Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, May 29, 2009

BLOGEXCLUSIVE: Why CUPE Is Still Fighting



I wonder if those trees and yellow ribbons will still be there during the Red Bull air races. I was told that the yellow ribbons were for "our ceremony tying ribbons on the trees for our Windsor Boys & Girls on peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan."

Someone emailed me and said I was "obviously pro-union, or pro-labour." That must be how that person is taking what I have been writing about concerning the CITY/CUPE strike. I found that humourous. My purpose is to disclose information that is not readily available for you to consider, dear reader. I am not picking sides.

To be direct, I was quite anti-CUPE at the beginning since the City's side seemed so reasonable to me. However, as time went on, I began to feel and still do that I really have not been told the true state of affairs by either side. So I am doing my own digging.

I decided to visit with some picketers this morning so I was out at about 7:30 AM as their lines were just setting up.

I had been given some shocking emails about matters that I had not read about in the Star and wondered why not. The information if true would certainly give a totally different perspective of what this Strike was all about.

I wanted to talk to some strikers to see what the mood was.

A couple of comments. There is no doubt that the anyone who wanted to run against the Mayor if he had the nerve to run for a third term would have hundreds of votes. The personal animosity to the Mayor is probably the glue that binds the CUPE strikers together now.

The CUPE members are hurting financially I am sure but I did not hear anyone being prepared to back off. It has become very personal to them.

The workers also agree that their CUPE leadership has done a miserable job in PR and in not getting their story across to the public. It is one public relations disaster after another for them. That will just make it so much easier for CAW to take them over when Senior steps in. Why just look at the CAW help at the playing fields which will turn into another hopeless CUPE fiasco!

What can I say about the Windsor Star that I have not said before. I should like them after all. They are the reason I started Blogging in the first place. They in effect created the political BLOGs in town that arose because of their poor coverage of events in this City. Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think.

I do not have a problem with them taking an Editorial position---that is their job. In my view however, in a one newspaper town, they at least have the obligation to present the news fairly so that their readers can make an informed decision about events.





Do you see what I mean? If that photo and headline is not designed to inflame passions against anyone helping CUPE out then what is? Moreover, to me, it makes it appear as if CAW is helping CUPE too for the benefit of CUPE readers for what may happen down the road if my speculation is correct.

I have had my own personal fight with the Star over the coverage of STOPDRTP while the Star covered the border file and was a DRTP booster. I am sure that you know what my view of the Star is on the border file coverage today.

Can the City/CUPE strike coverage be as one-sided as that offered by the Star! But then again as we know:

  • “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."

In other words, the ends justify the means.

I wonder if the Star writers would still write what they do if they knew some of the other facts that have not been reported as you shall read in this BLOG. That would be interesting.

Let me give some examples.

WHO IS THE NEW STAR PHOTOGRAPHER, "HANDOUT"

Checkout these photos. (I blurred the faces in one of them)



What a strange name for a person---Handout.

Could it be that this was a Freudian slip? Could it be that whoever took the pictures did so in order to hand them out to the media to achieve a political purpose?

Isn’t it remarkable that the recipient was the Star and that the Star published so many of them when their quality was not especially good? Don’t you find it odd that the Star published the photos along with one by one of its photographers who was named without telling us who took them.

Why not? Who was this citizen who just happened to capture these photos?

Might it change your mind about the story if you knew? Could it be part of some anti-CUPE PR campaign perhaps? Or was it a civic-minded citizen wanting the facts out there for all to see?

You need to consider the presence of mind though of the person who took the photos in a very stressful situation and who then decided to send them to the Star. The identity of that person is an important part of the story that the Star has not disclosed.

IS THIS NEGOTIATING CITY OF WINDSOR-STYLE

Here is an email sent out by a Windsorite to a Councillor and the response.

Obviously the person who sent out the email is not a happy camper but it is the Councillor response that is staggering and another huge shock! To be direct, why was CUPE ever negotiating. It was capitulation or nothing it appeared.

That is why it was a huge shock to learn that the Mayor and the CUPE Presidents all of a sudden said that negoitiations were back on. I will reveal some more about that shortly too but read this first.

ORIGINAL EMAIL

As elected officials the City of Windsor, the Mayor and Council are pathetic examples of spineless worms. A child in kindergarten has more sense than you people.

Obviously you do not have the wherewithall to negotiate contracts nor the sense to adminster a city. To allow this strike to go on for this long is a clear example of incompetence and childish behaviour.

You all should be ashamed to call yourselves public representatives. You are doing nothing to advance the quality of life in this city instead you have decided to engage in a protracted war with your fellow citizens.

This is another example why the City of Windsor is considered the asshole of Canada - not because of our geographical location but by the people who adminster this city.

There are no leaders among you, just mindless sheep happy to have their turn to slop up their paycheques at the public trough but unwilling to care about those who fill the trough.

You do not listen to the people who elected you but spin off on your own agendas and disregard public opinion. None of you have the gumption to stand up and say enough is enough - why would you?

If you are so certain you are bargaining in good faith and the city's position is fair, then send the issue to arbratration.

Certainly I can do little but vent my frustration and pray for the day I can leave this city for good.

In the meantime we have suspended our property tax payments and will continue to do so while we are not receiving any services, furthermore I am looking forward to filing a law suit against the city if you try and reclaim any payments not made during this strike.

Our family will not attend the Red Bull, or Summer Fest or any other activity the city is engaged in while this strike continues.

Boy, it sure wasn't difficult for you people to slap an 86% water tax, or give city management a healthy raise but when it comes to those who can ill afford any time off work you don't give a damn.

I sincerely hope (and if I can help in any way) that none of you people are re-elected.

RESPONSE

Wow strong words. I can only speak for myself on the strike because my views differ greatly from the majority of council. First of all there have been 4 of us continually voting and speaking out against the majority. It is not fair to paint all of us with the same brush. It is hard for people to see when some of us are vocal with regard to the strike when the Star does not print our comments or edits what I say so it sounds like I am a part of the majority. Monday I was fully prepared to support binding arbitration until I heard from our negotiating team.

Throughout this process Council has handcuffed our team and not allowed them to truly negotiate because we have not given them the money or freedom to make decisions on their own. We have forced them to call off negotiations and come back to us for direction. We have offered nothing more than zero and a stubborn will, to do away with Post Retirement Benefits despite the fact that we currently have a hiring freeze. Monday night the team came to us with the latest offer from Local 82 and asked us to finally have faith in their ability to work with the Union leadership to settle this strike. They went through their experiences in great detail. Arbitration was debated and I would have been the lone vote on it. The team begged us to allow them to finish the job they started and for the first time in 7 weeks council listened. I felt encouraged for the first time in 7 weeks. We allowed them full control of the negotiations - no more having to run to us for approval and for the first time in 7 weeks we allowed them the freedom to make financial decisions. I voted for that motion because I truly feel they can get this settled. However if they do not have a settlement or word that they have continued talks by Monday I will once again bring up arbitration.

I wish people understood that the strike has caused even further divisions amongst council. I do not talk to any of my colleagues and do not read that rag of a newspaper called the Star. When we meet Mondays tension is very thick and every week someone gets into a shouting match with someone on the opposite side of the issue. I feel like I have been banging my head against a brick wall for months now and no one listens at council. For what it's worth I want this strike settled and I have been saying that since it has started but am not being heard by majority of council in fact four us have (names of Councillors omitted). I do go to work, sit on my butt and debate issues to collect a paycheque but I do work. I work more than 40 hours a week and feel I earn every penny I am paid. I do stand up for what I believe is right and I do shout when necessary and go against the grain (unfortunately quite a bit).

THE STAIRWELL DEAL TO SETTLE THE STRIKE THAT NEVER WAS

This is a startling disclosure that I have never seen reported in the Star before. If true, the strike should be over by now. In fact, some of the strikers I talked with today were so confident that everything was going to be settled that they said good-bye to their picket line colleagues.

I just could not believe what I was reading given the total break-down in the talks and the continued strike What is going on?

I have edited the email I received slightly.

