Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, July 10, 2009

Snakes And Rats In Windsor

No I am not talking about politicians!

This story on CKLW interested me:
  • "There are snakes in the grass and there are snakes on Parent Avenue. A family in the 1500 block has found a 4 foot Eastern Fox snake on the front lawn. Homeowner, Georgina Homme, blames the CUPE strike. Her house is just 5-doors down from the CUPE building where mounds of garbage are piled up. The Ministry of Natural Resources says it's likely the snake was attracted by tall grass left uncut because of the strike and by an increase in the rat population attracted by the garbage."

I know another fellow, a contractor, who lives in the area who also saw one of these snakes near there.

We may now be in serious trouble in Windsor:

  • "In Ontario the eastern fox snake is listed as threatened and protected by the Species at Risk Act (SARA)."

I am not certain what the consequence of this is but remember the story about the boblinks:

  • "The discovery also means that, even if the civic strike were to end tomorrow, there would be restrictions placed on any immediate mowing, said Phil Roberts, president of the Essex County Field Naturalists Club.

    “If you wanted to cut, you’d need 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.”

Are we coming to the situation where the garbage cannot be removed because the snakes would not be able to feed on the rats attracted by the garbage? Do we have a case of protecting snakes as we did with the rattlers for the DRIC road? Have we now created an Ojibway Nature Reserve East around the CUPE HQ that demands protection?

These are serious matters to contemplate. This may become another issue between the Mayor and the pesky environmentalists that was never considered when the decision was made to have a strike!

Christie Pits in Toronto may never be the same either!

However, speaking of politicians, I liked Dalton McGuinty sneaking in and out of Windsor. I think he was afraid to make his presence known or he might have been picketed. No, no, no, not by CUPE but by Windsor Councillors who would have been demanding that he attend at Council to be cross-examined over Greenlink!

It's too bad that Windsorites could not have taken him on a tour to see where garbage is piled high. However, in keeping with his strategy to crush public service unions, it is better for him to say:

  • "My hat's off to the people living in this community ... because they're acting responsibly. There's not a tremendous amount of visible evidence that we're mired in a garbage strike, here in Windsor or back in Toronto," McGuinty said."

There is no doubt that he was being driven around Windsor by his Chauffeur, Dwight Duncan, in the same limo that Dwight drove Eddie to the airport. As you may not know, that vehicle has tinted windows so that passengers may NOT see out. That is why the Premier saw little garbage in Windsor.

Here is another accurate but narrow comment made in the Star:

  • "McGuinty didn't meet with Francis on his swing through the area."

True but not 100%. They had a top-secret, never to be disclosed, Blackberry text-messaging conversation using pseudonyms so no one would ever be able to trace it to them!

According to a source deeeeeeeep, within City Hall, so deeeeeeep that an Integrity Commissioner would never find the person who leaked this to me, the Premier and Mayor had a talk about the G8 Summit coming to Windsor. You know, another event to put our City on the world's stage.

I will give him credit. The Mayor was very cagey. He begged the Premier to demand that the Prime Minister hold the next G8 Summit in Windsor. In fact, the Mayor said he would fly to all the capitals of the world as many times as needed, out of YQG of course, and stay there as long as it took to get the world leaders to come here.

No need to worry about the state of affairs in Windsor while he was away. Everything would be put in limbo just like it was for CUPE negotiations while he was doing his latest business trip/holiday in Europe. Just to make sure, the citizens of the City and more particularly the Councillors would be told specifically not to think while he was away and not to have the effrontery to hold meetings in his absence!

The Premier made no promises but according to a source deeeeeep in Dwight's limo, the Premier could not understand why Eddie wanted the Summit here. He may have thought that even if protesters at the next G8 Summit destroyed parts of the City, no one could tell given the sad conditions around us now.

And you thought Dwight wanted Red Bull again! He had you fooled too. I expect that the Minister had to be in on it given the thawing of relations between him and the Mayor. He could not think that Red Bull would come here again after crowds dropped from 750,000 to about 300,000. He did play his role well though:

  • "Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan added that he’s already planned to meet with Red Bull officials in Toronto in the coming days to discuss that possibility.”

I wonder if Red Bull meant G8 officials in reality if the Premier and the PM ok'd it!

The Mayor, as usual, was one step ahead of everyone. As the National Post reported after the recently concluded G8 Summit:

  • "Of course the trip to Italy wasn’t entirely without the obligatory tossing around of taxpayer dollars. The government ponied up $5 million to building a youth centre in L’Aquila, the host city for the G8 summit recovering from a recent Earthquake."

If my math is correct $5M, or let's say $6M because of inflation by the time of the next G8 session, from each of the 8 participants equals $48M. Amazing, isn't that exactly the amount of the canal cost estimate!

I can hear the gondoliers singing now!

PS. The Mayor needs the Premier's help because Canada hosts the next G8 session in Muskoka so the Premier would have to give some goodies to that region if Windsor was to take it over.

Sale Of The Century

Stop, stop stop!

The Star has to go back to being an afternoon newspaper again. I cannot take the big jokes so early in the morning! My sides hurt from laughing so hard already and I have not had my first coffee as I am writing this BLOG.

Honestly, I cannot make this stuff up.

I think that Sandra knows her political career is limited and is looking for a new job as a Jay Leno politicial joke writer for his new show with her comments. She cannot be serious in what she is saying. However, with the Premier in town, she has to do her part to continue on that the Province really is going to do something for us
  • "Windsor is on the verge of the biggest construction boom in its history, according to local MPP Sandra Pupatello...

    "We are seeing more construction money coming to our area than any time in history," Pupatello said. "We are in the drawing stage and need contract approvals. All these steps take time."

Take time. What an understatement!

This is Gong show stuff just like Dwight tried a few years ago that told us nothing would happen on the border until after 2010 or right before the next Provincial election. Sandra has just told us the same thing. For shame!

I guess she did not read this story first which makes her look completely foolish and self-serving:

  • "Local construction industry representatives say they're disappointed they likely won't see their members at work on the Windsor-Essex Parkway until 2011.

    "We were under the impression we were going to see shovels in the ground this fall and that's not the way it's panning out," said Jim Lyons, executive director of the Windsor Construction Association. "They really won't be touching the ground and getting into any of the big dig until 2011, which for us is a disappointment..."

    Infrastructure Ontario has said it may not have financial closure on the bulk of construction contracts until the end of 2010."

Let me put it in the simplest terms. The Province wants a P3 for the road. The P3 market is dead. The DRIC road as envisaged is dead. Time is needed for another way to figure out how to pay for this road. Ergo, delay, delay, delay.

Consider all of this as well. There are all kinds of DRIC related lawsuits started and to start, the DRIC Bridge is virtually dead, Baird wants to stop the Enhancement Project Bridge, P3s are dead, the DRIC road has no route to the border and Sandra is worried about a labour shortage!

I digress.

Back to the sale of the century. It is a better deal than buying Eh-Channel for a dollar or my 2 cents for the Windsor Star. How would you like to buy the multi-billion dollar projects Chicago Skyway, Indiana Toll road and Dulles Greenway, all for about ONE dollar or less!

These were the projects that helped start the infrastructure toll road bubble that has now been popped. Here is an example from a 2005 article:
  • "Long before Mary Peters was secretary of USDOT under Pres GW Bush and supporting privatization, California did concessions on 91 Express Lanes and the South Bay Expressway (then CA route 125 South), and Virginia did the Dulles Greenway, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley privatized the Chicago Skyway and Indiana was leasing the state Toll Road."

