Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, May 22, 2009

E1F1 Flu Pandemic Spreading; May Claim Another Victim

There is no need to panic. There is no need to wear a surgical mask to cover your mouth to prevent the germs from invading your body. There is no need to wash your hands to prevent the infection from spreading.

There are only two known people so far who have caught the E1F1 flu and both have vanished from public view after soundly being defeated. There is a great fear however that a third victim may catch it as well and suffer the same fate!

The WHO and CDC may be stumped but the BLOGMEISTER is not. I have recognized that there is a common denominator. The Eddie Francis flu only seems to strike Ontario Progressive Conservative or Federal Conservative leaders so members of the public need not be alarmed. Only those who are in charge federally or who might want to lead the party in Ontario and who think that Eddie should be a team member need take extreme precautions.

Does anyone remember former PC Premier Ernie Eves. I thought not.
  • “Mayor Eddie Francis is rumoured to be using the municipal election as a "tune-up" for the provincial election next fall in which he would run as a star candidate for the Progressive Conservatives, rival mayoral candidate Dr. David Wonham is charging…

    He [Francis] said he hasn't even been approached recently by any political party because people know he is committed to the mayor's job.

    The same rumours -- that he was going to "pick up and go" -- were circulated before the last election, he said. Francis was reported to have been courted by then-premier Ernie Eves, then-finance minister Janet Ecker and other Tories to run for the party in Windsor-St. Clair.”

John Tory….how many times did this man lose out as Leader of the Ontario PC Party until he got dumped. He too came to Windsor to court the Mayor

  • “It is "scandalous" that the provincial government has not done more to help Windsor through the city's current economic crisis, Ontario PC Leader John Tory said Thursday.

    Tory, who did not visit Windsor during the provincial election campaign in the fall, came to the city Thursday to call for border improvements and economic aid for the area, as he faces mounting criticism of his leadership…

    Tory met with Mayor Eddie Francis for about an hour, speaking mostly about the border. But Tory said he also asked Francis about his plans for three years down the line, given that the mayor has publicly said he will not run for a third term. Tory noted that Conservatives closed the gap on Liberals locally during the recent provincial election.

    Francis, however, said he has too much work ahead of him in Windsor to think about what he will do after giving up the mayor's chair. "

Is it purely co-incidence? I think not.

Now it is starting all over again and the Federal Conservative leader, Stephen Harper may be the next victim. Fortunately, the Conservatives do have some smart “medical” people on their team who are prepared to try any tactic to save their Leader’s political life. They are hoping and praying that the cure for the E1N1 flu is to mount a vicious attack on the new Liberal leader, IGGY. In this way, come the next election, he will have been discredited the way they did it with former Liberal leader Dion. Unfortunately, this tactic will not work and will only build up IGGY's immunity against E1F1.

The Conservatives can only hope that the Prime Minister has NOT been infected yet because there is no known cure. His failure to come to Windsor last Friday and his trip to Kenora instead may have saved his political life.

Here are the symptoms of the E1F1 flu for all to see:

  •  Eddie’s move from a home in the East End to one in South Windsor. A shrewd move knowing he could not beat Joe Comartin or Dwight Duncan who would run if Joe retired but that he could easily beat the NDP’s Brian Masse if he could get the Ward 1 vote out.
  •  Eddie being Windsor’s saviour on the border file so that people from all parties can vote for him on a non-partisan basis so he can continue the fight on our behalf in Ottawa
  •  Brian’s realization that he was used on Bill C-3 and made to look the fool by his failure to get any of the significant amendments that Eddie requested. Most were ruled “inadmissible.”
  •  Brian’s lukewarm support of Greenlink, being more concerned that people get a considerable amount of expropriation money if the DRIC Road was to be built. He could figue out that Greenlink was a loser
  •  Brian finally understanding the significance of the move after being Eddie’s friend for so long. He finally understood that his seat was in the cross-hairs and so criticized the canal money being offered to Windsor although he did not mention Eddie by name, yet. Brian is a survivor and has the ability to smell out political campaign issues before most people
  •  The enemies Watson and Francis being newest and bestest friends with Watson grading Eddie as A+
  •  Watson helping out Eddie on getting canal money
  •  Minister John Baird virtually ready to pay an exorbitant amount for Brighton Beach and suggesting that there was still canal money available
  •  Eddie praising the Feds and taking every opportunity to slam the Province
  •  Local Liberals claiming that Eddie’s denouncing of the Provincial Liberals means that he wants a Cabinet position in a Federal Conservative Government. After all, the public does not distinguish between Federal and Provincial Liberals.

However, dear reader, the symptom above all symptoms is the Windsor Star Editorial last Saturday:

  • “Border file---Paul Martin's promise”

PAUL MARTIN!!! What has he got to do with anything? He has not been Prime Minister for eons and has had no involvement in the border file for years now. Why the heck was his name dragged into the debate again? Why wasn’t Harper named?

Of course, the obvious explanation is that this is a lead-in to an attack on the Provincial Liberals. However, it will also turn subsequently into an attack on IGGY and the Federal Liberals for not standing up for Windsor as Eddie and the Conservatives are doing. As Gord gushed recently:

  • "Fortunately, the Stephen Harper government, with Essex MP Jeff Watson a surprisingly effective point man, appears willing to overlook Windsor's schoolyard squabbles.

    Pathologically loathed in Windsor, this regime has forked over a fortune to rescue Ford's Essex Engine plant, has given Windsor everything it asked for on the border file and has coughed up billions to save Chrysler and GM operations critical to this area.

Do you see what I mean. As the Star wrote at the end of its Editorial to re-inforce the point:

  • “Still, the words of Paul Martin continue to haunt us. "Fundamentally, this is going to have to be a decision that is made in the best interest of the people of Windsor," he said on that March day in 2004.

    Why isn't the goal the same in May 2009?”

Take that Sandra Pupatello or Joyce Zuk if you are thinking in running in Windsor West. The Star with their Ottawa connections knows there will be an election soon, probably in the fall, with the IGGY attacks and the billions of infrastructure dollars being handed out across Canada.

Don’t you dare think of running for the Liberals because you might split the Ward 1 vote and allow Brian to sneak back in. The Star will crucify you starting now. The federal election campaign has started for Eddie already.

You can just feel the Eminence Greasie’s presence masterminding all of this.

Would Harper and Francis be a good pair? Hardly since they are both micro-managers, want absolute control and are ultra-secretive. Moreover, Eddie would want Harper's good friend's position of Transport Canada Minister so he can be the infrastructure goodies distributor to get name recognition across Canada quickly. It would be a conflict from Day 1 since Eddie’s objective would be to take over Harper’s job!

Unfortunately, the E1F1 flu may have damaged the common sense side of Harper’s brain and not permitted Harper to understand that he is being suckered in. Eddie won’t dare run unless he knows he has a slamdunk. He also knows he would be destroyed in Ottawa by his own bureaucracy who would play the game of tolerating him by overloading him with details so he could not make decisions and the Opposition who would "blame" him for everything in Question Period.

Eddie just wants money from Ottawa, nothing else. It pays well being Windsor’s Mayor and without opposition too. Unless Harper learns this quickly, he will be another E1F1 flu Conservative victim.

Ignore The CKLW Canal Poll

I hope that the people at CKLW do tell their listeners that their poll results cannot be trusted on this issue. It would only be fair. Moreover, they should remove the results from their website in my opinion.

While I know they are "W" strap-on wearers, I am sure that they do not want to mislead their listeners and online visitors.

