Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, August 15, 2008

Delray--Context Sensitive Solutions

testing

Chrysler DEMANDS Reductions


I saw this comment recently dealing with Chrysler quality:
  • "Ewasyshyn, who has been with Chrysler since 1976, said vice-chairman Tom LaSorda began a quest for better quality when he came to the company in 2000 from General Motors Corp. But Ewasyshyn is at a loss as to why Chrysler still lags behind most other automakers in quality.

    "If I could answer that question, you wouldn't be asking it,'' he said. ``We certainly put enough energy and effort into it."

DUUUHHHH I think I may have the answer for him. I wonder if I can charge a a consulting fee.

No real choice is given if suppliers want to keep on selling to Chrysler.

As my source wrote:

  • "Another round in cost savings being paid by the small guys.

    We have little choice, otherwise you don't get to fight for the other stuff which is going cheap already.

    Stephen Funtig is going to get busier yet....."

I just wonder. How can a supplier offer that much of a reduction if the component was priced competitively before? Does that mean suppliers pad their prices expecting to be asked to reduce costs? Or is the new component going to be made cheaper thereby increasing complaints about quality and warranty claims?

If so, no wonder the car companies are in trouble. They have taught their supply chain to price high and then give back cuts! Just like the expectation of high wages for workers and big discounts for consumers. Or to build poor components.

Isn't it ironic....GM loses $15.5 billion, its third-worst quarterly performance, while Exxon's profit in the quarter is $11.68 billion, the largest profit for a U.S. company, and still fails to meet analysts' expectations.

And if you did not notice...the demand is retroactive

How many suppliers can afford to give back 5% of revenues including past revenues without having their own financial problems. It's ridiculous.

PS. I just read in the Detroit News this laughable comment:

  • "The purchasing chiefs of Detroit's Big Three automakers offered a grim forecast for auto suppliers in the face of a weak North American auto market, but all vowed to improve relations with the companies that provide their components."

And this

  • "Grant Thornton LLP said in a research report last week that one-third of North American auto suppliers are at risk for bankruptcy filings.

    "The OEMs are becoming more deliberate of letting suppliers fail," Casesa said. "Many firms will be let to fail in this terrible downturn."

A Reader's Stories



Thanks to one of my readers for suggesting a number of news stories (and a headline) for me to take a look at. There is so much going on that any assistance on BLOG story ideas that can be provided is greatly appreciated.

By the way, have you passed on this BLOGsite address to your family, friends and colleagues yet? If you prefer, send me a list of addresses so that I can send them out an email "teaser" about my latest BLOG!

AVOIDING A CONFLICT OF INTEREST

We all know how cautious the Mayor is with respect to declaring possible conflicts of interest involving City matters.

In the circumstances therefore, since he has told us that he is only a two-term Mayor, he needs to assign the commuting project to another one of the Members of Council.

As he has told us, he IS a lawyer. I would hate for anyone to think that this project was designed to allow him to practise out West to make the big bucks and then to come home at a low cost to see his wife and child on the weekend!




video



  • Law firms facing talent crunch

    ...Coupled with a rising talent shortage, firms and corporate counsel employers are finding themselves pressed to offer concessions to compensate for what they can't pay in remuneration…

    Such conflicting dynamics are rendering it difficult for law firms and employers to achieve the complement of legal professionals they require. "We're seeing firms absolutely struggling to find talent," says Mr. Smith, himself a lawyer. "I'm in an odd spot where I've got more firms that want to work with us than I have lawyers."

    He suggests the crisis has snuck up on the profession after a nationwide downsizing almost a decade ago during which firms shed their junior talent. "Fast forward 10 years later, the real workhorse of the law firm, the most valuable in terms of getting the work done and profitability, are the five-to-eight-year call lawyers -- and you can't find them," he says.

    The resulting shortage is markedly more manageable in central and eastern regions of the country, where the market has slightly slipped, he observes, while in Western Canada, "firms really find themselves in a pickle because not only do they not have the talent to go around, but the economy is at the hottest it's been in 10 years. So it's a real double whammy..."

    So far, only Alberta's energy sector is readily achieving a reputation for competitive packages. The whole environment has firms and companies looking to augment their expertise by calling on retirees.”

Retirees….Wait a minute. I am virtually retired from the practice of law. Good salaries out West, big demand for lawyers, cheap airfare home on weekends…hey Eddie where’s your survey questionnaire again.


"W"HERE IS OUR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION? NO "W"HERE!

Members from our Development Commission spent some quality time in London, England at a trade show trying to generate some business for us here.

Our Mayor was in London and then in Frankfurt trying to generate some business for us here.

Unfortunately I have not seen any new business being generated for us here from those trips. In fact, I don’t recall reading much about what they did overseas other than primarily about Red Bull.

  • Calling all Hamilton companies
    The city is surveying local businesses to keep more of them here

    Hamilton city staff are calling on local company leaders to learn about their businesses and what the city can do to keep them...

    Losing out on a chance to lure a new high-tech manufacturer or research centre no doubt hurts. But it pales in comparison to the upheaval and distress of losing an existing employer to closure or relocation. Hamilton knows that all too well and is trying to prevent a repeat of that pain.

    Listening to local companies, keeping them happy about doing business in Hamilton and helping them grow are key to the city's economic health, said Norm Schleehahn, the city's manager of business development.

    "We know that 80 per cent of business growth comes from within the city's existing business. It's much easier to target businesses who already know the benefits of doing business here."

    The survey's 40 questions take about 90 minutes to complete and cover everything from growth and expansion plans, labour needs and research and development investments to opinions about city taxes, planning processes, infrastructure and development charges.

    Hamilton's economic development department has always gleaned information from local companies about their needs but new software called Synchronist obtained in June has made the process much more sophisticated, said Neil Everson, the department's director.”

For Eddie and the WEDC, here’s some information about the software. Mind you now that I’ve talked about it, neither of them will ever use it:

  • Business Retention and Expansion With Synchronist

    Synchronist is a tool that communities across the country are using to conduct informational interviews with local industries.

    The Web-based application was developed by Blane, Canada Ltd….

    Using a standard 45-question survey, two-person teams conduct interviews with industry executives in approximately one hour. The data gathered from the interview are entered into the Synchronist database, yielding information on four critical topics:

    A company's value to the community
    Its risk of leaving or downsizing
    Its growth potential
    Its satisfaction with the community.

    In addition to providing more than 250 reports, Synchronist can also serve as a contact management system for follow-up activities.”

ARE ENWIN/WUC NEXT

We saw that Lakeshore and Kingsville sold their interest in ELK Energy Inc. for about $12.7 million to the Town of Essex. I will wager that this deal is not finished because Chatham-Kent Energy lost out in purchasing that interest. The Star story stated:

  • “Essex officials will continue to talk with Chatham-Kent Energy, he said, not ruling out future partnerships."

There is no doubt now that Hydro and water utility companies are going to be pursued by the big-money boys in the infrastructure game. I had already made this prediction a long time ago about our City-owned utilities. Those utilities could bring in substantial sums into the City’s bank account that would allow our politicians to squander that money on Canal visions for example.

If you think I am kidding, here is what one of Ontario’s biggest pension plans is investing in… a name that should be familiar to you:

  • "OMERS buys stake in Texas electricity distribution and transmission system

    The Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) is buying 10 per cent of the largest electricity distribution and transmission system in Texas for $627-million (U.S.), its first major investment in this part of the power sector…

    It is making the investment in Oncor through one of its investment arms, Borealis Infrastructure Management…

    Many investors, including Canadian pension funds, have been buying power assets around the world for their long-term, stable cash flow, and high barrier to entry for competitors.”

Just as an interesting aside, no one in the investment community in their right mind will be involved in a P3 for a new DRIC bridge because of the competition with the Ambassador Bridge unless the Governments provide them with an ironclad guarantee of profitability. P3 investors want to ensure that they make money on their investment.

They love a monopoly situation or where there is a “high barrier to entry for competitors.”

Now you understand why the Governments have to force the Owner of the Bridge Company to sell out his interest in the company. And then they can build a new bridge where it was always supposed to go, right beside the existing one.

WE ARE ALSO-RANS AGAIN

It seems that we just cannot do anything right in this City no matter how hard we work at it.

Try as we might, our new East End Arena will not make it as one of the top 10 most expensive arenas or stadiums in the world. When we get the final figure however, including all of the infrastructure needed around the arena such as roads and bridges, then someone ought to do a calculation on a per capita basis to see where we rank compared with projects in other cities.

