Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Monday, November 02, 2009

Split Decision: Did Edgar Win

What's with the Star these days!

How is anyone in Windsor supposed to know what to think unless Star columnists tell us. And that has become very difficult.

Did they take seriously the mini-Gord Says/Anne Says debate concept they had when they were first appointed? Where each was supposed to take one side of an argument. Or, is this all a set-up for Gord to have the last word by demolishing any anti-Edgar (aka Eddie) positions to re-affirm the genius of our Mayor.

Consider last week's columns.

First we had the mini-Gord one that was so one-sided he made Gord look impartial:

  • "Council shows courage"

Then Anne came in strongly on the other side

  • "Jury is out on city shakeup"

Finally, Gord seemingly broke the tie in Edgar's favour with his:

  • "Streamlining the city's 'unwieldly workforce'"

Let's be honest. Doesn't what seems to be going on now sound a lot like what Dennis Perlin tried how many years ago now

  • "Perlin looks at his time in Windsor with some frustration because he was unable to complete his vision for change.

    His controversial restructuring of personnel, which involved the shuffling of nearly every city department, was merely a first step, with governance policy and service delivery changes in Windsor next on his to-do list. But “(Francis) didn’t agree with the model put forward when he became mayor,” Perlin said.

    “What we had formed had a whole lot of staff and teams excited about how we were to change delivering services,” Perlin said. “We never got to that part. Windsor would have been better off to continue with that process.”"

How many years, how much more money in running an ineffective City Hall was wasted in not doing what should have been done an eternity ago because Edgar did not agree. Instead, we got his multi-multi-year SDR exercise that should take us to the next election.

Remember what I Blogged recently:

  • "Mini-Gord tells us:

    "There were 17 names on one list of targets when the city reorganized its executive ranks in 2004."

    So assuming salary and benefits per manager at say $125,000, Edgar has wasted, over 5years of inaction, $10,625,000. Now THAT would have paid a lot of Post Retirement Benefits!"

It's even worse that that. Try and calculate how much money Edgar has cost us when he failed to carry out his election promises from the time he first ran for Mayor:

  • 1) 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.


    Citistat will:
    --Reduce operating costs
    --Increase revenue streams
    --Reduce lost time from absenteeism and accidents
    --Eliminate cost over runs in purchasing
    --Identify new efficiencies.

    It’s inconceivable that an entity of one half billion dollars can’t be run more efficiently.

    Citistat will accomplish these goals through:
    --Accurate and timely information sharing
    --Rapid deployment of resources to address problems
    --Using effective tactics and strategies
    --Better follow-up and assessment...

    Estimated savings will amount to $10 million per year.

    Based on the success of other municipalities using Citistat annual savings growth increases over time."

I honestly cannot believe that no one has called Edgar on Citistat. That was how he beat Bill Marra by a whisker and yet he has not implemented any of it. Why was he afraid not to do so? I have never understood that.

Why things are so bad in Windsor that the Finance Dept. seems to have made a $10M error in strike savings. But you really have to read this to be shocked about complete lack of leadership, management failure and loss of accountability:

It's Novemeber already and Council is now just finding out what our year-end variances position will look like. Little can be done now. Sure blame it on the strike, not fiscal irresponsibility in running a half billion dollar corporation this way. Or lack of Citistat.

Where is that money-guy, the Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget who should be worrying about things like this. No wonder he is afraid to debate Junior publicly or to appear on Face-to-face. He would be crucified!

What great things have been done to show "courage" and streamlining. Let's look at the Fire Department's so-called cuts to see how Windsorites are being fooled into thinking something is really happening. We were told that

  • "Streamlining city hall, cutting firefighter jobs, to save $2M
    Top brass downsized, 12 fire department jobs and truck gone

    A realignment and downsizing of Windsor’s top city brass, as well as the elimination of 12 fire department positions and a fire truck, is expected to yield almost $2 million in annual tax savings, Mayor Eddie Francis announced Wednesday morning."

And then the next predictable story to make it seem really important:

  • "Firefighters upset, vow to fight cuts

    Far from the deputy fire chief’s suggestion Wednesday that his department is “fine” with council’s decision to save money by cutting positions and getting rid of an aerial truck, Windsor’s firefighters said they’re upset and will fight the move...

    At a closed-door meeting Monday night, city council approved a plan that eliminates 12 fire department positions, including four captains and five firefighters, and gets rid of an aerial ladder truck that had been deployed at station No. 3 at 2570 Ouellette Ave. It also reduces the daily complement of firefighters and officers on duty to 53 from the current 57."

Here is what really happened as told to me by a source deeeeep within the bowels of City Hall: [Note I have changed some of the wording to protect the identity of my source]

  • "As for the fire staffing cuts there are no layoffs. The Department is merely not replacing people who retire. The truck in question has been out of service over one third of this year and last year when staffing levels through absenteeism were not sufficient to place it in service. This cut has been identified by a consultant and the Chief, Dave Fields. The Chief offered the cut and was not under pressure to offer it."

