Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, January 08, 2010

New Year's Shorts

Time to start off the new year with some quickies


I saw this and decided to put in my 2 cent offer for the Star.

I know I said I do not give 2 cents for it and its opinions but I thought I would be generous to Canwest and to make sure no one bid higher. I want to keep the paper in local hands.
  • "The country's largest newspaper chain, currently held by Canwest Global Communications Corp., is up for sale following a bid Friday by senior lenders made up of a consortium of Canadian banks, as well as a court filing for creditor protection.

    The publishing group has engaged RBC Capital Markets to seek out other possible buyers for the chain."

Hurry with those CVs.


Wow, what an election year this is going to be for the incumbents if you read what the Pizza Queen has to say. Just in the nick of time too:

  • happy hassle of unprecedented myriad construction projects that will create thousands of jobs and inject millions of dollars in a city still confronting the highest unemployment in the country

  • $7.2 million will be spent to dress up Pelissier and Maiden Lane

  • slow but sure recovery of the auto industry.

See, it was cyclical not structural after all. Who needs to think about what comes next.


A mountain from "all the surplus dirt that will be generated" by construction projects. How sweet.

Look at all of the mountains we have here already:
  • Mount Francis during the garbage strike
  • as one of my readers wrote back in 2007 "Convince Toronto, London and anyone else that their garbage is welcome in Windsor. No dumping fees. We need a mountain!"
  • Gord's mountain of cash available for the Zalev cleanup that I could never find
  • the "gorgeous mountain sunsets" that gate agents in Lynchburg, VA talk about as US small-city airports are under threat. Despite millions of dollars spent to improve Lynchburg's airport, just like Windsor hopes to do, departures have fallen from 20 a day a decade ago to just six. Airlines are so reluctant to fly here that Lynchburg can't pay them to come
  • taking over the business of the Owner of the Ambassador Bridge. I have said in the past that "this molehill of an issue [can become] a mountain that leads to the further deterioration of Canadian/American relations.
  • Edgar's demand that the Bridge company come to Council to beg to be allowed to tear down their homes. As I said in my BLOG "The Mountain Must Come To Eddie"
  • desire for P3s for the DRIC road and bridge even though mountains of debt have sunk some major P3 players.

However, Edgar's Council microphone is the biggest mountain here. With it, he can schuss on any Councillor any time he wants.


Here is an excerpt from an article from Business Executive which told us what Richard Florida had to say about Windsor:

  • "[Fischer's] 120-day plan included an economic development summit in August...

    “The amazing turnout of business leaders and leaders in the health, education, labour and agriculture fields is an indication of the commitment people here have to the future of the region.”

    The summit featured the internationally renowned guru of new and innovative economic development theories, Richard Florida, who now teaches at the University of Toronto. The gregarious and affable author of Rise of the Creative Class and Flight of the Creative Class, is also bullish on the Windsor Essex region.

    “Windsor-Detroit is part of the second-largest mega-region in the world,” said Florida. “Developing a binational economic development strategy is critical, and economic success goes to those places which are “open to immigrants, artists, gays, writers, engineers and anyone who could be considered creative.”

Mancini's gone as is Fischer and the old WEDC. Now it looks like Florida was all wrong too for cities like Windsor and Sackville, New Brunswick:

  • "In February 2008 he told the residents of Sackville, New Brunswick, population 5,000, that they were in a "cosmopolitan country town" with obvious advantages over Toronto -- never mind that he had been praising Toronto to the skies since being lured there in 2007 from George Mason University with a $346,000 salary and his own think tank. "My students in Toronto are complaining about the erosion of natural amenities in Toronto. ... People are looking for places that they can go and work and chill," he said in Sackville. "What I see here is a place that's at the cutting edge."


  • "Florida has been arguing that the recession has so decimated many cities and regions that it's time for the country to cut its losses and instead encourage growth in places that are prospering, like Silicon Valley, Boulder, Austin, and North Carolina's Research Triangle. And the rest? In his much-cited cover story in the March issue of The Atlantic -- "How the Crash Will Reshape America" -- he delivered the harsh news: "We need to be clear that ultimately, we can't stop the decline of some places, and that we would be foolish to try. ... Different eras favor different places, along with the industries and lifestyles those places embody. ... We need to let demand for the key products and lifestyles of the old order fall, and begin building a new economy, based on a new geography."

    He was even more direct in a May blog post. "We can confer subsidies on places to improve their infrastructure, universities, and core institutions, or quality of life," he wrote. But "at the end of the day, people -- not industries or even places -- should be our biggest concern. We can best help those who are hardest-hit by the crisis, by providing a generous social safety [net], investing in their skills, and when necessary helping them become mobile and move to where the opportunities are."

Get that charter service going to Saskatoon already!

Gord Orr's New Job

In case that you were concerned that he had nothing to do:

  • Gordon Orr,
    Marketing and Communications Officer will be responsible for the following:

    Housing and Children’s Services (Community Development and Health Commissioner)
    Ontario Works (Community Development and Health Commissioner)
    Huron Lodge (Community Development and Health Commissioner)
    Cultural Affairs (Community Development and Health Commissioner)
    Environment and Public Works Operations (City Engineer)
    Engineering and Corporate Projects (City Engineer)

Perhaps he could arrange for showings of the newest movies that he is reviewing for the residents of Huron Lodge as well.

Items Of Interest

A few things that may interest you.


A little birdie told me that there were some unhappy people at City Hall over my BLOGs on what is happening to the caretakers. I wonder if employees will be gagged now:
  • " Rona Warsh and John Miceli are absolutely beside themselves. They are angry both with your article and with the fact that someone emailed you the letters. Warsh thinks it was one of her people that did that. She is pondering a change to email policy to disallow the forwarding of email outside the corporation, but I don't know how that would be enforceable.

    So you've stirred the pot on this one. No doubt that Jean will claim victory over Miceli on this Square off.

    What started in 2007 as a way to ensure the caretakers had enough time to do everything they need to get done has transpired into union vs. union vs. management.

    And now supervisors don't know what to do regarding the garbage pickup. Can no one make a decision or was your article too distracting?"

Oh my goodness. A policy not to forward emails. What would the consequences of that be? How idiotic.

Hmmm, will there be a ban on fax machines next so no one can fax copies out. Expect there to be scanners placed at all exits from the building and employees to be patted down too as they leave to ensure that no one carries out hard copies of emails either.

Pathetic. Is that all that management has to worry about!

And just to rub it in:

  • "From: [Name of person]

    Subject: RE: Campus Operations: Centralized Refuse and Recycle Collection

    After I forwarded the email and many read it, many discussions and concerns were raised about this new initiative that need to be addressed. I contacted [Name of person] directly to ask him several questions, and I asked him if I could relay his answers to you now. He agreed.

    I told some of you that it was my understanding that the cuts had already taken place within the caretaker group. The few that remain, have been doing the job of many; picking up garbage and recycling from individual offices and desks takes up a good deal of their time. The time spent on these tasks takes away from other tasks, such as cleaning common areas, vacuuming and cleaning of washrooms. Placing the garbage and recycling in a central area will actually lessen their load to allow them to get their other jobs done.

    [Name of person] confirmed this to be true. He told me that only 4 full time and 2 part time caretakers remain to handle both buildings. No further caretakers will be added to the numbers, and yet the same tasks need to be performed; they used to have 16 caretakers. The move to a day shift has been slowly put into place and most all work during overlapping shifts between early morning and late afternoon.

    Some have expressed a fear that emptying their own garbage and recycling will allow the remaining caretakers to be laid off. [Name of person] tells me this is NOT in the plan.

    Some have expressed a distaste for emptying their garbage into a larger container. We are reminded that we already handled the garbage when we placed in in our own container earlier in the day, so it ought not to be toxic. If it is really messy, we should place it in the larger container right from the get go.

    While I don't think it happened on our floor, there have been a few times when the caretakers were berated for removing items from personal garbage cans and recycle boxes. For instance, some staff have placed shoes, socks, boots, umbrellas, and other personal items in these containers, only to have them tossed out. This then caused grief to the caretaker who assumed it was garbage, and had to listen to the backlash from this action.

    Over the last couple of years, the caretakers have become part of our daily experience. Most of us know them by name and they know ours. That we are concerned over their well-being shows that we have developed working relationships with our fellow workers, and we don't wish to disrespect them by doing their jobs.

    From what I understand, their jobs have changed - they work different hours than in the past, they have fewer coworkers and help, and yet they still have to take care of all of our needs. If their job now requires that they come to our floor twice a day to empty garbage and recycling, perhaps the onus is upon us to ensure that we have done our bit and emptied our personal containers.

    I hope this clears up some of the anxiety caused by the reading of the new directive when it first made it way to us. I beleive the truth to be as I stated. This will not lead to layoffs - these have occurred already and the remaining 6 are doing the job of 16.