I received a phone call around 6:45 AM from a reader. (She must really think I BLOG 24 hours a day!). She was all upset. She had voted at 6:10 AM and then saw the results at 6:30. They bore no relationship to each other.

At 6:10 AM, 22,000 people or 88% voted NO to the canal while at 6:30 AM only about 2300 or 44% said NO.

Fortunately she had printed her screen when she voted and at her subsequent visit.

Being the curious person I am, I wrote to CKLW:

  • "A reader of my BLOG voted on the CKLW canal poll. She took a picture of the screen when she voted and then took a copy of the screen subsequently.

    I would appreciate if you would explain the difference between the 2 screen shots and how a huge negative vote was transformed into a positive vote for the canal.

    I would appreciate your comments by 10:30 AM so that I might post your response on my BLOG"

At 11:30, I recieved this reply

  • "Mr. Arditti,

    Thank you for your e-mail. After doing some checking into this situation we believe there was an error in our result totaling software, as this amount of voting has never occurred before. It seemed to add another digit to the equation. Our morning person dropped the extra digit, added in the phone results to the overall equation and posted the final results. Even though the poll is not scientific and is only posted for interest sake, we have contacted out software provider in an effort to ensure this type of computer error doesn’t occur again. Thank you for bringing this to our attention and I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you."

Interesting, the morning person just dropped the digit. I guess he could not believe that so many people would ever vote against the Mayor's concept.

So I wrote back:

  • "Don't you think you ought to tell your listeners that the poll results are suspect and not true!"

And got this reply:

  • "Mr. Arditti,

    Thank you for your concern.

    Although I assume that our listeners understand that the news poll is not scientific and only meant to be an opinion poll of station listeners, you may be correct and we should occasionally remind listeners of this fact.

    Please remember that this error was made by our software provider, was not done intentionally and was corrected.

    Thank you again for your input."

It is clear that the poll results in this case anyway are questionable. Just thought you might want to know!

Art In The Park

Oh, oh. Things are getting serious now. Someone is using the "B" Word now.

You know how negatively our Mayor reacts to the finger being pointed to him! Nothing is ever his fault if something goes wrong. It is the fault of Council. After all, he is merely one vote!

Everyone has attacked Sid Ryan for using Windsor to set an example for other municipalities. Is Eddie being used the same way to help out other cities' management. I have suggested this idea before in the fight between the Feds and the Province over funding percentages. Do not fight in Toronto because the stakes are too big but use Windsor as the precedent.

I saw this on the CUPE Toronto site:

Don't you wish that you knew what was really going on. I sure do!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

It's ON: Eddie Vs. Brian

Nothing like making complete jackasses out of the 7 Council members who voted to put Eddie's canal vision back on the wish list for infrastructure money.

Remember how local Conservative MP begged Council to put the canal project on the list:
  • "several councillors later said was Watson practically guaranteeing Ottawa's approval should Windsor submit a marina-canal application."

Then we saw in the Star on May 11 so Eddie could have another chance:

  • "Cities tardy with wish lists
    With extension, Windsor can still get federal infrastructure cash for canal, MP insists

    Windsor, with its $48-million canal project, is not alone in getting an extension on the deadline to apply for federal stimulus funding, says local Conservative MP Jeff Watson.

    Toronto and many smaller communities across the country also didn't get their wish lists in by the May 1 deadline and are being given more time to make their pitches for some of Ottawa's $4-billion infrastructure program, said Watson (C--Essex).

    "We are in a brief period of flexibility of getting applications in," he said. "I would suggest that's probably down to hours and days, rather than weeks."

Of course, NDPers Brian and Joe started asking embarrassing questions which could have required the Auditor General to come in and investigate and perhaps cause problems for Minister Baird.

However, true to form, our Mayor got his way as Councillors flip-flopped but unfortunately too late it seems:

  • "Is it too late for downtown canal application?

    It may be too late for Windsor to apply for federal economic stimulus money to pay for its $48-million canal project, said local MP Jeff Watson (C — Essex).

    “We are two and a half weeks past the deadline and I'm not optimistic the application will be accepted or added to the process to be examined,” Watson said Wednesday.

    Accepting the city’s canal bid 20 days after the May 1 deadline for funds under Ottawa’s $4-billion infrastructure program could open a pandora's box.

    The infrastructure program is overseen by Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities John Baird who can decide whether to accept the canal bid.

    But, a spokesman for Baird said Wednesday they will at least look at the proposal.

    “If and when we get a formal request, we will consider it according to the eligibility criteria and on its own merits,” said Chris Day.

    If deemed to be too late or fails to meet program qualifications, there is also a chance the canal may get bumped to another federal funding program, Day said.

    He listed eight projects submitted by Windsor as including improvements to the airports lands, city centre streetscaping, Walker-Wyandotte intersection improvements, city sewer rehabilitation and upgrades to the Lou Romano sewage treatment plant."

Wait a minute, only 8 projects....I thought we had submitted 22. What happened to the other 14? From virtually guaranteed, Watson is now saying

  • "I'm not optimistic the application will be accepted."

Wow, Watson and Baird are off the hook since Windsor was too late ie the Mayor and Administration screwed up. We do not want a scandal for the Conservatives while they are giving out pre-election goodies: "a pandora's box" of problems that would need explaining.

What I find amazing though is that Watson did not run right down to the Council meeting and tell them they were too late. He knew. Why did he not save them from looking stupid? After all, he came before and virtually guaranteed its acceptance earlier. He did not hesitate to go to that Council meeting.

Of course we can try and guess the reality. Watson has probably been told that Eddie may be the Conservative candidate to run against Brian Masse and to do whatever he can to help him. I wonder who Eddie's campaign manager might be too.

Watson did his job at the infamous "Susan Boyle Halberstadt" Council meeting but went too far and caused the Minister problems.

The new vote took place at Council without the "too late" information being given to Councillors so Eddie has his $50M project on the table for which "the canal may get bumped to another federal funding program." Or more likely, the canal will be killed since it was "too late" but that $50M will be found to fund the reasons why Eddie wanted the $50M in the first place as I had predicted long ago!

This whole canal project and the way it was handled should cause grave concern! Oh my goodness, it apparently required the Mayor to go on the radio to take this action:

  • "On Wednesday the mayor called into Lynne Martin's morning show on AM800 to defend himself against what he described as a widespread rumour he will somehow personally benefit from construction of the canal."

    Yes I will benefit," Mayor Francis said, tongue in cheek, going on to list the ways in which Windsor would be a more successful city if a canal is dug parallel to Riverside Drive.

    That's not exactly the kind of personal benefit the rumour-mongers were inferring, but never mind."

Oh dear. Has it come to this in Windsor? The Mayor has to justify to us that he is honest.

Brian Masse can smell an issue that he can use for his re-election campaign. He was in the paper today saying for the third time:

  • "Local MP Brian Masse (NDP — Windsor West) said the latest twist around the canal project and lack of clarity around the deadline is another sign of disfunction around the stimulus program.

    He previously expressed concerns projects were being rushed for approval too quickly without due diligence and would leave a legacy of debt to taxpayers.

    “This shouldn't t be a three-ring circus,” said Masse.

    “It’s an attempt to stimulate the economy, but its being done fast and loose with no clarity of what or when anything is eligible. This is another example that strikes at the lack of accountability and proper process in place.”

Brian used the word "circus" deliberately. He knows what a circus Council is with its ringmaster, the Mayor. He knows the word "Clowncil."

