Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, March 28, 2008

Breaking BLOGnews: Ford

Usually reliable sources (they better be or else!) have told me to expect an announcement about the Ford plant on Monday.

Word is that the news should be positive and, if so, that a lot of the credit is owed to Conservative MP Jeff Watson!

Does that mean a Federal election is coming too soon and every seat counts for a Party!

Used And Abused

What a trite cliché my BLOG title is today. But how appropriate.

Did you feel the same way that I did when I read the headline in the Star yesterday about the 19,000 man years of work that Greenlink would produce. Man years mind you, not number of jobs. [I refuse to use person-years]. Do you feel like a jerk to be blunt?

I could just picture in my mind's eye the Mayor, the Eminence Greasie and their legions of cheerleaders and sycophants laughing at what fools we have been since the Mayor's State of a City speech. How dumb we were to believe that the Mayor's Jobs Today plan was a serious one.

I wonder also whether the Mayor's colleagues at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities feel the same way when they read what the Mayor just announced. I wonder if the Mayors of Saskatoon, Regina, Edmonton, and Calgary, think that they have been played as fools the same way Windsorites have been played. But who knows, perhaps they were in on the joke as well.

Can you believe it, on March 17 the Mayor is preparing to send everybody out of town who was looking for work and then, barely 10 days later, there are jobs, jobs, jobs totaling 19,000 man years in town, working on the City's solution for the border road. No one has to move from Windsor at all now. Hallelujah. We are saved.

I am not sure if this is the worst case of cynical, political manipulation that I have ever seen but it comes very close to it. I cannot believe that any caring person would play with the lives of so many people this way, all to score a cheap political point for himself and his future career.

Can you believe it, the Mayor in his speech on March 17, especially when he was talking about Greenlink, did not mention anything about 19,000 man years of jobs coming out of this project. Instead, he fed us the crap about Jobs Today.

And please, do not try and tell me that he had never seen the consultant study by then or did not know about it! I may have been foolish but not that much of a fool.

Why did he hide the info from us? Why couldn't he give us hope? Why didn't he tell us about this? Why did he make people think that their homes might have to be split up, families torn apart or things were so bad that people would really have to move out of here. Simple.

The headline...that's all it was. It was all for the headline, a misleading one too!

We were all nothing more than cannon fodder, including the Mayors of the Western cities, between the time of Eddie's Speech and the Budget. He needed a diversion, some amusement. We were being used as Jobs Today was nothing more than a tool to put pressure on the Minister of Finance and to embarrass him, and Sandra, so that he would fold on Budget Night and give in to our Mayor. The timing of the ad about Greenlink was so coincidental right after the budget, the setup at the mall just happened to take place right after the Budget. And then the announcement, the big announcement right after the budget.

I guess the money that Eddie must have spent on polling confirmed to him that jobs really were the priority for Windsor. So he fed us BS in his State of the City speech and then gave us the carrot subsequently of all these jobs if only Greenlink is approved.

What have I been arguing on here for I don't know how long. What has the Construction Association said even before I did. What did Dwight Duncan talk about. What is the Bridge Company actually producing with its Ambassador Gateway project now, today, at this very moment on the other side of the river. I have said that the construction of the road to the border and the Enhancement Project would produce between 10-15000 infrastructure and spinoff jobs.

Congratulations to the Mayor for finally confirming the proof of what I have been saying. I would have appreciated a thank you at least. Too bad it took him so long to find that out but he need not worry with his salary!

Here's what the Mayor said in his speech about his conversations with the Mayors of the Western cities:
  • "Recently, at a meeting of the Big Cities Mayors’ Caucus I spoke with my colleagues about our challenges. And in turn the mayors of Calgary, Edmonton and Saskatoon told me of their issues and challenges.

    They told me about how there is an ever-increasing labour shortage out west. They need skilled tradespeople, and people to fill any number of construction-related positions...

    So we’ve started to develop a plan. A plan to help long-distance commuters living in Windsor to access jobs that exist today in Western Canada but to keep their roots at home in our community."

I was curious to try and find out when Eddie spoke with the Mayors. I went to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities website and saw that the Big Cities Mayors last met on February 8. Presumably therefore, they had their discussion on or about that day. Eddie did tell us in his speech:

  • "But planning is well under way."

Tell me, from February 8 until today, what have you seen of this plan? What are the details? We know that the Mayor changed from having people come back every weekend to working several weeks and then coming back because otherwise it would be way too expensive. We learned that there may be a problem getting houses for people out west. We learned that many Westerners were not very happy about people taking money and then leaving and spending their money in Windsor. We heard that there might be a job fair. We just heard, we never saw any action, no results... a typical Eddie "THINK BIG DREAM" that fell apart once we learned from Henderson that there would be no money until after Eddie left in 2010 as our Mayor.

Then, when it became time to produce or else, the conversation was changed. Greenlink jobs became our saviour. By the way did you notice the word "jobs" in the first full-page Greenlink ad? You did not because it was not there when the ad was first produced. Jobs were nothing more than an afterthought, a political afterthought. Throw up a big number and fool the citizens, or try to.

Let's see now, the construction project is to take six years. SIX YEARS. Not starting tomorrow mind you, but who knows how long from now because Greenlink would have to undergo an environmental assessment since it is a completely new alternative. Again, another typical Eddie manoeuver. Get the glory today by making the announcement and talking about it and let someone take the blame tomorrow when they cannot fulfill what he promised. After all, after he leaves as Mayor, it would not be his fault if jobs could not be produced.

If it starts in 2010...our border is not finished until after 2016, longer than the DRIC timetable.

Want to bet that the total Greenlink cost will be at least $2.6B, Gord's number, when you add in an inflation factor (the new Greenlink revised number may probably still be in 2007 dollars as is shown on the website), and add in the part from E C Row to the border that has not been factored in yet. I bet DRIC has priced it out by now! Maybe they can tell us.

Even forgetting that, apparently "The jobs would include 6,760 person years of direct construction work." That it works out to jobs for about 1100 people. The Ambassador Gateway project alone produces work for 2800 people for about two years according to a Michigan story I saw. Greenlink, therefore, while a benefit, doesn't seem to me to be that much of a huge benefit the way the Mayor would like us to believe, especially when we have no idea when the first person would be hired.

Throw up the big number in the headline, Windsor Star, when it comes to jobs for Greenlink just as you threw up the small number when it comes to costs for the East End Arena. People will remember a number and not really understand what it represents. Play the game. Help out the Mayor. Help fool the people. But it's okay. As Marty Beneteau said:

  • "We did things that newspapers can do to bring about change, positive change. I think we got a lot of results this year and this now validates the results we got."

By the way, did you like the photo of Eddie on the CKLW website too. What a nice treat for the Mayor from his strapped on "W" radio station.

Honestly, I cannot understand the other media in town. Why are they so subservient, why do they allow themselves to be scooped by the Star all the time. Want proof. Here's what Gord Henderson wrote on February 28 right after the federal budget:

  • "Maybe it's none of the above. Maybe this government has made a ruthless decision to retain the Windsor area as a surplus labour pool, a mini pre-Hibernia Newfoundland, to provide a reliable reservoir of workers for red-hot B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan."

Does that sound familiar, echoing Eddie's State of the City speech.

I really have had enough. I'm sick of the shenanigans. There is no need for them. 60 more days of spending $300,000 of taxpayer money for what? $4.3 million of taxpayer money spent on consultants and lawyers with what results achieved? Cynical political opportunism, stalling and delays to what end?

And where are the Councillors? Oh I know, they are manning the booth at Devonshire Mall. Perhaps they should be selling Lottery tickets instead.

The BLOGMeister Always Rings Twice

Mail Call!

1) Ed.. you should sell your plan to Remo Mancini... he would probably have Matt Fischer follow through on the deal. After reading the blog.... how do the kids text message each other...ROTFLMAO !!

Good stuff... can't wait for the sequel.

2) They should have thrown in a Championship Golf course on top of Greenlink.
What's another 10 million.
That makes sense and money.
If they cut out two more fire trucks and some police cruisers, that would cover it.

3) OK - I am very confused. The city has spent considerable dollars for this campaign yet they don't seem to have updated their Green Link website. None of the 'new reports' talked about by the mayor yesterday are there. In fact - the city hasn't even bothered to change their costing on the GreenLink website to reflect the new cost. From the city's website:

GreenLink Windsor Call to Action
The Mayor and City Council are urging residents to take part in a Community Call to Action in support of the GreenLink Windsor solution. The Mayor announced a new phase of the GreenLink campaign at Devonshire Mall on March 26. Visit the GreenLink Windsor website to learn more.

Meanhile the Star reports:

- The job estimates for six years of construction -- a person year is the equivalent of one person working one year -- were included in a series of new reports commissioned by the city that make Windsor's case for GreenLink. But where is the report?

