Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Diamond Memo









I assume that Eddie/Estrin/Henderson/Star Editors wanted to ensure that the Bridge Company knew about the 3-page memo from the Ministry of the Environment and its significance, in case they missed the EH-News story earlier in the week about it, to get them enraged so that they would use the memo to sue the Senior Levels to stop DRIC.

What a clever strategy. I wonder who thought that up! That would get Eddie off the hook now wouldn't it and he could NOT be blamed. The Senior Levels would not be that upset either since their DRIC project is dead in the water especially with truck volumes tanking and the economy sinking with P3 funds drying up!

I told you that our Mayor was a WEAK-LING. And he is a copycat WEAK-LINK too! Gord Henderson on Saturday along with the long Star Editorial just proved it. Read on.
  • “Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis is ecstatic over the "smoking gun" proof of DRIC's environmental failings. "My initial reaction? Thank God. Let's bring him down here and give him the keys to the city," enthused Francis.”

Oh my goodness, it would not surprise me on Monday night at Council to see Eddie’s Teacher’s Pet, Councillor Loopy, jump to his feet to introduce a Motion to demand that we pay erect a statue to Dr. Gerald Diamond of the Ontario Ministry of the Environment in City Hall Square!

It is so nice to see that Eddie/Estrin have decided to hand out scoops to all of the media in Windsor and not just to the favourite Star Columnist all the time. Why, Gord did not seem to be too upset that EH-News got the scoop on the “smoking gun.” That ought to get EH-News onside to become a nice, tame media outfit if they want to get more of them.

I wonder when Bloggers are going to get a scoop or two so that we can be treated equally. Naaaaaaaaw, I cannot think of any Blogger in town that would allow him/herself to be bought out by City Hall scoops.

How can it be a “smoking gun” when it is right there in public in the DRIC documents themselves in the "APPENDIX D Comments Received During Pre-Submission Review" on pages 67 to 68. It is not like DRIC hid them or anything. They were produced publicly by the same people that are being attacked today.

Gee, does that mean that the City that got a “D” on Freedom of Information is now going to reveal all of its documents and tell us about Greenlink: the Next Generation? Hardly.

Now that our weakling Mayor has this damning piece of information, did you see the word "lawsuit" in Henderson’s column? Did weakling Eddie say that he was going to immediately instruct his legal weapon of mass destruction to begin the case for "judicial review" of the DRIC Report? If so, I did not see it. Weak, weak, weak.

The Star Editors tell us that the City is being ignored by Queen’s Park. Did you see the word "lawsuit" in their Editorial either? Of course not. They are about as weak as our Mayor. The Star believes that someone might actually care about what they write in their Editorials.

What is the Star's solution:

  • “These complex issues are not going to be resolved by exchanging memos with Queen's Park. The only way to do that is for DRIC to meet face-to-face with city council, along with experts from both sides, and provide the clear answers that local residents deserve. Duncan and Pupatello should be front and centre helping to resolve outstanding questions and ensuring that their community gets the best access road possible…

    DRIC has dismissed GreenLink. Even if we disagree (and we do) with our cabinet ministers about their respective involvement up to this point, can we agree that since GreenLink has been dismissed by DRIC that Dwight Duncan and Sandra Pupatello are now in a position to fully discuss GreenLink without any concern about "ministerial" conflict?”

Wait a minute. They are not suggesting suing. I did not see Gord talking about suing either. Nor Eddie. They are all WEAK-LINGs.

Oh my, they have taken over Councillor Bill Marra’s position that Gord dismissed a few days before in a column when he called Marra a “Weak–Link.” Remember what Gord wrote because he clearly does not:

  • “We're already seeing that with Bill Marra, council's "weakest link" on the border file, breaking rank to oppose legal action, the city's sole remaining weapon in its fight to extract GreenLink-calibre concessions from the province.”

It looks like there is another weapon that can be used: talking to people to try to arrive at a reasonable compromise. Wasn't that what Marra suggested! However, it is not one that our Mayor is capable of using given his ludicrous comments and Henderson’s Saturday column.

If this was the Council in 2003, they would have thrown out the Mayor as the Voice of Council and several of the Councillors would have been assigned the duty to meet with the Province to negotiate a deal. Our Council is so weak that they would be afraid to even contemplate such an action for fear of being scolded by the Kindergarten Teacher.

I am posting a copy of the memo so that you can read it for yourself.

Note that the memo is in relation to the “DRAFT” Environmental Assessment report. It is a shame that Gord did not quote the last paragraph:

  • "Several documents for the preferred alternative are described as pending. More detail will be necessary for the final version of this document.

It is a draft report for heaven sakes. It was circulated specifically to get comments. One expects comments where there are weaknesses in order to beef it up. He only had problems with SIX sub-sections in the Report.

What the good Environment Ministry Ph.D. is suggesting, and what Gord's readers would not know about because he did not reveal it, is that Dr. Diamond may well be satisfied once the “pending” documents are produced. He may not be as well. Who knows now. If he is satisfied, then does that mean that Gord and Eddie will have to back off and support the DRIC report because he is such a genius? After all, he is described as someone with integrity and who can tell it like it is.

Or will they demand that he return the Keys to the City?

There is no doubt whatsoever that some of his comments are very damaging. I am surprised that Henderson did not refer to the comments made by others as further support of the Gord-called shoddy quality of the DRIC work.

However, our Mayor’s comment made me sick

  • “It comes down to quality of life. Kids are going to school in this city with air monitors in their backpacks. Do we not want to change that?"

Did it tug on your heartstrings? Are we now down to our final emotional argument because there are no others: the kids? This from the mouth of a Mayor who could say about a year ago:

  • City may cancel crossing guards; Program, library cuts on budget chopping block

    Council is considering cancelling the city's school crossing guard program and ordered the Windsor Public Library to chop $800,000 in expenses as it struggles to bring next year's tax increase down from where it currently sits -- at 3.1 per cent.

    During a budget meeting Wednesday when it told the library board to find ways -- aside from mothballing branches or closing on Sunday -- to come up with savings, council also discussed saving $474,000 by chopping the city-funded crossing guard program.

    The part-time crossing guards add up to the equivalent of 28.3 full-time jobs, plus one co-ordinator employed by the city's licensing department. Windsor is one of the few cities in Ontario to provide the service.

    "If it's taken away there will be issues," conceded Mayor Eddie Francis…

    "It's not the city's responsibility to take kids from the front porch to school," Francis added. "The practice is in place, but it's not a mandated service."

Our weakling Mayor’s hypocrisy in using kids after his crossing guard statement made me want to vomit.

Again, most people will have missed the purpose of Henderson's column. He has put Eddie in the position where he has no choice but to sue. He knows as well as you and I do, dear reader, that Eddie is a weakling and does not have the nerve to do so. In effect, he is mocking our Mayor and destroying his credibility more than anyone else in this City but you cannot prove it from his words. As Gord wrote before:

  • “Sadly, given the damning environmental evidence we heard this week, it would be unconscionable for the city to do anything less than fight for the health and safety of its constituents, even if it means seeking a judicial review.”

He has put Eddie on the spot.

Of course you understand that IF Eddie is forced to sue and the Senior Levels pull out of town taking the thousands of jobs with them, he cannot be blamed. It will be the fault of WINDSORITES. We will have demanded the lawsuit to protect our kids, not the Mayor. He is only doing what WE are telling him to do.

WEAKLING!



Friday, January 09, 2009

Should WEDC Be Woundup


I finally figured it out. It must be near the Budget deliberation time of the City and County as well as the Credit Union who are the financiers of the Windsor Essex Development Commission.

How else to explain the big story about 125 new jobs that may be created in our newest call centre. How else to explain the waste of money for a two page advertising spread in last Saturday’s Windsor Star.

The Development Commission has to pretend that they have done something over the past year for all the money that taxpayers and the Credit Union have poured into that organization. They have to be afraid that their budget will be cut or that Baord members will be replaced or even their organization woundup!

Let’s take a look at the ad and see what they have done.
  • There was a nice picture of Mike Burton, their former Vice President who just announced that he was leaving

  • There was no picture of their new CEO because no one has been hired yet for almost a year after the previous CEO was terminated

  • There was a picture of the Chair who told us that after all this time “the new WEDC is still taking shape, growing and changing to effectively serve the needs of our Region.” His mistake however was telling us that they have been around already for 24 months. I would have thought that by this time the Commission should have taken shape already.

  • I’m so glad to see that our Commission is winning prizes for creating websites and new marketing material. So that is how they spend their time at work.

  • Under “Major Accomplishments” I did not see the word “jobs” or “new businesses” attracted although we were told quote “the WDC has close to 20 projects in the pipeline… Details on potential projects must necessarily be held in confidence.”

  • There was a nice kiss up to the Credit Union and to the Windsor Star. Mind you, the advertising department of the Star must be pleased with two pages being sold right at the beginning of the year or is that part of their donation to the Commission.

It is all fluff, no stuff. If I was on the Development Commission of another jurisdiction whether in Ontario or Michigan, after reading this material, I would not be too concerned about Windsor/Essex being a significant competitor for any new business investment.

