Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Will CUPE Fold


Short and sweet.

Incredible pressure is being put now on CUPE workers to back off and knuckle under. After being 3 months on strike, do CUPE members have the resolve--and the personal finances--to continue on?

From looking at the Star online comments, it would seem that they have minimal support from Windsorites. Surprisingly though, I have not received very many anti-CUPE notes notwithstanding the readership demographics of this BLOG.

Frankly, the expectation was that when Toronto CUPE was going was going to be legislated back to work, then Windsor CUPE members would too. If that does not happen or does not happen for a month or two more, then what?

Consider the following:
  • Should CUPE be concerned about CAW? Probably not but who knows

  • Polling being done in Windsor with the strike being a big topic in it

  • No negotiations while Eddie was away and no negotiations scheduled

  • Pupatello, showing her toughness, calls Torontonians a bunch of babies over their strike

  • Eddie becoming the media darling by "talking trash" and telling Toronto how to fight a strike

  • Councillors believing that playing tough on CUPE is winning them votes for the next election

  • The putdown of Councillor Jones

  • "The Ontario legislature will not force striking municipal employees in Windsor or Toronto back to work any time soon, says MPP Dwight Duncan."

  • Dwight only thinking about the City's side, and supporting it, not CUPE's: "Duncan, Ontario's minister of finance and revenue, said it's clear that the city doesn't support binding arbitration, which local CUPE leaders Jean Fox and Jim Wood have been urging."

  • The Globe suggested today the following which suggests CUPE's concerns are irrelevant:

    "Some think Premier Dalton McGuinty's hands are tied in Toronto because of the 11-week-old strike by indoor and outdoor workers in Windsor. Mr. McGuinty said last week he has no intention of interfering in the Toronto dispute as long as both sides are at the table. But Frank Reid, director of the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources at the University of Toronto, said he'd be “very surprised if they [the province] let the Toronto strike drag on as long as they have the Windsor strike. We are more spoiled here.” If the province moves, it would only be after getting a clear call for help from the city."

  • Stories about garbage not being an issue since 75-80% being picked up and trash entrepreneurs---and their trucks--- being made heroes.

  • Windsor saving a ton of money, $24M, with the strikers out minus of course the strike costs

  • An Ontario Government spokesman claims, whatever this means: "Matt Blajer suggested there is no mediator for talks in Windsor because there’s nothing for the two sides to talk about.

    “At this point in time, the elements do not yet seem to be in place that would warrant the mediator to reconvene the talks,” said Blajer. He said the ministry “continues to confer with the parties … once the elements are in place, we would reconvene the talks.”

  • And then to top it off, a story where Toronto's Mayor says "Miller said progress has been made at the bargaining table in recent days on a number of non-monetary items and he believes it's "time to say yes" to a deal" which would mean no legislation and Windsor CUPE being hung out to dry.

  • Of course, Gord gives it away too, just add in the strike approach: "It's not quite hugs and kisses. But it appears Finance Minister Dwight Duncan and Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis have laid to rest their vicious little spat and are busy forging ties that could help end the border infrastructure war between the city and the province.

    That war has been overshadowed -- chased right off the radar for close to three months -- by the tension-filled showdown between striking city hall employees and defiant Windsor taxpayers."
I really admire this kind of investigative journalism by Star opinion-makers {sarcasm intended}:
  • "But you know, when they're standing around like that in a circle?" he says, a sly smile growing under his big mustache. "It reminds me of when they're working -- five guys watching one guy."

    Several tires were shredded one day by a purpose-built device slipped under the wheels of their big truck while they waited to cross a picket line. That week they worked for almost nothing.

    All of the damage has occurred while they were in their trucks, bringing garbage into the Malden Road transfer station. Now they take a video camera to tape the faces of the people who approach their vehicle on picket lines.

    "You know it's strikers," Ted says of the damage. "How do they get away with it without being charged?"

    They say they're threatened every day, and they've been followed by strikers in caravans of vehicles who harass their customers. At night, threats are yelled from cars as they sit on their front porch. "In front of the kids, too," Darren says."

What will happen next? I doubt if CUPE can back off although there is a growing amount of pressure from suffering rank and file members to go back to work. Some may even be willing to cross the picket lines and face the wrath of co-workers rather than seeing their families destroyed financially and emotionally any longer.

My suspicion is that when the polls suggest that most CUPE workers have had enough, and hopefully for the Mayor and Council if Toronto has been settled or if Toronto only has been legislated back to work, look for the City to do the following as was threatened some time ago:
  • "Mayor Eddie Francis said Sunday that council has discussed bypassing CUPE leadership and offering a deal directly to union members.

    Francis said in a phone interview that there is a provision in the labour laws that allows the city to hold a “board-supervised vote,” where the city’s last offer would be put before the membership to vote upon.

    “It would be supervised by the Ministry of Labour,” the mayor said."

What will happen at that time is anyone's guess.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Readers' Comments (Part 2)

More readers write

26) Excellent video addition, thanks. Would you be able to e-mail me a copy that I could save?

I wouldn't hold your breath for anything as original from the city though.....you may turn a little blue.

Now, if I were to guess who the leak was, would you tell me if I was right or wrong? lol

27) Finally, the real story about the bridge is coming out, thanks to you. BTW, I did not know you were a lawyer.

What we really have to learn about now is what is Eddie's role with the Green Link. He has spent a lot of money on promoting that.

28) I do think the idea of CAW taking over COW workers is a non-starter. Too many pitfalls re: decertification. Too much risk vs. reward.

29) But I think the idea is to SAVE taxpayer money so it doesn't have to be used to subsidize PRB's for future hires; and I'm sorry, but I can't see why taxpayers should pay for this (not even current employees). If you work for a private company, that's a different matter, but the taxpayer already pays for benefits after 65, so why should they double dip, so to speak? And I can't see how they keep saying they are low paid people - it seems to me almost all of them make more than I do, and I think I am paid reasonably.

If they are ligislated back to work, what happens to the negotiations? Is the contract status quo? If that is the case, then, you're right, nothing has been accomplished. Except that city workers have forever given themselves a bad name by many of the antics that have been pulled over the past weeks. The shame of it is, I know it's not the majority of them, and I know that many of them would just like to get back to work, but their union people just won't let them have a say in what's going on.

Never mind - looks like nobody is going to win in this, no matter how it turns out. Whatever happens, half the city is going to be mad. And my next questions, why is Gary Parent and Ken Lewenza and the CAW sticking their noses in this? I'll tell you why - it's just because they think they should be in charge of everything and that everything should be done their way. I say, in their negotiations with employers of CAW personnel, go for it - get what you can - those are private businesses. But this is none of their business... They're doing nothing to get the support of the people of Windsor for CUPE members.

Wow - I'm sorry, Ed - there I go off on another track. And I also apologize - I'm sure you have better things to do than exchange e-mails with me all afternoon!!

Stay cool in this weather, and have a great day!!

30) Does the mayor know the first thing about mediation? A good mediator wants a settlement and it's not his/her job to decide who's right or wrong. The mediator leans on the side considered weakest and will push until a settlement is reached. Why is the city afraid of someone not on the "Ministry of Labour" list?

What a mess.

31) [The Mayor's] just upset his mute button doesn't work outside of Council Chambers

32) Great response to the Jeffrey Simpson's column. You just handed him the very best condensed history lesson on the Ambassador Bridge ever. There are always two sides to every story.

33) The Civil Assistance Plan was signed by the U.S.-Canadian military in February of 2008. The plan would allow the military of one nation to support the other during a civil emergency. The agreement goes well beyond any cross-border crisis. Even though it threatens the sovereignty of each country, there was no public debate and no Parliamentary or Congressional oversight. Similar to the SPP, the Civil Assistance Plan is shrouded in secrecy with missing annexes that remain classified. There are concerns that this agreement could lead to foreign troops being used for gun confiscation and a martial law scenario. Increasingly, the military is being used at sporting events, checkpoints and in some cases, in response to crime. Foreign troops are participating in more training exercises on American soil. Many military drills are also taking place in urban areas to further acclimate military presence on the streets.

A government controlled bridge would go a long way in assisting transborder movement of troops! Enlarged staging areas/plazas at border crossings etc...

