Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, October 31, 2008

Did You See This



So many items of interest just keeping popping up. I hope you have the time to read some of these. I found them fascinating. I trust you do too.

LET’S HOLD A MEETING

There is our action oriented Mayor again leaping into the fray after the horse has left the barn. He is there for the photo-op showing him closing the door.

He will grab the headlines alright but as usual will accomplish nothing. It is like his strategy sessions on the Downtown that went nowhere after hours of talk.
  • “Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis is calling for a meeting of his counterparts from Ontario's automotive towns as merger talks between GM and Chrysler appear to be gaining momentum.

    Francis expressed concern that any U.S. government bailout underpinning a merger would come with conditions requiring automakers to boost U.S. investment at the expense of Canadian production.”

How long have rumours about mergers in the automotive industry being been going on? How long have there been media reports about the GM/Chrysler merger? In fact there is a rumour that

  • "There is a chance that there could be an agreement between General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC by Tuesday that would result in half of Chrysler’s assembly plants closing and 24,000 lost jobs, Kimberly Rodriguez, principal of Grant Thornton’s automotive practice, said today."

And now our Mayor wakes up! The Senior Levels will listen to him as much on this issue as they listened to him on the issue of Greenlink.

I guess Eddie can put a checkmark on his Report Card now that he got a headline saying that he took action over merger talks.

Guess who will take credit if the minivan plant continues on in Windsor if there is a merger!

Note to Councillor Gignac:

Unlike the way that our Mayor calls and cancels Special Council meetings without, it seems, telling Councillors or giving reasons, he acts differently with outsiders. He treats them with respect:

  • "Francis will convene a conference call today or early Monday with Gray and Harding to pick a date for a general meeting. The Ontario Mayors for Automotive Investment includes mayors from more than 30 Ontario municipalities."

I hope that Eddie does have his calendar open at the time when this meeting is set so that it is not messed up the way another meeting that this City set up had to be rescheduled.

I also hope that the meeting does not take place many weeks from now considering that so many mayors are involved when it may be all too late to meet in that case.

HIDE EDDIE HIDE

Where will he be this time around? Surely he can dream up something new about Red Bull that will require his full attention.

It was announced that Ontario Minister of Finance, Dwight Duncan, will hold his pre-Budget meeting in Windsor on November 10.

I can only hope that Eddie is not in Germany on this date as he was when Dwight held a previous pre-budget meeting or that Eddie has not scheduled his meeting with the Ontario Automotive Mayors at the same time or that Eddie has not scheduled a reading for some public school children to take place on the same day.

Can you imagine the number of media and members of the public that would be in attendance to watch the great debate between the Minister and the Mayor. I can just picture it in my mind. Eddie would get two words out of his mouth before Dwight would interrupt and say

“THE MAYOR IS WRONG. THE MAYOR IS WRONG.”

I can just imagine Eddie trying to criticize the Minister about anything and Dwight asking why Eddie will not permit the Senior Levels to create 25,000 jobs in Windsor and invest the equivalent of $12 billion in our economy.

There would be blood on the floor by the time that Dwight was finished if the Premier allowed him to take on Eddie. In this case, Dwight is the Chair of the meeting and controls the “kill button.”

Oh my goodness… November 10 is a Monday. Why would Dwight call for a meeting on a Monday? Doesn’t he know that this is a Council day.

Eddie will be in seclusion all day working on the Agenda items and unable to meet with the Minister again. The Agenda for that meeting is to be posted today. I am certain that there will be very many important matters to be discussed so that Eddie will have to do a full preparation for it.

Wait, I have it thanks to Councillor Gignac. Remember she said about the recent Special Council meeting that was cancelled:

  • “The Mayor is the official "head of Council" and as such has the authority to call meetings, which he did. He has a tough time co-ordinating all councillors time tables then he must ensure the people presenting issues at these meetings can be in attendance. In the instance of this meeting we are told that was not possible. I have no reason to disbelieve that and appreciate not being called out for a meeting that isn't productive. The meeting is to be RE-SCHEDULED."

Eddie can cancel the November 10 Council meeting because after all he can and then he can reschedule the cancelled Special Council Meeting but call it a Council meeting with a Special Council Meeting as he is doing on November 3.

Oh I am so confused. But it is okay. The City Clerk I am sure can figure it all out because she is so familiar with the ins and outs of the Procedural By-law.

HARPER CAN BREATHE EASY NOW

You saw the headline, in black and white:

  • “Francis OK with cabinet shuffle”

Can you imagine what would have happened if Eddie had a problem with the Cabinet appointments. The mere mention of that could in itself have triggered a Vote of Confidence in the Conservative Government immediately upon Parliament being reconvened. If the Government lost that vote, the Governor General would have been contacted and it would have resulted in another Federal Election!

Fortunately, the country has been saved from that expenditure of another $300 million because Eddie approves.

Stephen better be warned however. Eddie is watching!

IS THE WINDSOR STAR FINISHED

I know that some of you, dear readers, really did not take seriously my desire to start an online newspaper.

I should let you know that I have actually been working on it and in fact when I first raised the matter some months ago a few of my readers were interested in investing in the project. I must admit that this took me by surprise especially when one of the readers suggested that he would be prepared to put in a fairly substantial sum of money.

The real problem for me is not providing the capital but getting the staff on board who understand how to operate in newspaper even though it is online.

Over the past few months I’ve spoken with a number of people who would be very interested in being involved in the project as “reporters.” However, I think my need right now is finding people more on the management side i.e. people who have the experience in turning out a newspaper every day and assigning people to stories.

The reason I bring this subject up again is the amazing announcement by the Christian Science Monitor, one of the most respected newspapers in the United States.

  • “Monitor shifts from print to Web-based strategy
    In 2009, the Monitor will become the first nationally circulated newspaper to replace its daily print edition with its website

    The Christian Science Monitor plans major changes in April 2009 that are expected to make it the first newspaper with a national audience to shift from a daily print format to an online publication that is updated continuously each day...

    This new, multiplatform strategy for the Monitor will "secure and enlarge the Monitor's role in its second century…" The method of delivery and format are secondary" and need to be adjusted, given Mrs. Eddy's call to keep the Monitor "abreast of the times."

    "We plan to take advantage of the Internet in order to deliver the Monitor's journalism more quickly, to improve the Monitor's timeliness and relevance, and to increase revenue and reduce costs. We can do this by changing the way the Monitor reaches its readers."

Obviously newspapers are concerned about the Internet from a number of points of view. When the Internet becomes a serious risk to their advertising revenues IE advertisers will prefer to go online rather than to pay for pages of newsprint that are thrown out, then we will see a real shakeup in the traditional media world.

Here is one example… why bother spending money to advertise in the Star when there is http://windsor.kijiji.ca/ instead. It is all free and one has the ability to provide a lot more copy and photographs of the items to be sold.

DID SAM EVER TELL EDDIE THIS

I really am of two minds about Gridlock Sam Schwartz.

I do like some of the things that he says but on other topics I just shake my head and wonder.

I wonder if he is still on retainer to the City of Windsor, or rather to David Estrin so that there can be solicitor-client privilege to everything that he does. If he is, he ought to send a note to our Mayor to give him some insight. If he has already told Eddie this, then it would appear that the Mayor needs to be told it again by Sam.

  • "The reflex reaction, especially now amidst a gargantuan economic downturn, is to freeze spending — including infrastructure — but that would be a mistake. Public works spending has been shown to have as much as a 4:1 economic benefit. Since civic works are largely done locally (no outsourcing to Asia for repaving a road) the money tends to stay local. Construction workers eat at nearby delis and restaurants, they buy their kids shoes and clothes at neighborhood shops, and rent or own within the community."

If the Governments and the Bridge Company are going to be spending around $3 billion for their projects, that means that this region would see something like $12 billion worth of “economic benefit.” While the job numbers are not exact, didn’t Jeff Watson talk about 25,000 jobs being created?

Sam also said that the Governments must “Ensure safety in our infrastructure.”

Given what he has said about the Ambassador Bridge, I do not understand why Eddie is blocking the replacement of that Bridge with a new one and permitting its rehabilitation so that it provides security and redundancy to the area. Eddie is putting himself at risk by blocking and stalling their project.

That’s the part about Sam that I do like. Unfortunately, Sam is also an advocate of P3’s as if they are the panacea. If by a public/private partnership he means an arrangement whereby a financial party comes in to do what Governments could do on their own so that they can make a huge profit at the expense of taxpayers then I have no interest. And neither should Sam.

My preference is a public/private partnership such as the one that the Bridge Company has had with Governments for the last 80 years. In that partnership each of the parties does what it does best for the advantage of each other and for the economies of our region.

In case you did not know this, dear reader, and I am certain that most legislators on both sides of the border do not, MDOT has said that the Ambassador Gateway project with the Bridge Company is

  • “Effectively the first Public-Private-Partnership (P3) in Michigan (MDOT/DIBC).”

And that project was designed to accommodate a second bridge in case they have forgotten that as well!

It's Their Fault Regardless


If there is something wrong in the West End, there is only one party who can be blamed for it.