They are P3s and/or a private toll road that are in very poor financial shape. They are concession agreements and alternative financing arrangements that do not work.

And we want this for Ontario. Is someone mad or do they just want to rip-off taxpayers for billions to help out private investors to make obscene profits at taxpayer expense. Trust me, as strucutured by our bureaucrats, no private investor will lose a dime as in these other projects.

That is how desperate certain people are to beat the Bridge Company. They do not care if they bankrupt future generations in order to do so! They can take the plaudits today because they will not be around when the bills have to be paid!

  • "RFQ For Design Build Finance & Maintain - The WINDSOR-Essex Project

    The WINDSOR-Essex Parkway will be publicly owned and controlled. It will not be a tolled road."

In other words, instead of the Government following the traditional approach to construct and to pay for a higheway, we will allow a private operator to make a 20% return on its money.

Back to the destruction of the P3 market for highways. Just read this article out of Australia. Where is the Auditor General for Ontario for heaven's sake after panning other P3 projects. Asleep!

And to make matters even worse and to make you even sicker, this Ontario approach may well hurt many Seniors across the Province and all taxpayers as well. I will get into that another time.

  • "Macquarie Infrastructure Group tumbles on option risks

    MACQUARIE Infrastructure Group is reviewing options to enhance value amid speculation about radical changes for the toll road owner.

    The company is grappling with high debt and some poorly performing assets.

    "In response to a request from the ASX regarding market speculation, MIG advises that it is reviewing options which seek to enhance security holder value," it said in a statement. "No decision has been made by the MIG boards in respect of any of these options."

    Previously, Macquarie Infrastructure had said that it was considering asset sales to boost shareholder value so the fund's use of the word "options" indicates that it is considering other measures that could include a capital raising -- although the fund makes no mention of this.

    Macquarie Infrastructure said it will update the market no later than its full-year results briefing due on August 20. By late morning the fund's securities were down 10.4 per cent at $1.205, outpacing the 1.4 per cent fall in the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index.

    In their latest research note, Merrill Lynch analysts say that Macquarie Infrastructure's gearing is too high and Australian fund managers view the listed fund as sub-investment grade.

    They say the ratio of net debt to earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation needs to fall to around nine from 14.4 and to get there Macquarie Infrastructure could give away its US assets, sell its remaining 25 per cent stake in Sydney's Westlink toll road and carry out a discounted rights issue to raise between $1.6 billion and $2bn.

    "We can't see a solution that doesn't involve a recapitalisation via some form of capital raising," Merrill Lynch's Matthew Spence, David Porter and Simon Chan say.

    The overhaul suggestions are the latest in a string of proposals and speculation among analysts, traders and media about the outlook for Macquarie Infrastructure, one of Macquarie Group's listed funds.

    UBS analysts in May said that Macquarie Infrastructure's US assets, including the Chicago Skyway, Indiana Toll road and Dulles Greenway, could be sold for a nominal amount of say $1 to remove fear among investors that the fund may have to pump additional equity into the US assets.

    The problem with the US assets is that the debt taken on to buy the roads was too high given the performance of the roads since they were purchased, Merrill Lynch says.

    "Given this dismal view of the US portfolio is largely held across the market, in order for MIG to re-rate, we believe they need to get rid of the US assets," the Merrill Lynch analysts said. "We don't think it matters who takes them given the nominal equity value."

    In June, Macquarie Infrastructure changed its distribution policy so that future distributions will be based on cash flow. Previously, surplus funds were used to supplement cash flow when paying distributions.

    It paid distributions of 10 cents per stapled security in the first and second half of last financial year but Merrill Lynch expects distribution of just 4c this year, which started July 1.

    Macquarie Infrastructure first said it would look at selling other assets when it announced the sale of its interest in Westlink last December.

Good Pasta

I decided to attend the Club Alouette Pasta Dinner on Thursday for Locals 543 & 82. I was interested in seeing the numbers attending and the mood of the room.

The event took place in their main banquet room. By the time I got there, about 45 minutes after it started, it was standing room only. All the tables were filled with people eating amongst the 3 choices of pasta. The place was jammed with new people constantly coming in to fill up the seats as others left. In fact, as I was leaving, people were taking out plates of food to eat outside.

It would not surprise me if over a thousand people attended by the time it was all over. What was interesting also was the number of people who just came to make a donation but not to eat.

The mood in the room was very upbeat, again a surprise to me after the workers being out for so long. It was quite festive actually with lots of door prizes too. No gloom and doom and complaining about their lot in life as far as I was able to hear.

As far as CUPE supporters were concerned, on the tables were sheets of paper listing all of the business that were supporting CUPE. In a supposedly anti-CUPE town if one reads the Star, that took an element of bravery to allow one's name to be publicized. Or perhaps the Star's Forums are not reflective of the population at large. People have been known to pack websites and Letters to the Editor columns.

I met a number of readers of my BLOG and was introduced to several lawyers who also attended. Interestingly to me, they were BLOG readers as well and liked my perspective on the double payment of back wages to CUPE workers. One of the people there talked about painting "class action" on her face! A sign of what is to come perhaps as the strike drags on?

There you have it. Just observations of what I saw and heard. Nothing more profound than that.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Is Vander Doelen Henderson

Thanks to the Motion by the Mayor to try and scare CUPE, he may have hurt Council's position on the CUPE strike fatally.

There is a huge need now on his part to go on the offensive to try and recover from that strategic error. I understand it has opened up the floodgatges on a number of issues that were not considered before that are now viewed advantageously for CUPE. Or if thought about, the opinons delivered have to be seriously reconsidered.

Damage control time for the E-Machine. The big guns have to be brought out, again, to quell the possible rebellion. Too bad the Governor's hubby is not available to come in to solve the dysfunction problem for another fee.

I never believed that Gord really went away, that he "retired" and only was going to write one column on Saturdays. I always believed that a major effort was undertaken by the Star to make it appear that way.

A certain word in the Thursday Vander Doelen column in the Star, a day when the Henderson column normally appeared, gave it all away to me and to observant readers of this BLOG. I had used the word a number of times in my BLOGs deliberately as a signal!

Remember the Beatles songs that supposedly gave a subliminal message when played backwards. Try this experiment at home if you dare. Into your tape machine or PC, record the name "Chris Vander Doelen." Say it slowly and distinctly five times. When you play it backwards at a certain speed which is based on your dictation, tell me if it does not sound like:
  • "I am Henderson!"

For those of you who are not audio geniuses, the column itself gives it away so you do not have to go to all of that trouble. It merely repeats what Eddie said in his CKLW interview on Tuesday. You know the one, where every week, the announcers throw the soft lobs for the Mayor to hit a grand slam every time.

Eddie is at risk at losing control of Council over the CUPE matter. When something like that happened in the past, Gord rode to his rescue. Now it is Vander Doelen:

  • "It keeps putting us back," Mayor Eddie Francis says of the extra hands in the kitchen. The meddlers are "a serious impediment" to reaching a deal, he says.

    Some of the bad advice is coming from a few members of council.

    At the council table, all 10 have voted unanimously to put a cap on the unfunded liabilities of post-retirement benefits.

    But outside council chambers, a few councillors keep saying they think a settlement can be reached with a compromise -- which isn't what they voted for in-camera. The mixed messages sent by these councillors is what repeatedly raises CUPE's false hopes, Francis says...

    And finally, some of CUPE's bad advice comes from outside parties such as the CAW, which has no business inserting itself into a dispute involving another union and a sector of the economy in which it has no jurisdiction.

