Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, December 19, 2008

And The Infrastructure Design Winner Is---EVERYONE Who Entered

I read an interesting article recently:
  • “Big News in Washington, but Far Fewer Cover It”

The story was about how newspapers are cutting the size of their bureaus that cover the news in Washington as a result of the financial problems that they are suffering even though the Americans are suffering through two wars and a major financial crisis.

  • “Those that remain have cut back drastically on Washington coverage, eliminating hundreds of journalists’ jobs at a time when the federal government — and journalistic oversight of it — matters more than ever.”

The claim is made:

  • “The times may be news-rich, but newspapers are cash-poor, facing their direst financial straits since the Depression. Racing to cut costs as they lose revenue, most have decided that their future lies in local news, not national or international events.”

I have no idea whether the situation is similar in Ottawa or not but, as regular BLOG readers will know, I’m extremely critical of the way that our media covers local political news. Pinning a “W” on one’s chest or being a cheerleader for City Hall is hardly the way to act as responsible news media organization.

You may wonder you may wonder why the DRIC/Greenlink war is still on. The route has been fixed and there is no argument on it. The fight is over some Schwunnels and Eddie is prepared to compromise over it now so that he will not be deemed a loser in the border battle. We have had Greenlink, Son of Greenlink and it would not surprise me if we do not hear about a Grandson of Greenlink too soon.

Control over the road is important to our Mayor. First, it is the way that he puts pressure on the Owner of the Bridge Company so that Eddie gets what he wants from him. Just recall the Schwartz drawing in his first presentation in 2005 that shows a four lane Huron Church instead of a six lane roadway today. Cut off traffic to the bridge, especially truck traffic.

Moreover, the fight over the road puts pressure on the Senior Levels to give the City money because of our desperate financial situation, especially because we have to pay off the Arena debt and have little extra money to do anything else. The argument would be that we are the “Host Community” for the border and we deserve money for doing so. Just like a City that hosts the Olympics would get money. Infrastructure money for the Olympics, infrastructure money for a border city.

Or at least a loan of money now so that we could start doing City capital projects now because people are unemployed. Remember when the Mayor said that he hoped that DRIC did not start soon because it would take up all of the workers so that City projects could not be undertaken. I have heard that the City has told contractors that they will be very busy in the spring. If that is true, it will not be on DRIC work but it has to be on City projects. Could it be that this was part of the conversation that Eddie and Dwight had in their border car trip to the Airport in Toronto?

It is a good argument and if we had a Mayor who knew how to negotiate we probably would have had a solution by now.

Why am I raising this issue? Why are mere Bloggers, and not the traditional media finding out the answers? Is it because Press Release journalism is still alive and well in Windsor? You judge for yourself.

Compare what Gord Henderson wrote with what Blogger Chris Schnurr did on Sam Schwartz winning an award for his Greenlink work from some unknown group. Check out his BLOG

To be blunt about it, why didn’t the Star or Gord himself do that basic research that Schnurr did. The same thing happened with the onion importers where I discovered who they were after doing some research on the Internet.

Instead, we have a puff piece for Schwartz and for Greenlink to be used by the Mayor as part of his war. I hardly think that this will impress the Senior Level people but will rather infuriate them.

Not wishing to take anything away from Mr. Schwartz but I wonder what the awards people would think about the DRIC road? Would it be a prizewinner too? The answer is YES.

  • “Firms will be notified by letter of their award level. All projects entered win an award. Awards are given out as diamond, platinum, gold and silver. Award letters are sent to firm 7-10 business days after the judging. We ask that you keep the information about your awards confidential until ACEC New York issues it’s press release at the end of March.”

According to Chris, Schwartz is to receive the “diamond” award. With a phone call or two Gord could have found that out also and imagine how we could have gloated then.

To be fair, Gord should have mentioned that Schwartz applied for the award just as the City did in relation to the magazine designation that said that we were such a fantastic small city. Someone just did not find the project and say how wonderful it was.

Still, dear reader, you may think that the people at DRIC should have submitted their project as well. Unfortunately, they could not. For this competition, one has to be a member of the New York organization. Schwartz obviously was one and he could apply because he was an American. Our Governments chose instead to use a Canadian firm to do the work so they were ineligible to apply for an award.

I bet you are wondering though what would have happened if there was a head to head competition between the two projects. Unfortunately, not with this award:

  • “In this competition, each project is judged against itself and not against all entries within a given category.”

You might ask yourself as well why anyone would to apply for such an award. What is the point:

  • “The public relations and marketing value is considerable for both the local and national award winners. ACEC New York issues press release(s) prior to the dinner. Firms may also take advantage of the recognition by issuing their own press releases and related marketing materials.”

Imagine using the diamond award and the Henderson Column as marketing tools for an engineering company. Not too shabby.

I do not want to take anything away from what Schwartz has done. The fact that he has won a diamond award is significant and he should be congratulated for it. However, the unthinking praise from Mr. Henderson is not deserved nor should the Star have allowed it either without doing the basic research that a mere Blogger has been able to do using the Internet as a tool.

Awards are fine but it is the practical side that is the most important. Schwartz’s work is a concept - it is almost like one of the auto manufacturers and their concept cars. Perhaps one can argue that the DRIC people built on his concept. So much the better for us and good for him too.

However, it is not difficult to design something with cost not a major consideration and to play with numbers---that is what Megaprojects are all about after all. The challenge for engineers is to design something that can be delivered within a client's real budget. Here's the point- the client (City of Windsor) doesn’t have to pay the bill for the project. The Senior levels have to do so.

All Windsor has to keep saying is that we are “entitled” and talk about quality of life issues. Sam's work is just another of the Mayor's weapons, like the Estin photos in the Star.

And if you really think that we are getting the DRIC road, you have been Delray-ed!

I wonder if Schawartz won in Category A: Studies, Research and Consulting Engineering Services. I note it said also:
  • "*None of the projects entered in A can be involved with the preparation of construction documents."

Oh, and by the way, a DRIC road/Greenlink-type road is not unique. The above photo shows a similar type road and it is on the Awards brochure.

The Border Battle Is Over, For Now

Matty Moroun can sleep easier at night now. He does not have to take it so personally. The fight over the Ambassador Bridge has really nothing to do with him at all.

It would not matter which American owned the bridge. Even if the bridge was owned by Warren Buffett whom Moroun beat out for its ownership, he would have been demonized and vilified the way Moroun is now. And Buffett is well-known for being “the most generous American billionaire…known for his legendary… philanthropic activities.”

I found some fascinating documents on the Internet that demonstrate to me that the Ambassador Bridge to many in Ottawa is a symbol of anti-Americanism or Canadian Nationalism, whichever is politically correct. The taking over of that bridge to those people is probably even more important than Canada ending the role of the Governor General as the Head of State.

It is Canada finally being free of the United States.

No wonder Henderson could write out of the blue in one of his columns:
  • “We didn't make much of it at the time. But we surely understand now why Herb Gray moved heaven and earth, as Liberal minister responsible for FIRA (Foreign Investment Review Agency) in the early 1980s, in a failed effort to prevent Moroun's trucking empire from acquiring the Canadian half of the bridge. That battle was lost in the federal courts and ended with an out-of-court settlement following a marathon legal struggle.

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

Now I know why Gord voted NDP and why he has to support our Mayor no matter how much of a failure that he is. Now I understand the Windsor Star and their mission.

Gord is only partially correct. It has nothing to do with private companies running the border since the Conservative Government is prepared to allow that to happen with a P3 private enterprise operator, even a foreign one if they have big $$$. It all has to do with an American owning the Canadian half of the bridge, no matter which American it is.

That bridge has been singled out for almost 50 years by various Canadian Governments, Progressive Conservative, Liberal and Conservative. To be direct, this places my thinking about the border issue in a context that makes everything that has gone on so far much more understandable.

The role of the the DRIC really is part of that process as far as I am concerned. It was set up again, in my opinion, to force the Owner of the Bridge Company to sell out and to sell out cheaply as I have been saying for so long. It has nothing to do with the economies of Canada and the United States, nothing to do with the flow of traffic, nothing to do with security or redundancy. It all has to do with Canadian nationalism.

