Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, September 18, 2009

Harper Is Done Like Burnt Toast

Forget the Socialists, Separatists and Stephen. Look for Michael, Michaëlle and Matty.

What a combo that will be to save Canada and allow free trade to prosper between Canada and the US once again! The end of protectionism and threats of it from both sides as our and American goods cross the #1 border crossing between Canada and the US, the Enhanced Ambassador Bridge!

The national media just do not get it. Stephen Harper as a brilliant political strategist is a dud. He failed, again, as he did with his ill-conceived move earlier that brought us to a constitutional crisis.

The Liberal back-room boys out-thought the Conservatives as they always used to do in the past when I was deeply involved in politics. Dion as an example was nothing more then their sacrificial lamb that allowed the Party to regroup.

Don't you get it, IGGY's move to call for an election was NOT designed for Canadians but to undercut Harper just before he went to Washington to meet President Obama and the Congressional leaders.


Harper achieved nothing of significance for our economy except to allow the Leafs to keep their charter flights.

42 minutes with Obama, Harper was lucky to get any minutes as a possible about to be defeated Prime Minister. Why bother talking to someone who might not be around after the ways and means vote in Ottawa.

Now you know why Harper backed off and was so glad to get the NDP and Bloc support! Harper caved so that the President would NOT postpone his meeting again as he did with his 15 minute at the Three Amigos Summit.

And that suited IGGY just fine. He just made a fool out of the tough PM who would not deal with Separatists and Socialists in his video but who was forced to do so to save his skin.

As for the Bloc propping up the Conservatives who are hated in Quebec, where else can their supporters go but to IGGY now. And Harper being friends with Brian will only be viewed with suspicion by Mulroney loyalists in that Province. It was mentioned on an early morning TV show I watched that Brian never mentioned Stephen's name in his speech at the 25th Anniversary of the Mulroney majority Government celebration.

The NDP are in trouble with Layton's move. It will be the same problem for the NDP faithful. IGGY will be their man or they will sit out in the next election and not vote allowing Liberals to sneak back in since the vote will not be split.

After Harper's failure in Washington to end protectionism, there go Southern Ontario voters with the loss of manufacturing jobs.

And with the by-election losses provincially in Alberta and in Ontario, the momentum has changed from the Conservatives at all levels. No wonder Edgar wants to be Mayor of Windsor again and will likely not run federally now!

A majority Liberal Government is a no-brainer now.

Now perhaps you will understand, dear reader, why I urged the other day that Harper be forced out if the Conservatives have any hope to form the next Government!

It really is all over but the vote counting. Michael proved to be the strong guy who took the abuse and propped up the Government during the economic crisis when he could have been PM under the Coalition. Michael is now the strong guy who took the abuse about calling the election now since Harper would not deal with the Opposition properly as the video showed unless he thought he would be kicked out and then he folded. Harper is now nothing more than a typical weak politician who craves power. The Bloc and NDP mere opportunists whose members want to save their pensions.

Only Michael is interested in the well-being of Canada! What a new slogan that idea will make.

Here is the shocking stuff that few have yet mentioned. Obama's snubs of Harper were designed as a signal that the Americans want IGGY as PM and will deal with him only. No wonder Harper's visit to DC accomplished nothing. Iggy's academic friends in the Obama Administration are going to make sure that IGGY is successful, not Stephen for heaven's sake.

People also forget that the Liberal Senators were supporters of the Bridge Company position during the Bill C-3 debate once they understood what the issues were. The Transport Canada slam-dunk turned into Senate Observations language that was very favourable to the Bridge Company especially if there is litigation.

When IGGY and Matty meet, as they must, there is no doubt in my mind that a reasonable accommodation will be made between them over our border crossing and part of the resolution will be Matty helping out IGGY and his new Government with his contacts in the US Federal Governmnet as well as in Michigan and elsewhere. Do not forget that Matty's companies have offices all over the US in many States where Canada sells goods!

The last weapon in IGGY's aresenal will be the Governor-General. Michaëlle and Obama hit it off in a way that Harper and Obama never did and never will after NAFTA-gate. Remember that Obama invited her and not Stephen to Washington! Do you really think that only a deputy chief of protocol would have met her at the White House door on her arrival as was Stephen's greeting.

What a triple play that will be for Canada. Bring on the election already!

More Stories

Here they are again. More stories and my take on them.


I was up early again watching the Parliamentary Channel on TV and saw the infamous Harper video and Iggy's press conference about it. Lots of good stuff on at 6 AM on TV.

I must admit I was not suprised at what Harper said. He was being himself, a combative leader who wants to be in power in a majority Government and who wants to crush the Opposition for whom he has little respect. It is exactly what brought about the Constitutional crisis we had a year ago.

It was Iggy's response that I found most interesting and completely supportable to anyone who is rational even though it may mean another election. Effectively what he said was:
  • Our Party supported the Conservatives for almost a year during the economic crisis
  • I am the guy who ruled out a Coaltion amongst the Oppostion to form a new Government if Parliament was dissolved
  • We expected there to be co-operation amongst all of the parties
  • We did not get it
  • Now the public can see that lack of respect for the Oppostion clearly in Harper's in camera rantings at the meeting in the Soo
  • All Harper wants is power in a majority Government
  • How can Parliament work in this kind of a poisoned atmosphere to solve our problems
  • What other choice is there but to bring down the Government!

Now Iggy is being attacked because the vast majority of Canadians do not want an election. Yet what he says makes sense and we need an election to clear the air.

Is there another option perhaps that does not mean a wasteful election?

I think there is but I do not recall anyone proposing it. After his failure in DC, it is even more compelling. The Conservatives have no choice but to force Stephen Harper to resign now for the good of Canada and for the good of their Party.

If there is another minority Government with him in charge, he will have to go anyway. If the Liberals form the Government, he will be gone too. The only way that he can salvage his position is to form a Majority Government and that is highly unlikely especially as the "blue sweater Harper" has gone back into hiding.

The Conservatives need to elect a new leader who will pledge to make the minority Government work by co-operating with the Opposition. By doing so, they take away any argument that Iggy can make and take away any chance of a new election being called for a year or more until, hopefully for them, the time when the economy has recovered.

Of course,that will never happen.


Without knowing enough about the issues raised on the other side of the river, as a political junkie, I am disappointed that

  • "The Wayne County Election Commission rejected recall petition language filed against State Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, for her position on a second span across the Detroit River and her vote to turn Cobo Hall over to a regional authority."

I would have liked to see how a recall petition works in reality so that we could try and get the Provincial Government to put such a recall provision in the Municipal Act or in the City of Windsor Act at least.

It was interesting to see her reaction.

  • "Tlaib choked up after the election commission rejected all three recall petitions against her, and said the outpouring of support really motivated her to work even harder.

    She said she plans to work on legislation to reform the recall process, adding, "this was such a waste of time and energy. It was such a distraction."

It was fascinating to me. Not a word about looking at the issues that caused the problem in the first place to try and satisfy the concerns of her opponents. Nope, rather, let's change the rules so we politicians cannot be so easily distracted by citizens in the future!

Ain't Democracy grand!


Wow, even a Governor in Michigan can be recalled. McGuinty is fortunate those rules do not apply here:

  • "Man gets OK to start governor recall drive


    LANSING — A man seeking to recall Gov. Jennifer Granholm said today that he’ll start collecting the more than 950,000 signatures he will need now that his petition language has been approved.