You got it---THEM! No matter what it is, THEY are the easy target. As Dan Stamper once said:
  • " Can I fix the world? No. Did I damage the world? Am I the devil? No,"
Think I am kidding. Just remember Assumption Church:
  • "Rev. Paul Walsh, pastor of Assumption Church, the annual displacement by a few inches of the office's "500-pound" cabinets does not call for exorcism. Nor is it a sign from above. It is, he says, more likely explained by incessant vibrations from transport trucks crossing the Ambassador Bridge overhead."
  • According to Kennedy, vibrations from trucks are causing plaster to fall from the church's ceiling, forcing the blocking of certain pews. "You're literally destroying a 150-year-old church that we dearly love," said Kennedy.
Chris Schnurr did a couple of BLOGs knocking down those claims.



Then came Essex Hall at the University of Windsor and the cancer scare inquiry whose Report has now been published.

  • May 24, 2007

    "engineering professor Derek Northwood, who has spent 28 years in the building...
    pointed out the problem, if there is one, could originate outside the building.

    I've known a number of people who have either passed away from cancer causes or who have cancer," said Northwood. "But I know just as many who didn't work in Essex Hall. It may have nothing to do with Essex Hall and everything to do with Windsor or the west end."

    Patrick Seguin said there is reason to be concerned about Essex Hall in particular.

    Despite the air quality tests, he said people still worry about what they're breathing. He pointed out a number of air vents clogged with thick black dirt.

    "That's the kind of thing we've been concerned about," said Seguin, an engineering technologist and treasurer of CUPE local 1393. "You've got to look at this and figure it's not really good."

    He said the testing might not detect other dangers in the air from fuel residue, Ambassador Bridge truck fumes and solvents used in the machine shops and research labs.

    "This is a research building," said Seguin. "Who'se to say what kind of stuff they're cooking up?"

    Masters student Umme Akhtar, who has worked in the building for a year, said mercury levels inside some labs are higher than what you'd be exposed to outside the building.

    "If you have to stay in the labs all the time it's not good for you," she said."

  • Setember 16, 2008

    Patrick Seguin, CUPE Local 1393 treasurer and an engineering technologist who has worked in Essex Hall for 30 years, said he's not satisfied with the university's explanation for not releasing the cancer study's preliminary findings.

    "It's certainly concerning," he said. "If there is no problem at Essex Hall, then there's no reason not to show us the report. It makes your imagination run wild."

    DiCarlo and Seguin said the draft report should have been sent to the university's central safety committee for review because it addresses a major health issue.

    "You're never 100 per cent sure what's going on in the building," Seguin said. "We have an old ventilation system ... and some people are worried about what kind of stuff they're breathing in."

    Before commissioning the Essex Hall cancer study, the university did air quality tests in the building. The results didn't set off any alarm bells.

    Seguin said the cancer rates at Essex Hall may also be influenced by external factors, such as the building's proximity to the Ambassador Bridge and the hundreds of diesel trucks that pass through the area each day."

The results are in and the relevant conclusions are:

  1. The total (all cancers combined) cancer rates experienced by Essex Hall workers who began work between 1955 and 2005, was dramatically lower than the cancer rates of the general population of Windsor-Essex (p<.05). In fact, these workers developed cancer at only ½ to 2/3 the rate of the Windsor-Essex standard population.
  2. Male total cancer rates held at two thirds of the standard rates or less, regardless of whether they worked in South or North Essex Hall.
  3. Male total cancer rates held at two thirds of the standard rates or less, regardless of whether they started work before or after 1990.
  4. It follows from 1. to 3. above that the results of this study do not support any excess of total cancer in this work group. In fact, they point more to a deficit of total cancer.
  5. Ecological studies, such as this one, are blunt tools and therefore do not generally provide strong evidence for a causative relationship between an exposure and disease. This is particularly true, since there is no “smoking gun” in this study. A smoking gun is a well-established causal factor for a disease that workers were known to be exposed.
  6. This study shows a statistical significant excess of multiple myeloma (when the Waldenstrom’s was counted as a myeloma) in South Essex Hall that was consistent with a causal link to exposures in South Essex Hall. The sum of the statistical and exposure data is too weak to differentiate between the possibilities that the excess of multiple myeloma was a chance finding, was a true finding but not due to Essex Hall exposures, or a true finding due to Essex Hall exposures.
  7. Although only one case of CML developed in this cohort, it is a somewhat unusual statistical event, as well, particularly when the more stable Ontario standard rates were used. Although CML is a distinct condition, Waldenstrom’s and multiple myeloma are similar in that they are all disorders of blood cells originating in the bone marrow. The development of these three rare cancers, that share important characteristics, taken together, is suggestive of pertinent exposures. Furthermore, all three cancers occurred in men who started work in South Essex Hall workers who started before 1985. The evidence is not nearly sufficient, however, to infer a causal link to exposures in South Essex Hall.
  8. The study results suggest that MWF exposures experienced by tool and die workers, may have been largely responsible for the excess of rare cancers noted. The evidence supporting a causal link between tool and die work and the rare cancers, however, is weak and circumstantial. Conclusions are limited by the small number of relevant tool and die workers, and the limited knowledge about the relationship between MWF exposures from this time period and the rare cancers found in this study. Additionally, none of the tool and die workers developed a cancer that is strongly linked to MWFs in the scientific literature.

As for diesel fumes:

  • In September of 2001, the University contacted Pinchin Environmental to perform the hygiene testing. The air monitoring was completed in February 2002. The results of the air monitoring showed levels below the set limits. There were however, some PCB and mercury present and, in fact, loose mercury found on the floor in one area. While diesel particulates were shown to be low, it should be pointed out that testing was done on only 3 days in February 2002. We would expect seasonal variability in diesel particulates. During smoggy periods of the heavy summer driving season one would expect to find, higher readings. More recent testing by Pinchin done in 2007 in mid summer, however, showed diesel particulates to be well below set limits.

What could have caused some of the rarer cancers:

  • "Two of the three rarer cancers of concern occurred in tool and die workers. The CML and Waldenstrom’s cases occurred in tool and die workers who worked at this trade for at least part of their work-time in Essex Hall. These two employees also worked in close proximity to one another...
  • A possible interpretation of the rare cancer findings in this study is that the excess in these cancers were due, entirely or in part to exposures specifically associated with tool and die work...
  • In summary, the study results suggest that MWF exposures may have been largely responsible for the excess of rare cancers noted. The evidence supporting this contention, is however weak and circumstantial. Conclusions are limited by the very small number of relevant tool and die workers, and the limited knowledge about the relationship between MWF exposures from this time period and the rare cancers found in this study."
I wonder what THEY will be blamed for next.

You can read the whole Report here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/7570334/essexhallrev

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Political Vaudeville And a Nursery Rhyme


Bravo, bravo, bravo. The Oscar, Emmy and Tony for best scriptwriting in a political drama must go to the Eminence Greasie. Who else could have pulled it off so well!

I am sure that you are wondering what I am talking about. You must have seen the story on page 5 (surprisingly, not on page 1) of the Windsor Star about the meeting amongst the City and County mayors. Probably not so surprising since Eddie was made to look foolish and like an obstructionist by the County mayors.

From the description of the meeting, I would have thought that Eddie would have had indigestion as his food did not go down very well when he took all of the heat from the County mayors.

On its face, the whole session does not make sense when it was obvious that it was going to be Eddie against the County. After all they recently just had the Joint Councils meeting so what was the purpose of meeting again?

Why would the Mayor who cannot tolerate being questioned nor can deal with any blame allow himself to be attacked so viciously by County mayors? They are saying what Windsor citizens have been saying for a long time, and being ignored, and what our Councillors should have been saying as well but are seemingly afraid to do so.


Look at the headline in the story using the word “confront.” Eddie can’t deal with confrontation. That’s why he has the Councillor kill button on the microphones. He can cut off any Councillor at any time that he wants:
  • County mayors confront Francis over border

    Six mayors…had a tough time getting past animosity around the city's ongoing fight with the provincial government over the route to a new border crossing.

    Much of the 90-minute strategic session Wednesday at Willistead Manor was dominated by a border showdown between Windsor's Eddie Francis and his county counterparts.

    Both Tecumseh's Gary McNamara and LaSalle's Gary Baxter said it's time for the city's posturing by Francis and his council to end, so work can quickly get underway on the $1.6-billion parkway concept put forward by Ontario's transportation ministry to upgrade the Talbot Road-Huron Church Road corridor.

    "Cooler heads must prevail," McNamara said. "With the whole issue of seeking courts or lawsuits in delaying these projects, my fear is that upper level of government will abandon the situation and go someplace else."

    Windsor has created a perception, rightly or not, that this area is against serving as a route for international trucks unless it gets a tunnel, Baxter added.

    He said the city needs to realize its fight has gone far enough and stop appearing "self-motivated or obstructionist" so construction can get started.

    "It's up to our counterparts in the city to make peace with the people at the helm of the process and funding it," he said. "We need to get some conclusion to this for the sake of the whole region.

    "We need these jobs now. With jobs dwindling, we need this more than ever to stay competitive."

But of course, Eddie and the Eminence Greasie knew all of that before Eddie called the meeting. It was totally predictable what the County would say and totally predictable how Eddie would respond. I’m sure that the food is not that good at Willistead Manor unless there was a purpose to the meaning. And of course there was.

