Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, June 13, 2008

Keep On Trucking

With all of the hype about the new DRIC bridge starting, it is important to keep matters in a perspective. I thought you might find this article from Todays Trucking Online interesting. It might bring some reality to what is going on but more importantly it demonstrates the lack of it from the governmental side.

I had it in my archives for all of this time. Has all that much changed from 2 years ago other than the Ambassador Gateway project actually moving forward.

Read the article and especially the conclusions. The author may have been more prescient than even he knew!
  • Checkmate
    by Rolf Lockwood

    Even after nearly six decades on the planet, there are still things that astonish me. Like that "six decades" deal, but I don't want to talk about it. Somewhere on the list is the fact that I escaped my teenaged years intact. That I haven't written the great novel yet. I might add the stunning architecture of Prague, the spare beauty of the prairies.

    If you'll allow me a bout of whining, there's also the relentless stupidity of voters, the unforgivable lewdness and sexism of nearly every hip-hop video I've ever seen (I'm no prude, I promise you, but I've got daughters), and of course the nearly complete absence of simple kindness in daily life.

    All of these things astonish me. Oh yeah, also the popularity of Tom Cruise. Why? But I digress.

    Near the top of this personal holy-moly-that's-amazing heap there's the political soap opera that's been playing out in Windsor and Detroit these last few years. It's been utterly astonishing in countless ways, not least of which was my discovery quite a few years back that the Ambassador Bridge linking those two cities -- and two big economies -- sits in private hands. It didn't start out that way back when it was finished in 1929, incidentally, as a joint effort of what would later become known as Motown and the Rose City.

    But since 1978 Michigan mogul Matty Moroun has owned the bridge that connects a massive portion of the Canadian economy to the U.S. of A. Effectively, therefore, he has a stranglehold on our collective well being. I've written about all that before, but it still boggles this tiny mind that the bridge belongs to someone.

    By all accounts his companies run the bridge well, but that's not the point. It's a principle. While I don't much like toll highways being in private hands either, I can live with it because in the larger scheme of things it doesn't much matter and they can probably do a better job of it anyway. This wildly important trade and security link is a very, very different thing. We the people simply must own the really crucial stuff.

    And now another astonishment from that part of the world. Some progress has finally been made, I think, on pinning down a long-term strategy to expand capacity at the Detroit–Windsor Gateway.

    You'll read much more about it by searching in of course, so I'll just say here that the "bi-national" group charged with studying border-crossing options has narrowed things down a lot -- the "Jobs Tunnel" is out, and so is the twinning of the Ambassador Bridge. Many other proposals have been turfed as well. In fact, no specific existing proposal is recommended, rather bridge launching/landing areas have been identified on either side of the river. The binational folk appear to like some of the recommendations of the million-dollar Sam Schwartz study commissioned by the City of Windsor. That's a good thing.

    So has progress actually been made? Yes, in theory, but with so many highly developed proposals chucked out, we're starting afresh on the technical side of things. We know the parts of Windsor and Detroit where a bridge will go, but we won't have final details until 2007 and construction of a bridge will stretch to 2013.

    Despite his immense influence, Moroun's company's proposal to twin the Ambassador to add border-crossing capacity was turned down by the binational task force, but has he lost? No way. Mr. Moroun does not lose.

    For one thing, he owns a ton of land on either side of the river and controls more of it -- oddly enough, in exactly the places where the new bridge will start and stop. Plans to expand his customs plaza on the American side of the Ambassador to 100 booths are going ahead, his spokesmen say, and it looks as if the binational task force plan is to link the new bridge with that facility.

    Frankly, it's inevitable that Moroun will win big, and my bet is that the new bridge will be his. As one knowledgeable observer puts it, Moroun and his bridge company are "that close" to checkmate. And of all the things that astonish me, that sure ain't one of them.

Blaming Kwame For The Tunnel Deal Failure

It never, ever sticks does it!

As I have told you so many times before, you must read to the end of Star stories to find out the real reason why a story was written. Here is another example:
  • "Kilpatrick won’t give up on deal
    Detroit mayor still hoping $75M tunnel agreement with Windsor can be made by deadline"

Forget the first part of the story, the bravado about the Detroit Mayor's desires. The real story comes right at the end:

  • "Local lawyer Cliff Sutts, who is leading the negotiations for Windsor on the tunnel deal, plans to push forward with talks.

    But he admits completion of the deal remains in a wait-and-see mode based on what happens in Detroit.

    “The manner in which Detroit decides to finance its deficit is a matter that has to be resolved between mayor and council,” Sutts said. “It’s not something we should be involved with or comment on.”

    Nobody on either side should be rushed into a deal if they are not comfortable with the terms, he said.

    "This deal has to satisfy normal business practices," he said. "Whether Detroit is able to put itself in a position to complete the deal only they can say. But it would be predicated on being able to do so.

    "When we make the deal all i's must be dotted and t's crossed before a deal is consummated. You can't do it on a haphazard basis. We question whether all that can be accomplished with the deadline they have."

What that seems to suggest, and who knows what the truth really is, is that our Mayor finally has the scapegoat that he needs in order to walk away from the transaction if he chooses to do so and cannot be blamed for its failure.

It is all Kwame's fault not Eddie's!

Yes, we can now officially blame Detroit's Mayor for the Tunnel fiasco. I am certain that there can be many reasons why he is the obvious target and will take the hit for this. It will just be added to the pile of why others will suggest that he resign. It just makes life so much easier that way.

Thank heavens for that! Our Mayor is still Teflon-coated even though over $1 million has been spent on this transaction for lawyers and consultants fees. I mean, after all, that is pretty hard to explain away if the deal falls apart.

How convenient that Mr. Sutts in June is finally telling us that it is unlikely that the transaction can be concluded before the end of the month, the deadline date. Those pesky "I's" and "T's" are the problems again. If only we could get rid of those letters in the alphabet, life would be much simpler.

Of course, let's not rush into the deal because then Eddie might actually have to produce the $75 million for the financing that he does not have. It is unlikely that he would have that amount by the end of the month if the Province was to be involved because they take a considerable period of time in order to do their due diligence.

Gee, if there was no financing, then would it be, dare I say it, Eddie's fault?

What a funny statement to make..."Whether Detroit is able to put itself in a position to complete the deal only they can say..." That is language like being ready, willing and able to conclude a transaction. Without money, Eddie is not in a position to complete the deal is he?

Oh I almost forgot, rushing won't help Windsor either because they need approval from the Federal Government to do this transaction and that Government has not yet passed Regulations to permit the transaction to go forward. So how can Eddie be ready, willing and able.

Of course, Kwame's failure allows Eddie to pull his application from the Province for provincial money for this transaction or, alternatively allows the Province to say that this transaction cannot go forward because he cannot meet Detroit's deadline. Thus, the Province is not the bad guy by refusing to provide the financing. Kwame is their excuse too!

As I said before, this file is not officially ended until the Sutts law firm is asked to close their file on this matter. I was very troubled by this statement:
  • "Local lawyer Cliff Sutts, who is leading the negotiations for Windsor on the tunnel deal, plans to push forward with talks."
What can they possibly be talking about when the deal is now on life-support?

