Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, August 08, 2008

More Short News Stories



So much going on about the Tunnel deal and events surrounding it that you may have missed these stories

DISRESPECTING THE PROCESS

You must remember the excuse used by the politicians not to make a decision and let the bureaucrats waste time and money--- millions of taxpayers dollars and the years that our region could not afford to wait.

  • Dwight and Sandra won't meet "MPPs have indicated they do not want to meet for fear of jeopardizing the work of the Detroit River International Crossing study, a binational government process to determine the location of the next Windsor-Detroit border crossing."

    The study process must be respected, said Duncan. "If we attempt to influence the project decision for political reasons, it will scupper the whole thing and set us back."

  • "But the federal government remains behind the binational process, said a spokeswoman for Transport Minister Jean Lapierre.

    "Yes, there are a lot of alternatives," Irene Marcheterre said. "We have no choice -- otherwise there will be legal challenges. I know it may look like a lot. But it will only be a short time for (a narrowed list) of alternatives to be ready by December.

    "We have a process and we have to respect that. It's not only in Canada, but it involves both countries. We are going to stick to the process. The next couple of months we will see whether we can speed it up. We are following it closely."

  • "Local MPP Dwight Duncan (L -- Windsor-St. Clair) also remains supportive of the binational process, but admitted it is dragging on too long.

    "Some of these alternatives presented are straw men," Duncan said. "Many of these in my view are undesirable and will be quickly ruled out.

    "There is a process we have to go through. It is too long and cumbersome, but at the end of the day we should have the best alternative."

    Former Mayor Mike Hurst, CEO for the Detroit River Tunnel Partnership (DRTP), said there is no choice but to abide by the snail's pace of the study.

    "The fact is these are the rules of the game," Hurst said."

How many times have people thought that the whole DRIC process was nothing more than a project designed to justify what certain people already wanted to achieve. My view of it frankly is that the process was designed to force the Owner of the Ambassador Bridge to sell out at a cheap price so the Government could have a P3 investor build a twin bridge right beside the existing bridge as they have done in Sarnia and proposing to do in Port Erie.

Now we have proof of it. It comes from the highest levels of the Governments of Canada and Ontario: their Ministers of Finance. In a statement written in the Toronto Star dealing with a Michigan tax (why it was not published in Michigan is beyond me), the two Ministers made the following comments about the DRIC bridge:

  • "There is a significant and long-standing trade partnership between Ontario and Michigan, and Canada and the United States, representing a key source of prosperity for all sides...

    We recognize that both our economies depend on the efficient flow of cross-border traffic. This requires that we have modern border crossings, including the construction of a new one between Windsor and Detroit. Canada is thus actively participating along with the United States, Michigan and Ontario in the Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) study.

    Significant planning work has been completed to date and we look forward to constructing the new crossing as quickly as possible."

Of course, since the DRIC study on both sides of the river has not yet been completed, the two Ministers have completely prejudiced the study. They have already made the decision without having all the facts that a new DRIC bridge should be built. It seems for example that they have not considered that the new bridge may be in financial difficulties if built requiring government subsidies and may be unnecessary if there is not sufficient traffic that goes over it or other technology allows more vehicles to cross over the existing bridge.

You see, as I have said before, it is not that the Bridge people are so smart; it is that their opposition makes so many mistakes it makes life easy for them.

An Administrative Law lawyer will have a field day with this!

SENATOR MICHAEL FORTIER DOES THE BRIDGE COMPANY A FAVOUR

I am sorry. This is one of those "insider" BLOGs. You have to be a regular commuter at the Ambassador Bridge to understand the significance of this story:

  • "Collapse of WTO talks presents challenge for Canada
    Don Cayo, Vancouver Sun

    Nobody should be surprised at the collapse of the Doha Round of World Trade Organization talks this week. Everybody should be disappointed.

    Everybody, that is, except the greedy farm lobbies -- Canadian dairy and poultry farmers included -- who fight ceaselessly to maintain their cushy sinecures regardless of the cost to consumers in their own countries or the devastating loss of opportunity for people in poor parts of the world. And except for the legions of bureaucrats who jet around the world on expense accounts for endless rounds of talks that can be counted on to yield still more trips when they fail.

    Canada's reaction -- we'll now focus on new bilateral deals instead of a global pact, according to federal Trade Minister Michael Fortier -- may be the best that can be salvaged from this seven-year-long exercise in futility. But this is a weak second-best result compared to what a breakthrough would have meant."

AGREEING WITH GRIDLOCK SAM

If Sam had only said this in Windsor instead of talking about a Horseshoe road, full tunneling and Greenlink, we would have had a border solution, a new road to the Ambassador Bridge and the Enhancement Project almost completed! Instead, nothing has been accomplished.

Here is what Sam said:

  • "...simplexity -- the idea that simple things can be surprisingly complex, and complex things can be deceptively simple. This growing field of study reveals that all manner of phenomena -- epidemics, traffic, even politics -- move through tiny choke points, seemingly inconsequential junction boxes that may shape the very direction of history...

    The most powerful of the simplexity concepts, however, is choke points -- the keyholes in complex systems that can sometimes shut them down entirely. The London cholera epidemic of 1854, which could have claimed thousands of lives, was stopped cold when physician John Snow traced the contagion to a single contaminated water pump on Broad Street. The complex epidemic collided with the simple fix of shutting down the pump, and the simple fix won.

    The streets of New York City are nothing if not a web of choke points. New York urban planner Sam Schwartz likes to point out that although about 1 million cars enter and leave Manhattan every day, only about 8,000 are in use in Midtown at any one moment. It takes just a few hundred extra cars to gridlock the 8,000, and the 8,000 in turn bring the 1 million to a halt."

In other words, problems at Customs which means truck clearance is slowed down results in backups on Huron Church Road. Putting it another way, all it takes is adding say, four new truck booths, and the backups on Huron Church Road disappear at the US Customs choke point.

There is no need to spend multi-billions of dollars on a new crossing.

SURVEY SAID

The Mayor did not have to spend all those months making up a questionnaire for commuters. Here is the answer he needed:

  • "The Rhoads said they expect a few friends to follow their lead in the next few years.

    "I don't want to say anything bad about (Mayor) Eddie Francis," said Jayne. "But his plan to fly people back and forth who go out West for work is not very practical ... I know, my family has done it."

    Francis was not available for comment on how he plans to persuade people like the Rhoads to keep their roots in Windsor.

    It hurts to leave their hometown, but the Rhoads have seen the writing on the wall.

    "We have aspirations we can accomplish out west," said Jayne. "Long term we may end up back here. But we'll establish a home base out there and so will our sons -- so we'll have to wait and see what happens."

AN EVEN QUICKER GETAWAY

While Eddie is chasing onion deals in Frankfurt, his nearby airport competition is not standing still:

  • "New $431-million terminal adds pizzazz to Detroit Metro Airport
    Bold design is far cry from shabby Berry and Smith
    BY ELLEN CREAGER • FREE PRESS TRAVEL WRITER • August 2, 2008

    The walls are bright blue and gray. The glass lets in lots of light.

    In a summer of bad news for travelers, there's one major bright spot for Detroit.

    The new $431-million North Terminal is expected to open Sept. 17, right on schedule, at Detroit Metro Airport, ending the era of the shabby Smith and Berry terminals.

    "With the McNamara and North terminals, we now have two beautiful front doors for anyone arriving in our region by air," Michael Conway, Metro Airport spokesman, said as the Free Press got a sneak-peek tour Friday. "

What Did Eddie Say


Congratulations to A-Channel for asking the obvious question on their 6 PM news broadcast:

  • Who called that not-so-secret meeting now
    between the Mayors of Windsor and Detroit.

I would have thought that this was a simple answer to give. But in Windsor, nothing is simple!

Perhaps you could write to me and tell me what you think the answer is since I have no idea what Eddie meant by his answer above.

All I know is that we need a timeline of all contacts between the two Mayors and their lawyers and representatives to figure this all out.

PS Here are Eddie's comments to the Free Press:

  • "Reached Thursday by the Free Press, Francis said: "Whatever comments have been made by our lead legal adviser in the past are comments that I stand behind."

I don't understand what that means either.

Time For The Real Voice Of Council To Speak


I told you that no Naysayer can ruin Windsor's image the way politicians can!

It is time for the Windsor’s Voice of Council to start talking and to say the right thing that makes sense now. If he does not do so immediately, then Windsor Council has no alternative but to rescind the Resolution giving him such designation and Council better start talking to us and for us.

