Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, May 08, 2009

Citizens For Jobs Now

Terrific video ad prepared by Chris Schnurr based on a radio ad for the new grassroots citizens organization.

Time for you to join up at:

More Interesting News Stories

Ho ho ho, ha ha ha, he he he.

Stop it please, I just cannot take it any more. My sides hurt from laughing.

Our "Francis pitches 'unprecedented investments' in city projects" of $300 million has just been increased to $646 million.

Obviously, the Mayor did not get the kind of reaction he expected on the earlier announcement. So he doubled it!

And if he does not get the feedback to keep everyone happy, in two weeks it will be a billion dollars!

Books of materials that he only knew about presented in the last minute to Council. The canal all over again. Why was there the need to have any budget meetings before? And the timing right after Minister Baird's and DRIC's shocker makes it all suspect as I shall discuss later in a BLOG next week.

Why worry. It means nothing...just like the East End arena with seats jammed for hockey and playoff games which will not make the profits expected and might only get half of the events planned. That is typical on megaprojects that run amuk. Typical Eddie---big buildup, little performance.

I have so much to write that my fingers hurt. However, that will come next week. For now, some items of interest.


No, no, no. I meant a single copy of the Star, not the entire newspaper operation. The story is a bit late but typical of problems the traditional media is undergoing. Heck, Eh-Channel for a buck!
  • Canwest shares worthless, to be avoided: analysts

    TORONTO (Reuters) - Shares of Canwest Global Communications are essentially worthless and should be avoided by investors as Canada's biggest media company fights to restructure its massive debt amid a severe advertising downturn, analysts said on Monday.

    Canwest has another debt deadline on Tuesday, by which time it must pay $30.4 million in interest to holders of its 8 percent senior subordinated notes. The payment was originally due March 15, but the company missed it.

    If it doesn't pay on Tuesday, the investors can demand the repayment of about $761 million of outstanding principal on the notes. This could further exacerbate the crisis facing the company...

    "Based on these major liquidity challenges, it seems unlikely to us that Canwest can continue in its current form," Casey wrote, adding that timely and successful asset sales also seem unlikely.

    The recession continues to severely depress the advertising market, which is the lifeblood of Canwest's stable of newspapers and television stations. It has also dampened the appetites of potential buyers of Canwest's assets."


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:

  • "Joseph Harris, Detroit's chief financial officer, said the agreement, which should be presented to the council in a few weeks, requires the city to appropriate payments annually on the swaps and to post collateral for those payments from its wagering tax.

    In addition, Detroit will face an additional payment of $800,000 a year starting in 2011 on top of the $50 million a year already being paid on the swaps, according to Harris, who added that without the deal he believed the city would be bankrupt.

    A material event notice the city filed in January said ratings downgrades had triggered termination events with eight interest-rate swap agreements associated with Detroit's issuance of pension fund-related taxable certificates of participation.

    All three Wall Street credit ratings agencies downgraded Detroit's general obligation rating to junk status in January. Bond insurers that participated in the deals also lost their triple-A ratings last year, Harris said.


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:

  • "Since January, we have explored, with certain interested parties, the potential of leasing Detroit’s income stream from three of the City’s assets: the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel; the Municipal Parking facilities; and, the Public Lighting Department. These discussions have helped to further convince us that the City can raise $100 million from leasing the income stream of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel; $100 million from Municipal Parking; and $75 million from Public Lighting. In every instance, the City of Detroit would retain ownership. The $5 million deficit balance could be paid off from operations next year. And we continue to explore this opportunity."

    Since Windsor has no interest in the other two revenue streams, we only wasted about $2M on legal and consulting fees. We could have used the cash to loan money to the Art Gallery.


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!

  • "Granholm: State budget in dire shape

    Lansing -- The state budget situation is so bad that every dime of federal recovery money could be used to patch holes in the budget, and significant cuts would still have to be made, Gov. Jennifer Granholm said today.

    "Suffice to say ... we have not seen an uptick in the sales tax, the income tax, the property tax or the business tax," Granholm said during a news conference at the State Capitol.

    State tax receipts have been coming in at least $100 million a month short of projections made in January due to the anemic economy. Legislative leaders will huddle with the state budget director Thursday to discuss the budget in detail, the governor said.

    Granholm offered no "glimmer of hope" statements about Michigan's economy that President Barack Obama expressed about the national economy last week. She said the recovery in Michigan is all about jobs, and the state continues to see growing unemployment. The 12 percent jobless rate here leads the nation."


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:

  • "City bus messages to accentuate positive

    Positive and thought-provoking messages are being sought for Transit Windsor buses as part of a grassroots effort to engage a city that is down on its luck.

    The Text-in-Transit project -- the brainchild of Justin Langlois and -- aims to place as many as 100 catchy phrases and even poems on placards that will fill unused ad space above the seats aboard city buses...

    The campaign isn't expected to cost taxpayers a penny as the ads are earmarked for unused advertising space."

Will Minister Baird Ever Come Back To Windsor

I would be holding my stomach too and grimacing if I was the Minister after my Windsor visit.

I am sure that Transport Canada Minister John Baird is a very nice man who wants to do the right thing. But is he in big trouble now.

The poor fellow is so tied up in playing Santa Claus in giving out infrastructure money to communities across the country so the Conservatives can be re-elected errrrr for our economic recovery that he has had to rely on his officials for what is going on in Windsor.

Does he get any thanks for what he is doing----Here is what those nasty Liberals are saying about him:
  • Baird fails to create jobs with economic stimulus and infrastructure funds

    OTTAWA – Transport Minister John Baird has yet to provide any job creation details for infrastructure and economic stimulus funds, Liberal Infrastructure Critic Gerard Kennedy and Public Works Critic Martha Hall Findlay said today.

