Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, November 07, 2008

Working Up The Contractors Now


Whew, I returned from my secret mission just in time. It’s a good thing that a number of contractors read my BLOG. I will explain to them today that they need not get too excited about the Star headline:
  • “Job too big for local firms?

    City companies fear border work will go to global consortium.”

Everything is being done to work up people on the border file, as has been the history for the last six years, so that the Senior Levels can get exactly what they want and who they want involved. Not only that, we will bless them for it!

When it turns out to be Canadian companies who get the work including local subcontractors, we will all breathe a huge sigh of relief and be so grateful that our Senior Level Governments are using infrastructure to help us get over the hump during this time of economic devastation. It will be characterized as Canada/Ontario’s “New Deal” for Windsor to borrow from FDR.

Why do you think that Infrastructure Ontario came down here so that this story would be published a few days before the Minister of Finance was going to hold his pre-Budget meeting? We need to get the local yokels all worked up so that a couple of Editorials and a Henderson Column can be published before Dwight comes to town.

That would give our Mayor his chance to rant and rave in front of the Minister about the need for local jobs so that he could be our Saviour. That allows Eddie to back off from Greenlink gracefully as the focus shifts from his Greenlink road to jobs. After all, who will remember Greenlink after of these local jobs are created due to Eddie’s advocacy on behalf of the Windsor Contractors.

That ought to be worth a few campaign donations for Eddie’s run for a third term as Mayor and cut out Bill Marra as well. It also ends Eddie's Greenlink fantasy thank goodness. He can still pull out canals for dreaming to replace the Greenlink Schwunnels vision.

Of course, the project cannot guarantee local jobs because it would be illegal in Ontario to do so. Remember the big fiasco over Huron Lodge. Don’t expect Gord Henderson to be our champion either although he may think that you have forgotten what he said before during that controversy:
  • “this is about compromising the bidding process to help $30-an-hour plus tradesmen find work at home and assisting local subcontractors in grabbing a piece of one of the juiciest projects to come along in some time.

    The question is, where do we draw the line if we start undercutting competitions to keep Windsor folks working? Would it apply to bids to supply police cruisers from Tilbury auto firms? Or asphalt from a company based just outside the city limits? If the process becomes incestuous, with only Windsor firms competing for Windsor contracts, city taxpayers will be the big losers because prices will soar...

    By the way, when did out-of-town construction workers become pariahs? These well-paid folks fill our motels and patronize our bars, restaurants and malls. They're a godsend for the hospitality industry.

    If council rejects the low bidder Monday, after falling on its face over the Buskers handout, its fiscal credibility will lie in tatters on the eve of budget deliberations.”

We are told already in the Star article that

  • “A spokesman for Infrastructure Ontario said he expects the lion's share of jobs will go to local workers regardless of which consortium wins control of the highway project. He pointed to 22 other Ontario infrastructure projects underway where that has been the experience.

    "Obviously with this project there will be domestic and international interest," said Steve Dyck. "But at the end of the day, the consortium we believe will be dependent on local resources to get it done, similar to all our other projects."

    He suggested that wording could be built in the RFQ to favour use of Windsor-area workers.”

When you see Eddie making his big pitch and Dwight agreeing to consider this matter seriously, because after all he is a local MPP as well, then you will understand that this is all being orchestrated. That is the answer isn’t it so enjoy your weekend.

Of course if the winning Consortium partner has local connections, it makes it even better. No one here would object when the partner hangs out the "Help Wanted" sign. More praise to our local political heroes.

Just to let you know, Infrastructure Ontario views this as its role and why its role is essential to all of this:

  • “For some of the Province’s biggest projects, Infrastructure Ontario uses private financing to strategically rebuild vital infrastructure while maintaining public control…

    For projects in the range of $50 million to $300 million, or more, the crown corporation is mandated to set project criteria, bring together public and private sector organizations, conduct a procurement process to select a private-sector consortia and ensure the public interest is upheld throughout the life of the project.

    Infrastructure Ontario’s aim is to take better control over limited resources through accountability, transparency and investing wisely to bring projects online on time and on budget. Our mandate is about utilizing private-sector expertise, not about privatization, to ensure the expansion and revitalization of public assets.

    The old ways of financing and managing infrastructure projects were inefficient. A lot of things were done well, like setting priorities and allocating resources, but too often projects ended up over budget and over schedule. And taxpayers paid for these inefficiencies.

    There is true commitment to adhering to expected and planned life-cycle costs throughout all phases, from design and construction to maintenance. For example, payments to the private sector contractor will be linked to a level of service based on specified performance standards.”

Since the DRIC road is a huge project, or is going to be defined that way, then Infrastructure Ontario is going to be involved. And didn't Len Kozachuk of URS, the Engineering firm who acted as consultat for DRIC Canada just become Vice President of Project Assessment for Infrastructure Ontario. You have no idea how hard that information was to get out that organization!

The DRIC road project will morph into a P3 too as I shall discuss in another BLOG soon. Of course, it could have been handled differently, just like the Manning Road work as set out in the same edition of the Star:

  • “Subject to funding approval, construction would be done in five phases over 7.5 years, generally moving from north to south.”

However, if it was done that way, then the Province might not have control over who would actually do the building. Too many companies could be involved at that time. As we know as well from that story, the $1.6 billion for the DRIC road should probably be doubled by the time it is done given the way the Manning Road has escalated from $125M-$200M over a one-year period.

As well, I would expect that the road project and the Federal bridge and plaza project would ultimately become one. It would be one giant P3 project because otherwise it does not make sense to have two of them.

The project will be an enormous one because all the numbers that we have heard so far are mere estimates. If the road, plaza and bridge cost around $3 or $4 billion then expect the amounts to double by the time this is finished.

This is after all our Megaproject run amok. It is our Big Dig. The Province and the Federal Government need to be in control of all of this money that will be used by the time it is done. They know as well as you and I do that there will be huge cost overruns from the estimates. They have to control that.

Now this is where the fun begins and local contractors should relax. It is obvious that no local contractor has the skill to plan, build, finance, operate and manage a bridge/plaza border operation and to do the engineering required for tunnels and Schwunnels and whatever. However, they do have some of the skills required and the workforce to do the actual construction job. Really, what is the difference between this and Huron Lodge where local subtrades were involved even though the General Contractor was out of London. There is a need however to ensure that a foreign consortium doesn’t get the work.

That this is an issue can be seen by the fact that Brian Masse is there already pontificating “There ought to be a law.” He has the knack at least to be front and centre as the issue becomes public so he too can claim the glory. I give him political credit for doing the obvious just before it becomes obvious.

What is needed therefore is a major Canadian engineering firm that has the expertise and the background to do all this, a financing source given the huge amounts of money that would be involved, a firm that can do a lot of the work according to the plans that are prepared by the major firm and a workforce that can do all of this.

This is not one small job either and that is why Infrastructure Ontario needs to be involved. The Feds will have an interest as well given their part of the work and they would need a firm that has a reputation of being able to handle such a project.

