Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Friday, January 15, 2010

Year-end Musings

Just some left-over thoughts from 2009 to be cleared out.


  • OMERS plan to manage deficit

    There may be indications that the recession is coming to an end, but its effects are still being felt.

    At the end of 2008, the OMERS Fund posted a -15.3% total rate of return, and reported a $279 million funding shortfall. This funding deficit could grow to more than $6 billion over the next few years, as the full impact of 2008 is reflected in the funding balance sheet...

    Like all pension plans, OMERS is required to eliminate any funding deficit...

    To address the existing funding shortfall, OMERS SC has approved an increase to both member and employer contribution rates, effective with the first full pay period in 2010.

    “These contribution rate increases will help address the initial $279 million part of the overall funding shortfall. More significant contribution increases or changes to benefits, or a combination of both, will be required in the next several years as the remaining $6 billion is recognized on the balance sheet of the Fund,” said Marianne Love, SC Co-Chair.


That is how Nicole Laidler is described in a number of articles I read about her. She has a company called Spilled Ink Writing & Wordsmithing.

She wrote a lovely piece about Edgar (aka Eddie) in the Unversity of Western Ontario Alumni Magazine in Fall, 2008.

Do you think Edgar gave her some inside info about his future:

  • "Francis is non-committal when asked if he plans to run again in 2010. “Never say never, but I’ve always said there’s more to life than politics.” His priorities have changed since the birth of his 14-month-old daughter, Sienna, he says.

    Besides, there are plenty of young people capable of taking over. “I hope more young people will get involved with community groups and municipal, provincial and federal politics,” the 34-yearold mayor says. “At the end of the day, young people have a lot to contribute and a very important stake in the future.”

Wow, did Edgar ever age as mayor..."young people!"


A concurrent resolution to support the plan of the Detroit International Bridge Company to establish an enhancement span to the Ambassador Bridge and to urge the Michigan Strategic Fund and U.S. and Canadian authorities to take certain actions regarding this project.

Rep. Cushingberry offered the following concurrent resolution:

  • House Concurrent Resolution No. 11.

    A concurrent resolution to support the plan of the Detroit International Bridge Company to establish an enhancement span to the Ambassador Bridge and to urge the Michigan Strategic Fund and U.S. and Canadian authorities to take certain actions regarding this project.

    Whereas, The Ambassador Bridge between Detroit and Windsor exemplifies efficiency and solid security practices that a private and public partnership can provide to the citizens of Michigan, the United States, and Canada and has been recognized by the United States Federal Highway Administration as the most efficient international crossing; and

    Whereas, The Detroit International Bridge Company (DIBC) crossing plan to develop an enhancement span of the Ambassador Bridge would provide for an additional crossing between the cities of Detroit and Windsor as anticipated by the Gateway Project to efficiently meet the traffic needs of the region for years to come; and

    Whereas, The DIBC will work with the state of Michigan to leverage the private investment used in the creation of an enhancement span to help garner $2 billion in federal matching funds to be used to improve Michigan’s roads and bridges by qualifying DIBC expenditures as toll credits under federal law; and

    Whereas, The Detroit River International Crossing (DRIC) study, being carried out by the Michigan Department of Transportation, the U.S. Federal Highway Administration, Transport Canada, and the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, documents the need for an additional span, and continues to study alternate sites for a new bridge, while private investors are willing to build the Ambassador Bridge enhancement span without expense to the taxpayer; and

    Whereas, The state of Michigan has made a significant investment to improve the traffic flow to the current Ambassador Bridge through initiatives such as the Gateway Project to address traffic flow from the freeway and interstates to the Ambassador Bridge and accommodate a second span at that location to facilitate international commerce; and

    Whereas, The Ambassador Bridge has upgraded the Customs inspection facilitations and plazas in both Detroit and Windsor, more than doubling the number of commercial inspection booths; and

    Whereas, The Michigan Strategic Fund has previously approved an inducement resolution for Phase I – Ambassador Bridge private activity bond funding for $212 million in December 2007 and will consider Phase II approval for $787 million; and

    Whereas, Constriction of the Ambassador Bridge enhancement span project will create nearly 4,000 jobs during construction and support 20,000 jobs over the next 2 decades; now, therefore, be it

    Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That we support the plan of the Detroit International Bridge Company to establish an enhancement span to the Ambassador Bridge; and be it further

    Resolved, That we urge the Michigan Strategic Fund to immediately approve an Inducement Resolution for Phase II Private Activity Bonds for the DIBC enhancement span and Gateway connections to the Ambassador Bridge; and be it further

    Resolved, That we urge both the United States and Canadian governments to expedite the necessary actions to complete the DIBC enhancement span to allow for the second crossing to become operational in a timely fashion; and be it further

    Resolved, That we urge that the DRIC study conclude after completion of its Record of Decisions with no further activity until border traffic in the corridor reverses its decade-long decline and returns to previous 1999 levels; and be it further

    Resolved, That we recommend that the Canadian government finish the improvements to alleviate traffic flow concerns in Windsor from Canadian Highway 401 to the Ambassador Bridge; and be it further

    Resolved, That copies of this resolution be transmitted to the President of the United States, the President of the United States Senate, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the members of the Michigan congressional delegation, the Prime Minister of Canada, the Ontario Parliamentary delegation, the Mayor of Detroit, and the Mayor of Windsor.


In case anyone forgot who voted in favour of the deal with Vindella since it was 3/4 of a decade ago:


  • "South Unionville Square could be a model for future suburbs

    I do not usually write about individual projects. This week I am making an exception.

    The reason is simple; this one is an example of where cities should be going.

    During the past two weeks I have looked at the direction urban centres - the GTA especially - must head to ensure livability and a certain quality of life for their residents. They have to go up instead of out; they have to mix residential, retail and office in neighbourhoods; they have to get away from the need for gas-driven vehicles to handle daily errands, and they have to substitute public spaces for private yards.

    The project I want to take a look at here is called South Unionville Square. It is in Markham on the east side of Kennedy Road between highways 7 and 407 and it incorporates almost all of the features listed above, as well as a couple of others worthy of a round of applause.

    First, the entire project - shopping mall, offices and residential tower - is geared toward the GTA's Chinese community; second, every square inch - save for the supermarket that anchors the mall - is condominium space.

    Merchants get to own their stores - some as small as 10 feet by 10 feet - residents get to own their own suites, and the dentists, accountants, hairdressers and small-business people who take over the commercial space get to own their own premises.

    In essence, South Unionville Square recreates the ambience, atmosphere, ownership model and lifestyle that Chinese newcomers to Canada thrived on for centuries in cities such as Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing.

    A few facts about the project:

    Mady Development Corp. is taking a 7.5-acre site and building a 300,000-square-foot, two-level shopping mall with 300 stores and 80,000 square feet of office space, and an adjoining 11-storey residential tower with 200 suites.

    The mall will be anchored by a T&T supermarket, the Chinese food-store chain recently acquired by Loblaws. There will also be parking for 1,500 cars at grade and in an underground garage that connects all the structures.

    To provide vital public space for relaxing, entertaining and recreation, there will be a 20,000-square-foot rooftop terrace accessible from the fourth floor of the residential tower.

    "What we had going for us from the start was a Chinese partner," says Charles Mady, president of the Mady Group. The partner, however, prefers not to be identified.