    Mr. Baird has failed to explain how the $4-billion economic stimulus fund will be spent, and has been unable to answer any questions about the stimulus fund’s central job creation objective throughout the spring session of Parliament – including how many jobs have been created or even how many the fund is expected to create.

    In a departmental briefing yesterday, Infrastructure Canada officials admitted that they do not track job creation, even though the government has promised to create 190,000 jobs.”

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:

  • Judge's ruling in influence-peddling case of Ottawa politician will allow for instant news

    The trial is expected to be closely followed in Ottawa, but it will also have national repercussions. The charges against Mr. O'Brien are related to an alleged offer of a federal position to entice a political adversary to drop out of an election, and the opposition parties will be watching for testimony from Conservative officials.

    Transport Minister John Baird and the director of appointments in the Prime Minister's Office, Dave Penner, are expected to be called as witnesses.”

Or this strange story in the National Post the other day:

  • “David Akin: What's John Baird hiding from?

    Update: Baird's office offers an explanation

    The House of Commons Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates (known on the Hill as OGGO) asked that John Baird, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure, and Communities, to appear for before it. Yesterday, some odd e-mail correspondence was distributed to reporters by the press relations people in Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff's office. "

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:

  • Canal can get federal cash
    Not too late, minister says

    The deadline has passed, but Windsor still has an opportunity to receive federal funding for a $48-million downtown canal project, Canada's transportation and infrastructure minster said Wednesday.

    City council declined on Friday to place the canal on a list of federal stimulus projects, missing a May 1 deadline.

    But John Baird suggested Wednesday the project could be included when Ottawa reveals its infrastructure allocation to the city.

    "The deadline was Friday, but we hope to come forward in short order on further economic stimulus for Windsor which badly needs it," said the minister, in Windsor for a border transportation conference at Caesars Windsor.”

Oh my goodness. Did he ever step in the doo-doo. As Councillor Marra stated:

  • “This (Baird's statement) is surprising because part of the pressure last week there was this May 1 deadline."

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:

  • Political interference---the involvement of individual members of parliament interfering in the determination of federal spending.

    No money for crucial projects, just for VISIONS---projects submitted would not meet the criteria of the federal spending program even though they are for essential infrastructure needs taken from the capital budget the city had in place

    Pork politics---insinuation that infrastructure decisions are not being made by professionals at the department using clear and objective standards but rather by individual members of parliament in the government's caucus.”

Baird could ignore them except that they are setting out the Auditor General’s concerns:

  • “Auditor General wants clear rules before stimulus billions

    OTTAWA — Auditor General Sheila Fraser says the federal government should be prepared to defend its ‘rationale’ for changing any rules or processes and spell out who is accountable in its race to get stimulus money out the door.

    Canada’s best-known spending watchdog laid out her expectations for the management of stimulus money in a recent letter to Treasury Board Secretary Wayne Wouters as her office prepares for a sweeping and unprecedented audit into the expected spending frenzy of the next two years.”

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:

  • Minister links new bridge, jobs
    Rival proposal for twin span dismissed

    Federal Transportation minister John Baird said Wednesday his government is committed to building a downriver bridge in Windsor and dismissed the Ambassador Bridge's twin span proposal…

    Asked about the Ambassador Bridge's twin span proposal, Baird responded: "I don't think it works for the community's best interests or environmentally."

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:

  • “This bridge will be built," said Baird in a keynote address at the International Multimodal Conference at Caesars Windsor.

    Baird said the federal government is "committed to move full speed ahead on getting a new Detroit-Windsor bridge built and will do everything we can to move forward quickly…"

    “We are committed to it. We've got the money, the plan and in short order the approvals we need."

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.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

More Blogger Emails

It is so funny already that it is pathetic. Now we know that at least one Canadian media person got an advance copy of Minister Baird's speech along with an American one.

The other traditional media people in town ought to be as furious as I as to the favouritism

Here are some more emails you may enjoy reading:
  • ----- Original Message -----
    From: Day, Chris
    To: arditti
    Cc: Butler, Mark
    Sent: Wednesday, May 06, 2009 6:35 PM
    Subject: Re: Your Department's discriminatory tactics

    Mark Butler will endeavour to get you a videotaped copy later this week.

  • ----- Original Message -----
    From: Ed Arditti
    To: Day, Chris
    Cc: Butler, Mark
    Sent: Wednesday, May 06, 2009 9:47 PM
    Subject: Re: Your Department's discriminatory tactics


    Perhaps though in the interim Mark could send me what was sent to the Detroit reporter so that I don't have to transcribe the speech.

    Ed Arditti

DRIC Bridge Is Now A 2015 Bridge

Check out the Eh-News video below. Pulitzer Prize stuff for Daryl! Monica would be proud!

The truth is finally coming out. It is not a surprise to me because I have been Blogging this border story for years. But it still makes me furious

Now we know that there is no traffic justification for a DRIC bridge, if there ever was.

Now we know that the P3 market collapse means there is no money for a DRIC Road or Bridge, if there ever was.

Now we know how the people of Delray feel after being promised the moon and the stars.

It was all a farce but it will hurt the hundreds of thousands of people who have been praying for an economic boost that will not be coming now in the near term.

Now we know why we had the story of "unprecedented investments" in municipal infrastructure” from the Mayor without details.

Now we know why we still have the story of building a canal even though the project met few of the Government criteria and the deadline was missed.

It ought to make your stomach turn to understand how we are being played by Governments, politicians and bureaucrats. It does mine.

More to come as my anger subsides.

