Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, March 06, 2009


Are you as tired of the border file as I am?

Are you tired of being played and manipulated?

Don't you wish it was over already and that years ago we had started building the bridge and the road to the bridge so that our region was prospering instead of suffering?

If so, welcome to the club!

It is time that this foolishness stop and that a solution be reached!

The ending of the third shift at Chrysler is symbolic for this Region as far as I am concerned. It is an omen of much worse to come unless we start smartening up.

It is hardly a surprise. Frankly the surprise is that the Minivan plant is still operating! I am having difficulty believing that the US Government will not put pressure on Chrysler to move its operations back to the United States if they want to get more of the bailout money.

All that it did do is make absolutely clear that this City is in tremendous difficulty.

I cannot believe that this is my seventh year following the twists and turns of the border file. I happened to get involved in it by a fluke. I saw that STOPDRTP was looking for a lawyer to help them out. If I had known then what I would be be getting into, I wonder if I would have made the phone call that I did.

One day in the future, long in the future, and if the parties actually allow someone to look at their files, a Ph.D. candidate will do his/her thesis on this border crossing matter. It will be like a spy novel respecting Governments right up to the level of the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of Canada. No one will really believe what is going on… it makes no sense to me today but I do think there is some logic to all of this.

To give you an overview, I think that this border issue actually started in the early 1960s and has carried on until today. In the beginning, to some, the Ambassador Bridge represented nothing more than a symbol of American imperialism over Canada and something that needed to be ended.

Over time, that emotional reaction to the Bridge changed to an economic one, although economic nationalism is still present. The Bridge and eventually all other crossings into the United States became important to Canada especially because of Free Trade and the shift to the global economy. Canada needed to protect its access into the United States of its goods and also needed to become a main route into the United States for foreign goods as well. Accordingly, the emphasis on Corridors and Gateways.

Of course, money is a key factor as well. We can see that with the desire to P3 the new DRIC bridge and road by the Governments as well as the Blue Water Bridge. The P3 addiction of politicians is very troubling since it is clear that P3 deals are of no advantage to taxpayers whatsoever. The latest example is the Port Mann Bridge project where the financing disadvantage alone of the P3 deal would have been a $200 million hit to taxpayer wallets.

In Canada, what has been remarkable is that the border issue has crossed party lines over the last 50 years. It is “bi-partisan” as the Americans would say.

It started with a Progressive Conservative Government, was continued under a Liberal Government and now is effectively supported by the Liberals, Conservatives, and even the NDP. Each of the parties has its own reasons but they are united to take over the Ambassador Bridge one way or the other. Fortunately, Canada has a willing public service who has been prepared to and is managing this file no matter who the Government is.

To what lengths will Canada go… legislatively, Canada has introduced the Foreign Investment Review Act and now the International Bridges And Tunnel Act. The Ambassador Bridge has been raised by Prime Minister Harper with both Presidents Bush and Obama. A very direct effort to accomplish Canada’s objectives was undertaken towards the end of the Bush term that gave rise to NAFTA-gate. That is how desperate Canada was, fearing the protectionism of the new President.

The file ebbs and flows depending on what Canada sees as its strategic needs. Obviously, there are matters that we mere mortals do not understand because there are policies being directed within the bowels of Government that we will only see years later. I can explain the backing off of the Canadian Government by settling their litigation with the Bridge Company as a desire not to impact negatively what Canada’s goals were with the United States at the time rather than as a true settlement of litigation. Just like softwood lumber in our days.

There was a deliberate and conscious decision by Canada in my opinion to retreat in order to fight another day. That day started a number of years ago as part of a process that was supposed to culminate in the distress sale of the Ambassador Bridge. How else to explain the morphing of FIRA into the IBTA!

The fascinating part for me is that Matty Moroun is really not the target of all of this. Certainly, he has been demonized and vilified. Monopolist is a word that is thrown around quite often even though the DRIC studies have demonstrated that he is not one. The cloak of public versus private is also a very convenient weapon to use to stir up animosity.

However, if my theory is correct, it would not matter who owned the Bridge. Any American who was the owner, no matter how generous, no matter how kind would be in the same position. That person or company would need to be attacked viciously in order to accomplish Canadian objectives.

The underlying assumption that Canada has been going under for years was that the Governments would be able to frighten the Bridge Company Owner into selling his bridge at a low price. They expected that he, as a rational businessman only interested in making money, would understand and fear that his asset would be devalued to nothing as a result of the power of Government. In this respect, they completely misunderstood him and his son.

That is why the border file is a complete mess and in utter chaos.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Governments of Canada, Ontario and Windsor have been working together to try to force the Bridge Owner to sell out. Again, as I have said before, there are family feuds because each of the parties, although in an alliance, is trying to grab as much out of the border and its proceeds as is possible.

Are the American Governments involved as well? I expect that MDOT is one of the players. I believe that they are involved more for the money that they can make on the P3 rather than on a philosophical level the way Canada is. I have not made up my mind yet about the US Federal Government although some of the people involved from that level do want to end the control of the Bridge Company for their own reasons.

However, my belief is that the Americans have been duped by Canada and really do not understand the significance of what Canada wants to do. They are just being taken, along for the ride.

That was a very long introduction. I have said it before but not as directly as I am saying it now. I believe that my view of this is reasonably accurate although it may not be 100% correct.

What is prompting this outburst today is what is happening to Windsor. And no one seems to care except for the people who are out of a job, who have no hope for getting a new job unless they move and those who are about to lose their job or their business or their home.

We have just seen the winding up of an Undevelopment Commission that achieved nothing for years even though the problems were growing and growing and becoming more and more apparent. We have seen it being taken over by two politicians.

I cannot say very much about the County Warden because I truly have not looked at the County very much. He does seem like a capable person in watching how we runs his meetings and based on the comments that I have heard as he has spoken on some of the issues when I watched a few of their meetings, especially the Joint Councils meetings.

However, I have not been impressed with the way that he has handled the WEDC matter at all. Do not forget that he was one of the apologists for the Commission at the Joint Councils meeting including not being concerned about the 10 month search for a new CEO. What prompted his big flip into agreeing that the Commission served no useful purpose I am not certain. But there he is now as one of the two Board members.

As for Eddie Francis, there is no point in me talking about him at all because if you are a reader of this BLOG, then you will already know the failure and the disappointment that I believe that he is.

Ultimately, through their dillydallying for years, including the involvement of their CAOs, they must bear responsibility for the failure for this region to diversify economically. Accordingly, what hope can anyone put on these people to lead us into a new economy. Perhaps we may have some hope with the sessions being sponsored by our four local MPPs but not with the WEDC.

Our future is tied to the Bridge. Like it or not. Our opposition to the Bridge Company and our stalling over the border road, even if it was to help the Provincial Government until they found money in 2010, has made us the laughing stock of the world. Please tell me one City or region that is turning down billions of dollars of new investment at a time of a virtual Depression, especially when this Region has the highest unemployment in Canada. And it is getting worse by the day as the Chrysler announcement makes clear.

What clearer signal is there that Windsor is Closed for Business! Sorry, that is not quite true. We are prepared to spend millions of dollars on harebrained schemes, some with foreign consultants even though some of our Council members are advocating BUY CANADIAN. We talk about building tunnels where none are needed, canals where none are wanted and transportation hubs at an airport when our neighbour across the River is building Aerotropolis!

THINK BIG and GO BIG OR GO HOME are wearisome phrases already.

Our Mayor’s performance at Council in dealing with the Bridge Company homes last Monday, his mediation demand and yesterday’s Star Editorial are so out of place that it is pathetic.

We had the luxury of games playing when we had virtually full unemployment with the car companies operating and people working. At one time, I believe that our Region had the third highest per capita income in Canada. I shudder to think what it is now with our high unemployment rate, house prices crashing and vacancy rates increasing to 15% in rental homes and who knows how much in office space.

And yet there is no recognition it seems to me that the world has changed and is passing us by as our so-called leaders in this City still plays silly games as if they counted. They are irrelevant.

There can be no true negotiations with our Mayor. He tells the Bridge Company the basis upon which he is prepared to set the terms of any arrangement with them on the Indian Road and other homes. He demands of the Premier and tells him the terms of the mediation process. There is no real compromise and none will ever happen with him.

He has been an irritant as is clear now from his $30 million demand, so far, of the Senior Levels as set out in the Estrin EA answer. Lord knows how much that will cost us on top of the millions for his fees to date along with the Tunnel deal costs.

And the Windsor Star and its role… I now understand that it is more than just being a local newspaper. I believe that there is much more involved than I thought. No wonder there has been no exposé of the Port Mann Bridge P3 disaster by this newspaper. It does not fit with the DRIC agenda to take over the Ambassador Bridge.

I assume that the Editorial was written before the newspaper knew about the Chrysler cut backs. I can only hope that this is the case. Otherwise, whoever wrote and approved the Editorial should be ashamed for supporting a failed Mayor. No one could possibly be so arrogant as to suggest the following:
  • “That has not happened, and given their silence on the subject, it likely never will. Now we appeal directly to Premier Dalton McGuinty. He must come to Windsor and sit down with city officials to hear this community's concerns. He must explain why the GreenLink proposal was given such short shrift, and tell Mayor Eddie Francis and city council what stands in the way of a compromise that "everyone can live with."

    This government has a duty to every citizen of Windsor, and McGuinty should be given no choice but to stay here, at the table, until a solution that is acceptable to this community is reached.”