Brian knows that the election campaign has started already! No wonder he was never a strong supporter of Greenlink! If Eddie keeps up the fight with CUPE as well, Brian will have so many workers to help him out that it will be a shoo-in for him!

BLOGEXCLUSIVE: Whose Car Got Ticketed

It takes a brave police officer to write out a ticket for this car.

How long it will take for him to make the $100K club?

I wonder if there is a defence that the owner had to park this way because of the CUPE/City strike.

I am told that the ticket given was for $15 for an expired meter. Apparently the one way violation is a provincial offence which would be issued by Provincial Offences Officers who are currently on strike.

By the way is this symbolic of a City moving in the wrong direction?

DRTP And The Michigan Central Depot

Are OMERS' Michael Nobrega and CP RAIL still "paying their dues?" Could it possibly be that DRTP, their joint partnership, is helping out Canada another time as part of Canada's pressure play on the Bridge Company?

This map from the HUB conference is why Canada is so interested in taking over the Ambassador Bridge. It is the key component in Canada's central gateway and corridor into the US. I mentioned this idea before but now it is so much clearer. Every little pressure point helps to allow Canada to achieve its goal.

If I am right, the Ambassador Bridge lawsuit should be fascinating as people are called to testify under oath. I'll be able to find out how good my conspiracy theories are. And they are looking better and better as time goes on.

Transport Canada again described the Ambassador Bridge in these terms at the conference:
  • Windsor-Detroit is busiest border crossing in North America:
    –Handles $126 billion (2006 Canadian dollars) of two-way surface trade:
    35% of total Canada-United States (U.S.) trade, by value;
    40% of Ontario-U.S. trade; and
    over 60% of Ontario-Michigan Trade

    Ambassador Bridge alone handles 99% of Windsor-Detroit truck traffic
    –Jobs in region and across U.S. dependent on this border crossing:
    Indiana –150, 000 Michigan –220,000
    Texas –520,000 California –830,000.

Obviously, this was designed for US presentations since no Canadian jobs were mentioned!

Oh Lord is DRTP back in the picture again? Does this help explain the demonization of Matty Moroun for the past few months in Detroit and now in Windsor? Don't forget that the Star was a big DRTP supporter at one time.

The modus operandi for the DRTP doublestack rail tunnel is so similar to the DRTP truck tunnel project that failed. Work in a stealth fashion to get supporters, try to get as many governments as possible onside, promise to do an environmental assessment and ask for a ton of money from the Canadian Government but not the US it seems to help finance it. Before it was BIF money, now there has to be some infrastructure project where cash can be allocated

Read this story about the doublestack rail tunnel being proposed by DRTP. It is the first time that I have seen it linked to Moroun's depot:

  • "Mich. Central Station’s fate uncertain as new int’l rail tunnel proposal stews
    By Justin Miller

    DETROIT — A proposal to build a new railroad tunnel linking Michigan with Canada is making waves in a part of the city already grappling with the abandoned Michigan Central Station, the long-abandoned towering railroad station Detroit officials want torn down, historic preservations want to save and others see as a potential development opportunity and possible stop on an international high-speed rail line.

    The Canadian Pacific Railway is asking the Canadian government to fund a $400 million project to build a rail tunnel adjacent to the twin tunnel that emerges in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood between Bagley and Fort streets. Canadian Pacific wants the new rail tunnel to accommodate tall double-stacked rail cars that can’t pass through the existing Michigan Central Rail Tunnel built in 1910.

    Marge Byington, government affairs director for the Detroit River Tunnel Partnership, which owns and operates the existing tunnels, said a new tunnel portal in Detroit would emerge further away from the river than the current opening because the new underground crossing would be deeper and necessitate a longer approach to the surface.

    As such, the new opening and tracks would likely be located in the middle of the current rail yard behind Michigan Central Station.

    There’s no problem with the depot being there. The depot can be there. In fact [the proposed new tunnel portal] doesn’t infringe on any part of the depot,” Byington said, adding that the land in question is owned by the partnership. [NOTE: Methinks the lady doth depot too much!]

    Michigan Central Station is controlled by billionaire Matty Moroun, who also owns the Ambassador Bridge a mile away. CenTra Inc., a holding company of Moroun’s, said it supports a new rail tunnel but believes the proposed location may not work.

    “We’ve been supportive of the concept of a double-stack rail tunnel to benefit the region … but of course the devil is in the details. There are other alignments that certainly work better,” said CenTra’s government relations director, Mickey Blashfield.

    The depot may not be an issue by the time a new tunnel and rail tracks are built as the Detroit City Council voted in April to destroy the historic depot by using federal stimulus money and then charge Moroun for the cost.

    But in an effort to make the depot a resource to the city instead of a drag, Moroun’s company submitted a proposal to the federal government’s General Services Administration. The GSA is seeking to rent 50,000 square feet for 15 years on at least three acres of land for the Department of Homeland Security in Detroit. It’s unknown what precise deal Moroun’s company is offering GSA, but Blashfield said it is to rent the depot.

    However, if GSA takes up Moroun’s offer it will still leave a great deal of the building unoccupied, leaving room, potentially, for a reopened transportation facility at the site. Blashfield said the company would be open to making the depot into a multi-modal station accommodating high-speed rail and buses.

    If a new freight tunnel is constructed, the old one could carry passenger rail from Detroit to Windsor, joining planned high-speed rail corridors connecting Chicago to Detroit in the United States and Windsor to Quebec City in Canada. The two could hypothetically be joined to create international rail service like the one offered by Amtrak between Seattle and Vancouver.

    Neighborhood impact

    Not to be forgotten in the dealings between foreign governments and a billionaire businessman is the community that would absorb the new rail line and tunnel: Mexicantown.

    The neighborhood adjacent to Corktown is already criss-crossed with rail lines that emerge from the existing freight tunnel and is bisected by roadways that connect to the Ambassador Bridge located on Mexicantown’s riverfront.

    Adding another tunnel and rail tracks to the infrastructure mix in the neighborhood could harm the area, said Mexicantown Community Development Corporation Vice Chairwoman Fern Espino.

    “If it’s going to be what it sounds like … where a train comes up there, there would be train noise and there would be noise pollution for the neighborhood,” Espino said, adding that this would be less of a problem for Mexicantown than if the extra rail capacity would reduce truck traffic from loading facilities that would congest and pollute the neighborhood, home to North America’s busiest international border crossing.

    On the upside, the Detroit River Tunnel Partnership’s Byington said construction would create 1,700 construction jobs and an unspecified number of jobs to maintain the tunnels. However, Espino questioned whether these jobs would benefit the neighborhood.

    “If it’s 1,700 jobs and it’s for our economic benefit there, where Mexicantown would actually benefit, then hooray,” Espino said. “But if it’s 1,700 jobs for someone else to benefit and its detrimental to the environment and detrimental to health, then no.”

    Byington said the Detroit River Tunnel Partnership will submit its environmental assessment to U.S. and Canadian officials within the next few months so that the proposal can start being evaluated by relevant authorities on both sides of the border."

The most interesting line in the story and perhaps the real reason why someone wanted the Depot torn down

  • "The depot may not be an issue by the time a new tunnel and rail tracks as the Detroit City Council voted in April to destroy the historic depot."

The outcry about Moroun and the Depot had nothing to do with the "blight" reasons that were given! That was just the cover story to work up the masses and get some media coverage.

You now know that I have been suspicious of the role of DRTP given the report that I found that knocked out a DRTP-type project a long time ago. Yet it came back as a serious competitor to the Bridge Company for a new crossing. I still do not know if it was part of Canada's plan to terrorize Moroun into selling out but it would not surprise me if it was true.