The Americans have been duped by us. There is no doubt about it in my mind. They are being used to accomplish a goal that Canada has wanted to achieve for almost 50 years and they have no clue. This issue is under their radar even if they have known about it at one time. Who can worry about Canada when the Americans have other wars to fight and an economy to save.

It is no wonder that the Detroit News could claim that Stephen Harper said to President Bush:

  • “The story goes that when President George W. Bush met with the leaders of Canada and Mexico earlier this year to defend NAFTA, the Canadian prime minister leaned into the president and whispered that the biggest roadblock to increased trade was the little old man who owned the Ambassador Bridge.”

It is probably is absolutely true. What he really meant was that an American was preventing Canada from achieving a long standing goal. It is no wonder now that one of the first pieces of legislation introduced by the Conservative Government was Bill C-3 that absolutely targeted the Bridge Company. Unfortunately, the Government chose not to tell the real story to Parliament and preferred instead to tell people that the Bill was a slamdunk and should be passed.

I know that this is probably hard to believe. Did you know that the Foreign Investment Review Act was introduced in 1973 and ended in 1985 with the passing of the Investment Canada Act that changed Canada’s emphasis on foreign investment? Yet, the FIRA war with the Bridge Company took until the early 1990s to end with a settlement. Try and explain that away.

Let us deal with the 50 year old war now. After the FIRA settlement, there is no doubt in my mind that the Canadian Government regrouped. They waited.

I would think that at the beginning of the 21st Century, the plan was concocted about how to force out the Bridge Company Owner. Why the Government of Canada with all of its money never bought the bridge in the first place is beyond me if they wanted it so badly. Now that its value has increased, it made it harder for the Government to spend the money required. Therefore there was a need to scare the Owner so that he would come begging to them for a buyout. And that was going to be at the cost of the P3 investor so who cared.

Unfortunately, Bureaucrats who never worked in the real world but who lived a sheltered governmental life do not understand how real private enterprise entrepreneurs operate, especially one who built up a huge empire after sweeping out buses in his youth. He was not going to be intimidated by some mandarins in Ottawa, Toronto, Lansing and Washington.

Oh, they expected him to litigate, he’s done that before with Governments and won. Why, the Canadian Government even set up a reserve of $400 million for the litigation costs and a possbile settlement amount just as an insurance company would do. I believe they called it their investment in the road to the DRIC Bridge rather than a litigation reserve as it really was. The reserve has obviously been increased and that is why we are seeing huge numbers being thrown around for the DRIC road and the bridge and plaza. Their litigation/buyout number has had to be increased to deal with their new reality.

Clearly, the Bureaucrats are in a turmoil now. Their plan was magnificent. Not only did it involve Canadian nationalism and the taking over of the Ambassador Bridge but it also involves money, the root of all evil. A P3 operator would not only take over the operation of the Ambassador Bridge but probably the Blue Water Bridge as well. They might even throw in the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel as part of it. Not only would the border crossings be controlled by their favourite P3 operator under their terms but the Government would make billions of dollars by handing out a 99 year lease. Does it get any better than that? I wonder how many of them were promoted because of their genius.

There was only one small problem with their Plan. They completely misunderstood their opponent and did not build in the contingency about how to deal with a situation where he chose not to be forced out.

It was inconceivable to them that he would not run to them because, in their world, as a private enterprise business person all that motivated him was money. He would understand immediately that the value of his bridge would be decreased by their actions and so he would sell out quickly rather than seeing its value decreased over time to nothing. Why else would US DRIC say that the new DRIC bridge could take away up to 80% of his truck traffic and 60% of the overall traffic. Those are pretty scary numbers.

Notice how smart those Bureaucrats were. They convinced the US DRIC consultant to place that in their Draft IES report. Canada did not have to set out those numbers. The Americans were being used to hurt themselves. I can just imagine the Canadian mandarins laughing themselves silly at this stroke of genius. The Bureaucrats I guess forgot, however, that the US DRIC consultant had said, when he was part of the Gateway project, that the Ambassador Gateway project could in itself handle almost twice the existing traffic even without another bridge. They outsmarted themselves.

Unfortunately, the 2 ½ page spread in the Globe and Mail destroyed them. It told them that Moroun intended to keep his Bridge. They did not know how to react except to spread some of the malicious stories that they have been forced into making in order to try to support their indefensible position. They never planned for this.

Moreover, the economic meltdown has hurt their ambitions for earning big sums of money because P3 operators are suffering as well. Why would anyone want to come into this area right now with traffic crashing so significantly here? Unless the automobile industry is brought back to life, no one would invest in a new bridge that competes with the Ambassador Bridge.

Can you believe that the issue of the Ambassador Bridge was brought to the level of the US President? Why would he have any interest in some bridge at all to be direct about it? It was brought to him twice by Harper directly and once by Minister Prentice. That tells you how important the Ambassador Bridge is to Canada as a symbol. Canada must not lose.

Imagine how the Bureaucrats feel today especially after NAFTA-gate. What a political disaster for their ambitions. If you have not yet read the Detroit News story, check out this link and read it today: “Matty Moroun's bridge battle”

Here is the quote that will end this battle:

  • “The bridge is a living thing," Moroun said. "It's become part of me and I think I've done a good job. It's my legacy. They want to steal it from me but that's not going to happen, I promise."

He has just drawn his line in the sand for everyone to see. The Bureaucrats have really known this for a long time already and the real issue will be when and how they retreat and who will be blamed for the fiasco. Now you understand why Eddie is fighting the big battle over Greenlink. It has nothing to do with air quality or quality of life for Windsorites but rather protecting his position against the Senior Levels who want to point the finger at him and are using jobs as a way to do so.

So the big battle is over. Moroun has won. Understand that. We will still see skirmishes for a while. But the real war will never end until Canada has won or the Americans wake up and figure out what is going on.

Canada will step back as they did after the FIRA litigation with the Bridge Company. Better to retreat and to regroup than to lose. They can also always start again in the future.

When that future begins, I do not know. They may well have to fight with the Senior Moroun again. If not, then his son will at least be warned what will be his lot in life as the Owner of the Company and his relationship with Canada. He may even need to pick up the sword that he talked about in the Senate Hearings as his father has been forced to do.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

More Items You May Have Missed

I wonder if you saw these recent items or were you distracted by all of the silliness going on.


We in Windsor have been trained by our Mayor and Council to have an entitlement mentality. Because we are Windsor, we are entitled to a multi-billion-dollar boondoggle called Greenlink as just the most obvious example. After all, we are entitled to have the best “quality of life” in our City although Greenlink itself does nothing for the major source of pollution that comes from the United States. But that is a mere detail that is unimportant when the political careers of certain people are at stake.

Chris Schnurr did a BLOG about some of the tunnel projects that were mentioned in Eddie’s presentation the other week and what was interesting was the contribution required either from a private party or from the local community.

In my opinion therefore, our Mayor and Council need to put up Windsor taxpayer money, and big sums of money too that will of course bankrupt this City for generations, as our contribution for Greenlink. We would pay in other words for the difference in cost between Greenlink and the DRIC road. Seriously, it can be sold on the following basis never mind what the reality is: after we ever pay off the Arena, we will be rolling in dough if you remember what Mr. Henderson wrote in one of his columns.

Of course, I have a reason for saying this. It has already been said in a similar fashion in the United States and by none other than Gridlock Sam Schwartz, our Mayor’s transportation guru. Obviously, our Mayor has learned from what he has said and is just waiting to spring this on us since so much infrastructure money will be around. This is how he will convince the Senior Levels to build Greenlink. Here is what Sam said:
  • “The cornerstone of Obama's infrastructure plans: the creation of a bipartisan supported National Infrastructure Bank funded by the federal government to the tune of $60 billion over 10 years. The bank is likely to require any project seeking more than $75 million in federal support to submit a proposal to the bank - a proposal that would include the contribution to be made by state and local governments, user fees and a plan for maintenance.”

It would not surprise me to see our Federal Government do that in January as part of their Budget to stay in power. After all, any project above $50 million has to take a look at P3s already as the basis of financing. It would not be very much more for the Finance Minister to add in local contribution for bigger projects. Of course, P3s will have great difficulty raising money in these days of economic restraint and are a foolish way to build infrastructure but what the heck, politicians don’t care when it is your money, dear reader, and mine that is involved.

