Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Capitol Theatre Is Doomed; Long Live The Armouries

Who needs an absurd mind's eye canal vision when you can have this vision instead.

It's New Year's eve. Out with the old, in with the new.

Remember this quote:
  • "The city and a bankruptcy trustee are embroiled in a protracted legal fight that has left artists and community theatre groups wondering whether the city wants the theatre to close so Caesars Windsor faces no downtown competition. Last week, Mayor Eddie Francis said the landmark might not even remain a theatre.

    "I'm concerned for the future of the Capitol in light of Mayor Francis' comments when he seemed to express the sentiment that the Capitol's days might be numbered," said Ward 3 Coun. Alan Halberstadt, who attended the rally.

    "He hasn't spoken to council as a body about that, so I don't know where he's getting that from."

In early December, Edgar (aka Eddie) informed us that that Council would bring an application to have the Bankruptcy Trustee's appeal respecting the Capitol ownership dismissed so the City would finally control the Capitol. After all, $1.8M of taxpayer dollars has to be protected.

And if the only way to salvage that money is to savage the Capitol by selling it, say for a parking lot, and having it torn down, so be it.

After my BLOG "Chuck Mady Must Sue," I got quite a reaction. I am interested to see that EllisDon might sue now too so Mady could just go along for the ride and not be the Number 1 Bad Guy.

However, right after the BLOG was posted, a loyal reader called me and asked if I heard the rumour about the University considering moving part of the campus to the Palace area downtown and being involved with the Armouries. The Palace interestingly enough is owned by Mady and he does have plans for expansion that could encompass the Armouries as I had Blogged before "SHOULD MAESTROS BE SEEN AND NOT HEARD," and "MASSIVE DOWNTOWN REDEVELOPMENT."

Naturally, I followed up and two good sources told me that they had heard of such discussions but a third who really ought to know said:

  • "No one told me!"

I just figured he was being coy. He was not going to be accused of being a Leakor.

However, I came up with a great scheme to help me in my Mayoral campaign if I decided to run. Moreover, Chuck Mady can pay me big bucks as a fee for giving him the idea and helping him to carry it out.

I have to tell you about it right now since it does involve re-invigorating the downtown and turning it into an educational and cultural wonderland that will attract the young entrepreneurs here in droves. After all, I have to tell you about it quickly so I get the praise since we know that:

  1. --"Windsor's battered downtown is getting a much-needed vote of confidence from larger-than-life London developer Shmuel Farhi, who has been opening his wallet to scoop up properties here and hopes to make an announcement in February of his plans for the core area."
  2. --"As mayor of Canada’s unemployment capital, Francis is itching to announce early in the new year success on three “files” the city has been pursuing, each involving non-government investments with the potential to inject large numbers of new jobs into Windsor.

    He said the projects would help diversify Windsor’s economy"
  3. --The new CEO of the Undevelopment Commission starts in February and you know there will be a contest between him and Edgar to announce who brings in the first new jobs since they are both superstars. Edgar has to ry and scoop him via the Star as was done inititially with the Sutherland call centre until Sandra's role was revealed.

Now I figured that the Capitol could still go to St. Clair since they got the Salvation Army building or if money was needed, it could be sold to Mr. Farhi and he could threaten to tear it down and turn it into a parking lot.

Who cares if it is part of our past history. Heritage, shmeritage.

He got control of the Capitol Theatre in London and I thought he tore down most of it. Its facade was "saved" as the building was leased to the City of London for 20 years as offices for the Planning Dept. Why not do the same here?

  • "Restoration a Capitol idea
    The Capitol Theatre and the Bowles building have been beautifully restored

    The Capitol Theatre and Bowles building, once thought to be too derelict to restore, have made majestic comebacks on London's Dundas Street, breathing new life into a block of core buildings between Clarence and Richmond streets that badly need a new draw.

    Their comeback -- with their inviting grey limestone and large windows -- is owed in large part to London developer Shmuel Farhi and the City of London who came together with an idea that would save the buildings.

    The $4-million development will soon house the city's planning department in 2010 in its open, airy spaces.

    Farhi is excited about the results and admitted while the cost was high, it was a great investment in "giving back to the community" and "bringing more people to Dundas Street..."

    The Capitol was built in 1920 and was known as the Allen. It had a long lobby with mirrored walls that led to a large theatre. But after the years of neglect, it became a Dundas Street eyesore with a sign on its marquee that said R.I.P.

    The movie theatre was demolished to make way for parking and Farhi, after he bought the property in 2006, initially planned to raze the whole thing.

    The Bowles building was added in 1928, and was a restaurant and a jewelry store.

    In 2008, an architect determined the facade was worth saving after the large sign out front was removed to reveal the ornate stonework. City council later agreed to enter a 20-year lease with Farhi for civic offices."

If Chuck will only listen to me, he now has terrific leverage over the City. He better sue so that Edgar will beg the Feds and Province for big bucks to help him out of a big jam and arrive at a settlement with Chuck.

There would be terrific outrage if the Capitol would be lost so a mind's eye vision is needed immediately as a replacement. We need to pretend again with another vision for the revitalization of downtown. What could be better than turning the Armouries into a symphomy hall for the WSO and turning the Palace into a music school for the University! Heck, Mr. Farhi could even contribute $25,000 for a feasibility study.

With the Capitol gone so that it cannot provide any competition to the Casino or any other site, this concept would shut everyone up until the idea died after the election!

You see what I mean. I need this for my campaign before Edgar grabs it for one of his big announcement for re-election purposes

Think I am fooling. The Star reported

  • "In January, the city will take delivery of a new cultural master plan which some hope will drive the community to a new era of pride and prosperity.

    The study, the first of its kind in more than two decades, follows years of foot-dragging from decision-makers, pie-in-the-sky schemes and infighting which have strangled the city's potential for growth.

    At least that's how Mayor Eddie Francis sees it.

    "Trying to find common ground between the city's arts groups has been frustrating, to say the least," said Francis, who is banking on the master plan to turn the tide in the arts community.

    "I made a point of sitting down with many arts groups after getting elected," Francis said. "I basically begged them to come together to work in a collaborative and co-ordinated way. But I had very little success."

So if they cannot work together, then there is little opposition to what Edgar can propose. You know what artists are like anyway. Since he needs $1.8 M, he can scrap the Capitol.

Does that explain why Edgar (aka Eddie) has little interest in the Capitol.

  • "While specific details in the report won't be made public until city council reviews it, probably in January, people like the mayor are lining up with their wish lists of what it may contain.

    "I would hope," Francis said, "it provides a very clear, cogent, strategic plan with significant deliverables that at the end of the day add to the quality of life for the residents."

    In a difficult economy, a cultural master plan, said Francis, is as crucial to the lifeblood of a community as an economic development strategy.

    "We know that jobs follow people. And people will be drawn to a community where there is a variety of opportunities and amenities. Culture and the arts are significant in enriching a community and defining its sense of place."

Wow, what an election platform plank that I can "borrow" from him!

