Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, March 20, 2009

BYE Canadian Council Policy

I hope the Foreign Vacationing Members of Council enjoyed their trips out of the country in the exotic locations over March School Break and will agree with me that this Star story is utter rot:
  • "Council Buy Canada policy hits snag

    Coun. Ken Lewenza Jr. on Friday requested another two weeks to allow fine tuning before asking city council to again consider adopting a Buy Canadian policy.

    His original motion was put on hold by council because of wide-ranging implications for the city since some city-purchased goods are not produced in Canada or come at higher costs.

    Also, many municipal and Transit Windsor vehicles have such a mixture of parts and labour it is difficult to decipher what qualifies for the councillor's proposed 50 per cent Canadian content rule...

    He is asking for more time to ensure when a buy Canada policy is next put in front of council it will be "rock solid."

The matter is being delayed I assume since Junior is hoping that people will forget that a subsidiary of the German airline, Lufthansa, was hired for the airport cargo study, not a Canadian firm. Moreover, in the Environmental Assessment document produced by Mr. Estrin, another American consultant, an environmental medicine professor at New York School of Medicine, was hired not a Canadian one, this time to discuss health matters.

As I have mentioned before, clearly somebody is out to embarrass Councillor Junior. I wonder if he has been able to grasp that concept yet. Has he been able to figure out who is doing this to him yet and why? He ought to consider the questions especially if he has Senior Level political hopes, especially federally. Nothing like knocking out a potential competitor before he even starts by making him look hypocritical!

The report before Council with respect to the airport tried to keep the name of the consultant confidential. Obviously, no one was supposed to find out that the consultant was foreign, at least not before the vote on Council on the BUY CANADIAN policy. Someone leaked that information to the Windsor Star so that it was plastered on the front page of the newspaper just as the three Council world travelers were flying off to Frankfurt at taxpayer expense. I wonder who did that.

I do not understand the problems that the Councillor has with respect to vehicles. The UAW in the US posts a list of North American, union made vehicles that I posted. I am sure that the bus manufacturer can give an answer if only it was asked. In fact, if the Councillor did make a bit of an effort, he could find out what the Canadian content rules are as set out by the Ontario Government. It might be fun also for him to compare that with the US rules. He would be shocked at what he would find.

It will be interesting when this matter comes to Council again. I noticed that the CAW has a Buy Canadian - Build Communities program out there. I will let the Councillor decide if he should even speak on this subject at all at Council given where he works.

Perhaps if he believes that he is entitled to do so, instead of speaking, perhaps he could sing a song instead: Listen to the 'Buy Canadian Song' by Kevin Wrycraft

Sing along with Junior!

Customs And Windsor/Detroit

The Government of Canada wants the Ambassador Bridge. Full Stop!

There is no doubt about it whatsoever. It does not matter whom it hurts in our region economically. It does not matter whether it destroys the relationship between Canada and the United States. It does not matter if it costs taxpayers billions of dollars that should not be paid out.

Someone within the Government has decided that this could be the last chance that Canada has ever again to control the crossing between Windsor and Detroit. Convince the Americans to help us take over the Ambassador Bridge. If that will not work at this time because traffic and economic factors are against us, then figure out a way to back off to win the war another time.

Accordingly, the Government must be continuing to listen, foolishly in my opinion, to our Ambassador to the United States for strategy. They continue to listen to a person who should have been out of a job by now considering NAFTA-gate, whether he was involved personally or not. He should have been the sacrificial lamb to try to re-establish our relationship. The fact that he is around still is nothing more than a source of friction between the White House and our country.

All of this is tolerated because the Government of Canada wants the Ambassador Bridge

I have no doubt in my mind either that Members of our Government are delusional. Their strategy is absurd. The consequences are disastrous. They really have no sense of what is going on. They must think that because the President invited the Governor General to come to Washington that everything is all right. It is interesting that he did not invite the Prime Minister or did someone in the Privy Council Office miss that point!

Consider this comment by Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan
  • Canada-U.S. border review worries overblown: Minister

    Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan on Monday said he's convinced early worries that the new Obama administration might impose new security measures at the Canada-U.S. border have been overblown.

    At the start of a three-day visit to Washington, Van Loan said he's satisfied that a U.S. review of its northern border — ordered in January by Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security secretary — was simply a matter-of-course exercise by the department's new head to become familiar with her portfolio.

    "What I thought was very positive about that is that she recognized that the northern border is very different (from the U.S.-Mexico border), that we have a very different situation," Van Loan said in an interview. "She does view us in a very different light . . . She very much understands the objective here is achieving security while facilitating trade."

Overblown? That is correct Minister. That is why the Americans are using drones to patrol the border between Canada and the United States for the first time and to look into Canada at a distance of up to 9 km:

  • American Surveillance Plane To Guard Manitoba Border

    An RCMP Border Integrity Officer is not worried about privacy concerns raised by an unmanned American surveillance plane.

    The drone will patrol the International Border between Manitoba and North Dakota and Minnesota. Although it can't fly within 16 kilometres of the border, it can still capture images up to 9 kilometres into Canada.

    Staff Sergeant Ron Obodzinski says he doesn't have any information that leads him to believe it will be monitoring activity in Canada, but says as the illegal individuals are identified coming in and out of the country the plane will be able to intercept them.

    Obodzinski adds as a Canadian Law Enforcement Agency they will be able to benefit from the information captured by the surveillance drone and will help them in the fight to identify illegal border activity.

    Although the drone is not armed it is the same type of aircraft used to hunt Taliban forces in Afghanistan.”

Do the Americans really have any interest in our border? Not really. They are more interested right now in the Mexican border and especially because of the violence there. However, the Americans are being tough with the Mexicans as well and are not afraid to flex their protectionist muscles:

  • US legislation will stop Mexican truckers at the border

    The spending bill Obama signed Wednesday eliminates a program that let some drivers deliver goods in the US.

    Cross-border commerce hit another red light late Tuesday when the Senate eliminated a pilot program that allowed some Mexican companies to ship goods deep into the United States.

    The $410 billion spending bill approved by senators Tuesday and scheduled to be signed by President Obama Wednesday eliminated funding for the controversial program and could reinforce concerns that the US is turning to protectionism as it fights its deepest recession in decades…

    The move to bar Mexican trucks follows the “Buy American” provision in the $787 billion stimulus bill approved by Congress Feb. 18, which could require stimulus spending to go to US-made products. The provision has been criticized in Latin America and Canada, and analysts say rising protectionist sentiment could hurt global economic recovery efforts.

    While free-trade advocates fear the creation of new trade barriers, the Mexican truck impasse is well over a decade old.

    US authorities have repeatedly delayed implementation of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) rules that would have granted Mexican truckers access to border states in 1995 and nationwide in 2000. The US has refused to budge even following the decision of a NAFTA arbitration panel in 2001, which ruled that the US is required to grant access."

I am certain that Canada, and other countries, will be interested in seeing what the reaction is to the Mexicans proposing tariffs on US goods in retaliation. I am glad to see that Senator Kenny’s “Dirty Little Secret” applies to Mexico as well. If the Americans do little, that might in fact embolden Canada to be more aggressive with the US. However, here was the interesting line in the Story:

  • “Now, with the economy faltering and fewer trucks lined up at border checkpoints, it’s unclear when – or if – the issue will finally be resolved.

    “If there was a great demand, and an economic boom, then maybe [this would get fixed],” says Gustavo Del Castillo Vera, a researcher for the College of the Northern Border in Tijuana. “But with things as they are right now, it doesn’t make much difference.”

In other words, if there was an economic need to solve the problem, United States and Mexico would do so. There is no need right now. In the same way, if there really was an economic need, Canada and the United States would solve our border problems as they did in the past. There is no need right now.

And that is why Canada is acting now. They think that they can beat the Americans while they are asleep and worrying about AIG instead! Prime Minister Harper raised the border issue with President Obama. Minister Cannon raised the matter with Secretary Clinton. And now Minister Van Loan is doing the same thing.

Do not forget as well the Kergin initiative which is now coming out via the Blue Water Bridge under a different guise that is designed to circumvent the White House. That is part of Canada’s Ultrasecret Playbook.