Oh, and do not worry. Sam will help Eddie justify that as well:

  • “At the same time, Gov. Paterson must integrate recommendations from his commission on public-private partnerships, formed in September with the mission of maximizing the value of the state's assets in the face of the fiscal crisis. Such partnerships are no panacea, but they do offer money up front and a much faster track for implementation.”

Thanks Sam. Thanks Eddie. Thanks Jim Flaherty. I really did not need all that extra cash in my wallet. Feel free to spend it as you wish.


Congratulations to the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce, Greater Windsor Home Builders' Association and Windsor Essex County Real Estate Board for starting the Windsor-Essex Active Retirement Community Initiative

Its mission "is to attract investment, create new jobs and revitalize the real estate market throughout Windsor-Essex by building on the region's growing development of active retirement luxury properties and services, and by promoting the unique location, diverse lifestyle and quality amenities of its nine communities."

I am surprised that the Development Commission is not one of the founding groups since it seems that this initiative would fall within its mandate. Oh well, some of their people are too busy coming and going to Europe for trade shows. Interestingly, on the website's "Start a Business" page, there is no reference to the WEDC either. At the least, the WEDC did publish their press release "Local Group Hopes to Lure Retirees Here."

Here however is the problem that I see with respect to this initiative.Take a look at the picture that I posted. It is that of a doctor isn't it. Here is what the website says:

  • "Take Good Care! We're focused on leading health-care specialists and facilities that include 2 municipal and one county hospital providing 1,000 acute-care beds; state-of-the-art Windsor Regional Cancer Centre; 20 long-term care facilities, the University of Windsor's new Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry plus expedient access to world-class hospitals in Detroit, the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor and London Health Sciences Centre, London, Ontario. "

Sounds very impressive doesn't it until one reads this story in the Windsor Star:

  • "Windsor and Essex County still needs another 200 doctors, Mavrinac said. Even with the retirements that have taken place, one in five local doctors is over 60 and one in 12 are over 70, she said.

    The need is greatest for family physicians and wait times are as high as 14 months in some medical specialties, although some gaps in specialist and psychiatric care for children and seniors have been filled, she said.

    Still, about one in four local residents don't have a family doctor -- a higher rate than the provincial average of one in five....

    Mavrinac warned that the effort to turn Windsor and Essex County into a nationally known retirement area also carries with it the need to make sure that health care services will be adequate for a growing senior population.

    More experts in geriatric care will have to be recruited if the percentage of seniors -- already growing -- rises further, she said."

Notwithstanding the seemingly successful recruitment efforts, the number of doctors still needed, 200, is the number that has been around for years as our shortage.

Of course, there is an easier way to recruit doctors but until our City and County get off their rear ends and put pressure on the Senior Levels, it will be difficult to convince seniors to move to this part of Ontario. After all, Windsor is one of the most underserviced areas in the Province medically.


I like this headline in the Star. Kudos to the headline writer:

"Spits close Barn door"

However, if you read a bit further down in the Story, you would see the following:

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis, who addressed the standing-room crowd before the puck-drop, stressed that Windsor Arena is merely transforming, not dying.

    "The Barn will still be here," Francis said. "We're just beginning a new era. With every new era there's change. So we'll be telling a new story here, just without the Spitfires."
What that means is that when the City tears down the Barn to make way for the City's new City Hall, there will be a plaque stating that this was the site of the oldWindsor Arena. That is the change that will be here with the new era. And he forgot to mention at the end of his sentence that not only will the new story be without the Spitfires, but it will be also without the building.

But why ruin a nice evening to say that.


How the heck can Councillors be loopy if Eddie keeps cancelling their Friday BULL meetings. Unfortunately, he was unable to attend not only these sessions but the Premier's Bagel meeting with the Chamber of Commerce.
According to CKLW, Councillor Bill Marra was the only City politician there.

No, no, no. This was not a snub. I mean, after all, it was only the Premier. No favouritism could be shown. He had to treat him equally after he did not meet with the PC leader, John Tory.

Oh....this Friday's BS session is cancelled again too.


Here is part of a Gord Henderson column written several years ago. In light of the 400 Building audit fiasco, it is very interesting:
  • Whistling in the dark; Gord Henderson
    Windsor Star 12-23-2004

    There's more than a hint of wistfulness in Mike Dunbar's voice as he considers how the MFP affair might have turned out if only he'd had the support he now offers other whistle blowers.

    Dunbar, you see, was one of a handful of brave souls who put their necks on the line at city hall to try to sound the alarm over a series of disastrous lease financing agreements that left Windsor and Essex County taxpayers embroiled in costly lawsuits and on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars.

    And now, in a supreme twist of irony, he's become the whistle blower's whistle blower. As city auditor, Dunbar is now armed with wide-ranging powers to probe files, examine documents and root out fraud, waste or abuse of city assets. A hotline, established six months ago, has provided a steady stream of information from citizens and city staff who are fully protected from retaliation and Dunbar reports to an audit committee, headed by businessman Max Zalev, that operates at arms-length from city administration.

    "I like to think that I'm the whistle blower's best friend. I hope so," said the Windsor native. An accountant and a Massey and St. Clair College grad, he declined to blow the whistle on his age...

    The KPMG report, a copy of which was obtained by The Star's Anne Jarvis, described the extreme vulnerability felt by finance department employees as they tried in vain to warn their superiors, Tony Haddad and Gerry Pinsonneault, that the MFP lease figures were wildly out of line...

    Intimidating and belittling. That speaks volumes, doesn't it? In a city that had zero protection for whistle blowers, these folks were risking their careers and their homes to try to keep Windsor taxpayers from being taken to the cleaners. They could have looked the other way or joined the party and enjoyed the good times. Instead they tried to rock the boat. That took guts.

    "It was stressful," conceded Dunbar of the period when he was trying to raise red flags before being taken off the MFP lease financing work and given other assignments, including handling Ottawa's transfer of Windsor Airport to the city. "That's why I'm so adamant about the whistle blower policy. If other people are in my circumstances, I intend to give them some outlet."

Hmmmmm. I wonder if Mike has a copy of his report and would release it as a "whistleblower."


What bicycling path should the City take?

  • "A recent ruling by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment allows the city to widen parts of Riverside Drive — against the wishes of some residents — in order to create an unbroken bike path along 16 kilometres of waterfront."

Perhaps before the City does so, it should remember this case:

  • "City told to pay injured cyclist; $844,450 award.
    Ruling called victory for everybody who uses road

    Calling Windsor "reckless," an Ontario Superior Court justice has ordered the city to pay a prominent city surgeon $844,450 in damages for not warning him about a raised catch basin that threw him from his bike, injuring him for life.

    "This judgment is really a victory for everybody who uses the road -- in-line skaters, runners, cyclists, mopeds, wheelchair users," said lawyer Martin Wunder.

    "It's going to, I hope, make the city and other municipalities be more responsive and responsible to their obligations to their cities..."

    Yovanovich said he's happy with Morissette's judgment because he thinks it may improve road conditions for cyclists.

    "The City of Windsor has really had a callous attitude and generally shown reckless behaviour in terms of safety issues for cyclists," Yovanovich said. "They are spending, from my view, a great deal of time, resources and income planning new bicycle trails when they should be putting a little more effort cleaning up and maintaining the trails and roadways that are presently available to cyclists."

More Readers Write

Here are some of the thoughts that my readers have had on stories of interest and a photo as well including one from a reader who did not like what I had to say and decided to stop reading :-(

Oh well, you cannot win them all.

1)I know we have to get into the spirit of the season and all but I thought there would be someone ready to spit over the 400 City Hall Square Audit. The biggest problem I have with the February release of the information is that I did not notice it was specifically to be 2009.

2) 2010, only 1.75 years to go!!

3)If it was a "personal' call what name did the PM use?
We have many pet names for him [Eddie]down here, I wonder which one was used?

4) LMAO - Oh Ed, you made my day. I decided to read The Windsor Star first this morning (sorry, no insult intended) and then flipped over to The Blog. Hilarous!

The more Edward opens his mouth, the worse it's getting for him (and I think he knows it). He is burying himself (along with a little help from the media and the bloggers) and there is no dodging this career bullet now. Good thing Michelle has a thriving practice.

Do you want to start production on those T-shirts? How about:

I HOPE to survive the Border File

2010 - Shovels In - Francis Out!

Keep it coming Al.

