Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, July 18, 2008

Did The Press Conference Undermine DRIC

The more I think about it, the more that the Eddie Francis/L. Brooks Patterson press conference makes no sense whatsoever. Actually, it was a disaster for the Governments involved and makes life so much easier for the private enterprise proponents to attack the DRIC process.

Life will soon be much better for environmental lawyers!

More importantly, as only Senator Cropsey and the Michigan Legislators can uncover during their hearings, the press conference may result in the entire DRIC process of being thrown out so that it has to start all over again at a cost of another $30 or $40 million for each side of the river. Depending on the facts, MDOT may be ultimately responsible. I will talk about that later.

Some genius obviously thought that having the County Executive from an area not directly impacted by the new bridge and the irrelevant Mayor of Windsor telling the decision makers what to do would put a positive spin on the need to build a DRIC bridge. Politically, making that statement in the City of Detroit without the Wayne County Executive and the Detroit Mayor there was absolute sheer brilliance that should cost somebody their job.

If that was the object of the exercise, it failed.

Rather than pressuring the Republicans, as even L. Brooks thought it might do, I believe that it has strengthened their resolve to oppose DRIC. All you need to do is take a look at the comments made by the Republican House leader that I posted previously to see how angry he was. I hardly think that Senator Cropsey will be intimidated by a press conference that was designed to pressure him into submission!

And yes, L. Brooks is and will be in trouble with his Republican friends. He will not be in trouble with them because he is doing the right thing as he claims but because he was used and had no real idea what was talking about as is perfectly clear in the press conference. It seems pretty clear that his involvement was nothing more than an opportunity for some to say that not all Republicans are opposed to the DRIC and to make some of his Republican friends think twice. His presence there was designed to embarrass the Michigan Republican Party.

Didn’t you like his SOB comment about our Mayor. Do you really think that he knew about the threats made by Eddie to start lawsuits? It seems as well that he had no idea about the destruction in Delray of hundreds of homes and businesses so that he had to call on Joe Corradino, the US DRIC consultant, to answer a question that was asked.

One has to ask the question, as disagreeable as it may seem given the turmoil in Detroit over the last few months, what motivated the County Executive to make his comments at this time, right before the Senate hearings that are being organized by his fellow Republicans. Like it or not, that is another question for the Senators to ask and to expect an answer.

I just cannot imagine anyone who is involved in Michigan politics being so dumb. Imagine a statement being made in Detroit about a project in Detroit without having the Detroit Mayor and the Wayne County Executive in attendance. All this will do is enrage Detroit Council with allegations that the suburbs are sticking their nose into their business. More opposition for DRIC.

I must admit I would be incensed if I was a Detroit Councillor and heard L. Brooks having to call on Joe to answer a question about the impact on Southwest Detroit. Here is L. Brooks making all kinds of statements about the new crossing without understanding the number of homes and businesses that would have to be destroyed and the families uprooted in Detroit. It is an insult to say the least especially when L. Brooks ought to know what the Detroit Mayor has written on the crossing but clearly does not.

I really would like to know what our Mayor had to say about traffic and the Ambassador Bridge. L. Brooks did not seem to have a good understanding of where traffic went after it left the bridge. He thought it went right into the downtown.
For some reason, he was under the impression that the Enhancement Project bridge would never be built. For that reason, the DRIC bridge was his second choice as the only viable alternative. I wonder how he got that idea. Who told him that Ontario and the City were opposed to the Enhancement Project?

The City's role in this matter is minimal because of the Federal role under our Constitution respecting international crossings. I assumed that the amnesia disease meant that the Mayor did not talk to about the International Bridges and Tunnels Act. I wonder if the Mayor talked to him about his appearance at the Senate Hearings in Ottawa where his position with respect to the City’s role was rejected. I guess it was too embarrassing for him to do so.

One cannot therefore get too angry at L. Brooks if he was given incorrect or misleading information. Nevertheless, he is no political rookie. He admitted that he received a number of telephone calls right after the press release was distributed about him attending at the Press conference. He should have done his homework before he agreed to attend and definitely should have taken a much more thorough look at the matter after he received all of those calls. He knows that a politician should not open his mouth on something without knowing the facts! If he does not do proper due diligence, he deserves to suffer the consequences.

Windsor Councillors ought to be very concerned as well since my understanding is that very few of them may have known about the Mayor going to Detroit in the first place. There are again consequences for the Mayor talking in Detroit about the border crossing as I am certain that he will find out in good time.

Remember that the Councillors have said that the Mayor is the Voice of Council. The Mayor said on John Fairley’s show that no Councillor really should be saying anything significant on the border crossing issue other than to tell the questioner to seek out the Mayor for a response. In other words, the Councillors told the world and by Resolution on at least two occasions I believe that the Mayor is the official spokesperson for them and that whatever he says they accept even if they do not have the faintest idea what he’s doing.

To be blunt about it, I would like to know what the Mayor would have to say in advance before he calls a press conference, especially in the United States. I would not want him to be able to say whatever it is that he wants to whomever he wishes to talk to without giving him a specific instructions if there is a chance of my liability if the Mayor says something improperly.

Let’s come back to what I suggested at the beginning… that the DRIC study in the United States is in big jeopardy. That could happen once one can figure out what this press conference was really all about. The key person in all of this is Joe Corradino whose company is the US consultant for US DRIC.

I expect that Joe may have had some influence over the County Executive attending. After all, Joe has been involved in a number of big projects in Oakland County. Here are a couple of them:

More importantly, the name of ex-Governor and former US Ambassador to Canada, Jim Blanchard was thrown around in L. Brooks’ speech. I believe that Jim and Joe have some kind of relationship with respect to the DRIC project. Given the close relationship that Jim and L. Brooks have, it would not surprise me at all if Jim was involved to help out his buddy Joe. Again, this is something for Senator Cropsey to take a look at.

Was it Joe who convinced Eddie to come over as well? Someone had to do it. My information is that many at the Senior Governments level in both countries are denying having any involvement in the Press Conference at all. With Eddie’s busy schedule with respect to the Tunnel deal ( he snubbed John Tory), was there some goodies held out to him to convince him to spend a couple of hours in Detroit. I wonder what they were… something in relation to Greenlink or the Tunnel or something else. Perhaps some enterprising Windsor reporter could ask Eddie some of these questions.

While it was confusing, there is no doubt that Corradino was the guy who was deeply involved:
  • “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.”

I can think of two alternatives:

1) if Joe was acting on a frolic of his own, then he is no longer a consultant but an advocate for a position. If he was the one who dreamt up the idea of the Press Conference, arranged to have both Patterson and Eddie in attendance, set it up and was responsible for deciding who came and who did not come, then how can he be "objective" in his analysis of the crossing and of the various proposals.

It would seem to me pretty clear that there is a bias or a reasonable apprehension of bias about the key US DRIC consultant such that any proponent would have a reasonable argument to make that these study should be thrown out and started over again.

There is no other way that I can see that the process can be made fair if I am correct other than eliminating all of Joe’s company’s involvement. It means that another 30 or $40 million and several years of time would have to be spent as well.

2) it is completely absurd to think that Joe did this on his own. My guess is that he received permission from MDOT to do this and they did not want to know what he did or how we went about doing it so they would have a plausible deniability position.

It should be relatively easy to find out what Corradino's role is. If he did it all on his own then he should not be charging the State for any of it because he did this outside of the scope of his function. It might be interesting to take a look at his consulting bill for this time period to see the charges to MDOT.

Assuming that MDOT was involved, whether directly or indirectly, then they may have violated NEPA or any other rules since they have obviously taken a position with respect to the crossing before the FEIS has been completed. How can they do that especially when their DEIS was given a failing grade specifically because they did not have a final location identified.

This is an absolute mess right now. This press conference has made things so bad for the Governments it is almost laughable.

As I said in one of my BLOGS previously, the Bridge Company need not do anything. Their foes are self-destructing on their own right in front of their face.

The Tunnel Deal Is Dead; Long Live The Tunnel Deal

Where is Howie Mandel when we need him!

I just cannot be bothered with this Tunnel deal farce right now.

