Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

More Short Items

Here are some more interesting items:


OMG. It must be a once in a blue moon time. Some sense of sanity has appeared for a second or two.

Representative Tlaib's anti-Bridge Company protest was completely ignored by the mainstream media in Detroit. But for a Windsor Star story involving Councillor Jones and Brian Masse, it would have been a non-event.

It looks like the Detroit media have had enough and are unwilling to participate as negotiating tools. It's a shame though that they still have not reported on the most interesting lawsuit by the Bridge Company against MDOT over alleged breach of partnership.

Instead, the Detroit News in an Editorial today said:

  • The escalating disagreement between the owner of the Ambassador Bridge and Michigan's Department of Transportation (MDOT) is exactly what isn't needed by a depressed state with the highest unemployment rate in the nation.

    It could delay the completion of the public-private Gateway Project, designed to ease commercial traffic across this key component of the country's busiest and most-valuable border trade corridor. More important, it escalates tensions over a proposed new span -- or spans -- needed to assure that Michigan fully benefits from a projected boost in trade traffic by as much as 250 percent during the next 30 years...

    Bridge owner Matty Moroun and his associates have made a business decision to build a second span and should be given the opportunity, but they must understand that they have to work with public officials. The proposed Downriver bridge appears to be a few years away -- MDOT hasn't acquired the necessary land yet -- but also will be needed if traffic projections hold true and if Metro Detroit wants to be a major player in future international trade. This standoff should end and so should the political rhetoric."

In another surprising Editorial given their border position, the Detroit Free Press finally woke up to reality and stated:

  • "The protracted dispute between the Detroit International Bridge Co. and the Michigan Department of Transportation over whether to build another crossing over the Detroit River has gone far enough.

    It's time for Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing to step into the arena and referee this brawl before the next round of lawsuits and accusations inflicts further damage. The battle of the bridges is already delaying the completion of the state's $230-million Gateway Project, which will tie I-75 and I-96 directly into the Ambassador Bridge. It could even prevent the construction of both a replacement span for the Ambassador and a second crossing downriver...

    Sorting out who's right and who's wrong in this mess is difficult -- maybe impossible. What's important is that the Gateway Project opens, giving traffic direct access to the bridge as soon as possible.

    The state bureaucracy may have to show greater flexibility to make this public/private partnership work...

    But the bridge company, too, must become a better transportation partner. It's a private company that, in operating an international border crossing, has assumed very public responsibilities...

    It's time for the governor and mayor to give them a nudge -- or push -- and get this thing worked out. Petty bickering and prolonged litigation should not be allowed to obstruct the progress of North America's busiest international crossing."



Remember that money that Eddie wanted for the canal...

Eddie Francis:

  • "While ignoring the canal project, council approved adding a $60-million item for a waterfront underground retention treatment basin to end sewage overflows into the Detroit River, an item for which the city was already in the process of seeking senior government funding.

    “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."

Ecojustice, an environmental advocacy group

  • "In its report released Monday, Ecojustice pointed to eight municipalities responsible for dumping the largest amount of untreated and undertreated sewage in 2006 and 2007 into lakes Ontario and Erie.

    Windsor came in third, having unloaded 4.3 billion litres of sewage and storm water overflow, while Leamington was ranked eighth with one billion. Niagara Falls topped the list with seven billion followed by Hamilton with five billion.

    "Untreated or partially treated sewage is a foul cocktail," said Liat Podolsky, staff scientist with Ecojustice, formerly known as the Sierra Legal Defense Fund. "It affects all recreational use of the water and isn't healthy for any species...
    "The construction of a $60-million storm retention basin just west of downtown should dramatically improve the situation, Tyagi said. The retention basin will capture storm water overflow, give it primary treatment and then redirect it to the Lou Romano plant.

    The city needs to build two retention basins to get the problem completely under control as well as spend $450 million to separate storm and sewage lines, Tyagi said."


  • "Mayor Eddie Francis leaves behind his strike-bound city this week for Athens, Greece, Frankfurt, Germany, and an undisclosed third location to attract foreign investment and chase Olympic dreams for Windsor...

    Francis said he's paying his own way on his European trip and that he'll be returning to Windsor next week."

I could not figure out the comment about him "paying his own way" when he was going on City business. The poor man has to spend all of that time in Athens exhausting himself to get the games for us.

When will he have a minute to be able to spend his own money considering when he was called about events that took place on Monday, the Star reported:

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis, in a phone interview from his overseas trip on city business"


Eddie certainly has burned his bridges with CUPE. It does not seem that the other Councillors were able to get anywhere with the people who were picketing City Hall before the Council meeting. However, Councillor Marra was able to structure a compromise:

  • "Ward 4 Coun. Bill Marra arrived shortly before the meeting began and huddled with CAW representatives, including 444 head Rick Laporte, and CUPE leaders Jean Fox and Jim Wood. A compromise was struck to enable the councillors to cross the line so they could deal with pressing issues, including approval for the upcoming Bluesfest blowout from July 16 to 19 at the Civic Terrace.

