Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, July 11, 2008

Council's Indian Road Pain


The ball is squarely in the court of the Mayor and City Council now. It is their problem, and their problem only to solve.

They have been put on notice that the Bridge Company is concerned about the risks to the neighbouring community and to City firefighters themselves if the City continues to prevent them from tearing down the abandoned homes on Indian Road. The absurdity if you read the letter is that the City is also preventing them from building a higher fence to try to keep people away from the homes.

As I Blogged previously, one of their homes was destroyed by fire just at the time when DRIC made their announcement about the new bridge.

A coincidence? A fire at the property owned by the Company described by the City of Windsor in inflammatory language as its "enemy." In the A-Channel news story yesterday about this matter, the reporter used the word "arson" in describing the fire that took place http://www.achannel.ca/windsor/news_59246.aspx

In my opinion, the Mayor has no choice but to instruct Administration immediately to deal with the Bridge Company to resolve this issue immediately. After all, Eddie has claimed that he is the Voice of Council so the responsibility is his. If he refuses to do so, then Council, and especially the Ward 2 Councillors, better do something very quickly. They no longer can close their eyes to a public safety concern that has been presented to them in black-and-white.

It is fine for the Mayor to try and pass on the responsibility to the Bridge Company to act. He always has to pass the buck because he refuses to take the blame for anything. However, as the Reporter stated, not only have their demolition permit requests been refused but their proposal presented to Council with the Green Corridor group was ignored. My recollection as well is that someone from Planning stated that even if the Bridge Company applied, Administration would recommend rejection of their demolition requests while the CIP was in progress.

I'm afraid that the Mayor and Council have boxed themselves in. They are finding that this matter is a much larger problem than they thought. If they are not careful and something serious does happen such that there is personal injury or property damage, then they may suffer personal "pain" as well.

Who Is Posturing


You tell me who is posturing on the Tunnel and who is not. I do not know.

However, when I do a Municipal Freedom of Information Application on the Windsor legal bills at the appropriate time I am sure that we will learn the answer!

  • DETROIT FREE PRESS, July 11, 2008

    Detroit City Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel raised the possible uncertainty at today’s meeting of the council’s Budget, Finance and Audit Committee, prompting Detroit Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams, who has been a key negotiator for Detroit in the deal, to tell the council committee that he remains confident the deal will get done and said Sutts’ comments in the paper are meaningless. In fact, he said attorney William Phillips, who has represented Detroit in the negotiations, spoke with Sutts as recently as Thursday night, and Sutts asked for Phillips to provide him Detroit documents on the deal.

    Adams said Francis told Kilpatrick as recently as last week that the deal was on and he was excited about the Detroit council finally taking a first step toward a sale.

    “It’s our understanding that we are still proceeding and continuing our negotiations with Windsor,” Adams told the council.

    Adams said he saw Sutts’ comments as “posturing,” possibly because of the heat that Sutts and Francis have taken on the Windsor side of the river over the $1.2- million (Canadian) Windsor has paid Sutts for his work on the deal.

  • DETROIT NEWS July 11, 2008

    Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams assured members at today's morning Detroit City Council meeting that Detroit has received no official notice that Windsor wants to pull out of the agreement. And he said Kilpatrick spoke with Francis last week and he was "excited" about the city council's vote last week to start the sale process.

    "Mayor Francis said the deal was a go," Adams said, of that conversation.

    But Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel was skeptical, saying she wanted something in writing from Francis saying Windsor is interested.

    "There is ... more uncertainty thrown into the situation, which is tenuous at best," Cockrel said.

  • WINDSOR STAR, July 11. 2008

    City council will step back from negotiating a tunnel deal until scandals involving Detroit's council and its mayor subside and Detroit can clearly say what it wants.

    "The distractions of Detroit's council have left the situation so uncertain. Windsor's council does not want to proceed and incur further (legal) expense unless Detroit clarifies its position," lawyer Cliff Sutts, lead negotiator for Windsor, said after a two-hour special council meeting on Thursday.

    "We could proceed with negotiations, reach completed documents and (Detroit's council) could reject it for reasons totally unrelated to the documents themselves...

    "We need both parties on the U.S. side to have a common goal and that doesn't appear to exist in Detroit," Sutts said. "They have to resolve their differences. You can't make two separate deals over the same tunnel."

Does Windsor Have A Reason For Being Smug




video


I wonder what the reaction of Windsorites was when they heard about this Detroit Free Press headline:

  • "FBI probes council in corruption inquiry"

After all of the issues involving the Detroit Mayor for so many months, now this. Coming right after the fire in the Coleman A. Young Municipal Center office tower, who can argue with Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel who said:

  • "Like everything else in this city right now, it’s fast moving.”

    The lightning strike is almost the crowning event, she said: “It’s becoming like the Old Testament.”

Don't tell me that the Mayor of Detroit doesn't have nine lives. It will not be long before you hear his supporters saying that he ought not to be judged without a fair trial. The pressure on him surely has to be minimized after the FBI probe was revealed. As his lawyer said:

  • "James C. Thomas, a Detroit lawyer representing Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick on perjury and other felony charges brought in March by Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, said Sunday that members of Detroit City Council, who have moved on two fronts to attempt to remove the mayor from office, will now see what it is like to have unproven allegations leveled against them.

    "It is ironic the City Council is now in a position where they're being scrutinized and I'm sure that they'll be willing to look a little bit more closely at the presumption of innocence and the benefit of the doubt," Thomas said.

