Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, October 17, 2008

What The Financial Meltdown Means To The DRIC Bridge


Believe it or not, Brian Masse and I may actually agree on something respecting P3’s but perhaps for different reasons.

I believe that I am even more opposed than Brian about the value of what is proposed to take place here by building a P3 bridge based on my own experience as a corporate lawyer. I have watched organizations following the latest gimmick resulting in major losses. I have seen companies become “conglomerates” by investing in businesses they did not understand and not sticking to their core business. I was there when companies started using their pension plans as a means of generating revenue and profits for the Corporation by having the plans investing in riskier investments in order to reduce corporate contributions. I have seen the horrible results of those failures.

P3’s are not the salvation for financing a new border crossing in Windsor. P3’s will become the newest disaster in waiting as we shall find out down the road. P3 collapses in future will risk the financial well-being of people at the most fragile time of their lives, their retirement years. Pension funds, mutual and infrastructure funds are hearing the Sirens’ call of high and stable returns and will get more deeply involved with them as the latest financial gimmick.


Of course, no P3 investors will come here while the Ambassador Bridge is owned privately since it provides competition to them and would mean that they would not get a satisfactory return on their investment or perhaps no return at all. P3 investors like a monopoly and that is why the Government needs to force the owner of the Ambassador Bridge to sellout cheaply. That is what DRIC is really all about.

Brian opposes P3’s from a philosophical perspective. He wants total "public" with no private involvement at all. PERIOD. As for me, while the use of private funds should be encouraged, I oppose P3’s because they are impractical in our situation. All that would happen would be more delay in providing financing for a border solution and more devastation to our region because of the lack of funding due to the financial meltdown in our economy today. If one is actually built and it goes broke because the amount of money used in the the financing cannot be satisfactorily serviced or the rates of return are too low, then what would happen? Let me explain.

How could it happen? They hire the best and the brightest and pay them very well. The cream of the crop from the best schools. Businesspeople with unmatched pedigrees and running businesses to huge successes, at least in the good times.

And yet they are all failing. Major companies like the auto companies are verging on bankruptcy. The money boys at the major investment houses have been literally wiped out overnight. The banks around the world are requiring massive bailouts.

If you think the financial crisis is over, you ain’t seen nothing yet!

In my opinion at least, the subprime mortgage market chaos is nothing more than masking for now the real problems that banks, pension funds and private equity investors will be facing in the very near future. I take some comfort in that point of view by this story in the Globe and Mail:
  • Why LBOs will be the next thing to go pop

    Leveraged buyouts, the lifeblood of the private equity industry, are set to unravel. Even private equity says so. "There will certainly be dozens of LBOs that won't make it and it doesn't take a lot of imagination to get into the hundreds," said John Moulton, founder and managing partner of Alchemy, a London-based private equity firm.

    Like real estate in the United States and Britain, private equity and LBOs were bubbles waiting to burst. Highly leveraged deals, in which a pebble of equity was buried under a mountain of debt, are already a thing of the past; thanks to the credit crisis, banks have no appetite for risky lending. The new world of lower leverage will inevitably translate into lower returns. In the meantime, more than a few top-of-the-market LBOs are cracking…

    While the partners of private equity firms were built up as swashbuckling captains of capitalism, the reality is that their business model was dead simple: Goose investment returns by buying an asset with as little equity as possible.

    They could do so because loans were cheap and plentiful, and rising markets kept the credit spigot open. Typically, private equity firms financed LBOs with one-quarter equity and three-quarters debt, though many were done with much thinner equity layers.

    As the good times rolled, the LBOs, measured by their cash flow cushions, became riskier. A strategic buyer would make sure the target company's debt was no more than three times EBITDA - earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization. The first wave of private equity deals were done with debt equivalent to five times EBITDA. During the credit boom of the past two or three years, that multiple rose to eight times or higher.

    The higher the ratio, the higher the risk, because cash flow is used to pay down debt. "If your operating profit goes down even a fraction in these highly leveraged deals, you're up [a] creek, to use the technical term," said Alchemy's Mr. Moulton…

    Private equity managers say things will get a lot worse before they get better. Some truly big LBOs could blow up, spreading wreckage everywhere. "

Do you think Governments are any better off? Take a look at this story:

  • California may need emergency $7 billion loan: report

    California may need an emergency loan of up to $7 billion from the federal government within weeks, the Los Angeles Times on Friday quoted Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as saying in a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

    In the letter dated October 2, Schwarzenegger called for the passage of the $700 billion financial industry bailout plan which the U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote on Friday, the Times said.

    "Absent a clear resolution to this financial crisis, California and other states may be unable to obtain the necessary level of financing to maintain government operations and may be forced to turn to the federal treasury for short-term financing," Schwarzenegger wrote in the letter, according to the paper.”

Pension plans are not immune from shocks either as you will recall from the OMERS balance sheet several years ago that required huge contributions from all of the municipalities around Ontario thereby causing tax rates to increase dramatically. OMERS is very fortunate. They have you and me, dear reader, who have deep pockets to make up their losses. Other pension funds are not as lucky.

Here is another scary story if you are a teacher:

  • “The Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan is cutting back on inflation protection for some future retirees to eliminate a $12.7-billion funding shortfall reported earlier this year.

    Instead of the present 100 per cent adjustment for the cost of living, inflation increases for pension credit earned after 2009 will range between 50 and 100 per cent, depending on the financial health of the plan, officials said Wednesday.”

I’m telling you all this because I’m not sure where P3 investors are going to get the money to pay for a border crossing in Windsor, especially if the owner of the Ambassador Bridge decides not to sell out. I am absolutely disgusted with the disingenuous arguments used by MDOT during the transportation budget debate:

  • “Shreck wanted to correct any perception the new DRIC bridge would drain funds from other Michigan road projects: "Any bridge that is built will be financed with bonds and paid for by tolls, not state and federal gas tax funds, so it will not affect any other road projects."

What a facile comment that is so misleading that it is a disgrace. He did not say who would provide the bonds and how much higher the tolls would have to be in order to pay those bonds back given the amount of traffic that the DRIC bridge would actually have. That assumes that there is fair competition between the crossings. But what is most disgraceful is that it appears that it is the intention of MDOT to have a P3 for the DRIC bridge even though it is not yet permitted by legislation. After all, why did MDOT speak with the “Australians?”

