Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, October 02, 2009

More On The 200 Audit (Part 1)

I wrote the following BLOG just over a week ago but I did not have the opportunity to post it. I will show you in Part 2 what I was writing on Friday:


Well, the 400 Building audit is only half-way done so what do you expect?

It's like the movie, Groundhog Day. We've seen the delay play itself out meeting after meeting, extending the time and the costs before taxpayers learn what went wrong , and what went right, with this project.

Or perhaps, it is more like the movie Saving Private Valentinis. After all, he was the Councillor who was involved in the project from start to finish and its biggest defender. If it turns out to be a mess, then he takes the blow and just before an election too.

So many audit stories all of a sudden too:
  • "Audited statements for 2007 and 2008 by the operator of Windsor Airport were not turned over to the city's external auditor KPMG until after the accounting firm raised concerns Thursday during the city's audit committee meeting."
  • "YQG claims of making a profit based on their books is different compared to findings of outside audited statements"
  • The City's 2008 audited statements have been delayed considerably
  • The 400 Building audit is delayed again for at least 60-90 days, partially because of that darn CUPE strike (yes, I know that the City's inside auditor is dealing with all of this garbage!) so that we might not get the fianl report until early 2010.
  • "But the real issue remains Dunbar's report. Halberstadt says that Andrew Roman, a Toronto lawyer, has been asked to complete a briefing on Dunbar's findings for the next audit meeting.

    "We have instructed him to prepare a detailed memo with regard to the pros and cons of releasing it," said Halberstadt. "He's going to do that and we will make a decision at our next meeting."

The real issue that Councillor Halberstadt seems to be missing is getting the final report out. Did the Councillor forget that Mr. Roman has already answered the question before so there is nothing left to decide except when Mr. Dunbar's report will be released:

Remember that the Dunbar audit was turned over to the former CAO in December 2006. He has resigned and thus we cannot learn from him what happened if he chooses not to answer any questions about the subject unless there is a legal process in place to force him to do so or unless he vounteers.

How do you like this statement from Edgar which is so true but a real disgrace:

  • Mayor Eddie Francis, chairman of the YQG board, countered Friday the delay should not be a surprise to anyone"

It does not matter to Edgar it seems that his fellow Board member, Councillor Dilkens, told us that the Airport Board has

  • "been clueless over YQG audited statements of the last two years being incomplete and withheld."

Then we have the Mayor telling us this as he wants Councillors Halberstadt and Marra removed as members of the Audit Committee:

  • "Two audit committee members are city councillors, prompting Mayor Eddie Francis to call the audit process "politicized."

    "It's taken up a lot of time and effort," he said.

    "The audit committee's there to serve as an independent function, as an independent oversight of the affairs of the corporation."

Edgar said on Eh-channel that he thinks other investigations into other City activities are politically motivated and are wasting resources. Frankly, I have NO idea what he is talking about on this issue. What else is being examined that we do not know about that is taking up so much Audit time?

How did the audit which is a normal activity all of a sudden become "politicized" and who is making it such. Hardly Councillors Marra and Halberstadt. They are looing like fools letting the process go on and on and on!

Also he wants Max Zalev out too since he is on Enwin but Max wants Councillors on it because they bring the municipal perspective.

Funny, I have not heard these complaints before when the Audit Committee was invisible on WUC as an example or not taking action on the 400 Building. Is it now political because of Councillor "Mayor in Waiting" and Councillor "Your Arrogance Has no bounds" who cannot be controlled since it is getting to re-election time

This is all of course utter nonesense but nothing more that the beginning of a demand to depoliticize the Committee and appoint "unbiased" citizens to the Committee after a very long vettign process of course. Just like with the WEDC CEO process.

Ho, Ho, Ho...the Star even gets in on the subject. You think they are supporting taxpayers. Hardly. They are helping Edgar stall things off:
  • "If the audit committee is unwilling to immediately release the Dunbar audit, the committee should be immediately dissolved and a separate investigation launched to explain how a group of officials who are responsible for ensuring transparency and accountability, instead seem to be accomplishing the opposite.

That should last until waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay after the next municipal election!

So what is this all about? What is the real story behind this? We know it is the old Edgar stall game but why?

As I BLOGGED before, it has nothing to do with the 400 Building but everything to do with the Arena. "11 Boxes As A Stalling Device"

With the 400 Audit going on forever, there is not time now to do an audit on that monumnet until after the election. No scandals if any can be made apparent until our new Mayor and Council have been put into office and then it is too late:
  • "Have we all been played again? Was it was the stall and distract tactic once again. If so, I am so tired of it. I have been telling you about it, dear reader, with respect to the border file for so long so it should not come as a surprise to you if this happened all over again.

    Do you really think that there is anything substantially different in the Dunbar audit than there is in what was disclosed yesterday in the 200 Building audit i.e. Part One of the 400 Building audit? I would doubt it. My guess as well is that Mr. Dunbar probably saw most of what was in the 11 boxes of documents that surprisingly made an appearance that stalled off disclosure of the Audit Report until the City auditor was able to look at the materials.

    What is the difference after all between not having an audit come out in a timely fashion because all of a sudden 11 boxes are mysteriously produced and using full tunneling/Greenlinks to stall off the building of the road to the border until the Province has the money to do it...

    The really shocking revelation as far as he ought to be concerned is that no business case was presented to justify the project in the first place.

    'Prior to the project approval, we expected to find in place a comprehensive business case analysis for a supportable, validated, investment decision. It was anticipated that the business case documentation itself would have set out clear objectives, scope, expected outcomes, critical success factors, risk assessment and risk mitigating measures, an environmental assessment, strategic alignments. The expected business plan would have clearly analysed costs and benefits of the project to Council for decision-making purposes...'

    However, in Windsor, there are more things around than meet the eye. Nothing is as plain as it seems in this City for whatever reason.

    Just consider that the final draft of the Dunbar report was given to the CAO sometime in late 2006. That means most of the work had probably been completed by the fall of 2006. Now sit back and think, what else was taking place in the fall of 2006 that was historic for Windsor. What project could have meant the end of the careers of certain politicians in Windsor if it had not been started?

    Oh I think that you are almost there. It was a design/build project as well, just like the 400 Building. It was started before there was a signed contract. As part of the justification on price, certain other City buildings were to be sold. It was all rush, rush, rush and significant mistakes were made that will now cost us money. Of course, the extra costs will not be shown as part of the project because it is finished, including financing costs that will be charged to General Revenues. It is claimed as well that it was built on budget. And one more amusing point, just like the 400 Building, there is a huge issue with respect to parking.

    Now you know. I’m talking about the East End Arena. If the audit on the 400 Building had come out in the fall of 2006, someone could have asked questions about whether the arena was being constructed in a manner that was more satisfactory than the 400 Building fiasco. Wasn’t our last Municipal Election in the mid-November, 2006? Can you imagine as well the outcry that well could have cost some people their political careers. It might have meant that Project Ice Track would have been built instead in Tecumseh."

    Now the issue is delaying the audit on the Arena for an eternity or perhaps never having one in the first place because of the politicizing of the process."

So sit back and relax. This is politics too but we are deemed to be too stupid as mere citizens to understand it.

The Eminence Greasie is laughing again!

We Need A New Audit Committee (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of the BLOG "More on the 200 Audit"

Ho, ho, ho. I told you it would play itself out.

My sides hurt from laughing so hard.

What a perfect way to kill two birds with one stone. The Eminence Greasie deserves a huge bonus for this one I am sure that you will agree.

