Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Why Windsor Desperately Needs A Canal

WeACT's Integrity Commissioner complaint is a winner. We now know that Eddie was wrong in what he did based on what he said to the Star!

The only issue is what will be the penalty imposed. In my opinion, it has to be a harsh one. Eddie has still not learned that he cannot give information just to Gord Henderson:
  • "No question about it. Mayor Eddie Francis fumbled this file. A contrite Francis admitted as much in an interview Thursday. He said he goofed in trying to tie up the canal/marina issue in a neat package, with a bow on it, instead of releasing the consultants' reports to councillors as they came in and dealing with the fallout.

    "I concede I could have handled it better. I thought I was informing them, but I've clearly got to do a better job," confessed Francis. "My biggest mistake was that I wanted a perfect package that addressed all concerns. In wanting the perfect package, it created this problem and I take full responsibility for that.

    "But don't allow my failure in the process to be a reason to vote against the merits of the project," begged Francis. "Yes. I'll take my knocks where they're deserved. But if not this, then what? Do we really want to let that site sit idle for the next two decades?"

Is that an apology that could at least mitigate the punishment? Hardly? Did you see anything about him being sorry about sending the materials to the Feds 6 weeks ago and not telling his colleagues a word? But for Councillor Halberstadt's questioning of Watson, they, and Windsorites, would still be none the wiser.

Why can't Eddie be a man for once and apologize to his colleagues and the citizens of Windsor publicly rather than hiding behind Henderson like a child!

What is it with Eddie Francis and the canal? What is behind his desire to have a project that makes no sense? How many times will he keep bringing it in front of Council until they say yes?

Is it true that he has threatened that he will stamp his feet and hold his breath until he turns blue? Shades of a spoiled brat who always has to get his way.

Why it is so bad that even Brian Masse is walking away from him (Or is it that Brian is afraid that Eddie's new-found friendship with Jeff Watson means that Eddie will be running for the Conservatives in his riding? After all Eddie did move from the East end into Brian's constituency!)

First there was the Masse/Comartin letter which the Star has not yet seen fit to tell us about. Then there was this quote in the Star:

  • "[Masse] cited controversy around Windsor’s canal proposal touted by Mayor Eddie Francis as an example.

    “This process leads to a potential for corruption or projects that are not the best value for public interest,” Masse said.

    “It also creates debacles like the city just went through.

    “There has to be some public vetting and proper process for all projects...

    Masse resides a few blocks away from the proposed canal location. There must be a full public debate before council signs off on the mayor’s proposal, he said.

    “This can’t be done behind closed doors and without public process,” he said. “Something like this you want people to be excited. People should be working together.

    “You have an inner city neighbourhood with a lot of people who love living here by choice. It shouldn’t be taken for granted they don’t need to be consulted. You want a community buy-in on this type of project, so that input needs to happen.”

Amazing...Masse the big Francis booster is attacking Eddie while the guy who is Eddie's big foe, Jeff Watson, is Eddie's big booster now making excuse after excuse for him.

See if you can figure out what is going on, dear reader. I always like setting out timelines. It makes life so much easier once the facts are clear.

Oh, one thing to remember which is vital. We learned yesterday in the Star that

  • "A council request for mediation on the controversial Windsor-Essex Parkway -- a $1.6-billion border feeder highway touted by the provincial government -- has been denied in a letter to Francis by Ontario's environment minister John Gerretson.

    "I have determined that issues raised (by the city) are not amenable to the mediation process and are not suitable for successful mediation," said Gerretson in his April 23 letter obtained by The Star."

Another Eddie secret? Did he tell his colleagues about the letter and if so, when? He certainly did not tell us? Just watch the strategy unfold around that letter too. Here are the dates and key facts:

  • February 28, 2009
    'Green' arena project gets $15.7M

    Essex MP Jeff Watson, who donned a white construction hat, said he was ready to put a shovel in the ground and get working.

    Federal Minister of Transportation, Infrastructure and Communities John Baird said the project was moving ahead because the community put together a great 700-page proposal...

    Baird also said he planned to meet Friday with Mayor Eddie Francis to discuss Windsor's needs."

  • March 11, 2009
    Francis praised the involvement of Baird and Essex MP Jeff Watson in focusing attention on the plight of Windsor, struggling with the implosion of the automotive sector and decimation of its manufacturing base.

    "They're engaged down here and there's a desire to see things get done down here," said Francis.

    "I can assure you I'm working feverishly on this," said Watson. The Conservative politician might not have received a single Windsor vote in the last election, but he's the closest sitting Tory, so he's assumed the role of representing the city in federal government circles.