In this light, I found a very interesting article on P3’s that MDOT should find very troubling. Where Brian and I may have some agreement is on the outrageous sums of money that P3 investors want to earn in order to invest in the first place. If MDOT believes that money will come from tolls, than just imagine how high they will be. If on the other hand, tolls are kept artificially low, as it appears to happen at other public bridges, then taxpayers will have a considerable amount of subsidization that will be required. Of course that will not be easily be apparent to the public so that few will know about it. Examples are the plaza costs at the Peace and Blue Water Bridges and at our Tunnel. We know that the Soo bridge will have to be bailed out by taxpaers soon too.

Here are some excerpts from the article:

  • Infrastructure funds seek $100bn

    Banks and asset managers are currently raising $100bn (€69bn) to plough into infrastructure projects around the world, twice as much as last year, as investors seek double digit returns from investments lasting 10 years or more…

    He warned some funds might not hit their goals, due to tougher capital-raising conditions in the economic downturn.

    Jane Welsh, a senior investment consultant at Watson Wyatt, said infrastructure funds were typically aiming to make inflation-linked returns of about 12% a year after management fees of 1% to 1.5% and performance fees of 20%.

    The riskiest opportunities, such as those involving the building of a tunnel for a tollroad, may aim to generate returns of more than 20% a year. Most funds require their investors to lock in minimum investments of $10m for 10 years, with some demanding 25-year lock-ins.

    She said: “There has been a ramp-up of new entrants in the past three years and we are concerned about the number of funds looking for capital. Are the opportunities out there?”

    Sadek Wahba, head of the Morgan Stanley Infrastructure team, said: “The answer is not 100% clear. Some projects that are desirable from a social perspective are not interesting commercially and there may be political considerations…

    Philippe Taillardat, head of infrastructure investments at Crédit Agricole Asset Management Capital Investors, which is also fundraising, said: “The emergence of many new investment groups will increase competition for quality assets, making manager selection a critical factor.”

    He said credit was being made available to help finance infrastructure deals, though under more stringent terms than last year.

    Investment consultants said large pension schemes had increased their allocations to infrastructure to 5% as part of a broader investment in alternative investments. One recommended an allocation of 10% to infrastructure, but warned: “It is an onerous job to get comfortable with this kind of investment.”

    Some investors said that while they liked the idea in theory, finding a way to invest could be a problem.”

You can see the problem about to develop again. Infrastructure funds are going to be set up by smart operators to lure pension funds’ money as they diversify their portfolios into infrastructure investing. The pot of gold for them supposedly will be high and stable returns over a long period of time to match their pensioner payouts. That is the theory going around.

Increased buyout amounts will be offered for the prime investments since the number of "quality" ones are relatively few. In many cases, amounts paid will be a premium to the market value of the asset in order to get the asset in the first place. And someone--probably you and I-- will ultimately have to pay for that premium too, say by increased tolls or subsidies if we are talking about the DRIC bridge.

Not only are these type of investments illiquid in themselves, the funds will require the pension funds to lock themselves in for long periods of time. It will not be like trading on the stock market where if things go bad an investment can be sold immediately.

These transactions are not immune from disaster as we in Windsor should know from the OMERS’ investment in DRTP and the write-downs that they took on infrastructure a number of years ago. Infrastructure managers are not infallible. Who knows the future traffic volumes of a DRIC bridge as transportation needs change. The so-called experts were unable to figure them out a few years in advance, never mind 75-99 years out!

The troubling part in all this however is the kind of return that is expected: “returns of more than 20% a year” in some cases. If that is the rate of return expected on the new DRIC bridge, then who would ever use it and those who did would not be very happy at the tolls.

So what do we see right now? A financial meltdown supposedly because of the subprime mortgage market to be followed by disintegration of the private equity market that was also supported by the banks and some pension funds. Governments themselves have their own financial problems as tax revenues decrease and costs increase because of the loss of jobs and industry resulting in higher unemployment. Huge demands on government to bail out the marketplace to prevent a depression.

Our salvation…the money boys leading us to our next financial disaster, P3’s. Why an assistant professor of geography and planning at the University of Toronto in a Toronto Star opinion piece just told us:

  • "Public-private deals can pay for new transit projects

    But between privatization and traditional public-sector funding, there is the possibility of many different forms of private-public partnership. These range from the sale of public lands or zoning rights adjacent to new facilities, to the bundling of infrastructure design, construction, operation and financing into a single long-term contract.

    While more than 1,100 transportation infrastructure projects worth more than $450 billion were delivered through private-public partnerships worldwide between 1986 and 2006, in Toronto, such mechanisms have been highly controversial.

    Critics contend that private-public partnerships are a backdoor path to full-fledged privatization, that projects paid for through upfront private investment are more expensive because of higher private-sector borrowing costs and the need to cover corporate profits, that worker pay, job conditions and service quality suffer when projects are operated by private companies, and that transparency and public input into decision-making is limited.

    Each of these concerns has a basis of truth. But it is also the case that as the experience with delivering projects through partnerships has grown, approaches have been developed to mitigate some of the downsides."

Careful Professor, it is those downsides that can destroy you!

The money boys are not operators of the business but they are financial whiz-kids who will recommend an investment as long as their financial spreadsheets show rates of return that will make their investors happy. It is interesting that Michael Nobrega of OMERS as an example is not only interested in being an investor but he also wants to be a manager because that will be where nice money can be with a minimum of risk:

  • “Few pension funds or merchant banks in the world match the depth and breadth of expertise that we have assembled at Borealis Infrastructure. In the next stage of Borealis Infrastructure’s evolution, we will partner with other like-minded pension funds in the pursuit and acquisition of trophy infrastructure assets around the world.

    The nature of this partnership could take several forms:
    • Creation of a North American infrastructure fund, managed by Borealis Infrastructure, in which OMERS would be the lead and largest investor; this fund structure is particularly attractive to smaller pension funds without the resources to pursue and manage an in-house infrastructure program.

I am sorry but I do not see P3's as our answer. I'm not sure that a P3 is even possible here unless the Ambassador Bridge is wiped out and that will lead to a decade or more of litigation, something that also is not good for our region.

Even if some arrangement could be made with the Bridge Company that would not result in litigation, the amount of money involved would not be insignificant just based on the DRIC traffic projections themselves. Why would the Bridge Company accept a low amount when the Governments are saying that the DRIC figures of the traffic volume doubling make sense!

There is no doubt that the Governments would expect a private P3 operator to include those costs as well as the costs of a new bridge, Plaza and perhaps even a new road to the Bridge along with the Tunnel rolled in the amount to be financed. Remember, the Tunnel has to be bought out as well and rolled into this project because it is competition.