When this goes out for a Request for Quotation, there will be relatively few groups that will be able to bid on it. I could tell you who I thought was going to get the deal and who all of the partners were but I’m not going to do it as that would take away all of the surprise.

Rest assured that the firm whom I think will be the major player in all this recognized this opportunity. Recently, they positioned the firm quite well to make this all happen.

So, dear contractors, keep on reading the headlines and the news stories because they are there for a purpose. Just recognize exactly what is going on. Make sure that you have a positive and strong voice through your Organizations to make this happen. This is political after all and you know what politics is like. Keep the pressure on the politicians because after all they do not care about how much money is wasted. All they care about is that they are re-elected.

You may as well get in on the action too if there is federal and proovincial money to spread around for the good of the Community. It's not hard to accomplish as our local sucesses with STOPDRTP and WeACT demonstrate.

AND MAKE SURE THAT YOU AND YOUR FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES KEEP ON READING THIS BLOG FOR ALL THE INSIDE SPECULATION! SEND ME THEIR NAMES AND I WILL ADD THEM TO MY MAILING LIST

Who Is Ontario’s Only Border Friend Now


Let us cut to the chase right away. The only border friend that the Province has is the Owner of the Ambassador Bridge. PERIOD!

Unlike our Mayor who was
  • “OK with cabinet shuffle

    Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis is cautiously optimistic the Ontario roots of Canada's new transportation minister will bode well for the city on the border file”

I would bet that the Province is extremely pessimistic about its future, especially given the fact that our manufacturing industries are in a tailspin and the domestic automobile industry may completely collapse taking down with them a considerable number of parts suppliers.

Again, this demonstrates to me the Mayor’s failure to see the big picture to this City’s detriment.

Let me give you three good reasons why this City and this Province are in trouble, big trouble. Consider these three new Cabinet appointments by the Prime Minister:

  1. Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway: Stockwell Day.

  2. Minister of Defence and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway: Peter MacKay

  3. Minister of Nothing and Minister for the Continental Gateway and Trade Corridor: NOBODY.

Two strong senior Ministers for the coastal gateways and NOBODY to help Ontario.

Oh, you have never heard of the Continental Gateway and Trade Corridor before. I must admit that I knew about it but not very much. I read about the term recently in an Ontario Government publication that said that:

  • “The Continental Gateway is the multi-modal transportation system in Ontario and Quebec whose roads, rail lines, ports, and airports support Canada's two largest economies that conduct over 71% of Canada-U.S. trade. The Continental Gateway is critical to Canada’s economic competitiveness.”

Frankly, it seems very much like the Windsor Crossing when I saw that this Memorandum of Agreement had been signed about a year ago:

  • “The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, the Honourable Donna Cansfield, Ontario Minister of Transportation, and Ms. Julie Boulet, Quebec Minister of Transportation, today announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the development of the Ontario-Quebec Continental Gateway and Trade Corridor.”

Everybody talks a good game don’t they. We have been hearing for eons down here how important our border crossing is to be economies of the United States and Canada but look at how little has been done by our Governments.

Did you really expect anything any different for the Central Canada crossings after the federal election? Quebec disappointed the Conservatives given their high expectations of so many seats there, especially respecting Michael Fortier who gave up his Senate seat but was not elected. Fortier had become the key border operative for PM Harper and he met with many of the big players on both sides of the river. No one has replaced him so far.

In addition, the Liberal Ontario government was a thorn in the side of the Conservatives as well for seats in Ontario and since they will be in power for another couple of years will continue to be a problem. Who knows, Premier McGuinty and/or Finance Minister Duncan might want to take a shot at the Federal Liberal leadership too. Rumours suggest that Finance Minister Flaherty might want to return to his Ontario roots politically given his strong attacks as Finance Minister against Ontario taxing policy.

To put it into a stark perspective, take a look at this about the Atlantic Gateway and weep:

  • “It's hardly a top-of-mind topic, except in MacKay's native province of Nova Scotia, where Conservative Premier Rodney MacDonald has been doggedly pushing Ottawa to support the multimillion-dollar trade initiative for more than two years.

    In essence, the four Atlantic provinces are keen to boost trade with Europe and Asia by improving the region's ports, railways and roads.

    Last October, Ottawa released a study that said the concept could create 60,000 jobs.

    MacDonald has a $300-million wish list that includes plans for new roads, a refrigerated terminal, a twinned highway, a rail line through Halifax, a new industrial park and even the dredging of Sydney harbour in Cape Breton.

    MacKay signed a tentative agreement with the provinces a year ago, but the money from a $2.1-billion fund in the federal budget has yet to start flowing. MacDonald is keen to see that happen before his minority government faces a general election - probably in the spring.

    On Thursday, MacDonald said he had specifically asked the prime minister to create the quasi cabinet portfolio earlier this month, and he was thrilled MacKay got the job.

    "Peter MacKay has been a champion for us in that regard, and I have no doubt that this is going to move the gateway more quickly," said the premier, who supported Harper in his successful 2004 bid to become federal Conservative leader.

    "This is one of those opportunities where the federal government has money booked, that they can start spending it in Nova Scotia and start partnering with us to do so."

    Two years ago, the federal government committed $591 million over eight years on the so-called Pacific Gateway, but the Atlantic region has had to wait.”

They may not have to wait if the Feds pull out of Windsor and take their money with them.

All that Ontario can see with its gateways into the United States is misery. I won’t talk about Windsor because you ought to know all about that by now. In the Sarnia/Port Huron area, over$400M is required for a new Plaza in the United States that is facing all kinds of difficulties. In Buffalo/Fort Erie, the proposed new bridge there had problems because of bird migration while

  • “The Federal Highway Administration, New York State Department of Transportation, the federal Advisory Council on Historic Peservation and the New York State Historic Preservation Office have all declared the [Peace Bridge Plaza expansion] project would have a negative effect on the surrounding area if the it goes through as currently proposed.”

I should remind you as well, dear reader, that the Province completely understands that the Federal Government position is paramount with respect to international border crossings. The Province at one time thought that it might have an interest in the new crossing in Windsor or at least have some kind of a say but they know that it is the Feds who will make all of the decisions.

That is the problem. What incentive is there for the Federal Conservatives to do anything to help out this Province? If Minister Flaherty wants to be the PC’s leader in Ontario, you would not expect him to be too helpful to the Provincial Liberals.

Accordingly, if you are the Premier there really is only one person who can help you: Matty Moroun, the Owner of the Ambassador Bridge and the proponent as well for the Ambassador Niagara Signature Bridge Group in Fort Erie/Buffalo.

Both the Premier and the Owner have the same interest: to continue to allow border traffic to flow efficiently and smoothly in the Windsor/Detroit area and in Fort Erie/Buffalo to benefit the economy of Ontario. The Premier should probably understand now that the Prime Minister is not going to be of any what assistance whatsoever. His focus is clearly on the coastal Gateways and not on the Central Canada gateways that ought to interest Ontario and Québec.

