Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, December 05, 2008

Unshared Border Management--Why Canada Had To Kill The Bridge Company Tunnel Deal To Save DRIC

Seriously, it is becoming scary how accurate my musings on here are becoming.

Remember the proposed Tunnel deal between the Bridge Company and Detroit and the fact that it was killed.

  • "The Canadian government has threatened Detroit with legal action if it approves the Ambassador bridge's bid to take over the U.S. side of the Windsor-Detroit tunnel. Mark Butler, spokesman for Transport Canada, said the single inspection facility proposed by the bridge has raised fears over border security…"
I believe I have a better explanation now about why that happened. And it is NOT just because Canada had to control the Tunnel for a P3 operator. It was a lot more than that.

It went right to the heart of whether the DRIC Bridge would be built at all and whether the Bridge Company could be forced to sell out at a cheap price or risk bankruptcy.

Check again my BLOG October 27, 2008 "Border Crossings Chaos" where I outlined that at the time that Canada was opposing the shared border management initiative of the Bridge Company in Detroit respecting their 200 booth plan, the Government was moving forward with the same concept in Fort Erie until they killed it there.

I Blogged:
  • "You see, if Canada could have shared border management on its side in Fort Erie then they could hardly oppose what the Bridge Company wanted to do in Detroit. It would have killed the DRIC project too and Canada could not allow that. Now you see how the Bureaucrats' hatred for the Bridge Company is ruining our economy and that of Buffalo!"

Patting myself on the back, but modestly of course, I read in the Buffalo News:

  • "Bridge plaza issue sticky, despite new Clinton role
    Shared border’ idea making no progress

    By Jerry Zremski, News Washington Bureau Chief

    WASHINGTON — One of the strongest supporters of moving the Peace Bridge customs plaza to Canada has been nominated as secretary of state — but that doesn’t mean the long-stalled proposal for the border will quickly regain traction.

    That’s the consensus of border experts in the wake of New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s nomination this week as the nation’s top diplomat...

    “There were fundamental differences that couldn’t be resolved” between Canada and the United States, said Richard M. Stana, director of homeland security and justice issues at the Government Accountability Office, which issued a report in September detailing those differences...

    “Those issues wouldn’t go away simply because the secretary of state might be personally involved,” Stana said.

    Some experts think that creative diplomacy could overcome the obstacles confronting the shared border proposal.

    The government auditors noted the possibility of an international “land swap” in which some territory on the Canadian side would become part of the United States.

    Christopher M. Sands, an expert in U. S.-Canadian relations at the Washington- based Hudson Institute, said the United States could get that Fort Erie land in exchange for American land at the Detroit-Windsor border crossing...

    Shared border management would mean that the Peace Bridge Authority would not have to build a huge truck-inspection plaza in a historic Buffalo neighborhood, but even one of the longtime advocates of shifting more border operations to Canada — former Rep. John J. LaFalce, D-Town of Tonawanda — isn’t so sure about it anymore"

Exchanging land in where could that be...say how about at the Ambasador Bridge Company's land at the Ambassador Gateway project or:

  • "The opportunity to accelerate these efforts is triggered by proposed purchase of about 25 acres of city-owned land that will allow Ambassador Port to move existing Customs inspections booths from both sides of the Detroit River into a huge 200-acre site he called the International Center."

It is now clear that the Canadian officials who came down here to threaten Detroit to force them to kill their Tunnel deal with the Bridge Company had little interest in the Tunnel as its property at the time. They had to kill the deal or the DRIC bridge would never get built!

If all the Canadian and US Customs booth would be in the Bridge Company's plaza, who would need the DRIC plaza in the US! There would be NO NEED for a plaza in Brighton Beach either. With no new plazas on either side of the river, there would be no excuse for not building the Enhancement Project.

Therefore, there would be no need for a DRIC bridge.

If Detroit wants someone to blame for its financial woes, it now has the Government of Canada as the target! Canadian intervention killed a deal with someone who had real money, not with someone like our Mayor who has to borrow money so he could loan it out and who may have been offered less than the $75M Detroit thought he was going to loan them.

One other thing...with shared border management in Fort Erie to save historic Buffalo, Canada might generously offer that in Port Huron/Sarnia so as not to disrupt Port Huron and in Windsor/Detroit at Brighton Beach so as not to destroy Delray. After all, DRTP was offering a golf-course sized joint plaza in Canada in the heart of Windsor.

In this way, Canada will have control over key border crossings and the Transport Canada Corridors and Gateways policy will be that much closer to complete fruition. The good part is this: the Americans would not have understood the full consequences to them until after it was too late! Wow, is our Ottawa Government ever smart.

Harper Blinked

It really doesn’t matter which side you are on in this debate when you look to winners and losers, Harper lost. He chickened out by asking the Governor General to prorogue Parliament. He was afraid to be defeated in a Confidence vote. Staying in power was more important to him than the principles of Parliamentary democracy.

Of course, that is what everyone expected him to do. His prime directive is to remain in power so that the members of his Party obtain all the perks of power as well. He is a politician after all.

The absolutely controlling centralist, the master strategist who attempted to wipe out and destroy the motley group of Opposition politicians failed miserably. That will be his legacy. He is the new Joe Clark.

He completely misjudged the situation believing that, no matter what he did, the Opposition would be afraid to stand up to him. They would abstain as they did before because they would be unable to convince Canadians that the belt tightening that the Government was proposing was unfair. Moreover, they could not afford another election so early on or so Harper thought. He was going to take away their Government money for elections and thereby bankrupt them. There was nothing they could do about it.

All he did by such a stupid move was to make it easy for the Opposition parties to join together when otherwise it might have been made more difficult. I really do not believe that the Liberals and NDP would have been able to form a coalition in any other case since their economic view of the world is quite different. Harper became their common enemy against which they could unite.

The BLOC would go along because no matter what, they would be able to say that they were able to lever their position to get more for Quebec. There was no way that they were going to support the Conservatives when they believed that they could eliminate them as a competitor in Québec.

Harper completely forgot or did not understand that Conservatives for years have been outthought by Liberal strategists. By that, I’m going back to my days in politics when the PCs, for whatever reason that still makes no sense to me today, chose Robert Stanfield as their leader.

The Liberals actually made a huge mistake. They did not expect that they could form a Government this time around and that Harper would be re-elected easily. That is the reason why, with all due respect, the Liberals had such a poor slate of candidates to choose from and why Dion was chosen. No one wanted to head a party that was going to lose the next election. Of course, the Conservatives did not capitalize on the Liberal mistake.

How wrong they were. With a credible leader, the Liberals would have formed a Government in this last election.

In any event, what Harper did not understand is that the Liberals were gearing up for the next election which they expected to win. They expected that Canadians would be disenchanted by Harper. The last election in which he was unable to gain a majority even with the weakest of Opposition parties and leaders proved that to be true. They were not expecting to have a showdown with the Government until after the next budget sometime in the spring. Even then, there was probably little likelihood of success of the Liberals winning a vote of non-confidence.

Instead, Harper gave them an issue on a silver platter.

If you do not believe that Jean Chretien and friends are calling the shots in the backrooms, then you are very foolish. They have made Harper looked like a complete fool such that he might not be able to survive a leadership vote if one was called by the Conservatives.