The first thing that must be said is that the Tunnel deal with Detroit is dead at this time. Mr. Sutts must be immediately instructed to close his file and stop incurring any more fees on this file including face-to-face meetings or otherwise.

No disrespect is intended by me to the People of the City of Detroit, to its Mayor or to its Council members. However, with the mess in Detroit and undoubtedly with more to come, no one in their right mind would do a deal with that City at this time, especially a $75 million one over an important border crossing, the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel. Do you really think the Feds on either side would approve a deal!

Obviously, Windsor on its own cannot finance this transaction. That is why the City applied for a loan from Infrastructure Ontario, which loan application is now “on hold.” To be direct, the Voice of Council must tell us exactly why the application was put on hold.

I cannot believe that the Province would continue on with the transaction even if it was not on hold with the situation as it exists in Detroit right now. In my opinion, it would be the height of irresponsibility for the Province to continue on with this transaction considering that it is probably doubtful if the Province should have considered it in the first place. The monies in the Infrastructure fund are for Ontario purposes and not to fix the budget situation in Detroit.

Who would want to take the responsibility of undertaking due diligence on this file? Which law firm would take the responsibility for giving a clean opinion letter allowing this transaction to go forward.

Until the Detroit situation is cleared up so that one can absolutely be certain what is going on over there, it would be the height of irresponsibility for Windsor Council to spend one cent more on this deal.

But not our Mayor. He cannot give it up! Why not? Here is how he was quoted in the Detroit News:
  • "Francis said Windsor is still willing to continue negotiations with Detroit, but they need a unified position from the city.

    "We will continue to discuss and negotiate as long as the other side will do the same," Francis said.
Absurd. How can unity possibly happen and how would it be demonstrated? If the Council President of Detroit takes over the file? With whom is Eddie going to negoatiate? Can't Eddie ever close a file or does he just insist on continuing to waste taxpayer money!

Here is something else very interesting. Our Mayor today modestly claims that he does not know something in the law it appears. He said in the Detroit News:
  • "Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis said today that he never considered that Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick could have been violating his bond restrictions by meeting with him last month to negotiate details on the proposed $75 million sale of Detroit's share of the tunnel.

    "This didn't even cross our minds," Francis said. "It's not even an issue for us to consider."
Was this the Royal "we" or was he speaking on behalf of others as well?

Yet a week before in the Brian Bell matter, Eddie said in relation to that file:

video

But there is more. There is a conflict it would appear as to who called whom. When the call was made would be an interesting fact to learn as well.

Check out the newspaper articles that I have quoted below. We need to hear from the Voice of Council immediately what his position is. Does the statement of the Mayor of Detroit mean that our Mayor asked him to come or is this an incorrect interpretation of what he actually said? Or was it the Detroit Mayor who made the phone call? We need immediate clarification.

If our Mayor made the call then he needs to explain why he did so given Mr. Sutts’ earlier statement with respect to the position of Windsor Council.

We need a timeline of phone calls about who called whom and when. Remember I wrote that Anthony Adams had said:
  • "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"
I also Blogged that:
  • "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."

This situation is a mess and another fiasco that our Mayor is dragging us through. In this case the silence of the Voice of Council is not golden. Either he speaks now or Windsor Council better do so.

Excerpts from Free Press 08-07-2008:

"I’ve also been trying to be a good mayor at the same time, even with incredible odds and incredible scrutiny. In the City of Detroit we have been working on for 18 months a deal between two countries, Canada and the United States, the Provincial Government of Ontario, the state of Michigan, two cities — Windsor and Detroit and with all of the requisite agencies — Coast Guard, Homeland Security, and those same agencies on the other side of the water. Because of the politics that were involved in the City Council on our side, there was a rush vote which got the Windsor City Council, the Windsor mayor and the lawyers who have been working on this work for 18 months in flux (??). That is the last part of a $300 million deficit that the city has been carrying since before I was mayor. If I don’t close, if we, the City of Detroit don’t close that deficit, 2,000 jobs are going to be lost in the City of Detroit. There is no way I can have recreation programs, there is no way I can cut grass, clean streets. I will have to lay off about 700 police officers and about 251 firefighters.

Facing that reality, what I’ve been doing for six months is digging in and trying to get that deal done. I don’t believe that that is more important than this court proceeding. I don’t believe that I would ever disrespect these proceedings at all. I wake up every single day, Your Honor, and look at my 12-year old sons who are facing enormous pressure every day as they go to camp, they go to school. I respect this process more than I’ve respected any process in my life. And I’m sorry. I did violate the conditions of the bond because I got a phone call that the Windsor City Council that everything was going off the rail and they were going to back off the deal and the mayor and an attorney over there called me.

It’s been presented that I went over there for a couple of hours. The office that I went to, and I know this is not important, is about 50 to 100 feet from the tunnel. I ran in, I made a presentation, I took Anthony Adams and also Kandia Milton who were there as well, and I ran back. And we got the deal back on track. We are now moving forward to close that final deficit."

Excerpt from Windsor Star 07-24-2008

"Scandal-plagued Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick came to Windsor for a secret meeting Wednesday to reassure city officials he wants to move forward with a controversial tunnel agreement.

A 90-minute meeting which included Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis was held in the downtown office of lawyer Cliff Sutts, Windsor's lead negotiator for the tunnel talks...

Sutts indicated the Wednesday meeting, called by Kilpatrick, focused on the Detroit officials -- which also included Kilpatrick's chief of staff and two lawyers negotiating the deal for Detroit -- "explaining the recent events in Detroit.

Kilpatrick told the Canadians that "the deal is not dead, despite what we may have heard," Sutts said.

"I suppose he could have picked up the phone, but he realized by coming over it makes an impression he really wants the deal. Going to the trouble of coming over makes you believe they are serious."

Windsor Star 07-10-2008

"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 it's position," local 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.

Windsor's council has decided they don't want to incur expenses on a speculative basis."

"We are throwing the ball into the City of Detroit's court and let them respond."

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Savouring The Moment


The sun is shining as I write this.

The City cut the grass on the median on my street.

And the Star published my Guest Column.

Does it get any better than this for a lonely Blogger/Naysayer!


Pressing for transparency naysayers' positive role
Ed Arditti, Special to The Windsor Star


Published: Thursday, August 07, 2008

What a rush! Imagine going from virtual anonymity as a lonely blogger to being designated as Windsor's Official Naysayer to seeing a Star editorial praising the "lonely voices of dissent." All in one week.

You must have read The Star story where I discussed the canal concept to revitalize the downtown:
  • "Naysayer calls plan pie in sky.

    "Local blogger and self-described political observer Ed Arditti could be considered one of the 'naysayers' dismissed repeatedly at the news conference held Tuesday to announce the redevelopment plan for the Western Super Anchor site."

It was difficult being outed in public as a naysayer.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw people pointing at me and whispering as I pushed my grocery buggy through the supermarket aisles.

"Dismissed repeatedly." I thought Windsor naysayers ought to be praised, not pilloried. That is why I was so pleased with the editorial.

Understand that naysayers can reason and actually think. We do not blindly accept what is presented as gospel. It is not our function to spread the word, to help out those in power.

And I don't feel too badly about it.

I am not ashamed to remind people that the naysaying of STOPDRTP, of which I was general counsel, helped stop the intrusive DRTP truck expressway. In fact, we naysayers were able to convince some DRTP supporters to switch sides, the Star editorial board being a prime example.

If it was not for naysayers, GreenLink and/or the DRIC Road would never have been proposed. Instead, we would have been stuck with the useless and expensive Schwartz Report Horseshoe Road. We might have seen major environmental damage to the Ojibway Prairie Complex and been offered an expressway with few of the advantages of the roads being proposed today.

Naysayers have asked for the business case for the US$75-million tunnel deal and are still in the dark about it.

We merely want openness and transparency and the ending of secret, in- camera meetings.

Why should Windsor take on the risk of a loan default to help Detroit out of its budget mess if it means putting Windsor taxpayers into financial distress.

While I would love to protect the 5,000 tunnel commuters, it may not be necessary to spend $75 million. Real competition with the private-sector Ambassador Bridge Company will do the job. Commuters are now the beneficiaries of reduced tolls, an increased number of customs booths, a transponder payment system and discounted gasoline prices without spending a penny of taxpayer money.