    If council members have been secretly tape-recorded or videotaped by federal agents, they may also gain a different perspective on the mayor's claim of privacy rights with respect to SkyTel text messages at the center of a controversy involving the mayor, Thomas said."

The latest scandal in Detroit has to deal with a sludge-treatment plant that was being built. This appears to be one of a number of investigations that are going on There are matters of:

  • corruption
  • payoffs
  • sale of city-owned properties to friends who resold the properties at a sizable profit
  • friends and family relationships

It was not a small deal either:

  • "Under the agreement, the city would pay Synagro about $47 million a year to handle 183,000 tons of wastewater treatment sludge. The company would recycle some of the sludge into fertilizer and invest about $125 million in a new plant that would incinerate the rest."
We are talking about some pretty substantial sums of money on this one transaction alone!

In passing, there are some questions outstanding about the sludge plant in Windsor that I Blogged about sometime ago that no one on Council seems to be concerned about [BLOG September 08, 2006 "How Smelly Sludge Turned Non-odorous "].

So should we be smug in Windsor, believing that it can't happen here. Hardly.

Oh sure, we have had Senior Level scandals like Adscam or gross incompetence like the Gun Registry or the HRDC $1-billion jobs grants program. Wikipedia even has a page that details them http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Canadian_political_scandals

But what is interesting to me is that there can be big scandals involving municipalities now and not just the senior levels of government. Remember MFP!

There are a number of reasons that I can see that may explain it, with the biggest being money. At the municipal level, there is no such oversight as there is at the Senior Levels with Opposition Parties, Question Period every day, and a considerable number of members of the media from all over a Province or Canada watching over everything like a hawk, just waiting to pounce if there is any hint of a scandal. After all, it sells newspapers and increases the number of viewers or listeners.

So stop being so smug. In Windsor what is there

  • an "Opposition" that backs down when treated like kindergarten children at Council
  • secrecy rather than openness and transparency
  • questioning that on key issues can require a Councillor to wait for a year and still not get an answer
  • a tame media that occasionally brings forward a story that is critical but generally wants to wear a "W" on their chests.
  • I won't even get into the issue with respect to the Windsor Star that they have not disclosed to their subscribers yet in their newspaper that I can recall
  • audits that take forever.

Look at the money that the Municipality has and what is going to have to spend in the future. Our operating and capital budgets are in the hundreds of millions of dollars range. We have the need to spend millions on infrastructure: our roads, sewers and watermains. This Mayor and Council believe that they are entrepreneurs as they throw money around on arena deals, Tunnel deals and develop intermodal hubs and airport plans. I can hardly wait until we develop our Brownfields. Can you imagine what will happen when this subject is debated at Council:

  • "Windsor is being urged to impose a commercial development freeze through 2011. The move, according to the consulting firm Urban Metrics, would help to ease Windsor's high commercial vacancy rate. The freeze would be imposed in all areas except main shopping districts like the core area, Ottawa and Erie Streets. The company also says there's a need to make the core area more resident-friendly. Right now there's nothing to attract the average citizen downtown."

How about numbers:

  • $800 million plus for watermains

  • Eddie's $100 million dollar proposed investment fund

  • hundreds of millions of dollars needed for roads, sewers and to reduce basement flooding

  • paying for the losses on MFP and writing off the Cleary

  • $65 million plus for the East End arena

  • $75 million for the Tunnel deal and $30 million plus for the Tunnel Plaza improvements

  • whatever sums can be negotiated on the multibillion-dollar road to the bridge and new bridge project for Brighton Beach as well as acting as "host" for international traffic as examples
  • the millions needed to create shovel ready land at the airport and the airport in general

  • the many millions needed to buy the Zalev facility and other Brownfields.

I could go on but I'm hoping that you understand what I'm getting at.

I don't think we are immune. I don't think we should be so smug. The temptations are great. The checks and balances are almost nonexistent.

Taxpayers need to be vigilant!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Is Eddie an SOB

When have you ever heard a politician say what was said in public. L. Brooks must have been furious!

Here is the context of the remarks where L. Brooks Patterson the Oakland County Executive called our Mayor a nasty name.

It was a nice recovery for L. Brooks even though he had been blindsided and clearly had no idea what Eddie had threatened previously since no one had told him.


The question and answer made L. Brooks, one of Michigan's strongest politicians, look foolish. Not a good thing to do.

I wonder if Eddie will be snubbed again next year and not get an invitation to the Mackinac conference!

Click the video below or watch on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9S0DjfPMSI

video

L. Brooks' First Choice Is The Ambassador Bridge


That's not what you think you read or heard in the media is it.

Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson actually supports the Ambassador Bridge project as the best border crossing alternative, not DRIC's bridge which is merely the other option. Just keep on reading and see why he said what he did!

Note to Senator Cropsey. Hold off on having your Senate Hearings on DRIC and MDOT, Senator. The Democrats and MDOT are so desperate to stop the Enhancement Project of the Ambassador Bridge Company that they are making stupid mistakes. Let them hoist themselves by their own petard by giving them more time to screw-up. You can have a lot of fun with them when you finally start questioning MDOT. Who knows, some of the Democrats might get fed up with MDOT finally as well.

