Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Monday, November 16, 2009

Why Do You Still Subscribe To The Windsor Star

I wonder if Gord, mini-Gord, Anne or the Star Editorialists will write a note congratulating the "softliners" on Council, the pro-Union types who are on the Transit Windsor Board ie Councillors Postma and Lewenza, for settling the Transit Windsor negotiations without strike on very favourable terms including this one if you can believe it:
  • "The contentious issue of post-retirement benefits — the thorn in the protracted city strike — is still to be worked out, Lucier said. Current workers and retirees get benefits for life, but the benefits are “greatly reduced” at retirement, Lucier said. Like in the CUPE strike where city council wanted to discontinue post-retirement benefits for new hires, the transit union will have to negotiate how those benefits will be funded if they are offered, Lucier said. “We have to set up a committee to look at it."

Gosh that was tried early on in the CUPE negotiations but rejected by the hardliners in camera. And you thought the CUPE strike was not a political one. Do not tell me after this settlement that some on Council did not want to prolong the strike! Lewenza was right!

  • "City Coun. Caroline Postma, chair of Transit Windsor's board of directors, said the negotiations took some time but were amicable.

    "You know I think that [both sides] worked really hard at having a good relationship, especially in the last two years," she said. "I think that shows when they were able to negotiate a contract through these difficult times... without any third parties."

Oh and in case you did not know it, Edgar (aka Eddie) is on the Transit Board too. (UPDATE: Edgar "was" See Below) I wonder if he opposed the settlement. Wouldn't it be nice to know how he voted at WUC where he was also on the Board where there was a settlement too without a strike before the CUPE strike.

Nawwwwwwww, the Star cannot do that. It would make Edgar and the hardliners look like fools and would mean that their role in helping to prolong the strike would be exposed.

It really is not a big surprise. If the Star did not report about the Ward 4 meeting held by Councillors Lewenza and Marra , then who would know it took place? More importantly, who would know the reslts?

I have to assume that the Star knows as well as I do , and now you too, dear reader, that Junior was right. Thanks to the Mayor and the hardliners on Council, Windsorites suffered through a 15 week political action that cost taxpayers in the end too much. And, thanks to mini-Gord, that the Star helped in this process.

If that is true, then the natural question that a taxpayer, and voter, should ask is what else has Edgar (aka Eddie) been wrong about that the Star has kept from us:
  • the strange dealings about the East End Arena
  • the mind's eye canal and transportation hub visions
  • fiscal responsibility
  • Greenlink
  • the Tunnel deal
  • the border
  • the Bridge Company.

The list goes on and on and on.

Anne Jarvis wrote a column on August 5. Looking back now, it really disclosed to us the Star/City Hall go forward strategy in a way I could not imagine at the time:
  • "It's time for us to move on

    Pardon me, I thought the municipal strike was over.

    Didn't city council vote almost two weeks ago -- unanimously -- to approve an agreement? Didn't 1,800 unionized employees follow the next day?

    The pickets are gone. The garbage collectors are back. The grass is being baled.

    But neither side will let it go...

    Last Friday, Coun. Ken Lewenza Jr. challenged Brister to a debate on the strike. The public is entitled to know councillors' positions on the dispute, he said.

    I thought 101 days with numerous votes was enough to know where councillors stood."

No Anne, Windsorites need to know the facts. We did not know where Councillors stood until we saw the in camera minutes and had Councillors Marrra and Lewenza fill in the details at their Ward meeting.

How could we possibly know what happened by reading the Star? What really happened not what the Star said happened. After all, her colleague, mini-Gord, clearly told us how the Star acted in its coverage and why:

  • "As for prolonging the strike, I think that might be true, and it's a compliment to the Windsor Star for representing the interests of its readers. If the Mayor and council didn't know public opinion was so strongly behind them they'd throw in the towel and cave in like previous councils did. We are doing our job well, I'd say."