What a nerve! Can the Star be taken seriously anymore, if it could ever be taken seriously on the border matter? I doubt it. The clear message is that the leader of the Province must bend to the will of some small town Mayor who is not even supported by his own people. How ridiculous. How absurd. What a disgrace!

It is time to come back to reality. The Governments understand well that they cannot build a new crossing near the Ambassador Bridge at this time. They do not have the money for it or the “Delrayed” DRIC road. The P3 financing world has collapsed. Traffic volumes have dropped to the point that a new crossing would not only go bankrupt itself but probably would bankrupt the other crossings. It would require massive subsidization to keep them in business.

Yet they keep pretending they are moving forward on DRIC because they do not know how to stop. I wonder how many promises have been made that cannot be kept now.

There is no doubt that there is going to be litigation unless sanity prevails. Who will start it I do not know. Eddie Francis may finally get the guts to do so but since he does not like to be cross examined that may not happen. He is trying to goad the Bridge Company into starting so that they can take the blame. After all, he has spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to build up the case to kill DRIC for them.

The Bridge Company or the Governments might do so depending on their strategic needs of each at a particular time. Are they each shadow-boxing now or will someone unleash the lawyers?

That will accomplish a lot. I am being sarcastic. It will last for a decade or longer given the experience of the FIRA litigation. It will be bitter and vicious and career destroying for many people. We probably will get the true story of what has been going on for the last 50 years and it will not be pretty.

To be very cynical about it, I do not think the Governments give a damn about us anyway so why would they sue. It would be better to have the Bridge Company as the villain anyway. Much easier politically too.

Too many Ministers of the Governments at all levels have spoken the platitudes about the importance of our crossing and yet have done nothing for years. They know that the Bridge Company will keep the border operating. There is no great urgency given the drop in traffic and the problems with the automobile industry. It will take some time, decades, before traffic picks up again. They probably are not at all unhappy if there is a litigation from the Bridge Company for a decade or so. It would give them a second chance to justify DRIC where they cannot do so today.

As for the Bridge Company, they have just been quietly moving forward, watching as the Governments plans implode. They observe as the Governments are self-destructing in front of them. If you do not think that all of those cranes at the Bridge plaza on the US side and the Ambassador Gateway project itself have impressed visitors about their seriousness, then one has to be living in a world of delusions!

How many cranes are operating on the Canadian side? We were to spend $300M in Windsor to fix up the road to the Ambassador Bridge on an interim basis using BIF money remember. No wonder Canada's position is untenable.

Bureaucrats make fabulous business models upon which they plan their actions. It is a shame that Life does not act the way they have predicted. Who could have guessed about the world economy collapsing as an example or a certain message in a Globe and Mail article in advance. One only learns how to adapt when it is YOUR money at risk, not that of taxpayers!

That does not help us with respect to jobs or homes today or for our future in this Region. It will not help the economies of Canada and the United States.

What is the solution? Not going in front of a judge, that is for sure, no matter who starts. The Star is partially correct. I will give them credit for that. There needs to be a real resolution of this matter between the players: the Bridge Company and the various Governments. Eddie Francis is completely and totally irrelevant as even he conceded at the Senate. He has no role whatsoever and ought to be completely ignored. It is time that the Senior Levels write him off.

I say a “real resolution” because I hardly expect the Bridge Company to be lulled into a false sense of security the way they were with the FIRA settlement. They will not be fooled this time around as I think they were a decade or so ago. They thought they had a deal. They did not!

What the resolution will be I do not know. I have proposed before an “interim” solution that I think is completely workable especially given the reality of the decline in traffic. It is also affordable and meets the health and quality of life needs of this region given the reality of the massive decline in diesel truck pollution over the coming years. I have no idea if it is acceptable to the various parties given their agendas but at least it is a place to start.

If anyone should be locked into a room and not allowed to leave it should be the Governments and the Bridge Company. The games playing has to be over now. This region cannot afford it. Families cannot afford it.

The issues are not so difficult that people of good will cannot solve the problem. It is really a matter of wanting to do so.

Frankly, I want them to do so. And so should you. Someone needs to pick up a telephone and make the call to set up the meeting.


The Windsor P3 Set Up

I told you about the Symphony backscratching deal in advance. Now learn about another deal that we will soon hear about! I am going to be BLOGGING a lot about P3 deals over the next few weeks and why we must oppose them! Not just the DRIC P3 projects either.

In watching our Mayor over the years, one of his big failings is his inability to execute on a transaction in a timely fashion or even at all. If something goes wrong, he can be blamed.

He talks a good game. He looks into a matter, studies it to death and then has to have a report issued which stalls it off even more. Look at the Airport as a distribution centre as the most recent example.

The Airport as a transportation hub under this Mayor has been around since the Schwartz Report #1 at least with little action. Here are some excerpts from the Star story over the weekend:
  • “The study will take four months to complete and will determine whether Windsor can become a viable air freight hub.

    Francis, who has travelled to meetings and tours in Frankfurt over the past year to learn more about the sector, believes Windsor is an ideal site given the swath of vacant land at the airport, proximity to the U.S. and central location to several major cities.

    ‘What we have been doing the past year was investigate, research and develop partnerships that can develop the air cargo business in the Windsor-Essex region," Francis said…

    If deemed worthy after the study's completion, the next steps would be to determine site selection on the airport lands, size of facilities and the investment required. A final phase would be design and construction.”

As far as the Arena goes, if it was not for Project Ice Track going to Tecumseh, who knows where it would be since the key Administration Report would have stalled off construction for at least another year.

The Tunnel deal… without arguing whether it would make sense or not… probably was going to be a flip of the entire Tunnel to some P3 source. Now, with the decline in traffic, the threat of another bridge, the failure to get Infrastructure Ontario money and the P3 meltdown it probably means that the deal cannot be done. If it can be done, the amount that the City would receive would be greatly reduced because it would have to be offered at a fire sale discount.

I am pointing out all this because I want you to understand that the great PLAN to bring in a pile of money into Windsor will probably go ahead, and without a significant taxpayer input, but the results will not be as good as was hoped for when the PLAN was first conceived.

It is just like Finance Minister Flaherty thinking of doing the same with federal assets to reduce the deficit when the best that can be obtained is distress pricing. Want to lease twinned bridges in Sarnia when traffic is falling? The problem is that there may not be many buyers now unlike before and the amounts being offered are significantly less.

It is hardly novel. Effectively, we are being set up to believe that the City is in dire financial straits. That may not be that far off the mark these days! Accordingly, just the way Detroit tried to do it with the Tunnel originally and now with the desire to raise $300 million, Eddie has a business model that he can use.

We will get supposedly a lot of money upfront through deals made by our Mayor. Of course, it will burn a hole in their pockets as he and Council squander it as they are praised for their financial genius by the sycophants and cheerleaders just before the election in 2010.

Windsor will dispose of assets probably by a long-term P3/AFP lease or structure so no assets are “sold” so Eddie can boast as was done by the Detroit Mayor or by securitizing revenues as Detroit wants to do now in one giant package to private investors. I have speculated before about the Tunnel, Enwin and WUC being on the block as part of the package. Throw in the airport too now since Councillor Halberstadt did not get an answer to his question about what role Lufthansa will play down the road.

Is it no wonder that the Star has NOT been running the Vancouver Sun horror stories about the P3 Macquarie deal for the Port Mann Bridge. The Sun is only its sister newspaper after all.

Oh well, Eddie is protected but not the taxpayers if this information is not out locally.

The story about the Tax Increase of .63% was nothing more than a trial balloon to soften us up for a tax increase that no one wants. What is the alternative? Now that amount is out the window it appears:

  • “When budget talks started last week, Colucci projected city homeowners would be hit with a .63 tax rate increase.

    It added up to a $16 hike for the average home valued at $150,000. Those typical homeowners paid $2,613 in 2008 taxes.

    But those numbers have changed following numerous budget decisions over four meetings by council. There are no revised projections, Colucci said.

    “There is no tally at this point,” he said. “I would just be speculating which is inappropriate at this time.”

That sounds scary to me.

Then we had the on-again off-again stories to make us cringe about cuts in services involving for example rats and snow clearing. I guess Council did not have the nerve to talk about getting rid of parks or crossing guards as they have done in the past. Will we hear more about reducing the number of aspirins at Huron Lodge?

Then the big Star headline and the story to make everyone worry about our finances:

  • Jobs could be cut in city budget

    Halberstadt guessed that a couple of dozen jobs could be at stake based on discussions.

    Colucci said more cuts might follow.

    The recommendations will be tabled publicly in the full 2009 budget document next month after the city completes its capital budget discussions. Then council will stage public hearings before this year’s budget is completed.

    “It’s not an easy thing, but I think the writing has been on the wall for certain areas of the corporation,” said Halberstadt of job cutbacks.

    “I’m sure we will hear from the unions and the public before the final decision is made.”

    Colucci would not provide layoff numbers or targeted departments, “but certainly it is a substantial number,” he said.”

    “All attempts will be made to do it through attrition. Unfortunately, there is a real balancing act for council between keeping a levy increase to the lowest level and maintaining services.”

Expect the Star to be running a number of stories for example about the differences between the private sector and the public sector and the manner in which employees are handled. We will read about all of the contracts involving teachers and university professors as an example where people are outraged at the amounts of their increases compared to the hits that the auto workers will take. Anne Jarvis has started already.

Of course, our Council will be congratulated for holding the line on their salary increases, forgetting about the split in the Directors and Boards fees that increases the amount that the Councillors take home. After all, there are no more free lunches with our Council Members. Except if you include wiener schnitzels in Frankfurt.