  • World's most expensive stadiums

    … each new stadium construction project is seen as an opportunity to outdo everyone else…

    Beijing National Stadium, the centerpiece of this summer's 2008 Olympics, … is on the lower end in terms of f cost, at a bargain-basement $500 million -- not even enough to make our list of the ten most expensive stadiums in the world. And a higher price tag wouldn't necessarily be a good thing, either. While bigger budgets can create stadiums that attract attention and leave a lasting impression, they can also leave decades of debt…

    Montreal's fiscally controversial stadium for the 1976 Olympics, for example, has been racking up interest payments for years, and was finally paid off only in 2006. The total price tag, adjusted for today's dollars, was $1.4 billion, with more than $900 million of that being interest. But that's still not enough to top our list of the most expensive stadiums in the world.

    That title goes to London's new and improved Wembley Stadium, which opened in 2006 and cost a staggering $1.5 billion.”

Come on Amherstburg Council. Keep up this region's reputation! $17.9 million for the cost of a proposed new arena? We know you’re just kidding taxpayers. It will cost way more than that in the end. However, you need to see whether you can win a gold medal in arena building too!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Delray Visions



video



I am not sure why Councillor Halberstadt is complaining. Eddie spent only $10,000 for 3 artists' renditions of Venetian errrr Windsor canals. A mere pittance in the scheme of things. http://www.alanhalberstadt.com/index.php

The engineering feasibility study also will only cost $65K and it is underwritten by the private sector. I wonder what that money is going to be used for. Eddie never mentioned that did he? And if it is financed by private sources, do they control its release?

My objection is that this is small town thinking, not the THINK BIG or GO BIG OR GO HOME-type approach that this City has come to expect. AND demand.


Come on now----we have a $65M and counting arena, we want to do a $75M Tunnel deal, we have a feasibility study for a $40M Concert Hall, we are proposing an almost $2B Greenlink road project, $30M Tunnel Plaza improvement, $800M for new watermains etc etc etc. Which town of 200,000 can boast this!

This is Windsor after all. We deserve the best and are entitled to it.

Oh don't look behind the curtain and see one of the highest unemployment rates in Canada, the declining downtown, lowest housing starts in 24 years, the decline in investment in non-residential building construction in the second quarter of 2008 of 16.5%, plants being shuttered and the increase in consumer bankruptcy filings of 18% in 2007.

I want the best. I want to see a movie showing what our Western Super Anchor site will look like just like the pretty movie that DRIC made for "Context Sensitive Solutions " above.

I want print-outs of the movie too so I can show my friends in other cities and make them jealous as you can see here http://www.scribd.com/doc/4747621/delray2split

I want to see more than 3 pictures for heaven's sake. Look at the ones created for Delray, a whole bunch of them. Below is just one. Now those got the hearts of residents beating quicker. You can see them at http://www.scribd.com/doc/4747145/delraypicssplit


And they are to have a Marina and canals too. Must be a popular feature these days for the local folks on both sides of the river. I wonder if the people in Delray and West Windsor can afford big boats.




There is just one thing that bothers me about Windsor's plans and visions and concepts. It was what was said in Delray after showing these pretty pictures and movies. I just have this sinking feeling in my stomach that we may hear something similar down the road after everyone has become so excited, say after the next Municipal election:

  • "C. Another community member asked about the surrounding neighborhoods and revitalization of those neighborhoods.

    R. Joe Corradino spoke about the conceptual plans to revitalize the area. He noted such plans need a partnership among government agencies and the private sector to succeed.

    C. Bob Benson noted revitalization of the community is not MDOT’s responsibility. MDOT will make recommendations; it will be someone else’s responsibility to implement those plans. Some people may have the impression that MDOT is going to lead the revitalization of the area.

    R. Mohammed Alghurabi noted MDOT is responsible for the DRIC study. And MDOT will be responsible to build the new bridge, plaza and interchange, if the project is approved. He noted MDOT will need partners to revitalize Delray.

    Q. What will it take to implement the conceptual land use plan for Delray that the DRIC Study Team proposed?

    A. It will take a partnership among many units of government, including the City of Detroit, and the private sector. MDOT and the Federal Highway Administration can serve as a catalyst and make some but not all the investments. And, the DRIC Study Team believes it will take 20 to 25 years to fully revitalize Delray as portrayed in the conceptual land use plans.

    Q. Are there funds allocated/budgeted to make the plan a reality?

    A. No. Action on the plan, even by MDOT and FHWA, requires that it be approved. That is not scheduled to happen, if it happens, until the latter part of 2008."

Even More Stories

They are multiplying faster than rabbits! The stories I mean

PROOF---OTTAWA AND ONTARIO WANT TO TAKE OVER AMBASSADOR BRIDGE

There it is finally. The slip that tells us that DRIC was nothing more than an attempt to take over the Ambassador Bridge cheaply.

This note was not sent by some mere flunky but by the Minister's Director of Communications. He would absolutely have known about the Minister's comment along with that of the Minister of Finance of Ontario with respect to DRIC that had been sent to the Toronto Star.

Obviously, he made a mistake by letting the cat out of the bag. No one in their right mind, Government or P3 investor on either side of the river, would build an entirely new bridge with new plazas when it can be all done at the existing crossing for so much less money and without inconveniencing hundreds of homeowners and businesses by forcing them to move.
  • Finaance minister's aid fire's back
    Thu Aug 07, 2008

    To the editor:
    Re: Continuous berating of Province won't turn economy around,' Ian McMillan column, July 31.

    I respect Ian McMillan's right to express his opinion. However, the credibility of his argument is severely compromised by error in fact and a misinterpretation of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's motive.

    I would like to begin by pointing out that Ontario is the most expensive place for industry to invest in Canada. A report released recently by the C.D. Howe Institute reconfirmed this fact, stating Ontario's overall business tax rate is 34.8 per cent, higher than any other province in the country...

    Additionally, our government is providing constructive federal support to Ontario like the historic investment of $6.2 billion to modernize the province's infrastructure, support to upgrade the Ambassador Bridge at the Detroit-Windsor border crossing...

    Dan Miles
    Director of Communications
    Office of Canada's Minister of Finance

SECURITY AND REDUNDANCY ARE PHONY ARGUMENTS

Have you heard yet the cries for adding a new bridge in the Sarnia/Port Huron area the way they have been made in Windsor/Detroit?

Build as many bridges as you want... the answer is reverse customs as the Ambassador Bridge Company has been arguing for years but no one seems to want to listen.

Another DRIC argument bites the dust!

  • Threat closes bridge
    Vehicles and ships halted as authorities search for explosives
    By LIZ SHEPARD, Times Herald, August 8, 2008

    A Thursday bomb threat targeting the Canadian side of the Blue Water Bridge clogged traffic in Port Huron and turned a portion of Interstate 94 into a parking lot for more than an hour.

    Both spans of the bridge were closed for about 90 minutes after the threat was received about 12:20 p.m. by the Canadian Coast Guard and relayed to the bridge.
    Traffic on the bridge immediately was stopped. All boat and shipping traffic approaching the bridge from Lake Huron and the St. Clair River was stopped until the area was cleared.

WINDSOR TAKEN OVER BY NAYSAYERS

Henderson is right. This town is made up of "hordes of sneering naysayers" along with "the "Get Eddie" posse as well as those who believe "a municipal government should look no higher in its ambitions than the nearest pothole."

Can you imagine, they must actually think that the Mayor's function is to fix the failing infrastructure in this City before building the Grand Canal of Venice.

Here is a recent CKLW poll


What is wrong with these people? Do they not have vision?

All that I can say to them is "Go big or go home." Oh, they are home. Well that insult, courtesy of the Toronto urban designer Mr. Brook, won't work.

NAYSAYERS WIN BIG IN TORONTO

It seems that naysayers are able to accomplish some positives in Toronto.

  • "High-speed rail link to airport on fast track
    Province, Lavalin work out kinks stalling proposed train from Union Station to Pearson


    The province and a private-sector partner are reworking plans for a high-speed rail link between Union Station and Pearson airport in an attempt to satisfy naysayers.

    "We have heard concerns expressed about the original union-airport rail link proposal and the province is currently in discussions with SNC Lavalin to find ways that the airport-rail proposal can be changed to address a number of these concerns," Nicole Lippa-Gasparro, press secretary to Environment Minister John Gerretsen, told the Star. "

HOW DOES THE STAR DO IT

We poor alternative media types have no chance against the Windsor Star. Heck, I have never been able to get accreditation from City Hall the way I have with the Federal and Provincial Governments for the border matter as an example.

While we surf the Internet trying to find information and news to provide to you first, we are scooped so often by Windsor's main news media outlet on City stories. The Canal story is just another example where Gord Henderson is able to get the inside scoop before us and it seems other media types in town.

Do you see what I mean? The Star on a holiday Monday had the City's Red Bull press release that was issued while the Mayor was still out of town in Europe. He was not due back until later. When I checked the City website the following Tuesday morning, it was not posted there are as you can see from the time in the bottom right corner.

It was still not there. Just you wait until the Mayor finds out and demands that we get a better Communications system at City Hall so that his press releases can be posted immediately for the world to see!

