Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Wednesday, December 24, 2008



Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Year Of Options

It is no wonder that Councillor Brister is afraid to go on John Fairley's Face-to-Face interview show. When John lifts his eyebrow, watch out. John would make minced meat out of him.

John has a different style for different people. Take a look at his interview with Councillor Postma and compare it with that of Mayor Francis and you will see what I mean. In both cases though, John gets the information out there through the mouths of the interviewees and in their own words. He just has the knack of asking the right question to put these people on the spot. Since they feel obliged to answer, we can watch them squirm and tell us what they wished they did not have to reveal.

If that happened with Councillor Brister, he would fold. At the least, the Councillor should be congratulated for knowing his own weaknesses and not going on television for the entire Community to see them being made apparent. I can just picture John raising his eyebrow as he asked the Councillor the first question about the Arena and its budget.

In John's year-end interview show with the Mayor, the Mayor’s bravado out of his own mouth destroyed his own credibility as a Mayor and as a Leader in relation to the border file as you shall see later.

If you can last until the end of the show, because there is such an information overload, you will find that the Mayor all of a sudden is not so definite that he is only a two-term mayor. Is that a signal that he’s going to run again? Of course, that could be nothing more than a technique to try to keep the Councillors in line. On the other hand, where could a person go and make over $200,000 a year when he has not been able to achieve very much in five years so far as Leader of a City!

You can watch how he attacks the Ambassador Bridge Company on the Indian Road homes, forgetting of course that he only gave them 10 minutes in front of Council on their billion dollar transaction. You can also see how he tries to fool them into coming back in front of Council again. He forgot that they learned their lesson after the turn-down by Council of the demolition of their fire damaged home.

You can again hear him talk about the Tunnel transaction with Detroit and how we have to save the 5,000 commuters from disaster. He makes it clear that the Tunnel competes with the Bridge for traffic. However, he refused to tell John how much Infrastructure Ontario was prepared to loan the City on the transaction and also refused to tell John how it was such a good deal for us. We learned how much money the Tunnel made for us in the past but there was no recognition that the Tunnel is not making any money for us now and may not in the future if the DRIC bridge takes way 25% of its traffic.

Of course, the Mayor has to attack the naysayers. However, he did not recognize that he wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars on the booklets that the Windsor Star sent out to encourage people to invest here with his headline grabbing comments about the death of this City. He still has not realized that he is his own worst enemy.

The most interesting part was right at the beginning when he talked again about Greenlink and the DRIC Road. It is so tedious already… Greenlink good, DRIC bad. Why oh why didn’t they study Greenlink he moans. The answer is easy. His Schwunnels are too long. Since they do not meet the criteria that the DRIC set up, whether the criteria is right or wrong remains to be seen, there is no need to examine the project. It fails. What could be easier to understand than that?

He broke the news to John about Greenlink’s award but you and I, dear reader, know the truth about that now thanks to the effort of Blogger Chris Schnurr. More PR nonsense that the Mayor tries to use as justification for a project that will never get off the ground, or under it.

The most shocking comment was when the Mayor accused the Premier of, in effect, biasing the DRIC process because of comments made when the Premier was in Windsor a week before the December 12 closing of the submission period to DRIC.

He accused the Premier of compromising the integrity of the DRIC process. He said that his remarks were very prejudicial. He in effect stated that the Premier said “don’t even bother” making comments to DRIC.

To be direct about it, I would have expected our Mayor/lawyer to denounce the Province for this improper meddling. I would have expected him to tell us that no Minister of the Environment who wants to keep his job would dare turn down something that the Premier, Minister of Finance and MITI Minister all approved. I would have expected him to tell us that he was taking immediate legal action to right this horrific wrong that has been committed against the people of Windsor by the most senior Politician in the Province.

There was no longer a need to wait. The entire process was flawed. Black letter law, lawsuit, judicial review would be our battlecry. Who cares how much more in legal fees we would spend when the future of Windsor is at stake. Or at least, his vision of it.

After all, for the second time, David Estrin had been brought into town to harangue us for hours at Council about everything wrong with the DRIC process. We now know that Council approved legal action. The Mayor has told us that legal action was always a possibility.

Instead, the Mayor gave us his timetable about the process and that we should expect nothing for a year or two from DRIC rather than action being taken right away. The best that he said we might get would be some movement of utility lines perhaps in 2009.