Do not worry too much about the legal fees in the Tunnel deal. They will be justified as a “learning experience” for the massive distribution of City assets that we will see very soon. We needed that $2M or so spent after all as practice for the P3 negotiations at the Airport for the Blue Sky perishable goods distribution centre or for what really will go there that we have not yet been told about.

It really was not all that difficult to guess. Eddie figured out a way to hold the line on taxes, reduce our deficit and give us canals and museums and a new Downtown and sponsor more sports events and so on. It is a re-election certainty for him

I never really understood at first why Standard and Poor’s gave this City such a good credit rating given all our problems. Remember, they are more concerned about investors and not taxpayers when they do their reports. Their function is to report on City finances so that investors will have an idea about whether or not they will get their money back and what the risks are.

Take a look at my BLOG “November 27, 2007, Non-Windsor Residents Forbidden To Read This BLOG” and see what I speculated:

  • “I have a theory, oh yes I do.

    You see the S&P analyst really didn't have to worry about Windsor. He is more interested in protecting investors and not taxpayers. So if everything looks good for investors, he's doing his job. If things are not good for taxpayers, well as the Mayor said, we can always move.

    Want to know what I think... the Mayor has told S&P all about the P3 deals that he may do. As I have written before, they include the Tunnel, Enwin, WUC. Perhaps the new DRIC bridge plays a role too somehow along with the DRTP rail tunnel and maybe even the arena. It could include the airport too.

    Infrastructure is sexy and profitable. Eddie could lease assets for up to 99 years (hey, we're still the owner), get a huge upfront payment, pay off debt, build all kinds of ego monuments and still have money left in the bank. Why, he would be our hero right now and long gone from Windsor as Mayor, when the chickens came home to roost...

    Just taking a look at Chicago, since that City's Mayor is a hero of our Mayor. They received $1.8 billion when they leased their toll road, a sum considerably greater than they ever expected to receive. That kind of money has to brighten the eyes of any Mayor in any city."

So when you read all of the Budget woe stories do not despair. Understand they we are being used as pawns again. Understand that the P3 deals are waiting. Be upset that taxpayers will not get as much as we should have but for the Mayor’s delay. Expect that the P3 operators will make huge sums of money at our expense since they are buying assets at distress prices. Do NOT expect that taxpayers will learn about all of the negatives about P3 deals either because that could upset you when you see what we will lose.

Expect all of this before the next election too. All this money coming in to make us happy and let the future look after itself. What a PLAN!

The real beauty. Did you notice that the contract with Lufthansa was “sole source.” There was no need for a Tender or a Request for Proposal. I would not be surprised if our P3 deals are structured the same way too. Who needs messy tendering. Remember the arena!

And in case you still do not believe me... take a look at the Purchasing Bylaw that was changed right after Eddie Francis became Mayor.

  • "Sole Source" means the purchase of a good and/or service where there is only one available supplier of that good and/or service that meets the needs or requirements of the City of Windsor.

    32. (1) A Sole Source purchase may be used for the purchasing of goods and/or services for Contracts of any Contract value, in the following circumstances:
    (i) Where a public/private partnership exists.

See what I mean!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Canada/US Affairs Warm Up

You are probably wondering why I have not written about the Harper/Obama meeting in Ottawa. Actually, I had more important things to write about than the future of the economies of Canada and the United States: Cargo city and $1200 per day WEDC CEO fees as an example and student warehousing in the West End.

I also did not do so because, for the most part, nothing happened. I suspect that Harper and Obama did not get along well. I just did not see the warmth between the two of them while watching their press conference. In fact, the President looked rather tired.

The major papers that a US President reads, the New York Times and Washington Post, both panned the visit in their own subtle and not so subtle ways.

We saw Harper talking pro forma about Windsor/Detroit as if he cared. Obama made it clear that no money would be coming here

  • “You mentioned a couple of specific issues -- the idea of thickening of borders. One of the things that I would like to see is -- and we -- Prime Minister Harper and I discussed this -- how we can use some of our stimulus and infrastructure spending that is already being planned around potentially easing some of these bottlenecks in our border.”

That means “shovel ready” and DRIC does not fit in.

However, something more may be happening. I must admit I wanted to wait and see if the tabloids picked it up to see if I was right or misjudged.

From reading some news stories subsequently, it looks like the President got along better with the Governor General whom he invited to DC than with the Prime Minister. Perhaps after the minority Government fiasco, he thought that she held all the power in the Canadian system

Here are some of the comments the two of them made as actually reported by the media. I did not make up a word of it. You tell me what is really going on

  • “You would never have imagined that you and I could both be here like today, coming from African descent," Jean was quoted as telling the president as they began what insiders described as "soft and warm" exchange.

    A Jean aide said the poignancy of the moment was not lost on either of them and may have given the pair "a form of added connection...

    An Obama quip had Jean leaning back, laughing and throwing an arm around the president's back as they strode side-by-side into the reception centre for a private chat."

  • “Governor General Michaëlle Jean discussed the plight of her native Haiti with U.S. President Barack Obama, who invited her to come to Washington – an invitation that was not extended to Prime Minister Stephen Harper...

    "President Obama told (Jean) that he'd like to talk further with her on this issue," said Marthe Blouin, an aide to the Governor General.

    Obama told Jean he wants to return to Canada with his family. "He told her he would like to see her again," Blouin said.

    "And he said to her that he would love to see her in Washington as well."

  • It was clear Canada's first black governor general and Obama, the first black American president, hit it off. They beamed as they strode down a red carpet together.

    At one point, cameras captured Jean tossing back her head in laughter. "At that moment she was telling him that she felt it was like a love affair between him and Canadians," Blouin said later."

Oh my goodness. It gets worse and from reputable newspapers too.

Look how easily nasty rumours can get started. This photo is from a Boston newspaper website. Is that the Governor General's husband behind them?

This very similar one is from the New York Times. Has it been cropped? If you add in this Times headline "Obama Makes Overtures to Canada’s Leader" and throw in some quotes that I mentioned, why you have tabloid material for months.

Of course, there is another photo I saw in the International Herald Tribune that takes away all the fun!

Just check out the tabloids at your local neighbourhood grocery check-out line. This story may just be beginning

Taxpayers To The Rescue

Oh my goodness. The big, invisible, unofficial taxing authority might be after us again and ruin the City’s Budget calculations. I am referring to the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System of course.

OMERS never has to worry about bad deals or big losses. Taxpayers are there to pick up the pieces from any poor investment decisions. I bet that you, dear reader, would look good in a cavalry hat:
  • OMERS books $8-billion 2008 investment loss; return negative 15.3 per cent

    TORONTO — The Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System endured an $8-billion net loss on its investments in 2008, but its chief executive stressed Monday that "the main issue here is that our fund is strong."

A newspaper article to frighten you more said:

  • "the figures don't tell the whole picture, particularly because there are different ways to valuate unrealized losses. While the Caisse, for example, reported significant losses in its real estate portfolio, OMERS did not make any significant writedowns."

Do you remember what happened before when OMERS had to write-down assets by hundreds of millions of dollars: every municipality in the Province that belonged to OMERS had to increase its pension contributions. It made a mess of budgets province-wide and caused increases in taxes and employee contributions. Think lightening cannot strike twice:

  • “Its year-end surplus on a going-concern basis shrank to $3 billion from $6.2 billion, and chief financial officer Patrick Crowley said the solvency ratio sagged to 90 per cent - meaning that if OMERS were wound up today, its assets would cover only nine-tenths of the benefits it has promised.

    Crowley said it's up to the OMERS board to decide how this deficiency will be covered and whether additional contributions will be required.”

Remember, when OMERS says pay up, the municipality has no choice but to do so.

Here is an interesting story about Pension Funds and infrastructure that scares me to death:

  • Infrastructure wins pension funds votes

    Australian industry superannuation funds might be at the vanguard of unlisted infrastructure investing - but they could soon face stiff competition from their international pension fund counterparts.

    According to an OECD report on pension fund investment in infrastructure, interest in both listed and unlisted infrastructure is on the rise among global pension funds.

    The report noted that pension funds are now increasingly searching for sustainable yield, and infrastructure presents the potential for funds to match long-term pension assets and provide diversification, said the report penned by Georg Inderst.

    One of the US's largest pension funds, California Public Employees' Retirement System, adopted a new investment policy in 2008 with a target 3 per cent allocation of assets, or $11.2 billion in infrastructure. The target returns is a net 5 per cent above inflation over 5 years.

    In Canada, the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) for instance has several billions Can$ invested in infrastructure through its subsidiary Borealis Infrastructure, set up in 1998.”

California wants to invest only 3% of its funds in infrastructure while OMERS’ target is 20%, up from 15%.

Just for your information, here is how OMERS has done recently in infrastructure:

2003--OMERS wrote down $183 million of private equity and infrastructure assets to ensure these assets properly reflect current market conditions

2004--The group had an unusually strong year in 2004 with a return of 31.0 per cent

2005--Infrastructure investments provided a return of 23.2 per cent, compared to 31.0 per cent a year earlier, due to a second straight year of strong returns in the energy sector.

2006--Infrastructure investments generated net investment income of $388 million, compared with $393 million a year earlier. In 2006 lower earnings generated by the energy sector were offset by more positive earnings generated by other sectors in the infrastructure portfolio

2007--Infrastructure investments, through Borealis Infrastructure, generated net investment income of $0.6 billion, compared with $0.4 billion a year earlier. Net investment income increased $0.2 billion in 2007 compared with 2006 as a result of unrealized gains recognized on investments made within the past three years. The 2007 return was 12.4 per cent, compared with 9.9 per cent

2008--Infrastructure 11.5% compared with 12.7% in the year before.