As an example, can you believe this? MDOT’s Mohammed Alghurabi said this when sending out the notice about the L. Brooks Patterson/Eddie Francis Press Conference
  • “I understand there will be a joint press conference in Detroit tomorrow morning by the Oakland County Executive office and Mayor Eddie Francis of Windsor…

    I was made aware of the news release this morning, wanted to share the information with you in advance of the press conference.”

Factually, I am sure that everything that he said in there is absolutely true. However it might be interesting to ask him some questions about how this press conference got set up in the first place and what the role of MDOT was.

How about this confusion:

  • “Patterson’s spokesman Robert Dustman said Joe Corradino of the Corradino Group handled the invites. The Corradino Group is a consulting firm working with MDOT on the project.

    Corradino said Dustman was responsible for the guest list.

    “I didn’t handle any of that,” Corradino said.

    Francis, Windsor’s mayor, also said Corradino put the list together.”

Joe actually took part in the press conference by helping to answer a question. Does Joe bill MDOT for his time there or was he there just for fun?

Poor L. Brooks. I heard that he was a shrewd politician. A County Executive should know better. On CKLW, he said that this is the one of the most politically charged issues he had seen. He said that the politics of it was amazing.

DUH…. Under what rock have you been hiding for so long L. Brooks?

I wonder if he will wake up tomorrow morning after thinking about this a little bit and understand that he has been used. Imagine him shunning his Republican friends by supporting the DRIC bridge. That is not a smart move in politics. It is pretty clear from reading his talking points that he was sucked and suckered in.

I wonder if Senator Cropsey will subpoena him as a witness at the Hearings to find out what he was actually told and by whom in order to try to gain his support for the proposed the DRIC bridge.

The whole press conference was weird. Why would Patterson whose name I do not recall hearing much throughout this entire border matter get involved now? Why wasn’t the press conference just between him and MDOT? Why was the presence of Eddie Francis necessary? Why wasn’t there someone from the Canadian Federal Government making a presentation as well since the bridge has nothing to do with the City of Windsor but is a federal responsibility? Why would it be held in Detroit without the presence of the Detroit Mayor and not in Windsor or in Oakland County?

The optics of the Press Conference was very poor. Kwame and Detroit Council have to be furious that a suburban politician would come to Detroit and make statements about where the bridge should go in their jurisdiction. What does it matter to him if Delray is destroyed. All things considered, I wonder if L. Brooks knew how many hundreds of homes and businesses would be torn down in Delray for this project. And in Sandwich too by the way. I guess that L. Brooks does not mind sacrificing Detroit for Windsor so long as his County prospers.

Can you imagine how Eddie would feel if Kwame and Nelson Santos met in Sandwich and said where the bridge should go on this side of the river or that DRIC’s road solution was the best way to go.

Is this L. Brooks kicking Kwame when he is down? Is this Eddie getting his revenge against Kwame on the Tunnel Deal? Is this L. Brooks try to make up to Eddie since I believe he was the one who sent a letter to Eddie telling him not to come to Mackinac to speak at the big conference.

Do you really see Eddie going to the US side to support the DRIC bridge? I don't since he really has no interest in the bridge. The road is his baby and the plaza. So why was he there? I wonder if there was a quid pro quo involved, some political backscratching...you know: I help you in Michigan with the DRIC bridge, you help me on Greenlink and the Tunnel with Ontario.

I was most surprised that the Canadian politician involved was our Mayor. No one from DRIC was there it seems to make a presentation about their bridge solution nor the Province since it is one of the partners in DRIC. I must admit I expected a Canadian Federal politician to be there. No, not Jeff Watson our only Conservative MP in the region since Eddie probably would not recognize him.

I wonder if Eddie was there as the Federal representative, a delegate of Senator Fortier since he seems to be the one who is carriage of the border file for the Canadian Government. We do know that Eddie and the Senator were speaking about something since they have met recently.

However, my information is that the Federal Government was surprised as well by the Press Conference.

Senator Cropsey might be interested in L. Brooks’ Talking Points considering the name of ex-Governor and former US Ambassador to Canada Jim Blanchard is mentioned. I know that he has some involvement in the DRIC process but I am not quite sure exactly what. I just wonder if Jim talked to L. Brooks about the Press Conference and if so, on whose behalf. Perhaps the Senator could clarify that.

It looks like someone gave to the County Executive the DRIC propaganda on the border. I feel sorry for him. At the least, someone should have had the courtesy to tell him that there are some issues involved and that it is not so clear cut. He was blindsided.

He made some strange comment about “the current bridge requires a 1.5 mile diversion on Huron Church.” Has he never been to Windsor and driven that stretch of road? I have no idea what he’s talking about. The only a diversion that I can think of is the ridiculous Horseshoe Road that Sam Schwartz was talking about!

He may be mixing up something. The Ambassador Bridge has mentioned that only 2 km need to be built so that the DRIC Road connects to the Ambassador Bridge. In that way, the Ambassador Bridge can provide direct access to Highway 401.

L. Brooks talked about traffic backups 5 miles at times. Yes, that is true but that was years ago. Hasn’t anyone told him about the 4 Customs booths that the Bridge Company opened up that virtually ended truck backups. Didn’t anyone tell him about the seven new car booths going into the United States and the six new truck booths going to Canada that effectively gave us a new crossing almost equivalent to the number of lanes at the Windsor/Detroit Tunnel?