5) I am cutting off your blog. I used to enjoy it. But now I really do not like what you said about Harper. Thia is not a time to act like Kids , I am talking about the three stoogies.

6)I believe there are many things related to air quality that we can understand. For example the air we breathe is filled filled with contaminants, pollutants, and carcinogens, particulate matter of all types, some being more damaging to mankind than others. None of it is desireable, all of it is undesireable.

Most of what we experience comes from the south and south-west of our communities. A meaningful amount will be generated within the local communities. Locally we contend with the likes of the Zalev smelter and the automotive plants towards the east, none of which release their fumes and contaminates along the corridor to the border. This leaves us with the exhausts, from trucks and cars, mixing with whaterver else is there to be moved from the area by the prevailing winds.

Perhaps Mr. Estrin, the consultant Mr.A. van der Vooren or the Mayor of Windsor can explain to the Public how Green Link impoves air quality through the use of longer tunnels.

It seems to me and many other citizens the longer tunnels will only redistribute the flow of contaminants along the corridor. Some areas will get more, some will get less. Heavier concentrations will exist. How do you justify what you are proposing? Help us to understand your purpose and motivation.

7) So now it appears that Eddie is stalling AB and the DRIC - interesting tactic...

8)I surely felt like I would like to write your blog for you after watching city councilors posture about the great offense that is being done to Windsor citizens by the DRIC Proposal.

To have certain Councilors carrying the torch for the adverse health effects caused by fine particulates and smog caused by traffic was laughable. Their concern for the smog and adverse health effects [to people] who live on Riverside Drive was nowhere in evidence when they decided to widen Riverside Drive.

Watching them resort to that old chestnut “traffic calming” is only further evidence that these councilors are about ten years behind the times when it comes to the actual data on traffic calming. Worse, they have absolutely no concept of the differences between bike lanes, bike paths, bike boulevards or several other bikeway designs that have travelled here from Europe and offer a truly world-class cycling experience. Instead we have Councilor [X] talking about how bike lanes, the lowliest and most unimaginative form of bike facility, are going to make us the cycling mecca of North America………sheesh!

9)[Re Dwight Duncan's meeting] No mayor, no council, no admin

10)Eddie is the Stephane Dion of municipal politics - the same way it was political suicide to propose increasing gas taxes when gas prices were going up, it's political suicide to threaten lawsuits to stop the government, or anyone for that matter, from coming to town and spending hundreds of millions of dollars when you've got double digit vacancy rates and unemployment. Talk about out of touch. I suppose at this stage Eddie sees politically he's done, so he's onto other agendas now and has given up the ghost on moving to provincial or federal levels.

11) I believe DesRosiers has said that the auto industry in Ontario has been job neutral over the past 5 years. The big three have 35% of the market share ... that market won't evaporate with the Big Three collapse. Rather those consumers will go buy Toyota, Honda, Nissan et al - companies who've been building plants in Ontario (see Woodstock, Cambridge, Alliston).

And guess where all of the new domestics are setting up shop? On the 402 east-west corridor. Who needs a new bridge and parkway down Windsor way? So - does Eduardo need a bailout because he needs the DRIC/Ambassador Bridge fights as his raison d'etre?

12) “Francis fired off letters Tuesday to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty begging for fast action on a co-ordinated, comprehensive response. "At this stage, a refusal by the federal and provincial governments to act is nothing less than a decision to allow the death of a community," wrote the mayor.

"If this industry fails, you're going to lose a city.”

Such hypocrisy .. here is a Mayor who has delayed by years and years the creation of jobs tied to the border solution, has mess up virtually every file he has touched costing Windsor thousands of additional jobs and he had the nerve to write the Government requesting "Fast Action". Why doesn't he write to Ken Lewenza and ask the CAW to move to two tier wages ... and to give up their SPA days! ... Spa days for Christ sakes ... how inappropriate is that ... and there are a dozen other non wage excesses in the contract that should go. I don't see the Mayor trying to "quickly" move the CAW off a position that is giving our politicians fits. The politicians actually have some sympathy for bailing out the D3 ... they and the tax payers that elect them have zero interest in bailing out the unions.

13) we know the report from Dunbar, has been read by some councilors, , what kind of pressure can we put , so we can have a copy from someone, as I look at the Windsor star and see the faces of councilors, , I wonder how they sleep at night, but I also wonder , why have these yo, yo,s been elected,, does not say much for the electorate, I feel sick to my stomach when I listen to these people , no rhythm nor reason to what they expect the tax payers to digest, , there has to be a way, and soon to stop these idiots from spending more money on nothing.

14) Interesting that the Windsor Star bills it's "provocative city columnist" as having "hard-hitting views on City Hall". The 400 building audit has been delayed once again, but Gord has not written not a word about the ongoing debacle. Seems to me that the the Star should re-word its biography of their chief columist.

15) I heard someone speak about asking a contractor how long it would take to build an office building downtown. The answer was that it could be built in about half the time it would take the city to audit it!

More BLOGMeister Quotations

It is time again for some of the most absurd comments that I have seen in the last few days to be posted.

If you have any that you would like to share with other readers, feel free to send them to me.

  • “There seems to be this general appearance that the city is opposed to the bridge being twinned, and it doesn’t make any sense,” said Rosenthal, a retired engineering-firm CEO…

    Francis argued that the federal government must first give the OK for a bridge, before the city can issue smaller permits, and that the bridge has yet to provide a detailed plan. Francis also said councillors are not against the bridge in principal.”

Why is Eddie always arguing? Why doesn’t he just speak normally and with a nice smile on his face? He might make more friends that way.

I’m glad to see that the Mayor has finally acknowledged that the City’s role in the border file is minimal. I mean, after all, he did concede this in front of the Senate anyway so why he could not say this in Windsor is beyond me.

I note that the Mayor still may have memory problems from the amnesia disease. No, that is not it. I think he just cannot remember that the Bridge Company came in front of Council trying to explain their billion-dollar plan for the border and Council only gave them 10 minutes to do their Presentation, including what they wanted to say about their relationship with the University’s Green Corridor Group. Council was not courteous enough to even extend that Presentation time.

How many hours did Schwartz speak at Council about Greenlink and how many hours did Estrin speak the other day? It is no wonder that Eddie forgot.

Eddie is right about one thing, about Council not being against the Bridge Company in principal. He and most of Council it seems are against them in fact. The shameful debate about the fire damaged house on Indian Road is just about all the proof that anybody needs.


  • “I was happy to hear the mayor say that wasn’t the case at all,” Rosenthal said, “and that it was some sort of public-relations mix-up.”

I was opposed before but now I’m all in favour of our Mayor spending a quarter of $1 million on a new PR Group.

All this time, I thought that he personally might have been against the Bridge Company’s plans, especially when he used the word “enemy” or used their own law firm to oppose them and in particular to go to Cleveland to fight their application with the US Coast Guard.

None of that was true. It is the fault of the media in Windsor. They just could not understand what the Mayor was saying. It may be his fault as well because he speaks too quickly for them. He needs to slow down.

If this is all a huge mistake, then the Bridge Company should ask for the help of the City to build their bridge and ask the Mayor to issue the smaller permits that they need to convince the Federal Government that all is well between the two of them.


  • “Matty Moroun is a brilliant businessman who looks 50 years into the future," said Eddie Francis, the mayor of Windsor, who finds himself at odds with Moroun on his bridge as well as his plans for a second one. "On the other hand, he's seen as a slumlord. A man who goes into a neighborhood and eradicates it for his own gain. That's his reputation and that's what he now battles."

Whew, if the crack about “slumlord” is not another PR mix-up, then perhaps Eddie had better remember that people in Windsor do have access to Detroit newspapers. If only Eddie had told the reporter that he and Council have prevented the Bridge Company from tearing down their boarded-up homes and replacing them with Green space, Moroun would not have that reputation.

I do not understand why Eddie would not allow the Bridge Company to tear down their homes and replace it with Green space so that he could say that his new, about to be announced “blight” policy is working. Oh I get it, Eddie will allow them to do so under his policy and take credit for it. Silly me, I forgot that politics was involved and that Eddie needs a success finally.

To be very serious for a moment, the tragedy of Eddie Francis is that he knows how brilliant Moroun is and instead of capitalizing on it both for the City and for himself personally, he has abused Moroun.