It was all good drama for Windsor citizens to swallow when Eddie capitulates but is made to appear our Saviour instead.

In reality, follow the money and you will get your answer. In the end, it is all about the money that can be taken from the pocketbooks of the Federal and Provincial governments for whatever agenda our Mayor has.

Deep Throat was right. We are coming right now to the climax of the border file and the E C Row Expressway is the key.

We have seen the bit players performing their roles admirably. How many times recently have the Star Editorial writers demanded a compromise? How many times has Gord Henderson threatened our local Cabinet Ministers, Sandra and Dwight to compromise with Eddie? How many times has Eddie changed his position on no trucks on EC Row with his concern being sequencing now? I happened to tune into the Joint Councils meeting replay on Cogeco cable the other day and heard Eddie say that to the County officials.

Once again, here are the Schwartz slides that prove that to be a rewriting of history so Eddie can flip-flop on trucks on E C Row:



We are starting now to see the kind of money that our Mayor wants. Take a look at this comment from the Rail Lands Study Star article:

  • “The 75-page report recommends abandoning the old CN railway line being used by Via Rail between Chatham and Windsor. Via would instead use an enhanced CP Railway corridor, located further to the south, and also relocate its station in Windsor, likely to an area off Crawford Avenue or Wellington Avenue.

    That combination alone would cost about $175 million, the study indicated.

    It also called for abandoning the CASO rail corridor in South Windsor, again in favour of freight trains using the enhanced CP corridor at a cost of about $38 million…

    Mayor Eddie Francis told council he has been informed by the rail companies there is no way implementation of the recommendations can happen without federal government funding.

    "You need Transport Canada to mediate to get (the rail companies) to share traffic," he said.”

And here is the key in the Star story about the border crossing:

  • “But Francis countered the city was not being overly confrontational, and that there's no reason to back off now, given how only 1,000 metres of tunneling and about $120 million in projected construction costs are separating the two sides.”

Big numbers of $100-200 million plus are being thrown around at this time for a purpose obviously. The Rail Study was presented to Council at this time for a purpose obviously. The Joint Councils meeting and the Mayor’s meeting with his County colleagues took place at this time for a purpose obviously. And do not forget the Dave Cooke canal study which report is due soon that will say everything Eddie wants is doable. It will come out at this time for a purpose obviously. My goodness, the Francis $100 million investment fund was revived at the County meeting too.

That purpose is for money for Eddie to use as he wishes for his agenda. Obviously.

Clearly, we are being set up for another failure by the Mayor. Except it will not be presented as a failure by the sycophants and cheerleaders but rather a stratagem that was worked out by our brilliant Mayor (and the Eminence Greasie behind the scenes who is actually calling the shots).

I like the definition of a stratagem because it is so fitting:

  • “a cleverly contrived trick or scheme for gaining an end.”

That is Eddie written all over about what has gone on here for years, everything from the Schwartz Report to Full Tunneling to Greenlink and Son of Greenlink. and we as taxpayers have been used as pawns with the Greenlink presentations, advertising blitzes and wasting of taxpayer money on lawyers and consultants.

Now the County Mayors are part of this. Why else would Eddie sit there for an hour and a half and be attacked by them. He needed them as his excuse for backing off on E. C. Row. He needs a reason desperately because his claim to fame has always been his consistency. Remember when he ran for Mayor the first time:

  • “When I announced that I was running for Mayor, I wanted everyone to know that I have always had a clear, and consistent position with regard to Truck traffic in our city..

    Our roads need to remain community roads, for our residents, for our business and for our future. We need a solution that gives international trucks a direct connection to the border that bypasses the city and protects our neighbourhoods…

    The border crossing issue is fundamental to the well being of Windsor, and one of the most important issues facing our community.

    As Mayor I will:
     Continue to support the position taken by council in favour of Windsor citizens, your neighbours.
     Continue to oppose… the expansion of EC Row for Tijuana bound trucks…
     Maintain my consistency on this issue.”

Eddie desperately needs a way that he can back off his statement such as this:

  • “A federal government report Thursday calling for widening of E.C. Row Expressway to handle international trucks triggered Mayor Eddie Francis to vow council will "do whatever it takes" to stop such a plan.

    "We are back to the same old song and dance," Francis said. "Their position has not changed that E.C. Row needs to be expanded. Everyone in this community understands that means a negative impact on quality of life.

    "They will not be able to move to do this. Council and myself will do whatever it takes to protect this city. We will not sit on the sidelines and let this community's quality of life be deteriorated."

He has already backed off because of his comments on sequencing. Councillor Valentinis backed off on John Fairley's show on behalf of Councillors effectively. But today’s story in the Star tells us exactly what he wants. He wants the Province to tinker with the tunnels on the DRIC road so that when he capitulates he looks like a hero. He wants to be able to say that he will compromise on what would be ultimately the best solution for Windsor because of the PRESSURE of the County mayors. He’s doing this for regional cooperation.

However, what Eddie wants is at least $100 million worth of Senior Level money to be put in his pocket before he backs off completely. That is what all of this posturing has been all about. He needs the County mayors to help him get the money. Follow the money.

A good tactic…perhaps in the mind of a politician as certain Senators called Eddie but not in a complimentary way. I do not agree that this is a prudent way for a Mayor to operate especially when he has no power against the Senior Levels. It is even more dangerous when this region is in dire economic shape, as is the entire economy, and the risk is that the Senior Levels can pull out as Mayor McNamara stated. Given his Liberal connections and Sandra Pupatello's comments re lawsuits, that is a huge risk

Deep Throat was right that the three Governments are united against a common enemy, the Bridge Company, and what is taking place is squabbling amongst “family members.”

Our big risk is that Eddie’s tactics have so annoyed the Senior Levels that Windsor becomes the Black Sheep of the family. With a new Transport Minister who may not have the baggage of the past to bother him, Eddie, and Windsor, may now be in a lot of trouble! The new Federal Cabinet may decide that they do not need Eddie any more. My Provincial sources have told me that a long time ago about the Province. Why else would Dwight, whose riding includes Tecumseh, say wihtout fear and clearly with the approval of the Premier

  • “THE MAYOR IS WRONG. THE MAYOR IS WRONG.”

To put it in nursery rhyme language we need to hope that

  • Baa, baa, black sheep,
    Have you any wool?
    Yes sir, yes sir,
    Three bags full.

    One for my master,
    One for my dame,
    And one for the little boy
    Who lives down the lane.

does not turn into this variant:

  • Two for the master,
    one for the dame,
    but none for the little boy

Remember that alliances have broken down before over “spoils” of battle, even before the war is over.

More News Stories



More stories to inform you about matters of interest

COUNCILLOR BOOM BOOM

A friend of mine received what he considers SPAM E-MAIL from one of the bars in the City publicizing a giveaway of $1000 in cash and prizes.

There was a link in the e-mail and he clicked on it and guess whose website he landed on.

Yes, believe it or not, he landed on the election website created by Councillor Ken Lewenza Jr. Seriously, I am not fooling you. Here is the page:


I am so thrilled that the Councillor has taken upon himself to advertise for a downtown business, the BOOM BOOM ROOM to help them during Halloween. I looked closely but I don’t think that the image was a portrait of the Councillor.

However, the Councillor must be very careful now. He cannot be perceived as favouring one establishment over another. Accordingly, I am certain that the Councillor will make his website available to any business in the downtown in case they wish to advertise.

Of course, I am certain that he has taken the appropriate steps to ensure that he is not in a conflict of interest in the event that there is discussion about the downtown in the future.

Can you imagine if all of the Councillors decide if they will make available their websites as well for advertising. I’m sure with the Councillors’ popularity, they may well take a lot of business away from the media in town. Oh well, if they can compete against the Ambassador Bridge, they can compete against the newspaper, radio and TV stations too.

Yes, our Mayor uses an expletive deleted to describe our economic situation and the website of a City Councillor is used to promote a bar. And who says Windsor is not Sin City!

IT'S SO EASY BEING GREEN

Unfortunately, it is not as easy being smart so that you can save green. Here is a story out of Toronto about the hybrid buses. Granted, the buses are from a different manufacturer but will Windsor's experience be similar especially since the price of fuel is dropping:

  • "TTC finds hybrid buses unreliable, wants to buy diesel
    By BRYN WEESE

    The TTC is going back to diesel buses because the current hybrids in its fleet are unreliable.

    Transit commission management will be asking their political bosses tomorrow to let them buy 120 "clean diesel" buses in 2010, instead of Daimler-based Orion hybrid vehicles that have been less fuel efficient than expected, have battery glitches, and are far more expensive.

    The diesel-burning buses are $200,000 cheaper than the $700,000 hybrid vehicles, which are partially manufactured in Mississauga. The 2010 diesel order would save the TTC $24 million.

    The hybrids on order for 2009 will still be delivered, and will be fitted with lithium-ion batteries instead of the lead-acid ones that have been lasting only 18 months instead of the four years expected.

    "We do need a bus that is reliable, that is not in the garage awaiting repairs," TTC spokesman Brad Ross said. "As we increase service ... we really just need a bus that we know and can depend on 100%."

