.

Speaking of the $30 million City contribution, where did that come from? That was the big shocker to me last night that was not explained in the Mayor's speech. Is it like Gord said, not available until after 2011 or is it available now?

If it is available now, I don't understand why our taxes had to be increased if we have all this money lying around. I wrote to the Operating Budget Chair, Councillor Halberstadt, this morning and asked him where these funds are shown on the City's Financial Statements and whether there is any other such money somewhere. I'll let you know what he says.

To be honest about it, don't you think would be more productive to give this $30 million to Ford right away if it is available since we are told by the CAW that all of these jobs will be produced if only the carmaker gets the money it needs. We can then fight the Feds to get the money back.

A major problem in all of this as I see it is that the Economic Development Commission is going to have responsibility for determining who the winners will be to whom we should give this money. Do the members of the Commission or their staff have the skill to be able to do this? I hardly think so since they were not hired to be entrepreneurs. Look how long it takes them to do anything. Frankly, by the time they create the criteria to give out money, it may be too late.

In any event, I remember the Head of the Gazelle Federa saying at Council that we really rely on the Province to bring us new business since we don't have the resources to do that ourselves.

However, never fear. There may be a solution. The Mayor will do it all and by himself. After all, he went to Germany without the Development Commission going along and now he's making phone calls to investors, something I thought that the Commission was supposed to do.

He will travel the world if necessary looking for jobs the way he did in Germany. He phoned Tennessee. I expect him to go to Mexico to see if he can bring in more Mexicana flights. He told us as well that they were German companies that he could approach. He will have to go out west to set up his commuter scheme. There is no doubt that he will follow the path of Governor Granholm and travel to Asia to talk to car manufacturers about plants in Windsor or at least to have our plants be suppliers to them.

He will travel to Ottawa and Toronto for funds. He will go to New York to deal with Sam. Of course, he will also have to go to Detroit for all the events that Windsor sponsored with taxpayer money. He may have to go to Chicago to see how they did their toll-road P3 to use with our Tunnel deal that may or may not take place on the 27th.

Did you see the headline on page 4 of the Star "Many sleepless nights." What other projects did he have sleepless nights on... Canderel and the border come to mind right away. No wonder he has 18 hour days because he can't sleep.

This almost sounds like jet lag to me from all of the traveling that Eddie did up until now. He told us how many airports he has been in "either on the Friday midnight flight back to Windsor or the 6 am flight out." One can only read the enRoute magazine so many times after all on an airplane even if you can get quotes to use in his speech from the former Mayor of Bogota.

I wonder if the Mayor uses Melatonin to help him recover from jet lag. I know a lot of people swear by it when they travel over different time zones. One of the things I saw about Melatonin on Wikipedia is that

  • "Many supplemental melatonin users have reported an increase in the vividness or frequency of dreams."

Anyway, I'm not going to pick a fight. I'm going to change my conversation and be positive about Windsor. Clearly I am not a naysayer because my Three-part Series on how to solve Windsor's problems was a positive step in making this City prosper again. You know, as I Blogged the other day, that I'm looking for a certain chest to strap a "W" on.

I'll just let those nasty Windsor Star subscribers on the Star Forums do the job instead.

Hola To Our $30M Slush Fund


I can never take Gord Henderson's place, I admit it.

He can keep his columnist job as long as he wants. The man is unbelievable. Our Mayor started speaking at around 7 p.m. and by at least 8:04 p.m. when I saw it not only had Gord absorbed everything that the Mayor had said in his speech even though he had not yet finished delivering it but he was also able to write a column and have it posted on the Windsor Star website.

The man is amazing as well because even before the Mayor finished his speech, Henderson was interviewing him. I will have to check my video of the Mayor's speech to see how Henderson did it. It must have been while people were applauding, the relatively few times that they did.

Oh I know, I'm being silly but I had to stay up late to write this BLOG. We know that Gord interviewed Eddie in advance of his speech. He must have been given a copy of it or was told about it in advance in detail so that he could write a column praising whatever it is that Eddie thinks he's going to be doing. I wonder if other media types were given the same courtesy. Heck I am still waiting for media accreditation from City Hall

I love the way things just come to Eddie out of the blue:
  • "Francis said the need for local incentives hit him, like a brick between the eyes, over the Christmas holidays while he was trolling websites and business publications looking for investment opportunities for Windsor."