There are two alternatives that I can think of right away:
  1. Fees will be charged until the end of the month, until the June 30 deadline is reached, and then the file will be closed, or, and please say that this is not true,
  2. Eddie has already talked with President Cockrel and has developed a plan to end-run Mayor Kilpatrick and this nonsense will continue to go forward until the bitter end for Windsor taxpayers.

If the real story is the second alternative above, then the Star headline should have read:

  • "Eddie won't give up on deal
    No matter how bad for taxpayers, Mayor still wants it!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Few More Scratchings

Here are a few more items of interest that you may have missed. Even if you have read about these matters, I may have a different perspective for you that I hope you will consider


I thought I had it all figured out. I saw that the City was looking for a new Chief Building Official. That is the role that Mario Sonego played. As you may recall, he was front and centre in the decision that was made not to allow the Junction to receive a licence so that people could dance to music at the location. That is the subject matter now of a $1.5M lawsuit involving the City of Windsor, including a claim for punitive damages and bad faith!

When I saw that they were recruiting for a replacement, I wondered if Mr. Sonego was leaving town. If he was no longer working for the City, then our Mayor, who will undoubtedly be examined by the Junction's lawyer, Claudio Martini, could have offered up a settlement by blaming everything on the Chief Building Official who was no longer around.

Wasn't blaming the past and those that were around then the tactic tried before with respect to WUC or the fleet audit as examples?

No such luck however. If the lawsuit goes forward, Mr. Martini gets to have his fun while the Mayor will learn what it is like to be a witness rather than a Perry Mason. It looks like Mr. Sonego has a new City job and a recruitment company has been hired to find a replacement for him.

You may wonder why a recruitment company is needed and that a replacement could not have been found for him internally. Who knows, maybe there was no proper succession planning in place in that Department or perhaps everyone left since there seems to be such poor morale at City Hall.

I am told that he will be filling the position of City Engineer. Wasn't that positon held by Mario Iatonna who left in November, 2005. Does it mean that it took so long to find a replacement for Mr. Iatonna?

If true, it is no wonder that the CAO approved a recommendation to hire an outside recruitment agency. After all, it will only cost us $39,150 in recruitment fees.

I wonder how many Library books that would have purchased.


I hear that there was a big dispute as to when the term of the Library Board ended. The Members of the Board had received a letter from the City saying:
  • "that City Council adopted a report of the Striking Committee which appointed you as a member of the Windsor Public Library Board for the term ending November 30, 2008."
How could such a letter have been drafted? Section 10 (3) of the Public Libraries Act states:
  • "A board member shall hold office for a term concurrent with the term of the appointing council."

The City backed off. In case you are wondering, the Chair of the Striking Committe is our lawyer Mayor so he would understand the black letter law of the statute:


I wonder if the Star Editorial cartoon the other day may signal the beginning of a smear campaign directed towards the Owner of the Ambassador Bridge personally. I have heard rumblings of that along with outrageous claims that have no basis in fact.

It would not surprise me considering that some of his opponents may be that desperate that they will do anything to discredit him. After all, I'm still waiting to find a valid reason that someone can give for the spending of billions of dollars of taxpayer money for a new DRIC bridge.

So if they can't beat him on logic or on the facts, they may as well try and discredit him as a last ditch effort.

In the end though, the smear tactics won't work either. If you remember the polls that I've posted before, it was surprising how many people were supportive of the Bridge Company. What counts for most people is whether the border crossing works as this Today's Trucking Online poll demonstrates:


  • "Swiss and German cities dominate ranking of best cities in the world. A report by Mercer Consulting 10 June 2008:

    Zurich, Vienna and Geneva are the best cities in the world as far as quality of live is concerned, says Mercer Consulting in a survey published in June 2008. Vancouver (Canada) and Auckland (New Zealand) are placed fourth and fifth respectively, followed by three German cities: Düsseldorf, Munich and Frankfurt. Tokyo, London and Madrid are all outside the top 25. Overall, Baghdad is, not surprisingly, the lowest ranking city in the survey."

I guess our Economic Development People better drag out that award as North America’s leading small City of the Future from fDi Magazine to show at the Exhibition in London in June for whatever good it has done us so far.

Costs for a booth at the show start at £295 + VAT per square metre. That is about $600 per 1.2 square yard in terms I can understand! Here is the location of Windsor/Essex's booth that it seems we are sharing with the Turks and Caicos Islands Investment Agency if the Exhibitor list is correct. Guess where our WEDC Board will be holding their meeting in the cold of winter!

Some of the seminars include doing business in the Gulf States, Hong Kong and Mainland China, Eastern Europe, London, South Africa, India, Hungary, Montenegro, Lithuania. Macedonia, Latvia, Lancashire, Russia, Africa, Moldova, Netherlands, Slovakia, Baden-Württemberg, Shannon but nothing that I found about Windsor.

In case you happen to be in London for the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championship which starts on June 23, the FDI Expo runs on June 24 and 25.


Why doesn't Gordon Henderson have the guts to say that Eddie's plan to send Windsorites out West for jobs and then have them commute home on weekends is the stupidest idea that he's ever heard of.

Well if he did that, then how could he be a cheerleader? He might have to say that Greenlink is a stupid idea too that is stalling off the economic development of this entire region and costing us thousands of jobs at a time when unemployment is so high.

Here is what Gord wrote recently:

  • "It's never easy going down the road. It's never easy leaving friends and loved ones behind. But the choice facing laid-off Windsor Ford workers who have $34-an-hour jobs waiting for them in Oakville is surely a no-brainer.

    Stay here and collect pogey while beating the bushes for non-existent jobs? Or go to Oakville, with all the disruption and heartache that will entail, and continue to collect an envied paycheque and top-notch benefits...

    What will it be like for Windsorites in Oakville?...a Windsorite could feel quite at home in working-class Hamilton, just 20 kilometres from the Ford plant...A home that increases in value at a breathtaking pace.

    There are worse things in this world than moving to a new city, developing new friends and enjoying new experiences."

Geez, not a word about commuting every weekend since it is only "just three hours and 20 minutes (on a bad day) up the 401." Not a word about paying property taxes here.

And this column comes just after the Star story "Shuttling workers to Sask. could help both regions: Francis."

Gord just told you to give it up Eddie. Perhaps if one day Gord started treating Eddie Francis as if he was Mike Hurst and started examining what he was doing critically... naw, I must be dreaming to think that would happen.


That is what the Enhancement Project is worth to Michigan for use in their road system plus not spending money on a new bridge is not needed. If you saw this story in the Detroit News, you'll understand what I'm talking about:

  • "State's already poorly maintained roads will crumble further as money dries up

    A new state report says one-quarter of the pavement on Michigan's main roads is in poor shape, and that percentage will reach nearly half in 10 years if the state doesn't come up with the money to fix the roads faster and maintain them better.

    "The most important roads in our state are deteriorating faster than we can keep them updated," said Carmine Palombo, transportation director of the Michigan Council of Governments.

    Palombo heads the state's Asset Management Council, a panel of 12 transportation and local officials whose inspectors, working on behalf of the Michigan Department of Transportation, determined that Michigan roadways are "getting significantly worse, with more miles in poor condition than in good condition..."