With Mr. Fortier not in the Government, it may well be that the focus on a P3 bridge in Windsor may not be important anymore. Given the election of the Democratic candidate for President, a fight over the Ambassador Bridge is not one which Canada would want to have with the new US Administration. I would expect that Ambassador Wilson will be resigning shortly because I would assume that he is persona non grata because of NAFTA-gate.

As I have stated before, and as the Province would know, with the Bridge Company being a competitor to any new crossing, with traffic volumes decreasing and with the weakness in the banking system, the amount of money available for a P3 bridge may be shrinking if anyone even has an interest. There are other infrastructure projects where money can be put without having a fierce competitor.

The Bridge Company Owner has the advantage that he would be able to raise money for his project here and also in Fort Erie/Buffalo and could not care less about infrastructure in other parts of Canada. Just in passing, the Peace Bridge has already asked for substantial sums of money from Governments on both sides of the river for their project.

His business interests and that of the Premier are identical.

As far as money goes, the Premier should know, since he has been trying to get more money out of Ottawa for infrastructure, that it is a hopeless cause as well. The Province will not be allowed to have any involvement whatsoever in the building of a new bridge nor to have a say in it. He is going to have enough problems trying to find the money for the DRIC road.

I expect that the Province had hoped that they would have an indirect influence on the border crossing if OMERS was involved given the relationship between the Pension Fund and the Province. That was important for Ontario’s position for its economy in the future. However, the Province should know now that some Australians are involved with MDOT, probably Macquarie Bank. That could mean that Borealis may be cut out entirely. Moreover, the opening by Mr. Nobrega of an office in London signals that his interest is investing outside of Ontario and of Canada and not here.

What does this all mean? Unfortunately, some of the economic nationalists are going to be disappointed but they had their chance years ago and did not act. The Province in my opinion has no choice but to start talking with the Bridge Company to protect the economy of this Province.

The easy solution is for Ontario to demand that the DRIC study be tabled because their traffic projections are meaningless and the study itself is flawed. They ought not to have too much trouble with MDOT going along with them after Senator Cropsey got through with them. The Province can however take some comfort from some of the information that came out of DRIC with respect to the DRIC Road. That road is similar to what the City’s WALTS study recommended and which the Bridge Company proved could be engineered. Ontario should immediately build a much lower cost “interim” road to the “interim” Enhancement Project as was always contemplated under the Border Infrastructure Fund.

The two people that should have the lead on this assignment are Sandra and Dwight. They should be told to do the deal NOW. Once Ontario and the Bridge Company have made their deal, then the Federal Government would have no choice but to go along with it. In spite of everything, the Federal Government is smart enough to know when to retreat. Ontario and Michigan are obliged to work together to insist that the two Federal Governments go along with what they want.

The Feds understand better than anyone else that Dan Stamper was not joking around when he said that the Bridge Company had the legal right to build a bridge here and given what is going on at the other major border crossing, they are a formidable competitor there as well.

With Ontario and the Bridge Company working together, the Premier can get exactly what he wants. After all, that is what his new friend should be for.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

NAH, NAH, NAH

I have no intention whatsoever of being humble or gracious in my absolute victory.

I WAS RIGHT.

HE WAS WRONG.

It really is as simple as all that.

I am sure that you saw the Henderson column last Tuesday supposedly about the new Windsor jail. It had nothing to do with the jail. It had everything to do with the border file.

You remember what Henderson wrote in his column previously because I have Blogged it enough times already:
  • "I'm in awe of Moroun and his hired hands. These folks are the masters. They're always two or three cunning moves ahead of the other players in what amounts to a high-stakes border chess match."

He just proved that statement to be correct. Here is what he said on Tuesday:

  • “It's scary to think that the same kind of bureaucratic geniuses who've ensured motorists can't take a leak between Windsor and London are in charge of locating a new Windsor jail and building a $1.6-billion connection to a new bridge…

    They can't figure out where to place a jail or find the means to let our main highways be driven in comfort instead of excruciating pain. And these are the folks preparing to undertake the biggest infrastructure project in the province's history?

    Lord help us.”

There it was at the beginning of his column and at the end. And from Gord, their big foe! Absolute proof that the Bridge Company is the only party that is capable of building a bridge for this area properly.

What have I been saying in this BLOG for so long? Let private enterprise ie the Bridge Company, who knows what they are doing with respect to the border since they are the best border operator in North America build their Enhancement Project. They understand the border in a way bureaucrats don't.

Why do we need to waste taxpayer dollars? A simple example is the building of four Customs booths on the US side at a cost of several million dollars that cleared up the truck back up on Huron Church. Eddie Francis and his friend Gridlock Sam wanted to spend how many hundreds of millions of dollars to build the Horseshoe Road that would not have allowed one truck to pass through the border any more quickly? It is the same mistake being made at the Tunnel Plaza where all that was being proposed was building the equivalent of parking spaces on the Plaza.

Billions of taxpayer dollars to spend on a new crossing and plazas and disrupting hundreds of families and businesses when there is no need to do so with the Bridge Company picking up the tab? What kind of lunacy is that?

And the Editorial on the same day…it was nothing more than another demonstration of the capitulation that the Mayor is going to have to demonstrate soon. Again, forget about the platitudes about the Mayor being right and Greenlink being the best solution. The Editorial put it properly. The choice is between Eddie’s ego and jobs:

  • “While their concerns about the need to bolster our fragile economy should not be dismissed, LaSalle and Tecumseh would better serve the interests of the region by backing Windsor's fight to preserve the health and well-being of its citizens.”

What arrogant drivel. This has nothing to do with the quality of life. That myth has been shattered a long time ago.

Here is what is so absurd about our Mayor’s position. The Editorial can say, requiring that the Province to bow down to our Mayor:

  • “Francis also noted that only 1,000 metres of tunnelling and about $120 million in projected construction costs are separating the two sides."

If this is so inconsequential, why is the Mayor blocking a solution when this City and Region need jobs desperately? Is it anything more than ego?

The reality is that the Schwunnels are a horrific mistake for a number of perspectives including security of the border crossing and safety of users of the tunnels and those using them innocently above as well as extra costs for no reason whatsoever.

I know that our Mayor and the Editorial writer can brush aside the paltry sum of $120 million but unfortunately we as taxpayers cannot do so. The hypocrisy of saying that the City should cut back while demanding that the Senior Levels should spend money when it is not needed boggles my mind. How much waste do these people want to create?

I don’t care. I won. I can be sportsmanlike on another occasion.

By The Numbers


There was a big debate at the Cropsey hearings in Michigan about who is right and who is wrong on traffic projections for the border volume.

We do know that DRIC has had to change its projections several times already and in each case the numbers have gone down. The Canadian Federal Government is undertaking an investment grade traffic survey but we have not yet seen those results.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could see the future and determine what the truth is? Unfortunately, we cannot do so but perhaps we have an alternative way of gauging who might be correct.