Will Eddie And Watson's Canal Sink The Government

Will the Councillors please finally make some waves in Eddie's Canal Vision and kill it before it becomes another cause celebre for this City and gives us another black eye! Can't you just smell government scandal coming.

Thanks to Councillor Halberstadt's BLOG, here is a letter sent to Minister Baird who is in town today by NDP MPs Masse and Comartin. I hope that the traditional media seek out the truth on this one! The whole epidose stinks like a stagnant body of water!

A provincial government insider speculated to me that Eddie's close relationship with the Conservatives and the love-in with Watson must mean that Eddie may be/has been offered a Cabinet position if the Conservatives win the next election and he is onboard.

If that is the case, that idea has to be dead by the time the facts come out on the canal show Watson/Eddie farce last Friday. It has the potential to be another scandal along the lines of the Gun Registry/HRDC/Abscam by the time it is done.

Watson's career has to be just about deadmeat too since he may have embarrassed the Government. He has not yet answered the email I sent him re records on the canal deal:
  • "Please provide me forthwith with copies of all records exchanged amongst you, the City of Windsor, the Mayor's Office and the relevant Ontario and Canadian Government Departments in relation to the Government's infrastructure program over the last three months. I would appreciate receipt especially of all records from Minister Baird's office and that of the Prime Minister and from those who provided you the information so that the Star could quote:

    ---"Watson practically guaranteeing Ottawa's approval should Windsor submit a marina-canal application"

    ---"He said his reason for wanting to meet with the local politicians Friday was to point out that more than half of a preliminary list of Windsor projects submitted Wednesday -- $96 million of a $182 million total -- were "questionable" in terms of meeting Ottawa's funding approval criteria"

    ---Watson said, adding Windsor could expect to receive approval for at least $150 million in stimulus project approval."

    I assume that you will provide these documents voluntarily and immediately. As you are aware, I can obtain these records through an Access To Information request through the various Government Departments and by a Windsor MFOI application by requesting the records that were sent to you.

    Will you please advise when I may see these materials.

    I intend to BLOG this email to you and your response. "

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:

  • It appears the scheme Mayor Eddie Francis and friends cooked up to build a $48-million marina and canal through downtown Windsor is pretty much dead in the water.

    Even as you read this, the politicos down at city hall are desperately working the heart attack paddles, trying to rouse the project from its emergency room gurney.

    Let's hope this dumb idea stays deader than the ash trees in my yard. It's about time Windsor taxpayers managed to dodge one of the "development" bullets a succession of mayors and councils has aimed at their hearts over the past few decades.

  • Windsor taxpayers probably haven't finished paying for the last great scheme yet -- the Canderel building.

    Not if you count the expropriation mess, legal fees, lost tax assessment, management time, and the opportunity costs.

    The half-empty tower (Windsor's future city hall, I've always predicted) now sits more than half empty, an expensive reminder of the city's shortcomings when it tries to play developer with public money.

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis, who is driving the idea, got the feasibility study and business plan six weeks ago. So why didn't he give it to council? I asked him that question for an hour, and I still don't know.

  • He didn't give the canal reports to council, he said, because he was waiting for a planning report showing past ideas to revitalize the area. Huh? The nuts and bolts are in the feasibility study and business plan.

    The missing planning report didn't stop him from giving draft copies of the other documents to Watson and federal bureaucrats six weeks ago.

    Besides, he told me glibly, "You don't need a report, an engineering document, to know it's a great idea."

  • Frankly, I was stunned. I like the idea of a canal, but I expect a modicum of due diligence if you're going to spend $15 million of my taxes and dig up my downtown. Don't need the reports? Tell that to Windsor Family Credit Union and other organizations which anted up thousands of dollars to pay for these studies. Tell that to Cooke and the consultants, who spent months on them.

  • But Francis said Windsor doesn't have any other eligible projects. The city submitted a list of proposals worth $186 million, but probably only $90 million of them are eligible. So we can't come up with enough ways to spend $100 million. Most people would be incredulous...
    It's no way to run a city, all right. "

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:

  • Political interference---the involvement of individual members of parliament interfering in the determination of federal spending.

  • No money for crucial projects, just for VISIONS---projects submitted would not meet the criteria of the federal spending program even though they are for essential infrastructure needs taken from the capital budget the city had in place

  • Virtual guarantee---Mr. Watson made a claim that the federal government would guarantee funding for a project, the so-called marina-canal, which had not been vetted by the public or city council instead of the needed infrastructure proposals

  • Pork politics---insinuation that infrastructure decisions are not being made by professionals at the department using clear and objective standards but rather by individual members of parliament in the government's caucus

  • Buying votes for the next election country-wide---Is this episode to be repeated in communities across the country?

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.



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:


  • ----- Original Message -----
    From: Ed Arditti
    To: pat.welsh
    Cc: Mark Butler
    Sent: Wednesday, March 11, 2009 3:22 PM
    Subject: RFP T8080-08-0040

    Here is the language below in red that I am asking for. Presumably the Department knows what that means since they asked for it and it seems that PRP International may have produced some records previously. If there are such records, I would like to see them. Perhaps you could let me know if there is a small volume or the 15 boxes.

    In the end, I do not want 15 boxes copied if that is how many there are. Rather, let me know what I can see and I will only ask for copies of documents that interest me to keep costs down. I have done this before on FOI files where the Institution gives me the documents at their location to review and I mark what I want for copying

  • ----- Original Message -----
    From: Ed Arditti
    To: pat.welsh
    Cc: Mark Butler
    Sent: Thursday, March 26, 2009 5:05 PM
    Subject: Re: RFP T8080-08-0040

    Further to our recent telephone call, since there are only 2 reports that are relevant it would seem, one in 2008 and one in 2009, I assume that you will be able to do your due diligence on them and forward them to me within the next 2 weeks

    Ed Arditti

  • From: Ed Arditti
    Sent: Friday, April 17, 2009 12:17 PM
    To: Welsh, Pat
    Cc: Butler, Mark
    Subject: Re: RFP T8080-08-0040
    Importance: High

    I am disappointed that I received no response to this email from you and more importantly no reports.