But what has prompted me to thinking about all this is a most strange comment made by Minister Van Loan. Before he met with the Americans, he stated:

  • “Van Loan said Canada is interested on reopening talks with the Obama administration about opening U.S. customs pre-clearance facilities at Canadian land border crossings. The aim would be to allow trucks carrying goods to the U.S. to clear American customs before they arrive at the border, "the same way we pre-clear passengers at airports" in several Canadian cities. The idea went nowhere under the Bush administration.”

Nothing wrong with that. There were serious negotiations going on between Canada and United States about Shared Border Management at the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie. The purpose of that was to minimize the need to increase border facilities on the American side so that a good chunk of Buffalo would not be ruined by a truck Plaza. At that time, there was no conversation about a similar program in Windsor and in fact, as you will recall, when the Bridge Company tried to do something similar in the United States, Canada objected to it.

Accordingly, when I read this, I almost fell out of my chair:

  • “In Washington to talk to his U.S. counterpart, Canada's public safety minister said Wednesday that they agreed to meet twice a year to head off problems that might snarl trade at the border…

    Van Loan said the two sides would probably meet once a year in Canada and once in the United States, perhaps at the border itself.

    He also got a commitment from Napolitano that Washington will look again at the idea of what is called land pre-clearance, he said.

    Under a proposal favoured by Ottawa, American officials would check U.S.-bound trucks on the Canadian side of the border and vice versa, easing trade bottlenecks.

    Van Loan said he suggested a pilot project at the Windsor-Detroit border but nothing was settled.”

This is ridiculous. Shared Border Management failed because of Canada. Here is what a US GAO Report stated:

  • “According to DHS, the overarching issue was the subordination of U.S. law enforcement personnel and authorities to Canadian law rather than U.S. law and the inability to ensure necessary U.S. law enforcement authorities under Canada’s legal framework.”

Why drag ex-President Bush into it except to win points with a Democratic Administration. It seems as if it is Canada that wants this initiative to start all over again, not the Americans. As I have Blogged before, Canada is interested in controlling all of the Corridors and Gateways into the United States in order to preserve our trade into the US. But the most bizarre statement of all was a suggestion of a pilot project in this region. What gives?

There is one conclusion that can be reached. If the Americans want Shared Border Management in Buffalo so that a good part of Buffalo does not have to be destroyed by a truck Plaza (do not forget that the Bridge Company wants to build a bridge there as well) then let us test it out in Windsor/Detroit.

And where would the best location be to test it? Oh my goodness, at a new DRIC Bridge. The American Government would have to help Canada end the ownership of the Bridge Company. Presumably, some omnibus legislation would have to be passed in both countries to do so.

Wipe out the Bridge Company in Windsor/Detroit and wipe them out in Buffalo/Fort Erie as well. A Twofer!

Alternatively, if there is a desire for reverse customs, why not try it out at the Tunnel? Remember that Canada still needs to control the Tunnel if a P3 operator gets involved in a DRIC crossing. The operator will want a monopoly to guarantee a return on its investment.

I have been quite surprised that the Tunnel Plaza Improvement Project is still mentioned as a possible Infrastructure project to be paid for by the Federal/Provincial infrastructure monies. There should be no way that this project could be justified because there already is a cost sharing scheme in place and it is the City that has not put up its $10 million as its share.

Could it be that when Minister Baird was here he offered to take on the extra costs of this project and to justify it as the "pilot project" for reverse customs? That sounds doable to me and it takes a lot of pressure off of the back of our Mayor.

For something completely different, perhaps this is Canada waving the white flag of surrender, at least for the next decade until traffic builds up so they can start all of this again. Is this a message to the Bridge Company that the Federal Government would like to talk and use the Ambassador Bridge as the pilot because it has always been viewed as the model crossing in Canada? In this way, negotiations could start for whatever it is that Canada thinks it might be able to get out of the Bridge Company at this stage without losing face because their plans to take over the Bridge failed miserably.

Better to retreat and regroup to fight another day rather than to lose for all time. The idea would be to try to fool the Bridge Company again as they did with the FIRA settlement.

If a poor lonely Blogger can figure out these alternatives so quickly and so easily, then the Canadian Government must believe that the Ambassador Bridge people and the US Desk at the State Department are a bunch of fools.

Prime Minister… it really is time to see if Michael Wilson is interested in retiring.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Postman Rings More Than Twice

Here are some new comments from readers like you.

By the way, have you told your family, friends and colleagues to come to this BLOGsite to read the latest inside stuff about Windsor. Subscriptions are still at no cost to readers!

1) Great column this afternoon Ed. [Re CIBPA]

I am glad to see another group of business leaders step forward and demand action! I am glad to see as well that you are being more direct with this administration...

I say off with the gloves and let's fight for the survival of our city! I think the citizens should go on the attack and make damn sure that council and our mayor understand that we are not a bank, we are not going to roll, we are not going to ask how high we have to jump. No! The time is now to tell THEM what WE believe the way the city should be run and that their schemes and shenanigans will not be tolerated any longer!

Bring on the jobs!

2) [Re WATTGREENLINK] Thanks for reporting on this. How does Ojibway and the approval for a Big Box establish Windsor as a leader? Council approved a Big Box beside (Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve) one of Canada's most endangered ecosystems- Tallgrass Prairie.

I've attached an article providing details and disappointment of the plaza location for the new proposed bridge crossing

"The Ojibway Prairie Complex (Windsor, ON) is a rare and unique five park system that represents some of Canada's most endangered ecosystems... a new 80 acre plaza for the proposed bridge crossing, directly adjacent to Black Oak threatens to compromise these ecosystem’s natural features and ecological function with traffic, hydrogeological changes, garbage and light/air/water/noise pollution.

The Ojibway Prairie Complex represents half of the remaining natural areas in Windsor. It removes 66 600 lbs of pollution, filters 15 million gallons of water and cools our air like 180 000 air conditioners working 20 hours/day. The Parks are also visited by over 100 000 people from all over the world/year and provides habitat for over 4000 species of which 160 species at risk. It has similar bird counts to that of entire countries. Jamaica for example, has 300 recorded birds with breeding evidence for 100. The Ojibway Complex has 233 bird species with breeding evidence for 71.

The Ojibway Prairie Provincial Nature Reserve represents “the largest protected” remaining 0.5% of Tallgrass Prairie in Canada. It is an “important ecological refuge” that once covered a large part of North America. Prof. Lamb at Waterloo says it has more biodiversity then Algonquin Park and the Bruce Peninsula. The Royal Ontario Museum has interpretive centres educating other Canadians on Tallgrass Prairie. It has more rare species than any other Ontario provincial park, having 91 species at risk, of which are 5 endangered, 5 threatened, 1 unique to Canada, 1 unique to the globe...

A more distant threat is the new custom’s clearance plaza for the new bridge crossing (Adjacently north of Black Oak Park on map). If this bridge is built, the proposed 80 acre customs clearance centre is to be built directly adjacent to Black Oak Park. This Park has a G1 rating. That means that this type of ecosystem occurs less then 5 times on the globe. Why build this plaza directly adjacent to an ecosystem that is so rare? Is this planning for the future? I am not anti development, but let’s plan with future generations in mind...

I find it hard to believe that Windsor has a Canadian, and in Black Oak’s case, global rarity. One always assumes these places live in more exotic places. But we do and proper planning principles must be applied today to ensure that this “Garden of Rarities” survives for future generations.

3) so since Windsor is a "leading" green community then I guess there really hasn't been an issue with all those trucks on Huron Church Road after all ....and we don't need tunnels ... and we should just get on with building the new road to the Ambassador Bridge.

4) Yes, but a ROSE by any other name would still be as Machiavellian….

5) [Re CIBPA] If this gets traction, it could be the beginning of the end for
Eddie... "Eddie's way or the right way???"

6) [Re CIBPA] I know this group. I am a member. They are frustrated and tired of what is coming out of City Hall...they > can make a difference. They have many influential and successful business people as members.

7) Count up the number of chairs Eddie sits in now and the projects he is working on.

It's no wonder he can't close a deal.

8) BC Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon and Partnerships BC CEO Larry Blain both admit that building these projects is cheaper if they're financed publicly than as a public-private partnership. This brings into question why are they using P3s at all?

9) [Re If You Can Find A Better Car Company...] I love ya my friend ...