Can you imagine the amount of the toll for all of those amounts as well as a rate of return in excess of 20%! That would kill traffic-- business, tourist and commuter-- for this region forever.

Given the demands on Governments, how are they going to subsidize this crossing in order to keep the tolls of manageable? If the Draft DEIS is correct, and traffic will be drawn from the other crossings, they will suffer financial problems which the Governments will have to subsidize also.

Where are these pools of capital going to come from with all of the infrastructure needs around the world that have to be met? Bank loans or government... don't be silly. If you don't think that Governments are going to start to impose on their pension funds the obligation that they invest only in their own country, then you are deluding yourself. Don't you find it despicable that Canadian pension plan money is being used overseas to fix the infrastructure of other countries!

Just wait until some of these Infrastructure Funds start having their own meltdowns as well as investments go sour. Just watch as money flows away from them. No wonder they require long-term lockins.

We are at least fortunate here that the Bridge Company is prepared to risk its money to build its Enhancement Project. Don't forget that they have already spent about a half a billion dollars of their money over the last decade to get to where the project is today.

The nature of their "partnership" with the Government is not the same as the P3 partnerships that we are being encouraged to enter into. The Ambassador Gateway project is a good example of the Governments of Michigan and the United States doing what they are required to do... build interstate connections... while the Bridge Company does what is required to do... Plaza improvements in making the connections.

It is not a financial partnership as a P3 would be but rather a partnership where each of the parties performs their function as they have been doing for almost 80 years.

It is time that the games playing with Governments stop and some sanity be brought to this region. We need a proper border solution that can only be arrived at if the Governments and the Bridge Company sit down and discuss what must be done in a cooperative fashion and in a respectful one as well.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Living In A World Of Delusion


Relax everybody. Gord Henderson has not lost it. His column “Francis relieved” was designed to tell us the thinking at City Hall. It was designed to show us how out of touch our Mayor is with the reality on the border file. It was specifically designed for our Councillors to tell them that they better start doing something pretty soon or this City’s future is doomed.

Henderson is telling them that March, 2003 better start coming sooner rather than later. No wonder Eddie did not have his Special Council Meeting tonight. He knew that he would lose out on any votes that were taken from the point of view of Councillors. He suspected as well that he would be slammed and blamed by the Citizens who were prepared to use the Procedural Bylaw to speak. Tonight would have been the night when Eddie’s border unity control over Council ended for the public to see. Eddie could not tolerate that and so the meeting was cancelled.

The real risk to this City is that the Senior Levels have had enough of our Mayor’s shenanigans and decide to pull out completely since the next Senior Level elections will not take place for years now.

Pull out, blame it on Eddie to finish his and the Councillors' careers off and then come back after his second term is over, just before the next Senior Level elections.

Just think about it... the Province is so contemptuous of our Mayor that changes were made to Greenlink and the City did not even know about it. When were the changes announced ... right before the Special Council meeting. As CKLW reported
  • "PARKWAY CHANGES PLANNED 2008-10-16 06:42:15

    Changes have been proposed for the Windsor-Essex Parkway, the controversial access route to a new border crossing in west Windsor. Unveiled last night, they include shifting a section of the Parkway 50 to 70 meters further away from existing homes between Huron Church and Matchette Roads. The move would also preserve an extra 25 acres of the Spring Garden area.

    City of Windsor officials have not yet seen the proposed changes. Parkway planning manager, Dave Wake, is hoping to set up a meeting in the near future."

Let me tell you how out of touch that City Hall’s thinking is on the border file. The obvious objective that the Mayor has is to divide and conquer the Province and the Federal Government.

There is no doubt at all that the relationship between those two levels of Government is not the best in the world. The Border file is only a small part of the animosity between the two levels that has been going on for a very long time.

One of the reasons for the Province’s concern is at the Windsor/ Detroit Gateway is vital for the Province and its trade with the United States but the Conservatives are more interested in the Pacific Gateway. The Province’s attempt to have a significant influence over the border crossing was decisively rebuffed by the Federal Government. Bill C-3 hurt the Province very badly and put them in their place.

That is why Eddie at certain times will snub the Federal Government and at other times will love them. Whatever works for him, he will try and do. The idea is to try and convince the Province that Eddie is snuggling up to the Feds so that the Province will do whatever it takes to get Eddie back on side---like to agree with whatever it is that he wants to do with respect to Greenlink as an example.

Here is how out of touch Eddie has to be if what Gord says is true:

  • “Mayor Eddie Francis had some extra bounce in his step this week after seeing most of Windsor's federal allies on the $5-billion border file re-elected while perceived foes were rebuffed.”

Do you think this matters:

  • “the landslide victories of New Democratic incumbents Brian Masse in Windsor West and Joe Comartin in Windsor-Tecumseh, both firm supporters of the city in its battle with the province for a first-class border fix, validate the city's insistence on additional tunnelling.”

DUH…who cares what FEDERAL MPs think when the building of the road is a PROVINCIAL matter! It is what Sandra and Dwight think, or rather the Premier, that is important and they are not supportive of what the City wants to do. That is very clear to everyone except it seems to our Mayor given the DRIC rejection of his new plan.

Again, Eddie has missed out on timing because of his failure to execute. Even if there was ever a possibility of having a Greenlink, the likelihood of spending hundreds of millions of dollars extra in this time of economic restraint is minimal.

Re-electing two NDPers, a party that is never going anywhere, can hardly be deemed to be helpful to Windsor. This is really Brian Masse’s file. And Brian has hardly been successful in what he has done for us in Parliament.

When the NDP held the balance of power in Parliament a few years ago, they did nothing for the border. Bill C-3 as passed destroyed any argument that the City had that it had a role in the border file. Not only were most of Masse’s amendments not accepted but he set the world’s record on the use of the word “inadmissible” as his pro-City amendments were rejected! In fact, a good argument can be made that Bill C-3 has given the Ambassador Bridge Company greater power to build their Enhancement Project.

The irony of all of this is that it was Brian Masse who signalled that Greenlink was dead by his lack of enthusiastic support for it. His interest was in ensuring that people who were expropriated for the DRIC road got fair compensation. He was not prepared to play a silly game of boosting some road project that had no chance of being successful when his re-election was at stake. Some of our Councillors could take a lesson from him on this and drop their support of Son of Greenlink if they even know what the revision is.