I had suggested years ago a partnership between the Bridge Company and the City over the border file and other matters when Eddie was the City Mayor. I did not even receive the courtesy of a reply.

The border is vital not only to our success now but to our success in the future. And who understands the border better than the Owner of the Bridge Company?

As this story and the story in the Star disclosed, Moroun’s empire is much more than the Ambassador Bridge. Why we are not partnering with him to take advantage of what he can offer us is beyond me.

Can it be that our Mayor is afraid to deal with him because he is afraid that he will come out second-best? Probably. But then that is due to our Mayor’s own insecurity about his abilities and his failure to have the right people advising him. To me, it is a reflection of an anti-business attitude that we have seen on a number of issues in Windsor.


  • “Detroit, by virtue of its proximity to Canada is uniquely situated to be a major logistics center in the new world economy. It is the city's best hope for a future as Moroun sees it.”

Alfie Morgan talked about Windsor being a transportation hub too recently. I hope Eddie does not remember what Alfie said or he might think the two have been speaking together behind his back. No holiday card for Alfie then.


  • “Basically, it is not good business sense to have a monopoly on such an important trade route," said Sean O'Dell, executive director of the Windsor Gateway Project, the Canadian portion of the proposed bridge. "Moroun will lose some traffic, but there's more than enough business to go around."

I hate this misinformation. It is pathetic. He should be slammed by his superiors and forced to fess up. Is this the best the representative of the Canadian Government can do? Oh I forgot, it is part of their plan to smear Moroun.

It appears that even Federal bureaucrats have been hit by the amnesia disease as well. He forgot that DRIC destroyed the concept of the Bridge having a monopoly when they set out the competition that they face already.

Only in a bureaucratic mind could a loss of 80% of truck traffic and 60% of overall traffic to a new DRIC bridge be considered losing “some traffic." Today's Trucking figured out with the loss of border traffic in general and the huge loss at the Ambassador Bridge that:

  • "Ambassador Bridge truck crossings plummet

    WINDSOR, Ont. -- If this keeps up, there might not be a reason for a second bridge at the Windsor-Detroit Gateway after all.

    Freight traffic over the world's busiest border crossing declined by nearly 500,000 trucks through November from 2007.

    According to reports, truck traffic on the Ambassador Bridge dropped 14.9 percent to 2.7 million from 3.2 million last year."

As Mr. O'Dell knows, an investment grade traffic study was supposed to have been prepared presumably to bolster the Governments’ case that there is sufficient traffic so that an investor would make a return on its investment. The Government hired a consulting firm, Wilbur Smith, to do the job. The RFP went out in November, 2007. It was supposed to be finished by the Summer of 2008.

I was told the other day that it was not yet finished and might be completed next June, a year late!

Funny that it has not yet been completed after all of this time. Oh my, the results cannot be included in the DRIC EA. I wonder why.

The answer should be simple: it destroys the entire rationale for building a DRIC bridge! The Report has to be buried. It's ok though. I will do an FOI for it!


  • "Madoff fraud may not add up to $50 bln-experts

    NEW YORK, Dec 12 (Reuters) - When the dust settles, Bernard Madoff's alleged fraud could turn out to be closer to $20 billion than $50 billion, fund experts said on Friday."
  • "It's not my job to worry about Detroit," said Francis, the mayor of Windsor. "My job is to be concerned about the people of Windsor."
That states the obvious doesn't it. BUT in the context of the Tunnel deal, one has to wonder what he means.
I wonder if Mayor Cockrel will dare come over here for a visit to discuss the transaction. The last time a Detroit Mayor came over.....well, you know that story depending on whose version you believe about what took place..

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Eddie Is Our Saviour. Eddie Is Our Saviour.

Poor Dwight. It would not surprise me if the Premier made him write that line a thousand times on the blackboard. Could Dwight had been so misinformed about our Mayor?

The Saturday Star was just like a breath of fresh air. Thank goodness for the Front Page Story by Gord Henderson. I feel so much better that he has told us that:
  • “We will survive”

Geez, the guy is talking in the story as if Chrysler is already gone. He probably knows what he talking about though since he did the story in 2005:

  • DCX studies HQ move: But relocation to Toronto area on back burner, Landry says

    DaimlerChrysler Canada president Steven Landry confirmed Tuesday that the company has been studying the possibility of transferring its Canadian headquarters from Windsor to the greater-Toronto area, but said the issue will be on the back burner for at least another year…

    Losing DaimlerChrysler's headquarters to either Mississauga or Toronto would be a devastating blow to Windsor in terms of white- collar jobs and prestige, especially given that the City of Windsor has poured in excess of $40 million into the downtown office tower development where DaimlerChrysler is the lead tenant.”

Obviously, that earlier story must have rattled our Mayor. There is no doubt in my mind that since that time he has been working diligently and has a Master Plan already set out to so that in an eventuality that Chrysler closes down in Windsor we will transition smoothly to what it is that any has been planning for. Our Mayor is on top of everything.

Speaking of our Mayor, it would not surprise me if he is not at Council all the time or even in the City over the next few days. No, it is not another long-standing family commitment or a snubbing exercise or an exotic trip overseas to save canals or sell onions or drink Red Bull.

My suspicion is that after reading the stories “Feds, Ont. pledge auto aid” and “Harper reassures mayor” the Chairman of the the Board of General Motors may call an emergency Board meeting. I suspect if that happens, as the Detroit Papers are speculating, the CEO of GM Rick Wagoner will be terminated and will be replaced by Roger Penske, the man they call the Captain.

Naturally, who will Roger call first but his good buddy from Super Bowl and the Grande Prix, our Mayor, Eddie Francis. I had Blogged previously that Eddie may well work for Roger one-day.

And why not?

After one letter from our Mayor saying inaction “on Canada's faltering auto industry will lead to the death of Windsor as a city and a community,” the Conservative Government folded. The Premier of Ontario folded.

  • “The federal and Ontario governments have pledged as much as $3.5 billion to bail out the faltering auto industry in Canada, but only if U.S. lawmakers draft a rescue plan for the Big Three automakers first.

    Federal Industry Minister Tony Clement made the announcement Friday night, adding he believes a U.S. bailout of General Motors, Chrysler and Ford is imminent.”

I can just hear Roger screaming into his telephone “Get me Eddie and get me Eddie now!”

I sure hope though that Roger’s secretary can get through. After all, the Prime Minister of Canada called Eddie. It was not just a call, but a “personal” phone call. For those of you who are thinking that Eddie’s staff phoned the Prime Minister’s Office first and that Stephen was just returning the call, shame on you. Why do you think that Eddie was late arriving at the Council meeting awhile ago? He was probably sitting by his phone hoping that the PM would call.

I am so glad that Eddie revealed the contents of that personal phone call for all the world to know about it. Well, not completely:

  • “Asked what the prime minister specifically told him to relieve his concerns, Francis declined to elaborate. "I'm not going to get into the details, but needless to say, I thought that it was a very positive discussion," Francis said. "I felt reassured after the conversation."

Some of you may laugh and say this is completely ridiculous. It was only a 10 minute phone call. What could be discussed during that period of time? May I remind you that 10 minutes was about the amount of time that our Prime Minister who spoke to President elect Obama was given. It would appear then that 10 minutes is an eternity when powerful leaders such as our Mayor speak together.

Even though the border was not discussed since “the sole topic was the auto industry,” the relationship between the City and the Federal Government is solid, clearly much better than with the Province.

We are left with a big nudge-nudge, hint-hint now that all is not settled with DRIC:

  • “Francis said Windsor has enjoyed a good relationship with the federal government, and he's very appreciative of the prime minister reaching out.”

Alright Dwight, say it out loud now and mean it:

  • “I Was Wrong. I Was Wrong.”

DRIC: The Reality TV Show

You come to this BLOGsite because you’re hoping that someone can explain to you what is going on with this border file. It is so confusing. Or so it appears on the surface.

It really is not all that difficult to understand; you just cannot get caught up in the day-to-day machinations or you will go mad. You have to learn to stand back and keep a long range perspective on this.