    Thanks," [As written, typos and all]


It seems inconsequential but it is not:

Central Transport relocates jobs to Delray area of Detroit

WARREN, Mich. – Less-than-truckload carrier Central Transport International Inc. expects to position itself for growth and improved customer service by consolidating some terminal operations into a newly acquired facility in southwest Detroit.

Central Transport plans to consolidate most of its metro Detroit terminal operations into a facility on West Jefferson Avenue that was formerly operated by competitor YRC Worldwide Inc.

Central Transport initially will move most of its terminal operations in Romulus into the Delray facility.

The move is expected to immediately transfer 100 jobs to Detroit and may bring up to 400 jobs over time.

“The Detroit terminal will make us faster, more reliable and reduce our handling of loads,” said John Locke, executive vice president of Warren, Mich.-based Central Transport. “The new facility also enhances other logistics opportunities with customers. All of this translates to increased customer service and satisfaction.”

“The Delray terminal is purpose-built for the less-than-truckload (LTL) business, which is what we do,” Locke said. “It’s larger than our Romulus facility and this is a great opportunity for us to save on our infrastructure costs. There are few LTL companies that could use a terminal like this.”

Central Transport is part of the CenTra Inc. family of companies, which also includes the Detroit International Bridge Co., owner and operator of the Ambassador Bridge."

MDOT's Mr. Shreck immediately repsonded by saying:
  • "The approach ramps for the planned Detroit River International Crossing bridge project between Windsor and Detroit would cross one corner of the parcel. DRIC is a joint project by the governments of Michigan, Ontario, the United States and Canada to build a new publicly owned bridge from Detroit’s Delray district to Windsor.

    Moroun bitterly opposes the DRIC plans because it would siphon traffic and toll revenue away from his bridge. With Moroun now owning the Yellow Freight land, the DRIC coalition would have to resort to a government taking of the property, or at least the corner of it. That could lead to a court fight.

    Bill Shreck, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of Transportation, said Moroun’s purchase of the parcel shouldn’t hold up plans for DRIC. Noting that governments have the right to seize property for public uses under eminent domain, he said the only fight would be over how much the state had to pay for it."

I think Bill better do a bit of expropriation research before he makes such a comment again.


Imagine if DRIC and DIFT both get approved.

Oh you don't know what DIFT is:
  • "The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for a study regarding the Detroit Intermodal Freight Terminal (DIFT) has been completed by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The study has centered on stimulating economic revitalization in southeast Michigan by improving rail freight transportation opportunities and efficiencies at a consolidated terminal in southwest Detroit. The terminal is located in southwest Detroit between Wyoming and Livernois avenues south of I-94...

    A key feature of the FEIS is the agreement reached among MDOT and all four Class I railroads operating in Michigan - CSX, Norfolk Southern, Canadian Pacific, and Canadian National Railroad - to jointly develop the project. The consolidated terminal will accommodate existing and future demands, while supporting the needs of residential neighborhoods and businesses in the area.

    "This is a significant accomplishment in that it represents the largest public/private venture in Michigan history, with the railroads agreeing to pay a large share of the costs," said State Transportation Director Kirk T. Steudle. He added that no public/private partnership legislation is needed to make the project happen."

Oh, I guess P3 legislation would have to be passed for the DRIC bridge. I wonder if the Michigan Senate would go along with that. I doubt it!

Naturally, it and DRIC were looked at individually from an environmental perspective and not together or else someone would have figured out that people would be run out of that area of Detroit just like the people in Delray. It would become a wasteland

I guess Ken Cockrel Jr forgot about his previous Motion. Environmental Justice anyone:


    WHEREAS The Michigan Department of Transportation is planning construction of anintermodal freight terminal in Southwest Detroit; and

    WHEREAS The proposed Detroit Intermodal Freight Terminal project would be an 840-acre complex of terminals to be operated by four railroad companiesfor nil and truck use; and

    WHEREAS MDOT secured a consultant to assess the feasibility of three different "nil strategies" for development of the DIFT and, having completed that process, is proposing to build the DIFT under what is known as "Rail Strategy 3," and;

    WHEREAS Based on MDOT's own projections, implementation of DIFT Rail Strategy 3 would bring an additional 16,000 trucks into the surrounding neighborhoods each day even though this area is already overburdened by excess truck traffic; and

    WHEREAS Diesel exhaust fumes contain numerous toxic substances and have beenproven to be a major health hazard particularly to children and seniorcitizens; and

    WHEREAS Southwest Detroit already has the state's highest level of "particulate matter," a substance found in diesel exhaust fumes; and

    WHEREAS Bringing 16,000 additional trucks into Southwest Detroit daily would generate more noise, create additional wear and tear on city streets, and pose a safety risk from truck drivers who might travel residential streets; and

    WHEREAS Construction of the DIFT under Rail Strategy 3 would require the displacement of people from 75 homes or apartments and the movement of 78 businesses; and

    WHEREAS The economic benefits of this project to Detroit residents and particularly those who reside in the surrounding neighborhoods have not been documented; and

    WHEREAS At numerous public hearings on this issue, including three conducted by the City of Detroit Planning Commission, resident opposition to this project was overwhelming; and

    WHEREAS the City Planning Commission last month voted unanimously to recommend opposition to the DIFT Rail Strategy 3; and Now Therefore Be it

    RESOLVED That the Detroit City Council opposes the construction of the Detroit Intermodal Freight Terminal under Rail Strategy 3 having determined that this project would do a huge disservice to the quality of life in Southwest Detroit; and be it finally

    RESOLVED That the Detroit City Clerk provide copies of the resolution to the director of MDOT, the director of the Southeastern Michigan Council of Governments, Governor John Engler, all members of the Michigan House of Representatives and State Senate, Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, and Congressman John Conyers.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

No Love Affairs

It just could not last


Can you believe that the deal between the Union and City has not been signed after 6 months. What does Edgar (aka Eddie) want to do, force them to go back on the picket lines and in the cold weather too!

He better do that before PETU organizes as well so he can blame them if there are problems. Now John Miceli will learn how it is to be used and to take the blame.

It is interesting to see all of the anti-CUPE posts still being made on the Star website. Good stuff for the failed Edgar and the hardliners for re-election.

But what is this...arbitration to resolve the issue? Imagine using people from 4-500Km away to do that. Where are Edgar's principles about absolutely no arbitration! Let's hear it already.

Amazing, CUPE people could be quoted but "City administrators, including CAO Helga Reidel, who was lead negotiator for the city, could not be reached for comment."

What's this really about---I told you about the caretakers. Here is what else I have been told:
  • "On Thursday, Local 82 will be given formal notice of the intent to contract out garbage."

Demonize CUPE in advance by damaging propaganda spewed out by the Messenger. It's a good tactic to use. Notice that Councillor Lewenza was mentioned too to continue to discredit him.

He and his colleagues did not need to know anything or they might have forced a closure to try to bring people together after the 101-day strike. It would have been the "Vanilla" thing to do:

  • "city council has not been made aware the deal has not yet been signed."

CUPE and Lewenza in one story. A Twofer.

As I Blogged, but CUPE leaders will not listen:

  • "That is why CUPE has no choice but to fight aggressively on the bad faith claim against the City and to go after back wages, all $30M of them. I trust that Edgar (aka Eddie) will be the first City witness who will be cross-examined. I'd like to BLOG a copy of that transcript!

    Being a push-over will accomplish little for CUPE. Peace in our time with Edgar and the hardliners will not work since slamming CUPE and the Lewenzas is their re-election meal ticket."


Caretakers UPDATE as CUPE and PETU get relationship counselling.

Big garbage containers welcomed City staff back to work. However, I am told:

  • "John Miceli agreed to hold off until talking with 543."


This affair is over before it got started (except for Dwight paying a Red Bull alimony)

Remember Gord's comment:

  • "it appears peace might be at hand.

    Later this month Francis and Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan will hold a meeting that, if all goes well, could allow the city to at last sign off on the province’s Parkway plan. Instead of lawsuits, there would be smiling faces all round. And lots of photo-ops. That would be good news for a departing Francis and better news for ministers Duncan and Sandra Pupatello if their career plans include getting re-elected here in 2011."

Yea, right. Now who could have leaked that information to Gord and then leaked the following to mini-Gord? The corrupt Councillor being protected by the Star and mini-Gord perhaps or someone else?

I wonder what the headline maker was thinking by this headline. It does have a double menaing. Clearly we know whom he does NOT want for Mayor:

  • "Snake in path of Windsor-Essex Parkway"

Mini-Gord tells us:

  • "Thousands of badly needed construction jobs associated with the enormous project could be delayed unless an agreement to protect the snake and several wildflowers also unique to the region can be reached.

    I don't think a delay is likely -- at least not for long. But some kind of deal to protect the so-called endangered species is going to have to be struck or the jobs could end up in legal limbo.