I really laughed hard when the re-election of a Jeff Watson was deemed to be a positive for Windsor. Does Eddie even know his phone number and has he phoned Jeff yet to congratulate him? It is always humourous to watch how Eddie squirms when he is asked when he has spoken to Watson last.

Let’s see, wasn’t Watson one of the big DRTP supporters? Watson brought the Prime Minister down to this region a few weeks ago and what did Harper say about the border? That’s right, nothing. And which Prime Minister snubbed the region in the last week of the election…Watson’s leader.

Eddie believing that he had a good relationship with former Cabinet Minister Fortier whom I believe he only met once and with Transport Minister Cannon is very scary to me. It is notorious amongst those involved in the Senior Levels in the border file that Eddie is not tolerated.

It was of course Minister Cannon who made it clear that the City has no role in the border file

  • "Mr. Cannon: At the outset I will indicate to you that of course this is federal jurisdiction. That is the first point I want to mention."

He also made it clear that the City's historical argument about the earlier Statute also was irrelevant:

  • "Mr. Cannon: I will let our lawyer respond to that, but I think that the legislation you are talking about pertains to the construction period."

If our Mayor truly believes that there is

  • "warm and fuzzy relationship between the city and the feds on border infrastructure,"

then why does Councillor Valentinis always ask why no one listens to Windsor?

Of course, our Mayor knows that this is not true. The real purpose behind the City Hall thinking is:

  • "They listen and they work with us. And some day we hope to replicate that on the provincial level," said Francis."

Clearly, this Column was designed to make Sandra and Dwight shake with fear. They are warned that they had better come onside because the City and the Feds will form a united block against them otherwise. However, the Provincial Ministers know that the last thing that the Feds want to be involved in is the building of the road. All they want to do is pay their 50% of it and get out.

I am here to tell you that this Column did make our two Provincial Liberal Cabinet Ministers/MPP's shake. Not in their boots though. Unfortunately for Eddie, they are shaking with laughter at the stupidity of it all!

Why Was The Greenlink Meeting Postponed


There are so many strange things going on at City Hall that I just can't keep up anymore. I wonder if anyone there can.

First, we are told that there is going to be a Special Council meeting on some issues including the border. The Order of Business is posted in the last possible second and the only item is the border. You can see how enlightening it is about what is going to be discussed and who is going to do the presentation.

There is no doubt that it was going to be a big deal since Cogeco was there to televise the proceedings. I had understood that the Parsons Brinckerhoff people were to come here as well presumably, because they are part of the Greenlink team and I assume that they were to make a presentation. It is not known whether David Estrin was to appear but in the circumstances of his lawsuit with the Bridge Company, he would have to be extremely careful.

And then, just as quickly for reasons unknown, the Special Council Meeting is postponed as you can see from this notice on the City's Website.

It must be nice being a Mayor. You snap your fingers once and a meeting is set up. You snap your fingers a second time and the meeting is cancelled. No information is given about the first meeting and no information is given for the cancellation. That’s called Open and Transparent Government, Windsor style.

I do not know about you but if I was a Councillor, I would be rather upset about it. I wonder how many of our Councillors were loopy and knew what was going on. I would venture to guess that there were not too many people in the loop this time around. This whole meeting episode seemed so closely held to the vest.

I have to admit difficulty figuring out what the meeting was all about. We know that there is some kind of a new version of Greenlink out there although we have never seen the reworking of it other than what was told to us by Gord in one of his columns. We also know that DRIC has rejected it. What then is the purpose of doing a presentation about something that is not going to happen? It seems a senseless exercise and an expensive one if people are being flown in for the presentation.

However, if one goes back historically, we now know that the first Schwartz Report was rejected by the Senior Levels and the one that was presented to us in public at the Cleary was a rewrite. This time at least we know that Son of Greenlink was rejected.

If the purpose of it is merely to show us what the new plan was, then what was the need for a Special Council meeting and for television. Eddie could have done another one of his whiteboard Presentations at a regular Council meeting as he did during the WUC matter. That was such a wonderful and unexpected treat that charmed everyone. That certainly was compelling television.

My only thought was that Eddie has to get his own way and that what he wanted was the right at least to threaten litigation or even commence it. As I have said before, it is pretty clear now that Council has not given him the right to do so. In fact, as I mentioned as well, Council Valentinjs has already told us that nothing would happen for months.

Still, why would Gord tell us how fortunate we are to have a weapon of mass destruction like David Estrin and why else would the Star run a big negative story about the Bridge Company that was designed to discredit them? That could only have helped our Mayor by pressuring Councillors.

Perhaps I’m wrong but it seemed to me reasonably clear that the purpose of the meeting was to show us how wonderful the new Greenlink plan was, point out all of the errors that the DRIC engineers were making and then have Eddie give one of his patented speeches telling us why only he could save us from disaster.

Of course, after that was done, one of the sycophant Councillors would remarkably have a Resolution ready giving Eddie everything he wanted. Naturally, the Procedural Bylaw rules would have to be waived so that this Motion could be passed and of course it would be, presumably unanimously so that the façade of Council unity could be kept. Of course, it also meant that Eddie would be able to shove the Resolution in the face of a Councillor if he/she decided to change his/her vote down the road.

Moreover, since the meeting was so structured that delegations could not appear, then there would be no negativity and everything would be just the way our Mayor wanted. Even a Councillor opposed to all of this would he be hard-pressed to dare break the unity of Council and face the wrath of Gord in the Saturday Star for destroying Windsor. Just ask Councillor Halberstadt what that is like at the time when he used the “C” word.

The purpose then was to use Son of Greenlink as another stall tool just the way the Schwartz report was used initially, then full tunneling and then Greenlink. All of this for reasons unknown rather than creating 15,000 high-paying jobs in Windsor.

Obviously though something has gone wrong. Whatever it is was so important that it caused Postponement of the Meeting.

Perhaps, Eddie has won. The Feds especially after the election and the Province may be so intimidated by him that they have knuckled under and are giving him everything he wants. Naw, I don’t think so. The one to be intimidated would be our Mayor if the Senior Levels told him that they would pull out of town and take the jobs with them. Economic meltdown and all of that so that the billions for the border aren’t here anymore.

Perhaps a major error has been found in the work of the Greenlink team or perhaps they are refusing to do some of the things that they are being asked to do so that the Presentation doesn’t work properly. Better to postpone than to look foolish.

Or what about this, as extraordinary as it may sound. The Councillors have gotten some guts. Perhaps Eddie does not have the votes necessary to achieve whatever it is that he wants to accomplish at the Meeting. Perhaps he’s been told that there is no interest in threatening litigation anymore but rather that a resolution of the issue needs to be achieved and needs to be achieved now.

