Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Many More Border Stories

Here are some more thoughts for you on border crossing items


Hardly and we can thank the Ontario Auditor General for making us more and more like Michigan. He just issued a Report on Ontario Bridges and is it ever worrying.

Look at how poorly Windsor looked after the College bridge resulting in its closure. As Schwartz told Americans on the NBC Today Show but not us when he was ranting against the condition of the Ambassador Bridge:

  • "Vieira:
    …wondering, worrying that the bridge they might have to cross—to go to work, to go to the store, whatever—could possibly collapse. Do they have a, a legitimate worry?

    Well, they have a legitimate worry in the sense that their government officials should be taking care of these bridges. No government official should accept anything above one percent in terms of structurally-deficient.

    But we’re close to thirteen percent—seventy thousand bridges in this country. How did we reach that point?

    We reached that point because we neglected our infrastructure. We didn’t do the very basic things. A bridge is like a machine. It needs to be cleaned; it needs to be oiled; it needs to be lubricated in various parts. It moves with a load—it goes up and down; it slides with the changes in temperature. And we need to treat it properly. Ima, imagine driving your car without ever oiling it, greasing it and waiting until the engine seizes up. That’s what we’ve done with our bridges...

    The bridges built in the ‘50s and ‘60s and 7’0s were the sleekest. It was the beginning of the use of computers in bridges, and the result is we didn’t get bridges with redundancy...

    So, if you’re going over a bridge that was built prior to World War II, you’re probably in pretty good shape...

    If you pay a toll, by the way, on a bridge, your bridge is safe. They, they’re taking care of it; they’re doing the daily maintenance."

And we saw that with the inspection reports on the Ambassador Bridge.

Yes I know that the Feds are going to P3 the bridge but where will Ontario find the billions needed for the DRIC road given the need for money to repair the bridges that are in critical condition


If you thought things were bad in Ontario, they are so much worse in Michigan that MDOT could lose all federal road funds as a penalty:

  • "State Finds Bridge Inspection Concerns

    LANSING, Mich. -- The State Auditor General released an evaluation Friday on how well the Michigan Department of Transportation follows state and federal regulations on bridge inspections.

    The Auditor General’s Office found five areas of concern.

    The major problem: MDOT did not examine certain critical bridges or did not examine them as frequently as required by law.

    That has major implications, and not just for safety because not following the letter of the law means Michigan could loss some federal funding.

    “MDOT did not comply with critical safety provisions … and risked the withholding of federal aid,” cited audit the report."


Now that the Tunnel is in the hands of a private company, just like the airport, can we expect this in Windsor:

  • "Legal staff slammed

    Council frustrations with city lawyers boiled over at planning committee this afternoon. Councillors overwhelming rejected a report from the legal department that refused to release any portion of the annual audits of the company managing the airport.

    Brad Clark asked for the release of at least the majority of the secret reports eighteen months ago saying he thought this would help allay public concerns about the rent being paid by Tradeport International to the city under the airport lease agreement. A response from the legal department has been repeatedly delayed but apparently came during the in camera section of today’s meeting.

    When the committee reconvened in public, Clark explained that Tradeport and the city lawyers are saying “there’s a whole bunch of exemptions” under provincial privacy legislation and “that’s why the lease can’t be made public and that’s why the lease audit can’t be made public.” He described the continuing secrecy “completely unacceptable” and called the refusal to release the information “probably the most significant item in terms of public accountability that this council’s dealt with.”

    In contrast to the city lawyers’ position, he pointed to the Highway 407 lease agreement which became a fully public document when he was the provincial Minister of Transportation...

    “Brian McHattie and Terry Whitehead said they agreed with Clark’s concerns. The resolution to accept the staff report was subsequently defeated by a vote of six to one, with only committee chair Maria Pearson supporting the motion.

    He is urging the media or another third party to appeal the lawyers’ position to the Privacy Commissioner, noting that council can’t do that because the legal staff they would instruct to carry out the appeal would be arguing against it.

    “If council says we think this should go to the privacy commissioner, and that decision be made, well our legal staff agrees with the exemptions,” he pointed out in frustration. “So who’s going to be arguing at the commission?”


Oh I am not going after the Star again but the University of Windsor newspaper, The Lance.

I am tired of misinformation or incomplete information being spewed out by the media after all of this time. It just helps prolong the economic destruction of Windsor.

