Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, October 30, 2009

Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Woes

Ranking 80 out of 96 is a huge victory! Windsor did not finish dead last or closer to the bottom as in other surveys.

Or at least, that is how it may have been presented to the Mayor when the CFIB results came out ranking Canada's top entrepreneurial cities.

But that is hardly something that the new head of the Undevelopment Commission will be able to brag about or sell if he/she is ever appointed.

By the way, was mini-Gord telling us that, after all of this time, local boy and Sandra friend, "Patrick Persichilli, the vice-president of the development commission who has been its acting chief officer for the past year" will get the job. No offence to Patrick intended, but that would be a bad joke signalling that politicians want the Commission to play no useful role whatsoever!

You think being the Chief of Staff of Edgar (aka Eddie) is a piece of cake. All of that hobnobbing with powerful people, making news editors in Windsor shake and tremble when you phone them up, having a prime table in the City Hall cafeteria.

Oh sure, that is a signal of success. Until another Report comes out showing how Windsor is failing once again and you are the one who has to break the bad news first thing in the morning to His Worship.

But this one, about entrepreneurship for heaven's sake, how would that be presented to Edgar after his big victory when he was younger? Not only is he our Mayor but he is our world-class union fighter, land developer, sports jock, border operator, road and tunnel builder, hub advocate, P3 financier, entertainment impresario, onion marketer and canal builder. He is the guy who is our champion entrepreneur with our money and at our risk.

However, that is why people in these top positions make the big bucks. They know how to present the indefensible and to shape and massage the message so that it becomes a good news story, a remarkable victory that their boss achieved even with overwhelming odds against him.

If you actually check out the Report, dear reader, you will see that the core cities themselves, but not the suburbs, of Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal did even worse than we did.

No one would dare make a comparison though between Windsor and major cities since it would be so ridiculous unless it was a Star columnist writing about music centres and spending huge amounts of money when the local economy is in serious trouble:
  • "Calgary may be five times bigger than Windsor, and it may not have the highest unemployment rate in the country, like Windsor, but the difference isn't entirely about money. It's also about vision."
Watch genius at work Check out the headlines in our media. Prepare for the great news. Celebrate the top story. Windsor is the pacesetter again:

"Windsor ties for #1 City in the Region!!!"


  • “Frivolous!”

What a bloody insult from Mayor Edgar (aka Eddie) Francis. At least CUPE members were not “dismissed” out of hand as is the term used in the past when there is something with which he does not agree.

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis denies the allegations, calling them frivolous.

    He told CBC News he welcomes a hearing in from the OLRB."

Edgar has still not learned his lesson about the CUPE members. He just does not get it because he just cannot understand:

  • “They want to pursue something that they started, and they feel that they deserve the respect," Fox said.”

R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Edgar ought to read the lyrics of the Aretha Franklin song.

What an absurd statement for him to make about complaints that should deal with

  • 7 weeks of non-negotiations at least according to Councillor Postma,
  • some members of Council that wanted a strike and who were in favour of “dragging out the recent municipal strike for political gain” according to Councillor Lewenza,
  • a supposed stairwell meeting understanding and a denial
  • a leak (with no report yet on the findings) and
  • a near riot.

What an outrage to people who have lost $30M in wages, or is it only $20M since City Finance seems so confused about such an easy to arrive at number, because of a strike that need not have happened and which deprived businesses in the Community of customers. And still does.

I am so glad that the Windsor CUPE members strongly rejected the advice that I am told seemed to have come from their National Office to “move on” and not continue on with their OLRB bad faith action.

  • "The lawyer said we would end up with bad press if the labour board refused to look at it or if we lost."

Heck, the lawyer probably did not see the Star. It cannot get any worse.

I wonder if the lawyer was reading from the same book as Councillor Valentinis with his comments in the Star. Edgar would have liked that too since he is the one at the centre of all of this with the most to lose. He said:

  • "Pursuing the labour board complaint at this stage would only serve to "continue to expose wounds of a very bitter and divisive strike," said Francis.

    "All I can say is we've moved on and the community has moved on ... if CUPE doesn't want to move on, that's their prerogative."

To me, if the CUPE lawyer said that, it shows how out of touch CUPE National or Ontario or both seem to be. They were useless during the strike in helping their Windsor Local and are just as bad now.

Get real. The flames are still being fanned. The Community has NOT moved on. CUPE members are blasted whenever possible. They are an easy target. Who can really blame Windsorites? They have not been told the whole story by the traditional media as was done in Toronto where their Mayor had the sense not to run again.

Will Junior's Report set out the facts or will it be another whitewash? If it is the latter, after what Junior claimed, his political career would be over!

With respect to the complaint itself, I would love to see the final version. From what was publicized before, it was not complete and left out key matters. And after the shocking news at the meeting about what was NOT filed, someone’s head should roll!

It just makes it so much easier for a new Union to take over after a decertification vote that will surely come. I heard that there were cries of “CAW” at the meeting although I am not sure that this Union is the best choice either to replace CUPE.

Oh sure, there is fear of retribution against CUPE members if the OLRB action continues. However, attacks against the Union will continue regardless, as the Star online photo the other day showed. CUPE bashing is viewed as an easy way to win the next election. Just ask firefighters how they feel after fighting the City in their arbitration with their job losses.

As I was told yesterday

  • "we got 5 more local 543 lay-off notices today. That brings the total up to lucky number 13 so far."

There is only one way to deal with Edgar. Confront him straight on and put his name on the line. Make him the issue and the subject of blame if there is a negative impact on the City. Do not let him hide behind Council as he always does with bad news or Administration if he indeed was the driving force. Citizens of Windsor need to know the true story of the strike and not the Messenger version.

It is only hearsay but I was told that the CUPE legal rep at the meeting was not well-liked it seems. From what I was told, I heard a lot of “business” advice was given not just “legal” advice. That is NOT the lawyer's job!

I heard that there “many calls at the meeting to get a new lawyer.” Was this because a certain action was not taken even though local CUPE leaders instructed that it be done and were told it had been done. CUPE members should demand an inquiry into why it did not happen.

