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Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues
$100M TUNNEL DEAL AND THEN THIS
It does not look like the new Detroit Mayor is all that interested in a Tunnel deal.
Is Windsor ever lucky the Tunnel deal with Detroit is dead:
WITH WHOM WAS COCKREL SPEAKING
Who can it possibly be? Do you think it could be.........Naw. No way!
Clearly it cannot be Eddie who slammed Detroit for thinking that the Tunnel is worth $100M after HE determined it is worth much less. And we know that Eddie is never wrong. The Detroit Mayor said this in his budget:
HOW WILL MICHIGAN PAY FOR DRIC NOW:
Oh I get it, since Michigan cannot afford the bridge, Canada will graciously pay for it so that one of the most important border crossings in North America is owned by a Government that threatened to cut off US supplies of oil and energy. Right!
ACCENTUATING THE POSITIVE REINFORCES THE NEGATIVE
I hate to be a downer but...
If we had a robust economy with people doing well, then there would be lots of Transit advertisements offering goods and services so people could spend, spend spend. Accordingly, this concept, however admirable, only works while we are in the economic pits. The more of these shown, the worse things are for Windsor. And the more depressing. How ironic:
As for relying on public servants for what is happening in Windsor, oh what a mistake that is! What was his Ministerial staff thinking? Windsor may well be his downfall. Provided the City of Ottawa trial does not hurt him first:
Or this strange story in the National Post the other day:
You know what happened in Windsor that has just continued on the canal saga past the point of interest. Why is he helping out Eddie so much or is it to salvage Jeff Watson's political career? Doesn't his staff read the papers or brief him before he comes down here?
Whatever happened to: "No comment." Or "That is a local matter for Council to deal with."
They still have not answered my questions that I Blogged the other day since I suspect the answers will be embarrassing. Heck, they should read my BLOG if they want information. I could have helped the poor Minister out but no one contacted me.
There was a landmine waiting for the Minister and he stepped on it. I hope it is not fatal to his Ministerial career if the Opposition parties play it properly:
Oh my goodness. Did he ever step in the doo-doo. As Councillor Marra stated:
Now the NDP and then Iggy have a terrific opportunity to blow him out of the water in Question Period over what Joe and Brian wrote to him about. As I Blogged the other day:
Baird could ignore them except that they are setting out the Auditor General’s concerns:
Can you imagine the mess that Minister Baird could be in over the canal fiasco now if money is given out improperly. It can be a career ender! I would suggest that Baird and his minions read Chris Schnurr’s BLOG “An Infrastructure Boondoggle in the making.”
However, it is the border file where the Minister’s aides did him in! All of this time Transport Canada was going to be fair to the Ambassador Bridge's application to build its Enhancement Project. Not any more:
Nothing like biasing the process. I know that the Canadian Government wants the Bridge Company to sue them for whatever purpose but did they have to make it so easy. I guess it was not enough that Eddie had Estrin give them their legal case twice with his multi-hour talks at Council. Baird now was convinced that he should do it too.
Now restarting DRIC can be blamed on him by everyone---a terrific career booster for him.
I found his comments on DRIC very persuasive, and I am sure that Matty Moroun was shaking, except for one small, tiny detail:
That little detail: the time-period changed. It is now 2015 for completion, 2 years later. Maybe. You see, 2013 was never the real deadline for the end of construction; 2013 was merely a convenient way to fool the public for years errrrr “goal to focus on” according to DRIC’s Dave Wake.
It is not a big surprise with no traffic justification and no P3 money around and with Michigan saying a new bridge might not be needed for decades.
Nevertheless, nothing like having a DRIC subordinate, and one who works for the Ontario Liberal Government, cut him off at the knees. Dalton, Dwight and Sandra must be laughing themselves silly. As is Matty!
I think we owe a debt of gratitude to the Minister at the least. I certainly do because he has confirmed everything I have Blogged about. This is nothing more than an anti-Moroun crusade for which Governments have wasted $60M in unnecessary DRIC studies on both sides of the border. $60M!!! What we could have done in Windsor with that!