I found this recently. It is a Press Release dated May 18, 2001 titled “Governments partnering to ease border congestion.” It was the beginning of the Bi-National Partnership.

It is instructive to understand that the purpose of the study was
  • “improving traffic flow at the Windsor-Detroit border.”

It was not security. It was not redundancy. According to FHW A

  • "All of the partners are cooperating fully in this effort to modernize this very important border crossing."

There was nothing there about building a new bridge and plaza a mile down the road from the existing crossing. It was about traffic flow and modernization.

The reason it was not being discussed was because the Ambassador Gateway project was being negotiated at this exact time with the Bridge Company and it was supposed to handle about twice the existing traffic on its own, without the need for a new crossing at all. Moreover the parties knew that the Bridge Company's Project was designed to accommodate a second bridge at the existing crossing of up to 8 lanes which would make 12 in all, more than enough to handle traffic volumes many years into the future. The Bridge Company was proposing to build it too at its expense.

Given all of that knowledge frankly, one has to ask the legitimate question why was there ever a need for a second bridge. The answer clearly has to be there was none. The real objective of what has happened for the last 8 years is action by the Governments to force the Bridge Company to sell out at a cheap price so that the Governments can P3 the border!

Back to traffic volumes, this comment struck me as startling as part of a backup material:

  • “Recent studies have confirmed that the Windsor-Detroit border crossings and their associated links are experiencing congestion and transportation capacity problems.

    The Ontario Ministry of Transportation's Southwest Ontario Frontier International Gateway study concluded that the two-lane Detroit-Windsor tunnel connecting urban streets in downtown Detroit and Windsor is close to capacity, and that the four-lane Ambassador Bridge and its connecting link, Huron Church Road/Highway 3 in Windsor, will reach capacity around 2010.”

As everyone knows, this projection is completely incorrect and inaccurate.

The study referred to was one done in 1998, only 10 years ago. Can you imagine if a new bridge had been built based on those traffic projections? It would be broke today and so would the other crossings in Windsor because they would be all competing for declining traffic. Moreover, the Ambassador Bridge is only between 50 to 60% capacity today.

They said that

  • “More than 75,000 vehicles use the southeast Michigan/southwest Ontario border crossings each day.”

That number today is less than 50,000 vehicles based on September numbers.

So much for expert traffic projections by Governments.

Given what is going on in manufacturing and the automobile industry in particular as well as the meltdown in the financial markets, no one can provide a rational justification for the unnecessary DRIC Megaproject and the wasting of taxpayer dollars. With the new Senior Federal Governments on both sides of the river, it is to put DRIC out of its misery. And ours.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

More And More Stories

More stories of interest that you may not have seen.

SPIKE BELL FOR MAYOR

At least he was able to speak to the Prime Minister one-on-one when Harper came down here. Hmmm I wonder what he told him about Windsor. Perhaps Spike is the one responsible for all of that money going to Ford!

However, I have an important question to ask. Who was the photographer who took thes pics of Spike! Competition eh!

Spike is working on a new book. Make sure you buy it when it comes out.

BLOGGER POWER

There are many BLOGGERs in town. Each of us has our own interests that we write about. No one has the time to write about everything that goes on in this City. That is why you, dear reader, ought to be reading the other BLOGs in this City as well as this one. There is so much research effort and insight that we Bloggers are able to put into our work that it is worthwhile spending a few minutes each day reading what is written elsewhere.

A good example is a BLOG about the proposed Windsor jail.

One of the BLOGs that I have mentioned periodically is that run by the Mayor of Monmouth. If you will recall, he is the one that Councillor Bristling Brister told to spend his time doing charitable work rather than writing his BLOG.

In passing, the Bristling Councillor Brister needs to learn to stop attacking residents. It is not good for his political health. He did so the other day when some users of the East End Arena facility of which he is the Chair dared complain about its lack of amenities, something which had been known for years already:

  • “The chairman of the arena construction steering committee bristled at the criticism Tuesday and believes recent stories in The Star misrepresent or overstated the problems.

    "Clearly from residents I spoke to, they didn't have negative feelings with respect to the facility and were prompted (by The Star)," said Coun. Dave Brister.

We all know that the Councillor has a huge circle of residents with whom he speaks. Roseann Danese of the Star blogged:

  • “Apparently Coun. Dave Brister knows everyone in Windsor — all 200,000 folks who live in the city of roses.

    How else to explain the odd comment made at Monday’s council meeting, as the Ward 1 councillor bragged about the amount of time council met behind closed doors…

    Brister said all the criticism directed at council over the last year about secret deals and secret meetings has only been an issue for two or three people in the community — “two or three people out of (a) 200,000 population.”

    Geez, some council watchers are wondering whether Brister has a superhuman way of accounting for every single Windsorite and where they stand on the issue.”

In truth, the Councillor must have a very small circle of residents for him to make some of the remarks that he has. Mind you, he is terrified of letting the vast majority of Windsorites hear him speak since he still refuses to appear on John Fairley's Face-To-Face Interview program. Imagine if the Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget was asked about some of his comments by John and to explain them. His answers would be a hoot!

However, I digress. If you want to know everything there is to know as of this date about the jail matter then you need to go to this site immediately:
http://themayorofmonmouth.blogspot.com/2008/10/windsors-new-state-of-art-jail-goes.html


This whole jail file is very confusing to me. I really did not have a very good handle on it until I read this BLOG by the Mayor of Monmouth. Here is how he starts. You ought to read the rest to get his perspective so you can decide what is going on:

  • “The new jail is not in or near the big box development on Walker Road. It is not close to South Windsor and it is not on the corner of Provincial Rd. and Walker. For the record, the new South West Detention Centre will be on the Eighth Concession just north of the 401. It will be in the middle of what is now a farm field. In fact, it will be completely surrounded by corn fields save for a couple of farm houses, a soccer field and the 401. Walker road is not even visible from this location. The distance from what will be the front doors of the new detention center to the intersection of Walker Road and Provincial is 2.2 kilometers. To Hooters it’s 2.8 kms. Hardly worth ruining a good shopping spree.

    There is good speculation as to why the Mayor and his well trained media entourage went out of their way to trigger a stampede of concerned citizens.”

On Special Assignment


I may only do one BLOG today.


I am on a secret mission that requires that I devote my entire attention to it. I would tell you what it is about except then it would not be secret!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Killing Greenlink One Schwunnel At A Time


It is payback time. Big time!

Nobody but nobody, even with the Windsor Star and Gord Henderson on his side should dare take on Spanky and his gang and think he can win in the end. That was made clear in the Budget papers where the MITI Minister was specifically mentioned by the Minister of Finance to put Gord in his place.

Dwight and Sandra, obviously with the concurrence of the Premier, have decided that they have had enough of Eddie Francis. The front page article of the Saturday Star made that abundantly clear. It was a direct challenge to the Mayor and he ran off like a dog with his tail between its legs when confronted.