Perhaps Eddie has been told that he may no longer be the Voice of Council if he keeps acting in the manner that he has been conducting himself for so long. It may well be that some of the Councillors were offended by what happened at the Joint Councils meeting with respect to the Manning Road issue.

Eddie is just as aware as I am about March, 2003 and dares not have a vote at Council in public that he might lose. Once that happens, then his control over Council is gone and he will not be able to use the border issue as a hammer to try to keep Council unified and to keep the Councillors under his thumb.

I also heard that there were some angry citizens around who also knew how to read the Procedural Bylaw. They were going to register as delegations and confront the way the meeting was going to be carried on. They had figured out a way to appear in front of Council even at a Special Meeting that just dealt with a Presentation.

From what I have heard, their speeches would not have been too pleasant but rather confrontational. It would not have been something that Members of Council would like to hear nor would the Members of Council like to have members of the Public watch it live on Cogeco either.

Anyway, the meeting is postponed. Until when, who knows. Just another fun day in in camera Windsor.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Election After-Shocks



Election? Did we have an election in Canada? I thought all this fuss was about the US election. My mistake.

WHO WON THE ELECTION

Not all that much changed but actually a lot did. The big winners last night… the Federal Liberals.

The Liberal strategists assumed that Harper was going to be re-elected in the next election campaign, that was supposed to take place two years from now by the way, and effectively allowed him to win. They were not going to spend a lot of time, effort and money to try to win an election they knew they would lose. or rather suspected they would.

Stephane Dion is and was always meant to be a one term leader of the Liberal Party. That is why no big-name Liberal ran for the Leadership of the Party and why people like Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae had a shot at the Leadership. It was expected that Dion would run and lose and that a leadership convention would be held sooner rather than later after the election. At that time, the real big names would run to be the Leader.

What was I believe totally unexpected was that Harper would not gain a majority. It is probably more likely now that an election will be held within two to three years rather than the four years if Harper had won a majority. Moreover, Harper will have to face the economic meltdown that will hit this country almost immediately after the election. In poor economic times, the Government in power suffers.

In hindsight, it was a self-fulfilling Liberal prophecy of failure. This was a tragic mistake by the Liberal brain trust. They must have discounted completely until it was too late that Harper would not be popular with voters. With a good leader, they could have beaten Harper. His reign has been a disaster and with someone credible, they could have defeated Harper easily.

I have always admired the Federal Liberals although I have never been one. They have always out-thought the other Federal parties strategically when I was involved in politics many years ago. This time around, they blew it but still are much better positioned for the next election.

Interestingly, all three major parties may have new leaders then.

BYE-BYE M. FORTIER

The fellow who has to be smiling the broadest today in the Conservative party has to be Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon. If you read the media, it is almost with glee that they are reporting the defeat of Michael Fortier. He is the one that they are blaming for the loss in Québec.

Of course, Minister Cannon’s main job for the last several years had nothing to do with Transport but everything to do with gaining seats in Québec. He can legitimately say I believe that he did his job because the expectations were that the Conservatives were going to make a breakthrough in that Province but for some stupid blunders over the last couple of weeks that destroyed their chances.

M. Fortier will take the hit for that.

As the only real big name Conservative in Québec, expect Cannon to be promoted from the Transport position into something better. Who will replace him? Who knows but it just means that a new face will be involved in the border morass.

SUSAN WHELAN

So much for strategic voting by the Labour Council. Their stupidity allowed Jeff Watson to win. Whoever did the poll that said that the NDP could win in Essex should be asked to pay back the money.

It seems to me that the person who has worn out his welcome on election coverage is Lloyd Brown-John, professor emeritus of public administration at the University of Windsor. I thought his comments in the Star were quite offensive. I won’t repeat them. However, his comments about why Whelan lost may be more his opinion than the reality:
  • “But he reserved his strongest criticism for Whelan, who held the riding for 10 years and was making her third unsuccessful campaign against Watson in a comeback attempt. Brown-John said Whelan, a lawyer, was hurt by her relationship with the Ambassador Bridge company which is opposing a publicly owned second bridge between Windsor and Detroit.

    "I think Susan's worn out her welcome quite frankly," he said. "That combined with the association with the bridge company ... just about everybody I talked to here basically said the same thing, they hate the bridge company and Susan Whelan represented the bridge company and they were really taking it out on her.”

It seems pretty clear that the good professor emeritus never reads the Star Forums on the border or listens to CKLW when Dan Stamper is on the talk-in shows. Whelan lost because she started campaigning too late, had Dion as leader, Watson had a strong religious right base and the NDP took votes from her with the Labour Council support!

My own view had always been that she needed to stress her support of the Bridge Company more rather than less and make the border file the issue for her. She needed to attack Watson on his failure to achieve anything on the border, especially when the Prime Minister came down here and did not give us anything in relation to the border file.

For every “hate” vote she lost, I am sure that she picked up more “support” votes.

HELLO JEFF

I wonder when our Mayor will call Jeff Watson to congratulate him on his re-election or if he will even do it. I wonder if Eddie will heed Gord's message or is he still too arrogant to do so:

  • "Conservative incumbent Jeff Watson is no prize. But Essex voters would be doing us all a favour if they were to vote strategically Tuesday. With the likely outcome another minority Harper government, we need the I.O.U.s that come with a government seat...

    This is no time to cut our own throats."

We all know what Eddie won't do don't we.

THE CANADIAN FINANCIAL CRISIS IS COMING

We have been immune from it so far, probably because of the election. However the pumping in by the Government of $25 billion into our banking system that has received very little notice does not bode well for us.

If our Government is forced to take the kind of financial action that other governments have taken as the stock market keeps dropping like a stone so that the value of pension funds drop as well, then where will the P3 money come from?

With their P3 financial expert, M. Fortier no longer in the Cabinet, who will the Government choose to help them out now?

PAMELA ANDERSON IS IN TEARS

Her eyes are red. No wonder she is wearing shades. Otherwise the paparazzi will want to know why!

Larry Horwitz came in third behind the Conservative candidate in Windsor West. Mistake after mistake plagued his campaign including the big story about two of his campaigners being arrested. That certainly didn't help.

Frankly, I thought the campaign that he ran was abysmal. We may find out the real story subsequently why Greg Baggio backed out in the last-minute. To be fair to Larry however, he was a last-minute candidate and really had no chance.