And the WSO Needs report re the Armouries spelled it out perfectly too so I can already discuss how to pretend to carry it out in great detail and with little real thought:

  • "The local market lacked a space well suited for unamplified music. Relative to comparable communities there was a lack of large and mid-size spaces for use by the University

    "Webb Management Services concluded that user demand for a new concert venue was not sufficient to justify renovation of the Windsor Armouries for one user, specifically the Windsor Symphony Orchestra. The Symphony’s programming would utilize performance space less than a quarter of the year. There was some demand from arts groups for performance space. However, this demand existed primarily for a venue with less than 1,000 seats. Additional external demand was also difficult to predict, as many arts groups cited interest in using a reopened Capitol Theatre...

    To that end, there is potential for the Armouries to be transformed into a performance venue, if steps are taken to bring on additional project partners. Key uses and users that might play a critical role in the makeover of the Windsor Armouries were identified by interviews, an examination of relevant trends across North America, and the needs of the Windsor Symphony Orchestra.

    There is great potential for school districts to become engaged as partners in the project. However, interviews with staff and leadership from both school districts indicate declining enrollment, a lack of financial resources, and adequate arts facilities, leading to little interest in this project. But there remains a tremendous opportunity to create a venue that serves Essex schools and music organizations as a home for the teaching and performance of music, starting with the expansion of the Symphony’s very successful education programs.

    Similarly, the Windsor Armouries also represents a tremendous opportunity to collaborate with the University of Windsor. Initial University feedback regarding the Windsor Armouries concept suggested that facilities are too large and far from campus. However, new education and performance facilities at the Windsor Armouries could provide the University with a satellite urban campus and raise the profile of the Music Department while leveraging the University’s teaching and student resources. More recent discussions between University leadership and the Windsor Symphony suggest that prospects for this partnership might be improving...

    The other interesting feature of the chart is all of these of these markets have major universities. Yet it is only the University of Windsor that lacks a large or even mid-size hall for the performing arts. The proposed Niagara Centre for the Arts is a downtown development partnership between the City of St. Catharines and Brock University...

    The Windsor Armouries also represents a tremendous opportunity to partner with the University of Windsor. Tentative University feedback regarding the Windsor Armouries concept maintains that facilities are too large and far from campus. However, the University leadership transition might alter current initiatives and long-term plans. New facilities such as the Windsor Armouries could provide the University with a satellite urban campus and raise the profile of the Music Department while leveraging the University’s teaching and student resources. Appended to this report are examples of partnerships between Universities and professional Symphonies including the Dalhousie Arts Centre at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the University Centre at the University of Victoria in Victoria, British Columbia...

    Our greatest challenge through this study has been the status of other key facilities. The Capitol Theatre is closed and Chrysler Hall has been in a state of flux with staff and policy changes. Both of these buildings must find their way, determining what programs make sense, how and by whom they should be operated and how then they can be financially sustained. Until that happens, it is difficult to make the case to add the Windsor Armouries into the mix...

    Anecdotal information obtained from interviews indicates that many local arts organizations are unsatisfied with the management and expense of renting existing facilities. The bankruptcy of the Capitol Theatre affected several local arts groups, forcing the cancellation of shows and a loss of revenue. The Capitol’s booking policy is limiting, and requires users to have a backup venue in case facilities become unavailable...

    Local facilities are limiting to Windsor-Essex arts groups. Most importantly, none of Windsor’s largescale performance venues are appropriate for unamplified live music. There is presently a need for affordable, flexible, community oriented performing arts facilities. This conclusion is somewhat influenced by the current situation at the Capitol Theatre."

So Chuck just listen to me. You have the City right where you want them as the low bidder on the 400 Building who was royally screwed as the Audit Report points out. Sue and Edgar will settle and take the Palace building off of your hands and force the University there. They owe it to him after the Engineering Building fiasco. It will all work out perfectly. I can get a big fee and take all of the credit for the concept too in my election campaign.

I suspect that John Morris Russell, conductor of the WSO, suspected this all along. He had it all figured out in advance like a master chess player. [BLOG: April 14, 2009 "New Concert Hall Or Else"]. He is the Maestro after all.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

BLOGExclusive: BLOGMEISTER Reconsiders Running For Mayor

I know, I know, I know.

So what if I am available now on short notice to deliver a speech to community groups on local politics. As the BLOGMeister of course.

I absolutely, positively promised never ever to run for municipal political office in Windsor. My family would commit me if I dared do so.

However, if Edgar (aka Eddie) can consider breaking his solemn oath of not running for more than two terms thereby becoming a typical politician, then why can’t I change my mind also?

Honest, I have had lots of phone calls over the last few days begging me to run for Mayor. The A.B.E. movement is looking for a person around whom they can form a coalition. No, no, no… not that ABE as in Taqtaq, Edgar’s former campaign manager whose family runs the Duty Free shop at the City-owned Tunnel and leases space to the Mayor’s spouse, but that A.B.E. as in: Anybody But Edgar.

Look, it is not that hard a job. I have been telling people that I believe that I could solve most of Windsor’s problems within a month or two after taking office. It is only a town of 200,000 people for heaven’s sake. What would I do for the rest of the four-year term?

The Eminence Greasie has obviously been pretty active over the past few months getting the E-Machine up to speed. How else to explain the Henderson column begging Edgar to break his promise and to save us with a third term with him as Mayor. And then the Star story “Do you think Francis should break an earlier promise not to run for a third term?”

If that is not a pollster’s question, then I do not know what is!

Obviously, if I’m going to run, I have to announce early in the new year to scare off any other possible competitors so that it would be to a 2 person race between Edgar and myself.

As for the Windsor Star, I know how to handle them. The first time they do not interview me or attend one of my press conferences or speeches, I will merely file a complaint with the Press Council. There is an election precedent against the Star that I can use to ensure that I get fair coverage.

My campaign would be a simple one: CHANGE. My campaign slogan would be something along the line of “Windsorites, can you spare some CHANGE.” All of my billboards and campaign literature would show the equivalent of soup kitchen lineups in front of the unemployment office, or maybe a photo of the empty shops on our main street, to get the message across.

The Star story was nothing more than a trial balloon at no cost to the E-Machine campaign funds since it was to test the strength of the anti-CUPE message as Edgar’s claim to fame. Why else would the comments be put in at the end of the story from the CUPE leaders. Watch out PETU! Mini-Gord told you that you are the new devil.

Why else did the Star publish Giovanni Miceli’s letter? He is the new Jim Wood/Jean Fox.

In reading the Star Forum comments, the vast majority of the people who wrote there were opposed to our Mayor. However, the ones who supported him primarily did so because of his tough stand supposedly against CUPE. I say supposedly because the Star has refused to report the story that Edgar and the hardliners lost during the strike and cost taxpayers much more money than if they had settled earlier all along the lines proposed by the so-called pro–Union Councillors.