He mentioned aging infrastructure and seemed unaware that the Ambassador Bridge has an Enhancement Project designed to put in a new modern bridge and to rehabilitate the old one to provide for security and redundancy.

He swallowed the DRIC truck volume projections and did not understand, I would assume, that their projections have been revised downwards several times and that the truck traffic at the Bridge today is similar to or less than the traffic in 1999. You would think that there were no automotive companies in Oakland County so that he would not understand why traffic would be reduced.

One interesting comment in the Joint Press Release is that the project will be government-owned and maintained with the private sector playing a role in the construction and the operation of the facility. In other words, a P3.

I wonder if someone told L. Brooks that the Government of Canada who has responsibility for the bridge has made no such decision and that the State of Michigan has no legislation that permits a P3.

Let’s do a bit of speculating because that’s always fun. Why should the Oakland County Executive care at all which bridge is built. He should not. Was there a suggestion made that the City of Windsor would not allow the Enhancement Project bridge to be built. Did Eddie Francis make that statement to L. Brooks? If so that must be revealed immediately since this is a federal matter. The City has no position to make that kind of statement as the Mayor knows very well from his appearance in front of the Senate in Ottawa where he and his lawyer were shot down.

Again, according to the Detroit News, L. Brooks made another strange statement that clearly indicates that he has never visited Windsor.

Patterson said,

  • "a second span next to the Ambassador Bridge just ain't going to happen. It would dump traffic into downtown Windsor.”

In the Detroit Free Preess, here is what was said:

  • “Francis said he cannot support another plan closer to the Ambassador Bridge because it would bring too much traffic and pollution into downtown Windsor.

    Patterson said he realizes the other plan isn’t going to happen due to Francis’ objections.

    This is the next best option
    and we’ve got to have it if we’re going to remain competitive in this border crossing business,” he said.”

Obviously, if the County executive knew his geography he would not have made that statement or accepted what Eddie said. Was he misinformed? Was his research incomplete? The new traffic would obviously go on a new road, the DRIC road! We should actually hope that tourists were brought to downtown Windsor since Eddie has failed to do so. We need the business!

This misleading of L. Brooks is what caused him to choose “the next best option.”

It seems that another suggestion was made as stated in the News story:

  • “New York, would step in and build a bridge that would take billions of dollars in business away from southeastern Michigan.”

That is pure hogwash! If I remember correctly, wasn’t that something that one of the border proponents claimed. Here is what both DRIC and MDOT said:

Detroit River International Crossing Study
Local Advisory Council Meeting
Meeting Notes
March 29, 2005
(Revised May 5, 2005)
Southgate Holiday Inn

  • Q: Is it true that there is a competition with Buffalo to build a new border crossing?
    R: There is no competition from a trade/transportation standpoint.
MDOT Border Crossings Workshop
February 23, 2005









One final point that I don’t think that L. Brooks was familiar with. CKLW said that he remarked:

  • “He says he's already received threats of lawsuits over the choice. Patterson worries that could cause more delays and hurt trade and commerce between the two countries.”

I guess Eddie forgot to tell him about what he instructed his lawyer to do with respect to a possible lawsuit against DRIC. I guess Eddie must have suffered from that darn amnesia disease again:

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis says he will urge Toronto lawyer David Estrin to quickly provide legal options in dealing with the province's controversial border traffic highway planned for the Huron Church Road-Talbot Road corridor...

    "(Council) has asked me to pick up the phone, call David Estrin and tell him to hurry up his work," Francis said. "Council wants to know all their options from A to Z -- what are the benefits, pros and cons (and) what steps need to be taken.

    "The legal issues will be flushed out more and brought to council for Monday or soon after."

Actually, L. Brooks called Eddie an [Expletive deleted] after Daryl Newcombe asked the question about lawsuits at the press conference! If you watched the A-Channel coverage you would have heard exactly what was said. L. Brooks was NOT smiling. He was made to look like a complete fool by Eddie!

It wasn’t all that bad a day for the Oakland County Executive. On the same day that he was helping out MDOT, he got some good news for Oakland County from the State Government:

  • “Janet Olszewski, director of Michigan’s Department of Community Health, has granted final approval for William Beaumont Hospitals in Royal Oak to proceed with plans to build a $160 million proton-beam therapy center.

    Beaumont plans to develop the proton-beam cancer center at its Royal Oak campus in a for-profit joint venture…

    the project will require about 400 construction jobs and when it opens it will add another 100 health care jobs.

    “We also hope to attract manufacturing and training jobs to Michigan”

I must say that if this was MDOT’s plan to divide and conquer Republicans, it did not work. According to WWJ:

  • “House Republican Leader Craig DeRoche issued the following statement in response to Wednesday's announcement:

    "I can't understand why any legislator would be willing to send money away from their district into scandal-ridden Detroit for the next 15 years. Spending $1.5 billion on this boondoggle instead of spending that money to fix our crumbling roads is outrageous."

    "This thing that's divided unfortunatly the Republicans and Democrats never should have happened." Patterson said. "This is really business. This is really commerce. I don't think we need to make this a Republican-Democrat issue," he said.”