I wonder if this was like the Youth Committee that just came to him when he was walking through Devonshire Mall or how he and President Strasser started thinking about their St. Clair deal over a lobster pot or how he just discovered the Lear site for the arena at a wedding in London. Why Eddie almost sounds Trudeau like doesn't he. Remember what I wrote before:

  • "How did Eddie come up with this great idea about a Town Hall meeting for kids. "The town hall idea came to Francis on a recent Friday night movie outing with his wife" said the Star. Now isn't that just like Pierre's walk in the snow when it just came to him to retire or Jean's walk when it came to him not to."

If you really want to know what the Mayor said, then just go to the City's website and read it for yourself. Let me just give you those some thoughts that I had as I listened to him last night and as I went through the speech:

--I listened to his speech on the radio first and what I found very interesting about it in a strange way was the inflection in his voice and how we started pronouncing certain things. Check out the audio or video for yourself and tell me if I'm wrong but in places, he sounded an awful lot like Mike Hurst. Is there a Windsor mayoral style that one develops over time when one becomes the Mayor so that you start sounding like the Mayor before you?

--I really like the style of speechmaking these days that the Americans have perfected and which the Mayor has copied.

You know what I mean, personalize things by talking about real people problems and referring specifically to letters written by people that one can incorporate in one's speech. It's all done to make it appear as if the speech is dealing with real issues from someone who has been out there looking for answers. The examples here were the comment from someone who works at Sutherland or the people who sent a Letter to the Editor of the Star praising the City or the airline executive.

I wonder why the Mayor didn't refer to all those people who wrote all those nasty things on the Windsor Star Forums. They were "off-message" I guess.

--At least on radio when I first heard the speech, the applause from the crowd did not start until well into Eddie's speech. Sure there were a number of interruptions but they were not frequent and certainly not sustained.

--The new phrase to be used this month is "change the conversation." It was used over a dozen times. As for myself, I thought the needle was stuck.

--I thought that this was one of the poorest delivered of Eddie's speeches that I've heard. He seemed extremely nervous for a good part of it but picked up the pace towards the end.

--The sloganeers have earned their keep. They came up with another one last night "Jobs Today." Mind you, if I had been helping the branders out, I would have added an "!" at the end to make it "Jobs Today!"

There, isn't that better to show how important it is to create jobs in the City. I am disappointed however that no name was created for the ad campaign that is about to be started for Greenlink. They should have been something. How about "Let Greenlink Transform Us" since it is

  • "A transformational investment. The type of investment that improves a city, an economy, and a quality of life."

--Aren't you glad to know what our main priority is now. No it's not branding although that was kind of snuck in towards the end of the speech. Rather it is jobs

  • "Let there be no mistake. Creating jobs, and re-invigorating our local economy, has to be the number one priority of Windsor City Council.

    And it has to become this community’s collective and shared responsibility.

    Bringing jobs and prosperity, to continue positioning Windsor for success in the new economy, must be at the heart of each of our decisions. More jobs for Windsorites has to be our primary goal."

I know, I know, where we can get 15,000 new jobs. The Mayor told us to call him if we had ideas.

  • "Do you know about businesses or other entrepreneurs looking for a world-class location in which to succeed and thrive? I’ll call them."

But I didn't really hear anything about cooperating with the Senior Levels or talking to the Ambassador Bridge Company. It was back to Greenlink and spending taxpayer money on ad blitz on a road that is dead. More stalling and delay. Again.

--The new program seems to me to be another THINK BIG gimmick. Dazzle the local folks with big numbers. It's another do-nothing talk scheme so that one can pretend to be doing something when in fact nothing is done. It is another planning extravaganza typical of bureaucrats and administrators rather than an action program to accomplish results.

--There was a reference to the Economic Development Commission who held an economic summit. How many months it take them to issue and report on this Conference and exactly how many jobs has it created? What makes anyone think that they will act more quickly

--Eddie kept talking about the problems that existed 30 years ago. Yet he and the Development Commission knew or should have known that the problems are so much more different today. He knew that years ago since the idea of the Commission started years ago-- and yet nothing significant has been done until it is almost too late. Action is taken not by planning but by trying to manage a crisis that has been caused by inattention to our economic reality.

--Here is one of the dumbest lines of the night as far as I'm concerned that makes his 5-point plan a joke. It is nothing more than an echoing of the first Schwartz report after it had clearly failed after it was used as a stall for I don't know how many months:

  • "These are initial suggestions. Ones that will stimulate debate at Council, and encourage the development of other ideas.