All this lead up to the dramatic climax of the Mayor telling us that Council has a “year of options available to us.”

A year of options----Oh brother. Another year of this. Another year of manipulation. How many more Greenlinks are we to see? How many more Greenlinks will be turned down by the Province. Rumour has it that there was another submission by the City to the Province: Greenlink, the next generation. I wonder when the Mayor will share that with the community if in fact there was something submitted. If there was a third one, which one did Sam present to the awards body to get his prize? Nothing like the Mayor negotiating against himself and compromising.

Greenlink is a joke as we know now because of what Eddie said in a media scrum:

  • "City council and the city of Windsor and myself would be the first to stand in support of this project if the province of Ontario guarantees 20,000 jobs will be in this community at the beginning of 2009."

It is nothing more than a negotiating tool.

A year of options----All of the Estrin pictures in the newspaper was bluff. The Estrin presentation at Council was bluff. The Henderson column about judicial review was bluff. The Gignac remark was bluff. Even Councillor Marra was used when he did not want the City to start a lawsuit. All bluff. The Councillor did not have to worry because the Mayor told us that he has “a year of options.”

A year of options----Everything that our Mayor does is bluff. Another year of options when the Premier has prejudiced the process and compromised its integrity. Unbelievable!

The problem for Eddie is does anyone believe him anymore. Does he have any credibility left? Has he squandered that too?

Do the Senior Levels? Does the Bridge Company? Do Windsorites? Honestly, how could anyone? He has threatened lawsuits so many times that it almost becomes predictable and then he backs off. That has become predictable too.

In fact, as I said before, Henderson called his bluff and is laughing at him too because he knows that Eddie will not act (except few understand how he did in his column):

  • “Sadly, given the damning environmental evidence we heard this week, it would be unconscionable for the city to do anything less than fight for the health and safety of its constituents, even if it means seeking a judicial review.”

A year of options----If Eddie does not act now and using the tools of his profesion, then Henderson can denounce him for acting in an unconscionable manner when matters of health and safety are involved.

A year of options---- what a sign of weakness. What a sign of lack of guts. What a sign of lack of leadership. What a sign of bluffery.

Oh, and we learned why the Mayor was not at the Premier's lunch even though Eddie got word a month ahead about the date. It was his wife's birthday weekend. Perhaps CKLW's Lisa Williams could ask Eddie some of her "tough" lob questions on her interview show with the Mayor about what he did for her celebration. She may have some insight that she could share with her listeners about the event.

And all thanks to John Fairley's eyebrow!

Even More News

So much more to let you know about before the holidays. I'll try and get them all in.


Seems that emails are being sent around by whom I do not know since the ones I received are anonymous making all kinds of allegations around the hiring of a new CEO for the Development Commission. Some of the allegations are quite serious too. Who knows if they are true or not but they ought to be investigated immediately.

All that we do know is that the Commission has not had one since Mr. Fischer was let go quite some time ago!

Honestly, this Organization is a disgrace. Is anyone running it? What has it accomplished? Where has all of its money gone? Have they printed brochures yet?

It is time the 2 Councils that supposedly fund this group and for which taxpayer money is being used (and Credit Union funds too) find out what is going on.


Don’t give me that holier than thou attitude. You like to hear gossip and rumour just as much as I do and I would not put it past some of you to spread it around too!

Well here is a story I have heard. I have, of course, no idea whether it has any substance or not. But perhaps if a reporter from a certain Radio Station in town decides to follow up and' I am right, then perhaps I might win the News Tip of the Month award.

If the jail is definitely not going to Brighton Beach as the Mayor wants and the Province wants it to go on the site that they have selected, there is a dispute. What next?

I have it! A compromise! Yes, dear reader, the Mayor who refused to budge one single inch on the border road but who is now compromising all over the place may want to compromise on the jail location as well.

In fact, given the way our Mayor negotiates, and since there was a specific term in the jail arrangement with the City respecting the DRIC bridge going to Brighton Beach, one might think that the Mayor’s brouhaha, ably supported by the Windsor Star, was designed to create a ruckus. Accordingly, the Mayor could then put forward a compromise solution which is really where he wanted the jail to go in the first place.

Now where could that location be? A friend of mine told me that he heard on the radio that the Mayor wanted to use $10 million of the $20 million that the City was to receive from the Province to help develop the airport lands.