    "He showed us things and gave us insights we just would never have had otherwise," Mr. Mady says. "He helped us arrange a feng shui expert to make sure everything was properly sited and aligned. He explained small things like making sure we had gas ranges and high-speed vents in the residential units.

    "Our buyers will want to cook with woks, and gas is necessary to get the right heat from the ranges and the ventilation is essential to get rid of the steam that rises from the woks."

    The project has proved a commercial as well as critical success. The retail stores went on sale first and are 85 per cent sold. The office space is half gone and the residential suites are about 70 per cent sold...

    there is the public transit stop right next to the residential tower and Highways 7 and 407 minutes away by car.

    "Frankly, if I could find a site and a similar community need, I would do it again in a shot," Mr. Mady says."

Too bad that Chuck was not asked to bid on an urban village for Windsor years ago before we had a canal mind vision that will go nowhere other than an election platform.


From Detroit's Mayor Bing:

  • "How important is his business experience in running Detroit? "A city is a business," he replies. "It's a $3 billion plus business. The past administrations didn't understand that, and I think that's got us where we are." Voters realize that private "businesses create jobs," he says. "That's where wealth is come from, and for too long we've treated them like enemies."

    He wants to make the city "more business friendly,"


  • "Newspaper website seeks voluntary donations

    The Miami Herald is asking online readers for voluntary donations to support its free-to-air website.

    The Miami-based daily, whose history stretches back to 1903, is a typical case study of decline in the newspaper industry. Sales of the print edition have collapsed by a quarter in just the past year and it has cut hundreds of jobs. Not surprisingly, it has been doing a lot of thinking about how it might make money from what is now its main way of delivering the news: publishing on the web.

    It has started putting a link at the bottom of each online news story, asking readers to click to "support ongoing news coverage on" and then to enter a credit card donation. Only a few people have done so to date, but it is not hard to imagine this snowballing. Public radio stations and public television in the US sustain themselves on regular pledge drives, appealing to listeners' and viewers' desire for unbiased factual information."

Oooops. That won't work. People want "unbiased factual information" not the Star's kind of journalism.


It seems he may time to do that for the first little while.

  • "Orr said he will be reporting to city clerk Valerie Critchley and helping market and promote the services available to Windsorites.

    "I'm not yet fully aware of what my duties will be," said Orr. "I imagine we'll have that meeting and discussion once I start work.

    "I just know I will be joining the communications unit which I understand is one of city council's strategic priorities going forward," said Orr."

Didn't they have a job description? Why would Gord just take any old job with his background? Fortunately, as I Blogged, we know now what he is to do.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

So You Want a Public Bridge (Part 249)

Love him or not, Matty Moroun is looking better and better by comparison in how a border crossing is operated. I guess it may be because it is HIS money at stake, not taxpayer cash. As a crossing user, isn't that what counts!

Yes, I know about the litigation and why the Bridge Company did not want to release their reports. It did not have to do with the bridge condition.

However, in the end, we all know that the Bridge Company inspection reports were released and their work plan is public knowledge. I know you will not believe me but the Blue Water Bridge Canadian and American halves owners do not even know what the other HALF of the bridge’s condition is from their own inspectors. Our future too perhaps? Oh yes, you just have to read on!

I just do not understand why a few people still believe that "public" is always better than "private" in border crossings. To be direct, it is because of deliberate disinformation being spread, especially by some in this region who want Moroun out as owner of the Ambassador Bridge.

And then they want to replace him with another private operator who will make gross profits on a new bridge. At the end of its P3 lease, taxpayers will be stuck having to fix it up. We have seen that happen before.

One needs only to take a look at what the NY State Comptroller said about the Peace Bridge. Oh sure, there is a dispute now going on in the State about who is right and who is wrong but the Report was a real shocker regardless.

Here is part of a recent BLOG by Bill Shea at Crains Detroit that should open some eyes. You will note he seems to have forgotten about the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel and my plea to Congressman Dingell to get us safety information about it.

I dare you NOT to burst out laughing when you read about the Blue Water Bridge:

  • "MDOT: Dingell nor public have never asked about other bridge inspection reports

    Remember all that sound and fury the last couple of weeks over a two-year-old Ambassador Bridge inspection report? John Dingell wanted it made public because he’s worried the privately-owned bridge was unsafe or something, and people have a right to know.

    Turns out, the report — which was reviewed by MDOT and the federal government in June, not to mention independent inspections done by Canada — says the bridge is pretty old and needs some minor repairs, but is perfectly safe. The Canadians came out the week before and said the same thing.

    It also turns out that the Congressman, nor anyone else, has asked about the condition of Michigan’s other major bridges (Blue Water, Mackinac and International). Worse: None of those reports are available online, or are even easily accessible when you request them by phone. This is beginning to feel like the Balloon Boy situation — completely manufactured for reasons other than what’s said.

    An MDOT spokesman told me Friday that he couldn’t remember anyone, public or political, ever asking for the inspection reports for those spans.

    No one had their reports easily at hand on Friday. MDOT is trying to find them for me. Canada, which runs the twin-span Blue Water Bridge, got me the results this morning (more on that farther below).

    That bridge, which links Michigan and Ontario through Port Huron and Point Edward (interstates 94 and 69 and Highway 402), is about to get its first safety inspection by a single bridge engineering firm. Keep reading, because this gets disturbingly stupid: The bridge is jointly owned and operated by Michigan and Ontario, and previously the twin spans were inspected by halves: one country would inspect half of the spans and the other country would inspect the other half. And I don’t mean they just inspected one or the other span — they stopped inspecting midway over the water, and the other country did the same, with inspectors meeting in the middle.

    This year, it dawned on someone that it would be both more efficient and cheaper to issue a joint RFP and have one company inspect the entirety of both spans at once. That process begins in a couple weeks.

    But don’t look for the reports online. MDOT nor the individual bridge authorities have any reference to their annual inspection results online. Calls to the authorities resulted in voicemails or confusion on Friday. [NOTE, the Ambassador Bridge reports were freely distributed by the Detroit and other media and I know the most recent one can be found online at the Bridge Co. website ]

    So, while we now know that the Ambassador Bridge is ranked in “overall fair condition” thanks to a confusing media spectacle involving Dingell and the Detroit International Bridge Co. and its privately conducted inspections, the public has zero idea of the condition of Michigan’s three major public bridges.

    Speculation is that Dingell wanted the 2007 report made public rather than the 2008 report because the older report appeared more damning to the bridge company. Dingell supports the proposed government-owned bridge that could be built about a mile from the Ambassador Bridge, so his concern over the inspection reports could fuel charges of political theatrics. Or maybe he had no idea that the public cannot immediately access safety condition information about the government bridges.

    His office sent me this statement this afternoon: "Congressman Dingell believes that all bridge reports – public and private – should be assessable to the public. The three bridges you mentioned are not within immediate proximity of Congressman Dingell’s district so he has not pursued the three public reports and does not intend to at this time. However, as they are public bridges and information from their reports is available to the public, he is confident that interested citizens can view the reports if it is their desire, as it is their right to do so." [Note: What about the Tunnel where my request has been ignored by the City of Windsor]

    The Ambassador Bridge's owner, trucking tycoon Manuel Moroun, wanted his full inspection reports kept private, which sparked an outcry and court action -- which he lost. Now, his company says they'll put the report summaries, which contain the basic rating and safety information, online for public review -- which if they had done in the first place, without giving out details useful to Al Qaeda frogmen, would have saved everyone time and trouble.