  • A friend of mine e-mailed your web site to me today, and I wanted to let you know that I enjoyed the read. You are missing a few details on the strikers picketing the Mayor’s street. I thought I’d fill in some answers for you. The pictures that the Star published were taken by [Name of person] on her cell/blackberry, which should explain the blurriness. The Star must have shown up after we left and took the picture of the police car in the driveway. They cropped their picture on the web after one of my friends called and told them they had photographed the Mayor’s house number on the garage.

    There were actually 27 strikers that arrived on Huntington that morning but we strolled down the street in small groups, a few of us stopped and talked about the strike to neighbours, who were curious about us being there. By the time I had parked and walked a couple of blocks, Eddie was outside and on his cell phone. He drove his car [description of driving style deleted] out of his driveway and along the street, but must have changed his mind about running off again. He pulled into a neighbour’s driveway, backed out and drove back up the street towards our picket captain, Patrick, and slammed on his breaks. We had no idea that his 2-year old daughter was in the car. Nobody saw her. I think Eddie was very disappointed that no one crowded around his car, or touched his car, or even reacted to his temper tantrum. Eddie told Patrick that it was pretty sad when the mayor’s house has to be picketed (speaking about himself in the 3rd person). Patrick agreed that yes, it was sad we had to picket the mayor’s street, then Eddie floored it again and off he went. Those were the only words exchanged. There was no name-calling or shouting from anyone.

    Meanwhile, Michelle had run out of the house [description of her actions]. [Three of our female strikers] were so upset that they got back in their car and drove further up the street. [Further description of her actions deleted]. Apparently Michelle had called her 800 A.M. radio station where she hosts an experts’ show, and I think she also does movie reviews. Anyway, the reporter arrived about ten minutes after we did, and sat in her car watching us strolling along. She eventually conducted a very short interview with Patrick asking him why there were 100 picketers on the street. Patrick advised there were 27 of us, and we were out for a nice morning walk, which she recorded. We stayed all of 20 minutes at the most, got in our cars, and drove back to City Hall.

    In retrospect, the Huntington visit was a major mistake in judgment, and instinctively many of us felt very uncomfortable, however most of us feel uncomfortable picketing period. This was what the strike committee had come up with, thinking that Eddie, and several other Councillors would be embarrassed if we brought the strike home for their neighbours to see. Talk about way-over-the-top reaction by the Mayor and his wife. A “mob mentality”? Marching? We were a group consisting of clerks and social workers ooooing and ahhhhhing the houses and gardens around us. Eddie obviously felt comfortable leaving his wife alone in the house without his “protection”, and the first phone call Michelle made was to the radio station. One police car, an after-thought I’m sure, arrived ten minutes after we left. By the time we drove back to City Hall, everybody knew that the Mayor was mad and why.

    That afternoon, I understood why teams had been sent to the Mayor’s street and three anti-union Councillors’ streets. An information session for both locals was presented by Jean Fox and Jim Woods. We were informed that the Mayor had a “secret meeting” in the stairwell of City Hall, with both Jean and Jim, which was witnessed by [Name of two Councillors]. The Mayor explained that his head was spinning and that the strike had to be settled. He offered post-retirement benefits extended for new hires until the age of 71, a $2,000 lump sum payment in the first year, followed by a 2.5% raise in the second year and 2.5 % in the third year….. Plus, if they agreed on a four-year contract, then 3% in the last year. Both Presidents agreed that it was a good place to start, and agreed to return to the table and put an end to the strike. A press conference had been set up, where both Presidents attended and the Mayor made the announcement that he would be contacting the conciliator to advise they were going back to the table. Jim Woods assured both memberships that he would not leave the table until an Agreement had been reached.

    When Local 82’s negotiating team met with the conciliator on the Wednesday, Jim advised him of the Mayor’s proposal. It was news to him, but he repeated the offer to the Management’s negotiating team. It was news to them too. Jim requested that the Management team contact the Mayor. The Mayor denied that he had made that offer. That was the start to the last negotiations, however Jim was determined that he was going to make these talks work. After 50 hours of negotiations, the Mayor brought everything to a stand-still again. However, Jim had requested arbitration but it wasn’t publicly rejected until the Mayor met with Council in another closed session.

    Since then, [Name of Councillor] has stated that the meeting in the stairwell did take place and those were the figures presented by the Mayor. [Name of Councillor] now admits that the meeting did take place in the stair-well; however the Mayor did not “discuss” any figures.

    Our picketing team had the Sunday and Monday off. Tuesday was our first day back, and that was the day we were sent out to Huntington. So, you were right on the mark, Ed. Indeed there was something else of which the public was not aware that may have warranted the Huntington visit. Sorry I was so long-winded. I hope you managed to sift through this."

Who is right, who is wrong? What is the truth? At the least, something for the traditional media, especially the Star, to pursue and tell us what is really going on.

Did You Read This


Some interesting stories out there

WHY WON'T THE FEDS ADMIT THE TRUTH

Finally, they were forced to admit the truth about the business run by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.
  • "The government wants to have the Crown corporation's nuclear reactor operations run by people in the business community, instead of bureaucrats...

    O'Brien said the government aren't "experts in the management of nuclear reactors"

Now if they could only admit that the Bridge Company can run our border crossing better than they can, we might actually get somewhere!

CAR 54 WHERE ARE YOU

This whole episode with the strikers at the Mayor's house is so strange to me. Consider this again:

  • "The CUPE members dispersed after about 20 minutes. A Windsor police sergeant arrived a few minutes later, only to find the strikers were gone."

One car, one officer only notwithstanding words like intimidate, disrespectful, disgusting, unnerved by the incident, worried for her children's well-being, I will protect it in the Star story. And it is the house of the Mayor who is also the head of the Police Services Board.

Compare with this story:

  • "Investigators said it appeared there was nothing suspicious about the death, but they were waiting for an autopsy today.

    Four police vehicles and two ambulances were sent to the 100 block of Langlois around 12:30 p.m. after getting a report of deceased person."

I wonder if it was Sgt. Brett Corey who arrived at the scene.

POLICE MONITORING

Speaking of Sgt. Brett Corey:

  • "Windsor police spokesman Sgt. Brett Corey said the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in 2002 that it is unlawful to picket the private residence of the executive of a corporation.

    Corey said Windsor police will continue to monitor the situation. Asked if the demonstrations are lawful, Corey said: "We're not certain anyone's in the clear at this stage of the game."

I must admit that I could not find a case that said what the spokesman said. I did find this case in 2002 that was a Supreme Court of Canada case that said:

  • "The Charter constitutionally enshrines essential values and principles widely recognized in Canada, and more generally, within Western democracies. Charter rights, based on a long process of historical and political development, constitute a fundamental element of the Canadian legal order upon the patriation of the Constitution. The Charter must thus be viewed as one of the guiding instruments in the development of Canadian law...

    the right to free expression that it enshrines is a fundamental Canadian value...

    Picketing, however defined, always involves expressive action. As such, it engages one of the highest constitutional values: freedom of expression, enshrined in s. 2(b) of the Charter. This Court’s jurisprudence establishes that both primary and secondary picketing are forms of expression..

    At this point we may usefully review what is caught by the rule that all picketing is legal absent tortious or criminal conduct. The answer is, a great deal. Picketing which breaches the criminal law or one of the specific torts like trespass, nuisance, intimidation, defamation or misrepresentation will be impermissible, regardless of where it occurs. Specific torts known to the law will catch most of the situations which are liable to take place in a labour dispute. In particular, the breadth of the torts of nuisance and defamation should permit control of most coercive picketing. Known torts will also protect property interests. They will not allow for intimidation, they will protect free access to private premises and thereby protect the right to use one’s property. Finally, rights arising out of contracts or business relationships also receive basic protection through the tort of inducing breach of contract...

    Pepsi-Cola should only be allowed to initiate injunction proceedings where it has been subjected to a tort or a crime – not where it has merely been the target of peaceful secondary picketing...