No matter what happens now Harper has lost. I noticed that Dion is already saying look at what we in the Opposition have accomplished, how we have forced the Government to back off. I expect, notwithstanding the Conservative propaganda effort, that the Opposition will say that they are united and will defeat the Government on the Budget if Harper does not do exactly what they tell him. And you can bet that Harper will. He does not dare call an election. He is dancing to their tune now, not the other way around.

The big mistake that people are making is thinking that public opinion has any impact on this whatsoever. It does not. These strategists will do whatever is required. This is out and out political maneuvering to see who will form the next government.

The Liberals are smart enough to understand that they are no position yet to run a new campaign especially when they are going to have a leadership convention in the spring. However, instead of being a party of abstainers, look at how powerful they will be perceived as forcing the almighty Harper to back off.

As long as the Opposition Coalition can stick together, even as the Opposition, they have Harper exactly where they want him. If the economy falters, then it is Harper’s fault. If the economy prospers, it is because they forced the Government to do the kinds of things that the Government did not want to do.

The real challenge right now is not what happens in the next few months but what will happen in spring when the Liberals choose a new leader. No matter what, if they choose the right leader, then that person will be the next Prime Minister of Canada. Their only risk is a Conservative convention in which that party also choose a new leader.

The Liberals had better learn from the past history of Stanfield and Trudeau. They need to find the right person and build up that person very quickly to force an election while Harper is still the Prime Minister.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

More Interesting Comments

Just some stuff I found that I thought might interest you


"With so many investment banks advising on each side of the BCE (BCE) leveraged buyout (LBO), each of whom stood to gain tens of millions of dollars in fees should the largest going-private in the world eventually close, why did none of them figure out that BCE wouldn’t be “solvent” under the proposed capital structure? Perhaps that wasn’t their job, after all. Once you win the mandate, even the continent's greatest domestic and international i-bankers don’t always tell their clients what they fear isn’t welcome news: such as, “your proposal is C$3 billion short in the equity box”.
  • [Nawwwwwwwwww, the investment advisors are telling the Governments that the DRIC project is NOT economically viable. Someone else must be pushing it forward for reasons unknown. There must be a "business case," not necessarily a "financial case" I guess!]


"Built in the 1920s, the College Avenue overpass serves as a graphic example of neglect.

"The bridge is well beyond its useful life," says Mark Winterton, manager of roads maintenance at the City of Windsor. "It's safe, but it's had almost zero maintenance done to it over the years."

Though still open to traffic, the structure's sidewalk has been been fenced off for pedestrian safety and is riddled with gaping holes exposing the Canadian Pacific train tracks below. Chunks of concrete from the 30-metre-long roadway regularly fall onto the tracks."

  • [And some people want a public bridge! Too bad the City never learned from its traffic guru, Gridlock Sam who said "maintaining a state of good repair could reduce the need for expensive remedial action." Perhaps they should contact the Bridge Company.]


Francis estimated that thanks to a $4 million grant from the Ontario government, the project was about $2 million below the original budget of $64.9 million.

  • [That meant the cost was at least $66.9M. I wonder if the Contractor suggested changes to the plans like more seating or better dressing rooms but the City said NO to keep the costs on target. If, several years down the road, we see major changes to the Arena, you will know why. let the new Mayor and Council get stuck with them.]


  • [DUH...what other kind of project would it be! What a sense of humour someone at Adminsitration has. Another Jay Leno Headline moment! Too bad that we are not going to have Windsor. Maybe it might take place in the County.]


The $52-billion takeover deal for BCE Inc., Canada's biggest telecommunications company, is in jeopardy after an independent adviser said Wednesday that volatile market conditions and the mountain of debt involved in financing the country's largest-ever corporate buyout would put the company's solvency at risk.

BCE shares -- among the most widely held in Canada -- plunged 40 per cent after the announcement, which could mark the end of a private-equity group's 18-month pursuit of the Canadian icon.

  • [If the DRIC bridge failed financially and the Ambassador Bridge was put out of business, would our trade with the US be put in jeopardy. Of course, not... taxpayers would be forced to bail out this Megaproject run amuck! We would have no choice. But that is ok... the investment bankers would have already earned their fees for putting the deal together.]


Canada's opposition parties have agreed in principle to form a coalition that would topple Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government, an official said, though infighting among one of the parties cast doubt on whether such a bloc would hold.

The opposition Liberals, New Democrats and Bloc Quebecois, the parties that would make up the new bloc, say that Harper has no solid plan to deal with the global economic crisis...

The Liberals and New Democrats have agreed to a coalition government structure that would give them a majority of seats, a New Democrat party official said Sunday. In the new government, the Liberals would have 18 Cabinet ministers and the New Democrats will have six, the official said.

  • [The Honourable Brian or Joe. What would this do to the border file now!]


YES--Canada's leading pension funds, to which most working Canadians contribute, own much of the country's top office and retail properties.

And so, that makes Canadians the largest owners of major commercial real estate properties across the country...

John Pierce, vice-president of corporate communications at OMERS – one of Canada's largest pension plans that provides retirement benefits to 380,000 members across Ontario – agreed.

"Real estate is an important part of our private asset investments and we're looking at moving more toward increasing those assets because of their long-term stability," he said.

With more than $52 billion invested in a wide range of companies and assets around the world, $10.9 million of OMERS assets are in real estate, representing 12.5 per cent of the entire fund, as of December 31, 2007.

NO-Malls from Michigan to Georgia are entering foreclosure, commercial victims of the same events poisoning the housing market.

Hotels in Tucson, Ariz., and Hilton Head, S.C., also are about to default on their mortgages...

We're probably in the first inning of the commercial mortgage problem, said Scott Tross, a real estate lawyer with Herrick Feinstein in New Jersey.

In the past, when businesses hit rough patches, owners negotiated with banks or refinanced their loans.

But many banks no longer hold the loans they made. Over the past decade, banks have increasingly bundled mortgages and sold them to investors. Pension funds, insurance companies, and hedge funds bought the seemingly safe securities and are now bracing for losses that could ripple through the financial system.

It's a toxic drug and nobody knows how bad it's going to be, said Paul Miller, an analyst with Friedman, Billings, Ramsey, who was among the first to sound alarm bells in the residential market...

Unlike home mortgages, businesses don't pay their loans over 30 years. Commercial mortgages are usually written for five, seven or 10 years with big payments due at the end. About $20 billion will be due next year, covering everything from office and condo complexes to hotels and malls.

Refinancing formerly was an option, but many properties are worth less than when they were purchased. And since investors no longer want to buy commercial mortgages, banks are reluctant to write new loans to refinance those facing foreclosure.

  • [Want to buy an office complex in downtown Windsor with no money down?]


Government whip Jay Hill makes no apologies for increased contact with committee chairs to keep tighter control on tactics, but blames a gang-up of opposition parties for the combative stance.

"They're increasingly behaving as though they're a coalition government cooking up deals behind closed doors. We're going to use the tools at our disposal to try and push back," he told me. "Canadians elected a Conservative minority government, not a coalition of opposition parties."

  • [That was from a story in the Calgary Herald on May 18, 2007]

Appeal At The Junction

You have to have some sympathy for George Sofos and Chuck Faubert.