Oh my. This is getting really ugly now! I would not want to be the MDOT rep facing the Republicans in Lansing now! Or L. Brooks in Oakland County for that matter.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Detroit Questions


Here are some questions I would like answered. Do you have any to be added to the list?
  • What other files is the FBI investigating


  • Were FBI computer nerds in the Coleman Young Municipal Building with search warrants copying City harddrives while the fire was being put out

  • Is there a Canadian connection that will make the Detroit media headlines soon

  • Will Kwame and Nelson Santos hold a press conference in Sandwich soon to counter the one between Eddie and L. Brooks Patterson

  • Is the L. Brooks/Eddie meeting designed as an apology for snubbing Eddie in Mackinac

  • Did Eddie and Kwame exchange text messages on the Tunnel deal

  • Do you think that the Detroit half of the Tunnel will be named the John Conyers Jr. Tunnel if Eddie takes it over

  • What did Barbara-Rose order at that dinner with the Detroit Mayor

  • If the police and firefighters pension plan is overfunded by $400M, why did Kwame stop at only $75M

  • If Detroit/Windsor should bid to host the Olympic games, will they insist that flip-flopping should be added as a new sport

  • Has anyone asked what $10 Million for "insurance and transaction fees" on the Tunnel deal really means

  • Will the Detroit entrance Tunnel tolls be decreased if Eddie takes over or will the Windsor ones be increased

  • Will the Governor's Hubby be retained by Kwame for solving relationship issues with his Council as Eddie did in Windsor

  • Who else ought to be sweating if FBI wire-taps have been undertaken over a long period.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Would Gary McNamara Be The Super Mayor



Isn't that the real concern to certain people at City Hall? If there was total amalgamation, then Gary McNamara would be the Mayor of the combined City/County, elected by a landslide. If there was some kind of regional Metro Government, then Gary might be our "Big Daddy," the way Fred Gardiner was in Toronto.

There might go Eddie's chance for a new job after his second and last term as Windsor's Mayor ends! Wasn't Gardiner appointed as the Metro Chairman, not elected! Is that why Eddie is friends with Sandra?

From Wikipedia:
  • "This meant that Gardiner would be Chairman of Metro Toronto, and charged with the responsibility of providing the thirteen municipalities with those services which were metropolitan in nature, while those services which were local in nature were to be left to the thirteen local municipalities. The metropolitan corporation was responsible for water supply, sewage disposal, policing, licensing, civil defence, arterial highways, the financing of education, the financing of the rapid transit system, air pollution control, metropolitan parks, certain welfare services, the overall planning of the metropolitan municipality, and many other collateral activities."
It’s too bad that we really don’t have any real way of questioning the Mayor and Councillors after a Council meeting about why they acted the way they did.

I can just imagine what Percy Hatfield would have done on Percy’s Panel after the disgrace at Council last night on the Motion put forward by Councillor Dilkens. The ironic thing about it is that Councillor Hatfield was the guy who led the charge against the Motion.

I must say that after the performance last night I believe that this Council is incapable of making any kind of significant decision. No wonder the border file is a mess and it takes years for an audit to be disclosed. The politics last night was horrific. The lack of leadership by the Mayor and a Senior Councillor was pathetic.

Councillor Dilkens’ motion was so innocuous I am shocked that there was a discussion about it all. It should have gone on the Consent Agenda. He gave a very long and detailed speech setting out a myriad of examples of where cooperation was required. All that his Motion asked for was approval of the regional governance concept by the City for significant issues and the request of the County to do so as well and then to get together jointly to discuss.

Now what is controversial about that!

According to the Naysayers on Council, this was the City putting the hammer to the County again. According to Councillor Hatfield, the problem was not the Motion itself but the way that Councillor Dilkens approached the matter. As he said, there are “different ways of doing things." So kill something that makes sense because Percy might do it in a different way.

How would Councillor Hatfield have acted. He would have written to the seven Mayors telling them what he wanted to do. Of course, in my opinion, it would be absolutely inappropriate for a City Councillor to write directly to a County Mayor. That is not the function of a City Councillor but rather of the City Mayor as the Head of Council. I can just imagine how Councillor Dilkens would have been attacked had he done so. He would have been accused of end-running Council and grandstanding.

Councillor Brister’s nose was all out of joint and he spoke against the Motion as well. He is the Wardmate of Councillor Dilkens and has not been receiving good editorial coverage by the Star for his mayoral run. His function was to remind everyone that he was the one who put forward the idea about setting up quarterly meetings with the County. He thought that the Joint Session was the appropriate forum to raise this issue in the first place. I mean, get real. He did not want to be one upped again by the junior Councillor of the Ward.

Moreover, if one wants to talk about undercutting a colleague, Councillor Brister showed how it is to be done. The Councillor again in my view inappropriately talked to some anonymous County colleague about the wording of the Motion. Remarkably, that person was less than favourable about what was being proposed. I wonder if the Councillor would have mentioned the conversation if that anonymous person was supportive. On that basis therefore, how could Councillor Brister support his Wardmate.

I do note that in one sense the Councillor formerly known as Council Budget is acting mayoral. He wraps up everything that he says in anonymity. Wouldn't you really like to know with whom the Councillor spoke? I wonder why the Councillor was so shy in mentioning who that person was.

It was hilarious actually. What was suggested by the Naysayers was that the City should propose to put the issue on the Agenda of the Joint Session. My goodness, if the City proposed something like that, wouldn’t Council have to agree to it? They could not agree to it last night. If the City proposed it, why wouldn’t that be considered “hammering the County” as was suggested? I guess if the County said "NO" that would kill the idea for years to come even if it made sense for all taxpayers.