    With regard to the demonstration outside the homes of Pepsi-Cola’s management personnel, we agree with the Court of Appeal that the injunction was well-founded, since the conduct was tortious. As Cameron J. A. stated, at pp. 243-44:

    What occurred at the homes in the present case did not constitute peaceful picketing. Indeed it did not so much constitute picketing as such (though it took the outward form thereof), as it amounted to disorderly conduct accompanied by threats of harm to the resident employees of the company in an effort to have them refrain from doing what they had every right to do, namely come and go as they wished for whatever purpose. Chief among these purposes at the time in question was doing the work assigned to them by the company in consequence of the strike and lockout. That being so, the union can have no complaint over the restraint of this picketing. The actions of the striking employees amounted to intimidation, not of the company but of its other employees, which as noted earlier was actionable at the instance of the company. Their actions also amounted to a private nuisance."

I would suggest that Windsor Police get an definitive opinion. We would not want to see people get charged for the wrong reason.

HOW IS DRTP TREATED BY OMERS

I really would like to know considering:

  • "OMERS Administration Corp, one of Canada's biggest pension-fund managers, will likely adjust its asset mix as of 2010 to an even split between public and private markets, after favoring the former since about 2002.

    OMERS Chief Executive Michael Nobrega told Reuters in an exclusive interview that the shift would be minimal, and will follow a long run of private market investments outperforming public markets.

    Currently the weighting puts public market investments at some 57 percent of the mix, with private market investment at 43 percent.

    "We may tweak that to make it closer to 50-50," Nobrega said."

IS SEAN O'DELL LISTENING YET

  • "Mr. Horr [Robert G. Horr III, Thousand Islands Bridge Authority executive director] said most bridges in the Great Lakes region have seen a decrease in commercial traffic owing to the national economic downturn.

    More recently, he said, the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit saw a huge decrease in commercial traffic because of the struggling auto industry.

    Commercial traffic at the Ambassador Bridge dropped by 25.5 percentin March and April compared with the same months last year. "

WHERE IS THE 1,000 PAGE MANUAL

I wonder what is really inside the binder

  • "The 1,000-page contingency plan for operating the city during the strike by municipal workers has been off limits to city councillors because of fears the information will be leaked to strikers, says Coun. Drew Dilkens.

    The 10 councillors have been refused access to a massive binder that contains management’s responsibilities to provide essential city services and protect city assets...

    Mayor Eddie Francis, who has a copy, paraded the binder around to the media just days prior to the strike to suggest management was well-prepared for a work stoppage.

    Councillors were handed a copy of the plan’s table of contents and a short summary, Dilkens said."

Here is why I asked the question:

  • "A spokeswoman for the ministry [of the Environment] said the order followed "numerous attempts" to have the municipality voluntarily implement a garbage strike contingency plan drafted by Windsor and submitted to the province the week after the CUPE strike began April 15."

And this:

  • "The city's original contingency plan filed with the ministry identifies seven locations where, if the plan were implemented, residents would be allowed to take their residential garbage during the labour dispute: Ford test track, Memorial and Mic Mac parks, the downtown parking lot at University Street and Bruce Avenue and the Adstoll, Riverside and South Windsor arenas.

    Francis said that contingency plan was something "put together very quickly" following the ministry's earlier order to remove the mound of garbage illegally dumped outside the city's waste transfer station off Central Avenue early in the strike."

The way I read this the 1,000 page manual had nothing in it about garbage. What an obvious lack of planning if true.

No wonder we could have this conflict:

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis told reporters after a three-hour secret council meeting Monday night that Windsor's medical officer of health had assured the public that the situation was fine. But Heimann on Tuesday told The Star he was siding with the environment ministry's order.

    "I've never said that everything is fine. The question the ministry asked was, 'Is this a potential health hazard?' and I have to say, yes, it is," he said."

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Flying Bull





video


I hope that Detroit's Mayor Bing chooses never to deal with us on the Tunnel deal even though the Tunnel deal is still in his new budget! It looks as if he is not going to do so.

This BLOG was written a while back but I have not posted it until now waiting to see what Detroit's new Mayor wants to do.

However, the Tunnel file still bugs me and our Mayor's refusal to provide information is an insult to the electorate. If he will not give timely information to Councillors, what hope do mere citizens have? Because of that, I have to spend time preparing a brief for the Privacy Commission for my Appeal to get information from Infrastructure Ontario.

Check out the video and try and understand what our Mayor is saying re values. I am not sure that I understand what he is saying in this video. He had an appraisal done after all. The issue re annual revenues is important since after 2020, the City would get the money. I am shocked he did not have that number at his fingertips.

Here is another instance of the irony of life. On the same day that the ex-Mayor of Detroit left jail, the Star reported that it looks like the City of Detroit has no interest in dealing with Windsor on whatever it is the transaction was going to be with respect to the Tunnel revenues.

It looks as if Detroit wants to lump together the various revenue streams including the Tunnel into one package and to offer it to one private enterprise operator for $250 million. Presumably, although I do not know, that is not something that Eddie wants to do. Who knows though… with all of the infrastructure money pouring into Windsor, he might consider that we ought to invest in a P3 enterprise rather than fix roads and sewers.

I just do not understand why the Mayor cannot be happy and thank his lucky stars that he was able to get out of this deal, one that I have never yet understood. Take the bows for Red Bull and forget about this exercise in entrepreneurship with taxpayer money.

The Province may well be putting up the millions in sponsorship money for the Red Bull race as a back-stop anyway. Who says that Ontario is a have-not Province? Who says that there is an economic crisis in this Province? We have millions of dollars for frivolities.

It seems to me that it makes a mockery of the so-called feud between the City and the Province over Greenlink/DRIC Road. As my Federal Government friends may now be forced to concede, the feud was nothing more than an attempt to get more money out of the Federal Government. How else to explain our Mayor’s new love affair with the Federal Government?

What a hissy fit our Mayor threw when the price of the Tunnel deal increased by $25M to $100M. He probably finally figured out that he was used by Detroit to increase the price as I suggested before. I am certain that he has a good idea who the private party might be who is interested in Detroit’s assets and it really bothers him since he would have to work with them as the Chair of the Tunnel Commission.

No, it is not the Bridge Company I would bet. It would be fun if it was since I would love to watch him working with Dan Stamper. However, I cannot believe that the Bridge Company would be that foolish to sink in $100 million into a declining asset, about five times what they offered before.

Cliff Sutts made the comment:
  • “I don't know what monetizing the tunnel means," he said in a telephone interview. "I have no idea how they intend to monetize the U.S. portion of the tunnel."

Our Mayor knew it meant however. Just listen to the video.

To be fair to Mr. Sutts, I do expect that the quote was taken out of context. He probably means that he did not understand the terms of the transaction just from the brief mention in the news media.

What an arrogant person our Mayor is. He knows it all. He is smarter than everyone:

  • “Mayor Eddie Francis questioned how Detroit arrived at a $100-million price tag for control of the U.S. side of the tunnel.

    Windsor has gone through an "exhaustive process" to arrive last year at a $75-million value, he said.”

Gee, perhaps Detroit went through a similar process and got a different number. I know that this is not possible at all because no one is more brilliant than our Mayor in business transactions as we can tell from a number that he is responsible for in our City.

Perhaps now the Mayor can release the appraisal report on the Tunnel to show us his brilliance. He has refused to do so to date. Mind you, the appraisal is not worth very much because as the Mayor told us in the video:

  • “an asset is worth whatever a willing buyer is prepared to buy, to pay for. That’s the worth to whoever the buyer is. That is the worth to whoever the seller is”

We know that the Bridge Company offered significantly less than Eddie and Alinda offered less as well. I suspect that the Federal Government didn’t put up their cash because they did not think that the value of the Tunnel was as high as Eddie stated and I am reasonably certain from the wording of the letter that Infrastructure Ontario sent to Windsor thay it was not going to put out $75 million. Do you think that is the reason why the Mayor has not produced that letter?

Clearly our Mayor is smarter than all of these people and he should prove to us why he is so much more intelligent as a business person.

I am well aware of how P3 investors price out a number of these transactions. What the Mayor did not understand however is that successful P3 operators are monopolists. In this case, the Tunnel would be facing competition from the Bridge Company and the new DRIC bridge which claimed that it would take away 25% of his business. He would not be able to price the tolls as if he was a P3 Monopolist. I would be very interested to find out whether the economics of his proposal would lead to severe financial problems.