Now DRTP is seeking money from Canada through one of its owners, CP Rail:

  • "The Canadian Pacific Railway is seeking funding from the federal government to build a new tunnel under the Detroit River that can accommodate taller trains, a senior company official said Wednesday.

    The $400-million border-crossing tunnel would run parallel to the current one, Christopher Jones, CP Rail's manager of infrastructure, told the Hub '09 International Multimodal Conference in Windsor.

    "We need government support through the (Ontario-Quebec Continental) Gateway initiative to make it happen," he said."

Is this for real----maybe yes, maybe no. Unfortunately the Transport Minister may not have been given the correct script and said this:

  • federal Transportation Minister John Baird, who was also at Wednesday's conference in Windsor, said it is not on his priority list."

It gets very confusing then doesn't it. If there is no interest by the Feds and several years ago CP said they had no interest in a doublestack rail tunnel, why is Moroun being attacked on a project that may never go anywhere? Why would CP be so eager to build a new tunnel while at the same time they are selling out most of their interest in DRTP back to OMERS. That hardly makes sense.

Is this CP Rail's contribution, is this how they are paying their dues? But for what?

Here is part of a speech given by Mr. Nobrega in 2006 that may shed some light on this:

  • "We invested $175 million in the Detroit River Tunnel Project, a rail tunnel between Windsor and Detroit. CP Rail, one of Canada’s two continental railroads, is our partner. We are committed to investing another $300 million of equity to significantly expand this corridor to create a one-billion-dollar trade gateway asset."

Here is what he said recently:

  • "We are currently invested at the Windsor / Detroit border crossing where one of the largest infrastructure programs must take place in order to protect hundreds of thousands of jobs.

    OMERS has paid its dues and will continue to invest in the Province of Ontario and the rest of Canada."

Hmmm what project in Windsor would cost a billion dollars? What could be "one of the largest infrastructure programs. Certainly NOT the doublestack rail tunnel. OMERS would be an equity partner for $300 and the balance would probably come from other pension plans and Sovereign funds as debt perhaps.

This sounds like the kind of structure of P3 deals that I have read about in which Macquarie was a world leader and now one can see the trouble they are in.

Hey, wasn't OMERS opening up an office in London to attract money for big projects. Didn't Nobrega want to be a Super Fund and have the Government force pension plans to give him their money to invest presumably in infrastructure. OMERS is a huge infrastructure investor who "has paid its dues."

Oh my, I think I may be on to something now. I wrote in another BLOG:

  • "Why would OMERS have invested in a DRTP disaster? I don't think they did. Was DRTP just a placeholder for the future? Nobrega’s speech was very specific and for a reason in my opinion. He reminded the former Minister of Energy and now the Minister of Finance that OMERS is owed one for something that it did.

    The questions remain. Is OMERS going to get the DRIC project financing or have they figured out that it is not going to move forward now? Was the speech nothing more than saying that OMERS needs its pay-back too for trying perhaps to help squeeze out Moroun."

Could it be that several years ago, OMERS was lining itself up for the new bridge project as the finance partner for a P3 deal? Did OMERS/CP Rail expect to get that deal and was Nobrega reminding Spanky and others of that fact? Does that mean that there was an arrangement made years ago about what would happen here?

Is DRIC then nothing more than a gigantic sham? Again, the real Canadian intention being to build a Government owned twinned bridge after Moroun was forced to sell out?

I suspect that the provincial government insider who used to give Gord Henderson all of that useful information for his column knows the answer to that. He seemed to know so much. If only Gord had given us a clue who he/she was we could pose some insightful questions.

Frankly, I think Gord knows the answer too. I think if you, dear reader, go back and read his border columns, you will discover the answer. I am sure that he must have given us some hints along the way.

As for me, I have 7 years of Henderson columns to read! The solution is in there, somewhere.

PS. Please note how Southwest Detroit is being hammered, one project at a time. DIFT, DRIC and now DRTP! Separate environmental assessments without looking at the overall impact on that area of the city. More SW Detroiters who could be impacted negatively. More hits to the Detroit tax base.

Is anyone concerned about this and has outed the Governments on this? Ken Cockrel should be leading the charge on this given the Resolution he introduced years ago. Why is he so silent?

I believe that the Bridge Company has done so in its lawsuit. But most Windsorites won't know about that. The Star did not publish any information about this part of the case.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

It's All Garbage

So the City and CUPE are going back to negotiate? Why? What happened? Did Ken Lewenza's letter assist---I help you on the canal and you talk to CUPE again? Did someone finally realize that Art in the Park is coming up soon and the grass needs cutting?

It's pretty clear that few Windsorites really understand what the City/CUPE strike is all about. I include myself as one of them.

Oh I understand that it is supposedly about post retirment benefits for new hires. And that means that it really is about Eddie's desire to reduce the City's rarely discussed but huge liability for these benefits that has made S&P so antsy about the City's finances. That could result in a disastrous fall in the City's bond rating. Oh my investors will NOT be pleased.

However that the City with the able assistance of the Windsor Star is leading up to applying for a major injunction against CUPE just in time for the Red Bull air races. We cannot have that major feather in Eddie's cap spoiled now can we. In fact, it was suggested to me that an injunction might be obtained before, for Art in the Park. That keeps Red Bull's name out of the picture.

Clearly, the basis for the injunction will be garbage especially when outside contractors start doing the work when the CUPE outside workers refuse to respond to public health and safety concerns. Wasn't that what the front page Star story the other day was all about? Oh and it will not be Eddie who says there is a health risk so he cannot be blamed. It will either be the Medical Officer of Health or the Ministry of the Environment who takes the hit for Eddie.

How many garbage ads have been run by the City giving us "new information." I think the most important information that is "new" is the number of weeks of the strike. At a half page each plus smaller ads, how much has the Windsor Star earned in revenues so far? Or rather, how much have taxpayers paid out?

You can just feel it escalating to the point where a Judge is going to be asked to take drastic action against CUPE:
  • Residents are fearful that the city's rat population is growing out of control as garbage piles up in the third week of a strike by CUPE workers
  • Mayor will rebate any tax savings to citizens
  • Windsor's construction companies are crying foul after striking municipal workers began stepping up picketing Wednesday by targeting city road, sewer and water construction sites.

    "They're taking bread off our table now," said Dwayne Dawson, president of the Heavy Construction Association of Windsor and Essex County.
  • pickets have slowed vehicles at Spitfire hockey games at the WFCU Centre, Transit Windsor buses, trucks entering the Lou Romano sewage treatment plant and golfers at Roseland Golf Course.
  • Officials at Enwin and WUC, both arms-length operations of the city, were not happy to be dragged into the contract fight between CUPE strikers and the city
  • ""It's not lost on us that the residents have been impacted, that the services that have been impacted are services that our residents deserve and depend on."

    Francis said the city will roll out new plans to deal with the mounting refuse -- garbage collection is one of many city services put on hold -- in coming weeks. He wouldn't say what those plans include.
  • The self-fulfilling prophecy---"As the garbage continues to pile up and dandelions grow on parks and playgrounds, Francis expressed concern Tuesday that things could get heated on picket lines.

    "It's a concern that I've lived with from the very first day of the strike," said Francis.

    "I would hope that we will continue to respect each other, that we agree to disagree without being disagreeable and that there will be no escalation.
  • Gord Henderson's car being damaged
  • A striking outside city worker said he suffered serious injuries after a confrontation with a private contractor who was trying to mow grass on Kildare Road, according to a union statement and a police report.
  • CUPE workers have been ordered by the Superior Court of Justice to limit delaying people passing picket lines to five minutes.