    The Ingham County Election Commission voted 2-1 today to allow the language submitted by Paul Piche of Omer, a corrections officer at the state prison in Standish who is upset with the governor’s push to release more inmates eligible for parole.

    Granholm’s spokeswoman, Liz Boyd, said the Democratic governor’s outside legal counsel plans to appeal the commission’s decision to the Ingham County Circuit Court in hopes of keeping the recall off the ballot.

    Granholm has repeatedly defended her plan to release more inmates, noting that Michigan unnecessarily imprisons people longer than most surrounding states, costing the state money it doesn’t have.

    The petition now states that Granholm laid off 100 State Police officers, “at the same time releasing convicted felons, jeopardizing public safety.” Piche had failed twice before to get the commission to approve other petition language.

    He must collect the necessary signatures in the next 90 days to get the measure on the ballot. Granholm has just 15 months left before her second term expires. She can’t run again because of term limits."


Thanks to Councillor Halberstadt for making it clear to me at least that there is no point ever appearing in front of this Council as a delegation. You would just be wasting your breath.

I am sure that you suspected that after my Lufthansa BLOG the other day where a majority of Council had seen their report in advance at an in camera Airport Board meeting and about a month later it was "formally" presented to Council. All that our "Your arrogance knows no bounds" Councillor could say now even though a grant for a further study had been applied for before Council approval was:
  • "My impression is that councillors will be behind the idea of exploring it in principle," Coun. Alan Halberstadt said Sunday, noting that federal money may be available to fund a more in-depth study. "If that's the case, I can't see anybody opposing going to the next stage."

In other words, done deal.

Here are excerpts from his latest BLOG on garbage and outsourcing. It is an interesting history of changes in garbage collection and how they were achieved without a strike by negotiations between the parties to reduce costs and increase productivity. What a novel concept. However, that is not what interests me. This does:

  • "Let Me Expose Trash Talk In City Outsource Debate

    The debate to privatize garbage collection is raging again in Windsor after citizens were held hostage by mounds of trash that debased the city during the 101-day CUPE strike.

    The operative word in the above paragraph is “again.” Public Works veterans will tell you that the P word (privatization) is never far from the lips of our refuse collectors.

    The outsourcing decision will soon be revisited, even though City Council rejected a phased pilot project to test privatization during a closed-door budget session a couple of weeks before the work stoppage. That was before CUPE picketers used garbage piles and public drop-off depot blockades as prime pressure tactics to leverage a better contract.

    The notion that Council “unanimously” opposed a move towards contracting out on the eve of the strike is one of the many nose stretchers surrounding the 101-day odyssey. I was one of three Councillors who opposed a motion to reject a pilot privatization project and do nothing...

    Contracting out talks have historically been agonizing in Windsor. Councillors who have made tough decisions behind closed doors have been known to scatter like spiders once the lights go on in open session and the city’s labour leaders start pounding tables.

    The garbage collection budget of $2.8 million in 1982 remained the same in 2008. With this in mind, it is hugely ironic that garbage collectors, as the face of the bitter strike, have become sacrificial lambs of the work stoppage hangover.

    If other City Hall departments had made similar productivity gains over the last 30 years, taxpayers would be in far better shape today. Councillor Lewenza likes to boast that Windsor’s cost of sanitation collection is only $83 per year per average household.

    No doubt that would have been his Sunday Punch had Councillor Brister accepted his challenge to a debate on privatization.

    Of course, all of this doesn’t matter to revenge-seeking citizens who want to stop CUPE from holding taxpayers hostage with garbage ever again.

    Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!'

Get ready to do what, speak in public? Brister debating and being made to appear foolish so he cannot run for Mayor. Never.

Why rumble considering all of the in camera discusssions already on the subject. Why let the public in on the debate until Councillors have made their decision secretly and have agreed not to fold this time.

Let the masses mouth off as delegations. Let the Unionists pound the table. The Mayor and Councillors will not scatter this time around after they and the media have painted CUPE members as thugs over a 101-day strike.

I really would be interested in knowing what section of the Municipal Act allows this subject to be discussed in camera. It is an important issue in this City and should NOT be debated behind closed doors.

The public needs to be educated about the pros and cons not just for garbage collection but for other areas of Municipal government as well such as traffic tickets, the next target, as the Star has identified.

We need to know what the postions of Councillors are out in the public so that we can form an opinion about what they are saying as well and whether we want them around next time.

That Councillor Halberstadt, who wears the mantle of the People's Champion supposedly, can BLOG about this without identifying the democratic concerns is disappointing to say the least. That the other members of Council should have participated as well is just as bad.

But hardly surprising any more. Just remember the incident with John, Dev and Helga too and the complaints by Councillors Mara and Dilkens.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Edgar The Manager

This Windsor City Government is really starting to scare me as you shall see. Councillors may talk for the press but it is what goes on behind closed doors when they vote that makes a mockery of their protestations.

I am making a re-organization of my BLOGs starting today.

I happened to be rereading some old emails I saved the other day and came across a comment that mini-Gord wrote in one of the Star Q&A sessions with readers:
  • "Chris Vander Doelen: It's interesting, by the way, that everyone in Windsor seems to refer to the mayor as "Eddie." We never called Mayor Hurst "Mikey," or John Millson "Johnny." Is it because of his relatively young age, or the fact people feel more familiar with him? Just throwing that out there ."

I know exactly how the Mayor must feel. In public school, I was called "Eddie" and did not like it. I wanted to be called "Edward" in high school and so tried that. Of course, no one wanted to call me by that name so I got stuck with "Ed."

Accordingly, I will be more respectful and will call the Mayor "Edgar" from now on.

I see that mini-Gord is trying to get in Edgar's good books by making it appear that Edgar knows how to manage a corporation the size of the City.

  • "The surprise elimination this week of two of the City of Windsor's top five executives was excellent news for its taxpayers. It means a majority of council is still serious about confronting the city's economic reality...

    Last week council started passing a series of votes behind closed doors giving Mayor Eddie Francis the authority to start taking evasive manoeuvres to head off the oncoming crisis. The first manoeuvre was the executive staffing bombshell announced Tuesday.

    Good for council."

"Good planning" and "surprise" seem to me to be mutually exclusive concepts when talking about a proper re-organization. Heck, I only went to Law School, not Business School so what do I know.

What is even more surprising and shocking is when a member of the City's "Board of directors" admits publicly he had no idea what was going on:

  • "Ward 1 Coun. Drew Dilkens...said he agrees with Marra that there should have been more vetting in the selection process. Dilkens said council would have benefited by hearing the ideas of other in-house candidates and "learning more about them."

    He suggests the criticism being expressed could stem in part from "the larger issue of how things get done" at council. Dilkens said the matter was "sprung on us" without any prior notice at a Sept. 2 in-camera meeting when the mayor introduced Reidel as the new CAO. No other hiring options were put forward and the suggestion that other city hall managers might also be qualified only came up as a result of a question at Monday's closed-door meeting when councillors were asked to vote on Reidel's appointment."

According to the former CAO, he was only going to be in the job for 5 years. Why then was there no job hunt for his replacement? Councillors did not seem to know that Helga was the choice until told by the Mayor. Is this Edgar's succession planning technique?

Was this her reward for doing as the Mayor commanded during the 101 day strike? Did she argue against what was done for the first 7 weeks in the CUPE strike according to another Council member or if she did, she did not appear to be successful. I hope we have no near riots during her term:

  • "Last week we made the decision to allow our team more freedom to negotiate a contract that is fair to both parties and we also agreed that binding arbitration is not the right path for us. I strongly believe that for the past 7 weeks council has not given our negotiating team the tools to truly negotiate. We have set parameters for them but have not given them the autonomy required to get a contract. In essence they have been negotiating with themselves."