    Talks are now underway between Ontario's Ministry of Transportation, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the City of Windsor.

    A week before Christmas, David Estrin, Windsor's Toronto-based environmental lawyer, filed a 19-page critique of the way the province has gone about issuing permits for the parkway."

A great time for the news to be made public, right before the meeting too.

Has Dwight been suckered for the 3rd time or is this a warning to settle with Edgar or else?

And all those millions that could have been used for other tourist events rather than for Red Bull that Dwight foolishly will arrange to be paid out to glorify Edgar in this election year.

Poor Dwight, he did not even get to go to overseas like Edgar either to get the publicity.

It's not like Dwight to slip up like this politically. He must be getting too soft as Minister. Or maybe he has Provincial leadership on his mind.

I can hardly wait for some Liberal insider to tell me I am wrong after this Edgar stunt.

It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Super Berry

Now that Angela Berry has single-handedly demonstrated that the City ought never to be involved again in managing major projects like the 400 Building, she needs a new task to keep her occupied. One perhaps that will reconfirm what she wrote but with a different disastrous project.

It might be the Arena but she can do a Single-Source Audit Report in her sleep now if she just re-reads the BLOGs I have done recently and previously on this subject. It is a slam-dunk that she will find a lot wrong with how the arena project was managed just from the sole source side based on what has been said so far to justify it.

Don't ever expect an audit on the entire project in our lifetime. The results would be too embarrassing.

So what can we have Angela do---credit cards. How boring. No, we need to give her something very challenging and also troubling to some Windsorites.

I have got it: Huron Lodge!

I hope that I have an ally in this in Ward 2 Councillor Jones. Actually, given his history on the project, I am surprised he is so silent:
  • "Council opts for lowest bidder; Lowest bid accepted; Any other choice would bring suit; Windsor Star 02-10-2004

    Facing a potential $3-million lawsuit, city council voted 6-4 to accept the lowest bid for the redevelopment of Huron Lodge instead of a higher bid by a local company which pledged to use almost exclusively local labourers...

    City administration had recommended the tender be awarded to London-based Southside Group whose bid came in $95,000 lower than Toronto-based Eastern Construction, which has had an office in Windsor since 1990...

    Councillor Ron Jones, speaking in favour of hiring local workers, said council shouldn't be fooled into thinking Southside will hire locally.

    "This is about local workers spending their money locally and we should be doing everything we can to ensure that happens," said Jones. "I think any one of us would be willing to spend $95,000 to draw $20 million in spinoff spending."

He is consistently in favour of local people (other than the Bridge Company it seems):

  • "Taxpayers have a right to expect that they will get the best value when the city spends their money. And that includes purchasing services or equipment through the tendering process.

    But at least one councillor, Ron Jones, wants council to adopt "flexibility" in its purchasing policy: "I do believe in competition. But I also believe we have to take a serious look at our purchasing in the future and take into consideration local businesses that pay business taxes and have been good corporate citizens."

    As a result, Jones joined three other councillors -- Ken Lewenza Jr., David Cassivi and Tom Wilson -- and this week voted against the low bid a Tilbury car dealership had tendered for four trucks."

  • "Councillors Ron Jones and Ken Lewenza Jr. said a fair-wage policy would not give local workers an advantage but would "level the playing field" by requiring the same wages for everyone.

    When the review is completed, the committee will make a recommendation to council about whether such a policy should be included in the new purchasing bylaw.

    The issue of a local preference policy was raised earlier this year when London-based Southside Co. Ltd. was awarded a $30-million contract to build a new Huron Lodge.

    Members of the local building industry said council should have awarded the contract to a bidder with more local ties even though it came in almost $100,000 higher."

Now take a look at this Court judgement which is very harsh and wonder why the Councillor is so silent. It involves Huron Lodge and I would have expected the Councillor to have spoken up by now in favour of the local contractors, even against the City.

I just hope the Councillor's phone calls are not leaked again. Heaven help him if he has spoken to any contractor over the past 3 or 4 years!

Actually, I am surprised that no one has demanded that the Integrity Commissioner, if we still have one, look into this comment in the latest Star story re the 400 Building:
  • "Balsamo said he has frequent conversations with councillors about projects.

    "It's a small city, I talk to everybody, all the councillors," he said.

    "I know Eddie (Francis) very well, too."

Shouldn't Councillor Jones say in relation to Edgar:

  • "The issue in front of us is discussions that may be taking place with a contractor respecting possible projects. That is an important distinction to be drawn here."
I don't know all of the gory details but it appears that the City is suing the London contractor for millions in deficiencies in a counterclaim. What a co-incidence that the City is holding back $3M which is the same amount it could have been sued for if it had not accepted the bid from the out-of-town supplier.

The real parties at risk are the local contractors, the subcontractors who have done their work years ago and have not been paid yet, who are owed money, and who have not had any allegations made against their workmanship but who still cannot be paid because of the City/Southside lawsuit.

What is shocking, and this is what concerned the Judge, is that as of November, 2009, the City has still NOT set out the deficiencies or the costs to remedy them. It has been three years already.

Frankly, I do not know why the Judge just did not toss out the City's claim. Maybe there are other reasons for not doing so that are not set out in his Judgement.

The Judge's last comment stating no reason has been given for the delay and that Windsor sitting on $3M is unacceptable is particularly damaging. I do not understand why the contractors do not amend their claim and ask for punitive damages from the City.

Are the contractors acting as the City's bank, effectively loaning the City money at no interest right now? Does the City not have the money to pay out any funds on this project until Budget 2010? Heck, we have an arena to pay for as well as out-of-town lawyers and consultants.

I know that if I sued for punitive damages, I would insist on examining Edgar (aka Eddie) first to get a complete understanding why the money has not been paid and no action has been taken before now to set out the specifics of the City's claim. I would be very suspicious that there is more going on than meets the eye and only the Mayor would know.

I am sure that Ms. Berry's report will enlighten us one day soon as the 400 audit did. She just needs to stay away from Kryptonite.


Here is what a reader sent to me. The war with CUPE is continuing.

That is why CUPE has no choice but to fight aggressively on the bad faith claim against the City and to go after back wages, all $30M of them. I trust that Edgar (aka Eddie) will be the first City witness who will be cross-examined. I'd like to BLOG a copy of that transcript!

Being a push-over will accomplish little for CUPE. Peace in our time with Edgar and the hardliners will not work since slamming CUPE and the Lewenzas is their re-election meal ticket.

See if you can find the irony in what follows as well:

"Hi Ed, I have not emailed you in a while, but I enjoy reading your blog each and every day. Well, things are heating up at the City lately, rumour has it that 100 CUPE members are going to be laid off soon. Then yesterday, we get the following email. Asking the members to do job duties of members (caretakers).
  • To Staff : 400 CHS

    Please review the attached email provided by Facilities Operations.

    Effective Monday, January 11th, 2010 each of us will be fully responsible for dispensing of our recycled material and trash to centralized deposit bins placed on the 1st and 3rd floor areas.

    We will carefully monitor to determine that there will be an adequate number of deposit receptacles for our area to meet our needs as we transition to this new process. Plastic garbage liners will be available at each deposit station.

    All of us will need to make a concerted and conscientious effort to dispose of our desk side garbage and recyclable material on a daily basis.

    Your compliance to this change is appreciated.

    Thank You


Well, needless to say there was alot of talk about what are they trying to do to the caretaking staff now? So apparently Jean Fox sent the attached to John Micelli:

  • -----Original Message-----
    From: Jean Fox
    Sent: January 5, 2010 3:58 PM
    To: Miceli, John

    Subject: New Recycle & Garage Collection Initiatives

    Good Afternoon & Happy New Year John:

    I have received a number of calls and e-mails from members today in regards to the recent announcement regarding recycle & garage collection. In reading the announcement this new initiative is supposed to increase levels of efficiency and effectiveness and provide more effective customer service and customer care. Please don’t give me that line. The new initiative is designed to reduce the workforce, plain and simple, asking staff to do the duties of a caretaker, in no way increases the level of efficiency and effectiveness in their positions. Having staff take time away from their job to empty garbage does not increase customer care. Taking staff away from their desk means that they are not available to answer phones, wait on customers or complete assigned work. What this new initiative does is create hard feelings among staff that see others taking over their job duties.

    In addition to the above, caretakers wear appropriate clothing while performing their job and there are also possible Health and Safety issues. The union has never had discussion with the employer in regards to this initiative and feels strongly against it and will be advising the membership not to do the work of caretakers. Should you wish to discuss this matter further I would be happy to meet with you.

    Jean Fox

    President Cupe Local 543

Things are going to get bad before anything gets better. There's already been quite a few cases of bumping going on and if rumour is true, another 100 people and what next, will they be asking caseworkers to write parking tickets? Anyways, I thought you may have some interest in these tidbits of information, have a nice day!"