If Cliff Sutts who is involved in this deal up to his eyebrows can say this about what Detroit Council is doing:

  • "I have no idea what it means," said Clifford Sutts of Thursday's events.

    I really don't know what their intention is..."

    "The deal we have got on the table requires them to create this authority," said Sutts.

    "I don't know if they have an alternative plan."

what can you expect from a poor Blogger!

Don't be too sorry for Mr. Sutts though, his work is not done yet. He will probably be told what this all means. According to the Detroit News,

  • "The mayor said his staff has meetings planned with Windsor on Friday."

And he will still have some work to do:

  • "Sutts said he still needed to get more information from Detroit before characterizing where the two parties go from here."

    "I really don't know," Sutts said. "It's going to be something where we find out what the facts are and talk to the people in Detroit."
Why is our Voice of Council, our Mayor so silent, so invisible. He should be able to tell us what Windsor's position is shouldn't he? Why doesn't he already? Instead, Councillor Marra has to be put on the spot and tell the world:
  • "But one of the members of Windsor's tunnel commission, Windsor Councillor Bill Marra said that Windsor won't resume negotiations unless Detroit puts the tunnel in the authority.

    "They need to proceed with this next step so we can proceed with negotiations," Marra said. "It would demonstrate their commitment."

In passing, he can not have [expletive deleted] obscenitites shouted at him by any of his colleagues since he was speaking as a Tunnel Commissioner, not as a Councillor so he is OK!

Sheila Cockrel claimed the deal is "dead" yet the Detroit Mayor, he just ignored what went on at Council:
  • "we don’t believe the council could rescind the vote. Their rules don’t allow it. It appears also the charter doesn’t allow it. So we’re going to continue to move forward. We’re asking the law department to look at that, so all of you will know that that vote probably was a nebulous vote...

    And, so we can’t really allow for this thing to die today. We’re going to keep moving,"

So now we may have weeks of debate that will stall everything off while their legal department decides whether or not the vote is "nebulous" or not. Perhaps the time required to do some big bond deals.

However, just watch out for this. Ken Cockrel Jr. was part of the six - two minority. He voted against rescinding the adoption of the articles of incorporation for the tunnel authority. He had voted previously to support creating an authority that would take over ownership and operations of the Tunnel. He also said to hedge his bets and to play all sides

  • "Reeves, council President Ken Cockrel Jr. and Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel -- who all voted yes Tuesday on the tunnel deal -- said they were not necessarily going to vote yes on the final sale."

I want you to remember what was said before by the Detroit Council President Cockrel:

  • "President Cockrel in Detroit said recently

    "I'm willing to see what they come up with. I've always liked the idea of a joint management agreement, but the idea has to make sense for both cities."

Don't forget also that Cockrel Jr. may also run for Mayor and was a guest at one of Eddie's State of the City speeches.

It wouldn't surprise me if Eddie tried to do an end run around Kwame and started working with Cockrel Jr. to do a Tunnel deal.

The only thing that I would remind the President is that Eddie also probably thought that Hendrix would now be Mayor of Detroit!

Thursday, July 17, 2008


You don't have time to read all of the news articles of interest so here are brief highlights on interesting stories followed by my editorial comments so you will understand their significance quickly and painlessly.

1) "Council should explore more options on tunnel"

Is this the impression being conveyed: Eddie just wants to keep the Tunnel away from those big bad private companies that want to exploit our 5,000 commuters so that "public" Eddie can exploit Detroit instead. Is Windsor really trying to pull a fast one at the expense of our financially distressed neighbours? Is that the message being conveyed by this Editorial and the WDIV story?

2) "Mayor wants to hear from commuters

The mayor's office is trying to determine how many Windsorites are commuting to jobs out west.

Mayor Eddie Francis said that while anecdotally he has heard about people who are travelling to work, becoming separated from their families, he wants to have better numbers before going ahead with a plan involving Alberta employers flying workers back and forth between Alberta and Windsor."

Such urgency. What has it been now, 4 months of study so far on this concept by the Mayor and only now he can come up with a few questions to pretend something is happening. Must be the Tunnel deal that is occupying his time rather than his so-called first priority, jobs, jobs, jobs!

3) "City hall flag raising marks start of Pride Week

A rainbow of colour shone over City Hall Square Monday with a flag raising ceremony to mark the official kick-off of Windsor Pride 2008.

Mayor Eddie Francis was among the people on hand to help raise the rainbow-coloured Pride flag."

The Tunnel pressures must be off now. Eddie was so tied up he had to stay in his office and snub John Tory last week.

4) "Core businesses urged to cash in on Grand Prix

"We want to see a Canadian presence there to highlight the fact this is a two-nation destination and a two-nation destination event," said Gordon Orr, managing director of the local visitors and convention bureau...

He said the downtown business leaders have been encouraged "to think about how they might want to tap into the opportunities that exist."

The visitors bureau and the city have also secured a block of specially priced tickets to sell in Windsor."

DUH, perhaps Gordon could stop reviewing movies with the Mayor's wife on CKLW and start thinking about how to draw people from Detroit to our events here rather than to boost spending for a Detroit function by making it so easy for people to go there.

5) "Beware being an inadvertent drug mule

News that drug dealers may be targetting Sarnia's seniors to get narcotics across the Blue Water Bridge is unsettling to say the least.

The traffickers are fastening drugs to cars, then attaching a tracking chip while the vehicle is still in the United States.

Once the traveller returns home, drug dealers locate the car with a GPS tracking system and remove the contraband."

Now there is a good reason to shop in Canada instead.

6) "Going green

I thought for sure a stink would be raised by a myopic minority of Windsorites upset at seeing their tax dollars invested in trees and rocks to beautify the city's entrance corridors.

Well clearly I underestimated our collective desire to see Windsor dump its "armpit" first impression and become an environmentally progressive urban centre whose residents can hold their heads high."

Poor Star Online. Even the Star staff will not admit reading the Star Forums. I told you that Dalson was being trained by the best name-caller in print.

7) "Auto Talk


Volkswagen's supervisory board is expected to confirm today that the company has chosen Huntsville, Ala., as the site of its new North American assembly plant.

Chattanooga, which is only 160 km north of Huntsville, was VW's second choice for a new manufacturing home in North America, according to the industry trade publication Automobilwoche."

I wonder if Chris ever saw the "Dewey defeats Truman" news paper frontpage considering VW announced that it would spend up to $1bn on a new plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

8) Delays at bridge to grow with Detroit freeway work

The traffic snarls and detours associated with Michigan's Gateway Project at the entrance to the Ambassador Bridge got a little more complicated Monday...

For commuters and travellers from Windsor, there will be extensive detour signs, said Rob Morosi of the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Once you exit the bridge you will be guided for a short stretch on city streets until reaching either the service roads for I-75 or I-96, allowing access to those freeways, he said."

Gee, Michigan officials believe that Canadians won't get lost because of Interstate closures. But if the Bridge Co. does bridge repairs that would close a small road temporarily, our Council fears that tourists will get hopelessly lost finding their way downtown. I guess Michigan knows about "detour signs."

9) "Going green

Coun. Dave Brister, for instance, has heard heaps of praise but has yet to receive a critical e-mail or phone call. "Not a word. Not a single complaint from residents," marvelled the Ward 1 representative.

He believes city dwellers have fully embraced the view that Windsor, now more than ever with this automotive centre experiencing grim times, must invest money to transform its image and become a more inviting community.

"We're only able to do this now because of the work done on the city's finances over the past several years," said Brister. "People would have run us out of town if we had done this 41/2 years ago."

Whew, thank goodness Gord is back to praise Dave and boost his chances for the mayoral job. His Wardmate, Drew Dilkens, has been getting too much good coverage while Gord has been renovating.

10) "Lights still out in downtown Vancouver

Gary Rodford, BC Hydro's senior vice-president of operations, said Hydro has backup power systems for some parts of the downtown core, but not all. "In some ways, this highlights the need for Hydro to reinvest in its infrastructure," said Danard, noting Hydro recently won approval for a rate increase to do just that."