    Ironically, Moroun may have his inspection information online before the government-owned bridges do.

    MDOT puts online a full report of all the state highway bridges over 20 feet long, and updates the findings several times a year, but it doesn’t put online the inspection results for the three three big bridges. It also doesn’t put out ratings for pedestrian, railroad and locally owned bridges.

    “National Bridge Inspection Standards require MDOT to inspect bridges every two years. The Mackinac, International, and Blue Water bridges are inspected annually, exceeding federal requirements. These three bridges are managed by bridge authorities, and their ratings are not included in the list MDOT has posted to the Web,” MDOT says online.

    “Of the 4,398 bridges on the July 1, 2009 report, 454 bridges are classified with the engineering term of ‘structurally deficient,’ meaning they may require rehabilitation or replacement at some time in the future; and 885 bridges are classified as ‘functionally obsolete,’ meaning they are outdated and may require modernization at some time in the future.”

    I made some calls on the other three big bridges. Ontario’s Blue Water Bridge Authority is in charge of that bridge, and its next inspection begins in a couple of weeks, said Stan Korosec, the authority’s vice president of operations.

    The west-bound span, a cantilever truss bridged that opened in 1938 and was closed for a two-year rehab project starting in 1997 when the new span opened, two years ago was ranked a 7.5 on the National Bridge Inventory Rating Scale — or “good to very good.” The east-bound span, a tied-arch bridge that opened in 1997, is an 8.5, or “very good to excellent.”

    When asked about the reports being put online, Korosec said it’s an idea he’ll submit to his bosses: “I suppose maybe we could do that,” he said. The reports also haven’t drawn much interest outside engineers. “We’ve never really had the public ask about them,” Korosec said.

    I haven’t heard back yet from MDOT on the Mackinac and International bridges. They’re going to get me the results this week."

Just keep on remembering what the Government watchdogs have said about public bridges in Michigan, Ontario and New York State and cringe. And watch out for the College bridge in Windsor!

Chimczuk Museum Is Still Alive


Chimczuk Museum Inc., the proud owner of the "Chimczuk Museum"TM. name, is delighted to have received official recognition as a Canadian Registered Charity.(# 81604-8078).

As such, we can now issue receipts, for Income Tax purposes, for monetory donations and for Museum items at fair market value.

Joseph Chimczuk died 19 years ago, leaving $1.000.000 to the City of Windsor, to build a museum in his name. This money has grown to about $3million since that time, and we still do not have that Museum.

Chimchuk Museum Inc. hopes that, with full cooperation with the City of Windsor Museum Development Feasibility Study committee, that an appropriate site can be found, and that Joe's dream can finally become a reality.

It is our intention that, in accordance with Mr Chimczuk's expressed wishes, that a business plan can be found that will not load the people of Windsor with a financial burden.

For further information, visit our website, or call 519-252-0267.

We have posted a sign on Riverside East

Readers Write

Here is what some of you had to say:

1) There's a great quote from the [Star] Monopoly article.

The sky’s the limit, even in hard times, [Francis] said.

It certainly is: GreenLink, Cargo Village, Skorobohacz's termination pay, downtown canal, one day trips to Germany, weekenders in Washington, consultants and lawyers from 400-500 km away, etc, etc, etc. Go for it Eddie.

I was also wondering why Vander Doelen didn't cover the Monopoly story

2) I want to vote for the Ambassador Bridge for one of the utilities. Let eddie francis roll the dice + pay Matty...

3) Sorry would be a better game affiliation... Maybe a commemorative edition of Trivial Pursuit (eddie francis edition) or Barrel of Monkeys (City Council Edition) or Operation (union negotiations edition). Maybe home editions of the Biggest Loser or Survivor or Jeopardy.

4) Geez - I'd hate to draw a Chance card in the Windsor version. "Advance token to indian Road, do not tear down boarded up houses." Of course, there is no "Free Parking" in Windsor game...

5) National event on 23 January 2010 and Windsor is included

6) Too bad that the Mayor hadn't mastered the game called Sim City. This is a game where you are in charge of a city including all services without all the repercussions should there be a failure in the player's decisions. Upon second thought it would appear that the Mayor is currently and has currently been playing the game for real for the past two years. Only difference is the repercussions may come on election day if he chooses to run again...ugh!

7) Go Fish – the do we build the downtown aquarium game

8) Oh my - the dirt you dig is incredible. Your new handle is going to be Columbo. Mayor Columbo. lol :)

9) I would [for Mayor] but since you are running I'd never stand a chance against the great blogmeister.

10) Well, Ed - you have a strong following out here!

You have not only entertained us with your wit, but, you keep us guessing as
to how in the hell you are getting all this info - how accurate - absolutely
astonishing! And We LOVE IT!!!!!

For someone who is not on the inside to get the actual mood - I have often
wondered if you are really not working somewhere in a hidden cubicle
overhearing conversations with "whisper 2000" or one of those "spy" cameras
- you know - teddy bear sitting up on a shelf!

Following your articles - I enjoyed the "Friends" the most - your detail and
background (homework) is something to be admired. The 400 Audit - You have
the dates, quotes, votes, etc. - all in print - makes it difficult for
someone to deny it being said - other than "misquoted" - ha!

As far as the "Star" - I believe they must be hurting in readership - hardly
anyone I know reads it anymore. We basically use it for the crossword puzzle
to do at lunch - that's about it - oh sorry, also for the ads for the
grocery stores.

As far as our current mayor - I think he will run again - because he can't
find a job anywhere else.

The Star is just throwing names out to see who bites for him.

Today, on 800am I heard that Ernie Lamont - "The Bacon Man" has signed up
along with another fellow from the U.

As far as I am concerned - Ernie will get my vote! No Problem.

Oh yeah, and that $72 or $78 rebate cheque I received - well I still have it
in the envelope - I don't plan on depositing it - I will keep it outstanding
in their books and he can kiss my ***!

11) No answer from Fulvio? Shocker!

12) If there is nobody else willing to oppose Eddie, and there is an ABE (Anybody But Eddie) groundswell, I would do it for the sake of Windsor, but I cannot believe that there is not someone else out there with better qualifications and the guts to oppose him. I feel sorry for the poor CUPE members that were totally hung out to dry by their National Union in order to test the Toronto case, and Eddie, who should have remained neutral in the case, pending negotiations with the City representatives.

We certainly need new leadership, someone who can bind together this dysfunctional Council, someone with realistic views of the terrible situation in which we find ourselves in Windsor. REAL steps, not pipedreams.

12) That [full day kindergarten] will take at least 5 years maybe to have all the schools on board and even then it may have had quite a few setbacks. So basically they are going to start closing the daycares down when I heard this year there are only 10 pilot schools here in Windsor so the city is not going to wait to see how it may or may not impact the C Of W daycares?

13) I wrote a few months back on the City of Windsor Daycares and we have not been told anything from our superiors, yet Gord is now saying we are not sustainable? Does he know something we don't? It is very disheartening to read you may be out of a job when management has not said 1 word to us as to where the daycares stand? I would love to know are all the daycares done as we know it? When will the budget report come out and will it state where the daycares stand? I for one am tired of being kept in the dark

14) I remind you of the disaster of the Huron Lodge project. At the end of the day it will be all the same reasons. No one at the city knew what they were doing so they blamed all of the subs. How much is the lawyer bill on this file. now they have hired so called professionals for a report.