I would have to get CUPE onside very quickly to end the Edgar myth so that all Edgar would have to run on would be his failed mind’s eye visions. He is STILL talking about Greenlink even now if you can believe it. I would have to get rid of the notion of the specific so-called win by the “inspired leadership” of our Mayor. I would do so by doing the following:
  • 1. Ensure that CUPE continued on with its bad faith complaint aggressively so that the real story of the strike comes out and so that CUPE members got some of their back-pay. There go those $72 cheques.

    2. Convince CUPE to use some of their wage settlement money to set up a PRB fund for workers to demonstrate that PRB’s could have been achieved for union workers and still have a strike settlement at a much lower cost than Edgar achieved by being so “combative.” Moreover, it would show that there was a way of funding those benefits rather than having an unfunded PRB fund as we have now. That would demonstrate easily that there was no need for a 101-day strike.

I’m not sure however that my family really would be that understanding so I have an alternative Plan “B” in my backpocket.

What I am going to do is start a grass-roots “Draft Brister for Mayor” movement so that he will run for mayor. Gord and Mini-Gord are so supportive and want him to do so. With his ego, and with Edgar not announcing that he is running until late in the day, Brister will have to run if Marra announces since he probably thinks that he could win.

He would be suckered in and could NOT back off and then run as a Councillor. He would look like a fool and coward and would lose. Why else is a supposed WFCU audit being considered, even a limited one on sole sourcing, so that the results come out and crucify Brister right before the election.

In the end, I do not see anyone other than Bill Marra running against Edgar assuming that Edgar is going to run in the first place. I really doubt that Edgar will run because even he understands that no one wants him back as Mayor. Mind you, where can he get a job that pays him so well for doing so little and failing at what he does? I do not know.

I expect Marra to be able to beat Edgar easily even with a third candidate such as Brister running supposedly to split the vote so Edgar can slip in up the middle.

In that way, Windsor is rid of both Edgar and the Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget at one time.

Hmmmm, what a great Plan "B" after all. That is not such a bad outcome either is it. And I don’t have to appear on the rubber chicken circuit.

A Waste Of 7 Years

Seven years. How prophetic:

"And there shall arise after them seven years of famine;
and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt;
and the famine shall consume the land"

It is a disaster of bibilical proportion in the Windsor-Detroit region. How else to describe the lack of action on the border file since December of 2002 when the Joint Management Committee's first report came out. Unfortunately, with Canada's opposition to the Bridge Company and its desire to prevent them moving forward--just get confirmation from Governor Granholm--we should not expect 7 years of abundance to come now with lawsuits flying between the parties.

Look at what we lost: the opportunity for thousands of jobs during the worst economic crisis in this area since the Depression to tide us over as politicians and bureaucrats played their asinine games:
  • "Detroit-Warren-Livonia, Mich., reported the highest unemployment rate in October, 16.7 percent."

  • "Officially, Detroit's unemployment rate is just under 30 percent. But the city's mayor and local leaders are suggesting a far more disturbing figure -- the actual jobless rate, they say, is closer to 50 percent."

  • "Windsor's unemployment rate, still the highest in the country at 13.5 per cent, continued its downward trend in November, falling for the fourth consecutive month, according to figures released this morning by Statistics Canada.

    Since the rate hit a 25-year high of 15.2 per cent in July, it has fallen by 1.7 percentage points in the past four months.

    The drop, however, is largely attributable to a decrease in the labour force, or the number of people actively seeking work, which fell in November by 1,100 people compared to the previous month."

Here is the real tragedy. The border is so fundamental to this region and we are doing nothing to improve it. We are doing nothing to build on our huge advantage: location, location, location.

As reported in Todays Trucking:

  • "DOT report: Ontario trade gateways vital to NAFTA

    WASHINGTON -- Three busy Ontario-U.S. land border crossings rank in the top 10 leading international freight transportation gateways south of the border.

    The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics released "America’s Freight Transportation Gateways 2009," a data profile of the nation’s leading international freight transportation gateways in 2008 and trends in movement of goods through these seaports, airports and land border crossings since 1990.

    U.S. freight gateways handled more than $3.4 trillion (in current dollars) of international merchandise trade in 2008, an increase of 9 percent from 2007. The highlights the top 25 freight gateways, which are led by the Los Angeles seaport.

    The Detroit-Windsor, Ont. border was the busiest land border gateway by value for imports and exports; and the fifth leading gateway when compared with all U.S. land, air, and sea freight gateways."

And all we have received are lies about the need for a DRIC crossing because of traffic doubling that have caused our economic famine. And stalling, inaction and the blocking of a private enterprise solution for political reasons.

Once again, the Star missed the point of the story "Windsor-Detroit border still busiest, most valuable" and failed to enlighten its readers. Oh it did report:

  • "The study found that 1,510,000 trucks entered the U.S. via the Detroit gateway in 2008 — which is actually a decline compared to 2007 figures

However, here are some startling figures and graphs from the US which it did NOT report. Try and justify the need for a DRIC bridge if you can now (Double-click the graph for a better image):



Here is the tragedy for Michigan as the US DOT wrote and for which the only person to be blamed is Governor Granholm for allowing Canada to help ruin her State as she fiddled:

  • "Detroit, Michigan—Land Gateway

    Detroit was the nation's busiest land border gateway by value for imports and exports transported across the border by highways, railroads, and pipelines in 2008. Its land ports were the fifth leading gateway when compared with all U.S. land, air, and sea freight gateways.

    In 2008, merchandise trade passing through Detroit ($120 billion) accounted for 15 percent of the value of U.S. total land trade. These freight shipments accounted for 18 percent of all U.S. land exports and 12 percent of land imports. Detroit was a major gateway for both exports and imports, with outbound shipments accounting for 55 percent of the value of freight handled by its land ports and inbound shipments accounting for 45 percent in 2008 (table 1).

    Trucking was by far the most heavily used mode of transportation for freight passing through Detroit, accounting for 84 percent of the value ($101 billion) of total land trade in 2008, down from 91 percent in 2000. Rail accounted for 15 percent in 2008, up from 9 percent in 2000 (table 2). By weight, trucking also accounted for the largest share of land imports tonnage (see insert table).

    Detroit is an international gateway that serves almost every state. In 2008, about 74 percent of the value of truck freight passing through Detroit originated or terminated outside Michigan. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of imports that passed through Detroit by truck, and 81 percent of truck exports, were to and from other states. The top three states served by Detroit's land transportation facilities were Michigan, Ohio, and California, accounting for 48 percent of the merchandise trade transported through Detroit.

    Thousands of commercial trucks cross daily into the United States from Canada via the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel and the Ambassador Bridge. The tunnel and bridge handled more than 1.5 million incoming truck crossings in 2008, down 15 percent from about 1.8 million crossings in 2007 (figure 1). These trucks carried about 1.5 million containers into the United States from Canada in 2008. By comparison, about 210,000 rail containers from Canada crossed into the United States at Detroit in 2008, continuing a decline that began in 2000.

    The recent national economic downturn, the decline in production by the Big Three automakers (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler), and the overall slowdown in heavy manufacturing activities are likely to continue to influence freight traffic at Detroit's land facilities and in the freight transportation corridors they serve.

