Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, November 27, 2009

Call In The Police (Part IV): Did Mini-Gord's Columns Hint Who The Leakor Is

I know how busy the police are with their pay equity money troubles so I thought I would help them out by doing some background work for them to save them time.

Remember that mini-Gord told us that a Councillor in mid-May or so offered to be his Leakor:
  • "But I happen to know for a fact there is more than one potential leak. A councillor who was not Jones offered to be that leak to me over the phone half a year ago. Being wary of quicksand, I never took the councillor up on the offer."
However, that does not mean that the Councillor was silent and did not leak information to mini-Gord anyway. There just would not be a "formal" arrangement. That is all. That Councillor was obviously anxious for information to get out which presumably would be to that Councillor's advantage come re-election time.

To be a "formal" Leakor would suggest a long strike. Otherwise, why make the offer? That suggests strongly to me that this person knew or had a strong feeling that this was going to be a long strike and the person wanted taxpayer praise as a result of positive Star exposure. Or no negative exposure!

Can you say political action and NOT a labour dispute since we know now that the City's negotiating committee's hands were tied until the Council flipflop on June 17, right before the leak too.

It is becoming more and more clear to me that this City politician ("Marra believes a politician was the source of the leak" and Marra heard what Basse had to say in camera) wanted to sabotage the talks that might have reached a settlement and keep the CUPE workers out longer.

Accordingly, Dr. Watsons, I took some time and went through a number of mini-Gord columns from mid-May on where inside information appeared to be given to see if I could help you discover who was talking out of turn.

See if anything pops out at you as to the Councillor's identity as I try to put the columns in a context for you too.

A hint: Deductive reasoning is required. The way to get the solution is to eliminate Councillors as you read through the stories and figure out as well who would have the information that was leaked. Notice that there was some incorrect information given too--deliberate or not, perhaps to hide an identity! Trust also your impression about each of the members of Council to help you in your decision-making as to whether that Councillor would leak. Remember, in a mystery, the most obvious solution is not necessarily the right one either.
  • 05-23-2009

    "Behind financial eight ball

    Commercial taxes are also "way down," according to one insider, although a final tally hasn't been made yet, and they drop again every time another empty plant is knocked down or a struggling business mysteriously erupts in flames...

    Windsor's city council understands this, which explains why even its labour-dominated membership remains surprising united in fighting this strike, despite serious potential political fallout...

    The city's plan, from what I can make of it under a news blackout during the current labour negotiations, is to cut expenses mainly through attrition and reduced sick time but also through partially freezing wages and capping lifetime benefits to city workers after they retire.

[If there was a news blackout, how did mini-Gord get information? While this was mini-Gord's view as to what the city's plan was, it is not entirely accurate as can be seen below. Was there an element of hoping by this person that the City's position could be strengthened by what was said or that CUPE could be terrorized into knuckling under?

  • Motions May 11, 2009

    1. Moved by Councillor Jones, seconded by Councillor Postma:

    THAT the City’s negotiating team remove from the bargaining table the issue of ending employer paid post retirement benefits past the age of 65 for new employees hired on or after January 1, 2009 in the current negotiations with CUPE Local 82.

    Councillors Jones, Lewenza and Postma voting aye.
    Councillors Brister, Halberstadt, Gignac, Hatfield, Marra, Valentinis, Dilkens voting nay.

    3. Moved by Councilor Hatfield, seconded by Councillor Lewenza:

    THAT the issue ending employer paid post retirement benefits for new employees hired on or after January 1, 2009 be removed from the bargaining table and that the following terms be offered to CUPE Local 82:

    a) $1000.00 lump sum payment to all full time employees in year 1 of a three year contract;
    b) 2% wage increase in year 2 of the contract; and
    c) 2% wage increase in year 3 of the contract.

    Councillors Postma, Lewenza, Hatfield and Jones voting aye.
    Councillors Brister, Halberstadt, Gignac, Marra, Valentinis, Dilkens and Mayor Francis voting nay.

    4.Moved by Councillor Halberstadt, seconded by Councillor Gignac:

    THAT City Council accept the recommendation of the General Manager of Corporate Services regarding a further offer to CUPE Local 82

    1. Three year contract.
    2. No wage increases.
    3. ODA increases on a net zero basis
    4. Job Security for the life of the contract;
    5. Lump Sum payment of $1000 for all full time employees/$500 for all part time employees.

    CARRIED. Councillors Postma, Lewenza, Hatfield and Jones voting nay.