Even though I believe that in their heart of hearts they knew that the City would appeal, nevertheless it had to be a real shock to learn that the City wants to overturn what a judge found IE namely that their premises should be "grandfathered" under the entertainment lounge bylaw.

If the issue is as narrow as that, it seems to me that it is a question of fact that would be very difficult to appeal. If that is the case, then why is the City doing it? Why incur more legal fees?

The Mayor stated that the Junction should have sought a rezoning.
  • "Francis called it a zoning application issue and said a majority of council feels the owners are trying to bypass the usual application process by winning in court."

If that is the case, then how does one explain this:

  • "Sofos said that Escape Cafe on Riverside Drive recently opened and offers music and dancing and he wants to be treated equally.

    But Postma said Escape was allowed to open because it was grandfathered as a result of its prior use when it was known as Chris and Draga's."

In July, 2007

  • "At a meeting on Tuesday, five out of nine city councillors voted against the motion that Sofos must submit an application to rezone his property as an "entertainment lounge" -- a procedure that could take four to six months."

However, Sofos claimed over a year ago that there was no point in going for a rezoning:

  • "But Sofos said that isn't going to happen.

    "They (administration) have said even if you reapply for rezoning that it's not going to be recommended," he said."

Chuck Faubert said

  • "(City administrators) have already told us in writing they will not approve it. So why go to PAC?"

If what Sofos and Faubert say is true, and I do not know if it is or it is not, then it seems to me that the Mayor is being disingenuous with his comment.

I expect that one of the reasons for the appeal is because the Junction owners are suing for one and a half million half dollars for damages against the City including, bad faith. If the Judge's decision was left standing, it would probably mean liability on the City's part although the extent of the damages would have to be proved.

There seems to be an air of vindictiveness about all this that I don't understand. It appeared that Councillors wanted to help out some small businessmen who were going to create 15 to 30 new jobs in a part of the City that doesn't have too many businesses open. If you will recall the Star story back in 2007:

  • "One of the options presented by administration to council Monday was to grant the Junction a one-year business license which would allow the restaurant to be reviewed annually.

    Council appeared poised to do just that, but then Mayor Eddie Francis took the unusual step of removing himself from the chair of Monday's meeting in order to strongly oppose the option, which had been proposed by Coun. Fulvio Valentinis."

In an other story:

  • "Coun. Caroline Postma, whose ward includes the Junction property, said "if George applies for an amended use as a public hall and gets it in front of council, I'm sure he'd be successful because he has support there...

    Faubert said seven or eight city councillors have already toured the building and have said they support his plans.

If Councillors were willing to help, then why would they vote for an appeal? Are they nothing more than a bunch of hypocrites who will say one thing in public but do something else in private?

I could never understand why the Mayor was so interested in this file such that he would take such a dramatic step. Accordingly, he is front and centre in this matter and will have to answer for his actions during the lawsuit I am sure.

I cannot help but feel that there is more to this than meets the eye. After all, the Junction's location is prime since it is a large property with lots of parking, about nine or 10 blocks west of the downtown and a little bit more further east of the University. I believe that it is also on a bus route so it is readily accessible to those who do not have a vehicle.

I pointed out previously, that the Junction offered their site for a Museum for the City and in fact had prepared plans to do so. If the long-term facility is ever built at the Grace Hospital Site, then the Junction's location makes it ideal for a number of possible uses.

Here is what is so foolish about all of this. Read this comment about the closing of Grace Hospital and what it has done to the neighbourhood:

  • "[Councillor]Jones said the deterioration of the surrounding streets is a "domino effect," in which the root cause was the hospital's closure.

    He hopes the redevelopment will spur a similarly infectious neighbourhood revival.

    "I see the light at the end of the tunnel for this area," said Jones. "People are interested in doing something to rebuild the core."

Here are two men who want to help rebuild the area and instead of trying to work out a solution with them, the Mayor and Council are dragging them through the legal system.

Only in Windsor!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

More News To Share

It was a good news day today. Lots and lots of things to comment on.


Aren’t you tired already of reading about the political shenanigans in Ottawa? As I quoted before from Margaret Thatcher’s speech writer,
  • “The decisions that really matter to political leaders are those to do with the getting and holding of power. Other decisions may turn out well or ill. They may cost billions of pounds or hundreds of lives, but for enlisted politicians those decisions are secondary. What matters to them is: will I still be here after this?”

Fortunately however we will have another matter that has raised its ugly head again to divert our attention from our problems. It is going to be tough for the Opposition today to know which items to hit the Government with. Here are the first two paragraphs of the story in the Globe and Mail:

  • Secret Airbus connection revealed
    Documents show former Mulroney aide involved in airplane sale

    Fred Doucet, Brian Mulroney's former chief of staff, received a list from Air Canada detailing how many Airbus aircraft had been delivered to the airline in the early 1990s, contradicting Mr. Doucet's sworn testimony that he has “no knowledge at all about anything involving Airbus.”

    The fax, as well as three letters written by Mr. Doucet, are the first indication that someone in Mr. Mulroney's inner circle expressed interest in the airplane sale before it erupted as a public scandal.”

This great...why worry about the economy. We can fight an election over a scandal. That is the recent Canadian tradition


Congratulations to us. Some good news finally

  • Windsor and Essex County have been jointly selected to host Ontario's largest municipal conference, in 2010.

    "It will be a great showcase for the region," Gordon Orr of the local Convention and Visitors Bureau said of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario annual gathering coming here for the first time.

    Orr estimates the four-day event, with approximately 2,600 attendees, could inject about $10 million into the local economy.

However, (yes I know I have to be a wet blanket) did you notice in the last paragraph of the story, where all the important information is placed so no one will read it, the following:

  • “Orr said in order to win the hosting bid, the city and county had to pledge to host receptions, provide volunteers and supply buses to shuttle the delegates to meetings and on study tours. He estimated the local hosting costs at about $50,000, split evenly between the city and county.”

Frankly, that doesn’t bother me because the return on investment is pretty good if we actually do get the $10 million. You remember the overinflated Super Bowl numbers that we heard about to justify the City’s sponsorship so I am a bit skeptical about the actual amount.

It is interesting that the expenditure of money for this event did not come in front of Council on Monday. Presumably it was paid through the Convention and Visitors Bureau as part of their budget. I thought that some other events were paid through them as well to keep them away from bothering Council.

Here’s what I’m getting at. Did you see how nervous the Mayor was at Council when he was asked about Red Bull? He finally spilled the beans that he was aware of the dates of the air races but did not tell us about locations. Does that mean that we lost out or is he saving some good news for the appropriate time so that he can get the benefit of the publicity? He will also have to figure out how to get the millions required for the race but that is a whole different story.

At Council on Monday, Keith Baxter asked for $50,000 over five years, subject to a number of conditions that have to be met first, to run an air show in Windsor. The numbers of people who could attend the show could range up to 100,000 per year. Obviously, many of these people would be local but even if it was only 10% who were not, that would be almost 4 times the number of people who would be attending the AMO convention each year for 5 years or more. And the cost was only $10,000 per year, $5,000 if the County chipped in half!