Nice story for the Mayor wasn't it! And quite a slap at the Detroit Committee who brought this event to the region in the first place. Obviously they have no idea what they're doing.

CREDIT UNION MEMBERS DEMAND REFUND

No, I have not seen that story yet but it would not surprise me to see it happen.

After all, what is the point of giving the Windsor Essex Economic Development Commission money if they are irrelevant. I mean after all, they were just in London for a trade show and I have not seen one iota of information concerning what they achieved over there. They should have given the money to our Mayor instead.

I would have thought for example that it would have been easy for them to hop on a plane and go to Frankfurt to see the startup onion company there. Nope...the Mayor had to do it!

You would think that the WEDC people could have done some work while they were in London to help ensure that the Red Bull races came back to our area next year. Nope...The Mayor had to do!

Thank goodness that our Mayor is doing the Detroit Red Bull committee work and the WEDC economic development work along with building canals, doing Tunnel deals and so on and so on and so on.

  • "Mayor Francis Strengthens Potential European Partnerships

Mayor Eddie Francis will be in London, England and Frankfurt, Germany for four days to strengthen ties with potential business partners in the two countries.

At his first stop, Mayor Francis will be meeting with Red Bull officials about securing a return of the prestigious Red Bull Air Race to our area in 2009. Red Bull has indicated that a decision will be made shortly regarding the 2009 season and the Mayor will be meeting face-to-face to make a pitch to bring the event back.

From there, Mayor Francis will travel to Germany where he will continue discussions with a group of businessmen regarding the next steps towards establishing a perishable food distribution centre at Windsor Airport. The international operation would bring a number of jobs to Windsor in the coming years. The Mayor met previously with this business group earlier this year. "

Hey, that press release is missing now too!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Where's Elliot Ness

Come on. Admit it.

You have been wondering just as I have whether the FBI has been looking into this Tunnel deal with all of its strange goings-on as part of their investigations. Have Canadian police forces been involved also?

After all, we are dealing with a key international border crossing and Governmental approvals are required before the deal can be completed---if it ever gets done now since supposedly the negotiations and loan application to Infrastructure Ontario are "on hold" now. They have to have some role because it has been called a unique security risk.

We know that the Mayor of Detroit sent out thousands of text messages. Unfortunately for him, some of those messages have caused problems that could result in him being removed as Mayor.

We also know that our Mayor sends out text messages.

What we do not know is whether the Mayors sent messages to each other about the Tunnel deal and, more particularly, about the meeting in Windsor.

If they did, has anyone been able to capture them and read them? Wouldn’t it be fun to find out, if there were such messages, what they said?

I have to tell you that I am still shocked by the Star Editorial. A number of people either called or e-mailed me and their reactions were the same.

Why did the Star do it? Does this mean that the Star’s attitude towards the Mayor has changed? Only time will tell.

By the way, we may have our own Mayor/Council dustup in Windsor starting now.

Did you read Councillor Halberstadt's BLOG re the canal project and in particular about the spending $10,000 of taxpayer money through a CAO approval.

If not go here for the full BLOG http://www.alanhalberstadt.com/index.php
  • "I am becoming increasingly concerned about the penchant for Mayor Eddie Francis to conceal information from Windsor City Council (Read today's Windsor Star editorial entitled Tunnel Talks -- Taxpayers deserve full story).

    My bone of contention involves the Mayor's July 29th press conference in which he released pretty pictures from a Toronto consulting firm -- Brook McIlroy -- on a proposed canal/marina on the City Centre West lands. It turns out these Buck Rogers Cartoonish drawings cost Windsor taxpayers $10,000 and were commissioned without Council's approval or knowledge on May 20 by CAO John Skorobohacz under Delegation of Authority protocols established a couple of years ago...

    It remains unclear to me, however, whether the Delegation of Authority rules should cover an expenditure on such a significant initiative without Council being informed about it until well after the fact. In my view, that was not the original intent of this policy. It was created to save Council the time of dealing with more trivial matters of city governance, not to be used as a tool to manipulate public opinion and place Council in a subservient role."

I have already suggested that the process whereby a subordinate can approve a request of his superior be changed.

Of course, you know how well our Mayor takes criticism. Here are some of his comments that he made with respect to the Ward 3 Councillor on Eh-News (Actually it is A-news, A-Channel's silly new name)

  • "Councillor Halberstadt will always find a way to take a position against an issue.

    Councillor Halberstadt has made a career of ensuring that the facts don't get in the way of a good story."

I wonder if Eddie would dare make these remarks at Council. If he did, would he be in violation of the City's Procedural By-law:

PART 14 – CONDUCT OF MEMBERS - BUSINESS OF COUNCIL

14.1 Members of Council shall:

b) not use indecent, offensive words or insulting expressions at any time toward other Members of Council, Civic Administration, delegations or members of the public

Can you spell D-Y-S-F-U-N-C-T-I-O-N-A-L C-O-U-N-C-I-L?

More Library Audits


What is it with the Library that Council members are so concerned about. It looks like another audit might be undertaken.

Don't you think that Councillors ought to be more concerned about releasing the 400 Building audit that has been under wraps for almost 2 years and which now has to be reviewed by outside counsel and then doing one on Huron Lodge and the East End Arena where huge sums are at stake.

Speaking of the 400 Audit, here is a note I received via a WeACT member. If you can spare a few minutes to attend the Audit Committee meeting, you ought to do so. Of course, most working people cannot attend since the start time is 10 AM.

If you go, you might want to ask the Committtee Chair and members if Mayor Francis and Senior Administrators have been allowed to see the Dunbar version. I thought they had seen it as discussed at a Council meeting. If they can see it, then why not the public. It has lost its "confidentiality" status already if seen by non-Committee members.

I also thought I had heard that there was a Committee Motion asking for the Dunbar version to be released but that may not be so.

It would sesm that there is a horrific story there if they are afraid of lawsuits. Of course, if the document has been released to non-Committtee members, then it is subject to be produced in any lawsuit so what's the big deal!
  • MY INVITATION Aug 15 9:50 AM

    Members of our group WeAct have been appearing during the past 2 months, before the Audit Committee, on the subject of the unreleased Audit of the 400 City Hall Square Building, completed by Mike Dunbar over 20 months ago.

    We have registered again to speak as delegations at the Audit Committee Meeting on Friday morning August 15th in Room #405 at the 400 City Hall Square Building

    HOWEVER, we have learned that the Chairman, Max Zalev, has planned that this entire meeting will be held IN-CAMERA and that delegations WILL NOT BE HEARD. [the opening of the meeting - the call to-order - and the adjournment of the meeting (at the end) MUST be public -]

    We WILL be there, ready to speak, if the committee should decide that they WILL hear delegations after all.

    I contacted Councillors BILL MARRA and ALAN HALBERSTADT (who are members of the 5 person committee) and asked that they INSIST that delegations be heard before they go In-camera!

    BOTH HAVE AGREED THAT THEY WILL DEMAND WE BE HEARD!!!

    If it is decided to hear delegations, we will be there and ready to go!

    The reason I have written you is to ask, if you are able (I know you are concerned!) that you attend with us at this meeting--If you can come, bring others too and arrive 10 minutes earlier than the 10 AM start!"

Extra! Extra! New Eddie Disclosures! Read All About It!



Forget the lightbulb joke. The latest Windsor/Detroit joke going around is:

Question: How many negotiators does it take to set up a meeting between the Mayor of Detroit and the Mayor of Windsor?

Answer: See below

If you want to know why we need a Judicial Inquiry under the Municipal Act in Windsor just listen to this excerpt from the interview of Eddie Francis on CKLW yesterday morning. The transcript is set out below as well.


video

New facts have come out that we’ve never heard before. Councillor Bill Marra did not hear it. I don’t know whether the Detroit prosecutors heard it. It was not revealed in the Star story on Saturday. It seems from what was said in the Editorial that the Star did not hear it either.

It just seems that information comes out in dribs and drabs and things are told to different people at different times. But for this BLOG frankly, you would have to put it all together yourself.

Here is what was said as reported so far:

To Councillor Marra
  • “I can share with you that Mr. Sutts has been following the direction of City Council and, ah, I don’t believe there have been any face-to-face meetings since then.

    There may be some scheduled this week, as Mr. Sutts tries to respond to council resolution."

In the Saturday Star:

  • “Kilpatrick wanted to travel to Windsor that Friday, but Francis told him he had previous commitments.

    The Detroit mayor then asked about the following Monday, which conflicted with Windsor's council meeting. On Tuesday, Francis had to travel to Toronto for a municipal association meeting.

    "Then we said, 'OK, Wednesday morning,'" Francis said.

    Added Sutts: "Eddie called me right after that call and said they were requesting a meeting."