Hopefully, this may be a life-changing lesson for Eddie who had better understand now that you don’t pick on someone who has a lot more power than you ever will and a lot more dollars. Being the big fish in a small pond doesn’t mean anything when you are swimming in the ocean.

Just to make the point, the expression
  • "Tail between the legs" describes the body language of a dog that has been defeated in an encounter with a stronger dog - it runs or slinks off with its tail between its legs.”

There were several points that I wondered about when I saw the EH News and CBC News stories of the ribbon-cutting for the Walker Road road and rail grade separation that I found unusual. Is it reading too much into events or is this confirmation of the slap in the face to the Mayor? Snub the Province and get snubbed right back:

  • It looked like Sandra and Dwight were in one vehicle while Eddie was placed in a vehicle with his good buddy, Jeff Watson driving off at the end. I guess Jeff drew the short straw.

  • The three Senior Level representatives were standing together while Eddie was standing alone off to one side in the News shot as speeches were being given.

  • I thought it was the normal protocol for the Federal representative to speak first at these types of events but on this occasion it looked like Eddie did so. If he did, then Eddie could not get the last word. Obviously, if Eddie dared say something negative, then the speakers following him, especially Dwight, would have humiliated him publicly.

I bet that the Dwight cannot wait to see if the Mayor will dare snub him again at the next pre-Budget meeting on November 10, right after the Walker Road ceremony. Such co-incidental timing too. I would also bet that the first time that the Mayor dares say something untoward when he appears, as he has to now, Dwight will say with a big smile on his face:

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

Obviously, the Province has tolerated the Francis insults and snubs long enough. No doubt the Feds are applauding. Jeff Watson certainly is.

It is abundantly clear now that the Mayor has been told that Greenlink and its Schwunnels are dead. Live with it or else. It is the “or else” that terrifies the Mayor. It means that the Senior Levels will walk out of this City leaving him the responsibility of explaining to the citizens of Windsor why this City is being destroyed by his failure to negotiate a deal on the border road.

His “quality of life” nonsense won’t cut it with people who are seeing their jobs disappear and their homes potentially being foreclosed when thousands of high-paying and spinoff jobs could have been made available for infrastructure work.

Eddie may not care since he said he was only a two-term Mayor but the Councillors will and they will walk away from him. It will be March, 2003 all over again for the next two years.

I am not making this comment up strictly because of one newspaper article. There have been a number of steps that have been taken over the last few weeks that culminated in what the Minister of Finance had to say.

The first indication came in a BLOG written by Chris Schnurr. Schnurr wrote to Minister Pupatello and asked:

  • “I have one basic question, given the importance of the border file:

    Is the Province of Ontario, notwithstanding any legislative action that the State of Michigan may or may not undertake as it pertains to the construction of a new border crossing, committed to proceeding with construction of the proposed Windsor-Essex Parkway?

The very strange response came back:

  • “However, I did not receive an email response, but a phone call from MPP Pupatello’s office.

    I have asked the MPP if she could send her response in email format to post on this blog. But her office stated that the Province of Ontario is “absolutely” committed to construction of the W.E. Parkway so long as there isn’t a lawsuit.”

That comment was directed right at the Mayor who has been threatening lawsuits for an eternity but of course has not done anything.

Sandra next made the point at the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario convention held in Windsor recently:

  • “A call for immediate action on the new Windsor-Detroit crossing has been issued from the provincial trades and Windsor construction and community officials.

    “Our goal is to have that project on time and get that shovel in the ground,” said Sandra Pupatello, Minister of International Trade and Investment for Ontario and MPP for Windsor West…

    She stressed that in order for communities such as Windsor to grow or rebound from tough economic times, infrastructure renewal is a priority. Windsor’s infrastructure is in need of immediate upgrades and projects like a new border crossing and the new Windsor-Essex Parkway are examples of that need being addressed, said the Windsor West MPP.”

The expression “immediate upgrades” is a synonym for expansion of our Expressway at this time and not following the sequencing that the Mayor has made up as a bargaining chip.

However, when I read those remarks, my first reaction was that the Minister was disrespecting the DRIC process again by telling us what was going to happen before the Environmental Assessment was completed. Why would she do that and give David Estrin a successful lawsuit on a silver platter?

If you think that was bad, then Dwight who, along with the Federal Finance Minister, may have prejudiced the process as well in a joint letter to the Toronto Star, directly challenged the Mayor.

Try to explain to me this language used by the Finance Minister and tell me that the Environment Minister will not be under intense pressure to go along with what was said. Explain to me that there is no apprehension of bias that the entire process has been contaminated now:

  • “Preparation for Windsor's border highway begins

    Ontario's infrastructure ministry will come to Windsor over the next couple of weeks to start meeting with chamber officials, labour associations and contractors to launch job-hiring preparation for the massive border feeder highway planned for Windsor, the province's finance minister Dwight Duncan announced Friday.

    "We want to talk with labour and business about the job opportunities all will have as we invest in the largest and most expensive piece of road in ever built in Canada," he said…

    "We are beginning the process next week, involving local business and labour to take advantage of this investment," Duncan said. "We are anxious to get on with it…"

    Duncan vowed Friday construction will begin sometime between next June and September.

    "We are determined to get our work done and get on with things," he said. "We have an outstanding project and it's time to start."

So much for Greenlink when the Province has its “outstanding project.”

I have commented on the fact that the Mayor over the past few weeks has seemed so meek and mild. No threats of litigation, no threats of unleashing our ultimate weapon, David Estrin. Again, the A Star article demonstrates the diminished position of the Mayor, or rather his facing up to his reality:

  • “Council has hinted at legal action to derail the DRIC effort if its own Greenlink border solution was not adopted. But Mayor Eddie Francis on Friday offered no indication such action was imminent.

    City officials will continue to provide input at every opportunity to the DRIC team until all final decisions are made on the project, Francis said, but the mayor offered no threats beyond that as he has in the past.

    "They know exactly where we stand," Francis said. "It's their process and it provides us the opportunity to give submissions. We will continue to follow that and use the rights afforded to our residents under the legislation. It is our view Greenlink is well-thought and supported…"

    "This process still has a long way to go and will afford us a number of other opportunities to make submissions," Francis said.”

Yes sir, make submissions to an Environmental Minister who won’t dare stop a process to which months of effort will have been made so that the DRIC Road can start as soon as possible. Now that is protecting the Citizens of the City of Windsor!

The Mayor very well knows that he absolutely has no bargaining position. Even threats of litigation are laughable given this City’s dire financial straits since we are now totally dependent upon Senior Level largesse. Our Mayor has failed to do anything for economic diversification for this City.

As I have said before, the Federal Government has complete power over the border road constitutionally if they wish to exercise it given the concessions made by Eddie when he was in Ottawa in front of the Senate. If Eddie becomes too obnoxious over the border road, Eddie knows that the Province can just upload the Expressway and Huron Church. It is a simple step to do so.