I have worked for large corporations that have re-organized and done so quickly. Instead, mini-Gord tells us:

  • "It was nearly two years ago that council decided it had to take decisive action to head off the financial crisis coming down the tracks...

    What started this week will take years to play out, depending how council decides to proceed."

This is absurd, as absurd as Edgar not introducing Citi-Stat or not doing the audit as he promised when he was first elected:

  • "Detailed Audit of All Departments

    We need a starting point, a place to know where we are so that we can judge how well we do when we look at results.

    We will conduct in-depth audits of all of our departments to assess where we stand, and to identify inefficiencies and implement sound management principles across the corporation."

What is puzzling is the following:

  • "The situation is very simple: the City of Windsor's costs and staffing levels can no longer be sustained by a disappearing industrial tax base and shrinking population. The corporation needs major corrective surgery or it will end up like the former Big Three: kaput."

Yet Council spends foolishly chasing after Edgar's mind's eye dreams like canals and transportation hubs or a Greenlink. We are told that the City has been prudent and that we will have millions to spend yet now we cry poverty. Which is it?

There was no planning involved with the 2 people leaving. It is clear that Tyagi's disappearance was not a friendly one. How much of our "savings' will that cost taxpayers?

Did Edgar really negotiate a 12-15 month severance package with an "open" contract for the former CAO? Does that mean if John left after one month, he would have been entitled to that huge package? That contract needs to be made public! Is there a written one with Helga?
  • "Francis said Reidel's contract, introduced verbally to councillors this week, will be for a fixed six-year term with no severance provisions. Skorobohacz had an open contract with a clause that now pays him 12.5 months salary in severance (his 2008 salary was almost $211,000 without benefits), or 15 months if he doesn't find a new job."

Yup, it's great news:

  • "The surprise elimination this week of two of the City of Windsor's top five executives was excellent news for its taxpayers."

The Department that was slammed by the City's Auditor and now is involved in massive spending projects has no Head.

Yes sir, that's a great way to run a City. That's good succession planning.

As I said in a recent BLOG, the SDR campaign for Edgar's re-election is starting. I just did not know this quickly!

One other thought. If you think Edgar and his Council colleagues really want you to know what is going on:

  • "Last week council started passing a series of votes behind closed doors giving Mayor Eddie Francis the authority to start taking evasive manoeuvres to head off the oncoming crisis."

"Evasive manoeuvres" what the heck does that mean? And was the authority given to him without any checks or balances? If so, where is Democracy in Windsor?

So much for this slide in Edgar's September 15 Presentaion

Stephen Needs Help NOW!

Matty, you need to rise above it all.

Stephen has really messed up badly. Again.

He needs an ally, a friend with influence in DC. He needs your help. Please, I beg you, give him a phone call and offer your good offices to help him deal with the American Government. He and his advisors have no idea what they are doing.

I thought, with Michael Wilson gone, things would be different, there would be a better strategy developed in how to deal with the White House. At least the PM did not bring Minister Baird with him to DC so there was no Ambassador Bridge discussion. That at least helped.

But it is bad, very bad. You know that snub at the Three Amigos Summit. It is worse than I ever thought possible:
  • "Of greater importance may be the chance to solidify a relationship between the leaders, one a Conservative and the other a Democrat, of nations that have the world's biggest trading relationship.

    The two did not have a planned 15-minute bilateral meeting at the North American "three amigos" summit in Mexico last month, at Obama's request, so that they could have a longer visit in Washington."

Obama cancelled a FIFTEEN MINUTE conversation. No 15 minutes of fame for Stephen with the President! What a bloody insult! If that is not a snub I do not know what it is.

And the excuse was to have a longer talk in DC....42 minutes was scheduled. Does that mean that otherwise, Harper would have been given about 20-25 minutes! Hardly makes sense to spend all that money on aviation fuel for the PM's jet for that.

Wow, what a joke that is. Obama spent more time with the Governor General on the red carpet at Ottawa airport in the winter joking around with her than that.

  • "What can you cover in 42 minutes, after they get through the niceties of 'How's your wife?' and 'How's your dog?' " one well-placed expert on bilateral affairs told the Toronto Star.

    "Even if this stretches into overtime and Harper charms his way into a working lunch, it feels more like a photo op than anything else. It will win a news cycle showing the Prime Minister on the world stage."

And to rub it in:

  • "The hour-long Oval Office chat will be a much scaled down meeting from Obama's day-long trip to Ottawa in February, soon after his inauguration, which dominated Canadian headlines for days."

That is why this comment is hilarious trying to salvage Harper's ego:

  • "One expert in Canada-U.S. relations says Obama has no outstanding issues right now and the visit is something of a presidential gift to Harper.

    Chris Sands says Obama is keen to establish good relations with America's allies and the visit will send a message to Canadians that Harper is managing the U.S. file well."

Is he kidding---Harper's lack of any results demonstrates we need Obama's friend IGGY as PM! No more NAFTA-gate memories with IGGY. Heck, the President may think that Harper's days as PM are numbered so why bother with him!

And did Stephen ever put his foot in it again. Are those Carleton University people STILL around?

  • 1) Be his buddy and he might like you this time around. While he is formal and respectful, you be one of the boys like your new Ambassador to show how chummy you now are.

    "PRIME MINISTER HARPER: Well, thank you very much, Mr. President. First of all, Barack, let me just say I really appreciate -- this is our seventh time I think in some form or another we've had a chance to discuss some of these issues and we appreciate your time and of course both your and your country's alliance, neighborliness, and friendship. It's our most important relationship in the world. We're always delighted to sit down and talk.

  • 2) Yup, make it clear that you are going to try and endrun the Obama White House by dealing directly with Congressional leaders. Undercut the President's authority in his hometown too. If this tactic was tried by Obama in Canada, it would be a diplomatic scandal:

    --"In addition to meeting with Obama, Harper makes the trek to Capitol Hill on Thursday to discuss his concern about trade protectionism with the most powerful Congressional Democrats."

    --"As well, Frazer pointed out, Harper knows where much of the real power in Washington resides - in Congress. To that end, the prime minister will trek to Capitol Hill on Thursday to meet with leading congressional Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid."

  • 3) Insult the President and make him look foolish:

    --"And he warned that if the U.S. fails to do so, its credibility as a free trading nation is at risk.

    "The United States cannot be a credible voice for keeping trade flows going if it can't deal with trade irritants with its single best trading partner. I think it's critical we make progress on this," Harper said in an interview that aired on CTV News.

  • 4) Threaten the Americans again with energy cut-offs but be more subtle this time

    --"We discussed energy security and climate change. I remind all our American friends that Canada is by far the largest supplier of energy to the United States."

  • 5) Make it clear that you will be a pain in the butt:

    --"Harper's office says he will be "aggressive and persistent"

  • 6) Pretend that you do not understand why the Buy America provisions hurt Canada

    "The provincial governments in Canada, my understanding is, are not signatories to the WTO government procurement agreements that would have preempted any of these "Buy America" agreements. That might be one solution. But in addition, we're pursuing, on a bilateral track, efforts to make sure that these sources of tension diminish."

We in Windsor saw this on the border in their joint statement:

  • "They expressed satisfaction with the productive ministerial dialogue put in place since the President’s visit to Ottawa in February on promoting a secure and efficient border, to contribute equally to North American security and prosperity."