Yup, let's just keep on putting up barriers to the Bridge Co.'s Enhancement Project.

More Shorter Border Stories

Here are some more stories concerning the border that you must read if you want to stay on top of events in this City. Where else can you get the real lowdown on what is going on and the analysis that you are getting on this BLOGsite.

With all this good information, you can dazzle your friends at the next pool party as you also bore them to death with stories of the Tunnel and the inside machinations at City Hall.


I hereby officially submit my resignation as a member of the Windsor Naysayers and Whiners Club.

There is no point in me continuing my membership since I cannot compete with the Mayor and Council and their lawyer on the Tunnel file.

There is absolute nothing that I can possibly say or do that is more damaging to the reputation of Windsor than the headline shown on the Channel 4 TV Detroit headline above. On a $75 million transaction, it is stated that Windsor refuses to let Detroit Council in on the information.

That has to make this City a complete mockery and laughing stock to the business and financial community across North America. I do not know how we can ever convince an outside business party to come to Windsor to see our new WOW-factor entranceways that Gord Henderson is so happy about when we have to explain away such news stories.

I absolutely cannot compete with that kind of negative news coverage. I don't have to be called names any longer...I'll let the Mayor and Council do all the bad stuff for me since they do it so well too.


I saw this quote from Neil Belitsky of Alinda who runs the Tunnel:
  • "Neal Belitsky, general manager of the Windsor-Detroit tunnel, said the Gateway construction has had an impact on the tube.

    "Our traffic has been up and we're sure part of the reason is the construction," Belitsky said. He was unable to provide figures."

My information is slightly different. My sources tell me that even with the Ambassador Gateway construction, the numbers to date of the Tunnel car, truck and buses volumes are still down compared with last year. Not by a lot mind you, but still down.

Here's the scary part though. The Ambassador Bridge traffic is down as well. There is no doubt that they have lost volume because of the construction problems. The difficulty is that the other crossings, the Tunnel and the Blue Water Bridge, are not picking up the volumes that the Bridge is losing.

That lost traffic is LOST. It is not coming to Canada at all.

It means not only is the economy sinking since trucks are not coming across the border but tourist traffic is dropping as well. As far as tourism goes, it will be interesting to see what Caesars Windsor achieves as far as traffic numbers are concerned and whether the freefall in car traffic is reversed.

It makes the DRIC traffic projection numbers look even more ridiculous since the economy is certainly not keeping up with the significant increases of the past as forecast.


Blogging is a competitive business. Don't you believe anyone who tells you that it is not.

That is why I gave my inside moles a stern talking the other morning after I read the BLOG of one of the other Bloggers in town. It was a BLOG about the possible start of a Councillor putsch against the Mayor.

OK, it was Chris Schnurr's BLOG. Let him get the credit. Here is what he wrote:

  • "I was a little surprised that council had a meeting on Thursday (July 10th) regarding the tunnel - even though it was in-camera.

    I’m surprised because Mr. Sutts stated to the Windsor Star on July 5th 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.

    Looks like our Mr. Sutts didn’t need a “couple of weeks” but 5 days to assemble a report.

    Or did something else prompt our Mayor and Mr. Sutts to meet with councillors sooner rather than later?

    I’ve been a little disappointed in the public responses by some of our councillors with their claims that they haven’t been provided information on the tunnel arrangements.

    Disappointed because Section 3.3 of the Procedural Bylaw gives a majority of councillors authority to:

    …petition the Clerk to call a special meeting of Council by providing the written petition to the Clerk stating the date, time and purpose for the special meeting.

    Now I’ve heard some councillors did just that. But I wonder why it was never reported?

    You would think councillors, especially a “majority” of them, would be proud of this accomplishment - that they too, like their Detroit counterparts, can stand up on behalf of residents and demand information to make informed decisions."
I told the moles to get out there and find out what was going on. I wanted the inside info for my readers. You deserved to know. Here is what they brought back.

Apparently a number of the Councillors were very upset that information was being disclosed at Detroit Council but not in Windsor. Accordingly, several Councillors wanted to call a Special Meeting of Council as allowed under the Procedural Bylaw. Over a weekend, signatures of six Councillors were obtained, a majority of Council.

I was told that once the majority of six was achieved then it was felt that there was no need to seek out the other four Councillors. I think that was a mistake frankly since all of the Councillors should have been allowed to sign up since otherwise some people might think that there was a split on Council. Realistically, I believe that the four who were not approached probably would not have signed anyway because there are viewed as being Eddie loyalists.

This sounds exactly like the time period of February/March 2003 when City Council effectively took over the running of Government in Windsor for the rest of the term of ex-Mayor Mike Hurst. His career ended when he lost control of Council. He lost almost every vote that he pushed for from that time period until the end of his term by a majority of 7-3.

Interestingly, one would have thought that our Mayor would be very careful not to offend Councillors since he was one of the people who lead the majority back in 2003. Obviously, he did not learn his lesson very well. Moreover, the issue then as it was now was the border.

This time around, Councillor Jones was asked to participate. One of the big grudges that the Councillor held against some of his colleagues in that 2003 Council was that he was not involved or least given the opportunity to be involved when Councillors first decided that they were going to oppose Hurst's border position.

Unbeknownst to the others, it appears that one of the Councillor signatories to the Special Meeting decided to inform the Mayor what was going on. That Special Meeting would have been held before the regular Council meeting on the following Monday. When Eddie got wind of the proposed meeting, he took action. He took charge and said that he would schedule the meeting. It took place on the Thursday rather than the Monday.

I expect, without knowing, that one of the reasons that the Mayor did not want to hold a meeting on the Monday was that he would have had to tell the Councillors about his press conference on the Tuesday with L. Brooks Patterson. I wonder how many of them were aware of that press conference in advance and might have objected until they knew what the Mayor was going to say. I am certain that some would have opposed what Eddie was going to do for a variety of reasons

The rest is history. What is significant however is that some of the Councillors are perhaps finally figuring out that they need to respect themselves before others will respect them. I do not think yet that they are prepared to take on the Mayor the way 2003 Council did with Hurst. But at least it is a first step and a welcome one as far as Taxpayers should be concerned.

It will be interesting to watch to see what happens... will the ringleaders be punished at Council or in the press, will Eddie change, will Councillors get emboldened and empowered by their action, and will the four who did not sign wonder why they were not asked?

There is no doubt now that Councillors are starting to position themselves not only for the next election as Councillors but if any of them are thinking for running as Mayor. There is no doubt now that some of the Councillors understand that supporting the Mayor is not necessarily in their best interest for election.

If the stories keep circulating that Eddie may run for a third term, then how will some of them feel?


He/she has to be on holidays! The political judgment being shown by the Mayor's Office is so poor that Greasie has to be away. The Eminence would not have allowed so many dumb moves.

Some genius probably thought that the L. Brooks Patterson press conference was a good idea instead of the disaster that it became. Rather than helping the Mayor with whatever it is he wanted to achieve, probably about Greenlink, it hurt. Just about everybody not involved was offended by what took place.

Being called an SOB by L. Brooks did not help Eddie's career either. Watch the Youtube video here:

Whoever gave Dave Battagello the story about the in camera Tunnel meeting and what the result of it was was dumb to say the least. That person totally and completely underestimated the Detroit media who grabbed on to what Windsor said and shoved it in the face of Detroit Councillors. I am certain that no one in City Hall expected the negative reaction from Detroit that was received.

At the least, if one is a Detroit politician, one would not like to see some small town across the River cast aspersions to one's reputation:

  • "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."

The comments were probably viewed as being insulting and trying to put the blame on Detroit when the real issue is that our Mayor was unable to get financing so far from the Province of Ontario. That financing is "on hold" now. While it may have played well for the home crowd in Windsor, it did not help Kwame in Detroit in dealing with his Council.

I expect that Eddie was working on Friday, and therefore had to snub John Tory, not on the Tunnel transaction itself but on damage control to try to calm down the Detroit politicians. I expect that the concept of the Letter of Intent was devised but it too has turned into a fiasco as can be seen from the first BLOG above.