    Jobs Today isn’t intended to be the only solution, but a strong beginning."

Gee doesn't that sound an like something that was said on Face-to-Face that put the nail in the coffin of Schwartz #1. It is just the beginning that will allow conversation at Council---- while Windsor burns!

We don't need more conversation; we need action. But then again inaction is what this Mayor and Council are very good at.

--How is this plan going to be financed the Mayor asks... why Windsor is going to take a huge part of the Federal Gvernment program that is administered by the Province. Yes sir, we are going to get almost $2 billion for the border, $30 million for Ford and all of this money from the National Community Development Fund program. All for Windsor and little for the rest of Ontario.

Are we ever special! It is owed to us after all. We are entitled to it. That is what calling Senior Levels the "enemy" will do and threatening lawsuits accomplishes.

Unfortunately as the Premier said about the Conservative program:

  • "Ontario's Dalton McGuinty said Harper's announcement is "important" and "helpful" but "in the grand scheme of things it is not commensurate with the level of need and sense of urgency."

In other words, Mayor, do not hold your breath waiting for a cheque!

--now the Slush Fund that I didn't know about and wonder if you did, dear reader:

  • "I will also be asking City Council to make a historic, one-time $30 million dollar investment from existing sources to kick-start this fund...

    Our strong financial position means we can do this without new taxes, and without new debt."

Where the heck was this money hiding? I thought we did not have any spare money until after the arena was paid for. No wonder we can afford to spend millions hiring out of town lawyers and consultants.

Why didn't we use this money for watermains or for the arena or for roads and sewers? Why are the Tunnel Plaza Improvements being put off for years since that project only requires $10 million? No money for crossing guards or $800,000 for the Library System... what's going on here? Increasing taxes and levies...why???

We have existing sources, we can do this without new taxes or without debt. And why all the moaning and groaning about the budget if we have so much loose cash around. I wonder how much of the Maxess sale will go into this $30 million.

Too bad University, you're not getting any money for your Engineering Complex from this Council unless there's more slush money around somewhere.

--Apparently the fund that the Mayor is creating has the "the potential to build a $100 million Economic Development Investment Fund." I'm not sure how it gets from $30 million to $100 million

-Who is going to be responsible for this great fund of ours? None other than the Development Commission. And what will be Commission do first:

  • "We will need the help of our Development Commission to establish detailed criteria related to accessing money from the fund, and to help ensure that these taxpayer dollars are being used as effectively and efficiently as possible."

I hope they work faster than the Planning Department who was supposed to develop criteria for exemptions in Sandwich. Hopefully they will work faster than they did when it took them months to create the report after the Summit. And I trust that it will not take them the same period of time that it did to figure out that they needed some brochures.

You see what I mean about talking and inaction.

--I'm glad to see that Sutherland was dragged out. Does that mean that they are not closing their operation in Windsor? I hope not. Unfortunately, the Mayor did not talk about the unused parking lot for the Sutherland employees that the City paid for.

--I have to tell you that one of the great initiatives in the speech was something called "Long-Distance Commuting." Those sloganeers are good. However it's not really all that new.

The real credit for this program should go to the farm workers from Mexico and Mexicana airlines. Because what they do is what Eddie is suggesting.

Windsorites would go out west to work where there are jobs and send money back to the folks at home to keep our own local economy going. The odd time too they could come back home to visit.

Interestingly, the Mayor claims that he spends a lot of time at airports. Might be interesting to see how many trips were paid for by taxpayers over the last few years. Clearly he gets some of his information from EnRoute magazine since he quoted the former Mayor from Bogota. Is that still found on Air Canada planes?

Of course, the program is not ready to go yet:

  • "This won’t be simple. It will require careful planning and implementation...Many stakeholders will need to come to the table – including the airlines – to negotiate charter fares... It will include negotiating arrangements...Lots to do, lots of details to work out, and lots of people to speak with. But planning is well under way."

Yes, a good travel agent could figure out how to do this in about 15 minutes with a few phone calls.

So welcome to Windsor's equivalent of the Mexican farm workers long-distance commuting program. Perhaps we could have called the program "Goin' Down the Road" after the movie of the same name if they sloganeers had a sense of humor.

Under this Mayor, that is what we have become.