Given the e-mails that have been circulating around about what is going on at the Commission, our politicians have the obligation to try to discover what is really happening. I have no idea if what is being said in the e-mails is true or not nor do I care. What it tells me however is that there are serious problems at the WEDC that must be investigated.

For the money that has been invested in them so far and the time during which they have been around, their accomplishments are minimal. I have no idea why it was necessary to have trade missions overseas to the UK and to Germany. What did they accomplish? What happened after the train trip to Toronto to get all of the movers and shakers there interested in coming to Windsor? Has there been any follow-up on anything that they have done? Are they being held accountable for all of the money that they have spent?

Before another penny of taxpayer money is put into this organization, serious questions must be asked and the appropriate answers provided. We cannot afford at this time of economic crisis for the region the luxury of pretending to be doing something when in fact little is being accomplished.

It may well be that the decision has to be made to windup this organization and start again. While that would be a tragedy, it would be worse if the WEDC was allowed to carry on as it is now. It is nothing more than a revolving door for senior executives while spending millions and achieving little with the nerve of telling us that it "is still taking shape" after all of this time.

Sean O'Dell Has Some 'Splainin' To Do


What is the cause of all of that BABALOO coming out of the mouths of Government officials involved in the DRIC project. Should our Medical Officer of Health be concerned with this new pandemic as well as the amnesia disease?

It is time that Transport Canada's Sean O'Dell explain his ridiculous remarks in the Detroit News or retract them publicly:
  • "Basically, it is not good business sense to have a monopoly on such an important trade route," said Sean O'Dell, executive director of the Windsor Gateway Project, the Canadian portion of the proposed bridge. "Moroun will lose some traffic, but there's more than enough business to go around."

"Some traffic!" Has he not read the US DRIC reports about how much traffic the DRIC bridge is supposed to take away from the Ambassador Bridge? "More than enough business to go around" with the auto industry in the dumpster! How can he make these statements?

If he is speaking for the Canadian Government, then the Peace Bridge cannot build their second bridge and the Bridge Company will be allowed to build in Fort Erie/Buffalo their Ambassador Niagara Signature Bridge to end the Government "monopoly" in that area.

He has just made a fool out of the Minister of Finance if Transport Canada is providing the economic justification for the financing of the DRIC border crossing. Minister Flaherty's reputation would go into the toilet at a time when his credibility is essential. He was pushing for a P3 in Windsor/Detroit at the recent P3 Conference:

Who would invest in a DRIC Bridge when traffic numbers are falling. How can he possibly make his comments when supposedly the investment grade traffic study will not be completed until next June, a year late?

If I did not know any better, the Governments may want someone to sue them because of the deficiencies in the DRIC materials in order to stop the out-of-control process. They do not have the guts themselves to stop after spending $60M or so on this Megaproject boondoggle on both sides of the border. They would look like incompetents for going on for so long.

I shudder to think what an Auditor-General value-for-money audit would look like on this project! In another BLOG soon, I will give an example of one that was done that will make your hair stand on edge and your wallet feel emptier when you see the waste of taxpayer money.

Check this out.
  • Sarnia feels impact of sputtering economy

    "Chuck Chrapko of the Blue Water Bridge Authority confirmed that truck traffic is down significantly.

    “It’s been dropping for the past two years and we thought it would level out by now,” he said.

    In November, trucks traffic crossing the Blue Water Bridge was down about 15 per cent from November 2007.

    “It took a good hit in November,” Chrapko said. “We know 25 per cent of the product crossing here is auto-related but we aren’t able to say those are the ones that aren’t crossing. And, of course, they’re not all local trucks.”

Or this

  • "US-Canada toll traffic hit by auto & economy woes - November 15% lower

    November traffic at the US-Canadian border around the Great Lakes and St Lawrence is down strongly according to data on eleven major crossings collected by the Public Border Operators Association (PBOA) - from 3.28m 2007-11 to 2.77m 2008-11, a decline of 15.4%. The decline has been gaining in recent months. The month-on-same-month-last year (MOSMLY) declines have been Aug 4.0%, Sept 8.7%, Oct 11.3%, Nov 15.4%.

    Truck traffic is down the most, Nov trucks being down 21.5%, cars 13.9%.

    In absolute terms 2008-11 was 534k trucks vs 680k 2007-11, cars 2.27m 2008-11 vs 2.59m 200711.

    Some of the decline is no doubt due to the special troubles of the Once-Big Three Detroit car companies which have heavily integrated operations on either side of the international border especially in the Toronto- Detroit corridor, Ontario-Michigan.

    About half the total traffic and close to two-thirds of the truck traffic at the eleven border crossings is accounted for at the three in the Detroit area so it looms large in the total. Those are Ambassador Bridge, Detroit-Windsor Tunnel and Blue Water Bridge.

    Not just the Toronto-Detroit corridor

    But the crossings outside the Detroit area are down significantly also. The four Niagara crossings NY-ON are down almost 16% and trucks down nearly 18%. Those are crossings that cater to a wide mix of trade, tourism and commuting.

    So too do what we've called the St Lawrence River crossings between northern NY and western Ontario/Quebec.

    These are down 10% overall, and 24% for truck traffic.

    We're at a loss to explain the magnitude of these drops in traffic. They are larger than we've seen reported anywhere else. The Canadian economy has held up rather than better than the US economy with less financial stress.

    Maybe it's something to do with the Canadian dollars declining suddenly relative to the US dollar. From being close to par then in the low 90s it has dropped to 82c in the past several weeks. However in the past such fluctuations have not affected traffic noticeably."

However, if you really want to know how bad the traffic volume has fallen in this area take a look at this story from March, 2004:

  • "Sarnia truck route touted; Need for crossing in Windsor may be cut by increased use of Blue Water Bridge;

    Diverting truck traffic to Sarnia is a viable border congestion solution that's been dropped from the latest round of the binational process, said a citizens group fighting any new routes that would cut through LaSalle.

    The binational group's own reports say 30 per cent of commercial traffic that goes through Windsor could use Sarnia's Blue Water Bridge "without significant travel time increases," and 44 per cent of all trucks are long-distance haulers that aren't making a stop in either Windsor or Detroit.

    If those trucks can be encouraged to use the Blue Water -- which is expected to operate below capacity until 2030 -- the need for a new border crossing somewhere on the Detroit River may prove unnecessary, said Ken Drouillard, a University of Windsor assistant biology professor and member of the LaSalle citizens group....

    Offering truck firms a financial incentive to travel through Sarnia would end up cheaper than building a new border crossing, Drouillard said. Yet in the drawing up of a proposed terms of reference for a soon-to-start environmental assessment, reference to Sarnia as an option has been dropped.

    "The question is why the terms of reference are strictly focusing on the Detroit River as the only alternative," Drouillard said.

    Dave Wake, interim coordinator for the binational group, said the current terms of reference only look at potential routes and crossing sites along the Detroit River because even if a large share of trucks were diverted to Sarnia, this region will still need a new border crossing to meet demands. "

In 2004, DRIC said we had so many trucks that were going to cross here that even if a large share of them them were diverted to Sarnia we would still need another bridge.

Fast forward to today and the US DRAFT EIS. To justify the DRIC bridge financial position, traffic must be taken FROM both the Tunnel AND the Blue Water Bridge. As I Blogged before:

  • "The US report states that the new bridge will control up to 80% of the truck traffic and 60% of the car traffic thereby taking a big part of the business of the Ambassador Bridge and that it will take away 26% of the Detroit Tunnel's traffic and about 18% of the Blue Water Bridge truck traffic.

    Remember, we were supposed to keep away truck traffic as much as possible. Now DRIC wants to bring it to us. Not just any traffic mind you but hazardous material traffic that can go through the Green Link Schwunnels if Eddie is successful."

DRIC itself has shot down the idea of an Ambassador Bridge monopoly. Traffic volumes are down not up with little expectation of a major improvement for a very long period of time. To make a DRIC Bridge financially viable, traffic has to be brought here now. Weren't we trying to get rid of traffic initially?

I do not believe that the Governments do not know what their consultants are saying re the investment grade traffic study. A Report may not have been produced but that does not mean that the information is not known. If one had been produced last June and the results did not support the basic assumption underlying the DRIC bridge--increased traffic volumes--- it would have to be produced as part of the DRIC process. It would kill the project wouldn't it!

Our Mayor ought to get real. If he really wanted to litigate over DRIC, he would not fight it on environmental issues, especially ones that will disappear as engines and diesel fuel are improved, but he would do it on cold, hard economic facts. He would easily be able to demonstrate that the project would go bankrupt and might take the other regional crossings down with it.

To get the facts, I have filed with Transport Canada a Freedom of Information application for these records:

  • I would appreciate if you would provide me with the following records:

    1) The Windsor Star reported on April 16, 2008 that "Transport Canada is conducting surveys at Windsor and Sarnia border crossings to get information on future traffic and revenue that might convince a private company to help build and operate a new bridge. " All records in relation to that survey including but not limited to the results and any reports based on the survey.