    In 2004, it would have cost $3.7 billion to bring all Michigan roads in poor condition up to good; today, that figure is $6.6 billion...

    "Transportation is critical to economic development. That's why it's always a good investment. But when money is short, those decisions are tough."


It has to be something big. They must have a lot of cash this year that they did not have last year. How do I know... unlike last year when they shared the billing with the Ambassador Bridge Company as sponsors, this year
  • "2008 marks the 14th annual Festival Epicure: A Celebration Of Food, Wine and Music presented by the Detroit River Tunnel Partnership."

Windsor/Detroit Traffic Volumes: Border Investors Alert

Hooray! Better late than never.

The Star finally gave some prominence to the startling news out of US DRIC's DEIS that the DRIC traffic projections were dismally wrong and that traffic needs to be taken from every other crossing or the new DRIC Bridge might go broke!
  • "In the section studying traffic patterns, DRIC predicts an initial loss of traffic for the Blue Water Bridge in Sarnia, the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel and the Ambassador Bridge.

    Blue Water would see a seven per cent decline in cars and 16 to 18 per cent drop in truck traffic in peak travel periods when the new bridge opens. The tunnel would take a 20 to 26 per cent hit on cars. The Ambassador Bridge would see a 30 to 39 per cent drop in cars and 54 to 75 per cent drop in truck traffic, depending on the location of the new bridge."
Below are Transport Canada actual numbers for the border crossing volume for cars and trucks.

Truck volumes are virtually the same today as they were in 1999 at the Ambassador Bridge as an example. So much for the massive increase projected.

Car volumes have tanked especially at the Tunnel where it is now ranked third in car volume with over a 50% drop in volume! The drop from the second position took place under our Mayor's management of the Tunnel Commission. You know, the same Mayor who now wants to pay US $75M for some deal involving the US side for which we have no business case disclosed so far.

By the way, Councillor Gignac just killed her mayoral chances (and Councillor Brister can rest easier). With this below par performance at the Tunnel, how could she possibly say:
  • "With the information put in front of me, I'm comfortable with (the legal costs)," said Coun. Jo-Anne Gignac."
She should have said that the legal bills better stop and that this deal is dead! Oh I forgot, she is NOT a Detroit Councillor who is not afraid to speak up.

Please explain to me again how DRIC came up with their over-optimistic numbers about how volumes would double! Wasn't that their prime justification for a new crossing!

More importantly, please explain to me how the Governments on both sides of the border can justify spending billions of taxpayer dollars on a new crossing when effectively the Ambassador Bridge Company has just built a new one with the booths they have just built---6 in Canada and 7 in the US-- that almost equate to the number of booths at the Tunnel.

Wouldn't you just love to see their pitch to P3 investors for a new DRIC bridge. No wonder to get their numbers up they have to cannibalize traffic from all of the other crossings in SW Ontario/SE Michigan.



Wednesday, June 11, 2008

More BlogMeister Letters

Here are more reader comments. Is yours included:

1) [RE: U of W prof wins grant to study Huron Church traffic flows] Using computer simulation??? Really! Why wouldn’t he look out the window?

2) Don't ya wish we had this king of reporting from the Windsour Star!
Please visit link:

3) City Council May 26: After this meeting I was ashamed to call myself a Citizen of Windsor. The mayor's antics, while unbelievable, were no different from what he's done in the past. The DRIC team, qualified professionals, came to council to explain their position. Likely they knew what was coming.

For his part, the boy wonder didn't disappoint. He hectored them, interrupted them, played the Perry Mason role and not very well. All he accomplished was to draw sympathy from viewers for the DRIC team.

One would think that a mayor knows that civil servants are expected to carry out the policies of their political masters--in this case the provincial government. DRIC people are only doing their jobs. If I represented the province, I'd say to the mayor and council enough of this nonsense. We'll pack up our plans, spend the dollars somewhere else and you can deal with the next government, be it Conservative or Liberal. Enough insults, badgering and bullying. It's over, Windsor. Enjoy your new arena.


5) Question, if the city sues DRIC, can I sue the city for my headache medication??? Every meeting makes my head throb even more!

6) Good morning Ed!

My Plan is better than your plan! My plan is better than your plan! And your
mother wears army boots! Or! Mine's bigger than yours!

Talk about a Urinary Olympics!

As Spanky once said; "The mayor is wrong, the mayor is wrong!" and so is
DRIC! Duncan also said; "OR nothing at all!" I think it was your blog that
said something to the effect that it would be Eddie's grandchildren that
will be witness to the grand opening of the new crossing of the Ambassador
Bridge Company's enhanced span.

Slowly and surely the bridge company lays the facts out of the stupidity of
DRIC on both sides of the border, with sound facts, basic economic and
financial intelligence and their own money! With news today of property
values dropping like lead in Michigan and less tax revenue coming in, the
communities and the state of MIchigan are going to have even less money than
what is already being invested on their side of river.

I am really hoping that the Michigan legislature is listening to Dan Stamper
et al and Mickey Kantor! The Americans have always been worried about the
slack marijuana laws in Canada and now they have proof that two levels of
government in Ontario are really smoking something!

7) I was at the Mayor's Luncheon held by the Chamber of Commerce and couldn't believe that Mayor Francis trotted out his Greenlink plan presentation on 3 big screens no less! I noticed that a number of people groaned once he started.

There was also supposed to be a Q&A after, but as the Mayor went over his alotted time at 1:45 I had to get back to work.

8) shameless show of commercialism. Red Bull appears to have sold out on the US side but only 20000 of the 50000 tickets in Windsor sold. EVERY councillor has a can of Red Bull on the desk (guess you can advertise GreenLink and Red Bull but if an individual wears a name tag - it is not allowed).


10) There are consultants who can convince their clients that interminable studies at awesome levels of detail and complexity are required to fully answer whatever may seem to be their questions. As long as they have patience and money there will be more questions to be researched, more reports to be written and more presentations to be made. Only when patience and money run out will it be found that the last billable hour finally resolved the issue.

11) After having been a Windsor resident for over 40 years, it became necessary to move my family to the GTA for greater business opportunities. Since moving down here, I continue to be a big supporter of Windsor in spite of the "arm pit" view by most. The recent Toronto Star article comparing Sudbury to Windsor shows how bad things actually are. When any city compares itself to Sudbury and loses miserably, you know things can't get much lower. I decided to make a list of Eddie's accomplishments (facetious) and would hope that you supplement with any others that I have missed. In reality, I can't think of a single thing that Eddie has done that has positively affected Windsor so I will give you the negative achievements:

  • 1) Border File (Sandwich Town, Greenlink, Bridge relationship)

  • 2) Windsor Arena
    - Land Deal (Lear property & Art Gallery) Why would anyone in their right mind put the arena where it is?
    - Spitfire Deal. What are the true cost implications
    - Cost overruns including the McHugh Bridge and internal costs
    - Eddie's commitment to stick with the original $15M allocated to a third party build vs.. $70+M now

  • 3) Engineering Building for the U of W

  • 4) Tunnel Deal - Please let it die

  • 5) Capital Theatre

  • 6) Junction Lawsuit

  • 7) Income Security Building Audit - What secrets will be exposed, if anything?
  • 8) Fleet Services Audit
  • 9) WUC & Enwin - Huge water rate increase hides the Sewer Surcharge increase which has allowed Eddie to keep taxes lower.