Why do you have that puzzled expression on your face, dear reader. You understand the distraction strategy by now don't you? You have been reading my BLOGs long enough to understand it haven't you.

First, whatever happened to the big story of the week---Ken Lewenza and the CUPE strike. Poof, gone, disappeared.

Poor Anne Jarvis. She did not get her chance to dump on Junior with more important events taking place. I am sure that Gord will have more vital concerns to deal with than why did Edgar (aka Eddie) do everything right during the CUPE strike and that Junior is merely trying to protect his failing poltiical career by winning friends amongst his Union buddies.

We need to quiet down this story before it gets legs and people start wondering if Junior is right if he is risking his career on it. Where there is smoke, there is fire after all.

Second---what took its place: the 400 Building audit.

Here is how it became the big story:
  • Star headline "'It's unbelieveable' 400 building report will never be released, former auditor says"
  • Lawyer who lives more than 4-500Km away from Windsor retained by the Audit Committee and gives the opinion that "detailed how audit information prepared by Dunbar — which he and the committee have labelled a “draft report” — cannot legally be released because it would be a violation of Ontario’s Municipal Act."
  • Anne Jarvis column
  • Star Editorial

Of course everyone is outraged as we should be. This is a stalling exercise almost as good as Schwartz and Greenlink! That has stalled the border file resolution for years.

But of course it fits into the pattern I described. I can hardly wait for Gord's outrage.

And the pièce de résistance, Edgar's demand either in the Star on Monday or at Council demanding a change to the Audit Committee function and new members. First a study by outside Accounting consultants and governance experts, then an Administration Report and then...oooops too late, the election is coming up. Leave it for the next Council to decide.

No 200 errrrr 400 Building Dunbar Audit risks, no East End Arena audit, no risk to existing Councillors, new and improved Audit committee, CUPE strike...what CUPE strike.

I love it!

Did You Read This

Some important news items you may have missed


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

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

Do you see what I mean, the nuts and bolts of running a City are of no interest to a Mayor who has mind's eye visions.

Here is what we learned recently and why that project was absolutely required:

  • "Retention basin to stop sewage from entering river

    The city's engineering department and the university have announced details about the massive water retention basin that's expected to solve Windsor's long-standing sewage overflow problem.

    According to Greg St. Louis, a project administrator with the City of Windsor, the underground basin will be as large as a football field and located on the downtown riverfront...

    "This is the solution," St. Louis said. "It's very good for our environment and our city -- that's for sure."

    For years, environmental groups have criticized Windsor as one of the top polluters of the Great Lakes when it comes to raw sewage.

    According to the group Ecojustice, Windsor dumped 4.3 billion litres of untreated sewage and stormwater into the Detroit River from 2006 to 2007...

    St. Louis said overflows can happen up to 50 times a year. Asked how much of the effluent is untreated sewage, St. Louis said he doesn't have percentages, but the mixture does contain "whatever comes from someone's house."

    The project has a predicted cost of $60 million -- $40 million of which will be provided by the federal infrastructure stimulus plan...

    According to the environmental group Ecojustice, only two other Ontario communities scored worse than Windsor for polluting the Great Lakes with untreated sewage mixed with storm water."

Edgar just does not understand his role.


Actually, it is recyclables.

I heard that a study is being undertaken about the costs of collecting them. Presumably, the data is being collected to determine whether its collection should be outsourced.

I wonder if Council asked for this.


If not now, it will be soon. Maybe Edgar will help out to stall off things with a nice judicial review lawsuit.

The reason for it...NO money to pay it off:

  • "Yes, stimulus spending can and should help the ailing economy. But that doesn't mean it can't go hand-in-hand with prudent program spending and a commitment to long-term restraint. The alternative to this kind of careful fiscal planning is going to be larger than expected deficits -- and in Ontario, that's exactly what we are now seeing.

    Last week, the province announced that the deficit for the last fiscal year -- 2008-09 -- stands at $6.4 billion. That's $2.5 billion higher than originally predicted and a clear indicator of just how the recession has been eating away at revenues."


That paper is a sister one of the Windsor Star, being owned by Canwest.

Here is their view of their relationship with Government:

  • "Newspapers are defenders of the public interest. Part of this role has traditionally involved taking adversarial relationship with government and the public sector. As journalists, we see ourselves as “speaking truth to power.”

    We believe that the newspaper plays a unique role in the media ecosystem in defending democracy, rooting out corruption, and looking out for the interests of the common man and woman."

I wonder if the Star's Publisher's Editorial group agrees with that perspective.


Speaking of that group, remember this:

  • "The Windsor Star: The Windsor Star editorial opinions are developed and finalized in the Publisher’s Office. They are developed in a group setting by a group usually composed of Publisher Jim Venney, Editor-in-Chief Marty Beneteau, Editorial Page Editor John Coleman and Karen Hall."

Someone named Tom must have joined up recently. How else to explain this slam at Eddie's Cargo Village absurdity:

  • "After reading the city-commissioned feasibility study into an air cargo development at Windsor International Airport, you can be forgiven for borrowing a line from an old Wendy's commercial by asking "Where's the beef?.."

    However, the report does not answer two obvious questions -- how many jobs could an air cargo development create and how much revenue could it generate for the local economy...

    There's no question that Windsor's economy -- hard hit by the slowdown in manufacturing -- is in dire need of diversification.

    And, there's no question that maximizing use of an underutilized airport could play an integral role in rejuvenating local economic prospects. However, substantially more key information is needed before more turning to taxpayers to cover the costs of yet, another consultant's report."

Can anyone else recall such an action? Was Eddie upset at this, at earning such a rebuke from the Messenger?

Was that a tear in Eddie's mind's eye or merely a grain of sand stuck there when he was looking at the vast and empty airport lands where the cargo village might go.

Never fear though, Tom will soon become "Thomas the Believer" after his colleagues have a long chat with him.


Now I understand how bureaucrats and politicians can support a gigantic, multi-billion dollar boondoggle known as DRIC that makes no sense. It is the IBG Phenominum. Here is how it is described in the world of finance. The principle is the same with DRIC except for the "sizable bonus" part:

  • "Mr. Taleb warns that the system has grown riskier since last fall. The extensive government support that began after Lehman collapsed will lead investors to assume that governments will always prevent major banks from collapsing, he said.

    So investors will lend money to the financial industry on easy terms. In turn, financial institutions will use that cheap money to make risky loans and trades. The banks will keep the profits when their bets pay off, while taxpayers will swallow the losses when the bets go bad and threaten the system.

    Economists call the phenomenon moral hazard. Bankers have a different term: I.B.G. The phrase implies that by the time a deal goes sour, “I’ll be gone,” after having received a sizable bonus."

    A variation of this is IBG, YBG ("I'll be gone, you'll be gone").


What a nice condo apartment for sale in that big story in the Star a few weeks ago. Here is a better view of it in case you are interested

It has been marked down from $895,000.

Here's my problem though. Did you read the nice things they said about Windsor:

  • "Retirement was the primary motive for the owners of this luxury condo to move to Windsor about five years ago. “Having lived in and around Toronto, Windsor offers a lot of big city amenities at a small-town price. It was and still is an undiscovered treasure,” the homeowner says.

    “I get to see more Blue Jays games and Maple Leafs games [because of Windsor’s proximity to Detroit] than I ever did in Toronto. My wife gets to enjoy the museums and high-end shopping in suburban Detroit. I think this will be even more attractive as the Canadian dollar continues to appreciate against the U.S. dollar. The availability of golfing and boating has just been the icing on the cake...