I saw nothing about attrition. In fact, the first time I saw a City reference to that term was well after the strike when Helga Reidel said in mini-Gord's column on October 29:

  • "Helga Reidel, the newly appointed chief administrative officer who has been handed this huge task, said attrition is the main tool she intends to use to cut costs. She used the "A" word a dozen times Wednesday. It means letting normal retirements reduce staffing gradually, painlessly.

    "We also have a significant number of vacancies" throughout the organization, "and right now that's a good thing." Empty jobs are being eliminated, permanently.

    How many millions can council cut from the budget as the reorg continues? Reidel won't go there: "It all has to be carefully reviewed. We don't want to move so fast we make mistakes."

    My guess: Reidel (a very smart, upbeat, decent soul, if you haven't met her) has ordered department heads to look for no-layoff savings, no-layoff consolidations, no-layoff outsourcings. People can be moved to new positions if their jobs are eliminated...

    The mayor says the toughest part of the reorg is already in Windsor's rear-view mirror. "The most difficult step was the first step -- to accept the fact that change was needed."

    With luck, an aging workforce takes care of most of the rest of the process."

That mini-Gord sure has to be a smart cookie to figure out about attrition so early on or was that told to him by someone in the know?]

  • 05-26-2009

    Time to poll councillors on strike

    There are half a dozen good reasons for the union to think that collective bargaining in their case is actually just a waiting game.

    And every one of those reasons is a sitting member of city council.

    Insiders say that at least four and possibly five members of Windsor's 11-member city council are already willing to give the 1,800 strikers what they're demanding. (Or, in the words of one observer, "they'd sell taxpayers down the river.")

    There have been a slew of votes cast by council behind closed doors regarding various aspects of Windsor's labour situation over the past two months.

    Most of the council votes, I'm told, have ended 7-4 or 6-5 in favour of holding out against the strikers for labour savings.

    Mayor Eddie Francis has been leading the holdouts every time, insiders say.

    The six holdouts -- or seven, depending on who you talk to -- are all saying "let them stay out."

    "Zero" one participant tells me. As in, no wage increase, no added labour costs of any kind."

[Some hardliner bravado quoted about the softliners which mini-Gord obviously liked.

In passing, on July 28, Councillor Brister was quoted by mini-Gord as saying:

  • Coun. Dave Brister says he heard dozens of similar messages from voters over the weekend. "They're not wrong," he told me Monday. "I don't think it's a good deal either. But this is the best deal we could get."

    Brister argues that the threat of arbitration hanging over council's head prevented them from following through to extract greater cost savings from CUPE.

    Had that threat not been there, "I would have held out longer, no question."]

    The other four or five, according to that source, are willing to negotiate a "compromise" that involves giving CUPE members a combination of a cash-in-lieu lump sum payment in the first year, followed by several years of permanent raises...

    I called most of the members of council over the past few days to poll them on where they stand on the issue of the CUPE strike. Of those who returned my calls, several said they have been warned by Mayor Francis they face severe punishment if they break the news blackout he has ordered over the talks."

[A fairly factual analysis of who was voting how without much inflammatory language. Do notice that Eddie was being pointed out as the chief hardliner.

Note that NOT ALL were warned off! See May 11 Motion re wages and the vote numbers and see this re a 6-5 vote

  • "April 24, 2009:

    1. Moved by Councillor Lewenza, seconded by Councillor Jones:

    THAT the City’s negotiating Committee be directed to:

    a) remove the issue of ending post retirement benefits past the age of 65 for new employees in the negotiations with CUPE Locals 82 and 543, and;
    b) to offer the Union negotiating committees the commitment to form a future Committee comprised of Union and Management representatives which Committee will investigate the concept of new employees funding their own post retirement benefits past the age of 65, and
    c) to maintain the City’s position on all other issues being negotiated.

    Councillors Postma, Lewenza, Hatfield, Marra and Jones voting aye.
    Councillors Brister, Halberstadt, Gignac, Valentinis, Dilkens and Mayor Francis voting nay.]
  • 05-28-2009

    Strike strategies backfire

    This, no one anticipated. City management fully expected "a garbage disaster" if the strike reached this deep into warm weather. No one imagined that 70 per cent of Windsorites would willingly -- happily, even -- pay to dispose of their own garbage...

    Insiders tell me that public demands to outsource garbage pickup after the strike have become so insistent that worried negotiators for CUPE Local 82, which represents garbage collectors, have asked nervously about it at the bargaining table.

    They can relax; the city has no plans to privatize those jobs, I'm told. Due to the higher tipping fees paid by private haulers, what taxpayers would save on CUPE wages they'd end up paying in higher disposal fees. So those jobs are relatively safe."

[Gee, did mini-Gord forget about that huge contingency manual!