- They include air quality analysis, cost and constructability studies, and economic impact analysis. Still looking - no report

- Parsons Brinckerhoff, a global engineering firm assigned to help develop GreenLink, has also estimated the new jobs will provide an additional $1.9 billion in earnings for the area. The jobs would include 6,760 person years of direct construction work, plus spinoffs that would bring the total to 19,000. Again, no report to back this up

- According to the Parsons Brinckerhoff reports released by the mayor Wednesday, the economic spinoffs from GreenLink will span multiple sectors, with benefits that extend beyond the construction industry, "cycling through the entire regional economy and dispersing benefits to a wide range of businesses and households." Same again - no report

- The company has also fine-tuned its cost analysis for the project. It has identified tunnel waterproofing, concrete, lighting and cement grout costs, revising its final estimate to $1.77 billion, up slightly from an original projection released late last year. A 30 per cent contingency estimate is built into the total. Well if they have, it is not reflected on the comparison on the Greenlink website

- The new reports will be delivered to DRIC "to eliminate any excuses of convenience," the mayor said. When will that be I wonder? Since the reports are not on the website, I guess the public can't view them

- "We have done the work, we have done more than was expected of us," he said. But noone asked you to do this - least of all the taxpayers

4)JobsFund! Hilarious. Your best column in weeks, especially the part about flying onions to Germany.. bet they'll go well with sauerkraut.

5) Oh for the days that we South Windsorites were part of Sandwich West instead.

6) Ed - while enjoying your blog today I couldn't help but be amused by your concern that the economic nationalists would hate you. Really... remember the only reason to lock a barn door after the horses escape is to prevent their return. If they don't hate you already they haven't been paying attention

7)Hi Ed;

Been busy! I'm glad you didn't choose the music for "Jesus
Christ!...Superstar!" for your short video this morning! Although I think
Eddie would have preferred it LOL!

The Brookings report is pretty damning of our mayor and his attitude and
approach! I got that report last week. It also puts DRIC, DRTP on notice
also about their folly. The report says it all and what should be done and
who can do it! Will Eddiefice complex read it? Nah! He will spin it right
into the trash can! It isn't his dream but it is really written quite well
in its black letters of on the page, so to speak of!

I'm not one for having Eddie spend more of our money, but I really think he
needs a communications department or choir director, at least to herd all
the walking mouthpieces into singing his song!

Maybe this should be Eddie's song for Greenlink: Cher's (This is) A Song for
the Lonely

8) we are going to fly Mexicans
into Windsor to work here, then fly our "assembly monkeys" out west to work,
is there something wrong with picture?

9) hysterical - love your videos (they are getting better).

10) Hi Ed,

I'll try to keep this short. I almost had a stroke in my car today while listening to AM800. Matt Fischer says the new VW plant won't come to Windsor-Essex because "there's a lack of available workers".

What the hell is he saying? People are losing jobs left and right. There's a great deal of skilled trades people out there who could easily fit into a new car plant. This guy Fischer is just like Mayor Eddie, they are both out of control. They are completely clueless. It makes me ill to open the Windsor Star each day and read the crazy remarks these leaders are spewing out. Why didn't he say the truth? VW will never come to Essex County because of the CAW circus. Lewenza and company has done a fine job sending out a positive message to all investors.

I've lost faith in most of our elected officials. Nothing surprises me anymore. How stupid do they think we are?

Ed, keep up the good blogging. I read it whenever I can.

11) Hi Ed,

Did you hear on CKLW today that CEO Matt Fischer stated Volkswagen would not be able to locate here not because of the unions (to which I agree) but because we do not have enough workers to fill an assembly plant?

Can you imagine! I thought it was a cruel joke but he was serious. How about we ask all of the laid off people at GM, Nemak, Chrysler, Ford and a myriad of other assembly plants and we can also ask all of the skilled labour force that is unemployed and see if they agree.

Why are we paying big salaries to guys like Matt Fischer to shove away business and make excuses for them not to locate here? Isn't it his job to PROMOTE and ENCOURAGE business to move here?

If we dig a bit deeper we can see that he is only saving his own skin by putting out the fire before it starts because we already know that Volkswagen wouldn't locate here to begin with because there are no incentives, something Mayor Francis just found out even though he has been in politics for 10 years!

Just when I thought this area couldn't get more ridiculous it seems to always find a way. Too bad they couldn't reverse this trend and do the same with jobs.

12) Did Eddie ever imagine that the most waves his speech would make would
come from his talk of flying Windsorites out west for work?

It's tragically comic.

13) ‘Laughing Stock’

Touché Ed.

I also did the math when I read in the Star that Eddie thought people could work out west and still live here. Maybe the Developmentless Commission is working on a teleporter and gave up on brochures.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Eddie's Jobs Today Plan: An Investor's Bonanza

You have seen all those infomercials late at night or on Sunday afternoons when there are no sports shows on TV offering you the way to become fabulously wealthy. But you've always been concerned, wondering if it is too good to be true. Would you dare waste your hard-earned money and perhaps lose it?

Is it really possible for you to make the kind of money that these people are talking about in their 30 minute advertisement. I'm sure that you are saying to yourself if only I knew this could really happen to me, then I would do it. If it were fool-proof, I would get involved you say. If it was so easy you think, then why wouldn't everyone do it.

Well my friends, I'm going to offer you in this BLOG the chance of a lifetime, your opportunity to move on up to Easy Street and to live the Life of Riley. Yes friends, get on board the gravy train offered by your City Hall and Senior Level Government but do it now, before it's too late.

Do you dream of mansions, yachts, luxury automobiles and vacations in exotic locations? IF SO THIS BLOG IS FOR YOU.

Are you just starting out in life but poor and risking unemployment but dreaming of that perfect, high paying job like that of a Windsor Police Constable? IF SO THIS BLOG IS FOR YOU.

Do you have a spouse and a couple of kids and are having trouble making your mortgage payments but wishing that you could make a salary like a Windsor City Hall manager? IF SO THIS BLOG IS FOR YOU.

Are you just recently retired or you took a buyout and you're worried about whether you can make ends meet with the price of gasoline and bread and electricity and water and property taxes and levies increasing but wish you had a pension like a Politician? IF SO THIS BLOG IS FOR YOU.

Yes my friends, you too can have all the money that you'll ever need by investing in the JOBSTODAY FUND which I am starting up. All you need to do is invest a few dollars in the fund along with fellow Windsorites and just watch the money come rolling in. Laugh away your worries and get in on the investment bonanza that is sure to happen.

We all know that our Mayor, Eddie Francis, is a smart guy. As someone said, "He is one brick more than a load." As Gord H. told us

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

Well folks, the idea of how to capitalize on Jobs Today hit me like a ton of bricks. I want to share my idea with YOU and help YOU AND YOUR FAMILY enjoy life to the fullest as we all become filthy rich.

First off, I need your money for the JOBSTODAY FUND . I actually do not need your cash yet, just a commitment will do. It's similar to the kind of commitment that Eddie asked of the Essex County Warden Santos:

  • "Francis said the money does not have to be provided up front — it’s the commitment to funding that counts.

    “We need the commitment so we can start advertising, so we can start putting it out there, so we can start communicating...that money is available.”

Don't worry, with your commitment, I will leverage it with the hundred million dollar fund that Eddie wants to use to create jobs. Moreover, every dollar from you will be matched and increased by not only that fund but all the Government funds I can latch onto since Windsor is clearly now a depressed area.

Every dollar that you contribute can be increased one, two, five or even tenfold or more with all the Government matching and grant programs that are available. Those Gazelle Feeders won't know what hit them by the time that I get through asking for cash.

Do I have a PLAN, a Business PLAN, to convince the Governments and the Economic Development Commission to give us money. Of course I do. I know how the system works.

What is the first thing that I'm going to do with all this JOBSTODAY FUND money? Obviously, I am going to California and Arizona. Why, because of the aircraft graveyards there. I am going to go out and buy a fleet of airplanes very cheaply.

I have of my choice amongst hundreds of older, less fuel efficient but still flyable planes that sit there waiting for someone to buy them or else they will be junked and recycled into aluminum cans. I have my choice of large jets and small ones including DC-8's and 10's, Lockheed L-1011's, Boeing 737's, 747's, 757's and 767's, as well as Airbus A300's and A310's.

I can get those planes at a bargain price and make us a fortune on them. And think of all the people that I will have to hire to be crews for those flights. This alone will guarantee success for Windsor Airport with all the flights coming and going. This might actually require the upgrading of the Expressway to handle the road traffic so I will solve the road to the the border issue too as an afterthought.