Please take a minute to check out which is a new website dedicated to educating the public on why city services should be kept public!

16) Why give me bread when you can feed me with a steady diet of cake.

17) Ed

The people of Windsor need you to run for Mayor!

18) Detroit hasn't seen much in the way of good news this year, with the ailing auto industry shedding jobs. The latest numbers from the Department of Labor put the unemployment rate for the Detroit metro at 16.7 percent, compared to 15.1 percent for the state. Still, Motor City grabs a spot on our list [Forbes' list of America’s costliest cities] in large part because of the high cost of utilities. Residents pay, on average, $243.56 per month for electricity. In contrast, in Atlanta the average bill is $141.64.

19) Communications Dept. at City Hall. All the media people are laughing.

He dodged the bullet with John Fairley on Face to Face on the election issue to run again but I feel he will run again. Who in there right mind is going to pay him what he makes as Mayor and second who would hire him.

This 400 building issue is very serious but I can not see Ellis-Don Construction forking over a $100,000 for legal fees not in this current economy.

It is going to take some one out there with plenty of balls to show LEADERSHIP IN THIS TOWN AND RIGHT NOW WE HAVE NONE.

20) [Re: Will the BLOGMeister run for Mayor] Come on Ed, don't joke around about this subject. Just do it. You have half of Windsor's problems already solved sitting behind a keyboard.


Needed immediately
1 Mayor no experience necessary.

Job includes,
Pushing a button to silence people.
Dreaming up mega million dollar projects.(Must not start one job for ten years)
Fly to Germany at taxpayer expense for a day.
Ignore current recession, call it cyclical and forget about it.
Take credit on anything you see fit.
Point the finger when necessary.
Meals included.

Please forward resume addressed to city hall.
What the heck, forget the resume, just show up.

22) It has been a very busy time for me. I found what I was looking for. This is what council had when deliberating about the budget. You will notice the "SLR"'s. These are the positions council was deciding upon either keeping or removing prior to the release of the Approved Final 2009 Budget. Not all the SLR's are just one position, but some are a number of positions with their salaries lumped together. I do believe my boss said a total of 26 positions were being reviewed for elimination. Some were approved. This is what Cupe was aware of before they went on strike, knowing they would return to some eliminated jobs. As a Cupe member, the uncertainty was by far the most excruciating part of the strike; between that and knowing there really was no way to fight against the Mayor and council for resolution to a collective agreement. Not to mention public view.

23) You out did yourself this time, just superb.

24) How can Skorobohacz be blamed for the delay in the audit undertaking; when the CAO reports to council? Why did city council not instruct the CAO? Was city council informed? If not, why not? If so, why didn't they act?

It's too convenient to blame the CAO for the stonewalling of information since he isn't even here to defend himself against such allegations.

25) Ed, I love reading your blog. Keep up the good work.

I am a local business owner and disgusted with this city administration. To think how much money is wasted on out of town lawyers to argue and delay and make deals that are so terrible to our city. After so many mistakes in a row, I wish they would agree they are adding to the problems and just keep their nose out of some of these issues.

Can you imagine if they did a study to see how much damage they did to downtown by taking away the arena? Postma and Jones voted against their own!!! There was one councillor who voted against that deal. You probably know he didn’t get re-elected. Cassivi was dead right and it was so obvious. Mr. Taqtaq would have probably even made out well. There would have been more tourists.

26) Great work, man you do a lot of research on past events....unlike the star....I really think they make stuff up to create a story...We need to get back to a windsor based media, not controled by those outside of our city boundaries.

27) (Copy of a letter sent to me)

I just have to ask Chris is there any worker anywhere you aren’t willing to publicly knee-cap?

Let me take a moment to explain retention pay as it relates to firefighters. These men and women are highly trained. If our fire dept didn’t pay on a scale equivalent with the rest of the municipalities these folks would have no incentive to remain here. They would take their training to another municipality that pays better and values the fact that risking one’s life in service of taxpayers is worth paying for. The result of that would be Windsor would have to hire and train more firefighters at considerable expense.

Regarding your column on the city managers unionization efforts in which you stated that Francis took on CUPE and won I am curious to know how you call the resulting CBA a win for taxpayers. I defy you to show me one single penny of savings. If you haven’t bothered to do your research as per usual I can help I have many correspondences from councillors and from Mr Colucci that confirm that the elimination of PRB’s from new hires results in NO SAVINGS for at least 30 years and that’s assuming we hire somebody today or in the near future. Conversely in order to buy their way out of that benefit from employees that do not and may never exist Eddie handed CUPE raises in perpetuity way in excess of what they would have settled for early in the negotiation process. Further because of Eddies childish intransigence and his issuing of ultimatums in the press months before negotiations he completely missed a real opportunity to achieve meaningful and lasting savings throughout the entire corporation. CUPE was well aware of the economic situation and would have as they have many times before come to the table with changes to work-rules and other efficiencies that would have saved us money this year and every year going forward.

28) Hello sir , have been a fan of your site for some time

I would like to address the issue of the WPD switching to an encrypted radio system as is the trend for many public safety agencies nowadays , It would seem unfortunately that many of the citizens were not aware ,.. or did not care,.. or understand the scope & implications of their public servants being able to operate in secrecy....

I would like say If they believe any encryption is absolutely necessary , it has been done in many other forces where they will only encrypt the private data & leave the dispatch channels open to public & media monitors...This is a fair compromise & successful model that many agencies have done that maintains trust & transparency

29) I just can't take that DRIC bridge seriously in the present economic climate unless you have people going mad about just spending money regardless....perhaps that's it!!!!

30) Wow Ed!!! Wait until Friday you said....and....ZOINKS!!!!!
Holy, Holy Cow! Congratulations and well done on this one....let's
see if this gets swept under the proverbial Mayoral Rug!!!!

31) Oh my. What a slam dunk. The picture is priceless - where on earth did you get that from?

Ed, thanks for the unveiling of this and every ongoing misadventure that this Mayor has put this city through. It is so time for a change.

Well done. Thanks.

32) When Dwight mentioned the uneducated portion of the public being a problem
for 2025 prosperity, I wonder which portion voted these people in?
The intelligent ones or the dumb ones?

33) I can hardly wait for the next installment, as the plot thickens the smoke screen doesn't ....things are becoming more and more transparent. What a lovely big shovel you must have Mr. Arditti, keep digging and sharing your's been an extremely eye opening read to date.

34) Ed, I am so frustrated when I think of the thousands and thousands of
dollars wasted, by the City, on the Capitol Theatre debacle, just on
legal fees alone. I am disgusted by the thought, that frequently
comes to my mind, about the bequest left for the theatre, how the
money was not used for its intended purpose is like 'spitting on the
grave' of the person who bequeathed it in my opinion. Then there is
the $140,000.00 that was a confirmed grant from Trillium Foundation
for the Capitol to benefit from (the domino effect here for the
community would have been impressive and I bet we would still have
some of our local businesses still around that closed shortly after
the Capitol went bankrupt ) For a mere $65,000 from the City and a
show of support for Windsor's grandest old theatre and the local arts
groups who help drive the economy, this WASTE of money need never had

I am also frustrated that so many residents still see the arts
community as pariah when every successful city has a thriving arts
community that help generate tourism/spin off revenue and such. It is
those that belittle the arts that help to sweep the above disturbing
facts under the mayor's rug.