    Lawyers leading the tunnel negotiations from both cities set up the Wednesday meeting in the boardroom of Sutts's downtown law office.

In the Star Editorial:

  • “Francis insists he answered Marra's question "to the best" of his ability and that he couldn't confirm any details of any meeting because he didn't receive official confirmation until Tuesday, the morning after Marra's question and the day before the meeting. That doesn't quite jibe with quotes attributed to Francis and Sutts in Saturday's Star.”

On CKLW

  • Francis: You will recall back then in those discussions, the Detroit City Council had a flip-flop. Detroit City Council then ejected the then-Deputy Mayor out of the Council Chambers on the Thursday. That Thursday evening Mayor Kilpatrick and his team held a media conference of which our local media, some were in attendance. At that conference he said I am going to be meeting with Windsor tomorrow to put things back on track.

    On Friday I did receive a call from him saying that it was important to put this on track, City Council in Detroit was reacting, there were a lot of emotions on that side and there are certain things that we shouldn't read into, but wanted to get together. I said that I would welcome the opportunity to get together. He said how about today? I said today doesn't work, Monday doesn't work for me. Tuesday I am in Toronto negotiating with the provincial fiscal review, Wednesday works for me but lets get our teams together and have our lawyers set it up at which point of time our lawyers had a discussion.

    Host: And it was decided the meeting would be in Windsor?

    Francis: It was decided and set up by Cliff Sutts our lead negotiator that the meeting would take place in Windsor on Wednesday morning. That was confirmed Tuesday by Cliff Sutts and by the negotiating teams. They had, I would say, four or five people in attendance and we had three people in attendance.

Do you see anywhere previously where Councillor Marra was told about the Tuesday session, nevermind Wednesday? Was there anything in the Saturday Star story about a session on Tuesday? The Star Editorial gave us new information but all that the Star was told was that Eddie was waiting for official confirmation on Tuesday, even though he was out of town. The Saturday story said that the meeting was set up by the lawyers, nothing about waiting for a confirmation.

Now we learn that there was some kind of a meeting on Tuesday, was it “face to face,” in which four or five people from Detroit were involved and three people from Windsor. What was that all about and why where we never told about it? Does it take all of those many people to set up a meeting between two Mayors or was a lot more discussed? [There is the answer to the joke!]

Eddie was reported on the CKLW website on August 9 as saying

  • “Windsor's mayor says now is not the time to talk about a tunnel deal with Detroit. Windsor mayor Eddie Francis says city council is standing behind it's decision to wait until the dust settles between Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Detroit City Council to proceed with discussions about purchasing the US side of the tunnel.”

He said on the radio yesterday on CKLW:

  • Host: What this means is that, I guess, these talks have been put on hold for a while

    Francis: the talks have been put on hold by Council Resolution. And we have indicated to Detroit that we wanted some certainty from them as Council has directed. Detroit said that they would get back to us and then all of this stuff has taken place. That is where we are at. We continue to monitor the situation."

If what the Mayor just said is true, then Councillors should be outraged. If they were put on hold, were there any meetings that took place, "face to face" or not? From the timeline that I have prepared, it seems that they were meetings whether on the telephone or otherwise. In fact, if the Detroit Deputy Mayor is correct, Mr. Sutts contacted Detroit's lawyer the night that City Council resolution supposedly putting everything on hold.

  • "July 11, 2008 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.

In fact, our lawyer claimed that he was authorized to keep on speaking!

  • "July 11, 2008 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."

We now know about the 7 or 8 person session on the Tuesday before the not-so-secret "secret" meeting.

What exactly was put on hold?

As Mr. Sutts said:

  • “We feel it's necessary to put the record straight…”

So do I and so should you, dear reader. We need that Judicial Inquiry and under oath and we need it now!

In passing, it sure sounded to me like Kwame wanted a meeting early on. Was it an "emergency?" You decide after listening to the clip.

Business Acumen


video


I was going to type out the transcript, but honestly I just could not stop laughing. I could not concentrate on doing the work.

More from the CKLW interview. Is this why people voted for this Mayor and these Councillors: business acumen. Did he learn this kind of acumen in our local School system?

Listen to his remarks. Doesn't it sound as if he is the school Valedictorian talking to the graduating class.

Let us see how Eddie he has been running the Tunnel under his watch:

  • it's value was between $2-300M when Eddie took office according to him and it has lost a major portion of that value


  • it did not have someone who could "breathe the Tunnel" for the longest time


  • it has consistently lost market share for years,


  • it lost a huge portion of its volume and will probably lose more, 1/3 of car traffic from 2003-2007 and 40% of truck traffic


  • the Tunnel Ventilation Building project was over-budget


  • the huge dividends of the past have been reduced from $6M to zero dollars per year


  • the City cannot afford to do the Tunnel Improvement Project even though the Senior Levels are picking up two thirds of the costs


  • it has been identified as a unique security risk


  • it may lose 25% of its business if the new DRIC bridge is built

How long has this deal gone on, how much has it cost us and where are we with it now? The City's loan aplication with Infrastructure Ontario is on hold and so supposedly are the negotiations with Detroit.

Now do you understand why I could not type.

Oh and by the way, after listening to this clip, if I was a member of Council, I would no longer allow Eddie to be my Voice.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Windsorites' Point Of Personal Privilege


The Procedural Bylaw of the City states:
  • “Point of Personal Privilege” means a matter that a Member considers to impugn their integrity or the integrity of the Council.

Council, and Councillor Bill Marra in particular, have no choice. At the next Council meeting, in my opinion, the Councillor must rise on a “Point of Personal Privilege”. He must demand that all of the files with respect to the Tunnel deal must be opened and available to the public now. He must specifically demand that those files and dockets prepared by Mr. Sutts on or after July 10 be disclosed immediately. He must demand that the Mayor forthwith answer the questions that he asked both as a Tunnel Commissioner nine months ago and which he repeated recently as a Councillor. In fact, he must do more as I shall discuss below.

This extreme state of secrecy created by Mayor Francis can no longer be tolerated in this City. Councillor Marra and his colleagues must demand that the sun shine into the Francis files.

The Mayor and his lawyer have made some very serious allegations that have resulted in a major controversy with respect to the Detroit Mayor that could have serious consequences for Kwame and, more importantly, the future of the Tunnel deal.

As was written in the Detroit News, and as I Blogged yesterday, the issue now is:

  • “And you can bet they're [Windsor residents] wondering who is really telling the truth: Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis or Detroit's Kwame Kilpatrick.

    As a disbelieving judge said to the mayor the other day, that's a no-brainer."

That was an understatment!

Today’s Windsor Star Editorial was a real shocker. While supposedly about the Mayor’s secrecy again, it goes far beyond it. It takes up the issue raised by both Chris Schnurr and myself in our BLOGs

  • “Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis told only part of the story when he was asked by Coun. Bill Marra during a recent council meeting whether closed-door negotiations with Detroit officials about the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel had ceased.

    A more complete story only came to light this weekend, when Francis sought to distance himself from a version of events offered in court by embattled Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.”

The Editorial is even more interesting because it seems that someone from the Star spoke with Eddie before it was written to give him an opportunity to explain:

  • “Francis insists he answered Marra's question "to the best" of his ability and that he couldn't confirm any details of any meeting because he didn't receive official confirmation until Tuesday, the morning after Marra's question and the day before the meeting.”

It must be nice to be able to phone up the Mayor and ask a question and get an immediate answer.

I do not remember reading anything about an "official confirmation." In fact, why would it be given on Tuesday when Eddie was NOT around and could not have a meeting with Kwame:

  • "On Tuesday, Francis had to travel to Toronto for a municipal association meeting."

Clearly, there now are other facts that did not come out in the Sutts disclosure that we should know about.

The Star also correctly pointed out:

  • “That doesn't quite jibe with quotes attributed to Francis and Sutts in Saturday's Star.

    "Then we said, 'OK, Wednesday morning,'" Francis said of plans hatched during the phone call.”

If it does not “quite jibe,” what are we to take from that? It does not seem to “quite jibe” in the same way that the Mayor’s answer to Councillor Marra does not “quite jibe” with what the Mayor said to him and what was said in the Star article.

Let me change the subject completely for a minute and deal with the Mayor’s attempt to bring back the Red Bull Air Race to the Detroit/Windsor area. You will see the relevance as I go through the story in today’s Star.

Please note that the Mayor has been back from his trip to London for about a week, the holiday Press Release has still not been published on the City’s website and the press release dealing with the Mayor’s trip has been removed! Note also that the Star story came out the day after my BLOG on the subject.

I will do a quick “fisk” of excerpts from it and you’ll see what I mean:

  • “The Red Bull Air Race may yet return to the area next year, Mayor Eddie Francis said Monday.” [And then again, it “may” not. There is “may” word just as in the meetings “may be some scheduled this week”]

  • “Francis travelled to London, England, last month to meet with Red Bull representatives in the hopes of attracting the high-speed, low-flying acrobatic competition back to the Detroit River.