What an amazing coincidence! Could it be true that the story going around that the Mayor is working on a project at the airport is the new jail? I doubt if it has anything to do with the onion importers.

It would be a terrific win for the area because the other story going around is that not only is the jail going to be built on 30 or 35 acres but that another Ontario Government Department is going to be located right beside the jail. Just like in London as I Blogged before.

Why don’t we try and get the Ministry of the Environment to locate there so they can resolve the war between a certain Councillor and a lawyer for a property owner near Howard and the Expressway.


Of course not, it is in Prince Edward Island. Yet it seems that this bridge and our area seem to be linked together more and more. I know that Gord Henderson has mentioned this bridge about seven times in his column, most recently with respect to having a major contractor building the project rather than a local firm.
  • “Think about it. When the feds built the $1-billion Confederation Bridge linking P.E.I. with New Brunswick in the 1990s, did they hand the assignment to local boy Bud The Spud and his trusty backhoe? No. They awarded the project to a major Calgary-based firm, Strait Crossing Inc., which provided outside expertise but employed thousands of local workers and completed this remarkable link in less than three years.”

Now the Minister of Finances is doing it. Here is part of a speech that he gave to the Canadian Council of Public-Private Partnerships:

Perhaps I am just overly suspicious but I believe that there may be some kind of a link between the PEI bridge and our border crossing. Exactly what that is I am not completely sure but I will find it out one day.


The Ambassador Bridge used to have a toll for cattle crossings if you recall. 80 years later, it handles more trucks than any other crossing in North America.

This Bridge and other border crossings have been able to adapt to handle the increased number of vehicles. One of the ways they do so is by speeding vehicles through the border crossing more quickly. One of the ways of doing so is through the use of technology.

While DRIC pays lip service to programs like the Ambassador Bridge’s pre- processing centres in the United States and Canada, FAST and NEXUS, they do not draw the obvious conclusion that an existing crossing can handle more vehicles i.e. capacity is increased without the need of building another bridge.

It is much cheaper building a new customs booth or installing new electronic technology that identifies the border crosser than spending a billion on a new bridge. Here’s a recent story that explains what I mean:
  • Crossing the Border

    Federal authorities tell us the cards will be one of only six forms of identification that will be accepted for Americans re-entering the country starting June 1, 2009. That's a major reduction from the nearly 8,000 forms of i-d currently accepted.

    It's estimated roughly 3,000 cars and trucks pass thru these tolls everyday. It's the same number at the nearby Windsor Tunnel.

    That can create long waits for people entering the US. The new equipment is expected to reduce the wait time by about six seconds. It may not sound like a lot, but, federal authorities disagree.

    "Here in a place like Detroit, we deal with about five million vehicles a year. You do the math."

Here is another story:

  • "ID upgrade to speed trips across border
    Border crossings for Americans entering Canada and Mexico are about to be a whole lot safer and efficient.

    U.S. Customs and Border Protection has completed technology upgrades at the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel and the Ambassador Bridge that will use new radio frequency identification that will automatically read and recognize special U.S. "pocket" passports, the new enhanced Michigan driver's licenses and special tunnel/bridge NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST cards.

    The technology is in place at the tunnel and Ambassador Bridge and will be installed at the Blue Water and Sault Ste. Marie bridges in the spring."


I wonder how hard it will be for our Mayor to try and derail the DRIC process if they keep on expropriating properties. $17.9 million for slightly over 13 acres. I assume that this is a pretty good price but I have no idea.

The tactics are very interesting right now. Would the Mayor dare stop the process after the Province is spending this kind of money? On the other hand, is this a big club for the Mayor to use to force the Province to do what he wants them to do? If they will not listen, then he can disrupt what they are doing and cost them a considerable amount of money. Presumably if that happened, the Province would upload the road amd end the mess down here.

In such a case, when Queen’s Park cut off all funds to Windsor then Councillor Valentinis would know why.

One interesting element is that the lawyer who obtained the $17.9 million for the Church, Stephen Waque, also acted for the City. As an example:

  • “Toronto lawyer Stephen Waque is the city's representative in Ontario Municipal Board hearings relating to the former Norwich Block expropriation claims.”


Fantastic, Greenlink is a prizewinner in some anonymous contest that cannot be revealed until April. It’s just like all of these people that the Mayor is talking to who want to invest in Windsor but he is not at liberty to tell us who they are.