Does the name John Miceli sound familiar? It should. He is the head of PETU, the new non-union and managers' UNION at City Hall. Thus, we have a CUPE union President fighting another soon-to-be Union President while Management laughs themselves silly.

And what is so awkward for Miceli? His members would need CUPE for their wage and benefits increases. Here is why their deal with the City fell apart:

  • "The offer would have given PETU members health benefits similar to those of the city's inside workers, who are represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 543.

    But it didn't include similar wage increases, and "that issue is very important to the membership."

We better hope that we have a new Mayor who can get along with Unions or the 101-day strike will not last very long as a record-setter. It is getting too complicated and too ugly!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Will Marra Ever Be Mayor

Not if Edgar (aka Eddie) can prevent it.

If we listen to Gord as you shall see below, Edgar (aka Eddie) and Dwight are going to meet to discuss the DRIC road. Again.

But that is not what the meeting is really about is it, dear reader. You and I both know better than to believe that.

Why would Dwight ever want to do so ? What's in it for him? Gord has claimed twice already that there was going to be peace in our time between Edgar and Dwight over the DRIC road and each time wasn't Dwight left at the altar. He looked like the fool, the Minister of Finance rebuffed at the hands of a small town Mayor. Not good for the image Dwight!

Why be embarrassed for a third time?

Seriously, why would Dwight care what Edgar wants since the major work on the road won't take place now, if it ever does, until 2011 when the next provincial election takes place. The Windsor mayoral election would have been all wrapped up by then.

Why would Dwight care then? It would be HIS re-election that he cared about wouldn't it?

Let's get real. No significant changes will be made to the DRIC road other than a few tweaks. Edgar has nothing for which he can get credit any longer even using the misinformation about his great effort in turning a $300M road into a $1.6B one. Not true but then again, when do facts count in this City it seems. Gord tried to give Edgar a face-saving way out twice but Edgar rejected it.

Take a look at this:

  • Francis unfazed by GreenLink rebuff
    November 4, 2009

    Windsor isn't giving up on GreenLink, despite Premier Dalton McGuinty's insistence during the Ontario Liberals' weekend gathering at Caesars Windsor that the province has "now nailed down the final plan" on the new border route.

    Mayor Eddie Francis appeared unfazed by the premier's comment, saying the city will continue to push for more elements of its costlier GreenLink plan to be included in the province's proposed Windsor-Essex Parkway, including longer stretches of tunnelling...

    Francis said he'll be making calls this week to local MPPs Sandra Pupatello and Dwight Duncan, both senior ministers in McGuinty's cabinet, to schedule a meeting and discussion on the new border access route, which has been budgeted at $1.6 billion and touted by the province as the most expensive stretch of roadbuilding in Ontario history.

    Asked what leeway Duncan, who is Ontario's finance minister, and Pupatello might have after their boss said it's time now to move ahead with the megaproject, Francis replied: "That's a question you'll have to ask them."

    Duncan wasn't keen on the subject when asked during the weekend convention.

    "We're having ongoing discussions with the city ... on all sorts of things we want to work on together," he said.

  • Border file, McGuinty and his hammer
    November 6, 2009

    Premier Dalton McGuinty dropped a bit of a bomb when he joined his caucus at a Caesars Windsor retreat last weekend.

    "We have now nailed down the final plan," he told reporters who asked if there was still time to tinker with the new $1.6-billion border access route. "It's now incumbent on all of us to move ahead with that..."

    "If anything, I'm going to continue to work with the process that has been defined and agreed to," Francis said.

  • Border route proposals sought
    Specs 'set' for parkway, province says

    December 30, 2009

    Initial work, including sound barriers through residential portions of the 11-kilometre parkway, began earlier this month, and full construction is expected by 2011..

    The request for proposals is based on project specifications set by Infrastructure Ontario and Ontario's Ministry of Transportation.

    "In a nutshell, it's set," den Elzen said.

    But Mayor Eddie Francis said Windsor hasn't given up in its push to have more elements added from the city's GreenLink proposal, including more tunnelling.

    "Issuing an RFP and awarding an RFP are two different things," said Francis.

    He said he's been in discussions with Windsor's two provincial cabinet ministers, Finance Minister Dwight Duncan and Economic Development and Trade Minister Sandra Pupatello.

    "There is still time for the city and the province to come together ... so that we're on the same page," he said, adding he anticipates those talks will continue into the new year.

    Fausto Natarelli, director of the province's Windsor Border Initiatives Implementation Group, said in an email Tuesday that "the design of the Parkway cannot stray from the approved Recommended Plan. The Windsor-Essex Parkway is the plan approved by Ontario and Canada."

    But Natarelli held out some hope of tweaking."

Then the big news was told to us by Gord

  • Henderson: Is the mayor really looking at third term?
    By Gord Henderson, January 2, 2010

    As for border infrastructure, the historic battle with the senior governments that consumed this city for eight exhausting years and dominated the Francis agenda, it appears peace might be at hand.

    Later this month Francis and Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan will hold a meeting that, if all goes well, could allow the city to at last sign off on the province’s Parkway plan. Instead of lawsuits, there would be smiling faces all round. And lots of photo-ops. That would be good news for a departing Francis and better news for ministers Duncan and Sandra Pupatello if their career plans include getting re-elected here in 2011.

If Edgar ran again for mayor, and won, that could cause a few minor irritants to our Cabinet Ministers. I hardly think that Dwight or Sandra are going to stay up nights worrying about threats spewed out by Gord. That tactic was tried before and they both won handily last time around. After all, they have the cash to make or break Windsor.

However, Dwight is an ambitious politician and he may have other career ambitions than just being Finance Minister. He may have bigger fish to fry.

  • running for leadership of the Provincial Liberal Party and becoming Premier since there is a chance that McGuinty will retire before the next election

  • running federally and perhaps being viewed one day as the Liberal Party salvation federally after Dion and Iggy's seeming failures

  • getting a nice fat salary working in industry.

Who knows what goes through politicians' minds.

If any of these are a possibility, then Dwight does not need Edgar to mess it up with some silly lawsuit over a DRIC road. That is Edgar's last remaining tool which he would use if it was expedient for him to do so.

Dwight's motto might become then "Why take a chance?" Why not resolve matters with Edgar in case something dumb that Edgar does could ruin Dwight's chances. And Dwight knows that Edgar panics in tight situations---the near riot is a case in point.

So Dwight might want to do a deal but why so early in the year?

That is due to Edgar....he needs to cover every eventuality early on given the great Planner that he is and also to make sure he gets his ultimate revenge if he chooses not to run for Mayor again.

What the meeting will be about is NOT about Greenlink and the DRIC road but how Dwight will pressure Bill Marra NOT to run as I believe was done before so that Edgar could become Mayor for his second term. Marra would have defeated him easily otherwise.

From every indication I had from some of his close insiders, Bill was seriously going to run for Mayor until something happened at the very last moment and he ran for Council instead. There is no doubt in my mind that a backroom deal was made and Bill became the victim.

Edgar may or may not run again. He knows he would lose to Bill so now we understand why Marra is being smeared in recent Star stories. To hedge his bets, Edgar would want a commitment that Dwight would ensure that Bill would not run against him if he decided to run for a third term.

Let's assume that Gord is right and Edgar won't run again. He could not stand Marra becoming Mayor. Again, Edgar would want a commitment that Dwight would ensure that Bill would not run to become the next Mayor.

That's how politics is played in the minor leagues folks.

Will Edgar Work For Roger

I wonder if Gord would want to bet me on this one.

Oh what might Edgar do if he did not run for Mayor? I don't see a career for him in politics or law in my opinion. I told you before that I thought he was cultivating Roger Penske and I bet he would want to work for him in a senior position. Think I am fooling. Take a look at this story from the Soo:
  • "Torch bearers came from far and wide

    Two Americans, one from Michigan, and one from Wisconsin, were among the runners who helped deliver the Olympic Flame to the Essar Centre on Saturday, on its way to Vancouver for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

    It was happenstance that brought Bud Denker to the relay leg through the Sault, even though he has roots just south of the border.

    "Coincidentally, I was born in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., and coincidentally my parents still live in Brimley, and my grandma lives in Sault Ste. Marie, 97 years old," said Denker, 50.

    Denker, who lives in Detroit, but flew in from vacation in California to do the relay, is senior vice-president with transportation giant Penske Corp.

    He said he was offered the relay spot because of the company's relationship with Windsor, Ont., Mayor Eddie Francis.

    "He had his relay about 12 days ago and through that partnership with him, that relationship with him, and working with the downtown Detroit area, I was able to come up here and had the opportunity to run," said Denker."