Not a bad return compared with other investments you might say. However, to me, it seems that infrastructure returns are going down over the last five years yet more money is being put into it. I would be very interested to know as well how they calculate income.

Just to repeat something I said above from a different source:

  • "One of the biggest concerns is figuring out the true level of actual losses.

    In recent years many big plans moved billions of dollars aggressively into credit derivatives, real estate and other private markets. Some of those markets have stopped trading, forcing investors to estimate the value of their assets.

    But often those estimates prove over-optimistic, said Mr. Hamilton.

    Give the current environment it may be some time before the level of real losses is known. It will likely take even longer before those numbers are made public.

    Experts say that this lack of transparency makes it almost impossible for taxpayers to find out the true cost of the public sector pension plans they pay for. "

Here is what is happening with one Australian group that the Michigan legislators, OMERS Board and Ontario municipalities might want to consider carefully seeing their abysmal results:

  • Billions wiped off Macquarie
    February 25, 2009
    MACQUARIE GROUP'S debt-fuelled business model is returning to earth with a resounding thud.

    The mother ship, and most of its listed satellites, closed at multi-year lows yesterday after billions were wiped off their combined market values since the start of last week as they succumb to the latest round of the global financial maelstrom.

    Macquarie Group shares barely stayed above the $19 mark yesterday, closing 4.5 per cent lower, down 89c, at $19.01 - its lowest since 2002.

    Macquarie CountryWide Trust closed at a record low of 10c, down 23 per cent and a fraction of the $1.50 it traded at this time last year.

    The company reported a loss of $714 million largely due to write-downs of shopping mall assets spread across the subprime belt of the US.

    According to Goldman Sachs JBWere, the trust is being priced for a massively dilutive equity raising to reduce gearing and aid coming refinancing.

    "Like all Australian real estate investment trusts, we expect portfolio fundamentals to weaken (occupancy rates and rental growth). However, we do not expect this to be a key stock driver, given its balance sheet concerns," the broker said.

    Yesterday Macquarie Media Group reported a $127 million net loss for the six months to December after writing down a US acquisition from 2007.

    They were not the only ones in trouble. Macquarie Airports closed at its lowest since 2003, having jettisoned a $1 billion share buyback this week to prop up Sydney Airports with another $630 million injection to pay down its debts. MAp will disclose its annual figures today. Its stock, which closed down nearly 10 per cent yesterday at $1.495, has lost about 30 per cent of its value since the start of last week.

    Macquarie Infrastructure Group is trading at its lowest levels since 2000, closing at $1.13 yesterday, down 17.5 per cent since the start of last week.

    Some of the satellites are trading at about half the value Macquarie is showing for them in its accounts.

    Macquarie has had to slash its profit outlook for this financial year, which ends on March 31, and now expects earnings of about $900 million - half the previous year's results.

    After warning it was taking $1.14 billion in write-downs and loan losses in the first half, Macquarie said recently it expected to take an extra $900 million in write-downs and other losses in the second half.

    This was mostly on further falls in the value of its holdings in listed funds such as Macquarie Capital Group, Macquarie CountryWide and Macquarie Office Trust. At the time, Macquarie said it would resist write-downs on its holdings in listed funds, Macquarie Airports and Macquarie Infrastructure Group, despite the collapse in their market value.

    Macquarie Group will report its full-year results on May 1. The company is quitting capital-intensive, low-return businesses to build its cash reserves. It also cut more than 1000 staff last year.

    In a letter to shareholders last week Macquarie said the "extremely challenging market conditions" had affected activity and profitability across all Macquarie's business groups. But it continued to operate profitably and pursue new opportunities. "

And one other story:

  • "In response, many states are re-evaluating their commitments to alternative asset managers. Last week, PSERS pulled back on almost $1 billion of planned private equity real estate commitments.

    OMERS, which directly manages many of its alternative asset allocations via subsidiaries such as OMERS Strategic Investments and Borealis Infrastructure, has not indicated it would be taking similar moves. Instead, the pension has accelerated its exposure to alternative assets by increasing its long-term asset mix target for private markets from 37.5 percent to 42.5 percent from 2007 to 2008."

Either OMERS is very smart or we could be in a lot of trouble. Here is something they should consider:

  • "The average pension plan lost about 16% in 2008," said Jane Rabovsky, Toronto-based practice leader, Investment Consulting Watson Wyatt Worldwide. She expects big losses will lead to a re-evaluation of pension risk among some of these plans. "I can't believe anyone will come out of this and not rethink what it is they are doing and how much risk they want to take," she said. "I hope people would re-examine their risk models...we don't know how long this will last."

Why should OMERS do this? I just have one question: How is DRTP doing?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Wreaders Write

It's strap on "W" time.

Wreally Winteresting Witems from Windsor Writers that Wreaders Will Want to Wread Wright Wnow!

Where are your Words?

1) Thanks for your giant, inquisitive, investigative, confrontational and logical brain!

2)The top 10 reasons why spending $220,000 on a 'feasibility study' to examine the merits of an air cargo and perishable goods centre at Windsor Airport is a bad idea...
  • 1) The entity being paid $220,000 to prepare the 'feasibility study' is none other than Lufthansa Consulting - a purported division of Lufthansa AG. What assurance can Windsor Council provide the rate-payers that the 'feasibility study' will be unbiased instead of merely serving the interests of its author?;

    2) If an air cargo and perishable goods centre were in fact a viable venture, why wouldn't a private sector company have already exploited the demand for such a facility in Windsor?

    3) Why should Windsor rate-payers foot the bill for a 'feasibility study'?

    4) DHL International Express (one of the world's largest air cargo companies) recently closed its Wilmington, Ohio hub due to low demand for North American air cargo, resulting in the loss of 7,000 jobs. Those loads are being shifted to DHL competitor UPS. According to Mike Maynard of Wilbur Smith Associates, a logistics facilities consultancy: "There were a number of airports that had a lot of cargo activity in the Ohio River Valley which have since ceased." The North American air cargo industry is in decline and we are experiencing a global economic recession that in all likelihood will last between 8 and 10 years;

    5) The price of a barrel of oil is projected to reach US $150 by 2011 and US $200 by 2012 (making air cargo of heavy, low-value added freight such as produce economically nonviable);

    6) Windsor is not situated within the ideal radius (500-mile radius of major Midwest and Northeast centers) required in order to be viable as an air cargo and perishable goods centre;

    7) Windsor's economy neither manufactures nor consumes sufficient quantities of light-weight, high-value-added items (semi-conductors, precious metals, gem-stones, pharmaceuticals etc) that would make shipping them via air a viable enterprise - particularly when the price of a barrel of oil returns to its previous US $147 high of July 2008 in 2011;

    8) Currently, Toledo holds a virtual monopoly on regional air cargo with it strategic alliance with Emirates SkyCargo (Dubai), which has started flying pharmaceuticals and other light-weight, high-value-added goods aboard two weekly 747-400-freighter flights between Toledo and Hahn, Germany via Dubai;

    9) Windsor has no core competence in running an air cargo and perishable goods centre - such core competencies take years to develop. Without such a core competence, Windsor's air cargo and perishable goods centre would be at a competitive disadvantage as it attempts to compete with other centres in the region; and, last but not least...

    10) The Boeing Company issues the biennial World Air Cargo Forecast (WACF) to provide a comprehensive up-to-date overview of the air cargo industry. The forecast summarizes the world's major air trade markets, identifies major trends, and presents forecasts for the future performance and development of markets as well as for the world freighter airplane fleet. Ongoing weak traffic growth characterizes the market for the 2008-2009 edition. World air cargo traffic grew 5.1 percent in 2007, which followed 3.2 percent growth in 2006 and 1.7 percent growth in 2005, making the past three years the weakest growth period for the industry since the first Gulf War, 1990-1992. World air cargo traffic has declined for two consecutive months through June 2008. Record high jet fuel prices, weak economic growth, and turmoil in financial markets have reduced demand for air cargo services. Early third-quarter 2008 reports from carriers point to either continuing weak or negative growth. Tepid traffic growth can be largely attributed to high fuel prices, which were increasing from late 2003 through July 2008 -- particularly during the first half of 2008 when prices rose nearly 50 percent over December 2007 levels. These high fuel prices, in turn, have made air freight expensive for many shippers. Although concern over the growth prospects of industry is warranted, it is well to recall that a long-term economic growth rate of roughly 3 percent, the continuing globalization of industry, increasing adoption of inventory-reduction strategies, and anticipated operating cost reductions in the freighter fleet should help world air cargo traffic growth return to historic norms. Information presented as historical in this document was compiled from many sources including, but not limited to, Air Cargo Management Group (ACMG), Airports Council International (ACI), the Air Transport Association (ATA), the Association of Asia-Pacific Airlines, (AAPA), the Association of European Airlines (AEA), Boeing Foreign Trade Database (TRADE), Eurostat, Global Insight, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Form 41. Historical information is updated each year as individual sources revise their respective publications [ SOURCE: ];

    In short, Windsor Council would have been better off donating the $220,000 (which it spent investigating the obvious) to charity.

3)Instead of chopping A channel they should be running a new soap opera.
The best writers in the business would pay for these scenarios.

Let's give a german company free money.

Let's give an austrian company $3 million dollars.

Just ignore the 100 bloggers and 250 people in the star. They don't count.

The days of Windsor.

It could be a great television show for A channel.

4) [RE reinventing the traditional media]

5) [Excerpts from a fisking email]

  • 'A transition team has taken over...' - Transition team? They're kidding right?