If that is not a kiss-off to DRIC, I do not know what is.

I hope Stephen finally listens to Senator BLOGMeister-to-be. Only Matty's bridge is going to be built.

Stephen must know it by now. He must realize that he got taken in by his bureaucrats and so-called advisors early on over trying to force the Bridge Company to sell out cheaply and if he did not, then he knows it now.

Stephen, and Ambassador Doer, need someone who knows his way around. When Matty calls, I hope they are there to answer the phone.

PS The Washington Post and New York Times picked up the Reuters story on Harper's "oil threat" which means a number of DC politicians will get even angrier at us. They will not want to be threatened either by Canada:

  • "Harper made a pointed comment about how much the United States needed Canadian energy."

I guess their White House Reporters were too busy elsewhere.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Another P3 Road Project In Trouble

I will bet you a coffee that the Michigan Legislators did not hear any horror stories about P3s the other day when they held some hearings on the subject. All they need do is undertake a search on my BLOGsite to gain some insight into the subject from a different perspective.

I wonder why URS did not tell the Ontario Government about the problem its sister company is having in Mississippi.

Who knows, maybe they did and the Government, Infrastructure Ontario, Ministry of Transportation and their federal counterparts just do not want to listen.

We see huge write-downs in tollroads by Macquarie yet our smart bureaucrats still want the P3 equivalent. The DRIC road, it success will effectively be guaranteed by the Government since there will be no tolls. It will be a "concession" or "shadow tolls" arrangement with the Government paying out the extra billions in profits to private investors. compared with the cost of the traditional method of constructing roads.

When you see who the ultimate winner of the bidding will be, as Gord has already signalled, then you may understand why.

Perhaps after the bureaucrats, or rather their political masters, see the downgrade of the Blue Water Bridge by S&P with the negative outlook due to traffic reduction, we might see reality set in.

Perhaps Gord's provincial government insider might have a whisper in Dalton's ear and warn him that our DRIC Mega-project has already run amok! He does not need the Port Mann bridge embarrassment before an election.

Here is the latest P3 failure with the explanation why from TollRoad News:
  • Mississippi DOT stops Jackson Airport Parkway P3 - rating agencies No to investment grade

    Mississippi DOT (MsDOT) have announced "suspension" of the procurement process for a private sector concession to build the state's first tollroad in the modern era - Jackson Airport Parkway. The concession financing depended on federal TIFIA loan support which is only provided if the rating agencies provide an investment grade rating to senior debt.

    Three shortlisted potential concessionaires told MsDOT they couldn't get the needed investment grade ratings for their loan financing, an official told us, so they were not able to make proposals which were formally due next week - Sept 15.

    A statement from MsDOT quotes Executive Director Larry L (Butch) Brown as "disappointed" but saying that the parkway "project, like many other greenfield toll road projects, is suffering from general economic weakness and tight credit markets which limit the amount of credit and capital available for new transportation projects."

    Private sector must show savings

    Brown is quoted further: "The private sector needs to demonstrate that it can deliver meaningful savings versus a traditional MDOT financing and delivery plan. For example, unless private sector bidders can genuinely deliver construction cost savings, operational savings, or financing savings, the numbers just don't work. In this economy, revenue projections are under pressure and investment grade ratings for the project's senior debt are difficult to obtain."

    Shortlisted three

    Three groups shortlisted to make proposals Sep 15 but unable to raise the capital were:

    - Jackson Access Mobility Group (ACS and Dragados)

    - Airport Parkway P3 Group (Cintra and Ferrovial)

    - Global Via

    They are Spain-based international groups active around the world in toll and other concessions.


    Brenda Znachko, chief financial officer at MsDOT says she gets the impression the rating agencies are generally negative about tollroads at present. She says she thinks the lack of any history of tolling in the state was also a handicap.

    Znachko says they are not giving up on the project, but are considering alternatives. They will look at alternative ways of structuring the project as a concession, and also look at public financing using the credit of the state as backing.

    She thinks the project is still viable as a tollroad, but it may need to be approached differently. MsDOT is supported by consultants Nossaman lawyers, JP Morgan finance, and URS engineers and traffic and revenue modelers.

    MsDOT will take a new plan for advancing the parkway project to state commissioners later this year.

    The project is designed to serve the most rapidly growing portion of the state, the eastern edge of the Jackson area. Although it would serve the Airport this by itself was not a major part of the projected traffic for the Parkway - which goes from the central business district east, then splits to make links to the north and south of the airport.

    A URS traffic and revenue study produced for MsDOT shows toll revenues for the project at a toll of 18c/mile (11c/km) with a Jan 2013 opening as 2015 $16m, 2020 $22m, 2025 $39m, 2030 $53m.

    Project cost has been put at around $500m. The project consists of 20km, 12 miles of expressway standard road with at least four interchanges. Major structure needed is a bridge over the Pearl River immediately east of the central business district.

    The project has alll its environmental permits.

    Most of the engineering design is done.

    80% of the right of way has been acquired.

    There is strong support for the project from the key three cities, and virtually no public opposition.

    Znachko has said they are flexible about the scope and staging of the project. They have already deferred a downtown end 'pitchfork' feeding three streets as something that can be added at a later date. To start with it would have just one downtown connection. The eastern ends have also been left flexible for staging also.

Pic Of The Week

Helga and CUPE's Jean discussing another type of deal during the 101-day strike

I can just imagine them talking now, after Helga's new appointment:
  • "Don't worry Jean, we will be '"open, transparent and consultative' as our SDR 'change agenda' gives your members no assurances of a job."

The New City Hall Bible

Service Delivery Review and "SDR." Get familiar with these terms. Whenever Eddie over the next year or so before the election wants to do something, SDR will be trotted out to justify it. It is his new reference book.

Take Dev Tyagi for instance. Did he quit? Was he fired? Why did he leave? The answer given by the Mayor was "SDR Restructuring" eliminated Tyagi’s position as GM of public works. Oh please.

How much will this cost taxpayers since clearly there was no "cause" issue? 12, 15, 18 months or even 2 years' salary might not be unreasonable given John's payment and Eddie's foolish concession about 2 years for a long-term, senior official. You are most welcome Dev!

Yes sir, the Department charged with all of this multi-million dollar infrastructure work that requires the hiring of outsiders to get it done does not need a Head. Who is Eddie trying to kid!

We have a joint temporary leadership for heaven's sake:
  • "while city engineer Mario Sonego and executive director of operations Mike Palanacki have joint temporary leadership of public works."

We just gave Mike Palanacki his excuse when the next Dead Men Do Not Pump Gas audit comes out: another change in management as he talked about before!

I wonder who gave Dev the good news. John as his last act as CAO or Helga as her first act.

Poor formerly "Acting C-A-O Ronna Warsh." She did not earn the permanent job.

When did Council find out about some of these changes....right after Labour Day I heard when it was sprung on them by the Mayor in another in camera meeting. No heads up, but here it is.

I wonder if there actually was a written and signed contract with the CAO. Eddie was supposed to have drafted one but did he? I remember the stories about the difficulty that a member of Council had trying to get a copy. I am not sure if the Councillor actually saw a signed version.

Can you believe the generous severance package. The CAO decides to go and he gets 12 1/2 months in a 5 year agreement and possibly 15 months. At his salary level, it is a nice parting gift. In fact, he claimed at the press conference he was only going to stay around 5 years. So why are we giving him a package at all?

