Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, April 16, 2010

Mayoral Showdown: Edgar vs. Junior

Wouldn’t that be a hoot! In the end, Ken Lewenza Jr. would win by a land-slide!

It would undoubtedly be, at the beginning at least, the most polarizing campaign ever seen in Windsor. It certainly would pit two completely different points of view against each other. There would be clear-cut differences in solutions, content and style.

I can just imagine the Star columnists and Editorialists licking their chops as they would dream up different ways to vilify Junior. Actually, that would be the best thing that ever happened to him. The Star's declining reputation is such that being demonized by them is a big Plus. As time went on however, I would expect that people would get a better appreciation of Junior and his abilities and that the stereotypical picture of him would soon disappear.

I would be willing to make a bet as well that we would never see such a campaign. My own view is that if Lewenza announced that he was going to run for Mayor, Edgar would not do so. He could not face months of blame and criticism from someone who knows the facts about the way that Edgar has run this City into the ground and the mistakes that he has made. And Junior would NOT be afraid to use them in a campaign.

Oh it would be ugly and Edgar could not stand the heat. And neither could the Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget who did not have the guts to debate Junior after the CUPE strike if he ever thought about running if Edgar did not.

I was thinking about all this when I read the Star story about the meeting involving the Windsor Utility Commission rate increase and this comment in particular:
  • “Lewenza and Wladarski blamed the current problems -- and a five-year water "infrastructure deficit" of $148.8 million -- on years of political reluctance to raise fees."

I thought about the difference in styles of the two men on two major issues: the WUC rate increase and the DRIC $78 million sellout.

In the DRIC sell out, Edgar, the Voice of Council, arranged for the resolution behind closed doors during secret breakfast meetings with Sandra and Dwight confirmed by an in camera vote of Council. With the rate increase, Junior is prepared to take his chances by holding meetings across the City out in public to explain what needs to be done and to hear what the population would say, whether good or bad.

To the thousands of people who sent in postcards to support the Greenlink campaign of the Mayor and who attended all of the meetings so that he could get a few extra dollars at the expense of their and their childrens's health supposedly, what Edgar did has to be a slap in the face.

Compare that with what Junior did such that even one of his strongest opponents in the past could say after the meeting:

  • “We've got to have a rate increase, there's no way around it -- we've neglected this too long," said city hall watchdog Al Nelman.”

Do you really believe that Edgar had the nerve to face the public on his Greenlink settlement? He would have been shouted down. No wonder we have hardly seen a story about it since it happened. Even the Star could not justify the sell-out and has to be embarrassed about its role!

Yet Junior was prepared to go to the public and sell his point of view, as he did successfully, even though he was asking people to pay more money"

  • "The Windsor Utilities Commission heard what it wanted Thursday night, when a small group of city residents gave support to new water rate hikes during the first in a series of ward meetings on the subject...

    WUC's selling job was so good that west ender Louise Jamieson was among the converts...

    "What you're paying for is access to the system," said Lewenza.

    He said it costs $50 million to run WUC and maintain Windsor's water system, whether consumers conserve or not.

    "I understand I have to pull my weight, but it doesn't seem to pay to be thrifty," said Jamieson."

Remember when Edgar first ran for Mayor, he made the following comment about him being a politician:

  • "Over the next four months I will engage the voters of Windsor in a discussion about our future, the future of Windsor. I will do this not as a politician but as a citizen who wants to serve you…

    I said to you earlier that I am not a politician and I am not running for office to be Mayor for life…. Should I be fortunate to be elected to lead our City, and should I ask the citizens for a second term …….My term is not to exceed two."

Yea, right, especially in relation to possibly running for a third term. Supposedly, we are going to find out what he’s going to do sometime in May. When I see that, I will believe it.

Look at what he said in the past with respect to WUC rate increases, before an election:

  • "The Windsor Utilities Commission will have to justify any water rate increase this fall, Mayor Eddie Francis said Wednesday.

    "I pay for water and I want to know what we pay these rates for," Francis said at a meeting of the commission.

    "(The rates) have to be justified. We aren't going to stand by when they say 'We need this.' We are going to ask why."

    Francis said in an interview he believes water rates are too high...

    When the study is completed, Francis said he hopes it will show water rates can be decreased."

Too high, hopes that they can be decreased! Boy, was he wrong! What a businessman. How does one explain this. After the election, we were hit with an 86% rate increase which the Mayor took the lead in justifying.

Look at what he has said now with respect to possible rate increases, naturally before the election. In passing, he was not at the WUC commission meeting where this matter was debated and decided. He chickened out:

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis, also a WUC board member, missed Thursday’s meeting because he was overseas, but agreed Friday the water company may have to look at a more gradual increase.

    The mayor took the lead in pushing the 86 per cent hike in 2007.

    “Right now this community cannot handle a 10 per cent increase,” he said. “You need a more realistic approach in what’s required. You are not going to resolve the infrastructure deficit in one or two years. Maybe there needs to be a 10- to 15-year plan and be balanced in people’s ability to handle this."

Edgar was front and centre supporting the 86% increase but where is he now defending the latest WUC increase before the next election? Invisible!

Compare that approach with that of Councillor Lewenza who was effectively putting his career on the line by going out to meet with the public. Naturally, the Star wants to vilify him since coincidentally there is a story about the big rate increase at Enwin where the Mayor is on the Board. The numbers were given to Enwin last Thursday and it took this long to crunch them and to have the Star report them!

What did Edgar have to say about this increase? Invisible in the story. Instead, all we received was excuses from the Company that pays Members of Council huge amounts so that their Council salaries are increased dramatically.

Oh I would love to see a Mayoral campaign between Edgar and Junior but that would never happen. Obviously, the first issues that would be discussed would be the 101 Day CUPE strike and outsourcing. Edgar could never dare debate that matter with Junior because the Star protection of Edgar’s huge sellout of the citizens as a hardliner would be demonstrated. His reputation would be shot forcing him to pull a “David Miller.”

Edgar could never stand up to the questions about why garbage should be outsourced or daycares closed without consultation whatsoever. Even on parking enforcement, the discussion was held behind closed doors until Edgar had to say:

  • "The matter was subject to much debate behind closed doors Monday night, but Francis said council concluded, "out of an abundance of caution," to have the matter dealt with in public at next week's regular council session."

It would have been fun for me at least to watch this campaign go forward but alas it will never happen. Pity for us.