    Is there a reason for this stalling?

    Ed Arditti

  • ----- Original Message -----
    From: Welsh, Pat
    To: Ed Arditti
    Sent: Monday, April 20, 2009 1:59 PM
    Subject: RE: RFP T8080-08-0040

    Good afternoon, my apologies as I have been out of the office since April 3rd, I will verify the file and call you tomorrow, thanks

  • From: Ed Arditti
    Sent: Sunday, May 03, 2009 4:34 PM
    To: Butler, Mark; Welsh, Pat;
    Cc: Laurent, Réginald;;;
    Subject: Re: RFP T8080-08-0040---Information Commissioner complaint
    Importance: High

    I have still not received a telephone call nor the records requested.

    I have not complained before because I assumed that you were acting in good faith to provide me with the requested information. Your failure to do so can only lead me to the conclusion that your Department is deliberately hiding relevant information since it may prejudice your Department's position by demonstrating that there is a lack of traffic to support a DRIC Bridge in Windsor, Ontario.

    Your Department is now in breach of the Access To Information Act.

    I intend to BLOG your Department's deliberate actions in violation of my right to obtain access to the documents requested.

    By a copy of this email I hereby as well make a formal complaint to the Information Commissioner

  • ----- Original Message -----
    From: Laurent, Réginald
    To: Ed Arditti ; Butler, Mark ; Welsh, Pat
    Sent: Monday, May 04, 2009 4:53 PM
    Subject: RE: RFP T8080-08-0040---Information Commissioner complaint

    Dear Mr. Arditti,

    This is further to our telephone conversation earlier this morning in response to your email in which you allege that Transport Canada is not being forthcoming with a response to your Access to Information request. .

    I would like to reiterate that Transport Canada is committed to the principles of openness and full transparency as set forth in various legislations and policies of the Government of Canada including the Access of Information Act. It is unfortunate that delays in responding to your request lead you to infer that the Department is withholding releasable information from you. This is simply not the case.

    As you are aware, the access to information process can be very complex depending on several factors. Please be assured that we are treating your request with the utmost consideration and are doing whatever possible to provide you with a reply with all information that you are entitled to obtain in accordance to the provisions of the Access to Information Act, as soon as possible.


    Réginald Laurent
    Director, ATIP
    Transport Canada

  • ----- Original Message -----
    From: Ed Arditti
    To: Laurent, Réginald
    Sent: Wednesday, May 06, 2009 4:57 PM
    Subject: Re: RFP T8080-08-0040---Information Commissioner complaint

    I thought you were holding a meeting yesterday about my request.

    I regret I have heard nothing further from you about when I am to receive the records.

  • ----- Original Message -----
    From: reginald.laurent
    To: ed arditti
    Sent: Wednesday, May 06, 2009 5:14 PM
    Subject: RE: RFP T8080-08-0040---Information Commissioner complaint
    Dear Mr. Arditti,

    ATIP division finished its review and the release package is in the sign off stage;
    we are proceeding as fast as we can



  • ----- Original Message -----
    From: Ed Arditti
    To: Mark Butler
    Sent: Wednesday, May 06, 2009 2:11 PM
    Subject: Please provide me with a copy of Baird's speech today
    Ed Arditti

  • ----- Original Message -----
    From: Ed Arditti
    Cc: Mark Butler ; ;
    Sent: Wednesday, May 06, 2009 5:19 PM
    Subject: Your Department's discriminatory tactics

    I am a Blogger in Windsor, Ontario accredited by your Department.

    I note that the Minister delivered a speech in Windsor, Ontario today but that I was not provided with an advance copy of it while at least one American journalist, JOHN GALLAGHER was:

    "Baird’s prepared remarks, supplied in advance to the [Detroit] Free Press, said"

    I would like a copy of that speech forwarded to me forthwith. I asked for a copy of it from your spokesperson in Windsor at 2:11 PM but still have received nothing.

    I would also like to know why the Department has discriminated against me and put me at a competitive disadvantage!

    I assume that this failure to provide the speech to me is a continuation of your Department's clear policy to convince Americans that they should not support the Ambassador Bridge Company's project. I assume that your policy is also designed to prevent those who have any familiarity about the subject from being able to report and comment in a timely fashion to what the Minister has said..

    Ed Arditti BA, LL.B, LL.M

  • ----- Original Message -----
    From: Ed Arditti
    To: Day, Chris
    Sent: Wednesday, May 06, 2009 6:11 PM
    Subject: Re: Your Department's discriminatory tactics

    And where is the speech????


  • ----- Original Message -----
    From: Ed Arditti
    Sent: Wednesday, May 06, 2009 4:58 PM
    Subject: Request for documents

    Please provide me with the following:

    ---all records exchanged between your Department and other Ontario and Canadian Government Departments, the City of Windsor and the Mayor's Office in relation to the City of Windsor's actual and proposed infrastructure projects respecting the Government's infrastructure program over the last six months ending May 6, 2009 and continuing.