Here are some troubling concerns as well about the deal.

 The Mayor did not know if the Tunnel was worth $100 million without looking at Detroit’s numbers. He must have had Detroit’s numbers if he was going to do the deal for $75 million. Those numbers would not have changed, only the cost to buy the Tunnel revenues would have increased by $25 million. It should have been easy enough for him to do the calculations. Was he telling us something however that is very serious. Surely after spending almost $2 million of taxpayer money on this transaction the Mayor is not telling us that he has not yet done the due diligence on Detroit’s numbers at all.
 He made a big point about talking about the only amount that Detroit would get until 2020 was the amount of $800,000 under the existing lease with Alinda. That obviously was part of the transaction under Eddie’s deal. That revenue would only be a tiny fraction of what would have had to have been paid to Infrastructure Ontario until 2020 as repayment of principal plus interest. That meant that interest would have to be capitalized and added onto the principal amount. Accordingly in 2020, a huge amount of would have to be added on to the debt owing to Infrastructure Ontario, making it well over $75 million that had to be repaid. At that time, the tolls would have to be gigantic to repay that debt, especially because the time remaining on the transaction would not be the full 40 years but 32 years.
 When asked about the annual revenues, the point that he made was that the revenues are paid to a private company. The reporter suggested $4-$6 million but our Mayor said that he would have to get them for the reporter. Please oh please tell me that this was the amnesia disease that affected our Mayor just during the scrum. Surely, he must have done his due diligence and knew exactly how much Detroit was getting for revenues even if some of it had to be paid to a private company. If not, how would he know what the transaction made sense or not.
 Finally, some sense of economic reality has hit home in this transaction:

“"That was the number we were prepared to pay back then, but economic conditions have changed considerably and are very different than five or six months ago."

It is a shame that the Mayor did not say that traffic volumes were down at the Tunnel. If he had, then I could have said:

“SEAN O’DELL IS WRONG. SEAN O’DELL IS WRONG.”

I note that the Mayor did not talk about the 25% reduction that the Tunnel may face if there was a new DRIC bridge. If he did, then it might well mean that it made no sense to enter into this transaction in the first place.

Do you see the inherent conflict of interest that the Mayor is in? As Chair of the Tunnel Commission, he ought to be opposed to the DRIC bridge because it will take away a good chunk of his business. However as Mayor, he has said that he is in favor of it because the Plaza will be located at Brighton Beach which the Federal Government will have to purchase from the City.

Logically, this file ought not to be pursued any further with more legal fees incurred. It ought to be closed. But when has logic prevailed in this City, especially if our Mayor wants to do a deal. At the least, we can be assured that the deal will not go above $75 million because of what the Mayor said and it must go significantly below. How that fits in with Detroit's needs, I have no idea.

Can it be said that Eddie's hissy fit is designed to scare away other investors by making it appear as if $100 million is an excessive amount for the Tunnel? Why not? If no one makes a bid, does that mean that the City of Detroit will have to come crawling back to Eddie to do a deal so that he can buy the Tunnel revenues for significantly less money?

Who will finance it then? Since he is now on such goods terms with the Province, I am sure that whoever found him the money for Red Bull will be able to convince Infrastructure Ontario to open up their pocketbooks to do the deal.

One thing I know for certain. There is a lot of Red Bull flying around the City right now.

Has CKLW Become the Strap-On "M" Station

Oh my, a chink in the armour. A naysayer now in the traditional media and from the strap-on "W" station. What a shock! Imagine, someone actually saying we do NOT need another crossing in Windsor and that the money ought to be used for other, more important projects.

Has everything been turned on its head, topsy-turvy? Has someone actually been reading my BLOG and understood what I have written. Does someone now have the courage to set it out for all to hear?

If one media person gets it, do the others now understand that Transport Canada Minister Baird has killed our border with no Enhancement Project bridge, a multi-year DRIC bridge delay and no need for a DRIC road and the thousands of jobs that we have been promised for years. Millions of dollars wasted for nothing!

Poor Sean O'Dell. It seems that I am now no longer the only person who does not take his border traffic remarks seriously. Listen to the CKLW commentary especially at the 38 second mark!



video


Unfortunately, the commentator is not quite there yet. But still, it is a good first step. We can still have our cake and eat it ie our new border crossing AND money for other projects. Think "interim solution" as the face-saving words.

What he should have concluded is:

  • Let Moroun risk his private enterprise money on the Enhancement Project Bridge and not risk taxpayer money when traffic is down
  • We need that bridge for improved traffic flow not for capacity since traffic has dropped like a stone since its peak and is not going up for a long time.
  • The $1.6-2B Greenlink/DRIC Road was always a phony and was never going to be built. We were being Delrayed with it although we do need a better route to the Ambassador Bridge
  • What needs to be done is to build the BIF road to the Ambassador Bridge as was promised and upgrade EC Row to 10 lanes, provided the DRTP truck highway is never built, with a connection at Lauzon to Highway 401
  • That is our "interim" solution until traffic increases to the point when a new bridge might be necessary
  • It still creates many thousands of high-paying jobs NOW, jobs we desperately need.
  • Protect the DRIC corridor so that if a new bridge is ever needed, we do not need to waste eons again
  • Whatever money is left goes to the Windsor items that the commentator described at the end of his piece as our payment for being the border host.

Oh my. Can you believe what is happening? The "W"indsor booster has just become the "M"oroun booster. That is really what the Bridge Company has been saying for years.

There that was no so hard was it!



Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Deification Of Senior



You may find this BLOG absolutely unbelievable. Brian Masse won't! He already suspects I am right. I have read his several veiled attacks on the Mayor already.

I think we have been warned, especially after the latest strike talks broke down. If the CUPE strike is not over soon, it will last a very long time. I know this is so because this comment came buried right at the end of an unrelated story dealing with buying Red Bull tickets:
  • "Get your Red Bull tickets early

    Francis says he hopes the strike by CUPE workers won't disrupt the festivities. “Let's hope the strike is not going on," he says. "But if it is not resolved, I hope there will be an understanding that this is a time for us to showcase the best of the region to the rest of the world, and I hope that the picketers will recognize that."

That is the middle of June already!

I also heard a story that the City's new security people have told strikers that they are booked until August. Who knows if this is true or not.

I read this odd comment in Chris Vander Doelen's column:

  • "How critical is the CUPE cost issue to Windsor's municipal survival? A few days ago, I'm told, people from the upper reaches of the city's CAW leadership intervened in an attempt to convince their counterparts at CUPE's national headquarters that things really are different in 2009.

    The world has changed so much, even the much-maligned CAW gets it: it's about protecting jobs now, long-term. Sustainability."

Wow those CAW guys are sooooo helpful aren't they? I know that CUPE has run a poor strike down here so far to be honest from a PR perspective at least. I guess the CUPE union people are so dumb that they cannot understand anything about what is going on in the world and need Senior and his friends to help them out.

You have to admit that this is sooooo nice of the CAW. Here they are in the midst of a life and death struggle for their members with the auto companies and Big Government and they still have the ability to make time to help out CUPE in Windsor by teaching them the facts of life.

What a strange comment "How critical is the CUPE cost issue to Windsor's municipal survival?" Why it is very similar to how Eddie reacted to the CAW strikers turning down a contract that the CAW leaders negotiated with the Casino. Why should the CUPE members be worried about "investments in the City" if the CAW members did not. They are worried about their own personal issues.

This got me to thinking some more.

While Councillor Alan Halberstadt slams CUPE's Sid Ryan in a BLOG, his canoeing buddy Gord Henderson praises Senior to high heaven:

  • "Could the contrast between Kenny and Sid be any greater? Ken Lewenza gets it. He understands what it means to have an employer on death's doorstep. It took guts and integrity, not to mention impressive survival instincts, to hammer out a deal that cost Chrysler workers a staggering $19 an hour in benefits.

    Lewenza, the hometown boy, didn't just save thousands of Windsor jobs this week. He pulled this community back from the brink of a Flint-sized disaster.