10) [Re Mobile road paver] I'm pretty sure they did all 4 lanes of EC Row between Banwell and Lauzon about 6-7 years ago using one of those....? It took about a week and that part of the roadway is still in decent shape. The big machine chewed
up a couple inches of asphalt, a lane wide, did whatever to it and laid it back down followed by big rollers.

Maybe I'm nuts but I remember being impressed about how quick and good the job was done

11) The comment titled “Audit and Rebuild WEDC” copied below is supportive of your own call for a WEDC autopsy as a best practice measure.

It was originally posted as a comment on the guest column written by Gary McNamara and Tom Burton titled “Full audit of commission is essential” and published in the February 27, 2009 edition of the Windsor Star.

Hopefully, it will be helpful to you in illuminating the facts behind the extreme wall of secrecy in WEDC.

"Tecumseh’s Mayor McNamara and Deputy-Mayor Burton are showing exemplary leadership in advocating for the necessary actions that will ensure the Development Commission becomes a transparent, accountable, professional and results producing economic development organization.

This begins with the immediate and complete dissolution of the WEDC board... and the commencement of a real audit that empowers the auditors to ask all the necessary questions to get to the truth, not the whitewash variety like the WUC.

For over two years, this new development commission has chosen to operate in a highly clandestine fashion...

[There are] more questions about what else might be hidden behind this Board’s firewall.

Who is the anonymous consultant that advised $1200.00 per day was reasonable? Is the $12,000.00 or so he collects as Board Chair additional to the pay Mancini receives for being Acting CEO? How much more is being paid for other services, per diems and assorted expenses? Why wasn’t one of the Commission’s Vice Presidents elevated to act as the interim CEO, which is the normal practice and more cost effective for the Commission?

Another pressing question concerns the links between the Development Commission and the Schumacher Research and Leadership Group.

And what about the CAOs for the city and county who were appointed to the board as guardians of the public interest? Instead, our CAOs have resigned on the specious grounds of political interference.

Our region is in an economic crisis. Just ask taxpayers. The current Board claims it has to finish its work. We do not need work that adds high cost but little value...
It does not radiate the trust and confidence that binds government to its taxpayers and must be replaced. McNamara and Burton are right; the time is long overdue to put the region first and on track to a better future.

12) [Time for a WEDC/Tunnel Deal Autopsy] Ed: We all know and hate to think about how much has been wasted on just these two business fiascos. Eddie Francis will not disclose anything, because now, especially now, people are not going to tolerate the excessive waste of this Administration. Eddie [is] involved in too many ventures. He cannot run the City effectively while sitting on so many Boards.

13) You've been busy this week Ed. Tons of news to address.

In regards to this new proposed DRIC bridge, I believe most of us know that it is not needed or wanted any longer. Moroun runs a good business and has for years. No sense of spending billions of taxpayers dollars on this side of the creek in hopes of increased future business. I think your P3 blogs have been extremely informative. I don't believe that the border traffic is ever going to return to the heights of the days of prosperity we once experienced. This is really sad but a reality in today's market. That money would be better spent in reinventing our economy by diversification. If we only had a worthy WEDC addressing "our" needs with the Feds. Windsor/Essex has the most talented tool and die companies and machine shop operators in the world. We have an incredible pool of skilled trades and factory workers. Why can we not find something to get us kick started? An overpriced bridge to the U.S. is not going to save any of us.

The only thing that really disturbs the border is the U.S. Customs Service. Why do people blame this on Moroun? Extensive interrogation by border guards, even with the proper documentation is excrutiating. To most people, we just can't be bothered anymore with the hassle. No more quick crossovers for a nice dinner or show. It's too invasive. I have nothing to hide but I hate the fact that we are treated like terrorists for just crossing into the States to spend some money. God, things have changed so much in the last 20 years...What a total turn off. I find the tunnel experience far worse than the bridge. I will not use the tunnel again.

Anyhow, great week in the news. Keep on blogging and informing.

14) Why didn't Gord stay in Windsor and cycle around the's going to be our next big tourist attraction don't you know!

15) This city's attitude has pretty much convinced me not to expand in Windsor. I run a little [business] that has been well-received throughout the province..and I'm looking at expanding into a physical plant next year...But after all this, I think that I will open in [names of other locations]

16) Okay, the Mayor went flying out of this conference like he had a more important function to attend... Let me guess, like this Green Conference was not on his agenda and it was not important. 800 registered business people strong and Eddie had more important business too attend...

it was a really informative conference and personally a breath of fresh air (no pun intended). Kudos to Sandra and Dwight, Bruce and Pat. There are still many things to look at but you know what, at least it's something to consider for this region besides automotive. The innovators of this community will be jumping at the opportunities. I have a ton of respect for most of our local business people and I think that is the reason why Sandra will not quit with her commitment to this region. She knows that the expertise is here.

Side Note: Downtown Windsor was exceptionally busy and it was like the good old days. From 5:00 we went to Jakes Joint for a cold beer, the Pour House for one more and then to Tunnel BBQ for dinner. We were back at the Casino for the George Thorogood concert at 9. What a long day but we certainly had a great time. I slept until 9:00 (really late for me) Saturday morning. I woke up thinking about how great it was in "my" old days; how much I loved growing up and working in this City and about how we made great money for what we were doing with our lives and putting that nest egg away for the Freedom 55 (and not a union worker either). Now, at 50 years old, my investments are in the toilet, I work for someone else for half the money I made in the early 90's and the City I love is being run into the ground by punk management. Am I angry? A little - but more disappointed than anything else. I hate the waste, the grandstanding and unproductive mismanagement.

My dream is to become a retired lawyer and blog all day. Take care and keep on.

17) I always read your blog. Even when it p***es me off. :-)

18) Ed I don't understand why you are not able to cover these dozen or so stories at the same time??? or I forgot you are a one man shop and the WS has a few hundred working in their shop. Keep up the good work.

One Step Closer

Michigan Strategic Fund approved up to $787 million in private activity bonds for the Ambassador Bridge Enhancement Project.

Perhaps all of this drama will be over soon and the region will get moving economically with all of the badly needed jobs finally coming.

A good time for the CIBPA meeting!

How A Kangaroo May Save Sean O'Dell

Poor Sean O'Dell. It is getting worse and worse for him. His words in the Detroit media may become a serious credibility problem for him with his superiors. He needs my help. After all he is Executive Director, Windsor Gateway Project:
  • "Moroun will lose some traffic, but there's more than enough business to go around."

Should he have said anything until he got back his investment grade traffic survey. Oh I forgot, it will not be revealed until a year after it was supposed to have been completed. We will not see the numbers until June, 2009. In this way, he cannot be accused of not disclosing information.

I just wonder though if there have been any interim reports. I will try to find out with my Federal Freedom of Information application.

In any event, there is another news story that will make dismal reading for Sean and the investors who may want to invest in the DRIC Project:

  • "US-Canada toll traffic down again - Jan 2009 16% below Jan 2008

    US-Canadian toll crossing traffic was 16.2% lower in January than the previous corresponding period (pcp) or Jan 2008 - 2.31m vs 2.76m. This follows December numbers 11% down. Truck traffic, the highest yielding category, is down the most - 443k trucks Jan 09 vs 636k Jan 08, 30.4% down.

    The December drop in truck numbers was 12.6% and for the year 2008 vs 2007 9.2% down.

    Biggest drop in the January 09 numbers compiled by the Public Border Operators Association was at the Ambassador Bridge (privately held) where Jan 09 traffic was 461k vs 649k last year, a 29% drop. Truck traffic at the Ambassador was 158k Jan 09 vs 257k Jan 08, a drop of 39%.

    Blue Water Bridge upriver of the Ambassador also reports major declines in traffic - down 19.4% in January overall and 30.1% in trucks from 133k to 93k this Jan.

    Other Jan 09/Jan08 percentage drops in total traffic are:

    - Detroit-Windsor Tunnel 4%

    - Lewiston-Queenston 18.7%

    - Ogdensburg 16%

    - Peace 12.6%

    - Rainbow 12.2%

    - Sault St Marie 14.1%

    - Seaway 4.5%

    - Thousand Is 13.3%

    - Whirlpool Rapids 1.5%

    Declines in traffic are attributed to the sharply reduced activity in automobile manufacturing, a major driver of truck trips, reduced tourism and commuting, and increased border crossing hassles especially into the US - a delayed implementation of more intrusive measures following the 9/11/2001 attacks."