Thanks to Councillor Lewenza we learned we did NOT understand what Councillors did and who really acted in our interest. Naturally, such revelations would be damaging to certain hardliners whom the Star glorified as our Champions.

Is Anne so afraid that we would learn the truth? Did she ever pick up the phone and talk to Junior about his allegations and if so, where is her column about it? Isn't she concerned about her employer's lack of attention to the other point of view?

I dropped my subscription during the CUPE strike. I just could not stand it any more. I saved a few bucks too.

I had had a similar personal experience with the Star when I was General Counsel of STOPDRTP. I was disgusted at their bias in favour of DRTP. I understand now why they did so:

  • "We did things that newspapers can do to bring about change, positive change."

The Editors did not really care about DRTP. It was really an anti-Moroun bias.

For another obvious example, the extended honeymoon given our Mayor cannot be explained even due to the relationship that the Star has never told its readers about except on a Face-To-Face show and in a Q&A session on the Star online edition after a 36 minute wait:

  • "12:33 The Windsor Star: Subsequent to closing, Tim at 11:53 asked, "So does John Coleman have a connection to the mayor's office? Yes or no?" The answer to the question is yes. John Coleman is The Star's editorial page editor and his wife is Norma Coleman, who is chief of staff in the mayor's office."

I have my suspicions why Edgar (aka Eddie) is treated so well but no hard evidence to confirm what I think.

That brings me to Junior and the incredible lack of coverage of his Ward 4 meeting. It demonstrates to me that the Star is nothing more than a political organ, not a newspaper that anyone should take to be credible

Remember these Star headlines and stories. They were all leading up to the Lewenza meeting. They set out the issues. But when it came time to hear the Lewenza explanation, when Junior called Edgar's bluff, the Star was AWOL.

They never thought Junior would dare do it, challenge the Mayor's version of the truth.

The paper let us down. The Star did not want us to learn the facts so we could arrive at an informed decision. They preferred that their version was all that we should know.

Let me help you understand the significance of the stories:

  • 08-01-2009
    "Brister declines call for debate;
    Doesn't want to 'embarrass' Lewenza Jr

    A strike-related rift on city council turned nasty Friday when Coun. Dave Brister turned down an invitation to publicly debate Coun. Ken Lewenza Jr. because he didn't want to "embarrass" him.

    "I don't see the need for me to embarrass Councillor Lewenza publicly by debating him," Brister said in a message left in response to a message from The Star...

    Lewenza challenged Brister Friday to a public debate -- on Brister's Ward 1 turf if need be -- because he said Brister shies away from media coverage...

    "I'm not going to make comments and then go and hide in the corner," Lewenza said...

    Lewenza said "the public would have an opportunity to see two extreme perspectives" on the strike and city labour relations should Brister stop turtling and climb into the ring.

    "It's not about a fight or a war," he said.

    "It's about showing the public two different viewpoints and letting them decide, with all the information on the table, what they believe is the best approach."

The Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget at least had a few brains but no guts in this immature outburst of his. He is afraid to appear in public and be questioned for fear his Star Columnist supported political career would fade fast if he is put on the spot.

He knew what went on during the 101 day strike and before and knew that he would fold under the Lewenza onslaught! Talk big but run and hide seems to be what he is really doing.

His image as a protector of the public purse would be shown to be a sham as his hardline approach wound up costing taxpayers millions more than it should have.

  • 09-23-2009
    Council 'wanted a strike'; Release in-camera records for proof, Lewenza Jr. says

    Ken Lewenza Jr. is accusing some of his city council colleagues of dragging out the recent municipal strike for political gain and says the release of in-camera council records will prove it.

    He has put a notice of motion on the table for next Monday's meeting that every council strike-related vote on failed and approved motions behind closed doors be released to the public.

    "I will demonstrate that council wanted a strike regardless of the issues," said Lewenza.