The accepted view about him is that he intends to run for Council in the next municipal election and that this was just a way to get his name out there, a tactic that Lisa Lumley tried when she ran provincially in the last provincial election.

This approach did not get her elected this time around federally and it won't help Larry get elected municipally either because he did not do himself any favours with the campaign that he ran.

Jean Chretien And The Border



Former Prime Ministers never die. They join law firms instead.

Brian Mulroney is a Senior Partner in Montréal’s Ogilvy Renault and John Turner is with Toronto’s Miller Thomson. Why, even Pierre Trudeau did that. He joined the Montréal law firm Heenan Blaikie as Counsel. Former Ontario Premiers Rae and Peterson also joined law firms as have other Premiers.

It hardly is a surprise then that M. Chretien also joined a law firm when he left office. Interestingly, that firm is Trudeau’s old firm Heenan Blaikie.

As you may recall, the former Prime Minister was deeply involved in the border file. After all, he and former Ontario Premier Ernie Eves were responsible for the $300 million Border Infrastructure Fund and the setting up of the Joint Management Committee.

Interestingly, BIF was set up so that
  • “action that can be taken in the near term to address congestion issues on the Windsor side of the Windsor - Detroit Gateway…

    Eligible projects for the new program fall into three distinct categories:

    1. Physical Infrastructure: Projects for the improvement of physical infrastructure at or around border crossings include dedicated lanes, local access roads and other transportation infrastructure leading to and from a crossing; additional lanes and approaches; and Canadian highways that provide direct access to a border. These improvements to infrastructure will better facilitate the free flow of people and goods across the border. "

One of the criteria in choosing projects included

  • “Co-ordination with adjacent U.S. border facility and road access network"

That sure sounded to me like building a road on the Canadian side that would link up to the Ambassador Gateway project on the American side. After all, the projects were for existing crossings such as the $20 million that the Federal and Provincial Governments offered to the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel for improvements.

As we know now, nothing was done to build that road. I always wondered why not if it was so important to take interim steps. The answer has become clear. If that road had been built to the Ambassador Bridge as it should have been done under the BIF program, then there would be no need for a DRIC bridge.

Accordingly, that road would never have been built unless the Bridge Company had sold out. If that happened, we still never would have seen the DRIC bridge either but rather a twinned bridge would have been propsed as teh ideal solution to tie into the Ambassador Gateway project.

What has Chretien’s joining with a Montréal law firm have to do with the border file now you might think. Take a look at this:
  • Billions promised for projects
    Needed Boost

    Kathryn Leger, Financial Post

    Enthusiastic talk about infrastructure spending by political parties in the federal election campaign represents stability in the midst of deepening market turmoil and expected economic fallout facing corporate Canada…

    Infrastructure lawyers say they see little real difference between the Conservative or Liberal infrastructure spending plans, nor do they see much of a change in direction following the Oct. 14 election...

    Those plans include infrastructure framework agreements between the federal government and Ontario (Ottawa is putting up more than $3-billion with matching funding by the province for the $6.2-billion accord) and smaller, similar cofunding agreements with Quebec and Manitoba.

    "They are doing lots of talking about infrastructure, and whether one plan is better than another is hard to say," Mr. Younger said. "Ultimately, it is a question of what the federal budget can afford."

    Michael Ledgett, a Toronto partner in Heenan Blaikie's infrastructure and public-private partnerships group, shares the view. "I think the Conservatives inherited and adopted to a large extent the point of view of the Liberals, and they have expanded that and they have gone along the same trajectory," said Mr. Ledgett, who is acting for the federal government for the proposed (since 2004) Windsor-Detroit bridge and border crossing, a project eventually expected to top $1-billion.

    "I don't think that the positioning of either party is much different," he said. "They have both adopted the point of view that infrastructure is decaying and needs to be replaced and renewed, and that one of the primary tools for doing that is public-private partnerships."

Is this just a mere coincidence or something more? It would be interesting to find out when Michael Ledgett was retained and by whom since it appears that he is involved in the P3 side of the issue. It would also be interesting to know if the former Prime Minister is still involved as well.

Depending on the date that he was hired, it may make a mockery of the suggestion that the DRIC was looking seriously at the Governance issue. If it was done early on, then the entire DRIC process is suspect as far as I’m concerned. It means to me that the decision had already been made as to what was to happen at our border crossing and that the DRIC process was designed to accomplish what had already been decided. It was mere window dressing to make us believe that we had a voice in the process.

Our infrastructure lawyers are such political geniuses as well

  • "nor do they see much of a change in direction following the Oct. 14 election"

Look at Windsor. There are enough infrastructure projects to go around for everyone so that there is no need to bicker. I find it fascinating that a law firm with such “Liberal” ties is still working on a file for the Conservative Government. It was just as fascinating to me that the Conservatives as one of their first pieces of legislation introduced Bill C-3 which was effectively the Bill that the Liberals introduced previously.

Then again, why should it change with the bureaucrats in control. They have their "slam dunk" Plan which they have sold to the Politicians.

It does not matter that the Bridge Company helped make this area economically successful by making its bridge the number one border crossing in North America at its expense. It does not matter that the Company virtually ended truck backups by opening up Customs booths at its costs while Governments would have invested hundreds of millions of taxpayers dollars and accomplished little with silly ideas like Eddie’s Horseshoe Road. That does not count for anything. Heaven forbid, they made money on their investment.

In the end then, all this may be exactly what many suspected years and years ago. This border crossing issue is nothing more than an anti-Bridge Company exercise in return on investment in the guise of political economic nationalism with money as the guiding principle for its proponents.

Really, how can anyone take this file seriously when one of the key advisers to ex-Prime Minister Martin, Richard Mahoney, was also in a senior management position with Borealis Capital, one of the competitors to the Bridge Company with its DRTP project.

It is as simple as that when one considers that under the Government policy on both sides of the river if it comes into being, the P3 will be operated by a private interest for 75 to 99 years. Forcing out one private enterprise operator for another just raises a lot of questions that may one day be litigated before we find out the real answer to them. It may be exactly what Gord Henderson allowed to slip out back in February, deliberately or not, I am not certain:

  • “How can Canada call itself an independent, self-respecting nation when it allows a privately owned firm, headquartered in another country, to arbitrarily determine how and where visitors get to enter this country from the U.S.? Where is our legitimacy as a country when one billionaire, 80-year-old American transportation tycoon Matty Moroun, and his supporting cast, can call the shots in determining whether motorists arriving in Canada are allowed to use a key artery, northbound Huron Church Road, to reach city destinations…

    We didn't make much of it at the time. But we surely understand now why Herb Gray moved heaven and earth, as Liberal minister responsible for FIRA (Foreign Investment Review Agency) in the early 1980s, in a failed effort to prevent Moroun's trucking empire from acquiring the Canadian half of the bridge. That battle was lost in the federal courts and ended with an out-of-court settlement following a marathon legal struggle.