Dwight wants to start the process now:

  • " Ontario's infrastructure ministry will come to Windsor over the next couple of weeks to start meeting with chamber officials, labour associations and contractors to launch job-hiring preparation."

That was the direct challenge to Francis. Do something now or forever hold your peace. Do you really believe that once the snowball starts rolling and the momentum increases that Eddie can stop it months from now with his "submissions" to the Minister of the Environment. Does he really believe that Council will go along with a lawsuit that will stop the creation of thousands of jobs? Please!

Instead we get more mouthing off by the Mayor who demands that the Senior Levels work with him and not the other way around. I am not sure why he thinks anyone has any interest any longer in what he has to say:



video


Now you should understand why there was a need for the mayors’ meeting and why Eddie appeared to hold out an olive branch to his colleagues. He needs a way to back off of his Greenlink proposal without losing face. He will graciously give in to the County for something in return, anything.

Of course, Eddie may believe that the Bridge Company will start a lawsuit over the EA process so that they will take the blame if there is any negative reaction from the Public. Of course, that would allow him to piggyback on it. But why should they do anything? They want a road built to their Bridge. Everyone knows that the DRIC bridge cannot be built given the lack of traffic and the lack of money. If in fact the road is going to be built to the border, then there is only one place it can go…right to their Enhancement Project.

Just in case Eddie believes that Dwight is bluffing and that, if he does actually sue, he can win a third term as Mayor by positioning himself as Windsor’s Saviour, then he is deluding himself. First, we are going to hear ad nauseum about the “12,000 full-time project-related jobs” for building the road and also about Jeff Watson’s 25,000 jobs.

More importantly, Eddie should know that Dwight had his troops exercising in preparation for the next Mayoral and Council election campaigns. Nothing better than getting experience and some battle scars in something that is inconsequential like the Federal Election running against Joe Comartin.

  • “Liberals say they still have plenty of feet on the street when it comes to the nuts and bolts of door-to-door campaigning, thanks in large part to provincial foot soldiers from the successful campaigns of MPPs Dwight Duncan and Sandra Pupatello.”

As the Star reported:

  • “Liberal Steve Mastroianni [is running] in Windsor-Tecumseh, which is Duncan's provincial riding…

    Al Maghnieh, campaign manager for Liberal Steve Mastroianni in Windsor-Tecumseh, which is Duncan's provincial riding. He pointed out that Duncan has canvassed for Mastroianni and helped with campaign strategy and organizing.”

Woof, woof, woof!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Splitting Personalities

I know that people at City Hall are multi-faceted and have to multi-task.

However, do we have a bunch of people on Council who have multiple personalities as well? Are they able to talk out of both sides of their mouths at the same time? If so, how are they able to accomplish this?

It does not seem from some recent incidents that they are able to do so very well. We need an answer as to how they can handle this situation and we need one now before everything gets out of control. Fortunately, Councillor Halberstadt may have given us the solution in one of his BLOGs.

The most recent episode started when Councillor Halberstadt wrote some BLOGs about the coach of the University of Windsor Lancers.

The Star picked up the story and then this comment was made:
  • “Embattled Lancers' football coach Mike Morencie blasted Alan Halberstadt as "unprofessional" and accused him of muddling his facts Tuesday after the outspoken city councillor wrote a series of critical blogs calling for Morencie's ouster…

    The coach said Halberstadt should mind his own city hall business. "He should be concerned with the lack of progress he's making at his own job."

Poor Alan. A BLOG is a personal comment written by an individual. Somehow, it got muddied into the fact that he was a City Councillor as well.

As you can see from the quote above, the Star itself was confused because it was the one that talked about Alan as Councillor. Moreover, their headline stated:

  • "Halberstadt calls for coach's ouster

    'He should be concerned with lack of progress he's making at his own job,' Mike Morencie says of Windsor councillor."

That brought in very directly Alan's dual role as BLOGGER and as a Member of Council.

I do not know why they could not have described Alan as a BLOGGER only but then again that might have caused even more confusion. People might have thought that there might be two Alan Halberstadts living in Windsor. Now that could be a a scary thought for some on Council.

In passing, I have to admit I'm pretty angry about all of this on a personal level. Here I am working my guts out to break important stories about what is going on in Windsor and do I get credit and coverage in the Windsor Star when I have an exclusive? Not on your life. But a City Councillor talking about college football, he makes the front page. Life is just not fair.

Now you will understand why I BLOGGED previously about the inherent conflict of interest that Windsor Mayors have as both the Chair of the Tunnel Commission and as Mayor of the City. I have great difficulty understanding when our Mayor speaks about something in relation to the Ambassador Bridge if he is speaking as Mayor or as competitor to the Bridge Company. Which hat is he wearing at the time? Was the US $75 million deal for the Detroit half of the Tunnel good for the Tunnel or good for the City or both?

The issue has come up again with respect to the jail. As Chris Schnurr pointed out in his BLOG today, when the Star first reported this matter, Eddie said:

  • “Francis said the city had suggested the Brighton Beach industrial area near the Detroit River since it’s closer to the courts and in a less commercial area — which might make for easier transportation of detainees back and forth.

    “From a logistics perspective there are better locations than to pop it into a heavy commercial area like that,” said Francis, chairman of the Windsor Police Services Board.

    “It’s going to cause problems for us and it’s going to come at a cost. From a police perspective, we prefer a more direct route.”

Talk about confusion. I think I know which hat Eddie was wearing in the second and third paragraphs but which hat was he wearing in the first one. Tell me which hat is which given this part of the story by the Star:

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis, however, was quick to question the long-awaited announcement.

    "There is no question that a new facility is required," Francis said. "So we welcome that there's going to be a new facility. But from a policing perspective, we had recommended another site."

Whew, I pity being a reporter in trying to cover such a story.

I must admit that when I read this I wondered why Francis made a point of saying that he was the Chair of the Police Services Board. Again, thanks to Chris, I now know why:

  • “Some will say, Mr. Mayor, well you’ve come out with certain comments with regards to the facility. I just draw your attention to the comments that have been made by myself - those comments are strictly in respect to the issue of policing in my capacity as chair of the Windsor Police Services Board and the challenges that would provide to policing. I have not, nor will not, nor cannot make any planning considerations or judgement calls until that report is in front of us.”

Oh Lord, now not only do I have to consider media stories from the point of view of fact gathering and interpretation but now I have to parse what is said to try and understand the nuances and the context. Parsing in case you do not remember from your English Grammar classes in school is:

  • “To break (a sentence) down into its component parts of speech with an explanation of the form, function, and syntactical relationship of each part.”

I do not think that this is right nor do I think it is fair. I don’t care how the hairs are split but when the Mayor speaks he is the Mayor of Windsor no matter how hard he tries to make a distinction about his other position. Moreover, no citizen should have to be on alert at all times to understand out of which side of the Mayor’s mouth or that of a Councillor a comment is being made.