    The City of Windsor received the injunction Friday against picketing members of CUPE Locals 82 and 543.

    In a news release city solicitor George Wilkki said that "picketers have been creating significant delays at a number of locations recently, but under the new injunction they will not be allowed to prevent individuals from entering municipal work sites for more than five minutes."
  • The when did you stop beating your spouse story---
    Union denies dirty tricks
    Trash firm harassed

    The harassment started when people threw beer bottles at Rob Delicata's trucks a few weeks ago.

    It escalated Friday when someone spread a box of nails on the road leading to his waste disposal service. One of his employees got a flat tire entering the Pillette Transfer Station. Then, when Delicata arrived at work Sunday morning, he found a mound of trash piled up sometime overnight in front of the gates to the station.
  • The strikers scare kids story and don't blame me for the extra police and police boat----There was a heavy police presence at the walk along the river as well as at festival plaza. At any given time during the 10 a.m. walk from the Ambassador Bridge to festival plaza, there were about 20 uniformed and plain clothed police officers within the vicinity of the mayor, his wife, city staff and Coun. Jo-anne Gignac.

    The overwhelming police presence was a decision made by the police chief with public safety in mind, Mayor Eddie Francis said...

    The mayor said he thought the picketers recognized the birthday celebration was a day for families and children."
  • The anonymous "threats"---"Unfortunately, regrettably, there have been a lot of messages posted on Facebook and web sites," Francis said alluding to threats without being specific.

    "I know our workers. I hope that won't be the case. It's something the community cannot afford.

Of course, CUPE is being about as dumb as it can be! Is this the first time CUPE has ever been on strike in Canada? It sure seems that way.

Has CUPE Windsor been abandoned by its National and Ontario HQs? Who is providing them with legal and strategic advice or have they been left to hang in the wind? If that is the case, I might wonder if some members might decide that another union might be more helpful, say the CAW who might need some members with big salaries?

I am shocked that the Union has been completely unable to communicate what the issues are all about from its perspective to the members of the public to try and gain support. Oh I heard that the Star won't print their side of the story but surely there are other ways to get their message out. 1,000 plus CUPE members could blanket the City in a day with their version of why there is the strike in a pamphlet for citizens.

Does the public know that "part-time" Councillors are eligible for post retirement benefits after only three terms in office as an example?

Has the City ever presented a formal offer to the Union or is all that the City has done is write what they want to do on their website? If no offer has been made, is this bargaining in good faith? However, my understanding is that one of the CUPE Presidents has committed to take any offer to the membership. Why hasn't the City called the bluff or is there more involved than meets the eye?

My guess is that the City is going to get the visible items---garbage, grass-cutting and pot hole fixing---resolved first through Court injunctions. Then there is little public pressure to settle with the Union. City Hall seems to be functioning with the mangers working and their overtime pay should help make them happy.

Do NOT be surprised to see the City back off of some of its concessions. CUPE by that time will have no public support and its members on strike for so long that they will take anything to get back to work.

PS. The strike could get more interesting now. CUPE claims that the City has discontinued the services of Elite and has hired the security people from out-of-area. I wonder why that was done. Is it true about the stories that they might be here until August or is that a pressure ploy to scare strikers?

Survey Results

Survey is completed and not a big surprise considering my last survey on what you thought of the job that Councillors were doing.

The vast majority of respondents do not think much of Council I am afraid. I had suggested that 5 Councillors appeared likely to stand up to the Mayor finally and perform their function under the Municipal Act. I asked simply who would be the sixth one.

One third of you obviously felt that the remaining five had no guts. In fact, if we add in “All the Councillors will fall back into line after the Star hammers them” almost exactly half of you have no respect whatsoever for Councillors.

Most of those who chose a Councillor felt that Councillor Gignac would be the one. She has shown flashes of independence but then falls back into line. No one Councillor, even Councillor Gignac, received an overwhelming endorsement from respondents. They were all pretty much bunched in together.

It actually is fortunate that I finished the survey when I did or I might have had to cancel it. Take a look at this photo. Do you see what I mean:

I thought that Councillor Mom with her views on the Indian Road homes and her thoughts on the canal as expressed on her BLOG was taking a position that some might argue was different. It seems though that she is back in line.

Check out Chris Schnurr’s BLOG where he said:
  • “Tonight, I witnessed both Councillor Postma, Mayor Eddie Francis as well as Norma Coleman heading up together to a 5th floor meeting room at Victoria Park Place to give a canal presentation to a select group of downtown residents, apparently arranged at the last minute.

    I wonder how many other “private” presentations have been made?

    Is this the public consultation process the councillor has agreed to?

    While it’s great that a semblance of seeking public feedback has begun, this hardly constitutes consulting the “citizens of Windsor at large.”

I am certain that the Councillor knows this already. Guess who was to speak at Council on Tuesday:

  • “DELEGATIONS: (5 minutes maximum)
    Regarding 2009 Capital Budget:

    - Dave Cooke, Chair, Canal Feasibility Study Team”

In fact one BLOGGER in town claims

  • "Council needs to vote for the Canal Plan Tuesday."

Wow, "needs to." That sounds to me like desperation talking. The sky will fall if it is not done. Ram it through. Don't even let people know that a vote is going to be taken in the first place on the project. Who needs to hear from citizens as Delegations on the spending of their money.

When I am psoting this I do not know what the results will be. I hope that Councillor Postma and her colleagues refuse Mr. Cooke permission to speak on a project that Council has not approved already several times. How many times more must this be brought forward!

Considering what she has written, if Councillor Postman wishes to have any credibility, she needed to demand an open and transparent process before the canal sees the light of day again in front of Council:

  • "Let me be very clear on my position with the Canal. I cannot vote in favour of a project that was not only submitted to the Federal government but also shown to a columnist from the Windsor Star before it was submitted to me. I represent the area, am in tune with my residents, live close by the area and deserve to see the report before the Feds or a reporter! The residents deserve to see it at the same time and so do the citizens of Windsor at large.”

Leaving "INVISIBLE" Money On The Table (Part 2)

Amazing, amazing.

In fact, we have around $260M of projects forwarded for Infrastructure money. I do not see any money left on the table.

Here is "Additional Information regarding Capital Budget Meeting - from the City Treasurer."

We can all rest easy now and remember to read London newspapers about Windsor matters



What's The Canal Truth Now

UPDATE--- the information I was given about the document "City Centre West Urban Village - Review of Planning Rationale" is incorrect. According to Steve Vlachodimos of the City

  • "I have been advised that the document you reference...was also posted last Monday, May 11th, shortly after 12 noon."

I apologize for my mistake.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009



What's The Canal Truth Now

UPDATE--- the information I was given about the document "City Centre West Urban Village - Review of Planning Rationale" is incorrect. According to Steve Vlachodimos of the City
  • "I have been advised that the document you reference...was also posted last Monday, May 11th, shortly after 12 noon."

I apologize for my mistake.

What's The Canal Truth Now

UPDATE--- the information I was given about the document "City Centre West Urban Village - Review of Planning Rationale" is incorrect. According to Steve Vlachodimos of the City
  • "I have been advised that the document you reference...was also posted last Monday, May 11th, shortly after 12 noon."
I apologize for my mistake.

However, the canal materials were supposedly sent to the Feds 6 weeks before the end of April meeting or around mid-March.

Do you notice the date of "the introductory letter by Canal Feasibility Study Team Chairman, Dave Cooke?" It is March 27.