Poor Roger. Has he now become a "friend" too that might require an Integrity Commissioner investigation if he tried to do a deal with Edgar, say over the airport transportation hub which is really a truck hub as I Blogged before:

  • "Unique in its heritage and formidable in its national and international scope, Penske Corporation is a closely held transportation services company that encompasses retail automotive sales and services, truck leasing, supply chain logistics management, transportation components manufacturing, and high-performance racing."

So many twists and turns in Windsor politics. Roger as an ex-racer would be right at home.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Fortune Telling And The DRIC Bridge

Aren't book-keeping tricks wonderful? You can do most anything if you know the ropes.

I can tell you absolutely everything that is going to happen to the DRIC Bridge Project between Windsor and Detroit.

No I am not a fortune teller nor do I read tea leaves even though, according to Gord, I am a "learned type with the impressive diplomas and immaculately polished crystal balls."

If I want to know what is going to happen to the DRIC bridge, I just go and look at what is happening to the Port Mann Bridge in BC.

You remember that project where Macquarie was unable to find the billions of dollars needed to finance the project so that the Provincial Government had to take it over. Interestingly, using the same contractors, the Province was going to build it a year quicker and a billion dollars cheaper.

Now it looks like the Provincial Auditor General is not too happy about how it will be treated for accounting purposes for the purpose of financing. When you read the story, just think of MDOT and how they say that the DRIC Bridge will make money when the cost is in the billions and they have to compete against the lower-cost tolls of the Ambassador Bridge.

Here is what they claim:
  • "Shreck wanted to correct any perception the new DRIC bridge would drain funds from other Michigan road projects: "Any bridge that is built will be financed with bonds and paid for by tolls, not state and federal gas tax funds, so it will not affect any other road projects.”

Here is how SEMCOG describes it:

  • "The total U.S. cost to be programmed in the 2030 RTP is $1.5 billion in 2011 dollars (although this figure would be refined once a Preferred Alternative is selected and a Final EIS submitted). Current estimates on the Canadian side range from $2.1 - $2.5 billion, not including right-of-way costs. The Michigan Department of Transportation anticipates funding the U.S. cost with bonds to be repaid with toll revenues."

Accurate but narrow? Based on hope? Based on taking a good chunk of the BWB and Tunnel traffic and most of that from the Ambassador Bridge?

Trouble is BONDS are defined as "BOND: State Bond Funds" In another SEMCOG document, Funding Codes, "BOND means Michigan General Obligation Bond" I guess Michigna taxpayers are on the hook if the toll money is not there!

But no one wants to mention that. It might worry people in a State with little money.

  • Auditor-general rightly rejects claim Port Mann Bridge is self-supporting

    Auditor-General John Doyle got straight to the point with a legislature committee recently, when explaining his rejection of the B.C. Liberal government decision to to classify the Port Mann Bridge project as a “self-supporting crown corporation.”

    “There are no tolls, there is no bridge,” Doyle told the public accounts committee. “Therefore it is premature to consider it to be a self-supporting entity.”

    The more detailed explanation took some time and amounted to much the same thing. The independent financial watchdog disagrees with the government’s accounting treatment of the single most expensive public construction project in provincial history.

    The Liberals, on the eve of the last election, launched the $3.3-billion plan to replace the existing Port Mann crossing with a twinned span and widen adjacent sections of Highway 1.

    They vowed the funding for the entire project — construction and interest charges over five years, maintenance and operation costs for the following three decades–would be recovered by a hefty vehicle toll.

    On that expectation, they parked the project on the books of the Transportation Investment Corporation, a government-owned entity that was especially legislated into being in the spring of 2008.

    But initially, the Liberals had intended that the corporation would be the government player in a public private partnership.

    The private partners and their bankers would bankroll construction, assume much of the risk, and recover their investment through a 35-year operating agreement that gave them access to the estimated $100 million a year (for starters) tolling revenues.

    Then came the near collapse of credit markets in the fall of 2008. The Liberals soon found themselves short of private sector suitors on their preferred time frame — i.e. getting the project underway in time for the spring 2009 election campaign.

    So they decided the government would become the banker, using its taxpayer-backed powers to borrow and spend. The first $313 million was out the door by summer. The remaining $3 billion will be doled out before the scheduled completion date in the winter of 2013.

    But even though central government was now the sole underwriter of the Port Mann project, the Liberals continued to insist that it was being built by a “self-supporting crown corporation.”

    The distinction matters. The provincial debt is accounted for in two main categories. Borrowing to build schools, hospitals, roads, bridges — all that is underwritten by tax revenues. Hence the term taxpayer-supported debt.

    But the big commercial crown corporations like BC Hydro and the Insurance Corp. of B.C. have their own sources of revenue from ratepayers and customers. Their borrowing is considered self-supported debt.

    The government’s own debt-management targets put the emphasis on holding down taxpayer-supported debt. So the Liberals, by relegating the Port Mann project to a so-called “self-supporting crown corporation,” were excluding its share of borrowing from the taxpayer-supported debt.

    A not inconsequential bit of bookkeeping, as it turns out. Over time the taxpayer-supported share of the total provincial debt could be understated by several billion dollars.

    And it was that prospect that prompted Doyle to blow the whistle. He registered his initial objection in June, by placing a formal reservation on the financial statements ( “public accounts”) for the 2008-09 fiscal year.

    He expanded on his reasons last week, during testimony before the public accounts committee, which routinely examines his comments on the financial statements.

    Doyle emphasized that his current reservations about the treatment of the Port Mann project won’t necessarily hold for all time.

    “This is something where my office will look every year at this particular organization to see whether we think it has tipped into the self-supporting,” he told the committee.

    “The bridge is due to be completed and tolls due to flow within about three to four years.

    Then, obviously, over time, you need to generate enough surpluses to pay back the interest and also the funds that you’ve borrowed. That will happen, according to the model that I’ve seen, over the lifespan of the whole project.

    “But it doesn’t turn into a profitable or a net self-supporting type of organization, according to the model, until about 10 years from now.”

    Until closer to that time, Doyle wouldn’t allow the Port Mann project to be booked along such genuinely self-supporting entities as BC Hydro and ICBC. For the short-to-medium term, the project and all of its attendant spending and debt ought to be consolidated with the accounts of central government.

    Moreover, the auditor-general put the province on notice as to what will happen if it fails to consolidate. Every year he will place “a qualification” on the books. Every year, he’ll record the “impact that has on the financial statements.” Every year, as the spending continues and the debt accumulates, “this will get bigger and bigger as a significant issue.”

Will The Star Endorse A BLOGMEISTER Mayoral Candidacy

The BLOGMeister, dammit, who else!

Honest, that was my first reaction as I saw the Star online headline and photo. Really, I thought that people would completely understand that my recent BLOG "BLOGExclusive: BLOGMEISTER Reconsiders Running For Mayor" was just tongue in cheek.

What a one-two punch though.....Schmidt and Henderson writing all of this for me, to get me to run.

It seems that people have been taking me seriously. My phone has been ringing off the hook. My email box is full. After all, the Star published headline wrote off every member of Council as did the story:
  • "Observers say city councillors lack leadership
    Clock ticking for top-job hopefuls

    Regardless of whether Eddie Francis pursues a third term as mayor, if there's anyone else around the council table toying with the idea of a run for Windsor's top job, they'd better start displaying some leadership qualities, according to some of city hall's closest watchers.

    Leadership, they argue, is an essential element for a mayor, yet the consensus appears to be that it's a quality lacking in the 10 current councillors.

    For a year-end informal survey, The Windsor Star interviewed leaders in the local business, labour and non-profit communities, academics, bloggers, civic activists and an assortment of city hall gadflies. Some of them requested anonymity because of close working ties with the municipality."

At first, I was shocked, and yes, disappointed, that I was not called as a Blogger that is a close City Hall watcher. But then I understood why. The Star was protecting me. I might have been in a conflict position if I had bad-mouthed Edgar (aka) Eddie and then run for office.

Moreover, the Star was doing my election campaign polling for me again. Seriously, this story was similar to the previous one. Except this time CUPE was replaced by the Lewenzas--father and son--to discredit them. No chance that Junior would run for Mayor now.

It was beautiful how the story was put together too.

Has Doug Schmidt been practising answering interview questions for a new job? The first section was pure job interview Q&A. When you are asked to name a weakness, name one but make it a positive. Here's how Edgar was described:

  • "With notable exceptions, most describe Francis as hard-working and a decisive leader making tough, sometimes bold choices during very trying economic times. But even some of his supporters perceive Francis as a "control freak" and he's seen by many as a polarizing figure who has difficulty bringing people together...

    "A time like this calls for real strong leadership."

    Derbyshire, who is plugged in to many facets of Windsor community life, said Francis impresses her with his willingness to hop on a jet for a one-man overseas mission to ferret out investment opportunities and potential jobs. But she and others express concern Francis is not communicating his plans well with others, he's taking on too many tasks on his own and he's not doing enough to reach out and tap into the talents of more community leaders, including big labour."