35) Pickup Sticks – the Local 82 at work game.
Aggravation – the read the Windsor Star game.
Barrel of Monkeys – the east end arena audit and land swap game.
Boggle – the how the mayor keeps finding work game.
Cranium – the how to get “a-head” on the public dime game.
Life – the what mini-Gord's Corrupt Member of Council should get game.
Memory – the what Windsor bloggers have game.

36) Re Ann story;
You have to make a stand against the Bridge company but it is OK to bulldoze the houses on Matchette road and in the community of Delray.

37) Thank you for caring about Windosr enough to enlighten the few that still care about what is going on...too bad not enough is being done about trying to resolve the issues...they just keep multiplying...

38) I was wondering what credentials Gordon Orr has to do and be responsible for the positions assigned him

I thought of 'Mouse Trap', but maybe "Rat Trap" would be better...
... for the rodents who have taken up residence around the outside of 'old' city hall
(and those who are temporary tenants INSIDE....)

"Husker Du" - the "do you remember (ANY SCHEME from inside city hall that's actually worked out for the TAXPAYERS?)" game??

How about the "(NO) Truth or Consequences"? Game (appearing weekly on cable 11)

"Mystery Date" - the "when will any of the projects/reports/audits be finished/written/released" game

"Risk" - the "I don't care it's not MY money" game

I know!!!


(geez, I could do this ALL NIGHT!!)

40) yes I think officials both sides would be smart to say:

- DRIC is a nice-to-have facility but in the current economic/trading climate it is unnecessary and unfinanceable

- let's put the DRIC plan on hold and revisit it if and when the economy and total border traffic revives and shows signs of growing significantly into the future beyond the capacity of the AB

- meanwhile let's deal seriously with Moroun and get joint planning into synch to improve connections both sides of the Ambassador

41) My husband says you are one hell of an analyst.

42) I’m taking the Planning Dept’s side on the issue of infill before Greenfield development. What was presented last Thursday was nothing new. The study in question has been discussed before. Our inner city and traditional neighbourhoods have been hollowed out and left to rot. It is the city’s responsibility to keep the city vibrant and create conditions to let it thrive. The big developers are facing an economic reset (not a recovery) that will see them take huge losses on properties that in the old paradigm could have generated big revenues. They are holding onto a way of doing things that is dying, period. This region will get smaller population wise and financially as well. The tough row to hoe is getting developers to see the potential of bringing retail and commerce to where the people are instead of the build it and they will come standard they are clinging to.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Shilling For Hasbro

I guess I am just getting ornery in my old age.

Flipping the TV dial, I landed on what I thought was a Council meeting but instead I saw an infomercial for the Monopoly game with the spokesperson being our Mayor. I wondered if he was practising for his new career.

That got me to thinking, what other Board games could the Mayor sell so that the City could get a royalty on each one purchased to help reduce taxes, or rather to allow the Mayor to spend without increasing taxes. Naturally, there would have to be a Windsor twist to each one:
  • CANADA-OPOLY--the let's beat Matty with a P3 bridge game

  • Risk--the outsourcing CUPE jobs game

  • SNAKES and ladders--the DRIC Road environmental game

  • Jeopardy--the Mayoral/Council re-election game

  • Scrabble--the 400 Building Audit game

  • Diplomacy--the what our Mayor lacks game

  • Trivial Pursuit--the airport hub/canal game

  • Clue--the arena sole source build it in the east end instead of downtown game

  • Candyland--the taxpayer pocketbook game

  • Ouija Board--the try and figure out what Edgar (aka Eddie) is doing game

  • Balderdash--the what goes on at Council game

  • Twister--the Mayoral machinations we are put through on the simplest matters game

  • Go--the what some Council members should do game

  • Stop the presses--the what may happen to the Star if Canwest goes broke game

  • Sorry--the I helped him get elected game.
Let me know if you can think of any other games that we can play in Windsor.

Peace Bridge Wake-Up Call

After the Ontario and Michigan bridge audits, is it any surprise that there is a mess in New York State too with their bridges! And some people still are in favour of a publicly owned DRIC border crossing in Windsor/Detroit!

Where is Congressman Dingell when we really need him? The reports on the condition of the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel have still not been released for some reason. Fortunately, we already know that the Ambassador Bridge is OK since the private operator understands that he needs to look after his asset to make money. Doesn't Dingell care about Tunnel users? After all, he said:
  • “The safety of the driving public should be the top priority for the Federal Highway Administration and the Michigan Department of Transportation regardless of whether or not a bridge or its bridge operators are public or private.”

Those reports are even more crucial now considering what the New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said about the Peace Bridge:

  • “DiNapoli, during a morning conference call with reporters, said special attention should be given to the Peace Bridge linking Buffalo with Fort Erie, Ontario.

    DiNapoli said the Peace Bridge's safety rating is lower than the Lake Champlain Bridge, which connected Crown Point, N.Y., with Chimney Point, Vt., before being torn down in December because of its condition.

    "We need to recognize that we have not put the kind of priority on our bridge infrastructure as we should have," he said. "Just imagine if we had to do a closure of the Peace Bridge, what that would do to Western New York?"

I am stunned! The Peace Bridge was the operation that Brian Masse wanted us to take a look at as a possible role model for operating our new border crossing. I remember him bringing Ron Rienas, its GM, down here to have him speak.

Take a look at this:

Oh my goodness gracious. Ron Rienas has his hands full now looking after his existing bridge to bring it up to an acceptable standard.

I am sure that there are some cynical people amongst my readers who noticed the last paragraph and who may be thinking that this report is nothing but a propaganda piece to allow Mr. Rienas to hurry up on his stalled Peace Bridge project by scaring the public.

I do not think so. Government would never act in such a fashion. They would never think of misleading the public to defeat a private operator

Moreover, Mr. Rienas and his Board are professionals who must have the best interest of their region at heart. I am certain that they will have to concede now that their Peace Bridge Expansion Project is dead since the Public Authority would be incapable of running two bridges and maintaining them since they have so many problems just looking after one bridge according to the State Comptroller.

Accordingly. I am sure that Mr. Rienas and his Board will throw their support behind Matty Moroun to allow him to build his Ambassador Niagara Signature Bridge in Buffalo/Fort Erie.

Transport Canada I hope has received a wake-up call for Windsor/Detroit and will now hopefully allow the Bridge Company Enhancement Project Bridge to be constructed with full speed.

I am sure that the Peace Bridge is safe. Thankfully, the Peace Bridge people said this in reply:
  • “the Peace Bridge Authority that oversees the span has said it is in generally good condition and that its rating reflects its 80-year-old design rather than its level of safety.”

However, if I have to choose who is to teach our region about Bridge operations, I would prefer to learn from the group that FHWA said was the #1 border crossing operator rather than the Peace Bridge folks:

  • "Crossing times at Detroit's Ambassador Bridge port-of-entry, as noted above, were markedly different from others in the sample. Despite the bridge's dramatically higher volume of traffic, generally shorter crossing times were achieved. While inbound crossing times exceeded outbound, as at the other six locations, the margin of difference was significantly narrower and more consistent across the sample period. Whether the reason for this difference in performance is a function of policy, bridge ownership, tactics, infrastructure, capacity, or facility design remains to be determined.