    "It's more alive than it's ever been," Francis said. [This whole extravaganza of the Mayor traveling to England to save the deal seems quite strange. Perhaps it was not the “emergency” that everyone is being led to believe that it is. Consider this back on June 2: “Francis said discussions are already underway to bring the Red Bull Air Race back to the area, though that decision -- like the rest of the show -- is still up in the air.”]

  • “A number of issues, which Francis wouldn't elaborate on, had race directors leaning away from a return the Windsor-Detroit area” [More secrecy that Eddie knows about. What if those issues are fatal e.g. not selling enough tickets, no real commitment by the City until the last minute, poorly organized (See Star Letters to the Editor), no shuttle buses until last minute, underestimating race draw]

  • "We're going to be meeting with the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy in the next two weeks to see how we can work with Detroit” [Why wouldn’t he work with these people or doesn’t he know the difference…. Was he afraid that they would ignore him thinking that he tried to scoop the race from them? “Detroit Air Racing is not responsible or involved with the production of the Red Bull Air Race in Detroit, but only facilitated the key relationships required to enable this race. Detroit Air Racing is now an Agent of the Red Bull Air Race Hospitality Programme in Detroit.]

  • “Corporate sponsorship and logistics have yet to be worked out before Red Bull will consider a return in 2009.” [Oh, do we have to provide millions for sponsorship as my BLOG suggested. Do we have a committee in place that can organize this thing so quickly before Red Bull makes a decision as to where the air races will take place in 2009?]

There, do you understand what I’m getting at with the Red Bull story.

It’s all there, just like with the events surrounding the Tunnel deal: secrecy, total control in the Mayor, not keeping the Council in the loop, “may,” starting at a convenient time and forgetting about the past Red Bull discussions. “emergency” or not, not dealing with key issues.

The issue involving the Mayor is one of the integrity now. As Mr. Sutts said and as the Star Editorial has now raised:

  • “We feel it's necessary to put the record straight…”

I agree! That must be done immediately. But this time around, we cannot have another “whitewash audit” that we had in the "WUC” fiasco. We need a proper inquiry with the proper Terms of Reference in which citizens must have an input.

Fate has a way of mocking mere mankind. By a remarkable coincidence, on the Agenda for the next Council meeting there is an item dealing with the appointment of an Integrity Commissioner. If there was one in place now, then this whole issue could be sent to that Integrity Commissioner for handling.

However, there is none in place now and, looking at the Item, the issue may be quite controversial and may not be decided at the meeting on Monday.

We do not have the luxury of waiting around with a $75M deal that may still be negotiated. In the circumstances Council, and Councillor Marra in particular, cannot allow this matter to drag on. We must know the truth now. We must learn what the Mayor and his lawyer knew or did not know. All relevant files must be made available and the appropriate questioning undertaken under oath.

Accordingly, Council must introduce a Motion to set up an inquiry dealing with this matter. It can be done easily under the Municipal Act:

  • 274. (1) If a municipality so requests by resolution, a judge of the Superior Court of Justice shall,

    (a) investigate any supposed breach of trust or other misconduct of a member of council…in relation to the duties or obligations of that person to the municipality;
    (b) inquire into any matter connected with the good government of the municipality; or
    (c) inquire into the conduct of any part of the public business of the municipality.

Does this Council have the guts to respect the interests of those who elected them! Citizens of Windsor have a "personal privilege" that needs protection as well.

Kiwanis Speech



A speech I delivered to the Kiwanis a few weeks ago on border matters.

I want to thank you again for inviting me to give you a talk about what is going on in Windsor these days.

I could speak about 86% water utility increases or the $65 million and counting East End arena. What about the fleet operations audit where dead man didn’t pump gas or the 400 Building audit that has been going on now for about two years.

Perhaps I could talk about economic redevelopment. Members of our Development Commission just spent a few days in London England at our expense to try to promote the region. Perhaps I could talk about how the Automobile Capital of Canada soon may not have an auto industry here. Or the $100M Jobs fund that has gone nowhere. Our Mayor believes that sending our best and brightest out of the City is the way to solve our unemployment problem.

There is the Engineering Complex and urban village fiasco, the problems with the downtown, the Capitol theatre, and so on and so on and so. The only bright light seems to be Caesars Casino and who has won money there?

I didn’t mention one matter and that is the border. I thought that it might make sense for me to talk about this subject today in some detail since it has so dominated our City for so many years. I hope then that you will understand where we are.

All I can say is that no one could ever write a story about what I will tell you because it is so unbelievable. There is some kind of a hidden agenda at play here. Unfortunately I have not been able to discover it.

Let me deal with the issue as it effects Windsor directly. Let me talk about the following matters:
1) The Tunnel Plaza Improvements
2) The Tunnel deal with Detroit
3) The DRIC Road and Greenlink
4) The Bridge Company Enhancement Project compared with the DRIC Bridge and Plaza

TUNNEL PLAZA IMPROVEMENTS

I could never understand this transaction when it was first announced. It was entered into on March 11, 2004 as part of the Phase 1 agreement for the “Let’s Get Windsor-Essex Moving strategy.”

Under this agreement, the Federal and Provincial Governments would each contribute $10 million to the cost of the improvements while the City would contribute another $10 million making $30 million in total.

The reason that I say that I do not understand the transaction is because, at the time it was entered into, the key issue was truck backups on Huron Church.

For truck traffic solutions, we did get the pedestrian overpass on Huron Church Road at Assumption High School and the long left turn lane at Huron Church Road at Industrial Drive. But for the Bridge Company opening up new Customs booths, we still might be having back-ups.

Obviously, it seems with hindsight that our Mayor was more concerned about the Tunnel than truck backups because he wanted Senior Level money to help improve the Tunnel Plaza so that he could do his deal with it with Detroit as I shall discuss later.

Where are we with this project… nowhere. The City has put it on the back burner for a number of years. It would appear that the City cannot put up its $10 million. There has not been any finality with respect to the plans, it is over-budget I’m told by many millions of dollars and the three levels of Government cannot get any agreement as to who shall pick up the extra costs.

This leads into:

THE TUNNEL DEAL WITH DETROIT

I’m scratching my head here. If we do not have the money to improve the Tunnel Plaza, then how can we do a Tunnel deal for the money involved?

I cannot tell you what the transaction is, it has changed so many times. The terms of the transaction have been kept secret from Windsor taxpayers.

Just so you will have some idea of what it’s about, apparently the City or its new Tunnel Company wants to borrow $75 million from the Province of Ontario’s Infrastructure fund. Now I would have thought that this fund was to be used for Provincial purposes but apparently our Mayor believes that it can be used to plug a budget hole in the City of Detroit. That money would be loaned to Detroit or its new Tunnel Company so that Windsor would get a lease on the Detroit half of the Tunnel and would be able to operate it for the next 75 years.

This transaction has been going on for well over a year again with no finality. I’m sure you know about all of the votes that the Detroit Council has taken on this. In every vote they took, they opposed this transaction. However, in literally the last second, they flip-flopped and gave the Detroit Mayor another 120 days to try and do the deal with Windsor.

I wish I understood the business case for this transaction but I do not. The City of Detroit to has to pay back the loan to Windsor. However, it only makes $700,000 a year on the Tunnel because now and for the next dozen years its half of the Tunnel is leased out to a company called Alinda.

My understanding is that the Province of Ontario loan will bear interest at around five or 6% a year. A payment therefore of about $4 to 5 million per year is required to pay down the loan. How will that loan be paid off by Detroit if it only has $700,000 for the interest? How will Windsor be able to pay the Province what it owes since its dividend from the Tunnel has been reduced to zero dollars?

Frankly, why would anyone enter to the Tunnel deal in the first place since the volume at the Tunnel has shrunk dramatically since its peak and is still going down. The Tunnel has lost market share to the Ambassador Bridge which has just opened up seven new car lanes into the United States, almost the equivalent of the number of lanes that the Tunnel has today. Moreover US DRIC has said once its new bridge opens it will take away about 25% of the Tunnel’s business.

DRIC ROAD AND GREENLINK

Can you really believe this? We’re fighting over some tunnels. 15,000 jobs are at stake, high-paying ones too, that are desperately needed in the City with one of the highest unemployment rates in Canada and our Mayor is running ad blitzes against the DRIC Road and still threatening lawsuits.

The obvious reason why DRIC ignored Greenlink is that the tunnels were too long. DRIC did not want a tunnel that was more than 240m and Greenlink has several that are much longer. On that basis alone, Greenlink does not meet the DRIC’s criteria and is therefore rejected.

With the changes in diesel fuel and diesel engine technology, one has to ask what are the quality of life issues that our Mayor is so concerned about. When most of the pollution in Windsor comes from the United States, why is he making such a big deal about Greenlink?