Having been in the military myself, it is faster and easier to move large amounts of troops and vehicles rapidly through open areas with good highway access than move them through conjested city streets, were the public can see you or threaten you.

My thoughts, that DRIC will be built to move troops deeper into Ontario or vice versa (not very likely though, more the other way around), the Gateway Plaza at the Ambassador Bridge, will be a staging area for local area control i.e. Windsor and the tunnel.

34) I see that, once again, the Mayor is wrong - but, in your eyes, he is no matter what he does.

My first thought when CUPE wanted to appoint the mediator was "sure - they want somebody who will go along with what they want". And who's to say who is telling the truth about "being inches away from an agreement" - could be the mayor - could be CUPE. I have to admit to feeling that Jim Wood doesn't actually know what's going on when I hear him on the radio. So we should really keep an open mind on that, and many other statements also.

Have to admit, though, I enjoyed your picture in response to the Mayor's "we can build mountains" comment - very funny!!! Even though, I think that particular mountain is the fault of CUPE, but there again, we should agree to disagree.

Another thing I agree with you on is that they should certainly let the bridge company pull down those eyesores on the west side (I think that's where you stand on that). Of course, it's the west side, and nobody seems to care about the west side anyway.

35) [RE Mount Francis] OMG ...too funny Ed. Speaking of funny, this morning on my way to the gym I was listening to 96.7 and they advised the public that our beloved Mayor was in Greece for the Children's Olympics but then AM800 reported that he was overseas trying to bring some company here to Windsor...no mention of Greece but then they said he was also going to Frankfurt to see about the Hub. Just goes to show you....

36) I still cannot believe that he would think so little of his employees that it is more important for him to go abroad than settle the dispute here in Windsor...but then nothing he does should surprise me.

37) Couldnt the mayor just sign a 2 year contract and let them keep their PRBs and put a 2 year hiring freeze in place?

That would solve his problem until the end of his term.

38) If the CAW is planning to make a move on CUPE it will come as a huge blind side. In my experience it hasn't even come up as a topic of speculation on the picket lines. Personally, even with the mistakes the locals have made through the course of the strike I don't see the benefit of switching unions.

39) It is interesting to me that the mayor's response to this [CUPE OLRB] complaint is that it is "frivolous" . He is not saying that it is unfounded or untrue but rather that it is "frivolous". I have never considered ethics, morality, honesty or the rules of fair play ( or the law for that matter) to be frivolous concepts...

There is my soap box for the day. Hope you are having a good one

40) Interesting read as usual. I think I will give Mr. Comartin a call this week see where he's been...under a rock?

[About the Mayor going to Greece] the song by the Clash comes to mind "Should I Stay or Should I go Now".

So now we sit and wait... I guess. I have really learned to be patient through this strike, but the hardest part is not having any control over what is going on. Putting a sign around my neck has become so second nature to me now it feels more like my job then driving into work.... Ah going to work, wonder when that day will come.

I really miss my job,I really enjoy it and I work hard at it. Isn't it sad that I have to tell you I work hard at my job, it has come to that now I think we feel we need to defend ourselves in every way.

Oh well Ce La vie.... This too shall pass.

41) Of course Eddie doesn't mind having a new mediator - as long as they start where they left off.

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... 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.

42) The whole power of the strike seems to be coming from our fearless leader Eddie Francis. Everybody in our union passionately hates the man and he has through his media circus has caused an army of Francis defyers out in the city. The CAW was there at our meeting to show that they are with us 100 percent and gave speeches as well. The speeches were inspirational and kept the moral up to show strength. There is allot of people that have spoke up that have shown very bad losses in there homes and are struggling very hard. I don't read the Windsor Star Enquirer anymore or if I do I tell people the truth wherever I go. I find that if I talk to lots of bank tellers and hair dressers it seems to get the message out allot because they talk to several people a day. Most people I talk too don't like the Windsor star and find it very depressing.

43) People needed to vent and there were tons of questions to be had. Everything was answered -that helped.

CAW and Gary Parent were there to show their support - financially and on the line.

44) As for us ditching CUPE and joining CAW, I don't really see that happening. We've been CUPE forever and I think its the right union for us, along with all other public service workers. Maybe we will have to change our leadership but I can't see us changing unions.

I for one, would be glad if the Mayor was telling the truth about giving each and every one of us existing workers an iron-clad legal document guaranteeing us our PRB's. This is a battle that I DO NOT WANT to have to fight over and over again each time a contract expires. He claims it would be taken off the table forever, that is what I would like to see.

45) Hello Mr. Arditti. I recently stumbled across your blog. I am just e mailing you to say that it has been quite refreshing reading through your blogs, particularly the ones pertaining to the CUPE strike.

I am a local CUPE member, and I admit it can be frustrating when reading all the half-truths and misconstrued "facts" published in the Windsor Star and elsewhere in the local media. If only your blog could obtain the same numbers in local readership as the Star does. You would certainly have more than a few eyebrows raised and eyes opened after reading your material. There would still be many CUPE bashers and haters, there always have been. They have just recently found the opportunity to express their dislike of CUPE (and unions in general) through the Star, since they feel they have the support of the newspaper and other local media. They know that their views and opinions will not be shredded but rather CUPE supporters will.

I am not suggesting that I believe you are siding with CUPE. I just personally believe, from what I know about the situation, that you have a very firm grasp on what is taking place during these "negotiations". You can obviously read between the lines, and see directly through the tactics being pulled by our "faithful" mayor. It is wonderful that you have taken the time to research the information on the current issues, and provide both facts and opinion on them. All of the facts seem to be very accurate, and the opinions are respectful. It's too bad you do not have your own column with the Windsor Star. Then again, people can read your blog for free and receive a superior product to the columns written by the Star's columnists.

I shall continue reading you blogs even after this strike ends (whenever that may be). I will also refer some fellow CUPE members to your blog to maybe boost their morale a bit, and realize their are some people who see this strike for what it is.

46) I'm very upset and want my regular life back! I hate being degraded by the public. I work very hard and I [did] like what I was doing for the community... It's really a slap and spit in my face!

I wouldn't say we are joining CAW, but they "support" us in what we are doing. We were told we have more support then we realize... I still wouldn't say that's a lot because what we think we have in support is pretty much zero... but that kind of support won't help us to pay our bills. I hate that we have to beg for help; go to food banks, etc. I had a somewhat normal life not too long ago...

From what I read in the comments of the online Windsor Star (which I just vowed to myself I'm going to stop doing, because it's too upsetting), many people seem to be behind the Mayor. And in regards to the Mayor, he more then upsets me! What he's doing to us, is totally crazy and unforgivable! We have taken it very personally. I guess that's why many don't want to give up. But then many of us are facing very serious financial ruin, too. Our employee/employer relationship, is without a doubt, ruined for many years to come.

I can only hope I'm able to with-stand whatever's in store for us. I don't have a lot of confidence in this whole process. It's really a horrible never-ending nightmare! I don't want to cave, but I can't see how I can survive this, financially and mentally, for much longer. What does the end mean? I hope it's arbitration and not destitution.

I am seeking other temporary employement in order to survive. But pickens are extremely slim... and I suppose once they find out I'm a striking city worker, I won't get the job anyways...

It's probably going to get very nasty now, not that I would do anything nasty, but I'm sure others will. The public hates us as it is; it doesn't matter what we do. If we leave them alone, then we're lazy; if we make them wait then we're greedy...

We need a miracle...

47) I don't think I like being called a clerk and a gardener, even though I do have a flower garden at home that I tend to. Ha!

Maybe Henderson should join us on the picket line sometime, he would find out first hand that there are still a number of City residents that support us and he would be hard pressed to find ANY supporters of Eddie's regime. Every day more and more residents are seeing through Eddie. We hear a lot of people say that they absolutely hate Eddie, they want him gone. They are saying this even when they do not support the strike!! Of course the Star and AM800 would NEVER report that. Eddie pushed us into this strike, it's his bullheadedness that is keeping us out. His actions are causing undo hardship to not only the CUPE membership but also the community at large, the residents, the business communiity etc.

