Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Thursday, January 07, 2010

It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Super Berry

Now that Angela Berry has single-handedly demonstrated that the City ought never to be involved again in managing major projects like the 400 Building, she needs a new task to keep her occupied. One perhaps that will reconfirm what she wrote but with a different disastrous project.

It might be the Arena but she can do a Single-Source Audit Report in her sleep now if she just re-reads the BLOGs I have done recently and previously on this subject. It is a slam-dunk that she will find a lot wrong with how the arena project was managed just from the sole source side based on what has been said so far to justify it.

Don't ever expect an audit on the entire project in our lifetime. The results would be too embarrassing.

So what can we have Angela do---credit cards. How boring. No, we need to give her something very challenging and also troubling to some Windsorites.

I have got it: Huron Lodge!

I hope that I have an ally in this in Ward 2 Councillor Jones. Actually, given his history on the project, I am surprised he is so silent:
  • "Council opts for lowest bidder; Lowest bid accepted; Any other choice would bring suit; Windsor Star 02-10-2004

    Facing a potential $3-million lawsuit, city council voted 6-4 to accept the lowest bid for the redevelopment of Huron Lodge instead of a higher bid by a local company which pledged to use almost exclusively local labourers...

    City administration had recommended the tender be awarded to London-based Southside Group whose bid came in $95,000 lower than Toronto-based Eastern Construction, which has had an office in Windsor since 1990...

    Councillor Ron Jones, speaking in favour of hiring local workers, said council shouldn't be fooled into thinking Southside will hire locally.

    "This is about local workers spending their money locally and we should be doing everything we can to ensure that happens," said Jones. "I think any one of us would be willing to spend $95,000 to draw $20 million in spinoff spending."

He is consistently in favour of local people (other than the Bridge Company it seems):

  • "Taxpayers have a right to expect that they will get the best value when the city spends their money. And that includes purchasing services or equipment through the tendering process.

    But at least one councillor, Ron Jones, wants council to adopt "flexibility" in its purchasing policy: "I do believe in competition. But I also believe we have to take a serious look at our purchasing in the future and take into consideration local businesses that pay business taxes and have been good corporate citizens."

    As a result, Jones joined three other councillors -- Ken Lewenza Jr., David Cassivi and Tom Wilson -- and this week voted against the low bid a Tilbury car dealership had tendered for four trucks."

  • "Councillors Ron Jones and Ken Lewenza Jr. said a fair-wage policy would not give local workers an advantage but would "level the playing field" by requiring the same wages for everyone.

    When the review is completed, the committee will make a recommendation to council about whether such a policy should be included in the new purchasing bylaw.

    The issue of a local preference policy was raised earlier this year when London-based Southside Co. Ltd. was awarded a $30-million contract to build a new Huron Lodge.

    Members of the local building industry said council should have awarded the contract to a bidder with more local ties even though it came in almost $100,000 higher."

Now take a look at this Court judgement which is very harsh and wonder why the Councillor is so silent. It involves Huron Lodge and I would have expected the Councillor to have spoken up by now in favour of the local contractors, even against the City.

I just hope the Councillor's phone calls are not leaked again. Heaven help him if he has spoken to any contractor over the past 3 or 4 years!

Actually, I am surprised that no one has demanded that the Integrity Commissioner, if we still have one, look into this comment in the latest Star story re the 400 Building:
  • "Balsamo said he has frequent conversations with councillors about projects.

    "It's a small city, I talk to everybody, all the councillors," he said.

    "I know Eddie (Francis) very well, too."

Shouldn't Councillor Jones say in relation to Edgar:

  • "The issue in front of us is discussions that may be taking place with a contractor respecting possible projects. That is an important distinction to be drawn here."
I don't know all of the gory details but it appears that the City is suing the London contractor for millions in deficiencies in a counterclaim. What a co-incidence that the City is holding back $3M which is the same amount it could have been sued for if it had not accepted the bid from the out-of-town supplier.

The real parties at risk are the local contractors, the subcontractors who have done their work years ago and have not been paid yet, who are owed money, and who have not had any allegations made against their workmanship but who still cannot be paid because of the City/Southside lawsuit.

What is shocking, and this is what concerned the Judge, is that as of November, 2009, the City has still NOT set out the deficiencies or the costs to remedy them. It has been three years already.

Frankly, I do not know why the Judge just did not toss out the City's claim. Maybe there are other reasons for not doing so that are not set out in his Judgement.

The Judge's last comment stating no reason has been given for the delay and that Windsor sitting on $3M is unacceptable is particularly damaging. I do not understand why the contractors do not amend their claim and ask for punitive damages from the City.

Are the contractors acting as the City's bank, effectively loaning the City money at no interest right now? Does the City not have the money to pay out any funds on this project until Budget 2010? Heck, we have an arena to pay for as well as out-of-town lawyers and consultants.

I know that if I sued for punitive damages, I would insist on examining Edgar (aka Eddie) first to get a complete understanding why the money has not been paid and no action has been taken before now to set out the specifics of the City's claim. I would be very suspicious that there is more going on than meets the eye and only the Mayor would know.

I am sure that Ms. Berry's report will enlighten us one day soon as the 400 audit did. She just needs to stay away from Kryptonite.