  • 10) Development Commission Fiasco
  • 11) Detroit Grand Prix, Superbowl Party, Wrestlemania - All big wastes
  • 12) Huge salary increases for Administration when the City is tanking

  • 13) Library Fiasco

  • 14) Airport - What's the real financial story?

  • 15) Secrecy on everything - When will the auditor general be hired?

  • 16) Policies from City of Windsor Speech - $100M fund with no discussion with county and organizing flights to the west
    Any more?

12) Interesting but sad, that we Windsor have to read out of town newspapers to get news of Windsor.

13) Just spent the last 30 minutes digesting your Blog. What I read is fantastic.

14) $600,000 to re-furbish the airport terminal so we can have 2 flights per week take off for
Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Gee, that will make about 6 part time jobs for Windsor (4 baggage handlers and 2 ticket agents) The restaurant is to be redone... why... how many people do they expect to attract to eat there? Think about this yourself... how many times have you eaten in an airport other than grabbing a chocolate bar and pop while waiting for your flight... not often I can bet.

Mention was made that Eddie is talking to other airlines such as Westjet and another charter service, both have been here in Windsor and pulled out.... why... most likely because lack of passenger traffic. Does the Mayor all of a sudden think a mass of passengers will cross from Michigan to use the airport to go to Cuba? The border traffic has dropped dramatically and when the US imposes the fact that Bush and Company will make passports mandatory to get back into the States the numbers will drop even more. I hope they assess the reasons why the others left and rectify the problems if indeed there were others than the dropping passenger numbers. (didn't I read a short while ago that a representative of Westjet said Windsor was not on the "drawing boards" for at least several years because they are quite satisfied with their current operations out of London.)

The everyday events that take place in Windsor are becoming more bizarre all the time... I just don't get it.

15) Note that the City is going to beautify the approaches by adding flowers : at least they do not have to provide vases, there are enough pot-holes to accommodate them ! Keep up the good work!

Mini-SPP: Another Huge Loss For Canada

US Secretary of Transportation, Mary Peters, looks so pleasant in her Three Amigos photograph along with Transport Canada Minister Lawrence Cannon and the Mexican Secretary of Communications and Transportation Luis Téllez.

I wonder how Minister Cannon feels after the Secretary effectively ignored him. I would not want to be in his shoes and have to report to Prime Minister Harper and Minister Fortier about my failure. He at least got the word "Windsor" in!

Read the Communiqué from the two-day session and you'll understand how the Minister did not get anywhere. Did someone really think that the Secretary would undercut the President of the United States?


Trilateral Transportation Meeting

Meech Lake, Québec
June 10, 2008


Efficient and integrated transportation systems have been a vital underpinning of the North American success story. Indeed, these systems have supported unprecedented trade flows and have helped to define the strength of our position within the global economy. As we approach the fifteenth anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), we witness the growth of integrated supply chains and the increasing complexity of global trade. Against this backdrop, we recognize the foresight that accompanied the NAFTA's creation, putting in place a model that many have since emulated.

Ensuring that the benefits that have accrued with the NAFTA endure requires our ongoing commitment to enhance the safe, secure, and efficient flow of goods and people, but will also need a continued focus on sound policies and strategic approaches to the continental transportation system in order to facilitate trade and economic growth among our countries.

Recognizing this, we, the Ministers responsible for transportation in North America, convened our first meeting in Tucson in 2007 in order to better coordinate compatible transportation policies and systems. We committed to intensify our collaboration both bilaterally and trilaterally as appropriate in order to achieve, during the next ten years, significant progress in the areas of aviation cooperation, trade facilitation, transportation safety, and regulatory cooperation and information sharing. We have met for the second time today, at Meech Lake, Quebec, to take stock of progress vis-à-vis our shared priorities and to follow through on efforts begun in Tucson.

Already, real strides have been made:

We are working to enhance safety across transportation modes and to share best practices. We have also taken steps to put in place compatible and environmentally ambitious fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks.

On trade facilitation, our governments have launched important national transportation infrastructure initiatives that, taken together, will develop our gateways and trade corridors, better allowing us to maximize the opportunities associated with global supply chains. Mindful of the need to manage our borders in a way that supports commerce and our shared prosperity, we have also taken specific steps to improve the flow of trade across land ports of entry. For example, Canada and the United States have strengthened collaboration to enhance crossing capacity at the Windsor-Detroit Gateway, while the United States and Mexico have taken important steps toward fulfilling components of the NAFTA’s trucking provisions. Finally, anticipating requirements for long-term capacity, efficiency, and sustainability, studies such as that completed on the long-term reliability and sustainability of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway system stand as key successes. Other studies, such as Ports of Entry United States-Mexico, Analysis of Capacities and Recommendations to increase their Efficiency, are in process and will help to identify opportunities to improve efficiency at borders.

Canada and the United States signed an Open Skies agreement in 2007. Both Canada and the United States have made significant progress in liberalizing their respective air services with Mexico through the expansion of existing air service.

To improve regulatory cooperation and information exchange, the United States has designed a system to provide early notification to Canada and Mexico of the United States Department of Transportation rulemaking in progress.

To build on these achievements, at Meech Lake we engaged in discussions to explore future enhancements to North America's transportation system and shared perspectives on the challenges of infrastructure renewal. These included discussions on strategies to optimize capacity and encourage innovative financing; address the ever-increasing volumes of freight handled by our ports; and address the integral role of ongoing border facilitation efforts to maximizing supply chain efficiencies.


We reaffirm today the objectives set in Tucson, namely: (1) to continue to improve the safety, security, and efficiency of North American transportation systems; (2) to ensure the adoption of new technologies and procedures, and investments in infrastructure improvements; (3) to improve intermodal connections; and (4) to expand the capacity of our freight and passenger transportation systems in partnership with other stakeholders, while minimizing transportation's effect on the environment. To this end, we identify the following specific undertakings:

We have identified the harmonization of vehicle safety regulations, such as "electronic stability control," to serve as a pilot project to study the feasibility of a joint regulatory cooperation among the three countries, taking into account cost-benefit analyses, while, further to their Memorandum of Cooperation on Motor Vehicle Safety, Canada and the United States will identify additional specific areas for collaborative regulatory research geared toward improved crash avoidance and crashworthiness of light and heavy-duty vehicles and harmonized regulations at the bilateral and multilateral levels.

Working to find ways to reduce congestion at major border crossings, Canada, Mexico, and the United States will undertake pilot projects using a new framework to guide the implementation of intelligent transportation systems technology at border sites designated as priorities by each country pair.

We recognize the importance of supporting and promoting strategic infrastructure projects at borders to improve competitiveness of North America. Close coordination/cooperation is key to the successful development of these projects. Through our established bilateral transportation border working groups, we will undertake, in cooperation with our states, provinces, and border agencies, infrastructure planning initiatives to facilitate efficient and secure movement of goods and people across our borders.