With the JOBSTODAY FUND money, I am starting up a new charter airline, Air Windsor/Essex. Why should we give the passenger fare money for Windsorites going to and coming from their new jobs out West to Air Canada or Westjet to make them rich when we can keep it here in Windsor and make us rich instead.

Imagine the thousands of people who would go out by air every Sunday evening and come back every Friday night from their jobs out West to join up again with their families. Planeload after planeload after planeload every weekend in the year. Why should our people be forced to pay over $1000 and have to endure a six or seven hour flight and change in Toronto, when our airline can charge a few dollars less and cut the travel time in half with a direct flight.

And if employers out West pay the fare, since it is much cheaper for them than moving a family out West and subsidizing their mortgage payments for years since the cost of a home in a western city is probably double or triple the price of a Windsor home, they won't mind paying out a few dollars less than the scheduled airlines would charge! They will save money too.

During the week, what we would do with the AIR WINDSOR/ESSEX airplanes. They will not sit idle, I assure you of that. The extra money we make will all be gravy too.

We'll fill them full of onions and ship them over to Germany along with other agricultural products. You know those $.69 bunches of onions that can get us over three dollars in Europe according to the two unnamed people from the unnamed company that the Mayor had come over from Germany. Why should they make the outrageous profits when we can instead. What a profit we will make in the agricultural business as well.

We'll send over Essex County wine too because in Europe, our wines will be considered "imported" and would command premium prices compared with being viewed as mere "local" wines here. Our marketers will create a program in Europe similar to the one with the slogan"Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé! "The New Beaujolais has arrived!" where

  • "65 million bottles, nearly half of the region's total annual production, will be distributed and drunk around the world"

I definitely am going to try and corner the Ice Wine market because of the long winter that we've had. It should be a great crop for bottling and selling overseas. Think of how expensive that wine is and how many Euros we can sell it for.

Of course, and I don't want to be sexist about it, most of the people travelling on AIR WINDSOR/ESSEX for the jobs will be younger and male.

Pity then the poor housewife with several children who will be forced look after the household, pay the bills, play mother and father to the kids and then see her exhausted spouse for only a short time every week. I know, I did a lot of commuting over an 18 month period and by the end of it, I was physically and mentally drained.

Imagine the stress on the wife and young children who remain in Windsor especially if the wife is working as well. Imagine the stress on the relationship. We don't want marriage breakups and divorces nor do we want children feeling alone or unwanted or having nightmares thinking they only have a single parent or that the family is breaking up.

We are going to need psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers to meet their requirements. Lots of them and almost immediately. But already, we have a shortage in Windsor of these professionals. What are we going to do?

Obviously, we will have to fly these people into Windsor from all over North America to meet the needs of our people. And they can fly AIR WINDSOR/ESSEX! Since they can write off the fares on their taxes as a business expense, we won't have to give them too much of a discount either. And see how we would be filling up Windsor hotels and restaurants too! We can put together package deals for them and make a few extra dollars that way as well.

Heck, it would not surprise me to see that, as part of the therapy, these families are going to need to re-establish relationships as well if their marriages are not to break down and if the kids are not to forget who their father is. They will need some quality time together.

Accordingly, we are going to have to be able to fly them to vacation resorts like DisneyWorld or Hawaii or Mexico. Think of all the charter flights we will be able to sell. Again, AIR WINDSOR/ESSEX comes to the rescue as the charter airline of choice!

But my friends, you did not come into this venture to make a few dollars in the airline or travel business. You did not give me money, or at least your commitment, for the JOBSTODAY FUND to make a small rate of return. You want real dough, the big bucks. You want to hit the jackpot! You want to be rolling in cash so that you never have to worry about money again.

Well my friends there is only one way that you can do that in this country and that is in REAL ESTATE!

Oh I know what you are thinking. You think I have lost my marbles. That those bricks squashed my brains. The real estate market in Windsor is horrible or so you are told, with house prices dropping and homes being foreclosed left and right. How can anyone make money with apartment vacancy rates zooming upwards and buildings being converted into condominiums to save tax money.

But that's what separates those that can make money and those that cannot. Just stick with me and listen. I have the answer.

These are the best of times for you and me, dear investor. The worse it is for Windsorites, the more that people think that we are in a depression... the better it is for us.

I'm going to take all of the rest of the JOBSTODAY FUND money and all of the Government money and I'm going to buy houses in Windsor. Yes, I am going to buy every single solitary house that I can that is in half decent shape at as low a price as I possibly can. I'm going to be the banks' and the mortgage brokers' best friend. I'm going to buy all of their foreclosed properties too. AND at bargain prices as well!

What am I going to do with them... flip them of course and make a huge profit for me and my JOBSTODAY FUND investors, for you who believed in me.

Oh you think I've lost it now don't you. How can anyone possibly make money in Windsor real estate in this market? Don't get excited, just follow along with me. I have it all figured out.

When all of our unemployed people are shipped off to the West, flying AIR WINDSOR/ESSEX of course, we will all of a sudden have the lowest rate of unemployment in Canada. No one here who wants a job will be unable to find one. They will just go out West. We will become the jobs hot spot in Canada, or at least that is how it will appear.

Who would doubt us? Heck, we already have the head Gazelle Feeder saying on CKLW:

  • "Ontario is being urged to go after a new Volkswagen assembly plant. The German automaker is searching North America for a site for a new plant. But, Windsor-Essex is not considered a possibility. Development commission C-E-O Matt Fischer says there's a lack of available workers."

Moreover, the jobs that they are going to take out West pay phenomenally well, or so the news stories claim. Of course, when Statistics Canada does their survey of wages and salaries across Canada, when they ask a Windsor family how much money they earn, the rate quoted will be based on the western salary that the wage earner received. Since so many people will be commuting, almost everyone that Statistics Canada contacts here will show this high rate of pay. In a very short time, Windsor's per capita income will be the highest in Canada.

What does this mean... well, if you are looking for a job with high pay you will want to come to the area that has the highest per capita income in Canada won't you. You'll also want to come to an area where the house prices are not as high as those in Toronto or in the West. That area is Windsor too. PLUS, we have advantages from both a cultural and sports perspective. Even this small City, according to the Mayor, can run major events:

  • "Our track record speaks for itself to host these events," said Francis at the time. "From the Super Bowl, to Wrestlemania, to the Grand Prix."

Hrumph. And people thought that they were Detroit events! How shameful the American media can be when they spread vicious lies like those. Next they will claim that the North American Auto show is really held in Detroit when we had the big car and truck extravaganza this year at the Windsor Armouries!

Do you see what I'm getting at? I can buy the houses cheaply and then sell them at a much higher price to all these people who are going to flock into Windsor. And I haven't even included all of those rich people from Toronto and Vancouver and from the United States who would move to Windsor, you know the kind of people that Gord Henderson talked about in his column the other day.

But then you say, what happens if those people can't find a job in Windsor because there is no industry here. What happens when they can't pay their mortgage? Ahhhh, that is the beauty of my program. No need to worry, they'll all be mortgaged under the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp. program which provides a form of insurance to the lender. Who cares if they cannot pay!

  • "Through your lender, CMHC Mortgage Loan Insurance enables you to finance up to 100% of the purchase price of a home."
  • "Timely payment to the Investor of principal and interest is guaranteed by CMHC, who also insures the underlying mortgages."

You see what I mean. No risks. No worries! The homes can be financed completely with CMHC backing everything. Mortgage meltdown, not for you and me my friends. We are protected. We are happy. WE ARE RICH!


What's keeping you? Why aren't you sending me your money so I can start JOBSTODAY FUND? Why are you hesitating? Don't you want to live like a Windsor public servant or politician, a life of luxury and ease.

Still leery. Oh it works my friends. Just think of programs like the Scientific Research Tax Credit program, HRDC jobs grants, the gun registry, Adscam, DRIC and building a public bridge. The Governments just WANT to waste taxpayer money! Let us help them spend.

Thank our Mayor for the concept, ask him to run for a third term. If he can keep on dreaming up all of these schemes to save his political career, we can capitalize on them and make a fortune.

Come on Windsorites. THINK BIG! DREAM BIG! ACT BIG! Just pick up the phone and call JOBSTODAY FUND toll-free at 1-GET-JOB-FUND and ask for the Prospectus and the free DVD that explains how you can start investing and making money today!


This PLAN carries a high level of risk, and may not be suitable for all investors or for anyone with half a brain. This PLAN can work against you as well as for you. Before deciding to get involved, see your doctor for medical advice and take an IQ test. Do NOT tell your spouse or significant other what you are thinking of doing or you might be committed. You should carefully consider your investment objectives, level of experience, and risk appetite. The possibility exists that you could sustain a loss of some or all of your investment and therefore you should not invest money that you cannot afford to lose. Heck you should not invest or commit a single penny for heaven's sake but rather go to the Casino and lose your money there. At least, you will keep Windsorites employed there and you will have a good time doing so. PLUS you can get a few free drinks as well. You should be aware of all the risks associated and seek advice from an independent financial advisor.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sleepless In Detroit/Windsor Tunnel

Isn't this precious.