That is a week or two later!

So how did the Feds get the materials before it was completed?

Councillors and the citizens of Windsor need to know the truth!

Leaving "INVISIBLE" Money On The Table

No I am not talking about how much someone should tip to the staff after a meal. I am talking about how much money was or was not left on the table when supposedly the Senior Levels are ready to throw it at us just for the asking.

Actually I think we have a huge margin of projects that cannot be funded. Over $100M worth. Except how do I know if I am right or wrong?

You remember that this matter was the subject of controversy after Council rejected putting forward Eddie's canal vision because of his arrognace in not letting Council know the details about it but sending it to the Feds. Councillors also wanted the public to have a chance to review and discuss the concept.

You would think that this would be an easy matter to figure out. But it is not. In fact, I am having a hard time knowing what is true and what is not in this City to be quite honest.

I have the solution however. If you really want to understand what is happening in Windsor, do not read the Windsor Star or listen to the local media. Instead, you need to follow closely the out of town media when our local politicians are interviewed. Just read on.

Listen to the video above at the 1:50 mark to understand what I mean:

  • Councillor Jones answers a question about leaving money on the table and says that sometimes that is a good thing. I agree with his comment wholeheartedly and this was one of them.
  • Then Eddie talks about walking away from $96M of federal funding. I assume that it is the amount on the table based on what MP Jeff Watson said---you know the Conservative backbencher and Eddie's newset and bestest buddy.
  • Junior is then shown talking about the money but states no amount and that they need to reconvene their meeting.
  • Finally Eddie says his approach is to give them all the projects and let the Senior Levels make the decisions.

If that is Eddie's approach, then how can there be any funding left unused. Many projects were put forward. All that happened was that he was having a childish hissy-fit because his pet project was not being advanced.

Do you see what I mean? There was so much confusion in just a short time in one meeting. Then of course over the next few days we read the following quotes from different stories which compunded my confusion even more:

  • "I've never been so completely, completely perplexed. In the last minute, council left $30 million on the table," said Coun. Ken Lewenza Jr.
  • [Jeff Watson] 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. Those criteria, in addition to having to be completed by March 2011, include having to have a focus on job creation, helping reposition the local economy coming out of the recession and being projects not normally contemplated. Almost $80 million of Windsor's original submission covered numerous road, sewer and water projects culled from the city's five-year capital spending plan that council was told were unlikely to find favour with the Ottawa stimulus plan bureaucrats.
  • "We don't want to see you leave any dollars behind," Watson said, adding Windsor could expect to receive approval for at least $150 million in stimulus project approval, with only one- third of that borne by the city.”
  • "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. "All we've done is remove the opportunity for federal government funding," he said
  • “Watson on Friday indicated Windsor could be eligible for up to $150 million in stimulus-funded projects, all of which must be completed by March 2011, and he urged local politicians "not to leave any dollars on the table." Watson said projects, to be eligible, should be designed to help "reposition" economies for the post-recession period and must not already be included on a municipality's capital funding list, such as road and sewer projects.”
  • “Francis said Monday the $186-million list Windsor submitted probably contains only about $90 million in eligible projects. He said Windsorites should ask their councillors why the canal project was not included on the wish list, particularly given the fact that every project Ottawa approves must still be vetted, discussed and voted on by council.”

Total confusion. Total chaos. A total disgrace if we did not get every penny to which we are entitled. Someone needs to resign or be fired if we come up short. Simple as that!

Remember that number of $186M. It is very important. Remember also the number of $90M. If we did leave $96M, there is one one person who can be blamed because it was his job to ensure that Administration brought forward projects that met the Government guidelines. Poor Eddie just admitted his failure. Remember too $96M for the real eye-opener.

That is the Eddie Francis Windsor story. I am sure that the Ccouncillors' heads were hanging in shame and that they are probably in fear that they have lost $96M of it!


Now I want you to read the Eddie Francis London story in an out of town newspaper and something the Star for some reason did not pick up. It is not the same one as here. This is Eddie Francis the big-time Mayor talking, not the Mayor of some small-town.

  • "Opposition: Tories to slow on infrastructure spending

    Thu, May 14, 2009

    OTTAWA — The Conservative government is losing valuable time during the construction season by moving at a snail’s pace on infrastructure spending, say opposition MPs.

    Transport and Infrastructure Minister John Baird was on the hot seat yesterday when he testified before a committee of MPs studying the federal government’s $4-billion, two-year infrastructure fund.

    “Now that we are well into May, we have already missed a significant part of this year’s construction season,” said Liberal MP Martha Hall Findlay. “How many projects have actually now put shovels to ground?”

    Baird refused to answer. The minister said there were a number of projects underway in B.C. and Nova Scotia, as well as a community centre in Huntsville, Ont., that is “getting going.” He promised a full list in June.

    But Liberals say that’s not quick enough.

    The budget passed months ago to get stimulus cash out the door quickly, said Hall Findlay. “This money has not flowed,” she said.

    Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis said he was “skeptical” when the federal program was announced, but in his 10 years in local politics he said he has never seen provincial or federal officials act so quickly.

    Windsor, which has the highest unemployment rate in Canada, applied for $260 million in federal funds for 22 projects ranging from road and sewer projects to land servicing and improvements to the airport.

    “We desperately need these projects,” said Francis, noting his city has been devastated by job losses. “They are critical for us to at least have some sort of hope coming out of this, that there will be a local economy to talk about.”

    In Ontario, the federal government has received 2,746 applications from 425 municipalities worth approximately $6 billion (the federal share of the funding would be $2 billion). "

How did the value of the projects escalate by $74M. Not a word here about money left on the table. He talked about the boring road and sewer projects as projects that he wanted done that we desperately need yet Watson said they were probably NOT going to be approved. Who is telling the truth?

Strange though, no talk about a canal either.

And I loved his praise of the Feds which should be expected but of the Province too? Wow, that is a shocker after all of the negative stories and Editorials here about Sandra and Dwight and especailly the Premier. Is that all for local consumption only and Eddie does not really mean it!

If you do the math, Watson told us that we are in line for $150M. Eddie says that we have asked for $260M worth of projects. That margin of safety is $110M. No mention of only $90M worth of projects that will be accepted. Where is money left on the table?

Oh I know....we need to put in the $48M canal project into our Capital Budget. By the time it is done and the numbers audited properly, the real cost will have doubled.

To exactly $96M!

I Double Dare You To Donate To Citizens For Jobs Now

I may as well get the issue out there since it is an unspoken one already. You are thinking about it. You are torn. You want to give money but you cannot afford to jeopardize your Company's future either. I have seen this issue with other citizen grassroots movements that became too successful and a possible threat: STOPDRTP and WeACT are two prime examples.

Now there is a third

How will Citizens For Jobs Now get any financial support now?

If you give a donation today, will you find yourself smeared in the Windsor Star tomorrow! And cut off from any City work for the next few years. Is that the message being conveyed?

I am certain everyone saw the first nice front page story in the Star about CFJN and applauded their efforts.
  • Citizens for jobs -- now
    Group wants Windsor back to work

    John Paul Corrent is tired of hearing bad news about Windsor.

    "We've been inundated with daily bad news -- planned layoffs, planned closures, shift reductions, people losing their jobs, people leaving the city," says the Windsor lawyer. "I was just totally disgusted with what's going on and seeing nothing being done about it."

    So, Corrent decided to do something to help his hometown. Along with a team of organizers, he has formed a group called Citizens for Jobs Now. The group opened its doors to the public Monday.