Obviously that insider must have been shocked and surprised by the Brister demand right after the vote ended re outsourcing and the vote at Council re garbage outsourcing to call a tender or was this all a phony to lull CUPE into a false sense of security to hold out longer and get citizens more angry at them]

  • 06-02-2009

    CUPE's about-face

    There is a rumour circulating in Windsor -- put around by members of CUPE -- that the union offered to settle with the city before the strike. They say CUPE was willing to take a two-year wage freeze if its members were allowed to keep existing benefits.

    Not true, the mayor told me Monday. "Let me be categorical: there has been no formal offer of that nature," Francis said. "They may have been talking about it among themselves. But it was never in writing."

    A few weeks ago, when the two sides last negotiated, the city offered CUPE cash payments totalling $1,250 in the first two years of a four-year contract, followed by wage increases of 1.25 per cent and 1.5 per cent in the third and fourth years, respectively, and an end to lifetime benefits.

    CUPE countered with a demand for a four-year deal that pays its members $2,000 in cash the first year followed by wage increases of 2.5 per cent, 2.5 per cent and three per cent. The union also wants to continue benefits for life, but is willing to pay for half the cost. It also wants current hiring levels maintained for the life of the contract, to prevent attrition from paying for the increases.

[Now who could have given mini-Gord all of that detailed information. I don't recall that being reported anywhere. I did not see that in the Minutes either

Who would dare talk considering:

"several said they have been warned by Mayor Francis they face severe punishment if they break the news blackout he has ordered over the talks"]

  • 07-09-2009

    Union led astray

    Some of the bad advice is coming from a few members of council.

    At the council table, all 10 have voted unanimously to put a cap on the unfunded liabilities of post-retirement benefits.

    But outside council chambers, a few councillors keep saying they think a settlement can be reached with a compromise -- which isn't what they voted for in-camera. The mixed messages sent by these councillors is what repeatedly raises CUPE's false hopes, Francis says...

    Yet four councillors accepted the CAW's invitation. The other six declined, since council unanimously passed a resolution decreeing that none of them was authorized to discuss the negotiations outside of chambers.

    "I don't even have the right to respond independently," Francis fumed this week. "I have to reflect what the majority says." It's the law.

    Individual councillors can't even talk about the strike with CUPE, much less the CAW: That's the job of the bargaining team.

[But there is the Mayor talking and he is not a member of the bargaining team. The statement cannot be true re unanimity re PRBs considering the May 11 Motion. Interestingly, here is part of the Motion passed only a few days later on July 13 where new hires were given PRBs to 65:

  • 4. Moved by Councillor Marra, seconded by Councillor Brister,

    THAT the City of Windsor make a last offer to the membership of CUPE Locals 82 and 543, via a mechanism to be determined, to include in form and content all material positions advanced by the City’s negotiating team on previously reported relevant matters and with the financial package to be presented to include:

     $1300.00 lump sum payment to all full time employees and $650 lump sum payment to all temporary, part-time and seasonal recreation employees in exchange for the loss of employer paid post retirement benefits beyond the age of 65 for all new employees hired on or after April 17, 2009...

  • 07-14-2009

    Balance of power has shifted

    The balance of power shifted sharply this week, after CUPE issued what Local 543 President Jean Fox called the union's "final offer" to city council -- as though her members dictate when the music stops...

    But on Monday CUPE suffered a stunning and possibly historic defeat when council drop-kicked their supposed "final offer" into the Detroit River by a vote of 8-3.

    CUPE played its last card, and busted.

[Those are not the facts again:

  • July 13, 2009

    3. Moved by Councillor Brister, seconded by Councillor Dilkens.

    THAT the final offer presented to the City’s negotiating team by CUPE Locals 82 and 543 BE NOTED AND FILED.

    Councillors Postma and Lewenza voting nay.]
  • 09-17-2009

    Council respecting taxpayers

    That's why council agreed 18 months ago to launch a complete review of what the bureaucrats call "service delivery." Or, what you get for your money.

    The study shows how many people it takes to perform every function undertaken by the city -- from fixing flat tires on garbage trucks to putting new brakes on cop cars to preparing paycheques for social workers -- and how much each function costs...

    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.

[No Minutes for this in camera meeting but someone is still talking]

Any ideas yet? Is this helping you pin down who the Leakor is? I trust that this should help eliminate some suspects for the police and point them in the right direction to charge that corrupt politician.

After eliminating politicians that would likely never give information to mini-Gord or would never have the details disclosed or who might only have incomplete data, you ought to be left with a short-list of potential people who could be a Leakor.

Seriously, mini-Gord has no reason to deceive us about this does he.

Is it just me? I wonder why we have to go through this exercise when the Star could just tell us who this crooked politician is. The big question is why they refuse.