Someone involved with the Tunnel figured out a way to be creative. They went out and bought a billboard with this cute saying on it. I guess that is supposed to draw traffic away from the Bridge since it is on Huron Church Road!

I must admit though the first time that I went by it, I just glanced at a billboard and I thought it read:
  • "You could have slept in…the tunnel"

That usually seems to happen to people in the morning going into United States waiting to clear US Customs or going back to the US after a weekend in Windsor. Isn't that the reason why so many Windsor police officers are stationed at Wyandotte and Goyeau to direct traffic because of the traffic mess around the City-ownedTunnel? (Hmmmm. I wonder if the cost of the officers is charged to the Tunnel or is it a cost borne by taxpayers). Being stuck at US Customs in the Tunnel is the case on occasion for hours if you take the Tunnel bus as has been reported. What else can one do but sleep for hours sometimes until the bus is cleared.

Talking about sleeping though, where is our investigative reporting from Windsor's traditional media. Were they asleep at the switch or were they afraid to do anything before the Mayor's State of the City Speech for fear of offending him and losing access to City Hall? Or after too!

What is one of the matters that Kwame over in Detroit has been accused of neglecting so that the City's budget is not balanced: the US$75 million Tunnel deal with Windsor. How long has it been so far that this deal has not been finished and yet the City's outside lawyers are working so hard to achieve a resolution. I would hate to think what the legal fees are by now.

So when Councillor Halberstadt writes about a possible Tunnel deal on his BLOG, you would think that someone from the traditional media would actually read about it and try and find out something about it. After all, it's almost like getting a big story on a silver platter.

Not so far it seems. Not a peep from anyone. Or rather not until the 26th, the day before the meeting, when we are told to swallow this:

  • "What we will be dealing with is a recommendation from legal counsel to put the tunnel into a corporation to protect the taxpayer from any financial exposure that might occur from an act of terrorism or accident," said Mayor Eddie Francis."

Please don't tell me know that nobody from the traditional media reads the Councillor's BLOG. I thought he got into trouble with some of his colleagues because of what he wrote on there. If no one reads what he writes, other than a few unimportant taxpayers, then he need not be concerned what he reveals on there and should be telling us more. After all, but for his BLOG would we have known at all about the meeting on the 27th?

In case someone is interested, here is what he wrote:

  • "Kwame should be asked about the long-delayed negotiations between Detroit and Windsor to secure possession of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel and infuse $75 million into the coffers of Kilpatrick’s cash-strapped administration.

    Protracted, top-secret negotiations have been dragging on since last summer, at undisclosed legal costs. But now it appears that a deal may be near. Mayor Francis has called a special joint meeting of the Windsor Tunnel Commission, which he chairs, and Windsor City Council, on Thursday, March 27 at 3 p.m."

Of course, I'm not a reporter from the mighty Windsor Star or a media person from a radio or TV station so what chance do I have to get information from the powerful. I do have a few people I talk to however. From what I have learned to date from people on both sides of the border, no one seems to know if there is a deal to be concluded or not. The overall consensus of people is that there is no deal that is finalized at this time and that the meeting on the 27th must be about something else.

Of course, these people are not privy to all of the confidential haggling that has been going on, including trying to get financing for this project. I would be surprised if the City could finance US$75 million on its own out of City Finances since my understanding is that the Tunnel Improvement Project is dead for the next few years with no money allocated to it from the City.

To help out the reporters, may I suggest a possible way that the deal could be completed. The Province, not the Federal Government, may fund Eddie's Tunnel deal for the following reasons:

  • Province has already passed Regulations allowing it (Unfortunately, the Province needed to amend the Municipal Act so it is not legal for the City to do the deal in my opinion)
  • Council and Tunnel Commission Meeting is taking place AFTER Dwight's Budget.
  • Kwame was quoted in the Detroit media saying: [Detroit News Thursday, February 21, 2008] " The one-time tunnel deal with Windsor, which the mayor has been counting on to eliminate the city's deficit, was stymied because Windsor was having a hard time getting the cash from conventional sources. Windsor hopes to get the money from its provincial government."
  • Feds have said that they will not finance the Tunnel.
  • The Agreement may only be an Agreement in Principle so far since the Province would have to get approval from the Feds under Bill C-3 and no changes of ownership regulations have been pased so far.

As unlikely as this seems given what Dwight did NOT say in his Budget, I have heard that the Province wants an interest in the new DRIC Bridge. If they have an interest in the Tunnel, it may give the Province leverage as a border operator to allow it to have some oversight or ownership interest in a new DRIC border crossing if one is ever built.

I have asked both Dwight and Sandra to comment on the above thought but I have not heard yet back from them, and probably won't. Maybe local reporters might want to ask around now or are they doing their CVs for jobs out West too!

I wonder as well if any agendas have been sent out to Councillors for Council meetings that are upcoming and, if so, is there an agenda for this Meeting. Do the Windsor Tunnel Commissioners know what is going on since I believe that they have not had a Commission meeting for months since I have not seen any Minutes? If not, and if I was a Councillor in the City of Windsor or a Commissioner, so as not to be embarrassed, I would contact the Mayor immediately and find out what is going on so that if the media contacted me I would not look like a complete and total fool.

Remember how Councillors complained when the audit on the Fleet Operations came out and they had no idea what was going on. Here we go again. They never do learn or is it that the Mayor just doesn't care.

Oh and I sent this email out to Councillors this morning since I chose NOT to swallow what was said in the Star story:

  • "Tunnel story in the Star today

    Please explain to me why the meeting re the Tunnel has to go "in camera."

    This matter as described in the story---incorporating a company---has already been discussed in public as justification for the new Tunnel Corp. in the presence of Council's outside lawyer. It does not need to be discussed again.

    If there is something else on the agenda please let me know what it is so. The public should have the right if required to appear as delegates at a Special Council meeting!"

Dwight's Budget

Obviously, the financial war is still going on between the Feds and the Province over the amount that the Federal Government will pay for the DRIC Project road.

It's no wonder then that no specific amount was mentioned by the Province nor what its percentage would be of the total cost of the road. No point being trapped when you are playing a game of taxpayer money poker.

I wonder if the Senior Levels are going to put in a kind of money needed for a DRIC road, $1.6 billion or is it just going to be the really "cheap" solution like I-696 in the end. As I have said before that is not a real number but based on MTO guidelines. It could be much more once it goes out to tender. Perhaps, since the Fedss have only put in $400 million, the Province may only put in $400 million. That would really get Eddie mad now wouldn't it.

You know the old saying: the City whose Mayor hesitates is lost.

Instead of stalling and delaying, perhaps he should have been negotiating to get that road finalized already and set in stone (or is it asphalt or concrete).

As well, perhaps next time, Eddie will not snub Dwight's pre-Budget session, even if he just had to go at taxpayer expense, along with Ms Nazzani, to Germany to meet a start-up!

The only good that may come out of this is that the Mayor will not spend thousands of taxpayer dollars on an advertising blitz for Greenlink that will accomplish nothing. Perhaps we can buy a few Library books with the money saved.

There is no doubt that Greenlink will never be built because tunnels are a hazard both from the point of view of accidents taking place within the tunnel and deliberate action designed to slow down the movement of traffic across the border. Then there is the cost and the precedent set.

It is lucky for the Senior Levels, and the Province in particular, that Matty Moroun knows how to operate a bridge. Again as I have said before, ironically, he is his own worst enemy. Because he operates the border so well, we don't have the massive tieups that would have required Government action long before now. He allowed them to buy time and not spend any money.

Instead the Senior Levels can fool around as the Minister of Finance did a few years ago with his colleague, the Infrastructure Minister with his $500 million Gong Show money. Moreover, they also have the time to try to put him out of business as his reward for his deed of keeping trade between Canada and the US moving so well.

It would appear to me that the Province probably doesn't have any money to invest in the border road at this time. If you will remember, that $500 million was not going to be available until after 2010.

Here is what the Budget Backgrounder stated:
  • "Ontario will fully fund its share of the costs of the final proposed road link between Highway 401 and the new border crossing. Sufficient funds to cover the costs of the project are built into the government’s 10-year infrastructure plan."

You tell me when the Funds are available. When in that 10 year period?

It is becoming more and more apparent that this entire DRIC process is a complete farce, especially because the economy is tanking on both sides of the river and no one can afford to spend the kind of sums necessary to build what DRIC has been proposing.

