Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

DRIC and Political Cynicism

Is this how we justify it, rationalize it and think nothing more about it? Is this what selling out all comes down to and how it is praised and sold as a marvellous accomplishment? Is it really only about the money, not people? The end justifies the means.
  • "Bit by bit, this warming relationship bore fruit. It brought millions in provincial funding for Red Bull air races. It brought huge provincial contributions (matching the feds) that helped make Windsor's massive infrastructure program the largest per capita in all of Canada. And in the end it brought Windsor a border fix that's a huge improvement on the status quo as well as a job creator other hard-pressed Canadian cities would kill for.

    At $78 million and counting in negotiated extras for Windsor, that was some quiche.

It does not matter what is done no matter how dishonest, how disgraceful or how hurtful as long as we get the right result.

But here is something for you to consider, how do we know that the result is "right" and that what is being done is not being carried out for some ulterior motive that will profit someone at all of our expense and to all of our detriment in the long term? How can we trust those who tell us that we got the best result when they have deceived us until now?

When I was younger and more naïve, I wanted to be Prime Minister of Canada. I was deeply involved in politics in my University days at the federal and provincial levels and in University party politics.

I was excited by the clash of ideas, my party’s views being the correct ones of course. What I and my friends were doing was for the good of the country, about our future. Until reality sunk in.

To make a long story short, I became disenchanted very quickly about the nature of politics and my dreams of leading the country vanished. Until STOPDRTP. That is where I became General Counsel of the group and got involved in municipal politics, the place where an individual really can count in our society and does have a role that directly impacts people.

That is how I met Edgar (aka Eddie) for the first time and when he asked me to be part of his campaign team to change the nature of politics in this City. I fell for his pitch hook, line and sinker to be blunt about it and have regretted my involvement with him for years now. My only excuse is that I am not the only one who has been fooled by our “non-politician.”

This is a rather personal introduction to what I wanted to write about today. It is no wonder that people are cynical about politicians. Sandra let the the cat out of the bag during the press conference about the DRIC road when she said:

  • "Sandra gave it away in the Star video when she said in answer to whether the "feud was overblown:"

    "it has been blown out of proportion because people do not see is that despite that we do not agree on the methodology we agree on where it is we want to go... There has been dialogue all along. There has never been a point where we have not been talking... What the public sees and what actually goes on often are not the same, often they are."

Here is what a municipal political insider told me respecting Edgar and judicial review and how Bill Marra was slammed when he suggested negotiating not litigating:

  • "the breakfast meeting that took place at Sandra's place occurred immediately after a Windsor Star Story that reported on an in-camera session at which time there was a shouting match between Marra and other members of council. It was the story that suggested Lewenza came after Marra with threatening language, which was in fact quite true at the time. As you may recall, it was when Bill publicly stated that he did not agree with the rest of council re: a legal strategy, i.e. judicial review, against the province re: the border and he publicly spoke about pursuing other negotiating alternatives...."

Remember what the Star story said in early 2008, the same time-frame Gord described in his Saturday column:

  • "Last week, Marra spoke out against other councillors who had criticized Windsor's two provincial cabinet ministers, Sandra Pupatello and Dwight Duncan, for not supporting the city's GreenLink border plan.

    Marra said he believed negotiating further with the local MPPs was a better tactic than blasting them."

He was right wasn't he and it really happened but he got hammered for it since it took away from the drama. The truth could not be even hinted at. No wonder Marra has had to be discredited continually!

Even more interesting, if the timeframe is right, the meeting came right after this event described by the Star this way:

  • "Cabinet ministers Dwight Duncan and Sandra Pupatello unveil the Windsor Essex Parkway plan. The city slams the plan. Eddie Francis says council is “pissed” that the DRIC team did not incorporate more elements of Greenlink. Duncan counters the plan calls for the most expensive piece of roadbed in provincial history."

It would seem that Edgar's urinary problem was very short-lived.

Is it any wonder that politicians are viewed so negatively by people? I really don’t understand it. It should be an honourable profession, helping the public, serving the public need, doing the right thing for the good of all. But it is not as Margaret Thatcher’s speechwriter wrote. It is all about power, influence and being re-elected no matter what and no matter what the cost and to whom.

  • "The decisions that really matter to political leaders are those to do with the getting and holding of power. Other decisions may turn out well or ill. They may cost billions of pounds or hundreds of lives, but for enlisted politicians those decisions are secondary. What matters to them is: will I still be here after this?"

The big Detroit Chamber meeting with the Big Guns and Heavy Hitters was all a stage-managed fraud. I wasn’t there, but mini-Gord was:

  • "Friday's news conference was an elaborate bit of political theatre intended to convince Moroun's supporters in Lansing to vote for the public good rather than the preservation of a private empire.