The Chrysler and GM workers still have more in their contract AFTER their 'massive contract sacrifices' than we currently have without ANY sacrifices. Eddie keeps saying he doesn't want to give up the farm. BUT he wants the farm from CUPE workers. If he is successful in his fight with us, our contract will be so gutted, we might as well not belong to any union. Grrrrr. He makes me very angry. But...who says we lost this battle? If it does go to arbitration, we may be winners after all.

The Star is so poisoned it is pathetic....but I did get a chuckle reading the story CUPE strikers mow Tom Wilson Field as 'favour'. The statement, “They’re saying that with some of this grass, they just might have to do a controlled burn because you’re never going to cut it.” Wouldn't it be just beautiful to see each of the City parks on fire. (sarcasm here) Hey, maybe Eddie could work his spinmaster magic and turn it into a world event! The catch phrase may be something like 'Once in a lifetime event...Come watch the savanna at Ford Test Track Park be transformed into a spectacular green space featuring magnificent gardens, playing fields and picnic areas. WOW

Thank you for letting me endulge and rant a bit.

I think the work climate is in constant flux. And the labour unions are losing ground quickly, especially the CAW/UAW with the collapse of the auto industry.

Personally, I don't think it matters if we did belong to the CAW, we would be in the same boat. (Look what has happened to the union jobs at the Casino) The era of the strong unions is gone.

Eddie has made this strike personal for each of us and it seems that the each of us now has the resolve to stick it out to the bitter end. It certainly is not going to be easy, however, we can't let Eddie win and be the City hero.

I loved your blogg today, Why The Anonymous Source Did It.

How can we possibly get the 3 other councillors to call for arbitration?

There are going to be even more houses up for sale in Windsor before this is over, further driving down the realty market. And more people collecting Ontario Works (we don't qualify for social assistance).

Anyway, keep up the excellent work!! You are my only ray of sanity in all of this!!

48) A bottle of wine is yours if so..................and not 2 buck chuck either!
Maybe YOU should run for mayor!
Hoping we see the end to this hysteria soon,

49) Sir....you and your influence have out did yourself. The God Lord smiles apon you, and deservingly so. Although, I cannot ignore this 'sources' bravery, even if its a tad late, we all know, 'its better late, then never' even if its at great cost which makes me sad. 'Woman and children' is more honest than you might ever know or appreciate, but that is another story.

As usual, I rely on your commentary and look forward to it, as I walk the lines, motivate, donate, feed and of course, dream of things better for this a City that lacks any lustre.

You Sir, should run for counsellor and if bored for mayor. If and when I decide to listen to my peers, I'll be sitting across the table from you. You must be getting bored of the legal field. The City has potential like no other, as was demonstrated at the Energy Fair at the Casino. City planners are afraid to speak-up, transportation, parks, and yes, even the business commerce, are all sick of the same rhetoric.

50) Listening to the Lynn Martin show this morning, there was an older man who was getting very emotional about how he see the city putting money before people. I appreciate his argument and was hoping that I could have helped him reframe his argument to this:

When the Mayor (or anyone else who has the power to decide how much money and benefits other should get) says that he "cannot afford in these economically challenged times (or some other cliché)" whatever; ask him to say

I/we have chosen to spend our resources on (arena, canals, my blackberry account, and so on) and not on pensions, salaries and so on.

The point is, someone made a decision to spend money here rather than there. The city still spends money. To let the spenders get away with explaining why they cannot do things, is a cop out. I only wish that talk show hosts and journalist would have the courage to get the mayor to declare his real preferences, his real values as indicate by how he wants to spend other people's money.

Another Leak To Be Investigated


Oh no. More work for the Integrity Commissioner.

Someone had to know about this and wanted it out there in public. It is nothing more than another example of poor execution at City Hall, wastefulness and taxpayers losing out.

It is also an example of a negative story about the City never seeing the light of day in the traditional media that I can recall. Why not?

How much did it cost and how much did we lose? Does anyone have the faintest idea?

Seriously, it really happened this way.

I was having lunch yesterday when the mail came. My wife brought it in and there it was, a big brown envelope covered in stamps. Of course there was no return address. But what was the most suspicious was the handwriting for the address. Either someone tried hard to disguise his/her writing or it was written by a child of about 11 or 12 years of age it seemed to me to disguise further the identity of the person who sent it to me!


No worries. I keep sources confidential and I have destroyed the envelope!

I ripped it open and there it was. A copy of a Court of Appeal decision and the Trial Court verdict of another case that the City had litigated and lost. This time after being sued by the Windsor Family Credit Union!

Now it is no secret. And not as sexy as a strike leak. Court decisions are public after all. But it was never reported in the Star that I could remember. However, it is another case where Windsor citizens are losing out on lots of money for reasons that make no sense to me.

I wondered if he is ever interviewed by the Star about the case, the City's lawyer, Mark Nazarewich, will say as the City's lawyer Patrick Brode did in a case he lost that the spending of $29,500 for an appeal was justified:
  • "It was well worthwhile for city council to decide that we should contest this before the courts," said Brode.

    "We weren't successful, but I would suggest to you it was worth a try."

I really like that phrase, "worth a try!"

I also trust that he will not make an unfortunate comment such as

  • "Brode insisted Monday the OMB and the courts were wrong in this case and went so far as to liken their decisions to the verdict of the jury that acquitted O.J. Simpson of two counts of homicide."

In this case, the issue was simple although the facts are a bit complicated:

  • "Does the Corporation of the City of Windsor (City) have an interest in a Parking Garage at 275 Pitt Street part of the Riverside Drive Lands."

This is the parking garage behind the Hilton and the Cleary that went into default. The City seems to have problems with garages failing:

  • "Windsor Family Credit Union (the Applicant), in syndication with two other credit unions, agreed to lend to Pruefer $4,555,000. One of the terms of the transaction was that the Applicant would receive a good and valid first mortgage from 658Co. as security for its loan over the Parking Garage lands and building...

    The Applicant [WFCU]wishes to sell its security and apply the proceeds against its defaulted loan. The City has put the Applicant on notice that it believes it retains an interest in the lands upon which the Parking Garage is situated, pursuant to the terms of the Development Agreement and the Parking Agreement. It is the position of the City that the mortgage registered by Mr. Barat and his firm is not the first charge on the property...

    The Applicant has taken a neutral position. It wishes to convey this Parking Garage to realize on its security. It is requesting a judicial determination of whether it can do so, free from any competing interest registered by the City."

The issue is not academic. The City had an interest in 300 spaces in the garage. It claimed it had a "property" interest in the spaces and offered the Court a laundry list of ways that it could be decscribed:

  • "It is offered that the court should not feel obliged to pigeon-hole its interest under any one form, but might want to consider, beyond the suggestion of lease, an easement, a restrictive covenant, a license coupled with a grant of legal interest, or a profit `a prendre."

The City was to receive a revenue stream for the spaces until 2011.

  • "the City and 658Co. entered into a new arrangement whereby the City transferred its parking rights back to the numbered company in exchange for a yearly fee for space. Rather than take possession and operate the spaces themselves, the City instead elected to receive a revenue stream per space and, in turn, the numbered company was free to operate the entire Parking Garage."

Unfortunately,

  • "On July 2, 2005, 658Co. defaulted on its obligation to make payments to the Applicant. The Applicant took steps to realize on its security, and to collect the outstanding loan indebtedness."

A Receiver was appointed by WFCU:

  • "The Receiver ceased making payments to the City for any sums owed under the Parking Agreement. Instead, it applied the receipts from the parking operation firstly to the taxes owing and secondly to the Applicant’s interest and principal payments under its defaulted loan. The Receiver has not paid any of the receipts from the Parking Garage to the City for any obligations under the Parking Agreement."

The case does not set out what the revenue stream is that the City has lost since 2005 but it has to be a substantial amount for 300 spaces, probably more than enough to pay for the cost of PRBs for the few recently hired CUPE members. If it was one dollar per day per space as an example, well you can do the math. Remember at Canderel:

  • "An agreement between Chrysler and the city sets a monthly rate of $32.50 for the majority of its spaces. [325] Other tenants will pay $75 per month, plus taxes."

Or was the City only to get 5 cents a day as they negotiated with the Keg?

In the end, the Court held that dismissing all of the City arguments:

  • "I conclude, therefore, framing my findings in terms of the relief sought in the Amended Notice of Application, that the Corporation of the City of Windsor has no rights or interest arising from a Parking Agreement dated September 2, 1986, or any amendments thereto, in the lands known municipally as 275 Pitt Street West, in the City of Windsor, in the County of Essex."