    Francis was furious last week when he returned from a business trip to Greece to discover some Windsor CAW leaders had had the effrontery to call a meeting of city council in the mayor's absence...

    Yet four councillors accepted the CAW's invitation. The other six declined, since council unanimously passed a resolution decreeing that none of them was authorized to discuss the negotiations outside of chambers."

Hmmm, how history repeats itself. This reminds me of the incident where Eddie as a Councillor met with several other of his colleagues after the famous supposed Council flip-flop respecting DRTP when Mike Hurst was Mayor. That raised a concern but Eddie justified his role at the time. Since there were only 4 Councillors at CAW, not a majority, it could not be viewed as a "Council meeting."

Imagine that, some foolish Councillors thinking their legal obligations under the Municipal Act may mean something so they won't be sued persoanlly if matters get ugly. Imagine, Councillors actually thinking on their own!

You see what I mean...the City was required to stop with everything on hold while Eddie was away on business and on holidays. Now the missing Element was found on his return and the City can come back to normal under his micromanagement.

  • "the effrontery to call a meeting of city council in the mayor's absence."

Wasn't Drew Dilkens Acting Mayor? He was at Council.

Eddie is terribly afraid now that the Three Blind Mice might join with the other four Councillors and form a majority that wants to bring reason not bullying to arrive at a settlement with CUPE. All of Eddie's plans and ambitions would go down the toilet if that happened.

So a Star column was needed to slap them down and threaten them all. It is not clear if Eddie actually talked to Vander Doelen or if he took this Eddie quote from another source to scare the Councillors. Just like the internal witchhunt errr investigation and the demand for affidavits on the leak to terrorize them:

  • "I don't even have the right to respond independently," Francis fumed this week. "I have to reflect what the majority says." It's the law."

Yea right, just like with giving information to the Feds long before he gave it to Council over the canal. On his own frolick without Council instructions or authorization that could have put needed City infrastructure projects at risk.

The concern for Eddie is that Halberstadt has no position now to oppose CUPE given his self-interest on PRBs. Marra likes building consensus, not creating confrontation. Councillor Dilkens, if he puts his "legal" mind to it, would quickly understand the futility of the City's legal posiiton and would immediately understand the $24M risk for paying CUPE backwages that he would be burdened with at the next election!

That would make votes on the strike 7-3 or 7-4 if Eddie voted against! Can you imagine what the Toronto media would do to our Mayor if his Council outvoted him on the strike. I can just imagine! They might never call him again on anything.

At least this time, no one is blaming Bloggers.

Oh what is the word: "fume" as in "Francis fumed this week."

No one used that word more often than Henderson in his columns. It was almost a trade mark of his writing.

"I am Henderson!" You tell me if I am right or not!

Double Double Toil And Trouble

Oh what trouble I can foresee. All that work and detailed planning by the Mayor and Council over the last several years to crush CUPE may now result in double the amount of money the City has to pay out in this strike. It won't be double the pleasure or the fun either for taxpayers who have to foot the bill.

This may turn into a Shakespearean tragedy of epic proportions by the time it is over if I am correct. Moreover, the victims will be taxpayers. Again!

Did you see that story that claimed that the City saved $24M so far on the CUPE strike although I expect that most of it will have been paid out for overtime, security, outsourced contractors so that there is very little left to be refunded to taxpayer.

So the net result is probably close to $0 after so many weeks on strike.

But what if I told you, dear reader, that the City will be out another $24M. That is right on top of the $24M paid out. There is a real risk in my opinion that the City will have to pay out another $24M and counting for each day of the strike if it continues on.

What if I told you that also that because of a huge mistake made by the City, that money would have to be paid out to the striking CUPE workers! How angry would you be then?

That truly would be the doomsday scenario for this Mayor and Council and a huge victory for CUPE workers wouldn’t it!

I cannot believe that what I am Blogging now is possible but that is a conclusion that can be reasonably be drawn in my opinion from what has happened over the past few weeks.

Here is the ironic part about it. I got the idea from the failed Motion that the Mayor sprung on Councillors out of the blue at Council a few weeks ago.
Consider these facts. Eddie's failed Motion, according to the Star, was supposed to
  • “to do away with post-retirement benefits for politicians.”

In fact, not only did it never do that, as the Mayor drafted it, but more importantly, Council rejected Eddie's Motion. Accordingly, both existing and newly elected Councillors are still eligible for PRBs to the Mayor’s chagrin I am sure.

Then keep in mind as well another key point that the Mayor repeats ad nauseum which may also come back to bite him and taxpayers:

  • “Francis told reporters that council’s position remains firm on the “threshold issue” of post-retirement benefits for new hires, an issue the employer says is a large and growing unfunded liability for future ratepayers that currently stands at close to $300 million for all city employees. Striking workers account for about 30 per cent of the pension liability.”

  • “The main issue in Windsor's strike remains post-retirement benefits for new employees, which Francis said is a "threshold issue."

  • “Those leaked details revealed that the union had backed down on the city's "threshold" issue of getting rid of post-retirement benefits for new hires.”

  • “Asked whether the city is willing to move on its position on post-retirement benefits for new hires, considered the main stumbling block to a new contract, Francis replied: “Our position has been quite clear from Day 1…”

    Francis said no special council meeting is being called because the city’s negotiating team is not getting any new or different instructions.”

The Mayor has defined the "threshold issue" as PRBs, not wages or guaranteed jobs although that is something that has not yet been reolved. Presumably these other matters would have melted away quickly. But for this huge stumbling block, the Mayor keeps claiming that the two sides were inches away from a resolution of the strike! Who can argue with that! CUPE would not want to as you will see.

Oh me oh my. The poor Mayor may have put his foot in his mouth. It appears to me that the City has been fighting over something that they confirmed existed and which they were not prepared to give up. I would now think that, legally, they are estopped from taking the position that CUPE must give up PRBs for anyone, existing or newly hired.

When they had the chance to amend the City By-law for PRBs for themselves, they did not do so. The fundamental underlying basis for that By-law that gives the Councillors their PRBs is the City employee PRBs criteria!

If the Councillors still have PRBs, as they do, they cannot force the workers now to give up the entire basis of the Councillors' right to PRBs ie the employees' PRBs! Council is stuck by Eddie’s seemingly brilliant manoeuvre which now has backfired in all of their faces.

As Shakespeare also said, they were hoisted by their own petard!

Here is the language of the exisiting City Bylaw. Eddie's Motion set out in the Council Minutes was merely changing the "one half" to "100%"

Note this phrase because it is crucial:
  • "in accordance with the City's existing criteria for staff retiree benefits."

No matter whether Eddie's Motion passed, which it did not, or whether the existing By-law remained as written, which it does, the employees' PRBs rules are fundamental for deciding the Mayor's and Councillors' eligibility.

In other words, the employee PRBs must remain and any efforts to get rid of them are fruitless on behalf of Council especially because of Eddie's move. And under the Procedural By-law, this is this Council's position, unless there is a Reconsideration Motion which Motion will make it even worse for the City! They would have admitted their error.

What does it mean. Very simple. The threshold issue for the Mayor should NEVER have been discussed at all. The City has been negotiating in my opinion on something that should never have been on the table in the first place, never mind as a threshold matter. Even if I am wrong on the fact that it should not have been put on the table in the first place, it should have been removed by the City once Eddie's Motion was lost!