The ONLY way that a P3 DRIC bridge---or a P3 DRIC road--- could survive financially is by Government edict forcing traffic away from all the other crossings thereby bankrupting them! Or by Government subsidies thereby helping to bankrupt taxpayers.

The US Infrastructure program will not help for the US side project either:

From the Buffalo News

  • "But state officials have cautioned that tight federal guidelines will push off many signature-style projects, such as the Peace Bridge replacement span, because they are not far enough along in the design or approval phase."

The same would apply to our project.

From the New York Times which specifically looked at our project:

  • "Big Ideas, Grand Plans, Modest Budgets

    There is no shortage of big dreams or grand schemes as the United States struggles to rebuild itself for the 21st century. But many of the most ambitious projects in the country — a representative sample of which are listed below — stand to get only modest amounts of money, if any, from the economic stimulus package that Congress approved on Friday.

    From a public works perspective, the $789 billion stimulus package is unlikely to transform the physical fabric of the nation as the New Deal did when it built hundreds of airports, tens of thousands of bridges, and hundreds of thousands of buildings and miles of roads.

    The final plan devotes more than $100 billion to public works projects — but that is only a fraction of the $2.2 trillion that the American Society of Civil Engineers says is needed to put the nation’s infrastructure into a state of good repair. And much of it is likely to be spent on small needs sprinkled throughout the 50 states — repaving a road here, painting a bridge there — rather than on bigger, more transformative, but slower projects. To put the scope of the spending into perspective, think of it this way: the bill will devote about $50 billion to transportation projects, which is about what the federal government authorizes for transportation every year. The money will be welcome, but hardly enough to transform transportation. And since many local governments have curtailed their own construction programs to save money, in some places the stimulus may end up simply keeping public works at their pre-recession pace...

    Californians want finally to bring high-speed rail to the United States. Planners want to build bridges to Canada from Detroit, a tunnel for trucks to the Port of Miami and a new one for trains between New York and New Jersey. Transit systems want to expand, ports want more capacity and freight train companies want to untangle bottlenecks on the tracks.

    But even with the biggest push for infrastructure spending in years, most of these big-ticket projects are unlikely to get very far from the stimulus alone. Some may not qualify for aid at all. Others will get modest down payments, which they hope will be enough to keep them going."

From Crains Detroit:

  • "Neither of the Detroit River crossing projects says they're considering stimulus funding.

    The privately-funded $1 billion effort adding a second span to the Ambassador Bridge and the $1.5 billion effort by MDOT and Canadian government agencies to build a new bridge in Detroit's Delray neighborhood both plan to use bonds to pay for construction and then use toll revenue to repay the bonds."
Sean is in serious trouble. He is making Ministers look really foolish, especially the Minister of Finance. Mind you, they are doing a good job of it on their own by pushing for P3s when that market is dying.

However, don't say that I will not help out. I will merely draw his attention to how Australian politicians got themselves out of a mess. If he plays it right, he could get a big promotion:

BLOG, Wednesday, April 11, 2007, “How A Kangaroo Can Save Canada's Economy."

If Sean does not listen, well I would expect that a chapter in the revised edition of the Danish Professor's book "Megaprojects and Risk: An anatomy of Ambition" may be devoted to him! Professor Bent Flyvbjerg should devote considerable space to this Megaproject run amuk formula as it applies to DRIC:
  • "In fact, there seemed to be a formula at work: (underestimated costs) + (overestimated revenues) + (undervalued environmental impacts) + (overvalued economic development effects) = (project approval)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

More BLOG Potpourri

More stories of interest.



We learned from Councillor Halberstadt's BLOG that
  • "I attended a Licensing Commission meeting with the two Councillors this morning, and at the end of it, Caroline informed Ron and I that she is taking off with her family on a mini vacation to a Michigan water park. "
Remember the brouhaha when she admitted to shopping in the US? You know it is going to happen again! You can almost bet on it if the traditional media pick up the story. Her trip will be used by the anti-Lewenza Motion forces!

Considering that we have built a very big tourist industry based on Americans coming here, I do not think that this matter should provoke any howls of outrage. But it will.


Here is a request for demolition of a fire damaged home in an area covered by a Demolition By-law. Not in Sandwich though. I trust that Council will be consistent and reject the request until such time as the owner puts forward:
  • "definitive timelines, definitive implementation plan and definitive schedule for implementation, definitive funding for their plan to be enacted in perpetuity.”
OOOOOPs I forgot, the applicant is NOT the Ambassador Bridge Company. I am sure that the Company would have agreed to what Administration was asking for in this Report. However, the Company is the "enemy" after all so no hope for them.
I sure hope that Councillor Loopy asks his "noise" question again and the impact on neighbours as he did with the Bridge Company. Consistency IS important!


Based on this letter, I don't think he's going to come to Council. Do you?


...Taxpayers pay!

Wow, something is really bothering Patrick Brode of the City's Legal Department. He needs to tell us what it is. When he lost at the Divisional Court he was quoted in the Star as saying:

  • "We are disappointed by it," said lawyer Pat Brode, of the city's legal department. "The city felt the board made fairly significant errors."
That was rather mild.

Now he lost again at the Court of Appeal when that Court refused to give leave to appeal without reasons. He was most unhappy it seems given this comment in the Star

  • "Brode insisted Monday the OMB and the courts were wrong in this case and went so far as to liken their decisions to the verdict of the jury that acquitted O.J. Simpson of two counts of homicide."

I am shocked. That kind of language seems to me to be rather unfortunate. I did notice that there was no quote directly from him but just the Reporter's interpretation of what he said so perhaps he was misquoted.

OJ Simpson compared with an expropriation? What happened that should have caused him to be so upset? Is there something going on that we do not know about? In these circumstances, I believe that Mr. Brode needs to tell us more or demand that the Star correct its story.

I also found this remark interesting as a basis for appeal:

  • "The city would have owed Meconi the $143,000 plus interest and legal costs last year had it done nothing, so it was worth spending a little more in the bid to overturn the OMB ruling, said Brode.

    "It was well worthwhile for city council to decide that we should contest this before the courts," said Brode.

    "We weren't successful, but I would suggest to you it was worth a try."

Oh well. Win some, lose some. It was only "a little more" to go to the Divisional Court and then the Court of Appeal.

Here is the section of the OMB ruling that caused the difficulty I believe for you to consider whether it was "worth a try:"

"The final issue to be determined in this matter is whether the value of the Tenant’s leasehold interest in the Expropriated Land has the effect of reducing compensation otherwise payable by the City to the Claimant. Mr. Brode argued that the rent paid under the Head Lease is less than fair market rent to the extent of $104,000 and therefore should reduce compensation payable on a dollar for dollar basis. This figure of $104,000 was calculated by Mr. Bower and his arithmetic was unchallenged. Mr. Rohaly, on the other hand, suggested that the Divisional Court decision of Re: Minister of Transportation and Eat ‘N Putt Ltd. (1985) 50 O.R. (2d) 503 applied to this proceeding and no reduction should be applied to the $853,000 figure which I have thus far determined to be payable...

There is no doubt that the concept of profit rent is well grounded. However, in my view, this concept and the McPhedran case must be read in the context of and subject to the Divisional Court decision alluded to by Mr. Rohaly. In that case, the Divisional Court was asked to rule on whether the Ontario Municipal Board erred in law by holding three separate hearings by three separate panels to determine the value of the interest of an owner, tenant and subtenant in lands expropriated by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. The Court concluded that the Board did err in law and at p. 505, Eberle J. enunciated very clearly the manner in which separate interests should be ascertained:

  • In our view, the relevant principle of law in a case of this kind is that the claims ought prima facie to be tried together, or at least on some basis, which entitles each separate interest to be advanced fairly and fully and enables as well the parties involved to meet any evidence inimical to their interest.