    'The interim team, led by Santos and Francis, will make decisions until a new board is chosen.' - An 'interim team' comprised of Fast-Eddie and Nellie?

    "Our key focus over the next several days will be to stabilize the corporation," said Francis - Translation: We have no plan to stop the haemorrhaging, but I'm sick and tired of being personally associated with this fiasco and as everyone knows, I'm a micromanager so I might as well take over the Board.

    "The warden and I took the steps that we did to communicate to investors that the two leaders of this region are saying with a unified voice as loudly as possible that we are here, we are open for business and we're doing everything we can as two leaders of this region to attract their investment and attract them to this region," - Yeah, nothing says 'we're open for business' like the resignation of the Board of Directors.

    'The WEDC letter stated the resignations took effect after a "transition checklist" was completed.' - I can just imagine the 'transition checklist'

    '...a business-led operation free of political oversight' - They're kidding right?

    'Former vice-chairman Albert Schumacher said the outgoing board was unfairly criticized.' - He's kidding right? Newsflash Doctor Schumacher - you and your fellow directors have accomplished zilch in how many years and after spending how much of the ratepayers' dollars? How does that song go again? Oh yeah - 'Na Na Na Na, Na Na Na Na, Hey Hey Hey - Goodbye'

    "Absolutely," he said. "I didn’t apply for the job. I was recruited by Gary McNamara on the basis that it would be a business-led, non-political board. Otherwise, I would not have agreed on it. The last year was anything but what had been outlined to me.." - Now this begs the question: 'Why didn't the 'good doctor' simply resign during the last year?'

    'Francis said the transition team must examine where the search for a new CEO is now before revealing what the next step will be on that front.' - Duh, let's see, it's been over 10 months and they haven't 'found' anyone

    'Mancini said the board members stepped down Monday, ahead of the 90-day deadline, because all the necessary housekeeping for "a smooth transition" was taken care of.' - Yeah, sure. It's not because the writing of public opinion was on the wall saying: "Fire the whole lot of them".

    'He said the transition went so quickly partly because the corporation had "functioned very well" for the last 12 months.' - Sure it did

    'Schumacher said the board members handed over a list of more than 50 projects they’ve worked on which need follow up, as well as a list of top 10 projects still in development.' - Translation: 'We're handing over a stack of paper

    "I’d hate to see the relationships built with U.S. consulates and trade commissions abroad unravel," he said. - Too funny! This just goes to show how absolutely clueless they are - their best contacts were 'consulates and trade commissions'? Seriously? Yeah Doc, no one knows more about how to set up private sector investment and job creation like 'consulates and trade commissions'. Pathetic.

6) That's absolute Bovine Manure. Those figures may be plausible if the WSO was supported by a majority of citizens It's not supported and they don't generate any significant spinoff.

They are a lost cause and certainly not a place to dump tax dollars.

7) $32,000,000 in direct economic benefit to Windsor

Public Libraries in Canada pay their way, by providing these Dividends and from the U.S. Return On Investments, according to OCLC, “For every $1 spent on the library, a community sees an average of $4 in return.” If that is the case, then Windsor Public Library’s budget for 2008 was just under eight million dollars, then the ROI on average is …$32,000,000 in direct economic benefit to the citizens and the city of Windsor! Imagine if WPL was fully funded rather than being the lowest funded public library system in Canada! Windsor spends roughly $2.75 per person for its library system, while the average is $4.50 per person across Canada. We have the lifeboats but we don’t have the oars!

8) Dear Mr. Marra and Mr. Halberstadt
Mr. Lewenza is saying that an increase in Water Rates is required "for the replacement of Windsor's aging water mains".

Don't we already have a Water Main Replacement Levy?
Do you not recall that this item was increased by 345% (13% to 45%) during August 2007? Wouldn't you like to see how the WUC Has spent all this collected loot!??

What I would like to see before this charade goes any further is the following information:
> DOLLARS COLLECTED by Water Main Replacement Levy $ ________. ___ 2007
> $ ________. ___ 2008
> $ ________. ___ to date in 2009
# of Feet of water mains replaced using these monies already collected ________ feet;

Once we see this information we'll be able to judge for ourselves whether Ken Lewenza Jr. is just "turning our crank". ALSO, if they REALLY are going to assemble a Focus Group to "explore" this issue, I WANT TO BE ON THE GROUP!

9) I am having a hard time with this mayor who is in a fight with DRIC, the Gateway, and promoting his Greenlink road, in arguing who is the lessor or great polluter in various levels of Parts per Million in the various EA studies. But yet he is willing to throw pollution from aircraft exhaust and aircraft noise and the trucks that will be coming in on a daily 24 hour basis out the window. He got the money for a fesability study, where is the environmental impact study?

10)I believe it was Groucho Matx who said, "innuendo and out the other."

11) [Re: More Windsor stories] You have to tell me which councillor that was! I don't think that I know them well enough to guess! At least give me a ward number!!

12) Good Day Ed!

I see you remain vigilant, on the job with scathing reviews of our local boards and councils. I know you keep everything to a 'G' rating which requires some limitations in the language that you are able to use. But to get the point across I think you might be able to say something like this: "Our Mayor and Council is giving us the kind of service that a bull gives to a cow!"

Planning Abominations

After last night, you just can feel that By-law Enforcement will be very active in certain areas in the City in the future. Lord help a landlord if there is any garbage in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It is understood that most of the Councillors and the neighbours opposed the building of a double duplex on a lot that previously had a single-story ranch home on it. No, the above is not a photo of what is being proposed to be built although if you listened to the debate, it sure sounded like it!

The purpose of the new construction as was admitted at Council and never hidden during the entire process that the developer went through was to provide housing for 16 students. One of the Councillors said that as many as 32 students could live in the premises but I’m not sure how that number was reached. To add insult to injury as far as certain people were concerned, if this building was an apartment building then it would need 20 parking spaces. As a double duplex, it only needed four.

Moreover, it was said that the University residences had 200 vacancies and in the area there were 60 to 70 vacancies as well so there was hardly a need it would seem for such a new building. In fact one of the Councillors suggested that the developer might want to reconsider what he was proposing to do because of the economy. And who says that our Council does not look after private enterprise entrepreneurs.

In the world of certain Windsor Councillors, the fact that a building has 17 windows is enough to demand that it not be built.

There was one little problem. The developer complied with the law. The development met the Planning Act, the Official Plan and the zoning. It met the law, all legal requirements.

Apparently, Councillors who have been on the Council for a number of years and even the newbies had difficulty understanding that they were only supposed to be dealing at Council with Site Plan Approval not anything else. In fact, they did not seem to know what Site Plan approval meant. The Developer had appealled to the Ontario Municipal Board and won. What they were to do at Council was extremely limited but apparently that did not matter.

I will say that the Mayor was fair in this debate and tried to keep the Councillors on track but had great difficulty doing so.

What was interesting as well is that Administration recommended that the development move forward because it had met all of the legal requirements. That was not good enough for certain Councillors. They grilled Administration trying to find a weakness so that they could stop the project but were unsuccessful in doing so. They even discussed, if you can believe it, imposing an interim control by law on one single property. That was a desperate measure that some on Council were looking at.

The ludicrous position would be, if Council did not approve the project going forward, that the City would have to hire outside planners, the City Planning department would be subpoenaed by the developer and they would have to support him in any appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board. In fact, most of the Councillors recognized that the City would probably lose but they did not care.

Comments were made such as the following:

  •  Something is really rotten with the bylaws
  •  There is something wrong with the process
  •  Council can control a 40 W bulb but not 17 windows for privacy concerns
  •  Should Council feel it is an abomination what options are there available to stop it
  •  Interestingly, there was recognition that an interim control bylaw is a very heavy-handed tool and a compelling reason is needed to impose one
  •  The development should be opposed simply because it is wrong
  •  Its may meet the letter of the law but that does not mean it is not wrong
  •  What kind of precedent is set, what hope does this give any neighbourhood that they can be protected
  •  The applicant can use every legal avenue to help him and so Council can look at every legal avenue to stop the development because it is simply wrong
  •  One should not blame Administration because that is what the rules are
  •  This is a student “warehouse” with people not committed to the neighbourhood but the Councillor was NOT badmouthing students
  •  We must do whatever we can to maintain the neighbourhood
  •  It is mind-boggling what is going on
  •  There is little chance to win but we have to fight with every tool we have
  •  Our hands are pretty well tied but I won’t support this going forward
  •  I expect it to go to the Ontario Municipal Board and expect to lose but we are providing a bit of hope so that residents will know that Council is behind them and will try to stop such projects such as these.

The issue really is that the Planning Act and the City rules need amendment so that this kind of development cannot happen. But the law now does not prohibit it.

Without getting particularly philosophical about it, our Society is supposed to run according to law not according to the whim of some Councillor who just doesn’t happen to like something for whatever reason that he/ she thinks is correct.

Why is our Council forcing a law-abiding citizen to have to hire a lawyer, to file an appeal, to waste money and to have his development increase in cost to fight a legal battle that is clear that Council will lose? Is that really how our City should operate? Why do we even have laws then if Council for whatever reason, good or bad, can ignore them? Is it Council's function to punish people who won't knuckle under to their desires? Would this be a proper use of taxpayer money to appeal? If the City lost the appeal, should we demand that the Councillors re-imburse the City for wasting our money on what they have been told cannot be won? Would the developer have a bad faith claim against the City?

What went on last night was a travesty. On the first vote to approve the Site Plan, it was defeated. On the second vote, to deny Site Plan approval, it was denied as well when the Mayor voted to make the vote a 5-5 tie. That meant that the Motion was defeated.