Way to negotiate the upfront concession Eddie!

Apparently John does not have a new job yet. Will he point out to his prospective new employer what he said as a member of the WEDC Board when he resigned? Will he inform his new employer about the low point in his career that almost resulted in a near riot?

There was no advertising for a new CAO. We had this wonderful succession plan in place. You know the one where Tyagi's postiion is being filled temporarily by 2 people. Anyway, it would have taken too long to fill and cost us too much for a headhunter.

Not wishing to say anything negative about Helga who handled the CUPE negotiations, we see Eddie's style again. Eddie knew John was leaving at 5 years so one might ask why the search for a replacement could not have started a year ago or had the decision been made then that Helga was going to replace him? Did Councillors know that or did Eddie forget to tell them?

Get worried CUPE workers. You know you are next. Get ready Windsorites for wildcat strikes, but please, I beg you, after the election!

We now can look forward to a "change agenda." Apparently, according to Helga, most people knew during budget deliberations that no assurances of jobs can be given since there is a change agenda on the horizon.

Don't worry though CUPE members, with Helga there will be an "open, transparent and consultative process." Use the strike negotiations as your precedent of this style and feel so comfortable.

You know that money to study canals and is readily available. However, our City Hall structure needs to be realigned recognizing reductions in revenue, limited cost recovery opportunities, decrease in assessment.

All of a sudden we have money problems and SDR will be the excuse to be dragged up whenever a reason need be given.

Get ready for it. You have been warned.

An Important Airport Story

A reader sent me this story. One wonders if the Lufthansa people ever spoke to the people involved or were they too busy otherwise.

I wonder if Ms. Nazzani ever spoke to them as well to get their take on the business.

There are two ways of looking at this. if one has a short-sighted mind's eye that can only see as far as November 2010, one might jump up and down with glee being almost giddy because a major competitor might be going out of business.

On the other hand, if one is far-sighted,and not just to the next election, one could say the air cargo business sucks and there goes another $300K of taxpayer money on top of the $200K already spent down the drain. One should partner with people who understand and are involved in the truck distribution system and are well-positioned with other modes of transportation as well.

You decide.
  • Willow Run faces turbulent outlook
    Options include closing as costs outstrip revenues

    Nathan Hurst / The Detroit News, September 15, 2009

    Van Buren Township -- Willow Run airport is facing severe financial problems and officials are considering a number of cost-saving options, from leasing the facility to possibly closing it.

    The airport's future essentially depends on how quickly the economy rebounds and whether Willow Run can hang on until then.

    The air field, which caters to private charters and cargo operations, "continues to be a financial disaster," said Thomas Naughton, chief financial officer of the Wayne County Airport Authority. The agency operates Willow Run and the much larger Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus.

    The authority has been "looking at all options" for Willow Run's future, said spokesman Scott Wintner.

    "If we can just wait out the economic downturn, it would be the best. It's a question of who's willing to pay for it in the meantime," Wintner said.

    In 2008, running Willow Run cost $11.49 million, $7.77 million more than the $3.72 million it collected in revenue.

    It's a far cry from the heyday at the airport, which provided a major cargo launching point for Detroit's "Arsenal of Democracy" weaponry during World War II, and was carrying passengers before Metro Airport.

    The authority cut Willow Run's budget to $5.88 million for fiscal year 2009, which ends Sept. 30, and is looking to cut it again in 2010, to $3.26 million.

    Any shortfall is covered from the airport's other operations: Metro Airport and the authority-owned Westin Hotel, which is on track to lose money this year.

    In the end, the airlines pick up the overrun for Willow Run, since the authority doesn't take taxpayer dollars.

    Whether the budget cuts will be enough to put Willow Run close to a break-even point is unclear.
    This year, the amount of cargo shuttling in and out of Willow Run has been running at less than half the levels seen last year, which were far below levels seen in 2007.

    The number of operations at the airport -- a count of how many take-offs and landings -- is down significantly as well.

    That's due to a falloff in business from the Big Three automakers, as well as waning interest from general aviation and private charter operations.

    And while the falling numbers are easily attributable to the sour economy, the downfall is leaving the airport authority to look at just how viable the future is for Willow Run, which was transferred from the University of Michigan to Wayne County in 1977.

    Wintner said authority staffers have been exploring a number of options for Willow Run to make it more financially viable, and to lift the burden of its cost from the authority's other operations.

    "We're looking at everything, including privatizing, leasing the facility out, coming up with alternative uses," Wintner said.

    "The effort has just been stalled by the economy, particularly in Michigan. It would cost us money to close it, and there's a lot of potential."

    Willow Run used to handle scheduled passenger service, but an agreement with the airlines operating at Metro Airport prohibits it from serving such flights, along with charter flights where tickets are sold publicly. So the airport's business relies on cargo and private air traffic.

    And that's not been an easy business these days.

    Chris Healey, chief executive of USA Jet Airlines, which is headquartered at Willow Run, said his charter company had to "make some pretty tough cuts" during the recession's apex, and has since diversified its offerings.

    "Thank goodness we've managed to get into ground transit management," Healey said.

    "Our volumes aren't much better, but diversifying has turned out to be a good thing."

    Stuart Klaskin of Florida-based aviation consultancy Klaskin Kushner & Co. said keeping Willow Run open for the short-term, though financially difficult, is a better option than closing it altogether and forcing flights to seek space elsewhere, likely at Metro.

    "The downturn you're seeing is clearly linked to the downturn in auto manufacturing," Klaskin said.

    "But that is something short-term. This is a very long planning-cycle business, and looking long-term, the country is going to need more airfield capacity, not less. What looks really bad now is going to look much different in two years."
Wow what does the last sentence mean? Two year recovery for the auto business so everything will be back to normal. Or a complete collapse of the regional air cargo business and no recvoery until the very long-term!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Fast and furious and a big promotion too:

The CUPE strike after-math perhaps although the rumours were that John wanted out a long time ago.

What a way to go though with the low point of your career just behind you.
  • From: mayoro Sent: Mon 9/14/2009 10:49 PM

    To: [Whole Bunch of people]

    To All Staff:

    This is to advise you that our Chief Administrative Officer, John Skorobohacz, has announced his resignation from the Corporation of the City of Windsor. I wish to recognize John for the outstanding work he has performed leading this organization through some difficult change during his 5 years with the City of Windsor, since his return to the City in 2004. John has always exemplified professionalism and dedication to his vocation and in his service to our community. He has led our organization forward during his tenure as CAO and has provided each of us with an opportunity to grow and excel as employees. Over the past several years he has been instrumental in guiding City Council through the Service Delivery Review and has positioned and prepared the Corporation to ably deal with the challenges ahead. We thank him for his service to our community.

    I also would like to announce that this evening, City Council has appointed Helga Reidel as the City's new Chief Administrative Officer. Helga, brings with her a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience through her work and commitment to the Corporation and community.

    We welcome Helga and look forward to her leadership, working collectively with administration and City Council to meet the goals and objectives of the City of Windsor. Though many of you already know Helga in her more recent role as General Manager of Corporate Services, please join me and City Council in welcoming her into her new position as CAO.


This note is pretty cold and short. Not "resigned" but "left the employment." Hmmmmm, wonder what that means.

  • From: mayoro Sent: Mon 9/14/2009 10:52 PM

    To: [Whole bunch of people]


    To All Staff,

    This is to advise you that Mr. Dev Tyagi has left the employment of the City of Windsor. We thank him for his service to the Corporation and our community. In the interim please note that Mario Sonego and Mike Palanaki will be assuming the acting position at the direction of Helga Reidel.