    The Peace Bridge at Buffalo was found to have the greatest similarity between inbound and outbound average crossing times, registering relatively low among the 7 ports-of-entry in this regard. However, it also demonstrates the highest inbound buffer index (265.7 percent). Thus, while its average crossing times are similar in both directions, the potential exists for motor carriers to be significantly delayed when traveling from Canada into the United States at this location."

Are you listening Brian?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Did Sandra Blow Away Taxpayer Money

Here is what would be going on your roof. Pretty impressive. Just listen to what is being said.

I wanted to write about the money the Province will be spending on some new wind energy technology but I just have not had the chance until now.

I am sure that you remember the story:

  • "Wind energy jobs 'great news for the community,' says Pupatello
    New turbine plant could be just the start: MPP

    Calling a Michigan-based company's decision to open a wind turbine manufacturing plant in Windsor, a "real page-turner for the local economy," Minister of Economic Development and Trade Sandra Pupatello said it could be just the beginning of additional economic investment in the region...

    WindTronics, a division of Muskegon-based EarthTronics, is expected to confirm plans today to take over a former Magna International plant on the city's far west side to begin production of small residential and commercial wind turbines.

    It's anticipated that as many as 200 jobs would eventually be created once WindTronics is in full production at the former Intier Innovatech Seating Systems plant on Sprucewood Avenue...

    WindTronics, a distributor of rooftop commercial and residential turbines, recently reached an agreement with Honeywell International Inc. and its initial six-foot versions of residential turbines will be sold under Honeywell's name at major hardware and do-it-yourself stores.

    According to the Muskegon Chronicle, the company plans to open five or six manufacturing plants in the U.S., China, India, Europe and Canada over the next two years.

    It's expected the plant would produce as many as 5,000 units a month once it reaches full production levels. The Intier plant closed after Chrysler stopped building its Pacifica model at Windsor Assembly Plant in November 2007...

    It's expected the units would cost up to $5,000."

That business model is interesting since a company in England had the same idea except:

  • "Windsave WS1000

    Windsave went out of business on 4th September 2009. Unfortunately, this turbine is therefore no longer available...

    The roof-mounted Windsave "plug-n-save" turbine system received a lot of publicity after breaking into the mainstream market with a partnership with DIY store B&Q."

The subject fascinates me and as you may recall, I brought a Chicago small wind energy company to Windsor some years ago to show off what I hoped could be an urban turbine. However, contrary to my hopes, the Company on its website states:

  • "While it is structurally possible to install [name of turbine] onto single family homes, larger commercial and multi-family residences typically have access to stronger winds than do single-family residences. The reason for this is, single family homes tend to be built around trees and other obstacles that can block the wind. Single family homes can also be built lower to the ground than apartment buildings or condominiums. Subsequently, the payback period for an [name of turbine] on a single-family home may be much longer. We are therefore focusing only on commercial buildings and multi-family residential developments at this time."

How did Ontario and Windsor in particular get so lucky so as to snag this opportunity considering this:

  • "We believe this product will revolutionize wind technology,” said Reg Adams, president of EarthTronics. “We will start the process immediately to source local West Michigan vendors to help support the launch of this project. It will require a variety of vendors and subcontractors through the next years to come to complete a full line for the new WindTronics Turbine line. Both Dr. Mahawili and I are very excited for the opportunity to look at producing a home grown product here in West Michigan.”

Oooops, we outbid and got them:

  • "Excuse local economic developers for not being as excited about the recent flood of positive press for the Muskegon-based WindTronics residential wind turbine as they are in Windsor, Ontario.

    WindTronics officials say the company has accepted a $2.7 million Ontario government grant to initially produce the turbines in a vacant auto parts plant on Windsor’s west side. The company also will invest $2.7 million in a manufacturing operation that will create up to 200 jobs in the next two to three years, company and provincial officials announced.

    A proposal for a Muskegon manufacturing site was backed by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. based on a $500,000 upfront loan and a $3.7 million, 10-year tax break. WindTronics officials selected the proposal with substantially more money up front.

    “Michigan really pulled up the rear of what we had as choices,” said WindTronics President Reg Adams. “Ontario, Canada, has an aggressive ‘green’ initiative. We needed to make this first-plant decision quickly.”

I wonder what due diligence Ontario undertook to see if this technology made sense. At least someone had some foresight:

  • "Ontario’s $2.7 million grant is contingent on generating 200 jobs in the next five years. Without the jobs, the company will have to pay back the grant [WindTronics President Reg] Adams said."

Except if the Company by chance fails and goes broke, there will be no money to pay back.

I really hope the Company is very successful. BUT, I am skeptical and the story made me nervous. I have some questions that I really wish the Company or the Government would answer. I did some research and also asked a question to an online group of people who are involved in Wind.

I have no idea what is right or wrong but here are some remarks I received and information I found that need a response before we get all too excited. I hope that the Company has positive answers:

From an article in the Gaurdian:

  • "Up to 30%" of a household's needs is a common figure bandied about, but it verges on meaningless because it is often based on average wind speed. Not only will the true saving depend on how windy your area is, but how much energy your property uses..

    Am I going to get back my investment?

    The £1,500 question. Again those average wind speeds figure in some controversial calculations. B&Q reckons its turbines will take seven to eight years to pay for themselves at current electricity prices, but a Sussex University study suggested it could be as much as 28 years for some models."

From a review of the product

  • Earthtronic's Honeywell Windtronics WT 6500--A Review

    October 16, 2009

    By Paul Gipe

    I've reviewed the series of preproduction wind turbine designs from Earthtronics twice before. See below.

    Alas, as I was sitting in my doctor's office today I picked up a copy of Popular Mechanics and there was Windtronics. PM was gaga over Windtronics and unquestingly regurgitated Eartronics claims. So I felt I needed to look at the turbine again...

    Lest the Honeywell name lend some kind of legitimacy to the WT 6500 note that the Honeywell trademark is simply used under license. Tellingly, "Honeywell International Inc. makes no representation or warranties with respect to this product..."

    There are no units in use. One turbine has been "tested" in a wind tunnel. Thus, all claims about the product are projecture.

    Those who have followed the debate about performance measurements of small turbines realize that testing in a wind tunnel is not testing at all. Wind tunnel "tests" are useful only for design not for estimating the performance of the wind turbine in the field...

    Earthtronics web site depicts mounting the wind turbine on the roof and this theme is repeated throughout the product literature. Mounting a wind turbine on a roof is never a good idea. For why, see Rooftop & Urban Wind...

    Annual Energy Estimates
    Let's give Earthronics the benefit of the doubt and pick the higher value. For rooftop heights of 10 m, the turbine will see 5.5 m/s in a Class 3 and at it see 6.0 m/s in a Class 4...

    At 10 m (rooftop)
    At rooftop heights the turbine may produce 850 kWh/yr in a Class 3 and 1,050 kWh/yr in a Class 4 wind resource. Earthronics claims that the turbine will produce 2,000 to 2,500 kWh/yr respectively. Earthronics claims exceed likely generation by 2.4 times.