Accordingly, and only it seems in Windsor, the Site Plan was not approved nor denied. According to the applicant’s lawyer and to Administration as well, the Ontario Municipal Board was probably wrong in sending it to Council in the first place. That presumably means that the applicant did not have to go to Council.

In fact that was stated but that the applicant went there to try to resolve issues not to create new ones for himself. I assume that the applicant is probably free to do whatever it is that he wants to do now but that is something that he must discuss with his own lawyer.

It is not an issue that just arose. That is the annoying part of all this. This issue about student housing, landlords, land development, rooming houses etc. has been around for years and no one has done mcuh about it. The developer is doing what he is legally entitled to do and his legal rights are being trampled by a Council who just does not like what he is doing.

If you go back to what I had written before about Town and Gown, you will note that I am very suspicious about what is taking place. There is something more going on behind the scenes than we know.

In fact, it was very interesting on the land use planning issue on the previous agenda item, the residents of the area in which this development is to be built immediately asked for the imposition of an interim control bylaw to freeze everything. There was nothing on the Agenda Item that even suggested doing so. In fact, the Mayor asked one of the delegations, a former Councillor, how this concept was developed.

The only reason it was not passed last night was supposedly because an interim control bylaw would impact negatively on the University’s new engineering complex.

Accordingly, it is no longer necessary to comply with the law in Windsor for new development. One must ensure as well, that it is not an abomination or student warehousing. If it is, then watch out. the Councilors are gonna getcha!

I expect that a number of people videotaped the Council meeting last night. It may well prove to be invaluable evidence in a number of legal matters.

Re-inventing TheTraditional Media

There is no doubt that there is a media crisis across Canada as there is in other countries. Because of the meltdown in the economy, the life blood of the media, advertising, has decreased as companies cannot afford to spend the money on media buys. Ironically, one would have thought that companies would spend more to encourage people to purchase but that is not happening.

There are also severe problems with increased costs to run a newspaper or a television station and there is no doubt that the borrowings of the past are coming back to hurt the parent companies of the various media outlets.

Look at the transformation that will take place soon in Detroit with respect to their two newspapers effectively going online. It looks like we are going to lose EH-Channel and now CBC Windsor is at risk. How about these headlines in the Star on Saturday which shows that even the biggest newspaper in town could be in serious trouble because of its financial difficulties in their empire:
  • Canwest wins debt-talks reprieve of two weeks

    Canwest Global Communications Corp. secured a two-week reprieve late Friday to continue negotiating the terms governing its debt covenants.

    The Winnipeg-based publisher and broadcaster said in a news release that it will continue discussions with its senior lenders to extend a $112-million line of credit beyond March 11.

  • CTVglobemedia takes $1.7-billion write-down on TV properties

    Dire economic conditions will plunge the over-the-air television operations of CTV into a forecasted loss approaching $100 million in 2009, according to documents released by the broadcaster Friday

What this means clearly is that the Internet is transforming the way that the public gets information. Now perhaps you will understand, dear reader, why I talked about the need for an online newspaper or now, an online television station. The costs of doing so are so much less than running a traditional media outlet.

As an example, I need no newsprint and no ink for you to read this BLOG and the cost of distributing it to you is a fraction of what it is if done the traditional way by having it delivered to your doorstep. As for video, I would not need an expensive television studio or TV tower to be able to show you a video news story.

You would be surprised about the number of contacts I have had from people when I discussed this idea sometime ago. Some were people who were actually interested in investing, some who wanted to know what the costs were and now there are some media people who are concerned about their jobs and looking for alternatives.

I am investigating the matter, without a consultant so far, Canadian or foreign, to see if it is financially viable. It might be interesting to be an online media mogul as a new career. If the Kentucky Colonel could do something completely different at his age and be successful, maybe I can too.

The people at the Star and its parent are obviously aware of the changes in the industry. To me, when the Star completely revamped its website, it was recognition that their business model had to change or else. While the Star Forum may be interesting as a sounding board for what the Community thinks instantaneously on an issue, its real significance is moving readership to the online edition of the Star and more importantly connecting with their subscribers to try and keep them.

Think I’m fooling about this? Take a look at the Don McArthur A3 Column in Saturday’s Star.

  • “Scores of dumbfounded and outraged Windsorites began sounding off — for free — minutes after a story about this crackpot proposal, which is being championed by Lewenza, was posted on The Star’s website.”

Based on this almost instantaneous negative reaction online, McArthur is able to say to the readers on Saturday:

  • “Someone should tell Lewenza, chairman of the Windsor Utilities Commission, that you don’t actually need to hire a consultant to consult the public.

    All you have to do is listen to your constituents instead of dismissing them as naysayers or irrelevant bloggers. All you have to do is open your ears and the doors of meeting rooms that are all too often closed for suspect reasons.

    The reality is that Lewenza and the rest of the well-compensated council puppets on the commission don’t really care what you think. They just want you to think that they do.

    You’re not a person so much as a revenue source they can bleed dry with rate hikes and surcharges that double as hidden taxes, allowing councillors to make bogus claims about fiscal prudence.”

Being nice to Bloggers is almost a sin in this City. That took some bravery considering what Junior had to say about Bloggers only a few days before. Moreover, the Star has given a lot more coverage to the “naysayers” from WeACT as well as reflecting the Voice of the general population. Want to know about them at any hour of the day or night...they are as close as their website.

It is even worse than this as far as City Hall goes. We have seen such negative columns and Editorials before in the Star. These are usually attacks in general without naming names although it is very clear that the target is our Mayor. Not in this McArthur column. There is only one person who is a full-time politician and who runs the City. It took about two thirds of the column to generalize but in the end, the comment was made:

  • “They were angry because officials, including Mayor Eddie Francis, knew for years a steep increase was coming, but kept it quiet and kept putting it off until shortly after the 2006 election.

    They were angry because they paid $156,000 for a “whitewash audit” that couldn’t tell them what they wanted to know because auditors weren’t empowered to ask the right questions.

    And they remember that dark night for democracy when Francis — eliciting cries of “shame” in a packed council chambers — hid behind procedural bylaws to silence and sideline residents who just wanted the chance to voice their legitimate concerns.”

This is nothing more than a reflection that the Star has recognized within its news pages at least that there is a very strong opposition to the way that our Mayor is managing this City. This negative attitude comes through again via the forums in virtually every story involving the Mayor. Instant polling at no cost to the Star.

If the Star intends to be relevant in this community, especially if the other media are suffering as it is as well, it needs to take into consideration the views of the citizens. While the Star has not yet had the guts to drop the Mayor the way they did Mike Hurst, there is no doubt that it is coming. It takes time. The online comments help.

I found that Don’s use of the term “whitewash audit” was very interesting because that is a term that Bloggers, not the mainstream media, have been using ever since the WUC audit was announced.

The world is changing rapidly and the media is not immune as we can see. I had suggested a very long time ago in an article that the media take a look at becoming Virtual Internet Service Providers as a way of increasing revenue but more importantly keeping subscribers. I have not looked into this recently to see if it is viable in the broadband world but it is something that I intend to do if I intend to become an online media mogul.

In the meantime, just recognize that the traditional media are looking for new revenue sources and a lot of what you see in the press is nothing more than a power-play to get more money out of you and me via the cable and satellite companies. Get the public outraged, get the politicians on side and force the CRTC to change its position.

We “lonely” Bloggers have become a lot more powerful than even we understood. I believe that the Star may finally have understood that. Don McArthur certainly has.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Elizabeth May Speaking In Windsor

Elizabeth May will be speaking on March 12th at 7:30pm, in the lobby of the Medical Building, University of Windsor. Her lecture will address the future of a green economy in Canada.

This event is open to students and community members, and is FREE of charge. All are encouraged to attend! This is an amazing opportunity to hear from one of Canada's most influential environmental leaders!

PARKING: Street parking is FREE after 6:00pm. There are spots located along University Ave, Wyandotte, and Huron Church Road (near Assumption University). There is paid guest parking located on the corner of Sunset and Wyandotte (LOT D), and parking at the Bookstore for $2 (LOT L).

Don't Call Me, I Won't Call You And Other Stories

You think I got hit hard when several Councillors asked to be removed from my email list.

Read this from a Windsorite who received this email from a Councillor. Then take a look at other items of interest after too.

The names have been changed to protect the innocent in this email.
  • I am not computer savvy this is true, however I just do not want to meet with you. I do not understand what NEW information you wish to discuss with me other than what you have already explained to me when we met a few years ago or what you have presented to council or what you have emailed to our administration at City Hall. I was cc'd on all correspondence with you from our Manager... and am surprised you are unaware of the process as she has done a fine job of responding to you with what is happening. Perhaps I will ask her to cc Councillor "X" from now on so if you do not understand what the email says, he/she can interpret it for you.

    I am on the {A} Committee. The consultants will hold public meetings of which I am sure you will notified of, for your input. There is no need to meet with me separate of that process. I am an extremely busy person who sits on "Z" committees and several other subcommittees all part of my job which I am glad to participate in, however extra meetings are spent with residents/ property owners from [my] Ward or people dealing with applications.

    My free time is spent with my spouse, children, my motherparent and my elderly grandparents all of which I help to care for. I am glad you have a good relationship with Councillor "X", why don't you meet with him/her and he/she can relay whatever your issues are to me since he/she sees me every Monday! In the future do not email me, you should be corresponding with the Consultants on the project. You will get the chance to meet them when they hold their public meetings.