In the area of regulatory cooperation, our officials will convene a trilateral multimodal regulatory cooperation meeting in the coming months to discuss the United States Department of Transportation's recent pre-notification innovations and other potential collaborative strategies. As well, our officials will meet trilaterally to review respective rail safety regulations, to develop, by the end of 2008, a plan to move forward to enhance compatibility where appropriate. The U.S. will continue a rulemaking process that proposes to allow Canadian insurance companies to issue commercial motor vehicle insurance policies covering Canadian motor carriers operating in the United States, achieving reciprocity with Canada's treatment of U.S. insurers and motor carriers.

Under the NextGen Trilateral Strategy Group (NTSG) of the North American Aviation Trilateral, we will, through our respective aviation agencies or organizations, identify the current status of continental NextGen key capabilities in order to make recommendations on harmonization, priorities, and pilot projects.

We will continue to share research, information, and lessons learned on Public Private Partnerships and other innovative infrastructure finance and development approaches so as to enable, facilitate, and encourage the use of private capital

Finally, we recognize that improving freight mobility is one of the keys to maintaining our competitive position in a globalized economy and we are developing policies, programs, and strategies to enhance the efficient movement of freight. Our officials will convene a trilateral meeting to compare our evolving national policies and priorities for improving respective freight systems with the objective of assuring that our approaches are complementary and supported through coordination, information exchange, and other appropriate actions.


We, the Ministers responsible for transportation in North America, recognize that the challenges and opportunities of trade and transportation require our sustained attention in order that we may effectively anticipate future transportation needs, and assure North America's place in global trade. Our discussions at Meech Lake build on the close collaboration begun in Tucson, and we remain convinced that continuing cooperation and coordination among Ministers will bring benefits to our countries.

We commit to continuing our work together in a spirit of cooperation and goodwill.

Interesting News

Here are some more news tidbits for your information:


Nice to see that the Windsor Star is picking up stories about Windsor from its sister publication in Regina. The story in the Star "We'll work, but won't settle in West" is based on the Leader-Post article "Windsor mayor confident commute idea will work."

I must admit that on such an important story I would have thought that the Windsor Star would do the reporting. But it appears that they're not going to do so because they know as well as you and I that the Mayor is not serious. Why waste the reporter's time on something that's never going to happen.

How do I know that this project is nothing more than filling up space in newspapers. Remember our action oriented Mayor... that didn't last for long:
  • "He said his city plans a survey to find out how many people are already travelling to work out of province, who else might be interested and their areas of expertise."

Another study, probably hiring another consultant who is skilled in workers commuting and wasting more money and time.


Oh and by the way... the Star forgot to add this line in the story:

  • Stewart, who also met with business groups in Windsor last week, has acknowledged that the Saskatchewan government wants to grow the population -- not just attract part-time residents to fill a labour need.

    "I was blunt with Mayor Francis about this -- we hope that many of those people will decide to move here and continue to work in Saskatchewan," Stewart said upon returning from southern Ontario."


Whatever happened to Greenlink? It just seems to have disappeared.

I am certain that you have seen the ad in the Star stating that the DRIC Public Information Open Houses will take place on June 18, the same day that I predicted that the Governments would make the announcement about the new bridge and plaza.

If true, I can't figure out that timing unless they really want to focus people's thinking on the road rather than the bridge.

In any event, we are not getting Greenlink or the DRIC Road. If you think we are, then you need only look at Sarnia where there is no environmental assessment on the expansion of Highway 402:

  • "Public opposition to the expansion of Highway 402 appears to be gaining momentum just as Ontario starts detailed design work.

    More than 400 people, including four members of city council, have signed an online petition calling on the Environment Ministry undertake a full environmental assessment, in hopes the project will be abandoned...

    Bailey said he's aware of the petitions and will fulfill his obligation as MPP by presenting them to the government.

    However, "The horse has left the barn," he said. "I believe that with the right checks and balances, the expansion can be environmentally responsible."

    Two more highway lanes will improve traffic flow across the bridge, cut down on idling trucks and assist trade, he said."


I wonder if someone could actually tell us what work is being done on the Expressway and why. Here is what was said:

  • "We are taking pre-emptive steps to fix bridges before we have serious issues with them," said Mike Palanacki, executive director of public works. The 40-year-old E.C. Row expressway bridges are corroding because of exposure to road salt, he said."

However, I have had several people contact me and suggest that what they see happening is the beginning of an expansion of the Expressway by another lane in each direction. Why would that be you might ask? Here's what Mr. Pupatello said a number of years ago:

  • "Windsor Star 12-20-2003
    Huron Church backup plan "Unfortunately upgrades to Huron Line will take two to three years, so we need a backup plan where trucks will go," Pupatello said. "(E.C. Row) may need to be part of a temporary measure. They have to go somewhere."

Wouldn't it be nice to know for once what the truth really is and to end rumours and speculation.


The 400 Building is starting to smell more and more. Back in February, 2006 the following was reported:

  • "Skorobohacz said the project came in under budget and the city will have an extra $1 million, based on projected revenues and operating expenses."

Even the contractor wrote to the Star and said

  • "After much speculation, allegations and innuendoes, it is vindicating to read in The Star report of Feb. 7 that the municipal building at 400 City Hall Square was constructed under budget."

It is now June, 2008. Can you please explain to me how this is possible? Apparently, there are

  • "outstanding issues surrounding construction of the 400 building in City Hall Square, adding more than $1 million to its price tag."

This doesn't make any sense to me at all. It makes it all the more urgent for us to see the initial audit report prepared by Mr. Dunbar on the Audit of the building even if the final one is not finished yet.

Here is a scary part about all of this and has nothing to do with the 400 building. Remember what I wrote before:

  • "Here is what is even more troubling about all of this. The Report that was presented to Council about the project claimed:

    "City council hired in 2006 its own independent consultant, who reported the building was constructed under budget and meets the city's objective of consolidating many government services under one roof."

    I expect that this report was a justification for the City going alone on the East End Arena and being responsible for the project. If the Fleet Operations and 400 building audits give rise to concerns then who knows what is going on with respect to the Arena and whether it is being managed properly or not. I just do not know the answer."


Remember the story:

  • "The city will explore the possibility of moving up the opening date of its new arena, at a projected extra cost of at least $500,000.

    Originally planned to open in January, the $64-million, 6,500-seat WFCU Centre could open in September, arena steering committee members have been told. That's because part of the 302,000-square-foot complex on McHugh Street will be ready by then, parks and recreation director Don Sadler said Thursday."

We were not told the reason why the opening date might have to be moved up. However, it appears that our Arena geniuses did not consider that if the Arena opened in January, 2009 groups would have booked their ice time elsewhere. The Arena would lose big bucks being empty for months:

  • "J. Wilson is concerned that in 2009 half of the pads could be empty when groups book elsewhere and don't sign on to the new facility. She adds that the business case presumed a full year of operation. She can prepare a report for various operations based on concerns and look at nine pads, closing both Riverside and Adstoll.

    Mayor Francis asks what it would take to speed up the completion of the main bowl and complete the entire facility in September, 2008. D. Sadler reports that it would cost approximately $500,000, the cost being over time."

There are some significant legal issues about opening the Arena prematurely. Our Mayor/lawyer stated:

  • "there are a number of case laws that work against the City and a number of risks in relation to the liability if the entire project is not complete and early occupancy occurs...