It appears that our Council is incapable making a decision or rather it may be afraid to do so since Council might get blamed if something went wrong. It seems that we need permission to do something from the County because we have been so nasty to the County in the past. We do not want to create acrimony in the County now do we.

Such deference to the County sensibilities is odd considering the attacks that were made on the County by certain City politicians with respect to Greenlink. Does that mean that the City is backing off of its Greenlink position to meet County needs? I hardly think so. It was made clear last night at Council for example that the City would have a very active role in the Manning Road expansion. And, I am certain, not in a way that the County will be appreciative.

Councillor Hatfield merely wanted to ask the County if they had any interest in a joint study to determine whether any form of regional government would prove beneficial to taxpayers. Now that is his form of leadership. NOT.

And speaking of lack of leadership, Councillor Valentinis must have done some Councillor counting before he raised his hand to vote. Can you believe it, he seconded the Motion, spoke in favour of it, said he would support it, and then voted against it! I guess he really didn’t want it passed either and thought that a vast majority of his colleagues would oppose it. Thus he could speak in favour to appear to rise above petty City/County politics knowing that the Motion was going to be defeated. When that was not going to happen, he had to oppose the Motion or else it would have passed 6-4. How else to explain his switcheroo and flip-flop. For a Senior Councillor at City Hall, this was a shocking performance that I cannot remember ever seeing happen before.

And speaking of a disgrace, where was the leadership shown by the Mayor at Council. The vote on the Motion was tied at 5-5. What did the Mayor do as Leader of Council? How did the Mayor vote? The Mayor did nothing. We have no idea what the Mayor wanted.

Actually we do know. He wanted the Motion killed but did not have the guts to do it so that the Public would see it. He clearly was afraid to take the hit politically. He could have opposed the Motion by putting up his hand to make it 6–5 opposed so that everyone would know exactly what his position was. Instead, he played the Procedural Bylaw tactic whereby the Motion is lost if there is a tie vote.

To be fair:
  • "Mayor Eddie Francis offered that the issue could be discussed at the next quarterly city-county joint meeting scheduled in August."
But if it was not added because of County opposition, then the Mayor could not be blamed now could he!

I can just imagine trying to put this on the Joint Session Agenda. If I was a County politician, I would suggest to the City that before they try and put it on the Agenda, they ought to figure out what their position was first. That should kill the concept of regional governance for another few years.

The most bizarre point of the evening came when Councillor Hatfield asked for a transcript of the debate be taken and given to the County Governments. I’m not quite sure the purpose of it. Perhaps it was to show that the Naysayers were so protective of the County’s interests that they should be trusted.

That would be a horrible mistake if it was undertaken. All that it would do would show the division of City Council and their incompetence for even the simplest of matters. It would show that the City Council is weak and divided with a Mayor who is not decisive and who lacks leadership ability.

That idea shocked the Mayor since the City has no way of doing transcripts since he claimed that someone would actually have to listen to the tape and type it. What a novel concept that is. Clearly, since that will affect the efficiency of City Administration and will have a huge cost, considerable consternation was caused.

Moreover can you imagine the poor soul who was assigned the task to do the transcript. It would not surprise me if that person would have to take off a significant amount of time after doing it for being forced to listen to this drivel. It certainly could be classified as cruel and unusual punishment and a union grievance filed.

I have a suggestion. Instead of a typed transcript, perhaps someone could transfer the debate to a DVD and pass that out to County Governments. I’m surprised that Percy did not think of that given his television background.

There was however one winner last night. If you read the story in the Star after the debate, you would have seen the headline

  • “Council rejects Dilkens' regional gov't plan.”

You would have read:

  • “Despite some support for the concept, Windsor's council shot down Coun. Drew Dilkens' motion to form a regional government Essex County.

    "What I think you saw tonight was people hiding behind process and not supporting what eventually will happen in this region," said a disappointed Dilkens.”

And guess whose photograph you would have seen right at the top on page 1! I am sure that Drew and Gary could work together very nicely.

Dinner Is Served


There is no doubt but that the Mayor gets lots of ideas from others. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that if it means that we can take advantage of ideas from other municipalities and jurisdictions that work. After all, why do we have to reinvent the wheel.

I suspect that relations between the Mayor and certain Councillors may be getting a little bit testy. The seeming animosity between the Mayor and Councillor Halberstadt that shows up during the Cogeco Council broadcasts, as an example, is certainly surprising considering that the Councillor was one of the biggest boosters of the Mayor.

As we are starting to get nearer to the time when Councillors have to decide if they are going to take a run at the Mayor's job, one should expect some more disunity and dysfunction on Council. Each of them will try to make a name for him/herself that would help distinguish him/her if the the decision is made to try to grab that job. Can you imagine what will happen if the Mayor decides, as rumours suggest, to run for a third term!

Well I thought long and hard about all this and wondered what the Mayor could do to try and keep everything calm, cool and collected. He ought to do what the Detroit Mayor did. He ought to borrow an idea from him that seemed to work wonderfully on the Tunnel deal: go with a Councillor to dinner. I was going to suggest a noon-time meal but I’ve heard it said that a number of the Councillors are already out to lunch.

I wonder if they will go to the restaurant with coffee that cost $154.

And no, I’m not going to suggest that the Mayor kiss their rings or other items as Kwame did in Detroit. That is something for consenting adults to discuss in private.