    ---all records exchanged amongst your Department and MP Jeff Watson relating to proposed and actual infrastructure projects of the City of Windsor, in relation to the Government's infrastructure program over the last six months ending May 6. 2009 and continuing especially all records from Minister Baird's office and that of the Prime Minister and from those who provided the information so that the Star could quote:
    --"Watson practically guaranteeing Ottawa's approval should Windsor submit a marina-canal application"

    --"He said his reason for wanting to meet with the local politicians Friday was to point out that more than half of a preliminary list of Windsor projects submitted Wednesday -- $96 million of a $182 million total -- were "questionable" in terms of meeting Ottawa's funding approval criteria"

    --Watson said, adding Windsor could expect to receive approval for at least $150 million in stimulus project approval."

    I assume that you will provide these documents voluntarily. If not, I will file an Access to Information Request.

    Please advise me of your Department's position forthwith

    Ed Arditti

  • ----- Original Message -----
    From: Laurent, Réginald
    To: Ed Arditti
    Sent: Wednesday, May 06, 2009 5:30 PM
    Subject: RE: Request for documents

    Dear Mr. Arditti,

    The documents you are requesting should be subject of an Access to Information Request.

    Thank you

DRIC Bridge Not To Be Completed Until 2015

Story I first saw reported on Eh-Channel News at 6 PM tonight.

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:

  • In an interview with the Free Press and in his prepared remarks, Baird emphasized the need for a new border crossing and said his government was “unwavering” in its support for the planned Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) project, to be built about two miles downriver from the existing Ambassador Bridge.

    He also noted that alternative proposals, like Moroun’s plan to build a new span next to his Ambassador Bridge, were unacceptable for environmental and other reasons.

    “Let me assure you: This crossing will be owned by governments and will be subject to rigorous public oversight to ensure the public interest is safeguarded,” Baird’s prepared remarks, supplied in advance to the Free Press, said. “And what it will be is accountable to governments.”

    “This is the biggest, most important infrastructure project in the country,” Baird said in the interview of the DRIC project. “We’re moving full speed ahead.”

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Sewage Overflows And Canals

Two comments from news stories.

It is sad how out of touch our Mayor is to reality and to what is truly important in our lives today! I trust that Council and the Senior levels take note as well as the citizens of Windsor when they consider another one of Eddie's diversionary VISIONS!

Eddie Francis:
  • "While ignoring the canal project, council approved adding a $60-million item for a waterfront underground retention treatment basin to end sewage overflows into the Detroit River, an item for which the city was already in the process of seeking senior government funding.

    "Other cities are putting forward massive projects with vision. Today, here, instead of such vision, we have a receptor sewer project ... how does that diversify our economy," Francis said after the meeting."

Great Lakes mayors present action plan to Queen's Park
Posted By MAGGIE RIOPELLE/Tribune Staff

  • TORONTO — Port Colborne Mayor Vance Badawey is among Ontario mayors looking to protect the Great Lakes and who Tuesday presented a five-point action plan to the provincial government.

    The first ever Great Lakes summit in Toronto was hosted by the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative and the Ontario government and gave Ontario mayors an opportunity to present their plan, At the Shoreline: A Mayors' Collaborative Action Plan to Protect the Great Lakes.

    "We in the city of Port Colborne are very fortunate to live on the sandy shores of Lake Erie," said Badawey in a news release. "Protecting the Great Lakes is essential to attract people to our community, whether to live, work or play.

    "Proper investment and attention to improve beaches and shoreline areas, water and wastewater systems and storm water separation promotes healthy lifestyles, a vibrant local economy and a sustainable community."

    As part of the plan, Ontario Great Lakes mayors called for a new approach involving all three levels of government to tackle problems of explosive algae growth, beach closures, and untreated sewage and storm water entering the lakes.

    The report calls for a tripartite table to co-ordinate protection efforts and investments. The mayors also called for an economic study to build a strong business case for Great Lakes investments by the government.

    "The City of Port Colborne is extremely fortunate to be part of an organization such as the Mayor's Great Lakes — St. Lawrence Initiative," said Badawey. "Working shoulder to shoulder with all mayors that have the privilege of being a waterfront community is critical to moving forward action plans relative to environmental and economic objectives."

    Badawey said it is vital that "we must renew and leverage the Great Lakes by improving both the supply and the quality of water" while also "supporting business development and research opportunities."

    There must also be an "innovation strategy" in place, he said, that will "fuel research, development and commercialization activity in the Great Lakes economic region."

    As a former director and president of the Ontario Great Lakes Renewal Foundation, Niagara Region Chair Peter Partington advocated for protection while at the summit.

    "We in Niagara have always considered ourselves blessed to be, literally, surrounded by water from the Great Lakes," said Partington.

    "We have already taken significant strides to protect these valuable resources, including identifying combined sewer overflows as a priority item in our recent infrastructure stimulus applications to the federal and provincial governments."

    The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative is an organization of more than 60 mayors and other local officials in Canada and the U.S. advocating for the protection, restoration and promotion of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.

    “I believe strongly that initiatives like today's summit and other similar ventures are the building blocks for success and I'm committed to providing whatever regional resources are required to see this plan implemented; our lives and the lives of our children and grandchildren depend on it," Partington said.


Guess who is on the Board of Directors of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative:

$48M And Counting

Gee, I am starting to really like Ron Jones. Perhaps if I am nice to him he will read my BLOG again. After all, I have praised him twice in a few days:
  • "Council has yet to begin debate on the canal district proposal, but Coun. Ron Jones said he’s already heard enough to know he won’t be supporting it.

    “It’s not going to fly … it’s a pipe dream,” said Jones...

    He’s angry at how Mayor Eddie Francis has handled the file since the concept was first unveiled last summer, and he dismisses the privately funded “nice, glossy report” handed councillors Monday night.

    “It’s my ward — I haven’t been consulted. I’m just tired of it,” said Jones."

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.

It is all a phony....It is designed as I have said before to get money into Windsor's hands by pretending a canal will be built. Other cities would be furious otherwise.