Will 2010 finally bring a resolution and allow us to start on the road to recovery? Don't count on it!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Chuck Mady Must Sue

Most smart business people won't do it. And Chuck Mady is smart. Yet, there are millions of dollars of legal damages at stake.

Why waste time and money tied up for years in the court system when you can be out there making money. Paying huge amounts in legal fees and depending on the whim of a particular judge on a particular day is a crap-shoot and not the way to run one's life or business. Yet, there are millions of dollars of legal damages at stake.

As the 400 Audit on the Furniture tenders also said:
  • "One of the practical issues which any bidder must consider before commencing an action for a breach of the “bidding contract” is the cost of bringing an action weighed against the potential for recovery... Pure legal costs apart, a prospective supplier to any large customer does not help its cause by suing its existing or prospective client."

Yet, there are millions of dollars of legal damages at stake.

Oh they are afraid of Chuck. As the Furniture audit said:

  • "The issue is one of risk management. The City will have to assess the likelihood that any of the bidders will take action against the City. If the assessment is that there is no serious chance of a bidder taking action (keeping in mind that only one bidder can recover substantial damages), then the report may be made public, from a purely legal perspective. If the City is concerned that one or more bidders will bring an action against the City, then the City may consider either redactions from the report or preserving the report as an in camera document."

Why else was there so little emphasis on Mady and so much on EllisDon and Vindella. Why do you think the matter was kept out of the public view until so late in 2009. The thought was that the limitation period for an action would have expired by now and preclude a lawsuit.

  • "Correspondence between the City and EllisDon demonstrates that EllisDon was aware of its legal rights. The City is fortunate not to have been sued by EllisDon when it was passed over in favour of Vindella. Such legal proceedings would have imposed significant costs on the City in terms of legal expenses and potential damage claims, not to mention the political and reputational cost to the City. Had EllisDon sued the City (before the limitations period had expired), it is possible that the three Council members on the RFP working committee, who acted without written Council authority in over-riding the staff and assisting Vindella over their objections, may have been named as individual defendants."
  • Unless there is something we do not know, any claim by EllisDon for a breach of the “bidding contract” expired six years after its recognition that it had a claim. At some point prior to October 30th, 2002 – when EllisDon wrote to the then-Mayor – it recognized it had a claim. We believe any claim which EllisDon might be able to make on this RFP is now, in all likelihood, statute barred as being beyond the limitation period.

However, every so often a man must do what a man must do: SUE. When you are screwed not once, but twice, then it become a matter of principle.

In my opinion Chuck must sue.

In my opinion, he has a strong case to make that the limitation period on his claim did not start until the report was made public. In fact, a strong argument can be made that the City deliberately held back the audit to prevent him from knowing the truth until it was too late. Only then would he know how badly he was mistreated.

Just read this from P 108:

  • There was material financial information that appears to have not been reported to Council. Further, it is unclear who in Administration had knowledge of this information. According to project documentation, given fair presentation of financial facts, Mady was the lowest priced proposal at this time. We identified an undated financial document within the Project Management files in which someone in Administration had summarized the following results:

    - “On the RFP assessment matrix, Mady scored second to EllisDon while Mady’s price was lower than all prices. Notwithstanding, Mady’s proposal was not short listed.”
    - “Vindella’s original price per sq. ft. was identified as $182.50. Mady’s was $164.00.” After adjustments: “Vindella’s overall price is $154.00 per sq. ft.” “Now Mady’s price is $157.00 per sq. ft.”
    - “Keep in mind this is for a 10 storey building. If we adjust for the difference in cost between a 4 storey [Vindella] and a 10 storey [Mady] building …makes Mady’s final price $126.00 per sq. ft.
    - Even if this adjustment were not made, Mady’s final price was $157.00 per sq. ft. with a huge score advantage in the assessment matrix over the Vindella proposal which was $154.00 per sq. ft.”
    - If Mady had the opportunity to revise his proposal to a 4 storey building, it is reasonable to assume that his price would have come in much less than the $154.00 per sq. ft. of Vindella. Mady was given no opportunity to submit an additional proposal while Vindella was given that opportunity.”

    As a result of the omission of material financial data, Vindella – not Mady – may have been selected as the winner on price and the proponent to move on in the RFP process to compete in negotiations with EllisDon."

Here though is the real reason Chuck should sue. You probably forgot this. It came from Gord:

  • "Kiss $20M goodbye

    An incensed Chuck Mady, Windsor's most prominent developer, is questioning the wisdom of doing business here following city council's rejection of a proposal he says could have saved taxpayers $20 million.

    Council, at a March 4 in-camera meeting, rejected a Mady Development Corporation offer to sell its 11-storey, 70,000-square-foot headquarters at 500 Ouellette Ave. for less than $8 million. Instead it voted 5-3 to proceed with a new $27-million social services office tower behind City Hall.

    Mady said he was floored to learn council wasn't interested in saving $20 million that could be used for roads and sewers and instead opted to get into the office development game in a city with a 21.5-per-cent office vacancy rate.

    "The thing that bothers me most is that the city is getting into the developer/landlord office building business. If they're in, I want out. Very simply, I want out because I can't compete with the public pocketbook," fumed Mady. He's building a $75-million condo tower in downtown Toronto where he says there's a refreshing, big-city attitude to development.

    "Why wouldn't you want to save $20 million? Boy. That does a lot of roads and sewers in this city," said Mady. "They should not be competing with the private sector. It just sends out a negative message and Windsor doesn't have a good reputation outside our community to begin with."

    Instead of considering the offer, council is charging ahead with plans, first approved in September, to erect a social services Taj Mahal behind City Hall with costly underground parking and Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) as a tenant...

    David Mady, the company's Canadian president, said it's baffling that the city wouldn't investigate further a proposal to save city taxpayers "$20 million which is a good chunk of change" instead of piling up additional debt. "We just thought we had a no-brainer here."

    The younger Mady said the odd thing is that the city, which currently rents three floors of the refurbished Mady building for its social services department, poured about $2 million into renovating and upgrading its space. In addition, through the tunnel commission, it spent $3 million building an adjacent parking structure in partnership with the Mady company. It has a significant financial stake in this location. And yet it's fleeing Windsor's main street to spend big bucks enhancing its city hall square fantasies of grandeur.

    "Is this what they're supposed to be doing? Gutting the downtown core?" wondered the senior Mady...

    Twenty million dollars down the drain. Perhaps a lot more. It could only happen in a city governed by politicians who masquerade as big-shot developers with our tax dollars."

Chuck should sue since there are millions of dollars of legal damages at stake. But let us talk real life. He should sue out of principle and out of spite. It is a way to get his revenge on how he was treated in this case and on others like his garage. He will be able to have certain people under oath to make them squirm as he finds out the truth as they testify.

He deserves to learn the truth. And so do we!

If the Audit Committee will not act, then Chuck should.

Sole Sourcing The Arena And A Public Inquiry (Part 2)

I delivered this comment at a press conference back in October, 2006:
  • "I read the Mayors comments on Saturday about the MFP settlement. He said:

    “Windsor has reached a final settlement with the former MFP, closing the books on one of the Municipality's most shameful chapters…

    "This should be something every Council across this Province and country remembers so they enforce the proper policies and vigilance to ensure this situation never happens again...