In my opinion, it all comes down to money. One has to be naïve to believe that the Senior Levels will spend an extra billion dollars to please our Mayor by giving him a few extra acres of green space which the City can’t afford to maintain in any event.

In my opinion, Greenlink is nothing more than a negotiating tool that the Mayor is using to try and get money from the Senior Levels for Windsor so that we can be paid for being the “host community” for an international border crossing. It is nothing more than another tactic just the way Schwartz Report number one and full tunneling were used, and used unsuccessfully by the City.

Our Mayor’s huffing and puffing and threatening lawsuits for the umpteenth time are nothing more than his way of telling the Senior Levels that he has the ability to stall off for years the completion of the DRIC road. In other words, what he is saying to them is settle with me now so that your project can go forward.

Now some of you may think that this is a pretty smart negotiating tactic. I imagine what the Mayor is saying to the Senior Levels is that they have $1 billion to play with given the difference in costs between the DRIC and Greenlink roads. Therefore share some of that money with us and we will approve going forward with the DRIC.

My concern is that we are not the ones with the cash nor are we the ones with the strongest bargaining position. I don’t believe that the Mayor is such a good poker player. What if he calls their bluff and they decide to fold and walk away from Windsor. Then where are we? No DRIC Road, no jobs, total devastation for our economy for years to come.

ENHANCEMENT BRIDGE VERSUS DRIC BRIDGE

So what we have so far? Tunnel Plaza Improvements that we cannot pay for, a Tunnel deal that makes no business sense, a Greenlink road used as a negotiating tool and now this, building a new bridge.

There is no doubt that there are animosities involved. The Bridge Company was called the “enemy” of the City after all. We also have to remember that one Government, the City as owner of the Tunnel, is a competitor of the Bridge Company for border traffic, while another Government, the Federal Government is their competitor for the new crossing while at the same time is their judge and jury for their Enhancement Project.

Here is what is so absurd about it all. Detroit can close down an interstate highway for almost 2 years to allow for the construction of the Ambassador Gateway project while the City of Windsor cannot close a small street on a temporary and intermittent basis so that the Bridge Company can undertake some repairs to its bridge. Our City can freeze development in Sandwich for two years thereby refusing permission to the Bridge Company to tear down abandoned homes that they own already on Indian Road that they want to turn into green space using the Green Corridor group from the University of Windsor.

In my opinion, the whole the DRIC bridge concept was nothing more than an attempt by the Government of Canada to try to scare the owner of the Ambassador Bridge into selling his bridge to them as cheaply as possible. Did they ever misjudge the man and because of that error, the new bridge matter is a mess.


In both Sarnia/Port Huron and Buffalo/Fort Erie, a new bridge was built or is to be built right beside the existing bridge. But not at Windsor.

Don’t you find that strange when the Ambassador Bridge location was analyzed and said to be the best location on the US side by US DRIC itself. Don’t you find it strange that about a quarter of a billion dollars will be spent on the Ambassador Gateway project yet the Americans want to duplicate it only a few blocks away?

With their project, the Bridge Company has already the property they need. No one has to be expropriated. The DRIC project will force hundreds of families and businesses to be uprooted in Delray, Michigan and at least 30 families to be relocated in Windsor. A “handful” as the DRIC spokesperson said.

We have to remember why this project got started in the first place. Remember that the truck traffic was supposed to double over the next 30 years. Then we heard about security and redundancy and that we could not just have one bridge since so much of our commerce goes over the Ambassador Bridge.

Of course, with the slowdown in the economy, with the economic woes being suffered by the Big Three causing a decline in the automotive industry in the Windsor/Detroit area, truck traffic has decreased to 1999 levels. Car traffic has crashed at both the Bridge and the Tunnel since 1999. Can anyone truly say that there is an expectation that traffic will increase dramatically in the foreseeable future?

What a phony issue security is. If it really was a concern, there would be reverse customs where vehicles are searched before they cross the Bridge. One only has to recall that in previous terrorist attacks there were multi-targets at the same time, not just one. As far as redundancy goes, with the construction of the new bridge we would now have a backup bridge, the old one, as redundancy to be used as required.

If then there is no good reason to move forward why are we doing so? Please explain to me why Governments are so insistent to spend billions of dollars when a private entity, the best border operator in North America, is prepared to spend his own money.

Here is the complete absurdity of the situation. The Governments want to set up a public-private partnership for the new DRIC bridge. The Governments will own it but then they will turn around and this P3 will hire a private operator to construct and manage the bridge under contract for some period of time, perhaps 75 years or more. They are removing one private operator for another for what reason.

And just so you understand why the Bridge Company is upset, according to a US DRIC the new bridge would not only draw traffic from Port Huron but would take 25% of the Tunnel traffic and the vast majority of the Bridge Company traffic. In other words the new bridge may cause severe financial hardship to all the other crossings which will then mean that the Government will have to subsidize them or they risk going out of business.

I think I should stop there. I have given you a lot to absorb in a very short period of time. I’m sure that you want me to make some sense out of all this but I’m afraid I can only guess.

In my opinion, the border file is much more than the Ambassador Bridge or the DRIC road or the Tunnel. It has to do with the economic future of Canada and the whole NAFTA debate that Senator Obama has started talking about. Remember he may want to renegotiate if he becomes President and that can hurt Canada. In the end, all of this has to do with trade corridors and gateways and whether Canada can control how our goods and foreign goods that come through Canada will be distributed in the United States.

Our Government laudably wants to protect our access into the US, and we need it, but they are making such a mess of it. NAFTA-gate—the leak that hurt Senator Obama in the primaries--and the border file are just examples of the poorly thought out actions of our Government that risk our future.

Someone can tell you what is going on but no one will. Politicians and bureaucrats do NOT trust the people. Perhaps one day we may see who is behind the Wizard’s curtain and what this is all about. Perhaps, one day.

Tunnel Timeline

Here is what I prepared if you missed reading it

http://www.scribd.com/doc/4653272/tunneltimelinetest

It's a different perspective on what has happened during the Tunnel deal.

Monday, August 11, 2008

More, More, More Stories Keep Coming


More and More and More stories of interest in case you missed them.


MAPQUEST ROUTING: ITHACA, NY-DETROIT, MI


Part of the route that this service suggests taking. It goes through Canada, right through Niagara Falls too, to Windsor and then through the Tunnel.










PARDON ME
  • "Civic leaders press prosecutor for resignation deal for mayor

    Compuware Chief Executive Peter Karmanos Jr. assembled a coalition of prominent business and community leaders to meet this week with Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy to broker a deal that would lead Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to resign, plead guilty to some charges and bring closure to one of the city's most shameful sagas, the Free Press has learned."

You will read a lot about this type of deal over the next few weeks. Stories have started already.


My guess: if Kwame pleads guilty and resigns, then the Governor will exercise her power to pardon him and Christine Beatty. Or if he resigns, then all charges will be dropped (so he does not lose his licence to practise law):
  • "The Constitution of the State of Michigan provides for the power of pardon to rest exclusively in the Governor of the State. Article 5, Section 14 of the Michigan Constitution states:

    § 14. Reprieves, commutations and pardons

    Sec. 14. The governor shall have power to grant reprieves, commutations and pardons after convictions for all offenses, except cases of impeachment, upon such conditions and limitations as he may direct, subject to procedures and regulations prescribed by law. He shall inform the legislature annually of each reprieve, commutation and pardon granted, stating reasons therefor."

Here is the precedent:

  • And I have sought such guidance and searched my own conscience with special diligence to determine the right thing for me to do with respect to my predecessor in this place, Richard Nixon, and his loyal wife and family.

    Theirs is an American tragedy in which we all have played a part. It could go on and on and on, or someone must write the end to it. I have concluded that only I can do that, and if I can, I must.

    There are no historic or legal precedents to which I can turn in this matter, none that precisely fit the circumstances of a private citizen who has resigned the Presidency of the United States. But it is common knowledge that serious allegations and accusations hang like a sword over our former President's head, threatening his health as he tries to reshape his life, a great part of which was spent in the service of this country and by the mandate of its people.

    After years of bitter controversy and divisive national debate, I have been advised, and I am compelled to conclude that many months and perhaps more years will have to pass before Richard Nixon could obtain a fair trial by jury in any jurisdiction of the United States under governing decisions of the Supreme Court...

    The facts, as I see them, are that a former President of the United States, instead of enjoying equal treatment with any other citizen accused of violating the law, would be cruelly and excessively penalized either in preserving the presumption of his innocence or in obtaining a speedy determination of his guilt in order to repay a legal debt to society.

    During this long period of delay and potential litigation, ugly passions would again be aroused. And our people would again be polarized in their opinions. And the credibility of our free institutions of government would again be challenged at home and abroad.

