Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Invisible Bridge Company Lawsuit Against MDOT




I don’t get it. It has been reported. Sort of. The odd line here and there but nothing more!

The big lawsuit between the Bridge Company and the Michigan Department of Transportation.

Oh not that silly MDOT Ambassador Gateway reactionary lawsuit that was just reported. Read more about that from the Bridge Company's perspective in the BLOG below. That is just about the worst thing MDOT could have done from a strategic perspective. Who the heck is advising them on litigation tactics? Transport Canada???

I mean the lawsuit already started by the Bridge Company against MDOT. Very few know about that one! You will understand why shortly as you read on

Poor Governor Granholm. And her hubby if he has Governor aspirations since she is term limited. MDOT with their lawsuit may have damaged her chances for a good job after she leaves office and destroyed his. What a wonderful present as well for the Republicans for the next election. I can just picture the headlines as the discovery process unfolds.

Chris Vander Doelen in the Star claims:
  • “Not that the struggle to plan and build the new bridge is over yet. But it's getting to the late chapters.

    Nobody expects Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel (Matty) Moroun to give up trying to preserve his control of border truck traffic now. Not after years of plotting and scheming to block construction of competing crossings, whether road or rail.

    But with the boot of the U.S. government on his neck, the wily old tycoon is certainly down for the count. Does he have one more trick up his sleeve? I'm betting he tries one, even if it doesn't work.”

As a contrarian, I would say that we are at the Preface stage. We have not even entered Chapter 1. If Moroun is shaking, it is not with terror but of laughter. He does not need to do anything but watch as his Opposition self-destructs in front of him.

Why hasn’t the media picked up the other lawsuit. Why hasn’t MDOT issued a press release denouncing it? They dare not. It explains in the most graphic terms why the Ambassador Bridge has spent $500 million to build their Enhancement Bridge and why they are so angry now.

It explains MDOT's actions in no uncertain terms.

I am attaching the narrative part of the lawsuit for your reading enjoyment! Click the top right of the document so you can read it better. It gives a history of the project that not many have known about including I would suspect many members of the bureaucracy and certainly not many Legislators. I am sure there are more surprises awaiting the right moment.

Of course, this is from the Bridge Company’s perspective. Who knows what MDOT will say in reply. However, from seeing how they operate, the Bridge Company rarely makes a rash statement and can back up their allegations.

Effectively the claim is very simple to understand. MDOT and the Bridge Company are partners on the Ambassador Gateway project which was designed to accommodate a second bridge. The State received money from the Feds based on the project as well based on what the State represented the project to be. The Bridge Company is ready to build their bridge. Lo and behold the State is effectively working against their partner with a third party group, DRIC, to undercut their partnership and put the Bridge Company out of business by taking away most of their business. The Bridge Company wants that stopped by the Courts.

Impossible you say. No one would do that to a partner. Yet, here is what Ontario’s Deputy Minister of Transportation, Bruce McCuaig, said recently:

  • “We must also take decisive action and be willing to take on formidable challenges if we are to secure prosperous futures for our respective jurisdictions – jurisdictions that are increasingly interconnected.

    An excellent example for Ontario is the planning underway for a proposed new Detroit River International Crossing in the Windsor-Detroit Gateway.

    The planning effort for new crossing of the Detroit River began in 1999 with our colleagues in Michigan.”

Planning for the new crossing was started before the ink on the Agreement with the Bridge Company was barely dry!

Now you know why MDOT has not attacked the lawsuit publicly so far. What is being alleged would become public and some difficult questions would have to be answered.

Oh MDOT will have an answer, you can bet on that. Here is the approach they will take as reported in Crains:

  • “The organizations have also split over the role of the second Ambassador Bridge span in the context of the Gateway Project. DIBC and some MDOT records obtained by Crain’s show that the project was designed to incorporate a new span, but MDOT officials and political and activist opponents of the project say Gateway was simply a traffic improvement effort that had nothing to do with a second span.”

Didn’t you like the part, unless you are from MDOT,

  • “some MDOT records obtained by Crain’s show that the project was designed to incorporate a new span.”

This is getting ugly. And it is only the beginning. Unless cooler heads finally prevail and the parties sit down and resolve their differences, we are into another decade or two of make work for lawyers.

More importantly, we in Windsor are losing our chances for getting thousands of high-paying infrastructure jobs to tide us over until our economic diversification takes place.

What a mess.

Terrific Column In The Detroit News



Now if he would only add in Canada's 50 year economic nationalistic objective to take over the bridge, the attempted crushing of a business owned by an American, the huge waste of taxpayer dollars, the lies and disinformation, the obscene profits that could be made by a P3 operator at taxpayer expense...that would be a column!
  • Crossing bridge of state control

    Paid my $4 to cross the river into Canada last weekend, courtesy of the allegedly rapacious capitalist who owns the Ambassador Bridge. He's trying to build a new one.

    The rebuilt ramps, sparkling ribbons of concrete, abruptly end as you're redirected onto the aging bridge. The Duty-Free Shop, of faintly Scandinavian design, looks to be a massive upgrade from the cheesy old Quonset hut whose smokes and booze lured travelers on their way to Windsor, the 401 and beyond.

    But what about the second span, so badly needed to replace the iconic bridge built in 1927, the same year its owner, Matty Moroun, was born? Not coming anytime soon, as the shipping magnate-cum-real estate mogul and his Detroit International Bridge Co. slide deeper by the day into petty squabbles with the Michigan Department of Transportation and myriad bureaucrats in both countries.

    The result: a confluence of behavior that is equal parts slapstick comedy and bureaucratic over-reach, with a healthy dollop of power politics and some requisite junior high juvenilia thrown in.

    Earlier this week, Ambassador Bridge President Dan Stamper called a press conference to denounce a petulant MDOT's move to dump tons of dirt and debris on a freshly paved roadway, ostensibly (MDOT responded, confirming Stamper's claims) to protect the interests of taxpayers in the $230 million I-75 Gateway Project.

    Wednesday, MDOT filed a breach of contract suit in Wayne County Circuit Court, accusing the bridge company of altering its plans in ways that could jeopardize the federal funding for the project. This from the same state agency that also is part (for obvious reasons, given its responsibility) of a government-backed plan to build a competing span downriver.

    What's next -- a ritual sacrifice in the middle of the bridge or the serendipitous discovery of a tattered, century-old Indian compact to block ol' Moroun?

    The rival Detroit River International Crossing, you see, proposes to spend yet billions more of your money to raze neighborhoods on both sides of the border to build a second span that would compete with Moroun, the tunnel and the Bluewater Bridge in Port Huron. Oh, and the governments -- the United States and Canada, Michigan and Ontario -- would reap the incremental revenue they otherwise wouldn't see if privately-financed Ambassador II goes it alone.

    Can't have that, can we? Can't allow a private business person to finish the project and to reap the return of his investment even as his company is required to comply with the border controls, customs rules and national security implications on both sides of the river.

    Then it hit me: This drama symbolizes our times, as we watch an energized federal government controlled by a new president and a single party move to remake the financial sector, the domestic auto industry, executive pay, the energy producers through "cap-and-trade" and the health care business, among other things.