Thank goodness though that Gord Henderson was able to give us a hint about another weapon Eddie can use if needed.

I say “if needed” because it seems now that our Mayor may have decided to litigate. Right at the bottom of one of Gord's column is the following:

  • “Sadly, given the damning environmental evidence we heard this week, it would be unconscionable for the city to do anything less than fight for the health and safety of its constituents, even if it means seeking a judicial review.”

Those DRIC people may get a piece of coal in their stocking if Eddie does so.

However, this is not how the Sheriff has been operating. If you read the sentence properly, there is no doubt that someone has talked to him about “judicial review.” It may well have been Councillor Jones considering the legal education that he has been given over the past little while.

However, don’t you see what Gord has just done to Eddie…he is forcing him to start a lawsuit. Oh he can fight all he wants, but when the Premier says get on with it, that is pretty much the end. What other alternative does our Mayor have but to litigate? It would be “unconscionable” otherwise.

Gord has put Eddie on the horns of a dilemma. Sue and be condemned by almost every Windsorite for costing us thousands of jobs that are desperately needed. Don’t sue, and then Eddie is not fighting for us and is acting in an unconscionable manner. That will not do him much good. That is not something to have as a reputation in one's next career.

Oh the Sheriff is chuckling tonight.


Is it true that the Mayor is angry at what is going on at the Library?

Apparently, the Library workers just settled their 2006 contract for 2.6% increase. I was told that the Mayor wanted a Special Meeting to “discuss” this increase.

I wonder if that upset him because it undercuts his position with respect to the employees with whom the City will be negotiating a new contract soon.

If the Mayor wants a strategy for dealing with employees, he might want to try a variation of what the some companies have done with respect to new hires and existing employees. What the Mayor might do is divide the employees that work for the City into different groups e.g. ones that cannot be touched by budget cuts (police and fireman) and the arts, museums and libraries workers whose services are not essential and where budget cuts can be made without impacting the public very much. Cut the salaries and benefits of the latter. Let them strike, who cares.

I’m not suggesting at all that this is a strategy that should be followed but it is one that I have heard has been considered.


The DRIC process may be thrown into a tizzy because another Company I hear may be coming into Windsor to offer an alternative way to cross between Windsor and Detroit.

If successful, the project would certainly be competition to the new DRIC bridge and could put more pressure on the financial position of the Tunnel especially since it would likely be a downtown to downtown proposition.

Just remember, when you hear about gondolas, it does not necessarily mean what Dave Cooke is looking into.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Why Is Eddie So Afraid To Sue

Is Councillor Marra the only Member of City Council with any brains? Is he the only one with common sense? Given his position with New Beginnings, he probably understands the legal system a lot better than his colleagues, even the one who is now so familiar with Black Letter Law. With his political connections, he probably understands what the consequences are of the City acting stupidly. It seems though that he is a voice in the wilderness.

We should have guessed that after Bill's comments on TV after the Premier came to town. He seemed at that time to be distancing himself from his colleagues in their possibly absurd actions. We also should have known that something was up when the Mayor did not tell us that whatever steps were taken at the in camera Council meeting were taken unanimously. We should have known that there was no longer any unity. Thank heavens.

What we still do not know is how many other Councillors feel the same way that Bill does although I suspect that none of them are prepared to cross the Mayor at this time because they have so committed themselves to Greenlink. They would look like fools otherwise. Mind you, they will look like fools for allowing what seems to be happening to continue on. Only Bill will be able to look residents in the eye and say that he tried.
  • “Coun. Bill Marra says the city should think twice before seeking a judicial review that would delay the $1.6-billion border feeder highway.

    "Any decision that may prolong the process has to be given second thoughts," he said. "Before we proceed with legal action we should make sure we exhausted all opportunities.”

What happened to some of the other Councillors who supposedly prevented our Mayor from suing in the past? Are they loopy in a way that Councillor Marra is not. Have they been told some inside information so that they can be assured that they will not be harmed when they run for re-election? Instead, we get the macho Councillor Gignac saying:

  • “Coun. Jo-Anne Gignac gave the first public indication Monday that council will pursue a judicial review…

    “People keep telling us explore whatever option is available so we are not getting a project that negatively impacts us. They said, 'we want you to fight for our rights.' Council has instructed the mayor how to approach this."

Then our Mayor has to say so that he is not outshone by a mere Ward 5 Councillor:

  • “Francis said he supports legal action.