    “We were delighted because we finally found something that satisfied our needs. We were able to sell our home in Oakville at almost three times what we paid for our suite in The Glengarda and actually improved our lifestyle. In addition to high-end amenities common to Glengarda, the nearby attractions were a very important consideration for us,” the homeowner says."

If it is so perfect here, why are they selling? The story did not say.

More importantly, where are they going? That too was not mentioned. You know why don't you---if it was not another Windsor address, everyone else who was thinking of retiring might follow them to their new location instead of coming to Windsor.


Looks like an existing Windsor border crossing has the confidence of investors since it has an existing cash flow and does not depend on new business or cannibalizing the traffic of other crossings for success. And I do not mean the Tunnel.

Do you think Matty has not been terrorized by the Governments after all into selling cheaply and will build his new bridge regardless:

  • "The private market generated an interesting mix of deals last month from a variety of sectors. Only two of the month’s nine deals came from the Energy & Utilities sector, a sector that has dominated the issuance landscape for most of the past year. In terms of geography, however, most of the deals came from domestic issuers, with only two coming from foreign issuers.

    Rounding out the month was a deal for Detroit International Bridge Co. via Citigroup. That deal was $200 million in size and saw interest from 20 investors."

The fact that the Company got this much money from shrewd investors at this time has to be a vote of non-confidence in a DRIC bridge ever being built from exactly the same people who would have to finance it.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Lewenza Is Right

Ooooo, Ooooo, Ooooo! I can hardly wait for Gord's Lewenza smear job on Saturday! Mini-Gord's attempt today was pathetic. We need to see a real pro do the job properly.

We can now make the assumption that Junior is right in what he is claiming even without reading what he has to say. After all, nothing like being discredited in the Star, the news source for Windsor, right.

If Junior is not right, then he is finished, and not just municipally, so much is riding on what he has to say and how he says it and when.

A real concern for him is how he gets his viewpoint out as well. Will he get a fair opportunity to present his case in the media? Perhaps he should challenge Edgar to a debate and watch him refuse just like the Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget!

I am sure that you know already that David Miller is NOT running again for Mayor of Toronto. One of the reasons:
  • "The once union-friendly Miller received widespread criticism for his handling of the summer’s six-week-long civic worker strike and for the first time during his run as mayor was not invited to take part in the Labour Day Parade."

To the dismay of some, the real facts about the results of Windsor's strike may now come out and be open to public review and scrutiny! We may see who the real winners and losers are. And who has been spinning the story and for what reason.

You see, as I have Blogged before, the media in Toronto actually told their citizens how bad the strike settlement was for taxpayers and how Miller had failed in what he had tried to achieve as his goal. He folded. He paid the political price too.

In Windsor, Edgar (aka Eddie) has been painted as a hero with the focus on PRBs, not the settlement itself or what the strike really cost Windsor. Frankly, there was no need to have one in the first place as the Minutes clearly indicate. The results were a huge CUPE win as I Blogged "July 27, 2009, "CUPE Strike: Little To Do With PRBs"

And that is the concern. If Lewenza's "facts" come out and if they are similar to those in Toronto, is Edgar finished? How could he possibly run again? Will he follow Miller's approach and not run for family reasons?

Mini-Gord went on the attack. Clearly, he did not read my BLOG on the Strike Minutes or else he would not have written:

  • "Some of the votes were a little murky. But mostly it's crystal clear which councillors were willing to force taxpayers to pay gigantic sums to give CUPE what it wanted, and which councillors were resisting the union's siren call."

I suspect that Junior will reveal some details that will be shocking once the numbers are in. The anti-CUPE types may well be forced into hiding if what I suspect will be said is true.

The Casino betting room should be busy:

  • "Start placing your bets now, because political careers are going to be made and broken in the next few months on the basis of how each councillor voted behind those closed doors."

I found this interesting as well as part of the tactic. If Edgar had anything to hide, why would he do this:

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis didn't seem to be in any doubt about what the in-camera record would reveal to savvy voters: he countered Lewenza Jr.'s histrionics about openness by having the minutes compiled, photocopied and ready for release the minute the vote passed. Wham! There they were."

Edgar is counting on people NOT reading the Minutes and counting on the Star, the Messenger, for their information. The hope is that if Junior takes forever to issue his report or if it is sloppily done, then Edgar's bluff worked and he survives. Weeks of smearing will not hurt either.

Why else do you think that the Dunbar audit made the headlines again. Distract, distract, distract.

One problem for Edgar and his Messenger---Bloggers. We are "savvy voters" and we have readers and distribution abilities.

No wonder someone tried to smear me on the Star Forum 400 Audit today by using my name as author with an attack on Councillor Marra. I guess that I, as a Blogger, have more power and credibility than I thought.

What the Strike Minutes Show

I decided that I would comment briefly on the Strike Minutes after reading the Star story about them. I could not believe everything that I read. It confirmed to me again that I made a smart decision to cancel my subscription.

I cannot do a full analysis at this time because more facts are needed. Hopefully, we will get them in Junior's report.

I am no fan of Junior but I am so annoyed at the words used by the Reporter or Editor in describing him. The tactic is so obvious. Nothing like trying to discredit him in advance because there is obviously concern about what he will reveal:
  • Lewenza on Tuesday pleaded for time

  • he can explain how those votes prove his contention

  • Asked to cite any examples among the motions debated and voted on that would help his point

  • And he railed Monday night against media reporting

  • “I don’t know what he’s getting at,” Postma said of Lewenza’s effort. As perhaps the councillor who sided most with Lewenza

As you will see in what I have outlined below, it could be dynamite!

The Star story started off this way
  • "Coun. Ken Lewenza Jr. introduced the original motion to end post-retirement benefits for Windsor’s unionized workers, according to a document released this week revealing how council debated and voted behind closed doors during CUPE contract talks.

    The Sept. 15, 2008, motion, seconded by Coun. Alan Halberstadt and approved unanimously, was made seven months before mediated talks broke off and 1,800 CUPE workers began what became one of Windsor’s most protracted strikes."

Here is the Motion in case you have not read it. And by the way, you will read a number of Motions throughout
Find the words PRB if you can. The Star was WRONG. There was nothing there about PRBs and the By-law had nothing to do with them either! Good way to start wasn't it!

More importantly, on April 6, it looks like an effort was made to avoid a strike before the strike deadline but the Mayor opposed it. It gives you an idea of his attitude. PLUS there was hardly a strong anti-CUPE feeling at this time it seems and a desire to work out a compromise.

On the strike day itself, the City started caving in. The question to be asked and then needs answering is why this was not done early on. Moreover, the City backed off no PRBs for new hires:

What did Edgar say about job guarantees subsequently:

  • "A new issue popped up and that is the union looking for guaranteed job security for its members," Francis said. "That's something that -- given the uncertainty of today -- the city cannot guarantee."
Here is what the City was offering on April 20, a long way from "Net Zero" but still no wages increase:

Where were all of the pro-CUPE friends on Council when no wages increase was offered:

Hmm, hadn't WUC settled just before this and they got a wage increase. Windsor Utilities Commission workers received a 7.5 per cent wage increase over four years.

  • "On April 24, a week after the start of the strike, Lewenza moved another motion, this time seeking to reverse that earlier position and seeking to “remove the issue of ending post-retirement benefits … for new employees” as part of the city’s bargaining position.