    Also, the more than 500 hybrid buses in the TTC's fleet have only been 10% more fuel efficient than the diesel buses, instead of an anticipated 20%-30%.

    TTC chairman Adam Giambrone said being green is an important focus for the TTC, but the technology has "underperformed."

    Even with the new lithium-ion batteries, he said, the TTC is going to take a break from hybrid technology.

    "We're not prepared to be a guinea pig again," Giambrone said. "Until they get the battery issue resolved, we're going to take a break. Why should we be buying buses that don't work?

    "There's no point buying vehicles that sit in the garage."

MAYOR COCKREL'S HONEYMOON IS OVER

First this

  • New Mayor Entangled In Campaign Contribution Probe

    DETROIT -- Detroit Mayor Ken Cockrel Jr. said he has asked the Wayne County Clerk to waive a $42,000 fine for failing to submit late contribution reports.

    If the fees are not waived or the fine is not paid Cockrel will not be able to run for mayor in a special mayoral election in February...

    "My campaign has worked with the County Clerk’s office to resolve the errors and omissions and filed amended reports prior to filing my petition," Cockrel said in a statement.

    In October, when Cockrel filed his petitions to run for mayor, Cockrel signed an affidavit under oath saying he was in compliance with Michigan's campaign finance laws, which require the payment of all outstanding fines.

    A false statement on an affidavit is perjury and punishable by up to five years in prison, a $1,000 fine or both...

    Rescue 4 has learned that in the next few days, a formal request to Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy will be filed asking her to charge Cockrel with perjury."

Then this:

  • "Patrons paid for Cockrel parties

    The donations were not disclosed, staffers say, because the gatherings weren't fundraisers.
    Charlie LeDuff and Mike Wilkinson / The Detroit News

    DETROIT -- As City Council president, Kenneth Cockrel Jr. held a number of high profile parties paid for by businesses people whose generosity he has not disclosed, The Detroit News has learned.

    In one case, Cockrel's staff asked the owner of a Detroit business to pay about half the cost of a $6,000 reception in May at a Mackinac Island hotel where the former council president wined and dined about 100 political and business leaders attending the annual Mackinac Policy Conference hosted by the Detroit Regional Chamber.

    The tab was picked up in part by George Hill, president of a Detroit firm, who had sought Cockrel's help in solving a tax problem in January. Hill confirmed that he sent a personal check to a Mackinac Island hotel where Cockrel holds an annual reception. That check was requested and written five months after Cockrel helped the business avoid late fees on $211,000 in back taxes owed to the city."

Who would ever want to run for office!

WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE

After this Editorial, will the Star be able to support talking water from the Detroit River for Eddie's canal vision:

  • "Fresh, clean water has always been so plentiful in this part of the world that it's been taken for granted; considered an ever-renewable resource just there for the taking.

    Now we know that isn't so. Environmental and lifestyle changes are threatening the sustainability of our water supply, and we must now look at what it really is: a precious, unpredictable natural resource...

    [Ontario's environmental commissioner Gord Miller]was critical of the fact Ontario has no way to assess the availability of water, and no way to determine how much should be reserved for our ecosystem or kept for public consumption...

    [Former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed] meant our fresh water was destined to become even more important than bubbling crude and must protected at all costs. Lougheed was right. Ontario's policy must be tightened"

WHO WILL BE THE DRIC P3 INVESTOR NOW

I wonder what the DRIC traffic projections will look like now as the Big Three are imploding. Moreover, with the economic meltdown and the bank woes, who will be interested in financing a project that would have to compete with the Ambassador Bridge. Take a look at this financial story to see what I mean:

  • "Pension plans take biggest hit in decade
    Canadian pension plans suffered their worst quarterly loss in a decade in the third quarter, according to benefits consulting firm Mercer.

    Oct 10, 2008, James Daw

    Another merciless plunge in the stock market yesterday only adds to Canadians' worries about the health of their pension plans.

    Canadian pension plans suffered their worst quarterly loss in a decade in the third quarter, according to benefits consulting firm Mercer, and the continuing stock-market plunge in October has only made things worse.

    The firm estimates a pension fund that was fully funded in 1998 would now only have 72 per cent of the assets required to pay all pension promises.

    The calculation is a hypothetical read on public and private pension plans and ignores the possibility of superior returns and the extra contributions employers have made.

    Still, it shows many employers will have to either put more funds into their plans to make them whole or seek ways to lower their pension commitments to employees.

    A typical plan will have lost money on stocks and bonds between June and the end of September and left assets down 7.9 per cent, Mercer estimates...

    Mercer's pension health index "is down another 2 per cent" since September, Forestell estimated shortly before North American markets closed yesterday with the S&P/TSX composite index off 4.54 per cent on the day.

    "Nobody's sure where it stops," says Forestell. "It's making plan sponsors and managers nervous about their pension promises, and how much it will cost them to pay for them going forward."

Oh do not worry, Pension Plans can invest in illiquid private equity and infrastructure deals and buy assets like DRTP to protect their pensioners. I wonder if teachers in Ontario are still pleased that their Plan and its partners are required to paying $52B for Bell Canada:

  • "BCE shares traded at an 8-per-cent discount to the deal price.

    On Friday, the shares closed at an 18-per-cent discount, expressing the market's fear that the largest leveraged buyout in history could fall victim to the financial crisis. The four banks financing most of the deal now face the harsh reality of not being able to syndicate the loans to other banks at a reasonable price."

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Dozen Readers' Letters



Here are some more emails from readers like you.

The first one is very important to the well-being of the region and should be acted upon immediately. Of course, it will NOT be done because it was suggested by someone outside of the so-called braintrust in town who have failed us miserably so far.

1) "Now Is the Time To Market Windsor"

There is no denying that we are facing tough economic times throughout Windsor/Essex. Plants are cutting staff, the housing market is depressed and the holiday sales forecast for retailers in the area is gloomy to say the least.

The foregoing having been said, there is one aspect of this economic crisis where we can "shine." The exchange rate on the dollar is the the lowest it has been in many years. This means that for Americans coming to this area, they can save close to 25% on their purchases by buying in the Windsor/Essex area.

With no disrespect intended, Americans are notoriously "insular" when it comes to knowing what is going on in Canada. Many Americans believe (1) that they require a passport to visit Canada, (2) they have no idea the savings that can be gained by shopping in Canada and furthermore (3) have no idea the amount of goods they can take back to the US duty free on either a daytrip or over a 48 hour visit.

There is an excellent opportunity for retailers, restauraneurs and hoteliers to mount a marketing campaign to bring this information to our friends across the river. The timing couldn't be better since the largest shopping day of the year for Americans falls on the day after their Thanksgiving... that shopping day is November 28th. There is no question Americans are feeling the stresses of the economic situation in their own country and if they were aware that a 25% saving could be had by shopping in Windsor/Essex it would be a win for them as well as a win for us on this side of the river too.

So how do we do it? A radio and television "blitz" of the Detroit to Toledo area mentioning (a) the exchange rate advantage (b) no passport requirement to visit Canada (c) how much you can take back to the US duty free.(d) promotion of Windsor/Essex. This could be done in either 30 or 60 second spots run during prime local news time on television and during peak drive times on radio. This should run the days of the US Thanksgiving week.

The Tunnel (half of it) is owned by the City. What a great promotion it would be to provide "free passage" back to the US courtesy of the City of Windsor. Trip coupons could be distributed to retailers and others. They would validate the coupon with a stamp when the purchase is made and this coupon would be presented to the toll taker at the Tunnel. I would hope that the Ambassador Bridge would be willing to consider such a promotion as well in the interest of being a "good corporate citizen."

How do we pay for this campaign? I throw the following names out for funding consideration: (a) Windsor/Essex Development Commission (b) Tourism Ontario (c) Canadian Consulate General - Detroit (d) Downtown Business Association (e) Ottawa Street Business Association (f) other business associations and well as (g) various corporate/retail/restraunteurs

Timing is critical and with the holiday season on our doorstep the time is NOW to take advantage of an opportunity staring us in the face. We as Canadian business people have been criticized too long for being too complacent and conservative when pursuing new markets. Let's be a little more aggressive and put the plan together and act upon it.

I have a favourite saying...." nothing ventured..... nothing gained."


2) [Note this is a parody of the Henderson column "What a waste" about the money spent on the federal election. Some parts of the letter have been deleted. Hey, I am no Don McArthur!]

Squandered loonies

Several years of lost days and 5 million squandered loonies later, there's one simple question that has yet to be given a satisfactory answer.

What the hell was that all about? To put it more delicately, why were Windsorites, who had more important things to do, from finding a new job to watching their life savings vanish, subjected to this pointless political circus?

I don't know about you, but I deeply resent being taken for $5 million in taxpayer money by self-centred politicians who would rather roll the GreenLink dice than face the daily grind of trying to put Windsor's future ahead of partisan point scoring and grudge settling.

What could Windsorites have done with the $5 million poured down the drain - all for an "enhanced" minority that still lacks real clout - because Eddie Boy wasn't prepared to accept an access route which by many is believed to be as good as, or better than the city's obsessed greenlink plan?