    "We have come this far and believe there is a better solution. Unfortunately, the province doesn't want to compromise," Francis said. "Actions the city takes over the next several months are actions that are justified by the process that belongs to them.”

It is no wonder now that the Mayor has been out there talking over the last week or so about jobs and how nothing will get done for at least another year with the Environmental Assessment. He did not want to get blamed if the Senior Levels pull out if in fact he does sue as Minister Pupatello’s Office warned.

There is Windsor’s weapon of mass destruction confirming what the Mayor is claiming:

  • “Toronto lawyer David Estrin -- the city's hired legal expert on border issues -- says there are legal grounds to challenge DRIC through a judicial review.

    The legal process involves convincing a court to find a decision by a government official invalid or illegal, he said.

    Council approved proceeding with a judicial review during a closed-door meeting earlier this month. The process normally takes six to eight months, Estrin said.

    "It could be done shorter than that, particularly if both parties want it to happen earlier," he said. "It's not something necessarily that will delay ultimate decision-making."

    But once legal action is launched, delays are possible because of court schedules and requests by lawyers for more time.”

Hmmmmm. Delays are possible. How about instead delays are likely, very likely.

Let me see now, how many years has the Hamilton lawsuit started by Estrin against the Federal Government been going on? The Bridge Company/Estrin lawsuit which is a relatively simple matter has taken a year so far after an appeal and not much has been litigated. Accordingly, to suggest a complicated matter like the DRIC process with all of the experts that would have to be involved can be dealt with in such a short period of time is ridiculous to me.

Poor Councillor Marra will be attacked as weak, accused of selling out and we will be told that he will be a poor choice for Mayor. I can hardly wait to see the Henderson columns and Star Editorials denouncing him.

Of course, Bill is right in what he said and that should have been our position years ago. Had we had a Mayor who knew what he was doing, we would never have been in this mess in the first place

In the end, remember that most people in this City are no longer adverse to what the Bridge Company wants to do as the various media polls, forums and call-in shows demonstrate. It is not because they are loved but because they are actually doing something with the Gateway project. They are actually doing something on the border while the Canadian Governments do nothing. People understand that the Bridge Company will build their Enhancement Project. People believe that the City is stalling everybody and that Eddie is costing us jobs in a time of economic distress.

The only people who have any interest in this story now are a few environmentalists who want everybody to bicycle, a few anti-Americans and the few people who live on the DRIC corridor. The latter group is only interested so that they can get ensure that they are treated fairly and that they receive the amounts that they should get since their property is to be taken over.

Does anyone really believe that our Mayor will sue? He has been crying “wolf” for so long that it is tedious already. How many times has he threatened a lawsuit and backed off? Why doesn't he just have the guts to do something? Why doesn't he just act instead of talk? He is losing his credibility not only as a Mayor but as a lawyer as well.

Will he do something this time? Who knows. He might surprise us all. No one believed the little shepherd boy when the wolf ate his flock of sheep after he called "Wolf" so many times. None of the townspeople came out to help him because they no longer trusted his word.

The Star stories with the Estrin photographs were designed to get a reaction and that everyone was supposed to be terrified that Eddie was actually going to sue. Nothing happened. No one took him seriously as usual. The matter had to be escalated. The big story on page 3 of the Star was designed to do that. Moreover it was designed to show that there was no longer any unity on Council so that made it even more likely that there was going to be a lawsuit. Such drama.

My guess. Everyone will ignore that story too. My inside moles were not able to get anybody to tell them anything about what happened at the in camera meeting where supposedly the Council made some decisions. All of a sudden now we have Councillors telling us what happened in the media. Why would they do that? We have the Reporter telling us

  • “Council approved proceeding with a judicial review during a closed-door meeting earlier this month.”

Gee, I thought that was to be kept secret. We were not supposed to tell anybody our legal strategy. That would hurt our legal position if the other side knew what we were going to do. Instead, we are telling the world what action we are going to take. Not only that, Estrin, in his several hour extravaganza at Council, told the Senior Levels what his arguments were going to be. How accommodating of him.

Don’t you get it. This is Eddie’s last desperate attempt to get the Senior Levels to back down or to get the Bridge Company to do something. Problem is no one will because no one believes his threats. He has lost his credibility.