    That motion, seconded by Coun. Ron Jones and also supported by councillors Caroline Postma, Percy Hatfield and Bill Marra, failed only after Mayor Eddie Francis broke a tie vote, siding with councillors Halberstadt, Dave Brister, Jo-Anne Gignac, Fulvio Valentinis and Drew Dilkens. "

I think Lewenza was right even if he was not a lawyer. As I read the City's By-law, there is a good argument to be made that there was no legal right to even discuss PRBs either on the Union's or City's part!

It is a shame though that the Star neglected to mention paragraph (b) which would have avoided a strike and would have allowed a negotiated resolution once the facts were well known as Councillor Halberstadt mentions re the negotiations with the garbage workers and also as I Blogged before about what happened at the Windsor Public Library.

Twice now that Eddie voted "on the record' supporting a strike in effect.

Yet a few days later, Council in effect supported the Committee concept:

With respect to the April 24 Motion, the Star quoted Francis saying:

  • "Ken Lewenza is absolutely right … had I decided to cave and ignore the wishes of the residents of Windsor,” said Francis. “But you don’t go into a strike saying this is your core issue and then cave after a week,”

CBC quoted him saying:

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis broke a tie by voting against Lewenza's motion. On Monday night, Francis acknowledged he could have ended the strike by voting the other way.

    "But it would have been counter to the position the city took," he said."

HUH...That is another Edgarism. That is the point of voting on a Motion. To be flexible to be able to change. If Edgar's argument is right, then there could never be settlement because every vote was counter to the City's previous postion.

  • "Lewenza argued that revealing how councillors voted on various positions taken during the bitter strike would show how opportunities were missed early on in the process."

Lewenza is right!

Wage increases were finally discussed a month after the Strike started:

And on May 19, this startling resolution

That was the day when Mediation started again. It makes a mockery of what Edgar said doesn't it.

On June 17, an exchange of Motions that ultimately led to the Big Leak and more breakdowns in negotiations, this time, right after the Red Bull Races

Edgar again voted NO on the first Motion. Ultimately it did not matter since the Big Leak resulted in the breakdown of negotiations. By the way, the internal report and Integrity Commissioner Reports on the source of the leak are still not out. It is almost like the 400 Audit----never to be disclosed but then again, it diverts attention.

One more Minute of interest that dealt with the Back to Work Protocol. Council specifically said

So why then did Edgar provide one without Council approval, that led to a near-riot, that tried to screw Marra and that put off voting for another week! And then the CAO after the low point in his career received a nice chunk of change a little later.

Interesting I think so far and a precursor perhaps of what is to come. And that is the fear isn't it!

Poor Junior! His name will be mud if he does not get his story out soon. And then no one will read what he says or care either. Some people might not be too upset if that was the result.


It will be so easy to discredit Junior now:

  • "Coun. Ken Lewenza Jr. announced Tuesday night he will "absolutely" seek re-election to Windsor city council in 2010...

    His announcement to run again comes on the heels of his much-publicized motion Monday night to make public secret information dealing with Windsor's lengthy municipal strike.

    Lewenza insists the timing is coincidental.

    "It's got to do with clarifying the record long before [an election]... comes," he said."

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Edgar's Mayoral Style

All sizzle but no steak.

When I first got involved in Edgar's mayoral campaign the first time around, I thought I was dealing with a man of substance who would do great things for my hometown. A true Leader around whom Windsorites could rally. Instead...well you know how I feel. I got the burger on the right.

And thanks to Dalton McGuinty, he is around for one extra year in a four year term with no right of recall.

Darn, close but no cigar. Yet.

As I predicted in my BLOG yesterday, here come the Editorials exonerating Edgar (aka Eddie) for his absurd Pelissier Street remarks. Oh, Anne Jarvis did a column too except it was about walking kids to school---the "see no evil, write no evil" approach like Gord's past Saturday column. I can hardly wait for mini-Gord tomorrow to ignore the topic too!
  • "Make it the University President's problem to solve, not Edgar's. That's the idea. Have mini-Gord do a column along with Anne, Gord, an Editorial and a cartoon too. A full-court press."

I Blogged that yesterday. Nothing in the Editorial about it being the University students' fault and that the University President better do something about it so Edgar can go about handing out Keys to the City or have mind's eye visions. Not yet anyway. Perhaps Gord can help on Saturday.

But I really liked the Editorial today. It tells us exactly what Edgar's Mayoral style is and why this City is in such bad shape. Let me set out the relevant parts and I will fisk it. Forget the subject matter. It could be any topic. Just look at the concepts I will identify about his style of non-Leadership:

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis is taking a lot of heat for his comments Monday about the dangers of being on Pelissier Street in the early hours of the morning, but we're not sure why. [Clearly, the Editorial group has a major problem if they cannot grasp such an easy concept. I wonder if they actually read any of the comments on their Forum. Actually, they probably did.

    But then again, the Star has to downplay the subject and take on the task to save Edgar from his own absurdity. Just like a good Messenger would do]

    The concerns are real and the evidence speaks for itself. There have been at least seven gun incidents on Pelissier Street since 2003. Three of them have resulted in death. All of them took place in an area that has become synonymous with brawling behaviour and illegal weapon use when patrons spill out of downtown bars just hours before sunrise. [The problem has been around for years and what has happened to try and solve it. Other matters like canal and airport visions or running a border operation are so much more interesting than solving civic problems like sewage into the river or fixing roads and sewers or people being shot and killed or badly injured. Being an entrepreneur at taxpayer expense is so good for career buiding too]...

    That's why it's difficult to understand why Chris Edwards, executive director of the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association, would suggest Francis's comments were unfair.

    "I don't think that's helpful to the situation," Edwards said of the mayor's warning to steer clear of the area at certain times. "That doesn't get to the solution."

    [Why is this unfair? Oh I get it, direct criticism at another. Edwards correctly points out that Edgar's comment is destructive of the Downtown he was hired to re-invigorate and no solution was offered]

    No, it doesn't, but Francis wasn't trying to offer a solution at that point. He was responding to the community's concerns and the fears of residents who live in the area. In doing so, the mayor was addressing the real and present danger that exists for those who choose to be on Pelissier Street between 2 and 4 a.m. Especially given the historical problems that have plagued the area. [Of course he could not offer a solution. He does not have one after all of these years of inaction. If he had, someone would have asked why it had NOT been undertaken already!

    Exactly the problem with Edgar's non-leadership. When the problem re-develops, a strategy is needed to divert attention away from the fact that he messed up and did not do anything and the problem came back. Say something controversial so people will deal with that rather than his failure! Does it matter to Edgar that the Downtown has been badly hurt by his fear story when his personal credibility is on the line.]

    Edwards was correct when he said the recent incident "gives us an opportunity to talk about our problems." We anticipate he and DWBIA board members will take a leadership role in working with the city to resolve the issue. It's in the best interest of everyone to make the core safer. [Ummm shouldn't the Mayor and the head of the Police Services Board be in the lead? That's why he was elected wasn't it? Excpet when there is a tough issue then he is just one of eleven on Council. In that way as well, he cannot be blamed for anything happening down the road. Put the onus on someone else when the going gets too tough and grab the glory if everything works out]

    One of the possibilities floated by the mayor is to turn a section of Pelissier Street into a pedestrian mall. Another suggested by Edwards is to flood the area with light when the bars close, making it harder to commit a crime under the cover of darkness. Those and other solutions should certainly be discussed in anticipation of the streetscaping that begins in March. ["Floating ideas" not solutions is what Edgar is good at. Greenlink, canals, cargo shanties. Solving problems is something with which he has difficulty. I bet he saw a pedestriam mall in his mind's eye too. Time for a consultant who lives more than 4-500 km away to be retained. Imagine that, something so simple as increased lighting was not carried out even with past problems. I am shocked that he did not mention increased policing too but then who would be available when there are frat parties to bust]

    It's important to note that despite Sunday's tragic murder, downtown is undergoing a welcoming transformation. Youth-oriented bars are being turned into themed restaurants that will entice more mature patrons to the core, and there's an opportunity for independent retailers to return and reinvest in the heart of our city. [Oooops. Got to save Edgar if I was right about Windsor's new East End downtown being created]

    But at the end of the day, we can't fault the mayor for speaking his mind; it would be wrong to try to sugar coat it. This is a serious problem that must be resolved, and we have every confidence that it can be." [Change the debate. Ignore why people are angry and confirm again why subscriptions to the Star have been cancelled. Set up a strawman like the good Messenger the Star is. The fault is not speaking his mind but being stupid and damaging a key area of the City that is being re-invigorated as the Star pointed out only days before. It will be resolved as the CUPE strike was once Edgar gets out of the way!]