    Note that though these estimates are at rooftop heights, they are not estimates of generation on rooftops. All turbines on rooftops have performed substantially below estimates...

    At 30 m (tall tower)
    At 30 m heights the turbine may produce 1,300 to 1,600 kWh/yr in a Class 3 and Class 4 resource respectively. Thus, if the turbine was installed on a tall tower, Earthtronics claims exceed likely generation by only 1.5 to 1.6 times...

    Earthtronics claims that the turbine can be installed for $7,500. It sweeps 2.6 m². Therefore, the relative cost is $2,900/m². This could be comparable to some overpriced small turbines but is nearly three times the typical cost of commercial wind turbines of ~$1,000/m².

    My evaluation of this product hasn't changed since it was first brought to my attention.

    It is unlikely that this 500 W wind turbine will deliver the performance promised in either Michigan or Ontario.



    Updated May 22, 2009

    [About a new turbine] In comparison to other small wind turbines, the Earthtronics will need to be exposed to a wind resource of 6.5-7.0 m/s (15-16 mph) annual wind speed. Consumers are unlikely to find few if any sites in Michigan and especially at rooftop heights that windy.

    Conclusion? Again, it's unlikely that this wind turbine will produce the reported generation anywhere in Michigan by a large margin.


    December 30, 2008

    The accounts also reported the manufacturer claiming that the 5-foot (1.5m) diameter turbine would produce 1,580 kWh/year.

    Is this claim likely?

    A wind turbine of this size sweeps about 1.8 m² and could conceivably generate 1,600 kWh/year at sites with an average annual wind speed at hub height of 8 m/s. There are probably no sites in Michigan with such wind speeds and especially at the height where this small wind turbine will be installed.

    It's unlikely that this wind turbine will produce the reported generation anywhere in Michigan.

You can read his full comment at

In case you wondered who Gipes is, he won the " Individual Leadership" award from the The Canadian Wind Energy Association.

Gipes comments are a real concern and require a Company response since a major study in England stated:

  • "Domestic small-scale wind turbines do work and can generate energy and carbon savings – but only when installed properly and sited in a location with an unobstructed and appropriate wind resource."

A news article said:

  • "UK's largest wind turbine trial yields poor result
    Wind turbines suited to fewer sites than predicted

    The largest field test of domestic wind turbines in the UK has found that fewer locations are suitable for home installed wind turbines than previously predicted - with wind turbines in urban areas yielding particularly poor results.

    None of the building or roof mounted wind turbines installed in urban or suburban areas generated more than 200kWh, or £26 of electricity a year during the test, and in some cases used more electricity than they produced."

Imagine the payback time period needed for a $5,000 turbine if the savings are £26 per year.

The best location was said to be:
  • "Building mounted turbines performed best when mounted on the gable end of a building, positioned above the ridge line and located in remote rural locations, usually individual dwellings near the coast or on exposed land with an undisturbed flow from the direction of the prevailing wind."

Hmmm does not sound like there could be too many sales locations like this in Windsor.

Here is another comment I read in the WIND forum that Sandra might want to consider too to ensure her people know what they are doing:
  • "I'm seeing basically how this whole thing goes now: The people controlling the funding, in many cases, obviously don't really know anything about wind energy. They just respond to piles of paperwork by those with impressive-sounding credentials. Wow, let's explore questions based on beginners' lack of knowledge! What a great use of resources! Let's do "research" below the level of what was known way back 90 years ago when the Winchargers with 2 slender blades electrified the midwest, and declare that, rather than churning thru much-needed research dollars while "exploring" merely mundane and well-known topics, we're saving humanity from "global warming"!

    Meanwhile people actually advancing the art have the choice of stopping all progress to produce piles of grant paperwork, which, if not funded, served one purpose: stopping all progress, or just pushing on and ignoring the official hype. Ironically it becomes just one more case of one hand not knowing what the other is doing.

    My opinion is that these funding agencies need to shift to a pro-active model where the funding agencies themselves take the step of identifying promising, nascent technologies, contact and liaison with the innovators, and fund research on those topics, without stopping the researcher from making progress by regressing him to the world of paralytic paperwork that has mired the agencies themselves, preventing the progress from being made "in-house" at those agencies.

    Yes, a PhD exploring whether a Bergey turbine needs more blades! That's where we're at - where credentials - evidence of hoop-jumping - outweighs knowledge, and literally, mere ignorance can be funded as cutting-edge research, while the cutting edge reseach must be funded mostly out of pocket, since no matter how many millions the agencies have, they absolutely refuse to explore anything new. Of course you can imagine some technical reviewer seeing "hmmm - low wind speed performance - sounds important - adding blades - seems logical" - cha-ching for ignorance again!"

Who is right and who is wrong? Have we wasted some more taxpayer millions or has Windsor become the centre of small wind technology? Is this really revolutionary new technology or just another idea that works in principle but not in reality? Will the Company provide to me an answer to the concerns raised that I can post?

The answer my friend is blowing in the wind. The answer is blowing in the wind.

More Stories Of Interest

Lots to talk about:

  • "Incorporated in Ontario in November 2005, we have three directors who knew Joseph Chimczuk and/or his wife Anna (Annie) personally. We decided that, since fifteen years had passed since his death and no action had been taken to build the "Chimczuk Museum"TM (that he so wanted), that we needed to form a "team" to get this finally accomplished."

Watch for this sign to be hung on a building soon.

Interestingly, the fund that started at $1M now has $3M in the bank due to the City's inaction.


Here is what Max Zalev, Chair, said in the Audit Minutes related to the 400 Building

Seriously, he cannot mean this considering this audit statement:

How can Max claim "success if the City overpaid!

In his world, I would hate to see what "failure" means.


Are the onion boys back:

  • "Essex County specialty greenhouse produce picked fresh in the afternoon and placed on store shelves the next morning in Berlin — and “that’s just scratching the surface,” Economic Development and Trade Minister Sandra Pupatello said of the initial promise of developing a “cargo village” at Windsor Airport."

There has to be a special art in being a politician. The talent has to be developed. How else could anyone say the above with a straight face and not break up laughing.

Of course, all this talk about the airport is nothing more than to be the justification for upgrading our Expressway. How else would trucks move from the Airport to the Enhancement Project bridge? After all, we are not really talking about air frieght carried by planes:

  • "Using what it described as very conservative assumptions, the consultants estimated Windsor could be handling up to 90,000 tonnes of commercial air freight within 25 years. The initial cargo handling capacity would focus on “flying trucks,” in which freight is packaged for air but transported by trucks."

When the shortlisted bids come in for the DRIC Road at multi-billions of taxpayer dollars, that project will be scrapped. We will get the original JMC Report expressway system i.e. an upgraded EC Row, a Lauzon/Highway 401 connection and a “cheap” upgrade of the existing Highway 3 connection to the border.

Of course it will be sold as a necessity for an airport hub connection as well as servicing the new East End Arena too.

Think that several hundred thousand dollars for another Lufthansa Report is a waste of taxpayer money? Pshaw---that's lunch money after the $60M+ waste to pay for DRIC!


Come on folks, let's help put Edgar in Jail. We owe it to him!

Now I understand Edgar. He has been playing Monopoly City since he has been Mayor:

  • "Build on every Go and watch your city fortune grow! In this metropolitan edition of MONOPOLY, be the top property developer and watch your dream city rise before your eyes. What will you build-- houses or industrial complexes, schools, skyscrapers or stadium."