Finally, the CAO's note:

  • From: Skorobohacz, John Sent: Mon 9/14/2009 10:57PM
    To: [Lots of people too]

    Subject: Thank you!

    To: Mayor Francis, Members of City Council and All Employees of the City of Windsor:

    Almost five and a half years ago I returned to the City of Windsor to assume the task of serving as City Manager/Chief Administrative Officer. I cannot begin to tell you how much of an honour and privilege it has been to serve in this capacity. I have learned a great deal about this city, its people, and above all about myself. The experience has been rewarding, and the opportunity to witness first hand the efforts to set in motion the groundwork for a transformation of a community, is nothing short of historic. I will most definitely look back upon this time in my municipal career with many fond memories.

    I would like to thank the Mayor and both present and past Council Members for their support over the years. I sincerely wish them well as they lead this community toward a new prosperous future.

    To the members of the administration (from the front line employees to the senior leaders in the organization), I thank you for the energy, enthusiasm and dedication you bring to work each and every day. Thank you for your support and kindness, at times under some very challenging circumstances. It has been a pleasure to have worked with you and along side of you in our efforts to make a positive difference to the lives of our residents, visitors, taxpayers and each other.

    I wish you all the best and hope that you continue to find public service rewarding!

    Thank you!

    John Skorobohacz

Loads Of Stories

I am truly amazed at the number of interesting stories that are out there. They just keep coming and coming.


  • "Mayor Eddie Francis and city councillors have been told to stay away from this year's Labour Day parade and events, labour council president Gary Parent said Thursday.

    Parent said the move is in response to the mayor's conduct during the 15-week strike by 1,800 municipal employees, members of CUPE locals 543 and 82...

    "It's unfortunate some are not able to move on."

    But the mayor said he will abide by the request.

    "It's their parade," Francis said. "Gary Parent, I'm sure, doesn't want me there and I will respect that."

Interestingly, Councillors Jones and Lewenza were there.


  • "An apparent snub from a major labour union didn't stop Toronto Mayor David Miller from stopping by the country's longest-running Labour Day parade.

    While Miller has been a fixture at the annual parade since taking office, he was told to stay away last week by Toronto and York Region Labour Council president John Cartwright.

    The animosity apparently stems from the way Miller handled this summer's acrimonious municipal strike, which kept 30,000 Toronto public employees off the job for 39 days.

    But on Monday, as thousands of workers marched along Queen Street in the city's downtown, Miller could be seen shaking hands, posing for photographs and chatting with workers. However, he reportedly avoided speaking with city employees."


The infamous quote:

  • "Parent also showed a taste of his firebrand style. He declared how proud he was to stand together in a "pretty damn good fight" with members of CUPE local 82 and 543 at City Hall, who were on strike for 101 days this summer, against what he suggested was an anti-union mayor and council.

    "There is no better labour city than Windsor," said Parent, who made his last words as a labour leader speaking to a rally a parting shot. "This is our community. And Mayor Francis, go to hell!"


  • "'And Mayor Francis, go to hell!'

    Retiring labour council president Parent gives parting shot"


  • "Parent chides francis in parting labour day shot"


I still think that we are just waiting for a CUPE decertification vote. And I still think that CAW wants to take over.

But how would they dare do that with Sid Ryan around you might ask? What if Sid was NO LONGER around:

  • "Already adept at making his voice heard, Canadian Union of Public Employees Ontario President Sid Ryan might soon acquire an even bigger soapbox: the presidency of the Ontario Federation of Labour.

    Ryan, whose tenacity in fighting union battles has endeared him to many workers but whose outspokenness has occasionally produced controversy, said Friday that he is considering, but not yet committed to, a run for the OFL leadership...

    Sharleen Stewart, president of Service Employees International Union Local 1 Canada, said "all of the leaders in Ontario are basically in discussions with Sid about the possibility..."

    The CAW, Canada's largest private sector union, has not been affiliated with the OFL since 2000. Its president Ken Lewenza spoke favourably of a potential Ryan candidacy, saying "there's no question" Ryan seeks to unite the labour movement once more.

    "And he works incredibly hard," he said. "I know there's been times of controversy, but I don't think there's any question that he's committed to trade unionism and social unionism and to world peace."


The Star story said:

  • "City council voted Monday night to deny post-retirement benefits to all future elected municipal politicians."

    Not quite true as you can see below:

Unfortunately, I did not keep a copy of the original Motion the Councillor introduced but after I read it I sent him a note:

  • "You have cut off Councillors elected on or before April 17, 2009 from anything unless they are elected for 4 terms.

    They are worse off than Councillors newly elected to Council on or after April 17, 2009."

And people think I am not helpful to Councillors. But not even a thank you back.


A fascinating comment I read in the Globe and Mail. What are Joe and Brian going to do for Windsor now given their enviable position of power. If past experience is our guide, don't hold your breath waiting. So why do we keep voting NDP?

  • "Let’s be serious: the NDP, which has no shortage of trade unionists among its members, should have no difficulty understanding its current bargaining power. Since the 2004 election of Paul Martin, none of the opposition parties has held the balance of power in the House of Commons. Now, Jack Layton is again clearly in the catbird seat.

    With that strength, there’s no reason for Mr. Layton not to go public with his price for supporting the government. He already sorta kinda did that yesterday, but he needs to make clear his demands as well as the quid pro quo."


We see the glowing Report from Luftansa Consulting about our airport

Then there are these stories from Lufthansa Cargo:

  1. "Lufthansa reported the six month long plunge in cargo traffic leveled out in May, mirroring the experience of its close European rivals Air France-KLM and British Airways.

    Lufthansa Cargo, Europe's second largest scheduled cargo airline, carried 125,000 tonnes of freight in May, a 9.1 percent decline from a year ago that left traffic in the first five months of 2009 down 21.4 percent at 566,000 tonnes.

    The decline in May shipments is a major improvement on the steep declines earlier in the year which peaked at 26.7 percent in April on sharply lower German exports to North America and the Asia/Pacific region.

    Lufthansa Cargo's sales fell, however, by 15.7 percent in May from a year ago, as yields remained under pressure.

    Capacity was 9 percent lower than a year ago, trimming the load factor, or capacity utilization, by 4.8 percentage points, to 60.3 percent.

    The Lufthansa group's overall freight traffic, including Swiss World Cargo, fell by 10 percent in May to 141,000 tonnes from 158,000 tonnes in the year-earlier period. Volume in the first five months of the year was 21 percent lower at 645,000 tonnes.

    "Cargo demand has stabilized at a very low level, which is giving good reason for substantial concern for the future of this business," said Christoph Franz, chief executive officer of Lufthansa's Swiss unit.

    We are not forecasting a miracle," Franz, who is also deputy CEO of Lufthansa, said at this week's meeting of the International Air Transport Association in Kuala Lumpur.

    The Americas network recovered from a 35.8 percent plunge in April shipments, with May volume down 13.6 percent at 39,000 tonnes."
  2. "Lufthansa May Sell Freighter Fleet

    Cargo chief warns Frankfurt night flight ban would force move

    Lufthansa Cargo warned it might give up its fleet of freighters if night flights are outlawed at its Frankfurt airport hub.

    "Everything that goes toward a single-digit number (of night flights) would mean that it no longer pays off to have our own cargo fleet," said Lufthansa Cargo Chief Executive Carsten Spohr...