    …hopefully this is not one of those situations people ever forget about.

    It reinforces how public institutions have to be very vigilant in ensuring proper safeguards and protocols are there to ensure this never happens."


Add in now the 400 Building and it looks as if we have fallen asleep instead of remaining vigilant. It happened once---shame on them. That it has happened again---shame on us.

What does one say if it happened a third time?

This time around, unlike with the 400 Building audit, if it can be demonstrated that sole sourcing of the arena was in violation of City By-laws, will the Audit Committee and Councillor Halberstadt in particular have the guts to act and to demand that a Public Inquiry be conducted on the $70M plus deal:

  • "Rather than defending his conduct, ex Councillor Carlesimo should be thankful that the audit committee did not recommend to Council a full-blown Public Inquiry. Then he and the other members of the selection committee would have been put under oath and asked what conversations and associations they might have had with local contractor Oscar during the time this sordid mess was unraveling.
The Audit Committee wants to look at sole sourcing since
  • "there is concern over that the city is too often streering around its purchasing bylaw by failing to put projects out to competitive bids."

As I pointed out last time, the relevant sole source provision was introduced into the Purchasing By-law when Edgar (aka Eddie) was Mayor in 2004. And wait until you see the "in the best interest of Windsor" clause too that was inserted under Edgar's regime! So much for protecting taxpayers from MFP-type deals since it was described as a P3. How much extra has that fiasco cost us?

The City need not steer around the By-law; it can drive one of Transit Windsor's new hybrid buses right through it if the transaction is structured properly. The on-again, off-again Tunnel deal or the privatization of Enwin or WUC are distinct possibilities as well if P3ed.

Others had been concerned about how the City contracted for this project at the time:
  • "Meanwhile, the Windsor Construction Association is slamming city council for approving a $48-million arena project that will never be tendered.

    "It's a significant amount and they're basically bypassing the tendering bylaw," said Jim Lyons, executive director of the association that represents 380 local companies. "Our question is, 'Wait a minute, whoa, this is a (multimillion-dollar) project.'"

    Lyons said the association's president is polling its board members to see if they want to pursue further action, but he doubts the issue will go as far as the courts. "Our pockets aren't deep enough," he said. "(City officials) wanted this deal to happen and they got language to make it work."

    Lyons said he was inundated with calls and e-mails leading up to council's meeting Wednesday when the deal with the Collavino brothers' PCR firm was approved. Many companies in the construction industry won't publicly condemn the city because they rely on millions of dollars worth of municipal jobs, but they asked the association to intervene on their behalf."

  • "The Windsor Construction Association accused city council Wednesday of financial irresponsibility and negligence when it awarded the $47.9-million east-end arena project to the Collavino family's PCR firm without tender...

    "We're concerned about the fact the city didn't follow proper procedure on a $50-million award," said executive director Jim Lyons.

    Lyons said the association's lawyer concluded that council "misused the language in their (purchasing) bylaw."

    Lyons said the bylaw states "sole source" means "the purchase of a good and/or service where there is only one available supplier of that good and/or service that meets the needs or requirements of the City of Windsor."

    "What process did the city of Windsor utilize to determine PCR was the sole supplier available to meet the needs or requirements of the city?" Lyons asked in a letter to the city."

    The association says the city's bylaw for sole sourcing a multimillion-dollar contract states it can be done when the purchase is "clearly in the best interest of the city..."

    Lyons said there's no documentation to suggest the PCR proposal was in the city's best interest. "Knowing full well that these questions will be difficult to verify as a result of not being properly undertaken, we believe that administration and council are acting financially irresponsible ... and we are confident that if investigated by the Ontario Municipal Affairs office, their findings would be consistent with ours."

    The association didn't realize the deal would be receiving final approval Monday night because it -- like many others in the city -- wasn't aware the issue was on the agenda.

    "There was no public notification to us," Lyons said. "But that seems to be the way this council wants to move forward. That's the atmosphere we're working with these days."

Unfortunately, the Association wimped out and did nothing through the court system and suffered as a result. They sounded like whiny babies who backed off when push came to shove.

It looks as if Angela Berry will have to take a look at the Arena in the context of sole sourcing. Let me help her save time and effort and help her write her report for the Audit Committee:


Lack of or inadequate controls and/or failure to follow the controls in place were some of the main contributor’s to Windsor taxpayers having to pay out extra millions of dollars in unexpected payments in the MFP case. On October 14, the Mayor advised that the case had finally been settled:

  • “Windsor has reached a final settlement with the former MFP, closing the books on one of the municipality's most shameful chapters.

    An agreement on the remaining 50 outstanding equipment leases with the financial leasing corporation now called Renasant Financial Partners Ltd. will see the city recoup a final $6 million, Mayor Eddie Francis announced on Friday.

    "We are extremely happy and proud that we have a conclusion to this dispute with MFP," he said.

    "This should be something every council across this province and country remembers so they enforce the proper policies and vigilance to ensure this situation never happens again...

    …hopefully this is not one of those situations people ever forget about.

    "It reinforces how public institutions have to be very vigilant in ensuring proper safeguards and protocols are there to ensure this never happens."

    The introduction in Windsor of a whistleblower hotline, new fraud policy and conflict of interest policies have been introduced in the wake of MFP, noted Onorio Colucci, the city's chief financial officer and treasurer.

    "We are a much different organization today," he said. "We think we have made dramatic improvements."

Is what Windsor’s officials say correct or has the process for the arena demonstrated that in spite of everything, the City is still at risk again with lack of or inadequate controls?

How did PCR become the contractor of choice? Where was the tender or RFP? Why couldn’t the two new proponents who sent “unsolicited” letters make their case to Council? They could not because the process is fatally flawed

In fact, could Council legally make the decision as they purported to do?

The initial Administration report talks about “sole source” purchasing as the basis of Council’s right to deal with PCR. Administration talks about 2 sections of the by-law for Council to rely upon.

32. (1) A Sole Source purchase may be used for the purchasing of goods and/or services for Contracts of any Contract value, in the following circumstances:

(g) Where goods are offered for sale by Tender, auction or negotiation such purchase will be deemed to be a Sole Source purchase and the CAO/City Manager may authorize the submission of a Bid or the conduct of negotiations where the CAO/City Manager determines the purchase to be clearly in the best interest of the City of Windsor;

(i) Where a public/private partnership exists

Clearly what has been proposed by PCR is not a public-private partnership but a design-build project. And this not an offer of goods but the building of an arena. That is considered a "service" not a "good" under the By-law.

Michael Duben, the city’s General Manager of Client Services, was quoted in the Windsor Star saying: “Windsor’s purchasing bylaw allows for single sourcing under special circumstances. “I think the bylaw allows itself to be waived,” if the city believes it has the best possible deal it could get.” He refused to answer my direct request where this provision was found although asked to do so. Is there such a Provision in the By-law since I could not find it?