Cheerleaders win some, too

Naysayers play a positive role in the city. Think of WeAct, Tax Cut Now, the WUC increases fiasco, the Spitfires' lease disclosure and the controversy over the 400 Building audit.

Some believe that naysayers are capable of stopping anything. That is a deliberate falsehood designed to discredit us.

Look at the east end arena. Naysayers could not stop that.

Building where the city expropriated properties years ago, limiting the city's risk to $15 million and rejuvenating the downtown with a jewel that would attract businesses and residents as well as providing another entertainment outlet for the casino convention visitors made sense to me.The cheerleaders won instead. The new arena is now in yehupitzland, out of the way of everything. Taxpayers are on the hook for at least $50 million or more, not including all of the extras like roads and bridges and the increased parking that will be needed. Our lease of the facility is a financial disgrace.

The absurdity now is that we are looking for something else to anchor the Anchor site. Venetian canals now perhaps.

I could have been a cheerleader like so many others. I would not have to think.

I too could strap a "W" on my chest and applaud loudly at every idea that came out of City Hall.
I could jump up and down screaming "W.E. Believe" or "W.E. Can" or "W.E. Whatever the sloganeers can dream up next."

I could hope that our best and brightest would go out of town to earn money out West and then commute crying out "W.E. W.E. W.E. All the way home."

Rather, I would prefer to be the way I am. Someone wrote to me at my BLOGsite about that Star article and stated: "Clearly they are afraid of you....why would anyone spend so much time talking about the 'naysayers' when discussing the project? They obviously think that your opinion carries lots of weight and needed to counter it prior to giving the details of the project."

While it is humbling to receive the accolades, the reality is that the real power in Windsor is its citizens. I don't have to naysay the canal project. If it makes no sense, the People will let the politicians know about it.

Now, the People have an outlet via the Internet to state their opinions. Whether it is writing a blog like mine, or through the Windsor Star forums, individuals have the opportunity to express their views easily, both positive and naysaying, in a timely fashion.

And that dynamic has changed everything.

Ed Arditti is a lawyer in Windsor and vice-president of Wyndham Hall Consulting, a firm that offers advice to organizations in the formation of strategic alliances and new business ventures. He also writes WindsorCityBlog at http://windsorcityon.blogspot.com.

Spoiling For The Next Mayoral Campaign


It is not easy being a Windsor’s Official Blogger/Naysayer.

It takes a lot of time and effort to write a BLOG. The writing part is easy. It is the research behind a BLOG that is time-consuming along with the phone calls to the inside moles to get the latest juicy item from City Hall for your reading enjoyment. And then trying to figure out the machinations that go on.

Once that is done, then it is necessary to devise a way to grab your attention and make you want to read what I have written. Of course, a good caption is required to set the tone for what is to come and an e-mail Subject line to make you want to click on the link.

Take this BLOG. It would be relatively easy to write but it would be boring for you. So to pique your interest, I have to ask you, dear reader, a question first:

How are these four stories closely connected
to the E-Machine and Windsor’s future?

1) Cheeks Kilpatrick triumphs over Waters in close primary race

“With all precincts reporting, Kilpatrick had 20,888 votes, or 39.1% and Waters had 19,183 votes, or 36%. State Sen. Martha Scott was in third place with 13,280 votes, or 24.9%.

“This is to be a continued political saga,” said Waters’ campaign chairman Sam Riddle. “What we did last night is establish Mary as a credible candidate at the congressional level even with Martha in the race as a spoiler.”

Kilpatrick, who has won at least 78% of the vote since first being elected in 1996…”

2) Marra vs. Brister?

Now that the dust is settling from the kerfuffle over Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis's musings about staying on for a third term, here's an outrageously premature prediction of how the next mayoral race will really play out.

Going out on a limb, blindfolded, my guess is that Francis, although he's pushed that door open a crack and given himself the option of seeking another term, will have had more than his fill in three years and shall be more than happy to hand over the ball-and- chain of office.

But anyone who thinks this means the 2010 coronation of Ward 4 Coun. Bill Marra is back on schedule should give that a second thought. There will be no free ride. There will be a war, a vicious, take-no-prisoners struggle and I'm placing early money that it will be between Marra and Ward 1 Coun. Dave Brister.

Brister told me in his rookie term that he had no interest in the top job. And he's still circumspect about his intentions. But what I'm hearing, from people close to him, is that if Francis does pack it in to go make some serious money, Brister will not stand idly by and let Marra claim this (dubious) prize without a fight.

3) Water works

The surest evidence of this undertaking's credibility is the involvement of Dave Cooke, former education minister, current chairman of the University of Windsor board of governors and, if we're very lucky, Windsor's next mayor. Cooke is heading a feasibility study that will determine over the next three months whether the dream can be turned into reality, and at what price.

4) Council waives $166K in fees for children's centre

In a near-unanimous vote, councillors agreed to make a grant that will defray $166,480 in building fees and development charges associated with the renovation plans of the John McGivney Children's Centre…

more than 2,000 families rely on the centre's programs every year, and the names on the waiting list can number in the hundreds…

But Coun. David Brister said he was voting against the motion because health care should be a provincial responsibility…

"At the end of the day, we're doing the community a disservice (by making the grant), because we're not looking long-term. As we continue to plug the dam with our fingers, what's happening is a gradual erosion of what the municipality is able to do in other areas."

If you will recall, the E-Machine run by the Eminence Greasie is our Mayor’s political organization designed to get him elected to whatever position he decides he wants. Contrary to popular belief, it has been working, some would say not so well-oiled, ever since the last election. However, you can see the steam rising and hear its engine revving as we’re getting closer to the next mayoral campaign.

It was considered a given, because we’re supposed to believe him, that Eddie was only going to run for two terms. The trial balloon about Eddie running for a third term did not go over very well and so Eddie pulled back. More importantly, no one took the bait and said that he/she was considering running. Part of the exercise was to see who might decide to run and who was making plans early on.

It is obvious that just about everybody expects that Councillor Bill Marra will be our next mayor. He has not been idly sitting by either waiting for it to happen but has been taking the steps that he thinks are necessary to do so.

Bill will be a formidable opponent and but for a few dumb mistakes in the first campaign probably would have beaten Eddie in the mayoral contest. That was when Eddie was the golden boy too. Bill's election in Ward 4 this time around was mere preparation for the next campaign and to keep his team together.

The E-Machine knows this as well as we do. It too has been taking its actions in case the Mayor decides that he wants to run for a third term. Henderson effectively told us as much when he said that Eddie wants to finish the canal project.

Let’s get to the four stories now. Cheeks Kilpatrick, the mother of the Detroit Mayor, has won 78% of the vote over her terms in office. Remarkably, that was almost the same percentage exactly as the Mayor received in his last election against David Wonham and the Chicken Suit.

But she is not as popular these days because of her son, whether that is fair or not does not matter. If there had only been one person running against her, then most likely she would have lost. This time around she only received 39.1% of the total vote, half her normal, but because the other two candidates split the balance, she was able to come in up the middle.

That should tell you what the E-Machine has been doing since the last election. In a two-way race, Councillor Marra and his well-tried and true organization would beat the Mayor hands down. Accordingly, the E-Machine has been looking for another candidate to run for mayor, to act as "spoiler" with Bill Marra running.

For the longest time, the big hope was the Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget. Being the penny pincher on Council with his reputation of being the financial guy as well as having the support of the residents along the DRTP corridor made him look very attractive. That is the theme of the second story above.

However, most people do not know that he had antagonized the Mayor during the first mayoral race and Eddie does not forget with his photographic memory. Being the Chair of the East End Arena Committee was the kiss of death for him.

Who’s going to replace him… why Dave Cooke of course. That's the third story. He is the man after all who will decide on the future of our downtown by doing the feasibility study and he will have the opportunity to deal with the movers and shakers in town over the next three months as he talks about it. Of course, the gossip mills are suggesting that there are some pretty powerful individuals backing his run, interestingly some of whom are strong Eddie supporters.

While this could suggest that Eddie is not running for a third term, it also opens up the possibility that Cooke could be the "spoiler" that Eddie needs. Alternatively, Cooke's entry could convince Marra not to run for Mayor again because he could lose in a three-way race but perhaps to run as a Councillor again or perhaps look at a different level of politics. If Cooke did not run, then Eddie would be a shoo-in because, unless Cooke says this early on and he won't being the good politician that he is, it would be too late for anyone else to mount a campaign. That is what happened in the last election here.