Frankly, if true, I would dismiss the lawyer and retain the best outside Labour Law firm around to fight the complaint and any subsequent lawsuit arising from it. I would do it regardless. I might even be mad enough if I was a CUPE member to file a grievance against CUPE as well just to protect my own interest in the complaint against the City.

There is a lot at stake, never mind RESPECT. Windsorites need to know the truth about our 101 day strike. I want to know who was really calling the shots since I strongly still believe that it was not just Edgar involved. The similarity about how the strike was conducted in Windsor and Toronto, the approach taken, the Provincial role and how the strike ended in both cities are truly remarkable. And now the Provincial Government wants to go after their Union.

For CUPE members, there is the matter of millions of dollars in lost wages. If there was bad faith, no negotiations for weeks, efforts to sabotage possible settlement and the desire to prolong the strike for political reasons, why should CUPE members suffer? Let the wrongdoers be put in jeopardy, not the innocent victims.

I am not a Labour Law lawyer and do not know whether the OLRB has decided whether they can order an employer to pay back wages but that ought to be part of the complaint if there is a possibility they can. As I read the Labour Relations Act, at least, I believe the remedy is there and the Board can do so.

Again, there may be a civil action that can be taken as well for damages for wages lost in addition to the OLRB action or alternatively and perhaps even a punitive damges claim for egregious behaviour, perhaps even a class action lawsuit. If so, the lawyer ought to keep that in mind as he/she pursues the OLRB complaint, not just go through the exercise pro-forma.

What if he City loses and has to pay $20M or $30M to Union members. That would be horrific to the City Budget. However, isn't it better to know that now and kick those people out of office who are responsible rather than have them stay around and be re-elected? What damage could they do in the future? Heck, we might even be able to sue them and have their insurance pick up the tab!

I am so thrilled that Edgar "welcomes a hearing in from the OLRB." Let CUPE give it to him with Edgar being the star witness. We ought to sell tickets for both the Casino theatre and the East End Arena to watch that show on closed circuit TV. "This is it" too.

Aviva Community Fund Competition---Vote NOW!

Hi ED, Could you please help us by posting to your blog or sharing with friends the following info?

We have a show that has been touring and we proudly represent Windsor wherever we perform. There is a competition for funding from Aviva and we are sitting around the top 50 out of 530 or more submissions. We are the top 5 in the 'most discussed' idea. And ranked 2nd most votes in our category, competing next to Vancouver.

We highlight the Capitol Theatre and chronicle some of Windsor's history....another good reason for support (besides the important message the show delivers about bipolar disorder ).

On the link page, find 'register' then cast your vote at the link again.

Registering is just your name and email and takes but a mere moment.Time well spent in the grand scheme of things. Thank you in a big way!

There are only 2 days left to make a difference after today and the big cities are smoking us!

A Reader's Swine Flu Idea

After the Star story about the flu clinics, this idea makes sense.

I was at the hospital in Emergency with my daughter the other day and the crowds were huge, much bigger than normal even late at night. I asked the lady in Admitting the reason and she said people were in a panic now about the flu and were going to the hospital at the first sign of a sniffle in their kids
  • Ed, I would like to get this idea to the bureaucrats and those at the Windsor/Essex Health Unit (and to the public). I know that many of these officials read your daily blog and trust they will act in order to expedite the total inoculation process in this area. I hope that you feel the following would be timely on your blog.....

    With each passing day we are reading or hearing in the media of long line ups of people wanting to get the H1N1 flu shot. There is much confusion of who is to get it when, what group you fall into and the fact you may even wait for hours only to see the supply dwindle at the clinic before you receive the shot. This only results in frustration and lack of confidence on the part of the public to those officials and bureaucrats in charge of distributing the vaccine.

    They say sometimes that "a little common sense goes a long way." Instead of bringing people to designated clinics with probably a large majority being school age students from kindergarten through grade 12... why not have the vaccine "come to them." In other words, have officials of the Public Health Office set up an organized program of distributing the vaccine to the students in the schools.... class by class. The benefits would be well worth the effort as it would greatly reduce the line ups at the community vaccination clinics, and would get a large majority of the populous inoculated during school hours with minimal effort.

    I trust that any officials of the Windsor/Essex Health Unit reading this will take this idea to their superiors. There is no need for a long consultive process to bring this to fruition as it can be done quickly. We need to get the maximum number of people inoculated as quickly as possible and this is an easy way to do it.

    As I said previously... a little common sense might go a long way.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Did Duben Get Caught In The Revolving Door Too

Why would such a high-powered lawyer and high-ranking City Administrator take only a VP job at Enwin? To be honest, it does not seem like a great position. It seems like they are adding in another "layer" to the Organization Chart there. And don't you find the Press Release very "cold."

Which came first....the decision for Joe Levack, Enwin's VP Corporate Services, to leave or to move Duben to Enwin? Or is it all just pure co-incidence?

The Star claimed that Levack was "regarded as second in command behind Zalev." In his new position, is that Michael's role too no matter what the job description says? Will he keep watch over Max's shoulder?

Alternatively, I just wonder if Michael was in effect "Perlinized?" Were there conflicts between him and Edgar (aka Eddie)? Remember Dennis Perlin went from Windsor CAO to head of the Development Commission where he became virtually invisible until he left.

After all, I am told that Duben is likeable. It would have looked bad if they just turfed him, especially after the Star articles on how bad City Administration is in retaining senior people.

Hmmm. Did Michael have a contract of employment similar to John's?

The whole thing is a big surprise considering how he was hired. However, it also means no "severance payment" if he was "SDRed" since he has a new job. Or alternatively, if he leaves Enwin, the severance money comes out of there, not Edgar's Budget!

Here is the Star story when Michael was first hired:
  • "'Top candidate' was hired:

    City officials deny new senior bureaucrat got job because of links to the mayor

    Although Windsor's newest senior bureaucrat worked in the same law firm as Mayor Eddie Francis and was hired without an advertised national search, several councillors and the city's top civil servant say Michael Duben got the job on his merits alone.