As an example, the aircrews from the Forces’ aerobatics teams would probably on their own need about a hundred rooms or more for several days. Along with food, gasoline purchases for the planes and other expenses that they would spend locally. One could expect about $50,000 to be spent by them alone.

Instead, in Windsor, process rules and the request was shuffled off to some Festivals committee that will not meet until January and which has never given more than a few thousand dollars to any festival. Of course, the fact that Baxter needed the City on side by this Saturday did not seem to impress anyone. No need for flexibility when millions are at stake.

What bothers me about all this is that the Airport people and Administration were in favour of the concept. Supposedly. They know the rules better than Baxter would. Why did they set him up to fail in front of Council? Why didn’t they send him much earlier on to the proper Committee who could have looked at this matter?

If Baxter cannot demonstrate at the Air Shows meeting that the City is on side, does that mean that we lose out on the air show and all the business that would bring to us?

Baxter made a huge error. He should have said that the Town of Tecumseh wanted to be the sponsor! Then Windsor would have rushed to beat them.


A huge Brownfield development is almost ready to be announced. I can just feel it. How else to explain the big story in the Star today

Thank goodness that Councillor Dilkens has such a sensitive nose and that Councillor Halberstadt can see so well:

  • Zalev emissions targeted
    Councillor complains of 'putrid' odours, questions monitoring

    Coun. Drew Dilkens was driving home from a Caboto Club event on Saturday night around 10 p.m. when he described odours from the metal recycling company as intolerable.

    "I had to hold my breath. I could hardly breathe because the smell was so horrendous," he said…

    Coun. Alan Halberstadt also raised concerns at Monday's council meeting about Zalev's, pointing to a costly cleanup earlier this year of discoloured curbs, sidewalks and medians on Howard Avenue that were linked to iron oxide dust from trucks leaving the scrap yard…

    “While the $75,000 cleanup was done months ago at the company's expense, the problem of the rust-coloured material being tracked out of the scrap yard has returned, Halberstadt said.

    "They are still dragging the stuff out and it's back out on the streets," he said.”

Expect more and more stories about this to work up the locals about this environmental disaster in our midst. Remember what I BLOGGed before when speaking about the University Engineering Complex transaction and the so-called money that the City was to put forward. Eddie presented a proposal that was described as "too vague" such that the University was forced to reject it:

  • “Effectively, the Mayor suckered his Councillor colleagues into being agreeable to fund almost $40 million for a project payable over a number of years, even higher if one includes the waiver of property taxes. All that is needed now is for the Mayor to put forward a gigantic transaction and Councillors will have no reason not to approve it. They will have no choice especially since it won't start until around 2010, just in time to get them re-elected…

    Now what could this deal be... Henderson gave it away the day after Eddie was re-elected as Mayor and gave it away again today in his column. The item was dealt with at Council recently as well and the radio station of the "W" news director strapper just happened to run a poll on the subject. As the Sheriff warns us:

    "If nothing else, that leaves the city with fiscal leeway for future deals that could include ... dare we hope, elimination of the Zalev scrapyard."

    You will see the dream being promoted soon of a huge multi-million dollar deal for the Zalev scrapyard in which the three levels of Government each contribute $40-$50 million for the Brownfield redevelopment of this site. Obviously, Councillors and the public will jump on board and demand that it be done. A huge development at this site will be Eddie's legacy to himself.”


The story speaks for itself:

  • "Municipalities saddled with aging infrastructure, plummeting demand

    ESSEX -- Increases in water and sewer surcharge rates for 2009 could hit area homeowners harder than tax increases as municipalities grapple with aging infrastructure and provincial pressure for full cost recovery…

    Watson Associates consultant Gary Scandlan predicts increases in water and sewer surcharge rates of around 10 per cent will be common across Ontario…

    Brought in to develop a 10-year plan for water and sewage system funding in the Town of Essex, Scandlan recommended five to eight per cent increases in water rates in 2009 in the four wards of the Town of Essex.

    But the need for a $7.3-million sewage treatment plant in the Colchester South ward could mean a whopping 26 per cent increase in its sewer surcharge.

    In Lakeshore, the big debate will be over whether to keep a $144 a year special levy on 12,000 homes brought in two years ago to fix the worst of the town's 56 kilometres of rusty water pipes…

    But along with keeping the levy in place, the town's draft budget also recommends an eight per cent increase in water consumption rates and a five per cent increase in the sewer surcharge rate.

    Tecumseh will also put its residents on notice shortly of plans for water and sewer surcharge rate increases…

    Essex hasn't made any decisions on the rates yet and any changes will be advertised first and go to a public meeting.”


I think so. They just don’t know it yet. Their victory was too easy.

  • Commissioner says new regulations too onerous

    Hundreds of landlords crowded into city council chambers Tuesday night erupted into applause when the Windsor Licensing Commission accepted a report that no further regulations be imposed on their sector.

    The group was worried that the commission would follow the lead of other cities like Oshawa in imposing limits on the number of bedrooms for student housing, written tenancy agreements for each tenant and other regulations.

    But city licensing director Diane Sibley told commission members that the requirements would result in an "onerous licencing regime for business owners."

The real crunch comes next week at Council when they get truly hammered unless they are there in droves again to resist what is to be imposed on them.

Those City Hall people are just so smart. Take a look at the Agenda Item and see who is supposed to be part of the Committee:

Oh my goodness, can you believe who was not supposed to be part of the Committee: the landlords! Also there is no representative from the Real Estate Board who obviously would have expertise in the subject matter and who would be aware of what investors would think.

Were the landlords being set up with the easy victory so they would not think to attend at Council. Or perhaps just to have one or two people there so that when they were ignored their opponents could say that landlords made their case but lost out.

If I am correct, then it troubles me that this is the way that Government operates inWindsor.

Oh well, I guess it is just like Jr. A hockey. Council is the training ground for politicians for the time when they play in the Parliamentary Big League in Ottawa.

Coalition Documents

Now you can read the documents that will make Canadian Constitutional history.

The BLOGs Wrote Themselves

Some days it is just so easy that it is not fair. This is one of them. Today, the BLOG basically wrote itself. I did not have to do very much thinking at all and out it came.


As I told you before, you must read all the BLOGs in town to keep up with what is going on.

Take a look at Chris Schnurr's BLOG where he destroys the tunnel examples that were used as the justification for Greenlink.

It is a shame that the Star as the leading source of news in Windsor can spend money on a redesigned website but not do the research needed to provide their readers with full and complete information so they can make an informed opinion.

Oh well, I guess that's what we naysaying BLOGGERS must do.


Can you understand why it was necessary for Spanky, Ontario’s Minister of Finance, to take a shot at the automobile company executives for flying down to DC? Presumably, he did so to show that he was tough and that he was going to make those auto companies squirm before he opened up the Province’s wallet and gave them billions.

I wonder if he knew about the Aviation and Forest Fire Management Branch of the Ministry of Natural Resources. It used to be called the Ontario Provincial Air Service. While most of their work obviously is for “forest fire management,” another one of their functions is:
  • provides or arranges non-scheduled air transportation for the Ontario Government…

    flight services are provided as required for members of government and staff.”