Now that decision in itself is unfortunate. It demonstrates to me again the inability of the City to draft documents properly to protect its interests. Blame it on the previous Administration. You better believe it.

However, there is a wrinkle here that shows me that the present Administration is no better. Can't the City ever do anything properly.

As you may recall,

  • "On March 7, 2007, the City sold the Cleary Auditorium and the lands on which it was located to St. Clair College. The City presently owns no other lands which are or were the subject of the Development Agreement.

    The City did not assign or purport to assign its interest in the Development Agreement or the Parking Agreement to St. Clair College as owner of the Cleary Auditorium lands. The Development Agreement and the Parking Agreement are not registered on title to the Cleary Auditorium lands."

The Court said the following and here is why the way City Hall operates scares me so much:

  • "It is clear, then, that I do not believe the City acquired an interest in land as a result of those agreements. However, even if I am wrong in that conclusion, I believe the City’s sale of the Cleary Auditorium on March 7, 2007 terminated any potential interest it may have acquired...

    The plain reading of paragraph 7.05 is that the obligations of Pruefer or any succeeding owner vis-a-vis the City continue as long as the City retains ownership of the Cleary Auditorium. Similarly, any responsibilities under the Development Agreement terminate upon the sale, as it is then impossible to any longer benefit the City. The City’s sale to St. Clair College in no way assigned to the purchaser any of the City’s existing parking rights at 275 Pitt Street.

    I conclude, therefore, that whatever parking rights or potential property interest the City might have maintained in 275 Pitt Street was terminated on March 7, 2007."

DUH, did the City have a position or did it not? In 2007, it knew that it was owed money since the garage was in default. If it did have a property interest, then why did it not protect itself when the sale took place? If it did not, then why did it litigate and spend who knows how much money in fees to fight the case?

The Court of Appeal wrote a very short APPEAL BOOK endorsement:

  • "[1] The appellant raises for the first time on appeal the issue that the City has rights of enforcement to parking spaces that are statutory rights under s. 41.1(10) of the Planning Act.

    [2] We agree with the respondents that arguing this ground for the first time on appeal is not open to the appellant, both as a matter of practice in this court, as well as because the factual record in the Agreed Statement of Facts and appended documents does not include all of the evidence necessary to fully and properly consider the argument for the first time at this level.

    [3] The application judge fully considered the issues raised before him and determined that the appellant has no interest in land referable to the parking spaces that are the subject of the application. We see no error in his conclusions and findings.

    [4] The appeal is therefore dismissed with costs fixed inclusive of G.S.T. and disbursements on the partial indemnity scale of $25,000 to the respondents represented by Ms. Daly and $4,500 to the respondents represented by Ms. Farlam.

Ooops, someone did not make an argument at trial. Too late to make it in the Court of Appeal for the first time! Can you imagine if it was a winner of a position! What a shame.

Is this a cost that should now be added in to the sale of a City asset to St. Clair College as part of that deal? It makes that deal look even worse than it did before.

Who is the whistleblower and how much more information will be placed by this person and others in my mailbox. I can hardly wait!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Did Windsor Make Ranger Leave


Hi Ho Silver....away! After 35 years of service, Deputy Minister Louis Ranger retired.

Except for readers of this BLOG, few in Windsor will know who he is. Yet he has played a very important role in the files that impact our City the most. He retired from Transport Canada:
  • "The Prime Minister took the opportunity to express his gratitude to Louis Ranger , who is retiring after a very distinguished career in the Public Service, for his strong leadership and the many significant contributions he has made to Canada and Canadians over his 35-year career. In particular, the Prime Minister thanked Mr. Ranger for his exceptional work on the infrastructure stimulus program. The Prime Minister extended to Mr. Ranger his best wishes for great success in his future endeavours."

Without knowing exactly what his role was, he has to be one of the key people on the border file given his long stay in a senior position at Transport. He was there through a number of Prime Ministers. What is truly remarkable is that no matter which party was involved, they all learned quickly how to oppose the Ambassador Bridge Company! Bill C-3 (note the number showing its importance) was effectively a Liberal piece of legisaltion that the Conservatives adopted as their own. Now that took real mandarin skill

  • "Unlike most deputy ministers who spend a couple years in a job before moving to the next, Ranger spent his entire career dealing with transportation and public-infrastructure issues and knows the department -- which he joined in 1981 -- inside out."

His replacement is from Agriculture and Agri-Food. It seems fitting since the file needs someone who knows how to handle the BS!

Read this excerpt from a Toronto Star article:

  • "Trouble at Transport: Clashes over spending

    Bruce Campion-Smith, OTTAWA BUREAU CHIEF

    OTTAWA – In the lobby of the towering Place de Ville headquarters of Transport Canada, department employees are paying tribute to their departing boss, veteran bureaucrat Louis Ranger.

    "For your passion, your dedication and your leadership, thank you! Best wishes for a well-deserved retirement," reads a sign set next to the elevators.

    But behind the happy words, is a department in turmoil, sparked in part by Ranger's retirement as a respected deputy minister.

    Ranger was a by-the-book bureaucrat who fell victim to political impatience and a Conservative government frustrated with the pace of infrastructure spending, observers say. Unwilling to bend the rules, Ranger is retiring this month, leaving behind unhappy colleagues upset at being "bullied" and "pushed" by the Conservatives on the infrastructure file, they say.

    Transport Canada employees – former and current – and observers familiar with the department paint a picture of bureaucrats struggling to balance demands for accelerated spending while trying to live within the Conservatives' accountability rules. Ultimately, it was a struggle that pitted Ranger, a 35-year bureaucrat, against Transport Minister John Baird.

    "He works by the book. He's memorized the book and you've got a guy (Baird) who wants to rewrite it on a daily basis, so you could see where there would be a clash," said one source."

What's the Windsor connection: the canal. Can it really be that it would meet the Government infrastructure stimulus rules for projects yet both MP Jeff Watson and the Transport Minister himself seemed to be supportive of it.

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

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

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

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

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

Why would Ranger at the end of his career take a hit for a mere politician if the Auditor General undertook a report and it was critical:

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

And then there is the border file itself. Tranport created a wonderful fiction about how important the Ambassador Bridge was and that the Government was taking no actions to hurt them. Then the Minister opened his mouth:

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


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

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

After 35 years, who needs the misery. The pension is a good one and I am sure there are lots of consulting and teaching positions around. Why it would not surprise me to see him go to Carleton University in Ottawa. In case you are wondering why there, Herb Gray, another border figure from the past, is the Chancellor there. Moreover, Herb was a member of the group chaired by Louis that authored Canada's Ultra-Secret Playbook about how to bamboozle the Americans:

  • "Advancing Canadian Interests in the United States: A Practical Guide for Canadian Public Officials."

He may be gone from Transport but will not be forgotten. I would expect that we will hear from Mr. Ranger again and will get to know much more about him and his work.

Readers' Comments (Part 1)


The postal worker may have a bad back carrying all of this mail!

There is a spot reserved just for you. Feel free to write to me so I can let other readers know your opinion.

1) Who are the people picking up trash after special events as shown on the video... Seems these people come out of nowhere to handle these jobs. They are very well organized.

2) [RE the video] how much was spent on this?

3) "I would say our business has grown substantially in the last week," Mike Thorne, president of justjunk.com, said yesterday. "We're starting to get backed up a couple of days and I've noticed people booking online for pickup over the next five or six weeks."

There are even "garbage parties" springing up where neighbours get together and bring their trash to one central location, saving money by having it all picked up at once.

http://lfpress.ca/newsstand/News/CanadaWorld/2009/06/30/9976536-sun.html

Hey! Windsor likes to party! Let's organize these all over the city!

4) [Copy of a note to Councillor Halberstadt sent to me and many others] I just read your blog and quite frankly, I think it's the other way around. It is our Mayor and city council members, people like you, who are the bullies in this Cupe strike! All of you knew long before, as far back as 1938 when it was first provided, this was to be funded by the city and what did our council members do? NOTHING! Nothing at all. No funds set aside for the future. Now because council members like you and before you did nothing, you wish to strip union members of this benefit! Yet, you wish to maintain it for yourselves! Shame on you!