As per usual, action years after the issue was identified. Maybe:

  • "Idled fire truck poses risk, councillors told
    Trevor Wilhelm Windsor StarWindsor Star 03-28-2008

    Firefighters are raising alarm bells, saying they're concerned about public safety after the fire chief's decision to temporarily idle a fire truck.

    Fields said he was instructed by council to cut overtime costs, and it's up to him to decide how to do that. Safety hasn't been compromised, he said.

    "I understand the firefighters won't like this," he said."

Why even mini-Gord actually told us that there was nothing to this phony exercise and it seems more PR than "an unprecedented, revolutionary act of governing." Is mini-Gord really a member of Gord's posse:

  • city staffers should take a deep breath and relax just a bit. The vast majority of them will keep their jobs.

  • 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.

  • 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.

    Council will pay a few executive buyouts, but the city can't afford Big Three-style wholesale buyouts. It doesn't need them, anyway. The magic of boomer demographics means Windsor will get the savings it needs simply by having a reorg plan in hand while hundreds of staff start collecting pensions.

In passing, mini-Gord just HAS to learn how to keep his mouth SHUT! He just demonstrated completely that there was NO NEED WHATSOEVER for the 101-day strike since the issue of PRBs for new hires was a phony one if there are going to be NO NEW HIRES!

He just confirmed CUPE's bad faith OLRB complaint!

Anne did an excellent job of mocking what Edgar was trying to do:

  • Before, he said, "we didn't know what we were doing."

    Frankly, that's a startling statement. Where has everyone been? Attempts to restructure have been going on for a decade.

    [NOTE: Eddie clearly has NOT learned anything since 2003. He said then: "It’s a simple fact that you can’t manage what you don’t understand." "We cannot manage what we do not know."]

  • Another general manager is moving to a vacancy in Enwin Utilities Ltd. -- which is owned by the city. Part of his job will be consolidating water and sewage services. But Enwin's business is electricity. The Windsor Utilities Commission, also part of the city, handles water, and the city's sewage plants deal with sewage. So is this an accounting manoeuvre?

    The executive director position that was cut has been vacant for two years, since the head of sewage treatment left. Is this smoke and mirrors?

  • But I can't help noticing similarities between the two exercises. Perlin's restructuring was launched for the same reasons: a looming financial crisis, the belief that the city couldn't continue raising taxes, the need to change the way the city operates.

  • I have questions when I look at the new, seemingly overflowing and mismatched portfolios.

Gord took the smart way out since he knew that Anne had demolished mini-Gord. He used a different strategy: the bogeyman of Detroit

  • "Forget about Halloween. That's child's play. The really scary stuff is happening right next door in economically haunted Michigan where communities with their backs to the wall are using chainsaw tactics to slash civic payrolls.

    In Detroit and its hostile suburbs, from upscale Troy to downtrodden Pontiac, desperate communities are dumping cops and firefighters, issuing pink slips to teachers, eviscerating contracts and hacking at services."

  • It seems only fitting that this exercise will unfold in the month of the dead, the darkest and dreariest time of the year, because there won't be much joy in seeing people's lives turned upside down and long-established work patterns forever altered.

    But as blood lettings go, this won't compare with the gore being splattered across the river. Instead of an axe, the instrument of choice is a scalpel. And instead of lopping off heads, the aim is to save the patient, however late in the game, through aggressive surgical intervention."

However, as usual. you have to read to Gord's column carefully to know he is really knocking Francis. You have to ignore all of the political BS to get to the heart of it. The Sheriff rides again:

  • "The shame of it is that past Windsor politicians, knowing they would face howling mobs, couldn't summon the guts to take on the union power brokers and fix the mess at city hall...

    Not one real, live firefighter will lose his or her job."

They still do not have guts but for the Messenger's pretending they are doing something bold. Heck, Edgar needs an election issue and what can be better than knocking CUPE since there is no money for mind's eye visions like the canal.

If Junior's Strike Report says what he claims, we will understand how this City has truly been mismanged for 2 Mayoral terms and how it will impact us in the future.

Our Mayor will not be able claim that what he is doing is to

  • "be pro-active," said Francis and prevent a lot of pain and suffering later on."

He has been inactive.

Instead of talking with the employees and their Unions to streamline operations and deal with labour issues as was done with other City organizations that dealt with important issues without a strike, we see this

  • Windsor Library handled the PRBs issue without a strike
  • Windsor Utilities Commission workers received a 7.5 per cent wage increase over four years wihtout any labour unrest
  • we have endured a 101 day CUPE strike
  • hundreds of thousands of dollars have been wasted in legal fees in fighting the formation of a "managers' union" since managers who formed the Professional Employees Trade Union became " so disenchanted over job security, quality of life and work demands they voted to unionize."
  • firefighters have been without a contract for 3 years and are now in arbitration.
  • Thanks to Councillor Halberstadt's BLOG, we saw that garbage workers were able to negotiate improvements in operations so why is outsourcing being brought up except as an anti-CUPE tool.

What can we now conclude after seeing so-called supporters deserting him. It's more than a TKO. Edgar is actually down for the count!

If only Premier McGuinty had not lengthened Council's term by a year. We could have been rid of Edgar this month. [Sigh].