    2) Records relating to the "development of policy, strategies and operational protocols and practices for the planning and development of a new WINDSOR-Detroit Crossing" (Note--that language was used in document T8080-08-0040. I am looking for all records under that classification, not just under that document)

    3) Records relating to PRP International and anyone else retained as an "Expert Advisor" including anyone chosen under Reference Number 151548 Solicitation Number T8080-08-0040

    4) Records relating to those parties to whom Requests for Proposals were distributed and those who actually provided proposals under the Request for Proposal: TRAFFIC AND REVENUE FORECASTERs FOR THE WINDSOR GATEWAY PROJECT including but not limited to their proposal

    5) Records relating to all TRAFFIC AND REVENUE FORECASTERs and studies including but not limited to forecasters and forecast refreshers FOR THE WINDSOR GATEWAY PROJECT including but not limited to ones prepared under Request for Proposal # T8080-07-0339, and those prepared by Wilbur Smith, URS, IBI and any Government Department or outside consultant and from any ad hoc traffic and revenue forecasting services.

    6) All traffic and revenue forecast records provided by Transport Canada to

    --any Federal Government Office or Department including but not limited to CBSA, the Ministry of Finance, the PCO, the Prime Minister’s Office
    --the Province of Ontario, its Premier or any Government Office or Department including but not limited to Ministry of Transportation, Infrastructure Ontario, Ministry of Finance
    --City of Windsor, its Mayor or any Government Office or Department
    --State of Michigan, its Governor or any Government Office or Department including but not limited to MDOT
    --Government of the United States, President of the United States, its Secretary of Transportation, or any Government Office or Department including but not limited to including FHWA, CBP, Department of Transportation, Department of State, Homeland Security,
    --Corradino Group, URS, Wilbur Smith, IBI or any other consultant
    --any private sector firm or potential investor or financial institution in the WINDSOR GATEWAY PROJECT
    --any Federal, Provincial, State or Municipal politician

    7) All traffic and revenue forecast records provided by any of the parties in 6) above to Transport Canada.

If I am right in my assumptions, DRIC is finished. Why the Governments did not follow the kangaroo precedent that I have Blogged about before astounds me!

[BLOG, Wednesday, April 11, 2007, “How A Kangaroo Can Save Canada's Economy." http://windsorcityon.blogspot.com/2007/04/how-kangaroo-can-save-canadas-economy.html ]

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Pushing Eddie's Button


I would have thought it was a simple matter to determine who was responsible for the "Kill Button" sound system installed at City Hall.

Not in Windsor.

Nothing is ever simple here when it comes to our City Hall. We have the silly spectacle of the "Mayor Said, Cogeco Said" to try and determine the truth of the matter.

Here is exactly what Eddie said during the Face-to-Face interview. Compare this with what was said in the Star today :
  • "JOHN FAIRLEY: Didn’t know that. I got to ask you a question.

    MAYOR FRANCIS: That, that’s the number one issue (inaudible-two speaking at once)

    JOHN FAIRLEY: You watch this show all the time.

    MAYOR FRANCIS: Mm-hmm.

    JOHN FAIRLEY: Okay. What’s the deal…

    MAYOR FRANCIS: Well you send me the tapes.

    JOHN FAIRLEY: No I don’t. What’s the deal with that dump button, that microphone control thing that you…

    MAYOR FRANCIS: Oh thank you for asking me that question.

    JOHN FAIRLEY: Now but why would you do that?

    MAYOR FRANCIS: Listen, I always call…

    JOHN FAIRLEY: You didn’t, first off you didn’t, you did not, you did not ask other Councillors and they arrived and they showed up and all of a sudden this control thing you have of being able to cut everybody off. So why?

    MAYOR FRANCIS: Okay. I’m glad you asked the question.

    JOHN FAIRLEY: I’m glad I did too.

    MAYOR FRANCIS: Because I forget what Councillor you were asking the question to.

    JOHN FAIRLEY: Every one that comes on.

    MAYOR FRANCIS: You know why? Cogeco. [pause]

    JOHN FAIRLEY: Really?

    MAYOR FRANCIS: Yeah. The system in the Council Chambers needed to…the old microphone did that too, but the system in the Council Chambers, you’ll appreciate, people at home that watch Council meetings on Monday night were complaining that they were hearing the, the buzzing sound that was coming across the microphones or were not hearing what was being said at Council Chamber because it wasn’t being transmitted properly. So as I understand it, the City Clerks met with Cogeco and there was an agreement that we needed to update our systems and when they updated our systems the same company that did the last microphone, has got this microphone and that’s the feature that they have. That’s where it is.

    JOHN FAIRLEY: But the buzzing sound was people on Council receiving stuff on their blackberries …

    MAYOR FRANCIS: But you don’t hear the buzzing…

    JOHN FAIRLEY: …from people watching at home.

    MAYOR FRANCIS: Oh I know, that’s…

    JOHN FAIRLEY: And here’s the question to ask, right, that was going on.

    MAYOR FRANCIS: Right, that was going on and I’ve asked Councillors not to use their blackberries for that purpose because I feel if you’ve got something to say you can say it in the Council Chamber. But now since the system’s been upgraded you notice that the buzzing sound is not longer there. Right. So it’s, it’s an old facility and they’ve upgraded the system.

    JOHN FAIRLEY: If you…

    MAYOR FRANCIS: But I love the question. I love the question to the Councillor as if I wanted to cut them off and stuff like that and…

    JOHN FAIRLEY: But you do cut some of them off.

    MAYOR FRANCIS: Well because you have told me as others have told me, I got to keep them on track.

    JOHN FAIRLEY: {slight laugh}

    MAYOR FRANCIS: We’d be there all night.

Notice that the Mayor said that there were public complaints, that there was a meeting with Cogeco and an agreement was reached that there was a need to upgrade the system

Here is what Eddie said in the Star today:

  • "The mayor said Wednesday he has handled meetings no differently and interjects only to enforce rules and procedures during meetings.

    "As chair of the meetings, it's my responsibility to ensure the meeting is flowing," he said. "That's been the case from day 1. Nothing has changed."

    TV Cogeco, which broadcasts council meetings, had been complaining about the old microphone system and its audio quality, the mayor said.

    It was the city clerk's office that handled the upgrade, Francis said.

    "I came to council one night and they said, 'this is the way the thing works,'" he said."

Notice that now the Mayor said that TV Cogeco was the complainant and that there was no mention of a meeting or an agreement.

Cogeco said in the Star:

  • "Robert Scussolin, programming manager for TV Cogeco, said it had nothing to do with changes to the sound system in council chambers and said the cable broadcaster has never made any demands for audio improvements.

    A statement by Francis on a recent Face to Face broadcast with host John Fairley, where he pointed to TV Cogeco as the reason for the upgrade, "caught me off guard," Scussolin said.

    "I've been the manager for five years and don't recall us saying get a new system for us. I didn't know we had that much power.

    "When we go there, we just plug in our cameras and into their audio system. The radio stations and other media need to plug into it as well. It is the city's system, we don't own it. We never said what to purchase or what options should be be included on it."

No complaints by Cogeco, no meeting and no agreement

You tell me what the truth really is.

More On The Dunbar Audit

From CBC News on Wednesday


video


I really wonder what's in that Report. Such a big mystery.

Which Insult Would You Rather Be Called

A tough question for you to answer, dear reader.

First we have Gord Henderson sharpening his pencil to take shots at Bill Marra to try to stop him 2 years in advance from running against Eddie in the next mayoral election or trying to destroy him in the public's mind as a credible candidate.

Gord knows as well as Eddie, the Eminence Greasie and the E-machine that, in a two-way race, Eddie would be toast if an election was held today. No wonder Dave Cooke is being suckered errrrr promoted to be the third man in to split the vote.
  • "It can only get more difficult for Francis as the year progresses. Those itching to take his place -- and Lord knows why anyone would want to -- will become more outspoken with each passing month. We're already seeing that with Bill Marra, council's "weakest link" on the border file, breaking rank to oppose legal action, the city's sole remaining weapon in its fight to extract GreenLink-calibre concessions from the province. And as Marra trolls for headlines and campaign funds, other wannabees will come crawling out of the woodwork."

Henderson's slam was totally predictable but rather late in coming. Gord must have become soft for the holiday season and waited until the new year to call Bill names. Yet, Marra may actually turn out to be the only one on Council with any brains in this matter and NOT the weak link!

A lawsuit being the only remaining weapon...hardly. Mind you with a negotiator like Eddie, Gord may be right. He has burned all of his bridges hasn't he. (Sorry, could not resist the pun!).


Then we have Eddie himself whining as usual about DRIC in a video on the Star website telling us all of the horrible things they have done wrong:

  • "I need to remind you that on August 14th 2007, the Province and DRIC came out with their preferred alternative. They asked for comments. On May 1st they came out with very little change. Here we are, at the beginning of 2009, nearly a year and a half later, and DRIC has not moved, has not responded to the issues that have been raised by this Community. And in doing so, they have violated a number of provisions that are found in the terms of reference and a number of safeguards that are provided to communities such as ours and to people of our Community under the Environment Assessment and it is our responsibility to point out those issues."

He has accused the Premier of biasing the DRIC process while his weapon of mass destruction, David Estrin, spent hours at Council about how he could beat DRIC in a lawsuit.