I have been asked by Mr. Brode to reduce the amount of compensation payable to the Claimant by $104,000 because this sum represents the profit rent which Mr. Bower has attributed to the Tenant under the Head Lease. However, I do not know what amount was paid by the City to the Tenant or, for that matter, paid by the City to the Subtenant. Moreover, Mr. Rohaly, notwithstanding his request to participate in tenant/City negotiations, was not invited to do so by the City. In light of the foregoing, can it be said that the Claimant’s interest has been advanced fully and fairly and in a way which enables the Claimant to meet evidence inimical to its interest? I think not. In my view, the interest of the Tenant and, the interest of the Subtenant, are interconnected with the interest of the Claimant and therefore those interests should have, as stipulated by Eberle J., been determined in some way which allowed each party involved to effectively advance its position. In addition, in view of the absence of information and evidence concerning amounts paid by the City to the Tenant and Subtenant for their interests in the Expropriated Land, it is entirely possible that the City could, if I accepted Mr. Brode’s submission, pay in the aggregate, less than the market value of the Expropriated Land. This is not, in my view, a result which is contemplated or supported by the Act. Under the circumstances therefore, it would not be appropriate to reduce compensation by any profit rent enjoyed by the Tenant."

Even More For You To Read

Get a coffee and a toasted bagel with cream cheese and settle down to read these items that you may have missed:


How sad. It probably should not be allowed. I think people should go to the streets and protest. March on the company's headqurters. Threaten to pull your business away from them. Create signs and banners. History and all that:
  • "Tallest U.S. building to get new name

    CHICAGO (Reuters) - The 110-story Sears Tower, tallest office building in the Western Hemisphere, will be renamed the Willis Tower later this year, global insurance broker Willis Group Holdings announced on Thursday.

    Willis said it was leasing multiple floors in the 1,451-foot 442-meter building in downtown Chicago to consolidate several offices. As part of the agreement the building will be renamed the Willis Tower this summer when the move takes place, the company said.

    Sears, once the largest U.S. retailer, occupied what was then the world's tallest building as its headquarters after the structure was completed in 1973 but moved out in the early 1990s."

All I can say is:


It may get ugly given that the new VP has taken a position on the border in his previous employment. Here is a comment that I had saved:

  • “I did read Chris [Vander Doelen]’s article in the Star as well about the remarks of Steven Landry, president of DaimlerChrysler Canada Inc, that "A leader is needed to rescue Windsor's auto industry from the political "merry-go-round" snarling the international border."

    [Landry also said this to put matters in a context:

    After his presentation, Landry said he "totally understands" how difficult it is for political leaders to "make that call" on where a new border crossing should go, and who should run it. "I don't know who the leader should be, but somebody needs to step forward and make it happen.

    "When we talk to the provincial government and the federal government, they basically say, 'The decision has to come out of Windsor.' When we go to Windsor, they say the decision has to come out of the provincial or federal government -- so it's a merry-go- round."]

    I was most interested as well in the comment of Patrick Persichilli of Nemak. He said "the entire industry is hoping for action... I don't know if the leadership needs to change but we need to be more aggressive," Persichilli agreed when told of Landry's comments. "The gauntlet needs to drop. We need to get on with life and make a decision about a new border crossing."

That BLOG was written in June, 2006. Guess who was the Mayor then? It is the same person who now joined the Undevelopment Commission Board along with the Essex County Warden.


I wonder if these are the people who were supposed to teach MDOT about P3 investing.

Looks like they haven’t done so well with their own investments in infrastructure:

  • MACQUARIE Group is losing hundreds of millions of dollars on investments in its own funds.

    The diversified investment bank, which yesterday confirmed it had sacked more than 1000 staff in the past four months, will take a $2 billion hit, one of the largest ever, on bad loans and poor assets as the global financial crisis ravages its fortunes.

    The worst of the write-downs will centre on Macquarie's investment in its own listed infrastructure funds, which have been smashed by the current market turmoil.”

In another story, I read the following:"

  • "In response to an ASX price query later in the afternoon, [Macquarie] reiterated the warning given in mid-December that it expected to write down its toll-road portfolio from $8.6 billion to $6.5 billion. This is well down from the $10.2 billion it valued its assets at the start of 2008 - which include stakes in the Indiana Toll Road, France's APRR, Britain's M6, Toronto's ETR 407 and Sydney's M7."


Here is an interesting story but you are not being told the real reason why we cannot adopt this concept at bridges although it works at airports:

  • Lawmakers want shared-border deal

    Business First of Buffalo - by James Fink

    Two upstate members of Congress has asked President Obama to restart shared-border management discussions with the Canadian government.

    Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, and Rep. John McHugh, R-Watertown, have written to Obama and requested he re-open shared border management talks with his Canadian counterpart when the newly-inaugurated president travels to Ottawa on Feb. 19.

    The impact of shared-border management could be a major boost to the Buffalo Niagara region’s economy and may push the construction of a second Peace Bridge span. Under the shared-border management guidelines, pre-customs clearance and other factors relating to goods and travelers entering the U.S. from Canada would take place on the Canadian side of the border, even though it would be run by U.S. Customs and border patrol agents…

    Last September, Homeland Security issued a new report that noted five issues that stalled talks between the two countries, including arrest authority, finger printing and information shared between the two countries respective law and border enforcement agencies.”

The reason that they did not discuss is the Ambassador Bridge. When the Bridge Company wanted to be involved with the Tunnel, their idea included having the equivalent of Shared Border Management on the American side. If that happened, there would hardly be the need for a new DRIC bridge because traffic would flow so smoothly.

Canada could not allow that so the entire concept was killed.

Now you know the real reason why this concept is not applicable at Bridge border crossings.


An interesting way that the Victoria Times Colonist looked at the huge cost of the Port Mann bridge that has doubled so far and the Olympics:

  • “Those two megaprojects are getting the lion's share of provincial government capital funding and driving many of the spending decisions…

    Government ministries are squeezing spending, cutting programs and delaying necessary expenditures. They are facing intense pressure to cut a few dollars from here, and a few more from there, to keep the government's financial situation from becoming too dire.

    And through it all, the spending sprees on the Olympics and the Port Mann carry on. Both projects appear untouchable; both are so huge that they are almost unmanageable. We should not be surprised when we start hearing of cost overruns…

    Consider this: For $3.3 billion, you could build 100 Save-On-Foods Memorial Arenas, one for just about every town and city in B.C. Or we could buy a dozen new ferries, with enough left over for a fancy new terminal building at Swartz Bay. With $3.3 billion, you could run the entire Victoria Police Department for a century. You could cut income taxes in half for a year.

    It would be more to the point, however, to consider what we could do for individuals or for small-budget items. You could replace every book on the shelves of B.C.'s public libraries with up-to-date volumes and have enough left over to pay the operating costs of all of the libraries for the next decade. You could invest heavily in health care throughout the province, cutting wait times and improving the quality of life. You could provide hospitals where they are needed and train more doctors.”

On a much smaller but still relevant scale, that has happened to us because of the need to pay for the East End arena.

We truly have lost our sense of value.


It sounded like President Obama treated his visit to Ottawa about the same as he treated his first use of Air Force One on a visit to a Democratic meeting:

  • “And clearly, Obama enjoyed his first taste of high-flying presidential travel this week.

    He took both the Marine One helicopter and the president's jet for the first time in office on Thursday as part of a trip to a Democratic retreat in Williamsburg, Va.

    "Thank you for giving me a reason to use Air Force One," he told the lawmakers. "It's pretty nice."

He took another another “spiffy ride” here

  • Obama visit, short, business-only and largely private.

    OTTAWA - The official Canadian visit by Barack Obama is turning into a half-day presidential pit stop.”


From his recent letter "To the Shareholders of Berkshire Hathaway Inc."

  • Achievements at our electric utilities have been equally impressive. In 1995, MidAmerican became the major provider of electricity in Iowa. By judicious planning and a zeal for efficiency, the company has kept electric prices unchanged since our purchase and has promised to hold them steady through 2013.

    MidAmerican has maintained this extraordinary price stability while making Iowa number one among all states in the percentage of its generation capacity that comes from wind. Since our purchase, MidAmerican’s wind-based facilities have grown from zero to almost 20% of total capacity.

    Similarly, when we purchased PacifiCorp in 2006, we moved aggressively to expand wind generation. Wind capacity was then 33 megawatts. It’s now 794, with more coming. (Arriving at PacifiCorp, we found “wind” of a different sort: The company had 98 committees that met frequently. Now there are 28. Meanwhile, we generate and deliver considerably more electricity, doing so with 2% fewer employees.)
Hey, he owns some newspapers too!