In any event, I think that this is a gigantic charade. It is all being orchestrated. What else was being done in that infamous ride with Eddie in Dwight's car to Toronto Airport? I just cannot take it seriously and I do not intend to. As I told you before, I am tired of being manipulated as you should be too. Let us see how it plays out rather than speculating about what the game is.

There is no doubt that Dwight and Eddie probably cannot stand each other. How else to explain the story in the Star today telling us about how hard that Dwight worked for five weeks to help get the auto companies deal. He needed to do something to show that Eddie’s little letter was meaningless. He needed some credit as well for all of his efforts. After all, he is merely the Minister of Finance who writes the cheques to the auto industry. He is, after all, the one to whom Chrysler came. They ignored the Mayor. But who is trying to get all the credit?

We saw that game being played out before with respect to the call centre jobs where Eddie was made to appear to be the one who is responsible for the success when in fact it was the MITI Minister who should have received the real glory. Dwight is not prepared to take a backseat to Eddie to keep up the car analogy!

Nevertheless, he and the DRIC people are under the Premier’s thumb and are not allowed to slam the Mayor. Instead, they are required to hold their noses and to work with Eddie.

Whatever the plans of the Senior Levels and the City were, the economic meltdown has killed them for the near term. Attempts will still be made to harass the Bridge Company so that they will sue. If that does not work, and Eddie has now been positioned that he will be our Saviour, then he will start the lawsuit. Or rather, Council will demand that, except for that weakling Bill Marra, and they will instruct him to take action. Councillor Gignac already fell into the trap and said that in her quote above. Has she no sense not to take the hit! As usual, Eddie will take the credit if it works out but not the blame if it does not.

Because of the lawsuit, or rather because of the economic meltdown but you will never hear it from anyone, we will not get the DRIC road today nor will we get Greenlink but we will get our cheap at grade or, perhaps, below grade road to the Ambassador Bridge. It has to go to that Bridge because there is no P3 money for the DRIC bridge either now.

It would not surprise me to see the Senior Levels back off on their opposition to the Enhancement Project either. After all of the things that they have been saying about the importance of this border crossing for so many years, there is a need for a new bridge to be constructed so that traffic can flow smoothly across the border.

The Bureaucrats have created their fallback position, ready for the telling if they are criticized. They always do because they plan for everything. It will all work out in the end or so the Bureaucrats are saying now.

They always wanted the crossing to be beside the existing Ambassador Bridge. The Ambassador Gateway project was designed to accommodate a second bridge. All that is happening is that their grand ambitions are being delayed until traffic improves and the economy comes back to normal. Then they can go after the Bridge Company again as they are doing now even after the FIRA settlements supposedly settled the relationship between the Bridge Company and the Federal Government.

At that time, when there will be a road to the two bridges and the new bridge will be built, the Governments will start harassing the Bridge Company again to force them to sell out cheaply as they have been doing now.

It won’t be so bad either for the Governments. At that time in the future, they can show P3 investors a fully completed and functioning project rather than one that is just being proposed. Just imagine how much extra money the Senior Levels will get then. They expect that the family that owns the Bridge will be much more amenable to selling out at that time too.

You see, bureaucrats can find a silver lining in any cloud.



To members of CREATE-EH-CUP!

Well I want to say thank you to everyone who participated in Create-Eh-Cup!

Please make sure your contribution reaches an organization as planned.

Hopefully all the donations sent will truly help out some families in need this holiday season!


~Melissa Arditti~

More BLOGMeister Quotations

Here are more sayings that tickle my fancy. Remember them so you can use them as small talk at your next cocktail party over the holidays. You will astound your friends with your knowledge!

  • "New bridges sap budget

    With construction for a new Brent Spence Bridge and two other bridge projects in Louisville slated to run into the billions of dollars, there's growing concern in the Kentucky state capitol among rural legislators that their constituents will be shortchanged.

    "That's going to be a big problem," Rep. Mike Denham said.

    The Louisville bridges will require more than $100 million a year in spending by the state in 14 years of the 18-year project and around $200 million or more in seven of those years.

    "It's going to be a very expensive project," Denham said. "And it may take all of our funding for three or four years to get that done."

Don't think this applies in Michigan....think again:

  • "A state senator is pushing a measure that would use transportation dollars for maintenance on the Mackinac Bridge rather than toll increases.

    Republican Sen. Jason Allen of Traverse City said it makes sense to use $5.25 million in federal transportation funds so tourism and business isn't harmed by the increase, which could hike the toll for cars from $2.50 to $4.