We could have paid off more of the Arena debt. We could have rehabilitated kilometers of city roads. We could have infused money into local recreation programs. We could have employed of thousands of Windsorites in construction jobs on the Windsor-Essex parkway and prevented them for finding employment elsewhere. We might even have saved a Big Three plant or two and kept industrial centres like Windsor from imploding by keeping our main access route to our largest trading partner working efficiently.

We could have done many useful things. But Francis and his minions chose instead to engineer a crisis where none existed, one that required visits to New York and Toronto and the unleashing of the legal dogs.

And it turns out he's no different than all the others, prepared to avoid the bleak art of compromise and negotiation.

What made him do it? It must be nice to have that kind of money, our money, to throw away on an unprincipled, self-agrandizing ideas.

3) [Re the two-part Deep Throat stor] Great story and unfolding as I suspected from my observations of this project from 1997. The bridge is a very big fly in the political ointment. I like Dan's spunk and Matty's Family fortitude. The Schwartz parkway would get a huge lawsuit and the Bridge would get royalty $$$ for stealing their business. I would love to be that judge.

At the end of the day I would venture to say that the province will take EC Row, as well as Huron Church to EC Row and the A Bridge will build their enhancement project because it makes financial sense. At the end of the day It will also make more sense to tunnel from South of Prince Rd to the current bridge plaza and create a secure road potential from EC Row and even from the Bridge company secondary inspection. The secure highway plan is still in play.

The reality is that the City of Windsor, Ring Master Francis, and his clown troop cannot be trusted with National and International assets because he throws tantrums and they let him.

Thanks again for the story you are very creative or there are scary people that how the reigns.

4) [To Be Pitied - "For Sure"] Gosh Ed, you hit it so hard on the head you broke the hammer. Again, Bravo!

5) Good Morning Ed:

How are you – hope you are well. [Name of person] told me that he is so frustrated with the current mayor and city council that he is considering running for Mayor in the next election. He wanted to know why the city and mayor keep blocking everything the Ambassador Bridge tries to do, he wants the bridge to move ahead, tear down the houses, plant tress and build the new crossing to create jobs and stimulate the economy.

I told him he should start reading your blog.

6) Just read the "City's vision of rail means scrapping old lines" story.

This study was initiated in mid-2004.

Whew! Don't move too fast on it, it's only the end of 2008 after all. At this rate Eddie will get the intermodal transfer facility study started late next year and that should be done in 2016 or so ...

7) In the movie Leaving Las Vegas, Nicolas Cage plays a drunk who has gone to Las Vegas to drink himself to death. When asked why he wants to do this he replies that he can't remember but he knows that he does. Is this Eddie's response when asked why he is opposed to the Ambassador Bridge?

8)I wonder what tale our Mayor's calendar would tell (if it were ever to become public of course). To meet Mr. Moroun 11 times over a substantial period given his various holdings in Detroit, does not seem strange to me. Perhaps we could find out how many times Francis met with [you can fill in a name you think could be in this space].

9) [Re Of mountains and Mayors] YOU ARE SO RIGHT THIS TIME.

10) my dad told me to send you this article about poverty rising in windsor. I wish this mayor would wake up and do something about bringing good paying jobs here because I am probably relocating like everybody has been next month to Saskatoon I can't find work out here. I love your blog I read it everyday!

11) E-mailing you from work on your recent blog about the election. I think we should ignore Rae and Ignatieff and the Chretien holdovers like Manley, and look outside the box for a new and charismatic leader who can bring back the Liberal “fire in the belly” and rebuild our party. I think we should convince Jean Charest to run for the leadership. I have watched him closely since he was a back bencher in Brian Mulroney’s government, then in cabinet, then the leadership after the disaster that was Kim Campbell, then moving over to the Quebec Liberal party at the request of Chretien to “save” Canada and stop Quebec separation. He is articulate, speaks both languages better than Mulroney even did, no broken English or ungramatic French. He knows Quebec and can deliver liberal votes at the expense of the Bloc, and despite the fact that he is from Quebec, can bring in support in the West and Ontario. I think he would be a “dream” candidate, but it would likely take a lot of persuasion to convince him. I think he is just what the party needs now, someone not too far outside, but not too close, to come in and put the fire back in all our bellies. We sure could use some here in Windsor. That’s my dream, but can it become a reality? Don’t know, but would sure like to try. Anyway, as always love the blog, take care.

12) I find it quite distasteful that the city of Windsor will fight the bridge, a competitor as noted by Eddie, but yet has had discussions for the new crossing, another competitor for revenue.

Isn't there an unfair competition act in Canada?

He's using government funds to fight off a private competition expansion, yet helping
a government competition expansion, and benefiting by it.

Act III (Part II): Deep Throat's Climax


After the coffees were finished and the plate of delicious cookies devoured, we started back up again. Deep Throat said
  • “That was quite an excellent question his usual.”

I had just asked about the relationship between the three levels of Government even though they seemed to be fighting amongst themselves.

Hmmmm, I thought, all of this flattery is not the usual way with Deep Throat. I must have been Blogging something correctly over the past few weeks for him to be so complimentary.

  • “Most would find it surprising that the Federal Government which has the ultimate constitutional authority in Canada over the border and the Provincial Government which can upload any City street at any time that they so desired are so accommodating to a Mayor who is so insulting to them. A Municipality has little power against the Province and yet our Cabinet Ministers who basically have political tenure in Windsor seem to be afraid of him. This hogwash about them being concerned about the Windsor Star and its power to influence elections is ridiculous.

    Again, Blogmeister, as you have pointed out, the first Schwartz Report really was a blueprint at the time it was presented about what the three levels of Government were going to do. With some variation, it still is just as the Joint Management Committee Report is telling us exactly what is going to happen in this region.

    In my opinion, the three Governments are still working together contrary to what some may think. They are still working against their common enemy.

    Of course, there are squabbles just like in any family. If one looks back at history, it is clear that Governments can be allies against a common enemy and yet at the same time are fighting amongst themselves to obtain the greatest advantage once that common enemy is defeated.

    That is my explanation about what is going on with the three levels of Government.”

I cannot say in all honesty that what he said was a big surprise. That was my explanation for it as well. But it is what he said next that I had never considered.

  • “But you had figured that out already Blogmeister hadn’t you? The real question though is why the Mayor is fighting the Senior Levels with respect to the border road. He seems to be agreeable to the location of the new Bridge and Plaza because it is in Brighton Beach. But there is that this gigantic struggle between Greenlink and the DRIC Road that seems to make little sense since they are so close together but for the length of a few of the Schwunnels.

    This is nothing more than the continuation of the debate that has gone on for years that started with the Horseshoe Road set out in the first Schwartz Report. That would have cost hundreds of millions of dollars in seemingly was only rejected after the Feds retained Cansult to shoot it down. Then came full tunnelling as the only solution that Windsor would find acceptable. I am sure that you are as tired as I am about Greenlink, son of Greenlink and the costly advertising blitzes that have gone nowhere.

    All of a sudden, the Greenlink position, according to Council Valentinis, was merely the reaction to the DRIC road and was subject to compromise. All of a sudden, the Mayor is prepared to use the “C” word when he deals with Greenlink. To be honest, I was hoping to see what son of Greenlink was going to look like even though DRIC had rejected it. I was interested to see how far the Mayor was actually prepared to back off.

    Let us make an assumption that may or may not be true, that all of this stalling has been orchestrated. After all, I cannot believe that Senior Levels of Government would hang around for all of these years being abused by a Municipal Government. There are lots of municipalities that would be thrilled to receive billions of dollars of investment with thousands of new jobs being created.

    The Governments for all of these years have done absolutely nothing for this area that is meaningful with respect to the border even though they continuously claim that this border crossing is so important for the well-being of the economies of Canada and the United States.”

This time I thought that my friend had lost it. Orchestrating a stall? Orchestrating events even though 15,000 jobs could have been created here over the last few years that would have made our transition from an automotive economy to our new one, whatever that is going to be, less painful? What politician would ever do that and expect to be re-elected in the future? Could anyone be that callous?

Deep Throat knew exactly what I was thinking. All he said was “Chuck Barris” and I knew exactly what he meant. Wasn’t he the producer and host of the Gong Show? We had our version in Windsor thanks to a couple of Cabinet Ministers.

  • “This is what I believe and merely my opinion. I’m speculating again. Here is the news story as you may recall:

    Minister sorry for speaking too soon: Border cash news catches mayor, Pupatello off guard;
    Dave Battagello 05-27-2005

    Ontario infrastructure minister David Caplan apologized Thursday for revealing a closed-door government decision to spend $500 million beyond 2010 for new infrastructure to fix Windsor's border problems.

    The funding was announced by Caplan and MPP Dwight Duncan (L -- Windsor-Tecumseh) late Wednesday in a hastily arranged news conference inside Duncan's cramped constituency office.

    It was done on the heels of the provincial government's release earlier in the day of its five-year, $30-billion ReNew Ontario funding plan for provincial infrastructure…

    It was during the news conference that the infrastructure minister "unintentionally" spoke about a February cabinet decision to commit $500 million to Windsor's border infrastructure beyond 2010...