    In the end, the courts might well hold that Richard Nixon had been denied due process, and the verdict of history would even more be inconclusive with respect to those charges arising out of the period of his Presidency, of which I am presently aware...

    As President, my primary concern must always be the greatest good of all the people of the United States whose servant I am...

    Finally, I feel that Richard Nixon and his loved ones have suffered enough and will continue to suffer, no matter what I do, no matter what we, as a great and good nation, can do together to make his goal of peace come true.

    Now, therefore, I, Gerald R. Ford, President of the United States, pursuant to the pardon power conferred upon me by Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, have granted and by these presents do grant a full, free, and absolute pardon unto Richard Nixon for all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from July (January) 20, 1969 through August 9, 1974.

WHAT ARE WINDSORITES THINKING

Laura Berman, A Detroit News columnist had this to write:

  • Mayor's continued lies leave him zero credibility

    ...But having blown his own credibility, Detroit's mayor is spooking Windsor's officials, who were contacted by Wayne County prosecutors Thursday.

    Now Windsor residents are criticizing the city's mayor for wasting taxpayer funds on lawyers talking to reporters.

    And you can bet they're wondering who is really telling the truth: Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis or Detroit's Kwame Kilpatrick.

    As a disbelieving judge said to the mayor the other day, that's a no-brainer."

A LOT OF RED BULL

I am shocked that Eddie did not provide the Red Bull team with signatures of support from those that enjoyed the air races. he should have mounted an ad blitz as he did with Greenlink to try to convince DRIC to accept his suggestions.

The reason I mention this is that Radio Canada reported that in Quebec City:

  • [Translation] "The draft air race Red Bull Air Race can count from Monday evening on a new support.

    A petition of about 2900 names will be filed in Quebec City Council...

    The aim is to demonstrate public support for this event and put pressure on the administration"

In another story I read, it was said:

  • "Bids from around the world were considered before the final calendar was decided. For the first time, Detroit will appear as the second city in America to host a round of the 2008 World Series"

Does "bids" in this case mean as the dictionary states "ask for or request earnestly" or does it mean "offer: propose a payment."

If it means the latter, how much has Council authorized the Mayor to spend to get the race here again? He would not dare offer to spend money on his own would he!

Just to let you know what I found on a quick search:

  • [Translation] "Competing air Red Bull Air Race could take place next year above the river, near the Chateau Frontenac. The organizers of this event in a speed circuit air want to include the city of Quebec on their international circuit, for the month of August 2008. Karl Talbot, president of Nemex Network for the project originated, said he must now convince Quebec City to participate in the project and pay, either alone or with partners, sponsorship required 3 million..."

Also:

  • "Tourism Minister Sheila McHale said the event was a "spectacular success" and a great outcome for the state's $2.75 million investment to secure the air race.

    The state Government has secured the event for three years but then must re-bid against other cities with bigger budgets. These include Sydney and Melbourne, as well as overseas cities."

And Red Bull would want Windsor considering this:

  • "We’re among a number of U.S. cities making a pitch," said Joe Moeller, president of the San Diego International Sports Council, whose mission is to attract world-class sports events to San Diego and Tijuana. "We think we’d be a terrific host."

    Even with necessary approval, Moeller cautioned that Red Bull must select San Diego over other U.S. cities, including Indianapolis and New York, before it officially lands the event.

As Detroit Air Racing said

  • "Hundreds of bids from many big important cities around the world we received, and for the first time, the infamous industrial City of Detroit will host 1 stop of the Red Bull Air Race World Series in 2008."

If Eddie gets the race here, congratulations to him BUT what will it cost us.

Oh and by the way, his holiday Monday press release is still not up on the City's website.

MAYOR'S DITHERING SAVES WINDSOR FAMILIES FROM FINANCIAL DISASTER

All those families who might have moved out West if the Mayor had acted promptly on his commuting plan (the real objective according to Western officials was not to have them commute but to move out West) should breathe a big sigh of relief:

  • "Western Canada on verge of housing slump

    Western Canada is on the verge of a housing slump with almost every major city suffering from inflated market prices, according to a new study by a pair of Merril Lynch Canada economists.

    The report shows that homes in Regina, Saskatoon, Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary, Edmonton are all overvalued by more than 10 per cent. In B.C., Victoria and Vancouver's market prices are estimated to be inflated by about 35 per cent. Saskatchewan's housing market is said to be overvalued by about 50 per cent."

JULY 10 SPECIAL COUNCIL MEETING MINUTES

Silly me. Hiding things? Not this City!

I tried to find them in the Minutes section of the Council website since it was a key meeting re the Tunnel deal. I could not do so. My error. They were right there in front of me after I received this Administration note:

  • "The minutes for July 10, 2008 can be found attached:

    http://www.citywindsor.ca/002288.asp

    It is under the July 21, 2008 Council minutes, Page 24."

I should have known.

One interesting point. When the Tunnel update was being discussed, the only non-Councillor member of the Tunnel Commission there, T. Fuerth, left the meeting. Why? Wasn't he supposed to know anything? Or was that just an administrative error and he was really in attendance?

Eddie Said, Kwame Said



video

Interesting front page story in the Star on Saturday. About a trip Kwame may have taken to Niagara. It will be the story du jour for a few days. Yet, on page 4, is a story where our Mayor and his lawyer are revealing information because some may think they are liars. They wanted to clear the air.

I wonder why the positions of the stories were not changed in a WINDSOR paper given the startling revelations made in the Eddie/Sutts story.

As a Windsorite, the Detroit Mayor story is titillating but not crucial. What my Mayor says and how he acts is fundamental to me and essential for trust in Government. Why wasn't this story given the prominence it deserved.

A Pandora's box has now been opened up. Mayor Francis and Cliff Sutts have no choice but to make their entire files available for examination, and not just the parts they have selected. Contrary to closing this matter down and ending it, as far as I am concerned, it may only be the beginning with more possibly to come. There may well be serious credibility questions that have arisen after what Mr. Sutts has disclosed that may require further investigation.

It would not suprise me to see both of them asked to testify in Detroit along with someone from the Star! They both must have understood that risk given they are both lawyers. And will the Star be forced to reveal the name of its source if push comes to shove? I hope the unnamed business person understood the risk too.

Liar, liar… mayoral pants on fire! Which Mayor is telling the truth? Or perhaps they both are depending on the date chosen to start and what they each took from conversations.

This Tunnel deal is growing by leaps and bounds and who knows where it is going to end. As Cliff Sutts rightly stated:

  • "We are negotiating a tunnel deal -- and now we are involved in a criminal case. It's absurd."

Now it looks like we are into a “He Said/She Said” type situation as to who is telling the truth about who called whom about the secret meeting. Or should we say it is an “Eddie Mayor Said/Kwame Mayor Said” matter now.

The clip above is taken from a video dealing with the hearing in the Kilpatrick bail matter. Kwame was obviously quite agitated as you can tell when the Prosecutor claimed that he was not telling the truth about the meeting in Windsor. Kwame’s lawyer stood by their story about who called whom. That clip sets out Eddie's position and Kwame's quite nicely.

I had suggested that a timeline might be appropriate so that we could try and figure out what was going on. Well if you don’t believe in the Power of the BLOG, you better do so now:

  • “Sutts said he has put together a chronology of events after he was contracted by prosecutors.”

I am certain that our Mayor, Mr. Sutts’ client, was agreeable. Otherwise, the lawyer could not provide the information given to the Detroit Prosecutor nor could he give the detailed information that was outlined in the Star. Now of course since solicitor-client privilege has been waived in this matter, I shall file my Municipal Freedom of Information request for certain documentation. I am certain that it will provided in a very timely fashion without any objection.

But the troubling part to me is the additional reason given for disclosing all of this information:

  • "We feel it's necessary to put the record straight…

    People in Windsor are even wondering if we are being truthful," he said. "We feel we need to reveal the facts, notwithstanding it may cause more difficulties for the mayor in Detroit…"

    We are not going to lie or appear that we are not being truthful. The facts are the facts -- and they can't change them.”

But wait a minute...what if Kwame is right and Eddie is wrong? Does what was revealed cause problems for OUR Mayor? What are we in Windsor going to do then? Since this is a matter of credibility, would the Mayor be forced to resign or rather would he tender his resignation forthwith.

In effect, if it can be shown that Eddie is not telling the truth, he has no choice but to leave office. Eddie decided to make this an issue, to make himself part of this. He has to live with the consequences now.

The issue for me is not the Kwame story but is Eddie telling the truth!

I'm rather shocked to be quite honest about it that a timeline has even being issued. You see, I worked on one too. Of course, I did not have access to anyone's legal files or lawyer dockets to help me. I just relied on media stories to try to figure out what was going on.