    Gov. Jennifer Granholm vetoed a similar move in 2003, and it didn't sound likely Tuesday that she'd support Allen's idea.

    "What Sen. Allen has proposed — earmarking funds for the Mackinac Bridge — would mean that much money would be less available to help other critical roads and bridges around Michigan," Granholm spokeswoman Leslee Fritz said. "Reducing funding that is available for critical roads and bridges is not a direction we believe we should head."

[Sounds like our East End arena deal too with the $70M or so we have to pay off before there are freely available funds]


  • "The $4-billion rescue plan for the Canadian automotive industry was applauded Saturday by Ontario mayors, but some warn there's still more to be done.

    "I think it's a positive step but, quite frankly, they had one of two ways to go," said Windsor, Ont., Mayor Eddie Francis after Saturday morning's announcement. "Either they were willing to extend a lifeline to the auto industry, or they were just going to allow it to collapse."

[Such insight. No wonder Stephen Harper called him personally!]


  • "Chrysler approached Duncan for aid
    Meeting with Chrysler chief started ball rolling

    "It's been five crazy weeks."

    Duncan said that as recently as Thursday he had some doubts that the U.S. plan would go through. He said it was especially difficult knowing how many of his constituents rely on the auto industry.

    "This is about the essence of our community's future," said Duncan. "This has been a struggle. Forty-eight hours ago I wasn't certain how this was going to end. We've essentially got a bit of breathing room now. I'm relieved. This is the culmination of five weeks of very intense work."

    Duncan said it quickly became apparent that Canada and Ontario would have to get involved.

    "I was deathly afraid that there would be an agreement in the U.S. that wouldn't involve Canada," said Duncan. "We deeply had to be there based on our proportion of the share of the sector."

[I don't know why Chrysler did not approach our Mayor instead of the Minister of Finance if they had problems. Eddie would have solved everything on his own.

Why was Dwight so worried and why did he work so hard? There was no need for him to do anything. After all, Eddie sent out a letter to the PM and Premier warning about the death of Windsor. Eddie knew his letter was so powerful that he could afford to leave town on a long-standing family matter instead of meeting the Premier when he came here and could fail to attend Dwight's pre-Budget meeting.

Everything was under control. Eddie had been reassured! Poor Dwight, so envious of Eddie's efforts and success. NOT!]


  • "At the end of the day, reading between the lines, the premiers' comments and the prime minister's comments, change is going to be inevitable," said Francis...

    "I'd rather take change that incudes the automotive industry rather than change that does not include the automotive industry..."

    Francis said it will take quite a while before the transformation of the industry is complete.

    "We won't be in a position to comment on what that is until we see the final plan," said Francis.

[Huh? Do you understand it? What is he saying that is so profound?]


  • "One of the key priorities of council is to re-establish a downtown where people come to live, work and play," Francis said. "This will bring more homes, more stores and people into the downtown. Everything will become more vibrant than what you see today."

[That was said in June, 2006 as we gave away a multi-million dollar asset to the College that could have been sold. How vibrant is our downtown now? Can we afford in these times of economic restraint to waste more taxpayer money on another failed political dream of the Mayor.]


  • "Long after the vast majority of fans were well into their first journey home from the Windsor Spitfires new home, Windsor mayor Eddie Francis leaned on a railing and watched the dueling Zambonis restore the sheen to the sparkling new ice surface at the spanking-new WFCU Centre.

    "It's like a wedding," Francis said. "You stay around to soak up the atmosphere after everyone's gone."

    A wedding?"

[Didn't Eddie meet Mr. Farhi, the owner of the Lear site, at a wedding in London? Do you remember how Eddie refused to tell John Fairley on Face-to-Face whose wedding it was!]


  • Francis, who believes people lose their grasp of what really matters when they spend too much time in the halls of government, away from the real world, has one snarky bit of advice for distracted politicians: "Get your act together."

[I just had to post it again!]


  • A Bridge Detroit Needs

    By Carlos M. Gutierrez

    Congress is debating the future of the American automobile industry. With our economy in crisis, this is not a time for ideology; it's a time for pragmatism and common sense. Amid daunting job losses and unprecedented fiscal challenges, the economy cannot sustain a body blow to one of America's most significant industries without giving it a chance to restructure....