Yak, yak, yak....that is all our Mayor can do. It is so tiresome.

Wouldn't a strong leader act rather than talk...telling us the same thing in so many different ways? Wouldn't a strong leader have done something by now to protect us from all this evil rather than just strut and pontificate? Would you as a strong leader want your credibility questioned by your inaction?

I could spend the time tracking down all of the times Eddie threatened to sue someone in the border file but frankly, I cannot be bothered. Does anyone now believe that he will actually do anything other than talk. His threats of lawsuits are laughable!

So, dear reader, here is the choice you have to make. Would you rather be called:

a WEAK-LINK or a WEAK-LING!

Why Eddie Has Not Sued

With all of the errors that DRIC has made as claimed by our Mayor/lawyer over the last few weeks, aren't you shocked that he and Council have not instructed our hired weapon of legal mass destruction to commence a lawsuit yet?

One of Eddie’s major flaws is that he thinks that he is so much more clever than everyone else when in fact he is quite obvious. Of course, it may take time to figure out exactly what he is doing but in the end, the hints are there. Once we can put them all together, it becomes fun watching the game play itself out.

I must admit that I do not understand this fascination with gamesmanship rather than actually doing something. It seems like an incredible waste of time to me when there are so many matters to deal with. To get from Point A to Point B, why do we have to go through most of the other letters of the alphabet first?

Let me give you an example of what I mean. I have just written a BLOG effectively calling our Mayor weak in relation to the border file. David Estrin spent hours in front of Council telling us why DRIC was wrong in what they did. On our behalf, he submitted a very long report to DRIC with respect to their Environmental Assessment. The Mayor has levelled charges against the Premier for prejudicing the DRIC process and effectively telling people not to bother making any comments even though DRIC asked for them.

Supposedly, Council voted recently in camera, always in camera, nine to one in favour of litigation to seek judicial review of what DRIC has done, Eddie has threatened litigation so many times that I have lost count and yet nothing has been done.

The media have been played like violins including the EH-News story of the other day with the so-called bombshell that even the Ontario Ministry of the Environment thinks that DRIC has not done a good job:
  • “Reporter: It's not the critical tone of the memo that's as surprising as the identity of its author. DRIC's efforts to design a new border crossing have put Ontario's Ministry of Transportation squarely at odds with the City of Windsor, but this memo reveals concerns have also been raised by fellow scientists within the Provincial Government. In the memo an employee for the Ministry of Environment says, in part "For an environmental assessment, I found the detail and information on the environment to be somewhat sparse."

    Gerald Diamond (Ontario Ministry of the Environment): They don't give me enough information so I can sit back and comfortably go "Well gee, they've looked at everything and the people of the Province can rest easy now." I just thought - and I'm not saying they didn't do it - what I'm saying is they didn't prove to me that they did it.

    Reporter: Mayor Eddie Francis says the memo reinforces his position that the Windsor-Essex Parkway's environmental assessment was flawed.

    Mayor Francis: This confirms what the City of Windsor and our team have been saying all along - the DRIC team is hiding the facts. The DRIC have not done their work and to hear a representative from the Ministry of the Environment take them to task on it just confirms what we've said yesterday as well…

    It begs to ask the question what other internal memos are there and what other advice and what other comments is the DRIC team ignoring?”

In passing, I hardly think that our Mayor should be the one who talks about open and transparent Government. Moreover, say what you will, the document was published by DRIC as part of the Comments received. It was NOT hidden. Can we say the same about what takes place in our City? Just take a look at the number of Freedom of Information Applications that have been made recently.

Here we have all of this information that should be used in a major lawsuit by our Mayor who is our Champion, in his mind at least, who is protecting

  • “Our residents, their lives and the quality of life.”

But he has not done anything? Why not? Can you understand it?

The answer was given in yesterday’s Star in this story

  • Bridge, city rap border plan
    DRIC's environmental assessment could face two court challenges


    The environmental assessment for a proposed route to a third border crossing has "fatal flaws" and must start over, the president of the Ambassador Bridge said Tuesday.

    Dan Stamper said the EA filed Friday could be the target of legal action by the bridge, which has a competing proposal to build the next Windsor-Detroit crossing.”

I trust that you understand it now. Our Mayor does not have the nerve to sue. He cannot take the political risk that the Senior Levels will pull out of town taking with them 20,000 jobs. It would be political suicide for him and Council. He knows that they are serious. He knows that his bluff has been called and that is why he made that comment that he would support DRIC if the Senior Levels guaranteed the jobs at the start of 2009.

Everything that has been going on over the past few weeks with respect to lawsuits and threats of lawsuits is nothing more than Eddie praying that the Bridge Company will take the bait that he has laid out for them. He is hoping that they actually will sue and save his bacon.

Let the Bridge Company be the bad guys if the Senior Levels pull out of town so that he can denounce the Bridge Company. It would be all the Bridge Company's fault, not Eddie's, for the loss of jobs. If they do not leave, then Eddie can claim that he stood up to the Senior Levels as our Hero and that everything that the Bridge Company is saying is something that he already conceived.

That is Eddie’s game isn’t it! He views it as a no-lose as long as the Bridge Company acts as he assumes they will.

After all, the Bridge Company’s law firm was Gowlings as well. There is a lawsuit over that. Here is our Mayor giving the Bridge Company all of the information to defeat DRIC on a silver platter and at Windsor taxpayer expense too. What could be a nicer present than that to the Bridge Company? Why, they would be ungrateful if they did NOT sue right away!

Don’t you find it fascinating that the Mayor requires his “Enemy” to save his political skin!

Do you see what I mean? Eddie thinks that everyone else is too stupid to understand what he is doing? He does not believe that anybody can see through him and his tricks. He believes that people take him at face value and cannot understand his strategy. He thinks he can sucker the Bridge Company to do his work.

Tell me the truth. You had it all figured out when you saw the Star story didn’t you. You have been my BLOG reader for a long time. It was so obvious. Heck, if we figured it out, some others did too.

Poor Eddie, he forgot what Gord wrote some time ago:

  • “I'm in awe of Moroun and his hired hands. These folks are the masters. They're always two or three cunning moves ahead of the other players in what amounts to a high-stakes border chess match."

You see, dear reader, we all are not so dumb as some people think.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

More Stories

I just wanted to clear out the cupboards of leftover 2008 items. Just a few more items that you might find of interest.

SO MUCH FOR GREENLINK

And all this time I thought the Mayor and Council were concerned about the quality of life of Windsorites. Piffle!

It has absolutely nothing to do with whatever it is that Eddie's legal Dream Team was talking about at Council. It has nothing to do with the area of mass destruction around the DRIC Road. It has nothing to do with tunnels or Schwunnels.

If Eddie can say this at a media scrum, then someone needs to ask him what his multimillion dollar opposition to the DRIC Road is and why he is stalling. It is absolutely clear from his comment that he and Council are prepared to back off from their Greenlink position provided that they are given certain things now:
  • "Let me be very clear as it relates to the local commentary that has been expressed as it relates to construction and jobs. City council and the city of Windsor and myself would be the first to stand in support of this project if the province of Ontario guarantees 20,000 jobs will be in this community at the beginning of 2009."

Wait a minute. There is no concern about air quality here. No concern about residents' health. No concern that the DRIC Road does not link communities. No concerns at all.

As the joke goes, DRIC now knows what Eddie and Council are. They are just negotiating over price.

BUSINESS SENSE

If I offered you the opportunity to discuss business with our Young Entrepreneur of the Year, the Mayor of Windsor, or a person who is ranked #321 on the Forbes list of the 400 richest billionaires in America, which would you choose?

The answer I would have thought is self-evident.

If you were to follow the advice of these two people as to what you should do in this time of economic distress, which one would you choose?

Again, the answer I would have thought is obvious.

You probably thought that the person to whom I was referring was Matty Moroun of the Ambassador Bridge Company. While that was his ranking, he actually tied with another person in Detroit, Roger Penske.

Here is what Roger Penske did in Detroit:
  • Detroit Grand Prix group understands cancellation

    A group of about 100 Detroit Grand Prix Association volunteers gathered Thursday night at Rumors on the River on East Jefferson for its annual Christmas party.

    On everyone's lips was the cancelation of the 2009 Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, which had leaked out a few hours earlier.

    No rumor -- just plain, cold facts. With the Motor City suffering from an economy in crisis, organizers of the race thought they could not, in good faith, stage the event scheduled for Labor Day weekend.

    Roger Penske, the force behind the return of the GP to Belle Isle in 2007, pulled the plug -- with the understanding of the Detroit city officials, event sponsors and the Indy Racing League, the race's sanctioning body.

    Merrill Cain attended the Christmas function. Cain, who has run the GP's public relations efforts from his office at the Renaissance Center, wasn't putting a spin on the night's mood. He was bitterly disappointed, like everyone, but he understood the necessity of cancelling the race.

    "With a lot of folks in Michigan hurting, it just wasn't right to stage the event," Cain said. "We all had a few beers and talked about it. Everybody wants this race to come back. But we knew it wasn't a good situation to go ahead next year with it."

    Even with Washington coming to the aid of Detroit automakers Friday, the decision to cancel the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix is a good one.