Union members only make up 26.77% of the labour force fund, the smallest portion in the city's employment liability count! Cupe is weak so they will be the first stepping stone in stripping this benefit away! I would be interested in knowing how many actually use the post retirement benefit out of the Cupe membership? How many actually make it to the point of being able to use it? What is that percentage compared to the whole of Cupe members? What is the Cupe percentage in comparison to ALL entitled members? We know Cupe members are paid the least in comparison to other members of the city. Cupe members would be the one's least able to afford or save for this benefit. Many Cupe members are sole-supporting single parents! The new trend for the past decade.

I can hear your circle meeting now..."Council member: "We will take it from Cupe, then proceed to all other members in our city employment. We will eliminate it for everyone. Who cares about them anyway by then, they no longer provide a service to the city so why should we continue to pay it? They are not people, but a liability that needs to be eliminated. We will spend much during the 2009 strike, more than it would take to fund this benefit, but we will strip this benefit anyway. It will be worth the cost spent in the long run." Council members will keep it as deserved.

SHAME ON YOU! SHAME ON ALL PAST AND PRESENT COUNCIL MEMBERS WHO DID NOTHING AND WHO VOTED TO ELIMINATE THIS BENEFIT FROM YOUR DEDICATED WORKERS AT A TIME WHEN IT IS NEED MOST! Liability, not people. Hogwash!

Perhaps it is your wish to see all your "valued" employees retire and having to apply for social assistance due to lack of retirement funds for benefit coverage. What a way to continue a cycle! So much for dignity, there will be none!! None while working, none when retired.

You should take a lesson from the LCBO establishment. They are INVESTING in their people, not STRIPPING them of what they already have!!! Take a stand for investment in your people! They provided well during their employment.


Another thing to keep in mind......the baby boomers are starting to retire, as noted before. They will require more for their retirement and......THEY STILL CAST A VOTE! Many younger people do not tend to vote at all. Food for thought.

5) This comment

"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."

does not require a publicly owned bridge. The government has many oversight responsibilities of private firms, to wit, the financial sector so recently collapsed. What a good oversight job the feds do!

6) [Re The Invisible Bridge Company Lawsuit Against MDOT] Glad you posted this. I was particularly humoured at the shot taken at you in the comments section today in the Windsor Farce.

7) [RE Security guard wages] I thought this article was particularly interesting.

I have a university degree, college certificate and hundreds of hours in additional training as well as seminars. Yet, I still don't make this much money working for Ontario Works.

So much for "what is good for the goose, is good for the gander".

8) tell me if you don't see the same thing that I do in the first minute and a
half of this video? Was I wrong in thinking it was something against CUPE that those fences went up? Could it be that it is really not about CUPE at all? Yes, CUPE was barred and Carrousel BY THE RIVER and the Corvette Show were also denied access to our waterfront with the "lease" of our parkland to Red Bull but wasn't it really all of Windsor who lost out?

Is it only my eyes that see regular everyday Windsor people look like cattle in a fenced-in enclosure in contrast to the open & airy spaciousness of the elite of this city? And when contrasted to our neighbours across the river, where in appearance anyways, all people are being respected, well it just makes me want to jump into the river and swim over to someplace that might welcome me. My eyes must be going with age but I don't think that I'd be swimming alone.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-WTtvB5j3I

9) re: 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!

Okay, so a bunch of big shots realized that there was a problem with our crossings back in 1999. One group liked the idea of fixing what we have and another group behind the scenes had "a better idea" and was maybe insulted that their suggestion was not approved? So this behind the scenes group starts working on damaging the efforts of the first group? I don't get it.

To me there is no other way of clearly saying what I am witnessing here
before my very eyes.... we idolize and make heroes of them [this behind the scenes group]like they have risen from the ashes of failure to save the day? The very "ashes of failure" that they alone have created by undermining, anti-lobbying, failing to help the upfront, out in the open project succeed, tripping up, poisoning, the list is too long so etc?

What have we come to that we idolize blind-siders...

Maybe love affairs aren't the only secrets hidden in the BlackBerry files.


10) On a brighter note something you will never read in the newspaper. A Union member brought by water and stated the employees at Costo where she purchased the water from were assisting her in load the water into the van told her a story. They stated that [a Member of Council] and his family went to Cosco last week he was given such an unwelcome greeting from the shoppers that he stopped his shopping and left the store. Another person I told the story to said she heard it was Supercentre, wouldn't that be something if it happened twice? Thanks for keeping up the blogs, look forward to them everyday.

11) I am just sick tonight of what's happening in our world !!
Ed McMahon first..........
Then Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson !!!!

12) re: HONOURING THE MAYOR
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?

OMG ... nearly peed my pants!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

lololololololol hahahahahhahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

13) HEY ED, No, you may not stop reporting the news...

i know its tedious and everything, but i cannot believe you would stake a claim to not write about the strike anymore. is this not the most disruptive thing that has happened to windsor since the norwich block downtown was demolished? its news. its happening here. for you to make such a claim would be tantamount to ignoring your responsibility to respond to the preposterous and absurd yet thoroughly destructive policies being implemented by the city of windsor upon its employees -- a burden you were tasked with when you elected to begin doing what it is that you are doing with windsorcityblog. you can't turn your back on what's happening. please do not join the ranks of the majority who are turning a blind eye to these events. the future public record needs you to help account for the many falsely reported imbalances and discrepancies taking place as much as the grave injustices that are being perpetrated on all rank and file city workers. like it or not, we are in the grip of a series of events that are awash in historicity. you must bear witness! you must respond! ED, the poor saps in this city need you. i kid you not.

14) as for your question:

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.

no, a pack of about 25 managers and supervisors in janitor garb, under the close watchful eye of i don't know how many police, on bike, in cruiser and in unmarked vehicle -- i'm guessing at least thirty; plainclothes and detective -- spent the hours between midnight and three am scouring this area with their little streetsweeper kits. i know cos i was there.

it was hopping, it was intense, and felt like a surreal scene from some long lost fellini film, or something. (it was far more repulsive and insulting than all of that. this city is already severely damaged, and it is becoming more and more damaged by the day, with every new nefarious scheme like this that becomes 'rolled out' to demoralize and slowly "obsolece" we workers. (my job has nothing to do with debris; nor should the managers', in my estimation.)

so, do fold that decadent cost into your estimated price tag on this strike. cops guarding a managerial class of scab-workers as they work to rid the festival plaza/dieppe of all the trash and refuse abandoned by the fireworks revellers. managers at 53 dollars an hour. cops at who knows how much? etc. etc. -- silly me, i thought we were in a recession and saving money was the order of the day ?!?

this city is getting weirder and weirder, if that's even possible.

15) My strike shift just ended. I wanted to share some observations with you concerning picketing by the river after fireworks.

I have never seen so many police in Windsor in one place in years. (not since the OAS conference) Riverside drive was swarming with management and hired private security personnel and what looked like young students picking up garbage and emptying barrels. They were under police escort! At one point about 22 strikers were standing around a large big bin with about 9 or 11 police watching them. There were police on bikes and on motorcycles and in marked cars and a magnum and an SUV.....I had no idea that a group of mostly female picketers could appear so intimidating that at least nine officers were needed!

Suddenly there was an ambulance siren and they were gone! I am not sure why they left but there appears to have been some sort of an incident on a nearby street involving a head injury lots of blood and an ambulance. So while a guy is being beat up or whatever downtown the police are babysitting us! If downtown Windsor had that kind of police presence on the streets after the bars close it would be a far safer spot!

Seriously, how much money did the city waste on tonight’s garbage pickup downtown? Besides the security and the video guys and the police presence what about the manager’s overtime! I saw [Nmae of Manager] himself throw garbage bags into a bin! Imagine the overtime!

Looking forward to reading your next blog!

16) Hi Ed, I was reading your blog today, and it is interesting what you say about the garbage numbers. I for one, doubt that 75% of people are taking it to the dump themselves.

My picket group has recently been putting information flyers in South Windsor neighbourhoods this week. And I have to say, I see alot of garbage piled up in garages which were open, or sides of houses.