Did you know that there is another group:

  • “Executive Flight Operations, which began in 1951, provides business aircraft to authorized government officials for flights throughout North America. Two nine-passenger King Air 350's are dedicated to this service, with one based at Toronto and the other at Sault Ste. Marie. This latter aircraft is also a backup to the forest fire management program.”

I wonder what that actually means. Could it include chartering private jets for important Ministers to fly around Ontario or using these executive Ministry planes?

I do not know very much about airplanes so I did a search on the King Air planes. Here is a little something that I found:

Perhaps Ministers who live in glass houses…


Wow, our Mayor really knows how to call the Province’s bluff:

  • “Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis appeared to call the province's bluff during a break in a meeting Tuesday of the Windsor Police Services Board, which he chairs.

    "If the jail goes to Chatham, we will not cover the cost of prisoner transport -- simple," he told reporters.”

Since the transportation costs are going to be uploaded anyway, I doubt if the Province will be shaking in their boots from the Mayor’s comments. As a contact in the Ministry told me, they are used to transporting inmates all over the place anyway.

Do not expect the jail to go to Chatham however. Expect it to go to the former Project Ice Track land in Tecumseh if Eddie chases it out of town. After all, Spanky’s riding includes part of that town.

What has not yet been revealed, and why I am not sure, is what I suggested in my BLOG previously: another Government Department was going to build a facility beside the jail to take up the balance of the lands.

Is this true or not? The Mayor must know and so must our two Cabinet Ministers. If I am correct, this ridiculous negative reaction on the part of our Mayor will not only drive out the jail from Windsor with all the jobs to be created but another Government Department as well.

As I suggested before, and I was just in London again the other day, in that city the jail and the Ministry of Transportation are right beside each other and right beside a shopping mall.

There is something more going on here than we are being told. I’m tired of the secrecy.

In passing, as I also suggested, Councillor Marra will take the full brunt of this if in fact the jail moves out of town. The Star said:

  • “Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis has said Windsor police favour a site in the Brighton Beach area and Coun. Bill Marra has called on the province to respect municipal planning principles.”

Watch as time goes on as Eddie’s name becomes invisible and Bill’s gains prominence.


A reader reminded me of the following. It is important because where the road is built determines where the next crossing is going to go. If one wants to pressure the Ambassador Bridge Owner to sell, then build a road where the vast majority of the traffic will be forced to go away from his bridge.

Sandra and Dwight are in serious trouble again and so is the DRIC project:

  • "City slams DRIC plan; Council looks for options;
    Windsor Star 05-02-2008

    The highly anticipated unveiling Thursday left the city's two provincial cabinet ministers Sandra Pupatello and Dwight Duncan beaming with pride and calling for construction to begin.

    "The lion's share of people have said to me, 'Get on with this. You have to get this done,'" said Pupatello, citing the importance to the local and provincial economies.

    "This final recommendation is decades, centuries ahead of what people were seeing when this process first started. It's been dramatically altered from when we had to fight to get this (proposal) off E.C. Row Expressway and get it off city streets.

    "In terms of jobs and level of construction, this is the largest investment in history we've ever seen. This is history in the making."

    The DRIC plan promises to create 12,000 person years of direct employment over the length of the four-year project, scheduled to start in late 2009.

    "This will be the best piece of roadbed ever in Ontario," Duncan said.

    "Folks, it's time to proceed and get to the next step. It's time to move on and fix the border situation."


I thought that this ad that the City of Windsor ran in the Windsor Star was hilarious. If I was a landlord, I’m not sure that I would want to be made to appear that I was of the same value or ilk as a body rub parlor operator with all the negative connotations about that.

However, when I asked around a little bit, it appears that some within City Hall don’t think very much of landlords and of landlords who lease to students especially. There is going to be a huge fight at the Licensing Commission meeting on Tuesday involving landlords and tenants who are absolutely opposed to licensed rental units by the City.

I must admit that I do not know enough yet about the problem but I understand that landlords are concerned that they are going to have to pay significant sums of money to be in the rental business. Naturally, they are going to try and pass off most of these costs to their tenants. Accordingly, landlords are concerned about people moving out of their buildings when the vacancy rate is so high already. Tenants are concerned that they may have to live in lower quality units because they will not be able to afford the extra amounts that they’re going to be charged every month.

On the face of it, it seems like overkill to me considering that the the landlords already have a number of government requirements to meet if they want to rent out a unit. Moreover, tenants have a number of remedies that they have available to them to ensure that their units are habitable.

I would think that the recent fire with the home owned by Councillor Postma’s husbands’s Company and the criminal case against a landlord would be a signal to landlords that they had better make sure that their properties meet the building code. If there is an incident, it will be fully investigated and charges could be laid if there were deficiencies.

If as some have suggested, the real targets are landlords in West Windsor who rent out to students, I am surprised. First, I thought that students were going to revitalize our downtown. If we remove them from the West End, who will be the catalyst for that area to bloom. Moreover, if there is a concern about empty homes in Sandwich, considering that a good part of the population of that area is student, they might all move out leaving dozens and dozens of empty homes there.

Here’s the killer part of a Report that was prepared about this subject:

  • “The City of Windsor’s compliance committee is made up of internal members from Licensing and Enforcement, Building, Fire and Police. The draft report was discussed and as a prudent measure a blitz of houses was done around the University to see property conditions.

    The blitz was conducted over a two day period on November 5 and 6, 2008. Five officers went out on the calls; two building inspectors, two bylaw enforcement officers and one provincial offence officer. The following are the results of inspections done on Askin and Randolph.
    o 62 inspections completed
    o 5 violations noted under maintenance of land By-law
    o 2 parking tickets issued
    o 1 front yard parking issue corrected.

    Further, the Compliance Committee was of the opinion that a great deal of resources would be required in order to manage such a regime. It is unknown what resources would be truly necessary to ensure equitable enforcement.”

Doesn’t the City have better things to do with its resources?

I got it. Maybe this is nothing more than a way to move students out of homes or small rental units into mega-Student Apartments. Since I am unaware of too many of these types of buildings in Windsor, obviously, some developers would have to build these types of complexes. I thought that these types of buildings were part of the plans of the University when they were considering moving their Engineering Complex downtown.

That is one way to make our development situation look better by getting the number of building permits issued increased and showing how many units are being built in this City even in an economic slowdown.

In any event the fun has just started in this matter. Wait until it hits Council when the Mayor will have to be concerned that the message that could be delivered to developers is to stay out of Windsor because we are capable of licensing them to death.

Bye-bye to his Canal vision!


Darn, the DRIC guys have left town. If only the City had posted its material on Greenlink in advance or when they were here, we could have learned what the DRIC people had to say about the Mayor's presentation to the "summoned" Windsor citizens. Who knows, they may have capitualted to his brilliance.

Did I hear some clucking sounds from readers. Is that what you think about City Hall? Oh you are so rude!

I know that I would have been worn out listening to Eddie's almost 2 hour harrangue. It was 108 slides! I probably might have agreed to anything he said just to be allowed to get out of the room. Why it would almost be like being enclosed in one of Sam's 1000m. Schwunnels if there was an accident up ahead!

Now I suspect I know what part of the $3ooK fees were spent on during the last quarter.