I heard that Baird was a pretty tough guy with his Department as a Cabinet Minister. I wonder whose fiefdom he has ruffled at Transport. They just left him hung out to dry with Parliament by his speech. Oh my goodness, when the Opposition gets through with him, the poor Prime Minister’s plans will be shot down. We in Canada will be grateful to people whom the Government least expects. Stephen will NOT be amused.
I would tell you what he has done to US/Canada relations and how he has set that back but that might be too upsetting to him and his staff once they understand what his speech has done as well. I certainly hope that his PR people will be able to salvage this since they are doing such a fantastic job for him. Needless to say, Ambasssador Wilson is probably pleased that he has someone now with whom to share the blame as our exports get cut off.
I will Blog some more about this later on and fill in the details. Infrastructure failure, Ottawa trial, National Post, Windsor. Which one may hurt the Minister the most. Who knows. It is all relative after all.
Add to this the column by Anne Jarvis in the Star today---has she finally figured out Eddie too--and by Chris Vander Doelen yesterday and things are NOT looking good. Here are some nice juicy quotes from the columnists who were supposed to be on opposite sides but who now seem to be singing from the same songbook:
In the end though, it will be the Masse and Comartin letter that will cause the facts to come out and the scandal to emerge perhaps depending on the answers. They also smashed Francis but not by name. Have they had enough of him too:
If Masse and Comartin really mean it, they will be writing to the Auditor General as well demanding a forensic audit!
Another fine mess at a time when Windsor needs jobs badly. Can we tolerate this Mayor any longer.
COUNCIL, DO YOUR JOB ALREADY!
Life is not always sweet and rosy in order to get information for you, dear reader. Sometimes one has to be a bit direct in order not to let people push you around.
It seems that there are some really scared people on the border file who do not want certain facts brought out that might damage their position or rather, would confirm the weakness of it.
Accordingly, I have had to be unusually, and uncharacteristically for me if I might say, mean and nasty over the last few days as you will note:
EMAILS TO TRANSPORT CANADA RE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION
WATSON FIASCO AND WINDSOR CANAL MESS
Hmmm what excuse will there be now for stalling the Ambassador Bridge's Enhancement project!
No wonder I am being stalled on documents. Minister Baird's comments today as reported in the AMERICAN Free Press now ring hollow. This Government is a disgrace:
Great Lakes mayors present action plan to Queen's Park
Posted By MAGGIE RIOPELLE/Tribune Staff
Guess who is on the Board of Directors of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative:
I have only seen part of the report---I am only a taxpayer after all---that the Star showed on its website. Hmmmm I wonder how they got it.
The relevant portion on costs is shown above. The $48m figure is a mere guestimate. It does not include land acquisitons, financing, contingencies and the huge increases in costs in Windsor as projects are stalled.
I asked about Walker Road because it was relatively simple compared with building a canal. That project took a relatively long period of time and closed down that street to traffic causing disruptions.
You need to tell me how a canal will be built for $48M and to meet the deadline imposed when projects are to be completed when we are only at the concept stage!
What is really going on here?
Seriously, dear reader, we have to have a contest about who wrote that pro-Eddie canal Editorial yesterday. It was so bad that even the Online Star did not run it or if they did, I could not find it in the usual place. From the writing style and content, I think it was one of the columnists, certainly not an Editorial writer since it was so one-sided.
I am sure you realize that it was so absurd that it had to serve a different purpose. It was clearly designed as a signal that the Star would slap down anyone on Council who dared defy. How else to explain as well that the Star did not pick up the WeACT Integrity Commissioner complaint story. Why let anyone know that citizens might be mad too.
I was interested in the Report that was presented to Councillors about the canal. I wanted to read a copy of it so that I might appear as a delegation. I wrote to the Clerk's Office at 9:38 AM yesterday asking when I could get a copy. No response so far. I guess citizens are cut out of the process until it is too late!
Ken Senior must have nothing to do now since Chrysler is in bankruptcy. Accordingly, he has the time to solve Windsor problems too and to butt in to what CUPE is doing. And write letters such as the one above. It arrived just in time for the Council meeting too I would expect.