Poor Edgar, so worried about our City that he has to do it all himself with such a useless Council!

Then of course the real meat in the story, Edgar's only hope---slam the Unions and discredit Junior personally. Make sure no one will believe what he said during his Star unreported Ward meeting when he demonstrated conclusively that Edgar and the hardliners failed miserably during the unnecessary 101-day CUPE strike.

Then poor Councillor Marra, viciously attacked again. I especially liked the picking of Mark Boscariol who was used again to attack Marra and he just keeps on doing it:

  • "Even some of his biggest supporters feel Marra needs to torque it up.

    "I want to see more out of him ... he's been a little too quiet," said downtown restaurateur Mark Boscariol, a self-described "communitarian" with a deep interest in city hall affairs."

With friends like Mark.... Remember how Henderson wrote about Mark and Bill Marra, his friend, who was running for Mayor:

  • ""Boscariol, who backed Bill Marra's failed 2003 mayoral campaign, swore he would switch sides and support Francis in 2006 if he could bring a campus downtown."

    Astounded I wrote Mark about the quote and got this reply:

    "He [Henderson] must have taken that from my article 2 years ago where I said "If Francis does what he says he's going to do, I'll pound in signs for him". I'm happy to support Mayor Francis helping downtown, I don't like being used to give a shot at Bill Marra."
But there Mark is again. Being used to give a shot to Bill.

And Dave Cooke is so out of it, that it is shocking:

  • "Cooke adds it’s time for a new generation of younger leaders “who really have a stake in the future.”

We have just experienced that with Edgar! Who needs more of the same? No wonder it is claimed

  • " former Ontario cabinet minister Dave Cooke, who is on the top of many wish lists as mayoral material...insists he won’t be running in 2010."

But it is the Sheriff who who really wants to be my big supporter. Clearly, he and I are "in sympatico" together as he has guided me throughout with his columns. Gee, I even have a "sympatico" as my personal email address.

Seriously, which other person could he be referring to except me:

  • "The learned types, the folks with the impressive diplomas and immaculately polished crystal balls"

I have so many letters after my name and can almost predict the future as I have demonstrated on here time and time again.

Or is Gord really trying to fool me. Egg me on to declare early so Eddie will have another mayoral wannabe to take away votes from Councillor Marra.

I really took Gord seriously for a bit:

  • Mayor Eddie Francis will have freed himself from the chains of office by the end of this year

  • he knows his time is almost up and he has no intention of sticking around beyond 2010

  • The so-called coyness? To me, that’s just canny politics. The longer you keep would-be contenders guessing about your intentions, the longer you retain some control over council

  • The strongest evidence that Francis is leaving lies in the lengthy to-do list that he’s compiled for the first part of this year.

And so on and on and on.

But Gord signalled me right at the start not to take his column seriously at all and to ignore everything he had to say including Edgar's ambitious efforts to prove he was not a complete failure. Here is what I mean:

  • "I wouldn’t bet the farm on it. But I’ll wager a pint or two of fine Ontario barley extract that Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis will have freed himself from the chains of office by the end of this year...

    The to-do list is massive. Francis is shifting into overdrive. He’s in a race to get his key files cleared by late spring, because it will become almost impossible to get anything done once the jockeying begins in earnest for the mayor’s job as well as the 10 council seats."

Gord gave it all away! I am not going to take a sucker bet. I am not going to be fooled. Gord has made this similar bet before, with Arthur remember, only this time he is a lot cheaper since he knows he is going to lose:

  • "Betting on a vision

    It might be pie in the sky to critics, but the proposed Caron Canal, or Pitt Street River Walk, or whatever they choose to call it, is now a deadly serious business in my books because the water of life, a precious bottle of Scotch, is on the line.

    Arthur, a reader with a dry wit and a nice touch with words, contacted me Wednesday to express deep skepticism about the marina and canal being touted for the near west side, and to throw out a thirsty challenge...

    "I am willing to put a bet on this marina -- say a bottle of whatever it is you drink. Let me know if you are interested," he concluded.

    Challenged in that manner, I had no choice but to respond. And given the nature of the debate -- moving water -- I chose to put on the line a bottle of Scapa, single malt whisky from Scapa Flow, the great natural anchorage (and final resting place of the battleship HMS Royal Oak) off the north coast of Scotland.


    After placing the bet I developed the inevitable cold feet. In a subsequent conversation with Mayor Eddie Francis I confessed to having rashly placed my wallet and a piece of my Scottish heritage at risk.

    His advice? "Double the odds. Double down. Raise it to a case. I'd take the bet because it will be done before I leave office," he insisted.

    I'm not about to raise it to a case. But when Francis oozes this kind of confidence, as he did on the WFCU arena deal, the St. Clair College agreement on the Cleary and the reclamation of the city's finances, I tend to assume he has his ducks already lined up."

There. Edgar is running again. It has all been a phony to scare Councillors, to see what people think, to judge the anti-CUPE, anti-CAW mood, to test Edgar's popularity and to try and draw out possible opponents.

No Gord, go and sucker the Councillor formerly known as Councillor Budget as you and mini-Gord have been doing by building him up even though the front page story dismissed him as a credible alternative. He is ripe for the plucking because you said before in January 2008:

  • "Marra vs. Brister?

    Now that the dust is settling from the kerfuffle over Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis's musings about staying on for a third term, here's an outrageously premature prediction of how the next mayoral race will really play out.

    Going out on a limb, blindfolded, my guess is that Francis, although he's pushed that door open a crack and given himself the option of seeking another term, will have had more than his fill in three years and shall be more than happy to hand over the ball-and- chain of office.

    But anyone who thinks this means the 2010 coronation of Ward 4 Coun. Bill Marra is back on schedule should give that a second thought. There will be no free ride. There will be a war, a vicious, take-no-prisoners struggle and I'm placing early money that it will be between Marra and Ward 1 Coun. Dave Brister.

    Brister told me in his rookie term that he had no interest in the top job. And he's still circumspect about his intentions. But what I'm hearing, from people close to him, is that if Francis does pack it in to go make some serious money, Brister will not stand idly by and let Marra claim this (dubious) prize without a fight."

You are such a character Gord. No wonder we get along so well!

Monday, January 04, 2010

Explanations Required

Here are several items of interest.

I am having trouble figuring these things out so perhaps one of my readers can help explain to me what is happening.


WOW, that audit on the 400 building really does require a Public Inquiry. Councillor Halberstadt said so but never acted on it as a Member of the Audit Committee or as a Councillor. At first:
  • "Only in Windsor can politicians who engage in activity that blatantly violate Common Law and the bylaws that govern the City of Windsor be hailed as heroes...

    Rather than defending his conduct, ex Councillor Carlesimo should be thankful that the audit committee did not recommend to Council a full-blown Public Inquiry. Then he and the other members of the selection committee would have been put under oath and asked what conversations and associations they might have had with local contractor Oscar during the time this sordid mess was unraveling."

Then he changed his mind:

  • "There is a smattering of calls for a public inquiry to expand on the 400 Building Audit, including one in the comments section beneath my Dec. 23 blog – Pistol Pete Audit Conclusion Scary.

    This reader is demanding to know why the audit committee, of which I am a member, has not recommended a full-blown public inquiry into the conduct of Councillors and bureaucrats who broke the laws of RFP tendering by naming a non-compliant bidder to construct the building that started out as a $24.9 million project and finished up at $32.5 million.

    There are a number of reasons why, but the two main ones are these:

    1. KPMG forensic auditors and Miller Thomson lawyer Andrew Roman concluded that they could not find any evidence of criminal wrongdoing during an extensive investigation of the bungled RFP process, including interviews with all of the key players.

    2. A public inquiry would cost taxpayers a fortune. Once the Province of Ontario grants a city’s request for a Commission of Inquiry, the city loses control of all costs and timing. Here are some of the recent examples as provided by Miller Thomson:

Oh Alan, give me a break!

KPMG and Miller Thomson were hired to oversee Angela Berry not to do an investigation into criminal activity. What else could they say? They would be sued otherwise.

As for costs, the other inquiries mentioned were huge ones like MFP in Toronto, Walkerton and the Dudley George one, not a focused one like the 400 Building would be. If wrong-doings were found, a nice lawsuit would recover oodles of money for Windsor.

Why would Alan change his mind? Do you think it had anything to do with Al Nelman who asked on Eh-Channel News how Alan could be a member of the 400 Building Steering Committee and an Audit Committee member looking into that project.

Or maybe it is the "old boy's network" in operation where you don't go after past politicians since it can happen to you when you leave office. That happened during the early days of Edgar's first term as Mayor at City Hall concerning a past matter when I first heard that proposition expressed.


I found an interesting Minute on the City's website and you will note that there is no discussion of what the "general nature thereof" is of the "interest."