Actually, it doesn't matter. Few care any more what Eddie thinks on the Border file, especially the decision-makers!

And in case you missed the C-Word slide, where Eddie went from "the new Schwartz plan.. is not negotiable. "This is it. This is the city of Windsor's position" to please compromise, here it is:

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Readers Write

Here are some more words of wisdom from readers. Where are yours for the world to see?

1) As you know, a number of citizens have been attending each of the last 7 or 8 meetings of the City of Windsor AUDIT COMMITTEE, often speaking as delegations (separately) on the subject of The Mike Dunbar Audit.

This audit covers all the details concerning the construction of the "400 City Hall Square Building". This building was finished at a cost of $33.4 Million, $6 Million above the original "not to exceed" price. This audit was commissioned by resolution of Council in July of 2006 and conducted by the City's chief auditor Mike Dunbar.

Mike Dunbar resigned from the City in December 2007.

If you've followed this story at all (it has been the subject of five artcles in the Windsor Star and 4 Editorial pieces all during 2008)you have learned as the "DISTURBERS" have:

-That during the year this "audit" was in the hands of the City CAO it was seen by the Mayor and at least (we believe) 25 city staffers..(much of this was learned at a June 08 Council Meeting); yet the citizens have been denied the right to view it.
- The Audit Committee has decided that it "isn't really an audit" because it lacks many details that should be included ...that's their excuse for not releasing it (yet);
- The Audit Committee has hired KPMG to AUDIT the audit and make recommendations for "completing" it;
-As well they have hired a Lawyer from Toronto to explore the legal issues raised by the "audit".

That's where it all stands!

The next meeting of the Audit Committee is TUESDAY DECEMBER 2 at 2 PM in the fabled 400 City Hall Square building, probably in room 407.

Several people already have been granted status as a DELEGATION, and will be speaking again (for up to 5 minutes) demanding that the Mike Dunbar Audit be released at once, without further delay.

What can you do?

If you are concerned, as many are, you could simply ATTEND this meeting, with the rest of us -OR- if you really want to get involved, you can contact City Council Services, the Clerk's Office (below) and ask to be a DELEGATION allowed to speak at this meeting.

The person to contact (by Nov 28th) is
Mary Lou McCullough
Council Committee Coordinator
Phone 519-255-6222, extension 6470

[Sign up as a late delgation]

It has been 23 months since this completed audit was delivered; it's time for the citizens to see it!


2) Gosh Ed - do you ever sleep??? I sat down three times in the last 3 days and had to reread all of this. Totally mindboggling. I'm going to start calling you the Magnificent Carnac. There are just way too many players in this game to make heads or tails of all of this but I still thank you for digging and laying it all out.

3) And to comment on your Wednesday's article, One After Another, I did shake my head in disgust with Cuderman's statement, "He (Moroun) has decimated a whole community and made us look like a ghetto on his own whim." Please, Mary Ann, save the BS. How convenient for her too to be suffering from amnesia, forgetting to mention the interim bylaws put in place by her beloved Mayor. If Council would have sat and gave the Bridge Corp more than 10 minutes to present the Green Corridor project, those properties would have been ripped down and the project would have been under way. This could have been a very good start for some real progress in West Windsor. Mary Ann better not rely on her Prince to make things happen down there with some great financial incentives. Ed just forgot to mention that the well was dry.

Anyhow, God love ya Ed for your labors and again thanks for the read this weekend.

4) Suggestions for the jail................

Have it moved to Chatham-Kent where they want it.
Current technology allows for prisoners to be tried via cable.
No transportation costs.
No "increased crime rate".
Empty land for future city planning prospects.

Since the jail is Provincial responsibility, and that an EA assessment is a waste of
paperwork, we can assume Eddie is crying the blues because he has no say.
This way he makes the province look like the bad guys.

I still say the jail should go on the downtown city west lands.
Talk about captivating the core visitors.

5) Why don't they just build it downtown? Just imagine how many people it would bring downtown probably more than the engineering building. ;-)

6) Isn't this a made in Windsor story

7) I heard that both Windsor and Detroit are thinking of turning the tunnel into a car wash, that way we can get legally hosed! When Detroit wants to make a deal with anybody regardless of country or state, we all should be holding onto our wallets.

8) Can you picture an arrangement where Windsor owns the revenue stream and some bridge owner purchases the U.S. half of the tunnel?

9) Good morning ED

Say ED clue me in buddy is there a court date for the Juncion trial? If so please let me know I want to be one of the crowd.

10) Duncan tries to be concillatory, speaks like a gentleman, and the mayor responds like a [expletive deleted]. I weep for this city.

11) The terrible injustice that has been meted out to Geoge & Chuck is the result of our elected representatives failing to exercise due diligence. What the Mayor has against these law abiding taxpaying businessmen has yet to be determined. When they win their civil suit will be the time for this Mayor to do the right thing and resign.

12) I hope Henderson reads - and publishes - the Sound offs for the Sofos story.

This is the epitome of political interference and beaurocratic red tapethat is causing businesses in Windsor to flee to other areas, or worse,go bankrupt leaving empty buildings and lost dreams.

13) Ed, I feel sick to my stomach reading this. What the hell is Francis thinking as this is nothing more than Corporate suicide. Is he that intent on overpowering ABC that he can't see the writing on the cash flow statement? This transaction does not make one ounce of sense to me.

Thank you for all the digging. The taxpayers in this City need to know what is really going on.

14) Ed with the amount of lawsuits in this city we should be able to lower the jobless rate by training more lawyers for the city. Has anyone kept count of how many lawsuits that have laid against the city since Eddie took office with all of the lawyers running the city, without a business man to make a common sense decision?

The cost to be crazy, is there to find out how many cases they are working on and how much the city is hiding in exposure to these lawsuits.

It is going to a whole room of lawyers to clean up the mess that is left behind

15) Ed, my question being, how can they justify this monster project, when not needed ? who will be blamed at the failure when the ambassador bridge builds the second span ahead of all the rest , and keeps a lower fare for the vehicles crossing.??? honestly , many heads should roll for this blunder and stupidity, I am afraid the true cost to "taxpayers will never be known, [LETS FACE IT , IT,S ALL TAXPAYERS MONEY DOWN TO THE LAST LINE ON THE PAVEMENT." I cannot wait to see the reaction when the bridge company sues every body,

16) Do you suppose it meant anything that Obama’s call to Harper was collect???

17) This is not the first time that you have mentioned Marra as a possible mayoral candidate…I’m curious to know why…What are you seeing that the rest of us aren’t?

18) Ed, how good do you feel by getting this so right all along?

thanks for the blog. You're truly devoted and never at a loss for words. I look forward to your writings as much as my first morning coffee.

19) Margaret Thatcher was absolutely correct. Getting elected, and then getting re-elected are the primary concerns of every politician that I have encountered.

20) If anyone thinks that this Council will use this money ($20 million) for the replacement of aging sewers, water mains, and roads is dreaming in technicolor. This will only happen if Queens Park put stipulations on it similar to those imposed on the E. C. Row upgrade.

21) This is the exact problem with this debate ... having these meetings promotes NIMBY thinking to the n'th degree and thus nothing gets done.