In passing, wouldn't Junior be all upset if Cooke decided to take his canal notoriety and run federally if Joe Comartin decides not to run again for MP.

Eddie would leave his options open until the very last second so that he could make his final decision but by that time both Cooke and Marra would have had to have made their intentions known. As well, as I Blogged previously, the name of the former Chair of the Chamber of Commerce has also been mentioned recently as a mayoral candidate.

Eddie’s risk is that Cooke decides to run and that he beats him. That is an eventuality that the E-Machine is factoring into their plans obviously. But do not worry. If Eddie’s friends are helping Cooke and are in his camp, then Eddie will know in good time what Cooke is going to do and can build his campaign against Dave to use as needed.

What about the fourth story you might ask… Brister has to be shellshocked by Henderson’s comment about Cooke. It just goes to show how naïve he is politically in my opinion. Voting against a proposition that helps disabled children, even to make a point about the Provincial Government, does not make any political sense when 2000 plus families are involved. That is a lots of votes that Dave has just lost, not only of the families but of their friends as well as the word gets out.

What Dave has not yet understood is that the world is not always black and white. If you are a politician, you are expected to see gray on certain occasions. This was one of them and Dave failed the test big time.

That is why the E-Machine abandoned him very quickly and needed Dave Cooke. Brister was no longer credible as someone who take votes away from Bill Marra. He could not be the "spoiler" that Eddie desperately needs.

What about Henderson's column today. Remember he is the Sheriff. One can be made to look the fool while seemingly being praised. Moreover, Cooke cannot be made to appear to be a Mayoral candidate too early or the feasibility study and the canal project become politicized.

Few may have read the news story but a lot will read his column and shake their heads in disgust. All that Henderson's column did was make it even more obvious to those who missed the story what Brister did. He reminded others as well why they should hold a grudge against the Councillor. He is $166,480 disabled children wise and $65,000,000 and counting arena foolish:

  • "Brister has turned thumbs-down to funding pleas from a long list of worthy organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, Brentwood Recovery Home and the Children's Aid Society."

It is the utmost of hyprocisy not "spinal fortitude" to turn down worthyimportant causes in the community but then be part of a huge costly arena. Remember Brister had said:

  • "Compared with real needs like deficient sewers and pothole pandemics, he said an arena would be far down on his list of priorities. "Not even my 10th or 20th choice."

    He fears the city is getting involved in a project that will cost taxpayers far more than anticipated.

    "Do I believe it's going to be limited to $15 million? No way. And if we enter into a partnership with somebody, who generally ends up entertaining the risk? We do."

I don't remember him showing his guts by voting NO on the arena!

Never Underestimate The Power Of The BLOG

Remember the BLOG that I did the other day: Thursday, July 31, 2008 "The UGH Factor" in which I posted pics of the median on my street. Here it is, less than a week later, and even including a holiday. This is what happened on Wednesday afternoon.

Someone is reading this stuff!













Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Letters Part 2



Here are more letters.

Check out the second letter too written by a reader to Councillors. If true, and I have no idea if it is or not, then you will understand why little money should be spent on the Mayor's canal vision. The private contributors should buy Library books instead with the $65,000 and Dave Cooke should figure out how to solve the University's problems, especially the financial ones:


1) Gee! All of 18 new hybrid buses for Windsor! Let's see, Kitchener getting an inter-regional Light Rail service, Ottawa 202 hybrid buses and the possibly 4 billion for Light Rail, Toronto, 324 buses plus a subway line to nowhere....and Windsor....nothing for a bridge, any roads, nor tunnel!

Eddie and clowncil really think big...EH! Yep! Go ahead and snub everybody Eddie!

2) To: City Council
Subject: Doing It Backwards, Again!

I have lived in Windsor long enough to recognize that we go about things backwards at the commencement. The Ready, Shoot, Aim syndrome has been the root cause of expropriations to produce vacant plots in downtown, given us convention centres that have to be donated to other organizations to get any hope of use from them and the building of buildings that commence before all the plans and size dimensions are finalized..

The most backward of all could well be the new West Nile river extension to feed the marina and canals for our downtown urban village. Possibly I am not up to date with the cutting edge education so I will continue to think as one educated in the old school.

Water runs downhill in my world. So we make a cut along railway lands to bring the water south out of the Detroit River. We shall name this the West Nile Tributary for purposes of explanation. We want to run water upstream parallel to the Detroit River, that is to bring laterals off of the West Nile and bring the water to an easterly direction counter to the flow of the Detroit River which in our downtown area runs from east to west. To accomplish this feat will require that the water will have to go down hill from the West Nile Tributary. Even a civil engineering technician (less than a full engineer) would tell you to accomplish this there will need to be an excavation of the canals that will require the bottom to be at the same of lower level than at the source. Basically digging against the slope of the land.

This could well be a major reason why the initial study has the concept of providing water to the system from the east end with potable water taken from the municipal water supply. This would keep the water from becoming stagnant and create a positive slow to the West Nile Tributary and provide a new supply of water to the Detroit River. If the need for freshness is that the water not be a stagnant pool but flowing then there should be another canal at the east end of this also going into the Detroit river with a small scoop type dam that would extend a short distance into the river and a bias of extending east as well as north to catch and divert some flow to the canals.

It this second excavation cannot be done for cost reasons then forgetting the whole plan would be a sensible conclusion. We have already had a huge increase in our water rates with the aging pipes needing replacement and the extra millions of liters required to provide drinking water to Tecumseh. To provide the primary source of water to the canal system from the potable water supply is ridiculous. If we were to provide something small like a 2" pipe free flowing in the quantity of water will be taken by absorption, and evaporation to such an extent I would not expect to see a very healthy waterway. Were the Lou Romano plant closer the fully treated effluent water which is supposed to be environmentally safe might be considered a source but with such a distance the laying of pipe and pumping would be something coming with a price tag in the millions for capital and possible millions annually keeping it going. And what about the winter? Would we still be able to flood this ditch in sub zero weather and keep it a stream under the ice or would it just freeze to the bottom?

No even thinking about water pressures and volumes in our aged system just suppose we were to decide that a header would provide a water discharge into the canal system at the easterly end from an 18" diameter pipe at a flow rate of 600 feet per minute.

Area = 3.14159 * 9 * 9 square inches
= 254 square inches
converted to square feet
= 254/(12 * 12)
= 1.76 square feet.

With the proposed flow rate this would be 600 * 1.76 cubic feet per minute = 1056 cubic feet per minute.
A standard year is 365.25 days (counting the leap year as a portion of each year) so we could say a standard month would be 365.25/12 or 30.44 days.
To get the monthly water volume required with this scenario we would multiply 30.44 days * 24 hours per day * 60 minutes per hour.

This works out to 43,834 minutes per month. The water volume required then is 46,288,704 cubic feet per month.
Most people are more familiar with gallons or liters.

In gallons this is 289,304,400 per month.

In liters this is 1,289,140,400 month.

In Windsor we bill homeowners on the number of cubic meters of water they use in a month. For an average home 20 cubic meters would be a reasonable consumption. Since a cubic meter is 1000 liters we then can say the canal will require about 1,289,140 cubic meters per month. This would be as much water as is consumed by 64,457 homes. I don't know if the average home would have 4 occupants but it is conceivable this project could double the City of Windsor water requirements to make it fly, or rather sink. Industrial use of water is much higher so it would be safer to state that it would increase the water demands about equal to the residential water load. Is the City of Windsor going to pay $450,000 dollars a month to WUC for the use of water and the summer levy?

This water would not benefit everyone in Windsor equally. Are we going to then charge for the water, lifeguards, policing the marina, mosquito treatment and who know what else to the properties in the district?

If you live in Windsor and own property you have every right to know the answer to these and other questions.

Anyone one from the council got any idea about how this will all end?

3) explain why police and ambulance drivers sit in their vans virtually every night (certainly on weekend nights) on Park Street (next to the Scotia Bank) with their engines idling just waiting for a call. Beyond the greenhouse emissions - what about the fact that the gas budget is completely out of whack

4) [I saw this in a Detroit Metro Times article published in 2005]

"The city’s dire cash flow situation (with $116 million in the bank, cash will be tight by December, warns Chief Financial Officer Sean Werdlow) is old news by now, as are Kilpatrick’s warnings that unless the unions that represent the city’s workers are ready to deal, layoffs will ensue.

Documents submitted to council with the amendment spell out $139 million in budget “challenges” that must be dealt with. But the remedies Kilpatrick outlined are far from becoming a reality.