It would be extremely difficult for the Mayor to take the Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget out. Can you imagine the time that they will spend discussing each item, line by line, on the dinner bill to ensure its correctness. The Councillor would have to make certain that each was charged only for exactly what was consumed by the person. The Mayor will have to watch as the Councillor takes out his calculator to add everything up and do the calculation for the gratuity.

It should be relatively simple with Councillor Dilkens. The only problem with him will actually be being able to find the time when both of them can fit a dinner into their schedules. The Councillor has been so busy attending DRIC Open houses, Detroit Council meetings and will be spending so much time in the County trying to get them to agree to discuss amalgamation that he may not have time to meet with the Mayor.

There is only one location that Councillor Jones would ever agree to meet and that is a restaurant in Sandwich. To say that he would want a sandwich in Sandwich is just too obvious a play on words and I would never think of doing that. To be honest, I would have suggested some nice spots in Detroit but that might have meant crossing the Ambassador Bridge to get across more quickly rather than waiting in line at the Tunnel.

Speaking of eating in Detroit, I would never suggest that for Council Postma given the criticism she has taken about shopping in Detroit. What I was going to suggest was the Junction for her so that, as a mom, she could bring her children there with her. The owners had suggested years ago that “a family entertainment venue be built with The Junction family entertainment company to provide families and youths with a place of entertainment in the city centre area.” They also have an idea as I blogged previously to have a museum complex built at their site. Unfortunately, none of that ever happened.

It would be interesting for the Mayor with the Ward 3 Councillors. I expect that Councillor Valentinis would go anywhere that the Mayor wanted to go while Councillor Halberstadt would not agree with anything that the Mayor wanted these days.

There is no doubt in my mind that Councillor Lewenza would order the most expensive meal of all the Councillors. If anyone complained, he would say it was a “great news story for the community” and would tell us how few pennies per year it cost each household to have the two of them dining.

Is there anywhere else but Erie Street that Councillor Marra would go! I heard it said that in his first run for Mayor the Councillor did not pick up as many votes in the Italian community as he expected so would he dare go elsewhere! They would probably share a Mayor-sized pizza. Restaurants seem to have a lot of trouble with that kind of pizza on their take-out menu however. As described, it shows a lot of promise but quite often, when ordered, has failed to be delivered.

Eddie might be greatly embarrassed when he invited out the Ward Five Councillors. He might think that he was talking about the great issues of our City with Councillor Hatfield when instead he was talking with Council Gignac. Those silvery white heads of hair can fool you every time! There is no doubt that Councillor Gignac would want to eat downtown but it would take Eddie forever to make a reservation there. As for Councillor Hatfield, he might not have time to eat much signing all of those autographs for star-struck Windsorites who may think he was preparing for a session of Percy's Panel with the Mayor for CBC-TV News.

It’s just an idea. I think that Eddie should chew the fat with his Chief of Staff to figure out whether this idea makes sense or not. Unfortunately, they cannot go to Bin 151 where I hear they have a private room where people can go to eat and, presumably, be unobserved. It will close down in August according to the Star.

Oh well, they will have to eat their lamb chops in public.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Thoughts On A Sultry Summer Day



It's hot out there today. All that I have the energy to do is to sit by the pool and think great thoughts that I can share with you

STAPLING ON A “W”


Oh my goodness. What a transformation. And all in one week too! The Star headline now screams
  • "There's no room in this city for small minds"

I guess that a bunch of us better get together and hire some moving vans with a group discount!

Do you remember Dalson Chen’s comment in the Star last week:

  • “This is the 151st edition of this column. I've been writing in this space a little more than three years now.

    And something has changed since I started. I've become the sort of person who immediately thinks the worse of things. Especially when those things concern Windsor…

    So here is a request to anyone reading this: If it is to your convenience, and the mood should strike you, please feel free to send me a little message about what you like about Windsor. I'm totally serious. I want to read pleasant things about Windsor. Because I sure ain't writing any.”

Wow, within seven days, Dalson can talk about his

  • "former sense of doom. Because the sheer volume of the positivity threatening to overflow my Inbox is enough to make me think twice about Windsor."

He can quote a reader who said

  • “Small minds are amused by small things, and putting down the city where one lives and works or goes to school is definitely an occupation for a small mind,"

I see he is learning not to distinguish between “putting down” and “trying to improve.”

Putting down Star subscribers is not a smart thing to do these days. Dalson though is fearless. In order to help out the Mayor and Councillors get through the day, we learn

  • “some sage advice about not taking The Star's webforums too seriously."

Whew, thank goodness that Dalson received all those letters

  • “Nothing like words of hope from people who've endured more than you to make you recognize your own pettiness.”

Positivity, small minds, petty, sage advice....this name-calling suggests that Dalson has learned well from his Professor!

This is probably the quickest transformation that I have ever read about since Winston Smith went to Room 101 and saw the rats in Orwell’s 1984.

  • “When finally you surrender to us, it must be of your own free will. We do not destroy the heretic because he resists us: so long as he resists us we never destroy him. We convert him, we capture his inner mind, we reshape him. We burn all evil and all illusion out of him; we bring him over to our side, not in appearance, but genuinely, heart and soul.”

As Dalson has learned

BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU

WHERE IS THE STAR TUNNEL EDITORIAL

What has surprised me the most in all of this conversation about the Tunnel deal with Detroit is the seeming lack of interest of the Windsor Star Editorial Board. After all, it is a $75 million transaction that is not something that a Municipality normally gets involved in. Moreover, it is with a City across the River that is in financial difficulty. What happens to Windsor or the Tunnel if Detroit defaults.