Perhaps the Star could interview Councillor Halberstadt as they did in December, 2007 and he could repeat what he said then:

  • "Coun. Alan Halberstadt said he supports closing bars at 3 a.m., though he's willing to look at other options -- such as restricting after-hours clubs to Ouellette Avenue.

    "I'm in favour of a 3 a.m. closing time, because trouble seems to brew between 3 and 6 in the morning," he said. "And I'd like to see a quick resolution to this.

    "But Pelissier seems to be the problem area. So maybe we could zero in on Pelissier."

Or perhaps the Star Editorial should have said this:

  • "Saturday's shooting doesn't appear to be random act involving strangers. The victim and suspect allegedly knew each other. The community, and particularly council, needs to know more about factors that led to this murder, and what realistic measures can taken to prevent further violence -- not just on Pelissier Street, but all streets."

Actually they did. In December, 2007!

Welcome To Detroit South

Edgar failed. Again. What more can be said.

How dare he continue sloganeering rather than doing. Aren't you tired of hearing about "guns, gangs and drugs." As if that would scare anyone or solve anything!

The slogan was a good one mind you. It might have worked to make Edgar the Attorney-General if he ran provincially since Toronto was having similar problems. But not now, after Edgar demonstrated his inability to stop anything.

There is nothing that I individually or all the Bloggers in town collectively can do that will damage this City as much as Mayor Edgar (aka Eddie) Francis' ridiculous comment:
  • "Mayor advises staying clear of Pelissier Street late at night

    In the wake of another murder on Pelissier Street, Mayor Eddie Francis warned residents Monday to steer clear of the area late at night if they value their safety.

    “If people are concerned, they should be concerned,” said Francis. “I would avoid that street. At 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 4 a.m., if you’re concerned don’t be on Pelissier Street on that corner.

    “Businesses continue to be open and residents continue to live without any problems for the majority of the day,” Francis said. “But in this particular location at a particular time there seems to be problems.”

That was another absurd comment by the Mayor, one of many, that will chase people away from this City.

Here is another

  • "Francis, who chairs the police board, said the violence on Windsor’s streets still bears no comparison to other Canadian cities, but he said the incidents on Pelissier are painting the whole downtown in a poor light."

Actually, not. It is Edgar's mouth that is doing it. And his inaction is part of the problem.

What does this mean? What are the consequences for Downtown?

There is one obvious one. Mr. Farhi should be a happy man and so should the "shrewd investors" who bought land around the East End arena. Let me explain.

Edgar has just chased everyone away from downtown and out to the equivalent of our suburbs. Imagine a Mayor doing that. As I Blogged before:

  • “the Farhi proposal. After all, it can change the face of this City rather dramatically don't you think:

     “East-side renaissance”

     "I can see eventually 60 acres being developed...the equivalent of an entire downtown…"

    Some members of the Downtown Business Association may now finally understand how bad the decision was for them to move the arena to the East End. I wonder how many will ask for the money that they paid to their Association to be given back to them. Their Chair at one time had said:

    "successful downtowns have a number of attractions, which include residential, retail and entertainment developments. Most urban villages have a "centre piece" attraction, such as an arena."

    It is too late now. The east end vision includes:

    "hotel, restaurants, retail outlets, apartment towers and senior-citizen residences."Why it sound just like what is being proposed at the canal urban village...

    That gasp you heard was almost the last one of our sick downtown. It is on life support with its condition critical after the front page Star story…

    Eddie made a very strange comment that is going to raise a tremendous amount of controversy and questions:

     “The entire Lauzon Road corridor is going to come to life again. This just adds to and complements the activity at the WFCU Centre. Shrewd investors are already picking up properties."

Imagine what Eddie has just said. Sure we have had some crime in one particular location. The solution of our Mayor and Head of the Windsor Police Services Board: Give up, the bad guys have won.

I am not going to offer a solution. That should be done by the Mayor and Chief of Police. If not, then the Premier needs to have the OPP come into Windsor immediately and take over the policing of this City.

There is something very wrong here and I do not know what it is. Why isn't the downtown being patrolled better, to prevent crimes such as this? It is not like we have screaming hordes of Americans coming over any more:

  • "The typical Friday night of a few years ago that saw 10,000 or more young revellers in downtown Windsor streets has since seen a reduction to about several hundred young American visitors in the bar zone."

And all of this ruckus just as it looked as if the Downtown is going to be revitalized. Why just days ago we read:

  • "Kiddie bars grow up

    Windsor’s downtown kiddie bar scene is in its death throes, according to a pair of nightclub owners cashing out on youth and going after an older and unplugged crowd...

    The kiddie bar has run its course … this is the ideal time to do this,” said co-owner Kevin Lafontaine...

    the new business will be the kind of place that is beginning to draw a maturer crowd, including their friends, to the downtown...

    While the news of Windsor’s economy and its downtown has invariably been gloomy of late, those who frequent the core are marvelling at what they say is a transformation underway."

That concept is dead before it even got started. No one in their right mind would go Downtown for entertainment. Our Mayor just told us so.

Why bother with a canal now? Who would ever visit it? Poor Mr. Farhi. He has to be furious. What will he do with that prime piece of real estate for a high end condo now since no one will want to live downtown?

Education...who would attend at a downtown campus now?

A cultural renaissance headed by our Symphony and Art Gallery. Sure, if you do not mind dodging bullets after parking at the City-owned garage..

Streetscaping, why bother if no one is on the street.

Wow is this City ever attractive now to seniors. Who needs the Retirement website since no one will be attracted to come here. If you want gangs, stay in Toronto.

As for new investors. The Undevelopment Commission does not need a CEO since no one would ever start a new business in this area.

Now, dear reader, we know this is NOT Edgar's fault. Who can we blame? I got it...University students! Let's have the Star run photos and show videos as they did during the CUPE strike to work up everyone too. Huge headlines required to make the point.

Make it the University President's problem to solve, not Edgar's. That's the idea. Have mini-Gord do a column along with Anne, Gord, an Editorial and a cartoon too. A full-court press:

  • "And he wants the university to do more to rein in its students.

    The mayor said he'll be raising the matter with the university's president."

DUH....Off-campus? That is not his job Edgar, it's yours! You cannot pass the buck. But he sure can try.

Why not raise the matter with Councillor Jones? Chris Schurr's BLOG is a damning indictment of the City's failure to do anything: "Where’s the Town and Gown Committee?"