22) ED

As you are aware, many communities are transferring their loyalties from newspapers to blogs and many newspapers are establishing blogs in anticipation of this shift. The big question is how to develop a business plan that will sustain bloggers but I think that this is going to happen.

I believe that if you can develop a more newspaper-like blog with definable sections and features you will be in a position to compete effectively with your local paper very soon.

I don't doubt that you are way ahead of me on this but I have been reading about Bloomberg's increasing dominance over traditional newspapers and I thought of you.

Blocking The P3 Package Deal

Enough of these silly diversions with DRIC/Greenlink and with Eddie and Dwight. Let’s get down to the real facts of the border file. It has all become crystal clear because of one single sentence in a news story.

This file is much greater than the Ambassador Bridge. It is much greater than Matty Moroun. In fact, it really has nothing to do with him whatsoever except for the fact that he is the Owner of the Ambassador Bridge. And that exactly is the difficulty.

His ownership is causing major problems for Governments that completely misunderstood his and his family’s interest in maintaining their ownership of the bridge. They thought that because they are Government they could take certain actions which he, as a rational business person, would understand could result in the devaluing of his business. According to their script, he would beg them for a buyout at almost any price.

It is Government miscalculation that has caused the misery in this area that has prevented our economic diversification when it is so crucially needed and has delayed the construction of the Enhancement Project. That miscalculation is the cause of the delay in the creation of thousands of jobs as well.

When the Governments saw the two and one half page spread in the Globe and Mail about him and his attitude towards the bridge, they understood the mistake they had made. By then it was too late for them. It is pretty obvious to see Government desperation as a result. It is a shame that no one gave him a copy of the script in advance to read so that he would have known what he was supposed to do.

It is not what Moroun is doing or not doing that is the problem. He is just running his bridge and doing what he has been doing over the last decade with respect to the Enhancement Project. It should be no surprise to Government, especially the American Governments who are putting in several hundred million dollars into the Ambassador Gateway project. It was designed to accommodate another bridge.

In fact, he probably had no idea what the Governments’ intentions really were. How could he? He probably thought it may be payback on his FIRA victory or due to anti-Americanism or jealousy of his success. I doubt if he ever thought that it was as simple as the fact that he owns the bridge that is the issue.

Let me explain

It really would not matter who the owner of the Bridge was, Canadian, American or from wherever. It does not matter if the Government is the owner either. All Governments are desperate for money and will seek it from whomever, no matter what has to be done.

We saw it clearly in the City of Detroit as an example. Their budget deficit was so bad that the ex-Mayor proposed to offer his side of the Tunnel to Windsor for an upfront payment of $75 million. Was it a good deal for Detroit or a bad deal? Who knows because it seems that the City Council was never given enough information in order to make a decision. The point is that the ex-Mayor was effectively doing a P3 transaction to help solve his budget problems.

This is obviously the pitch that the P3 investors are making. We have the money to solve all of your ills so lease to us your assets for a long period of time so that we can rip off the public. That is my view about what the DRIC road is all about as one small example.
  • “Every toll facility in the country is looking at this, [Indiana deal]'' said Schulz, the city of Chicago's budget director in 1983 and 1984 [and the head of the Infrastructure Technology Institute at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois] . ``Cities and states are strapped for funds, and the anti- tax sentiment is increasing almost daily, particularly with the motor-fuel price run up last year.''

The politicians love the P3 companies. In Chicago as an example, that City made $1.8 billion on the lease of its Skyway tollroad to Cintra-Macquarie. That is about double what they expected. The Indiana toll road was also leased for $3.8 billion to Cintra-Macquarie.

It is not always rosy with these transactions, especially now when pension funds have lost so much money because of the stock market decline and because some of these Infrastructure deals have not worked out as well as was expected. For example, for the lease of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the State expected to receive $16 billion but the best bid was only $12.8 billion. Interestingly, Cintra-Macquarie only bid $8.1 billion.

Okay, okay, okay. I have told you all this before so what is so new. Here is the shocking revelation which confirms one of my speculations that I have Blogged in the past. This is from a recent story that was quoted in the Windsor Star.

  • Gov't assets on block?
    Flaherty mulls sale to balance books

    OTTAWA - Forget shopping online or tuning in to The Shopping Channel, the government of Canada may have just what you're looking for -- office space, housing, planes, boats or if you're on the hunt for more unusual items including dinosaur bones and Harlequin romance novels, you may be in luck.

    Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said Thursday the government is considering selling real estate and other Crown assets to help balance the books as the economy continues its downward slide.

    Flaherty, speaking at the Conservative policy convention in Winnipeg, said the government plans to review its capital assets and determine if any should be sold.

    Friday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the government does not, however, intend to hold a fire sale of properties, Crown corporations and other assets to avoid a deficit.”

Here is a strange asset that they are offering perhaps for sale or long-term lease. Interestingly the assets were not named as many of the others were but just described:

  • “Two bridges over the St. Clair River between Ontario and Michigan.”

That is the one key sentence in the story that confirmed my speculation as far as I am concerned. Of course, you know what that asset is. It’s the twinned Blue Water Bridge between Sarnia and Port Huron. Two bridges between Ontario and Michigan.

I wonder how the reporters chose the list of assets that might be dealt with or did the Government provide them with that list.

It appears therefore that not only will the DRIC bridge be a P3 project but the Blue Water Bridge may be one as well by the time everything is done. That is not something that I have ever heard in this file for all of this time. I wonder if the people in Sarnia/Port Huron know something about this because I don’t recall reading anything about it in their media either.

This leads to an interesting question and may explain the real reason for the cross-border partnership amongst the Governments: Will Michigan make their half of the two bridges part of the P3 disposition as well. Michigan has to pay over $400 million for a new plaza in Port Huron, money which is going to be hard to find. How tempting would it be to put the plaza project and the bridges into a P3 Request For Proposal along with the Canadian side of the bridges to see how much money could be brought in. If Michigan played it properly, not only would the Plaza be built at no expense to it but it would also bring in money for the term of the lease upfront. A twofer!

Doesn’t that sound vaguely familiar? Doesn’t that sound like something that the Governments want to do in Windsor/Detroit? The problem they have here is that the Ambassador Bridge is a competitor and no one may want to bid on the DRIC project without a massive Government guarantee if the Bridge Company is still in business.

What is fascinating as well is that the main competitor of the Blue Water Bridge, as disclosed by that Bridge’s management itself, is also the Ambassador Bridge. That clearly came out at the Cropsey hearings. Trucks, depending on destination, have the choice of using either one of the bridges since the distance to be travelled is virtually the same.

Because the Ambassador Bridge is better run, the wait time for trucks is generally shorter there than in Sarnia/Port Huron which means that someone does not have to sit on the bridge idling at $125 an hour. That means that truckers would prefer to use our crossing as their crossing of choice. That is also why the US DRIC consultants felt confident that the new DRIC bridge would take away a substantial part of the Blue Water Bridge truck traffic as justification for building the DRIC bridge.

Thus, Matty Moroun’s ownership of the Ambassador Bridge is a problem in both Sarnia/Port Huron and in Windsor/Detroit. His continued operation blocks Michigan and Canada from having someone spend all their private money to build the infrastructure at their expense and prevents them getting an upfront payment that they can squander. Politicians are good at doing that.