Even the Mayor stated that “City council had the authority to waive the city’s tendering bylaw because they were certain the deal with the Collavinos [PCR] wouldn’t have been found anywhere else, Francis said.” Where is such Provision in the By-law?

As I pointed out yesterday, there were alternatives to the Collavino deal that the Mayor himself knew about and that he and Council ignored for whatever reason.

Moreover, Mr. Duben and Mr. Francis are both lawyers. They should know that the Municipal Act states:

  • Section 271 (1) Before January 1, 2005, a municipality and a local board shall adopt policies with respect to its procurement of goods and services.

Where was the City Solicitor, Mr. Wilkki when this was taking place? Does his silence mean he agreed or was he ignored again as the complaint was made in the 400 Building audit:

  • "the attitude that “we will seek your legal advice when we want it” rather than “be proactive and exercise your best judgment to help us to avoid going offside legally.”

Accordingly, it would not seem that the By-law could be “waived” since it is mandatory. If they and Council believed that what they were doing is waiving the By-law at the Council meeting, then the process may be flawed and the decision may be improper.

At the Council meeting a new provision was tried when the Purchasing Manager said there was a provision “where in the opinion of Council it was in the best interest of the City to do so.” Where is such provision? It is also peculiar that the City Solicitor was not called upon to express an opinion in a legal matter such as this.

The closest provision to this is the one that was introduced when Edgar became Mayor. It effectively allows for the complete ignoring of all checks and balances in the system. Watch out for the Transit Windsor bus about to hit the taxpayer pocketbook:

  • Sec 5 (4) No provision of this by-law precludes the CAO/City Manager, General Manager, Department Head or the Manager of Purchasing and Risk Management from recommending an Award to Council where:
    (a) In the opinion of the CAO/City Manager, General Manager and/or Department Head, it is in the best interest of the City of Windsor to do so.

    (5) Council approval is required in accordance with Section 7 of this by-law.

No one in Administration has said that “it is in the best interest of the City of Windsor” to do a deal with PCR.” No one was asked since the City was mistaken as to what their authority was. Did the Purchasing Manager give incorrect information to Council?

In the initial Administration report, ten members of Administration signed it and stated that the “financial analysis is only one component that needs to be considered.” Administration asked for a 90 day due diligence period to review PCR’s proposal.

Shockingly, about two weeks later, an updated Report was filed at the very last minute signed by the CAO only recommending only that the PCR deal be approved. There is nothing in the Updated Report that states that the proposed transaction “is in the best interest of the City of Windsor” and absolutely no evidence is presented to support the Recommendation in the Report.

In fact, it can be argued that the failure of the other nine members of Administration to sign the Report means that they did not go along with the CAO. Or perhaps they did not even know about it.

Accordingly, the action of the Council to accept the PCR proposal may have been a nullity and in violation of the City’s Purchasing By-law

The City action may also be a violation of the following sections of the By-law:

3. The goals and objectives of the Purchasing By-law and each of the methods of purchasing authorized herein are:

(1) To provide the basic minimum requirements to ensure that Quotations are obtained, competitive purchasing is adhered to, and to continue to ensure that the City of Windsor obtains the Best Value of goods and/or services at the most economical cost.

(2) To the extent possible, ensure efficiency, openness, accountability and transparency in the administration of the purchasing function while protecting the financial interests of the municipality and respecting the competitive interests of those participating in the purchasing process.

(5) To ensure proper policies and procedures are in place to support the achievement of Council/Corporate goals and objectives.

8. The prescribed sections of this by-law maintain the integrity of the Bid Solicitation processes including protecting the interests of the City of Windsor, the public and persons participating in a purchasing process.

9. The Ontario Public Buyers Association’s (OPBA) “Code of Ethics for public purchasers is based upon the following tenets and members of the OPBA attempt to consistently practise their profession and deal with their day-to-day responsibilities according to these principles. Members are encouraged to display this statement in their departments as well as other locations in their agencies.”
(2) “Open and Honest Dealings With Everyone Who is Involved in the Purchasing Process. This includes all businesses with which this agency contracts or from which it purchases goods and/or services, as well as all members of our staff and of the public who utilize the services of the purchasing department.”
(3) “Fair and Impartial Award Recommendations for All Contracts and Tenders. This means that we do not extend preferential treatment to any vendor, including local companies. Not only is it against the law, it is not good business practice, since it limits fair and open competition for all vendors and is therefore a detriment to obtaining the best possible value for each tax dollar.”

The questions that need to be asked include:
 Was incorrect information given to Council about the By-law
 Why didn’t the City Solicitor or the Mayor who is a lawyer or Mr. Duben who is a lawyer correct the misinformation if it was given
 Did Mr. Duben and the Mayor also give incorrect information about “waiver”
 Why was “waiver” not mentioned in the Administration Report
 Why did the CAO only sign the Updated Report and not the other members of Administration who signed the initial Report.

If I am correct in my analysis, the provisions dealing with sole sourcing and "in the best interest of Windsor" were not applicable and waiver was never possible. The arrangement with PCR accordingly did not meet the requirements of the Purchasing By-law.

Ms. Berry has no choice but to so report to the Audit Committee.

The Audit Committee and Councillor Halberstadt (as well as Councillor Marra who is also on the Audit Committee and who would be given an election goodie on a silver platter) would have no choice but to call for a Public Inquiry!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Will There Be A "Draft" Dunbar-type Arena Audit (Part 1)

You know exactly what I mean. An audit on "sole sourcing" the arena which will be prepared but never released forever, or at least not until after the municipal election, overseen by outside lawyers and accountants and costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

And mini-Gord will write again "So what's the big deal?" since the Mayor and Council should be congratulated and even forgiven if mistakes were made for building such a nice palace here rather than allowing an arena to be built in shudder Tecumseh.

Who needs a full-fledged report on the arena when a limited one works perfectly as a white-wash!

If Edgar (aka Eddie) is successful in killing, errrrrr restructuring, the "flawed" Audit Committee and there is no Auditor General in place, who can authorize one anyway.

Ignored words of wisdom from Edgar (aka Eddie) has and may cost us dearly in the future:
  • "We need to revive the idea of public/private partnership for a new arena. It is the only realistic strategy available that will ensure that this project will become a reality.

    A multipurpose facility cannot be built by public nor the private sector interests acting alone. The synergy created by the private/public partnerships gives better service to the taxpayer, and allows a much needed multipurpose facility to be built in our city.

    A public/private partnership is the key to our arena’s ongoing success and viability. Council has already allocated the required money and land for this project – we need to aggressively seek a partner."

I have always been critical about the arena deal since it never made sense to me:

  • Edgar broke his campaign promise
  • It changed from a P3 downtown with the City at risk for no more than $15M to an arena where the City is at risk for who knows how much in spite of the "on time and under budget" mantra that Gord still spews
  • How the Collavinos just appeared with their offer when almost invisible in other arena debates in the past and all of a sudden became the prime contractor
  • How could an arena that was to cost $60M in 1999-2000 in Port Huron cost us only $48M in 2006
  • How Project Ice Track was played and screwed
  • How the Farhi site became the choice
  • How environmental issues were never a major concern yet now we learn about the Wickes site
  • The poor terms of the naming rights agreement and the arena agreement with the Spitfires.