As I am certain that you understand from my perspective, in my opinion, the consequence is that the CUPE members have been on strike much longer than they should have been because of this mistake by the City.
I am sure that a good lawyer can figure out all kinds of ways to make a claim on behalf of CUPE employees for lost wages for being kept out for so much extra time.

Moreover, there are other ways to reach exactly the same point using other legal arguments that just jumped out at me after thinking about what Eddie had done. When the Star failed to make a correction about what they had said happened at Council, I started thinking about the reasons why not. VOILA, one of the answers related here popped out!

If I am right, do not be angry at me, dear reader, when our tax bills go up to pay for all of those extra strike costs and to pay the CUPE strikers too up to $24M and more as the strike goes on. I am a mere lonely BLOGGER. I am not responsible for causing it, just for Blogging the conclusion any lawyer would have reached I am sure if CUPE retained him/her to give legal advice.

It is not my fault. I did not introduce the Motion. I did not have a vote on it:

And this time

My suggestion as to how to resolve this mess. The two sides have to get real and negotiate a common-sense labour agreement now and get to work on how to deal with PRBs in the future by co-operating. The tactics on both sides have not worked. It is time to get on with it!

Unfortunately, in the war to destroy public unions world-wide, Windsor CUPE is NOT the canary and Windsor is NOT the coal-mine. Tough luck!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Mystery Solved: Missing Elements Found

It's elementary my dear reader, elementary.

Thank goodness Eddie is back to save the day!

After his exhausting overseas business trip and family trip to Lebanon to visit relatives, he was able to arrive back and get things going again on the strike even with jetlag.

You know what I mean. While he was away, elements were out of place and seemingly lost, perhaps forever:
  • "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."

    Blajer wouldn't say what those missing elements are that are preventing Windsor's negotiating team from meeting with its counterparts in CUPE, which represents 1,800 municipal workers who have been on strike since mid-April.

    The city's lead negotiator, Helga Reidel, said she's spoken to provincial officials and stands by her contention. She added she has no idea what the ministry is referring to regarding "missing elements."

Clearly, Eddie must have known where they were since almost immediately on his return:

  • "CUPE, city talks back on Thursday

    Talks are set to resume Thursday between the negotiating teams for the City of Windsor and striking CUPE municipal workers.

    Mayor Eddie Francis said the Ministry of Labour has appointed an experienced mediator who has called the two sides back to the table."

I have no idea when the Ministry and the City first talked and when the issue of the missing Elements became apparent. A lot of time was wasted even though the Mayor was away that could have been used for negotiations.

Were the Elements around but was the person whose job it was to put them in place not good at fitting them together like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle? Did the person not know how to set them on the negotiating table in their proper place like knives, forks and spoons?

If Elements were lost, when did they disappear and who is responsible? This is the City's fault alone. They cannot blame this on some poor Transit Union Chief this time. Heads must roll if this becomes part of a new bad faith bargaining complaint.

Someone needs to demand, even as a Council question if necessary, that Ms Reidel tell us why she did not contact the Mayor and ask him where they were! He had his Blackberry with him after all. Why did she have to wait until he came back so that he could find them?

I wonder how big the Elements were... bigger than a breadbox? Should we


Were they locked up in a cabinet somewhere and Eddie forget to leave the keys when he left the country? Perhaps no one wanted to call a locksmith because that would have increased the strike costs and reduced the refund to taxpayers.

I got it! The "member of the mayor's office who was on the Athens leg [of the trip]" did not file them under "E" for Elements but under some other letter and no one could find them. That must be it. They were only found when the right drawer was opened and the file folder was seen on her return to Windsor.

However, all's well that ends well. Imagine if the Elements were around and those 4 Councillors who met with CAW to try to get their help to settle the strike were in charge. Gee, if they had a solution, it might have been a problem for Eddie. However, with Elements missing until Eddie's return, there was no risk to the Mayor's plans.

Now Eddie is back and in charge again. The Councillors were told to back off as was Sid Ryan by the Mayor on CKLW since they are messing everything up. Let him resolve everything errr let local negotiators solve this matter without outside interference.

Let's be really hopeful for a solution as the Mayor says again who needs Council anyway when I am the boss:

  • "Asked whether the city is willing to move on its position on post-retirement benefits for new hires, considered the main stumbling block to a new contract, Francis replied: “Our position has been quite clear from Day 1...”

    Francis said no special council meeting is being called because the city’s negotiating team is not getting any new or different instructions."

In other words, the Mayor has made it clear that the strike will be resolved on his terms alone.

Ahhh, do you feel it in the air. The Elements are in place once again. The Universe is unfolding now as it should once again. Eddie is here!

PS. I must admit that I am out of my element on this.

Why did the CAW taxi strike talks all of a sudden start up again? Wouldn't it be something if the CAW solved their strike and helped solve CUPE's all at the same time! Wouldn't people think that they are a fabulous union.

Yes, elementary.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

No Strike Leaks To The Media

Oh my, it is so predictable. Including Eddie's Q&A with the Windsor Star's sister publication, the National Post.

Remember what I wrote about the City's response to the CUPE OLRB complaint:
  • "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!"

Now check out the Star story today:

  • "Leaked bargaining details that scuttled talks in the city strike were shared with at least two people by a city manager on the day the information appeared on the evening news, says a city councillor and the president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 616...

    Mike Palanacki, the city’s director of operations, was present at the meeting, according to a Star reporter who covered it. Palanacki would neither confirm nor deny Monday that he divulged any details to Markovic and Postma, but he stressed that he did not share any details with the media...

    According to Markovic’s version of events, which was backed by Postma, he and a councillor and a city manager were in a boardroom when the manager received, via his PDA, details about negotiations and a notice that a special session of council had been called for 2 p.m. later that day.

    Markovic, who is unaffiliated with the striking CUPE locals but friends with their leadership, was asked about the union’s position. Markovic told the pair that he wasn’t privy to that information. He said he then asked the manager for the latest details and was given the goods.

    “The manager did give us the numbers,” confirmed Postma. “The fact of the matter is that the manager had the information before the meeting and that’s the problem — who else had it?”

Accurate but narrow.....that's how this City operates.

I wonder what the results of the City's internal investigation are. Were they known before the response was entered by the City? One would think so given that the Transit Union Head was named. I wonder what the terms of reference of the Integrity Commissioner are.

Don't you find it odd that no one has asked Daryl of Eh-Channel who his source was. Maybe he would tell us!

Can you spell again WUC WHITEWASH AUDIT.

In case you do not agree with my BLOG "It Is Time For CUPE To Surrender," here is another article from the Toronto Star that will be used as justification to help crush CUPE Windsor and other public service unions down the road. Check out after what Eddie said too:

  • "City better off to let strike run its full, stinking course

    July 07, 2009
    Benjamin Dachis
    Policy analyst at the C.D. Howe Institute
    Robert Hebdon
    Professor in the faculty of management at mcgill university

    Nearly everyone in Toronto feels the impact of the municipal strike and wishes it were over. The strike is now 16 days long, the same length at which the 2002 strike was ended by provincial legislation out of concern for public health. The provincial government should be commended for not intervening and should continue to declare that it will not legislate workers back.

    If the unions that represent inside and outside municipal workers and the city cannot come to terms within a few weeks, the province will be under political – not to mention health-related – pressure to order an end to the strike. With the stroke of a pen, the province could do so by way of back-to-work legislation.

    However satisfying that might seem in the short term, back-to-work legislation would merely postpone confronting the core disputes that need resolving. The benefits of clean streets and open swimming pools are apparent; the long-term consequences of back-to-work legislation are not.