If only the students could have held the frat party the night of the shooting it would have been a perfect answer for Edgar. Have they no consideration:

  • " Frat party angers mayor
    Francis concerned cops diverted from other duties

    Mayor Eddie Francis is angry that all available city police resources had to be called out to deal with a frat house beer keg party gone wild on the same weekend as a man was shot and killed in the downtown."

There is something bothering me though. Edgar is too smart to be this stupid even though he panics sometimes and does dumb things a la the near-riot. We'll just have to be on our guard and watch how this plays out.

Remember, to get from A to B in Windsor, we have to go through the entire alphabet.

Perhaps this might be the first letter: "T" as in Tenant Tax as in London on small landlords to encourage large student apartments to be built instead. Of course it will be called "a measure [to] protect the health and safety of vulnerable tenants" especially of course student housing with absentee landlords similar to what was tried a few months ago in Windsor but failed:

  • "Last night, City Council passed the Rental Residential Licensing Bylaw by a vote of 13 to 4. The bylaw will require landlords with buildings with 4 or less units to complete a checklist and pay an annual licensing fee of $25 per building. "

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

FHWA And Terrorism

The opponents of the Bridge Company are so stupid. Matty Moroun and his colleagues need not do anything and these people make the case for the Enhancement Project Bridge to be built immediately! They just need to sit back and relax and let these people self-destruct.

The US Homeland Security Department has no choice but to demand that President Obama take a hard look at the US Federal Highway Administration if they were so ridiculous as to consider the public release of a report containing details on the Ambassador Bridge. I know some at FHWA are supportive of a DRIC Bridge but seriously....
  • "the report, which was written by the bridge company and submitted to the Michigan Department of Transportation...

    The office of U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., had requested the report from the federal department under the Freedom of Information Act."

    "DIBC was advised by counsel for the Federal Highway Administration on September 25, 2009, that the Federal Highway Administration intends to publicly disclose the 2007 Inspection Report, despite the threat to national security by the threatened disclosure,” the suit says.

    James Steele, FHA’s Michigan division administrator who is also named in the lawsuit, said his office was going to release the report because of a Michigan Freedom of Information Act request."

Interesting the circuitous route taken don't you think? Why not approach MDOT directly! Obviously, because MDOT would have had to say NO! Nice try though.

It even gets more curious:

  • "The bridge company has offered to let Dingell see the report himself, but doesn’t want it released beyond officials.

    “Our concern is the secondary and tertiary distribution. This is the most confidential information about the bridge and its vulnerabilities and what we do to address them. That is confidential for a reason,” Blashfield said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a congressmen, citizen or reporter, the information is confidential.”

    Blashfield said he didn’t know why the congressman requested the 2007 report and not the subsequent 2008 and 2009 reports."

But of course, we understand the reason for this happening at this time and getting all of this publicity: the Michigan Budget debate over whether money should be allocated for the DRIC project. The nasty Bridge Company must be stopped regardless and the DRIC Bridge allowed to go forward even if terrorists get information useful to them if the report was released publicly.

Of course the Bridge Company had to sue to stop this. Ergo the headlines.

The Congressman could have seen the report. In fact he did. However that would not do at all. Now the lawsuit allowed the Congressman's office to say in an anti-Bridge Company attack:

  • "Rep. John Dingell received a copy early Monday of the 2007 inspection report from the agency following a February request, according to his chief of staff Michael Robbins in Washington. Staff are reviewing the document, he said.

    "You can look up the safety rating of a car before you buy it, you can look up the structural deficiency of a public bridge before you drive across it, yet the Ambassador Bridge does not have to play by the same rules," Dingell said in a statement released to The Star on Monday.

    "The safety of the driving public should be the top priority for the Federal Highway Administration and the Michigan Department of Transportation regardless of whether or not a bridge or its bridge operators are public or private.

    "Thousands of individuals and truckers use the Ambassador Bridge every day and I believe they are entitled to know the state of the Ambassador Bridge before doing so."

Ok, so much for political games. Now the reality. The Windsor Star claims:

  • "Sources have indicated to the Star the inspection report pointed to a need within a couple of years for the replacement of the bridge's road deck -- a massive undertaking that threatens to disrupt traffic on the bridge and possibly force its closure if it is not addressed soon."

Isn't that exactly what the Bridge Company has been saying as one of the justifications for its Enhancement Project Bridge. It is cheaper for them to take the old bridge out of circulation once the new one is completed to do repairs than to try and do them with traffic. The savings alone in construction costs would help pay a good chunk of the money required for their new bridge!

The Bridge Company opponents have just demonstrated that the Enhancement Project Bridge must be built immediately to prevent economic devastation to the region and to Canada and US trade, especially since the DRIC Bridge has been delayed to 2015 or later!

Oh and in case you were wondering, Dan Stamper at the Canadian Senate hearings said that they had no objections to the security and safety provisions of the International Bridges and Tunnels Act. Moreover, it was Dan Stamper who told the MDOT reps at the Michigan Senate hearings, since they must have forgotten, that the Gateway Project Agreement required safety reports to be prepared! As I Blogged before:

  • "Dan Stamper trotted out the legal Agreements signed between the Bridge Company, FHWA and MDOT respecting the Ambassador Gateway project that gave the Government oversight over the Company including the provision of information respecting the condition of the Bridge!

    Why didn’t the representative of MDOT know that? It is inconceivable to me that people being put forward as spokespersons for the Department would not know this fact and yet still make the outrageous comment they did. Why?"

So keep up the attacks on the Bridge Company, prevent them from doing what is required, cause a security risk, disrupt commerce...all to try to scare the Michigan Senators into allowing DRIC to move forward.

What fools we have around us! But then again, they are secure in their jobs and pensions aren't they!

Informed Consent

How can anyone possibly write a full-length column about our CAO leaving with all that taxpayer money in his pocket after he resigned, and was not terminated, and not mention Edgar's role in it once?

Just ask Windsor Star columnist Anne Jarvis. She accomplished that task in her Friday Star column. What an effort!

And so far, no thundering Star Editorial either. While Gord, he can write about Museums.

Was this all a game for some other purpose? Would any of this have come out but for Chris Schnurr asking for a copy of the CAO's employment contract?

Unless there is something new to add to all of this to provide justification, and that would beg the question why it was not revealed but kept buried until now, then one has to wonder if we can believe what comes out of City Hall!

Read on to see what I mean.

Simple questions. Was there a signed employment contract with former CAO John Skorobohacz or wasn’t there one? If not, why not and who is to blame? What about Dev Tyagi or other managers? No one has talked much about Dev's contractual relationship with the City. What is it? How can Helga be hired without a contract? Doesn't anyone learn anything?

Does anyone know what is going on, especially Councillors who keep voting one way in camera and then crying about what happened in public when it is too late? The questions are very simple but we do not seem to be getting straight answers.

Have taxpayers been sold a bill of good?

Was there with John

  • a resignation

  • a termination with cause

  • a termination without cause perhaps because of SDR restructuring

  • a threat of litigation because of "constructive dismissal"

  • or what Councillor Halberstadt suggested "But he wasn't going to leave without a payout, Halberstadt told [Anne Jarvis], so rather than allowing a city in shambles to continue to "muddle through" with a reluctant leader, council decided to pay up and move on. Halberstadt said he didn't like it, but he voted for it."

The Councillor's remark sure does not sound like a resignation to me.

How can anyone justify one single penny being paid out based on the information given out to date? Are there secret letters or side-deals? Is relevant information being kept from the public?

Why is everything so damn complicated all the time in this City when the issues are so simple? Why can't anyone speak clearly and give us the straight goods the first time around?