    Private ownership is bad, and government ownership is good. Private industry is more efficient (witness the progress of Stamper & Co., for example), but government is somehow more fair and equitable. Private industry cannot be allowed to reap the benefit of its risk-taking if government cannot get a (bigger) piece of the action.

    I suppose I speak for more than a few routine border crossers: Don't care who controls the bridge so long as it's a) safe and b) speedy and c) something north of the testy ritual it's become since the dark days after the September 11 attacks.

    If Moroun can do it quicker, within the requirements of authorities on both sides and with a lot less government money, what's the problem -- aside from the obvious fact that government gets one less asset to control and mine for cash.

Call The Integrity Commissioner---Another Leak


Oh my goodness. Another leak, this time to discredit CUPE to the nth degree. Perhaps it's right, perhaps it's wrong. But now it is out there.

According to Councillor Halberstadt's BLOG:
  • "It has become clear now that the infamous "leak" (to the A Channel) of the bargaining positions of the city and CUPE was perpetrated by CUPE National. Details were perhaps verified by one or more people on the city side."
Yes folks, details were perhaps verified that CUPE did it. Or perhaps they were not. And from the City side as well too. What a shock!

Who leaked this new news? Where did it come from? What is its basis?

I demand that the Integrity Commissioner investigate this new spilling of information

Councillor Halberstadt needs to be put under oath right away to tell us who gave him this bombshell and what are the facts.

Wait a minute. How did this become clear? Did someone have access to the Integrity Commissioner's investigation? Was information disclosed prematurely and if so by whom and to whom and how did it get to the Councillor? I think this needs investigating as well!

We need to hire an independent, part-time quasi-Integrity Commissioner to investigate the investigation of the Integrity Commissioner now!

Daryl Newcombe must be smiling at the new story that he can cover!

Speaking of Daryl, he must have liked this line in the Star story about the leak:
  • "The leaked details were first reported by Daryl Newcombe of A Channel News Wednesday night."
I don't know about you but this is one of the only times that I can recall that the Star has given credit for someone else scooping them. I just can't help wondering wonder why that was done and does it have any significance.

MDOT's Fog


Here is the Bridge Company press release to that other MDOT lawsuit.

Hmmm, no mediation or arbitration even though the Bridge Company requested it. Did MDOT learn from Eddie or vice versa!



MDOT's Ambassador Bridge Lawsuit Fogs Facts

WARREN, Mich., June 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a statement by Ambassador Bridge:

"The Michigan Department of Transportation's (MDOT) lawsuit filed yesterday against the Detroit International Bridge Company (DIBC) is surprising because we have been trying to resolve the many issues in dispute with MDOT for a long time. DIBC recently requested mediation and then submitted a formal demand to MDOT as provided for in the agreement with MDOT. MDOT did not even respond, but instead filed this lawsuit. MDOT has been fully aware of the traffic connectivity improvements we planned and constructed. To now charge otherwise, 15 years into the project, is literally unbelievable. The girders, cement, construction equipment and crews have been on site for years. As required by the Ambassador Bridge Gateway Agreement, we have met regularly with MDOT and kept them abreast of changes made to improve the project and border connectivity.


"MDOT's argument that any change to the Gateway Agreement could jeopardize $145 million in federal funds is without merit. MDOT's action instead, is meant to delay DIBC's building a privately funded $1 billion replacement span for the 80-year-old Ambassador Bridge -- a project that will immediately create more than 4,000 new jobs. A MDOT spokesman incredulously stated that MDOT would have accepted DIBC's construction changes if we simply asked them first. MDOT's motives are intended to harm DIBC's efforts to further invest in necessary border improvements as MDOT punishes international travelers and commerce.


"The only material change to the Gateway Project is that MDOT has joined another and competing partnership with Canada within the Ambassador Bridge corridor (DRIC). However wrong that is, it should not mean undermining the existing Ambassador Bridge Gateway Project. For MDOT, improving travel for the public and commerce should come first, just as it does with the Ambassador Bridge.


"Prior to MDOT joining the DRIC partnership with Canada, MDOT supported the Gateway Project and its improvements, supported street closings, and requested federal funding based on the following MDOT language from 1999:
  • 'Clearly, this is a high priority project with all the stakeholders ... MDOT, DIBC, SEMCOG, and the City of Detroit. The need for this [Gateway] project has precipitated unprecedented cooperation between local, state, federal, and private interest not seen in the last 25 years...DIBC is expected to become a full partner in the project construction with MDOT. Recent announcement for the $400 million construction of a second span of the Ambassador Bridge by DIBC, underscores the expected cooperation needed to make these projects whole. This is truly a public-private partnership.'

    -- MDOT application to USDOT for Gateway funding, 1999

"Today we contacted Governor Granholm to respectfully request her to instruct MDOT to remove the approximately ten thousand tons of construction waste that MDOT deliberately dumped on the West Grand Boulevard ramp (East Service Drive) of the Gateway Project, which stretches for almost a quarter mile; and also to remove the heavy equipment on the other inbound MDOT ramp. Both ramps have needlessly been rendered unusable by MDOT and are preventing passenger traffic and commerce from using the new roadways. Travelers and business should not be used as pawns here. The disputes between MDOT and DIBC will be adjudicated in the courts and through arbitration.


"We will continue to meet with MDOT to try and find solutions on all the open issues and move ahead together, as partners. We hope our goal at its foundation is aligned - build the best Gateway Project possible."


Thursday, June 25, 2009

No More Strike BLOGs


I thought about stopping to write any more strike BLOGs.

What's the point? Eddie is going to Greece to put us on the world stage again, running off to Germany to get an update from Lufthansa when an email request would have worked as well and now has another secret deal he is working on that will bring us prosperity. No one will negotiate until he gets back.

Everyone knows we are in limbo anyway, waiting for the Province to legislate Toronto back to work. The expectation is that Windsor will be legislated back too but I have seen no movement to do that here. Everything is perfect in Windsor with the residents taking garbage to the dump and cutting City grass.

If this strike is not ended by the Province too, then expect that my CAW speculation re Eddie has scared Dwight and Sandra senseless!

Actually, if you take a look at the chorus in their song---The Spice Girls were right. It's the only way the strike will end. I'll let you figure out the song and the lyric.

CLASSIFIED INFORMATION

Check out the AFI ads in the Star. They are the security company that the City is using. Check out the salaries too.
  • "Average Weekly Security Guard Wage: $1352.00 Average Weekly Investigator Wage Rate: $1560.00."
Since it is more than many CUPE workers make now, how many will submit their CVs. With all of the strikes going on, it could become a good long-term career!

Hmmmm, what if the money for security could have been used to settle the strike issues. Naw, that would have been too easy.

IF INDUSTRY CAN DO IT, WHY WON'T THE CITY

I noticed that Bombardier just settled with their Union:

  • "The talks had been held up on Bombardier’s request for concessions on the union’s long-term health benefits for its past and future retirees, and to increase the percentage of its temporary workers at its Downsview plant in Toronto to 20%.

    Neither are included in the new tentative agreement, according to Jerry Dias, assistant to the CAW president. "I’m very pleased," he said."

CUPE workers are being described as fat-cats who have no pressures on them to be realistic because they work for Government.

Isn't the City the fat-cat too? They have no profit pressure as private enterprise does. If they have a problem, then they just raise taxes and you, dear reader, have no choice but to pay!

