Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Unanswered Questions

I wonder if the City auditors have started working on the arena audit yet and how many years it will take before the public gets to see it. Will it be another Dunbar audit fiasco?

There are so many "unanswered questions" surrounding that project. Actually, that expression is starting to dominate the Windsor political scene.

Everywhere you look these days there are questions that are unanswered lying around it seems, just begging to be dealt with. But no one does. Does that seem fair to you?

Here are just a few typical examples:

  1. "I think our members are going to be very upset by this ... this still leaves unanswered questions," Local 543 president Jean Fox said of the board's decision not to hold a hearing.
  2. Well, the Olympic Games are over and Stephen Harper stated he prorogued Parliament to stop and think. Upon reading government-related articles in The Windsor Star, I have some unanswered questions. (Letter to the Editor)
  3. 'A lot of unanswered questions' around Essex animal deaths
  4. Paul Fields at Council saying that there were "unanswered questions" and missing information about the 400 audit
  5. But while the big [DRIC] cable-stayed bridge and associated highway approaches could shift into gear possibly next year, one of the big unanswered questions is how it will be tendered and financed.
  6. Detroit's council has so far refused to establish its new tunnel authority because of too many unanswered questions around the [Tunnel] deal.
  7. County councillors unanimously called for a halt Wednesday to any attempt to close Windsor and Essex County daycare centres until there's been broad consultation with parents, staff and the county itself.

    Councillors cited too many unanswered questions to even consider the recommendations of a city social services department report to close in the coming months all seven daycare centres in the city and county, as well as two satellite operations in schools.
  8. "Again, I have no idea what conversations took place between them and the proponent. It's not part of what showed up on the audit. Those are questions left unanswered."
  9. Yet events this week seem to suggest that the original audit contained information about activities that some might consider malfeasance.

    Obfuscation on fiduciary matters is troubling and raises issues beyond the ones addressed monday night.

    Even those who think these actions were justified to avoid a lawsuit would have to agree there are still many unanswered questions.
  10. Despite tightened security at U.S. airports and unanswered questions about how Abdulmuttalab escaped notice until it was almost too late, business proceeded as usual at Windsor’s airport on Monday
  11. There are so many unanswered questions to a proposal to link Point Pelee with Hillman Marsh that the Essex Region Conservation Authority board had no choice but to send a consultant's report to Leamington to find out what council and residents think about it .
  12. But Mayor Eddie Francis questioned in a phone interview Monday the need for an audit and accused Halberstadt of "creating a cloud of suspicion where there should be none."

    He said there were no "unanswered questions" and that Halberstadt was part of the discussions on the new arena until "declaring a conflict at the 11th hour."

    "If he wanted answers to the questions, he should have stayed on as part of the process," said Francis.

Wow, do you see what I mean. All of those questions that are just waiting to be answered but who has the time to do it.

Now I do not want to be the one who has to tell Edgar (aka Eddie) this but I think a lot of people do have questions that they want answered over the Arena deal. Take the Pizza Queen, she has one:

  • "Windsor's audit committee hopes to confirm a new auditor general in three weeks. It's asking council for a budget of half a million dollars.

    One of the first tasks could be an audit of the construction of the WFCU Centre. It should include the question people still ask: Did the city receive value when it swapped downtown land for the arena site?"

So to provide a service to the Mayor, I would ask the Audit Committee to direct Angela Berry to find the answers to these specific questions since she is going to do the work anyway. If you can add to the list, dear reader, please let me know:

  1.  How and why did a public-private partnership concept to build an arena downtown at a maximum City cost of $15m and no other risk wind up in the East End with a City-run project at 100% with all risk on taxpayers
  2.  Beztak rejection---was it fair how they were attacked in such depth but not anyone else
  3.  Was this all a done deal and worked out in advance
  4.  Was the process all a phony but designed to select a favoured company regardless of cost
  5.  Was Project Ice Track (PIT) treated the pits
  6.  Were the Spitfires tied up by the City so PIT could never get them
  7.  Were there unreported collateral deals not in the City’s interest to get the deal

  8.  Was the business case justifying the arena a proper one based on reality or was it based on a dream that bore no relationship to reality especially based on the actual experience
  9.  How could an arena to be built in Port Huron in 1999 cost so little today especially when much of the concrete forms to be used were all scrapped
  10.  Was the City “extraed” to death
  11.  Where was PCR for all of the years of the arena debate and how did they just appear all of a sudden and after one or two letters become the contractor of choice
  12.  Why were the other possible proponents just noted and filed
  13.  Was the Purchasing by-law circumvented thereby allowing another MFP-type deal (If so, what happened to all of the protections we thought that the PWC report was to give us)
  14.  Was there validity for the single source justification

  15.  Why was it not mentioned that the City had its own arena plans which it purchased and why weren't they used
  16.  Was the Spitfires lease deal a good one for the City considering the huge sums to which the Spitfires are entitled over the term of the agreement
  17.  What was the total cost of the project and was it "on budget" based on original costs
  18.  Were any“overage” costs buried in Departmental budgets and if so, which ones
  19.  Should the developer where the arena land was purchased have paid some of the costs normally that the City has paid,
  20.  Why was his land picked and not others that cost less in the area
  21.  Did the City do proper due diligence before doing the deal with Mr. Farhi
  22.  Did we get value for money ie what was left out to be paid for after the next election eg parking
  23.  Did we get comparable arenas at the East end site with the smaller City arenas that are supposed to be closed (eg less seating)
  24.  Why was a sound system not included originally in the package but added subsequently
  25.  Was the land exchange PLUS paying for the cleanup PLUS the 3 year tax holiday a good one for the City
  26.  Why was everything rush, rush, rush to get everything done before the Council term ended eg no definitive plans and yet the deal was signed at the last Council meeting and is this a proper way to do municipal business
  27.  Were there environmental issues there that were “buried”
  28.  Are there still environmental issues eg Wickes plant takeover which means the City may to clean up arena lands if hazards migrated
  29.  What was the role of the Casino in all of this, if any
  30.  Are legitimate arena costs now charged to General Revenues since the project is finished eg interest costs on borrowings and if so, how much
  31.  Was the PIT Price Waterhouse Report correct in its analysis?

Oh so many questions. Oh so few answers unless the auditors help out. Wouldn't it be nice if their work was completed before the election in October too!