There is even more. My belief is that the Governments always intended to lump together the two crossings in one package and perhaps even throw in the Tunnel as well. They had to do that because the two crossings and the Tunnel are competitors with each other. One could not have two P3 operators competing with each other for the same traffic because that is not what they do. A P3 operator does not want competition and wants a monopoly in order to guarantee a success on the transaction. The Governments would have had no choice but to put them together.

Of course this all has to do with money. And the Ambassador Bridge is the block to some bureaucrats’ multi-year ambitions. Why bureaucrats… This plan was developed under the Liberals and has been continued by the Conservatives. After all, wasn’t Bill C-3 one of the first pieces of legislation introduced by the new Conservative Government? According to some Senators, it was supposed to pass as a slam dunk until the Bridge Company people made their presentations at the various hearings.

That is why Governments had to get rid of them. That is what DRIC is all about and Bill C-3 and a whole bunch of other matters designed to terrorize Matty Moroun into selling out cheaply or be bankrupted.

Of course, some people reading this may well be skeptical of what I have to say. To take all of this from one sentence in a newspaper article seems outrageous doesn’t it. But of course, that one sentence is confirmation of what I have been saying for a very long time.

Here is the real proof however. It was laid out in front of us years ago at the Cleary when Sam Schwartz made his first presentation to us as our Traffic Guru. It was typical Eddie. Put it out there so no one would really understand it and when it did happen he could point to it so that we would understand his genius.

Here is what I Blogged about it before:

  • “…we merely need to look to the first Report of Sam Schwartz and its Socialist-type musings. That Report was prepared at a time when Eddie and the Senior Levels were buddies and he would have known what their thinking was.

    Here is what Sam wrote:

    Balanced Traffic between Blue Water Crossing and Windsor-Detroit Crossings

    Developing a balanced traffic network between the Sarnia-Port Huron and Detroit-Windsor Crossings would provide benefits without a new crossing but would be compatible with any of the new crossings... It sets aside the profit-motive, which means each facility is competing for the most traffic, with a utilitarian-motive: the greatest good for the greatest number. Such a scheme may require revenue sharing among participants."

    How can this possibly happen? How can one manage revenue sharing between two bridges unless you own them both? Do you really believe that a private enterprise operator is going to set aside the profit motive to help out its competitor when it is the more efficient operator? This can only happen if there is one owner of both bridges…

    MDOT is prepared to go along with Canada on the transaction because then both bridges will be Government owned. MDOT is interested because their expectation I am sure is that there will be a P3 offering to help pay for the Blue Water Bridge expansion. Their Canadian Government P3 teacher will instruct them how to do it. How else would Michigan come up with that kind of money in the economy that it has now…

    And even if there was not a P3 at the Blue Water Bridge to pay for the expansion "Such a scheme may require revenue sharing among participants." It would mean that Michigan would not have to worry that a private operator in Windsor/Detroit who runs the best border operation in North America would take away business from them. They would not really care then if the new DRIC bridge took away 15 or 16% of their truck traffic because there would be some kind of a revenue sharing program to ensure that the Port Huron bridge did not go broke.”

Eddie revealed the Plan years ago. It is something that the Governments wanted. All that has happened is that the economic melt-down makes it easier for the Governments to do what they want without much scrutiny. Why everyone from every party supports the infrastructure “New Deal” and the jobs that will be created. Who cares if taxpayers get ripped off.

If I am right, then the Bridge Company Owner knows now why he has been treated as he has been. He is in the way of plans that he did not know about. He is costing people money and perhaps careers.

The question now is how will he react and what will he do?

Monday, December 01, 2008

Airport Board Members' Pay Takes Flight

Up,up and away! That is what will happen to Airport money.

It was not hard to find. I don't think that they were trying to be tricky were they with their headline?

Mind you, you needed to go to the Council Committees page and figure out that the Item, "Report of the Striking Committee of November 17, 2008," meant that certain City Officials might get a nice add-on to their salaries.

You have to admit that these people have balls.

Soon after the glowing report about the profit that the Airport made, the City's Striking Committee decided that the Airport's Board Members deserved to make some extra money for all of their hard work as a Board Member: $6,500 for the Chair and $4000 per Board Member plus $200 per diem. If they attend one meeting a month for a year that's another $2400. Considering that there could be up to 12 Board Members, there's a nice chunk of money that is flying out the window!

Speaking of Board members, here is the advertisement that was posted back in June for people to apply to be Members of the Board. The Competition ended in July but I am not yet aware of anyone being appointed. Are you? So many people must have applied that it has taken them so long to complete the appointment process.

I'll bet you are interested in knowing who are the members of the Board today. Who are the lucky people who will be getting a nice sum of money to help them out to meet their expenses in all of these trying economic times that we are living in.

I am going strictly by the YQG website now. If it is not up-to-date, it is not my fault. I do not recall hearing about any changes.

Oh my goodness, it is the Mayor and a number of its senior City Administrators who are the Board Members now. I wonder if and when they are going to be replaced.
Remember this Star Editorial:

  • "Windsor Airport; Board's operation is key; 11-19-2007:

    council opted to continue operating the airport as a corporation and to create a new executive board with community, business and aviation representatives. While this might be a prudent approach, council needs to ensure the people appointed to this board place an emphasis on transparency, openness and the public's right to know about public money and public entities.

    The lack of details presented before councillors voted on the airport's future last week is emblematic of broader problems with this city and its arms-length corporations, which are not accountable to residents in any direct and meaningful way. Councillor Drew Dilkens expressed frustration with the lack of information he had to review before casting his vote on the airport and city residents share in that frustration."

Here is when Eddie said the Board would be appointed:

  • "Windsor Airport to get $1.2M upgrade, August 18, 2008

    Mayor Eddie Francis added how he expects a report will come to city council in September detailing a recommendation for new community members to be appointed to the board of directors at the airport.

    The mayor, Skorobohacz and treasurer Onoria Colucci have been acting as the board since the city took control of operation at the airport more than a year ago."

Oh my, here is a troubling thought for our Mayor. Go back to the Minutes of the Striking Committee Meeting above. Did you see any declaration of a pecuniary interest?

According to the Striking Committee meeting Report, the Chair of the Committee was our Mayor. He voted to approve the payment to the Board Members. How could that be? He is the Chair of the Board of the Airport too!
Did he vote to give himself $6,500 per year?

Frankly, I do not see the need to have outside Board Members and have to go through a whole selection process. Why give strangers the money?

If they need 12 Board Members who are experienced, why don't they just appoint the Mayor and the Members of Council as the Board Members as well as the General Manager. That makes 12 people in total. That keeps the money all in the family and they get a nice Christmas bonus too courtesy of the taxpayers.

Gee, do you think that the Star will write a vicious Editorial about the payment to the Board members the way they did with respect to the pay to public servants in the Editorial on Saturday? I doubt it.

One final matter...I wonder what the verbal item was on the Striking Committee Agenda and what the verbal directive was all about. Is that the way to run a City operation. No record being kept in the Minutes!

Something is in the air and I do NOT mean airplanes.

The November 10 Striking Committee meeting had deferred appointments to the YQG Board "for a further report."