    "Never during the 101 days did council feel any pressure because the public really didn't understand the issues. At the end of the day, what (taxpayers) paid for was more expensive than what was possible."

    Council had chances to cap or negotiate cost sharing with CUPE for post-retirement benefits -- the flashpoint of the strike -- or strike other deals which were more financially advantageous than the final agreement, Lewenza said.

    The 1,800 CUPE workers received a 6.3 per cent wage increase over four years and a one-time $2,000 signing bonus.

    The city's annual payroll for CUPE workers by 2012 will be $71.9 million -- up from $67.6 million in 2008.

    Yet, councillors repeatedly turned down potential deals because of the public backlash against CUPE, Lewenza said.

    Lewenza said Mayor Eddie Francis had the leadership skills and knowledge to end the strike, but a work stoppage became politically advantageous for the mayor.

    "There was an environment in the community where people in the private sector and workers in the auto industry were taking concessions," Lewenza said.

    "There was a perception delivered (to the community) that there was no alternative...

    Coun. Fulvio Valentinis said he was not eager to dig up the closed-door voting records during the strike, but will listen Monday to Lewenza's arguments.

    "I'm not certain where he is going or what he is looking for, but I respect his right to ask for it," he said.

    But after a long and bitter strike, Valentinis said it might be best for council to move forward rather than second guess its actions.

    "Decisions were made and the question is what are we looking to achieve with this."

There were the issues all laid out nicely: the political strike for the Mayor's benefit, public confusion, hardliner more expensive final resolution, cheaper alternatives ignored and the Valentinis let's not discuss this so the public won't know we failed approach.

  • 09-30-2009
    Records reveal strike strategy; Council's stand strengthened

    Coun. Ken Lewenza Jr. introduced the original motion to end post- retirement benefits for Windsor's unionized workers, according to a document released this week revealing how council debated and voted behind closed doors during CUPE contract talks...

    It was the first of 41 such votes taken behind closed doors, and it was Lewenza -- who sided with CUPE positions during the 101-day strike -- who had demanded those closed-door motions be made public.

    On April 24, a week after the start of the strike, Lewenza moved another motion, this time seeking to reverse that earlier position and seeking to "remove the issue of ending post-retirement benefits ... for new employees" as part of the city's bargaining position...

    Lewenza on Tuesday pleaded for time to digest all the in-camera motions council voted on during the labour dispute before he can explain how those votes prove his contention some of his colleagues wanted a long strike.

    "I hope to put some information together over the next 10 to 12 days. I want an opportunity to digest this myself," he said.

    Asked to cite any examples among the motions debated and voted on that would help his point, he said he was "not letting it get picked apart" before he can prepare a report for a future ward meeting.

    On Monday night, council voted in favour of Lewenza's motion to make those closed-door decisions public.

    Lewenza argued that revealing how councillors voted on various positions taken during the bitter strike would show how opportunities were missed early on in the process. And he railed Monday night against media reporting during the divisive strike, saying "the votes reveal a different story."

    But Francis said the only thing the closed-door motions reveal was how consistent council remained in sticking to its core demand of getting rid of post-retirement benefits for new employees...

    Lewenza said there were times when offers that may have ended the strike were put on the table by himself and others but then rejected by the majority. Asked for an example, he cited his April 24 motion, which would have removed the employer's demand of ending post- retirement benefits for new employees in return for the union agreeing to no wage increase.

    "Ken Lewenza is absolutely right ... had I decided to cave and ignore the wishes of the residents of Windsor," said Francis. "But you don't go into a strike saying this is your core issue and then cave after a week," he added, pointing to council's strengthening resolve on the issue as the strike dragged on.

    Lewenza has said the mayor could have shown leadership and ended the strike earlier, but Francis said that the longer the strike lasted, the more council "heard from the public very loudly and very clearly" not to give in."

The Lewenza smear started here with his pro-Union rather than pro-taxpayer allegation. I particularly liked the inflammatory language used and the mistakes of fact as I Blogged about before. And of course the picture of our Mayor not caving in!