So I sent this note to Councillor Valentinis:

  • "----- Original Message -----
    From: Ed Arditti
    Sent: Monday, December 28, 2009 6:31 PM
    Subject: Pecuniary interest

    I would appreciate if you would let me know "the general nature therof" of your declaration since it is not set out in the Minutes.

    Ed Arditti

    October 7, 2002


    That the Commissioner of Corporate Services and Treasurer BE DIRECTED to issue to Vindella Enterprises Inc a purchase order not to exceed $835,000 plus G.S.T. charged to 07 8950 5410 std std 717031 to complete the following:

    1. Demolish the former Police Headquarters including environmental remediation and documentation of remediation and demolition

    2. Construct a vault to protect the existing electrical feed on the former Police Headquarters Site as identified in Vindella’s proposal

    3. Construct a municipal parking lot satisfactory to the Commissioner of Traffic Engineering complete with lighting, landscaping, and electrical feed for ticket dispenser and line markings as identified in Vindella’s proposal.

    And that the Director of Facility Management BE DIRECTED to provide standby generators as a precaution during demolition of the former Police Headquarters.

    And that the project team BE DIRECTED to negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding not to exceed the guaranteed price of their proposal net of $815,000 plus G.S.T. designated for the building demolition, vault protection and parking lot construction.


    Councillor Valentinis discloses an interest in this matter and abstains from voting."

I received an auto-response saying the Councillor was away until January 4 but I also received this:

  • "Your message

    To: Valentinis, Fulvio
    Subject: Pecuniary interest
    Sent: Mon, 28 Dec 2009 18:31:57 -0500

    was read on Wed, 30 Dec 2009 00:54:52 -0500"

So the Councillor has read my note but chose not to respond at that time. If I get an answer, I'll let you know.


I wonder why Edgar did not declare a pecuniary interest in this case since his good buddy at the Duty Free was his campaign manager while he did declare such an interest in other cases:

I wonder if downtown businesses get tax reductions if they have tourist promotions to help them out with the decrease in tourist numbers.


I wanted to teach a course in law at the University of Windsor law school when I first moved to the City and but it just did not work out.

Part of the fun of teaching such a course would be in making up the exam questions. My style would have been to take a “real” fact situation in the City for example and then twist and turn it into a hypothetical case and ask the students to give an answer. It makes it so much more fun for the students even though they are under a tremendous amount of stress writing the paper.

Let me explain what I mean. Here is a sample question:

  • "Assume that you are the new lawyer for Chuck Mady. You have just read this case comment when you are called by Mr. Mady with a situation that he is involved in. What would your advice to him be:

    "A client has every right to be confident that the solicitor retained will not subsequently take an adversarial position against the client with respect to the same subject-matter that he was retained on. That fiduciary duty… is not terminated when the services rendered have been completed."

    The Mayor of the City of Windsor when he was a Councillor worked for the law firm that represented Mr. Mady when he bid on the 400 Building project. Mr. Mady‘s bid for that job was rejected and another contractor was hired to do the work.

    When the matter was brought in front of Council, the Mayor declared a pecuniary interest by saying:

    “Councillor Francis declares a conflict on items 4 and 5 since his employer represents the interests of Mady Development Corporation. "

    Several years later, but before the expiration of any Limitations Period for suing the City on the Project, the Mayor, even though he was not a member of the Audit Committee, received and read a Draft Audit Report concerning the shocking revelations about possible breaches of the law and the City’s Purchasing Bylaw respecting how this project was managed.

    In fact, a good argument could be made, based on the Report, that Mady’s bid was the lowest bid by far and that he should have been awarded the contract for the project.

    The Committee was clearly aware of the consequences of releasing their Audit Report before the expiration of the Limitations Period. A strong argument could be made that the Committee decided not to release the Report until after the expiration of the Limitations Period for fear that the City could be sued for millions of dollars and made up excuses not to release the Report until after such time. They were acting they thought in the best interests of the City and its taxpayers.

    At no time, did the Mayor contact his old law firm or Mr. Mady to let him know about what the Draft Audit Report stated and that Mady had the possibility of suing the City for substantial damages.

    Considering that the Mayor read the Report, what advice would you give your new client, assuming that the Limitations Period has expired for breach of contract only. Should action be taken against any or all of the following and if so, for what reason:

     The Mayor
     The Law Firm
     The City
     The Audit Committee
     The individual Audit Committee Members

    In framing your answer, consider and answer the following questions:

     Even though he no longer worked for the law firm, did the Mayor owe a duty to the law firm or to Mr. Mady in the circumstances of this case?
     If so, what was that duty? If not, why not?
     Was a duty owed to the City by the Mayor in these circumstances?
     If so, what was that duty? If no duty was owed, why not?
     Are those respective duties in conflict?
     If so, how could the Mayor have handled this situation differently?
     Is it a defence to any action to argue that the City representatives were acting in the best interest of taxpayers and that, in any event, there was no duty to ever release the Report?

I wish I knew what the answer was but it sure would make for some interesting responses I would bet.

20/10 Memory, Or Not

Happy 2010 to my readers!

Thank goodness there are Bloggers in town, tax watchdogs and WeAct because you did not read this in the Windsor Star.

It may be happier year for some of us, to be direct, if Edgar's political career goes down the drain over the arena and sole sourcing issue. That assumes that we do get an audit and do not have another Dunbar audit-type stall to keep it hidden until after the next municipal election next October.

MFP, Canderel, the 400 Building, Greenlink, the Tunnel deal, the Engineering Building downtown, the urban village, the canal, the transportation hub and now the Arena. Why is it that major Windsor civic projects fail so miserably?

Speaking of 2010, Edgar (aka Eddie) had told me that he had a photographic memory. That is a terrific trait. In an eyechart, 20/10 would be comparable I would think.

Except, dear reader, you may want to consider if you should add on a "0" to the number "10" when considering Edgar's memory these days.

Let's be generous at the start of the year and blame it on the amnesia pandemic at City Hall that is caused by sucking in all of that unscrubbed exhaust that spews out of the City's Tunnel Ventilation Building that clearly must enter City Hall. No wonder we will hear soon that we need a new one on Edgar Francis Square.

Angela Berry is probably smiling broadly and breathing a big sigh of relief since her job has been made so much simpler. The limited "sole sourcing" scope of the arena audit if there is one can be handled quickly now and before the election.

Of course, we have been badly served by the Star once again who refused to do the digging to complete the story but that is why you read the BLOGs isn't it dear, reader. To get the complete facts.

Naturally, Jim Lyons had to be smeared:
  • "Francis said Lyons was against the arena project from the start."

I don't remember that. He just wanted a fair tendering process as the Purchasing By-law requires on major projects.

It is the typical Edgar payback time for someone who dared criticize him. Just like with the pesky environmentalist on the border at the not-held-in-Windsor City Council meeting:

  • "It's a significant amount and they're basically bypassing the tendering bylaw," said Jim Lyons, executive director of the association that represents 380 local companies. "Our question is, 'Wait a minute, whoa, this is a (multimillion-dollar) project...'"

  • ""The Windsor Construction Association accused city council Wednesday of financial irresponsibility and negligence when it awarded the $47.9-million east-end arena project to the Collavino family's PCR firm without tender...

  • "We're concerned about the fact the city didn't follow proper procedure on a $50-million award," said executive director Jim Lyons.

    Lyons said the association's lawyer concluded that council "misused the language in their (purchasing) bylaw."

Of course, Lyons and his members deserve what they got for wimping out and doing nothing to stand up for their rights. Their moaning and groaning in the past still rings hollow:

  • "Lyons said the association's president is polling its board members to see if they want to pursue further action, but he doubts the issue will go as far as the courts. "Our pockets aren't deep enough," he said. "(City officials) wanted this deal to happen and they got language to make it work."

    Lyons said he was inundated with calls and e-mails leading up to council's meeting Wednesday when the deal with the Collavino brothers' PCR firm was approved. Many companies in the construction industry won't publicly condemn the city because they rely on millions of dollars worth of municipal jobs, but they asked the association to intervene on their behalf."

Wealthy contractors being cowards and crying poverty. Oh PUUHHLLLEEZZEE!

Now read Edgar's "sole source" explanation and hoot:

  • "Arena bid process assailed
    Builders' group raps sole-sourcing

    "To this day, nobody in the industry is happy that project was sole-sourced," Lyons said of the arena project. "PCR is a great company. They took an opportunity and ran with it."

    Francis said Lyons was against the arena project from the start and suggested it never would have been constructed unless council sole-sourced the project to PCR.

    "The only group that had plans was the Collavino (PCR) group," the mayor said. "We sole-sourced because these guys were the only one that had drawings.

    "The only option for us was Collavino or do nothing. There wasn't another proposal in front of us."

    "If the city commissioned a tender for drawings that would have added months of delays," Francis said. Council at the time was under pressure to move quickly on an arena decision because Project Ice Track -- a major competing arena proposal -- was being considered in Tecumseh.