GREASIENESS had better ensure that he/she is here all the time or make sure that his/her Blackberry is always available. His/her salary probably has just gone up when he/she comes back since he/she has proven that he/she is indispensable.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Is Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel The Key

Let us have some fun in this strangest of files involving the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel. Let us see if we can shame the Windsor Star Editorial Board and Gord Henderson into doing an analysis about the transaction.

We need to organize a pool to try and guess when an Editorial or Column will be written. And I do not mean a thundering or fuming one about openness and transparency because that is too easy. No, I mean a real analysis of the transaction and whether the City of Windsor should be entering into the deal.

Obviously, by their silence, the Editors and Henderson cannot bring themselves to hammer the Mayor and Council on this foolishness nor to condemn the waste of taxpayer money on legal and consulting fees. They must know it is a bad deal given their connections to City Hall but don't want to let us in on it. I am sure that if it was a great deal then we would have read about it rather than learning about Gord's lack of home renovation skills.

Thank goodness that we have access via the Internet to the Detroit media so that we can know what is going on. A-Channel has sent over a reporter to Detroit to cover some of the stories, Dave Battagello has written some but generally the coverage on this side has been very poor in my opinion.

In the end, I believe that the person who will make or break the deal will be Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel in Detroit. Given her attitude about the Mayor, I doubt that they will break bread together nor will she be hypnotized as one of her colleagues seems to have been.

There really is not much doubt now about what this Letter of Intent is meant to do. Here is what it is all about, as I guessed, as set out in the Free Press. A pressure play:
  • "Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel said Windsor's lead negotiator, Clifford Sutts, told her staff the Detroit council would not receive financing details until after it approves transferring ownership of the tunnel to the authority. Cockrel has said she must have the information for her to support the deal."
Can you believe this? No information is to be provided until after ownership is transferred. She certainly will not get the clarity that she sought from Windsor after this comment by the City's lawyer!

I wonder if that has insulted the Councillors in Detroit sufficiently so they walk away from the transaction so Eddie can blame them for its failure. In that way, he thinks no one can criticize or blame him for wasting so much money on legal and consulting fees on a failed deal. No finger-pointing allowed at the Mayor.

Let me see if I understand this correctly. If the Authority now owns the Tunnel, why would they have to go back to Detroit Council to get their permission if they want to do something? They are the decision-makers then on the Tunnel, not the Council. Is this a ploy on the part of Eddie and Kwame to end run Detroit Council. Can it be that obvious?

It is so similar to the setting up of the private Company in the Windsor to which the Tunnel assets were transferred that could have taken decision-making out of the hands of our Council. Fortunately, Council Marra was on the ball:
  • "We are five and a half weeks from the deadline. The last thing any member of the (tunnel) commission or council wants is to make a decision on this in a short period of time. This is a decision that will have impact for many years and due diligence needs to be involved.

    "I won't participate in a last-minute decision."

    Marra said he has been assured by both Francis and Sutts that permission from both the tunnel commission and council is still required to finalize the deal."

Oh, I get it. Cliff Sutts thinks he is dealing with Windsor Councillors, telling them the rules and expecting them to back off. Sign on the dotted line without knowing the key details huh. Perhaps as Anthony Adams will explain to him about Detroit Councillors:

  • "I think part of the difficulty is they don’t really understand our system of politics,” said Adams. “I think we have a lot more rough system of politics than they have over there.”

Now it looks like the transaction in Detroit giving the Mayor 120 days may be reversed on Thursday:

  • "Cockrel said based on what she knows now, she would support rescinding the authority.

    "Bottom line, I'm never going to vote to put the tunnel into an authority and not know what the financing is," she said."

It seems that something was delivered to Detroit Council on Tuesday afternoon but will not be debated until Thursday. If there are no financial details, then why bother debating.

That seems like Council President Cockrel's position also when he talked about no signed Letter of Intent. I thought from the A-channel news story that whatever was received was not signed. What is the point of that? There is nothing to talk about. A whole weekend to create a Letter of Intent and nothing has been finalized... where is the sense of urgency?

Or is the Detroit Administration trying to buy more time so that the Mayor can hypnotize a few more people? After all, the sentiments of Councilwoman Cockrel seems to be absolutely clear. She has said:

  • " she has not seen the financing plan from Windsor on whether the deal can be made on its end.

    "Where is the financing for the tunnel deal?" she asked.

    "If this is such a great deal, why hasn't the province of Ontario just said, 'Windsor, here is the money."

Regretfully, the Councilwoman is not going to see anything about financing for some time it would seem. A friend of mine has received written confirmation from the Province of Ontario that:

  • "Since Windsor has put their discussions with Detroit on hold, they have requested that we place their application on hold until further notice."
I wonder if a reporter will be able to get a copy of what was delivered on Tuesday afternoon. I am sure it would be fascinating to read.

Let me tell you what else the Councilwoman has said throughout this transaction. It seems pretty harsh and yet the Councilwoman voted to give the Detroit Mayor 120 days. Can anyone figure of what anyone will do on this file by the time is over:

  • Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel said she would review the letter, but remains wary until she can see hard numbers.

    "I do not think you make good public policy decisions that are nonreversible based on letters of intent," Cockrel said.

  • Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel asked Adams at a meeting this morning of the council’s Budget, Finance and Audit Committee to determine Windsor’s official position.

    “We need clarity from the mayor of Windsor and his council,” she said.

  • Reeves, council President Ken Cockrel Jr. and Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel -- who all voted yes Tuesday on the tunnel deal -- said they were not necessarily going to vote yes on the final sale.
  • A lightning strike ignites a fire at City Hall and shuts the building down until at least July 7.
    "It's becoming like the Old Testament," Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel said.

  • Despite the push, the budget committee, led by Coun. Sheila Cockrel, for the second week in a row, recommended against forming the new authority.

  • Cockrel countered to reporters in Detroit following Friday's meeting: "I don't think playing chicken with people's jobs or livelihood is a good thing for any set of politicians to do."

    She said trust issues around Kilpatrick following the text message scandal is one factor of why she is leery of the tunnel deal.
  • Cockrel said the mayor has the power to lay off employees but shouldn't because the city can balance its budget by selling off bonds. She didn't think it was responsible for the administration to put this in the 2008-09 budget "when it wasn't ready. It's voodoo budgeting."
  • Coun. Sheila Cockrel, who heads the committee, could not be reached by The Star, but told reporters in Detroit after Friday's meeting "it was, in my opinion, malfeasance to put the deal in a budget when you knew you didn't have it done."

    She also called the deal "reprehensible."

  • But Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel said she remains opposed to the sale because Windsor has not yet secured the $75 million from Ontario. She questioned the seriousness of the layoff threat.

  • Cockrel said she simply doesn't trust the mayor "with a stain on his record" to pull off the deal.

    "I think there's a desperation that characterizes this administration right now."

  • Her website: "The [Moody's] opinion also notes “The sale of the tunnel between the city and the city of Windsor has been delayed repeatedly.” (Emphasis added.) The Administration promised to bring the Tunnel Deal to Council for review in June of 2007. However, there have been three different versions of the Tunnel Deal since it was first brought to Council’s attention in 2007. Counsel for the City has repeatedly revised transactional documents, with the most recent version of only some of the pertinent documents being provided to Council on May 21, 2008. It should also be noted that to date there is no financing in place to allow the City of Windsor to lend the money to the Detroit Tunnel Authority, which would then purchase the Tunnel from the City. Council cannot approve this transaction without knowing if financing is even available. The repeated delays emanate from the Administration’s inability to bring forth a complete set of transactional documents for Council’s review."
There is no doubt that Councilwoman Cockrel is quite bright. Based on the last comment that I highlighted, she understands what this is all about. All she is saying is show me the money and yet no one can. As a taxpayer of Windsor, I'd like to know what the money deal is too to see how much it's going to cost me but no one can show me that yet either.

I would have thought that it was a slamdunk that she would oppose the transaction based on what she had said to date, especially if no further information is forthcoming. However on this file, it seems nothing is over until it is over and who knows when it will be over.