    What a contrast. Chrysler is in bankruptcy protection. Its plants are closed. Its workers are surviving on partial pay. And the feds and province are forking over taxpayer billions to grease the arrival of a designated saviour, Fiat.

    Meanwhile, Sid and his disciples, unmindful of the carnage around them, fight for gold-plated retirement benefits for clerks and gardeners not yet born.

    How bizarre."

How about these remarks about Senior from Anne Jarvis:

  • "We had to make the necessary compromises to live to fight another day," he concluded.

    As difficult as it was -- Lewenza described it as "torturous" -- he knew when to fold 'em.

    Loud, a table-pounder, he'd been called a dinosaur and dismissed as a clone of former president Buzz Hargrove, hardline and militant.

    But could Hargrove, who retired only weeks before the hammer fell on the global economy and auto industry, have got a deal? It was Hargrove who divorced the union's longtime ally, the NDP -- and ended up with the Mike Harris government.

    Hargrove and his ego came to revel in the national stage and pictures of himself with prime ministers.

    Could Hargrove have reopened his contract, given up his gains? Or would he and his principles and pride have gone down swinging -- taking his members with him?

    "I don't believe Buzz could have done what Ken did, with all due respect to Buzz," said Gary Parent, longtime Local 444 executive and friend and mentor to Lewenza...

    But, said Parent, Lewenza knew the companies and the governments weren't bluffing. If he hadn't fought every step, the union would have lost more. Still, he knew he had to be flexible. He knew he had to both meet the demands and protect his members.

    "Put yourselves in the homes of the 9,000 members we represent and the 60,000 people in spinoff jobs," Lewenza told his bargaining committee.

    "This bargaining touched the heart and soul of what the union stands for -- protecting its members," he said in an interview this week.

    That's the approach that sets Lewenza apart from his predecessor, said Parent."

Wow, that almost brought a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye.

Then there was that nice letter Senior sent requesting the Mayor to talk to CUPE again and endorsing Eddie's canal project for the good of Windsor that I Blogged about. Again, he had the time to write even though he has all of these auto problems. What a guy!

And Senior was at the May Day rally too saying:

  • "How do you stimulate the economy?" asked CAW president Ken Lewenza. "The city has the power to solve things by putting people back to work."

One of the CUPE people told me there was even a "group hug" between Senior and a number of CUPE members after a rally because they enjoyed his speech so much.

Are you starting to understand what may be going on as well?

I suspect that part of our Mayor's thinking is to really hammer CUPE primarily on post retirement benefits for S&P purposes. Now it is job security too. I thought that CUPE's latest offer wasn't a bad one, certainly one that should have led to a lot more negotiating as a basis for a settlement:

  • "We agreed that post retirement benefits for new employees could end at age 65 and we offered to cost share an optional benefits plan for them. The City refused," said Jim Wood, president of CUPE 82."

Moreover, no binding arbitration either and the talks were called off by the Mayor since unbelievably he said:

  • "What happened was the talks reached a point that there was very little movement. Instead of sitting in a room and staring at each other, we understood the talks reached an impasse."

The Mayor is obviously aware of the pressure this puts on the CUPE workers and soon more drastic steps will be taken to allow Art in the Park and Red Bull to go forward and the garbage picked up. The tactic is to force the union back to work on poor terms while at the same time splitting up the membership so they fight each other too.

Poor Jim Wood is in a quandry:

  • "I thought we'd get an agreement, we tackled post-retirement benefits head on.... I don't know where we go from here," Wood said."

I know where this is all going. You should by now too.

At exactly the right time, guess who will step in and ask the Mayor again to resume the talks with CUPE. Why he might even act as a facilitator since he is so good at negotiating with the auto companies and the Government.

Eddie cannot refuse Kennie Senior. After all, the CAW helped him in the past:

  • Hargrove, who is to meet today with Martin at the CAW 444-200 hall on Turner Road, said he plans to hammer home the need for the feds to move forward with the Schwartz report.

    "We're going to be tough on him on that," said Ken Lewenza, president of CAW Local 444.

  • With Dwight Duncan and Sandra Pupatello digging trenches in defence of DRIC's third-rate border fix, it appears it will take shrewder minds, like those of CAW president Buzz Hargrove and Local 444 czar Ken Lewenza Sr., to find out what's going on in the premier's head and begin sniffing out a possible compromise between DRIC and GreenLink.

    Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis welcomed the CAW's offer to act as an intermediary in finding common ground. "We're looking for anybody who can bring them back to the table. We need those guys at the table ... and I think Buzz would be great," said Francis.

What choice would Jim have since Sid Ryan is persona non grata down here.

I would bet that the strike would end very soon thereafter with the City winning most of the points even if the Union declared a victory. But everyone would be sooooooo grateful to Senior for helping out.

In fact, on the big deal re the unfunded post retirement benefits, Senior would be the expert on this. Why just the other day I saw this:

  • "GM Canada, CAW to set up health-care trust for staff
    Retirees protected


    General Motors of Canada Ltd. will follow Chrysler Canada Ltd.'s lead and help create an independent health-care trust for current auto workers and retirees as part of the automaker's tentative restructuring agreement with the Canadian Auto Workers.

    The new trust, which would help preserve and manage retiree health benefits not covered by the country's public health-care system, was unveiled yesterday, the same day GM Canada union employees began voting for the new restructuring package that was approved late last week...

    "Establishing these new health-care trusts is totally new and I would say it is a brand new innovation of social policy in Canada," says Jim Stanford, CAW's economist. "Companies now have the ability to pre-fund health benefits for their retirees and that is an important step forward."

    Due to accounting rules, the trust will be applied to a closed membership group.

    New hires will not be part of the HCT."

I am sure that Eddie would bend a bit on the new hires issue since so few are going to be hired now anyway in order to get rid of S&P's concerns, at least for this contract.

In fact, CUPE members may be soooooo grateful to Senior that some might ask to switch unions from CUPE to CAW. What a riot that would be. That would not bother Senior one little bit either since he needs new members and new membership fees.

Don't you worry, with his fantastic personal relations with the Mayor and with his son on Council, things would look up for the new CAW recruits.

And with all of those extra people loyal to Senior, if he asked them to help out a candidate running for Federal office, even a Conservative one who was a Mayor of Windsor, why I bet the new CAW members would go along since Senior knows best.

No wonder Brian should be worried.

Dumb Move Or Not

Who plans strategy for CUPE?

After that nice ad that they ran, did they completely lose the momentum with a story suggesting that the Union was so desperate that they had to target the Mayor's home, wife and family! That just gives support to the Mayor's claim that his wife's business was threatened and loses support for the Union. What a foolish move.

I am sure that CUPE can argue that their members' lives and families are being hurt by the strike too. If the Mayor can threaten them, they will argue, why can't they reciprocate:
  • "Fox invited Prince to visit the union hall. “I understand how Michelle feels, but if she’d like to come and sit in our office for even one day, and see the hardship that has been put on 2,000 families..."

To my mind at least, CUPE overstepped badly. They crossed the line.

BUT is there something more going on that would give rise to such a drastic step?

Take a look at this video especially at the 20 second mark. The question that needs to be asked and answered is whether the Mayor said what Ryan alleged. If he did, then what is one to think the real reason for the strike is? If he did not, then why did Ryan make the claim. If it is wrong, then he ought to be made to apologize. Eddie should go after him:




To be serious, this is a matter that requires immediate investigation. The truth or falsity of the claim could bring this strike to a quick conclusion.

A few thoughts on the Star story and photo gallery online:
  • What is it with Windsor drivers including the police....does everyone now park facing in the wrong direction
  • Is that the way a car should be parked, sticking out into the roadway
  • Amazing, only one police car that rushed to the Mayor's home and it took so long too to come. Where was the SWAT team?
  • It looks more like the police car is protecting the car in the driveway. I am not sure what brand it is but it does not look like it was manufactured in North America. Junior and Senior will be so disappointed.
  • I thought I counted 9 people in the Star gallery photos, the Star originally said about 20 people were in attendance, Michelle has it to about 25.
  • "Prince said the picketers marched and made “their usual comments that they yell every day when he gets to work. " However, a neighbour who lives a couple houses to the north in the 3600 block of Huntington Avenue said "the pickets promised not to shout. “Whether they did or not..." If they had I am sure she would have been upset that they broke their word to her and would have mentioned it to the reporter.
  • The Mayor's wife said the picketers had a "mob mentality." Jean Fox described "the picket as “very peaceful, very quiet.”