--The Mayor started talking about the border and made an impassioned plea for Greenlink again while the word is out that even he knows now that the Province is not going for it.

  • "Some would have you believe that this Council – and the people of Windsor – have been standing in the way. That we have been holding things back."

And what did the Mayor do... he quoted his speeches in 2004, 2005, and 2006. Those were the time periods of the long Schwartz studying of the border and making presentations to the Senior Levels that failed, Schwartz report #1, full tunneling which led to Greenlink in 2007. The Mayor is right when he talked about consistency:

  • "No one has the right to accuse us of changing our position. Or of not wanting to move forward with a border crossing solution.

    We have been consistent from day one."

Yes, consistently failing to arrive at a solution. That consistently has been stalling and threatening lawsuits whether it is the Senior Levels, the Ambassador Bridge Company or the County. He has consistently been late in making submissions. Has he ever actually given a formal report yet to the DRIC people that was due in the November, 2007? I'm not going to talk more about this since you have been reading my BLOGs and know what my position is. Most of the rest of what he spoke about Greenlink we've heard before.

--I find this amusing about Greenlink since it appears to me that the Mayor has admitted that he is not following the Council resolution introduced by Council Marra on tunneling:

  • "But let’s be clear. Our plan – Greenlink – is not what we ultimately might have preferred.

    It represents a compromise. It shows our willingness to listen and adjust, and take other points of view into consideration."

How times change. Wasn't Councillor Halberstadt slammed for using the C-word, "compromise." I guess it is okay if they Mayor uses it.

--We are told that we will "hear the call to take action." In other words, the blitz is coming, the blitz is coming.

  • "Later this week, City Council and I will be sharing with you a number of ways you can become involved. Sending a message to the Premier, to our Ministers, and to the decision makers at Queens Park."

I wonder how many books for the Library System could have been purchased instead of using it for an ad campaign that will not achieve anything.

--I'm so glad that the Mayor referred to Baltimore in his speech again. You remember Baltimore don't you... that is where Citistat is from. Citistat in case you have forgotten was the program that the Mayor ran on in order to be elected that was going to revolutionize municipal government in Windsor and save us millions of dollars. Unfortunately it is not yet been implemented and probably will never be.

--Of course there was the usual Eddie about all the wonderful things that are going on in Windsor and how we should brand ourselves and be positive. But here is the funny part about all this:

  • "It is my hope Council will commit to acting on all of those CSP initiatives that deal with the way the city looks.

    There are few sites as depressing as abandoned homes, storefronts, or gas stations. And the number of derelict properties in Windsor is disproportionately high given the prosperity we do have.

    These abandoned buildings are a blight on our city...

    Let’s consider the implementation of a green streets program, and encourage a tree planting and flower planting effort."

DDDUUUHHH! Am I living in the real world in Windsor? Hasn't the Mayor heard of something called the Interim Control Bylaw and the Demolition Bylaw? Haven't he and Council opposed for the last year and a half the efforts of the Ambassador Bridge Company to tear down the derelict homes that they own and create green space in partnership with the Green Corridor Group of the University?

This is totally ridiculous. I would have used a stronger word but this BLOG is G-rated!

--Finally, it was nice to see the Councillors sitting on stage this year and not sitting in the audience. By the way, I could not tell how big or how little the crowd was since the Cogeco cameras never seemed to be pointed to show us the numbers in the crowd.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Speech And Job, Jobs, Jobs,


Windsor is desperately in need of resuscitation. The Mayor's State of the City speech will not do it if the Star story is correct today. There is only one man who can save Windsor from disaster! Will he act? We must force him to do so.

Is Eddie's State of the City speech tonight nothing more than the excuse to start the huge ad blitz for branding Windsor but calling it a campaign for job creation instead? Remember we were supposed to be spending all this money for Greenlink but I have not seen one advertisement so far.

Coming only about a week before the Provincial Budget, is this Eddie's way of pressuring and getting back at the Minister of Finance, Dwight Duncan, who said "THE MAYOR IS WRONG. THE MAYOR IS WRONG." There is no doubt that when Dwight said that 7500 jobs were at stake on constructing the border road, that got people's attention including that of the people at City Hall. After all, do you think anyone on Council would want to be blamed if the Senior Levels pulled its money out of town and walked away from here.