Really though, don't feel so bad for the City of Detroit now. It has $75 million from the $400M overfunded Detroit police and firefighters pension plan to replace the Province's money. That seems to be the fallback for the Mayor if he does not want to allow any short-term borrowing fix for the budget deficit! Once he gets his $360M in bonds guaranteed by Casino revenues, he won't care much either.

One last thought. A-Channel reported that President Ken Cockrel Jr. and Windsor Councillor Ron Jones spoke on Friday about the Tunnel deal. I've written to Council Jones asking whether he received permission from the Mayor to do so because Windsor's Resolution stated that the Mayor was the Voice of Council. The Mayor made it absolutely clear what that meant on John Fairley's TV show. Only HE speaks on significant issues re the border. No Councillor does.

I have not yet heard back from Councillor Jones but hope to receive word shortly. I would hate to think that he did this on his own without the advance approval of the Mayor, preferably for Ron's sake, in writing. I would hate to think that, at the next in camera Council meeting, one of his colleagues might shout out [expletive deleted] obscenities at him for breaching the rules.

Is There A Crushing Need For DRTP's Doublestack Rail Tunnel

With this kind of mistake, there may well be a need for a doublestack rail tunnel in Windsor. I am sure that you read the story about rail cars being crushed:
  • "CP rail cars too tall for tunnel

    A Canadian Pacific Railroad train heading through the CP rail tunnel from Detroit suffered significant damage Sunday afternoon when shipping containers on 24 intermodal cars were partly crushed on the tunnel's roof, damaging contents but causing no injuries."
In the news story though where this was reported, the CP spokesperson said something rather peculiar
  • "Asked why officials didn't realize the containers were too high, the official replied: "That's what's being investigated."

    He said the crew were unaware of what was happening until they emerged on the Windsor side. "The locomotive engineer, he wouldn't necessarily have seen or heard anything," he said.

    The tunnel is tall enough to accommodate double-stack rail cars"

If that is the case, then what is this desire by CP Rail/Borealis to have a new tunnel built. With this border file, I cannot help but believe that there's something more that is going on than we know about! What it is, who knows.

Gee, if one sponsors a Windsor Festival then Councillors seemed to fall over themselves to invite you to do a presentation about your project.

For the second week in a row, after Resolutions were received from the Michigan House and Senate, Windsor Councillors all of a sudden seem interested in the DRTP rail tunnel again. First, it was Councillor Lewenza. Then it was Councillor Gignac.

Talk about pure co-incidence. While the accident was clearly unfortunate, the timing could not have been better if one had to happen at all. The incident took place on June 15. The Michigan House and Senate Resolutions supporting the DRTP rail tunnel were adopted on June 18.

Council Gignac wants to invite DRTP to make a presentation at Council about their rail tunnel, which I assume that she will favour, along with the other Councillors, provided that DRTP confirm that the truck expressway is dead.

I wonder if they will let Mike Hurst speak longer than 10 minutes. If they do, the Bridge Co. should scream "discrimination" since that is all the time they were given on their Enhancement Project presentation. How long did Gridlock Sam speak on Greenlink?

Maybe I missed something but haven't we had this debate already and the DRTP proposal was rejected back in December. What startling new information is there that should allow this matter to be reconsidered by Council now?
  • "Fearful of the motives of a controversial border proponent, council voted down a request by Coun. Bill Marra to pass a resolution supporting construction of a new high-clearance railway tunnel in Windsor."

This seems to be the same DRTP tactic of doing everything to get the movers and shakers onside first and ignoring the citizens who may be impacted negatively until the very last minute. They tried that with their Truck Expressway and look what happened. Are they so ashamed of their proposal that there is nothing on their website about it other than an "under maintenance" sign?

Is something as significant as a rail tunnel to be decided by our Council after a five or 10 minute presentation by DRTP? Is Council prepared to make a decision without the full involvement of citizens, especially those along the DRTP corridor. Why Councillor Gignac said before:

  • "Coun. Jo-Anne Gignac also voted against Marra's request, saying there had been no consultation with residents...

    "Over four years we have moved carefully in consultation with residents in Windsor to craft a package in terms of their desires on the next border crossing," she said."

The justification for moving forward seems to be what Sam Schwartz wrote in his first report. Councillors take his word as gospel it seems. Frankly, given what Sam has proposed in the past, I personally am not prepared to accept very much of what he has to say with respect to a border solution.

Let's see what he did that we should accept his reasoning as Councillors seem to want to do so readily.

He did do a PowerPoint slide on a double stacked rail tunnel which was in the context of what DRTP was proposing for both rail and truck.

In another slide, he had one line about it, showing it as a fast track element.

To be fair, he did write about it. Here is what Sam said about DRTP's rail Tunnel:
  • "Improve Rail Infrastructure

    The City of Windsor is the nexus of a half-dozen rail lines (CPR. CN, VIA, ETR, NS and CSXT) scattered throughout the city. We understand that there is an effort underway to rationalize these lines and integrate them within the fabric of the transport systems of Windsor and Ontario. These elements include:

    • Combining rail operations into a single corridor
    • A multi-modal (air, rail and truck) terminal at Windsor Airport
    • A new high clearance rail tunnel, under the Detroit River, capable of accepting double-stacked trailers
    • A new train station for passengers
    • Possibility of integration with a high speed rail corridor extending from Windsor
    to Quebec City (via use of existing rail tubes)

    We strongly support the rail improvement program elements and urge that they be acted
    upon without delay."

Now that is a thorough analysis of the situation! NOT.

I understand that a rail rationalization report is supposed to be coming out shortly. Why would anyone do anything until after that report has been presented and thoroughly digested. There's also an impact that the rail tunnel will have on the other side of the river as well that needs consideration.

Someone is in an awfully big hurry to push this through Council don't you think! Why?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Short Border stories

Since you would rather be swimming anyway and enjoying the beautiful weather, here are some quick border thoughts for you:


Oh let's ask the question everyone is wondering. Given the amount of money involved in the Tunnel deal over the next 75 years, is the FBI taking a look at this transaction as well?


Let's ask this one too. Has anyone checked the text messages for those involving the Tunnel deal?


You know that $1.2 million plus for legal and consulting fees on the Tunnel, that really should not concern taxpayers. According to our Mayor,
  • "Given how the tunnel has returned $56 million in dividends to the city since 1990, the legal fees are part of the cost of doing business to protect the asset, Francis said."
I wonder if the same rationale applies now since the Tunnel is no longer providing dividends.

No wonder Cliff Sutts feels comfortable and can say to the Detroit media:
  • "he denied the existence of any criticism in Windsor about his legal fees and said his bills cover three years of work." [emphasis added]

Hmmmm does anyone at City Hall read the Windsor Star Forums.


I thought the City's position was that there was no competition between the two crossings. I guess that has changed:

  • "The mayor refered Thursday to the 2005 bid by Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun to gain control of the U.S. side of the tunnel and his suggestion to create a new customs superplaza at the bridge in Detroit that would redirect tunnel traffic.

    "For a long time we took for granted the arrangement we had at the tunnel - until 2005 when the weakness of the arrangement was exposed," Francis said.

    Windsor has 5,000 commuters who cross over daily to Detroit.

    "If somebody comes in and shuts down half the tunnel, all of us would ask why didn't somebody do something," Francis said.

    "If you are a commuter, think what it means if there was no public oversight, no control over tolls, capitol improvements or what happens on the other side. That's what continues to drive us.

    "Those are key issues that effect tourism, economic development and both cities."


According to the Mayor one of his justifications for the Tunnel deal, since he has not yet demonstrated its business case, is to protect the 5,000 commuters.

On the $75 million transaction, forgetting interest costs, that means that Windsor taxpayers will subsidize commuting by the amount of $200 per year per commuter.

Assuming however that the Mayor is a business person, since after all he was Young Entrepreneur of the Year, he would want to recover the costs since otherwise Windsor taxpayers would get very upset. Given the annual principal and interest payments and Tunnel volumes as at the end of 2007, the toll would have to increase slightly more than a dollar per trip or two dollars per round-trip to cover those costs.

Given the new booths at the Bridge that should help decrease congestion at US Customs and if the Bridge Company chose not to increase their tolls if the Tunnel did or to increase them at a lower amount, how long do you think it would take for Tunnel commuters to switch crossings?