Can someone please explain how these two comments can both be right respecting the former CAO:

Councillor Drew Dilkens

  • “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.”

Mayor Edgar Francis:

  • “He bristled at any suggestion councillors were caught off guard or lacked information prior to making decisions regarding Skorobohacz and Reidel.

    “Members of city council were well aware these issues were coming and the reality is they had time to prepare to make these decisions,” Francis said.

    Starting at a special session on Sept. 2 he sought their direction and input regarding the CAO position, Francis said.

    “Now you have councillors attempting to characterize this as something that was dropped on them, when they gave direction on this all along,” he said."

They are both right of course. Councillor Dilkens talked about before the meeting. Edgar talked about “starting at” the meeting.

See how things are done. Accurate but narrow. It all depends where one starts doesn’t it to reach a conclusion.

Of course our Mayor is a very clever fellow isn’t he by making the issue what he wants it to be not what it is:

  • “Mayor Eddie Francis said councillors have the power to defer an in-camera issue or request more information if they do not feel comfortable making a decision.

    “It’s a process they are totally in control of,” Francis said.

    If approving the motion by Dilkens makes council feel better about its options, then that’s fine, the mayor said.

    “But it doesn’t do much to add to what’s already there,” Francis said. “Nothing will change. They already control the agenda.”

It's a phony issue of course to distract us, to take the heat off of himself and to point the finger at Council. It is NOT a question of control over the Agenda at all. We know who really controls it don’t we considering that he can call a Special Meetings any time he wants under the Procedural By-law.

The question is what is provided to Councillors at a meeting, or preferably before it, so they can think about an issue in advance and know what questions they need to ask, if any, for clarity so they can make a proper decision in the best interest of the citizens of Windsor.

  • "Currently, councillors are "just given a very, very generic discussion" ahead of time about the subject of closed meetings, according to Coun. Drew Dilkens, who will present a notice of motion next week to amend the city's procedure bylaw.

    "So we often walk into the room and we have absolutely no idea, specifically, what we're talking about," he said. "I think it's only fair, and a matter of good business process, that what we say is that councillors, the people who are going to be making the decisions, ought to know ahead of time, when the meeting is called, explicitly what the topic of discussion is."

I hate to disagree with Councillor Dilkens but I will strongly when he says this:

  • "If it's more detailed than a property matter, tell me what property we're talking about. If it's more detailed than a human resources matter, tell me who we're talking about and what the situation is ahead of time," he said.

    "I don't need a full report, but certainly one or two sentences would give us a good idea to be able to zero in."

That is abolutely wrong! He must absolutely have a full report or we get into the CAO payment mess we are in now.

The issue is not consent either but “informed consent,” a topic that the Mayor should be very familiar with since he went to Law School and we know he is a lawyer. It is generally used in a medical context. One definition I saw was:

  • “Informed consent is a legal term related to educating patients about the benefits, risks, and alternatives of therapeutic treatment.

    The patient's decision to consent to (or refuse) treatment must be informed; that is, the patient must receive information about the nature of the proposed treatment, its expected benefits, the material (common and serious) risks, special risks or material side effects associated with it, alternative courses of action and likely consequences of not having the treatment.”

Knowledge is fundamental so that a proper decision an be made.

Why should anything have to be deferred for heaven’s sake or more information requested. It would mean that John could still be our CAO and Helga waiting to be appointed.

When a matter is presented to Council in public, there is an Administrative Report prepared and delivered in advance that is supposed to be comprehensive and deal with all issues. It provides the background and the proposed solution with a reasoned argument for consideration.

Why can’t that be done by the Mayor as well when it is HIS issue to be discussed, especially if it is in camera? What is he afraid of? Losing control by sharing information? Having something in writing? Losing? Being blamed?

I have no idea what is going on about the former CAO's employment agreement and severance package. If there was an agreement and it said what the Mayor claimed it did, then everything is fine.

However, what if there was no agreement? What if there was no term about a termination package? Why then did Mayor Francis say there was a contract? Why then did Councillor Valentinis say there was one on Face-To-Face the other night? Why did the ex-CAO say:

  • "He said the 10 months of termination pay was a key part of his contract because of the way he saw council treat former CAO Dennis Perlin, who was pushed aside after a couple of controversial years at the helm.

    "I wanted some assurances and protection for myself because I was leaving a full-time CAO position (in Innisfil)," he said."

What do we know so far? There was on Offer of Employment with these specific terms:

From Schnurr's BLOG we also know:

  • "I am attaching the offer of employment for John Skorobohacz, as you requested. Please note that the offer of employment letter is the final document and as such there is no “formal employment agreement” as referred to in the attached documents. If you have any further questions about this matter please do not hesitate to contact me."

The City's Solicitor also told Schnurr:

  • "In City Legal we do not have a signed contract authorizing the payment of a severance for Mr. Skorobohacz's resignation. Matters such as this are generally handled by external legal counsel and I am aware that this was also the case with Mr. Skorobohacz's departure."

In other words, nothing in the Legal Department to justify a payment to the former CAO for a resignation and outside Council handled the "resignation matter." I wonder if it was the same lawyer who was involved in giving advice around the time of the near-riot.

As a former in-house lawyer, I wonder how Mr. Wilkki and his Department feel to be slighted this way. Notice though how well Mr. Wilkki protected himself in case this this file blows up. Well done George!

Perhaps someone is smarter than I or the law has changed but I do not see any binding legal agreement between the parties. Accordingly, there was no contract at all.

Dealing specifically with termination packages, the Offer says:

Perhaps my eyes deceive me but I do not read anything like:

  • "Under his work contract, Francis said Skorobohacz will be paid a severance of 15 months salary, 12.5 months if he finds a new job."

Where was that written in the Offer? The answer was it was not.

As for the "10 months of termination pay," as I read the offer, it only applied if there was a termination, not a resignation. That seemed to be exactly what the CAO wanted as stated in the quote above yet he received money when he resigned which was never part of the deal. How can that be done?

The Council Minutes are clear. John resigned:

  • "a) THAT the resignation of John Skorobohacz from the position of Chief Administrative Officer of The Corporation of the City of Windsor BE ACCEPTED."

Compare that language with that involving Dev Tyagi

  • "c) THAT the employment of D. Tyagi, General Manager of Public Works, be terminated effective immediately."

We also learned from the Council Minutes set out on Schnurr's BLOGsite who spoke at the meeting to give out information:

  • "5. That the verbal report from Mayor Francis respecting personal matters about identifiable individuals BE RECEIVED

Presumably Edgar was the one who gave out information that resulted in this:

  • I don’t like it, paying that kind of money when a guy wants to leave anyway,” said Coun. Alan Halberstadt. “My understanding it was in his contract. It’s unfortunate from a taxpayer point of view."

  • “No, I’m not happy with what he is walking away with,” said Coun. Ken Lewenza Jr. “I was not happy as CAO you are out there doing job interviews the last couple years. When you are in that position, I would expect total loyalty and not focusing on his own intentions in terms of preserving his career.

    “But at the end of the day, council signed a contract. This was positioned to council as if there were no other options.”

I must assume that the Councillors would have talked about the "contract" if they had seen one and not just about an understanding and a positioning. So they must not have seen anything or obvious questions would have needed answering.

Interestingly, who was giving out legal advice? There was supposed to have been a contract drafted but it does not seem that it was done. Was that a consideration in the decision made? Was outside or inside legal advice obtained and was counsel available to answer questions or was it the Mayor only who spoke about the legal issues?

So what do we have?