The single biggest proposal is a major new source of funding: $20 million in revenue from renegotiating the city’s lease with the Detroit & Canada Tunnel Corp., whose deal with the city runs through 2020.

Tunnel Corp. General Manager Neal Belitsky wouldn’t discuss his company’s deal because of a confidentiality agreement signed by both parties. But city Auditor General Joe Harris says he’s not sure how the administration plans to parlay the renegotiation of a lease (said by Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams to be worth $600,000 a year) into $20 million in revenue.

“The lease expires in 2020. That’s 15 years,” Harris says. “Paying $600,000 a year, times 15 years, is $9 million. How do they get $20 million from that? Just like so many other things in that plan, it doesn’t make sense to me. I’m not going to stand here and tell you it’s baloney, I’m just going to tell you I don’t understand.”

Without a deal signed, City Council Fiscal Analyst Irv Corley Jr. says it’s misleading for the administration to include the tunnel renegotiation in a plan designed to help balance the books. And to list the amendment as a given without council approval, Corley says, is presumptuous. Corley says he’s urged council members not to vote on the amendment until a copy of the renegotiated lease agreement can be analyzed."

5) wished Municipality of essex could start a blog as theres so much wrong in our town its silly thanks

6) I enjoy reading your blogs and they must be hitting their mark b/c
the Star wrote an editorial on the subject.

As to naysayers, I don't know if you follow AM 800 Poll results.
Recently they asked - Do you think the downtown marina and canal
proposal will become a reality ?

Out of a total of 823 votes , 67.4 % said no and only 32.6 %
said yes.

And while I have your attention (I hope), my main concern about
the new East End Arena is that there was no public consultation
about the site nor was there a public tender held for the construction
of this project.

7) such a set up. Already the discussions have been so fruitful that Red Bull and the Mayor has issued a news release (on a holiday Monday no less). Still not important enough for Red Bull to post the release on their media site. One can only wonder if in fact this was a previously arranged trip. Red Bull (as a matter of courtesy) would probally extend invites to mayors from other cities that hosted the event during the year long competition. Our mayor needed an excuse to go there and realizing that this may be a tad problematic - arranged this "last minute discussion". Then the news release. In my view there are two scenarios: one, that Red Bull had already decided to return to Windsor or two - this is not going to happen but the mayor arranged some friendly discussion so as to bolster his image on other failings. Coincidental that this good news trip comes on the heels of the canal announcement and follows of course the debacle of the tunnel deal and the probally soon to be announced failure of GreenLink. Like you - I am getting sick of this all

8) Naysayers are everywhere! Francis better hurry up or smarten up before all the infrastructure money is gone! Also before every construction worker, engineer, concrete and steel disappear into the pit of the GTA!

9) Don't ever let them get to you Ed, they are the ones that don't care for this City. If they cared they would do a lot better job at it

10) You need to go to other parks. The ones at the river our given but there are hidden gems that have not been discovered by you as yet from your statement. I have lived in Windsor 68 years and each park should be special to there own neighbourhood . One thing that Windsor has is parks and our we lucky to have them.

Right know with the economy the way it is if you want a special day with your family take a picnic to your park. Take time to play on the equipment with your children or child. Why not just take in the the beauty of being able to sit freely and enjoy what we have and be grateful for it. Go for a walk or a swim in one of Windsors outside heated pools. Watch a soccor game or football or kids just having fun in the park or throwing a fresbie. We have parks that make you feel like you are out in the country. There are things that you can do with little or no cost for families to spend time together so lets take care of them use them they need TLC and attention paid to them or you might not have them some day.

How is that for a positive note. Windsor born and raised and proud of it.

11) One of your better blogs Ed ... keep after these guys .. the insiders who
run this City have screwed up and by holding them accountable you allow the
true citizens to come forward to make a difference.

12) Unreal. In-Camera-itis

13) Aside from being environmentally offensive, have our city leaders forgotten that the canal undertaking would require a ruling by the IJC under the International Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 as well as meeting the IJC’s scientific committee’s scrutiny? Since the IJC lists our riverine portion as an “Area of Concern”, do these folks honestly think that will be coming soon?

14) So amazing - the only time that Francis and Orr can get to meet with Red Bull people is on the day of their race in London England (wonder if the meeting will be in the grandstand or at a cocktail party)? You would think that they were far too busy on that day to meet. Were there no other times over the last few months to make a face-to-face effort? Now - what is the cost of a last-minute ticket to England? No doubt may be cheaper if one flew out of Detroit, but we have "Your Quick Getaway". Probally will never know as the last public travel statement show that the mayor hardly ever travelled despite he once said statemnet that he spends a lot of time in airports.

You would wonder why noone from Detroit is attending the meeting.

15) It occurs to me that the main thrust to demolish the latest pie-in-the-sky proposal from the visionary posing as a mayor is a simple question of priorities. How can he justify refurbishing the services to the Western (Super?) Anchor lands when he has already imposed unjustifiable levies to deal with the present disastrous lack of adequate infrastructure services already existing in this city. He has lost control of the Border file. He has ignored the taxpayers in West windsor and declared war on the ownership of the Ambassador Bridge. He has botched the arena deal that will, without doubt, be an extra burden (Over and above the true capital cost) to taxpayers the minute the doors open for business. He has achieved clown status with the tunnel fiasco. He failed to obtain any satisfactory outcome to the Candarel scandal. He has remained silent through the disgraceful suppression of 400 CHS audit, which,like three day old fish, is beginning to stink to high heaven. He has conducted more secret meetings than those in public. He has stripped taxpayer control of Millions of dollars worth of taxpayers' assets by transferring them to Private for profit companies. (eg. Tunnel & The Airport with its land holdings )He has spent millions of dollars on outside high priced lawyers and consultants without any apparent success. He has continually increased the size and cost of the bureaucracy. He is a loose cannon and if we are to succeed in our attempt to curb this man's folly, it has to be an attack on all the above. These are just some random thoughts as the above compendium of the Mayor's failures might serve to concentrate efforts to return sanity to city hall.

16) you made the Star!...you naysayer you.

17) Other than the availability of vacant space for parking in Windsor, does anyone really think that Windorites will walk from the dock in Detroit to the Metro area hospitals? Bus service? DOT & SMART can’t even cooperate & there would be a single morning & afternoon ”glut” for passengers. Let’s compare this to Mackinac Island… But then again, this is not meant to be rational – only aspirational!

18) I guess asking legitimate questions is considered being a naysayer in Windsor now.

Not only should they be looking at who is going to fill those condos but is the city going to expropriate all of those houses and at what cost?

If it is up to the developers to secure the rest of the land then they are going to have to pay the speculators (the ones with all of the vacant lots) what they are asking. Again a high sum for a "think big" idea.

Talk about disregard for the taxpayers of this city! All I heard him talk about was visitors, visitors, visitors but what about those who have been trying to change this small neighbourhood?

19) At least they spelled your name right…but it appears that since they can't beat you on issues (border, arena, FOIAs, etc.,) then they will drag you into tangents that are popular. Your quotes are juxtaposed against the anonymous supporter who shared such insight as “Giddee up” and sounds like he would try ANYTHING to get “this sucker moving.”

Eddie will never see it, and the string of “mega ideas” will fall on its own weight…combined with the heap of others…

20) Reading my morning paper I discover that people like you, Ed, are a "sneering naysayer."

Your negativity gets us nowhere. Listen to our Mayor. Learn in his ways and be wise. First it was a wild bypass through pristine woods, then seven kilometres of tuneling tunneling tunneling. Next, up, up and away as we fly Windsor workers out west all week and then fly 'em back! And who can forget airlifting local radishes and onions to Germany? Don't you see a pattern of wisdom here?

Now it's dig, dig, dig. Canals wide and deep making Windsor the Venice of the North. But maybe we need lots of water to flush the BS coming from City Hall out to the river. Eddie could hop a gondola and share his foresight with the folks downstream in LaSalle, Amherstburg, and Niagara Falls. A modern day Huck Finn!

21) I could probably sum up my feelings on Greenlink with one word: proof. Picking away at details and quibbles aside, that is all it really comes down to. Eschewing my personal feelings and perceptions of those involved, if you were to show me that this design makes sense and is the best option given under an unbiased analysis, then I will be obliged to agree. As someone trained in cold, fast and hard science, it would be unprofessional of me to allow my personal reservations to cloud the issue.

Unfortunately, proof is solidly lacking here.