    Watson, who has been in discussions with the mayor and the minister, said the Tory cabinet is "very sensitive" to Windsor's economic situation.

    Neither Watson nor Francis would give an indication of any upcoming announcements, but Watson said it's "more short-term than medium," and one source said a big announcement is anticipated in April."

  • April 3, 2009
    "A feasibility study commissioned by Mayor Eddie Francis has given the green light to a proposed canal and marina development on the downtown Western Super Anchor lands."

    Francis said Thursday he will bring the study to council for approval sometime before the end of this month. "If council gives the go-ahead we could get a shovel in the ground this year," said Francis.

  • April 11, 2009
    "Critics may howl, but city's canal idea has merit; Gord Henderson

    Those who think a dying city's salvation lies in hunkering down to await its fate, fixing potholes and not much else, won't like it one bit.

    But people who believe that praying for better days won't cut it - - that Windsor must take its fate in its own hands -- will surely feel the blood quickening when they see details of the $48-million canal/marina project proposed for downtown.”

  • April 15, 2009
    "It's time to dream big

    Imagine the bleak and depressing swath of moonscape south and west of the art gallery gone, and instead, a canal bringing our beautiful riverfront into downtown, walkways and bridges lined with trees and flowers, fountains and waterfalls between cafes and shops"

  • April 23, 2009
    No mediation for Greenlink

  • April 27, 2009
    "Apply for infrastructure grant for the canal subject to Council review and approval "

  • April 29, 2009
    "Windsor is preparing its own multimillion-dollar jobs stimulus package -- with or without grants from senior governments.

    City residents can anticipate ""unprecedented investments"" in municipal infrastructure, Mayor Eddie Francis told The Star Tuesday."

    $300M mentioned

  • April 29, 2009
    Council voted 6-4 against moving forward on the canal

  • May 1, 2009
    "Essex MP Jeff Watson, also at the meeting, and federal bureaucrats in Ottawa, received copies six weeks ago of a feasibility report that city council is still waiting to see.

    ""Your arrogance knows no bounds,"" Halberstadt shouted at Francis, Council did not support the canal again"

  • May 5, 2009
    "Canal plan not dead, mayor says; Francis still seeking council backing on project

    Despite councillors' refusal to include a downtown ""canal district"" proposal on Windsor's wish list for senior government stimulus grants, Mayor Eddie Francis is convinced his colleagues will support the ""transformational"" development once they see the details.”

  • May 5, 2009
    Editorial "Canal project; In the interests of taxpayers

    When an opportunity comes along, elected representatives -- at the very least -- have a responsibility to discuss the opportunity and consider the ramifications of making a decision. And, when a decision is made, it must be in the best interests of taxpayers.

    On that basis, council's handling of the proposed downtown canal and marina development last Friday, and the quick decision not to include it on the ""wish list"" of items for senior government stimulus funding, was shortsighted and wrong."

  • May 5, 2009
    "Costly canal to nowhere

    It appears the scheme Mayor Eddie Francis and friends cooked up to build a $48-million marina and canal through downtown Windsor is pretty much dead in the water.

    Even as you read this, the politicos down at city hall are desperately working the heart attack paddles, trying to rouse the project from its emergency room gurney.
    Let's hope this dumb idea stays deader than the ash trees in my yard. It's about time Windsor taxpayers managed to dodge one of the ""development"" bullets a succession of mayors and councils has aimed at their hearts over the past few decades."

  • May 6, 2009
    "Critics of mayor split over canal proposal; Jones calls project a 'pipe dream'

    Council has yet to begin debate on the canal district proposal, but Coun. Ron Jones said he's already heard enough to know he won't be supporting it.

    ""It's not going to fly ... it's a pipe dream,"" said Jones. His Ward 2 would host the marina-canal development, a multimillion- dollar plan a study group and consultants have identified as the Windsor downtown's way out of economic decline.

    He's angry at how Mayor Eddie Francis has handled the file since the concept was first unveiled last summer, and he dismisses the privately funded ""nice, glossy report"" handed councillors Monday night"

  • May 6, 2009
    What a way to run a city;

    The canal and marina proposed for downtown could transform Windsor. The federal and provincial governments are expected to give the city an unprecedented $100 million for projects like this. And last Friday, the deadline to apply for the money, this was the scene:

    Councillors didn't know much about the proposal because they hadn't been given the reports on it. But federal officials had -- six weeks ago.

    Learning this, Coun. Alan Halberstadt exploded. "This is no way to run a city!" he screamed, pounding his fist on the table.’’

    But Francis said Windsor doesn't have any other eligible projects. The city submitted a list of proposals worth $186 million, but probably only $90 million of them are eligible. So we can't come up with enough ways to spend $100 million. Most people would be incredulous.