Councillor Halberstadt has recognized the issue and has made a change to his BLOG along the lines of something done by the Mayor of Guelph in her BLOG. She writes the following disclaimer:

  • “It’s important to note that the opinions I express in this blog are mine and mine alone, and do not represent the official positions of the City of Guelph or Guelph City Council.”

Perhaps John Middleton, since he is in the sign business, if he settles his complaint with the City over his removal as Chair of a City Committee, could offer as part of the settlement to create a sign that the Mayor could hold up saying that:

  • “the opinions I am expressing are mine as [position and name of group] and do not represent my official position as Mayor.”

There, that would make it easier for everyone.

Eddie's Uncompromising Compromise Position


Eddie being nice. Respecting the opinion of others. Compromising. Now THAT is news.

Deep Throat is always right.

Clearly, the climax of the border file is coming much quicker than I thought possible. Perhaps the Senior Levels have finally lowered the boom on Eddie telling him that he is NOT getting Schwunnels and there will be no more changes to the DRIC road. Accordingly, Eddie is being forced to act sooner than he wanted, just like the time when Project Ice Track moved to Tecumseh.

Consider the following to see how far Eddie has really moved and why. I trust you will find it instructive.

For a Mayor who does everything with care and if there is a concern, will take a very conservative approach, the continued retention of the Gowlings law firm made little sense to me at first blush.

It would have been very easy for Eddie out of an “abundance of caution” to remove the file from David Estrin and give it to another law firm based on the US Appeals Court decision that there are some conflicts that cannot be waived.

Instead we saw this in the Star:
  • “Windsor is keeping Toronto environmental lawyer David Estrin as its legal expert on border issues, despite a lawsuit by the Ambassador Bridge's ownership claiming he and his law firm have a conflict of interest…

    "Absolutely, he is working for us right now -- on all files," said Francis afterwards.”

The most obvious reason for not changing law firms is because of Estin’s expertise. However, he is not the only lawyer in the Province that does environmental law. If he is removed down the road from the file, then the City is in worse trouble isn’t it.

No, there has to be more than that. The answer it seems to me is that Eddie and Estrin have to be joined at the hip on this matter. They must have developed a strategy together and they totally depend on each other for the carrying out of that strategy.

I am sure that Eddie does not dare move forward without Estrin’s blessing on everything that he is doing so that Estrin can be blamed if something goes wrong. I am sure that Estrin is well aware of that fact as is every lawyer who takes on a big organization as a client. The outside lawyer is the scape-goat.

What could their strategy be? If my BLOG the other day was correct, than Eddie’s objective is to get as much possible money as he possibly can out of the Senior Level Governments. He just needs a strategy for accomplishing that. We are talking about sums in excess of $100 million I am sure. That has to be where Estrin came in. Take a look at what I wrote before in another BLOG and tell me if you think I am wrong:

  • “I do not think that I'm that far off the mark in what I think about the Mayor's campaign for Greenlink. I happened to recall something that I read about a controversy in Hamilton where that City sued the Federal Government over an Environmental Assessment:

    "the Hamilton municipal government is accusing 65 federal government staff of "deliberately and unlawfully" using their public office to harm the city by participating in an environmental assessment of a controversial city expressway. The city is suing the civil servants and four former federal cabinet ministers for $75 million, charging the public servants illegally used the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) in 1999 to stop or delay the Red Hill Creek Expressway.

    The lawsuit says "the defendants abused their public office by engaging in targeted malice towards the City's completion of the Expressway" and utilized environmental assessment "in an unprecedented, illegal and unconstitutional manner in order to achieve that objective."

    The formal statement of claim filed in court by David Estrin of Gowling Lafleur Henderson also says "the defendants knew, when they determined to use their public office to stop the City completing the Expressway, that the City would be harmed in the result..."

    The city openly admits that its aim is to achieve an out-of-court settlement which would transfer tens of millions of dollars from the federal government to municipal coffers."
    I saw in a news story in March, 2008 that:

    "Councillors have voted to continue a controversial lawsuit against Ottawa involving the building of the Red Hill Valley Parkway.

    It has also removed a cap on legal costs plus decided to keep the costs from public view until the suit's end...

    Councillor Brad Clark, who supported keeping the lawsuit going, called it "the right thing to do" as an effort to keep pressure on Ottawa to settle. He wasn't bothered by removal of the cap or keeping costs from the public until the suit was over. Legal costs have been estimated at $243,000 since 2004."

Did Eddie/Estrin develop a strategy similar to that which was undertaken in Hamilton “to keep pressure on Ottawa to settle.”

In Hamilton, the way to keep the pressure on was to start a lawsuit against the Federal Government. Why else did Henderson write what he did recently about Estrin in his column:

  • "Apart from the power of public opinion, Windsor is left with but one weapon in this fight, David Estrin, the guy who wrote the book on environmental law in Ontario.

    But what a weapon."
I am sure that terrified everyone!

But you may say, properly of course, all that Eddie has done here is threatened a lawsuit and not actually started one. And you are correct.

Good litigation lawyers understand that quite often one wins a lawsuit by using the system to one’s advantage. That does not mean that winning means a Court decision. In fact, it may well be the worst possible thing to happen to have a Judge make a decision. It may very well be that the best decision, as the Hamilton Councillor said, is to keep “the lawsuit going... as an effort to keep pressure on Ottawa to settle.” He was not looking for a judicial decision but a settlement out of Ottawa.

Eddie likes to threaten lawsuits but in my opinion he is afraid to start one. Councillor Valentinis said that nothing would happen for months anyway on John Fairley’s interview program.

If Eddie really wanted one, we would have known about David Estrin’s opinion that Eddie asked for months ago. If Eddie started a lawsuit, guess who would be the star witness… the Mayor himself! He would be the one grilled for days by lawyers on the other side, something that we know the Mayor does not like. Just ask the pesky environmentalist or Dan Stamper.

Instead then, the Eddie/Estrin strategy has to be to stall. Stall by starting a lawsuit or stall by using the Schwartz Report, full tunneling and Greenlink… what is the difference? Stalling is stalling. Pressure is being put on isn’t it but at no personal risk of cross-examination of the Mayor. And Eddie also holds a weapon because after all these years of stalling, he may well still litigate to stall even longer.

The underlying assumption has to be that at some point the City’s opponents will give in. No matter how obnoxious Eddie/Estrin are, no matter what they do and and say, at the right time whenever that is, there will be a settlement because of the self-interest of the opponents. At that time, all will be forgiven and forgotten. And Estrin's fees will be re-imbursed to the City too!

In the Bridge Company vs. Estrin lawsuit as an example, I would expect mountains of documents, numerous affidavits, weeks of cross-examination, motions, appeals and who knows what else to keep that lawsuit going on as long as possible. At the appropriate time, the expectation I am sure is that the border crossing issue will have been resolved and no one will want to carry on with this peripheral action. Everyone will walk away from it.