    Lufthansa Cargo could gradually reduce its fleet of 19 MD-11 freighters if night flights are restricted, Spohr said. Freighters carry around half of Lufthansa Cargo's shipments with the remainder carried on Lufthansa's passenger aircraft.

    The carrier has ruled out moving its hub to other airports, including Leipzig, the base of AeroLogic, its recently established joint venture cargo carrier with Deutsche Post DHL.

    Lufthansa earlier announced plans to ground six freighters beginning in October and mothball four of them for at least a year in response to "feeble demand and a collapse in average yields."

Hmmm Lufthansa carries half of its cargo in passenger planes. Can our single carrier Air Canada Jazz fill up Eddie's Cargo Village? Why should Windsor get into a business that Luftansa Cargo may be exiting?

Monday, September 14, 2009

I Cannot Believe What I Am Reading

More stories of interest


I was rather surprised that a member of the Occupational Health and Safety Branch of the Ministry of Labour would go around as part of their job checking that firefighters were wearing seatbelts and writing up an order when one was not. My first impression was doesn't this person have more important things to do in his job.

The person involved was a Fire Department Captain out of the College Fire Station. A senior officer ought to know better and be an example. The truck was going to the Metro grocery store in the University mall.

Then I remembered the big accident involving the firetruck from that station I believe a few years ago:
  • "The crash left all four of the truck's occupants with injuries.

    Copeland, 46, who remains in hospital unable to move his limbs, was found lying across the dashboard of the truck.

    "Mr. Copeland was not wearing his seatbelt at the time of the accident," Stannard said.

    Seated in the rear were firefighters James Waffle, 33, and Randy DiCocco, 35, who suffered a broken arm and a broken rib, respectively.

    Both were wearing seatbelts.

    Capt. Bill Hopkins, 56, was ejected from the front passenger seat and suffered minor injuries.

    "He had made every attempt to buckle the seatbelt up, and it was still in its extended form," Stannard said.

    "I'm certain had that vehicle continued its roll, it would have rolled on top of the captain."

    Stannard said the fire truck was doing driver training with DiCocco in the operator's seat and Copeland in the rear when the firefighters received a call about a medical emergency around 3:40 p.m. At that time, the fire truck stopped in front of Assumption high school and DiCocco changed places with Copeland.

    "I do know that everybody was seatbelted prior to the switch of the drivers," Stannard said."


How else to explain the story today by Anne Jarvis:

  • "Aquarium concept timely

    A city that needs to redefine itself, the respected Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research and a location at the centre of the Great Lakes basin, holding one-fifth of the world's fresh water in a global water shortage -- it all adds up to prodigious potential in the proposal for a research aquarium here.

    With the decline of our traditional manufacturing base, Windsor is a city trying to diversify, searching for a new identity.

    One possibility could lie off Riverside Drive on the Detroit River just west of the Ambassador Bridge: The Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research, Canada's foremost freshwater research institute, which holds numerous research chairs and has expertise sought around the world."

After all, we need a reason don't we for wasting time and money on more studies on the canal. Tie it into a water ferry service between here and Detroit, the academic community along with a family entertainment centre and we are given reasons to get all excited aren't we. More Windsor "THINKING BIG."

It's just like with the airport Cargo Shanty stories. Sounds exciting until one starts investigating it closely.

There is almost a feeling of desperation in her column. It is merely though a reflection of what is coming out of City Hall: Just throw it against the wall and see what sticks.

What's next for election goodies---a study for a massive Zalev lands brownfields redevelopment is a certainty. That should get South Windsor voters onside. The Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget should muse about it first to get the credit for his next campaign. But then Eddie would get mad.


Three Lay-off notices.

As a reader wrote: "We all knew it was coming. Three union lay offs and four supervisor positions opened up over the past two months...typical."

  • "Memo


    To: All Regular Full-Time Local 543 Employees
    From: Executive Director of Human Resources
    Date: September 10, 2009
    Subject: NOTICE OF LAY-OFF

    Please be advised that the following employee is subject to a lay-off per Article 4.11 of the Collective Agreement between the Corporation of the City of Windsor and CUPE Local 543:

    NAME: [Name of Person]



    LAY-OFF DATE: [Date]

    This notice shall constitute notice of lay-off as of the day of posting (September 10, 2009) to any employee whom the employee in the notice displaces, or any subsequent displacement that should result, as is required under the Employment Standards Act. Any Regular Full-Time Local 543 employee whose seniority date is junior to December 15, 1996 is subject to a potential lay-off.

    Original Signed by
    V. Mihalo
    Executive Director of Human Resources


Ahhhh, what a guy.

"Still, it was all very mild stuff compared to the usual hotheaded behaviour of Windsorites when a thorny issue divides the electorate.

(Raise your hands, all those amazed there weren't injuries during this summer's CUPE strike ...)"


Finally we learn the sale price of Maxxess. Cogeco paid $15M. It was at the low end of the range I BLOGGED about back in March, 2008. Funnily enough

  • "City-owned Enwin utilities has sold MaXess Networx to Cogeco Cable just as the broadband telecommunications service provider was stemming its financial bleeding.

    While MaXess has lost money since its inception in 1999, it was projected to break even this year, according to the 2006 annual report."

Try and figure out the Francis profit numbers because I cannot:

  • "Francis' plan is to "rehab" what is now a nearly worthless asset in commercial terms. Adding cargo capability would boost Windsor Airport's value to the point the city can negotiate with potential tenants from a position of strength.

    He cites Windsor's experience with MaXess Networx, the money-losing fibre-optic carrier created by taxpayer-owned Enwin Utilities at a cost of $9 million. It then proceeded to lose $1 million a year.

    "We could have just given it away -- that's what some people suggested. Instead we spent a few years fixing it up and we sold it for $15 million. We pocketed $7 million to $10 million on that deal. It's the same with the airport."

    Staying out of the white elephant business is a brilliant idea, sane taxpayers agree. Getting into the "asset rehab" game sounds less dangerous, on the face of it."

Funny, now it is "rehab." When it was sold it was called getting rid of non-core functions.

  • "Four years ago Enwin's board of directors told company executives to pare the utility conglomerate down to its core businesses, which are the electricity and water markets. While there have been negotiations with other companies, Cogeco -- the second largest cable operator in Ontario and Quebec -- offered the best price, Zuber said."

In fact, the Windsor only cost for "stringing thousands of miles of fibre-optics cable all around Windsor" was $12.5M. In 2005, it was announced:

  • "A fibre optics cable network linking Chatham-Kent and Sarnia- Lambton will connect every school, hospital, library, college and municipal office in the area with high-speed Internet.

    MaXess Network, a Windsor-based company established in 2000, is currently contracted by CKLAG, the Chatham-Kent Lambton Administrators Group, to set up the service.

    The $17 million system is to be up and running in January, 2007 with 165 sites connected to the Internet over a wide area network."

I have no idea where Eddie's $9M came from. What happened to the almost $30M in capital costs never mind operating losses for years? But even accepting Eddie's number as true, if one adds in say three years of losses at $1m/year, how does one arrive at a "profit" of "$7 million to $10 million." And why can't he be exact rather than have a $3m difference?

I wonder who those people were who wanted to sell Maxess other than certain Board people.

I always believed that Maxess had value. It truly was Windsor's undiscovered economic jewel that we gave away at a time when broadband is vital for any community. What a loss for us because of short-sighted thinking.