    As Watson said, "You don't want to see an opportunity like that missed."

    It's no way to run a city, all right.

  • May 7, 2009
    Canadian Transportation Minister John Baird said his nation is committed to building a new publicly owned bridge between Detroit and Windsor.

    He also noted that alternative proposals, like Moroun's plan to build a new span next to his Ambassador Bridge, were unacceptable for environmental and other reasons.

  • May 8, 2009
    City plans $646M spending spree

    Biggest infusion of cash in area's history

    Windsor is about to embark on the biggest construction program in its history, with the city set to unleash $646.2 million in new capital project spending over the next five years.

    "It's a very aggressive spend, it's a very aggressive program," Mayor Eddie Francis said in presenting his Made in Windsor economic stimulus plan during 2009 budget deliberations Thursday.

  • May 9, 2009
    Money? Money? We don't need no stinking money.

    While every other city in Canada lines up, cap in hand, hoping for a slice of the federal stimulus pie, a blockheaded Windsor council tells Ottawa, out of spite, to take its damn canal money and buzz off.

    The power brokers in the nation's capital must have been rolling in the aisles when they learned that the lead clowns in Canada's most economically troubled city had, in a monumental hissy fit, turned thumbs down on a $32-million federal contribution for downtown revitalization.

    This was one for the ages. The feds fell in love with Windsor's $44-million plan for a downtown canal and marina designed to attract tourism dollars, lure private investment and create hundreds of construction jobs. They liked it so much, compared to eye-glazing stuff like sidewalk and sewer repairs, that they all but got down on their knees and begged us to take the money.

  • May 11, 2009
    With extension, Windsor can still get federal infrastructure cash for canal, MP insists

    Windsor, with its $48-million canal project, is not alone in getting an extension on the deadline to apply for federal stimulus funding, says local Conservative MP Jeff Watson.

    Toronto and many smaller communities across the country also didn't get their wish lists in by the May 1 deadline and are being given more time to make their pitches for some of Ottawa's $4-billion infrastructure program, said Watson (C--Essex).

    "We are in a brief period of flexibility of getting applications in," he said. "I would suggest that's probably down to hours and days, rather than weeks."

I give you this timeline as an example of how this City is manipulated. I am sure that you can see who the players are and how they did it:

  • Whatever the real deal is was discussed at the end of February when the praising of Baird and Watson started and when we were told there was a deal here to be announced in April.

  • It starts with the big buildup to the canal project with the strong Star backing. Note that Eddie said that he was going to present the plans before the end of April

  • Then there is the April 23 letter that we are not told about until about 3 weeks later. It is hardly a surprise that Greenlink mediation is killed. The only question was when the letter was to be sent. Note also the canal plans were never presented to Council until after this letter was received!

  • First there was the big announcement of the huge Francis $300M infrastructure program

  • Then the start of the canal shenanigans where even some Star writers could not stomach what was going on

  • Next came Baird's speech postponing the DRIC bridge, trying to kill Moroun's project which means no DRIC road and therefore no jobs for Windsor

  • More than doubling of City infrastructure projects came next so that people would not storm City Hall because jobs disappeared

  • Finally more pressure for the canal.

It is a well-constructed strategy isn't it! For what purpose?

Don't the Councillors get it? Don't they understand why they MUST vote for the canal. It is the Fed's way of giving Eddie money for whatever purpose he has even though the canal can never meet the Government's timetable.

No one cares. Pass the damn item already and stop worrying about process! We scratch the Fed's back and they give us money! Brian and Joe, be quiet before you ruin the plan!

Eddie helps out the Government with his massive infrastructure program even though no one knows what the projects are or where the money comes from as they try to force the Bridge Company to sell out. Remember, only Eddie knew about the big capital works projects and budget and gave a presentation to Council just a few days ago too.

  • "Councillors were handed thick binders detailing how the bulk of the program will be implemented over the next two years, ahead of the even larger new border access and bridge crossing construction planned by Ottawa and the province."

Eddie is thrilled nothing will get started on the border until his projects are completed as he told us. No one gets angry because there still will be jobs or so we will be promised.

  • "Francis told them [Representatives of the ailing construction sector] they should immediately reach out to the city's large pool of unemployed and provide training to accommodate a local jobs boom lasting up to a decade."

Kapow to you Citizens for Jobs Now! Stop running those radio ads, stop trying to get people involved. Back off because Eddie is always one step ahead.

The Feds are happy because they need a stall for their attempt to beat out the Bridge Company.

All is right with the world!

Now you know how it is all done. If only the schemers could use their minds to accomplish something instead of plotting, this City could get somewhere!