Why waste any more time with it! We have more important concerns to deal with than to waste hours on dreams!

No wonder the Mayor was afraid to release the Report in advance. He would have been laughed out of the meeting room!


Here is an email I sent to the Feds this morning asking for some additional information. I will BLOG the answer when I get it. Or rather, IF I get it!
  • I would appreciate if you would provide me with the following information:

    1) Did the responsible Department officials under the Infrastructure funding program look at projects before the deadline of May 1 and in particular, those of the City of Windsor
    2) If the answer is yes, which specific Windsor projects were looked at and what comments were made about the projects
    3) Does the Government program require Provincial Government involvement
    4) If so, has the Province submitted projects along with the City of Windsor yet
    5) What was the cost of the Walker Road underpass project
    6) Is it the Government's position that what MP Jeff Watson said to Windsor Council as quoted in the Star is correct:
    "Watson practically guaranteeing Ottawa's approval should Windsor submit a marina-canal application"
    7) Will Minister Baird, since he will be in Windsor today, announce the purchase of Brighton Beach
    8) Will he confirm that the Government will fund the canal project?

    I would appreciate the information so that I may BLOG your answers this afternoon.

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.

Wikipedia stated:

  • "The project began on August 7, 2007 and was slated to cost about $50M with construction to last 16-18 months."

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?

Quid Pro Quoing In Windsor

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:

  • "There may be a glimmer of hope in the strike by City of Windsor inside and outside workers. The two sides have agreed to open discussions on the main issue of retirement benefits for new hires. Mayor Eddie Francis hopes a discussion of the options leads to a return to the bargaining table with a mediator. The two sides are expected to meet this week."

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:

  • "The purchase price for the city land is being kept confidential until a report goes to council for final approval, Francis said."

Who should get credit for this land being available:

  • "It turned out to be a smart move on city’s part to assemble (the land),” said Mark Lalovich, commercial broker with Remax Preferred Realty. “It turned out to be visionary with the new bridge going in the area.”

That was all started under Mike Hurst and John Tofflemire, long before Eddie! As I wrote several years ago:

  • "I cannot prove this but I do not believe that the Brighton Beach lands were ever intended to be used as industrial land. Why all of a sudden did they come out in the Schwartz Report out of nowhere....

    I think it has been a part of the border crossing route by the City for a very long time except we as citizens did not know what was the real intended use."

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.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

BLOGMEISTER Solves The Canal Issue

All that the Mayor and Council should have done is dropped a note to the BLOGMEISTER and I would have solved their canal matter without the animosity shown at the Friday joke meeting.

A reader put me on to this.

Clearly, this is the answer to solve our canal debate to everyone's satisfaction for pennies on the dollar. And we do not need an environmental assessment that will take forever to be completed so that we are ineligible for funding.
  • Project readiness - All eligible recipients will be required to provide information necessary to determine if the project is construction-ready and likely to be substantially completed by March 31, 2011.

Moreover, Eddie's claim that we do not need Senior Level funding to do up to $300M of infrastructure projects absolutely kills us:

  • Project incrementality - All eligible recipients will be required to attest, in conjunction with their project application, that the work to be undertaken is an incremental construction activity that would not otherwise have been constructed by March 31, 2011 were it not for funding from the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund.
Imagine the number of people who would come to town to watch the work being created in the first place. Now that's a unique tourist attraction at low cost!

Now we can get on to the real issues, right Eddie!

Edgar Müller is at the cutting edge of 3D street art, also known as pavement art. His creations transform everyday locations into fantastical scenes: sharks erupting from pavements, chasms bisecting suburban streets and rivers cascading through towns

Müller at work on The Crevasse. It took the artist and five assistants five days to create the effect

The Crevasse, a 3D image by Edgar Müller, in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland. The 250-square metre image, which took five days to paint, appears to show a fault in the earth's crust

A shark bursts from the pavement in this street painting created for the Illusion of Art festival in Hong Kong

Müller created Flash Flood for the Prairie arts festival in Moose Jaw in Canada in 2007. Situated on the appropriately named River Street, it was the biggest 3D street painting ever created

Lava Burst transformed a typical German street into a scene from the apocalypse for the 30th anniversary of the international competition of street painters in Geldern

You are most welcome!

Enwin Shocker---Will It Be Sold

This BLOG is not as long as it seems. It is just reminding you of what you know already but giving you a different context for it.

Now you will understand
  •  why we have to pay the 86% rate increase for WUC
  •  why there are increased management fees paid by WUC to Enwin
  •  why there are increased dividends from Enwin to the City and
  •  why there are rate increases for Enwin even though it is making a profit.

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:

  • “Other cities are putting forward massive projects with vision. Today, here, instead of such vision, we have a receptor sewer project.”

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:

  • “For the past four years, we have been working extremely hard, undertaking a similar review at our Enwin Group of Companies, and the Windsor Utilities Commission.

    Enwin had strayed into areas it should never have been involved with in the first place. It simply didn’t have the resources necessary to manage all of those non-core activities.

    The staff at Enwin was distracted away from their core business – delivering hydro and water services to our customers…

    With employees and management working with the Board, Enwin underwent a massive transformation…

    New managers and leaders came on board.

    The Boards of Directors were streamlined.

    We changed and reduced the number of companies, by merging utilities and power lines…

    Since 2004, and as a result of the service delivery review, we have reduced Enwin’s debt by $20 million dollars…

    Reduced its payables by $5 million dollars...

    And paid you – the shareholders of the City of Windsor – a $3 million dollar dividend this year.”