I was brought to this realization by several lines written by the Star's Don McArthur in one of his BLOGs which I saw played out on television at the last Council meeting. It is something that I am too gentlemanly to mention but of course he works for the media so what can you expect. You know what those media types are like, so rude:
  • “The worst of it is that Francis doesn't know any more about the global financial crisis than you or any other person on the street. He doesn't have some red phone in his office connecting him to Wall Street or Bay Street. He reads the same stories in the same newspapers at the same time that you do. He's certainly not a financial analyst. Heck, he's hardly even a lawyer. He just plays one on TV.”

What a slap in the face.

There was our Mayor, leaving the chair at the front of the Council Chambers and going to the Delegation table to make his pitch. Such would think it was the Junction file or WUC.

Nice suit that he was wearing too. He sure dresses like a lawyer and sounded like Perry Mason taking flight as he ripped to shreds DRIC’s story about jobs starting soon. They may not come for more than a year or more so do not blame him if they are lost. It is those Fiberals all over again up to and including the Premier, I guess.

Bring down your expectations, Construction Association. Forget about working you unemployed or about to be unemployed. There is no hope restauranteurs, hotel keepers and retailers. The process still has eons to go. Even if our Mayor decides to sue it really doesn’t mean anything since the matter can be dealt with supposedly during that time period. So what if it has tp start all over again if Eddie is right. We need Eddie to be our Saviour or perhaps even our representative in the halls of power of a Senior Level as a Cabinet Minister if we elect him to go there to be our champion.

And then after our Mayor finished, our legal weapon of mass destruction and his assistant and consultant all spoke. The air quality will be horrific. So many mistakes made by DRIC, almost as if they wanted the process to fail. Why oh why didn’t DRIC listen to Eddie. He is always right.

What does this mean? It’s been two weeks already of threats of lawsuits, pictures of David Estrin to scare the enemies and Council just about ready to do something. First Eddie seems afraid to sue with Council forbidding him to do so; now Council is on side, or rather the majority is, allowing him to sue if necessary but not necessarily to sue.

First Eddie loves the Province, then it is Stephen Harper who is his friend. Then back to McGuinty. He has a deal supposedly according to Gord”s provincial government insider that we can almost taste on the border file. He then slams the Province and calls them all kinds of nasty names so the deal is off.

Did Eddie snub the Premier? Was he at Dwight's pre-Budget meeting or did he snub him again? Heck, Eddie had an airport lounge to open instead. Why, the PM called him and spoke for 10 minutes to give our Mayor reassurance that Windsor would not die. Thank heavens that Eddie sent that letter.

An explanation is needed. This makes no sense. Who can keep up? The answer was staring us all right in the face, all this time: TELEVISION.

Don’t you get it, this is really a TV show, reality TV. An extravaganza. A ratings winner. The perfect combination of politics, news, comedy and soap opera. It is not supposed to make sense. How can it?

It’s not exactly Fantasy Island but closer to Survivor. At the end of the program series, there is a winner. Over the many weeks leading up to the final show we see the various contestants choosing an enemy and then uniting together to vote that person off the show. Alliances are made and broken depending on what the specific need is at the time. People will do and say anything in order to remain in the running for the big prize. Today you are my friend; tomorrow you are my foe.

Who can be believed? There are no truths. It's all a game. None of it is real.

I wouldn’t be surprised if there were videographers following our Mayor and some of the Senior Level people around like in the Kardashian show or Dog the Bounty Hunter so that some Editor can splice the videotape together for a 13 week TV series. I can just see the T-shirt being sold: I survived the border file.

That is all that is happening. There is no rhyme or reason to it that we outsiders can understand. It all depends on what the internal fight is between Eddie and the Senior Level Governments. We are merely pawns with our emotions to be played by whomever. We are on the outside watching the game being played. It is a Made-for-TV show.

Come on now, no one watched the whole Council meeting the other night or at least not after they saw Eddie’s magnificent performance. He was on there for the first few minutes and the ratings were spectacular in the relevant demographics. Once he left, the numbers dropped. It was a rerun of Estrin's previous performance or so most people thought.

It really didn't matter though. The plan was for people to read what the Windsor Star told them happened at the Council meeting.

Now you know what this is all about. Be careful, do not get wrapped up in the minutiae or the hype. Take it for what it is... West Wing Windsor style meets So You Think YOU Can Dance Canada. Tune in for the next peformance.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

More Interesting Items

It's the Blogmeister Holiday sale. Read one and get 50% off the next item.


It's not such a bad job except when their is a strike. Otherwise, tenured position, nice salary, free home, good benefits and even a PC too.

And to top it off, a Big Three auto that his spouse can drive too!

Read the contract of the new President of the University of Windsor here.

[Graphologists might be interested as well.]


  • "Welcome to the new

By Marty Beneteau, EditorNovember 29, 2008Comments (62)

Today we welcome our readers to a new information age in Windsor and Essex County.

Following months of research and preparation, we flipped the switch over the weekend on a completely redesigned

In partnership with your printed newspaper, this cutting-edge information portal is designed to keep you plugged in, 24-7, to the region’s top source of news and commentary. has been overhauled to deliver a compelling viewer experience, with easy-to-use and intuitive navigation.

[Clearly Canwest is positioning themselves for the day they go completely online. Don't worry, you will still have paper ads for your birdcage. There will be something I am sure like the Windsor Star Review that is distributed that will be full of paper.

Look what happened in Detroit today if you think I am wrong about online newspapers:

  • "The changes, expected to be implemented in March, mean home delivery of The News and Free Press will end Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Delivery will continue on Thursdays and Fridays at both papers and Sundays at the Free Press. Both will still be available at the regular price at 20,000 stores and boxes throughout Michigan and through an electronic "e-edition" that allows readers to view replicas of the printed papers online. "]


Congratulations to Chris Edwards who has been named executive director of the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association.

You ought to see what qualifications they wanted:

  • Post-secondary degree or the equivalent in one of the following disciplines:business administration, urban planning,urban design,business marketing,public administration and political science;
  • Demonstrated experience and expertise in increasing market share,building a strong brand, and developing innovative business recruitment and retention strategies;
  • Managerial, financial and marketing background, preferably within the retail, professional services, hospitality or tourism industries;
  • Experience in municipal planning, development and/or operations;
  • Experience in public/private partnerships and government relations at the municipal, provincial and/or federal level; business and residential recruitment and development; tourism and hospitality and/or related industry sectors; economic development initiatives;
  • Familiarity with theWindsor, Essex County and Detroit markets an asset;
  • Outstanding organizational and interpersonal skills;
  • Experience with public speaking and community relations;
  • Proficiency in major office software applications

[The WEDC could have used him with those abilities as CEO or VP!]


  • The Washington Post

    What they're spending

    While no other country has proposed spending the $700 billion that some say President-elect Obama may propose to create or preserve 2.5 million jobs over three years, some plans are particularly bold:

    China's $586 billion stimulus will accelerate projects to build more nuclear-power plants and a vast natural-gas pipeline.

    Italy may erect the first bridge connecting Sicily to mainland Europe.

    The European Union called for member countries to spend $258 billion to spur growth.

    Britain has already unveiled a $30 billion proposal.

    Spain expects to spend $14 billion.

    France, one of the bloc's largest economies, is expected to announce a huge package next week.

    WASHINGTON — In a bid to jump-start the beleaguered global economy, countries around the world are introducing massive public-spending programs aimed at creating millions of jobs, boosting the use of green energy and modernizing infrastructure in a way that could transform urban and rural landscapes.

    The viability of some of the plans remains unclear. But observers say the number of countries moving at once underscores the perceived severity of the coming global recession and the view that governments must at least temporarily pick up the slack as the hard-hit private sector sheds jobs and cuts spending.

    It is time "to invest massively in infrastructure, in research, in innovation, in education, in training people, because it is now or never," French President Nicholas Sarkozy said in a recent public address.

    World leaders are pursuing a variety of strategies to tame the economic crisis, including moves to unclog credit markets, strengthen financial institutions and ease monetary policy. But fiscal stimulus packages have emerged as a favorite tool of policymakers.

    Worldwide, economists say, the increase in public spending, if executed wisely, could add as much as 1 or 2 percent to global growth next year, perhaps easing recessions in the U.S., Europe and Japan while cushioning the slowdown in the developing world.

    Yet if the promise of combating a global recession with public funds is big, so too, experts say, is the danger that billions could be spent in vain.