Here's my problem though with all of this. Here are the key lines in the whole story:

  • "The CUPE members dispersed after about 20 minutes. A Windsor police sergeant arrived a few minutes later, only to find the pickets were gone."

They came and went so quickly. It was hardly worthwhile setting up the picket line.

Tell me, who called the Police and the Star and when? How could the Star possibly have a photographer there at about 8:30 AM while the CUPE members were picketing and even before as one photo appeared to show unless he/she was nearby at the exact moment. Assuming that someone called the Police and the Star, who could find a photographer and get him/her to Eddie's house in 20 minutes from downtown so early in the morning.

Do not tell me that the police would only send one Police car if the Mayor's wife felt so threatened about “mob mentality” and that Eddie would take off leaving his wife to cope with all of this by herself. It must have taken longer for the Police to get there than the Star photographer! The police officer missed seeing the picketers completely.

The Star may need a new photographer as well since the Faces of the picketers are so blurry. Mind you the Police car shot is nice and clear.

It is all so mysterious to me. So many unanswered questions. Par for the course though isn't it!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

More On Windsor's Lack Of Democracy


Hooray, CUPE finally got it!

Did you see their full-page Star ad? They finally figured out what the big issue in their strike is: Eddie Francis.


They have been striking according to his agenda. Now perhaps they have changed the conversation as the expression the Mayor has used says:

  • "Get us back to work,” said Wood, adding the mayor was against having arbitration “because he’s scared — he likes to have control.”
What they must do is build on this in unique ways to re-establish credibility and must ensure they do NOT annoy the public to give Eddie the excuses he needs to take action against them.

Seriously, given when Art in the Park is to start, was the Star story today a big surprise. Wait until Red Bull is close to see real horror stories published!

If you read Vander Doelen's supposedly anti-CUPE column, read it again. Has he learned how to attack Eddie as the Sheriff cleverly did:
  • "There have been a slew of votes cast by council behind closed doors regarding various aspects of Windsor's labour situation over the past two months.

    Most of the council votes, I'm told, have ended 7-4 or 6-5 in favour of holding out against the strikers for labour savings.

    Mayor Eddie Francis has been leading the holdouts every time, insiders say.

    The six holdouts -- or seven, depending on who you talk to -- are all saying "let them stay out...

    I called most of the members of council over the past few days to poll them on where they stand on the issue of the CUPE strike. Of those who returned my calls, several said they have been warned by Mayor Francis they face severe punishment if they break the news blackout he has ordered over the talks."

So he has become the Voice of Council on the strike now too just as he has had several Resolutions passed saying that he is the Voice of Council on the Border. Who cares what the Councillors' positions are even though they are supposed to represent us and have legal obloigations. Better for everyone to think they are united. We do not want to help our enemies as the Three Blind Mice once did!

Eddie can no longer hide behind Council. He can no longer play the victim when he has chosen to be front and centre.

  • "Francis said he finds it a “predictable” strategy that CUPE would paint the mayor’s office as a target for public criticism. “They do this everywhere they go. They target the mayor... They try to break down the mayor and break down city council.”

It is his neck that is on the line too. He is the one to be blamed for no garbage pick-ups and the sorry state of the parks.

Heaven help us if he runs the strike the way he runs the border file.

Frankly, who needs a Ward Boundary Review as I said before. Get rid of all of the Councillors and let Eddie rule as the Supreme Leader. He does now anyway. By the way, in case you do not get it, I am being sarcastic!

He keeps information from Councillors as he sends it off to other levels of Government for their buy-in in advance anyway. And he keeps bringing his matter back in front of them until they approve it, no matter how many times they have rejected it before. Keeping key documents, Councillors have not been allowed to do that in some instances. Do Councillors know about all his secret meetings with provincial government officials?

I am surprised that the Procedural By-law was not used last night as well but that is available for the next run-in. The use of the Rules waiver will be justified because of the "raucous" behaviour by a mostly carpet-bagger CUPE crowd I am sure.

And if all of that is not enough, then we have the Windsor Star. If Percy can rely on a high-school student for hybrid buses so can the Star. Good old 15 year old Zoe is allowed to speculate:

  • "CUPE denies sabotage claims

    ...she picked up about 20 pieces [of metre-long pieces of wire] last Thursday and seven Sunday.

    “It’s really dangerous,” she said. “You can't see them hidden in the grass and weeds.”

    ...she found most of the wire — which appears to be cut from chain-linked fencing — littered along the perimeter of the park with tire tracks running alongside where the wire was found.

    She speculated that the wire was placed there by striking CUPE workers to prevent private companies from mowing the grass before the Art in the Park festival, scheduled for June 6 and 7.

    “Who else is going to drive by and throw out chain-link fence?”

    “I can understand that they’re on strike, but if they do hateful things they won’t get any empathy from the people. I think it's really mean and selfish.”

Who indeed, Zoe! The problem is that Zoe has probably never heard about "dirty tricks" and "strike-breakers" either. One can easily speculate a different alternative.

However, true to form, we never read the "official position" from the Police until the end of the story:

  • "Windsor police Staff Sgt. Steve Bodri said police investigated a complaint of wire in the park and spoke with picketing CUPE members.

    “There’s no evidence to establish that the strikers were responsible.”

    Willistead Park is bordered by black metal fencing, not the green chain-linked fencing the wire pieces are believed to have originated from. “It doesn’t appear that there is fencing from that park, so who knows where it came from?” Bodri said."

Democracy in Windsor is not that important after all so why worry. As Churchill once said:

  • "It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried."

Remarks By Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano



Let us see if she changes her position from a month ago when she meets Canadian officials today and tomorrow.

Now I know why the surveys were taken about border backups that I just Blogged about and why booths were closed down so that crossing times would be higher for the Secretary's analysis.

Gee....I guess the Secretary may think we may need a DRIC Bridge after all.

  • Remarks by Secretary Napolitano at the Border Trade Alliance International Conference

    Release Date: April 21, 2009

    For Immediate Release
    Office of the Press Secretary
    Contact: 202-282-8010

    Well, thank you and good morning to everybody. It's a pleasure to be here and I've seen some of you, literally, at the ports. We've been traveling quite a bit in my first 90 days as the Secretary of Homeland Security. Yesterday was the three month anniversary of President Obama's inauguration and I think it can fairly be said that everybody has been running at full speed for those days and so much has been done, but so much is left to be done. So, I want to thank the Border Trade Alliance for having me because the mission of the Department of Homeland Security has such a direct impact on what you do every day.

    Last week, I visited three locations on the southern border: El Paso [Texas], Columbus, N.M., and Nogales, Ariz., before heading to Mexico for the second time as Secretary of Homeland Security. That same week, last week, the new Deputy Secretary, she was just confirmed two weeks ago, Jane Hall Lute, visited the northern border at Buffalo and Ottawa. Last month, I also visited Laredo [Texas] and Otay Mesa [Calif.]. And President Obama already has been to Canada and to Mexico. So, clearly you can see, in this first 90 days that we are focused on the border and that we are personally engaged, both from a security standpoint and from a trade standpoint. The two go together. We cannot separate one from the other. Now, to be sure, we face a range of threats at the border from drugs and weapons to human smuggling and human trafficking. And we need to act accordingly to address each of these. So, let me talk about those and then I'll talk a little bit about the some of the trade impacts.

    Obviously, we need to control illegal immigration. Last year, we apprehended more than one million illegal individuals at the border. And we removed 369,000 illegals from the nation, the interior of the nation itself. Last year, Customs and Border Protection seized 2.7 million pounds of illegal narcotics, keeping those drugs from entering our cities and communities. So, preventing the illegal entry of people and drugs remains a priority. But it is not the sum total of our focus.