In the same way, on the border file, the expectation is that the City’s opponents will hold their nose and do a deal. It’s all business don’t you know with nothing personal. Wouldn’t it be better for the Senior Levels who supposedly want a new crossing to pay Eddie a few million dollars so that he will go away? That amount can be buried in soft costs for the project which the P3 investor will pick up anyway.

That seems to be the approach in Hamilton where Estrin is counsel. Start a lawsuit to get money. Why not something similar in Windsor too?

As I said in my earlier BLOG, there is a risk that Eddie may be pushing too hard and may get the Senior Levels' backs up such that they might walk away with their 15,000 jobs with them. Or Eddie may now know that he is in big trouble with the DRIC road. That is where the Eminence Greasie comes in. It does not matter the reason. There is no point in risking all when a nice Compromise--- the “C-word”---can be achieved to accomplish the objectives of everyone, especially the Mayor.

So we can see how Eddie is backpedaling as quickly as possible and trying desperately to pretend that he is not. In fact the EH News story about the mayors’ meeting is supportive of what I am saying

  • Mayor Francis Extends Olive Branch To Regional Counterparts

    Today Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis extended an olive branch to his counterparts in Essex County by asking them to set aside their differences and work together to attract jobs to the region.”

Oh my Lord. Eddie compromising. Well, sort of but not really. How is that to be done. The Star told us:

  • “McNamara said county governments may be willing to contribute to an city-county economic investment fund, such as the $100-million plan outlined earlier this year by Francis. The plan called for $30 million from the city, matching funds from the county and the balance from other sources to spend on luring new investors or servicing industrial parks.

    "I don't see that as problem," McNamara said. "It's a pool of dollars that can be drawn from. It doesn't mean you spend it tomorrow, but it's something we know is available. The real benefit is job creation for the region. Put a dollar in, get a dollar out."

    FRANCIS AGREED:

    "It's only spent if we are attracting jobs or investment," he said. "It can give us an opportunity to at least compete."

Of course, the canal concept is all part of this so that it can be an excuse why the Senior Levels can give money to Windsor if an excuse is needed. It is around this time when Dave Cooke should have his report coming out telling us how much money will be needed for infrastructure.

Infrastructure is the way to create jobs today isn’t and the new Federal Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Mr. Baird, has $30 billion of it to give away. (His counterpart in the Province also has a few billion that he has to get rid of as well to create jobs.) What’s a small percentage of that vast sum, a few hundred million dollars, for the City of Windsor for such an important border crossing.

We are the border crossing host after all and it is only good manners to bring a gift for the host when you come to the party.

So Eddie helps the Minister with his new border crossing, his Transportation hat and gets some infrastructure money for jobs from the Minister’s Infrastructure hat. It’s a nice trade-off.

Compromises all around with the Feds, the Province and the County. Who in Windsor will dare complain when the Star and Henderson crown Eddie as our Mayoral genius and Saviour right before the next Mayoral election. Who will dare let his/her voice call out that everything that Eddie is doing now is contrary to what he has said before when he was standing up for Windsor’s quality of life. Who would listen? Who would care?

If the County thinks that they are going to get any of the money out of it then they are sadly mistaken. That money is for Windsor and for whatever Eddie’s agenda is. Eddie won’t control it on its face. The WEDC, who can’t even find any brochures when they make their trips overseas, will be in charge. Matt Fischer served his purpose didn’t he by doing whatever it is that he was supposed to do for a year or so and then was terminated. Now the real reason for the WEDC is becoming clearer.

  • "Our board took all the advice and experience that he had, and tried to use that to its maximum potential said Dr. Albert Schumacher. "We're ready for other ideas and ready to move in different directions."

Who would be the ideal person to replace him:

  • “The WEDC is immediately launching a national search for a new CEO. Schumacher said he hopes to have a new person in the position in six months.

    "One of the things that would be great to have is someone who has had private sector business experience," Schumacher said. "Also somebody who has had experience dealing with senior levels of government in getting things."

There is no doubt that the money will be going into Eddie’s Jobs Today Program. Why else do you think it was mentioned in the Star story. In case you have forgotten what that program is, here are some excerpts from Eddie's State of the City Speech:

  • “I call it our Jobs Today Program…

    Jobs Today is an initial proposal. A set of initiatives to help our Economic Development Commission. To help our community attract jobs. To keep jobs...

    The first part of this program, is a new Economic Development Investment Fund. A fund that will provide direct investment into smart projects that leverage our local strengths, and create jobs…

    The federal money is there. The very reason the National Community Development Fund was established by the federal government was to help communities like ours.

    We need those dollars. We need that assistance.

    Thanks to our city’s prudent financial management over the past four years, we are in a position to make this happen – by putting existing money on the tab.

    I will also be asking City Council to make a historic, one-time $30 million dollar investment from existing sources to kick-start this fund.

    Kitchener needed a ten-year tax levy to finance their fund. Our strong financial position means we can do this without new taxes, and without new debt…

    Proposed projects must…help achieve the strategic priorities within the sectors developed by the Economic Development Commission at its recent summit.

    We will need the help of our Development Commission to establish detailed criteria related to accessing money from the fund, and to help ensure that these taxpayer dollars are being used as effectively and efficiently as possible. I want to thank the Board and the Commission staff for work already done and encourage them to be actively engaged during this critical transition and renewal time in our city…

    Strategic investments by government can work. One need look no further than to the Ontario Automotive Investment Strategy. That strategic investment of $500 million dollars leveraged more that $7 billion dollars in new investments, and anchored thousands of high-value jobs.

    In that case, every $100 million dollars invested leveraged an additional $1.3 billion dollars.”

Let the City struggle. It doesn’t matter. We don’t need to spend money on roads and sewers but rather we need to save money so we can put in this cash into the Jobs Today fund. Leverage that $30 million to get more from the County and the Senior Levels, much more. Hold the region hostage by stalling even though 15,000 jobs are on the line and could be lost if the Senior Levels pullout. Rewrite history and then back off when appropriate to do so. That is the chance that our Mayor is prepared to take. Flip-flop on positions… who will remember that when all of those jobs are announced.

It was a pretty good plan by David and Eddie. However, if I could see it, and I am a mere BLOGGER, then the Government people who were involved with our Mayor every day would have known this a long time ago. They would not be surprised.

There is no Compromise taking place. There could never be one. All of this is all part of Eddie's PLAN. He has not compromised one iota nor will he. Nor can he. He has planned this out and he is absolutely right in what he is doing, at least in his own mind.

Eddie may not have considered a couple of eventualities that could ruin his plans. After all, no one can factor in everything. The first is that John Baird will become the Minister. He has a reputation of doing what he thinks is right no matter what his bureaucrats may want. Secondly, there is the Bridge Company who want to build their Enhancement Project contrary to what Governments assumed all the way along.

As Deep Throat said, we will just have to watch the play unfold.