    Analysts point out that the pitfalls of growth-by-spending were exposed by Japan, which launched a huge infrastructure program in the 1990s. To spur expansion after stock-market and real-estate crashes, Japan spent billions on new public-works projects. Those projects not only failed to prevent a decadelong economic slump, but produced a herd of white elephants including new, but little-used, airports and ports, as well as a $250 million bridge to Kourijima Island — population 361.

    "There is a huge danger of bridges to nowhere, and as Japan showed us, that is no way to get out of a recession," said Grant Aldonas, a former high-level Bush administration trade official and a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies...

    A snapshot of how governments plan to increase spending is emerging. Those plans include not only the building of more bridges and roads but the introduction of measures to put more cash into the hands of strapped consumers..."

    [I wonder if they were reading about the DRIC project when writing this story]


The dual stock market collapses continued the recent trend in which month-end rallies are vapourized almost as quickly as the calendar month is flipped.

“I’m not sure what to make of that. It’s more than just coincidence,” said Doug Porter, deputy chief economist at BMO Capital Markets.

“I suspect what we’re seeing is that towards the end of the month, some big, long-term players are finding themselves very underweight equities and are rebalancing.”

[When are the fees of the mutual fund managers calculated? Are the fees a percentage of the fund assets? If they are, then if share prices are high at month end, then the fee is high too.]


Jays cut 24 front-office jobs

All staff members of the Toronto Blue Jays were invited to a catered farewell Monday morning for outgoing team president Paul Godfrey. According to one person present, several top Jays staffers, including general manager J.P. Ricciardi, spoke at the upbeat ceremony. The emcee for the event was the Jays' director of guest services, Will Hill.

Yesterday, Hill's job and 23 others were eliminated as part of a wider cull by team owner Rogers Media. That represents about 10 per cent of the front-office staff not involved in baseball operations.

News of the cuts came only hours after the death of team owner Ted Rogers.

"It's regrettable," the team's interim president, Paul Beeston, said...

"There were some tears. Emotions were running high. One woman was crying saying, `It's only three weeks till Christmas,'" a Jays staffer said. That former employee was anxious that their name not be used in connection with this story, citing a confidentiality agreement the team was asking laid-off employees to sign in return for severance benefits. "

[In this case, no strikes and you are out!]

Let's Play 20 Questions Plus A Few

The questions are easy to ask. It is the answers that are tough to find

  1. The Star finally did a story on the Airport and the amount of money that is going to be given to Board Members. Is there a reason why the Star did not tell its readers that the Chair of the Airport to board right now is our Mayor and that at the Striking Committee, he voted to give himself and his three subordinates those nice amounts of honorarium assuming that they are all still on the Board. There is no need for the Start to give me credit for breaking the story some time ago.
  2. Why hasn't the Star reported that the legal bill for the border file is about $5 million
  3. Has the Star asked the Mayor the cost of the newest Greenlink presentation and whether that was part of the $300,000 that was spent in the last quarter
  4. Why didn't Sam do the Presentation
  5. How can it be that before the Federal election our banking system was so well regulated and after the election the Government had to pump in $75 billion to buy up mortgages?
  6. Where did that $75 billion come from?
  7. If the Government has that much money in petty cash, just lying around, then why wouldn't it have taken some decisive action to assist our manufacturing industries in Ontario so that we would not have had such a massive loss of jobs?
  8. Will Ford be the only one of the Big Three companies to survive?
  9. Since Ford has some of the highest quality and safest vehicles, when will they hire a Marketing Department who can help sell their vehicles
  10. Is it cheaper to buy the entire company than to buy a Big Three vehicle these days?
  11. Will Ken Sr. buy an auto company and become CEO since he has all the answers?
  12. Whatever happened to the Dave Cooke Canal study and does anyone really care
  13. I note that OMERS has opened up a new office in Europe and "the private equity unit of the $52-billion OMERS pension plan invests about 15% of its assets in several funds in Asia and may consider making direct investments in companies in the region." Does this mean that, after teh DRTP fiasco, it has no longer any interest in investing in Canada and in Windsor in particular?
  14. Did any Federal Liberals really take Bob Rae seriously and think that they can win with him as Leader?
  15. Too bad that Michael Ignatieff did not have to run for the Liberal Leadership again. Would Dwight Duncan have been his Ontario Campaign Co-Chair again so that he could run federally next time around?
  16. I noticed that "Tenio Evangelista, Vice-President responsible for Government Relations at Borealis Infrastructure, has endorsed Michael Ignatieff as next leader of the Liberal Party of Canada" the last time around. Will he do so again?
  17. How much money did Eddie want for the Brighton Beach land for the new jail and how much did the Province want to pay?
  18. If Bloggers can catch politicians changing their stories and can post it, then why can't or won't members of the Traditional Media do so as well?
  19. Given that so many members of the Obama transition team are also big donors and bundlers, will people say that it is the same old politics?
  20. Is it significant that Nicolas Sarkozy, the French Presdient spoke with president-elect Barack Obama for 30 minutes while Prime Minister Harper only spoke to him briefly, perhaps in the range of 5-10 minutes?
  21. PM Harper said before his phone call to the President-elect that the "environment and energy, the economy and the financial crisis or international peace and security issues, particularly Afghanistan," were his most important issues to discuss. Considering that he talked about the Windsor bridge with President Bush and was ignored about it, does this mean that building the DRIC bridge is no longer a priority for Canada especially since there is no Minister assigned to the Central Canada border crossings.
  22. If the the Canadian government was considering selling assets, like the CN Tower, "in order to make ends meet," when will Eddie P3 the Tunnel, Enwin and WUC?
  23. While Dwight could take a cheap shot at the Big Three Execs on their planes, why was he so silent about whirlybirds in his past Ministry
  24. If we get only one Councillor per Ward, which Councillors will disappear from view and would you care?

How Better To Spend $5B DRIC Road Money

You probably wondered why I did not do a BLOG about the Star story last week involving David Estrin. Frankly, I just couldn’t be bothered because I had no idea what the story was all about.

You see everything was behind closed doors again. I am tired of being manipulated by a Mayor who had to come in front of Council last night to justify his stalling. I guess the heat was getting too much for him about 12,000 jobs potentially being lost so he had to point the finger of blame at DRIC.

Was the City going to litigate? Was it not going to litigate? After Eddie’s Council presentation, frankly who cares.

One thing in my litigation practice that I learned early on was never to threaten. I would never write a "legal letter" on behalf of a client threatening to do something such as go to court unless I had absolute assurance from my client that it was going to follow through.

There was no way that I was going to lose my reputation as a lawyer for a client. You can only bluff so many times before the word gets out about you and you lose your credibility.

To be blunt, that is how I feel about our Mayor and the latest Star story:
  • "City readies to fight over green space

    Windsor council says it could take its battle to court if the province fails to provide more green space and environmental protection in the final blueprint of the planned $1.6-billion border feeder highway."

Sure it "could." But then again, it also "could not."

I am glad that the City brought its big weapon to town, David Estrin. I assume he was providing them with the report on strategies that the Mayor said would be completed sometime last June after the Mayor called him and told him to prepare it as soon as possible.

The one thing I do know is that the vote was not unanimous to do whatever it is they decided to do or else the Mayor would have told us so. How many Councillors voted against him is buried behind closed doors.

Just in case no one saw the story with all of the East End Arena material, it was nice to see the big picture of David Estrin so that we will remember who he is when we get the next quarterly report about legal fees spent by the City. We won’t have to ask what he did to earn those fees.

I bet "the enemies" were shaking in their boots knowing that David was back in town. The Star is getting really good at propaganda efforts. After all, his picture was probably worth a thousand words of newsstory inches.

I was most interested in the Saturday Star story in which we were given a hint about what Estrin wrote in his 84 page report:

  • “Environmental lawyer David Estrin and the Gowling Lafleur Henderson law firm mount a blistering attack on the Detroit River International Crossing team's proposed $1.5 billion Windsor-Essex Parkway as failing to protect the health of city and county residents along the nine-kilometre link from Highway 401.

    "The (DRIC) Parkway will result in the unacceptable exposure of Windsor and LaSalle residents living, working or going to school near the Parkway, as well as those who would use the Parkway's green space, to hazardous levels of air contaminants," say the city's experts.”

That submission must have cost taxpayers quite a few dollars and frankly, may be already out of date. That is why I am typing this Blog rather than watching Estrin on Cogeco.