    We don't want to damage economic security in the name of homeland security. United States, Canada, Mexico—all three economies depend on trade. So, part of our mission is also to protect against unlawful trade. Last year, Customs and Border Protection [CBP] had 14,700 seizures of goods for intellectual property rights violations worth over $267 million. So, you've got illegal drugs, human trafficking, illegal entrance, you've got illegal intellectual property. How do we balance all of those things?

    The first step is to respect the differences between the Northern and the Southern borders. What we do to protect the Southern border will not be the same, in all cases, as what we do to protect the Northern border. We know those borders are very different in terms of climate, geography, topography, et cetera, and we want to align ourselves, proportional to the threats we see while building appropriate mechanisms to facilitate trade. So, there are differences, some differences between those borders, but there are also similarities.

    First, there are security concerns on both borders, North and South. Yes, the cartel violence we are seeing in Mexico is not taking place in Canada, but there is human and drug smuggling that must be addressed. This affects the entire country, not just the border region. We have illegal entry concerns on both borders, whether through the ports of entry or between them. So, we need to recognize that there are actual borders, North and South, not metaphorical borders, and we cannot pretend that there are not borders even though we have close, close relationships with Canada and with Mexico.

    So, how does the need to have a safe and secure border with drugs, illegal entrance, intellectual property rights violations, how do we do this?

    First, here is our approach. There needs to be some level of parity between the two borders. We don't want to appear to go heavy on the southern border and light on the northern border. We will have a balanced approach, consistent with effective security for our entire country.

    Second, we need to deal with circumstances on the ground. On the Southern border, it means protecting against drug cartel violence and combating illegal entry. We've launched a major initiative to do just that. We've added more personnel and technology and we've created a southbound strategy to stop the flow of guns and bulk cash into Mexico. We've also expanded our partnerships with state and local law enforcement at the southern border.

    I have named a new special representative for border affairs. His name is Alan Bersin. He is a veteran prosecutor who will coordinate all of our efforts on the southwest border. Some of you may know Alan. He's the former United States Attorney for the southern district of California, which is San Diego, and indeed, that is where he is from. So, he's very familiar with the southern border.

    What are we doing on the northern border? On the northern border, we are applying assets and technology. We've there detailed five new, five new CBP air and marine branches. We have used the unmanned aerial system to fly that border to provide intelligence information to us. We have 24 integrated border enforcement teams in place on the northern border. These are teams that also include Canadian law enforcement and others designed to create a safe and secure border zone across Canada.

    On both borders, we have BEST teams. Border Enforcement Security Teams. On both borders, we are looking at and employing types of technology so that we can share more information with our partners. Both borders require policing against fraudulent documents and fraudulent entry into the United States. That's why we have what's called the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative—WHTI. I suspect this crowd knows about WHTI. I will just guess that one. I will report that we believe to be on track for the June 1 implementation of WHTI. We're in the process of conducting as aggressive outreach as possible recognizing that whenever there is a deadline, people assume that it's not really a deadline. And, quite frankly, procrastination is a very human trait. Nonetheless, the deadline is real. Secretary Clinton and I have both signed the documents that say that the June 1 deadline can be met. So, we are conducting aggressive outreach up to and including everybody at the port getting a tear sheet. Basically, it's a brochure telling them about the deadline and what they need to do and have the next time they cross the border.

    We have installed RFID [Radio Frequency Identification] readers at the top 39 points to enable swifter processing. And, we have a few ports still left to go. We are using RFID already at 29 ports of entry that process over 80 percent of the crossings. DOS—Department of State, has issued over 950,000 passport cards, which can be used to cross the Canadian and Mexico borders. And the preliminary data—now preliminary data can always be wrong, but I'm going to report it to you—anyway, indicates that roughly 80 percent of United States and Canadian citizens queried are already using WHTI-compliant documents.

    So, the equipment is installed or last of it is in the process of being installed and tested. Our preliminary data is that the overwhelming majority of people crossing the border, particularly the Canadian border, already have compliant documents and we are staffing up to make sure that if there is a surge, right around the deadline time or right afterwards, we can handle that surge so that we don't get the passport backlog that occurred several years ago. So, the deadline is there. It is real. Having said that, I will say that we know, with all deadlines, a little common sense and flexibility needs to be applied and we are prepared to use common sense and application should the need arise...

    I am going to stop right now, and let's have some Question:s. Thank you very much.

    Question: Good morning, Madam Secretary. My name is Wilfred Moore. I'm a senator from Canada and from the province of Nova Scotia. And I am the Vice Chairman of the Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Group. And I have a delegation that's here with me this morning. We have read your comments during your speech at the Brookings Institution on the 25th of March wherein you stated there is a "very real feeling among the Southern border states and on Mexico" that things are being done on the Mexico border. They should also be done on the Canadian Border, that they shouldn't go light on one and heavy on the other.

    We believe that there are different realities on the two borders and that they require different measures, which should not be considered to be discriminatory. We believe that you should respect this reality, as we jointly determine the management of our shared border; and, it is our hope that we can return to the cooperative approach that existed when these smart border action plan was put in place in 2001 between our two countries.

    Now, you may not be prepared to make it good today, but we would like to know what you see as the next step on the shared management of our border.

    Secretary Napolitano: Well, let me.

    Question: Just let me finish here.

    Secretary Napolitano: Oh, you're not done? Okay.

    Question: We believe it would be beneficial for you to meet with our group at your convenience to discuss these issues with a view to not thickening the border so as to permit the smooth and efficient transport of people and commerce.

    Secretary Napolitano: I think my comments today address some of your concerns. Where I said we have to have a border both North and South, but the techniques, the strategies we're going to use on both borders, are somewhat different.

    The Southwest border is much more manpower intensive because of the illegal immigration drug trafficking concerns that are more concerns with Mexico than Canada. We have other concerns with Canada. We have shared those with officials from Canada, so we have to have a real border there.

    So that was the point of my comments at Brookings, which is to say we can no longer pretend that people can just go back and forth like they always have. And, when I met with other delegations form Canada or with other government representatives, I always get the story about people going back and forth, and they didn't have to have a document, and it was no problem. And I recognize that that was the past, but the future is that there will be a real border. We will have WHTI at both borders for example.

    Question: Well, nobody is disputing that Madam Secretary.

    Secretary Napolitano: Let me finish. And so that was the point of the Brookings comment, which is to see that there is a feeling and I was reporting it on the Southern states and in Mexico that nobody thought that the Northern border had to have anything, and it does; and, I take my direction now from the United States Congress, which has passed a law saying you will have things at both borders, and these are the things you will have.

    But implementation is somewhat different, and that is why I spoke today directly to the types of the IBET [Integrated Border Enforcement] teams, the 24 teams we will have at the Northern border, the kinds of technology and fast lanes and things we will employ at the Northern border, because I am very sensitive to the fact that we have huge trade, among other things, relations with Canada.

    Question: They're just in the world.

    Secretary Napolitano: Exactly; and we need to move those lines. And the real tension we have between security, safety and trade, is the length of time it takes to cross a border. So I'm going to do everything I can and I look forward to working with you; and, if we can arrange a meeting, particularly when I go to Canada, that would be great to see what we can do to facilitate the lines.

    But the message I have been trying to send is there are real borders, North and South. They both need to be as secure as possible, and that's what we are going to do.

    Question: We agree with that, that approach, but we want to have a sharing of the responsibility, the management of the borders. And I think it's timely that with the downturn in the economy, which we are now unfortunately experiencing, it would be most appropriate to get at this now as opposed to when the economy starts to roll again. Thank you very much.

    Secretary Napolitano: I agree with that as well. I think there's a window of opportunity here that we ought to take advantage of totally. Thank you, sir...

    Secretary Napolitano: Last Question:?

    Question: Thank you. Thank you very much, Madam Secretary, and congratulations on your new position. We know you'll be a friend of Canada. My name is Ken James, a Chairperson of Blue Water Bridge, Canada, a CROM Corporation of our government.