Why can't anyone fight City Hall? Because the City can use taxpayer money to fight taxpayers!

WHERE DO WE START

Eddie wants the negotiations to start where they left off, which gives him the power to try to frame what the resolution will be.

Where did the City finish---as shown on their website:

  • "This web site contains the most recent offer that the Corporation had made to the Unions as of Tuesday, May 12, 2009."

What is the big deal about starting where something left off when the City states:

  • "Both the Employer and the Union have the right to alter, modify or delete their proposals at any time."

Here is the other absurdity. Let's assume that Jim Wood took PRBs off the table, (It looks like he was gamesplaying to flush out the City but that was a pretty dumb move if true) The Union members at their Friday meeting rejected that idea no matter what anyone says.

What is the point of starting at a point that will never happen! Just so the City can walk away again?

OMG, GETTING A NON-MADE IN WINDSOR DECISION

How dare the City think about going to someone 4-500 Kms away to have a decision imposed on us. Those Toronto people have no idea of our local circumstances.

For shame!

  • "The city has asked the province to rule on a request by CUPE to appoint an outside mediator in the bitter Windsor civic strike now in its 11th week with no end in sight.

    “We’re interested in having the Ministry of Labour determine if a new mediator is the right way to go,” said Helga Reidel, the city’s lead negotiator."

Hmmm, if it is good enough for the City, then why is it not good for arbitration?

NOW JIM GETS IT

  • "Local 82 president Jim Wood, representing outside workers, blamed the mayor for the impasse.

    “He has to have everything his way … it can’t always be his way,”

Here is what is bizarre, the City speaking out of both sides of its mouth. Whom is CUPE to believe?

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis said the city is against going outside the Ministry of Labour’s pool of mediators, especially with a private mediator recommended by the union.

  • “We’re already under the supervision of the Ministry of Labour, and we want to keep it that way,” said Reidel, adding that, although it doesn’t see the need, the city is not adverse to switching mediators."

Frankly, who cares. Mediators are NOT arbitrators and do not decide anything.

It's just another stall until Eddie gets back. He dare not have anything done while he is away as in Ottawa as Chris Schnurr Blogged:

  • "The agreement between the city and the ATU, that all future disagreements will settled by an arbitrator, is the second significant peace deal between council and organized labour in the absence of Mayor Larry O’Brien.

    O’Brien has taken an unpaid leave of absence while he stands trial, accused of influence peddling.

    In O’Brien’s absence, city council not only engineered a three year deal with its biggest union, CUPE Local 503, but now it has found middle ground with ATU Local 279, just months after the longest transit strike in the city’s history."

HONOURING THE MAYOR

I think that there is a huge failure to communicate.

  • "The striking workers had encouraged residents to dump their garbage at their picket site and they created a situation at one of our central trash depots," he said. "They decided to call the garbage pile, name it after me; they called it Mount Francis. That's how much garbage was there."

Doesn't Eddie understand that they were giving him an idea about how to get the Winter children's games here by creating an "elevation." They even came up with the idea of naming it for posterity in his honour.

Why is he so rude about it now when he took their idea?

WHY WAS THE GRASS CUT

Citizens who cut the grass may have been completely misled. In fact, it looks like they were part of a secret public opinion poll that they knew nothing about:

  • "According to Mayor Eddie Francis, citizens frustrated by the striking union are tacitly supporting the city by managing their own garbage, paying to dump bags of trash at private sites, and in some cases even mowing weed-strewn parks that have been abandoned by striking staff."

Remember how it was put before:

  • "Ignoring warnings and caution expressed earlier by Windsor's mayor and its striking workers, citizens across the city took to neglected parks and playgrounds Saturday to battle garbage, weeds and knee-high grass...

    "It's about our children...

    "I think it's wrong to take a summer away from the kids"

It is disturbing to me that the pollster did not add in this comment as well:

  • "I'm not happy with how CUPE is handling this, and I'm not happy that Eddie (Francis, the mayor) is not talking - it's sad it's come this far."

So much for it being about the kids!

I am told that a new poll has been taken. The results show that CUPE support has increased dramatically. Jackson Park has not been cut. Moreover, at Forest Glade Optimist Park

  • "no one showed up with a lawn mower."

Eddie is losing badly now. Why won't the Star and other media publicize these poll results?

GARBAGE PICKUP NUMBERS SUSPECT

Pollsters are questioning as well the Mayor's numbers for public support of picking up trash. Here is what the Mayor said first:

  • "Approximately 75 per cent of the city's garbage has been accounted for at transfer stations"

Then almost immediately thereafter he claimed:

  • "Mr. Francis cited a "tremendous result," saying the city has been able to account for nearly 80% of all garbage."

And then another number for City news to be very precise:

  • " Nearly 76 percent or 75 percent of the garbage has been accounted for."

If "citizens are not faced with the prospect of trash-strewn, foul-smelling streets," then why is there the panic to threaten people with $5,000 fines or to take trash home on fireworks night? I wonder if some of the trash was taken away by front-end loaders in the middle of the night especially in the Red Bull area.

Could that skew the results?

HOPPA

I hope-a that Percy is smarter next time around so he could have replaced the Mayor in Athens as he did in Whistler. Next time he won't blame Eddie about what the Mayor did:

  • "I think that's bad faith bargaining,"

Next time, Percy just better say "Yia sas."

NO MORE DIRECTOR FEES FOR COUNCILLORS

A Toronto Star Editorial stated:

  • "In lamenting the municipal employees' strike now disrupting Toronto, Mayor David Miller correctly argues that public sector unions shouldn't expect pay raises and concession-free contracts when private sector workers – and taxpayers – are facing layoffs, plant closings, and rollbacks of their pay and benefits...

    Regrettably, Miller and his hand-picked executive committee undermined that sound argument earlier this year in allowing city councillors to pocket a 2.4 per cent raise, boosting their annual salaries from $96,805 to $99,153. Few would disagree now that this was a mistake. It can, and should, be corrected...

    There are no such excuses for city council's ill-judged 2.4 per cent pay increase, which came earlier this year, after the economy had already begun its precipitous decline. The pay raise represents a failure of Miller's leadership.

    To be sure, Miller himself declined to accept the raise, but he didn't seek to impose the same restraint on the rest of council. That oversight is now providing ammunition to the union leaders, who insist their members are being unfairly singled out for austerity measures."

Eddie's Motion attempt to play games with PRBs failed miserably as at least one Councillor admitted he voted in his self-interest so he he would not have a benefit taken away from him.

If Council is serious, then they should all give up the thousands of dollars in fees they receive each year that bolsters their salaries, such as the new airport fees, and more importantly their pensions down the road.

How much does that cost taxpayers in pension contributions?

Real Fireworks In Windsor

Not the amateurish kind of politicians on both sides of the river!

At least I can enjoy these taken by my daughter, Melissa.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Moroun Is Windsor's--and Michigan's--Last Hope


Be nice to Matty Moroun. He is the only hope that Windsor--and Michigan--have now first to keep traffic moving across the border smoothly and to help in our economic diversification! And of course Canada too as I have Blogged before.