    The Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau reports last year's event generated $55 million in economic impact for metropolitan Detroit and another $12.8 million in direct spending in Detroit and the surrounding tri-county area. But to expect the public to shelve out that kind of money for the 2009 event in such economically challenging times would have been foolish and arrogant.”

Although it has not been announced, the information I have received, and it is posted on another BLOG in Windsor, is that our Mayor has been successful in bringing Red Bull back to Windsor. While congratulations are in order for him to do so, one wonders why he has not yet publicized it.

Could it be that the Mayor is out there looking for Sponsorship money in the amount of several million dollars and is having difficulty collecting it. After all, this is Windsor, not Detroit, which ran the event last time. With these tough economic times, I expect that our Mayor will have great difficulty in convincing businesses to provide that kind of money for a frivolity when they are hurting financially because of the distressed economy.

The auto companies certainly will not be able to help since they would be slammed by the Government officials in Washington, Ottawa and Toronto who have just given them bridge loans. If the United Way goals have dropped from from $9.3 million in 2001 to $6.5 million in 2008, I would think that any business that contributed to an air race might be criticized for not donating that money to a charity instead.

If the Windsor International Air Show was given such a hard time because of “process” for a $10,000 City sponsorship, does anyone believe that Councillors have the nerve to commit $3 million to the Red Bull race? I’m sure they would not be so foolish as to take out this money from the reserves or the Budget stabilization fund or somehow offset it from the $20 million that the City will be receiving from the Province. Surely, the Council would not claim that they are using part of the $4 million for the Arena that was received from the Province for this.

I would doubt that Eddie would try and run the Sponsorship through the Visitors’ Bureau or the Airport or even the Development Commission since these organizations don’t have that kind of money.

I would think that perhaps the Senior Levels might be the only reasonable source of money considering that former Senator Fortier seemed to be able to gather government money to try to save the Montreal Grand Prix. However, considering the number of snubs, I would think that this source of money would be dried up for anything to do with Windsor.

I would think that our Mayor should perhaps contact his friend Roger and ask for a copy of the news release that he sent out with respect to the Grand Prix not being run this year. If Eddie has any sense what he will do is tell us all that he was successful in bringing back the Red Bull Air Race so that he can be our big hero but that he has decided that it is not the time to run this race in this City this year with all of our economic difficulties. In this way, he shows some empathy for his fellow citizens.

He wins both ways if he does this. However, I don’t think he’s capable of doing so. He had the chance to do so on Face-to-Face but did not. Who knows, I might be surprised.

IT'S ALIVE. IT'S ALIVE

If the hint given in the Henderson column some time ago that he might be retiring is true, then if I was the Mayor, I would try and hire him either full time or on a retainer basis to be my Communications guru. I am sure that he would not charge the quarter of a million dollars that the Mayor wanted to spend for a PR Group but even if he did, he would be worth the price to the Mayor.

Who else but Gord could almost make me feel guilty about not demanding that my tax money be used for the Francis/Cooke “pie-in-the-sky” canal scheme. I almost was made to feel that I would be characterized as a "detractor" if I did not go along with building this project that will revitalize our downtown so that "visitors [could go] home with fond memories and great impressions to pass on to friends and relatives." Just like the almost $1 million spent on fixing up our entranceways, but for the weeds, that visitors would see as they whizzed down Dougall and other avenues.

Yes, let's spend money for visitors and forget about those sewer backups and potholes.

Obviously, the Mayor did not want to announce the results of the Cooke study at this time because he literally would be laughed out of town if he dared try to suggest that it move forward. I have heard from a person who is very close to City Hall that the Report had been completed sometime ago and that in fact it came in under the outrageous $60 million cost that had been floated. But then again, they should have floated $100 million so that the “savings” would have been so much more spectacular.

However, we learned in the Henderson column that the Report that should have been out by now will be out in February. What a nice Valentines Day present for us

  • “Things are coming along. I'm still hopeful it will happen," said Cooke, explaining that the engineering feasibility study, conducted by Landmark Engineering of Windsor, is 95 per cent complete and the economic feasibility study, by UrbanMetrics Inc. of Toronto, should be finished by the end of February.”

There was a mention in the Henderson column of a new company. In case you are wondering who Pristine Power Inc. is, they are the people who are proposing

  • “84 MW natural gas-fired cogeneration facility using modern technology to generate reliable clean power for over 80,000 homes in the Windsor area and steam for Ford's Windsor operations. The project will encompass approximately 1.5 acres of industrial land, located adjacent to the existing Ford powerhouse and will be equipped with modern emission controls to meet all federal and provinical air quality standards.”

If it was not for those silly landlords who delayed by a month the setting up of the Town & Gown committee since they thought that the City was trying to force them out of business, I am sure that the Report would have been out a lot sooner. It would not surprise me if the Report suggested that the focus of the canal vision could be buildings constructed by the University and St. Clair College along with student housing. However, there I am being cynical again.

It is so much easier for Gord to write about “vision for a downtown renaissance,” “the dream of a Little Venice,” “pie-in-the-sky schemes,” and “eye candy.” Why I bet he can do it almost with his eyes closed after he has supported so many of Eddie’s other dreams.

Gord asks

  • “Is the dream still alive? Even in these hard times? You bet it is.”

Yes, so much easier than doing one column about the 400 Building audit and the joke that it has become.

REASSURANCE

Wow, is our Mayor ever lucky that Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a personal phone call to him about the letter that he sent with respect to the automobile industry. Just take a look at this Reuters update:

  • UPDATE 3-Canada auto plan expected to be unveiled Saturday
    Fri Dec 19, 2008 5:50pm GMT

    (Adds comments by mayor of Windsor, Ontario)

    By John McCrank

    TORONTO, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper will unveil an aid package for Canada's auto industry on Saturday, responding to Washington's move to provide U.S.-based automakers with $17.4 billion in emergency funding…

    The spokesman declined to give more details of what Harper would announce on Saturday. The prime minister will appear with Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty.

    Eddie Francis, mayor of Windsor, Ontario, across the border from Detroit, said he spoke to Harper last Friday about the crisis in the auto industry.

    "He left me with the impression that they were on top of it and I walked away very reassured that they understood the significance of this industry to the economy," he said.

    About 45,000 jobs in Windsor are tied directly to the auto industry.

    "Our lifeline is extended today -- we are not out of the woods yet -- but what it means is that this industry has bought 90 days and our communities have bought 90 days," he said."

What a slap in the face to the Prime Minister however. I thought that the Federal Government and the Mayor were on good terms. The best that the PM could do was to leave Eddie with the “impression” that he knew what he was doing rather than Harper actually knowing what he was doing.

I will bet that Stephen and Dalton are so reassured that our Mayor is reassured. At least for 90 days after which the canal vision will come out to make us feel so much better. Isn’t that reassuring for us all too.

NOW AND THEN

  • Reuters:

    "Ken Lewenza, president of the Canadian Auto Workers union, lauded the U.S. package, but criticized concessions included in the deal that could lower wages and benefits, saying they weakened his own position in bargaining for a Canadian package.

    Lewenza has resisted the idea of wage and benefit cuts, but he said the union would find a way to work with the provincial and federal governments to find a solution.

    "I never said (concessions) were a nonstarter," he said."
  • National Post/Windsor Star:

    "CAW offers no breaks for auto bailout
    'We've suffered'
    Nicolas Van Praet, National Post, Published: Tuesday, November 18, 2008

    Canadian Auto Workers union president Ken Lewenza yesterday rejected calls for his members to make concessions as part of any taxpayer-funded rescue of Detroit's car manufacturers, saying labour did not create the crisis now threatening General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC with collapse.

    His comments came as U. S. senators began debating the merits of a US$25-billion emergency loans package for Detroit. The White House said the deal does not have sufficient political support to succeed.

    In Ottawa, a senior government official said Stephen Harper's Conservative government has not made any decision on offering parallel aid.

    "We don't see this as us being the problem," Mr. Lewenza said, adding he would "absolutely not" accept any further cuts after losing tens of thousands of jobs in recent years. "We've suffered our share of pain."

WINDSOR IS TRIVIAL

All of a sudden, I have seen a couple of news stories where facts about Windsor are the subject matter of a quiz. Perhaps that would is what we should do, name a game after the City so that we would get worldwide attention. How about "THINK BIG Pursuit" or "The Entitlement Game."

Here are the quizzes:

TORONTO SUN

16. Dwight Duncan, who represents Windsor-Tecumseh, asks: Which of the following facts is NOT true about Windsor?
a) The first urban settlement in what is now the City of Windsor was named Sandwich in 1797.
b) Windsor was the final terminus of the Underground Railroad.
c) The child-resistant, push-'n-turn caps on medicine bottles that are now accepted worldwide by the pharmaceutical industry were invented by a doctor and pharmacist from Windsor.
d) The Windsor/Detroit Tunnel is the longest underwater international vehicle tunnel in the world.
e) Windsor is often lovingly referred to as the "Rose City."

Answer is (d) The Chunnel, that connects the U.K. and France, has the longest undersea portion of any tunnel in the world.

SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

3. If you're in Windsor, Ontario, but would rather be in Detroit, which direction should you head?

HOLISTIC MEDICINE


If you happen to pass an Executive of one of the Big Three auto companies in Canada and you see them dressed in robes and chanting a mantra, here is why. They are trying to please the PM. This was part of the PM's Press Release about financial aid to the auto industry to help cure them of their financial woes:
  • "With these measures taken together, Canada is following a holistic approach that will benefit the entire supply chain,” said the Prime Minister."

GREENLINK PRIZE

I had one further thought with respect to Gord's column about the big prize that Sam won.

Which Greenlink proposal was submitted? Was it the first Greenlink, the Son of Greenlink or, if Eddie decides to do another version, would it be Greenlink: The Next Generation.

Don't you think it would be rather awkward for Eddie and Sam to stand up at the podium and receive an award for a project that they have junked?

D.I.R.T.

I really would like to be able to say that the DRTP's DIRT project---Detroit International Rail Tunnel---or was it DRRT, made sense but I cannot yet.

Sure, a whole bunch of people apparently liked it but then again, many of them also thought DRTP's truck tunnel was a great idea and you know what happened to it!

The Detroit Regional Chamber supports the proposal. Yet I wondered how they could do so considering they had all of these concerns:

  • Approvals/Permits Required: DRTP has stated that roughly 60 permits must be obtained before they can proceed with construction of the project; To-date, DRTP has not applied for or obtained any of these permits.
  • EIS: An Environmental Impact Analysis of the project has not been conducted to-date.
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis: A detailed cost-benefit analysis of the project has not been made available to support the project benefits outlined in the rail tunnel proposal.
  • Additional Information Required

In order for the Chamber and other interested organizations to conduct a comprehensive review and analysis of the DRTP’s proposal, the following additional information would be required:

  • Detailed information regarding plans for the design, construction, proposed alignment highway and rail access and egress, etc. for the proposed new high clearance rail tunnel.
  • Updated planning data and statistics that document the demand for additional rail capacity in the Detroit-Windsor corridor. Similar data which documents the projected future increase in intermodal freight traffic in the nation.
  • Statistics from MDOT on rail traffic volume in Michigan indicating that the majority of Canadian Pacific (CP) rail traffic is pass-through from Toronto to Chicago via Detroit at their Oak Yard facility.
  • A potential area of concern is spin-off development. Historical planning data indicates that spin-off development typically occurs not where the tunnel traffic flows, but where the freight is actually handled and processed, i.e. at intermodal freight facilities.
  • What information and data are available to document the cost-benefits to the region of this project – i.e. new economic activity or the generation of new jobs?
  • Specifically, how will the local business community and industry benefit from the tunnel project, and who are potential customers?
  • How will this project impact current plans for development of the Detroit Intermodal Freight Terminal (DIFT), and what is being done to coordinate those plans with MDOT?
  • How will this project impact the environment and local transportation infrastructure in the region, i.e. adjourning streets and roads?
  • What other state and local planning agencies are you working with to obtain support for the project, i.e. Corps of Engineers, SEMCOG, etc.?
  • What approvals or permits are required for CP to move forward with this proposal?
  • What municipal or other political support is required to move forward?

What a way to run a railroad!

Eddie On Face-To-Face


John Fairley does it again! His interview of the Mayor was masterful, allowing the Mayor to say what he wanted but pushing him into saying some things I am certain that he did not want to say.

As I have said before, John has a different style depending on whom he interviews. No matter, he gets the information out there.

Here are some excerpts from John’s interview that I thought might be interesting for you. It is just a sampler of what you will see on his complete interview with the Mayor on Cogeco.

Now if only Councillor Brister would have the nerve to appear on the show. I'd love to have John interview him about how the Arena was on budget.

MAYORAL PRIORITIES

JOHN FAIRLEY: Why weren’t you at that luncheon?

MAYOR FRANCIS: Oh I had a prior family commitment. As you can appreciate, they didn’t, they didn’t even give us notice until I think a month prior to it. So it was my wife’s…

JOHN FAIRLEY: Why didn’t the Councillors go?

MAYOR FRANCIS: ….it was my wife’s birthday weekend. I don’t know, you’re going to have to ask them. Let me go back to…

JOHN FAIRLEY: Yeah but don’t you send Councillors out? We knew there was one councillor there out of ten councillors. There’s other events, someone always goes on your behalf.

MAYOR FRANCIS: Sure.

JOHN FAIRLEY: So why didn’t anybody go?

MAYOR FRANCIS: Well you just said there was a Councillor there, so. And I know there were tons of City staff that were there as well. As far as I’m concerned I had a long standing family commitment. It was my, it was my birthday, my wife’s birthday weekend and certainly…

[While I cannot fault the Mayor for placing such importance on family, nevertheless he is the Mayor of a City of 200,000 people who do depend on him as well. He has a responsibility to citizens since he is our Leader. Considering that he had a month of time to change his family plans, his failure to attend the Premier's luncheon is inexcusable given the potential "death" of this city, in the Mayor's terms. And it was not his wife's 40th birthday either.

I saw this ad in the Star which you may find interesting as well


DID THE PREMIER BIAS THE DRIC PROCESS

JOHN FAIRLEY: Why would Premier Dalton McGuinty come to town and says we’re eager to move on it [DRIC ROAD].

MAYOR FRANCIS: anyways, back to your point in terms of the Premier. I fundamentally disagree with the Premier. The Premier’s comments that it’s the responsibility of leadership to make decisions. Okay. It’s the responsibility of leadership to make the right decision in difficult circumstances…When other cities are adopting GreenLink concepts and putting them into place to become economic competitiveness, doesn’t the Premier have a responsibility to sit back and say shouldn’t we look at doing things differently? And that’s where the Premier’s responsibility lies. More importantly, the Premier has an obligation to ensure that the integrity of the Environmental Assessment is not compromised. And that he put this process in place. He agreed to this process. This process…

JOHN FAIRLEY: Do you think he crossed a line with his comments?

MAYOR FRANCIS: Well I think his comments…

JOHN FAIRLEY: You’re a lawyer?

MAYOR FRANCIS: I, I believe his comments are very prejudicial because basically, and I don’t need, you don’t need to be a lawyer to understand this or appreciate it. DRIC is in the City of Windsor and DRIC is saying we have until December the 12th to respond to the current proposal. The Premier’s coming down on December the 5th, seven days before submission deadline and says don’t even bother. There’s an inconsistency and they can only answer it.

[If the Mayor is taking the position that the Premier's comments are prejudicial, then there is no reason to wait. He should immediately commence a lawsuit that he has threatened forever. Nothing can possibly be done, even waiting for what the Mayor claims is the DRIC timeline, to undo the bias]

DRIC LAWSUIT

JOHN FAIRLEY: Do you, do you and Council have the mandate to stop this process legally?

MAYOR FRANCIS: We as a community have the opportunity, and I think this is the important part to recognize, there is an environmental assessment. The environmental assessment is law in the Province of Ontario. The law and the legislation in the Province provides a number of opportunities for stakeholders, such as us, to provide input, to provide comment…

MAYOR FRANCIS: But we, we have different avenues available to us. Legal being one of them, okay. But it’s also important to recognize the timelines here. DRIC. The Province of Ontario. Dwight. Sandra. Premier McGuinty. Dave Wake. All of the partners associated with DRIC know the timelines. The timelines have been very, very clear…

so John, back to your earlier question about what our options are? We have another year of options available to us. And make no mistake about it, City Council has given clear direction that we are going to do what we need to do…

JOHN FAIRLEY: Did you vote in-camera to go to court? Is that a strategy on the table for the City of Windsor?

MAYOR FRANCIS: Absolutely. It’s always been a strategy and that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

[See comment above. A "year of options." What a farce.]

MEMBERS’ INTEGRITY ACT ISSUE

JOHN FAIRLEY: Okay. What did you talk about with Dwight in the cab ride? The infamous cab ride we heard about?

MAYOR FRANCIS: You know I’m not…

JOHN FAIRLEY: Did you talk about the border?

MAYOR FRANCIS: I’m not going to get into …

JOHN FAIRLEY: Did you talk about the border?

MAYOR FRANCIS: Well I won’t talk about…yeah we did…I’m not going to get into the details of it, but I can tell you exactly the general premise. I said to Minister Duncan, and the conversation I had with Minister Duncan is consistent with the conversation that I’ve had publicly. I’ve explained GreenLink. And just like you started off this show by asking me what the principles of GreenLink were, is exactly what I explained to him. And as I said at the St. Clair College meeting, you got to look at those three key residential areas and those high dense areas and find a way to plug up the holes to protect those residents.

[I wonder if the Opposition will ever act]

TUNNEL DEAL

JOHN FAIRLEY: Okay. We have the tunnel…give us an update on the tunnel deal. We, it’s reported in the news that there’s 1.8 legal fees already…

MAYOR FRANCIS: Mm-hmm.

JOHN FAIRLEY: …calculated. Where is it at and where are things going?

MAYOR FRANCIS: Well the tunnel deal right now is, the ball’s in Detroit’s court. And has we had indicated earlier…

JOHN FAIRLEY: The cost of, the managing the debt, like infrastructure Ontario…

MAYOR FRANCIS: Mm-hmm.