The Collavinos are smart people. Why did they wait until September, 2006 to dust off their plans.

  • "It's no secret Windsor has been looking for an arena for a long time," Renzo said Thursday.

    "I've had this idea for a while -- I never had a reason to bring it out until the council resolution...

    "They are confident such a project could not be done for less money because much of the pre-construction work has been taken from an arena project in Port Huron that was never finished. That development stopped midway through construction when the bank pulled the plug on the private developer who had hired the Collavino firm Renaissance Precast Industries to provide precast concrete forms."

Why didn't they act in 2002, when they knew Mostafa Afr's Port Huron arena project was dead:

  • "2002 -- After tender comes in $10 million higher than expected, council shelves the $48.9-million development. Spitfires owner Steve Riolo agrees not to move team out of Windsor. The University of Windsor floats the idea of a 5,000-seat arena, 6,500-seat stadium as a joint city-school project."

Do you remember why we entered into the deal in the first place?

  • "City council had the authority to waive the city's tendering bylaw because they were certain the deal with the Collavinos wouldn't have been found anywhere else, Francis said. The PCR proposal was based on work that had been completed for a Port Huron, Mich., arena project, stopped just after construction began because the private developer ran short of money.

    The architectural drawings are done and some of the mechanical and concrete precast work has been started, saving the city millions of dollars in startup costs.

    Francis defended the non-tendering process because the Collavinos themselves tendered it and came up with the price of $48 million. (The city report outlines a bottom line price of about $55 million once servicing and fit-up costs such as seats are included).

    He said those privately tendered prices won't be around forever and if council delayed the issue with unnecessary tenders, the costs could increase.

    "We would have had to start the process all over again," Francis said. "Who's going to come up with the drawings? That would take another year and council didn't want to go back to Square 1 and they didn't want to kill another year."

Of course, what due diligence was done to ensure this was true? Did the City ever look anywhere else? Edgar did not have to look far. He received a letter! Yet Council noted and filed two other competing offers, one of which offered the following:

  • "The city also received a letter last week from the Toronto architectural group NORR, the company that designed and developed plans for the Western Super Anchor site downtown when city council decided it would proceed with an arena on its own.

    The city spent about $3 million for those drawings, which were subsequently shelved after council voted against a go-it-alone project because the price tag came in at $48 million.

    "They're just saying we're still here if you're interested," Francis said Tuesday of NORR's letter.

    The NORR group has partnered with Giffels, the company that is building the arena complex in LaSalle. The NORR/Giffels group is not suggesting a downtown site nor an east-end site, Francis said. "They're sending a letter saying, 'we'd like to be part of the proposal.' "

So the City had plans as an alternative to the PCR plans, plans which the City had already paid for.

Consider in addition this remarkable comment made in a non-Windsor Star publication by Collavino that blows Edgar's justification out of the water:

  • "PCR dusts off cancelled plans and materials to build Windsor Family Credit Union Centre
    Collavino family turns Michigan’s loss into gain for new Windsor arena

    The $63 million project was dogged with some controversy when it was first awarded without tender...

    “We’d originally been working on a private arena in Port Huron (Michigan) and we’d gone back to the owner and suggested a change to precast from cast-in-place, saving him a whole bundle of money. We had probably 60 per cent of the pre-cast in the Detroit yard when his financing fell through,” says Paolo Collavino.

    In 2006, with the city looking for an arena, the company stepped forward with its already finished plans, hoping to salvage the pre-cast. They promised to deliver a four-pad centre with a 6,500-seat capacity main rink for about $55 million — a substantial discount...

    “I think we met the expectation of the city and met our own expectations,” says Collavino. “We really value-engineered it. Though I know some people got their underwear in a twist over it.”

    Though they couldn’t salvage the existing pre-cast which had become too weathered, they did grind it down and reused the materials."

It is remarkable because of the following statement made in October 4, 2006 as justification:

  • "The Collavinos were hired to complete the precast concrete work in the project and say it could not possibly be done for less money since much of the preliminary work has already been done at the expense of the Port Huron developer. "

    Some of the components of the project are already available
    ," Duben said. "This is a case where you can single source."

$55M? The Star's headline screamed "Council approves $48M arena plan." $63M cost over $70M. I just don't get the numbers.

Arena plans were already around for which the City paid and the concrete materials could not be used as built. So much for the single source rationale.

Wow, am I ever re-assured by Councillor Valentinis who was the only Councillor involved from start to finish on the 400 Building construction project and who must take the hit for the fiasco it became, especially given his legal background:

  • "Coun. Fulvio Valentinis, who was a member of the steering committee for both the 400 building and arena projects, described the difference between the two as “night and day.” Meetings, reports and plans were developed with much greater resources and personnel support on the WFCU project, he said.

    “It was much more structured, there was a chain of command, everyone knew exactly who had authority and who did what,” Valentinis said.

    “On the 400 project from word go it wasn’t 100 per cent clear on the roles of administration and councillors on the committee, so you ended up with a clash.”

Nothing like admitting that the 400 Building was a disaster of a project for which he must take ultimate responsibility as the only Councillor on the Committee throughout the whole project. Moreover, we learned little about why the 400 Building project was a disgrace until AFTER the arena was built so lessons were lost.

Here though is the shocker from Councillor Halberstadt's BLOG:

  • "Only in Windsor can politicians who engage in activity that blatantly violate Common Law and the bylaws that govern the City of Windsor be hailed as heroes...

  • Rather than defending his conduct, ex Councillor Carlesimo should be thankful that the audit committee did not recommend to Council a full-blown Public Inquiry. Then he and the other members of the selection committee would have been put under oath and asked what conversations and associations they might have had with local contractor Oscar during the time this sordid mess was unraveling."

And why didn't they do so one might ask? Where was Councillor Halberstadt demanding one or does he only do so when it does not count---in his BLOGs?

Anyway, it looks like the Arena might be looked at next. BUT is it going to be a narrow audit that does not look into some of the matters and more that I raised back in 2006 when I asked for a public inquiry on the arena:

  • "The city’s audit committee will examine a pattern of sole-sourcing major projects when it looks at the construction of the $71-million WFCU Centre.

    Angela Berry, the city’s lead internal auditor, said there is concern over that the city is too often streering around its purchasing bylaw by failing to put projects out to competitive bids.

    “There is merit to sole-sourcing when it needs to be done, but the purchasing bylaw is the best method to achieve value for money for the city,” she said. “It will not fit every scenario, but (waiving it) should be the exception, not the rule.”

If so, this is nothing but a whitewash before the next election!

I was amused by the Edgar's (aka Eddie) comments because I do not accept what he said.

  • "Even though the city sole-sourced the arena project, it was approved through a bylaw and resolution of council, said Mayor Eddie Francis.