    The April 2008 back-to-work order for the TTC after its workers suddenly walked out was the first time any province had ordered an end to a strike since 2005. That's a far cry from the 1980s, when there was an average of more than three back-to-work orders per year across the country.

    While governments have refrained from ending strikes, strikes are longer on average than in the past. In the 1980s, the average public sector strike was 37 days. This decade, the average is 56 days. Governments have intervened less partly because there are far fewer strikes now than in the past.

    A back-to-work order would mark a third such move in Ontario alone in a little over a year (the strike at York University was ended by provincial order in January). If the province orders back striking municipal workers in Toronto or Windsor, they should understand the long-term consequences of that decision.

    Back-to-work legislation either refers disputes to arbitration or imposes terms. Both outcomes often leave both sides unhappy with the terms of the agreement.

    Back-to-work legislation merely delays many disputes until the next round of negotiations. We've looked at the effect of hundreds of cases since 1978 of provinces settling disputes with legislation and have found that a contract settled with back-to-work legislation approximately doubles the chances that the next round of negotiations will have the same outcome: a work stoppage with a back-to-work order.

    Also, ending a strike often leaves the union to seek its demands through other means, such as work-to-rule, slowdowns or illegal stoppages. Disputes removed from the heat of a strike simply end up in the slow-cooker. Back-to-work legislation has historically cut in half the likelihood that the next contract agreement will be freely negotiated without a dispute.

    If the city and the unions know the province will make the hard decisions for them, they have no reason to do so themselves. That will likely lead to longer strikes in the future as the two sides wait for the province to intervene.

    A back-to-work order would mean that the province of Ontario is back in the business of ending strikes. Other cities, employers and unions would know that a provincial solution to their bargaining disputes is more likely than before. The ramifications would spread to all negotiations.

    The McGuinty government has always sent disputes ended with special legislation to arbitration. This is more likely to produce wage agreements for the union similar to what was given to the TTC and other city unions.

    The main issue today in Toronto is not only wages, but that accumulated unused sick days are paid out at the end of a worker's career. This creates an unfunded liability for the city.

    A similar liability existed for the Ontario provincial government prior to 1970. Over several rounds of bargaining and arbitration, the sick leave payout (they were more aptly called attendance credits) was replaced with benefits depending on date of hire. The outcome pitted older employees who kept their benefits against newer employees without a payout.

    Without a generous buyout, removal of sick leave payouts can be a very volatile issue. Short-term payouts are likely not affordable for the city – making this a difficult time to eliminate attendance credits.

    Back-to-work legislation will not change the city's short-term affordability problems in buying out the sick-leave payout; putting off reforms until the next round of bargaining will further increase the unfunded liability for the city.

    Back-to-work legislation would just put problems off until the next round of negotiations and leave taxpayers in the position they are now in. The province should, therefore, not legislate an end to the strike – let the city, unions and taxpayers reach terms they can accept."

Here is why Eddie does not want an end by arbitration either:

  • "Q – With no talks taking place, have you considered asking the province to step in and enact back-to-work legislation?

    A – “We don’t want the province to step in. The reason we don’t want the province to step in is to do so would be to short circuit the collective bargaining process and send the matter to arbitration. Our concern is that historically, traditionally arbitrators have been known to give away the farm and we’re not prepared to have our responsibility be to a third-party decision maker. We believe that it’s important to negotiate the deal… between the parties that actually have to live with the deal and have to pay for the deal.

    One, it sets a dangerous precedent for future strikes where people just hold out and hope the legislators will step in and two, it would send the matter to arbitration and we’re not prepared to give away the farm.”

CUPE just does not have a chance.

Ee i ee i NO

Windsor Myths

It is so tedious already. Trying to make an Eddie purse out of a sow's ear. Gord sure tries hard though, and often.

Perhaps Minister of Finance and our local MPP, Dwight Duncan, might be get lucky. What is this now, the third time that our Columnist friend has written that Eddie and Dwight have buried the hatchet over Greenlink only to have Eddie pull the rug out twice from under Dwight and make him look like a fool!

This time the story did not come for a provincial government insider at least so we can assume that it did not come from Dwight's camp.

Why should it? Dwight has crushed the attempt by the Mayor to be Numero UNO in Windsor. Dwight is still the King! That is what the column was all about. A failing Mayor trying to put the best face forward on his defeat.

I was told in no uncertain terms by my Government insiders quite some time ago that Eddie was told by a certain Provincial Government Official that the border road war was over whether he liked it or not. How else to explain the recent Government action re the road without City comment? I was also told that Eddie learned he would be allowed to save face and to share in the glory provided that he backed off.

It is a myth that:
  • "it appears Finance Minister Dwight Duncan and Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis have laid to rest their vicious little spat and are busy forging ties...

    The relationship between Francis and Duncan, which had been frigid...began to thaw when they worked as a team to bring the Red Bull air races to Windsor...

    Spanky and Hizzoner came out of it looking like heroes, and recognizing that both stood to gain by shelving the feud and working together to address the city's rapidly worsening economy."

Dwight won. Eddie lost. Simple.

Complete capitulation was signalled when CKLW reported:

  • "Windsor Council will let the DRIC process move forward without a challenge for now. Mayor Eddie Francis says council feels it is the wrong time to launch a judicial review. The Mayor and council want to meet with Cabinet Ministers Sandra Pupatello and Dwight Duncan to discuss things first. Council wants the Greenway Project, DRIC is pushing the Parkway proposal."

Eddie stated:

  • "Francis said council's request for mediation on the parkway was to "show the willingness" to reach a compromise.

    The battle to win more changes to the parkway plan will continue despite Gerretson's decision, the mayor said.

    "The process is still ongoing," Francis said.

    "Just because they rejected mediation doesn't mean we are going to give up.

    "We will try to reach out to the provincial government and DRIC team to see if we can arrive at a better solution. We have options available to us under the process."

Again, the explanation I heard re the jail is much different than:

  • "That might help explain why the City of Windsor...why it capitulated so quickly on another hot-button issue for the province, the location of a new jail."

Other than the fact that the jail was used merely as a bargaining chip re Brighton Beach, again I was told that it would be more fruitful to look at the connection between the Provincial $3.2M sponsorship money to save Eddie's hide for Red Bull and the end of the rhetoric re the jail location.

As for Greenlink, again I have heard that there will be no major changes to the road other than a few tweaks to help Eddie save face. Even Gord writes:

  • "Some relatively modest fixes, directed by cabinet, could bring the city on board and transform Duncan and Pupatello into civic champions."

Hold on there Columnist friend. What about death and destruction with the DRIC road?

How can you and Eddie sell out Windsorites that easily! Remeber the cancer, the asthma, the children. All of the reasons why Eddie has threatened the use our weapon of mass litigation destruction, David Estrin. How can Gord forget so quickly:

  • "Sadly, given the damning environmental evidence we heard this week, it would be unconscionable for the city to do anything less than fight for the health and safety of its constituents, even if it means seeking a judicial review.”

What mere tweaking could solve that concern?


Unless we have the complete version of Greenlink, how can the disaster to the health of Windsorites and our environment be brushed away so easily?

If it happens, then is it not absolute proof that the DRIC road/Greenlink war was a fraud designed for some other purpose ie part of the anti-Bridge Company battle that the Governments are waging and that all three levels of Government are in it together. Millions of taxpayer dollars were wasted that could have paid for PRBs for years for new CUPE hires!