Although we did hear that on a certain South Windsor street... those residents are lucky enough to have a garbage bin delivered once a week for a specific time period in which they can dump their garbage in and then it is taken away quickly.

Gee, why don't they do that in my neighbourhood? I have 10 weeks of garbage in my garage too. Have a nice day.

17) [Name of local employment agency] is hiring scabs.

All those heros who said that they would pick-up garbage for 10 bucks/hour can start applying within.

18) I wonder how much air pollution Eddie has saved Windsor from right now.

With the grass being so tall it will help clean more air. By not cutting the grass Windsor has lessened the carbon exhaust and stopped gasoline fumes from escaping into the atmosphere, thereby, helping the ozone.

Eddie is on a friggin roll! Go Eddie Go!

Just a second, I have to shut off my morphine drip.......

19) Read your blog every day now since local media has proven itself to be of such low quality & integrity. Thank you for building your blog Ed! You sure know how to see through these childish political facades and tell it like it really is!


Now regarding your blog about the Moroun opportunity:

Since when have we become a war & destruction area rather than a shed & rebuild community? That is what I would like to know. Roadblocks for every progress effort and it doesn't even make a difference if it is efforts by public or private people. Just put up the roadblock first and ask questions later. This is suffocating! Time for Windsor to do a 360 and start saying YES to opportunities for improvements and NO to roadblocks!

20) Ed I just want to tell you that you are doing a great job and I like your blog better than reading the dam Windsor Star. I agree 100 percent with Cupe on cancelling the paper on the bases of false bias reporting. I know for fact I have been a witness to the events and reports that have been going on and I can’t believe the misguiding reports that go in the paper. AM 800 is not any better. I fear for Red bull coming knowing there is so many unstable people out of work because of unfair treatment from our beloved mayor and our elected councilman. I don’t know what they expect from the people but the longer this has gone on its not breaking down the union its making us stronger and more willing to fight for our rights.

21)


Take a look at these strike headlines over at Global Ontario Ed. Sometimes pictures really do speaka thousand words. What do you think is going on? Almost appears that Francis & Miller are being compared and Polls being used to topple Miller? Or groundwork for no more Mr Nice Guy?

22) Keep it going. You're my daily fix. I am a junkie. :)

23) [RE MDOT dirt on the ramps to the Bridge] Great pics too...thanks for providing "context" in this debate!

What if MM dumped a pile of junk in the middle of the bridge? Canada would have their Navy Seals roping up the bridge piers! Unbelievable the resentment for MM

24) "We thought it was dirt or clay or construction debris -- but no, it is only retaliation" has to go down in the border file as the most classic quote to date. Priceless.

I just love Dan's sarcasm.

It's too bad that MDOT had to get so remarkably ugly with this mess. It amazes me the craziness that goes on in politics and the incredibly stupid wasteful spending of taxpayers money.

Moroun will win eventually and he should. I wish they would just let them get on with his business - on both sides of the border.

25) [Note to Dwight Duncan sent to me] To the Honourable Mr. Dwight Duncan,

I read an article in the Toronto Star that stated "That could put Duncan and Pupatello, who this morning said there's been no request from either side in the Motor City dispute for legislation, in tough spots because both favour a bargained resolution in the Windsor strike". That statement is not true. I e-mailed correspondence to you on [Date], requesting your assistance, and I did not receive a response. I have a very difficult time believing that no one else from Windsor requested your involvement in terminating this strike.

I am sure that you totally understand that Windsor’s Mayor, Eddie Francis, makes unilateral decisions and defends them to the Nth. Degree... This strike is almost three months old in Windsor, the union workers are seriously in financial difficulties, Francis takes off for Greece, Germany, and who knows where, and the rest of the City is left dangling and needs your help.

For heaven’s sake, if CUPE has not contacted you by now, don’t you think it is your duty to contact them and ask our executive if they require your assistance in legislating us back to work? We have been requesting arbitration and we have thousands of signatures on petitions requesting arbitration, but the Mayor refuses to cooperate.

Back to work legislation is necessary in order to resolve the issue of post retirement benefits. I am one of your constituents, and a member of CUPE Local 543. If I am not important enough to receive a response from your office, then I suggest you contact my Union President, Ms. Jean Fox. She can be reached at [Phone number]

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

More Items Of Interest


More thoughts for you to consider and a photo of Councillors Jones and Lewenza going to Council:

WHY IS THERE A STRIKE

Supposedly it is over PRBs for new hires.

Sure PRBs are an issue. Under Eddie Francis, the unfunded liability numbers have skyrocketed from $170M to $290M. Please, do not ask me for comparables...I am just using the same numbers that City Hall has used in the media in the past! Good enough for them, good enough for you and me, dear reader.

But wait a minute. There were only a handful of new hires last year so those people are not responsible for the big numbers.

Here is the startling revelation made by the Mayor on CKLW on Tuesday that completely shocked me as you can hear for yourself:



video


  • "They decided to take their membership out on strike on an issue of Post Retirement Benefits that does not effect employees for the next several years"

Is the Mayor effectively saying there will be no new hires in the foreseeable future? If so, why is the City being so hard-nosed about the issue today? There is no financial impact immediately although there would be over time, much later in the future, as people retire and new employees are hired.

Therefore, we have the time NOW to resolve the differences given what the Mayor claimed!

Why can't the City set up a Committee with CUPE, as was proposed before, to deal with this issue to arrive at an amicable resolution in the near term? At the same time, the City can consider how the Windsor Public Library dealt with PRBs and act in a similar manner with CUPE and citizens being fully informed!

I just do not get the need for the strike to be prolonged. Unless of course there is another agenda at play.

IS THE CAW NOW RUNNING THE CUPE STRIKE

Their members were around at the big Friday CUPE meeting. And their leadership was well represented at the Council meeting picket line I am told. Perhaps that explains the seeming difference in tone in picketing over the last few days. Much tougher than before.

If that is so, my theory is playing out. What it means is that the Mayor and Senior will resolve this at the appropriate time with a few FO's thrown in for good measure to keep the audience amused and happy.

It means as well that CUPE Windsor members might switch unions. More importantly, Dwight and Sandra could be in big trouble as well if Eddie has a new E-army of CAW members behind him.

COUNCILLOR MOM SPILLS THE BEANS, AGAIN

  • "I am disheartened at how negotiations have been handled from the media scrutiny to the division of the community and certain people playing into that division. A fair deal can be reached that will not increase your taxes. If we can accelerate 5 years of capital projects to 2 years we are not as financially strapped, as some of my colleagues will lead you to believe. A fair deal can be reached."

ACCURATE BUT NARROW "NON-LEAKING"

Have affidavits ever been signed or was that just cheap melodramatics to distract the masses, again? That seems to be a very favoured approach to take.

Here is what the City said in its Labour Board answer.

I like how narrowly the Response was drafted. Look at the limited number of people for which the City takes responsibility.

Moreover, and here is the important part....everything is tied directly to the media eg source of details obtained by the media. There is no denial that they leaked information to a person who then was the source of the details obtained by the media.

I especially liked "does not admit it....was responsible for leaks to the media." The City could be responsible for leaks to the whole world but not to the media. Accordingly, the City is saying nothing wrong. Accurate but narrow!

If the City admits that it is not aware of the source of the leak, then why did it cast aspersions at the head of another local union? Was that a cheap shot so the media will run after him and make him squirm in preparation for new bargaining talks after the Baird bus decision?

Gee, do you think that someone in on the City's Response preparation was the person that Councillor Halberstadt referred to in his BLOG. We need an Integrity Commissioner investigation on that too now:

  • "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."

Since the City now claims it does NOT know the source of the leak, the Councillor better give CUPE an apology! And the Councillor ought to get better sources.

HAS THE STAR PUBLISHED ITS CORRECTION YET

The Star published incorrectly in my opinion the following. I believe that these comments were prejudicial to CUPE's position:

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis’s bid Monday to do away with post-retirement benefits for politicians drew an angry response from union leaders representing striking city workers..."

    Francis later told reporters the idea to seek a repeal of the post-retirement benefits for elected officials, approved in a council bylaw in 2003, came to him earlier that day. He said it was in response to CUPE advertisements and recent union leadership statements asking why such benefits are good for politicians but not for employees.