Look for a compromise after the Wilbur Smith traffic projections confirm truck traffic numbers are down badly. That will be the justification for the DRIC solution being tabled for some time down the road, the Enhancement Project being built and a road to the Ambassador Bridge being constructed at cost of probably not more than $1 billion (Dwight's $500 million matched by the Feds). This will all be called the "intermediate" solution and financed under the Border Infrastrucutre Fund program.

The only other solution that I can see with respect to the border road that may make some sense to the Province is turning the DRIC road into a toll road in a P3 partnership. That was something the Province said that they would NOT do. That would open up all kinds of headaches especially for Windsor as it makes us non-competitive with the other border crossing points. I can just see the lawsuits starting over that one too.

Here again is what was said in the Budget materials with respect to the border:


International trade is integral to Ontario’s and Canada’s economic prosperity. The McGuinty government is committed to ensuring efficient and uninterrupted trade with the United States through Ontario’s borders, gateways and trade corridors.

The province is working with federal and U.S. partners on a strategy to develop a new border crossing and associated infrastructure at the crucial Windsor-Detroit Gateway Ontario will fully fund its share of the costs of the final proposed road link between Highway 401 and the new border crossing. Sufficient funds to cover the costs of the project are built into the government’s 10-year infrastructure plan.

Investing in Economic Infrastructure

Windsor Border

International trade is integral to Ontario’s and Canada’s economic prosperity. The government is committed to ensuring efficient and uninterrupted trade with the United States through Ontario’s borders, gateways and trade corridors.

The government is working with federal and U.S. partners on a strategy to develop a new border crossing and associated infrastructure at the Windsor–Detroit Gateway. This initiative, the Detroit River International Crossing Study, is expected to provide recommendations in the spring of 2008 on a new transportation system to provide safe, efficient, secure and uninterrupted movement of people and goods across the Canada–U.S. border. This would support the local economy of the Windsor–Essex region, the provincial and state economies of Ontario and Michigan, and the national economies of Canada and the United States.

The recommendations are expected to address the location and design of a new river crossing, access road and customs plaza. The federal government is leading the development of the new river crossing and customs plaza and has earmarked an initial $400 million towards a commitment to fund 50 per cent of the total eligible capital costs of the access-road projects.

As part of the environmental assessment process, the work to select a preferred alternative for the access road is about to conclude. It is anticipated that construction will begin in 2009. Ontario will fully fund its share of the costs of the final proposed road link between Highway 401 and the new border crossing. Sufficient funds to cover the costs of the project are built into the government’s 10-year infrastructure plan. Construction on the project, which is the most important infrastructure undertaking in Canada and the United States, will also create thousands of jobs in Windsor. Further details will be announced in coming weeks.

This project will include unprecedented features to enhance the quality of life for people in the Windsor–Essex region while ensuring that traffic keeps moving.

Supporting Ontario’s Infrastructure

The federal government must partner with Ontario to invest in infrastructure projects that support economic growth in its communities, such as MoveOntario2020, the Windsor border, the Ontario–Quebec Continental Gateway and Trade Corridor, and infrastructure in rural and northern Ontario.


Perhaps our most important infrastructure undertaking is a new border crossing at Windsor.

As part of the environmental assessment, the Detroit River International Crossing Study is expected to provide recommendations very soon on a new crossing and access road.

Ontario will fully fund its share of the costs of the final proposed road link between Highway 401 and the new border crossing. Sufficient funds to cover the cost of the project are built into the government’s 10-year infrastructure plan.

Business and union leaders and others from right across the province want to get on with this project. Mr. Speaker, so do we. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2009 and is anticipated to be concluded in 2013.

At a time when they are most needed, this project will create thousands of jobs in Windsor.

Ontario Budget 2008: Chapter I: A STRONGER ONTARIO

Major Investments in Infrastructure
This Budget is announcing $1 billion in new municipal infrastructure investments in 2007–08.

For Ontario to be competitive in the global economy and achieve its full potential, it must have modern infrastructure that makes business productive, helps move people and goods faster, and contributes to a high quality of life for all Ontarians. That is why investing in infrastructure is part of Ontario’s five-point economic plan. For more details, see Section B: Stronger Communities: Investing in Municipal Infrastructure and Communities.

The government is modernizing Ontario’s infrastructure through ReNew Ontario, its five-year, $30 billion infrastructure investment plan. ReNew Ontario provides for major investments in areas that are of primary importance to Ontarians: transportation, health, education and economic prosperity. The government will implement a new $60 billion infrastructure plan over 10 years, once ReNew Ontario is completed.

Infrastructure investments create jobs, improve access to markets, and support business investment. They deliver immediate benefits through job creation and form the foundation for long-term economic growth, as modern infrastructure is a major factor in attracting private investment and world-class businesses.

The Province, in cooperation with municipalities, calls on the federal government to invest in Ontario’s infrastructure, specifically the government’s $17.5 billion MoveOntario 2020 plan, the Windsor border, the Ontario–Quebec Continental Gateway and Trade Corridor, and strong community infrastructure.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

BREAKING BLOGnews: Windsor Border in The Budget

Here comes the really "Cheap" solution! I see only a matching of the Feds' $400M. According to Dwight, thousands of jobs will be created in Windsor.

What will Eddie say? Will he waste more money on Greenlink now?

Investing in Economic Infrastructure

Windsor Border

International trade is integral to Ontario’s and Canada’s economic prosperity. The government is committed to ensuring efficient and uninterrupted trade with the United States through Ontario’s borders, gateways and trade corridors.

The government is working with federal and U.S. partners on a strategy to develop a new border crossing and associated infrastructure at the Windsor–Detroit Gateway. This initiative, the Detroit River International Crossing Study, is expected to provide recommendations in the spring of 2008 on a new transportation system to provide safe, efficient, secure and uninterrupted movement of people and goods across the Canada–U.S. border. This would support the local economy of the Windsor–Essex region, the provincial and state economies of Ontario and Michigan, and the national economies of Canada and the United States.

The recommendations are expected to address the location and design of a new river crossing, access road and customs plaza. The federal government is leading the development of the new river crossing and customs plaza and has earmarked an initial $400 million towards a commitment to fund 50 per cent of the total eligible capital costs of the access-road projects.

As part of the environmental assessment process, the work to select a preferred alternative for the access road is about to conclude. It is anticipated that construction will begin in 2009. Ontario will fully fund its share of the costs of the final proposed road link between Highway 401 and the new border crossing. Sufficient funds to cover the costs of the project are built into the government’s 10-year infrastructure plan. Construction on the project, which is the most important infrastructure undertaking in Canada and the United States, will also create thousands of jobs in Windsor. Further details will be announced in coming weeks.

This project will include unprecedented features to enhance the quality of life for people in the Windsor–Essex region while ensuring that traffic keeps moving.

Supporting Ontario’s Infrastructure

The federal government must partner with Ontario to invest in infrastructure projects that support economic growth in its communities, such as MoveOntario2020, the Windsor border, the Ontario–Quebec Continental Gateway and Trade Corridor, and infrastructure in rural and northern Ontario.


Perhaps our most important infrastructure undertaking is a new border crossing at Windsor.

As part of the environmental assessment, the Detroit River International Crossing Study is expected to provide recommendations very soon on a new crossing and access road.

Ontario will fully fund its share of the costs of the final proposed road link between Highway 401 and the new border crossing. Sufficient funds to cover the cost of the project are built into the government’s 10-year infrastructure plan.

Business and union leaders and others from right across the province want to get on with this project. Mr. Speaker, so do we. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2009 and is anticipated to be concluded in 2013.

At a time when they are most needed, this project will create thousands of jobs in Windsor.

Quick Getaway

Wow, that was a loooong article by David Battagello on the airport in the Star today.

Do you know what's funny about it? It's length.

It's the length of a story one would have expected to run on a Saturday when people had time to read it. It would not have run last Saturday because that was a holiday weekend but it should have run the weekend before, on the 15th if it was finished by then. Oooops, that was out because it would have been right before the Mayor's State of the City speech. That would have been a real embarrassment for him and he would have had to have amended his speech to deal with the subject.

Perhaps Eddie anticipated all of this and that is the reason why the Long Distance Commuting program played such a big role in the Jobs Today program and is so important to him and to the airport.

I just can't hide this feeling I get that City owned businesses are being run into the ground. Exactly what the reason is, I wish I knew. If only Eddie had undertaken the audits he promised when he first became Mayor, we might be smarter today. However, a whitewash audit on WUC, a "dead men pumping gas concern" audit on Fleet Operations and a delayed one on 400 City Hall Square are our legacy it seems. I wonder when we are having one on the East End Arena costs or on the Tunnel.