I can hardly wait until proposals come in showing that the cost of the road is grossly excessive and that, as an interim step, we will only get a cheap solution. We will then learn that we have been "Delrayed" for years! By then, who will care!

  • "But Dwight and Sandra are not fools. They want the biggest highway infrastructure project in Ontario's history to be welcomed here with open arms, not viewed as an act of aggression by everyone except the special interests hoping to turn a buck."

Moreover, they want it as the next election campaign starts, not now. As I told you, dear reader, a long time ago with the Duncan Gong show fiasco and former Transport Minister Cansfield's revelation, nothing could start until after the next provincial election. That was the budgetted period.

Eddie did a good job stalling everything off until then didn't he with Schwartz, full tunnelling, Greenlink and its next generations.

Let's get real. Dwight beat Eddie on Greenlink. Dwight beat Eddie on the jail.

Heck, Dwight beat Eddie on Red Bull too:

  • "The popular race will return to the riverfront this summer after the provincial government, led by Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, pledged $3.2 million to sponsor the event.

    "Without Dwight's involvement this event would not be coming back -- period," said Mayor Eddie Francis, who turned to Duncan when Red Bull made it clear it required millions in sponsor money to return."

    "Estimating that the event generated $100 million in economic activity, Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan added that he's already planned to meet with Red Bull officials in Toronto in the coming days to discuss that possibility. [lobbying for the city to repeat as the host of a stop on the 2010 international schedule.]"

Dwight again not Eddie calls the shots on the civic strike. He could end it tomorrow if he wanted but he does not. Just reread my previous BLOG re the CUPE strike:

  • "Don't expect Ont. to end civic strike, Duncan says

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

    "You know, we haven't even discussed that. The legislature is not scheduled to be back for awhile," he said Tuesday.

    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."

Finally Gord wrote:

  • "It could still fall apart. But my gut feeling, and something more, tells me a compromise settlement is in the works."

It is the "something more" that requires another Integrity Commissioner investigation. Who is leaking again? This time around, do not expect Members of Council to be asked to swear an affidavit that they did not do it! This is a good column for the Mayor.

Oh, I almost forgot, this last myth is a doozie. I first heard Eddie talk about it at the CIBPA meeting to really make him look like a winner rather than the loser he became and could not believe it. Now Gord is spreading it around too:

  • "It wouldn't take much. In his state-of-the-city speech, Francis all but declared victory, pointing out that council's firm stand has produced a $1.4 billion gain for the city over the original $300-million plan to turn the E.C. Row into a truck route."
Eddie better be careful that he does not rub it in Dwight's face too much.

Remember Dwight's famous saying:


The $300M was for the short-term BIF road. It had nothing to do with the long-term DRIC road. They are two separate and distinct projects. To say otherwise is rewriting history. There is no connection between the 2 sums. To continue to make a link is false.

The only one who can complain is the Bridge Company. Most of the $300M was to be spent on improving the connection to their bridge. Of course, not a penny was spent to do so. One day, we might find out why.

Gee, perhaps Gord is trying to make an Eddie purse for the next election. For which level, only time will tell!

What a myth-take that would be for us.

Monday, July 06, 2009

It Is Time For CUPE To Surrender

I am sure that the CUPE workers who have sacrificed for so long will be upset and disappointed at what I am going to say. But there is a harsh reality which they need to consider. Other readers may be surprised as well.

I always suspected that there was more going on behind the scenes than PRBs in the CUPE strike. But it was more than I ever could have known. Now it is coming out slowly in dribs and drabs and from the most unlikely of places. From outside of Canada.

It was a shocking revelation to me. I did not understand it fully until now, until I read the Times of London article about how big this has become. And Canada is the world's mentor it seems.

Unbelievable, read on and see if you agree or not.

Unionized workers in all unions across Canada owe CUPE Windsor a huge debt of gratitude. Unfortunately, "thanks" do not pay off the mortgage or buy groceries or allow the niceties of life that a regular pay-check brings.

Unless workers across Canada, and perhaps elsewhere as you shall see subsequently, collect money for CUPE Windsor members to give them the equivalent of their salaries as they fight for union members everywhere, then CUPE should take what it can get and the workers should go back to work now!

Why become the martyr for a cause they cannot win on their own? No one will really thank them unless they are prepared to put their money where their mouth is! Does anyone expect that to happen? Don't be silly.

Frankly Sid Ryan was partially right and that is why he has been demonized so much. His viewpoint has to be crushed. He made it easy for himself to be dismissed with his comments earlier for which he was criticized. Ad hominem attacks is a much better tactic to use than reason and logic.

Here is part of what CUPE Windsor is up against. They are fighting City Hall who is using their tax money to beat them into submission:
  • "Strike savings mount

    But don't expect much of a refund, councillor says

    Windsor's labour cost savings for not having to pay 1,800 striking municipal workers since mid-April have reached approximately $24 million.

    Mayor Eddie Francis has promised that the city will reimburse ratepayers any net savings from the strike, now in its 12th week. But councillors are cautioning residents not to expect much of a refund. "The city has incurred significant costs --probably much more than what people expect," said Coun. Ken Lewenza Jr. "When people see the level of return, they will be insulted based on the inconvenience they have endured."

That is the $24 million pot so far to buy security guards, hire replacement workers, to run negative ads in the media and overtime expenses. How can any union compete with that? And to add to the bottomless flow of dollars and to add insult to injury:

  • "Meanwhile, Windsorites have started receiving their 2009 final property tax bills, which were mailed on Monday."

But so what, that is the reality in any strike where a union goes against a large company. Ahhh, but there is more.

Remember when it was suggested that Windsor was being used by CUPE for the strike in Toronto. I suggested that another possibility was just as plausible. I argued that perhaps AMO was using Windsor to fight the Cities' wars with their local CUPE unions. Who knows what is being discussed at the meetings of the FCM Big City Mayors. Perhaps I was right. Take a look at these articles from the Toronto Star:

  • "What's clear is cash-strapped municipalities are gunning to get rid of it [Toronto's strike issue of banked sick days] says Roy Male, past president of Ontario Municipal Human Resources Association, which advises municipalities on collective bargaining.

    Some municipalities have placed contract talks on hold and are awaiting the outcome of strikes in Toronto and Windsor, where the city's bid to cut retirement health benefits for new hires has resulted in an 11-week-old garbage strike.

    "If they can get away with stripping these concessions in Toronto and Windsor we know we'll be faced with it everywhere else," says Ontario CUPE president Sid Ryan, citing Brampton and Waterloo as places where talks are on hold...

    Mayor David Miller puts the future cost to the city to pay for banked sick days at $260 million. But that estimate includes the bill for non-striking firefighters and non-unionized managers. To pay for striking employees of CUPE locals 79 and 416, the liability is $140 million, according to the city's estimate."

That amount is close to Windsor's $290M figure, something that again demonstrates how badly this City has been mismanaged in a City so much smaller than Toronto! Don't forget the massive increase since Eddie has been Mayor. The equivalent of the WUC fiasco.

I did not know about OMHRA before. Their mandate is:

  • "In 1963, a few eager HR colleagues met to determine the need for sharing information and the exchange of ideas on a regular basis. This group of nine met at the Walper Hotel in Kitchener and out of that discussion came the beginning of the Ontario Municipal Personnel Association as it was then known.

    Today, O.M.H.R.A. represents over 280 members and in excess of 176 organizations including municipalities, local public sector boards, and commissions, and continues to share information and exchange ideas on a regular basis."