    Citizens for Jobs Now aims to "create jobs and secure the economic growth of the Windsor Essex region by holding all levels of government to account for immediate action on infrastructure projects, corridor and border issues," according to the group's mission statement.

    Simply put, the group wants to get Windsorites back to work.”

What a noble purpose. Who could possibly object to that? Who could consider the group as a threat?


Only two days later the smear starts:

  • “Jobs group seeks industry cash

    A new community group lobbying to get major infrastructure projects underway in the city says its funding has come from citizens, small businesses and unions…

    But Citizens for Jobs Now does have its eyes on larger sums from other sources, Corrent says…

    Dan Stamper, a spokesman for the Ambassador Bridge, and Sol Furer of the Essex-Kent Building Trades Council say they have not donated to the campaign, and Jim Lyons of the Heavy Construction Association of Windsor says the association's board was meeting with Citizens for Jobs Now Wednesday night.”

Interesting who the people were who were asked the question about whether they contributed isn’t it? Was it mere curiosity on the Star’s part or more?

Oh, oh…is the Bridge Company behind this group? Why they are Windsor’s enemy and now they are playing the race card according to the Star. Never mind that it is called “Environmental Justice” in the US, smear them! And also go after anyone who may think that their project might make some sense.

How about another person mentioned in the Star story. Remember what Jim Lyons said about the DRIC Road, the road that our Mayor and Council do not want:

  • "Lyons says criticism of Windsor-Essex Parkway misses the point
    Windsor Construction Association head claims construction timing “could not be better

    Criticism of the recently unveiled Windsor-Essex Parkway plan misses the point — that this new transportation link addresses a critical need, says the Windsor Construction Association (WCA).

    “Quite honestly, the timing for this area and the local manufacturing industry could not be any better — they want a solution tomorrow because of the pressures they are facing,” explains Jim Lyons, executive director, WCA…

    “We have been waiting for so long in this area to have a link from a 400-series highway to the border,” says Lyons. “We have felt abandoned here and this is a major investment at $1.6 billion for Windsor-Essex…”

    Lyons says when rumours began to swirl about the parkway announcement his phone started to ring because of job seekers.

    “Local guys who have been laid off were calling me to ask how they can get into our industry and on this (parkway) job,” says Lyons."

How about Sol Furer, how does he fit in. I do not think he is a Greeenlink supporter is he:

  • DRIC's '12,000' jobs sway builders

    WINDSOR -- Citing the promise of 12,000 person years of employment, representatives of the region's "hungry" construction industry urged city politicians Thursday to give up the fight for GreenLink and support the proposed $1.6-billion Windsor-Essex Parkway project.

    "Today's a monumental day," said Jim Lyons, executive director of the Heavy Construction Association of Windsor, which represents 70 companies and thousands of workers…

    Sol Furer, president of the Essex and Kent Counties Building and Construction Trades Council, agreed. "It sounds like the city didn't get everything it wanted. But, it's a good proposal and it's time to get a shovel in the ground. Certainly, the economy of Windsor needs it."

    Furer, whose organization represents 5,000 skilled tradesmen and general labourers, said the four groups that would most benefit from the project include general labourers, carpenters, operator engineers and truck drivers.

    "With a fixed border, it can only help to spur investment in our region."

Jim and Sol, some people have loooooong memories or good databases.

Oh pshaw, you say. There is the BLOGMEISTER and another one of his conspiracy theories. That could not possibly happen in our City. Why if work is to be done, it has to be tendered out under the City’s Purchasing By-law and everyone has an equal shot at it whether they contributed or not.

Sure, dear reader, and you still believe in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy!

Just read the inocuous sounding Agenda Item 2 at Council on Tuesday. It's as harmless as Eddie's infamous Agenda Item #5:

  • “Steps Required to Complete Projects Under the Provincial/Federal Infrastructure Stimulus and Proposed Accelerated Capital Budget Program.”

If passed, we have just eliminated the Purchasing By-law for certain services and all of the safe-guards built in to prevent abuse!

Oh the excuses are good ones. They always are. Yet that is precisely why you have rules and follow them. Just watch how easy it is to make up the reasons why the safe-guards need to be circumvented:

  • “The timelines for the of stimulus funded projects are very aggressive and will require substantial resources including consultants, professional services and contract/temporary municipal employees to allow for the best chance for successful completion of the many projects. This is one of the main goals of the stimulus programs.

    The issues the City of Windsor faces in getting projects moving forward and completed as quickly as possible are:
    1) Timelines/Deadlines/Risks
    2) Retaining consultants, professional services and contract staff
    3) Land Acquisition
    4) Bylaw Amendments (i.e. Noise)
    5) Coordination to minimize disruption
    6) Communication/Discussions and buy-in from stakeholders

Can you believe it, they even threw in the border work to support what our Mayor had to say and the strike too. Of course, who would dare ask City employees to work harder:

  • “In addition, the City's Accelerated Capital Budget funding is proposing to allocate $512 million of funding by year-end 2011. With the proposed work on the border crossing initiatives, the deadline relates to completing many of these works prior to the border project being fully involved in order to allow contractor availability and allow residents and the City to operate with less construction detours and improved infrastructure…

    The continuing work stoppage will also impact construction depending on its duration…

    Staffing levels will also be an issue as current staff levels, along with the fairly healthy proportion of junior staff we currently have, are barely adequate to keep up with existing workloads.”

So far, the proposal is only for consultants, professional services and contract staff. Note as well, that Sole Sourcing of contracts will be removed as well from Council oversight:

  • “Sole Sourcing may also be approved, if justified under current Purchasing by-law Sole Source criteria, again, removing pre-approval by Council, as it relates to the $150,000.00 threshold until Dec 31, 2011.”

Do you understand the facts of life now Mr. Lyons and Mr. Furer or do I have to spell it out further t o you?

Just like with the East end arena where you were afraid to stand up and be counted and with the City's ability to schedule or not work in a given fiscal year, get into line. You have been warned. The gutting of the Purchasing by-law and awarding sole source contracts can easily be done for your members’ services next. The excuses are already there and Council will have set this “temporary” precedent after approving what Administration wants.

Your groups do not want to become the enemy like the Ambassador Bridge Company. Oh you strayed once over Greenlink but you can now be forgiven if you fall into line and stay there. Or else.

Psst, all is not lost. Here’s the way around the concern and how you can still donate to Citizens for Jobs NOW. From

  • Bank Deposit:

    You can make a direct deposit to “Citizens for Jobs NOW” at any TD Canada Trust Branch; donations may be anonymous.

Just do not let anyone know that I mentioned it to you.

There that was an easy way to send in your money...if you dare!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Windsor Star Border Journalism

I am not sure if I have ever read such irresponsible journalism as that dished out by the Windsor Star both in reporting the lawsuit by the Ambassador Bridge Company “Bridge lawsuit alleges race a factor in DRIC plan” and then the follow-up story “Bridge's race gambit called 'ludicrous.”

I understand what the Star’s mission is and who has given them their marching orders but at the least in their news stories they might pretend to be a little bit more objective. Opinions are to be found in columns and Editorials.

I was so disgusted with the second Star story that I posted a comment on their website that was critical of the newspaper and the story. The only people asked to comment in the Star’s second story were their opponents. Shall we call that one-sided journalism. Actually, I wonder if there is another and better term for this kind of journalism. I will have to check it out.

“Race” what a pejorative term to use. But of course it was deliberate. They could have used instead “environmental justice” which is the American legal theory and phrase used in the lawsuit materials but that would not accomplish the Star’s objectives. Of course, the concept itself is much broader than "race."