Now that we know who is really in control, life can get back to normal. Stephen just needs to worry about Iggy and not threaten the US with the cutting off of oil and energy if they dared try to renegotiate NAFTA:
  • Security chief calms Canada's border concerns

    U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano sought to reassure Canadians on Friday that a recent review of U.S.-Canada border security was simply a fact-finding exercise, not necessarily a prelude to tougher border measures.

    In an unusual step, Napolitano held a teleconference with Canadian reporters, and expressed concern that some of the media coverage north of the border had "misconstrued" the purpose of the review.

    "While I'm very familiar with the border with Mexico, given that I was the governor of Arizona, I have very little actual experience with the Canadian border, and I wanted to get a sense on where we stood up there."

    Two days after being sworn in on Jan. 21, Napolitano asked Homeland Security officials to conduct the review, noting that "members of Congress and homeland security experts have called for increased attention to the Canadian border."

    The review was completed and submitted to her on Feb. 17, two days before President Barack Obama visited Ottawa, but has yet to be made public.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

CIBPA Action

Congratulations to the Canadian Italian Business and Professional Association for their initiative to start a political action group to try to convince our City politicians to end their opposition to what is needed to be done today to end the stalemate on the border file and to provide a boost to our economy in this time of virtual economic stagnation in our City.

Why is it that everyone other than the Council Members can understand that we need some interim action taken to drop Windsor down in the standings as the City with the highest unemployment rate in Canada? Seriously, why is this idea so hard for them to grasp?

Again, I cannot believe that this is the only City in North America that is fighting its Senior Level Governments and a private investor who want to sink billions of dollars into its economy. Are we really this crazy?

I know that there is more going on than meets the eye between the City and the Senior Levels in their fight against the Ambassador Bridge Company but seriously, this is getting ridiculous already to the detrimentof thousands of people in this area. That is the human tragedy in all of this that will be uncovered one day. Our politicians seem completely unconcerned except for their continuing platitudes.

Unfortunately for the Association, our Mayor will dismiss their efforts out of hand. He will view them as merely another pressure group who are fronting the City’s “enemies.” Their efforts will be categorized as designed to hurt the Mayor and Council and the citizens of Windsor to the advantage of the enemies. He has played that card before.

He will ask at the next in camera meeting of Council, as he has done frequently before I am told by my inside moles, who has received phone calls from whom so that he can try and do damage control by badmouthing anyone who has dared speak against what he wants to do. I am not so sure that he will be as successful as in the past because some Councillors are starting to weigh whether they need support him to be re-elected at the next election.

My information is that the relationship between the Association and the Mayor is not a good one anyway. I understand that the Association kept sending him requests for him to make a speech to the group but he kept ignoring them. It got to the point that the Association just stopped sending out invitations.

In such an environment, does anyone think that the Mayor will take them seriously?

The challenge for the political action group is to figure out a way to accomplish their objectives. It really should not be very difficult for them as STOPDRTP proved conclusively as ex-Mayor Hurst was soundly defeated by the organization.

After all, the Mayor is merely one vote on Council. If that is not a good hint for the Association as to what they should do, then nothing is.

What is even more intriguing in all of this is who was the instigator. I am not going to name names but it appears that one of Eddie’s big friends who has publicly spoken out in favour of the Mayor has now turned against him. From what I have heard, he has become quite disillusioned with the Mayor and he was the one who suggested that this step be taken.

What is also interesting is the addition of the DRTP rail tunnel in the Star article even though it was not mentioned in the letter. I assume that means the doublestack rail tunnel and not the DRTP truck highway.

The significance of what is being proposed along with the meeting in Sandwich to oppose the Heritage Plan is a recognition finally by citizens of Windsor that the Mayor and Council are destroying this City. They have achieved little while Eddie Francis has been Mayor other than trying to pretend that they are dealing with issues as they are wasting taxpayer money.

We do not have the luxury of playing these silly games as the economy in this Region is tanking. Visions of Greenlink, airports and canals is something that we can no longer afford. We need jobs and we need them now.

Eddie Discovers Eco-City

Listen for it carefully. Windsor will become ECO-CITY soon! Just take a look at what one of our sloganeers came up with "ROSE: Report On the State of our Environment."

Get it....a play on the City of Roses. That is so clever. You can find the Report on the City's website on the Agenda page:

  • "The first report of its kind in the city’s history, it also establishes Windsor as a leader in environmental management and reporting in Ontario and is an indication of our commitment to achieving environmental sustainability...

    Because the state of the environment is so important to each and every one of us, in addition to this report, several other tools will be launched shortly as well. An environmental website is under development that will provide the community with information on forthcoming initiatives as well as local events. Also, public surveys and open forums will be conducted, so that we can gather the greatest amount of input possible and work together to ensure our environment remains sound."
There will be a "Feed-in" frenzy at Enwin soon all due to the new Green Energy Act that is being introduced by the Ontario Government. Just you wait and see as we watch the creation of:
  • "a proposal for a new renewable energy program known as a Feed-in Tariff (FIT) Program designed to further encourage the development of renewable energy supply."

Expect massive green energy generation programs to be discussed by our Mayor soon as part of his newest vision and dream, WATTGREENLINK, to make Enwin the greenest electrical utility on the planet. I would expect that the new hires in the CAO Office will be told to work feverishly on this project as their first assignment.

It is not expected that the WATTGREENLINK program will be formally announced until it appears as if the Mayor's canal vision and Airport vision are virtually dead. Another new vision will need to be created and publicized to fool the masses just before the next municipal election.

However, do expect some hints about it in Eddie's next State of the City speech and in one of Gord's Saturday Star columns where he will tell us to rest easy because Eddie is coming up with a plan to create thousands of new jobs in our City. He will tell us to watch as our Mayor one-ups the four Liberal MPPs and their renewable energy conference. Just as Eddie tried to do with Gord's help on the Sutherland call-centre jobs.

The basis of the WATTGREENLINK program is a new tariff system under the proposed new Green Energy Act:
  • "Often hailed as the best and fastest way to deploy a large amount of renewable energy, a FIT sets a price per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of generated renewable energy that is high enough to properly compensate the generator and make a project profitable. Utilities are then obligated to purchase renewable energy at that set price. Tariffs are usually lowered every couple of years based upon the amount of capacity installed."

One downside is:

  • "utility customers pay a bit extra on their electricity bill to support the FIT."

In other words, renewable energy project costs are too expensive compared with the traditional way of producing electricity. If someone started a wind project today as an example, it would not be profitable. In order to encourage renewable energy, the Government will agree to purchase energy from the producer at a price that should generate a profit for that producer.

Of course, someone has to pay for that extra price and that person is you and I on our utility bills. However, it will be justified as a small price to pay to save the planet and to make our City the leader in North America.

If you really believe this nonsense about perishable goods airport hubs and that Eddie went to Germany to learn about them, then you do not understand our Mayor. It is nothing more than a cover for his real WATTGREENLINK purposes. As the Guardian reported:
  • "Mr Renn is part of a revolution in renewable energy that is sweeping Germany and bringing citizens of every kind into the fight against global warming...

    Germany has 200 times as much solar energy as Britain. It generates 12% of its electricity from various renewables, compared with 4.6% in Britain. It has created a quarter of a million jobs in renewables - a number that is growing fast...

    Indeed, by the time Britain starts its first eco-town in 2016, Germany will have 50 or 60 eco-cities...

    The secret of German success is the "feed-in tariff" (FIT). Anyone generating electricity from solar PV, wind or hydro gets a guaranteed payment of four times the market rate - currently about 35p pence a unit - for 20 years.

    This reduces the payback time on such technologies to less than 10 years and offers a return on investment of 8-9%. The cost is spread by generating companies among all users and has added about one cent/kwh to the average bill, or an extra €1.50 (£1) a month.

    The Germans introduced the FIT in 1999 and tweaked it in 2004, since which time things have gone mad. FITs have now been adopted in 19 EU countries, and 47 worldwide, but not in Britain. German renewables firms are now world beaters and the German economy has been strengthened, not weakened, by a rush into renewables."

Here is what the Star reported on Saturday so you know the well-organized PR campaign is starting as we see more news stories to "educate" us:

  • "Are there jobs in the wind?

    A major wind energy conversion company backed by a European conglomerate was in Windsor last week scouting locations for a new manufacturing centre, according to sources.