    Duben, 37, who assumes his new duties Sept. 7, will be responsible for human resources -- such as negotiating labour agreements with city unions -- in the permanent job which pays between $114,000 and $135,000 annually.

    But there will be other duties such as overseeing parks and forestry, recreation and leisure services, corporate and facility management and culture and heritage.

    Councillors approved Duben's hiring this month. They were initially told of the proposal by city manager John Skorobohacz, who had wooed the lawyer over several breakfast meetings. "We had an exhaustive debate," Ward 4 Councillor Ken Lewenza Jr. said of the July 12 in-camera meeting during which councillors approved the hiring. "It was felt Michael was the top candidate."

    Skorobohacz said Monday he first approached Duben about taking the job earlier this summer and floated the idea to Francis and councillors during an in-camera discussion about replacing city executive Steve Salmons. Salmons recently returned to his former duties with the Windsor library after a stint as one of several top managers during a short-lived reorganization at city hall begun under the previous administration.

    Duben said the only contact he had about the job was with Skorobohacz.

    "Eddie was quite surprised. I wouldn't put Eddie in that situation," Duben said of discussions with Skorobohacz.

    Francis was out of town Monday and unavailable for comment.

    "I knew full well the mayor had articled with him," Skorobohacz said of Duben, a labour lawyer who also has represented developers and property owners dealing with the city.

    After meeting with Duben on an unrelated matter, he said he approached the lawyer about the new job and then went to council with his plan for the new position.


    As for not advertising the position, Skorobohacz said the human resources post had been advertised for two years and six people interviewed without success.

    "I could have advertised the position, but some people will not risk putting their reputations on the line relative to going through the recruitment process," he said of Duben's job.

    Skorobohacz said he did not discuss hiring Duben with Francis before meeting with councillors about it. Several councillors said the mayor expressed discomfort because of his personal relationship with Duben.

    "Eddie felt a little uncomfortable about the discussion," Lewenza said. "Eddie did not play a role in the discussion. He really took a hands-off approach."

    Added Ward 3 Councillor Al Halberstadt: "Eddie expressed a bit of fear that it would be seen as him going out and getting Duben.

    "We had done a countrywide search for (the human resources position). The idea with Duben is he'd be one of the overseers of the corporation and human resources would be a major component," Halberstadt said.

    "The mayor had no input whatsoever," said Ward 2 Councillor Ron Jones.

    Skorobohacz was part of the initial city hall reorganization, but left Windsor to work for the town of Innisfil. In May, he returned to the city after councillors vowed to reorganize the reorganization, partly on condition he have "latitude, especially at the top level of positions.

    "I needed the ability to put my team in place....The same thing probably should be said about my position," he said, adding if his job had been advertised he would not have responded."

Considering the so-called restructuring at City Hall, what is really going on? Just like SDR being the excuse for Tyagi going or the non-contract contract of the former CAO. Or do you have an idea that may be better.

Here are some other possibilities:

  • 1) Duben went over to Enwin to learn everything and to become its new President since Max Zalev is going.
  • 2) Max is to leave Enwin with a nice package after all of his years of effort but will remain in charge of the City's Audit Committee
  • 3) It has to do with something involving the Zalev lands (even though I do not believe that Max has any interest in them any longer) but who knows what. If true, I suspect it will become another mind's eye vision for the next election to keep South Windsor voters in Edgar's camp. After all, it was a project mentioned in Gord's column just after the last election
  • 4) Duben is being "parked" at Enwin temporarily and later to head up some big City project while at the same time to allow Edgar to show cost savings.
  • 5) Perhaps Michael and John were a team and when one went, so did the other.
  • 6) Who knows what goes on in the minds of City Hall decision-makers. Heck, even they do not know.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

City Re-Org: Much Ado About Little

To all Employees:

Earlier this month, I sent an email to all staff to tell you about my first priority as CAO - to develop a revised organizational structure for the corporation. Following consultation with our senior management team over the past 4-5 weeks, I prepared a report and provided Council with recommendations for a revised structure at its meeting yesterday afternoon, Tuesday, October 27th.

The proposed changes to the structure reflect consideration of the groupings of the programs and services the City of Windsor provides, as they were documented by the service delivery review committees last winter. We believe the new groupings and reporting paths make sense and Council has approved the following changes to take effect immediately.

I have attached the new corporate org chart to this message. The chart illustrates the formal elimination of the following positions: the vacant position of Executive Director of Environmental Services, and the positions of General Manager of Corporate Services, General Manager of Public Works, and General Manager of Community & Protective Services. As you know, John Skorobohacz and Dev Tyagi both left the employ of the Corporation in mid-September.

It is now with mixed feelings that we contemplate saying good-bye to Michael Duben, General Manager of Community & Protective Services. Michael has been offered the position of Vice-President Customer Relations with EnWin Utilities Ltd and is expected to assume this position by mid-November. I have enjoyed working with Michael over the past few years and I congratulate him on the appointment to this exciting new role.

In light of this news, Ronna Warsh will continue with her responsibilities for Social Support, Housing & Children’s Services, Huron Lodge, and will assume additional responsibilities for Recreation and Cultural Affairs Ronna’s new title will be Community Development and Health Commissioner. The attached org chart indicates the balance of changes to the structure and I congratulate and thank all those, including Ronna, who have agreed to take on additional responsibilities in this new structure: Valerie Critchley, City Clerk; Onorio Colucci, Chief Financial Officer; Mario Sonego, City Engineer, and George Wilkki, City Solicitor.

With these announcements, I realize there will remain some unanswered questions for many of you in terms of reporting paths and teams within the new alignments. These reporting structures will all be considered and reported to you at a future date, yet to be determined. As I’m sure you can appreciate, a number of factors must be considered first to ensure the best outcomes.

This first step in the restructuring process is an important one and it is my hope that you too will see the benefits of these changes, especially in the context of service delivery review and our collective goal to provide services to our community in the most effective and efficient ways possible.

We will continue to evaluate the structure and recommend further modifications now and throughout the 2010 budget discussions.

Please feel free to share your thoughts on these changes or to provide suggestions on any other improvements to our operations. You may send your comments to or call 255-6439.