A short time later Gord wrote in a column to confirm what Eddie said:

  • “Enwin was a broken organization with a defective top-down culture which stifled employee initiative. It lacked entrepreneurial skills yet gambled, with our money, that it could become a corporate player with investments in hot water tank sales, billing, telecommunications, laboratory testing and training. Heads have since rolled and it's now refocusing on core responsibilities, delivering water and electricity.”

Why Gord even allowed Max Zalev to give himself a big pat on the back for his efforts:

  • “Now, three years into cleaning up this mess, Francis, Zalev and others are being eviscerated for taking the unpopular actions others dodged over the years.

    "They're shooting the messenger. We're the ones finding all this stuff out and they want to kill us," sighed Zalev. "That's OK," he added. "I come from a rough and tumble business and I'm used to getting banged around."

    That's just as well, because no matter how obvious and pressing the need, people will never say thanks for raising prices and making their lives more difficult.”

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 :

  • “It would take immense political courage, but the only real fix for the Windsor Utilities Commission and Enwin might be to blow up these bloated organizations and start over.

    That's my gut reaction after listening to a litany of horrors from a former administrator who packed it in disgust after more than 35 years with WUC.

    This individual -- we'll call him Jim -- says those playing the blame game over punishing rate increases to replace rusty old water mains are missing the main point -- that WUC has for decades been a consumer's worst nightmare, an old boys' club rife with featherbedding, cronyism, inappropriate hiring and institutionalized inefficiencies...

    The way to really fix this mess, said Jim, would be to shut down WUC and Enwin Powerlines operations and hand them over, on contract, to the private sector to run on a turnkey basis.

    "Make it someone else's headache," he argues. Sadly, he knows that's a non-starter. It might make eminent sense. But it will never receive serious consideration in a labour-dominated city that goes bonkers -- remember the parking meter enforcement battle -- at the very mention of contracting out.’"

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

  • “The WUC pays Enwin millions of dollars per year in management fees. WUC employees are also employed at Enwin, including WUC acting general manager Max Zalev, who is also CEO of Enwin Utilities. WUC finance director Victoria Zuber also holds the position of chief financial officer for Enwin Powerlines and Sylvia deVries is the spokeswoman for WUC and Enwin.

We also learned that:

  • “In 2007, Enwin received an $8.6-million management fee from WUC, marking a $1.3 million one-year increase.”

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:

  • “Enwin gives $4M to city, ups rates

    Enwin Utilities will hand over $4 million in dividends to its sole shareholder, the City of Windsor -- $1 million more than last year -- even as it increases rates to its customers.

    Citing inflation and capital costs, the utility asked for and recently received Ontario Energy Board approval to hike hydro rates 2.1 per cent.

    The increase is about half a percentage point higher than the average across Ontario, said Vanda Wall, spokeswoman for OEB...

    Enwin's decision to turn over an additional $1 million to the city at the same time that it asks for a hydro rate hike drew fire Wednesday from taxpayer watchdog Al Nelman. "It's Deceit 101 for the poor taxpayers."

    "If (Enwin) is making all this money, then asking for another increase doesn't make sense," Nelman said.”

Oh Al, of course it all makes sense. Now. How about this too:

  • “Enwin seeks rate increase; Profitable utility urged to resist raising costs for customers;

    Enwin Utilities should not seek a rate increase while it's making a profit and returning millions in dividends to the city, Coun. Alan Halberstadt said Tuesday.

    Enwin is asking the Ontario Energy Board to allow it to increase rates by nine per cent for service delivery charges...

    "We saw how people reacted to an increase in water rates. I don't think the reaction will be very positive," Halberstadt said…”

The story went on:

  • “Joe Lafontaine said Ontario needs to repeal the rules and push hydro companies back into non-profit operations.

    Hydro operations were handed over to local municipalities in 1999.

    Lafontaine said that too often, municipalities look to tap into hydro company dividends for municipal needs and pursue even greater profits at the expense of ratepayers, he said.

    "If they make more money, they get bigger dividend cheques," Lafontaine said. "They will often go as high as they can within the guidelines of OEB."

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:

  • “the Ministry of Finance of the Province of Ontario also recently announced the extension of the Electricity Transfer Tax Exemption for publicly owned utilities to October 16, 2009. This measure is being put forth in order to further encourage efficiencies and promote consolidation in Ontario’s electricity sector. Essentially, the exemption applies to publicly owned utilities when they sell electricity assets to other publicly owned utilities in Ontario. This exemption enables the municipality to avoid a tax payable of 33% of the municipality’s interest in the property transferred to any other entity. In order for the exemption to apply application for Ontario Energy Board approval, if needed, must be filed before October 17, 2009.”

Finally, thanks to Councillor Halberstadt’s BLOG, we learned that the Ontario Energy board allowed an Enwin rate increase:

  • “As a result of this Decision and Rate Order, the portion of the bill associated with the cost to deliver electricity will increase by approximately 5.8% or $2.25 per month for Enwin’s residential customers using 1,000 kWh per month. In its initial application EnWin requested an increase of approximately 9.7%. The delivery portion represents about one-third of the total bill.”

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:

  • “The dividends have grown from a level of approximately $1.7 million annually in 2005 to a level of $4 million annually in 2008. See table below relative to the dividend payout history of WCUL…

    Additionally, during this same period WCUL has retained earnings and reinvested within the operations to further grow the company. This is evidenced by the growth in the Investment/Equity of the company from a level of $84 million in 2000 to a level of $103 million for 2008…

    Any analysis of strategic options would need to consider these historic dividend and equity return levels within the context of future return levels expected from the sale of such an asset…

    if one looks to the last three year period as indicative of the expected return, than one would need to invest $230 million in order to achieve an annual return of $11.5 million. These calculations are simply for illustrative purposes and do not in any way reflect or attempt to quantify the expected valuation of WCUL.”