    The WindsorEssex Development Commission would not reveal the company's identity, citing confidentiality around negotiations and potential property acquisitions...

    Local MPP and International Trade and Investment Minister Sandra Pupatello said Friday Windsor may be within months of seeing business growth and jobs in renewable energy.

    She toured a plant in Germany this week, regarded as the green energy industry hotbed. "I toured a company and named them the companies in my backyard that could supply them products," she said on Friday."

Of course, you remember that Eddie and Sandra just happened to meet in Germany during one of Eddie's overseas jaunts just over a year ago. What a remarkable co-incidence.

  • "Francis left for Germany this week to lure unnamed cargo and food distribution warehouse operations to Windsor's airport...

    Francis said one company, based outside Frankfurt, could hire between 50 and 500 local people if it strikes a deal in Windsor.

    Francis wouldn't put a time frame on that, but said "a lot of the legwork is completed."

    He joined forces Friday with Economic Development Minister Sandra Pupatello, who also happened to be in Germany, to visit one of the sites."

Ach du Lieber! So much for fruits, vegetables and cut flowers as the basis of our economic recovery.

WATTGREENLINK will build on this concept so that the Eddie can play in this new entrepreneurial arena too. One East End arena deserves another especially if it is at taxpayer expense and risk.

What was discussed by Gridlock Sam in passing about how to make money on Greenlink becomes clearer now. Do you remember the discussion about selling air rights over the road for example? The question was asked who in their right mind would buy the airspace over a truck road.

Now we know.

Giant wind turbines will be located in the Parkettes over Greenlink, especially where the jet fans exhaust all of the fumes from the Schwunnels. The combination of the exhaust and the trucks moving at high speed along the Greenlink corridor because there are no longer any red lights will create a massive amount of wind pressure that will make the Turbine fan blades turn to generate huge amounts of energy. That energy will be sold into the Hydro grid for cash that Enwin will generate. That revenue of course will go to the City eventually as a dividend provided that Enwin has not been sold off or leased out in the interim to some P3 operator who will reap the benefits of the turbines.

The flow of wind will be constant because trucks will flow constantly along the Greenlink corridor. Remember that DRIC claims that they will take traffic from other locations to their new crossing which means that we will have an increased number of trucks coming here as well. The more trucks, the more wind, the more power generated, the more cash for us.

The Turbines will face towards the West not only to exhaust fumes away from most Windsorites but to force them westward into the United States. Moreover, the theory is that if they spin fast enough they will push back all of the American pollution as well back to where it came from thereby ending all health problems in Windsor. That will teach those Americans!

Other utilitities will be green with envy as Enwin makes all of this green by becoming green by selling the electricity into the grid. Of course, taxpayers may turn green at the thought of how much extra will be tacked on to our electrical bills as a green levy to pay for all of this.

What the heck, that is the price of making us a world-class green City and being the leader as North America's first ECO-CITY.

Imagine all of the knowledge-based industries that will flock to our City since their trendy owners will want to be part of what we are developing. Consider the private equity companies that will want to pour money into our new businesses. Imagine the seniors who will want to live here because of our clean air. Renewable energy companies will come here as their testbed for new sources of energy. Can you imagine how many schools from across North America will make trips to Windsor to teach their students about renewable energy. The possibilities are endless.

Most of all, do not forget the jobs, jobs, jobs that will be touted too!

While you may not believe what I am saying, understand that:
  • "The Ontario Power Authority will take a lead role in the development and implementation of Ontario's FIT Program. The OPA will be engaging stakeholders throughout the spring to seek input and feedback on the draft FIT Program Rules and Contracts."
Now you know. This is a Government-backed program that will ensure that the Liberals are reelected as well no matter how much it costs us and no matter whether it works or not.

I expect that a giant turbine will be set up in the park near City Hall soon as an experimental part of this WATTGREENLINK program, a prototype if you will. The wind generated by the hot air at City Hall should let us know whether this Green Energy vision is feasible or not.

Soon, when the DRIC road to the Ambassador Bridge is being constructed, you will hear embarrassed Councillors who lost the road battle saying WATTGREENLINK. Just pretend that you do not know it really means "GREENLINK, WHAT GREENLINK?"

Monday, March 16, 2009

Will WEDC Fail Again

Not again with a Undevelopment Commission executive who still has not figured out what his real job is. If the new and improved WEDC and its officials think their job is not getting down and dirty and getting us investments and jobs then wind the whole thing up forever! We cannot afford them any longer.

And I do NOT just mean the millions that the City and County taxpayers give to them to fritter away.

Perhaps the new VP of WEDC, Patrick Persichilli, does not remember that the old Board resigned a week before he wrote this letter to Mayor Francis and Councillor Marra. He does not need to provide justification for their existence any longer.

There is no other explanation for almost 2 pages of gibberish talking about what was done in the past by former Board members as set out in the letter above. Compare what was written here with the document prepared by the WEDC about the work done by the Sector committees as shown on the Star website. You decide what the Sectors actually did by reading the WEDC document and then reading what the newly appointed VP said they did. For your convenience the WEDC document is posted here:

I see on page 3 of his letter that the VP would rather undertake vision building. That seems to be another Windsor City Hall disease that infects people. Mind you, it is better than working and achieving results. How does one measure performance creating 2025 Visions?

This vision building exercise would tell us what Windsor would look like in 25-30 years. I can tell him now. With an attitude like his---complete devastation.

Please tell me what this means in plain English. I cannot figure it out the econdev gobbledegook:

My strong suggestion for him is to try and figure out quickly and in a practical way how to bring jobs and investment here. We have had enough of do-nothing-but-stall-while-pretending-to-do-something Visions.

It is obvious that Warden Santos and Mayor Francis better hire a CEO who knows what he/she is doing immediately and make sure that he/she knows what his/her job is and that he/she has the proper support staff who understand their roles.

If Mr. Persichilli and the new CEO need help trying to figure out what to do, perhaps they could take a look at what the Ontario Federation of Labour just announced. Isn't this similar to what Councillor Marra wants to do for this region:

Ontario Federation of Labour

$5.5-billion plan to help today and build for tomorrow

  • The Ontario government has the power and the opportunity to implement a four-point plan to help people and industries snared in the jobs and economic crisis, says the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL).

    In Hamilton today, flanked by local labour leaders and workers who have lost their jobs, OFL president Wayne Samuelson laid out a $5.5-billion plan to maintain Ontario's industrial base, support public services, provide relief to people who really need it, and invest in infrastructure to create jobs and put Ontario on a sustainable path.

    TOGETHER IT WORKS: AN ECONOMIC PLAN THAT WORKS FOR EVERYONE includes a call for government to bring together the business community, trade unions, and community representatives to ensure creative, efficient, and timely solutions.

    "The recession is deepening and affecting more and more people each day. We are calling on our provincial government and everyone in Ontario to help us get this plan working. Time is of the essence," says Samuelson.

    Ontario lost 138,000 jobs between October 2008 and January 2009. Of those, more than 3,900 were in the Hamilton area. More losses are ahead, according to forecasts for housing, commodities, and the auto industry.

    As the effects of the global meltdown take deeper hold on the province of Ontario, pressure on public services will mount, says Samuelson. "We need to make sure those services are there when people need them the most."

    The federal government has failed to provide the necessary stimulus and much-needed protection for the vulnerable, he said. He took aim at the government's refusal to make EI available to more people and to extend the benefit period for those who have lost their jobs.
    "This economic crisis has underscored the critical role of government in society. Our province has to take bold action, and it has to take it now," says Samuelson."

Contact them Mr. VP and apply the concept here. Now that is not so hard is it!

ACTION Man: Swelling Our Chests, Not Our Minds

I am certain that some of you believe that we are really having now an International Multimodal conference and not an International multi-model one in Windsor soon. It had me fooled for a little bit too.

Sure they corrected the typo on the WEDC website but that may have been designed to fool us. It seems clear however to me that in fact world-famous fashion models are coming in Windsor. I do not care what anyone says. I saw the photograph of the fashionista Mayor of Windsor on the front page of the Star on Saturday. And what did it say:
  • “Runway dream”

Fashion models strut their stuff on runways don’t they, just like our Mayor.

