Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The ABEs Are Having Fun

The ABEs--- The "Anybody But Edgar" group.

They aren't the movers and shakers that Gord talked about who are looking for a mayoral candidate. Unsuccessfully it seems, according to Gord, so that should discourage anyone from running, right. If the rich and powerful cannot find anyone to oppose Edgar, who can?

Rather the ABEs are a bunch of people who talk informally together. They are of a similar mind about what Windsor has become under this Mayor and Council and who want it changed and are prepared to work quietly to do that.

We'll probably never know who all the members are because it is just set up that way. It is very fluid as people come and go. There is no "leader," no "organization," and no "structure." Just a bunch of people united temporarily with a common goal.

Guerilla politics might be a good description of who they are and what they are trying to achieve and how.

They are having a good time this summer by not doing anything, at least not publicly. They don't have to. They're driving Edgar (aka Eddie) nuts by their seeming inaction. Edgar can't tolerate that because it means he cannot control the universe around him.

Gord at least figured out part of the ABE strategy to neutralize Edgar:
  • "Given the math on council, given the absence of real political clout for mayors in Canada, it wouldn't take much of a numerical switch, orchestrated by special interests, to neuter the next occupant of the corner office."

Sure we know about Brister going but Councillor Postma is another Edgar vote that is gone after the election. Can you imagine, Edgar being a lame-duck Mayor for 4 years ie being in a situation that Mike Hurst was in during his final year when he could NOT get much support for anything he wanted from his Councillor colleagues, losing 7-3 or 6-4 almost every time.

And surprisingly, the prime "special interest group" is not headed by an ABE but headed by someone that I believe that Gord knows very well. No one would believe that this person would do anything to the Mayor, at least not right now. Instead, he/she and his/her colleagues have been working behind the scenes for a very long time. It should be that obvious to political junkies.

How else to explain the campaign over the last six months or more to try to discover who is going to run against the Mayor or alternatively trying to prevent anyone else from doing so. The E-Machine is extremely upset that nothing that they have done has worked.

They forgot that people understand that Edgar has his own agenda and that nothing that anyone else does or says will have an impact on what he has already decided to do a long time ago. There was no way that Edgar was going to say anything last winter or even in June when he has Mike Hurst's river walk to one up.

Don't you like how the Star and the Pizza Queen went after the Mayor demanding that he announce already. After all, a quiet campaign means little advertising and reduced sales of newspapers to the Star and fewer visitors to the website.

In reality though, the Editorial and column were nothing more than ensuring that the Star could point to seemingly anti-Edgar writings in the event anyone ever complained. At the same time, Gord did his "Francis's personal cost-benefit analysis justified" to make everything all right for the Mayor.

I'm not certain that Edgar is going to run again. After all, does he want it known that he breaks his promises? That is not certainly good for one's reputation. Still, what other job pays almost $200,000 a year even though the person in the position has failed miserably at almost every significant task that he has tried.

I must admit that I don't believe much of what Gord said in his column about Edgar's future.

In passing though, it appears that our Mayor is making a mockery of YQG. Again when he travels, he uses Detroit airport rather than ours. It appears that it is a not so quick a getaway after all if he chooses to fly out of the US. If that is the case, then how can anyone make the case that we should spend millions of dollars to upgrade the airport when even the Chair of the Board doesn't use it because it takes too long. What kind of a message is that delivering to potential new investors?

  • "Francis, who has job offers involving considerably more than he earns as mayor."

From whom, a law firm? I doubt it. He has barely practiced law in reality so he would start at best at a very junior level. He is hardly a "rainmaker" and I doubt would bring in an awful lot of business to a law firm.

For large corporation? Which one? And what would he do, what executive position could he fill? His experience at running a business would not impress too many large organizations. Windsor's reputation of being well run is hardly outstanding given our low numbers on almost any significant poll about cities in Canada. Government relations... oh please.

He might make it as a candidate for political party but which one and at what level? Federally, he would have a tough fight against the NDP. Given what was said about him in the Senate, I would doubt that the Conservatives would be too interested in him and even if they were, I doubt that they would offer him a Cabinet position. As far as the Liberals go, my information from a Liberal insider is that he is heard nothing about an approach to the Mayor to run for them.

Provincially? It would be tough to beat either Sandra or Dwight.

In any event, the Opposition would chew him up if he was a Cabinet Minister because they would know that he cannot tolerate criticism or face blame. He would never last after his first crisis.

As Mayor of Windsor, would he be able to succeed afterwards? I doubt it. Depending on who the new Mayor was, he may not even be allowed in City Hall to speak to a clerk, especially a CUPE one.