If he had just stopped writing after asking the City to go back to the bargaining table, it would have been a nice letter. But no, he had to become a proponent for Eddie's canal. Of course, that letter will cause major problems down the road in a very unexpected way. But that is for another BLOG!
So what is his quid pro quo for Eddie? Could it be come and negotiate with CUPE and I will get the unions onside to support your canal! Lo and behold as CKLW tells us:
Hmmmm, I wonder if Senior saw a copy of the canal plans too before the Councillors and Windsorites since he is so positive about it. Does he know something as one of the financing sources that we do not know? What about the Windsor Family Credit Union, developer Shmuel Farhi, the Windsor Port Authority and any others who also provided money. Have they got copies of the Cooke Report too already?
If that is how the game is played, then can we make a connection between Brighton Beach and the Federal infrastructure money for the canal that Eddie's bestest new friend Jeff Watson virtually guaranteed we would get? I would think that it would not be a big leap.
How nice it is that Eddie will tell Council first about the price. I guess he learned something last Friday:
Who should get credit for this land being available:
That was all started under Mike Hurst and John Tofflemire, long before Eddie! As I wrote several years ago:
And just so the Councillors know, the price for Brighton Beach is in the $20-30M range so there definitely is something bizarre if the real estate agent tells us that land has been sold "in the range of $50,000 to $60,000 per acre" recently. This would be 3-4 times higher. It certainly makes what has happened in Sandwich much more understandable to me.
The land supposedly for industrial usage cost the City substantially less than $20M to assemble according to a quote I found from the City solicitor. In a down real estate market, it should be worth even less, not more.
Say, I think I got it! The difference between $20M and the $5M land values---$15M-- is just about what the City would have to contribute as its one-third of the project. What a co-incidence! How sweet! The Senior Levels put in not only their 2/3 amount but Windsor's 1/3 amount too!
Could the Feds be that dumb at negotiating? If so, I think the Auditor General should ask that question and many others about the DRIC process. I wonder if she takes calls for suggestions.
As I Blogged the other day, guess what the quid pro quo is for the $3.2M Provincial money backstopping for Red Bull. If true, you won't be surprised but you may be upset.
But then again, why worry. It is only taxpayer money.
Moreover, Eddie's claim that we do not need Senior Level funding to do up to $300M of infrastructure projects absolutely kills us:
Why, we might even begin to understand why Enwin paid so much money in fees to Councillors that allowed them to boost their salaries so high presumably because of all of the work they had to do at Enwin meetings.
Stop complaining. Don’t you understand the investment opportunity Eddie has created on the backs of taxpayers. So you have to miss a meal or a mortgage payment. Stop moaning and groaning since we will have cash for Eddie’s dreams, huge amounts.
THINK BIG and GO BIG OR GO HOME. Heck folks, get with the program:
It is hardly a shocking revelation. I had predicted that we would see our various City subsidiaries disposed of so that our politicians could squander the money in order to be re-elected. Just one example is the BLOG March 06, 2009 “The Windsor P3 Set Up.”
Oh I am sorry, dear reader, I neglected to tell you that there is an Agenda item at Council to hire a Consultant, yet another one, to help us decide if we should sell Enwin. And he will recommend we should do so. Bet on that one!
By the way, the Item is buried as “Item 24 Windsor Canada Utilities Ltd. – Shareholder Considerations” on Wednesday’s Agenda, not the regular Council night too, where the main topic will be the City’s Budget. That should ensure that no one is the wiser. Nice subject heading too that should not let the cat out of the bag. Shades of the infamous Agenda Item #5
Now that you have seen in the canal fiasco in vivid detail how Eddie really operates, you will understand why he made these remarks in the 2007 State of the City speech. He was setting us up for what would happen, so we could applaud his genius. He really is a good technocrat:
A short time later Gord wrote in a column to confirm what Eddie said:
Why Gord even allowed Max Zalev to give himself a big pat on the back for his efforts:
But was there more behind this, something we were not being told? Now I believe there is. It just took time for it to be played out. And Max is correct---I am not going to thank him for increasing my rates and not telling me why if I am correct. It will just get more painful financially down the road.