How about this from the richest Municipality in the Province. Now you know there is a war on by cities to capitalize on the economic slowdown opportunity:

  • "Mississauga seeks wage rollback

    City unions have mixed reaction to mayor's request to accept lower salary increase than contract allows

    The City of Mississauga has asked unionized employees to roll back a 3 per cent annual wage increase guaranteed in their contracts, city manager Janice Baker says.

    "We simply met with the unions and said, `In light of the economic downturn, would you consider deferring some of that economic increase,'" she said yesterday.

    Mississauga council has also asked the Ontario government to intervene. Last week, it passed a resolution asking Premier Dalton McGuinty to freeze the wages and benefits of all public sector employees in the province for one year.

    Public sector employees should share the burden felt by taxpayers, says the resolution, passed with only one dissenting vote. Municipalities are "prevented from taking many actions due to the long-term contracts with unionized staff signed in better times," it adds."

So now the Province will be asked to freeze all public sector employees, not just municipal workers. Wait until the Editorialists start jumping on that bandwagon to shape public opinion.

No wonder the Province is not eager to legislate workers back to work and it seems will only do so if the CITIES ask for it, not the unions. And why would the Cities do so when Eddie can say:

  • "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...

    I [Eddie] think ... it's probably the right decision given the fact that to do anything otherwise would really short-circuit the collective bargaining process," he said, adding that, if strikers were forced back to work, it would set a bad example for any future strikes. "People would ... hold out until the legislature steps in."

Sure, sure...US Government crushing UAW and Ontario and the Feds forcing the CAW to make huge concessions. Two of the strongest unions being forced to take hits in order to survive or risk bankruptcy of their employers.

Now take on the public sector unions. Canadian Governments generally do not go bankrupt like companies so it is here where the wars will really be fought. The strategy has to be first go after CUPE Windsor and make them the example. Then go after other cities like Toronto or Hazel's City, then fire, police, the teachers, provincial unions and federal. One after another. Crush them until they give up or if that does not work, legislate them.

As for the NDP...They are invisible, worrying instead about this:

  • "New Democrats urge pension plan for province

    Ontario New Democrats are calling for a new Pension Ontario Plan that would cover all working people in the province...

    Miller said the party is studying similar plans in western European countries, in some American states and in Quebec. But he would not go into detail about such things as financing the plan and how it might be administered until those studies, and all possible options, have been considered. He added, however, that the goal is to have as little impact as possible on the tax base."

What an absolute disgrace for the Party who supposedly talks for workers. Pensions are so much easier to talk about than the current crucial bread-and-butter issues.

Pshaw you say...left-wing silliness, another conspiracy theory. Normally I would have agreed with that sentiment until I read this in the Times the other day. I wonder if the NDP are in on it in Canada as Labour must be in the UK:

  • "Whitehall lines up ‘doomsday’ cutbacks

    Secret “doomsday” plans for 20% cuts in public spending are being prepared by senior civil servants, who fear politicians are failing to confront the scale of the budget black hole.

    Whitehall mandarins have begun creating detailed dossiers containing reductions in expenditure that are far deeper than the more modest savings being proposed by Labour and Conservative politicians...

    Mandarins, fearing a prolonged recession and a collapse in tax revenue, have begun planning for more severe cuts of up to 20%.

    The dossiers will be handed to cabinet ministers the day after the next general election, whichever party wins...

    Steve Bundred, chief executive of the Audit Commission, the spending watchdog, said politicans had failed to be honest about cuts and called for “severe pay restraint” for public sector workers."

So even the English have recognized a problem and are going to make public servants a target. So what you say, what's the big deal about the UK. It's not Canada.

Oh no, read on from the Times:

  • "Philip Hammond, the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said the Conservatives were looking for “serious efficiency savings”, but refused to put a figure on how much would be cut from spending.

    A Tory government would be determined to safeguard basic public services, said Hammond: “I hope civil servants are not simply going to sit around the table and come with a series of options which cuts everything at the front line and leaves the mandarins’ back office alone.”

    Hammond revealed he had recently met a delegation of politicians from Canada, who were responsible for a radical 20% cut in spending imposed by the federal government in the 1990s.

    “The psychological tactics they used to get ministers to work together, looking at it as a shared problem rather than a series of departmental problems, were important,” said Hammond.

    The two architects of Canada’s programme review, Jocelyne Bourgon, who was the country’s top civil servant, and Marcel Massé, a former minister, cut 47,000 civil service jobs.

    Under the programme review, ministers and officials were required to assess all the activities of the government “to identify those that no longer served a national purpose or could be delivered more efficiently through other means”.

    Subsidies were cut, particularly for transport and agriculture, and many of the activities of government departments were scrapped, pared back or transferred to the private sector."

Can you believe it, Canada teaching the British how to reduce public servants and perhaps other countries as well.

Here is how The Honourable Jocelyne Bourgon is described:

  • "Ambassador of Canada to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)...She oversaw the Program Review exercise which contributed to eliminating the deficit, realigned the role of the Public Service, and downsized the public service by 47,000 jobs. She is also known for her contribution to the modernization of the service delivery functions."

Service delivery review hmmmmmmmmm. Aren't we in the midst of that in Windsor. Does that mean job cuts and outsourcing is next? And P3ing essential local services like water and electricity. Of course it does. The Enwin agenda item a few weeks ago at Council and the Tunnel deal were foreshadowing the inevitable.

It is going to be an all-out attack on civil servants. They have to be broken too just like the other unions. And we Canadians will be leading the world.

Politicians are really no different than the titans of industry. They screw up big-time and cost us all billions and the workers suffer. Is it right, is it wrong, you decide for yourself. Naturally, there are financial scavengers around to pick up the pieces to make a gross and obscene profit, again at a huge loss to taxpayers.

All I know is that CUPE Windsor fought the good fight even though their leaders, including their Ontario and Canadian ones made blunder after blunder. No one ever expected them to last this long.

Unless their union brothers and sisters world-wide support them with real money, then why do they need the continued losses, financially and emotionally! They cannot ever win.

As the song goes:

  • "You got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em,
    Know when to walk away and know when to run."

If Governments can now take over major banks world-wide and car companies even to the extent of the minute detail of honouring warranties, why public unions are a piece of cake. Forget about bargaining in good faith. It's NOT going to happen anywhere. There is another deeper agenda.

It's time to back off and fight another day. I am merely repeating what Senior has said and with which I agree:

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

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

Of course, there is a way for CUPE to fight back and win but it will be very ugly. I do not know if CUPE members will be up to it. But if they want to know that, their leaders have my email address.

Cold Summer Weather Thoughts

Just a few things I was thinking about given some of this horrible summer weather through which we suffered. What else was there to do?


I guess that the change in stars from 1 (needs improvement) to 5 (excellent) at Chanoso’s Restaurant as publicized in the Star can give rise to what was feared before in the mind of the public in an earlier Star story unless the facts are clearly set out explaining the upgrade:

  • "Another restaurant owner wanted to know if he can correct an infraction that pushed him out of the five-star rating and get reinspected immediately.

    Bennett said inspectors will stick to an inspection schedule unless there is a health complaint about the restaurant.

    "If (the public) saw stars flipping, it would hurt the credibility of the program," she said.

    A facility can improve its star rating only on its next inspection."

That must be what happened in the case of Chanoso.

  • "Donso said he had understood the previous inspection information was from a preliminary or trial-run inspection with star ratings that weren’t to be posted publicly.

    He said he had expected any star ratings would be posted only for inspections scheduled after June 1. Donoso said all of the concerns from the earlier inspection had been taken care of, and the restaurant had remained in full compliance with regulations...