Perhaps he might go into the land development business. After all, the Star told us that:

  • "Sources said Farhi is working alongside Mayor Eddie Francis in discussions with officials from the University of Windsor and St. Clair College to create a new joint post-secondary complex in the downtown core that could house up to 1,000 students. It was unknown whether that use would utilize existing buildings or new ones would be constructed."

I wonder if that is student housing given the problems with landlords in the West End and which location downtown, perhaps one that the gentleman from London already owns.

Try and guess which University building would be closed down and its occupants moved to the downtown. Obviously, it has to be a building that is in the way of "progress" and rather than tell us exactly what is going on, the students will be moved downtown and it will be described as "revitalization" of our inner core when that is not the truth.

It is even more interesting if what Gord says turns out to be the truth:

  • "The interesting thing about the new list is that the pros are short and sweet. He loves certain aspects of the job, especially the kind of deal-making, networking, investment-snagging CEO stuff that sent him to Bahrain and back in triumph, with booty that could, if everything falls into place, land Windsor the long-sought 50-metre pool that would be for the area swimming community what the WFCU Centre is for the region's hockey fans. The WFCU, by the way, was built with expansion in mind for such a facility."

So now we will have two white elephants in the East end thanks to Edgar: an Arena that barely pays its own way and a swimming pool that requires taxpayers subsidization. Will this location be single-sourced? Oh well, at least Edgar's "shrewd investors" who picked up property near the arena and the pool will be happy.

The big challenge for the ABEs was who was going to run for Mayor. For their strategy, it didn't matter whether Edgar ran or not. As Gord guessed, he would have been neutralized no matter what. However, to be frank, they expected that Councillor Bill Marra was going to run again for the job. It is something that he always wanted, even more than a victory in a Senior Level election.

It was also expected that Marra would win easily. He lost out to Edgar first time but only by a few percent when he had the baggage of Hurst-Lite weighing him down. This time around, Edgar has a record and not a very good one upon which he can be attacked. Marra is smart, attractive and a unifier, something that this City needs badly. He also ran an excellent campaign when he ran against Edgar whose campaign had only one good week of success, the first one.

It was well known that Marra had a four year strategy for becoming mayor but something happened that stopped it in its tracks. Obviously, it was the deal with Edgar and Dwight over the border road that ended any hope that Bill had to become mayor. It was the second time that Bill was screwed by his so-called Liberal friends in a nayoral run.

However, the ABEs remembered Marra's dithering the last time around and were smart enough not to put all their eggs in a Marra mayoral basket. In fact, they counted on him NOT running. Al Maghnieh running in Ward 10 signalled the end of Marra's Mayoral run since Dwight-Lite would have played a prime role in Bill's mayoral election campaign.

Fortunately, there are several people who have said that they are very interested in running for Mayor. Some of them are older and wiser and actually know how to run a business because they have one. They also are united in wanting Edgar out as Mayor. One especially has had a run in with the Mayor and would like nothing better than to be one of the people responsible for removing him from office. And he has the friends and associates to provide the financial backing too. I would expect as well that Gord's movers and shakers would flock to the candidate quickly to lend their support.

It may well be that the ABEs will find themselves with an abundance of riches and will have a number of attractive candidates amongst whom to pick.

The question to be asked is why not start a campaign today. Why wait until it may be too late especially if the candidate is relatively unknown.. The answer is obvious. Why allow the Messenger to hammer a possible Edgar opponent for months and months and months. Why allow the Star to badmouth the person now when there is no reason to do so.

Running a mayoral campaign is not at all like running one for Councillor. The approach is completely different. More importantly, remember that this is a small town of 200,000 people where people know everyone else. Word spreads quickly. I know. I have been there with STOPDRTP. I have seen how quickly our organization was perceived as controlling members of Council. It took us about a month without spending much money. Just remember what happened when it was thought that the new arena would go Tecumseh. Overnight, the story spread like wildfire through the City. Summer Fest stayed in the downtown because of a Facebook campaign.

We just should take Gord's advice from back in August, 2004:

  • "people who are growing impatient for action should kick back and enjoy the final three weeks of summer because the municipal universe is unfolding right on schedule."

David Cassivi gave some good advice then too:

  • "people should keep their shirts on because it will soon become evident significant progress is being made.

    "It's understandable that the public is getting a little antsy. But we must allow the process to unfold. Over the next little while things will be rolled out in a very methodical way and at the appropriate time..."

As Gord concluded

  • "Stick around. The fun begins after Labour Day."