Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Odds And Ends

Just some stories that interested me

  • "Mensa convention begins Wednesday in Dearborn

    The upcoming 6-day Mensa convention in Dearborn includes testing days for people who want to find out whether they've got what it takes to be a member of the high IQ group...

    The American Mensa admission test will be given Wednesday and Saturday and the Mensa Canada test day is Friday...

    the Annual Gathering is Mensa's way of strengthening that network — bringing together intelligence from across the globe."

No wonder there is no welcome mat for DRIC-ites

They have a terrific slogan for their convention however. "The Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau was behind the slogan, which is part of a series of self-deprecating ads that reference Detroit's image problems:"

  • "Who's the Genius Who Picked Detroit?"


The DRIC-ites like to believe that if Michigan decides not to move forward with the DRIC project, then the US Federal Government will.

I'm not so sure. I saw this story published recently without a word about our border crossing:

  • "LaHood: Bolstering trade with Mexico, Canada essential to meeting Obama export goals

    Bolstering trade with Canada and Mexico, the first and third largest trading partners with the U.S., will be an essential part of an effort to increase exports, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told the North America’s Superhighway Coalition (NASCO) recently...

    “But we’re just getting started. And as we move forward, we’re leveraging our transportation investments to help meet President [Barack] Obama’s goal of doubling U.S. exports within five years. Bolstering trade with Canada and Mexico will be an essential part of this effort,” LaHood said. “So, we’re making it safer, easier, and more efficient to move freight from one border to another. We get it: international goods movement is part of a larger system. In the 21st century, companies need end-to-end logistics solutions. They need infrastructure that is intermodal and multi-modal.”

    The better connected ports, highways, railways, and airports are, the better-off the system is as a whole, LaHood said.

    “All of this reflects and reinforces the already great partnership among North America’s three nations,” the secretary said noting that he’d met personally with Mexico’s Secretary of Communications and Transportation Juan Molinar and Canada’s Minister of Transport John Baird. “Our departments are working together on measures ranging from vehicle and railroad safety standards to information-sharing about freight flows along major trade corridors like NASCO. And our planners and policy-makers — the U.S-Mexico Joint Working Committee on Border Planning in the south and the Transportation Border Working Group in the north – are ensuring that our borders are as efficient as they are secure. Intelligent transportation systems are — and will continue to be — part of this work.”


Looks like Wilbur Smith was off the mark again in this project"

  • "Greenville SC Southern Connector toller files for bankruptcy

    Connector 2000 Association developer and operator of the Greenville Southern Connector tollroad filed for bankruptcy today in US Bankuptcy Court in nearby Spartanburg, South Carolina. The filing done under chapter 9 of the US Bankruptcy code that handles broke government entities has been expected for some time...

    Revenues from the Southern Connector are not sufficient to service the debt, the Connector 2000 Association toiler says in its US Court filing because actual traffic and revenues are "substantially less than projected."

    "The debtor is insolvent" their lawyers say bluntly in the Ch 9 filing. $500m was borrowed. Equity was zero.

    Court papers note Wilbur Smith Associates projected 21k/day in the opening year but fewer than 7.5k showed up.

    Traffic and revenue has remained about a third of that forecast by WSA when the association launched the tollroad project in this small South Carolina town in the late 1990s. The highway on the southern/southwestern fringe of the city only made sense as an access and development road. The road is too indirect to provide any time savings for long-distance traffic which has stuck to the free interstates."


Expect a cheaper solution with the route going north, right to the Ambassador Bridge on Huron Church Road

  • "407 stalled until 2017

    It seems the provincial and federal governments were a little ambitious when they announced in 2007 that they would extend Hwy. 407 east to Hwy. 35/115 by 2013.

    Now the province aims to extend it to Simcoe St. in Oshawa -- not even halfway to the 115 -- by 2015. Stage 2 of the project, under a separate contract, would be the extension to Hwy. 35/115...

    The government remains committed to extending Hwy. 407 to Hwy. 35/115 with the entire project expected to be complete in 2017, Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal said on Friday."

Remember that this highway is a P3 deal and is the Government happy with it or could it be that no one would finance it just like with respect to the service centres on Highway 401:

  • "It's the only toll highway in the province. The previous Progressive Conservative government sold the highway to a private-sector consortium for $3.1 billion in 1999.

    The provincial government would own and control the tolls on the new section of the highway."


Unbelievable. He still is in town although seemingly invisible to mere mortals like taxpayers:

  • "Development, tourism agencies narrow locations for new offices

    The region's economic development and tourism agencies have narrowed the list of potential new locations for their offices to three.

    "We're getting close," said Ron Gaudet, CEO for the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation."

    WEEDC has been consulting community leaders and hopes to have the draft version of its economic road map for the region posted on its website by mid-July for public feedback, Gaudet said."

I trust that this effort is better than the Ph.D. thesis that set up the Undevelopment Commission in the first place. You remember the one:

  • "Because of the nature of the region’s strategy, traditional performance measures such as the number of new plants attracted, or the number of jobs retained, albeit significant, should not be the primary indicators of success. These could actually be counterproductive by driving the wrong behaviour."

By this measure, the Undevelopment Commission has been singularly successful.


This has to be disappointing considering the collapsing Red Bull numbers and the less than busy Summerfest

  • "A myriad of onlookers from both sides of the border gathered along the river for the 52 annual Target Fireworks display. While an exact number is difficult to determine, Windsor police Sgt. Jason Crowley said attendance was smaller than years past."

Then we read this nonsense from Gord Orr who may have forgotten that he does work for the Tourist Group anymore:

  • "This is a major coup for us, to bring in a signature sporting event like this to Windsor and Essex County,” Orr said. “We have demonstrated in the past that we can host events of this magnitude in our city. And we hope to do it again in the future.”

World-class, monumental media coverage, millions will be spent... blah, blah, blah.


Ward 10 candidate Jeff Gaudette announced this interesting program for residents and he has not yet been elected. It's not the kind of thing that a politico would normally do is it. His opponent, Dwight-Lite, is off visiting in Asia: China, Singapore and Japan so far.

  • "Free Tutoring Initiative Unveiled

    Windsor - Dr. Andrew Allen, Coordinator of Urban Education Partnership at the University of Windsor and Jeff Gaudette, candidate for City Council in Ward 10, today announced a new joint venture to assist students seeking educational assistance and helping parents save the cost of hiring tutors.

    "This is a Win-Win situation for all those involved," said Andrew. "Students enrolled in the Faculty of Education at the University of Windsor will be getting practical hands on experience as they assist children who are in need of extra help outside of school in the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic."

    Jeff Gaudette said, "many families seek assistance for their children outside of the school system at a great expense to them. We hope this will help families during these difficult economic times when many are facing a multitude of other financial burdens."

    This exercise will be unveiled this fall at four locations throughout Ward 10 and is to be decided shortly. This is just the first step in Jeff's vision of "Together for a Better Tomorrow."


If more cars go through faster, hasn't capacity just been increased at a cost of less than $5.3B:

  • Ambassador Bridge Launches Fast Lane

    The Ambassador Bridge started a three-month pilot program Monday morning with a lane dedicated to those with the enhanced driver's license and other forms of ID with a chip.

    According to Chief Customs and Border Protection Officer Ron Smith, the fast lane has an antenna that can read your ID before you talk to an agent.

    "The information that we need - your name, date of birth, citizenship, residency - is going to be on the computer screen for the officer to review before they ever say hello to you," Smith said.

    Theoretically they'll be able to call you by your first name when you come up to the booth, Smith said.

    Detroit and Del Rio, Texas will test the lane for the next three months to see if it reduces delays."