More Interesting Thoughts

I am trying to catch up with all that has happened over the past few days. Here are some thoughts for you


Oh no, an Edgar, Son of Cleary transaction over the Salvation Army Building.

Remember how bad the Cleary deal was with St. Clair as I outlined in my BLOG: June 16, 2006 "The Marketing Of The Cleary Deal."

I also listed in that BLOG my view about the wonderful deals that the Mayor negotiated, or failed to negotiate for us. Add another to the list by the time this is done:
  • "Former Salvation Army building to house St. Clair journalism school

    City council fast-tracked plans Monday to convert a dilapidated, vacant city-owned building into a $5-million state-of-the-art St. Clair College media and public relations school.

    The college will transfer 220 students into the 16,000-square- foot “media plex” on the corner of Victoria Avenue and University Avenue West with hopes that eventually up to 1,000 students may one day attend the downtown satellite campus inside the former Salvation Army building...

    The city purchased the building in the late 1990s with the idea to use it as a storage facility and teaching centre in tandem with the Capitol Theatre, but those plans never materialized and the building has sat vacant for over a decade.

    Mayor Eddie Francis said St. Clair will purchase the building from the city in a deal similar to what was worked out in 2006 with the college to take over the former Cleary International Centre and convert it into the St. Clair Centre for the Arts — home to 800 students.

    Final details have still not been worked out, the mayor said."


In case you wondered, the City is selling it to St. Clair for a dollar!

Of course, it is going to revitalize the Downtown just like the Cleary deal was going to do:

  • "Bringing more college students downtown will add diversity and foot traffic to the core area, Francis said.

    “The students downtown are a welcome addition,” he said. “This will bring a transformation of that corner.”

Oooops, now it is only a corner that will be revitalized. Is that THINKING SMALL?


Looks like the Dunbar audit release is being stalled off again so that we will NOT have an East End Arena audit before the next election.

This time we are going to ask the Provincial Auditor General to give

  • "a second opinion on the legal views of Toronto lawyer Andrew Roman who told the city's audit committee releasing the report of former auditor Mike Dunbar would violate the Municipal Act."

The answer that will be given back after several months of more delay is that

  • "the Provincial Auditor General does not give legal opinions to municipalities. Hire your own lawyer!"

It's interesting that the Star's story neglected to mention that Edgar received a copy of the Dunbar report and he was NOT a member of the Audit Committee.. Accordingly, in my opinion, the report is in the public domain and there is no reason not to release it.

Curiously, this topic was not mentioned in Mr. Roman's legal opinion.


Take a look at his Tuesday column "Deficit could sink Ontario Liberals."

Doesn't this apply to Edgar as well:

  • If Ontario's economic prospects are as dire as they appear, Premier Dalton McGuinty should probably go dressed as a dead man walking

    But McGuinty's days as premier are numbered by the economic performance of his government. The process to choose his successor probably breaks into the open in Windsor this weekend, having already been simmering for months in the backrooms. [We know already a number of people are ready to run against Edgar, if he has the nerve to run again, with their theme being the miserable state the City is in under Edgar's lack of leadership]
  • "the Liberal government could be eviserated at the polls for the budgetary mess it has created.

    And they have created this black hole. Don't go feeling sorry for them being caught by a "bad economy." It's their job to anticipate downturns and to plan accordingly.

    Instead the Liberals spent -- and continue to spend -- as though the sun would shine forever. They had no rainy day plan, and now we are going to pay." [The canary in the coal mine died many years ago in Windsor and Edgar has done nothing but create mind's eye visions like a canal, Greenlink, and an airport hub. Heck, the Undevelopment Commission is a joke and has been dead for years! Seriously, how could anything be good here when our Mayor thought at first that our problems were merely "cyclical."]
  • Ontario's red ink is structural. That means we're stuck with it forever -- or until Dwight, Dalton and the rest of cabinet start making tough decisions.

    So far, they seem to be merely praying that federal stimulus spending reinvigorates consumers and the economy and lifts Ontario out of deficit...

    These are their choices: if Ontario is still running a large deficit at the end of 2011, voters are likely to punish the Liberals as failed economic stewards. But if they raise taxes to balance the budget they will almost certainly lose. [No tough decisions will be made in Windsor in an election year other than hammering CUPE workers! Instead the cry will be for a 0% tax increase as we are hearing now.]


  • "City won't bend on charging interest on tax arrears

    Coun. Fulvio Valentinis warned of “disastrous ramifications” if the city agreed to a motion by Coun. Ken Lewenza Jr. to significantly lower the current penalty rate of 15per cent....

    a majority of councillors who voted on the issue agreed with the concern expressed by administration that giving such a break could lead to more delinquent accounts from among the 95 per cent of ratepayers who do make timely payments."

Yeah right. Didn't I just read that it is one of the prime money generators for the City! How else to balance the budget but on the backs of people who are in economic trouble too!

How close is the City now to credit card or department store rates of interest?


If only Edgar had not made the dumb Back-to-Work Protocol near-riot move. CUPE would have been crushed here and in Toronto and the Province would have had precedents to use against their union.

And to those who still do not believe me that governments are using the economic slowdown to destroy their unions, read this:

  • "Ontario out to make workers scapegoats for deficit

    OPSEU president prepares members to fight unpaid days off and massive privatization in wake of $24.7 billion deficit announcement.

    Toronto (27 Oct. 2009) - The Ontario government is planning to make public employees scapegoats for the province's massive $24.7 billion deficit, warns the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE).

    "The wounded global economy (has come) home to roost at Queen’s Park," says OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas. "It’s a big number. It has big consequences for every OPSEU member.... The Liberals plan to make us pay."

    As well, privatization is now "a spectre" than hangs over every public service worker," Thomas adds.

    Finance Minister Dwight Duncan served notice of a 'sweeping review' of government spending when he announced the deficit number and Premier Dalton McGuinty has said there may be a return to unpaid days off for public workers - not seen since the early 1990s.

    Thomas says the deficit is clearly big - about $1,900 for every person living in Ontario - but the question that must be faced is, "Who is going to pay?"