    I just want to bring to your attention, following a meeting with former U.S. President George W. Bush, Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a statement: "If the fight for security ends up meaning that the United States becomes more closed to its friends, then the terrorists have won. I would hate to see laws go into place that has the effect of not just limiting or endangering trade or tourism, but endangering all the thousands of social trans-interactions that occur across our border."

    And he went on later on, it was reported in the National Post in Canada, "Threat to the United States are threats to Canada," Prime Minister Stephen Harper declared, as he stood next to President Obama during the President's recent visit to Canada.

    But actually then the Senator mentioned some of your comments at the Brookings Institute that tend to leave Canadians thinking that security is not adequate and that Homeland Security is of the mind that Canada is not doing enough security-wise. And that is certainly something that, of course, has been spread across our country since the comments that you made and the actions that have taken place. I'd be interested in your comments in relation to that.

    Secretary Napolitano: Well, I think if my job is to be a myth-buster, I'm a myth-buster. And the myth I'm trying to bust is that there's no real border between Canada and the United States.

    There's the closets of friendships, there's the closest of alliances. There's the closest of trade relationships. I know that, I respect that.

    But the law says there's a border and certain things have to be done at the border. And the fact of the matter is that Canada allows people into its country that we do not allow into ours. And that's why you have to have a border. And you have to have a border policy that makes sense.

    And what I'm suggesting is that we will have a border, we will have a border policy that is sensitive to the differences between Mexico and Canada. But there will be a policy for both borders. And it will require establishing the legal ability to come into the United States. That's all.
    Question: I think it's just that the Prime Minister is of the mind that we are not allowing people into our country that wouldn't be allowed into your country. So I think that's where the difference of opinion is.

    Secretary Napolitano: And I will be coming to Canada myself. Indeed, I was supposed to be there last week, until President Obama asked me to in Mexico City. And he's my boss, so—

    Secretary Napolitano: So off I went, and that was cool. It was a great meeting. But I sent my deputy secretary in my stead, and I intend to come to Canada myself in a few weeks. I don't know that we have a date actually scheduled, but soon.

    And the goal will be to, you know, state what I've stated here with you today, where we're trying to reach is the right balance on all the things that we are asked to balance, but, you know, recognizing in the end, Canada is our neighbor and our friend; Mexico is our neighbor and our friend. This is a very strong partnership that we have. And the communities along our borders will be enriched with a safer and secure border, and our countries will be better off with a safer and secure border.

    But we cannot achieve safety and security and sacrifice trade. So we have to do it in such a way that trade is facilitated. And that's what we are working on and accept suggestions on, and would accept suggestions from you, and anybody in your group.

    With that, I will say thank you for having me. Enjoy your meeting, and take care.

Amber Alert: Greenlink Missing

Windsor Police are actively seeking help from the public to try and locate the border road known as Greenlink. It has been missing for some time. Please do NOT call City Hall since no one is around to answer the phones. Call 1-800-FIND-GREENLINK with tips.

No monetary reward is being offered given the fragile condition of the Windsor economy but the one who provides the information that leads to the recovery of Greenlink will be able to sit beside the Mayor at the next Council meeting provided CUPE strikers are not in the Chambers again!

Description

An award-winning "Made-in-Windsor" solution designed by foreign consultants consisting of a partially tunnelled 6 lane road that was designed to make it appear as if the Mayor and Council actually wanted to link communities, save the health of people especially children, give us hundreds of acres of parkland, and make us an international tourist site all at about the cost of a "cheap" and inferior solution.

Last significant public appearance

ACEC New York 2009 Engineering Excellence Dinner Dance, April 4, 2009.




From Gord Henderson:

  • "The irony, from Windsor's perspective, is that Mayor Eddie Francis will be in Manhattan tonight to join the Sam Schwartz firm at a black-tie gala of the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York where Green- Link will be given a Diamond award for its innovative design.

    Good enough to win awards in New York State. But not good enough for the folks in charge of laying asphalt in Ontario, the ones who can't figure out how to keep service centres open on our most important highway."

Last known meal

Eaten in New York City:



Last Federal Interest, May 7

"In other words, those holding their breath waiting for a decision on the border can exhale. It's clearly been made.

There's nothing left holding it up but the sideshow at city hall over GreenLink.

Asked about GreenLink, the city's attempt to extract further job- creation concessions from upper governments, Baird said the dispute was between the city and the province and has nothing to do with the feds..."

Suspicious indicators

---no photo in the Star of Eddie and Sam getting the award

---lack of Greenlink decals on new Windsor Police cars

---Gord Henderson's description of what project people in the future will remember about this era. No mention of Greenlink whatsoever but only of a ditch downtown beside the river:

  • "The hotel chain, which had promised jobs and investment, left town in a huff. And Windsor, with Weeks at the helm, began its march toward the finest riverfront park in the country. Little wonder Coun. Percy Hatfield is so passionate about seeing this downtown canal project move forward...

    Previous Windsor generations had the brains and imagination to build Jackson Park and develop our riverfront park system during difficult economic times.

    I don't know about you. But I want to see something equally worthy passed forward to our descendants. I want to believe I'm living in a city that can see beyond sidewalks and potholes."
People of Interest

The Premier, Sandra and Dwight

Lingering question

Was Greenlink ever for real or was it an expensive figment of someone's imagination designed so far for reasons unknown but suspected!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Postma's Demolition Notice of Motion



Charles Goren would be so proud. Council is clearly made up of experts at playing bridge games or so they think! After all, bridge has "tricks" and someone can be trumped. There are grand slams too.

It is almost an insult. The bridge games-playing should infuriate residents. Here is what the Councillor is proposing with respect to the Bridge Company homes that they want to demolish:
  • "Notice of Motion

    To be considered at the May 25, 2009 Meeting of Council:

    Moved by Councillor Postma, seconded by Councillor ________________,

    Whereas, the Ambassador Bridger Company owns approximately 75 properties along Indian, Edison, College, Bloomfield, Felix and Mill; and

    Whereas, the properties have become an extreme eyesore and a hazard to the neighbourhood, and the area is currently under a demolition freeze; and

    Whereas, the residents and property owners have handed in a petition to demolish these homes with over 230 names on it; and

    Whereas, a letter of invitation was sent to the Ambassador Bridge by the City in March inviting them to present a greening plan or green corridor for the homes along the Bridge and the City has never defined an acceptable greening plan for all of the properties owned by the Bridge Company;

    Therefore be it resolved, that Mayor and City Council meet with the Ambassador Bridge Company to discuss acceptable plans for their 75 properties throughout Sandwich Town and clearly define greening plans for the properties to ensure the residents are no longer living near boarded up, abandoned homes and restore the safety, security and aethetic looks of their neighbourhood."

If you ever wanted proof of the City playing bridge games, this is it. Consider the following:

  • considering the number of homes, the response rate on the petition is very impressive
  • the homes are an eyesore and hazardous because of the demolition freeze
  • a meaningless letter was sent to the Bridge Company that wasted several more months of time (See below)
  • what was the purpose of the Bridge Company presenting something if they had no idea what the City was thinking
  • typical Eddie negotiation: Council to define an "acceptable" greening plan and the Bridge must react to it
  • the residents have signed a petition saying what they want and are ignored



  • no involvement of the residents impacted
  • more required of the Bridge Company than other people who have received demolition permits
  • the Bridge Company has said already what was "acceptable" to them and the residents seemed to be in agreement. What more is there to discuss"
  • there is nothing there that requires the City to issue demolition permits nor does the City promise to do so. It is all one-sided.

Councillor Mom is just being used or is she helping in the bridge game too? This is nothing more than the Francis style of negotiations. My way or no demolition. I can hardly wait to see what Councillor Jones' FIVE-POINT PLAN friendly amendment to the Motion will be.

If someone thought this would work to convince a Court that the City was not dealing with the Bridge company in bad faith, then the strategy has back-fired badly. It is just another element of the Mayor and Council playing bridge politics at the expense of residents!

Oh I forgot to mention that there are dummies when playing bridge. However, in this case, the Bridge Company is not one of them .

PS. Here is a copy of the letter to the Bridge Compnany. If you received it, would you have the faintest idea what you were to do with it other than file it in the garbage can!