While the Star story talks about Sutts starting "with Detroit council's month-long flip-flopping, it appears that his chronology focused on the period starting July 17 and following. July 17 was the day that Detroit Council took their "nebulous" action not to set up an Authority for their half of the Tunnel and the Detroit Mayor said as quoted in a news story that

  • "his staff has meetings planned with Windsor on Friday, and he expects the $75 million deal will go forward. "

I on the other hand focused on the time period beginning a week before. I started on July 10 the date of the Windsor Council/Windsor Tunnel Commission joint meeting when Council seemingly pulled the plug on the deal. I thought that this meeting caused the greatest consternation since it seemed like the deal was all over and that I should begin there.

From reading my timeline, [ http://www.scribd.com/doc/4653272/tunneltimelinetest ] it would appear that there were many, many discussions between people in Windsor and Detroit. With whom exactly and about what is essential to know.

Here is what bugged me at the Council meeting on July 21 if you remember. The comment re "face-to-face." I Blogged previously:

  • At Council on Monday, the Mayor told us that Mr. Sutts is following Council’s directions and he has had no “face-to-face” meetings with people from Detroit on the Tunnel deal. When we see the legal bills, if the Deputy Mayor of Detroit is telling us what happened, we will note that the City’s lawyer has spoken to people from Detroit.

    How can that be you might ask? Did the Mayor not tell us the truth? Of course he did. There is a very simple explanation… a telephone conversation as an example is not “face-to-face.” So what the Mayor has told us is the truth. He can say with a clear conscience:

    "I did not have face-to-face Tunnel relations with that Detroit Mayor..."

    I wonder how much time it took to think up that one. It was not just a chance, off-hand remark in my opinion considering what happened on Wednesday. I find the fact that there was a face-to-face meeting only a few days later very interesting although the Mayor did say that there were to be some meetings subsequently. If there was nothing to hide about the Wednesday meeting, why was it "secret?"

Here is the clip from that meeting courtesy of Chris Schnurr's BLOGsite. Listen to it very, very carefully:




And the transcript from Chris as well. Read it carefully too:

  • Councillor Marra:

    Thank you, Mayor.

    Last week, um, Detroit City Council once again reversed their decision as it relates to the creation of the, uh, authority in order to take the Detroit side of the Detroit-Windsor tunnel and presumably flip that asset into the authority, so, my question is, ah, is that, um, stopped the negotiations formally between the City of Windsor and the City of Detroit?

    Mayor Francis:

    I can share with you that Mr. Sutts has been following the direction of City Council and, ah, I don’t believe there have been any face-to-face meetings since then.

    There may be some scheduled this week, as Mr. Sutts tries to respond to council resolution."

Have citizens ever seen that Resolution by the way?

Here is the dramatic, new information outlining what Mr. Sutts said took place that had never been revealed publicly before. It needs to be read with care too:

  • “He started with Detroit council's month-long flip-flopping on supporting the proposed tunnel deal that eventually led to a statement by Kilpatrick on Thursday, July 17, 2008, that he would travel to Windsor the next day to meet with officials and salvage the tunnel proposal.

    The next morning at around 10 a.m. Kilpatrick's office called Windsor and the two mayors spoke on the phone, Francis said.

    "He says this deal is very important and we need to keep it on track, that we need to get in a room and finalize all issues of the deal," Francis said.

    "I said I would welcome the opportunity and our teams should get together."

    Kilpatrick wanted to travel to Windsor that Friday, but Francis told him he had previous commitments.

    The Detroit mayor then asked about the following Monday, which conflicted with Windsor's council meeting. On Tuesday, Francis had to travel to Toronto for a municipal association meeting.

    "Then we said, 'OK, Wednesday morning.'" Francis said.

    Added Sutts: "Eddie called me right after that call and said they were requesting a meeting."

If you read what was written in the Star story, and just this conversation, who called the meeting? Was it Kwame who said "we need to get in a room" or was it Eddie who said "our teams should get together" and then Ok'd the Wednesday meeting to fit his schedule. As you will see below, it appears that staffs had already been talking about meeting on the Friday before the Friday call between the Mayors.

In passing, I was rather disturbed by the smarminess tone I thought I detected in this statement made by Mr. Sutts:

  • “Sutts and Francis also disagreed that it was an emergency meeting.

    "If the meeting was established on Friday for the following Wednesday, is that an emergency?" Sutts said. "I guess it's in the eye of the beholder."

    This is just after he had explained the reason for the delay: Eddie’s schedule.

    He must also have forgotten what he had said previously in another interview:

    “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.”

After all, Eddie thought the deal was so important that he snubbed meeting with John Tory a week before to talk about Windsor’s key priority: jobs, jobs, jobs!

Let's get to the heart of this right now.

I would be absolutely furious if I was a Windsor Councillor after reading what Mr. Sutts’ statement. I was absolutely correct in what I guessed on the use of the words “face-to-face” by the Mayor. It was a “Gotcha!” Technically, there was nothing done "face-to-face." There was a telephone conversation that was not disclosed by the Mayor.

In fact it is worse than I thought. It was not Mr. Sutts who spoke with people from Detroit; it was our Mayor who spoke directly with the Detroit Mayor!

Note as well, that the Mayor's statement in the Council clip only discussed Mr. Sutts. Again, he chose not to mention his conversation with the Detroit.

On that Friday, the Mayors agreed that there would be a Wednesday meeting. Obviously, our Mayor did not want anyone to know about it and wanted it to be secret. His wording at Council was again very deliberate. Note the use of the word “may.”

Again if one looks at what was said, one could make a very strong argument that it was in fact Eddie who wanted to have a meeting. He was the one who said:

  • “our teams should get together”

And was he using the Royal “we” again as he seems to like to do these days when he said:

  • “Then we said, 'OK, Wednesday morning.”

I really have no intention in writing this to help out the Mayor of Detroit. He has his own lawyers to assist him and they can do what they want with what the Star story says. I am writing this because I have to have trust in what my Mayor is telling me as a Citizen of Windsor.

Since Kwame has already been dealt with re coming to Windsor, Citizens no longer need scripted answers to legitimate questions that say nothing.

  • “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.”

  • “Any comments I made previously, I stand behind,” Sutts said Thursday.”

As I said, I prepared my own timeline. You can read it all by clicking on this link http://www.scribd.com/doc/4653272/tunneltimelinetest I have emphasized some of the key sections in bold.

Based on the comments made by Mr. Sutts, I have formed an impression about what our Mayor did in answer to the question asked by Councillor Marra. I am sure that you have as well, dear reader. We need to see the entire file to know if our impressions are true or not.

There are a host of other questions that arise out of what took place in the week before July 17, the date that Mr. Sutts emphasized, even just based on media reports. Who knows what we will see once we get access to all of the relevant files in this matter.

Here are a few of the events that I found from checking the media. What actually happened durignthis period:

  • July 11. 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.

  • July 11, 2008 Free Press 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.

  • July 11 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.

  • July 12, 2008 Sutts said negotiations would resume if Detroit council members state their support for the sale. He spoke Friday with Detroit Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams.


  • July 17 The [Detroit] mayor said his staff has meetings planned with Windsor on Friday, and he expects the $75 million deal will go forward.

  • July 17, 2008 Later, Adams and William Phillips, negotiating on behalf of Detroit, said they talk to Sutts several times a day

  • July 17, 2008 Windsor Star Sutts said it may be next week before he really understands the impact of what transpired Thursday.

Because of the actions of our Mayor and the release of information to put the “record straight,” the Mayor has invited us to see all of the information so that we can make informed decision and finally determine “if we are being truthful.”

Will I be forced to do a MFOIA application or will the Mayor and Mr. Sutts release their files voluntarily?

It has become more important now for the Star and other media outlets to have their reporters do some investigative journalism to uncover what happened in Windsor rather than to try to deflect attention from our situation by focusing on Detroit! Will the Star and others start asking the tough questions and demanding the facts. Let us find out what they are made of as a responsible journalists.

And as for Council, it is time to stop being wusses! Perform your legal duty!

One final matter that you may find interesting.

Right now Governor Granholm has advanced a hearing to September 3 to determine if she should remove Kwame from office. The matters she is hearing now are limited to:

  • “The Detroit city council has presented the governor with charges that Mayor Kilpatrick misused public funds for personal gain and failed to obtain the council’s informed consent to settle a lawsuit involving public funds.”

She is NOT dealing with the criminal proceedings.

But what if the Eddie/Francis chronology and the Star story re Kwame in Niagara Falls result in Kwame being jailed because of a breach of bail conditions.

I assume that Detroit Council might add that matter and ask the Governor to remove the Mayor for “official misconduct” or “wilful neglect of duty.”

If that happened, then would Ken Cockrel Jr, President of Council become the new mayor?

If so, the Tunnel deal would still be on…Cockrel supported the setup of the Tunnel Authority in Detroit and did NOT vote to rescind it. He also said:

  • "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."