Wouldn't that mean a reduction in revenues for the Tunnel as volumes decreased significantly.


I would still like to know why Detroit is considering a $75 million loan from Windsor that has to be repaid with interest when it appeared that Alinda was offering them $70 million plus 20% of the gross revenues.

And who gets that $10M for fees and insurance expenses and what are they? Does it include bond insurance premiums in case of default?


If a $75 million loan is taken out from Infrastructure Ontario by Windsor over 40 years, then the amount to be repaid per year is about $4-5M per year depending on the interest rate. According to the media however, Detroit will only pay to Windsor $700,000 per year. Presumably, that means that the agreement between the City of Detroit and Alinda which is to last another 12 years will be assigned to Windsor because that is how much Detroit is making under that agreement now.

Assuming that no one wants to lose the difference between the real payback amount and $700,000, that means that about $4 million per year would have to be added on to the loan outstanding. After a dozen years, including interest, another $50 million or so would be owing meaning that the total amount of the loan would be in the neighborhood of $125 million to be paid back over 28 years.


Windsor cannot close a road at the Ambassador Bridge on a temporary and intermittent basis to allow bridge repairs but the Americans can close down I-75 for up to 18 months for the Ambassador Gateway project. Here's the latest announcement.

The Michigan Department of Transportation closed a one-mile section of I-96, in both directions for three months.


Assuming that our Mayor's ad blitz and threatened lawsuits will be successful in killing off the DRIC Road to be replaced by nothing, where will all of that Senior Level money go?

The Globe and Mail reported on a number of projects around the Golden Horseshoe area that will be looking for money. Included in the projects is this one of interest:


    Plans to twin the Peace Bridge at Fort Erie and traffic already push the capacity of the Queen Elizabeth Way to its limit.

    Consequently, the province is studying a transportation corridor across the Niagara Peninsula above the Niagara Escarpment that will link into the GTA highway system west of Hamilton.

    Two studies, one of environmental factors and the other of transportation and socio-economic factors affecting the corridor, have been finished.

    By the end of next year, the ministry hopes to have a final assessment of transportation needs in the corridor and to have prepared a recommended strategy to meet them. It will then study alternate routes for a new highway and pick one early in the next decade."

I wonder how many of those roads will be tunneled the way the Mayor is demanding for Greenlink. It is unbelievable... the DRIC Road which supposedly costs 10 times more than any other road project in Ontario is being fought by the Mayor whose priority until the Tunnel deal, since he snubbed meeting with John Tory who was here talking about unemployment, was jobs, jobs, jobs.


While the Mayor has been on the Windsor Tunnel Commission, the Tunnel volume has dropped dramatically.

At the end of 2003, the Tunnel volume was 6.39 million cars with a 10.6 percent market share.

At the end of 2007, the Tunnel volume was 4.31 million cars with a 7.9 percent market share.

The drop is about a third of the volume in such a short period of time.

For trucks, the volume decreased from 180,000 per year to 110,000 per year with a fall in market share from 1.3% to .9%

The drop for trucks is about 40% of the volume in such a short period of time.


Can you imagine what the numbers will be once people understand that the Bridge Company has opened up seven more car lanes at the bridge and if the DRIC numbers are realistic and that the new DRIC bridge will take away 25% of the Tunnel traffic.

Increasing tolls would be virtually impossible if the two bridges are competing for car and truck traffic.

It is problematic whether the interest on the loan to the Ontario Government could be paid such that there would be a default and the Tunnel taken over.

Would Ontario become the owner of both sides of the Tunnel? Would the Feds take it over? Would it be sold to some private enterprise third party?

Naw, the P3 operator of the DRIC Bridge would get it as part of a package. A new DRIC bridge P3 investor wants a monopoly over the crossing to guarantee a profit. Isn't that why Senator Fortier is down here!

That could give Ontario a say in the real jewel, the DRIC bridge where the real money is to be made, if they owned the Tunnel. It would be leverage against the Feds who have shut them out of the Bridge transaction completely!

Did Infrastructure Ontario Say No

Time passes even more quickly not when you are having fun, but when you are in a panic because your business deal is falling apart.

I found it very surprising that Councillor Halberstadt did not mention in his BLOG anything with respect to the loan from Infrastructure Ontario.

Was something discussed about the loan transaction at the in camera meeting that the City held last week, something that no one in the public is supposed to know? Or was the subject not brought up at all? That would be rather shocking if true since I would have thought that someone would want to know how this deal is going to be financed on Windsor's side and why Windsor taxpayers should be potentially at risk.

Again remember that Cliff Sutts said months ago:

  • "Residents and council in Windsor will soon be privy to more details of the multimillion-dollar transaction, Sutts said.

    "I've said all along from square one I will not recommend a deal to the city of Windsor that did not make business sense," he said. "My intention has not changed.

    "In all of these negotiations everything I've done is with that in mind."

The only "privy" I have seen in Windsor recently were the portable toilets on Fireworks night along the riverfront!

I trust that Mr. Sutts and the Mayor are not in conflict over what is a good business deal since the Mayor's justification seems to be different:

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis insisted the tunnel deal is still worth making.

    "The whole premise of the City of Windsor engaging Detroit in these discussions is we want to keep the public asset in public hands," he said."

I would have thought that Mr. Sutts would be just itching after all this time to let everyone know what kind of business sense this deal made but nothing has been disclosed so far publicly.

It was first revealed on April 16 in the Windsor Star that the Province was approached for the loan:

  • "Windsor is seeking a loan from the provincial government to finance a $75-million deal for the U.S. side of the Windsor-Detroit tunnel.

    The city has applied to the Ontario Strategic Infrastructure Financing Authority, a loan program run through Infrastructure Ontario, to get the money needed to complete two years of negotiations with Detroit.

    Meanwhile, discussions between the city and the province to secure financing for the $75-million deal are "extremely preliminary," said Steve Erwin, spokesman for MPP Dwight Duncan (L - - Windsor-Tecumseh), the province's finance minister.

    "The city will have to provide a business case. It's our understanding that an application has been filed. It's in the very early stages."

On April 18, we were told:

  • "Windsor's $75-million plan to take control of the U.S. side of the Windsor-Detroit tunnel is the kind of project that would qualify for an Infrastructure Ontario loan, a spokesman for the provincial Crown corporation said Thursday...

    The city is poised to apply to the Ontario Strategic Infrastructure Financing Authority, a loan program run by Infrastructure Ontario, to get the money needed to complete two years of tunnel negotiations with Detroit.

    "There has been some discussion about an application with the city of Windsor and Infrastructure Ontario," said Steve Dyck, a spokesman for the agency. "It's at the due diligence stage -- looking at information that will be required in terms of processing the application."

    He said the tunnel deal would qualify under the loan program, but Windsor has not yet indicated when the application will be made.

    There is no cap on the amount of funds a municipality can borrow under the program, but the ministry looks closely at the ability to repay, the strength of the business case and market conditions to determine if a loan will be approved.

    More than 90 per cent of loan applications are approved, with applications taking about two months to process, Dyck said."

So has an application been made or not? If so when was it made? It would appear that one was made since the Detroit News reported:

  • "Windsor told the Ontario government Friday to put its loan application for the $75 million on hold, said the city's lead negotiator, Cliff Sutts."

Infrastructure Ontario wrote a friend of mine in early June confirming that an application had been made in the name of the Windsor Detroit Tunnel Corporation.

In passing, if the intention is to keep this corporation arm's-length from the City to minimize the City's liability, as was the suggestion of Mr. Sutts in the first place when setting this up, why did the in camera Council meeting involve the City and the Windsor Tunnel Commission?

If the application was submitted in mid April or even at the end of April, the two months are up. Surely by now Infrastructure Ontario has made a decision. How could it take so long? It is not that complicated a transaction. Is there a business case for it or isn't there?

It is absolutely bizarre to me that the application will be put "on hold" when it seems fundamental to get the approval of Detroit Councillors that there is financing. Why would Eddie be working so hard on a Friday afternoon on the Tunnel deal and snubbing John Tory if the application wasn't going anywhere?