It would appear that this Councillor has a very limited view of what the job entails. Did you like the insult about NEW information after meeting "a few years ago."

I am not sure what word is best suited to describe the attitude of the Councillor. I will let you decide that for yourself.


Welcome to Councillor Postma who has decided to become a Blogger. She now joins in with Councillor Halberstadt who has been running his Blog for quite some time.

No doubt the bristling Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget will be upset. In these times of economic distress, I am sure that he will tell his Councillor colleague that she should be devoting her work to charity and not Blogging.

I wonder if now Councillor Lewenza will tone down his anti-Blogger remarks. I must say that for a person who claims that he wants to communicate with the public, I am surprised that he is not a Blogger as well.


I wonder if the Canal has sprung a leak. Wasn't the report prepared by Dave Cooke supposed to be out by the end of February?


Thank goodness that Councillor Dilkens has been able to recover from his strenuous overseas trip. I wonder if he will be asked by his colleagues to report on what he saw in Frankfurt. I am so certain that the public would like to be educated.

Oh, it does not matter anyway. The City approved the BUY FOREIGN AND SOLE-SOURCE consulting agreement with the Lufthansa subsidiary without his words of wisdom. He probably could have stayed at home for all the difference his thoughts made.


The fight over changes to Riverside Drive will be extremely unpleasant.

Already, I understand that a complaint has been filed with the Press Council about Star coverage of the story. I am sure that the Star will reply setting out their position. I would expect that if the Press Council decides to adjudicate on the matter it will set out the grounds of complaint and the Star’s response.

That is an interesting approach to take so early on in the struggle. Obviously, the residents in the area feel aggrieved already and want to ensure that if their complaint is legitimate, such coverage does not continue.

The Star on the other hand will want to justify its actions so that it can report the story in a way that it believes is acceptable.

In addition, the residents in the area have hired a lawyer to fight the City’s Environmental Assessment. As I have Blogged, you really do need to listen to and read very carefully what the area residents are saying. The similarity to another Environmental Assessment is remarkable.

It will be interesting watching the story develop. I would also expect that people will have to be a little bit more careful in the kind of language that they use in this matter.

It's Not Easy Greening Windsor

Our poor Mayor. He must think, because he controls the Kill button at Council, that the world acts this way. In other words, if he says stop or do this, everyone must jump to his commands. The world unfortunately for the Mayor does not play by the City of Windsor Procedural Bylaw rules in real life, outside of Council Chambers.

I wonder if he will ever learn that lesson.

I can just imagine the Premier and his Ministers sitting around the Cabinet table at Queen’s Park laughing themselves silly at Council’s letter that he attend at Council to be cross examined by Council members over the DRIC file.

It probably was just as funny when they read this in the Star:
  • “Windsor has demanded a mediator be appointed to end outstanding differences with the provincial government in the ugly fight over the proposed $1.6-billion Windsor-Essex Parkway border feeder road…

    It calls for immediate mediation to be completed within 21 days after an agreed-upon mediator is appointed.

    The focus of the mediator, according to the city, would be to mitigate access road deficiencies through strategic tunnelling with an understanding the cost of doing so be no greater than $200 million more than the parkway’s current estimated $1.6-billion construction cost.”

The arrogance and air of entitlement of the City leaders help explain why nothing ever gets done and why no one listens to Windsor.

What right does Windsor have to “demand?” Moreover, what right does Windsor have to set out the rules unilaterally about what the mediation is all about? It is nothing more than a mediation ploy designed never to be accepted by the Province to accomplish some objective of the Mayor.

I guess the Mayor and Council need to say that they had no alternative but to litigate because everything that they offered to do was turned down by the Senior Levels. As I have said before, it will be YOUR fault, dear reader, if the City has to spend more millions of dollars more to fight a lawsuit. You cannot blame the Mayor and especially cannot blame the Mayor if the City loses.

I mention this to you because of what happened last night with respect to the Bridge Company homes that they want to demolish and to improve the area with the help of the University’s Green Corridor Group.

The Mayor made a big show that he had had discussions with the Bridge Company about the subject. Unless he has met with them recently, he probably forgot that he said on Face-to-Face at year end:

  • “JOHN FAIRLEY: Okay, alright. When was the last time you talked to them?

    MAYOR FRANCIS: I believe it was about six months ago, seven months ago.”

It was interesting that the Mayor was the one who introduced the Motion to “invite” the Bridge Company to come to Council. It will be interesting to see the final wording of that Motion.

Obviously, the Mayor and the Ward 2 Councillors in particular are feeling the heat with all of these homes that most people believe should be torn down and turned into parkland. The neighbours around these homes in particular are the most vocal. Who can blame them even though the hearts of certain members of Council go out to them! How touching.

The Members of Council are also concerned about a bad faith claim that could be made against them. The solution as far as the strategists on Council is concerned is to bring in the Bridge Company, have them present their plans, have a discussion and then turn them down because their plans will be found to be inadequate.

The residents cannot complain any more because it is the fault of the Big Bad Bridge Company with their inadequate plans. Moreover, the bad faith claim disappears because Council listened to them even though they refused to give them more than 10 minutes when the Bridge Company initially made its presentation along with the Green Corridor Group on their billion-dollar project.

The Council meeting would have been stacked against the Bridge Company right from the beginning. Council had a “requirement” according to the Mayor. If that requirement was not met, then how could the Bridge Company go to Council in the first place?

The requirement seemed rather simple: to have a definitive plan as per their greening plan. The plan initially had to be “detailed” with respect to the plan, funding and the timeline according to the Mayor. Presumably, the Mayor used the wrong term because “detailed” soon became “definitive.” The Mayor used the word “definitive” on John Fairley’s show. It’s that darn amnesia disease again.

Moreover, after Councillor Jones asked how long the time period would have to be for this green space, the Mayor added in the assumption that it was to be transformed in perpetuity for green space and green parks.

Effectively, the Mayor told the Bridge Company what they must do and even then he stated that he could not say that the plan would be approved. He said before on John Fairley's show as well:

  • “if we agree to it.”

Here is what the dispute is over: the Bridge Company stated merely that they would like to work cooperatively with the City as can be seen from the letter I posted while the Council Motion will talk about definitive plans.

Think about it. What does definitive plans mean? It means that the Bridge Company comes to Council with something that a Councillor for whatever reason can reject out of hand because he/she does not like where a tree is placed. It would be so easy for a Councillor to speak all of the platitudes about wanting to work with the Bridge Company and then turn down a definitive proposal because he/she did not like something.

If you think I am making this up, then you should have watched Council last night and the fiasco with respect to the Site Plan approval respecting the four-plex on Askin. I almost hope, except that it will cost me money as a taxpayer, that the City tries to play stupid games with the developer. Based on the video that I have, and I hope the developer has a copy as well, the City is acting in the most egregious fashion against a law-abiding taxpayer that I have ever seen.

The attitude seemed to be who cares if the City loses, take him to the OMB. Teach him a lesson. I honestly could not believe what I was hearing.

The result at Council was that the application to approve his Site Plan was rejected but the Motion to deny his Site Plan application was also rejected. You try to explain to me what all that means because I don’t get it.

If the Council had said in its Motion simply that the Bridge Company should work with Administration cooperatively, then it might have made some sense. It could have been a good first step to try and re-establish relations. Instead, all that Council is trying to do with the Mayor’s Motion is to sucker the Bridge Company. Everyone watching could see through what the Mayor was doing.

After all, when the Mayor calls your Company the City’s “enemy,” it makes it very difficult to accept at face value what is being offered.

Greenlink: Living And Dying In Windsor

The truth is coming out slowly but it is coming. However, I will make you read to the end of the BLOG to see the important part, just as the Star does in their stories. No skipping to the end though.

Quick, we need to spend another $60,000 to support Greenlink LITE in another massive advertising campaign blitz. More ads for the Star to keep them in business.

You see, dear reader, all of the letters and postcards sent in previously to DRIC are worth nothing today. All of those people at the Teshuba meeting who were taught how to write letters to the Premier were writing about old Greenlink proposals, not the newest one. DRIC can now legitimately ignore them thanks to the City!

It is not the letter writers fault; no one told them about the latest and greatest Greenlink solution, another compromise. Mind you, I don’t understand how anyone can compromise on quality of life and health of children other than our Council. Of course the time spent at the Teshuba meeting was all wasted but now the residents are literate and learned how to write a letter.

I am sure you read about this in the Star:
  • “In Estrin's documents, the city also presents a "modified GreenLink" for consideration which costs $144 million more than the parkway, or $1.76 billion. It combines and shortens the tunnel options from the city's original plan by a total of one kilometre.

    The modified GreenLink provides five tunnels covering 2,830 metres, consisting of three longer tunnels (1020 metres, 750 metres and 700 metres) and two short tunnels (240 metres and 120 metres).

    Longer tunnels are very much needed to provide protection in key neighbourhoods, while also providing usable green space above, the city says. The tunnels must remain long enough so the openings where emissions emerge are not a factor because of distance.”

I am not certain now which generation this Greenlink is. However, my understanding is that the DRIC people are not going to deal with this proposal either. They figure that if they maintain their silence, Eddie will keep compromising because he cannot be blamed for a failure until such time as he compromises to an at-grade solution.

Some of you may wonder how Eddie can keep his mouth shut on Greenlink and yet at the same time present this supposedly damaging report prepared by David Estrin and a team of consultants, another one of whom is foreign, sorry Junior.