    "Dwight Duncan won’t have much luck looking for waste in public services (except, of course, for the hundreds of millions he’s throwing away on private consultants)," Thomas said.

    "We already had a 'sweeping review' from 1995 to 2003. It was called the Common Sense Revolution and public services still haven’t recovered from the brutal trauma of those years," he noted.

    "As far as unpaid days off, a lot of us remember Bob Rae’s 'Social Contract' all too well. But much has changed since the Rae days."

    Thomas says the Ontario government of today cannot simply legislate workers to take unpaid days off because of a Supreme Court rulings in recent years affecting legal collective agreements and collective bargaining rights.

    This leaves the province with two options, he added, privatization and mass layoffs.

    "Privatization is a stupid idea. It cuts services, it destroys jobs and it usually comes with major cost overruns," he argued.

    "And from a budget standpoint, selling off assets like the LCBO – which right-wingers are already barking for – would kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

    "As for more layoffs, they can only weaken local economies, destroy the services people need and generate headlines the Liberals really don’t want to see.

    "So what’s their plan?" Thomas asks.

    "My guess is, they think that just the threat of layoffs and privatization will force public employees to agree to the wage cuts or 'Dalton Days' he wants. In other words, it’s a New Social Contract," he adds."


Nice reprint of the photo the Star ran with their online story "Windsor ratepayers to get their rebate — $72 — just in time for Christmas."

It was the file photo of

  • "a striking CUPE member stands in front of a man who was cutting grass June 11, 2009 at a Forest Glade Park baseball field. Words were exchanged between the two men and Windsor Police eventually arrived to defuse the situation."

Another reason I am glad my subscription was cancelled.


  • "Francis said council owed the money to ratepayers now, in part to counter the striking union's arguments the city was benefiting from a long strike in order to balance its budget.

    "It's ridiculous to think any municipality would enter a strike to balance its budget," said Francis.

Here's my problem. According to the numbers, the City saved about $20M during the strike resulting in each of us getting about $72. But back on April 28 when the strike first started, we saw:

  • "City to rebate strike savings; Each household to get cash back, says mayor

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

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

    It's been estimated the city is saving about $300,000 per day on payroll costs during the strike by 1,800 inside and outside workers that started just under two weeks ago."

On July 4, we read the same number

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

    gross wage savings, which the city has calculated at $300,000 per day..."

On July 30, we read this:

  • "Coun. Percy Hatfield said he expects that once final costs for overtime, security and contracting services are tallied and revenues lost during the work stoppage are deducted, there won't be much left even though the city saved about $30 million in employee salaries.

    "The rebate cheque is a commitment," Hatfield said. "But I wouldn't expect more than $50. People should not be counting on hundreds of dollars."

    Treasurer Onorio Colucci said city administrators have not yet finalized figures related to the strike and it will take time to do so.

    Rough numbers show the city saved $300,000 per day -- or about $30 million -- on payroll during the strike, he said."

Then on October 3, we read

  • "City's net strike savings $5.5M

    Windsor saved close to $20 million during the 101-day strike, but only about a quarter of that will be returned to ratepayers after calculating for lost revenues and extra costs such as overtime and security, according to a staff report to be discussed by council Monday night."

Wait a minute....there is $10M missing here. Is the City's Finance Department that incompetent to make a $10M mistake?

Back again on April 28, the Mayor said:

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

Where is that independent and side account? Hiding with the Integrity Commissioner's "leak Report?"

Where did that $10m go? Surely the $30M number was not inflated to make people even more furious at CUPE. We need an explanation and quickly.

If Finance can make that big of an error, we had better get an audit done of the City books and records immediately!

After all, no municipality would enter a strike to balance its budget!


Here we go again:

The Real Estate Investment Network’s (REIN™) release of Top Ontario Investment Towns analyzes the current and future prospects for real estate investment opportunities in Ontario. The 108 page report states that recent market correction provides buying opportunities for home owners and investors; however, only in select regions of the province

The Top Ontario Investment Towns report list:
1) Technology Triangle:Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge
2) Hamilton
3) Simcoe Shores:Barrie- Orillia
4) Brampton
5) Durham Region – Whitby, Pickering, and Ajax
6) Ottawa
7) Brantford
8) Toronto
9) Vaughan
10) Whitchurch-Stouffville

Take a look at the comment about Hamilton. While Edgar discusses mind's eye visions, they create!
  • "Breaking through its past, Hamilton jumps up with a bright future

    Hamilton is poised to outperform most the province as it breaks through its past reputation and grabs a hold of the future.The continuing diversification of the City’s economy coupled with the increase in accessibility provided by the transportation improvements provides a strong economic base from which to work. Hamilton’s economy, in just a few short years will be unrecognizable when compared to the past decades. This renewal will help drive demand for real estate (rentals as well as ownership) in the City, especially in older neighbourhoods going through transition.

If this is not the best reason for someone else to be in charge of this City, then nothing is! We have the best transportation location in the Province and Edgar is still fighting over nothing.

It just makes me sick at what we have lost while Edgar has been Mayor and with two weak, do nothing Councils!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Even More Tales

Stories that you may have missed


I loved this quote concerning the lawsuit over releasing an Ambassador Bridge report:
  • "It’s a two-year-old report and has very little value to anyone except a terrorist,” Phil Frame, a spokesman for Moroun."

Of course the concern is real. How do I know--the actions of the Chair of the Windsor Tunnel Commission and our Mayor demonstrate it to the nth degree:

  • "Windsor mayor orders tunnel blueprints removed from library

    WINDSOR -- Alarmed by the international security gap on the Canadian side of the border, Mayor Eddie Francis has ordered the removal of blueprints and other structural documents of the Detroit- Windsor tunnel from the Windsor library...

    Francis, citing two sections of the Ontario Municipal Act which give him such authority, ordered library director Steve Salmons on Aug. 4 to remove the tunnel documents, which included detailed blueprints, from library archives and put them under lock and key. The Canadian side of the tube is owned by the city.

    "If you're a terrorist and you want to plan something, you can click a button," Francis said. He said he also urged the Detroit and Canada Tunnel Corporation, which manages the entire tunnel for Windsor and its Australian-based management company, to remove all information relating to tunnel infrastructure from its public Web site.