    M. Dubin agrees with the inherent risk factor, and realizes that there is pressure from community groups, as well as the cost of running the older buildings."

I don't know about you but I am very suspicious about that half million dollar cost and wonder exactly what it covers. After all, dead men don't build arenas.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Self-Watering Planters And Running Bridges

What do the Campeau family and the owners of the Ambassador Bridge have in common?

What a ridiculous question you might think. What could the owner of Martha's Greenhouse who waters plants for Business Associations in the City have in common with people who own trucks and run the most successful border crossing in North America? A lot more than you might think!

Let me quote from the Council minutes of May 26, 2008:
  • "Martha and Norm Campeau, representing Martha's Greenhouse, appear before Council to provide a brief overview of the services provided by Martha's Greenhouse, and conclude by stating that if the city now wants to offer no cost flower baskets to the business associations, Martha's Greenhouse will suffer a tremendous loss of revenue, at the expense of another small business in the community."

In other words, as several of the Councillors noted, here was the Government, this time the City, being in a position where it could possibly use taxpayer money to put a private enterprise operation out of business.

Of course, our Mayor explained to the Campeaus that they should not be concerned because after all the City was in fact going to double the size of the potential business. Of course, he did not mention that this could attract even more competitors since this invites larger firms if there was a public tender or the City itself to take their business since there was now a larger pot to water.

Is this not very similar with the position of the Ambassador Bridge Owner. He is running good operation, the best in North America, that has helped Canada so well in its export business with the United States and yet the Canadian Government seems to want to put him out of business.

Of course, to ease the pain they produce suspect numbers that says that border traffic will double between now and 30 years from now notwithstanding that truck traffic is the same as 1999 and car volumes have dropped drastically. With that kind of volume, P3 investors from around the world would flock to take over their bridge business.

Do you see what I mean? They are very similar. It does not matter how big you are or how small you are if government wants to take some actions that may impact the business that you have built up for your entire life.

Let me talk more about the Windsor Star story that pointed out that the new DRIC bridge would cannibalize the traffic from the other border crossings--the Blue Water Bridge, the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel and the Ambassador Bridge. There were some absurd statements in that story. Let me "fisk" some of them:

1) "Transport Canada says it doesn't believe the other area border crossings will suffer long-term losses.

"We don't see them closing up," said Mark Butler, a spokesman for Transport Canada and DRIC."

[Of course they are not going to close up since that would devastate the economies of Ontario and Michigan! But they would operate at a loss if another crossing fought for traffic that was not growing as projected by DRIC but was stagnant or decreasing overall.

What Mr. Butler did not say makes my pocketbook ache: Taxpayers are not only going to get stuck for paying for the billions of dollars of cost of the DRIC project, we are going to subsidize the losses of the other crossings and may have to pay damages in a lawsuit! The Sarnia Bridge cannot close down because that would kill the automobile industry that the Governments have been so eager to attract to Ontario. Eddie would go ballistic and so would the City of Detroit if the Tunnel went out of business. Like it or not, the Ambassador Bridge will sue "If government expropriates anybody's business."

Just remember what Sam wrote in his first report. It is a Socialist dream come true:

  • "It sets aside the profit-motive, which means each facility is competing for the most traffic, with a utilitarian-motive: the greatest good for the greatest number. Such a scheme may require revenue sharing among participants."]

2)"The Ambassador Bridge will still be competitive and provide service to trucks that are local traffic in the Detroit and Wayne County area. We believe the new crossing will attract trucks going a long distance. Trucks coming from Toronto or Quebec and going to Texas or Florida."

[That was part of the DRIC argument that the volumes would increase so dramatically and double that the Ambassador Bridge would still be full even with 50% of the volume of traffic in the future. It might have been true with the vibrant Big Three automobile industry but since that has been destroyed one wonders what local traffic Mr. Butler is talking about.

Moreover, it appears that Mr. Butler may not have heard Dave Wake's comment that the DRIC Road will merely have an exit at E C Row and Huron Church so that trucks can choose that road with all of its stoplights or continue on with the unimpeded DRIC Road to the border. Of course, when the City of Windsor removes one lane of traffic for bicycles only, as shown in the Schwartz drawing and hinted at by Ministers Cansfield and Cannon, I wonder how many trucks will use that road at all]

3) "Butler said the issue of compensating a border crossing for lost business hasn't come up."

[Of course not. If I am correct, the Governments want to beat down the Bridge Company to lower the price. They haven't got the nerve to pay fair value because if they did I would not have to be writing BLOGs on the border anymore. The Governments expected that the Bridge Company would have sold out by now. Unfortunately, the Bridge Company spread in the Globe and Mail changed that incorrect view of the world.]

4) "Tunnel and Blue Water officials aren't worried about losing business. Both companies believe they have niche markets."

[Their niches are getting smaller. Perhaps it is time that they started worrying. Even with two bridges, expressways right to the border and no major construction that closes down an Interstate highway, the Blue Water Bridge has not taken away a big chunk of the truck traffic from the Ambassador Bridge. As for the Tunnel, it has dropped from second to third busiest crossing for cars.]

5) Neal Belitsky, president of the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel LLC.

"People will take the crossing that provides the quickest and easiest travel for them."

[With seven new booths for cars at the Ambassador Bridge and room for more expansion, I would assume with the Ambassador Gateway project, we can guess which crossing will provide the quickest and easiest travel. Hint: It is NOT the Tunnel.]

6) "A lot of the Blue Water traffic is headed to the suburbs of northern Detroit, said Stan Korosec, vice-president of operations for Blue Water."

[See #4 above]

7) "We will be in business as long as we are needed," said [Gregg]Ward, whose ferry service takes about 10 trips a day carrying hazardous materials and oversized cargo.

"I think I know our place in the grander picture of international transportation. We are a niche service. In times of severe congestion, we keep plants open."

[Unfortunately Gregg, you are no longer needed. If the Sarnia Bridge can handle hazardous materials, so will the new DRIC bridge.

"The proposed bridge would take hazardous material, Butler confirmed."

After all, the P3 investor needs all the truck traffic, including Toronto garbage trucks, it can get. I guess that Mr. Ward has not read that the new DRIC bridge is supposed to end the congestion so there will no longer be a need for his services. In any event, unless he can structure a deal pretty soon with respect to that piece of land over which trucks can no longer cross without permission of the owner, he will be out of business anyway.

8) "Ward said he hasn't heard any discussion about compensating businesses for lost traffic, but he said a compensation claimant will have a hard time proving its case...

"It's a false argument," Ward said of compensation for a border crossing that loses business because of the new crossing."

[See #7 above. Mr. Ward's lawyer will have a heart attack if he ever sees this comment if the new bridge puts the ferry service out of business. At least, taxpayers will not have to pay for his business when it closes down thanks to Mr. Ward's comments!]

I cannot figure out why Governments are spending $5M to improve an operation that seems dead in a few years. More waste of taxpayer money]

9) ""It will be a competitor, but it won't be a subsidized bridge. They will have to pay for the privilege to operate it."

[Yet Mr. Ward also stated before this comment that

  • "Ward said the new bridge, which will likely be operated by private enterprise, will face stricter competitive barriers because it will have to pay the government a fee, and government would have some say about tolls and maintenance. The Ambassador Bridge doesn't have any of those issues, Ward said."