    Gray understood what was at stake. An economic nationalist, he recognized that having the nation's most critical border crossing owned and operated by a private company, a foreign controlled one at that, would not be in Canada's best interests. He knew that real countries, serious countries, don't let private companies run their borders.”

It is a shame that so many people have been suckered so easily. Will our economic nationalists be happier if the new DRIC bridge is run by the "Australians" that the MDOT people talked about at the Cropsey hearings. I wonder if they are the same ones as the group who used to run the Tunnel. Perhaps they should ask Windsor Mayors/WTC Chairs what they think of that idea.

As I said before, this border file has many twists and turns. Add this one to the list as well. Its significance...your guess is as good as mine. But I am certain we will find out one day soon.

Create-Eh-Cup


I hope you are enjoying this magnificent holiday weekend.

This is the beginning of the over-indulge season isn't it! All of that delicious food that just has to be eaten. We can diet in the new year!

Most of us have a lot to be thankful for...family, health, a good job, security. However, the stock market melt-down, bankruptcy of major banks world-wide and the problems in the financial market remind us how fragile everything is.

For many of our friends and neighbours, the loss of work because of the slowdown in manufacturing, the decline in house prices and the difficulty in making mortgage payments make this a very difficult time.

Windsorites are very generous, opening their hearts and wallets to complete strangers just to help out in times of trouble. This is one of them.

My daughter came up with an idea...Create-Eh-Cup...which I hope you will consider. It is not too much to ask of you is it but it can help out a family in a tough time of the year. Take a look at what she is suggesting and particiapte.

Send me a copy of your Create-Eh-Cup for her to post but more importantly, start putting aside a toonie. Perhaps you might consider it the cost of "subscribing" to this BLOG!

Thanks for your help.

Create-Eh-Cup

  • No one should have to suffer this holiday season!

    Think about how much you spend per day on caffeine at your local Tim Hortons, Starbucks, or even at the fast-food drive-thru on your way to/from work, as a social activity or even at school.

    From October 14, 2008 until December 15th, this is my 3-step idea that I’d like to propose to all my friends on Facebook:

    1. Save ONE cup of any size that you purchased and decorate it however you wish. Use wrapping paper, newspaper, if you have kids, have them contribute by painting or colouring, but make sure you put your name on the front and place it somewhere accessible in your house to be displayed.

    2. At the end of each week, place a single toonie in that cup! It’s that easy.
    It's not about how much a person gives (thus the tiny amount of $2/week), it is about getting as many people to participate in a cause to help those in need in our city.

    3. On December 15th, I would love to have everyone send the total amount OR go and buy some groceries and donate to one of the following food banks.

    **Please start sending me photos of all your creative cups and I will post them!**

    Thank you to everyone who is willing to contribute!

For a listing of Food Banks in the area, go to
FOOD BANK LISTING

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Want To Buy A 1999 Arena



It's called high pressure sales tactics. Now you know how it feels when you buy a used car with low mileage at a terrific price and find out it's really a clunker that costs you more in the long-run and really does not suit your purposes.

We had rammed down our throat by a Mayor and old Council afraid of not being re-elected a "used" 1999 concept designed for a family of 35,000 residents in Port Huron at a cheap price instead of buying in 2006 a recreational and arena complex needed by a City family of 200,000 people. The newbies on Council went along with it too. And we bought the deal!

We saved money over getting something that we really needed. According to Councillor Loopy:
  • "You have to be realistic. I can appreciate you want it more comfortable, but I don't know how much more that would cost."

    Coun. Percy Hatfield, a member of the arena construction steering committee, can answer that: "It would cost millions more ..."
In passing, we can assume that Councillor Loopy will not be running for Mayor. Is that why his name appears in print to deal with the criticism rather than that of the Chair, the Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget. Is that why the Ward 1 Councillor will NEVER appear on John Fairley's interview progran? John would rip him to shreds!

What's everybody getting so excited about now respecting the new arena? It has always been about politics--getting re-elected--and not the arena. We rushed because Project Ice Track went to Tecumseh after they were high-sticked in the face by the City in the first place. We made a deal even before signing the contract. Time was of the essence.

Because of the costs of that arena, we effectively ran out of money for other projects until it is paid off. But it did pay-off for 4 years for those who came back in office.

I have always been concerned about the arena deal and how the process was handled. Does anyone have any idea what it is really costing us when one adds in the extras including the road-building?

To keep with the car analogy, as the Star said about the LaSalle arena:
  • "LaSalle taxpayers not only have a right to feel angry. They have a duty. Their town offered them a great deal on a car and only told them after the sale they would have to pay extra for the engine. "
Why get so upset now? Instead of partnering with a private enterprise party who was to bear all of the risks over and above a $15M taxpayer payment by building a new arena downtown to revitalize the area, we are taking all of the financial risk to create a "new downtown" in the East End. And we gave away a prime piece of downtown real estate for good measure.



The picture above came from a BLOG I wrote in October, 2006. Why the fuss? As I wrote before:
  • "You now know that Councillors were in such a rush to do something to get re-elected that they had no idea what they were getting and that they were buying something that did not work for us"

I asked then:

  • "Are we getting a state-of-the-art 2006-designed facility that makes us a world leader in arenas or something designed in 1999 (or perhaps earlier) that was to be built in Port Huron? Have there been new, innovative design elements introduced since 1999? Has anyone compared what this arena is like compared with other arenas in other cities? Note that in its Report, Administration has said that it has NOT completed (or has it even started?) its due diligence of the PCR proposal. That was supposed to take 90 days."

It should not be a surprise that there is a lack of seating. If we had elected ex-hockey dad, Dave Wonham, as mayor, we would not have had this issue. He first pointed out the lack of seating at the three "Practice rinks" so tournaments could not be held. Read on from my October 10, 2006 BLOG "What Does $48 Million Get Us--A LaSalle Arena:"

  • "Here is something that might give Hockey League people pause. Where are the seats for the Practice Rink area? I did not see them on the PCR plan in their package! They were not referred to in their specs.