    "You know how things work in the U.S. -- you have to choreograph it," a former Canadian ambassador explained of the performance we witnessed in Detroit on Friday. "They need persuasion, and all this was for that audience up in the legislature."

    Cross your fingers that they liked the show."

It was designed to intimidate Michigan Senator Cropsey and his colleagues who think DRIC is a boondoggle.

Our Mayor was one of the bit players in the cast and did his part to show that Moroun will be stopped--- by the Indian Road homes not being allowed to be demolished perhaps?

Make the script as you go along; improvise, it does not matter. When capacity seems to be the reason for a new bridge as traffic is increasing, then pretend that is why we need a new public bridge. When the numbers decline, then drag out security and redundancy as the rationale. When that doesn’t work, then it is Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.

But it is all a lie…it is to force Matty Moroun out of business so that Prime Minister Harper can buy the bridge more cheaply under the auspices of his secret mandate letter.

Why doesn’t the Prime Minister just come out and say it? We all know it by now. Why is he so afraid to let the public in on the truth?

The truth what is that? If you have read Gord Henderson’s column on Saturday you ought to be sick. I do not care which side you are on respecting the border file. It does not matter. In fact the issue itself does not matter. What is disgusting to me is the way that our three local politicians: Edgar Francis, Sandra Pupatello and Dwight Duncan have acted.

Actually, is not how they have acted that sickens me but rather what they have done to thousands of people within this region. They have deliberately and maliciously fooled us. They have stalled us and delayed when the projects could have been started years ago. At a time when our economy has suffered and people are out of work, when homes are being foreclosed and businesses shut down, they were all acting.

They all ought to be thrown out of office and banished for their actions.

I hate to say it but I did tell you so. The DRIC road debate was a charade. Nothing was supposed to happen until 2010 and it did not no matter how bad the economy was in this region with the highest unemployment in Canada. Our politicians just did not care!

As an aside, all of a sudden, Gord makes Sandra the heroine of the piece. Why, is Dwight running for the Liberal leadership and Edgar might take his place provincially? Keep Sandra happy and not being a trouble-maker? As a smart politician, she gets suckered continuously.

The animosity between Edgar and our Cabinet members never existed. Just picture this, Dwight in his nightcap, Edgar in his PJs and Sandra in her nightie serving them her killer bacon and cheese quiche in her home early in the morning as they plotted for years on how to deceive us. What a painting that would be to hang at the Windsor Art Gallery one day.

What is even more disgraceful is that the Windsor Star’s main Columnist thinks it is all terrific. Was the Star itself part of all this, playing its role as the Messenger? I’m afraid I do not know the answer to that question but I do know what its Editor, Marty Beneteau has said in the past:

  • "We did things that newspapers can do to bring about change, positive change. I think we got a lot of results this year and this now validates the results we got."

Look at what Gord is writing about as if it is a badge of honour

  • In early 2008, with the battle between the city's GreenLink proposal and DRIC's Essex-Windsor Parkway plan at a fever pitch and with relations between Mayor Eddie Francis and the city's two provincial cabinet ministers going through an especially rocky patch, Pupatello decided it was time for the trio to sit down, roll up their sleeves and speak their minds, no holds barred, in an attempt to eliminate misunderstandings and mend the relationship. [And how do we know this did not start even earlier? Just because Gord chooses to stake out a particular time-period does not make it so.]

  • "the two Windsor ministers remained gagged and bound with bureaucratic Velcro. There could be no promises made. No commitments. No horse-trading.

    But there could be, and needed to be, a drastic change in the working relationship of Windsor's three most important politicians. They needed to recognize that they were on the same team, the Windsor Team, and had the same objective in mind, the best possible border infrastructure deal that could be carved out for their city.

    "We're going to sit here until we sing Kumbaya if it kills me," Pupatello recalled telling herself as the "Quiche Conference" started off on a stiff, almost brittle, note. But being Windsor-bred politicians, the painful formalities were soon cast aside in favour of honest, unvarnished talk." [What were they doing, exchanging recipes about making quiches and pita breads? Nice job Gord trying to prevent the two Cabinet mmebers from being charged under the Members' Integrity Act!]

  • Team Windsor was on a new footing. [What a telling description! Two years of teamwork against Windsorites]

  • The paranoia and suspicion had lifted. All three understood clearly how important it would be to lower the decibels -- especially at Queen's Park -- and start working together in pursuit of a common objective. [That objective was shown at the DRIC Chamber meeting in Detroit. The deal was done mere days before the meeting so that as mini-Gord told us Canada could be seen to be united and now Michigan had to come onside to beat Moroun]

  • Francis and council gradually moved the border file to the back burner. And dialed down. Diplomacy took over. Dinner meetings, here and in Toronto, replaced soapbox speeches and demonstrations.