Can it be in fact that the Mayor is aware that a decision has been made by Infrastructure Ontario. If so, what is it? What if the Province has said that they are not prepared to fund the transaction in the amount of $75 million or is only prepared to put up a small fraction of the amount requested? Doesn't that kill the deal! There is no other source of funds that I've heard about that would finance this transaction for Windsor.

Just out of curiosity, if a decision is made that is negative to the City but the application is put "on hold" for further clarification so that no "final" letter is sent out, would that mean that technically the Province has not killed it yet?

I wonder what Detroit has been told and what that City's Mayor's office will be able to tell its Council to get Councillors onside. After all, how many meals can Kwame eat or poeple can he hypnotize!

Let me have even more fun and try and speculate how much Infrastructure Ontario would say the deal is worth. They probably would take very seriously the offer that the Bridge Company made to Detroit of $20 million since the Bridge Company ought to know how to run a border operation. Since that time, DRIC has said that up to 25% of the Tunnel traffic could be taken away by the new DRIC bridge and the Bridge Company has opened up new Customs booths in Canada and the United States. Perhaps then Infrastructure Ontario would reduce the value by 25% especially since Tunnel traffic numbers are dropping or could be conservative and reduce the value of the $20 million by say, 10 or 20%.

If one does the math, the range might be somewhere in the range between $15- $16 million up to $18 million at the maximum. Certainly, that is nowhere near the $75 million that has been discussed.

In any event, I've had enough. I'm getting tired of trying to figure out what is really going on. I think I will file a Freedom of Information Application to find out what the documentation says. I'll let you know what I am given and when.

Monday, July 14, 2008

What Is The Councillor Trying To Tell Us

Here is what Councillor Halberstadt wrote on his BLOG. Did he write it and then leave town to get away from the attacks from his colleagues that will surely come?

Interesting that he went to Sudbury too. Personally, I think he is really there to spy on them to see what they are doing right to become an economic powerhouse so he can use their techniques if he decides to run for Mayor. Remember how the Toronto Star compared Sudbury so favourably over Windsor recently!

  • "Councillor Halberstadt will be on vacation until July 21, fishing for bass and pickeral north of Sudbury. In the meantime he wants you to know a couple of things. He was the lone Councillor to vote against the in camera resolution last Thursday to keep the $75-million loan deal on the table in the lapsed negotiations with the City of Detroit to secure the American side of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel in public hands. He would also like you to know that he agreed with lawyer Cliff Sutts' recommendation that the Windsor City Council meeting be held in camera after he asked Mr. Sutts why it needed to be private, and Mr. Sutts responded: "I don't want to be sued for one thing."

Here are some comments I have arising from his BLOG:

  • the Tunnel deal is still on the table

  • the Star's headline on Friday makes no sense now, to me anyway : "Tunnel deal put on hold by city"

  • everyone else on Council voted to keep it there

  • how could the negotiations be lapsed if it is still on the table and if Anthony Adams claimed "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" and if "Sutts said he still has authority to continue speaking with Detroit officials"

  • how could they lapse if Eddie was working on the deal on Friday so that he had to snub John Tory

  • why didn't anyone tell Detroit of Windsor's new position "officially"

  • what is the new Resolution and no Alan did not tell me there was one

  • will taxpayers ever learn what it says

  • fear by a lawyer of being sued is not a reason to keep the meeting private

  • why would Sutts be sued anyway....what risks is he concerned about

  • who would sue him

  • Is Sutts telling us indirectly that taxpayers may be hurt and that the project may cost Windsorites money so he wants protection from his guarantee. Sutts said previously: "the deal will not be completed until he is fully assured local taxpayers will not be hurt.“We will be extraordinarily cautious so costs of the acquisition will be self-supporting of the project itself. That there will be no need to go to the well of the city to support this transaction."

  • what were the other reasons for the meeting going private.

Perhaps you, dear reader, can explain all of this. I cannot


Do you want to know why Eddie has to run for mayor for a third term. Private industry could not afford the time or the money to wait while he completes a deal, if he ever can finalize one! Only taxpayers! Here is what Cliff Sutts said in the Detroit Free Press:
  • "he denied the existence of any criticism in Windsor about his legal fees and said his bills cover three years of work."
Three years! With well over a million dollars so far in total legal and consulting fees and expenses, who knows where this deal is. That must mean the deal started sometime in mid-2005, yet the Joint Councils meeting where this was first proposed took place in February, 2006. I wonder if Cliff included in his fees, his work starting with his discussion with Eddie in October, 2005.

What happens to people once they are elected. Do they think that they have become all-powerful, all-knowing. Do they somehow cut themselves off from their constituents? Do they stop listening, or caring? Do they forget why they were elected, becoming intoxicated by power? Is it the Hubris syndrome:
  • "the hero wins glory and acclamation by achieving unwonted success against the odds. The experience then goes to his head: he begins to think himself capable of anything."

Remember this. It is what our Mayor said in his mayoral kickoff speech:


    An environment where City Councillors will become active participants. I fully intend to empower our City council, our employees and our citizens by ensuring they know that their opinions count ……their ideas will be considered, by making sure they have the facts they need to make informed decisions and by respecting the very legitimate concerns of Councillors who work so hard at just trying to be heard...

    We will become a council driven, people centered government where we will plan, strategize and set the agenda. Decision-making will be open….. Council will drive the process, we will be held to account for our decisions."

Whatever happened to that guy. Whatever happened to that kind of Council? I would not be writing this BLOG if this Council was open and transparent. You know it is bad. Even the Star complains about the secrecy.

I raise this because of what has happened in the Tunnel deal over the last few days. I am mad. I am disgusted. I feel used. I feel cheated.

I have no idea who is a liar and who is telling the truth or hthere are mere misunderstandings. Statements are made and reported at different times with conflicting remarks. I do not know what the facts are. Everything is being kept in secret even though it is my and your tax money that is at stake.

In fact, is this media stuff all a giant ploy by the two Mayors to sucker their two Councils into agreeing to a "Letter of Intent" so they cannot back out of the deal down the road? Are they piece-mealing Councillors and the Public by not revealing everything at one time. Try and follow along with what is going on and then tell me if you agree with my sentiment:


I wrote a quick BLOG on Friday afternoon setting out comments from the Windsor Star and the two Detroit newspapers. A lot more has happened since then but I have learned it only from the US side. We have received no further information from our leading media outlet to tell us what is going on. No new stories from the Star, no Editorials, no columns by our leading columnist who thinks that his attempts at home renovations are more important than our $75 million on a deal that may or may not make any sense.

I wonder if Gord's response if he ever chooses to make one would be something along the lines of what he said in an August, 2004 column after a number of us from STOPDRTP met with him concerned about the delays with the Schwartz report:

  • "people who are growing impatient for action should kick back and enjoy the final three weeks of summer because the municipal universe is unfolding right on schedule."

Quite a long schedule wouldn't you think!

I wrote an e-mail to the Mayor and Councillors with the following subject line since I was so angry:

  • "Are you lying to Windsorites!"

No answers of course yet. I did that because I read the following in a Detroit Free Press article:

  • "Detroit Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams, who has been a key negotiator for Detroit in the deal,... 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."

I read that comment with shock because the Star that morning had written:

  • "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 need both parties on the U.S. side to have a common goal and that doesn't appear to exist in Detroit," Sutts said."

Who is telling the truth? What is going on? The Joint Windsor Tunnel Commission/City Council Meeting started at 3 p.m. on Thursday afternoon and went on for a few hours until around 5 or 6 p.m. That saving of further legal fees may have lasted only a few hours if Anthony Adams is correct.

Who instructed Sutts to ask for Detroit documents? Was that in violation of what Council had ordered? On the contrary, read what Mr. Sutts said about his instructions below. I had not heard or read that in the Windsor media. If so, why was that not reported but a different impression was left.

I do know that a Resolution was passed at the in camera meeting but of course no one in the public has access to it so who knows what it says.