My vision of it years ago was for it to be the basis of the first major wireless, City-wide network in the world. I actually pitched that idea to Dennis Perlin when he was with the Development Commission and to Maxess. The residential side, which interested me a lot, would have been a great opportunity for Maxess since it would have been a business it was not interested in:

  • "MaXess Networx, which already links communities as far away as Sarnia by microwave transmissions, has county council approval -- subject to engineering department conditions --to use county-owned rights of way to extend the 200 kilometres of fibre-optic cable it has in the city.

    Phil Partington, MaXess vice-president, said Thursday the company, which began operations in May 2000, is aimed at business and institutional use and has clients that include hospitals, school boards, St. Clair College, the University of Windsor and private firms.

    At this point, servicing residential customers is far down the road because of the cost of setting up call centres, technical staff and other logistical concerns."

I had a major company as the financial backer, a major technology company who was prepared to put in the wireless system using their innovative approach, and I was talking to them to make Windsor its North American "Showplace" City, and one of the world's major ISPs who would offer its service to residential users over the network. Maxess would have provided the infrastructure backbone service and support.

Alas, I could never get a price from Maxess for their part of what was required and the deal withered away. And so did Windsor's potential world leadership in municipal wireless broadband.

If this is what the Mayor's thinking about the airport is all about....heaven help us with this kind of mathematical logic.

Cargo Village Grounded

Get real Lufthansa. This is Windsor. When we have visions, we THINK BIG!

Cargo village. Are you ridiculous? It is CARGO CITY for us or nothing.

I don't get it. But perhaps Serco did and that is why they were happy to leave. It's just not going to get off the ground. It won't fly! Just like the RFP for the airport that failed:
  • "The question of who will operate the struggling airport has been left hanging for months since the city issued a request for proposals for a new operator in April.

    A new operator was supposed to be picked and in place in the summer, but that fell by the wayside when response was slow. By the June 30 deadline, there were only three responses, and each of them failed to comply with the RFP guidelines, council was told."
I have been advocating for years that Windsor must take advantage of its key location on the border between Canada and the US but we have done little to advance it from a governmental perspective. The achievement of becoming the #1 border crossing between Canada and the US was not accomplished by Governments but in spite of them.

I read the Star story about the Lufthansa Council presentation and a number of questiosn arose.

Why can't we just agree that, while being in the aviation industry is very sexy, Windsor Airport is never going to be a major airport, cargo or otherwise, or even a minor one.

Why can't we have someone who knows the transportation industry from a regional perspective see where this City fits in with the unglamorous roads, rails and Highway H2O which builds on our geographic strength.

Why won't Eddie admit that he hired Luftansa because he thought we could ship onions overseas and that concept of his crashed and burned as Lufthansa pointed out.

Why do we as taxpayers have to spend a half a million dollars on a foreign consultant on something that a major transportation company from North America would understand immediately and do their own feasibility study at no cost to us.

Why do we have to make a big deal and call it a Cargo Village and pretend that it has something to do with airplanes when in fact all we are talking about is a big truck teminal
  • "He said the study points to the bulk of the initial cargo handling capacity at the airport being made up of so-called "flying trucks" in which freight is packaged for air but transported by trucks. That freight handling ability would draw more scheduled flights to the city. The report concludes Windsor Airport could be handling up to 90,000 tonnes of commercial air freight within 25 years."

Why would we build an "air" distribution centre here when the only passenger service we have is Air Canada Jazz considering that half of Lufthansa's cargo loads are carried on their passenger jets, not just on freighters.

Why do we think we can get cargo scheduled service here when we cannot even get any other passenger service

Why do we think we will be more successful than Air America Logistics which, when it was in business, "produces more landing fees -- about $200,000 annually -- than all airlines combined at the airport, with the exception of Air Canada." and was "the lynchpin that keeps the cargo aspect humming over here."

Why are we getting so excited about the volume of freight in 25 years, "could be handling up to 90,000 tonnes of commercial air freight," when our major airport competitors handle that volume of freight and substantially more today.

Why do we think we can compete at all?

Why do we keep hearing that YQG is:

  • "practically unknown to the greater airline world"

Why didn't Ms Nazzani's Powerpoint presentation accomplish anything or did it just prove that YQG really is a dud:

  • "In four months, starting from scratch, she's developed a power-point presentation that leaves a listener wondering how an asset with so many advantages, from its strategic location to its relatively clear weather, from its lack of noise and weight restrictions to its exceptional 9,000-foot runway and quick aircraft turnaround time, could be such a dismal performer."

Why don't we have someone in charge of the airport who actually knows the business or is being "a Holy Names product" as Gord called her enough

Why wasn't Vicky Kyriaco-Wilson called upon to help since in 2006 she sought "backing from the city, provincial and federal governments to make Windsor Airport an international transportation hub for freight arriving by air, ground and rail."

Why is YQG "perfectly suited to tap into a growing and high-value segment of the economy" when perishables cannot justify a terminal and the automobile business is dying in this region. What segment is Lufthansa discussing?

Why is the air cargo business so good when the Lufthansa parent Company is having all kinds of problems with it as are other major carriers.

Why are we focusing on a pies in the sky idea such as this other than the fact that money "is going to dry up when the economy rebounds." Accordingly, spend it on ridiculous ideas and pretend to be accomplishing something for the region.

Why are we wasting our time doing "the next phase, which would look at the financial viability, study what facilities would be required and search for an operator." All Eddie has to do is call Matty Moroun since this is his business or call his buddy Roger Penske or has Eddie already talked to him about it?

Why won't Eddie admit the obvious as Councillor Halberstadt did three years ago and tell us this is all a front to put trucks on an upgraded Expressway as the Senior Levels always wanted:

  • "If you had a customs zone there, you could do it all there and you wouldn't have to have long truck lineups along Huron Church Road waiting to clear customs on the other side of the Ambassador Bridge, Halberstadt said.

    He said one of the obvious routes for international-bound trucks cleared at the airport would be along E.C. Row Expressway to the bridge."

Why does Eddie think that we have forgotten that he voted in favour of this Motion when he was a Councillor:

  • "WHEREAS, the Federal Government has released the parameters for the $2 billion Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund, and the $600 million Border Infrastructure Fund, and...

    WHEREAS, Deputy Prime Minister John Manley has asked the Windsor & District Chamber of Commerce to oversee the formation and administration of a Business Transportation Task Force, to recommend, inter alia, alternative concepts and regional “Now Solutions” which could access Federal and Provincial dollars to enhance border efficiency, and...

    WHEREAS, the Federal Government is seeking to formalize discussions with potential partners with a view to identifying large-scale infrastructure projects “quickly”, and

    WHEREAS, the City of Windsor recognizes that prior to any proposal proceeding to implementation, it must withstand the scrutiny of a proper, and thorough environmental impact process,

    THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Council of the City of Windsor endorse the recommendations of the Business Transportation Task Force of the Windsor & District Chamber of Commerce with the exception of the reverse customs inspection concept which is deferred for further study and further, that the required upgrades to the E. C. Row Expressway, the Lauzon Parkway Extension to Highway 401, and the Walker Road Grade Separation BE ENDORSED;"

Why does this sound so familiar with DRIC, infrastrucuture funding and trucks on E C Row?

Why was there little discussion about noise or environmental pollution due to increased air traffic at the airport considering that

  • "On any given day, our air can stink or be dangerous to breathe."

Why was there no mention in all of this about anti-airport debates such as those over Heathrow, Toronto Island, or a possible new Pickering one or are we just supposed to fall into line

Why, why, why?