    You might have seen Duncan and Francis dining at Caesars. Or Pupatello and Francis breaking bread at El-Mayor on Wyandotte Street. [I wonder whose expense accounts paid for these nice meals. Perhaps taxpayers who lost their jobs while they dined on filet mignon and drank a nice French Bordeaux. Oh, oh, Gord forgot the Dwight/Edgar ride to the airport too. How many meetings and when so that a Members' Integrity Act complaint can now be filed if the Opposition ever gets the nerve! El-Mayor, now that's ironic and it's pita Gord, not bread]

  • The city had good reason to go this co-operative route. It had been warned by its legal advisers that it had only a 50-50 shot at winning a lawsuit and that victory, which could ice the project for a generation, might be worse than defeat. [Wow, all that money and praise for our legal weapon of mass destruction and at best it was 50/50! If we knew that so did the Province's lawyers. Just like with arbitration, Edgar neglected to tell us everything about our legal position. Millions wasted. For what? Those who wanted a settlement were mocked as somehow hurting Windsor when they were right all along.]

  • Bit by bit, this warming relationship bore fruit. [The Americans have a legal theory they call "the fruit from the poisonous tree." I guess this is how Adam felt after eating the apple.]

  • It brought millions in provincial funding for Red Bull air races. It brought huge provincial contributions (matching the feds) that helped make Windsor's massive infrastructure program the largest per capita in all of Canada. And in the end it brought Windsor a border fix that's a huge improvement on the status quo as well as a job creator other hard-pressed Canadian cities would kill for.

    At $78 million and counting in negotiated extras for Windsor, that was some quiche. [It's how things are done children. Lying and cheating are ok as long as you get something out of it. Of course this could never have been negotiated by anyone unless they sold-out but why use such language. I bet Gord thinks that this confession of his will be good for his soul. All that money vs. his stories of our destruction. It worked out so well so we can forgive them all]

Did you see any remorse, anything that he wrote about concerning the suffering of people along the DRIC Road corridor? I guess that he believes that all is fair in love and war and politics to work up the population so that we believe that our health and our children’s health is at risk if this damned DRIC road is ever built in our area.

Actually, Gord should insist that the prize won by Sam Schwartz for Greenlink ought to be given to the DRIC engineers because after all, that is the road that we’re getting in Windsor and the road that we were always getting in Windsor. Or rather, it will be the road until such time as the RFPs come back and the cost of the road escalates into billions. Then all we will need is a cheap DRIC solution and an upgraded EC Row, exactly what the Joint Management Committee wanted years ago.

Why else do you believe that Sandra contributed $200,000 to the Lufthansa study for the Cargo Shanty at the airport. The need to connect the airport to the border and the need for a DRIC detour as Sandra and Dwight mentioned in the past will get Edgar off the hook for his so-called opposition to trucks on E C Row notwithstanding his support of an upgraded expressway years ago. He thinks we have forgotten this:

Gee. this is what we got in these negotiations isn't it along with money for the Tunnel except the words E C Row have NOT been mentioned yet. An election is too close.

Years of opposition to the Provincial Government, nasty words about the Premier and the fight between Edgar and Council and the Province (I wonder if the Councillors had the faintest idea what was going or were they part of of the deception as well so they too should be thrown out of office), threats of lawsuits and judicial reveiw, hours-long presentations at Council by Estrin and Edgar were never real. The “so called almost have a deal but then see it fall apart” columns by Gord after hearing from a provincial government insider are now very suspect. I think it should be obvious who the provincial government Leakor is. He/she should be ashamed.

Not a word about the people who were deceived into attending educational meetings by our Mayor and Council so they could be suckered about Greenlink. Not a word about the thousands of people who are convinced by the Mayor to send in postcards opposing the Provincial road or who phoned in to 311 to express their opposition because they felt that they were doing the right thing for the City. Not a word of apology to all of these people were used and must now feel that they were tricked by our politicians.

Instead, our major newspaper Columnist is thrilled about all this and praises what was done.

  • "Bit by bit, this warming relationship bore fruit. It brought millions in provincial funding for Red Bull air races. It brought huge provincial contributions (matching the feds) that helped make Windsor's massive infrastructure program the largest per capita in all of Canada. And in the end it brought Windsor a border fix that's a huge improvement on the status quo as well as a job creator other hard-pressed Canadian cities would kill for.

    At $78 million and counting in negotiated extras for Windsor, that was some quiche."

I am so glad that I learned about this side of politics years ago and decided that running for Prime Minister was not for me. I do not know how some of our politicians can get up in the morning and look at themselves in the mirror after what they have done. But I guess when you are power-hungry or worse then it does not matter.

All I know is that I could not in good conscience live with myself.

So much for my dream of being PM one day. But who knows, Fate works in mysterious ways. Municipal politics can be so much more rewarding when you are solving real people's real problems. Perhaps being Mayor of some small town might not be so bad after all.