Our Mayor is truly Action Man. He comes up with one scheme after another. He never finishes anything but he is very good at bringing up new ideas. It is so much easier having these entrepreneurial visions than actually running a City, especially one with horrific problems that Windsor has. He truly has come up with visions that cover the land, and under it, sea and now in the air.

Let us deal with the land first. Who can forget Greenlink, son of Greenlink and its various other manifestations that no one knows about. How many millions have the legal and consulting fees been so far for this grand dream, using a number of FOREIGN consultants as well? Has anything been accomplished? Well you know the answer to that one. It is OK however because it will make us world-class.

As far as under the ground, I do not mean only full tunneling which has also gone nowhere notwithstanding a City Council Resolution in favour of it, but also the Tunnel deal with Detroit. About $2 million of legal and consulting fees has been spent on that extravaganza and all that we know about it right now is that it is dead too. Moreover, we now have the Mayor telling us that his $75 million price was significantly higher than we should have offered considering what has happened to the economy. Good thing that he cannot execute on his transactions or we might be in default already!

I wonder what has happened with the Canal Vision. I thought that it was supposed to be public by the end of February. Given the Runway shot, I am surprised that the Star did not take a photograph of our Mayor walking on water to publicize that idea. Or perhaps one of him in the river with the water up to his neck.

Wasn’t this another project that was going to make our City world-class? However, the dream got a bit smaller back in December when we read:

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

    So what have they learned to date from the engineering investigation? That this project could be more canal and less marina.

    Cooke said the study indicates a marina in the Caron Avenue cut might be prohibitively expensive. "It's feasible. It can be done. But would it be cost-effective?" He explained that an extremely deep excavation would be needed to accommodate boats and that would entail either steep, concrete-reinforced walls along the cut or gradual slopes that would gobble up significant amounts of adjacent land.”

I thought that the cost for this Vision was in the neighborhood of $60 million although I expect it to be significantly less so that it will be palatable. Do not worry. There is a timetable developed that will bring out the canal project at the appropriate time to take our breath away. We do need something to dream about after all to take away the nightmare if Chrysler potentially leaves the City.

Oh well, from Downtown Arena to Urban Village to Engineering Building to Canal, what does it matter. One dream, one scheme, one Plan after another.

Now the Airport… you know the one with one commercial airline that flies out of it on a regular basis on a scheduled service, with a few chartered flights thrown in for fun.

Our Airport General Manager must be sniffing the dream vision too:

  • “We have to be thinking big right from the start. The way I run those board meetings is we're putting a Fortune 500 company in place.... If we set the right processes and procedures in place, we'll get there."

Hmmmm how is it that she runs Board meetings. That is not the GM's function.

Oh my goodness. She is THINKING BIG and it will cost us plenty too:

  • “Should those plans bear fruit, it could cost tens of millions of dollars for runway additions and improvements, as well as areas for cargo loading, Nazzani said.

    During the federal government's budget consultations earlier this year, the city submitted a $30-million proposal for improvements to the airport for which it hopes to get infrastructure stimulus funding, said city treasurer Onorio Colucci. "It was to position ourselves to take advantage of federal funds that might be there for airports."

Our Mayor could not possibly be serious about turning Windsor Airport into a transportation hub could he? Perhaps. It is after all the latest trend for all cities… Aerotropolis in Detroit, London, Kitchener and I even saw that Peterborough wanted to get into the aeronautics game as well.

These Mayors must be sitting in on too many meetings at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. Someone must have said that the latest trend is airports and by golly everybody now has to have a transportation hub. Never mind that the air cargo business is tanking and that our major player, Air America, is no longer in business. I wonder if a major customer of the air cargo business was the automobile companies. If that is the case, then one wonders how an air cargo hub would pay its way.

I do not understand this perishable goods business at all. I thought that the idea at first was that we were to export our onions and not bring into the country perishable products. All of a sudden, it seems to have changed. Now we are bringing goods into the country and not exporting them.

What goods are we going to bring in? I do not believe that anyone has yet said what our focus is going to be. Surely not fruits and vegetables although the Government Agencies to be located at the airport hub deal with agriculture. Wouldn’t that mean that we are bringing competition for our farmers in the County? Does that make sense?

Moreover, I know that I cannot bring fruit into the United States at our border crossings… I think there is a big sign saying that… so how then can foreign fruits and vegetables be brought into the United States through Canada. I assume that there is a way but I do not know how easy or difficult that is.

I found our Mayor’s strategy rather interesting:

  • “The Star, however, has learned that the city's strategy would include a centre consolidating U.S. and Canadian inspection and security agencies. "Concentration of all inspection and border processes would be located under one roof, including the Canada Border Service Agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Department of Agriculture, Transport Canada" and other U.S. and Canadian authorities, according to city documents.”

I wonder how this will be possible since at the Peace Bridge the concept of Shared Border Management has died because of supposedly insurmountable legal reasons. How then would US Customs agree to come into Canada when Canada has not allowed it?

Do you remember a few years ago when the Bridge Company wanted to set up 200 booths on the American side of the border to handle both Canadian and American Customs, here is what was said at the time:

  • “Mark Butler, spokesman for Transport Canada, said the single inspection facility proposed by the bridge has raised fears over border security”

  • “Swann said McLellan also has security and "redundancy" concerns about creating one Canada-U.S. superplaza.”

Unless the Canadian Government changed its mind and allowed Shared Border Management on both sides of the river, which means that the Bridge Company would be able to build a huge plaza in the United States for Joint Customs, (and that would kill DRIC) then Eddie’s latest dream is dead before it even gets started.

There was one very interesting line in the Star’s story which some Councillors might want to consider to save us about a quarter of a million dollars:

  • “Even in good times, the industry is overcrowded, said Nils Haupt, spokesman for Lufthansa Air Cargo. "Actually the air cargo market already sees a lot of overcapacity -- not only in the crisis. Adding capacity now might be difficult."

We don’t need to hire Lufthansa now. We have the answer now don’t we. Moreover, as I Blogged before, their cargo business is down considerably.

I really have difficulty stomaching this nonsense anymore. How many dreams and visions can this Mayor of ours come up with so that he does not have to deal with the real issues of our City and Region? We cannot afford this any more. We have the highest unemployment and the worst housing and rental vacany conditions in Canada and we are being fed more dreams.

I have to admit I was surprised Henderson was not on the bandwagon on Saturday cheering this latest dream on too.

We have a Mayor who identified early on the need for economic diversification and yet we have an Undevelopment Commission that has done little for years and is reorganizing again.

We have a Mayor who has stalled off a border solution for years and is opposing vigorously billions of dollars of investment in this City for reasons that I do not understand at all.

We have a Mayor who loves to play entrepreneur but with my money, not his and is extremely unsuccessful at it to date.

I read this interesting article in the Globe and Mail that really is applicable in Windsor:

  • “You may recall that Forrest Gump had a shrimping boat. Returning home from one of his many trips at sea, he discovers that every other boat in the fleet has been destroyed by Hurricane Carmen. Forrest was none too smart, but he knew an opportunity when he saw one. So he built a dozen boats (all named Jenny) and created the biggest shrimping fleet his side of Biloxi.

    What is Forrest Gump economics? When others are floundering around you, recognize your strengths and invest aggressively in them.”

What troubles me is that our four Liberal MPPs have understood what our area’s strengths are and are trying to build on them with their conference. Our Mayor seems to totally ignore it and is more interested in his schemes and visions.

I will leave you with some excerpts from an article from the London newspaper. To me, this article puts the Windsor vision in a proper context:

  • “City council has endorsed the concept -- but not the funding -- of a proposal that would make London's airport the cornerstone of a strategy to turn the city into a gateway for cargo to and from North America…

    But how to finance Baker's proposal was left to another day as a key difference emerged between what he wants and what city finance chief Vic Cote suggests…

    Yesterday's debate began with a caution from chief administrator Jeff Fielding, who warned councillors to not allow more controversial elements of the gateway proposal to sidetrack the bigger goal of creating economic opportunities to replace manufacturing jobs lost during the recession.

    While Fielding didn't mention specific elements, it was clear he was concerned about reaction to a proposal to build a costly sewage plant that would open up the city's southwest to an industrial park and development.

    A passionate example of that concern came from Coun. Nancy Branscombe.

    "In the absence of a real plan, are we reaching out to an idea that swells our chests instead of our minds?" she asked.”

We are just not using our heads at all in Windsor.