I took some time to acquaint myself with Greenlink's supplied literature, mostly their comparison between their design and the proposed DRIC roadway. I'll pick apart their comparison below.

Item (2): Protection of People and Item (3) Connection of Communities

Comparison item 2 claims that Greenlink claims to protect neighbourhoods. I should first point out how misleading the title "protection of people" is, when this item goes on to discuss neighbourhoods, and not actual individual people which was my initial impression. As it stands now, neighbourhoods are already separated by Windsor's arterial roadway system, most notably Huron Church. It is very rare to see pedestrians crossing this road, leading me to believe there is no current significant connectivity. Of course, that isn't to say that connectivity cannot be fostered, but if I know one thing about Windsor, it's that status quo is king. It can be argued that added parkland in place of a roadway has the potential to unite communities in the form of communal meeting- and play-grounds, but the extent of this effect is debatable. Are there community usage figures for "Park on the Lid" in Washington? Never mind the fact that parks upkeep has drastically fallen behind the requirements. I have the feeling that these "land bridges" will fall into the same sad state as most of our city parks.

Item (2) and Item (3), to me, seems to be essentially the same thing, restated. Going on my initial "people protection" impression, I am curious as to what this means--does it imply protection for vehicular accidents? If so, I would love to see some crash analyses comparison for at-grade, open below-grade and tunnel scenarios, especially as they relate to pedestrian accidents. From these figures a solid, factual argument may be made.

22) Maybe Kwame should tell the Detroit City Council that only he can speak on the tunnel deal. That would provoke an entertaining confrontation.

23) The canal idea I see on the Star's website is certainly interesting ... I've been to San Antonio and while this ain't no Riverwalk being proposed, anything to take advantage of the water is a good idea in my books.

... the permits required to do this work are onerous. Remember the Windsor marina that was supposed to be built downtown many moons ago? Where is that? Sunk by the approvals process and no City staff to take ownership and see it through. Any major works along the Great Lakes shorelines have to go through a massive elaborate process of demonstrating the displacement effects on water levels on the entire basin, as well as effects on fish habitats, marine ecology etc etc. Sounds ridiculous but true. If Gord Henderson thinks this is coming down the pipe in the next 10 years he'd better keep dreaming. Just like Eddie to propose something grand that he cannot (or will not) follow through on.

24) it makes it look like he’s a forward thinking ideas guy. He has to make up for his ridiculous commuting to alberta scheme somehow.... And yes, people are sick of endless border talks, studies and blueprints so he can give those that have lost their jobs and are stuck in this muggy depressed city something to look forward to. lol

More Readers Write


I am sorry. I am sorry. I am sorry.

There have just been so many BLOGs to write about the goings on here that I have not had a chance to post letters from my readers.

Here's the first batch today of the backlog. More to come very soon.

It is a letter like the first one that I am quoting below that makes writing this BLOG worthwhile.

It is a good feeling to be blunt about it to be told that what you're doing has some value rather than seeing a ridiculous headline in the Star saying "There's no room in this city for small minds."

1) Good afternoon,

I wanted to drop you a line to let you know I IMMENSELY enjoy your daily blog about the municipal political scene in Windsor.

After having spent a good part of my college education in the field of journalism (and leaving the field completely after seeing what price would have be paid to make a living in it), I would say that your work epitomizes to me what journalism was originally intended to be (and rarely is)-- the systematic exposition of the incredible corruption and incompetence involved in the governing of men's minds and posessions.

I feel your unique ability to cut through the endless seas of B.S. emanating from the mouths of ... councillors, and your ability to actually READ contracts and minutes of meetings and take away meaningful information from them, is what sets you apart from most hacks who write about ANY type of politics in this country, let alone municipal politics.

I only wish you would open the comments section of your blog for discussion in the hopes that I might see some like-minded Windsorites express similar feelings as my own-- so I would not have to feel as utterly hopeless as I so often do after reading your daily musings.

In admiration

[NOTE: I post most notes received from readers but not all of them. I stopped allowing unmoderated comments when it appeared to me early on in the writing of this BLOG that certain people were trying to destroy it by trying to post materials that I considered to be libelous]

2) [RE: Has the Province said no] Wise deduction... they are certainly wasting no time generating the exit strategy

3) If the province turned the city down (and I believe that they were supposed to have made a decision by now) then that should be may public and the reasons why they were denied be made known.

4) While Windsor dithers! Is Francis a Mr. Dithers or a Dagwood Bunstead? Inquiring and intelligent minds want to know!

5) Ed, you are right, we poor mortals have no idea what is really going on!

6) Good morning Ed.

With Detroit council under the microscope you would think that they had better have everything on the table for everyone to see. This could be interesting politics.

The fly that could stop everything cold is Homeland Security. They have final say over EVERYTHING.The whole deal could go through and they could take over if they felt unsecure with thedeal.

Let's face it, when it comes to border crossings into the states, I can't see them
letting another country take over a major access route, can you?

7) Don't ya just love guerilla marketing! The Windsor Star advertises the fact
that in their Saturday print issue there is a Canada Day flag for everyone
to tape to their windows....Open it up and there is a two page spread from
the Ambassador Bridge Company on and about the Windsor Essex Ambassador
Bridge Gateway! Those sly, smart people of ABC did more than Eddie and
wrapped themselves in the Canadian Flag! Brilliant! And if you tape it up in
your window, ya got the Ambassador Bridge spread staring ya in the face to
read for several days!!

8) "Councillors bitter over mayor's blog"

http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/news/story.html?id=a31ade6b-7e15-4a02-8556-d4f116740822&k=81407

Don't wish that there was any kind of discontent between councillors and our mayor in this city.

9) just imagine knowing every city and county's employees salaries, combined with Ottawa's new approach to budget information.

From Houston, Houston public employee salaries in 2007. Look up salaries of civil servants in Houston and Harris County to see if your tax dollars are being spent wisely. Find the total pay, base, overtime, bonus and car allowance for more than 80,000 public employees http://www.chron.com/databases/publicemployeepay.html


10) This isn't the first time that Alan Halberstadt was, is, being cryptic...I think Alan is trying to tell us that the Windsor Star has it all wrong again and the tunnel deal is still on the table and a go, as far as Eddie is concerned!

11) I'm just so sick of what is going on in Windsor. And I don't even live there.
So much depends on how people view Windsor when it pertains to my business.

12) something is very weird. The other day it was reported that the deal was off the table - yet in the Star, it was said that the Mayor had to cancel his meeting with the leader of the provincial Conservatives as he was too busy working on the tunnel deal. Doesn't make sense - the deal is off yet he is still too busy (to even have a 30 minute meeting). Probally more like he did not want to be seen with a provicial opposition leader in case he p****s off McGuinty further and really stops the loan application

13) Tory is interesting. The auto industry wouldn't have lost 17 plants in a row for new investment if Ontario had had a program like the southern States when Mike Harris, was the premier.

14) It is nice to see that Eddie is still willing to give away $75 million so that he can control the tunnel as well. Since Eddie is in such a controlling mood I will gladly sell him my house for $500,000 so he can control that as well!

15) It is almost unfathomable that a survey like the link below would be carried
out in Windsor

Eye on Ottawa issues its first annual online survey results on Ottawa City
Council performance

Ottawa July 2, 2008 - With over 700 Ottawa residents rating Ottawa City
Council, most council members, including the Mayor don't measure up.
The Mayor received a 68.7% disapproval rating while council as a whole fared
worse with an 80.7% disapproval rating.

The Eye on Ottawa online survey ran from May 2nd, 2008 to May 30th, 2008.
The respondents answered some 47 questions on city council members'
performance.

http://eyeonottawa.ca/

16) "Follow the leader"
The image of the warrior leader lingers in modern times, but we must go beyond the 'big man' approach.

Can you think of anybody we would know in this article, chuckle, snort etc.

17) [Re Patterson/Eddie news conference] Does this mean Eddie will not be suing over Greenlink? Afterall, that "could cause more delays and hurt trade and commerce between the two countries."

18) "Towns to sell ELK shares for $12M"

http://www.canada.com/windsorstar/news/story.html?id=5ca44ed5-a4e3-484c-8378-c176da69e228&k=31138

Hi Ed

I know you've probably read this story and it doesn't really fit with your blog but what I find very disturbing in the article is the fact that the Windsor Star "The Star has filed a Freedom of Information request to see the four proposals and the consultant's report on them.."