Accordingly, I am much more aggressive in going after the media to clarify the record. The Lance feature story "Ambassador Bridge keeps Windsor in limbo" was so one-sided that I sent off this note to them:

" I was troubled by your story on the Ambassador Bridge by your failure to set out the complete facts:

  • Re health concerns, even DRIC has said if trucks keep moving health problems are reduced. Moreover, significant pollution levels will be reduced by new diesel and engine technology
  • 9/11 has caused changes to the Bridge no doubt as it has to many aspects of our life. It would have been fair to note that it was the Bridge Company by opening new booths (and fighting the US Government to do so) that cleared the truck back-up problems on Huron Church
  • As far as safety is concerned, why did you NOT put the blame on the Canadian Government who is blocking the construction of their Enhancement Project bridge. That is what Governor Granholm stated publicly.
  • It is a shame that you did not mention that the DRIC bridge would result in the destruction of Delray, Michigan but no lands would be needed on either side of the border for the ABC project.
  • The ABC project would also provide $2B in US federal matching grants desperately needed by Michigan
  • The P3 concept for the DRIC bridge effectively puts it in private hands for up to 99 years (so much for public ownership!). It will be virtually impossible for a P3 investor to come in and pay billions for the project given the collapse of the P3 market world-wide and expect to make a profit.
  • I hardly believe that it is responsible journalism to quote only Brian Masse a known foe of the Bridge Company and not anyone else on the other side.
  • The so-called rejection of the ABC proposal was based on false information especially about traffic volumes that have dropped to 1999 levels and the false claim that land would be needed in Sandwich for processing trucks
  • Re the Indian Road homes, why was there no mention that the homes could not be torn down because of a City of Windsor by-law designed it is alleged to thwart the Bridge Company? Remember the City is the Bridge Company's border crossing competitor since it owns half of the Tunnel
  • And surely, your reporter could have mentioned a few lines about the outstanding lawsuits started.
  • One final note. Will the DRIC bridge ever be built---it was to be completed in 2013, then 2015, then late 2016 or perhaps later. Now I am seeing comments that it may not be started until after 2020.

There is a fascinating story about the border crossing that is worthy of a PH.D thesis since it involves much more than a mere border crossing but the relationship between Canada and the US. Too bad your writer missed it completely!"


I had tears in my eyes when I was reading Annie's Sandwich solution in her column.

Tears of laughter!

What is the point of writing stuff like that to get people all excited when it does not work. A "line in the sand" disappears when the wind blows.

  • "First, they drew their line in the sand.

    "We said this is it," said Dan Loacano of Bagley Housing Association, the non-profit organization that led the rebuilding of blighted streets being gobbled up by the bridge.

    They set clearly defined boundaries. East of St. Anne Street belonged to the neighbourhood. West of St. Anne belonged to the bridge."

Brian Masse who took credit for the passing of the International Bridges and Tunnels Act, although just about everything he tried to do was not allowed, should now take the blame for destroying the dream:

  • Expropriation

    12. If a person requires an interest in land, as defined in section 2 of the Expropriation Act, for the purposes of the construction or alteration of an international bridge or tunnel and has unsuccessfully attempted to purchase the interest in land, the person may request the Minister to have the Minister of Public Works and Government Services have the interest in land expropriated by the Crown and section 4.1 of that Act applies to that person, with any modifications that are necessary, as if the person were a railway company.

Annie, the Government can just walk all over that line and there is nothing that can be done about it.


What bothered me about Annie's 2-part series on Sandwich is her "Annie's knows best attitude" about it all.
  • "Should Sandwich be a neighbourhood or a transportation hub?"
Read Chris Schnurr's BLOG about what she forgot to point out

To be honest, I would have liked to have heard what the Sandwich residents who were denied the right to speak twice at Council had to say. I heard what they said at one of the meetings arranged in the Community with the Ambassador Bridge.

Council would never have been able to deny what they wanted if Windsorites had heard 90 minutes of the deplorable conditions that these people live under due to the City's anti-Demolition Bylaw!

Councillor Halberstadt can have fun with Eddie's silencer button:
  • "As a frequent victim of Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis’s “trap door” microphone technique, Coun. Alan Halberstadt says he would like to see it reviewed.

    Halberstadt and Francis had a tete-a-tete at Monday night’s council meeting over the issue of Francis’s ability to use a silencer to cut off councillors or presenters, an ability he has had for about a year."

It's too bad the Sandwich residents, and the City, had to suffer Council's silencer button.