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:

  • the following options could be considered relative to the proceeds from the sale:

    ---Establishment of an Endowment Fund.

    ---Set up Reserve Fund and utilize proceeds from the sale over a defined period to assist in transitioning through the current economic challenges facing the City.

    ---Utilize the proceeds from sale for major investment in infrastructure to spur local economy.

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!

BLOGBREAKINGnews: WeACT To File Integrity Commission Complaint

Here is a copy of the Press Release issued by WeACT that has been distributed with respect to the Mayor's conduct in the handling of the Canal matter

[Note, click on the image to get a more readable version of it]

Monday, May 04, 2009

Is The CUPE Strike Solution Hiding Under Our Noses

QUESTION--The big strike issue is post-retirement benefits for new hires. How many new hires were there in 2008 for CUPE Local 543? (See answer below)

Wow, CUPE is being hammered. The Star continues with its vicious attacks on them with another on Saturday.

By the way, I noticed another City ad in the Star too on Saturday although it was not one of the "garbage" ones. How many is that now that have been run? With these unexpected ads along with Greenlink ads that had been run in the past, the Star's ad department must be smiling.

You know it is bad for CUPE when Henderson praises Ken Sr.’s “guts and integrity, not to mention impressive survival instincts.” Oh I guess Gord was away when Lewenza had his “no concessions” moment but all is forgotten in order to attack the CUPE carpetbaggers.

I have to admit I think that CUPE has done a poor job of letting the public know what its position is and they have made a number of PR blunders that will not help their cause. Their May 1 ad told me nothing other than they had some kind of a "creative solution to contain the cost of retiree benefits. " I wish they had told Windsorites what it was so my garbage can be picked up soon!

I almost felt that I had to congratulate the Mayor in how he has handled this matter. “Almost" but no cigar.

I read this in Gord’s column and it immediately made me suspicious. It’s too bad that he did not give us a hint who his informant was. I doubted that it was the provincial government insider who used language similar to this about the border deal that never was. Accordingly, it had to be someone from the City who knew what was going on or who was prepared to cause mischief amongst people who have bags of garbage smelling up their neighbourhood:
  • “The sad thing about this CUPE strike is that it didn't have to happen. I'm told negotiations came tantalizing close to a made-in-Windsor settlement, mindful of the city's dreadful circumstances, before Patrick Cyril Ryan, CUPE Ontario president, stuck his nose in. And then used his militant proboscis to draw a line in the sand.”
Wasn't the last guy with a Made-In-Windsor solution ex-Mayor Mike Hurst re the border and you know what happened to that idea! It ultimately lead to him not running again for Mayor.

The Sheriff strikes a blow again against Eddie even in semi-retirement! Well done too. Few would have understood the context of that remark.

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:

  • “The city's outlook remains stable. But the bond raters warned the city will have to deal with a growing burden posed by rising post-retirement benefits that have left it with a future liability of $170 million. "Windsor's large post-retirement liabilities ... are among the highest compared with its peers," the report said. "

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:

  • “You remember that I was concerned about whether the way the City was going to do its financings met the requirements of the Municipal Act. Under Regulation 276, to do the borrowing the City wants to do, it must have a minimum of an “AA-“ rating from Standard and Poor's!”

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?

I was interested also that it was not even on the Agenda for that meeting since it was the 9th item. I bet some people might have been caught by surprise!

However, it was the April 24 meeting that caught my attention. The title said "revised."

What the heck was "revised?" I heard that Councillors wanted all of the votes recorded and not just the ones that passed. Interesting. Perhaps that was why the Canal vote that Eddie lost was not recorded in the in camera Minutes as I Blogged the other day.

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

  • "accusations by CUPE Ontario president Sid Ryan that the city was using the strike to save dollars and balance the 2009 budget."

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!

ANSWER-- In 2008 there were only 4 new Local 543 members hired.

Halberstadt EH-Channel Video

For those who have not seen it yet.

Pass it on!

What Is Eddie’s Agenda

It should be clear now that Eddie treats Windsorites and Council in the same manner----as if we do not exist and do not matter. Only his opinion counts. Only he knows and no one else needs to be in the loop unless he chooses to allow it. Only he controls information because that gives him the power.

He took to heart what ex-Mayor Mike Hurst said years ago when Eddie was still a Councillor after Hurst introduced his Made-in-Windsor border solution
  • “Hurst said that as mayor his mandate is to look at the overall picture that will be of most benefit to the city.

    "Councillors don't have to do that but the mayor does," said Hurst.

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

  • “to develop and evaluate the policies and programs of the municipality.”

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:

  • “Please provide me forthwith with copies of all records exchanged amongst you, the City of Windsor, the Mayor's Office and the relevant Ontario and Canadian Government Departments in relation to the Government's infrastructure program over the last three months. I would appreciate receipt especially of all records from Minister Baird's office and that of the Prime Minister and from those who provided you the information so that the Star could quote:

    ---"Watson practically guaranteeing Ottawa's approval should Windsor submit a marina-canal application"

    ---"He said his reason for wanting to meet with the local politicians Friday was to point out that more than half of a preliminary list of Windsor projects submitted Wednesday -- $96 million of a $182 million total -- were "questionable" in terms of meeting Ottawa's funding approval criteria"

    ---Watson said, adding Windsor could expect to receive approval for at least $150 million in stimulus project approval."

    I assume that you will provide these documents voluntarily and immediately. As you are aware, I can obtain these records through an Access To Information request through the various Government Departments and by a Windsor MFOI application by requesting the records that were sent to you.

    Will you please advise when I may see these materials.

    I intend to BLOG this email to you and your response.”

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?