Naturally, if there is some money for Windsor in the Budget, guess who will try to get the credit. Does that now mean that if there was money, it will be cut out to spite our Mayor? In other words, you can't play money games with the Finance Minister who holds all the cards and who controls the pot of gold. Eddie should learn that Dwight will not be intimidated by some Windsor Star Editorial if there is nothing in the budget for Windsor. Eddie has no leverage over him since his re-election campaign is years away after Eddie is no longer Mayor.

Truly, there is only one man who can save Windsor from disaster.

He did not listen to me before when I begged him and/or his colleague to switch parties so he could become a Cabinet Minister in the Federal Government since that was the big thing that people were doing in the past. If he had, the border would have been fixed by now and we would be rolling in jobs with the 15,000 new ones created in infrastructure and spin-off.

Well this man has a chance once again, and this may be his last chance, to go down into history in Windsor and to have a legacy for being this City's saviour.

That man is NOT Eddie Francis, our Mayor, because all he does is talk and give speeches but does not act and tries to place the blame elsewhere. The only man that can save Windsor is NDP MP, Joe Comartin.

The gossip is out there that he may not run again for Parliament. If that is the case then he should resign NOW and allow a by-election to take place in Windsor. If that happens, here is what the Prime Minister might do as reported by CTV news as he is doing in another constituency where there is a by-election:
  • "Saskatchewan's Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River riding is the one to watch. Joan Beatty, a former provincial NDP cabinet minister and a native woman, is the Liberal candidate in the largely native riding. The Conservative and NDP candidates are also natives...

    CTV reporter Caillin Katnich told CTV's Question Period from Prince Albert, Sask. on Sunday that it's hard to get a sense of how the election will go.

    "It's really up in the air," he said...

    Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in Prince Albert in mid-January to announce the community, hit hard by a pulp mill's closure, would get about $36 million in federal funding from a program designed to help distressed resource communities. The announcement came after campaigning had started in the byelection."

That is how to get cash for Windsor, real money and right now! Had Joe gone already, there would be no doubt whatsoever that the Ford Plant would have received its $30 million. You see it is all election politics before a Federal election.

I wonder if the Mayor has finally figured that out since there seems to have been a recent conversion to job creation. The speech tonight apparently will not be all about THINK BIG dreams for the future as is the usual but about practical bread-and-butter issues.

Only a short year ago, after a Strategic session. Windsor's top priority was "branding" if you can believe that.

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis emerged Monday from the last of several priority-setting meetings with one thing on his mind -- improving Windsor's image to outsiders.

    "What Windsor has to offer is not being communicated," he said, referring to weekend national news stories highlighting Windsor's economic woes and loss of manufacturing jobs.

    Francis said Windsor's strengths have to be packaged and sold to the province and the country if the city hopes to attract jobs, physicians, students and investment.

    "Branding is key and it's something that's long overdue."

    Council agreed that one of the top seven or eight priorities in the next few years will be to develop "a brand" that will focus on Windsor's strengths -- the waterfront, affordable housing, short commute times -- in an effort to expand the economy and attract new residents...

    "The other top priorities will be compiled in a final report to council in a few weeks. They include improving the border, partnering with senior levels of government and the private sector, developing a safe community strategy, improving communications with residents and businesses, collaborating with regional partners and creating a think-tank that would work on attracting investment."

Did you see job creation as part of our priorities? Were any of these strategic priorities accomplished or even started? We now can suspect why a public opinion poll was really taken here recently: to find out what concerns the citizens. My cheapo poll gave the answer loud and clear. Wasn't there one taken just before the last election as well, the results of which we've never seen as far as I know?

If the City paid for the poll, then Eddie can deliver his State of the City speech earlier than ususal before real problems develop here. He can deal with issues respecting jobs if that is what people are concerned about. Then he can say that he has in motion a PLAN to get us jobs.

I wonder if there is about to be a big negative announcement coming that he may know about and if so, what the disatrous news will be---something perhaps with Chrysler? I have no idea

In one Henderson interview between him and the Mayor back in February, the Mayor said:

  • "It's too far away," said Francis. "I'm not even thinking about that. [Running for a third term] You focus on your priorities." He said if border issues aren't resolved before election day, Nov. 8, 2010, "we're all going to be in trouble." It would, he said, be devastating for the Windsor economy and bad news for politicians at all levels."