Oh I know about the Coast Guard action. It was somewhat predictable. Then the MDOT dirt piles on new pavement. The Bridge Company has to be stopped or at least delayed if the Governments' DRIC plans are to be accomplished, especially after the Bridge Company NEPA and MDOT lawsuits.
  • "The Detroit International Bridge Company said in a statement the move "smacks of retribution for a federal lawsuit filed last month by a coalition of prominent Detroit community organizations and the DIBC complaining of environmental justice and other causes of action against the U.S. Department of Transportation." The statement goes on to say the action appears "one-sided and misguided.

    “While we are perplexed and disappointed by this action, we will take all the steps necessary to address the concerns expressed by the U.S. Coast Guard and keep this vital project moving. It’s obvious to us that this abeyance letter is nothing more than the government applying political pressure on the Coast Guard to delay construction of the replacement span of the Ambassador Bridge,” said Dan Stamper, President of the Detroit International Bridge Company, in the statement. "

This is what concerned me when I first got involved in the border file 7 years ago. As a litigation lawyer, I knew that unless there were discussions between the parties, it was inevitable that there would be lawsuits filed that would tie the border up for decades. That is what happened before with the FIRA lawsuit.

It's starting.

Citizens For Jobs Now may as well close up shop unless someone smartens up or rather, they better put the pressure on to get people talking. That should be considered their Number ONE priority. They had better get vocal. Otherwise bridges and roads to bridges won't happen for a generation!

Let me explain.

Sorry Ambassador Bridge Company haters. Transport Canada Minister John Baird put the nail in the coffin of the DRIC Bridge at the recent FCM conference. It should be no surprise because the only money that Canada has in its Budget is $400M for a road to the border. No funds have been set aside for a DRIC bridge and plaza since a P3 was to deal with that and we know what has happened to the P3 market.

It was NOT in his speech but here is what he said according to the Toronto Star:
  • "At the Federation of Canadian Municipalities meeting, Baird identified the country's most significant infrastructure project as the $4 billion to $5 billion access road to a new border crossing near Windsor and said he is making it a personal priority.

    The project "has the attention at the highest level. The province and the federal government are on the same page. The time for action is now."

Interesting choice of language. The line was not "a road and a bridge." The comment was about the road NOT the bridge. The Province has NO role in the bridge, only the road. The DRIC bridge completion has been put back two years so far, until 2015, so "action" is hardly the word to be applied to it. The Bridge is now stuck in litigation as well.

It took a long time but it was inevitable after the Globe and Mail 2 1/2 page Saturday spread when Matty Moroun made it clear that he was not going to be terrorized by the Governments involved into selling his bridge cheaply.

We have seen the Governments scramble back and forth from capacity to security to redundancy to future economic recovery as the justification for DRIC. They even got Jeffrey Simpson of the Globe to help out.

Truck traffic---the Governments have 2 investment grade traffic surveys in 2008 and 2009 and have refused to provide me copies. Obviously there is no traffic justification

Security--Minister Van Loan actually wanted to do something at the Ambassador Bridge

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

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

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

P3s are dead. If money will be used for the P3 road, my guess is that it is coming right from OMERS provided they are guaranteed a huge profit. Otherwise they cannot afford to do it

  • "The McGuinty government remains fully committed to the P3 model for building vital institutions like hospitals, even though P3s increase costs by hundreds of millions of dollars for every large project. At the St Catharines General P3, private investors backed away from the project, causing the McGuinty government to scramble for financing, turning to OMERS, the Ontario municipal employees' pension fund. The terms of this deal have not been made public."

Now the flip-flop between Baird and Butler and Ambassador Wilson can be explained. The Transport Canada people had to be involved in the process to try to demonize Moroun in the eyes of the Michigan Legislators and to try to make them believe that his Enhancement Project was dead. They failed miserably and made fools of themselves with the Legislators. Wilson had to try and salvage the mess:

  • "Canadian federal authorities remain adamantly opposed to Moroun.

    "We believe that the new crossing should be subject to public oversight, and that would mean, in effect, a publicly owned bridge," said Mark Butler, a spokesman for the federal agency Transport Canada, on Thursday."

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

  • Wilson in his letter I am told said that Canada had no interest in disadvantaging the Ambassador Bridge's long-term viability and that it would continue to be an integral part of the strategic Windsor/Detroit corridor.

Of course you remember ""Feds Say Bridge Treated Fairly" and the generous offer of Canada to hire an engineering firm to help them with their Plaza master plan.

Wilson, given his background with the Bridge Company was interestingly the one who was forced to eat crow. There is no doubt that Baird was not going to take responsiblity for their fuddle-duddle-up!

Don't take Baird's DRIC road comments seriously unless Ontario really wants to give some P3 operator billions in extra profits. We are being Delrayed on that still.

The Feds and Province still have to get Moroun's help to support a cheaper "interim" road to the Enhancement Project bridge so they can save face.

Why is Moroun Windsor's only hope? He is the only one who is going to build a bridge and with his money, not taxpayers', in the foreseable future. If there is no bridge, there is no DRIC road and therefore no thousands of high-paying infrastructure and other jobs.

If you really want the clincher, take a look in Michigan:

  • "$740M of Michigan roadwork axed

    State forced to cancel 137 projects after it can't come up with its share of money


    The state took another hard shot Thursday when the Michigan Department of Transportation announced it has canceled more than 137 road and bridge projects -- totaling $740 million -- due to Michigan's inability to match federal dollars. Michigan's portion of the federal match for road construction will now go to other states.

    "We are in a state of crisis when
    it comes to our transportation funding, and it is being felt in every community across the state," said Mike Nystrom, vice president of government and public relations for the Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association, which represents 800 construction related companies within the state. The list of canceled projects, which includes 28 high-profile projects in Metro Detroit, was part of MDOT's five-year road and bridge program presented earlier this week to the House Transportation Committee. Nearly $247.8 million would have been spent on road projects in Metro Detroit.

    "These projects are vital to Michigan's economic future," said Nystrom. "When roads are maintained, they attract new business. Economic and job growth will not happen in Michigan when MDOT is forced to cancel critical infrastructure projects."

    Under the funding formula, the federal government pays for 80 percent of road projects and requires each state to come up with the remaining 20 percent. Michigan relies on fuel and registration taxes for its transportation funding, but those revenues have fallen steadily over the past several years because Michigan motorists are driving less and buying fewer new cars.

    If Michigan can't come up with its 20 percent, it loses the 80 percent match from the federal government."

Guess whose project would help out Michigan right away with billions in federal matching grants so they can build their roads.

Perhaps Matty is Michigan's only hope too!

CUPE Strike Sights And Sounds

Some interesting material I have been sent. If the City's negotiating Committee wants to prepare some music, I will post it too.


From the website of the Company the City hired for security





video



New lyrics for the song sung by Queen: We are the Champions.

Title: We are the Workers

There is NO respect
No value or pride;
For those of us here…
Or future young lives.

So, WE set the stage,
We’ll play it OUR way,
Until you can see, you’re wrong in your say…
Yet WE will come through…..

Chorus:

And the beat will go on and on and on and on…

WE are the WORKERS; My friend…
And WE make the DIFFERENCE in the end…

‘Cause WE are the workers;
WE ARE THE WORKERS
We care for Windsor
‘Cause we are the worker’s….
Of Windsor’s World!