JOHN FAIRLEY: …what would the cost be for the $75 million?

MAYOR FRANCIS: Well again, we never got to that point because there are different variations of the deal that were being negotiated with the Kilpatrick team. Obviously that deal did not happen. Those discussions stopped. So we’ll see what, what starts anew.

JOHN FAIRLEY: We don’t have a ballpark of what that is?

MAYOR FRANCIS: Obviously is there’s going to see a transaction, what you’d like to see is the financials, what it will cost. And as I’ve indicated and as Cliff Sutts has indicated and everybody else has indicated that’s associated with this file, and I think you have come to know me well enough in the community who understands we will not do anything unless there’s a, a supportable and sound business case. That business case…

JOHN FAIRLEY: From the information you have right now, is it a sound business case for…

MAYOR FRANCIS: But there, the deal…

JOHN FAIRLEY: …75…

MAYOR FRANCIS: …the deal never progressed to the point where we were ready to make the deal or close the deal. And I guess you literally do not know what the deal is until you’re in a position to…

JOHN FAIRLEY: Both sides.

MAYOR FRANCIS: … close the deal and until you have all the information. And the deal never got to the stage where it was a decision, okay we got to Council this week or next week because we’re ready to close the deal. Until you get those numbers and until you have a firm understanding of what the terms and conditions are, you really can’t really assess what the …

JOHN FAIRLEY: So you don’t have…

MAYOR FRANCIS: …business case is…

JOHN FAIRLEY: …firm numbers…

MAYOR FRANCIS: …but I can tell you…

JOHN FAIRLEY: …from Infrastructure Ontario.

MAYOR FRANCIS: …I can tell you….well Infrastructure Ontario is only one element of this, really. Infrastructure Ontario is just being approached to see whether or not we can borrow money from them at whatever the interest rate was that they were charging. That’s only one element of the deal. You’ve got traffic, you’ve got a number of other issues, you’ve got capital requirements. For us, the driving, the driver force, the driving force behind the discussions was that we cannot afford to have this entity, the American half fall into private hands because of the…

[Almost $2 million spent and the transaction never progressed to the point where one could even consider whether there was a business case made such that this transaction made sense. And no information about what Infrastructure Ontario offered. Unbelievable.]

DUNBAR AUDIT/REPORT ON 400 BUILDING

JOHN FAIRLEY: Okay. Alright. City Hall. 400 City Hall Square audit.

MAYOR FRANCIS: Mm-hmm.

JOHN FAIRLEY: Have you seen the Dunbar Report, have you read it?

MAYOR FRANCIS: No. No, I’ve seen… Elements of it.

JOHN FAIRLEY: You’re telling me that this Audit that’s so important, that you have not looked at it, never read it…?

MAYOR FRANCIS: it’s not an audit and it’s not complete until the Audit Committee submits their report… There was a time….we have an Audit Committee, we have a lot of faith in their abilities to do what they need to do. There was a time where there were, desired by the Audit Committee to bring elements of it in front of City Council and there was a question as to whether or not some of it was in-camera or not. So I had to see elements of the report to make a determination. And basically my, my conclusion back to the Audit Committee was no, when you’re done your work, then you come to City Council. Until you’re done your work, and you shouldn’t be in, in front of City Council.

[Citizens should at least be able to see the parts that the Mayor saw. But don't hold your breath.]

INDIAN ROAD HOMES

JOHN FAIRLEY: What about coming together to demolish homes on Indian Road?

MAYOR FRANCIS: I could you tell you exactly and I’m going to give you more insight in terms of the discussions I’ve had with the Ambassador Bridge. Contrary to their position, contrary to what they will lead you to believe, I’ve met with the Ambassador Bridge on several occasions on this very issue. With them were, was Susan Whelan. And I can tell you exactly what I said to them. And it’s something that’s consistent with what Councillors have said, but for some reason continues to go ignored, perhaps it’s for their own purpose. We said to them show us the plan.

JOHN FAIRLEY: It’s a buffer zone.

MAYOR FRANCIS: Show us a…

JOHN FAIRLEY: It’s a green buffer zone.

MAYOR FRANCIS: Where? Where’s the plan? Do you…

JOHN FAIRLEY: Well how would anybody know…

MAYOR FRANCIS: …know what they said to me?

JOHN FAIRLEY: …about it but you?

MAYOR FRANCIS: Do you know what they said to us?

JOHN FAIRLEY: What?

MAYOR FRANCIS: They’d like to take time to develop it. We said no-no-no, we, we’ll replace it with a buffer zone, show us your construction. Home goes down tomorrow, how long is it going to take you to replace it? What’s your construction cycle? What kind of landscaping are you going to put into place? How long do the people have to wait? The fear that we have is demolishing it and becoming a parking lot. Or overgrown with weeds. We support a buffer zone. We support replacing those homes if, if they can be replaced and they, they…

MAYOR FRANCIS: Why should the Bridge, why should the Bridge be given any more special treatment or any other different treatment than you and I would receive? ‘’

JOHN FAIRLEY: Okay.

MAYOR FRANCIS: The area’s under demolition control. Go read the bylaws. They’ve been that way forever. Demolition Control is very clear. To demolish, when an area’s under Demolition Control and someone wants to apply for a demolition permit, they have to provide for what they will replace that demolished property with…

JOHN FAIRLEY: It’s not personal?

MAYOR FRANCIS: It’s never been personal. They, they like, they’ll make it seem like it’s personal.

JOHN FAIRLEY: It’s not personal to you?

MAYOR FRANCIS: No, why should [inaudible] personal?

JOHN FAIRLEY: So you would support it if they gave, came with a plan and show the buffer zone ….

MAYOR FRANCIS: Right, but…

JOHN FAIRLEY: ….and where they’re going to plant the trees and…

MAYOR FRANCIS: …not the type of plan that has been overly promised on this community and then it, we all go away. A plan that’s real with definitive timelines, with a schedule that if we agree to it, this is going be and this is going to replace it and this is how long it’s going to take to replace it.

[Their homes were not treated in a manner similar to others. It must be that darned amnesia disease again.

I guess the Mayor forgot about the Bridge Company's appearance in front of Council where they were only allowed 10 minutes to speak and were granted no extensions. I guess he forgot that they brought along their model of what they wanted to do. He also must have forgotten about this press release as well issued by the Bridge Company:
  • "The Bridge had hoped to use the space for landscaping adjacent to the new customs booths under construction just west of the current Bridge. The company is working with the University of Windsor and the Green Corridor on a master plan to landscape the Huron Church Road area to improve Windsor's environment.

    "Our goal is to improve the international crossing that is viewed by the 9.4 million cars and trucks each year that use the Ambassador Bridge. Regrettably council's decision will delay the development of the green buffer area adjacent to the newly expanded customs plaza," added Stamper. "We will continue to work with the Green Corridor, the University of Windsor and other community partners that are interested in improving the area."]

ARENA COST

JOHN FAIRLEY: What is the cost, all in?

MAYOR FRANCIS: All in, the cost to the City taxpayer will be approximately $63 million, $62.9 million, we just made a decision last week.

JOHN FAIRLEY: But you have to, I have to ask you, what is the cost of the land?

MAYOR FRANCIS: That’s all in.

JOHN FAIRLEY: No, no, but you you traded land downtown.

MAYOR FRANCIS: That’s included in that $63 million number.

JOHN FAIRLEY: You’re [inaudible] …servicing, servicing…

MAYOR FRANCIS: John I, John…

JOHN FAIRLEY: …paving..

MAYOR FRANCIS: John I, I hate to burst the bubble, I really do, because I know there’s a lot of people out there that want this to come in a hundred million dollars because that’s what they positioned themselves on. I remember when we first announced the arena, people were saying it’s going to be $105 million, $110 million, this thing’s going to be a catastrophe. It’s coming in under, under schedule. On the budget issue? The budget issue has always been what’s it going to cost the City of Windsor. Right? The initial cost to the City of Windsor was $64.9 million. We, we’re very fortunate to receive a provincial grant…

JOHN FAIRLEY: Right.

MAYOR FRANCIS: …and I’m very grateful to the Ministry of Sports and Culture and Tourism that provided that $4 million grant. And then of that grant we used some of it to fit it out for the entertainment. We took the other remaining $2 million and applied it against what the City would have to pay, which brought it down to $62.9 million. This past week there was about $115,000.00. So it’s around $62.9 million that the City will have to pay.

JOHN FAIRLEY: But the cost of land, the developing…

MAYOR FRANCIS: All that’s in there.

JOHN FAIRLEY: …the street lights. The ..

MAYOR FRANCIS: Cost of the land.

JOHN FAIRLEY: ….asphalting…

MAYOR FRANCIS: The asphalt of the parking lots.

JOHN FAIRLEY: …the servicing.

MAYOR FRANCIS: The servicing of the site. The, all of that’s in there. And it’s not, don’t take my word for it, these documents are very public documents. They have been public from day one. The budget, the detail, all of that’s there. Just go and review it. It’s all there.

[Where oh where is Councillor Brister to put our minds at rest. I guess the cost of the new parking lot will not be included in this amount.]