    “The community was aware it was sole sourced and the proper steps were taken,” he said."

In fact, if there is a sole-source problem in Windsor, then he is directly responsible for it!

BY-LAW NUMBER 9-2000 passed in January, 2000 had no provision in it dealing with sole sourcing. When Edgar became Mayor, PURCHASING BY-LAW NUMBER 400-2004 was passed on December 13, 2004. It added a new section that is relevant for our purposes:


    32. (1) A Sole Source purchase may be used for the purchasing of goods and/or services for Contracts of any Contract value, in the following circumstances:

    (i) Where a public/private partnership exists.

In passing, remember MFP. It was a P3 that the City entered into and we hired Price Waterhouse Ccoopers to design protections to ensure that an event such as that could never happen again. Section 32 (i) was the perfect end-run around the work done by PWC!

Let me save Ms. Berry some time and effort and help her when looking at the arena as a sole source project. But that comes in Part 2!

Page 3 Regrets

Not wishing to be sexist but the Sun newspaper readers in England get the Page 3 girls. We get mini-Gord. Who is better served by the media!

Bloggers like mini-Gord. Without him, it would be so much more difficult to write BLOGs. Notwithstanding how much he helps me, I just cannot take him seriously any more.

If his column is meant as comic relief, then it succeeds brilliantly. If it is meant to be a serious commentary on what is going on in Windsor, then it has failed!

I have absolutely no respect for a columnist who is still protecting a corrupt member of City Council who has committed what I believe to be an offence by failing to name him/her. I have even less respect for an Editorial Board who would allow him to do so. A "source" is not being protected; a criminal is and should have been removed forthwith from Council!

I wonder if "The Wife" will deal with this type of situation with the first students who enter her new St. Clair College Journalism School at the downtown site that the City sold to St. Clair for a dollar.

Take his column on PETU. Please.

Here is the big joke:
  • "The struggle, which pits the combative Mayor Eddie Francis and a cost-conscious city council against the Professional Employees Trade Union took an unexpected turn last week when PETU flatly turned down council's last contract proposal.

    Council wasn't expecting that. And it's safe to say PETU wasn't expecting council to refuse to negotiate any further -- effectively flipping them a big, fat bird just before Christmas.

    But what the heck did they expect from a council which faced down CUPE and won? The same taxpayers who forced council to see that strike through to the end are still unemployed, still broke and still fiercely opposed to anything that might lead to higher taxes."

Mini-Gord still refuses to read the facts that Councillor Lewenza pointed out in his Ward meeting and continues to spread the story that "council which faced down CUPE and won." He refuses to report to his readers, as do Gord and the Star as well, how much more the settlement cost taxpayers than could have been achieved early on.


How can they tell the truth now after all? It is too late. They are in too deep. They are forced to continue to spread the misinformation.

It would prove beyond any doubt that it was the pro-Union Councillors not the Mayor and his band of merry hardliners who had the interests of both taxpayers and CUPE at heart and who would have satisified both without the need for a bitter and divisive 101-day political war.

The "inspired leadership" of our "combative" Mayor would have been dislosed as a myth necessitating that he follow the path of Mayor Miller in Toronto and tell us now that he will not run for Mayor for family reasons!

Edgar failed with the CUPE strike as he failed with PETU by forcing them to unionize in the first place and failed in the Firefighters arbitration which mini-Gord ranted about in his column "Taxpayers getting hosed."

Mini-Gord just cannot see the connection or chooses not to:
  • "So as of this week, the Ontario Labour Relations Board has two bitter City of Windsor disputes in front of it: The bad-faith bargaining charges filed by CUPE during its summer strike, and the PETU dispute."

It may seem odd to mini-Gord that when Edgar is combative--Greenlink, CUPE, PETU, Firefighters--the City loses badly and expensively. When he seems not to be involved--WUC, Enwin, CUPE at the end, Transit Windsor--matters are resolved amicably and inexpensively.

His columns on labour relations do nothing more than try to give Edgar a "win" for the next municipal election. Clearly, they are setting up another CUPE-like war with PETU to try to salvage Edgar's sinking political career.

But it is his two 400 Building columns that absolutely destroy any credibility that he might have.


  • "400 audit much ado about nothing

    Nobody stole anything, and nobody screwed up any aspect of the project.

    So what's the big deal?

    Why has this project been so controversial for so long? Why have critics been demanding audits since 2005 and why did they take four years?

    And finally, why will it cost taxpayers more than $600,000 in audit fees to prove a building was only $686,000 over budget?

    The answers to most of those questions will remain a mystery, buried in the bitter relationships between people who have mostly departed from the city's employ (quit, fired, or lost the last election)...

    The weird aspect of this report, to my mind, is that had council executed this project in a manner that would have satisfied the auditors, a local contractor would have lost and taxpayers might have had to pay millions more for the building.

    I'd bet most taxpayers prefer the outcome that actually occurred. The part they won't like is how much it cost them to find out why the building was over budget."


  • "Taxpayers dodge a bullet

    The more you read of the auditor's report on how 400 City Hall Square got built, the luckier the outcome seems for Windsor taxpayers.

    As I wrote Tuesday, the massively detailed KPMG audit released Monday proves taxpayers should be relieved the $32- million project turned out as well as it did.

    The building is magnificent, there was relatively little waste for a government project of that size, and nobody stole anything that we know of.

    Past that -- man, what a mess. The building was completed in 2005 only after a three-year war of wills between a city council operating under misguided intentions and a small group of self-serving administrators.

    The RFP, the tender and the contract award were all disasters that could have erupted into taxpayer nightmares. Windsor narrowly escaped being tied up in court or an inquiry for years, costing taxpayers millions. The city might still be sued..."

What a change in attitude. Was the Editorial Board that embarrassed or did mini-Gord actually read the Report finally?

I was going to go through the Report in more detail but Councillor Halberstadt in his BLOG did a very good column on how badly the project was handled. Read it for yourself "Pistol Pete's Audit Conclusion Scary"

Then you can wonder why a Judicial inquiry has not been called for by now. It must be the old boy's network at play:

  • "Rather than defending his conduct, ex Councillor Carlesimo should be thankful that the audit committee did not recommend to Council a full-blown Public Inquiry."

Oh mini-Gord does not go the whole way; he cannot completely destroy his own credibility by setting out the obvious as Councillor Halberstadt has done. So he points out the mess and then tries to defend it, using language like "taxpayers should be relieved," "Council deserved to win," "I think taxpayers should cut him some slack on this issue" and "the source of the obsession was understandable. And forgivable."

He now has swallowed both of his feet. He can say in one column that no ciminal act was committed: "Nobody stole anything" yet flip flop and then say in another:
  • "councillors broke the law to get their way, and they're not allowed to do that. Municipal bylaws and provincial laws govern how contracts must be awarded."

Oh what the heck, now I understand mini-Gord's philosophy. If breaching the law can be "forgiven" in the 400 Building fiasco, so can mini-Gord and the Star be "forgiven" for not disclosing who on Council is corrupt.

What a newspaper we have in this town. Bring on the girls!