You are the Elect.
WE are the hired.
We’ll be the one’s here,
When you’re all retired.

For you have no clue, that it is NOT about you;
Or your personal crusade,
It’s all about lives that have lived and have died for both me and for you….

Chorus: Repeat 2ce

Yet the beat will go on and on and on and on…

We’ll be the Champions; my friend…
‘Cause WE make the DIFFERENCE in the end…

Still WE are the workers;
WE ARE THE WORKERS
We care for people;
‘Cause we are the worker’s….
Of Windsor’s World!



I was told that this letter was distributed to a number of homeowners near the Red Bull site. Nothing like adding insult to injury if true. Rather heavy-handed too



I wonder when I will get an anonymous email like this from a whistleblower at City Hall. It must be serious. Wasn't the name of James Band's chief "M?"





I wonder if that was Eh-Channel's Daryl Newcombe's car parked at City Hall when he got the big strike LEAK from the City, Union or third party free agent!






The Mom may have to wait until Eddie gets back from Greece.

"We thought it was dirt or clay or construction debris -- but no, it is only retaliation"

We need to take lessons in Canada from our American friends. Take a look at these photos to get the real dirt on the dispute between the Bridge Company and MDOT. I have also Blogged Dan Stamper's statement below:










If we want to close a road down, why we do silly things like putting up barricades or maybe even some construction barrels.

Not the Americans. When they want to punish the Bridge Compnay for starting the FHWA lawsuit and then the second lawsuit against MDOT and make life hard for paying customers who want to use the Bridge, they dump "approximately ten thousand TONS of construction waste" to close down a ramp. "MDOT is also storing heavy equipment on the other inbound MDOT ramp, rendering that unusable. Both of these ramps were supposed to be in operation by December 2008. "

That should teach them to try to defend their legal position.

Here is something only a bureaucrat can say
  • "According to Kratofil, the ramp where the dirt has been stored is not scheduled to be opened until this fall.

    "The dirt is being stored and is being used on another portion of the project," Kratofil said. "The equipment that we are storing is of no concern of theirs, and it too will be used on this project at a later date."

Sure, why make it easy to use the bridge. Store dirt on a nicely completed highway so that it may have to be refinished later at extra cost. Michigan has so much money to throw around for highway construction. NOT!

What I do not understand about all of this comes from this quote back in March from an MDOT rep where everythign seemed fine:

  • "The bridge company and the Michigan Department of Transportation say they're discussing changes to the project, which is designed to improve traffic flow from the Ambassador Bridge plaza and build a new interchange for I-75 and I-94.

    “They have had some challenges and they would like to change some things that we feel would endanger the purpose and need for our project,” said Greg Johnson, MDOT metro Detroit engineer.

    Changes to the “purpose and need” in a federally funded project can result in federal dollars being withdrawn, Johnson said, so MDOT is careful to vet any alterations to the plan.

    “We are still negotiating and talking to the bridge company every day,” he said. “There is no loss of federal funding...

    James Steele, the Federal Highway Administration's Michigan Division administrator, said he's working with MDOT to make sure the project stays within the bounds of its original scope and purpose, and added that changes are permissible as long as it doesn't alter what was agreed to originally...

    No actual work has been done by the bridge company that threatens the project's funding, Johnson said, and any work done on the DIBC's land that doesn't alter the point of the project is not MDOT's concern.

    “They're a private entity and they're on their own property,” he said. “To their credit, they are not used to dealing with some of the things that MDOT deals with on a daily basis (with federal projects).”

Wow, how things change after a lawsuit is started.




Here is Stamper's statement:

"Statement of Dan Stamper
President, Detroit International Bridge Company
June 23, 2009

Good morning and thank you for joining us today. I have a brief statement and will answer your questions before we take a tour up the ramp. The Detroit International Bridge Co has completed 95% of our portion of the Gateway Project.

 Reconfigured inbound auto
 New entrance to the U.S. for autos and connection for ramps to freeway
 New connection of 21st Street
 New relocated Duty Free Store
 New relocated Duty Free Fuel Services
 New ramp connections from freeway to Bridge
 New outbound Toll Plaza
 New outbound Customs Inspection area
 Separation of trucks and autos for Duty Free and Fuel

The Ambassador Bridge entered into a partnership with the Michigan Department of Transportation in the mid-1990s intended to improve the efficiency of the Ambassador trade corridor. This agreement was to complete the Gateway Project to develop infrastructure to improve traffic connections to the Ambassador Bridge and accommodate a replacement span to the 80-year-old structure. Part of the Project includes building a new plaza and ramps to connect the Ambassador Bridge to I-75, I-96 and I-94. We are excited about this joint endeavor and have already invested $500 million to make this a success.

All of us at the Ambassador Bridge have been working very hard to make sure that the Gateway Project will benefit all travelers between Detroit and Windsor, Canada, facilitate trade, reflect the finest construction, and be completed on time and on budget.

We are here today, however, because as the Project nears completion, obstacles created deliberately by MDOT are preventing passenger traffic and commerce from using the new roadways and are late in removing traffic from city streets. Michiganders deserve to know what’s going on.

Beginning earlier this month, MDOT has dumped approximately ten thousand TONS of construction waste on the West Grand Boulevard ramp (East Service Drive); which stretches for almost a QUARTER MILE.

DIBC has had this debris analyzed. We thought it was dirt or clay or construction debris -- but no, it is only retaliation.

On top of that, MDOT is also storing heavy equipment on the other inbound MDOT ramp, rendering that unusable. Both of these ramps were supposed to be in operation by December 2008. In comparison, DIBC’s access ramps were completed in January 2009 and have been operating since April first.

So what’s going on here?

I guess the last straw to MDOT and the state was when six leading Detroit community organizations and DIBC filed an environmental justice lawsuit against the Department of Transportation on May 15 challenging the Detroit River International Crossing study. Just over two weeks later, in what smacks of nothing less than retaliation, the tons of waste suddenly began to appear. Instead of doing all possible to open the ramps, MDOT was slowing them down.

Despite our attempts to find out what’s happening and to see how we can help open the ramps, we’ve been stonewalled. And who bears the burden of this seemingly childish action? It’s the thousands of commuters and businesses who rely daily on a speedy crossing of the bridge and those in Southwest Detroit who needlessly have to endure trucks driving through their neighborhoods.

And what about all Michiganders who will now have to pay with their tax dollars for the totally needless and wasteful cleanup of these 100 truckloads of junk? Why would anyone want to or need to spend that money when we desperately need those funds for jobs, police, education and road work in Detroit and in other parts of our state? To us this seems like an intentional obstruction of commerce and efficiency at the border crossing.

Let me be candid, we had expected that the elected officials representing this community would have been up-in arms at this needless and deliberate delay and that we could stay on the sidelines on this one. The blaring silence of Representative Talib and others in not calling for MDOT to straighten out this mess is notable.

Instead of their action, we are confronted with unfortunate attempts to throw stones at the Ambassador Bridge.

We are partners with MDOT in this important Project and we want to be good partners. Disputes over interpretation of diagrams or changes in detail are part of all large construction jobs. That’s the reason why our agreement has an arbitration clause. MDOT though prefers finger pointing and inaccuracy mongering. They’ve been using a strategy of creating confusion and misleading the Southwest Detroit community, the City of Detroit, the legislature, and even the Coast Guard about what the Bridge is or isn’t doing.