Here’s a story that is much more interesting to me and much more practical. Note that the cost is about the equivalent of what the DRIC project would cost and would be of benefit to every person across Canada, and many in the United States, not just in the Windsor area if our Governments followed suit. I am told that our regulations with respect to Truck emissions are being tightened up as well.

I can hardly wait. Eddie should become a cheerleader for this too. Along with hybrid buses, Eddie can become the greenest Mayor in Canada.

I know that I and my fellow taxpayers are losing green. And he is turning me green and I do not mean within envy:

  • California rules will slash highway truck emissions
    December 12, 2008

    The California Air Resources Board is expected to approve new fleet rules designed to slash harmful emissions from over-the-road trucks operating in the state.

    The rules would apply to out-of-state trucks operating in California as well as those registered in the state.

    The rules will require the installation of diesel particulate traps beginning in 2010. The program will be phased in over the ensuing four years. The filters, which cost as much as $20,000, will reduce diesel emissions by an estimated 85 percent…

    The fleet truck rules that the CARB board will vote on Friday cover over-the-road trucks, and will be the most restrictive in the nation…

    California trucking interests are concerned that the fleet rules are being phased in too quickly, especially given the downturn in the freight transportation industry. They say the industry, financially, may not be able to retrofit trucks as quickly as CARB wants.

    CARB estimates that the rules will cost the industry $5.5 billion.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Why oh why didn't they listen to Tom Burton. If they had not voted him down, we would not be in this mess. Now he can go around to the Council meetings, smiling, and saying "I told you so" to his colleagues:
  • "Tecumseh Deputy Mayor Tom Burton's bid to cut off funding to the Essex Windsor Development Commission if agendas and minutes of its meetings aren't made public received little support this week from county councillors.

    Burton was accused of "grandstanding" and being "antagonistic." His motion was rebuffed Wednesday night in a 10-3 vote."
Doesn't someone think it is time to thank all of the people on WEDC and get rid of them and start all over again. It happened again. Oh lord, another disaster from the WEDC, the people who brought you:
  • "Because of the nature of the region’s strategy, traditional performance measures such as the number of new plants attracted, or the number of jobs retained, albeit significant, should not be the primary indicators of success. These could actually be counterproductive by driving the wrong behaviour. To truly change the direction of this region will require establishing new relationships, new connections and new networks. It will require a “leap of faith” in the ability of the governing body and management leadership of the organization to achieve long-term results."
Yes, dear reader, the Windsor Essex Development Corporation has lost another executive. This time it is Vice President, Director of Corporate Services & Communications, Michael F. Burton. He was their only Vice President too by the way.

While members of the Board are responsible members of this Community and successful at what they do, this Commission is a disaster area. How they have allowed the Commission to seemingly lack focus for so long is beyond me. We need a functioning Commission if we are to diversify our economy.

Apparently, the same people who took an eternity to figure out that they had no brochures for investors and no money to make them have had to put in a revolving door at their main office because they have had so many senior people leaving.

Over the last few years, the Development Commission and its predecessor have had the following people come and go at the senior level, never mind those below: Paul Bondy, Dennis Perlin, Roman Druz and Matthew Fischer. I am certain that investors who come to our area will wonder what the heck is going on here.

I wonder what the neighbouring Development Commissions who are competing with us for new investment are saying to potential investors about our area. Do you think it is complimentary? All they need do is show potential investors copies of the Star articles and that would end whatever hope we had of luring them to this region.

Not even the MITI Minister with all of her sales attributes has the ability to overcome this negativity.

Perhaps that is the reason why our Mayor is doing lots of the economic development work himself rather than giving it to the Commission. Perhaps, he doesn't trust them either. Wasn't he the one who made all of those cold calls to the US? He was the guy who headed off to Europe for the onion importers. He announced the call centre jobs. Quite a vote of nonconfidence wouldn't you think.

Since Mr. Fischer left, a Vancouver-based recruitment firm was retained to find us a new leader. Amazingly, we had to go out West to find a recruiter so that when someone from Toronto, as an example, has to be interviewed, presumably, he/she had to go out West to British Colombia to meet the recruiter with us picking up the tab or the recruiter had to come here. Priceless.

The recruiter in assignment #70208 was Grant C. Smith, Waterhouse Executive Search Ltd. of Vancouver, B.C. I guess they decided that a local recruiter and/or the Commission could not do the job. Last time around:

  • "Roger Bryant of KPMG is facilitating the search process and members of the search committee include Skorobohacz, Essex County CAO Brian Gregg, commission chairman Remo Mancini and members Gina Leslie of Casino Windsor and Allan Conway of the Odette School of Business at the University of Windsor."

Nevermind that City and County taxpayers put in so much money into the Commission. Heck, we are used to money being squandered by now so this is something that is not new. Pity though the shareholders and members of the Credit Union who have graciously donated money. Frankly, if I was a member, I would be dumping on my Management already for their foolish actions and would forbid them to put in more money into this organization. I might even demand a refund.

It is how many months and no one has been hired yet as CEO to replace Fischer. I must admit, given the lack of success, I wondered why the Board did not promote its only Vice President to the job. Anyway, he lucked out and got a new position.

Someone needs to find out why quickly why no one was hired. Is there a reason? Is our region's reputation now so bad that no one wants to come to this area in spite of that nice, glossy Star magazine that cost taxpayers several hundred thousand dollars. If that is the case, then we are really in trouble here economically!

Rumour has it that there was a short listed candidate who had experience in economic development but for whatever reason he was not hired. In the meantime, I assume that the Chair will continue on as the interim leader. I wonder if he gets paid a salary as if he was the CEO or whether this is part of his Chair's duty.

Mind you, I believe that it will be very difficult for the Commission to find someone to head the organization. Their criteria seems to me to be very difficult. As stated by the Vice Chair:

  • "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."

Why if I did not know any better... no, I cannot be that cynical.

While I am certain that some of our Development Commission members worked hard on their European jaunts, given their lack of success, I would strongly urge our Mayor and Council and the County politicians to reconsider strongly the following suggestion made by Eddie in his State of the City speech. Even though it appears that the amount of money to be given to them has been reduced from $100M-$60M, frankly I would not give them a penny:

  • "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...

    How will we finance an Economic Development Investment Fund of our own?

    By leveraging money from the new National Community Development Fund, recently established by the federal government, to be administered by the provinces.

    And by taking the bold step of putting municipal dollars on the table, to make the promise of these new jobs a reality...

    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 table up front, leveraging federal and provincial dollars to rebuild our economy.

    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.

    We will also be inviting Essex County to consider supporting this initiative, and to stand with us as partners committed to an investment in the future of this region.

    In all, we have the potential to build a $100 million Economic Development Investment Fund.

    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...

    So with Council approval, we will begin engaging the provincial government, Essex County, and our regional Economic Development Commission to make this vision a reality."

In passing, look at how our strong financial position has deteriorated since the date of that speech, St. Patrick's Day. It is so bad now that Councillor Mom, the Chair of Transit Windsor, accused the City of nickling and diming and thereby putting citizens at risk on bus safety:

  • "The board's not willing to compromise safety nor to compromise what we are mandated to do," she said after a Transit Windsor board meeting.

    "When you look at the size of our budget and you look at what transit's asking for, it's really nickel and diming it."
I should not be too critical but if only the Councillor had not gone along with what the Mayor wanted and paid the extra money for those hybrid buses...

One last thing. I am sure that you remember the story the other day in which Warden Nelson Santos and Tecumseh Mayor McNamara said:
  • "They believe establishing a fund of up to $60 million can help push this region to the top of the consideration list and provide an ability to quickly react when opportunities arise.

    “The timing is appropriate to put together a package that shows our communities are willing to put our best foot forward in terms of economic development,” said County Warden Nelson Santos...

    Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara has also thrown his support behind the fund"

Given what is going on at the Commission, might I suggest that Tecumseh Deputy Mayor Tom Burton owes it to his County colleagues and perhaps the City ones too to arrange a meeting between them and Vice President Michael Burton while he is still part of WEDC. They should ask him if the Commission is up to the task given the disarray there and ask him whether he still believes, as he said in the Star story:

  • "This is an excellent initiative that would go a long way in helping us diversify the economy.”

It may be but not with this Commission.