I wonder if this silence due to the fact that the Editors know that the deal makes no sense for Windsor but they cannot bring themselves to say this for fear of attacking the Mayor. Or perhaps they are waiting for the appropriate time whenever that is.

The Star Editors have not:

  • Fumed about the lack of openness and transparency and the failure to let citizens of Windsor know what the transaction is all about
  • Questioned why the transaction should be undertaken in the first place since under the management of the Mayor the Tunnel has been described as a “unique security risk” and it has continuously lost traffic and money such that the City no longer receives a dividend
  • Informed its readers that if DRIC is correct, then the new DRIC bridge will take away 25% of the Tunnel traffic thereby negatively impacting its ability to survive financially
  • Analyzed the transaction to see if it makes sense from a business perspective
  • Judged it for the stated reason that the Mayor has said that it is necessary IE in reality, to keep it out of the hands of the Bridge Company
  • Talked about the amount of the legal fees and asked who the consultants were on this project and how much they received
  • Asked why the Province would loan the money in effect to Detroit when the Government Infrastructure Fund is designed for Ontario municipalities
  • Commented on the Detroit Council flip-flops.

Oh dear, here I am again being petty and small minded. Forgive me Dalson.

HAS THE PROVINCE SAID NO

What a strange story in Saturday’s Star about the Tunnel deal.

To be honest, after the Detroit Council flip-flop on the transaction, I would have thought that Eddie and his lawyer, Cliff Sutts should have been overjoyed that the deal might go through now. Instead, the story was rather negative.

  • "When you look at the events taking place, charges that are being made, investigations being conducted and statements by various parties involved, it's extremely difficult for Windsor to assess where we go from here."
  • Detroit's council did approve creation of a tunnel authority -- a required step to match what has been done in Windsor to complete a deal.

    But unlike Windsor, Council in Detroit has not approved a rollover of the city's ownership of the U.S. side of the tunnel into the new authority it approved creating on Tuesday, Sutts said.

    "That leaves the city of Windsor wondering why we should be negotiating at this stage if they won't commit to putting themselves in a position where they can make the agreed-upon agreement," he said.
  • When you add the text message controversy swirling around Kilpatrick and growing FBI sludge deal investigation it further muddles the fate of a potential tunnel deal.

It looks more and more that Mr. Sutts is building up the reasons why Eddie cannot be blamed if this deal falls apart. This will be especially important for the Mayor since already over $1 million has been charged to the City for legal and consulting fees.

However, Eddie does have a relationship that he needs to protect in Detroit. After all, he is participating in so many Detroit events as sponsor with taxpayer money. I would have thought that if the deal made no sense, then Eddie should have terminated it right now to save a few dollars at least in legal fees.

Instead however we see that

  • “Windsor city council will be updated on the latest turn of events in Detroit sometime within the next couple of weeks as soon as he can assemble a report, Sutts said.”

The next couple weeks… that should give the Detroit Mayor enough time with his balanced budget to obtain his

  • “$360 million in casino-tax backed revenue bonds to finance an economic stimulus plan mayor says is crucial to revitalizing the city's economy.

    While officials said they wanted to go to market quickly when they first introduced the plan in early April, the inability to balance the budget became a stumbling block.”

Hmmm. Would Dalson call this a good news story for Windsor? Tough call.

COUNCILLOR DILKENS' PRE-AMALGAMATION MOTION

Of course, the Motion has nothing to do with amalgamation of the City and County but it will be described that way by Drew's foes. In the end, however, it will be viewed historically as the first step when that is accomplished many years from now.

What will happen I am sure in the interim is a lot of chest beating by politicians expressing lack of trust in each other but eventually cooler heads will will prevail and the City and County will come to some agreement as to which services ought to be run cooperatively. It was like that in Toronto when I lived there when they had the Metro form of Government.

I do like how Councillor Dilkens scooped his Wardmate on cooperating with the County! The Star Editorial has to be confirmation that the chances of the Councillor formerly known as Council Budget to be mayor are slim to none now.

When talking recently about Mahatma Brister, the Star talked about:

  • "Coun. Dave Brister's ludicrous threat to lay down in protest on Huron Church Road."

Contrast that with:

  • "Taxpayers should expect all city and county politicians to support the principle that local government should be run as efficiently and effectively as possible.

    With that in mind, Windsor Coun. Drew Dilkens deserves credit for suggesting it's time to revisit the idea of a regional form of government."

Here is the Councillor's Motion:


Hey Dalson, there is a good news story for you!

More Communications Items



You have to dig deep to find these:

ANOTHER TUNNEL "PECUNIARY INTEREST" DECLARATION FOR EDDIE

TUNNEL MEETINGS REMUNERATION

ARE COUNCILLORS BRISTER AND VALENTINIS PART OF THE "IN" CROWD


REGRETS I HAVE A FEW

NEXT TIME ORDER TIMMIE'S COFFEE

SANDWICH LOVES THE BRIDGE COMPANY LAWYER

BUT NOT THAT MUCH

NO WONDER MIKE COULD SPONSOR FESTIVAL EPICURE



WIDENING MANNING ROAD


NO CONFIDENTIALITY CONCERN OVER THIS ARENA LEASE (AGENDA ITEM #8)