Frankly, it’s disheartening for us to have MDOT as a partner in the vital Gateway Project while they simultaneously kick us as they partner with Canada on the DRIC.

We were compelled to request arbitration after our discussions with MDOT over several open issues became meaningless and they walked out on a meeting. MDOT still hasn’t responded to our May 20th request. We were then compelled to file suit against MDOT to resolve all outstanding issues. We believe in the judicial system and will rely on letting an impartial arbitrator and judge rule on any disputes. Nevertheless, of course we will continue to try and find solutions with MDOT on all the open issues and move ahead together, as partners.

We want to build a better Michigan and better Ambassador Bridge Crossing. We are investing $1 billion in private funds to build a replacement span for our 80–year old bridge. That will create 4,000 jobs in the first year and 20,000 jobs over the next two decades. If MDOT and the Governor are serious about our partnership the first thing they can do is stop throwing dirt and instead, start tomorrow and clean up the ten thousand ton mess that was dropped on the Project. All of us will be better for it.

This wall of debris is what you get when a department like MDOT has one foot in the Ambassador Bridge Gateway Partnership and then puts the other foot in a Canadian Partnership.

Please join me on the ramp to see what ten thousand tons of garbage looks like.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

No Councillors Playing While Eddie Is Away


OMG. I thought that we might have had a breakthrough on the strike while our Mayor was away. Out of sight, out of mind.

Yes, yes I know he is available on his Blackberry---only a phone call away--but overseas calls can be very expensive. Why an hour phone call can cost as much as has to be paid for the costs of the 4 new hires' PRBs for a year or two if one is not careful with roaming charges and so on.

Come on now, our Mayor has become a real jock sponsoring all of these sports events:

  • "We are inches from a deal and we are not prepared to go back to the 50-yard line,” Francis said. “This request for a new mediator also shows (CUPE) wants to chose a referee to call the game their way.”

It is the typical Francis ploy. He makes the rules or nothing happens as we saw with his proposed Greenlink mediation proposal

  • Mediation if necessary so I am not accused of bad faith bargaining ("The city’s bargaining team remained at the table Monday at the Holiday Inn, prepared to negotiate, the mayor said. And will be there again today.)

  • but not necessarily mediation ("Mr. Lee will be more favourable to their position otherwise they would not have picked him,” Francis said.

    “We are not going to be part of any process to bring in someone to call it their way.”

    Regardless of who is appointed by Ontario’s labour board, the city will not start over and will only continue talks with proposals left on the table when bargaining last broke off, the mayor said."

His "We are fine on the condition we continue where we left off,” term and condition is nothing more than an excuse not to negotiate. HE is the one who makes the determination what that position is, no one else. HE decides where bargaining starts which then determines where bargaining ends. At least in his mind.

Nice move though so nothing gets done while he is away.

Poor Eddie, he cannot even get his sports cliches right. This is Canada where we do NOT have a 50 yard line as the middle of the field.

Seriously strike fans, you have to take this negotiating "one game at a time.” This is Eddie playing "ball-control offense." You have to wonder why he is "sticking to his game plan" no matter what. He must think that CUPE is "looking at third down and forever." No wonder what is key to him is "where [the referee] spots the ball. "

With the pressure of the bad faith complaint where the real issue is who is telling the truth, we shall see if CUPE can "orchestrate a comeback." CUPE leadership have made so many bad mistakes that they "can't cough it up here." They are "overdue to break one." There is no doubt that they are "audibilizing" over Eddie's European trip. However, I expect that Eddie thinks he "has all the time in the world." However, CUPE can make "big gains" about him leaving town such that Eddie might "like to have that one back." It could be for Eddie a "costly turnover."

In the end, "It's a game of field position" as Eddie figured out years ago and CUPE leadership has never understood. "You can see the frustration starting to set in" on both sides. Citizens can only hope that "cooler heads prevail."

In the end, both sides better understand:

  • "It's a difficult sell to tell the fan base to have patience."

"We Can Build Mountains"

As the Mayor goes overseas to win for us another event so that we are on the world's stage once again, Windsorites remain at home following his words of wisdom:


  • "Asked about the local lack of elevation to host many winter sports, the mayor responded: “We can build mountains."


MOUNT FRANCIS


Well, it's better than "Let them eat cake!"

Bon Voyage Eddie


Enjoy your trip to Greece. I do wonder why you have to be away so long. Didn't you do an overnighter to Europe before? Why not now?

I know that you and your travel companion will be working hard on our behalf. So sorry that those troublesome, pesky CUPE strikers did not knuckle under but them's the breaks.

Seriously, don't worry when you leave tomorrow. The Councillors will not settle the strike while you are away or do a deal with the Province re the DRIC road. As for the Bridge Company, I am sure that no homes on Indian Road will come tumbling down either.

Just give them that stern look of yours, make them sign another affidavit and everything will be ok until you get back.

Mind you, I have heard about the ingenious scheme that a certain Councillor has thought up...

Is Transport Canada Using The Globe To Scare Moroun


You may have read Jeffrey Simpson's column in the Saturday Globe and Mail respecting the border file. He's their national affairs columnist. His article came right after one in the Wall Street Journal. Someone has been very active earning his/her salary!

I am not certain if he has written something before on the border file but if he has I do not remember it.

It's a shame though that he was so misinformed in his column. I therefore took it upon myself to help educate him by sending him this note. I trust he appreciates it.

Mind you, the story may have come from another Governmental source. Transport Canada is a rather unimportant Department to be speaking to a Globe National Columnist. I suspect that to get this column the PMO may have had a finger or two in it!

Here are some excerpts:

"You might want to check out my BLOG on the border file. http://windsorcityon.blogspot.com/ I literally have hundreds of BLOGs on what is going on.

I am afraid that you have been listening to Transport Canada reps too much. You ought not to believe everything they tell you:

  • you ought to read about "fair competition" that Canada has been promoting compared with what the DRIC EIS statements say in reality about how much business DRIC says they will actually capture of cross-border traffic ie almost all of Moroun's business
  • the 2 bridges argument is a phony one--terrorists would attack every crossing as they have done before. Why is Canada supportive of a new Peace Bridge right beside the existing one!! If it was a real issue, then the Governments would have introduced reverse customs as Minister Van Loan proposed in Windsor but now seemingly has abandoned
  • Unless there has been a deal that no one has been told about, Windsor opposes the Province's road
  • Windsor has been "Delrayed" over the border road
  • Detroit's new Mayor during his campaign supported the Moroun project
  • the Michigan Senate is opposed to the DRIC bridge and supports Moroun's project
  • The Coast Guard is merely asking for information
  • Even MDOT is not opposed to Moroun's project and wants it built although one has to get that information kicking and screaming out of them since they are a DRIC participant
  • The PM has tried 3 times to get the US Presidents onside (Bush twice and Obama once) at their meetings and failed each time
  • The Department of State on behalf of the President has already turned down a Presidential permit for DRIC to build a bridge but the Ambassador Bridge does not need one
  • The lawsuit started already should be read by you. It is an indictment of the way that Canada has acted and once the Americans figure out what Canada is doing could well turn into our next softwood lumber dispute with the Americans
  • A number of community groups in Detroit are co-plaintiffs
  • Michael Wilson's strategy with the Americans over this project is an abysmal failure and, to be direct, is one of the reasons why Canadians are dying in Afghanistan (you will have to read my BLOGs about that one!)
  • The whole project on both sides of the river was to be a P3 and you know what has happened to that market--dead (Check the Vancouver Sun for stories about how the $3B Port Mann bridge P3 project died)
  • Michigan has no money for the project or even to repair their roads, and there is no P3 legislation in Michigan to allow this to go forward
  • Michigan has no money to get federal matching grants to build roads and may lose $800M worth of grants. Moroun's project would give them $2B in grants!
  • Obviously they have not told you about the Michigan/Moroun partnership called the Ambassador Gateway project, the biggest one ever in Michigan, designed to handle twice the existing traffic on its own and which was designed to accommodate Moroun's second bridge
  • Even Transport Minister Baird in a speech admitted there was not enough traffic for a second bridge and in fact under an ATIP request of mine has refused to provide me with 2 investment grade traffic surveys they have undertaken. Obviously, they do not support the reason why the bridge was to be built in the first place
  • The last FIRA lawsuit with Moroun over bridge ownership went on for a dozen years and he won! He is NOT afraid to litigate against Governments (His action against the US Government allowed the traffic tie-ups in Windsor to end)
  • Transport Canada's policy is completely contrary to what they told the Senate and is in violation of the Senate Observations re the International Bridges and Tunnels Act
  • Oh and for years, we have been told that the DRIC bridge will be finished in 2013. It was only a few months ago in a TV interview that we learned the DRIC bridge would be delayed for a few years. 2013 all of a sudden became a "target." I believe that your column is the first time that 2015 has ever been used by anyone in the traditional media, including the Windsor Star.

Regretfully, you were used! In the same way that a 2 1/2 page spread in the Globe by Brent Jang about Moroun terrorized Transport Canada when they learned that their plans to force him out of business did not work, Transport's hope, if they gave you the story, was that your comment would scare him into sell out cheaply to them. Unlike a bureaucrat playing with taxpayer money with no accountability, he is using his own. He does not scare that easily.

The story is not just about Windsor/Detroit. It includes the Blue Water Bridge that Canada is also trying to sell off---except they cannot do it because Moroun's bridge is their biggest competitor and he takes a huge amount of business from them. PLUS he wants to build a new bridge in Buffalo to compete with the Peace Bridge which Canada also opposes. PLUS Canada opposed his management of the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel.

This is all part of Canada's "Corridors and Gateways " policy. Believe it or not , Canada has tried for 50 years to take over the Ambassador Bridge---it started under Diefenbaker and was most aggressive while Herb Gray was in Government until the recent turn of events under both the Federal Liberals and then the Conservatives. It is part economic nationalism and now is just greed for profiteers---the P3 road project alone would cost taxpayers billions of extra dollars if it ever goes forward as proposed now.

You ought to go to Detroit and meet up with the Bridge Company. You might learn some shocking details about the border file that would make for a column or ten!

PS. Do not hold your breath. You might turn a very deep shade of blue!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Rewriting PRB Motion History

That is what is in the Minutes of Council as to what happened last week re PRBs and Councillors.

It is NOT correct! It creates an incorrect record unless it is changed to what really happened. Who would ever know in the future? I wrote to the City Clerk asking for a correction.

Check out Chris Schurr's BLOG to watch and listen for yourself to what took place at Council and see what I mean http://chrisschnurr.wordpress.com/2009/06/21/guest-blog-where-are-we-going-and-video-the-mayors-motion-on-prbs-for-councillors/.

Eddie's answer to Percy's question demonstrates that the Minutes entry is wrong. The Mayor's Motion only applied to the "and further" section of the previous By-law. As the Mayor said in the answer, for a Councillor who has 4 terms and an OMERS pension, he/she still gets the PRBs

In fact, if this is what happened, then PART-TIME Councillors get their PRBs immediately and they can NEVER be taken away! An even better deal than now for newly-elected Councillors.

What is neat about this as well is that the Mayor's name is not set out as the one who really introduced this in the first place. For procedural reasons, he did not do so because he was in the Chair. No one can in the future, unless they remember what happened,

BLAME EDDIE

CUPE Mediation Greenlink Style


Good thing I don't rely only on Windsor media for Windsor news.

According to CTV news, Eddie will negotiate with a mediator again. But only according to HIS Terms and Conditions. Who cares what the other side wants. Just like the way he wanted mediation over Greenlink with the Province. Forget the leak took place.

If you stack the deck in your favour, then how can one lose?

Come on folks, how can he possibly be accused of failing to negotiate in good faith now?
  • Windsor mayor says he will accept new mediator
    Updated: Sun Jun. 21 2009 5:24:31 PM

    The Canadian Press

    WINDSOR, Ont. — The mayor of Windsor, Ont. says he will accept a new mediator to help resolve a nearly 10-week-old strike if the union agrees the labour talk will pick up where it left off.

    Negotiations in the southern Ontario city's civic strike were called off Thursday after the union walked away from the bargaining table over information leaked to the media.

    Mayor Eddie Francis says the two sides were inches away from a deal last week before the union abandoned talks and served the city with an unfair labour practice complaint.

    The Canadian Union of Public Employees says a new mediator is needed to resume negotiations.

    In a statement today, Linda Thurston-Neeley, an assistant regional director with the union, says the bargaining atmosphere has been "poisoned" since day one and the union has lost all trust in the process.

    About 400 workers responsible for road work, gardening, garbage and recycling pickup walked off the job April 15, while another 1,400 workers in daycare, social services, bylaw enforcement and clerical work went on strike several days later.

    One of the sticking points in the negotiations is the city's bid to remove post-retirement benefits for new hires.

Does anyone know what this means other than Eddie and he therefore is the final arbitrator as to whether there is mediation or not! Why is there always a Francis condition?

Oh, I get it. If there are no negotiations, then, dear reader, you cannot:

BLAME EDDIE!

Wow. Inches away from a deal. As they say though, an inch is as good as a mile!

PS. Here is why Eddie did this as claimed by a reader. If what my reader says is true, then Eddie outmanoeuvered CUPE, again. It is tedious how poorly CUPE leaders are handling this strike. I guess they are waiting to be legislated back to work as their way out when that happens in a few weeks in Toronto:

  • "Good post. Of course Eddie doesn't mind having a new mediator - as long as they start where they left off. According to Jim Wood PRB's were "never really on the table" because they (the union) knew all along that there would be no movement on them...We were just playing the game". I don't know how slick Jim Wood et al think they are but an offer on the table is exactly what they put out and PRB's WERE taken out of the picture. Whether or no they were just playing the game is irrelevant. Their last offer is out there. No wonder Eddie doesn't mind picking up where they left off. In his mind, that final offer IS a good starting point and he can easily claim that they were only inches away."

CAW Take-over Of Windsor CUPE Locals Begins


There is no point being modest about it. I told you so.

Of course, when a mere BLOGGER says it, people snicker. But when Gord Henderson writes a column about it, then people take notice. C’est la vie
.
  • “Fire the coach and general manager and place the team under new management that knows what it's doing.