The border seemed to be his main priority as the Voice of Council. Only later in the interview did the Mayor say:

  • "There's plenty of time for them to crank it up," said Francis, but right now council needs to stay focused on job-related issues. "I'm begging you as a council to be leaders for this community," he pleaded. "Park the campaigns to the sidelines right now. We should look at everything we do from the perspective of attracting more jobs to this community."

Intersting the border is HIS job while he can blame the jobs on the Council.

Isn't that typical and isn't that what Eddie's speech tonight is all about. He can take the glory in delivering the vision about his PLAN then pass it over to the Development Commission to take the hit if nothing gets done! That's right the Commission who was NOT to be measured by jobs created:

  • "Because of the nature of the region’s strategy, traditional performance measures such as the number of new plants attracted, or the number of jobs retained, albeit significant, should not be the primary indicators of success. These could actually be counterproductive by driving the wrong behaviour."

Really, what have they done in a year after spending so much money. It took them almost all the time to realize that it had no brochures to hand out to possible investors. Thank goodness that a credit union put in some cash thereby allowing the Commission to get additional money. I sure hope that Eddie shows a copy of the brochure at the speech tonight.

If the PLAN does not happen then it is not Eddie's fault. It is that of the County. Interestingly the City/County meeting is to take place on Wednesday and I'm sure that Eddie's PLAN will be a big highlight. If by chance the County comes on board, it will be the fault of the Province or the Feds if money is not made available. You remember the Senior Levels don't you... they are our "enemies" who want to impose a $1.6 billion "cheap" solution on us. And yet Eddie wants them to be our Sugar Daddy.

I wonder who the source was who leaked part of the fund story that is in the speech to the Star so that it would get a big headline today. It cannot be the Mayor because he was quoted later on in the story in the Star and also CKLW had an item about this as well. I think that an investigation ought to be undertaken right away to see who is leaking the Mayor's material. I'll be surprised if Councillor Lewenza does not immediately ask for the Integrity Commissioner to be put in place to stop this kind of action.

This whole thing is a joke. Look at the Mayor's comment:

  • "the city is prepared to move right away. Somebody's got to make the first move."

What was his big move...flying over to Germany at taxpayer expense to talk to a startup company that might create some jobs in Windsor. Of course what he talked about at first was not what the German company was interested in when they came here. And how many jobs would be created... maybe 50 in three years after they actually get their first airplane so that we could export onions. Now that is job creation. Except the Germans are

  • "scouting for business prospects, not just in Windsor, but across Southwestern Ontario and southeast Michigan."

Oh and don't forget about the biodiesel project that the Commission touted recently that would create hundreds of jobs except that Sharp Biofuels stated, if they are the company involved, in Chris Schnurr's BLOG:

  • "As for the hundreds of jobs they are way off."

How about all those fantastic IT jobs... I mean the call centre jobs where the City spent almost $200,000 on a parking lot for the employees that is rarely used. If the parking lot is almost empty as A-Channel News reported, does that mean that Sutherland does not have the number of employees that they thought they would? Has Sutherland lost some of its contracts? Has it decided that Windsor is not a good city to work in because of the risk of unionization? Will the facility remain open or will it close? Is this the disastrous news that the Mayor may know about?

There is so much more than I could say about the Star story but I'm not sure how much time you have to read everything and whether in fact the speech will be revised depending on what feedback that Mayor gets after this trial balloon was leaked. Read the Star Forum on this:

http://www.canada.com/windsorstar/story.html?id=b701551d-f1aa-4cbb-bb74-3cb72738addb&k=24383

Here is what the Eddie's game is all about:

  • "According to the source, the proposal was born out of a realization that the city needs "new tools, new ideas and a new approach" to reviving a sluggish economy and preventing the losses of jobs and residents who are leaving to pursue opportunities in more prosperous parts of the country."

Ohhhhhhhhh someone had a realization finally! How absurd!

We don't need anything new and the fact that this region has needed to transform itself has been around for years. It is just that the Mayor hasn't been interested before but is forced to be now. After all he's got a high-paying job that allows him to play entrepreneur with taxpayer money.

Our situation could be solved overnight. As I have said so many times before that it is boring already:

  • solve the border problem and all of our issues are resolved.

We get 15,000 high-paying jobs that will last for years, we have the time to transition our economy based on our location as the major border crossing point in North America and we have the ability to train people for new jobs based on automotive research and development, medical and educational expertise. And we tell the world:

  • WINDSOR IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS!

If I was the Mayor, that is what I would be saying tonight.