    "Jim Lyons wanted to kill another six months (by tendering)," Francis said. "Had we done that a new facility never would have been built. It would have wasted more time, not delivered an arena and we'd be waiting another 30 years."

This is absolute crap! Does Edgar think we are all total idiots who will swallow anything he says.


There were plans. Edgar knew it. The City paid for them a few years before when Edgar was on Council. The architects who drew them up sent Edgar a letter saying they were ready to act to build the new arena. But their letter was dismissed out of hand and never considered seriously. Why not?

Project Ice Track had no chance. The Spits were "onside" with the City before the Project Ice Track people went to Tecumseh if you can remember that far back. It was stated in the Administration report at the time that, if Project Ice Track proposal is selected, then Administration would try to bring Project Ice Track and the Spitfires together to negotiate a deal. Yet at the same time the Report also states that the City and the Spitfires have been talking about the East end arena and

  • “through preliminary discussions with the Windsor Spitfires, a framework for a new agreement with the city has been reached.”

From the Spitfires’ website, we learned that:

  • “Over the past month, the Windsor Spitfires organization has reviewed the Greater Windsor Community Recreation Sports Centre proposal, which we understand may be located in the east side of the City…

    we feel that the Greater Windsor Community Recreation Sports Centre proposal is best suited for both the Spitfire Organization and our community.”

How could any competitor to PCR be successful if the City tied up the main tenant of an arena, the Spitfires, in advance?

But it is the garbage over plans for an arena that concerns me that Edgar may have kept the lenscap on his photographic memory camera. Does Edgar forget that I have a database with old news stories that I can easily find that can deal with his faulty memory. I have already Blogged this:

  • "The city also received a letter last week from the Toronto architectural group NORR, the company that designed and developed plans for the Western Super Anchor site downtown when city council decided it would proceed with an arena on its own.

    The city spent about $3 million for those drawings, which were subsequently shelved after council voted against a go-it-alone project because the price tag came in at $48 million."

Edgar knew there were plans other than those of PCR at the time he tried to justify the sole sourcing.

Mind you, again to be generous, if Edgar could not remember that letter mentioning the plans at the time, then how could we expect him to remember it now. His memory really is faulty isn't it.

But it goes much further back, about 7-8/10ths of a decade ago, when Edgar was a Councillor, even before, when he was well aware of arena plans:

  • "06-03-2003

City OKs final arena plan bill

The city has agreed to a final payment of almost $475,000 as the close-out costs owed to Norr Architects who designed the downtown arena/entertainment centre which council decided not to build after construction tenders came in higher than anticipated.

"We knew there was going to be a final close-out payment and we've been negotiating that payment," said Mayor Mike Hurst. "Norr believed the payment should be based on the low tender bid, our position was that it should be based on the lower estimate provided to us by Ball Construction.

"Ultimately, Norr agreed to accept our position," said Hurst.

  • 01-26-2002

Arena design bill $530,000, rising

The city has paid more than $530,000 to the architect of the western super anchor despite the fact some councillors think a new downtown arena is not affordable.

According to figures provided to The Star, the city has paid Toronto-based architect Norr Limited $530,964 as of Dec. 31. The company is continuing to bill the city up to $185,000 a month to design an arena that council isn't sure should be built.

"We have to proceed assuming it's going ahead," said principal architect Albert Paquette. "When and if they decide to go ahead, we have to be ready."

The architects are working toward completing preliminary design drawings by February, which would eat up 30 per cent of the $2.2 million budgeted for architectural fees.

Paquette is planning to meet the schedule of having final working drawings by May.

"They can put it in a drawer and if they want to wait a year or two, they can do that," Paquette said. "They'll have the drawings to build it. They're buying a design that will be ready to be built."

The Toronto architect noted that this is the city's third attempt at building a new spectator-size arena. "This is the furthest they've ever gotten into the process," he said. "They're going to have to build this eventually -- two years down the road, five years down the road. At which point is it going to be a better value?"

Paquette said it would be a waste of money if council were to pull the plug now.

"It's getting to the point where it's so close that the drawings are complete, it wouldn't make sense to end it now," he said. "It would be a loss of value at this point to stop it midway...."

Councillor Eddie Francis said he's only prepared to support a project that he considers affordable. "If it's not within our means then sorry, tough luck, we'll do it when it is within our means."

Francis won't support a $41-million structure, but said he might vote yes on something more modest.
"You can knock the price down and you can start knocking down the bells and whistles," he said, pointing to landscaping costs of more than $1.7 million. "I am prepared to move on anything that allows us to move within our means..."

Global Spectrum, the Florida-based company selected to operate the proposed arena, has been paid $10,000 a month since June to consult with the architect on design issues and to negotiate a lease agreement with the Windsor Spitfires.

  • 12-22-01

No arena, no Spits, angry owner vows; Riolo frustrated by years of delays

"But everyone should know that work (on plans for the arena) continues on. They have clear instructions to keep working and we are continuing to pay the bills. There has been lots of speculation but the only decision so far is to go forward."

The city is paying up to $185,000 each month to architects of the arena project.

  • 08-31-01

Arena plans set for viewing; Councillors to hear details and costs

City councillors will get their first look at the final plans for the downtown arena project Tuesday.

And they'll also be told how much the long-delayed project is expected to cost.

The city has already struck preliminary deals with the operator, architect and construction adviser for the project, with the caveat that the deals can be scrapped if the project doesn't proceed.

Mayor Mike Hurst was unavailable for comment Thursday, but the project's principal architect said he doesn't anticipate any further delays.

"We believe our design plan is now refined enough according to the directions we've received from council for the project to get the go-ahead," said Albert Paquette, of Toronto-based Norr Architects. "We'll also be presenting construction scheduling timetables and a detailed budget plan."

"We've established the building's footprint and we've established where such things as the space for the Spitfires will be located," Paquette said. "But in terms of details such as colour schemes and finishing touches ... that's always up for refinement as you go.

"It's the same with the final budget," he added. "There are always decisions made along the way that affect both the design and the final cost."

The building will be similar to the Sarnia Sports and Entertainment Centre, which Norr also designed.

  • 08-15-2001

Arena deals offer an out

City council has approved three "preliminary" deals with the operator, architect and construction adviser for the downtown arena project, with a caveat that they can be scrapped if the project doesn't proceed.

"They're limited deals," Chuck Wills, the city's chief administrative officer, said. "There is language in it that ensures if council decides not to proceed ... then there are clauses to stop" the process.

The architectural firm of Norr Ltd., which won the contract to design the building, has settled on a deal Wills describes as a "standard" agreement. The Toronto firm's fee will be based on the final construction costs of the arena. But if the project doesn't proceed, Norr will be paid for its time and materials.

  • 05-31-2001

Florida firm to manage arena; TO architects to design it

A Florida management team and a Toronto architectural firm have won the short-list sweepstakes to be recommended to City Council to design and run the proposed Western Superanchor Arena.

Chuck Wills, city chief administrative officer, said Wednesday the Tampa firm of Global Spectrum is proposed to operate the multi-use facility when it opens in 2002. The NORR Group of Architects of Toronto is suggested to design the arena. Council will be presented with a short-list of five construction companies.

"All companies short-listed offered considerable strengths and talents," said Wills. "It was a question of finding a fit for Windsor..."

Wills said the NORR group "brought understanding of the family orientation" council sought in the facility. He noted preliminary plans include a leisure ice surface.

NORR spokesman Albert Paquette was pleased the firm has the opportunity to "put a new face on Windsor." He said the building would compliment the urban design and waterfront.

  • 04-28-2001

Five make arena short list

The city released on Friday a short-list of candidates to design and operate Windsor's proposed new arena...

The architectural firms -- all from Toronto -- are: Brisbin, Brook Beynon; Norr Limited; Parkin; Zawadski Armin Stevens.

Senior city staff headed by chief administrative officer Chuck Wills spent the week reviewing the submissions of five operators and seven architects. Using an evaluation system that graded the proponents on their experience and financial capacity, the group was able to unanimously agree on the short-listed candidates."

It might take Ms. Berry an hour or two to write a report that blows a giant hole into the sole source justification based on Edgar's facts never mind the legal position I pointed out in previous BLOGs:

Oh well, right before the election, we can:

  • watch the Audit Committee not call for a public inquiry just like they did not do with the 400 Building audit

  • read Annie's next column about pizza so she can ignore the story as she did with the Lewenza Ward meeting revelations on the CUPE strike

  • see mini-Gord tell us that it is "much ado about nothing. Nobody stole anything, and nobody screwed up any aspect of the project. So what's the big deal?" Just as he has done by refusing to name the corrupt City Councillor.

As for Gord, heck, promises, shromises. He will still tell us that

  • "we need four more years from this guy."