    Meanwhile, stakeholders in the border traffic debate levelled criticism at the province, questioning why the $500-million announcement for funding to alleviate local border traffic woes was not in writing, done with little fanfare and will not start flowing until after 2010."

    If you think that is a fluke my friend, then you have forgotten what happened before the last provincial election from the mouth of the Transport Minister at that time:

    Buses, trains set campaign in motion

    Transportation Minister revealed truth behind announcement when she said, 'Now let's get elected and get on with it!'

    KAREN HOWLETT, Globe and Mail, June 16, 2007

    Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty's vision to build transit systems snaking through the Greater Toronto Area has all the earmarks of a campaign goodie…

    In fact, it was Transportation Minister Donna Cansfield who let the cat out of bag at the end of the event held at a Mississauga bus garage when she said, "Now, let's get elected and get on with it!"

    Money for the project, announced out of the blue yesterday, will not begin flowing until 2010 - which is why there was no mention of it in this year's budget, a senior Liberal source said. “

    Of course, that time period may be delayed given the economic meltdown that we have in the economy but that date is also very convenient for politicians running for re-election around that time.”

I could not believe it if he was right. All of this pretending going on, the squabbling, the positions designed to fool Windsorites when there was NOT going to be any actions taken for years in the future. 2010 at the earliest. It may be delayed more now with the Governemnt deficits being announced. Why can’t people just be open and above board?

As is usual when talking with Deep Throat, I was now confused. I did not understand what his panic was all about if we are talking about some time period until 2010 or after. We still obviously had years more of this waste of time and effort on a border file.

He must have read my mind again. He always seemed to know what I was thinking before I said it.

  • “Remember, this is not yet the end of the play. It is merely Act III. We are about to see the Climax of years of activity that should help clear up a lot of questions that many of us have had.”

  • “Okay,” I said. “What is it that you think is so important that it is the climax of what has been going on to date?”

He looked at me directly in the eyes. I had seen him do that before. It was always before the great revelation that once he said it then it was as plain as the nose on my face. I was always embarrassed that I had missed the obvious. However, I figured that if I had missed it so had most other people. That is why I always dropped what I was doing when I received a summons from Deep Throat.

  • “I am sure that you were as surprised as I was when the Mayor was so supportive of the changes that DRIC made in the Spring Garden area. But here’s a shocker:

    “Instead of building a truck highway that would run parallel to E.C. Row, 50 metres to the south, it now wants to put international truck traffic in the centre portion of a new 10-lane E.C. Row, separated from local traffic running on either side.”

    A 10 lane Expressway! Can you believe it and not a word of opposition from the Mayor. He is thrilled with it and applauds it.

    That is a load of, well I won’t use the word even though the Mayor has said it in a Henderson column. We now know that what the Joint Management Committee proposed in 2002 and what the Senior Levels have always wanted--- the upgrading of EC Row---will take place.

    The Mayor has told us enough times recently that he is not opposed to what the County wants with respect to Manning Road but that he is just concerned about sequencing. Of course that is bull as well. Here are the graphs from Sam Schwartz where he sets out his proposed sequencing and you’ll see that the Manning and Lauzon roads are built first, before any changes are made from Highway 401. Not after. How can the Mayor take the position he is taking now?
    As you can see now, in both the East and West ends of the Expressway, we are going to see major upgrades. Can the centre, the part that runs through the City, be far behind? I hardly think so.

    There are some of us who are cynical enough to believe that the changes being made to the Expressway today are nothing more than a precursor to the construction that will take place in a few years when that road is upgraded completely to as many as 10 lanes. There would be five lanes in each direction with two lanes dedicated for trucks only to allow them to have a direct connection from Highway 401 to the border. Sure there were some problems with the bridges on E C Row that were in a desperate state of repair, Cansult told us that, but we cynics just don’t believe that the opportunity was missed to make some additional changes to the Expressway at this time that would accommodate an expansion of the roadbed.

    We have now reached the climactic moment of the drama. This is the key point when we have learned that the Senior Levels are going to get exactly what they always wanted at least with respect to the border road. Everything falls into place from this point on until its “inevitable end.”

    Of course there’ll be some more drama… we can see the Mayor positioning himself to be the Saviour of the City as the Province moves closer to what Eddie supposedly always wanted with Greenlink. Or so he and the sycophants will all tell us.

    To be honest, it would not surprise me to have a “cheap solution” imposed on us because of the economic downturn. The trade-off would be something that Eddie wants so that he can claim the City is getting something until the final road is built sometime in the future when the economy improves. Of course the interim solution will become our final road to the border. It should be obvious what Eddie wants.”

I was stunned. I could not believe what I was hearing. I must admit I missed his comment about what Eddie wants until I was driving back to town. Too late now to ask I berated myself. No more beers at lunch.

If this was true, then all of this turmoil and all of this waste of taxpayer money was for naught. It had all been prearranged. We were all being played as fools and as pawns in this giant game of monied economic nationalism.

  • “Wait a minute,” I said. “I know how the Mayor is going to stall this off for a little bit longer. He said it on his CKLW interview show:

    “And it is clear, they need to consider all the best alternatives and they need to show and demonstrate how they have taken all reasonable alternatives presented to them and incorporated them into their solutions. That's the law they need to follow. If they do not follow it, the Minister needs to review it and the Minister will have to apply it. And if the Minister doesn't, then there are courts that will do that.”

    He’s going to raise a fuss with the Minister and again threaten a lawsuit to stall the process until the Province is in a position to be able to fund the DRIC road or whatever it is that they are going to build after 2010.

    Brilliant strategy for bureaucrats. A terrible tragedy for the people in this region who are out of a job, who may lose their home and who may be forced to leave here to try to survive.”

Deep Throat look pleased. He knew that I understood what was going on. He accomplished his purpose. But of course, I was not yet satisfied.

  • “You have not told me where the Bridge is going to be built and who is going to build it have you. Those are the “falling action and resolution” elements of Shakespearean tragedies aren’t they.

    We are going to see continued hostility between the Governments and the Bridge Company over the last issue, on a new border crossing aren't we. It is hardly a surprise then that Dan Stamper said what he did about the Bridge Company having the right to build its Enhancement Project right around the time of the elections. He was warning the Government that the Company was not sitting idly by.”

  • “Ah my dear friend, you have hit the nub of this matter. The trouble is that I am still not certain what that inevitable end is. I know that the Bridge Company has the legal right to move forward. But the Government is the Governbment after all. If they can print $700 billion in the US and $25 billion in Canada to save banks with the snap of a finger, who knows what will happen. I do know that the Bridge Company owner has litigated against Government before and is not afraid to do it if needed. After all, they are trying to take away his family's future.

    It is like any drama where the author is not yet sure which of several alternatives should be chosen for the end of his book or play or movie. Sometimes it just depends on which side of the bed the author gets up on when he/she is about to write the final chapter.

    It is certainly not yet clear that it will be what the bureaucrats wanted IE to own the Ambassador Bridge and to build a bridge beside it or whether it will be what the Owner of the Bridge wants, that he will have his Enhancement Project. What we do know is that there will be a Huron Church and an EC Row Expressway route as the redundant route to the border crossing.

    The road system will be the final pressure point to try finally to scare the Bridge Company into submission. The Governments will play with the Environmental Assessment process that has been stalled as long as it possibly can to give the DRIC a chance to catch up. However in the end, it will be the road access that they believe will pressure the Bridge Company into selling out. In other words, no access for trucks and no revenue for the Bridge. Just recall:
     the Schwartz “Champs- Élysées” diagram in his presentation that reduced the six lanes on Huron Church Road to four lanes
     the comments by Ministers Cansfield and Cannon that they are not happy about truck traffic on Huron Church Road.
     the comment made by Dave Wake that the only route to the Ambassador Bridge once the DRIC Road is built will be an exit at the Expressway and that road which means that most truckers will not want to use that route since it would be so inconvenient.

    That should be strong evidence that demonstrates what the Governments think that they will do.

    And that is what terrifies me. I know that the Bridge Company will not back down because of some ridiculous action like this. Effectively, this would put them out of business. They would have to sue and that would tie up everything for a dozen years or more just as the previous litigation was in the Courts for a decade until there was a settlement.

    Alternatively, the Bridge Company will start building their Enhancement Project if Stamper believes that they can do so which will mean that the Government will have to take action to stop them under the International Bridges and Tunnels Act. That will take years to litigate as well.

    Interestingly, the biggest ally of the Bridge Company may be Ron Rienas of the Peace Bridge, who is not their greatest advocate, and the PBA “international compact entity” theory. Here is what he said recently about legislation applying to them:

    “Ron Rienas, general manager of the Peace Bridge Authority, said Thursday that in certain private and confidential matters his organization also is exempt from the U.S. Freedom of Information Act and the Dominion of Canada Access to Information Act, a policy that has been endorsed by the New York State comptroller's office.”

    No matter what happens it appears that this region will be stuck for a very long period of time as these parties choose to fight rather than to talk. It is almost inevitable now that the road issue is behind us.

    It is extremely hard to see a way out. It will only happen if someone in authority develops some common sense. And that will only happen if…well let’s leave it at that for now and let the falling action play itself out.”