  • "So on Monday night, Mayor Eddie Francis tried to get council to eliminate the benefits for politicians."

  • Mayor Eddie Francis claimed he was "trying to save (taxpayers) money" Monday night when he introduced a last-minute motion at council to end post-retirement benefits for municipal politicians.

Here is the original version of the Motion and the corrected one. In neither case were politicians giving up PRBs!

BEST HEADLINE FOR THE BRIDGE CO/MDOT WAR

From Today's Trucking Online:

"Welcome to Dirt-troit, Michigan"

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

More Short Items



Here are some more interesting items:

WHAT IF THEY HELD A PROTEST AND NO ONE CAME

OMG. It must be a once in a blue moon time. Some sense of sanity has appeared for a second or two.

Representative Tlaib's anti-Bridge Company protest was completely ignored by the mainstream media in Detroit. But for a Windsor Star story involving Councillor Jones and Brian Masse, it would have been a non-event.

It looks like the Detroit media have had enough and are unwilling to participate as negotiating tools. It's a shame though that they still have not reported on the most interesting lawsuit by the Bridge Company against MDOT over alleged breach of partnership.

Instead, the Detroit News in an Editorial today said:

  • The escalating disagreement between the owner of the Ambassador Bridge and Michigan's Department of Transportation (MDOT) is exactly what isn't needed by a depressed state with the highest unemployment rate in the nation.

    It could delay the completion of the public-private Gateway Project, designed to ease commercial traffic across this key component of the country's busiest and most-valuable border trade corridor. More important, it escalates tensions over a proposed new span -- or spans -- needed to assure that Michigan fully benefits from a projected boost in trade traffic by as much as 250 percent during the next 30 years...

    Bridge owner Matty Moroun and his associates have made a business decision to build a second span and should be given the opportunity, but they must understand that they have to work with public officials. The proposed Downriver bridge appears to be a few years away -- MDOT hasn't acquired the necessary land yet -- but also will be needed if traffic projections hold true and if Metro Detroit wants to be a major player in future international trade. This standoff should end and so should the political rhetoric."

In another surprising Editorial given their border position, the Detroit Free Press finally woke up to reality and stated:

  • "The protracted dispute between the Detroit International Bridge Co. and the Michigan Department of Transportation over whether to build another crossing over the Detroit River has gone far enough.

    It's time for Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing to step into the arena and referee this brawl before the next round of lawsuits and accusations inflicts further damage. The battle of the bridges is already delaying the completion of the state's $230-million Gateway Project, which will tie I-75 and I-96 directly into the Ambassador Bridge. It could even prevent the construction of both a replacement span for the Ambassador and a second crossing downriver...

    Sorting out who's right and who's wrong in this mess is difficult -- maybe impossible. What's important is that the Gateway Project opens, giving traffic direct access to the bridge as soon as possible.

    The state bureaucracy may have to show greater flexibility to make this public/private partnership work...

    But the bridge company, too, must become a better transportation partner. It's a private company that, in operating an international border crossing, has assumed very public responsibilities...

    It's time for the governor and mayor to give them a nudge -- or push -- and get this thing worked out. Petty bickering and prolonged litigation should not be allowed to obstruct the progress of North America's busiest international crossing."

ANOTHER YOUTUBE VIDEO





CANAL vs. SEWERS

Remember that money that Eddie wanted for the canal...

Eddie Francis:

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

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

Ecojustice, an environmental advocacy group

  • "In its report released Monday, Ecojustice pointed to eight municipalities responsible for dumping the largest amount of untreated and undertreated sewage in 2006 and 2007 into lakes Ontario and Erie.

    Windsor came in third, having unloaded 4.3 billion litres of sewage and storm water overflow, while Leamington was ranked eighth with one billion. Niagara Falls topped the list with seven billion followed by Hamilton with five billion.

    "Untreated or partially treated sewage is a foul cocktail," said Liat Podolsky, staff scientist with Ecojustice, formerly known as the Sierra Legal Defense Fund. "It affects all recreational use of the water and isn't healthy for any species...
    "The construction of a $60-million storm retention basin just west of downtown should dramatically improve the situation, Tyagi said. The retention basin will capture storm water overflow, give it primary treatment and then redirect it to the Lou Romano plant.

    The city needs to build two retention basins to get the problem completely under control as well as spend $450 million to separate storm and sewage lines, Tyagi said."

WHERE IN THE WORLD IS EDDIE FRANCIS

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis leaves behind his strike-bound city this week for Athens, Greece, Frankfurt, Germany, and an undisclosed third location to attract foreign investment and chase Olympic dreams for Windsor...

    Francis said he's paying his own way on his European trip and that he'll be returning to Windsor next week."

I could not figure out the comment about him "paying his own way" when he was going on City business. The poor man has to spend all of that time in Athens exhausting himself to get the games for us.

When will he have a minute to be able to spend his own money considering when he was called about events that took place on Monday, the Star reported:

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis, in a phone interview from his overseas trip on city business"

LET COUNCILLOR MARRA SOLVE THE CUPE STRIKE

Eddie certainly has burned his bridges with CUPE. It does not seem that the other Councillors were able to get anywhere with the people who were picketing City Hall before the Council meeting. However, Councillor Marra was able to structure a compromise:

  • "Ward 4 Coun. Bill Marra arrived shortly before the meeting began and huddled with CAW representatives, including 444 head Rick Laporte, and CUPE leaders Jean Fox and Jim Wood. A compromise was struck to enable the councillors to cross the line so they could deal with pressing issues, including approval for the upcoming Bluesfest blowout from July 16 to 19 at the Civic Terrace.

    "We have a few issues that we have to take care of and we have a few organizations relying on us," said Marra."

EXCUSES FOR NOT ATTENDING COUNCIL MEETINGS

Which of the following excuses are an acceptable reason for not attending a Council meeting and staying ot the bitter end, if any

#1 We met, motions were put forth and failed, words exchanged and I did not like what was said, it angered me. I got very frustrated... I felt like I was talking to a wall and no one was listening. There was nothing more to discuss as far as I was concerned, the vote was already taken, direction already given. I heard enough and needed a break. In 6 years I have never walked out of a meeting out of frustration – never...

After I left the meeting I went home, sat in my hot tub and drank two margaritas. It was relaxing and I enjoyed watching my daughter swim in the pool.

#2 My child graduated from grade school

#3 Honouring a CUPE picket line

WHY THE BRIDGE COMPANY MUST BUILD ITS BRIDGE NOW

Distribution is Windsor's future as I have argued a long time ago. As usual, the petty fighting will cause us to be an also-ran unless someone smartens up!

  • "London city council last night gave its staff the green light to seek funding to make the city airport an international hub for cargo.

    Support by council doesn't mean money for the project, but it does give city staff the OK to seek funding sources and consider the proposal a political priority.

    "I think this is one of the best things council has ever done," Controller Gord Hume said as the issue was debated before the council meeting by the city's board of control.

    London International Airport has asked for $3.5 million from city hall for a project whose total costs have fallen as the prospect for upper government stimulus funding has reduced."

  • "As road, rail, air and marine hub, city could be at centre of boom

    Fully capitalizing on Hamilton's geography and transportation network could bring close to 60,000 jobs to the city over the next two decades.

    Properly promoting the city as a gateway for goods movement could also inject $4.8 billion into the region's economy each year, says a report released yesterday by the McMaster Institute for Transportation and Logistics.

    Hamilton is uniquely positioned to be a hub for the convergence of road, rail, marine and air transportation, said Pavlos Kanaroglou, director of the institute.

    Few cities have all the components in place and fewer still lie less than an hour away from the country's biggest city in one direction, a U.S. border crossing in another and within the heaviest populated area of Canada, said Kanaroglou, a geography professor at Mac.

    The spillover of benefits would extend beyond the Hamilton-Niagara region and into Toronto and Quebec, the report finds. A best-case scenario would see Hamilton adding 35,000 direct jobs and close to 25,000 indirect jobs.

    "Hamilton should probably not spend much thought on whether or not it wants to be a gateway," reads the MITL report.

    "By virtue of its considerable assets, this city is already a gateway. The question is: relative to its potential, will Hamilton be a strong gateway or an underachieving one?"