    Congress has proposed a bridge loan program in a way that demands accountability and responsibility from the industry. If the legislation passes, it will be up to the automakers to deliver on the promises they have made to the American people, and there are strong taxpayer protections in place.

[Part of a column from the US Secretary of Commerce. I liked the title. It also makes it clear that the Bush Administration has NO desire to spend money on a DRIC Bridge.]


  • "Somewhere along the way, Detroit became our national ashtray, a safe place for everyone to stub out the butt of their jokes. This was never more evident than at the recent congressional hearings, featuring the heads of the Big Three automakers, now more often called the Detroit Three, as that sounds more synonymous with failure...

    It happens, though, when you're from Detroit. In the popular imagination, the Motor City has gone from being the Arsenal of Democracy, so named for their converting auto factories to make the weapons which helped us win World War II, and the incubator of the middle class (now leading the nation in foreclosure rates, Detroit once had the highest rate of home ownership in the country), to being Dysfunction Junction. To Detroit's credit, they've earned it."

[You need to read this article "The City Where the Sirens Never Sleep" ]


  • Every time I read about or visit Pittsburgh, the powers that be have a new project to prove to themselves that the city actually has a life. Most recently, it's a lame-brained scheme to create a 1.2-mile, $435 million (at least) transit tunnel under the Allegheny River to connect Downtown's heavily subsidized office towers to the North Shore's even more heavily taxpayer-funded pro sports stadiums and a future casino.

    Yet, in reality, Pittsburgh's "Tunnel to Nowhere" is simply part of the same old brain-dead development strategy that may impress visiting journalists or conventioneers but creates little in the way of good new jobs or long-term opportunities

[What did Dave Cooke say about the canal vision that just misses the boat, or rather the gondola:

  • "Cooke, who was bitterly disappointed that the arena wasn't built downtown but concedes that's a dead issue, argues Windsor must do something unique with that sterile expanse of pavement west of the bus terminal in order to revive downtown and get visitors, including convention delegates, to change the conversation, now largely negative, about Windsor...

    all of Windsor has an economic stake in seeing this city become the kind of place that sends visitors home with fond memories and great impressions to pass on to friends and relatives."]


  • "Speaking as part of a panel at the Toronto Forum for Global Cities, Michael Rolland, the president and CEO of Borealis Infrastructure -- a company that invests on behalf of the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System -- said that pension fund capital is increasingly flowing into international projects.

    “More of our money is leaving the country,” Rolland said, explaining that Borealis invests in some of the largest infrastructure projects worldwide. Borealis is responsible for investing roughly 20% of OMERS’ pension fund assets into infrastructure.

    “We’d like to stay home and do our business,” Rolland added, “but I have an obligation to the pensioners to make sure I do a good job with their pension money. They’re counting on that money for their retirement. If the projects aren’t here, we’ll go anywhere in the world to find those right partnerships.

    Pension funds represent a major source of capital in Canada, and are frequently overlooked even though they have pools of capital much larger than those of the banks, Rolland said. Five of Canada’s pension plans are among the 100 largest worldwide.

    Many Canadian infrastructure projects are too small to attract the interest of pension funds, which is why much of the capital is flowing abroad, according to Rolland. For instance, many municipal projects seek between $10 million and $30 million in equity, which is too small an investment for large-scale pension funds.”

[Now I know why it is so costly. Mind you, after the losses taken by some of the Plans in the stock market collapse and the values of infrastructure and private equity holdings being re-evaluated, we shall see if Plans have to ask their contributors for more money as OMERS had to do several years ago with their $600M write-down.]


  • "Final phase of 401 widening will be huge problem, Chief Glenn Stannard says

    Windsor police Chief Glenn Stannard warned city councillors to expect four years of traffic snarls as the final leg of the Highway 401 expansion begins on the outskirts of Windsor in 2008.

    "Just close your eyes and visualize adding 50 per cent of that traffic, including truck traffic, at 8 o'clock in the morning on E.C. Row," he said Monday during council's planning session.

    "It's going to be a huge problem for this community."

    Stannard said one of his inspectors realized there would be serious problems after attending an information session about the work that's been taking place to expand Highway 401"

[Too bad that inspector could not visualize the traffic problems at the East End Arena by looking into his crystal ball or was there a reason why gridlock was necessary so the City can justify spending more millions on the Arena deal for parking but NOT make it part of the original budget!]