RED BULL

JOHN FAIRLEY: Red Bull Races I hear is coming in June. Is that true?

MAYOR FRANCIS: Well we’re still working on it. We’re not there yet. There’s a, we hope, we’ve made some progress but we’re not there yet.

JOHN FAIRLEY: How much is it going to cost us?

MAYOR FRANCIS: Well we’re not there yet and we’ll, we still have a lot of discussions. Obviously an event of this nature is a significant event and with it comes a cost, so we, we’re in discussions with them and we’re trying to see what we can do.

[If Roger Penske thought it inappropriate to run the Grande Prix in Detroit this year, I wonder what makes Eddie believe that he will find sponsorship of the air race for the millions involved.]

THIRD TERM

JOHN FAIRLEY: Okay. Alright. You gonna run as Mayor or you’re done?

MAYOR FRANCIS: Well I’ve still got two years to go.

JOHN FAIRLEY: Are you going to be…

MAYOR FRANCIS: I’ve got two years to go…

JOHN FAIRLEY: ..continuing?

MAYOR FRANCIS: …and we’ll talk. We’ll see.

JOHN FAIRLEY: Well you said on the show you weren’t. It’s a two-year term,

MAYOR FRANCIS: I’ve still got two years to go.

JOHN FAIRLEY: Okay.

MAYOR FRANCIS: My focus is the next two years.

[Please, someone, anyone, get your campaign team together and start gearing up for the next election. Eddie is going to run for a third term. Where else could he get paid this well! Or, is he playing the Mike Hurst game and will not run but will hold everyone off until the last possible second? The only way that he can control the Councillors for the next two years is if they believe that he may be the Mayor again.

Where is that Chicken Suit again!]

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Francis Failures Continue


Now that you have read yesterday what the newspapers have said over the past few days, let us do a bit of analysis.

You have no choice but to read this stuff and weep for our City. I’m not trying to be mean. I did not write these articles. It is the Mayor who was quoted, not I. Do you see anything to be positive about? Do you see a plan in action? Or rather do you see a Mayor who has no idea what he is doing and whose sole function appears to be to talk a good game without performing. It is quite easy to do with Toronto media or the Canadian Press who really have no idea about what has gone on here.

Of course, no one can blame our Mayor for the collapse of the Big Three or the economic devastation caused by the financial meltdown. However, the articles make it clear that there were issues of economic diversification years ago:
  • “Four or five years ago when manufacturing and automotive started to decline, we felt the impact immediately.”

A slight rewriting of history here because, according to our Mayor, the problem before was supposedly cyclical not structural. We had been through these ups and downs with the car industry before so what was everybody getting so excited about.

Wasn’t that why we had the report prepared with respect to a joint City/County Development Commission? That revolving door, rudderless organization is a disgrace that has not accomplished much over the past several years that it has been in existence other than waste money. Terrific, they finally accomplish something before the end of the year… a few more call-centre jobs.

  • "There's no question that without a leader at the head of the commission, it presents a number of challenges for us in attracting investment to the region," said Nelson Santos, warden of Essex County and mayor of Kingsville. "I know that the existing staff is working hard and working overtime to pick up the slack but, with all due respect, it's not the same as having an executive director or a vice-president in place…”

Is there absolutely no sense of urgency?

When you read the newspaper articles, does what is being proposed sound familiar? It should. What does the Mayor talk about… plans that have been around for months and months and months and for which little has been accomplished. It actually would be nice if the Mayor spoke to “senior research and policy adviser entrusted with the task of getting the shuttle service off the ground.” While the Mayor claims:

  • “We have been working with Saskatchewan and we're close to finalizing a program."

his policy adviser states

  • “We're working with Saskatchewan officials on how we can make it happen. We're still at the very beginning."

It would be nice if they got their act together don't you think.

Back in July, “Mayor Seeks Information About Windsorites Travelling West.” There were FIVE questions to be answered and, according to the article, 69 responses. Incredibly, it has taken all this time to try to figure out what those responses mean. With the oil prices tanking in Western Canada, there is probably now no point in people going out there even if they were going to go out in the first place. Failure.

Let’s look at what else the Mayor talked about…he has grabbed on the idea of Windsor becoming a retirement community. Terrific except for the fact that he’s telling the world that Windsor is dying so who would want to move here. And until such time as we get over our shortage of doctors, 200 or so who are needed already, I doubt if too many seniors are going to come here. With stories of horrible roads and sewers that have been in the media recently, increasing taxes and a shrinking tax base… the Casino reassessment being the latest example… this is hardly the place for Seniors to come especially if they are on fixed incomes. With “a little seed money,” we can hardly compete against some of the major retirement communities in North America and elsewhere. Failure.

Now we are going to be a hub for agricultural products at the airport to be distributed across North America. Whatever happened to the start-up German onion importers that Eddie went to see twice in Europe? So what exactly are we doing: exporting to Europe, exporting to the United States, importing from Europe to distribute to the United States or all or none of the above? Failure.

Remember how supportive the Mayor was of the University’s Engineering Complex. NOT!

Of course you cannot forget his assertion that unless the University did it his way and located the Complex downtown, there would be no contribution from the City. Can you please tell me why “the research and development capacity that we have in the city is one of the best kept secrets in the country...." Why hasn’t our Mayor ensured that R&D is not a secret?

That it is a secret is no doubt true from a study prepared for the Development Commission:

  • “A. Sandy Munro, CEO of Munro & Associates, Inc., on a fact-finding mission to Europe was shocked to find how far Windsor Essex had fallen off European companies’ radar. Many had been led to believe that the core of the MTDM business in Canada was in Toronto, Winnipeg and Montreal. Senior staff in 5 of the largest European companies (EADS, Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes and Thales) had never even heard of Windsor, or the capabilities of the MTDM industry here. These companies have been outsourcing key work for the past 5 years to locations other than China and India demonstrating enormous lost opportunities for our region.

    The Region and the industry as a result of these findings must either move to raise its profile, or face irrelevance as a Global Supply Source.”

Wow, even consultants go to Europe at our expense. Oh I forgot, Windsor being an R&D centre is something that Dennison DesRosiers has been talking about and therefore not something that the Mayor can support. Failure.

The Mayor is still talking about creation of jobs. Exactly how many have been created recently? He can talk all he wants about the DRIC process and that there will not be a shovel in the ground until who knows when but he knows as well as everyone else that his stalling on full tunneling, Greenlink, Son of Greenlink and Greenlink: the Next Generation has caused this City untold grief. How dare he say

  • “we need to continue to focus our efforts on creating jobs here, but we also need to be realistic in our assessment of the economic situation and challenges we are facing.”

To be realistic would have been working with the Senior Levels and the Ambassador Bridge Company years ago so that their projects could have started instead of threatening lawsuits or appearing in US Coast Guard hearings. That would have been the way he could have minimized difficulties as we were moving away from the automobile industry.

Seriously, what other City is fighting not to get billions of dollars in investments. Has City Hall been inhaling Tunnel exhaust for too long. Failure.

Our tourist industry…” a new convention centre, casino and arena…” not too shabby until one looks at the border crossing numbers and sees the number of vehicles and buses that are not coming to Windsor this year. And what are we doing about it? Have the City and County figured out yet how they are going to partner on increasing tourism? Failure.

To be honest, I do not understand why all these parts suppliers are moaning and groaning and even some of them are going out of business. Haven’t they heard, we are in the aerospace business. No, I do not mean promoting the Red Bull air race although we don’t have the millions of dollars needed yet for sponsorship at a time when Detroit is pulling out of its Grand Prix for economic reasons. I mean the aerospace industry. We have succeeded according to our Mayor

  • “There is also an attempt to transition existing automotive infrastructure to meet changing market demands…

    "Parts suppliers that once used to supply strictly 100 per cent the automotive industry ... those parts suppliers are now transitioned and are now supplying the aerospace industry."

I went to the Development Commission site to see how many firms are actually involved in the aerospace business at least according to the Commission. Searching the word “aerospace” on their database, I found four companies.

Silly me, I forgot that we had a consultants’ Report prepared, "Changing the Paradigm for the Machine, Tool, Die and Mould Industry in Windsor Essex" so that we could talk about all of this rather than achieving something. Those consultants are really smart people too compared with our foolish business people:

  • “The first question we ask any client or company in trouble is, “What is the objective of your business?” If the answer is anything other than “make a profit,” then we know the company is in serious trouble. We have asked this question of a number of MTDM companies in Windsor Essex and never once received the “appropriate” answer even after coaching individuals several times.”

We are so dumb here and the consultants so smart I guess. Failure.

It is enough already. It is a new year which ought to be a time of hope for us and not despair. Realistically however what do we have look forward to under the Leadership that we have in this City? I do not blame the Mayor alone although he must bear the greatest measure of blame since he is the only full-time politician and acts as the City’s CEO. I blame the Council as well for allowing him to achieve so little. They are virtually invisible and play little role in this City, even the loopy ones.

I trust it now that you understand why I am so angry at Prime Minister Harper. He could have solved our problem but didn’t.

There is a step that our Mayor could take that would accomplish the same result. I will let you figure out, dear reader, what that step is.