    Francis said he came to the realization that publicly available tunnel plans should be locked away after someone -- he wouldn't say who -- telephoned him last week. Even in the aftermath of 9/11, the plans had remained in the public domain.

    "You never want to be in a position where somebody could say, 'You knew, you ought to have known and you didn't do something,' " Francis said of his decision.

    DCTC manager Neal Belitsky confirmed the tunnel Web site was cleared of such information. And Conrad Welsing, a spokesman for the Detroit Public Library system, said there are no tunnel or Ambassador Bridge blueprints available in that system.

    The Ambassador Bridge Web site contains no detailed structural information, other than general dimensions of the privately owned structure.

    While insisting he is not trying to create fear, Francis said border security is a major concern for emergency planners."


Canada likes to complain about American rules and procedures that cause the border to thicken to our detriment. Has anyone considered that poor staffing of Customs booths by CBSA may be a bigger problem?

Here is an interesting Letter to the Editor in the Star. Of course the headline is wrong. There are enough booths there:

  • "More booths needed at border

    The last two Sunday afternoons have been a source of contention for anyone wanting to come to Canada via the bridge. Visitors are asking themselves if the long lineups and half-hour to 45-minute wait is worth it, leading them and their money to shop and play in the U.S.

    The crossing at the Ambassador Bridge on Sunday, Oct. 4 at 3:30 p.m. had only three booths open. Traffic was backed up on the bridge itself a fair distance from the apron. When a call was placed to the customs office asking why so few booths were open, the caller was told the officers were doing their jobs even though that was never in question. When pressed further about the numbers the answer was, we have enough booths open...

    When all levels of government are spending unprecedented sums of money to shore up the economy and create jobs, this is not the time to give visitors another reason to not cross the border. I'm positive the casino, restaurants, retailers and others would welcome these people with open arms. It's hard to understand why the government gives with one hand only to take away with the other. I guess one should not be surprised, after all, it is the government. Happy recession, everyone."

What the writer did not consider was that this also penalizes Canadians who dare spend money in the US and bring back goods they bought there.

I can hardly wait for the Americans to retaliate so that we may blame them again.


If he ever gets tired of working in the world of high finance at OMERS, perhaps he could partner with say, Richard Simmons and do an exercising/finance video called "Sweatin' Investments to the Oldies."

I am being quite serious. I saw this about a former Borealis executive

  • "The Magic touch

    The long, blonde hair, swooping Hoffmanesque forelock and luxurious layers partly reflect Hudson's most recent role as the head of Hair Club for Men. Then there's the suit that hangs just a bit loose on Hudson after taking charge at Herbal Magic, a leading chain of Canadian weight loss clinics, last February...

    All befitting Hudson's latest incarnation as a health and beauty entrepreneur.

    It seems like a stretch from the previously buttoned-down looking accountant (short brown hair, conservative wire-rimmed glasses), an image that fit his previous role as founder of Newcourt Credit Group...

    Hudson was then briefly involved in a strategic alliance with Borealis Capital Corp., a controversial vehicle created by the Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System to invest in private-public infrastructure projects. It was later dismantled."

It's a good combo:

  • "He and his business partner at Toronto-based EdgeStone Capital sold Hair Club to Regis Corp., the world's biggest hair salon company, for $210 million – about nine times what they paid for it four years earlier."


Great news eh? Manufacturing will go down the drain as tourists continue to stay away in droves. DRIC project anyone? Here is a story from CTV news:

  • "Canadian dollar approaching parity with U.S. dollar

    "Indeed that economic data has been sufficiently strong I think as to persuade some players in the market that perhaps there's a risk the Bank of Canada could hike rates sooner rather than later. And of course that's always a positive thing for a currency, as well."

    The loonie has also soared because of a heightened demand for commodities in the global market, and the demand for commodities has gone up because the U.S. dollar took a nosedive, according to BNN's Michael Kane.

    "It has a slingshot affect because commodities are priced in U.S. dollars," Kane told News Channel. "So when the U.S. dollar goes down against other currencies, it makes gold and oil, platinum and copper relatively more attractive to non-U.S. investors, so that has the effect of people coming in and buying up gold and having the effect of driving prices of gold higher."

    While a weak U.S. dollar may give Canadians more purchasing power, it will also cause serious financial struggles for the manufacturing industry, Kane said...

    "If the normal value of the Canadian dollar is at par, then the manufacturing industry in Canada which sells into an international market will have to take it very, very seriously because what it means is that other countries can supply manufacturing goods perhaps at a cheaper rate."


My sources were correct when I was told that the numbers are being worked for this. As the Star reported:

  • "Waste agency presses city for $1.3M

    With a big deficit projected for its next budget, the Essex-Windsor Solid Waste Authority has agreed to get a legal opinion about whether the City of Windsor can be pressed to pay about $1.3 million in garbage dumping losses due to its municipal workers' strike...

    Another potentially divisive issue is whether the authority will continue to supply the trucks used by the city for its recycling pickup.

    Leamington Deputy Mayor Rob Schmidt said the authority's trucks once used for county recycling were sold to the private operator doing the work.

    Whether the city continues to use its own workers for recycling pickups or contracts out, the authority shouldn't supply the trucks, Schmidt argued."

Expect the Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget to jump on this.


Is it true that Joe Levack left because of a disagreement over spending between $10-20M on a new SAP software system after Enwin had spent millions on a PeopleSoft system?

I wonder what it will cost Enwin in severance payments considering that Edgar (aka Eddie) claimed the CAO could get up to 2 years with his seniority and position? How many hundreds of thousands of dollars will that be?

Just curious, how much have the Directors of Enwin and associated companies received in Board fees this year and last year?


Strong rumours that he may have a new job soon.


Diane Bertolin from City Hall wrote a book called "Soul Robber."

I thought it might have been a book about working as a manager at City Hall under this regime.

It is classified as a "recovery" book. I heard it was a book about a "a woman and her childhood demons." Apparently it is a very good read.