Why isn't the Star going after the 400 building audit, WUC audit, Greenlink, the tunnel deal in the same manner?

It is really hypocritical of them and blatant favouritism and not to see their total one-sided reporting.

19) {Re Valentinis flip-flop re regional governance] how can you second a motion, speak in favour of it and then vote against it. He still got good press in the Star as if he was a supporter. Someone needs to call him on that.....it was just wrong.

20) Bluesfest and Epicure do get a hard time. From everyone from the Convention Bureau (tourist bureau) to the politicians –. They are snubbed because they are for profit

Those festivals do more good than the ads that are placed in the Windsor Star at a great expense to taxpayers! Why advertise Windsor in Windsor. Does the Star need the revenue that badly. Eddie is kicking it up with wasteful Greenlink ads..

...it’s not hard to bring people here. There has to be more reason than a carnival. (not knocking carnivals) The bureau and Gordie hardly mention the festivals. They should be getting rewards for waking the town up.

But, why capitalize on their success? They spend a fortune and they are successful. That’s the rub. Nothing more-nothing less.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Refinements Only Allowed

One has to be grateful for small miracles. Saturday’s Star Editorial was one of them. “Public debate---The value of opinions.”

It appears that naysaying is permitted in Windsor provided that one merely improves what our Mayor has deemed necessary because he knows what is needed here! We will all be the stronger for it. As a corollary, our Mayor will also remain unscathed because then no one can blame him for a failure if we are all onside.

I’m not sure that I understand why the Editorial was written in the first place.


Was it because the Star thought that they had gone perhaps too far in their Naysayers story? Was it because speakers at the Canal meeting attacked Naysayers unfairly? Was it because the Star appreciated the attendance by several members of WeACT at the Audit Committee meeting where they objected strongly because the 400 Building audit was not released? Was it to co-opt naysayers to "change the conversation?"

Or, was it because I wrote a Guest Column to the Star about Naysaying and sent it to them for publication? I'll let you know if they are going to publish it.

Who knows and frankly who cares.

I believe that most people will read the Editorial on a holiday weekend very quickly and will think that the Star has now become supportive of people who take different positions on civic matters. At the least, I know that gives me as a Blogger more credibility since my hits have increased since the Naysaying story was published.

But the Star giveth and the Star taketh away as well. After all if you scratch a Star Editorial Board writer, you will still find a big “W” on the cheerleader’s chest, strapped on tightly.
  • It isn't often the Cassandras and the conspiracy theorists are right, of course, but even broken clocks are correct two times every day.

  • we can never know for certain whether the words and warnings of these critics are prescient or paranoid, fact or fiction

  • Their postings are often thoughtful but sometimes vicious and ill-informed. Some commentary seems reflexively negative. Ideas are opposed merely because they are favoured by Francis.

  • Even outlandish critiques, paid commentary and biased opinions have value in that they offer alternate perspectives.

Do you see what I mean? We are being tolerated. Mind you… I think they did attack their own columnist rather nastily too so I should not get too upset.

  • “…the Pollyannas who support every city initiative without question or qualification. Their opinions -- the views of anyone with a pattern of bias -- should be taken with a grain of salt the size of a golf ball.”

However, the Star’s biggest failing in this Editorial is that the writer actually understood that he/she was putting citizens in the exact same position that Mayor Francis and Council were put in by DRIC. If they could object to that position then obviously Naysayers can as well.

What do I mean by that? I’m sure that you remember the theatrical performance put on when DRIC last came to town and appeared in front of Council. Remember the big brouhaha when supposedly DRIC admitted that they did not review Greenlink in detail. Moreover all that they were interested in hearing from people in Windsor were “refinements” to their Windsor Essex Expressway Parkway. (WEEP for short).

DRIC came into town with their minds made up about WEEP. Oh sure, they had to endure a couple of hours in front of Council being harassed and biting their tongues as they were instructed to do by their political masters. They were certainly much more open in front of the County Council subsequently. But in the end, nothing was going to change except for a few tweaks. They were the experts. They had studied the problem. Their solution was it. No small-town Mayor and Council were going to change their minds.

And what did the Star Editorial say:

  • “Rather than denouncing anyone opposed to the plan as a "naysayer," though, Francis should have invited his critics to find fault with it or, better yet, suggest improvements. This intriguing proposal should be able to withstand scrutiny and criticism and, in fact, will emerge the stronger for it. If critics find false fault to serve particular ends, their bias will betray them. It always does.”

Do you see what I mean? The underlying premise is accept what the Mayor says because his plan is NOT going to change. Refinements only please.

Francis learned from the DRIC people. We are only allowed to discuss “this intriguing solution” and to find flaws in “it” or, better yet, to improve “it.” We can tweak "it." It seems we are not able to say it makes no sense at all and toss "it" out. So why are we spending any time whatsoever doing a feasibility study on it, even if paid for by the private sector. No small-town naysayers are going to change his mind.

I don’t remember anyone asking the Mayor to go out and retain someone to do this work. It certainly seems that most of the Councillors had no idea that it was being done. The Mayor did not ask Council to give him permission to spend $10,000 on artists rendition, and how much more on other work who knows. He merely asked his subordinate, the CAO, to use the CAO approval system. We only find out about it after that Approval list is published.

As an aside, here is a naysaying…

  • “City Council, under By-law 389-2004, authorized the City’s Chief Administrative Officer to make decisions on their behalf with regards to various administrative matters”

That system must change immediately because it will be very rare for a subordinate to dare say NO to his boss.

It appears that the Mayor has been thinking about this for quite some time, for months actually, since that is what Sandra Pupatello told us. Gord told us that

  • “I tend to assume he has his ducks already lined up.”

And that is precisely what is wrong with Eddie Francis as Mayor of Windsor! He thinks he knows everything and that he can do everything except those matters for which he was elected. He has little interest in doing that.

Now he’s playing land developer after playing at border operator, road and tunnel builder, financier, entertainment impresario and onion marketer. We have to take what he says as given; we have no choice. We have to do a feasibility study on it. We have no other alternative it seems.

In the back of my mind I thought there was supposed to be a Request For Proposal that was supposed to be sent out eons ago for ideas to develop this part of the City. Whatever happened to that? I remember it was put on hold around the time that talk of the University Engineering Complex coming downtown all of a sudden appeared in another Francis grand vision. However, I don’t remember anyone saying that we were never not going the RFP route so that the Mayor might be able to single source it.

However, that is what he has done. He has scooped the process. Only his idea is being considered.

Why is the Mayor more brilliant than the people at Beztak whom he ran out of town? They had a wonderful idea about how to develop the downtown including paying for the Arena. I am sure that there are a number of local developers who also would have brilliant ideas abuot what could be achieved since they understand the local market so well.

If one wants to talk “world-class” and one wants to make this City stand out in the architectural and urban planning worlds, why aren’t we setting up an international competition inviting the best architects and planners to come up with ideas for this area? Toronto did that with their City Hall and look at what happened. It became the symbol of a progressive city around the world. When you look at that building, you know it means: Toronto.

Who said that anyone wants a canal in the downtown? We cannot sell condos on the river today given the horrible real estate market in this city. Even Mr. Farhi of London who was so enthusiastic when he took over the property beside the Art Gallery chose not to buy it for up to three years. That has to tell you something in the strongest possible terms about the market for luxury homes, even on the river, in Windsor.

What makes anyone think that there are people around who will spend a half a million dollars or more to buy a complex on a river canal? There are very few homes in the City that are priced in that range so that I believe it’s highly unlikely that people in the ‘burbs are going to be coming rushing back to the downtown especially when so many people are leaving Windsor for jobs elsewhere. As for empty-nesters, they generally trade down not trade up into something much more expensive. Just ask renovator, Gord.

Why, even new immigrants to Canada are not coming here in the numbers that they did before because of the poor job situation. And for rich Torontonians… Florida and Arizona seem a lot more appealing.

Nothing has really changed all that much at the Star. If it comes from the Mayor, then it is an “intriguing proposal” for which we can waste another few months just as we wasted years and millions of taxpayer dollars with other intriguing proposals like the Schwartz Report, full tunneling and Greenlink. What has it been, four or five months now, with respect to the jobs commuting program and all that the Mayor has been able to do is come up with a few questions for a survey.