What will the result be... the businesses will have to be be given away or sold out from under us, or perhaps leased in a P3 deal. We saw that with the Cleary. We can almost predict it with the Capitol. You know what I think has to happen with the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel. And you have seen my speculation with respect to Windsor Utilities Commission and Enwin. Should I add the Airport to my list? After all, how much more money can taxpayers be expected to sink into seemingly losing propositions.

Remember the story about Air America Logistics and its general manager Vicky Kyriaco-Wilson:
  • "Air America has also been instrumental in spinoff work at the airport -- for fuel sales, ground handling equipment, local trucking services and maintenance work.

    More than 800 aircraft movements associated with Air America occurred last year involving DC-8 jets, Boeing 727s, Boeing 737s, DC-9s and numerous other small jets.

    The company handled more than 5.4 million pounds of freight last year.

    "We're the lynchpin that keeps the cargo aspect humming over here," Kyriaco-Wilson said."

Perhaps airport general manager Federica Nazzani might want to pick up the phone and give her a call. I am sure that she has probably done so. However, Federica's response concerning her lack of experience in the airline business was rather smarmy

  • "She dismissed criticism of her lack of aviation experience: "It's true I don't have that experience. But I would point to the prior manager (Serco) who did -- and that didn't work out very well."

So far, I have not seen that her results are any better than that of a Serco. A Mexicana charter flight and dealing with a couple of Germans in a startup operation are not a record of achievement.

It is very troubling when:

  • "WestJet Airlines, which pulled out of Windsor a couple of years ago, has no plans to return in the next year or two,
  • no new development plans have been unveiled, passenger flights are limited and charter services to sunny destinations remain non-existent
  • A city proposal to create a multi-modal hub in which air, rail and road freight could be exchanged has been put on the backburner. CP Railway officials say there is no need for it in Windsor because the rail company has a 770-acre freight hub in Vaughn, near Toronto."

I see that she learned a very well when she travelled with Eddie to Germany. Our Mayor "dismisses" things that he doesn't like and now so does his airport general manager. I have a slightly different perspective: if one of the world's leading aviation operators cannot make money out of Windsor, then how do we expect amateurs to do so.

I'm not going to get into the money part of what was discussed in the Star article other than to remind people that the reason that the airport was making a so called profit was because it wasn't replacing certain people and therefore not paying out their salaries as an expense. I wondered why the City was contributing $27,000 every month to the airport if in fact it was making a "profit." Now we know why.

I expect that all the airlines were very interested in meeting with her as a new general manager especially when they found out that she was inexperienced. Was it WestJet that asked her how much the City would be prepared to help them out if they decided to come back to Windsor? Obviously, the City could not offer much if they are not thinking of coming back here for several years.

Part of the problem is the THINK BIG mentality that we have in this City. We can hardly compete against Detroit Metro Airport and will hardly be able to to compete against Detroit Aerotropolis if they ever complete that. Why not take a different approach and THINK SMALL and try to look at where Windsor Airport can fit in.

I wonder if Ms. Nazzani has been advised by the same people who advised DRIC on traffic counts since her

  • "goal is to get passenger numbers up to 400,000 annually within 10 years. They peaked at 250,000 in the late 1990s and now stand at 130,000."

Doing some simple math, she would need to increase the traffic by about 270,000 people to reach her goal. If we divide that number by 52, the number of weeks in a year, then she needs another 5200 passengers per week to reach her target. I guess that means that Eddie needs to send 2600 people out West to take new jobs and return each weekend.

Another thought. I wonder if the Airport General Manager might need some training on good customer relations. I would suspect that the tenants and their leases are one of the biggest sources of revenues at the airport so she should be hugging them and holding them close for all of the money that they're bringing in. And yet she could make this statement:

  • "Nazzani said her door is open to any tenant who wants to discuss the airport's future and hinted she may consider gathering them together.

    "The onus is on them to come to me."

Given the fact that it is the City that is putting in all of this money, I would think that the onus is on her to go to them since she is so inexperienced. They probably understand a lot more than she does about how airports work. I wonder if I should give her Vicky's phone number since it is troubling to read in the Star story:

  • "They say their advice is being ignored."

One final thought. Do you really think that Eddie really cares very much about the airport? I don't think so. He's more interested in the land around the airport and what he can do with it. Here is what I wrote before:

  • "The City was pleased to get out of the Serco deal since

    “another major component of the termination agreement sees the City regain control from Serco of land development of more than 1,000 acres on the airport's grounds.

    "we've cleaned up that aspect where the land will now be in the direct control of the City," Francis said.

    The new CEO of the Windsor Essex County Development Commission last week told City council the City does not have adequate parcels of industrial land that are "shovel ready ... Serviced and zoned and ready to go" in order to lure new companies to the region. "

    That is what this deal is all about…..lands and who controls them.

    I want to remind you what the Mayor said to Gord Henderson right after the election:

    "Francis wouldn't tip his hand on plans for Windsor airport, which has been bleeding red ink under a contract with a private operator, but said the airport, and especially the airport lands, will be a top priority. "i don't think we've used it as a primary driver in economic development but we will," he vowed."

Remember the RFP on the airport? As I wrote before about the failed RFP for the airport:

  • "The whole airport RFP scheme had many fatal flaws in it as are identified in the report on pages 8 and 9. The key concern obviously was the exclusion of the airport lands. That's why Serco, the former operator, really was involved. That's where the real money would be made."
While Ms. Nazzani runs the airport, she was also involved with Prime Rose Inc. and she may still be for all I know. In case you wonder, that Company's services are:

  • "Real Estate-Land Subdividers and Developers"
That Company was one of the candidates for the Chamber's Business Excellence Awards recently.

Is that why she was really retained to be involved with the Airport...the land side and not the aviation side?

I wonder if the City is required to have a running airport if it wishes to keep all of the land that it received from the Federal Government when the City took over the running of the airport. Otherwise, it would be a huge gift to cities around the country who took over airports and would probably get the Feds in all kinds of trouble.

If I am right, then expect to hear more horror stories about the airport and more THINK BIG DREAMS about it.

Just know, it has nothing to do with the airport... it has all to do with creating "shovel ready" lands at the airport, at taxpayer expense of course, to be flogged off to Developers.

In case you have forgotten, and it's one of the reason I spoke at City Council in opposition to the creation of an Airport and a Tunnel Private Company, the Mayor is effectively in charge of the operation since there is no check on his power because the other directors are his subordinates:

  • "Mayor Francis is CEO of the corporation, called Your Quick Gateway. Also on the board are city CAO John Skorobohacz, treasurer Onorio Colucci and public works general manager Dev Tyagi.

    Last fall, city council directed that a new board be appointed to replace the mayor and administrators, one filled with expertise in the business.

    "I know everybody is busy, but I was hoping the new model being developed would happen sooner than later," said Coun. Alan Halberstadt. "You need people knowledgeable about airports to direct the new manager."

    Francis said the wheels are in motion to get a new board in place, hopefully in the summer."

The Blogmeister Looks At The News

Here are some new stories that you may have missed as you were chasing around in the snow looking for Easter eggs during the holiday week-end.


You have to pity Ontario Minister of Economic Development and Trade, Sandra Pupatello. Not only is she the Cabinet Minister who has to try and get the Ontario economy moving, but also she is the Windsor West MPP.

Imagine her job now after she heard the comments of the Economic Development Commission CEO, Matt Fischer. All that anyone will know, as I am sure the heads of the various Commissions in neighboring cities have already copied, is what was posted on the CKLW website and in the Star.

Imagine Sandra trying to get us a new auto plant. Fischer effectively made it impossible for her to do so whether it is due to the fact that we have no employees who can work there or because of the fact that a new plant would not want to come into a city where the Big Three already operate. The one saving grace is that he did not blame our situation on the CAW.

I wonder if Roman Dzus would have said the same thing that Fischer did. Probably not. All he did was help Windsor win the prestigious English award that Eddie keeps shouting in everyone's face. I wonder how many new jobs Fischer was able to have created with that award.

I wonder if the Board of the Commission is going to do anything about this. Perhaps they have figured out that our future is call centre jobs but are just too ashamed to tell us that.


In case you missed this priceless line in the Star story about Windsor and London pulling out of the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championships, I thought I would repeat it. It is so preposterous that it is unbelievable that our Mayor would dare have the nerve to say it. I know that Kwame has more important things on his mind yet:
  • "Originally touted as an unprecedented example of Southwestern Ontario cooperation, Mayor Eddie Francis announced in early February that Windsor was joining London's efforts to hold the tournament, competing with bids from such cities as Toronto, Edmonton-Calgary, Winnipeg and Halifax.

    "Our track record speaks for itself to host these events," said Francis at the time. "From the Super Bowl, to Wrestlemania, to the Grand Prix."

I must admit I don't understand this whole issue about the guarantee. In 2012, Windsor will be rolling in dough... we will have so much money we won't know what to do with it. According to Gord Henderson when he discussed the hundred million dollar job fund:

  • "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 2011-12 and tens of millions more at its disposal in subsequent years."