Considering also that their financing costs will be substantially higher such that the Ambassador Bridge tolls will be lower, perhaps Mr. Ward can explain how they can stay in business.

Without a subsidy, they are broke unless Governments force traffic to that new bridge regardless.]

When Is the DRIC Bridge Announcement Date

Expect a number of announcements from DRIC over the next several weeks.

Clearly, there has to be an announcement of Public Information Open Houses for the DRIC road project so that the public can provide input for "refinements" for the project.

However, the big day will be the day that the location of the new bridge and plaza will be announced. As you may recall, DRIC said that the announcement would come in spring, 2008. Timing is running out since summer begins on June 21.

Accordingly, my guess is that there is a very strong probability that the announcement date will be June 18! That date may change depending on what happens in meetings taking place in Ottawa and Meech Lake yesterday and today.

The virtue of deductive reasoning! It is on the last Wednesday before summer starts, almost the last possible minute, so there will be several days of publicity in the media perhaps culminating in a big advertising blitz for the weekend Windsor Star.

Why is there an urgency for June 18? Obviously, DRIC is very sensitive of the charges by our Mayor that they are delaying. (That is like the pot calling the kettle black with respect to delays and stalling). Accordingly, they want to be able to say that they have met their deadline.

More importantly, they want to be in a position to undercut Senator Cropsey's hearings in Lansing with respect to DRIC and MDOT's role in the process. They want to put the Senator on the defensive by saying that the project is effectively completed and why not move forward with it after spending about $60 million on both sides of the river. They are trying to make Senator Cropsey and his colleagues look like they are the ones who are wasting taxpayer money rather than MDOT who let this Megaproject run wild.

If the Globe and Mail is correct, expect to see Senator Fortier's financial fingerprints all over the announcement and the background information. There is no doubt that what will be disclosed will show how this project is so advantageous for Michigan that the State would be foolish not to go forward with the DRIC project.

Naturally, my expectation is that the announcement will be full of support for a P3-type project. Again, that is designed to show Michigan how they can support the project without it costing them very much money.

One final note. I'm sure that all the materials are ready by now for the bridge and plaza location announcements and the decisions made. However nothing will be done until after June 10 to give Transport Canada Minister Cannon time to meet with US transportation Secretary Mary Peters at the Trilateral Transportation Meeting “Sustaining the North American Transportation Advantage – Enhancing System Safety, Efficiency, and Integration” on June 9 and 10. The timing of the conference is very coincidental given the DRIC Bridge announcement.

It appears to me that no one has sent Minister Cannon a copy the transcript of former US Secretary of Commerce, Mickey Kantor, where he said clearly that the US cannot make a decision now legally. Doesn't Canada care or is Canada so desperate that it is trying to force a bridge location down Secretary Peters' throat no matter what the US President said through the Department of State re the rejection of the DRIC Central Crossing. As Kantor said:
  • "It looks as though our Canadian friends, I believe, they’re trying to shove and push. Last time I looked, a sovereign country, the United States into doing something that we are not even close to making a decision on.

    The Draft Environmental Impact process under the National Environmental Policy Act is still going on, has not been completed. Then you need a final Draft Environmental Impact statement to be approved by Transportation.

    The White House has made no such decision – no one has – nor could they under the law.

    And so our Canadian friends are trying to push us into spending a billion and half dollars from the US and Michigan for a bridge that is not necessary with traffic flows going down every year since 1999 – the existing Bluewater, the Ambassador Bridge, the Detroit-Windsor tunnel and other are adequate – more than adequate and can handle what’s happening now and far into the future.

    So, as much as our Canadian friends would like us to spend our good money after we’ve invested so much in the Gateway project to link up the Ambassador Bridge to the 75, which you’re well aware of, it seems a bit premature – it’s almost silly at this point."

Note as well that the Mexican Secretary of Communications and Transportation will be in attendance. It is almost a mini Three Amigos SPP isn't it.

I would hardly think that the US Secretary would reverse what President Bush said in New Orleans, or rather did not say, about the Windsor/Detroit border. And she certainly has to take her cue from his failure to mention Canada in any meaningful way at the Conference on the Americas.

But we Canadians never give up. Minister Cannon has 2 tasks at the sessions:

  1. to get Secretary Peters to agree to Minister Fortier's P3 structure so that Michigan will be pressured by the US Federal Government to pass Legislation to allow P3s

  2. to get Secretary Peters to agree that Fortier's structure is eligible for $2B in matching funds so that the Bridge Co. project no longer has a financial advantage.

If this is accomplished, then Canada would be able to say, as was said in the Radio-Canada news story, that effectively Prime Minister Harper and U.S. President Bush have agreed on a border deal, subject of course to regulatory approvals.

Let's see what happens. I expect, given the mention of the Tijuana border crossing at the SPP meeting, that a good part of the session will not be about the Windsor crossing. Rather it will be comparing Windsor and Tijuana and determining which city is the best place for Americans to party!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Windsor News From Afar

It's a good thing that we have the Internet. It has made it so easy to find new stories that are applicable to this Community.

Actually, I find out a lot about Windsor not from the Windsor Star but from out-of-town newspapers.

Let me give you an example with respect to the Mayor's idea about sending Windsor workers out of town to get work and then having them come back on weekends. It is his idea of long-distance commuting which is to allow people to take advantage of big salaries out West but to keep the family (and property taxes) at home.

My recollection is that the Mayor was working on a plan that he was going to reveal at some time about the logistics of his brilliant idea. The one obvious flaw in it is the cost of transportation and accommodation out West that could eat up most of the salary earned. I had forgotten how long it is that the Mayor has been working on this plan but we have seen nothing about it yet.

I blogged on here previously that Saskatchewan Enterprise and Innovation Minister Lyle Stewart was coming to Windsor to talk to Eddie about his
  • "'fine idea' worthy of more discussion as the demand for workers grows in Saskatchewan."

I did not recall seeing anything in the Windsor Star telling us what the outcome of the meeting was but I did read about it in the Regina Leader-Post. Here's what I learned:

  • Not only are Saskatchewan officials looking to Windsor for workers, they are also looking to the Ukraine. This is just after a trip to the Philippines. (Things must be good in Windsor because our Development Commission is going to spend a few days in London, England)
  • Stewart did meet with Eddie but unfortunately "the two didn't address the logistics of how that might work, Stewart said." I guess that the Mayor's report still is not completed after all this time and those people who have been waiting on him for job opportunities out West are still going to have to sit around while he puts together his Master Plan. They are just plain out of luck.
  • Unfortunately Stewart's objectives are not the same as our Mayor's. "we hope that many of those people will decide to move here and continue to work in Saskatchewan." In other words, Saskatchewan wants the families and the property taxes.
In another story in the National Post, I learned some new information that I found quite startling. When reading the first paragraph of the Story, I thought that Eddie was going to get panned but the author seemed somewhat sympathetic to the Mayor:
  • "When Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis proposed last March that unemployed autoworkers should commute to Saskatchewan and Alberta, some people thought that his political career, like his troubled city, was running on fumes."

The story was actually about innovative ideas that need to be developed in hard-hit communities to help them survive.