If the Star wants me to debate with the Mayor, I don’t mind doing it on the Tunnel deal. However, the Star owes it to me, and to Councillor Marra, to demand of the Mayor to have the questions answered that have been outstanding now for about nine months. It doesn’t seem fair to have a one-sided debate with all of the facts in the Mayor’s pocketbook that he can pull out anytime he wants, unless his idea has no merit whatsoever in the first place.

Why the Star is so humourous. They know, as well and as we do, dear reader, that the Mayor is not able to “withstand scrutiny and criticism.” What they’re suggesting will never happen.

So it’s all good fun. I get a few more hits every day on my BLOG since the Star has again given me respectability. The Star pretends that it is the voice of reason in a one newspaper City protecting the right to dissent provided that it is carried out in an acceptable manner. The cheerleaders keep on cheering. The Mayor goes on as if nothing has happened. Only his ideas are considered as he stalls again for whatever purpose he has in mind. And as for the Councillors…well, they are left in the dark again.

More On The Arena Deal

The Arena deal with the Spitfires is making me even more angry every time something else about it appears on the Council agenda. If only Councillors had read it.

On the Agenda is an item to lease space at the Arena to the Spits for a Pro Shop, Training Centre and Auxiliary Community Concession. The lease is for 3,950 square feet of space at a rental of $8.32 per square foot for the pro shop and training center and $12.75 for the community concession space plus municipal taxes. It is subject to a Consumer Price Index escalator every year. Concessions space totals 834 square feet.

All of this is to earn additional revenues for the Team. It is to make them a profit.

The Centre for Seniors Windsor also rents space at the Arena. This group pays $8.32 per square square foot for the space that they lease at the East End Arena. That amount increases annually by the amount of the Consumer Price Index. That group is

  • "a non-profit, multi-service organization and registered charity, is mandated to provide social, recreational, educational, volunteer and service opportunities for older adults, 50 years and better."

Here are some questions that you might want to consider:

  • Is there any reason why a profit-making organization should be asked to pay the same rental rates that a nonprofit pays?

  • Why isn't the rental rate for the Spitfires reflective of the fact that it is located at a new arena where a greater number of people will attend to use their services?

  • Other City arenas are not the East End Arena for which $65 million and counting of taxpayer money has been spent! Shouldn't the rent reflect that cost so that taxpayers can start earning a payback?

  • Why shouldn't the Spitfires pay substantially more including a share of revenues?

  • I did not see anything in the proposed lease for the payment of utilities or maintenance either. Why not?

  • The rent for the Concessions was increased by slightly over four dollars because of the difficulty of collecting a revenue share supposedly. The revenue share is equal to about $3700. The revenue share at the much smaller 400 Building is over $6,000!

Of course, this is not the only reason why I'm angry. Why didn't Admin look at other arenas to compare rentals rates?

I'm sure that you remember the recent BLOG that I wrote outlining the multimillions that the City has given up with respect to advertising and signage [July 24, 2008. "Millions Lost To City In Arena Signage Deal"]

In my initial BLOG about the Arena deal [May 05, 2008. "Kids And Seniors Subsidize Millionaire Spits' Owners In Arena Deal"] I wrote the following:

  • "The Spitfires don't just get to play hockey at the arena, they get additional facilities including office space up 2600 square feet and a Retail Store of 2000 square feet at no additional fee. This is an offset to the team putting in improvements to the Dressing Room (NOTE: The City claimed "In addition approximately $100,000 in upgrades to the dressing room area is being funded by the Spitfires.") That is a very nice rental rate over a period of 20 years when one compares what it would cost to rent all of that space commercially. Not only that, the City will make available these facilities on a "finished" basis comparable to that located in the Labatt Centre in London. [A big deal was made about funding by the Spits of their Dressing Room. What was not said was that but for fixtures, everything else can be removed"]

  • "The City also pays for all utilities including those of the Spitfires as well as security for their area as well"

At $8.32 per square foot at the lower end, for those 4600 square feet that is almost three quarters of a million dollars in their pockets and at $12.75, the amount is $1,173.000 over the lease term. Note that I have not included in an amount for CPI increases nor revenue-sharing for the Retail Store. Add amounts in for those and get really ill!

Is someone ever going to stand up for taxpayers who are footing the bill for this Arena? I wonder what the Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget will have to say other than "Aye, Mayor, Aye" when the vote is called.

Hmmmm. I wonder if the Star will consider this BLOG to be acceptable Naysaying.

Think there are problems with releasing the 400 Building Audit. As I wrote previously as well:

  • "I don't know about you, but this Arena lease just opens up more questions for me about everything to do with the whole Arena transaction from start to finish especially because of the so-called confidentiality that does not exist. I wonder if someone on Council will have the guts to demand a full and proper audit of the entire process from start to finish. Don't hold your breath."

Monday, August 04, 2008

Saturday In The Park


video


I went with my daughter to Jackson Park for a walk this weekend. In 20 years in Windsor, I had never gone there. I just had never got around to it.

It is absolutely beautiful. A wonderful oasis. It reminded me of Edwards Gardens in Toronto where I used to go quite often when I lived there. I asked my daughter if she remembered that park but of course she did not. She was too young when we lived there. I told her it was very similar to the one in Windsor only much, much bigger.

And then I figured it out. I knew who the true naysayers are in Windsor. They are not Bloggers or writers to the Windsor Star Forums or to the Letters to the Editor or those who appear at City Council as delegations. We are passionate about our City and that is why we are so harsh in our criticism when we see things going awry and why we try to suggest improvements and alternatives.

Rather, it is the political leadership in town who must hate this City.

Why else do they want to make Windsor something that it's not. Why can't they be happy with who we are and be pleased with what we already have accomplished so that they can build on it for our better future.

Jackson Park was a symbol to me of what we already have.

We already have achieved with it. It is our real "WOW FACTOR," not some planters on Dougall to impress tourists or a few concept drawings of canals prepared by an out-of-towner. We already have a beautiful park that we should be promoting more. We already have achieved and can do more with it but that is not good enough for them.

Oh no, we have to be world-class in everything. Our Mayor has to run to London England over the holiday weekend so that we can have the Red Bull race here so that the world will know Windsor. As if we are on anyone's radar after the Super Bowl or the All Star game or the WWE or the Grand Prix race, all of which have taken place in Detroit. We are just coat-tail riders with those events and not good ones either.

Huron Church Road has to be a Champs-Élysées. Greenlink has to be like the connection between Mercer Island to Seattle. We need full tunnels similar to the ones in New Zealand, Norway or Japan. Our proposed canals have to be like Venice or San Antonio.

If Chicago buys hybrid buses, why then so do we. If Mayor Daley leases out a toll road, then the least that we can do is lease half a Tunnel from Detroit and then flip it.

We have to THINK BIG or GO BIG OR GO HOME.

Do you see what I mean? This desire to be something we are not. How does a City of 200,000 people plus hope to emulate the achievements of true world-class locations. We cannot and there is no point trying.

Like it or not, we are Sin City as we found out at Super Bowl time! The Windsor Ballet will always be better known than our Symphony as we spend more money on a feasibility study about building a world-class $40M concert hall at the Armouries so we can be Boston's Symphony Hall or Vienna's Musikverein. And yes, I know this is not City-sponsored but you see, the "world-class" disease is catching.

All that will happen is what we now have in Windsor: absolute stagnation with nothing being achieved other than spending money on non-Windsor experts who receive millions for creating these plans. Can you imagine the latest... $10,000 for a few artists renditions. More dreams, more stalling, more inaction, more nightmares.

We need new leadership in Windsor that understands what we are, what we are capable of doing given the talent that we have in the City and will lead us to what can be realistically achieved. They need to understand what we already have.

Can you believe that we are still fighting over a road with 15,000 jobs at stake that could be the transition we need while we develop our future. Probably the worst thing that ever happened to us is winning the Financial Times "the best small city in North America to do business." Our Development Commission can fly over to London for a trade show but ignore what could have been achieved after the big "Windsor/Essex-themed party in the centre of Toronto's financial district!"

Unfortunately, we don't have an election for a new Mayor and Council for a number of years.

After all this time, I have no hope that Eddie is capable of understanding anything I'm writing in this BLOG. He believes that our future is onions through a startup in Germany.

Where are our Councillors and mayoral hopefuls? Why aren't they stepping up and filling this leadership vacuum? What are they afraid of? What are they waiting for? Why hasn't our business community spoken up more?

As the song goes:

  • "Listen children all is not lost
    All is not lost...
    If we want it, really want it...
    And I've been waiting such a long time
    For the day?

I guess I'll just have to wait a little bit more.