Of course, Gord told us in August, 2007 what was going to happen, or rather it was the secretive insider “Jim” who told us the real scoop through Gord. Of course Eddie was our hero :
Now you will understand exactly why these steps I mentioned were taken, steps that upset many people in town but was crucial if Enwin was to be "blown up" and for big bucks! The big one was the WUC increase. What does WUC have to do with Enwin you might say:
We learned in the past that
We also learned that:
That is how money flowed from taxpayers to WUC to Enwin to the City to show how profitable Enwin is, to dazzle possible investors. As if this will fool someone who is sophisticated in this type of transaction.
How about this about profits and rate increases:
Oh Al, of course it all makes sense. Now. How about this too:
The story went on:
Fat chance that will happen Joe. It is the Ontario Government that is driving what is going on with their theory being bigger is better:
Finally, thanks to Councillor Halberstadt’s BLOG, we learned that the Ontario Energy board allowed an Enwin rate increase:
What is this all really about. Why do we need such big rate increases at WUC and Enwin?
It is simple. Taxpayers are forking over their good hard cash to build up the profits at Enwin so it can be sold at a high price to an investor, whether another utility or to a private firm. That is already happening in the County!
As the Administration Report so nicely puts it:
There it is. The starting price for a sale at a quarter of a billion dollars!
Taxpayer money in the guise of rate increases supposedly has made Enwin very profitable. It can be sold at a much higher price. We should be thrilled right…all of this money coming in. Why Administration tells us:
Of course a fourth option is to let Eddie do whatever he wants with it as he tried with the canal project but that is just me being mean.
Just remember as well, if someone pays that high amount, guess how high the water and electrical rates will be in the future to pay for this purchase price. Oh, by then, Eddie will no longer be our Mayor so you will not be able to blame him! Go complain to the new Council who will wash their hands of it because the old Council did it. We went through that charade with the WUC fiasco fingerpointing.
Don’t expect that Enwin will be “sold.” People would get too upset. Eddie will follow what Kwame said in the failed Tunnel deal. A P3 is a much better route. We will still “own” Enwin although the private investor will probably have total control over it and the rate-setting for the next 75-99 years. We know how good a negotiator Eddie is. He gets the cash now and we get to pick up the pieces later.
I could say that I am “shocked” by all of this “electrical utility” manoeuvering, but I am not. The light bulb went on in my head a long time ago. I just have more insight now!
The big stumbling block seems to be granting post-65 benefits to new hires. I started to do a bit of digging around. I knew that Eddie had to be concerned about the City’s huge liability for post-retirement liabilities. Standard & Poor’s commented that:
If that was not cleared up, then the City’s bond rating could fall. If it fell, then Eddie’s financing ability would be hurt badly. As I Blogged before about the East End arena financing:
So it may be necessary from the Mayor’s perspective to hammer CUPE to show S&P that he is doing something to keep investors happy. And we know how important investment is to our Mayor.
Hmmmm, maybe it is not so clearcut after all. Maybe the strike has nothing whatsoever to do with negotiating a union contract with CUPE. Rather it all has to do with keeping S&P onside.
I am no fan of Sid Ryan after some of his comments but I had met him once and he seemed to be a bright guy. I could not believe that he would want to keep his members on strike and drain his strike fund either. I am not so sure either that what would be settled in Windsor would be a precedent elsewhere that he could use to beat up on other municipalities. But then again, what do I know about union tactics. Could he really be the stumbling block?
I had another thought. Could it be the other way around? Is Eddie being the front for other municipalities? You know an AMO alliance to beat up CUPE? Who knows.
However, something seemed strange when I went through some City Minutes.
I had thought that the idea of the City website setting out the City’s position was a smart idea in their offensive against CUPE. That tactic certainly helped the University in its struggle with the professors. To be honest, I thought it was a no-brainer but clearly I was wrong. I read this in the Minutes: Council had voted the idea down. So then how was a website created? Then I saw this a few days later.