    Later, the information online was not only removed, the health unit showed up for a regular inspection that afternoon that resulted in a five-star rating now shown at the restaurant's front entrance.

    "That would be coincidental," Bennett said later, adding she doesn't monitor when inspections are performed. "I didn't even know about it. I had no idea."

    Eric Donoso and Mark Boscariol, who co-own the downtown eatery, both said they did not ask for the inspection.

    They added that it usually occurs unannounced about this time of year. Donoso said staff telephoned him to say inspectors had arrived.

    "It was a very welcome surprise," Boscariol said."

Just so that readers can have some comfort about Windsor restaurants, it was reported that:

  • "During a pilot project held Feb. 2 to March 17, investigators gave 80 per cent of the 565 restaurants inspected a four- or five-star rating."


Aren't you tired just about hearing about Sandwich as if Sandwich was the entire West End.

Yes, there is a need to "personalize" different parts of that area to give it some character just like the names of Walkerville or Via Italia or Ford City or Riverside in other areas. No more Sandwich!

I have it. Why can't Windsor have an exotic locale such as Mexicantown

Thanks to Councillor Postma's BLOG, I would suggest that the area around her house be called "Margaritaville."

  • "After I left the [in-camera meeting to discuss labour negotiations where she walked out] I went home, sat in my hot tub and drank two margaritas. It was relaxing."


We know the Leakor is never going to be found but is the finger being pointed at Councillor Mom unfairly to take a shot at her for some of the things she has written and said.

Consider the following:

  • Francis denied he was responsible for the leak, as did city negotiators and the nine councillors who attended a closed-door meeting of council Thursday afternoon. Councillor Caroline Postma was the lone absentee. Calls made to her were not returned Thursday night.

  • "Coun. Caroline Postma wasn't present at the meeting -- she had an important family function -- but told The Star Friday she wasn't the source."

  • "Three city councillors refused to cross an emotionally charged picket line outside city hall before Monday's meeting, two councillors braved insults and crossed the line...

    Postma, who has supported CUPE in this three-month labour impasse, said she would honour the picket line and urged her colleagues to achieve a "fair" deal with about 1,800 striking inside and outside workers. She said a deal without a tax increase was possible...Postma honoured the line and skipped the meeting."

  • From the Councillor's BLOG...why not just phone-----"Last Friday Don McArthur from The Star showed up at my house to ask me since I was not at the in-camera meeting, am I the leak"

The City's OLRB response pointed at the President of the Transit Union as being a possible Leakor:

  • "Dragan Markovic, the president of Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 616, which represents hourly Transit Windsor employees, was identified as a possible source for the infamous leak in the city’s response to a bad faith bargaining complaint filed by CUPE with the Ontario Labour Relations Board.

    The city’s response claims — without offering proof — that Markovic “was in possession of the particulars of both offers” before even city councillors were apprised of them and that he had shared the details with others."

Why is this significant:
1) The City in its response said that it was not aware of the source of any leaks of information to the media. Why then did they make the specific statement?

2) Councillor Postma is Chair of Transit Windsor!


I hope that it was a misunderstanding in the Toronto Star but here is what was said:

  • "What if a city strike actually put more money in your pocket?

    That's the scenario in Windsor, where officials say their 11-week municipal strike is saving taxpayers $300,000 a day in wages.

    Strike-related costs will lower that figure eventually, but a net savings is expected and officials say some of the money saved will be passed back to residents."

That is clearly wrong because our Mayor said previously:

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis said Monday Windsorites will get back any dollars saved by the city during the strike by municipal workers.

    “The city does not need the money and we do not need a strike to save money,” Francis said. “Our proposal would be to return those dollars to each household...”

    Whenever the strike ends, city administrators will determine the payroll savings, subtract the city’s management overtime and other strike-related costs and give back the rest to homeowners, the mayor said.

    “We are not going to use this money to fill a hole in the budget,” Francis said. “There will be an independent and side account. Any net dollars will not go to the 2009 budget or our reserves, but back to ratepayers as a rebate.”


It looks like nothing has happened on the strike scene since he has been away and nothign is scheduled:

  • "The city has repeatedly rejected union calls for outside arbitration to end the protracted strike, and both sides said Thursday that no new talks are planned."


Remember I mentioned that there was a survey being undertaken last week about a number of matters including the CUPE strike.

This week local MPP and Minister of Finance Dwight Duncan said:

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

    "You know, we haven't even discussed that. The legislature is not scheduled to be back for awhile," he said Tuesday.

    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."

DUH, Dwight, who cares what either side thinks if there is a public health or safety risk! If both sides wanted arbitration, we would have had it already.

Why is he shirking his responsibilities as a member of the Senior Level of Government or did the polling tell him something that he can use politically?

Here is an odd comment from our Mayor:

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis said he supports Duncan's statement.

    "I think ... it's probably the right decision given the fact that to do anything otherwise would really short-circuit the collective bargaining process," he said."

12 weeks is short-circuiting! To do "anything otherwise" means Eddie loses and we know how much Eddie likes to lose.


From the Windsor Star, June 25, 2009:

  • "It's now a done deal: Windsor has agreed to sell more than 100 acres of city-owned lands for the creation of the new span over the Detroit River.

    The site will include a new Customs plaza, as well as the Canadian tower of the crossing, if it's a suspension bridge. Counting the new highway to it, the overall project will cost a staggering $5 billion.

    The announcement of the plaza land deal had been slated for this week, after council approved it in-camera. But conflicting political schedules have pushed out the media grip-and-grin session for another few weeks."

Detroit Free Press, July 2, 2009:

  • "Transport Canada, the Canadian federal transportation agency, said today it was finalizing the purchase of about 100 acres of riverfront land in Windsor to allow the construction of a new bridge across the Detroit River.

    Windsor’s city council approved a preliminary measure last week that allowed the federal agency to inspect and test the property. Mark Butler, a spokesman for Transport Canada, said the sale could be completed soon."

Now the Windsor Star says on July 5:

  • "The federal government and city of Windsor are nearing a deal on the purchase of about 100 acres of land at Brighton Beach to be used for the new border crossing.

    “We’ve pretty much agreed on a price,” said Mark Butler, Transport Canada spokesman. “We are also talking to some private owners and those negotiations haven’t been completed.”

What is going on here? Is there a deal or isn't there one? What has to be tested---whether the land can support a bridge? I thought that had been done before.

I heard that the sale price is several times more than the low number the Star quoted. I guess that makes Eddie look like a hero.

Could it be that Canada Customs Officers are protesting the location. After all, if the Jail should not be located there according to the Ontario Government, why should CBSA officers have to work in a dangerous location! Why should the public be forced to use such an area either!

  • "Brighton Beach is comprised of heavy industry. The issues with heavy industry is that it would be considered "sensitive land use" because there would be people living, sleeping and working in the building 24/7. In accordance with the Ministry of Environment guildelines, the introduciton fo sensitive land uses in heavy industrial areas is not encouraged."


Be still my beating heart. What happens if there is no deal with creditors? Look at what just happened with Eh-Channel where its suitor just walked away:

  • "Canwest deadline extension increased

    Canwest Global Communications Corp. has won an extension from its senior lenders on a deadline to come up with a definitive re-capitalization plan, the media company said Tuesday.

    Winnipeg-based Canwest, which owns The Windsor Star and the National Post, said discussions with a committee representing its lenders are continuing, with a new deadline to have an agreement in principle in place by July 17. A definitive agreement must be met two weeks later, on July 31."