However, if sales are slow, Diane might want to check the website where it looks like the price is set at $76!

The Postman Rings Once

Doing some catch-up mail. More letters from readers:

1) [Re: Mini-Gord Makes It All Better] Very well done

2) I started reading your Blog during the strike and have continued ever since. This is my second email to you, the last being to tell you there was lots of overtime going on. I can tell you it continues for CUPE employees except garbage collection...

Interesting to see Tim Berthiume has won his law suit on this issue...

There were others [who left] not named by the Star. I can think of many others not named that were terminated or left over the last few years. Mini-Gord is wrong. The numbers are significant. If you had a different opinion, you were out.

3) Dear Ed,
A great read! Thank you for starting my day off so beautifully.
Have a wonderful day.

4) i loved the fact that Dennis Perlin spoke to the star! He was the most jovial friendly man to the front line workers! John S was so kind and i know he felt for us during the strike! After our return i saw John and he said hi and asked how i was and i shook my head and looked away. He knew i was bitter. He came up to me and said welcome back. You were all missed. i thanked him. He truly sounded sincere and i could see the concern. When we see Eddie around he looks away.

Rumour is that [Name of person] is next to go and has hired a lawyer...

Morale is low in workplace. Union solidarity is still there and strong!

5) I read with great interest your article about Mayor Francis being at the Lebanese Embassy in Ottawa during the strike and my mouth hit the floor!

I live near the Lebanese Embassy! If only I would have known I could have organized a greeting!

6) Wow! You are incredible! You certainly know how to tie it all together Ed!

Why wouldn't the sitting CAO be at AMO?

7) Interesting blog. Found this.........In Toronto, that act of giving the
Key of the City is symbolic, since the city has no gates to unlock.
Today, the presentation honours outstanding civic contributions of the
recipients. Historically, it is at the discretion of the mayor to
determine who receives a Key to the City.

so why a key to the outgoing lebanese Ambassador? Wonder how many times he has
actually visited Wiindsor?? And if one would suggest the key was given as there is a great amount of Lebanese living in Windsor - then ask why is a Consulate not here and not just Montreal, Halifax and Toronto? Hey I wonder if they gave the ambassador a key too??

8) Nice Catch Blogmeister! I often wondered if Edgar was having grand visions of Dubai's Cargo Village. This proves it. His fascination with onions and vegetables also brought visions of exotic fruits and veggies showing up at local markets everywhere.

9) I have just discovered your site while doing a little research on local politics. It has definately caught my eye as a bit of a rabble rouser myself.

If what i gleamed from your site is correct......that Eddie is being wooed by the Cons to run against Brian or quite amusing. I have worked on his campaigns in the past as I thought he was the best option for Mayor at the time, however after this whole fiasco i am regretting it!! I was so disgusted in fact that it greatly contributed to my decision to move out [of Windsor]

The strike was bad enough, the shananigans that went on were disgusting. But what really blew my mind was this whole underhanded deal with Watson, Baird, and Francis. I absolutely cannot believe that Francis was meeting with and doing deals with the cons (who don't even represent Windsor) that OUR elected council members were not privvy to!!! What the hell is that about!!

I'm sorry but as a voter I felt totally betrayed as a supporter I felt betrayed, as a resident I felt betrayed. What the hell do we need a new ditch for???...we can't even fill the marina we already have, what makes them think this ditch would bring in the money???? When I found out that Watson was involved in this I decided enough is enough, then that Baird......I'm outta here!! Can't take it any more. I only hope the municipal politicians out here are a little more forthright than some of the clowns on the Windsor council.

I hope Eddie does run against Brian or Joe, he's cocky enough to think he'd win... then he'll be soundly thumped by two MP's who actually care about this city, and fight FOR this city, and Eddy will be standing in line with the rest of us looking for a new job!!!

Yikes, what a mess, anyways your blog is very thought provoking, and I plan to be checking it out fairly often. As for the Windsor Star......they've forgotten the journalism is supposed to report FACTS not opinions

10) well, Ed, to be FAIR...Ms Nazzani DID discover the old compass design in the old terazzo floors and insisted that it be shined up and prominently displayed...
that's a step ... er.. forward... um... not really...

11) [Re Megaprojects] Ed - THANK YOU for the link - logic so clear and simple that even a humble CUPE member can completely understand....

but what fun is there in truth when some are so EXPERT in the lie?

Can you imagine a world where people understood that the worst truth is better than the best lie?

And conducted themselves accordingly?

And were rewarded for accuracy, and penalized for 'optimistic bias'?

Ah, makes me nostalgic for the 60s/70s, dreaming the dream of truth and transparency...

I hope EVERYONE reads this document - thanks again!

12) you just re-enforce the need for another newspaper to give us both sides of a story and todays blog even more so.

13) I just found the e-mail I sent to you in your blog today [Re the ex-CAO] and it has just made me realize that you print both sides, something the STARE won't do. You could just as easily have hit delete, instead you chose to print it.

14) I like your updated profile pic. Your writing is as provocative as ever

[NOTE: About time someone noticed!!]

15) [RE Dunbar audit]This whole situation is going to blow like a mountain top!!

after reading Saturdays newspaper which surprised a lot of people where is the Star going with this.

All the managers are afraid of their jobs and I would not be wrong in saying a lot of them have there resumes or will have them out very soon. Edgar is going to fire a few more, just wait and see. This is not good for the City at all.

Do we have a leader out there? The current bunch at City Hall are a total joke.

16) Wow the star must have me on some sort of black list...I responded to the article about the cities managment leaving/fired/quiting and they didn't post my wasn't even that bad...I think....I just said that if the star wrote more articles like this one (facts and not opinion), I might consider renewing my subscription. lol, I guess I won't be renewing then...

17) Dwight took a couple of hits relating to money spent in or near his riding in question period yesterday. I think the ‘optics’ of any extra money to Greenlink-ify the WE Parkway may hurt Spanky’s future ambitions. He may be forced to tell Edward that there is no more money.

18) Ed, will you please do us all a favour and contact Mike Dunbar for a one on one. That scoop would make you a Super SUPER Hero and Lord knows this city needs one.