Fascinating, another quick reconsideration just like what was attempted with the canal deal which failed. This one was successful. I wondered if all of these surprise reconsiderations were annoying Councillors and that helped kill Eddie's canal dream.
I was shocked as well that the Mayor voted again too. He rarely does that. There was no reason for him to vote since the Motion would have carried without his vote. Was it symbolic of his desire to be seen to be so involved? Obviously so. He could point to it when the S&P fellows came knocking again.
I wondered who wanted it reconsidered. Was this another case of the Mayor refusing to take NO for an answer, again just like with the canal? I wondered if Administration had put together a sample website and done all kinds of work even though Council had said not to move forward with it a few days before. Sort of like the Mayor having Cooke and his colleagues come in from Toronto to dazzle the Councillors on the canal. Who gave them the orders to do so?
Then I saw it. Here is what was defeated. Take a look:
If this had passed and the Union had been agreeable, the strike could have been over 10 days ago! It looked like someone figured out a way for new hires to pre-fund their benefits. Who could argue with that!
What is most interesting is what the Mayor did. He did NOT have to vote. It would have been a 5-5 tie and under the Procedural By-law, the Motion would have been defeated anyway. However Eddie voted to break the tie and that absolutely defeated the Motion.
I do not get it. What's the issue? Why was there an objection to setting up a sub-committee that could have worked the issue? Note that it was only on the 27th that the City decided to rebate back any savings to residents after
I wonder if that decision would have been made if Mr. Ryan had not stuck his nose into the matter.
Who nose what is really going on now. After the incident with Eddie hiding information from Council and citizens, my nose is out of joint at this. I do not like the smell of rotting garbage or something being rotten in Windsor either.
Can we not see farther than the end of our noses in this City? Does everything have to be such drama? Do we always need to fight, nose-to-nose?
Isn't the answer right in front of our noses, it is so obvious? The parties in my opinion need to keep their noses to the grindstone and build on the Motion that was defeated. It looked like a way out. None of us need to be dragged around by the nose any longer by hidden agendas. The last thing we need are people to get punched in the nose!
Who is playing whom in this strike? It certainly now is not clear cut to me. It is a good thing that I started nosing around.
I guess the question in the end is, in Gord's terms: whose "militant proboscis" is bigger. Eddie's or Sid's? Perhaps Council needs to do the measuring!
For those who have not seen it yet.
That comment helped end Hurst’s mayoral career! However, at the least, Hurst told his Council about his proposal but in a secret in camera meeting. Ironically, Eddie was one of the leaders of the charge against Hurst along with Councillor Valentinis!
Checks and balances under the Municipal Act? The Council’s role is
How can that apply if Councillors are not told anything by the Mayor!
Eddie’s actions that were revealed by Councillor Halberstadt’s cross-examination of Jeff Watson are shameful. If Premier McGuimty had included “right of recall” provisions when he added one year to the Council term in office, we would have had thousands of signatures already to recall the Mayor!
If you think, dear reader, that Eddie’s actions had anything to do with a canal, then you are mistaken. It has to do with something else. What that is, who knows except that it probably has to do with the border. That is part of Minister Baird's responsibility as head of Transport Canada along with Infrastructure. All I know is that if Jeff Watson can say his relationship with Eddie ranks as “A+” then you can almost be rest assured that some deal has been made.
Will that deal, if there is one, be good for Windsor? Who knows! Eddie's border decisions do not leave me with much confidence.
Here is how the political game is played. Guess what the Province got in return when Eddie received the $3.2M backstop for the Red Bull air race sponsorship. I am certain you can guess as well as I can but watch as it plays itself out.
I have sent the following Email to Jeff Watson and a similar one to the Canadian Government:
However, there is more. Councillors must act and take the approporiate action respecting the Mayor. He cannot be allowed to rule as if he is immune from what the City’s Code of Conduct requires.
If any Councillor, or if all of them refuse to take any direct action against the Mayor at Council tonight, then at the next election, that Councillor ought to be kicked out of Office or all of them if it comes to that!
It is that important for Democracy in Windsor.
Interestingly, no Star Editorial about the subject so far. Why not?