And with that, Deep Throat stood up. The screen and disappeared into the ceiling. I heard a knock on the door and as it opened I saw one of the military men who had taken me to the Commander’s estate. I knew that our session was just about over.

  • “Do not worry my friend,” Deep Throat said as I was escorted to the front door. “I know that I sounded very pessimistic but I did that intentionally. It is up to you and your fellow Bloggers to let the public know what is going on. Citizens of Windsor need to be involved in this process and only the Bloggers are letting people know what is really going on with the odd traditional media exception.

    Oh yes, I read the BLOG of Don McArthur of the Windsor Star. I must admit that I did like this line towards the end of it taking about the Mayor:

    “He's certainly not a financial analyst. Heck, he's hardly even a lawyer. He just plays one on TV.”

    Why, he has been more insulting to the Mayor than you have ever been!

    The end to this file will happen very quickly and very suddenly. That I can foresee although I cannot predict right now exactly what will give rise to the dénouement.

    Do not worry though, my sources tell me that there are still positions to be played that we have not yet heard about. The “inevitable end” of this file is not necessarily litigation although some people are trying to encourage it for their own purposes.

    As this file goes through the “falling action” stage, their roles will be revealed and they will suffer the consequences in ways they have never imagined. We will see things that we will never be able to believe that people are capable of doing. It will rock a number of our ingrained beliefs. Just you wait!

    Remember what your columnist friend Gord said that he was in awe of Moroun and his colleagues since they were "two or three cunning moves ahead of the other players in what amounts to a high-stakes border chess match." Truer words were never spoke in this instance. I just wish I knew what they had up their sleeves.”

We were at the front door of the house and I got a slap on the back from Deep Throat.

  • “You have been a very good student and listener. And I have learned a lot from your BLOGs as well. And we have not yet even discussed how the Mayor's Rail Lands Strategy fits into all of this yet.

    We must talk about this soon. I trust we can do lunch again”

And with that, I saw Deep Throat laugh out loud, the front door close and I entered the limousine for the ride back home.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Gibberish



Time to change the conversation.

Some comments that I have found over the last few weeks that just astounded me.

Just notice how much is said, how little is disclosed and how little is accomplished over issues that have been around for awhile.

There are some themes that come through loud and clear although that is not why I selected the comments. I'll let you discover them for yourself.

Eliminating Poverty--"We want to establish concrete ideas," Francis said when pressed to describe specific ideas leaders had. "We want to increase literacy rates. We want to increase the number of individuals with post secondary training. We want to decrease the drop out rate."

Francis didn't say how they would accomplish their goals nor how much it would cost."

The airport ---Francis said the city is poised to reach agreements soon on other aviation-related business but declined to provide details.

Long distance commuting---The Windsor mayor said project planning is "well under way," but several partners would have to come together to make the long-distance commute work. Francis wants to ensure his citizens can come home for family events or emergencies.

"Many stakeholders will need to come to the table - including the airlines - to negotiate charter fares. We will be seeking financial assistance from existing programs to reduce the financial and emotional impact on our long-distance commuters."

Truck Ferry land---"Talks are underway (with Morterm) to finalize the agreement regarding the property," said Dales on Wednesday. "We are close to getting a final agreement, but nothing is signed yet.

"We have had some positive discussions and hope to put that on paper shortly -- hopefully within the next month."

The East End Arena---Construction of the city's $64.9-million Windsor Family Credit Union Centre arena project is about $2 million under budget to date, the arena's steering committee has been told...

A $4-million grant from the province and selling naming rights throughout the centre were also helpful, Valentinis said.

"That's why it looks like we will come in with something less (than projected)," said Valentinis."

Tunnel deal--Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis believes negotiations on the Windsor-Detroit tunnel deal -- long championed by himself and Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick -- should not be derailed because of Kilpatrick's guilty plea Thursday and his pending resignation and jail term.

"Ken Cockrel has a list of issues he has inherited. We will give him some time to make the transition and then make that call when the time is right."

Red Bull---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.

A number of issues, which Francis wouldn't elaborate on, had race directors leaning away from a return the Windsor-Detroit area. But Francis said the London meeting helped put the Detroit River back in contention.

Onion importers---The mayor said that he will also use his brief trip overseas to visit Frankfurt, Germany, and hopefully advance the establishment of a perishable food distribution centre in Windsor, a proposal he has been pursuing for almost a year.

"There have been a lot of steps taken on developing a business case," Francis said. "This trip is an opportunity to meet with the people in Frankfurt and determine the next step."

--"Francis left for Germany this week to lure unnamed cargo and food distribution warehouse operations to Windsor's airport.

Francis said one company, based outside Frankfurt, could hire between 50 and 500 local people if it strikes a deal in Windsor.

Francis wouldn't put a time frame on that, but said "a lot of the legwork is completed."

Job Fund---When Mayor Eddie Francis takes the podium this evening to deliver the state of the city address, he will propose the creation of a "substantial" regional fund that would help create jobs and bring direct investments to Windsor and Essex County, according to a source familiar with the mayor's speech.

"We're looking at a regional fund on a scale much bigger than anyone has ever discussed, either locally or from senior levels of government. It would require the co-operation of the City of Windsor, County of Essex, Province of Ontario, the Government of Canada ... but the driving force would be the regional economic development commission," the source said.

"It's going to be a proposal, but the city is prepared to move right away. Somebody's got to make the first move."

Leave why don't you---"I wouldn't give up on Windsor yet," said Francis when I asked him about the temptation to move to cities and regions, beginning with London and Woodstock, that are doing so much better than Windsor at churning out jobs. "We've had bad times before. But we always pull through it."

---But if Windsor is as awful as some homegrown critics suggest, and he gets that message at least twice a week in hostile letters, Francis wonders why they stick around. "If you think it's the worst city in the world, what are you doing here?"

FDI magazine award---The city's development commission is already poised to prominently feature the recognition in its efforts to win investment, said CEO Matthew Fischer.

"This is bragging rights. It's a great tool. I will use it until it wears out," he said."

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

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

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

Greenlink talks with the Province---Francis divulged to reporters after the council meeting that discussions had been held between the city and DRIC officials over the summer. "They were productive," he said without elaborating.

--“What surprises me is that over the course of the summer, the discussions that have taken place under the environmental assessment process have not yet resulted in DRIC compromising, or even moving toward a compromise,” Francis said.

“I would characterize this entire process as very difficult and frustrating. Today’s meeting was no different than many other difficult and frustrating meetings that I’ve attended over the course of this file.”

Essex polling---Masse refused to say who had conducted the snapshot poll and who paid for it, except to say it isn't part of his campaign. "No, it's not me. It's somebody else's polling, it's an independent polling," Masse said.

When pressed on who is paying for it, Masse said: "Well yeah, it has nothing to do with our campaign.

"I can't disclose where we got it from," Masse said. "There's some independent pollers out there and we've been able to get some of that polling information from time to time."

Economic meltdown--Greenspan: Bad data hurt Wall Street computer models

Using nature to describe a man-made financial disaster, Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the Federal Reserve , Thursday called the financial-market meltdown a "once-in-a-century tsunami" and explained to a U.S. House committee what he thought went wrong. And insufficient data was one of the causes he pointed to.

Greenspan has long praised computer technology as a tool that can be used to limit risks in financial markets. For instance, in 2005, he credited improved computing power and risk-scoring models with making it possible for lenders to extend credit to subprime mortgage borrowers.

But at a hearing held today by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Greenspan acknowledged that the data fed into financial systems was often a case of garbage-in, garbage-out.

Business decisions by financial services firms were based on "the best insights of mathematicians and finance experts, supported by major advances in computer and communications technology," Greenspan told the committee. "The whole intellectual edifice, however, collapsed in the summer of last year because the data inputted into the risk management models generally covered only the past two decades a period of euphoria."

He added that if the risk models also had been built to include "historic periods of stress, capital requirements would have been much higher and the financial world would be in far better shape today, in my judgment."

On investing---"Times of great stress usually mean times of great opportunity. Almost seven billion people still need food, clothing, shelter, transportation, etc., every day. Investing in "Bread and Butter" companies whose yields at today's prices exceed five per cent is difficult to resist (provided one has some money to invest)."

Who needs elections. Civil Servants know everything---"Once civil servants are satisfied that politicians have been exposed to and understand all facts surrounding a policy issue, they will happily implement whatever decision is reached by cabinet or ministers.

The difficulty arises when there is an impression that politicians and their political advisers have not considered all options, have cut corners or have made decisions on shaky grounds. When that happens, bureaucrats believe it is their duty to insist, to re-visit, to further discuss, to re-submit until it becomes clear that the concerned ministers are well informed.

Only then will they press the implementation button and move the file to the next stage. This is a time-tested internal safety mechanism that has successfully served Canadians as well as their elected politicians for decades...

[Politicians] never understood that the only thing they had to do was to welcome the advice, acknowledge they had understood it and inform bureaucrats of the resulting political decision. Satisfied that they had done their job, civil servants would then have happily shifted from giving advice to implementing the political decision."

And some non-gibberish---Meanwhile, Bloomberg...didn't sugarcoat the economic hardships the city faces in the next few years, suggesting that taxes will rise but that he'd work to stem any layoffs.