  • Our Mayor and a Senior Councillor both lawyers and both telling us we have a contract. Yet the City cannot produce one.

  • Our Mayor telling us that money was be paid for a resignation. Yet the employment offer deals with termination only, exactly against which the former CAO wanted to be protected

  • Our Mayor quotes numbers that have no relationship to the Offer

  • Councillors who voted in camera based on positioning and understandings but no facts and yet complain publicly how they voted and then play to the crowds.

We hear one thing. The written words say another. We are told one thing. We read another.

We want to believe. But how can we?

Just think about it. If I am right, there was no justification for paying out any money since, on the information provided to date publicly, there was no contract, no termination, a resignation and no agreed upon amounts.

Will The Motions Pass

Two Motions to help make Windsor's failing Democracy work.

I wonder what odds the Casino is giving for either of them to pass. Imagine the odds for both to pass:

At the Monday September 21, 2009 Windsor City Council meeting, notice was given that two Councillors intend to bring forward motions for consideration by Council at the September 28, 2009 meeting of Council, specifically as follows:
  • 1. Moved by Councillor Dilkens, seconded by Councillor ____________,

    Whereas, Windsor City Council strives to be an open, transparent, and accountable government; and

    Whereas, Members of Council can make better decisions by knowing in advance the specific nature of the topics to be discussed;

    Therefore be it resolved, that the following clause be added to the City of Windsor Procedural ByLaw 420-2001:

    3.3 (d) In the event that the subject matter to be considered at a Special Meeting qualifies to be considered in closed session pursuant to section 239(2) of the Municipal Act, 2001, as amended, the public notice of meeting provided by the Clerk shall contain the general nature of the matter to be considered as required by the Act, and in addition, the Clerk shall provide to all members of Council a further notice which contains specifics of the confidential matters to be considered.

    2. Moved by Councillor Lewenza, seconded by Councillor ____________,

    That administration make public all failed and accepted in camera motions that are related to labour negotiations with CUPE 543 & 82.

How can the Mayor or any Councillor dare vote against them?

Let's see if procedural games will kill both or either of them.

UPDATE: Both Motions passed.

A love-in on the first with no one blaming anyone since they do it this way already don't you know. But if it makes taxpayers happy, then let's do it. Of course it had nothing to do with Edgar as Councillors were at pains to tell us even as Principal Edgar scolded them.

On the second, the real fun was watching the animosity during the debate between Councillors Hatfield and Lewenza. Surprisingly to me, Councillor Hatfield did not want the Motions given out---it might impact the next round of negotiations somehow---nor did Councillor Postma in the vote. Councillor Solidarity broke down amongst the left-wingers on Council it seems on this vote.

It became very personal for reasons that remain to be seen.

No need to be concerned though. The Mayor had the in camera materials all ready to be given out. Openness and transparency after all.

Anyway, watch for the hatchet job on Junior in the media over the next few weeks. He must be taught a lesson not to attack them.

Monday, September 28, 2009

More Windsor Marriage Bureau Stories

Still no investigation by the Windsor Star about what went on at the Marriage Licence Bureau during the strike. No point in embarrassing City Hall when the re-election campaigns are going to start soon.

I wonder if Edgar's 1000 page Strike manual covered a possibility of something going wrong there. No matter. Just gives me another excuse to write a Marriage Licence Sitcom BLOG.

These are real stories. Honest.

I just have to twist them around a little bit to fit into my proposed Sitcom to give them a Windsor flavour. What do you think?


In Windsor, make all the women in your life happy!

Marry as often and as many as you want during a CUPE strike.

No one will ever know.


I never considered movie star marriages for my Sitcom. How about this as a premise:
  • "Drew Barrymore "doesn't know" if she is single

    Confused Drew Barrymore claims she “doesn’t know” if she is single.

    But the twice-married star, who has had an on-off relationship with actor Justin Long, does not want to have a baby as a single parent.

    Asked if she is single, Drew said: “I don’t know. I’m not anything."

Do you think she received a Windsor letter in the mail? Perhaps that explains her condition. Is she married now or is she single?

What a Sitcom episode this would make


If you think that story is a mind-blower, consider this:

  • "Polygamy charges thrown out against B.C. religious leaders

    Criminal polygamy charges against B.C. religious leaders Winston Blackmore and Jim Oler have been thrown out.

    B.C. Supreme Court Judge Sunni Stromberg-Stein made the ruling Wednesday in B.C. Supreme Court, said Neil MacKenzie, a Crown spokesman.

    Blackmore and Oler filed separate court petitions seeking to quash the charges against them. Blackmore is the leader of the fundamentalist commune in Bountiful, B.C.

    Blackmore, 52, and Oler, 44, were charged in January with one count each of practising polygamy, charges that were recommended by special prosecutor Terry Robertson — the third outside counsel hired by the Ministry of the Attorney General to review evidence gathered during a two-year RCMP investigation."

The charges were thrown out on a technicality.

However, consider if they had received a marriage licence during the City strike and then sought to marry again.

Wouldn't their defence be that there was a screw-up in Windsor such that they were not legally married. Therefore, when they were married for the "second" time, it was really the "first" time because their other "first" marriage was not valid! Case dismissed!


It's their fault for getting married in Vancouver in the first place and not Windsor. I have no sympathy.

  • "Gay U.S. couples can't get divorces for Canadian marriages

    Some same-sex couples from the U.S. who got married in Canada are running into trouble getting divorces, according to an Oregon lawyer.

    Gay couples have been flocking to cities like Vancouver with its large gay community since same-sex marriage was first legalized in the summer of 2003.

    Several of those couples have since approached Oregon lawyer Beth Allen looking for a divorce, but Oregon doesn't recognize gay marriage, or divorce, so they can't get a divorce there, she said...

    Henderson has this advice for gay Americans looking to marry here: "I would say not to do it, because it is, at this point in time, such a procedural bar." worries in Windsor. Since they may not have been legally married, they do NOT need a divorce!


Anne Jarvis talked about reading the book, "The Paper Bag Princess," to her daughter at bedtime.

It was a book about a Princess who lived well, lost it all when a dragon destroyed her castle and took away her Prince whom she was to marry.

In the end, after the Princess saves him,

  • "the ungrateful cad tells her she looks like a mess.

    Elizabeth lets him have it: "Your clothes are really pretty, and your hair is very neat," she says. "You look like a real prince, but you are a bum!"

    She doesn't marry him."
Hardly a good ending in this day and age. Apparently, there is a revised edition of the book for Anne to read.

In the revision, the Princess takes the Prince to Windsor to get a marriage licence here. At the wedding ceremony in the Royal Cathedral, just before the Princess is to say "I do" she says instead "The licence is invalid" and runs off with the stablehand!

You cannot make this stuff up. The Network Execs just won't believe it either. No one would! That's what makes it great TV folks!


Oh, I see that some of you are snickering, thinking I have no chance. Well marriage shows are HOT now baby! Jerry Seinfeld is coming out with one called "The Marriage Ref."

It is based on a real situation just as mine is:

  • "How did the concept of the show come about?

    This is straight from Jerry's [Seinfeld] mouth. The way the show happened, Jerry was with his wife in their apartment and they got into a difference of opinion about something and the usual thing starts. A friend of his wife was there. The friend was like, "Maybe I should leave" and Jerry said, "Nope. I'm glad you're here. I want you to referee the difference of opinion. I'll say my side of the story, my wife will say hers and you just call it for one side or the other and we're done with it." And the friend declared a winner, they were done with it and it was fantastic."

The envelope please. And the winner is...