    Dumping CUPE and joining the CAW should be the first order of business for disgruntled union members when this unfunny clown show of a strike grinds to a merciful conclusion and they return to their city hall jobs…

    CUPE members should be madder than hell that they were led into this debacle. Hung out to dry for God knows what.

    When this is settled, they should think seriously about showing Sid and company the door and switching their dues to an outfit with some street smarts, good survival instincts and way better timing.

    If the CAW can accommodate flight attendants and newspaper reporters, it can surely find room for city hall clerks and gardeners.”

More about this further on. But a few interesting points first.

According to the Globe and Mail:
  • "[Eddie Francis] said residents have told him to find a made-in-Windsor solution rather than entering binding arbitration."

Isn't Eddie sounding just like ex-Mayor Mike Hurst who came up with his "made-in-Windsor" border solution. Ironically, Mike's so-called solution helped allow Eddie to become Mayor. I wonder who the beneficiary of Eddie's solution will be.

Gee, I must have been away when Eddie called me because no one asked for my opinion. A couple of polls were taken but since their results did not meet Eddie's needs, they could be ignored just like the Petition with those thousands of signatures. They don't count either.

I wonder what the Polera survey said. Since it has not been released by the Party who took it, one can guess.

Here is what really shocked me in the Globe story. Is this closing one's eyes to breaches of City By-laws. What happened to liability concerns? Could this be a contributor to violence? I am greatly disturbed. The consequences can be drastic:

  • "Residents are coming out, cutting the parks, cutting the boulevards. That level of support is a reflection of them trying to tell council not to cave,” Mr. Francis said."

I do not understand Eddie's logic actually. If more parks remain uncut than cut, shouldn't Eddie be caving? Isn't that the clear delivery of a message? Arbitrate now!

Have you noticed who have been virtually invisible in this strike, not standing up for their union supporters: NDP MPs Joe Comartin and Brian Masse.

Can you imagine how they would be screaming for the Government to intervene after a 10-week strike if the employer was a private enterprise organization and not the City of Windsor headed by Eddie Francis.

They can attend an OFL rally in Amherstburg and talk about the NDP fighting for pensions, benefits and EI or saying it is “utter nonsense” to have pensions referred to as legacy costs. Talk is cheap on a platform but where are their nasty comments about what the City is doing? I wonder if CUPE voters will remember that at election time.

Do you like the witch-hunt going on over the big leak? Integrity Commissioner, outside lawyer, swearing affidavits. I am waiting for the demand for lie detectors and hiring of private eyes. Whose phone call logs will be scrutinized, whose emails will be viewed? Whose Blackberry will be taken away for examination?

Why things are so bad that my inside moles are beside themselves, almost giddy actually, laughing so hard at what is going on! I wonder how many whistleblowers BLOGGERs will have contacting them after this strike is over. Revenge can be sweet after all.

Frankly though, if I was a Windsor Councillor, I would tell the Mayor and his lawyer to go stuff it. I would never sign an affidavit. Are the Councillors so cowardly that they will NOT stand up for themselves? Does their word mean nothing? It tells me that there is nothing but mistrust at Council amongst the people there that such action needs to be taken. It's a shame.

Perhaps we can hire the Michigan Governor's Hubby again to teach Councillors to be friends amongst each other.

It’s funny though. I have not heard this righteous indignation about other leaks to the media that impacted the City in the past. Just this case. Hmmm I wonder why.

I wonder if we can sell tickets at either the theatre at the Casino or the East End arena for people to watch the examination of the Mayor, Councillors and Union leaders during the negotiating in bad faith hearing at the Labour Board as to what took place during the stairwell deal. It would be a sell-out!

I am surprised that as part of their complaint CUPE did not refer to Councillor Postma’s comments in her BLOG but I am sure that she will make an excellent witness for CUPE.

I would think that if the strike is resolved before the hearing we may be deprived of that extravaganza. I would expect that a condition of the resolution would be the withdrawal of the Complaint. Who knows, that might be an incentive for settlement too.

Back to the CAW, remember what I wrote before:

  • "Deep Throat continued

    “What we are really seeing is the start of the war to see who will “rule” Windsor!”

    “Rule Windsor?” I sputtered. “What the heck does that mean? Who cares about this little pond in the forgotten part of Ontario...

    I understood it now in a flash. It was all to build a massive power base. The CUPE strike was nothing more than a tool to seal a deal between the CAW and the Mayor. I guessed that the CAW had no idea that it was being used either as part of something much, much bigger. They were primarily interested in the increased number of members.”

Go back and read this BLOG again: Explaining The CUPE Strike (Part II) http://windsorcityon.blogspot.com/2009/06/explaining-cupe-strike-part-ii.html

In a nutshell, if my suspicions are correct, the "strike"Plan was developed as far back as 2005 after the last contract negotiations. There is no doubt in my mind that a number of experienced "strike" consultants were hired. I wonder if we will ever see their costs.

The PRBs created a huge unfunded liability for the City that will negatively impact Windsor's S&P bond rating and would effect taxpayers down the road. It was not possible to get rid of PRBs all at once. After all, why be open like the Windsor Public Library and talk to your employees in advance of contract negotiations. So stage it. Take on one union at a time.

There were some "try-ons." However, the reality is that the arbitrators will not remove benefits from Police and Firefighters and other "essential" groups unless other employees lose them first. The City knew that and had to plan for it.

Accordingly, I expect that the decision was made to take on the vulnerable first, the ones who are lowest paid and most likely to fold quickly. As Councillor Mom disclosed, it would seem that the instructions given were not to negotiate but to crush:

  • "I strongly believe that for the past 7 weeks council has not given our negotiating team the tools to truly negotiate. We have set parameters for them but have not given them the autonomy required to get a contract. In essence they have been negotiating with themselves."

We'll see if she is correct when the bad faith claim is heard.

What the thinking had to be was that the employees could not afford a strike of more than a few weeks in length.

In my opinion, at some point in time, the Eminence Greasie woke up to the fact that this strike could give Eddie a powerbase he did not have. It was not a big leap considering that one of Eddie's good buddies on Council is Junior, the son of the head honcho of CAW!

The Eminence also recognized that the strike could also make Eddie a hero by standing up to the greedy unions to fight for taxpayers. Ironically, the "greedy" contracts of CAW workers and the attacks on them made it easy for CUPE workers to be attacked. If I had to lose mine, then they should lose theirs!

Get CAW some new members--CUPE members who have had enough of the "failings" of their union leaders and lack of significant help from their Ontario and National HQs---and all of a sudden Eddie has a political machine in town that can be viewed as unbeatable. It makes the E-Machine look sickly by comparison!

An "F.O." here and there works wonders to appear as a fighter for CUPE workers as does supporting CUPE workers at their sessions.

A savvy politician like Spanky can see the handwriting on the wall. No wonder he met with Eddie recently. And there is no doubt that if Eddie decides to run for a third term, then all of the forces well be aligned against Bill Marra to ensure that he does not do so!

In the end, this strike is all about crushing:

  • crush CUPE's vulnerable workers

  • crush police, firefighters and other essential workers

  • crush Dwight and Sandra

  • crush Marra.

Thanks Gord for validating my theory. The Sheriff strikes again!