"We are going to have some very tough times here," warned Bloomberg who said the crumbling economy was one of the chief reasons he wants to remain in office...

"I'm not going to be all that popular when we address the fiscal problems in the next 13 months but I'm too old to fudge it and I'm too old to compromise for political reasons," Bloomberg said.

Monday, October 27, 2008

To Be Pitied

I really cannot be angry anymore with Mayor Eddie Francis. The real emotion that I should feel for him is one of pity.

He has become a tragic and pathetic figure who has failed at just about everything that he has tried as Mayor of the City, except of course in his own mind.

He would be the flawed character in a stage play. He would be the one that did not understand that he is the one who has failed because of his fear of performing. It is almost as if he is paralyzed, incapable of executing a transaction for fear that it might go wrong.

After all, isn’t the local joke that the only way that we will get a new border crossing is if Mayor McNamara of Tecumseh threatens to put one in. Isn’t that how Windsor got its new arena when Project Ice Track moved to that town!


The story in the Star “Francis says files confirm Moroun wanted tunnel” did make me angry when I first read it online late Thursday night. However, on Friday morning, when I reread it in the published Star I felt sad for a person whom I supported because I believed that he showed so much promise. I was very wrong.

What is so pitiful is that Eddie does not yet understand that he does not have to be perfect in order to succeed. A superstar in baseball only has to hit .350 to receive a salary in the mega-millions. How many times have the best hitters struck out compared with the number of home runs that they hit?

To me what was obvious in reading the story was that Eddie is totally focused on defeating Matty Moroun. Whether it is due to the City ownership of the Tunnel I do not know. Blocking the Bridge Company with bylaws or Heritage plans or Community Improvement Plans or interfering in a Tunnel deal… it does not matter. Whatever it is that Moroun wants to do, Francis must stop it.

There seems to be an air of vindictiveness in the relationship between our Mayor and the Owner of the Bridge Company. Consider this comment, one of the most disgusting comments that a Mayor could make about a business person:
  • “Fearing that billionaire Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun was poised to gain a stranglehold on Windsor's two border crossings, the City of Windsor has entered into a US$75-million agreement with Detroit to take full control of the Windsor-Detroit tunnel…

    "If someone acquired the other half they could fill it up with cement and our investment would be lost," Francis said. "It's in the best interests of our citizens to protect this asset and ensure control of the tunnel remains in the hands of the public."

What an insult. What a childish, immature and stupid statement. What businessperson would waste millions to do that? Only in Eddie's fertile mind! Moroun has done more for the region and the border crossing than Francis will ever be able to achieve.

The Star story is typical of Francis. And we have seen it time and time again. Find a scapegoat for his failures. Find someone to blame. Point the finger at someone else, not at our Mayor especially when over $1.2M has been wasted on legal and consulting fees with no result.

Just watch at Council… the Points of Clarification, the trigger-happy finger on the Councillor microphone kill switch and the attack on delegations such as the pesky environmentalist. It is just so pitiful.

Eddie Francis knows it all. He must have seen the entries personally in the Detroit Mayor’s schedule. How else would he know what is in there. Interestingly, here is what the Detroit News said happened in 2006 and 2007, not what Eddie claimed:

  • “They met 11 times in 2006 and 2007, while the Grosse Pointe Shores industrialist's company was negotiating with the city to buy land for an expanded Cobo Center and for the base of the bridge.”

I did not see anything about the Tunnel there. I am certain that the News would have mentioned it because it is such a high profile issue. They did make specific mention of what meetings were about with respect to other people.

Can you believe that Moroun might have something that he wants to do in Detroit other than what interests Eddie. He does have many business interests after all. Did he require Eddie's permission before he could speak to his City's Mayor?

In fact, Moroun’s attempt to operate the Tunnel ended effectively in late 2005:
  • “A $30-million US takeover of the Windsor-Detroit tunnel by Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel Moroun has been pulled off the table by Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, according to an official in the mayor's office.

    "Our mayor being a team player has listened to what Mayor (Eddie) Francis and others have said," said Anthony Adams, deputy mayor of Detroit, Friday.

    "(Francis) had some valid points about public control and so we will revisit our approach and see what's best to maintain the interests of both sides."

This was after:

  • “Transport Canada raised objections in December, while former deputy prime minister Anne McLellan wrote a letter expressing her concerns. Other federal officials also met with City of Detroit officials.”

In fact, in the summer of 2006, after Detroit Council finally killed the deal, Eddie was so certain about his position that he could say:

  • “Mayor Eddie Francis said he is confident the "lines of communication" with Kilpatrick and Detroit's council are strong enough that Windsor will be notified of any developments that would be detrimental to it.

    "I'm not worried at this point," Francis said. "We have developed a good working relationship on this issue with Detroit and hope to continue to have those discussions."

Does Eddie believe that he is the centre of the universe and that the planets revolve around him? It seems that he cannot comprehend that the two of them might have talked about something other than what interested Eddie. What about this, could this be what some of their discussions were about as Dan Stamper claimed:

  • "Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick thanked Moroun for several recent projects, including the Port of Detroit deal and the creation of an industrial park near I-94 and Mt. Elliott. The combined projects will create several hundred jobs in the city.

    "I want to thank Matty for what he's been able to do in the city," Kilpatrick said. "That is an absolutely incredible undertaking, and he deserves applause."

It is such a shame that the News did not support what Eddie is saying. Then again let’s blame them for that omission.

I cannot believe this comment made by Francis to justify what he is saying:

  • “Francis said he is not as concerned with the possibility that the two were talking about the bridge's twin-span proposal, since Detroit doesn't have much influence over whether the proposal ever becomes reality. A presidential permit is required in the U.S., while federal cabinet approval is needed in Canada before Moroun can proceed.”

How pathetic! What world is Francis living in? It is the new bridge that is important to Mr. Moroun, not Eddie’s Tunnel. It is Eddie that is fixated on doing a deal for US $75 million of taxpayer money to get an interest in the Tunnel not the Owner of the Bridge Company who only offered a fraction of that price.

Eddie clearly does not understand the politics of elections of Democrats thanks to Detroit voters. He certainly did not understand Detroit Mayoral politics. A presidential permit is not needed by the Bridge Company as stated by the Department of State in the United States and it is not clear at all whether Moroun needs any permissions from the Canadian Government to move forward according to what Dan Stamper said recently.

If Eddie is wrong on such simple things and such factual things, then it is very troubling that he is in charge of a major file with so much money at stake.

It seems to me that Eddie was talking about himself when he described Detroit’s influence. One only needs to read the Senate Transcript to see how Eddie was dismissed out of hand by the Senators when he attended in Ottawa. Just about everything important that he wanted via Brian Masse in the International Bridges and Tunnels Act was not achieved.

Eddie is in serious trouble. During his watch, Windsor is collapsing around us. Obviously, he is not responsible for the economic meltdown nor the failure of the Big Three. But what has he done since he became Mayor with respect to economic development in particular that we should be hopeful about? Where are those 15,000 high-paying infrastructure and spinoff jobs that would have helped this community at the time of its greatest need?

His legacy will turn out to be the East End Arena that is turning into a $65 million and counting White Elephant before it is officially opened yet. It is his Cleary! He will be known as the Mayor who has held the record for in camera meetings and has ignored openness and transparency in Government.

What is also a shame is what Cliff Sutts had to say:

  • “he is concerned after learning how often Kilpatrick and Moroun got together while he was negotiating with Kilpatrick's office or his appointed negotiators to secure a tunnel deal.”

Why? Even if they talked, so what? Was there not an agreement in place that prevented Detroit from doing a deal with any other party while the negotiations were under way? It was the Mayor and Mr. Sutts who were unable to negotiate a deal that was acceptable to both the Detroit Mayor and Detroit City Council. Are they going to blame the Bridge Company for that now too?

I would think that Mr. Sutts might want to be worried about the City of Windsor’s legal position if he could say this:

  • “But if it gave (Moroun) an opportunity to affect the negotiations between Detroit and Windsor, we would be very concerned," Sutts said.”

He may want to consider whether Eddie’s interventions “affected negotiations” too to the Bridge Company’s detriment since I am concerned about the legal consequences of that action as a Windsor taxpayer!

Of course, since our Mayor feels so free to comment about the schedule and calendar of the former Detroit Mayor, the question needs to be asked who visits our Mayor, and why? I expect that our Mayor will make his schedule available for the public to see immediately so that we can understand with whom he is speaking so that we can make the kind of assessment that he has made in the Star.

It is a pity for Eddie and for Windsor. Eddie could have achieved so much if he had only learned how to deal with others. Instead, all he can do is rail and take out his frustrations. The best life lesson for Eddie would be to lose and to lose badly. It is pathetic that it would have to be this way.

By the way do you notice that it is always Eddie who is attacking, lashing out, calling names. For Moroun, who has all kinds of interests in Michigan and in Detroit, the image that comes to my mind is Francis as a gnat buzzing around his ear to annoy him. In the end, Eddie will be swatted but until then all that he can think of doing is to annoy someone who is a business success that he is not and that he can never hope to be. Perhaps this may help with Eddie


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