No, that is not the name of a new Canadian TV series, a sort of Canadianized version of the hit US TV series Wagon Train that was on television in the 1950's and 1960's.

No, that line was the editorial headline in the Vancouver newspaper, The Province.

They quoted this line from our Mayor

  • "It's a win-win situation for all involved, Francis said, but details still need to be worked out."

It's those darn devilish details that can hurt you every time. Eddie has already changed when our workers will come home. Let's see what else he changes by the time this is done.


I written several BLOGS about this subject and have pleaded for DRIC to do an investigation into this subject as part of their study. Nothing so far. However, I wonder if there's a connection between these two stories. I will let you, dear reader, try to figure that out:

1) "Windsor Star 03-08-2008
Cows' carbon footprints

So, which government wants to be the first in Canada to put a climate tax on beef...?

According to a 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions than all the driving and flying that people do.

In fact, 18 per cent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions come from meat and dairy production. Since global meat production is expected to double by 2050, this is something we should be thinking about.

Yet, when people talk about carbon taxes, they never talk about meat. This strange silence is partly attributable to a vocabulary problem: we talk about carbon dioxide so much, we forget that it's not the only greenhouse gas, or even the most dangerous one. Livestock rearing does release carbon into the atmosphere, in particular through the razing of forests (cattle need a lot of land and food). But that's nothing compared to the scary amounts of methane and nitrous oxide emitted by cattle herds and manure."

2) Cow shot dead after police chase near Toronto
Bal Brach, Windsor Star, Thursday, March 20, 2008

MISSISSAUGA - What started as a seemingly lighthearted story of cattle roaming through a Mississauga, Ont., neighbourhood Thursday morning quickly turned deadly serious after a police officer fired more than a dozen shots and killed one of the animals...

"We were following him to see where he was going and he turned and started going head-on at one of the officers," said Woodford. "We had no choice but to open fire."

The officer who was being pursued fired more than a dozen bullets at the animal, Woodford said.

Woodford added that police were unprepared for this type of encounter, and therefore did not have a tranquillizer gun to use as an alternative to live bullets."


I am sure that you remember the BLOG that I wrote about how a key part of that State is doing so well by being a distribution centre I strongly urged that we solve our border issue and take advantage of our geographic location to try and duplicate their success.

Here is something else that we might want a copy from them as well. It has to do with staging areas and marshalling areas:

  • "New Jersey bills address loading delays at ports, road safety

    Land Line

    March 21, 2008

    A couple of bills in the New Jersey statehouse are intended to improve port operations and safety on roadways.

    Truckers forced to wait in line at ports to load or unload are the subject of a bill offered by Assemblyman John Wisniewski, D-Middlesex. The bill – A1023 – would prohibit ports from making a truck wait longer than 30 minutes before beginning loading or off-loading container cargo at a terminal.

    Terminal operators would be subject to a $250 fine for making a truck wait longer than 30 minutes, and each delayed truck would be a separate violation.

    Terminals attempting to avoid requirements in the bill by diverting a truck to area roadways, alternate staging areas or forcing the truck to wait inside the gate would be subject to a $750 fine."

You see, Eddie and Sam wanted a Horseshoe Road costing I don't know how many hundreds of millions of dollars as our staging area. Eddie's plan for the Tunnel Plaza is very similar. It is managing lineups the way they do at DisneyWorld. The Province has an RFP out there for a marshalling yard as well.

What they have not yet understood is that the object of the exercise is to allow trucks to cross the border as quickly as possible, not to allow Customs on both sides of the river to reduce staff at the border points because they know that trucks will be kept in some location and not clog up the City roads. We want to force Customs to staff Customs booths so that trade and commerce and tourism will not be harmed by the lack of officers.

We do not need marshalling yards nor do we need more lanes across the river. We need to be able to move trucks through the border as quickly and seamlessly as possible. That was the message of the Brookings Institute.


We should take a pool about how much the Minister of Finance in Ontario will put forward to pay for the road to the border. The Feds anted up $400 million but the Province so far has put up nothing other than money for the Border Infrastructure Fund.

Sure there is a new billion dollars set aside for roads according to news stories but do you honestly believe that Windsor will get $400 million PLUS of that.

Even if the Province puts in $400 million, that is a far cry from the $1.6 billion needed for the "cheap solution" according to Eddie.


I guess no one in Windsor/Detroit asked any questions and that is why DRIC is moving ahead so quickly here. After all, it appears that the people in Delray must be pleased to have hundreds of their homes and businesses destroyed. Contrast our situation with that in Port Huron:

  • "The Michigan Department of Transportation has pushed back the Blue Water Bridge Plaza expansion timeline by about six months. That's welcome news.

    MDOT's decision is a significant victory in the public's effort to obtain state and federal answers about the project's massive size and its necessity. Expanding the plaza to 65 acres would destroy substantial portions of north-end Port Huron. Homes and businesses would be lost.

    The new plaza supposedly is necessary to better accommodate bridge traffic. Although the bridge is one of the busiest crossings on the U.S.-Canadian border, its traffic counts have declined since 2001.

    MDOT's reason for delaying the $433 million project is the right one. What sometimes appeared to Port Huron as a state and federal effort to push the expansion as quickly as possible has been slowed down to ensure public concerns are accorded proper treatment."


I'm surprised no one has been able to put this idea forward as a reason why Eddie came up with this scheme to send our citizens out West. There clearly was a reason why he wanted to do so. It had nothing to do with jobs and bringing back money to Windsor. That was merely the cover story since the after-tax amount after deducting the cost of commuting by airplane and accommodations would almost eliminate any savings.

As you know, the problem that Windsor has is that it is viewed as a union town. Some wags have suggested that the plan is a good one since it ships laid-off unionized auto workers out West. It helps reduce our situation by getting rid of the problem, the pro-union workers.

Clearly however that is not the case. That would not solve Windsor's branding and image problems even if it could be accomplished by finding jobs for thousands of former autoworkers. Oh no, the plan is much more diabolical than that.

It would not surprise me if most of the people who would be sent out West are strongest union supporters. Their real objective is to go out and unionize the workplaces out West.

In other words, the plan may to level the playing field by organizing businesses out West and unionizing them. If all the workplaces everywhere are unionized then Windsor is not at a disadvantage anymore!

Who better to be a spokesperson denouncing the big companies than autoworkers who used to be making so much money and have now been forced to accept buyouts and possible loss of benefits.

It should be interesting to watch what happens.

Naw, I'm not really serious about this in case you are wondering.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Brookings Report-- Read It For Yourself

If you really want to be enthused about this area and the huge potential that we have if we are smart and start focusing on the right things, then you must read this Report. Forget about the nonsense in the Mayor's State of the City speech and what the Economic Development Commission CEO has to say. Just read about what this area can become with the right leadership, something that is clearly lacking in Windsor. Download the Report:

The Windsor Star clearly cannot brook any opposition to their desire to have a public bridge constructed in Windsor, no matter what the cost and what the pain to the people and businesses in Delray, Michigan who will have to be moved out, in order to put the Ambassador Bridge Company into a dire financial position.

I would love to be able to read the actual story written by Jack Spearman of Canwest News Service, the lead story on the Star front page. I read the stories in the other Canwest newspapers that I was able to view using the Star's Digital Newspaper service this morning. Not a single one of them even mentioned the Ambassador Bridge.

However the Star could write things like
  • Bridge cited as bottleneck
  • It also takes aim at obstacles to trade in the region, such as traffic congestion at the Ambassador Bridge linking Windsor and Detroit.
  • Part of that process, the report argues, is for the president and prime minister to strike a task force to eliminate such transportation bottlenecks as the Ambassador Bridge.

I challenge the Star to point out specifically where these statements are made in the Report. I would love to see specifically where the Ambassador Bridge is attacked in the Report. If the Star cannot do so, then their story should be changed on the Corrections page since otherwise this is gross rewriting of a story to put in editorial comments in a news story.

If that is the quality of reporting and/or editorializing at the Star, then Canwest should be ashamed of itself.

In fact, I could make the argument that the Report supports the Ambassador Bridge Company and gives DRIC, and the four Governments a huge slap in the face. [Read the section on a "proposed Great Lakes Economic Development Authority to develop a comprehensive bi-national Great Lakes region transportation strategic plan.] It recognizes that there are problems at the border but it identifies that:

  • "The largest challenge to further economic integration is posed by homeland security concerns and measures that have slowed border and bi-national economic exchange since 2001."

The Report correctly points out that traffic volume across the border has dropped significantly and yet the wait times have increased. There is a 50% travel drop and it takes three times as long to get across the border in some cases. The issue is not lanes in other words. It is Customs, processes and clearances times.