    I thought I heard that there was going to be seating for 280 for the three "Practice rinks." But weren't they to replace Riverside and Adstoll? Does such a low seating number make sense if the way money is going to be made is to hold hockey tournaments, ice skating shows etc. Where are people going to sit? The PCR proposal only seems to include "in-rink and heated out-of-rink public viewing galleries for each rink" but no description of any seating.

    Then this is NOT replacement but changing the whole nature of what the Community rinks were. It is nothing more than three ice-pads. It is NOT replacing Adstoll or Riverside. How could it be?

    I received this information in an email from Mayoral candidate, David Wonham, who is a "hockey dad." His children played hockey and he travelled around to other cities for tournaments over the years.

    "Adstoll sits 900, and has had 1300 at one time, Riverside's seating is similar [700 seating but sometimes up to 1,000 people attend]. Is the new facility of PCR only for practice ice, and not suitable for games, championships or tournaments.... Adstoll is about 60% WMHA, and hosts Riverside, Sunparlour and the Riverside Skating club also. Riverside is similar, but also has a large hall attached."

    The cost of a Twin pad recreational facility was said to be in the range of $22 million. We are to get an extra rink with PCR but obviously, we are not getting the "arena" aspect of the existing sites if PCR's total price is $48M."
Here is what PCR offered and what we bought. Read it carefully:
  • "The Centre we propose is approximately 288,000 sqft which will include a spectator arena....Also included within this structure, provisions have been made for 3 recreational ice pads and a community center."

We got what we paid for: provisons!

That's why Councillor Loopy can insult taxpayers by saying:

  • "we're locked in because of the design. He said Windsor got a great deal on a completed design and that if the same arena were to be built in some other community today it would cost up to $15 more than what the city paid."
Yes Councillor, that is why I do not take the supposed cost of the arena seriously at all. Again as I BLOGGED
  • "how [can] a 1999 arena priced at $60M be built in 2006 after the increase in costs over that time period (eg 35% for the bus terminal, tripling for streetscaping) for $48M"
The Mayor seems to have forgotten also why the rinks opened early, before everything was completed. It's that damned amnesia disease striking again at City Hall. In his CKLW interview he claimed that the Community rinks were opened since users wanted to get on the ice to accommodate their schedules. He also said if it was up to "us," the entire facility would have opened up at the same time.

That is not quite right Mr. Mayor. As I BLOGGED before:

  • Remember the story:

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

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

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

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

For those of you who thought we would get at least as much as we were giving up by closing down Riverside and Adstoll and that we would get hopefully more after spendign $65M and counting, were you ever wrong. All we got was a TRADE-OFF. But hey, Eddie got his second term so he is happy:

video


Stop complaining and whining and naysaying. We wanted an arena. We got one. Who cares if it works or not. The Cleary turned into a white elephant. So will this arena. We'll just have to live with it now.

And some want Eddie to do a Tunnel deal or be involved in the design of a road to the border or take seriously a canal project. HELP!

What Are Friends For



Our sports jock Mayor, Eddie Francis, must be livid. He has to be fuming. He has to be outraged.

It would not surprise me one bit to hear him tell everyone on his CKLW interview show on Tuesday, the day of the federal election, to vote Liberal! That would serve them right.

And why not? Where is the gratitude shown by the Conservatives and the NDP?

Poor Eddie. He had to travel to London, England to try and get the Red Bull air races to come back to Windsor/Detroit. He had to spend several days there handing out his business cards to the movers and shakers from around the world who also came to London for the race. Do you see our Federal Politicians trying to help him out? Not a chance.

Eddie had to go and meet with the people from Detroit Riverfront Conservancy to try to salvage the air races for this region. Imagine that he would be able to meet again with Roger Penske so they could talk about their good times together with Super Bowl and the Grand Prix. Just in case you did not know, Roger is tied at number 321 as well on the Forbes 400 List. Do you see our Federal Politicians trying to help him out? Not on your life.

Instead what does Conservative Michael Fortier do? Does he show gratitude for Eddie’s assistance in helping to stall off the Bridge Company and putting roadblocks in their way to give the DRIC people the chance to build their bridge?

Oh no, he has other people to help:
  • “Federal International Trade Minister Michael Fortier says he is seeking a meeting with Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone to try and save the Canadian Grand Prix [in Montreal] for 2009. Fortier met Thursday with Montreal Mayor Gerald Tremblay and Quebec Economic Development Minister Raymond Bachand to discuss a course of action.”

What about NDP leader, Jack Layton? You would think that he would be pleased that Windsor sends two NDP MPs to Ottawa. How does he show his gratitude:

  • “NDP Leader Jack Layton says he'd spend federal money to bring the Canadian Grand Prix back.

    Speaking on the Montreal morning television show Salut Bonjour, Layton said the event is very important -- and not just for fans of motor racing.

    He says the event is important to the local economy.

    He says an NDP government would partner with the city and the province of Quebec to help restore the event to the motor racing calendar.”
Well fellows...where are the federal funds for Windsor if I may be so bold to ask? Did anyone call up Eddie asking how Windsor could be helped? There goes Councillor Valentinis asking his question again!

If all that is not bad enough, then those people in the Fort Erie/Buffalo region are trying to muscle in on our idea of sports as an income generator for the region. First THEY want to build a new bridge which Eddie’s good buddy, L. Brooks, says may take business away from this region. Then THEY take OUR Cabinet Minister, Sandra Pupatello, to the United Arab Emirates to help them out:

  • “Talks of building a NASCAR-ready race track in Fort Erie have been revived to the point that several leaders from the town are in Dubai meeting with potential investors.

    Officials from Fort Erie Town Hall confirmed that Mayor Doug Martin, Jim Thibert, general manager of the Fort Erie Economic Development and Tourism Corp., and Sandra Pupatello, the Ontario Minister of Economic Development and Trade are in the United Arab Emirates as central figures in the Ontario International Investment team that is taking part in Dubai’s Cityscape Expo.

    While there, the trio are reportedly meeting with investors in the proposed $150 million (Canadian) speedway that would see a one-mile oval track and grandstand constructed on the west side of the Queen Elizabeth Way highway between Bowen and Gilmore roads — less than two miles from the Peace Bridge…

    The track could have an economic impact in Fort Erie, Niagara Falls and the Niagara Region in the $150 million to $200 million range.”
Why is Sandra helping THEM out when WE could be building a track here.

Hey I have an idea....perhaps Eddie should try to talk to some of his "enemies" instead for help and perhaps money. It cannot be any worse than relying on some of his so-called friends.