Do you know how many times the Bridge Company Complaint used the word “race:” ZERO.

Do you know how many times the Bridge Company Complaint used the words “environmental justice:” THIRTY-ONE

Just so you know what the term means, here is how it is described in the US Environmental Protection Agency website:
  • “Environmental Justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. EPA has this goal for all communities and persons across this Nation. It will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.”

It is a serious matter in the US. We are just not used to it being identified so directly. It makes Canadians nervous sicne we are so open-minded in this country:

  • “Early in 1990, the Congressional Black Caucus, a bipartisan coalition of academic, social scientists and political activists met with EPA officials to discuss their findings that environmental risk was higher for minority and low-income populations. They alleged that EPA's inspections were not addressing their communities' needs. In response, the EPA Administrator created the Environmental Equity Workgroup in July 1990 to address the allegation that "racial minority and low-income populations bear a higher environmental risk burden than the general population."

    The Workgroup produced a report, "Reducing Risk in All Communities", in June 1992 that supported the allegation and made ten recommendations for addressing the problem.”

Some more information:

  • “On Feb 11, 1994, President Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 12898, "Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations", to focus federal attention on the environmental and human health conditions of minority and low-income populations with the goal of achieving environmental protection for all communities. The Order directed federal agencies to develop environmental justice strategies to help federal agencies address disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of their programs on minority and low-income populations. The order is also intended to promote nondiscrimination in federal programs that affect human health and the environment."

Perhaps for the Star it is not an issue but it may be for the people in Delray, hundreds of whom will have to move their homes and businesses if the DRIC Bridge is built there.

Heck we are OK now so why worry about the Americans. Yet, I can remember so vividly how our West End activists and politicos were going to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their “family” in Delray:

  • “Activists and politicians from the west-end community of Sandwich are vowing to work hand-in-hand with their southwest Detroit counterparts in Delray following a bus tour of the historic industrial community across the river.

    The two communities are hoping if they have a common voice on a preferred location for the next Windsor-Detroit border crossing, they will influence a binational government team assigned to select the best option.

    "We've said time and again to people over here, we consider this family," said Mary Ann Cuderman, leader of residents' truck watchdog group in Sandwich."

You have not heard very much of that for quite some time since Sandwich has supposedly been saved!

I remember the tough position that STOPDRTP was put in. We in STOPDRTP had to make a choice between stopping the fight and accepting parkland in South Windsor when ex-Mayor Hurst gave us his Made-In-Windsor solution or continuing to fight for people along the entire corridor, both north and south of E C Row. We made the right decision and chose to stand with everyone in Windsor and not be influenced by goodies!

Some of you have actually taken the trouble to read the copy of the Complaint that I posted I posted it on purpose for you to read so that you could form your own opinion expecting how the Star would cover the story. They did not disappoint me!

Battagello did tell us that the Complaint was 64 pages. Yet he could only identify one issue and missed out on the real point of what that allegation was about. It had nothing to do with Sandwich either:

  • “The Governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm, announced that the State of Michigan through MDOT would not allow the DRIC bridge to be located in any of the so-called Downriver areas of metropolitan Detroit which have a redominately middle class, white population.

    The only locations that were acceptable to the Governor’s office and MDOT were locations in the low income, minority populated Delray residential area of Southwest Detroit.”

Sandwich came up in a different context:

  • “Once the Brighton Beach location was unilaterally decreed by the Canadian DRIC Proponents, engineering would only allow construction that would land in the Delray neighborhood.

    In fact, the selection of the Delray neighborhood of Southwest Detroit was the inevitable result of the arbitrary and capricious decision of the US DRIC Proponents to yield to Canada’s preferred location for a new crossing at the Brighton Beach area of Ontario to protect the middle class, white community in Windsor, Ontario. Because a bridge can only be built so far across the Detroit River, the only feasible U.S. landing for a bridge with a predetermined landing at Brighton Beach, Ontario is the predominately low income, predominately minority community of Delray in Southwest Detroit.”

If you think this is fanciful, here is what the MoE review of DRIC says. It makes the case for the Bridge Company so nicely!

What really bothers me about the Star’s brand of journalism is that there were so many claims in that 64-page document and the Star did not deal with them. It certainly did not deal with the very serious allegations made against the Canadian government, which, if true, may cause a serious rift between the two countries to Canada’s detriment.

Let me give you a listing of some of the other claims that the Star forgot to tell its readers about:
  • a. FHWA acted arbitrarily, capriciously, and in violation of NEPA and the APA when it issued a ROD based on the Final EIS for the DRIC project;

  • b. FHWA acted arbitrarily, capriciously and in violation of Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act when it selected a preferred alternative for the DRIC project based on the Final EIS;

  • c. FHWA acted arbitrarily, capriciously and in violation of NHPA when it selected a palternative for the DRIC project based on the Final EIS;

  • d. FHWA acted arbitrarily, capriciously, and in violation of NEPA, Section 4(f) of the Transportation Act, NHPA, the APA, and applicable legal authorities on environmental justice when it failed to consider the combined or cumulative environmental consequences of the DRIC and DIFT projects and when it improperly delayed the DIFT EIS;

  • e. FHWA acted arbitrarily, capriciously, and in violation of NEPA, Section 4(f) of the Transportation Act, NEPA, the APA, and applicable legal authorities on environmental justice;

  • f. FHWA acted arbitrarily, capriciously, and in violation of NEPA, Section 4(f) of the Transportation Act, NEPA, the APA, and applicable legal authorities on environmental justice when it failed to consider the combined or cumulative environmental consequences of the DRIC project, the DIFT project, the twin Blue Water Bridges plaza expansion project, the Detroit and Windsor Tunnel plaza expansion project, and the two proposed new rail tunnels;

  • g. FHWA acted arbitrarily, capriciously, and in violation of NEPA, Section 4(f) of the Transportation Act, NEPA, the APA, and applicable legal authorities on environmental justice when it improperly delayed the DIFT EIS in order to approve the DRIC FEIS and not take into account the combined or cumulative effects of including the DIFT EIS in their analysis of the DRIC FEIS;

  • h. FHWA acted arbitrarily, capriciously, and in violation of NEPA when it approved the DRIC FEIS in light of the segmentation of environmental approvals orchestrated by FHWA itself;

  • i. FHWA acted arbitrarily, capriciously, and in violation of NEPA, the APA, and applicable legal authorities on environmental justice when it actively misled the low-income, minority residents of the Delray and Southwest Detroit community who will be directly, adversely and disproportionately affected by the DRIC project;

  • j. FHWA should have disqualified itself as lead agency for the DRIC EIS after it knew or should have known that Defendant Steele was acting as an advocate for the DRIC project rather than fulfilling his obligation of impartiality; and

  • k. FHWA should have disqualified itself as lead agency for the DRIC EIS after it discovered or should have discovered that members of the agency began acting as advocates for the DRIC project rather than fulfilling their obligations of

Issues are also raised amongst others about traffic studies and reduced volumes, stalling, Governor Granholm’s actions, Canada’s role in unduly influencing the results and pressuring the US proponents, the serious harm to the Bridge Company and the diversion of traffic away from the quarter-billion dollar Ambassador Gateway Project which was designed to accommodate a second bridge.

Too bad that the vast majority of Windsorites will never know this based on Star Journalism. But then again, we know what the Star thinks its function really is:

  • "We did things that newspapers can do to bring about change, positive change. I think we got a lot of results this year and this now validates the results we got."