Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Edgar The Manager

This Windsor City Government is really starting to scare me as you shall see. Councillors may talk for the press but it is what goes on behind closed doors when they vote that makes a mockery of their protestations.

I am making a re-organization of my BLOGs starting today.

I happened to be rereading some old emails I saved the other day and came across a comment that mini-Gord wrote in one of the Star Q&A sessions with readers:
  • "Chris Vander Doelen: It's interesting, by the way, that everyone in Windsor seems to refer to the mayor as "Eddie." We never called Mayor Hurst "Mikey," or John Millson "Johnny." Is it because of his relatively young age, or the fact people feel more familiar with him? Just throwing that out there ."

I know exactly how the Mayor must feel. In public school, I was called "Eddie" and did not like it. I wanted to be called "Edward" in high school and so tried that. Of course, no one wanted to call me by that name so I got stuck with "Ed."

Accordingly, I will be more respectful and will call the Mayor "Edgar" from now on.

I see that mini-Gord is trying to get in Edgar's good books by making it appear that Edgar knows how to manage a corporation the size of the City.

  • "The surprise elimination this week of two of the City of Windsor's top five executives was excellent news for its taxpayers. It means a majority of council is still serious about confronting the city's economic reality...

    Last week council started passing a series of votes behind closed doors giving Mayor Eddie Francis the authority to start taking evasive manoeuvres to head off the oncoming crisis. The first manoeuvre was the executive staffing bombshell announced Tuesday.

    Good for council."

"Good planning" and "surprise" seem to me to be mutually exclusive concepts when talking about a proper re-organization. Heck, I only went to Law School, not Business School so what do I know.

What is even more surprising and shocking is when a member of the City's "Board of directors" admits publicly he had no idea what was going on:

  • "Ward 1 Coun. Drew Dilkens...said he agrees with Marra that there should have been more vetting in the selection process. Dilkens said council would have benefited by hearing the ideas of other in-house candidates and "learning more about them."

    He suggests the criticism being expressed could stem in part from "the larger issue of how things get done" at council. Dilkens said the matter was "sprung on us" without any prior notice at a Sept. 2 in-camera meeting when the mayor introduced Reidel as the new CAO. No other hiring options were put forward and the suggestion that other city hall managers might also be qualified only came up as a result of a question at Monday's closed-door meeting when councillors were asked to vote on Reidel's appointment."

According to the former CAO, he was only going to be in the job for 5 years. Why then was there no job hunt for his replacement? Councillors did not seem to know that Helga was the choice until told by the Mayor. Is this Edgar's succession planning technique?

Was this her reward for doing as the Mayor commanded during the 101 day strike? Did she argue against what was done for the first 7 weeks in the CUPE strike according to another Council member or if she did, she did not appear to be successful. I hope we have no near riots during her term:

  • "Last week we made the decision to allow our team more freedom to negotiate a contract that is fair to both parties and we also agreed that binding arbitration is not the right path for us. I strongly believe that for the past 7 weeks council has not given our negotiating team the tools to truly negotiate. We have set parameters for them but have not given them the autonomy required to get a contract. In essence they have been negotiating with themselves."

I have worked for large corporations that have re-organized and done so quickly. Instead, mini-Gord tells us:

  • "It was nearly two years ago that council decided it had to take decisive action to head off the financial crisis coming down the tracks...

    What started this week will take years to play out, depending how council decides to proceed."

This is absurd, as absurd as Edgar not introducing Citi-Stat or not doing the audit as he promised when he was first elected:

  • "Detailed Audit of All Departments

    We need a starting point, a place to know where we are so that we can judge how well we do when we look at results.

    We will conduct in-depth audits of all of our departments to assess where we stand, and to identify inefficiencies and implement sound management principles across the corporation."

What is puzzling is the following:

  • "The situation is very simple: the City of Windsor's costs and staffing levels can no longer be sustained by a disappearing industrial tax base and shrinking population. The corporation needs major corrective surgery or it will end up like the former Big Three: kaput."

Yet Council spends foolishly chasing after Edgar's mind's eye dreams like canals and transportation hubs or a Greenlink. We are told that the City has been prudent and that we will have millions to spend yet now we cry poverty. Which is it?

There was no planning involved with the 2 people leaving. It is clear that Tyagi's disappearance was not a friendly one. How much of our "savings' will that cost taxpayers?

Did Edgar really negotiate a 12-15 month severance package with an "open" contract for the former CAO? Does that mean if John left after one month, he would have been entitled to that huge package? That contract needs to be made public! Is there a written one with Helga?
  • "Francis said Reidel's contract, introduced verbally to councillors this week, will be for a fixed six-year term with no severance provisions. Skorobohacz had an open contract with a clause that now pays him 12.5 months salary in severance (his 2008 salary was almost $211,000 without benefits), or 15 months if he doesn't find a new job."

Yup, it's great news:

  • "The surprise elimination this week of two of the City of Windsor's top five executives was excellent news for its taxpayers."

The Department that was slammed by the City's Auditor and now is involved in massive spending projects has no Head.

Yes sir, that's a great way to run a City. That's good succession planning.

As I said in a recent BLOG, the SDR campaign for Edgar's re-election is starting. I just did not know this quickly!

One other thought. If you think Edgar and his Council colleagues really want you to know what is going on:

  • "Last week council started passing a series of votes behind closed doors giving Mayor Eddie Francis the authority to start taking evasive manoeuvres to head off the oncoming crisis."

"Evasive manoeuvres" what the heck does that mean? And was the authority given to him without any checks or balances? If so, where is Democracy in Windsor?

So much for this slide in Edgar's September 15 Presentaion