    "We have a few issues that we have to take care of and we have a few organizations relying on us," said Marra."


Which of the following excuses are an acceptable reason for not attending a Council meeting and staying ot the bitter end, if any

#1 We met, motions were put forth and failed, words exchanged and I did not like what was said, it angered me. I got very frustrated... I felt like I was talking to a wall and no one was listening. There was nothing more to discuss as far as I was concerned, the vote was already taken, direction already given. I heard enough and needed a break. In 6 years I have never walked out of a meeting out of frustration – never...

After I left the meeting I went home, sat in my hot tub and drank two margaritas. It was relaxing and I enjoyed watching my daughter swim in the pool.

#2 My child graduated from grade school

#3 Honouring a CUPE picket line


Distribution is Windsor's future as I have argued a long time ago. As usual, the petty fighting will cause us to be an also-ran unless someone smartens up!

  • "London city council last night gave its staff the green light to seek funding to make the city airport an international hub for cargo.

    Support by council doesn't mean money for the project, but it does give city staff the OK to seek funding sources and consider the proposal a political priority.

    "I think this is one of the best things council has ever done," Controller Gord Hume said as the issue was debated before the council meeting by the city's board of control.

    London International Airport has asked for $3.5 million from city hall for a project whose total costs have fallen as the prospect for upper government stimulus funding has reduced."

  • "As road, rail, air and marine hub, city could be at centre of boom

    Fully capitalizing on Hamilton's geography and transportation network could bring close to 60,000 jobs to the city over the next two decades.

    Properly promoting the city as a gateway for goods movement could also inject $4.8 billion into the region's economy each year, says a report released yesterday by the McMaster Institute for Transportation and Logistics.

    Hamilton is uniquely positioned to be a hub for the convergence of road, rail, marine and air transportation, said Pavlos Kanaroglou, director of the institute.

    Few cities have all the components in place and fewer still lie less than an hour away from the country's biggest city in one direction, a U.S. border crossing in another and within the heaviest populated area of Canada, said Kanaroglou, a geography professor at Mac.

    The spillover of benefits would extend beyond the Hamilton-Niagara region and into Toronto and Quebec, the report finds. A best-case scenario would see Hamilton adding 35,000 direct jobs and close to 25,000 indirect jobs.

    "Hamilton should probably not spend much thought on whether or not it wants to be a gateway," reads the MITL report.

    "By virtue of its considerable assets, this city is already a gateway. The question is: relative to its potential, will Hamilton be a strong gateway or an underachieving one?"


No one told Council specifically. Or did they? Did Administration act on its own without telling anyone? Not a chance according to the CAO:

  • "The city is hiring replacement workers from other municipalities to handle a growing caseload in its social services department, residents and striking workers learned at Monday night’s council meeting.

    Between 15 and 20 workers have been toiling in a managerial capacity for two or three weeks but the admission only came after Ward 2 Coun. Ron Jones raised the issue toward the end of Monday’s meeting.

    Cries of “shame” erupted from the public gallery, which was overflowing with striking city workers and their supporters, when city officials confirmed management from as many as six other municipalities, including Chatham, had been conscripted to handle a growing a growing Ontario Works caseload.

    CAO John Skorobohacz said council had given administrators authority to ensure operations ran smoothly during the strike, but the crowd clapped and cheered when Jones said such a sensitive decision shouldn’t have been made without a special meeting of council."

In other words, Administration has complete authority to do what is required it seems under some kind of vague generalized statement or did it have specific authority. What are the facts?

Does it matter what Councillor Jones wants. Hardly:

  • "They’re contracting out daily and I want to put a stop to it tonight,” said Jones. “The city is hiring scabs in social services...

    Skorobohacz didn’t rule out bringing in replacement workers to shore up service delivery in other departments.”

As I said before, who needs Councillors!

PS. On CKLW, the Mayor claimed that Council had been advised. So who is right, the Mayor or the Councillor?

Keep in mind, the City may have no choice since it is a PROVINCIALLY MANDATED service that the City must run. In addition, I understand that CUPE members are applying for welfare now so that is increasing the workload!


  • "Members of the city's out-of-town security company followed the pickets from City Hall Square to the bus depot, videotaping the situation.

    Francis said the AFI security team was there to "keep order and peace." When asked whether that wasn't the job of local police, he added the Milton, Ont.-based team would also document any illegal picket line incidents for possible use as evidence in future court orders or proceedings, adding that "it helps to have evidence."

What I do not get is how AFI makes any money to stay in business. According to their classified ad, they pay a security guard $1,352 per week. Based on a 40 hour week that is $33.80 per hour. If it is an investigator, the rate is $1,560 or $39. per hour. In addition, AFI must pay for the travel, accommodation and food for out-of-town guards I assume

Apparently " The city pays AFI $34.50 an hour per guard."

How do they do it?