I have to admit that I was pretty happy when I saw the Star story initially. This seems like the dumbest of transactions on its face but who knows, there might be a strong business case for it that seems to make sense from Windsor's perspective. After all, our Mayor has spent three years trying to conclude the transaction.

In passing, I noticed that our Mayor snubbed the Progressive Conservative provincial leader when he was in town. Mind you, when you are trying to convince the Liberal Government to give you $75 million to shore up Detroit's financing from an Ontario Infrastructure Fund, then you do not want to be seen to be chumming up with an Opposition party leader. I guess that means that our Mayor is not going to run for them provincially in the next election. How many times now is it that Eddie has dealt a blow to John Tory?

According to the Star, Tory, who was in Windsor to talk about all of the jobs that have been lost in the economy

  • "was scheduled to meet with Mayor Eddie Francis, but the meeting was called off because the mayor informed Tory he was too busy dealing with the tunnel deal situation with Detroit.

    "He seems fully consumed with the tunnel matter which I guess has taken a turn," Tory said."

That's funny because only a few months before, Eddie said in his State of the City speech:

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

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

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

I was downtown Friday afternoon near City Hall and saw a Detroit Channel 4 TV satellite news truck and wondered why it was here. Then I read a story from WDIV's website:

  • "Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams said there has been no official word from Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis and as far as he knows, the deal will continue to go through.

    "We haven't received any notice from Windsor -- official notice that they have terminated negations. The fact that there is an article in the Windsor Star from the attorney. ...We deal with elected officials," said Adams Friday...

    Local 4 is seeking comment from Francis to clarify his position."

That was a surprise, no "official" word telling Detroit what our position was. Why not? I knew then why their truck was here.

In watching the Channel 4 news, I was shocked again. They reported that the two Administrations were preparing a letter over the weekend for Detroit Council. How did that fit into what Windsor Council ordered? Is Mr. Sutts generating fees for the weekend work?

More about the letter was revealed in the Detroit media on Saturday. The Free Press reported that:

  • "Why would the City of Windsor be motivated to go through all of the difficulties and expense of negotiating this whole deal when Detroit City Council says we’re not sure if we want to sell this asset or not?” Sutts said. “We’ve spent a ton of money in getting to the point we’re at now. … They hate like hell to see that it’s gone to waste.”

    Sutts said he still has authority to continue speaking with Detroit officials and negotiations would resume if Detroit council members state their support for finalizing the sale. In fact, he spoke today with Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams and attorney William Phillips, who has represented the City of Detroit in negotiations.

    Adams, who has been a key negotiator for Detroit in the deal, said this afternoon that the Kilpatrick administration would prepare a “letter of intent” spelling out the parameters of the deal – the purchase price, range of interest rates and other terms – and ask the Detroit council to approve it as a show of good faith to Windsor.

    “I’m going to be making calls all weekend,” Adams said of what he will do to secure council support. “It’s a critical moment in time. But it’s an appropriate moment. We need to move forward.”

Then the piece de resistance in the Detroit News on Saturday:

  • "Windsor told the Ontario government Friday to put its loan application for the $75 million on hold, said the city's lead negotiator, Cliff Sutts...

    He'll try to soothe Windsor's worries Tuesday by asking the Detroit City Council to approve a "letter of intent," which would outline the city's commitment and the deal's parameters, said Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams.

    "It's to give them another level of assurance that their efforts will not be for naught," said Adams, adding that Windsor politicians may not be used to how "rough and tumble" politics can get in Detroit."

Again, that shocker was not reported in Windsor about the application! If the deal was dead until Detroit could give us assurances, then why couldn't Eddie meet Tory? What was he working on that was so important? Why didn't he meet Tory to discuss the poor economy in Windsor. Why did Eddie snub him?

Shouldn't the request to put the loan on hold kill the deal since Councilwoman Cockrel, who is all over the map on this transaction, said

  • "But Councilwoman Sheila Cockrel said she doesn't want to get locked into a deal without seeing the financing completed."

The financing is NOT completed Councilwoman so how can you support a Letter of Intent? What good is one if an essential term is "on hold."

Can you figure out what is going on? I must admit that I'm having a great deal of difficulty doing so. On the one hand, Windsor does not want to spend any more money on this deal and yet it appears that Mr. Sutts has the authority to keep on speaking to Detroit. It looks like he will be spending the weekend working on a letter with Deputy Mayor Adams.

Let me speculate completely as to what is happening. I knew on Friday that there was something strange going on because no one would speak to my inside moles about what happened at the in camera meeting. If in fact the deal is virtually dead, people would have been speaking about it on Friday. Apparently, I was told, everyone was afraid to do so. That meant something was going on.

The key line in all of the stories I read was that Windsor asked the Province to put their loan application on hold. Now why would Windsor do that? Why not just let the process play itself out? If Windsor wanted to blame Detroit for the transaction failing, it would be easy. Just say that the Province turned the deal down because of all the uncertainty in Detroit. Therefore Eddie could not be blamed for wasting all that million plus of taxpayer money on outside fees.

But that's not the case. My guess is that the Province has already told the City informally either that it has no intention of financing a deal that has no business case going for it and that is effectively outside of the Province in any event or, the Province has offered to put up a nominal amount of money that is insufficient to do the transaction so they won't be blamed politically.

That would effectively kill the deal jeopardizing all of the bond financings that the other side is in the midst of doing. I suspect that the Detroit Mayor's Office is stringing Eddie along understanding that Eddie cannot have this deal fail.

Eddie is playing too. He knows there is no business case for the transaction and that is why he makes these silly comments trying to justify the unjustifiable. If the deal sours financially, Eddie has his built-in excuse. Of course he has to drag in the "enemy" as well:

  • "The mayor refered Thursday to the 2005 bid by Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun to gain control of the U.S. side of the tunnel and his suggestion to create a new customs superplaza at the bridge in Detroit that would redirect tunnel traffic...

    Windsor has 5,000 commuters who cross over daily to Detroit.

    "If somebody comes in and shuts down half the tunnel, all of us would ask why didn't somebody do something," Francis said."

    "If you are a commuter, think what it means if there was no public oversight, no control over tolls, capitol improvements or what happens on the other side. That's what continues to drive us."

Seriously, does Eddie think anyone believes that drivel! Does he honestly believe that we are that dumb! During his watch, the Tunnel has lost a huge amount of volume and has lost market share to the Bridge. I would expect that msot people would think that the Bridge Co. coudld run the Tunnel better than Eddie has so far.

What it appears to me is that this is an exercise to force the two Councils into a position whereby they lock themselves in based on a Letter of Intent. Understand, that the rumblings that I have heard on our side of the river is that a majority of the Councillors and Tunnel Commissioners were very upset about this transaction. We know as well that a number of the Councillors in Detroit, even though they gave Kwame an extra 120 days, said that they would vote against the transaction.

What better way to tie them up, put them on the defensive and tell them that they can't change their mind if they agree on a Letter of Intent.

On Detroit's side, it will be a good-faith gesture to Windsor. How could they let their new Canadian friends down? Why do they have to make gestures to Windsor when most Councillors have said they will turn the deal down already? Are they to flip-flop again?

If accepted on our side, well you know how Eddie stuffs approvals down the throats of Councillors if they dare suggest that they might change their minds later. He reminds them of their previous affirmative vote in public at Council to embarrass them and to pressure them to go along with what he wants to do!

If that gets done, then Kwame and his advisors are free again to say that they have a Letter of Intent so that the budget is balanced and they can go and raise their money. Windsor can now restart the process with the Province parading the letter from Detroit in the face of Provincial officials. If a Detroit Councillor should dare ask about financing, well there is no answer at this time because the deal was on hold with the problems caused by the uncertainty in Detroit.

And if a Detroit Councillor still has doubts, why he/she can be hypnotized over dinner by the Detroit Mayor!

At the appropriate time, after the nearly $400M is raised in Detroit, then Kwame can tell Eddie to get stuffed if he chooses to do so!

Oh just so you remember the full Hubris Syndrome, it does not always turn out well for our hero:

  • "This leads our hero into misinterpreting the reality around him and into making mistakes. Eventually he gets his comeup-pance and meets his nemesis, which destroys him."