DID ANYONE TELL THE MAYOR

No one told Council specifically. Or did they? Did Administration act on its own without telling anyone? Not a chance according to the CAO:

  • "The city is hiring replacement workers from other municipalities to handle a growing caseload in its social services department, residents and striking workers learned at Monday night’s council meeting.

    Between 15 and 20 workers have been toiling in a managerial capacity for two or three weeks but the admission only came after Ward 2 Coun. Ron Jones raised the issue toward the end of Monday’s meeting.

    Cries of “shame” erupted from the public gallery, which was overflowing with striking city workers and their supporters, when city officials confirmed management from as many as six other municipalities, including Chatham, had been conscripted to handle a growing a growing Ontario Works caseload.

    CAO John Skorobohacz said council had given administrators authority to ensure operations ran smoothly during the strike, but the crowd clapped and cheered when Jones said such a sensitive decision shouldn’t have been made without a special meeting of council."

In other words, Administration has complete authority to do what is required it seems under some kind of vague generalized statement or did it have specific authority. What are the facts?

Does it matter what Councillor Jones wants. Hardly:

  • "They’re contracting out daily and I want to put a stop to it tonight,” said Jones. “The city is hiring scabs in social services...

    Skorobohacz didn’t rule out bringing in replacement workers to shore up service delivery in other departments.”

As I said before, who needs Councillors!

PS. On CKLW, the Mayor claimed that Council had been advised. So who is right, the Mayor or the Councillor?

Keep in mind, the City may have no choice since it is a PROVINCIALLY MANDATED service that the City must run. In addition, I understand that CUPE members are applying for welfare now so that is increasing the workload!

HERE IS WHAT $34.50 AN HOUR GETS YOU

  • "Members of the city's out-of-town security company followed the pickets from City Hall Square to the bus depot, videotaping the situation.

    Francis said the AFI security team was there to "keep order and peace." When asked whether that wasn't the job of local police, he added the Milton, Ont.-based team would also document any illegal picket line incidents for possible use as evidence in future court orders or proceedings, adding that "it helps to have evidence."

What I do not get is how AFI makes any money to stay in business. According to their classified ad, they pay a security guard $1,352 per week. Based on a 40 hour week that is $33.80 per hour. If it is an investigator, the rate is $1,560 or $39. per hour. In addition, AFI must pay for the travel, accommodation and food for out-of-town guards I assume

Apparently " The city pays AFI $34.50 an hour per guard."

How do they do it?

Movable Strike Signs And Other Items

Here are some more items of note

MOVABLE POSTERS

Remember the pictures by the artist that posted that I thought could change the canal debate.

Here is the work by another artist that can be used to change the nature of the strike debate

Who needs expensive and static billboards. Consider the impact if CUPE hired the artist to paint various CUPE slogans on the models to walk around the City. I bet it would have a bigger impact than the busloads of CUPE members from out of town before the Red Bull event!

Note that you do have to "click."

Body Painting














BIRD BRAINS

Considering the position taken by West End activists and politicos about artifacts buried just beneath the surface all around the area where the Ambassador Bridge wants to build their Enhancement Project, especially around the Indian road homes, I am shocked that they did not, using the same logic, demand an end to all grass cutting on City property forthwith:
  • "Thigh-high grass at the Ford Test Track may have scared off soccer and baseball and kite enthusiasts, but a growing number of nesting birds, some making rare urban appearances, are flocking in their stead.

    “I’ve never seen a colony of bobolinks in Windsor — I was so happy"

I am shocked that they have not condemned those who cut the grass for Art in the Park or for Red Bull. I will bet that those people did not have

  • "a permit from the Canadian Wildlife Service,” said Roberts. The Migratory Bird Act, an international treaty, prohibits the harassment, killing or nest removal of bird species named in the act while they are actively nesting, he said.

    While the bobolink is neither endangered, threatened nor listed in the Migratory Bird Act, “I doubt the CWS would issue a (mowing) permit,” said Roberts. Pratt said bobolinks and meadowlarks may not be endangered, “but they’re rare in the sense they’re a declining group of species."

BOBOLINK AND GREENLINK

The Greenlink supporters have been mighty quiet.

In fact, Mayor Eddie Francis has been absolutely silent.

Let's be honest, there has been a total collapse in support for Greenlink as a result of the CUPE strike. Now we can see what the hundreds of acres of Greenlink parks would look like if that road was built.

WHAT TAXI STRIKE

Something's up. Remember the stories during previous taxi strikes:

  • more than 100 CAW members and striking cabbies clashed with non-striking cabbies who had planned to stage a rally at the union hall.

  • City residents could find themselves near the epicentre of a brawl like the one that broke out last week or they could be forced to wait for police and paramedics tied up by a taxi industry that can no longer police itself.

    The potential for trouble isn't confined to the factory gates in this particular strike with its roaming pickets, and problems could potentially flare up at the airport, train station or any neighbourhood where non-striking taxi drivers pick up or drop off fares…

    "It's a war," said Renaud last week.

  • Before Thursday's confrontation, there had been nearly 100 calls to police by both the union and the company over incidents of violence: spray-painted cabs, slashed tires, telephone threats, arson, property damage.

    The violence is a symptom of the underlying problems in an industry that is heavily regulated by the City of Windsor, yet has been allowed for decades to create its own set of rules.

  • "About 200 striking Veteran Cab drivers, angry that their union president was denied a chance to speak, brought Monday night's city council meeting to a halt and were hustled out of council chambers by police.

    The protest escalated outside city hall only minutes later when a group of irate drivers smashed the windows of a non-striking cabbie and tried to overturn his vehicle, Windsor police said.

  • Tension ran high after CAW Local 195 president Mike Renaud rose to his feet as the council meeting was getting underway. He asked to speak to council but was told by Mayor Eddie Francis that council procedure did not allow for a delegation to speak when their issue is not on the agenda."

Not a peep this time around. What gives? How can CAW keep the drivers so quiet and peaceful?

Where is the Mayor who previously threatened both sides to find a solution so the tourist industry would not suffer:

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis has given an ultimatum to the two sides in the Veteran Cab dispute -- get back to the table and work out a labour deal or the city will impose a solution that may not be to either side's liking.

    "We know that any action we take will not only have short-term but long-term consequences," Francis warned.

    He said the strike by Windsor's biggest taxi service, now in its 12th day, has become "an extreme concern to us."

    "We're at a position now where we can't take it anymore -- the deadline has come and gone," he said late Saturday.

    "Other cab companies are saying they can't keep up," said Francis, adding the upcoming Super Bowl has "nothing whatsoever" to do with the city's desire for a quick end to the strike. He said there are residents, particularly seniors, who have had difficulty getting to medical appointments because of the dispute.

    Francis forced the company and the union representing 350 drivers back to the table late last week, but the effort failed after a marathon 13-hour session. The mayor said, however, that he met with union officials Friday and continued to work at helping find a solution."

WINDSOR'S NEXT STRIKE

The firefighters lawyer and CUPE should use this next story to demonstrate that Windsor likes to be unique and that is why PRBs in Windsor should not be treated the same as in other palces.

NOW I KNOW WHY EDDIE WANTS NO ARBITRATION!

  • "Baird announces limits on transit drivers' hours behind the wheel

    The Ottawa Citizen

    The federal government is changing its work-rest rules for transit drivers.

    Twenty years ago, the handful of municipalities whose transit systems are regulated by the federal government requested exemptions from rules that cover commercial drivers, like truckers. The rules set a maximum of 14 hours of driving and eight hours of rest per day and require at least one day off every 14 days.

    The exemption was given, but as a result, a small number of drivers, including at OC Transpo took advantage of the situation to work very long hours with little rest for weeks at a time.

    The issue became a central factor in Ottawa's 53-day transit strike in December and January, which ended when both sides agreed to binding arbitration on all outstanding issues.

    At the time, the federal transport minister and Ottawa West-Nepean Conservative MP John Baird promised to review the exemption, which was in affect in Ottawa, Gatineau and Windsor.

    After a two-month examination of the issue, Baird decreed the changes Wednesday.

    The Ottawa, Gatineau and Windsor transit systems come under federal jurisdiction because they cross provincial or national borders. Provincially regulated drivers in Ontario have similar work-rest rules, including continued exemptions for transit drivers."