The shocker was what the author described as Eddie's vision for Windsor:

  • "Even Mr. Francis's grand commuting plan is only part of a greater, long-term vision that also involves a casino, a convention centre and turning Windsor into a retiree hot spot."

Oh my goodness... is this the best that Eddie can come up with for our future! I know that when he discussed our revitalized downtown it was based on a franchised restaurant, a funky bus terminal and some students coming downtown. I must admit I didn't think that was very impressive but it is head and shoulders above what he just outlined as his vision for our City. Frankly, who needs a Development Commission for this!

I will bet you that Eddie will flog this project for whatever it's worth as the forerunner of a massive new industry here so he can pretend to be doing something for high-income seniors as the basis of our new health industry based on the Medical School:

  • "The Mady Corp. has partnered with Amica Mature Lifestyles Inc. to build a $36 million, 155-unit senior' residence on Riverside Drive East near Pillette Road...

    the Amica residence will feature a home theatre, English-style pub, dining room, spa and wellness centre."

Now if he can figure out how to get doctors here, a requirement for seniors, so that we are not the most under-serviced area in the Province, we might actually get somewhere.

With the destructoon of the manufacturing sector since he has been Mayor, is the Mayor trying to turn the City into a totally services oriented work zone? Is our future to serve people food at the Casino or Convention Ccentre or to spin roulette wheels and deal cards? Or are we to be the butlers and maids for the rich retirees from out of town who come here to take advantage of the longer golfing season and cheap housing prices?

What happened to our City becoming a centre for technology development, our desire to become the intellectual R&D centre for the automobile industry in North America, our logistics and distribution future centring around our border crossing and our Intermodal hub. Why are we bothering wasting money at the Airport and developing "shovel ready" land there for industry?

I was so confused but I thought that the author was even more confused since it appeared that he bought into our Mayor's plan for sending people out of town to work. The poor fellow had obviously been suckered into believing Eddie's THINK BIG JOB CREATION PLAN.

A Casino and old folks homes represent the following to Eddie:

  • "All of this goes to the essence of building a city, an ability to maintain a quality of life for people who want to live, play and work in a community," said the Mayor, a former lawyer who also ran his family's pita-baking business before taking office five years ago at the age of 29.

    Despite all the heat Mr. Francis drew for his commuter proposal, he surely felt vindicated this week, when the government of Saskatchewan dispatched a high-level delegation to Windsor.

    Both sides now describe the idea as a win-win scenario: The resource-rich province would enjoy a boon of skilled labourers and would not have to worry about housing them or building costly amenities such as schools; meanwhile, Windsor's families can stay put and spend those fat pay-cheques at home, pumping money into the local economy. Already there is talk about corporate sponsors and charter aircraft."

It really is a shame that the author had not read the Regina newspaper story first. Moreover, his praise for the Mayor seemed rather strange when he also stated:

  • "Tourist traps such as casinos and convention centres might produce hospitality jobs, but they cannot replace a healthy, industrial tax base."

What is really very troubling in the story is that Eddie called us the "canary in the coal mine." As you know, when the air ran out in the mine, the canary died and that warned the miners to leave immediately. If this is the best that Eddie's vision is for this City, then I just wonder how we can keep on singing.

After all, as the author may unknowingly suggested, when he talked about Oshawa autoworkers saying that they didn't want to become the next Windsor, this City is becoming under the watch of Eddie Francis, the Flint of Ontario.

Council Salaries And Reimbursed Expenses

The things that you read buried in the Council Communications package!

Here is the one that we have all been waiting for. Once again, Councillors effectively awarded themselves a salary bonus. This time the amount is about 40%. Over and above their salary, they also received almost $12,000 in additional remuneration from pooled Board payments.

As members of the various Boards and Commissions, Councillors receive remuneration for attending meetings. Rather than fighting over being appointed to the high paying Boards, the Councillors have agreed that all of the money received would be pooled and shared equally amongst each other.

I must admit I have always wondered if what is being done is proper from a tax perspective. Assume that one Councillor makes $40,000 in Board payments and another only $10,000 .Once pooled, each of them receives $25,000. just because the first Councillor wants to be generous. Why isn't that Councillor taxed on the $40,000 earned Presumably someone has already opined on this subject and what is being done is acceptable to Revenue Canada.

85% of the extra payments from Board payments came from Enwin and WUC. I thought all the problems have been solved at these entities quite some time ago so why is there the need for so many Board meetings. Mind you, this is a case where problems are good. Without them, Councillors would hardly be making any extra money at all.

I wonder how I can get a breakdown to see how much each Councillor actually received from each of the entities before the amounts were pooled. I will write to the Treasurer and see if he will give me this information.

I had one other question. Do you remember when Ward One's Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget stood up at the end of a Council meeting and out of the blue told everyone how generous he was and that he was not going to receive a CPI salary increase. That was a 2% increase on his Councillor salary I believe. Did all of the other Councillors go along with him and agree not to receive this increase? I ask the question because everyone's base salary is the same.

Then there was a category of Reimbursed Expenses. I must admit I'm not quite sure exactly what makes up these expenses. It might have been a much more significant and meaningful for taxpayers if Council actually revealed all of the expenses incurred by the Mayor and Councillors.

Take a look at those of the Mayor for all of last year. From looking at this, one would wonder exactly what the Mayor did for for us in 2007. It is obviously not fair to make that comment but if we had all of his expenses then we would know how hard he worked for us. Wouldn't you be interested in knowing for example how many trips he took and where he went and why? I know I would.

Don't you find it hilarious that Eddie took a legal course in "entrepreneurship." Too bad that he did not take one in running a City. Given the failures that he is responsible for in projects that he has undertaken so far, I wonder if he absorbed anything that he learned.

For the Councillors most of the expenses were in relation to trips that they had undertaken. They ranged from trips to London Ontario to those to China and Japan. On several occasions, Councillors went on trips on behalf of the Mayor. Remember the big problem that former Councillor Cassivi had when he did that and the Mayor did not support him when his expenses were questioned. Now the Councillors specifically mentioned that they took a trip on behalf of Eddie.

The biggest spender was Councillor Valentinis while the lowest spenders were Councillors Brister and Gignac.

I can hardly wait for certain people to praise Brister and Gignac for their pennypinching. Councillor Brister only spent $78.98 while Councillor Gignac spent nothing at all. Clearly those two must be thinking of running for mayor because they are following the Eddie Francis technique of ensuring that your competition runs up a big bills while you run up very little.

But while that is so wonderful from the point of view of not spending money, it also means that these Councillors are not learning anything by not attending conferences. They are not networking with people in other municipalities in Canada and around the world to learn what works and does not work in other jurisdictions.

One need only take a look at the reports prepared by Councillor Hatfield and Councillor Postma that are also posted on the Communications Package to see what ideas they have brought back to our Council that we may or may not be able to use.

The other interesting posting was that of payments made to members of other Boards who are not members of Council. The highest paying Board is the Police Commission. The total paid for all these Boards to citizens equalled just over $41,000. The total paid to Councillors equalled just over $117,000 or almost 3 times as much.

Let me see if I can get the actual expenses of each of the Mayor and Councillors so I can do a posting of that.