  • 10-01-2009
    Files shed light on loyalties
    Chris Vander Doelen

    Thanks to Coun. Ken Lewenza Jr., who engineered the release of the closed-door voting minutes this week, taxpayers can look up exactly how each councillor voted, 41times, at crucial junctures during the CUPE strike...

    Some of the votes were a little murky. But mostly it's crystal clear which councillors were willing to force taxpayers to pay gigantic sums to give CUPE what it wanted, and which councillors were resisting the union's siren call...

    It's tough to figure out what Lewenza Jr.'s game is by making these votes public. Which constituency he is trying to impress -- big labour, or taxpayers?

    He doesn't seem to know himself. Lewenza Jr. seemed surprised this week by some of the recorded motions he demanded be released by council.

    "I want an opportunity to digest this," Lewenza Jr. pleaded when reporters demanded he explain his apparent flip-flop. Digest it? Heck, man, you were raising your own hand, weren't you?

    Mayor Eddie Francis didn't seem to be in any doubt about what the in-camera record would reveal to savvy voters: he countered Lewenza Jr.'s histrionics about openness by having the minutes compiled, photocopied and ready for release the minute the vote passed. Wham! There they were.

    Lewenza Jr.'s determination that taxpayers see how many times he voted against their interests seems like a political death wish. Has he already forgotten how vehemently opposed most Windsor citizens were to CUPE's wage and benefit demands...

    Start placing your bets now, because political careers are going to be made and broken in the next few months on the basis of how each councillor voted behind those closed doors."

This mini-Gord column was amazing. The hardliner defence was presented to pre-condition the public. Although now we know why the Star refused to cover the story.

Here is the biggest secret that had to be kept. It was the hardliners who were at fault. THAT IS NOW CRYSTAL CLEAR. The statement is left in the mind of the public that Lewenza "voted against their [taxpayers'] interests seems like a political death wish."

Compare that with the description of the Mayor!

Now we know how the hardliners' political careers would be broken if the Star reported on the true facts.

  • 10-21-2009
    Lewenza to host ward forum

    What do council's secret strike motions reveal?

    Ward 4 Coun. Ken Lewenza Jr. hopes to provide "clarifications to misconceptions" related to how council debated and voted through the recent CUPE strike at a ward meeting he's hosting on Nov. 10 at 6:30 p.m. at Club Alouette, 2418 Central Ave.

    Councillors recently approved Lewenza's request to have city council's in-camera voting record during the 15-week labour dispute made public.

    He has claimed, without naming names, that those motions help prove that some councillors helped prolong the strike."

No excuse for the Star not knowing what was going to take place. They advertised it! And names were named but unless you watched Eh-Channel News, you do not know who they were.

There were all of the issues laid out for weeks about the strike including the Star's role in it.

Did the Star help us understand what happened? Did it allow the public to even hear what Councillor Lewenza had to say or did it permit the glorification of Edgar and the hardliners to continue? You know that answer.

The Star refused to cover the story!

Perhaps one day Marty Beneteau might actually remember what he said to CUPE in one his pieces and actually have the Star act on it. Perhaps the people who prepare the Windsor Star editorial opinions in the Publisher's Office in their group setting by a group usually composed of Publisher Jim Venney, Editor-in-Chief Marty Beneteau, Editorial Page Editor John Coleman and Karen Hall should frame the quote and hang it in their room to look at it as they finalize what they are going to do:

  • "Next time, try learning the difference between news and opinion."

Think about this as you decide whether the Star deserves your money every day.


I was just advised that Edgar left the Transit Windsor Board before the settlement was reached and was replaced by Councillor Marra. Very interesting.

Wow, look what a consensus builder like Bill on a Board can help achieve. It provides an interesting contrast for the next mayoral election now doesn't it!

And you will not read that in the Star either.