Figure it out. Building a new DRIC bridge doesn't do anything to solve the problem. It just results in spending billions to create a new parking lot over the river on the new lanes of the DRIC bridge. The entire DRIC process does not result in cars and trucks moving more quickly out of Windsor and into the US. In the same way, the authorities in Michigan cannot demonstrate that spending about $500 million on a new Plaza will result in trucks moving into the United States more quickly in Port Huron.

To be direct, given that the US Government has identified the Ambassador Bridge as the best crossing in North America, I would argue that the Report was really talking about the Peace Bridge where they have been waiting for years to build a new bridge and the Blue Water Bridge where the Plaza was a disaster from day one. In Windsor, all that we have is a Enhancement Project because the existing bridge is 80 years old.

It is the Ambassador Bridge Company that has got it right. I know that the Canadian nationalists will hate me for saying that and that the Windsor Star will ignore it. What the Bridge Company has done is opened up advanced processing centres to ensure that the paperwork for truckers is proper and opened up more booths and has forced Government to staff them to clear vehicles more quickly. Their Gateway project alone can process another 2 million tucks a year without a new bridge!

Perhaps someone should actually listen to a border operator who knows what they're doing rather than to a bunch of bureaucrats who create wonderful Business Plans that don't work in practice. And can cost us billions at a time when Governments on both sides of the river are hurting financially. Their so-called saviours, the P3 investors, seem to have some problems on their own these days such that they might not want to invest in a bridge whose tolls will be several times higher than those at the Ambassador Bridge, assuming that some trucker decides to go to the DRIC bridge in the first place.

Proof of this is the Canadian Government spending more money, $75 million, to hire more Customs Officers that was announced a few weeks ago in theBudget. When four Customs booths can eliminate truck backups in Windsor, you have to scratch your head and say why are our Governments so intent on spending billions and not solving the problem. Eddie's Horseshoe Road is a good example of a useless concept that even the Feds could not stomach.

Someone needs "to stop the insanity." If the Brookings Report is correct and Governments create a seamless border, then why do we need a new crossing at all!

I have posted the relevant sections of the Brookings Report below for you to read. Draw your own conclusions:

  • "The estimated $1.2 billion in trade crossing the U.S.-Canadian border daily is extremely concentrated, with a large portion flowing through just a handful of Great Lakes crossings. Approximately 28 percent, or $113.3 billion, of surface trade passes annually between the United States and Canada at the Detroit-Windsor border, and another $35 billion at the nearby Port Huron-Sarnia crossing. The next busiest Great Lakes crossing is Buffalo-Niagara, where $57 billion in goods passes through annually…

    The two-way trade that crosses the Ambassador Bridge between Michigan and Ontario equals all U.S. exports to Japan.

    The Great Lakes region historically has been the leader in testing and developing the cross-border economic opportunity in North America—a relationship that provides considerable benefits to both countries. The ease by which goods have been able to cross the border allows Canadian and U.S. companies to implement highly efficient supply chain management processes..

    Over 27 million passenger cars and 4.8 million noncommercial trucks used border crossings in 2006, benefiting the economies of both countries. That year, Canadians visiting the United States spent $10 billion, 80 percent of which supported dining, hotel stays, and gift purchases. Again, the Great Lakes states and provinces provide key entry points.

    [Key point in a separate box on the edge of Page “The largest challenge to further economic integration is posed by homeland security concerns and measures that have slowed border and bi-national economic exchange since 2001.”]

    All these benefits are imperiled, however, by measures that add to the cost or time to cross borders between the United States and Canada, and negatively impact enterprise, investment, and job growth across the region.

    The largest challenge to further economic integration is posed by homeland security concerns and measures that have slowed border and bi-national economic exchange since 2001. The economic impact on the Great Lakes region of Homeland Security regimes has been disproportionate. New layers of security and more complex rules and regulations between 2000 and 2004 have tripled the processing time to enter the United States from Canada by truck. The costs of these efforts have been estimated at up to U.S. $11.5 billion annually across both countries.

    Total Canadians crossing to the United States show 50 percent decline from historic rates due to real and perceived border crossing difficulties. Canadian tourism spending in the United States should have risen with the strong Canadian dollar, but total annual crossings in 2005 compared to 1995 show a 50 percent decline, due to real and perceived border crossing difficulties. In calendar year 2007, passenger vehicle crossings were down 7 percent, or over 1.1 million vehicles.

    Anecdotes and reports from the border suggest this is in part due to a more involved U.S. border screening process. Traffic is down at three of the four international bridges in the Niagara area, yet wait times are up; processing time at the Peace Bridge, for example, increased 32 percent in August 2007 versus a year ago. Bridge travelers say inspectors are taking more time to clear travelers and asking veteran border crossers new questions. New requirements for proof of citizenship to enter the United States pose new uncertainties. These conditions threaten to crimp trade and commerce, at a time when the region and both nations have tremendous shared stake in enhanced economic integration…

    To realize the latent economic opportunities of the region, both countries require more than the well-intentioned, slow-walk of the existing Security and Prosperity Partnership dialogues of the past three years. The next U.S. president must join with his or her Canadian counterpart to punch through real and perceived barriers to bi-lateral policy innovation, and put the major elements in place that can fuel bi-national prosperity and transform the Great Lakes regional economy. Working together, the countries can pioneer effective and efficient ways to enhance economic exchange while both ensuring mutual security and respecting the unique cultures of each partner…

    The recommendations offered here are organized around a limited set of ambitious goals…
    --By 2015: Define and Implement the “U.S.-Canada Border of the Future..”

    Bringing together economic development planning interests in the region with border, homeland security, and transportation/infrastructure planning issues. The Authority should include an information arm—a Great Lakes Border Policy Institute—that could continually track and analyze data on the cross-border flow of goods, traffic, and people, and be a forum for informed policy debate, discussion, and policy development concerning trade and border management. The Authority could also oversee border transportation/infrastructure planning efforts called for elsewhere in this report…

    By 2015: Define and Implement the “U.S.-Canada Border of the Future”

    The increased pressure to secure our common boundary offers a unique opportunity to rethink aging and often inefficient infrastructure, technology, and processes towards a border concept that meets long term security and trade goals, and facilitates efficient movement of people, goods, and services across the border. Such a vision is a key foundation of a revitalized Great Lakes Region. But the creation and implementation of a bi-national policy architecture under the umbrella of the “U.S.-Canada Border of the Future” will require strong, consistent political leadership, both to establish the vision and to push through technical, funding, operational, and bureaucratic impediments.

    Develop and articulate a shared vision for the border of the future

    The Great Lakes Region can serve as the “model” for secure and efficient borders. With this goal in mind, the U.S. and Canadian governments should establish a “blue ribbon committee” comprised of high-level policy, business, and academic experts that articulates a multi-year strategic and operational plan for our shared border. Under this plan the U.S. and Canada should by 2015:
    • Achieve secure and unencumbered movements of people across the land, air, and sea borders using mutually recognized credentials, “registered traveler” programs, biometric technology, risk assessment, and other state-of-the-art capabilities and processes designed to eliminate inefficiencies and improve security;
    • Establish seamless border pre-clearance of U.S.-Canadian goods transported as part of a comprehensive North American customs clearance system or fully compatible national systems;
    • Ensure stable funding sources for border improvements through a coordinated infrastructure investment plan that drives investment on both sides of the border;
    • Continue to push for state-of-the-art technology, operations, and processes to support Great Lakes and bi-national economic prosperity.

    Invest in 21st century transportation infrastructure systems

    Advances in policy and investments in infrastructures that both speed the progress of goods, people, and communication across the bi-national border, and provide needed security, will pay real and huge financial dividends to both countries, and particularly the Great Lakes region. However, these improvements must be linked to a more efficient transportation network.

    The president and prime minister must charge an interagency federal task force to work with the proposed Great Lakes Economic Development Authority to develop a comprehensive bi-national Great Lakes region transportation strategic plan. Such a strategy would focus on global gateways, intermodal hubs, and border crossings, with investments aimed at increasing security, adopting and integrating ITS, relieving bottlenecks, improving intermodal connections, and building new grade freight routes that reduce crossings and attract logistics centers that maximize productivity and reduce trip demand. To this end, key transportation and infrastructure investments should include:
    • Expanded and functional border transportation infrastructure such as access roads, new and existing bridges, ferry terminals and operations, ports, mass transit connections, and rail lines;
    • Ports of Entry facilities, such as jointly managed U.S.-Canadian border crossing facilities at key junctures of US-Canadian border;
    • Improved intermodal connections and plans for enhancing key regional nodes of global transport and logistics;
    • The development of public-privately financed bi-national high speed rail linkages between key Great Lakes metros.