Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Leaving "INVISIBLE" Money On The Table

No I am not talking about how much someone should tip to the staff after a meal. I am talking about how much money was or was not left on the table when supposedly the Senior Levels are ready to throw it at us just for the asking.

Actually I think we have a huge margin of projects that cannot be funded. Over $100M worth. Except how do I know if I am right or wrong?

You remember that this matter was the subject of controversy after Council rejected putting forward Eddie's canal vision because of his arrognace in not letting Council know the details about it but sending it to the Feds. Councillors also wanted the public to have a chance to review and discuss the concept.

You would think that this would be an easy matter to figure out. But it is not. In fact, I am having a hard time knowing what is true and what is not in this City to be quite honest.

I have the solution however. If you really want to understand what is happening in Windsor, do not read the Windsor Star or listen to the local media. Instead, you need to follow closely the out of town media when our local politicians are interviewed. Just read on.

Listen to the video above at the 1:50 mark to understand what I mean:

  • Councillor Jones answers a question about leaving money on the table and says that sometimes that is a good thing. I agree with his comment wholeheartedly and this was one of them.
  • Then Eddie talks about walking away from $96M of federal funding. I assume that it is the amount on the table based on what MP Jeff Watson said---you know the Conservative backbencher and Eddie's newset and bestest buddy.
  • Junior is then shown talking about the money but states no amount and that they need to reconvene their meeting.
  • Finally Eddie says his approach is to give them all the projects and let the Senior Levels make the decisions.

If that is Eddie's approach, then how can there be any funding left unused. Many projects were put forward. All that happened was that he was having a childish hissy-fit because his pet project was not being advanced.

Do you see what I mean? There was so much confusion in just a short time in one meeting. Then of course over the next few days we read the following quotes from different stories which compunded my confusion even more:

  • "I've never been so completely, completely perplexed. In the last minute, council left $30 million on the table," said Coun. Ken Lewenza Jr.
  • [Jeff Watson] said his reason for wanting to meet with the local politicians Friday was to point out that more than half of a preliminary list of Windsor projects submitted Wednesday -- $96 million of a $182 million total -- were "questionable" in terms of meeting Ottawa's funding approval criteria. Those criteria, in addition to having to be completed by March 2011, include having to have a focus on job creation, helping reposition the local economy coming out of the recession and being projects not normally contemplated. Almost $80 million of Windsor's original submission covered numerous road, sewer and water projects culled from the city's five-year capital spending plan that council was told were unlikely to find favour with the Ottawa stimulus plan bureaucrats.
  • "We don't want to see you leave any dollars behind," Watson said, adding Windsor could expect to receive approval for at least $150 million in stimulus project approval, with only one- third of that borne by the city.”
  • "Other cities are putting forward massive projects with vision. Today, here, instead of such vision, we have a receptor sewer project ... how does that diversify our economy," Francis said after the meeting. "All we've done is remove the opportunity for federal government funding," he said
  • “Watson on Friday indicated Windsor could be eligible for up to $150 million in stimulus-funded projects, all of which must be completed by March 2011, and he urged local politicians "not to leave any dollars on the table." Watson said projects, to be eligible, should be designed to help "reposition" economies for the post-recession period and must not already be included on a municipality's capital funding list, such as road and sewer projects.”
  • “Francis said Monday the $186-million list Windsor submitted probably contains only about $90 million in eligible projects. He said Windsorites should ask their councillors why the canal project was not included on the wish list, particularly given the fact that every project Ottawa approves must still be vetted, discussed and voted on by council.”

Total confusion. Total chaos. A total disgrace if we did not get every penny to which we are entitled. Someone needs to resign or be fired if we come up short. Simple as that!

Remember that number of $186M. It is very important. Remember also the number of $90M. If we did leave $96M, there is one one person who can be blamed because it was his job to ensure that Administration brought forward projects that met the Government guidelines. Poor Eddie just admitted his failure. Remember too $96M for the real eye-opener.

That is the Eddie Francis Windsor story. I am sure that the Ccouncillors' heads were hanging in shame and that they are probably in fear that they have lost $96M of it!


Now I want you to read the Eddie Francis London story in an out of town newspaper and something the Star for some reason did not pick up. It is not the same one as here. This is Eddie Francis the big-time Mayor talking, not the Mayor of some small-town.

  • "Opposition: Tories to slow on infrastructure spending

    Thu, May 14, 2009

    OTTAWA — The Conservative government is losing valuable time during the construction season by moving at a snail’s pace on infrastructure spending, say opposition MPs.

    Transport and Infrastructure Minister John Baird was on the hot seat yesterday when he testified before a committee of MPs studying the federal government’s $4-billion, two-year infrastructure fund.

    “Now that we are well into May, we have already missed a significant part of this year’s construction season,” said Liberal MP Martha Hall Findlay. “How many projects have actually now put shovels to ground?”

    Baird refused to answer. The minister said there were a number of projects underway in B.C. and Nova Scotia, as well as a community centre in Huntsville, Ont., that is “getting going.” He promised a full list in June.

    But Liberals say that’s not quick enough.

    The budget passed months ago to get stimulus cash out the door quickly, said Hall Findlay. “This money has not flowed,” she said.

    Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis said he was “skeptical” when the federal program was announced, but in his 10 years in local politics he said he has never seen provincial or federal officials act so quickly.

    Windsor, which has the highest unemployment rate in Canada, applied for $260 million in federal funds for 22 projects ranging from road and sewer projects to land servicing and improvements to the airport.

    “We desperately need these projects,” said Francis, noting his city has been devastated by job losses. “They are critical for us to at least have some sort of hope coming out of this, that there will be a local economy to talk about.”

    In Ontario, the federal government has received 2,746 applications from 425 municipalities worth approximately $6 billion (the federal share of the funding would be $2 billion). "

How did the value of the projects escalate by $74M. Not a word here about money left on the table. He talked about the boring road and sewer projects as projects that he wanted done that we desperately need yet Watson said they were probably NOT going to be approved. Who is telling the truth?

Strange though, no talk about a canal either.

And I loved his praise of the Feds which should be expected but of the Province too? Wow, that is a shocker after all of the negative stories and Editorials here about Sandra and Dwight and especailly the Premier. Is that all for local consumption only and Eddie does not really mean it!

If you do the math, Watson told us that we are in line for $150M. Eddie says that we have asked for $260M worth of projects. That margin of safety is $110M. No mention of only $90M worth of projects that will be accepted. Where is money left on the table?

Oh I know....we need to put in the $48M canal project into our Capital Budget. By the time it is done and the numbers audited properly, the real cost will have doubled.

To exactly $96M!