It is so obvious that it is an easy answer for me to give. I am sure that Eddie explained it to Minister Baird when they met so that he would not get perturbed. Here is how DRIC’s work was described:

  • “A Cascade of Errors" the city's submission -- obtained Saturday by The Star -- points to what Estrin believes is an array of problems and oversights during the EA process conducted by provincial team members of the Detroit River International Crossing study group.”

Give me a break. It is a report “hundreds of pages of documents” in length. There were “a half-dozen air, health, economic and planning consultants retained by city council. “ This report must have cost taxpayers many hundreds of thousands of dollars to prepare.

If it is really as bad as the Mayor and Council say that it is, one would expect a massive lawsuit to be started already. After all, we saw this scare statistic from a new New York expert. I guess there are no Canadians that are capable of giving such an opinion. I wonder if the Mayor met him on his last trip to New York as well:

  • “A health impact assessment provided by George Thurston, an environmental medicine professor at New York School of Medicine, accuses DRIC of ignoring the negative impacts of pollutants within the plan's green space.

    Pollution levels in some cases will be so high that the risk of a heart attack may increase by 563 per cent in just two hours of exposure, he said.

    "This is not the place that people should choose to exercise," he says.

    Long-term and short-term human health impacts of the parkway overall will include increased risk of asthma attacks, emergency room visits and hospitalization, and a higher risk of premature death from strokes, heart attacks and other causes, Thurston said.”

And what do our caring leaders suggest---starting legal action? Nope:

  • “It calls for immediate mediation to be completed within 21 days after an agreed-upon mediator is appointed.

    The focus of the mediator, according to the city, would be to mitigate access road deficiencies through strategic tunnelling with an understanding the cost of doing so be no greater than $200 million more than the parkway's current estimated $1.6-billion construction cost.”

DRIC and the Senior Levels have not listened to anything that the City has said supposedly and the Mayor wants to have mediation and on his terms too. Obviously, this is doomed to failure as well. There is no clearer proof that our Mayor has no guts to sue than this:

  • "We want a solution everyone can live with and move on. This request for a mediator is further demonstration Windsor is exhausting every opportunity to arrive at a solution and avoid unnecessary legal action."

Moreover, the Star claimed:

  • "The city’s border legal expert David Estrin and his hired consultants countered with one final blitz to trash the parkway plan."

The final blitz? Frankly, I am exhausted by Eddie exhausting every opportunity. I can just hear Eddie telling the Minister what his approach is and the Minister telling him

  • “That’s a good fellow.”

If you will remember, the Tunnel Commission meeting was postponed last week so that Council could receive a border update. The meeting started at 3 p.m. rather than the previously scheduled 4:30 p.m. I can understand why now.

Some of you I believe may think that my title of this BLOG was sensationalist, the kind of thing that some of those tabloid magazines and newspapers would write to attract readership. How wrong you are.

I would suspect that the Councillors saw Greenlink LITE for the very first time at that meeting. Some might say that it was presented to them in the very last minute right before the DRIC deadline so that no changes could be made.

That is easy to say but I think there is a different explanation. I believe that it was not presented to Council previously because the consequences are so severe that many of the Councillors would have been in a state of shock if that had been presented to them before. They might have suffered a nervous breakdown worrying about residents of the City.

Obviously, we do not have the gory details of Greenlink LITE except from what we can read in the Star story. We were given new Schwunnel lengths but not told where the changes were made. I looked at the old Greenlink Schwunnels and made a comparison with the new numbers and here is what I found:

1020M Bellewood Estates------same length 1020
230M Pulford-------has it disappeared?
1220M Oakwood----has it been shortened to 750M?
240M St Clair College------same length 240M
1000M Mt.Carmel/Villa Paradiso ----has it been shortened to 700M?
120M Howard------same length 120M

Total length of the Schwunnels has been reduced by 1000M from 3,830M to 2,830M.

There must have been stunned silence when Greenlink LITE was introduced--a 25% reduction. So much for the first "full tunnelling" demand. It was a joke! I wonder if Mr. Estrin did the introduction or whether it was the Mayor.

It is vital for those residents of the area of the City to know where those thousand meters were removed without their knowledge or consent and to understand exactly what the consequences are to them. The City’s foreign consultant made it clear for:

  • “babies, children, pregnant mothers, grandparents and people with pre-existing medical conditions…

    Long-term and short-term human health impacts of the parkway overall will include increased risk of asthma attacks, emergency room visits and hospitalization, and a higher risk of premature death from strokes, heart attacks and other causes, Thurston said.”

Can you imagine the pressure now on City Councillors. In effect, they are choosing with Greenlink LITE who may suffer in the future. It is all on their shoulders now. They must live with this decision for the rest of their lives. What a huge responsibility. Did they sign on for this when they ran for office? Which neighbour would they condemn to pain and suffering?

One could probably have heard a pin drop in the meeting room until one of the Councillors jumped up, and I bet you know which one I mean, and said that he/she had analyzed the report in the few minutes that it had been given to them and the answer was what was also reported by the foreign consultant in the Star story:

  • “This is not the place that people should choose to exercise."

In passing, I wonder then if, as part of the City budget, the City will subsidize residents to go to a private club to exercise instead since they cannot exercise on the Green spaces.

I would bet that there was a huge sigh of relief when that answer came out. Don't exercise there---What a brilliant resolution. No need to be concerned about health of residents now.

There would probably also have been a huge burst of laughter from certain people in the room because Councillors had clearly forgotten what the MOE expert, Dr. Diamond, had said and what DRIC stated in a press release only weeks before. They would have remembered what I had Blogged before but for the amnesia disease and because some were afraid to admit they read my BLOG:
  • “Of course, they forget to mention what our Champion, MOE’s Dr. Diamond said about trucks moving constantly

    “During normal traffic movement (no delays), the average increase in particulate matter adjacent to the road was minimal.”

    More importantly forget to tell us about the changes in diesel fuel and diesel engine technology which will drastically reduce emissions such that the health concern is no longer there.

    As the DRIC wrote also:

    “The fact is, getting rid of traffic lights will eliminate stop-and-go traffic and reduce emissions. New cleaner fuel rules and (truck) engine technologies are also reducing pollution from tailpipe emissions."

Just like in the movies, picture the Councillors high-fiving, shouting and screaming and shaking each other’s hands and slapping each other on the back and hugging since the crisis was over. There really was no crisis but the public will think there is one so they have no consequences as they keep on demanding more from the Senior Levels.

However, dear reader, you probably figured all that out by yourself. You did not need me to tell you that. However, here is what you probably did not understand about the Meeting. The REAL REASON for the session. Naturally, the revelation comes at the end of the Star Story:

  • “An economic consultant's findings said the DRIC plan will leave the city with a direct tax revenue loss of about $1.5 million annually because of expropriated business and homes.

    Projected forward 20 years, this is a "present value" economic cost to the City of Windsor of $30 million dollars.”

$30 million rang a bell in my mind and so I went to my database and out popped the following from a year ago:

  • State of the City Address
    Mayor Eddie Francis

    That’s why today, I’m proposing a five-point plan that will help create the jobs we need.

    I call it our Jobs Today Program…

    Jobs Today is an initial proposal. A set of initiatives to help our Economic Development Commission. To help our community attract jobs. To keep jobs…

    The first part of this program, is a new Economic Development Investment Fund. A fund that will provide direct investment into smart projects that leverage our local strengths, and create jobs..

    How will we finance an Economic Development Investment Fund of our own?

    By leveraging money from the new National Community Development Fund, recently established by the federal government, to be administered by the provinces.

    And by taking the bold step of putting municipal dollars on the table, to make the promise of these new jobs a reality…

    I will also be asking City Council to make a historic, one-time $30 million dollar investment from existing sources to kick-start this fund…

    We will also be inviting Essex County to consider supporting this initiative, and to stand with us as partners committed to an investment in the future of this region.

    In all, we have the potential to build a $100 million Economic Development Investment Fund.

    If approved, our Fund will be allocated on a project by project basis, subject to detailed business plans. These business plans will need to build in criteria and safeguards similar to existing provincial and federal programs.

    Proposed projects must be new initiatives, not already announced or planned, and must also help achieve the strategic priorities within the sectors developed by the Economic Development Commission at its recent summit.”
$30M Jobs Today payment needed, $30M economic cost. A co-incidence. I think not!

Do you get it now, dear reader? It is what I have been saying for so long. We are coming down to the short strokes so each of the parties is setting out what it wants.

Out of all those hundreds of pages of the Report, the Star reported and focused on the economic loss, which amount is exactly the same as the Mayor wanted for his Jobs Today fund for the City, an amount that the City does not have. That is an extra that our Mayor may be demanding on top of what he expects the Senior Levels to pour in since Windsor is the “host City” for the border. After all, that is what Dwight called the $3.2 million for the Red Bull sponsorship.

It all comes to this in my opinion:
  •  Full tunneling and Greenlink have been used to stall off the border file with the full complicity of the Senior Levels until 2010, a time when the Senior Levels expected they would have the money to build the DRIC project
  •  Greenlink is dead
  •  Host City funds would come in from the Senior Levels at the appropriate time
  •  Those funds were supposed to go to the Undevelopment Commission, an organization that Eddie is desperately trying to salvage
  •  The $30 million for the DRIC economic loss and the $30 million for the Jobs Today City contribution just give it all away.

Now you know why my headline was not sensationalist. Now you know how we have been played for all these years. We are no different than the people in Delray, Michigan in the eyes of the politicians. Now you know what it is all about.

PS. If you have any doubts about what I am saying, unless the Star story was incorrect, then please explain why the Star republished the mediation story late yesterday afternoon, dropping the reference to the $30M! They knew that they gave it away.