19) Still reading your blog....great stuff. Every week or so you strengthen my resolve about the innaccurate, weak and dirty reporting done by the star. Everytime i read responses on their website I think of all the people who have been swayed by their propaganda.

20) [Re 400 audit] This is so reminiscent of the Canderel fiasco. Back in its planning stages, it had been proposed as a 32 storey building. [My view was] that if it reached 20 storeys the City would be lucky... CoW never fails to impress in its ineptitude. I still get a chuckle about the $20 million arena and what it ended up costing. Was it built where the NASCAR track was supposed to go?

21) I have to laugh at Kenny Lewenza's statement that his motion is coincidental to his proclamation that he is seeking re-election. If so he could have brought up either months ago.

If this city wasn't so sad it would be laughable. Unfortunately it is that sad.

22) As you are a lawyer, you know better than I, but, it seems to me as ,a former auditor, that the section of the OMA quoted is intended to ensure confidentiality is maintained by the Auditor General and every person UNDER their instructions i.e. subordinates. Much the same as third party auditors are obligated not to disclose any information they learn during an audit except under subpoena. The City is not under the instructions of the Auditor General and likely could choose to release the report. The comments attributed to Zalev and Marra are telling though, concern for lawsuits etc.

23) whatta ginormous error in judgment HE turned out to be (I made the same incorrect assumption you did, first time around)...

Just imagine what the city would be like if every problem that arose was dealt with by those 'in charge' telling you 'then DON'T GO THERE..."

oh, wait... YEAH, it would be JUST LIKE the corner of Wyandotte and Pelissier...

and I completely agree with you re the 'incredulous' tone of the Star, "gee, why are they mad at Edgar?"

but frankly, there's just less and less for even the most ardent bootlicker, I mean 'mainstream journalist", to whip up a cheer over.

and PLEASE go after the non-release of the Dunbar audit report... it took HOW MANY YEARS, and an out-of-town lawyer to explain that it would be "against the LAW"
to release the document???? (geez, if Councillor Valentinis insisted on viewing sample boards of tiles, grout colours, etc, and to be the one to choose the colour scheme for the washrooms... wonder what ELSE might come out??)

The boys and girls at the Legal Department must enjoy not having to do anything more than sign off on official documents....

and just a thought about our dear departed Scooby...can we say "constructive dismissal"? I think we CAN....

but my days of having access to proof of wrongdoing are long past....

A tongue in one's head, understanding of right versus wrong, foresight, all these things are FATAL afflictions for city staff....

nervously waiting for what's to come, and praying to the OMERS gods for an early retirement offer....

24) [After receiving a "nothing" reply from her MP] I officially hate ALL politicians.

25) The old CAO gets a cheque to leave, a new CAO is simply appointed, a suddenly redundant Department Manager is escorted off the property and rubber stamp Council Members employ election year double talk. How is that for transparent democracy in Windsor?

Keep up the good work.

26) Looks like Dwight Duncan is going to pay off the deficit in one fell swoop.
If Ontario sues for the full $50 billion dollar deficit...........

27) Hi Ed, How are you? I would like to comment on you story Informed Consent. Not only did you hit the nail on the Head
about the contract, you might have raised alot of questions to some of the "other" issues that also plague this city.
I really enjoyed the truth and your style. Great Story.

28) [Re: Termination/Resignation/Payment and Democracy] Great blog!

29) we (the employees) knew he was not going to stay. He was stripped of all of
his authority during the strike. He has way too much to offer to be a
puppet... come on John talk...

So it goes. come on election

30) (Re Small airports) Well written article. It IS obvious. If I can get it, it must be obvious. I despise politics, but now I get both a good daily chuckle and an education, thanks to you!

It's too bad, really. I think it is a great idea, take an existing resource (as opposed to taking on new and expensive ideas) and making money off of its revenue. IF it's feasible, that is. Do they actually believe that cargo will just 'fly' over the border??? Security is tighter than ever; how on earth could anyone assume that Windsor would be exempt from the application of current security measures. As usual, the mayor and council are chasing dreams with no basis in reality.

I think it's time for Windsorites to send in ideas for improving the economy, (like a contest). It'd be a fun read, and maybe the ideas can be forwarded to council. God knows, they can't seem to think of them on their own. And since 'arrogance has no bounds', they'd probably reject the ideas anyway..especially if it wouldn't cost much.

31) [Re If You Cannot Silence 'Em, Hire 'Em] Hilarious... It WOULD be cool though, to have Chris in the Legal department and you are elected as Mayor! And you will be known as 'Ed', not Edgar nor Eddie. Hopefully, Gord won't pick on you nor the public for using your first name. If necessary, we can call you Honest Ed!

I'd look forward to reading our Newsletters!

32) Yes, you are quite right about the mistakes made in marriage license applications during the strike. So far, [almost a dozen] errors found,

[In one case] Whether or not those two individuals are legally married is another question. I wonder if they could sue the City, and be reimbursed for the total cost of their wedding and honeymoon? They could thank Edgar for that one!

33) I've enjoyed your articles for months now on the strike issues and wanted to meet you in person..

I was very busy during the strike keeping peace,order and boosting spirits of ever changing picket line conditions.I share alot of your opinions along with other local 82 members.I am not part of the executive board or any active role other than a regular member for [X] years.

I can't imagine what has happened at city hall and gone unnoticed by the general public.I know there are different values in play for people today since I was a wee lad,but my god.

The mayor seems to have a win win plan before he executes his ideas.I think we have beat him at his own game accidentally, simply by doing very little or nothing to rebute his moves.He and other councilors are now over confident and will crush the work force in time unless something is done now.

34) [Re TV show] Was great! Loved it! Big hit at work!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Regular Blogging Returns Soon

My daughter's operation was a success! She is a real champion.

Thanks to her doctors and Hotel Dieu staff who treated her in a very caring and professional manner.

Thanks to my readers for their good wishes and prayers!

Competition For CKLW Finally

Time to shake up the comfortable local, traditional media.

Melanie is back too!

And if you do not think I am serious about an online newspaper to compete against the Star...