Why worry about Budgets and jobs and taxes and economic development when we can have a month-long circus to occupy the minds and hearts of Windsorites.

Hey, we are world-class but we need to let the world know it

  • Windsor to Vie for Spot on Monopoly Canada Game Board

    Media are invited to an announcement by Mayor Eddie Francis regarding Windsor’s competition to be one of 22 cities featured on Hasbro’s upcoming Monopoly Canada game board. Mayor Francis will discuss the details of the month-long competition, which is open to residents nationwide. Windsor was short-listed for consideration along with 64 other cities.

    What: Announcement of Windsor’s Participation in Monopoly Canada Game Board Competition

    When: Monday, January 11, 2:30 pm

    Where: Mayor’s Office, 2nd Floor, 350 City Hall Square West

Now this is important stuff!

  • "Vote early and often, and let’s get Windsor on the board!"


I saw this comment:

  • DRIC Drama Drags On
    The latest move in the ongoing DRIC (Detroit River International Crossing) intrigue is that Ambassador Bridge owner Matty MOROUN, who wants to build his own new span over the Detroit River, has purchased land in the Delray neighborhood, where the public bridge is slated to be.

    Today, Scott BRINES, President of the Southwest Detroit Community Benefits Coalition (SWDCBC), issued the following statement in response to reports of Moroun purchase of the land, which was the former site of YRC Worldwide Inc.

    "Mr. Moroun is well within his rights to purchase the former YRC Worldwide site," Brines said. "However we believe his latest real estate transaction has more to do with his desire to thwart the public bridge project than it does with making his trucking business more efficient."

Perhaps, but perhaps also Delray residents might want to talk to the Bridge Company because of this:

  • "the Delray site offers a larger and more efficient terminal than the company’s current one in Romulus, and the move will immediately transfer 100 jobs to Detroit with the potential for 400 more."


Interesting about the Canadian lawsuit but remember this back in September:

  • "Environmental, transportation groups urge halt to new Detroit River crossing

    A new open letter to Gov. Jennifer Granholm and the Michigan Legislature from Michigan and Canadian environmental and transportation activist groups calls for the state to halt all spending on a proposed new Detroit River crossing. Citing state budget and environmental concerns, nine organizations — notably Michigan Environmental Council, Sierra Club Michigan and Ontario chapters, Detroit-based Transportation Riders United and the Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers Inc. — jointly sent the letter opposing the controversial project.


Sheeesh, doesn't Gord get it:

  • "It's hardly surprising that CAW boss Ken Lewenza Sr. has come up empty in his quest for the new holy grail, a union-friendly "champion" to replace designated labour foe Eddie Francis as mayor of Windsor.

    "Why is it," Lewenza lamented, "that at a time when we need a champion, why is it that there's no champion coming out?"

Senior is playing the Edgar game. Pretend that no one is running or willing to do so to lull Edgar (aka Eddie) and the E-Machine into a false sense of security. Then hammer him with the chosen candidate.

What I found fascinating with Gord's column is that we did not see Alfie Morgan suggesting that Edgar stay on for another term.


Did you see this

  • "Pupatello also used the occasion to announce a $50,000 investment through the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation to help launch a pilot program that will see six University of Windsor students travel to Michigan this year as part of an entrepreneurship incubator exchange. Pupatello said those young entrepreneurs will learn how to turn their business ideas into jobs."

Did this Undevelopment Commission project fail:

  • "The Odette Project for Technology Innovation and Commercialization (OPTIC)
    Monday, Dec. 8, 2008

    The Windsor-Essex Development Commission (WEDC) is proud to announce the launch of The Odette Project for Technology Innovation and Commercialization Virtual Incubator (OPTIC).

    "This initiative is a central pillar of the WEDC strategic plan and we are very enthusiastic about the support the Incubator will provide entrepreneurs in Windsor-Essex", says Remo Mancini, Chairman of WEDC. OPTIC is part of The Communities in Transition program funded by the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development. "The virtual incubator will promote economic development including diversification for the Windsor-Essex region by developing a wider base of economic sectors. Our mission is to create the environment necessary for the emergence and growth of knowledge-based ventures including Intellectual Property rights", says Mark Meldrum, Director of OPTIC...

    The core of OPTIC's operations rest on its business incubation support services to enhance the potential and further the economic development within our region."

The Star reported:

  • "The incubator, which received $600,000 in start-up funding from the province's Communities in Transition initiative, is a partnership of the University of Windsor's Odette School of Business and School of Computer Science, WindsorEssex Development Commission, DeloitteTouche LLP, McTague Law Firm and United Communities Credit Union."


  • "There is a very huge responsibility and a long process to go through to have a stand-alone medical school," said University of Windsor president Alan Wildeman, listing accreditation, government funding, capacity and staff. "Those are very substantive issues that take a long time to work out."

The University should look at this instead from a Star Letter to the Editor:

  • "I read with interest the article Foreign Medical Professionals Still Mired In Red Tape, on Jan. 4. As fairness commissioner for the Province of Ontario, I have heard from many health professionals with similar experiences: repeated assessments of qualifications, convoluted rules and underemployment.

    My office works with the regulatory bodies for 21 health professions, including medicine. Our mandate is to make sure they all have transparent, objective, impartial and fair licensing procedures.

    It is ridiculous that immigrant professionals come to Canada on the strength of their qualifications and experience and then endure years of run-around getting their licences to practise in Ontario. My office is making steady progress toward fairer licensing, though much remains to be done. I commend the community groups in Windsor that are banding together to bring about positive systemic change.

    JEAN AUGUSTINE, Fairness Commissioner, Toronto"

As I suggestged a long time ago:

  • "In my mind, a better alternative is to encourage foreign trained doctors to move here and to do so NOW! We would not be depriving countries of their doctors since there actually are certain countries that have a surplus of well-trained doctors who could be admitted here quickly.

    Certainly, some training would be necessary and required to ensure that their standards met ours and to ensure that they are acclimatized to the Canadian system. That’s where our local schools would come in. We would design a program so that there would be no cost to taxpayers. My experience is that these doctors would be prepared to pay the full tuition costs of such a program and would be prepared to work in under-serviced areas to solve our shortage problem.

    We can justify such a new program in Windsor for foreign trained doctors. Moreover, we can view it as an interim step between the satellite school and the day that we get a full-fledged medical school. We would have created a built-in specialty before the medical school was even constructed.

    Our University and Community College would play a vital role as I see it. The University of Windsor would not have a "stand-alone" medical school right away but rather would have the school where every foreign trained doctor would be assessed and upgraded, if needed, so that he/she could practise in Ontario. St. Clair College would have the responsibility to ensure that the doctor and his/her family become accustomed to the Canadian way of life and fit in to the community as quickly and as painlessly as possible.

    The big PLUS for this program is that we turn out doctors almost immediately and at a much lower cost than waiting for a totally new doctor to go through school and graduate. I would expect that many graduates of the school would choose to stay in our area.

    Even if there is a concern about admitting them as "doctors," they could be admitted as physician assistants or "apprentices," working to help out the doctor and reduce the pressure due to high caseloads. It works this way in other professions; why not medicine. Frankly, and to be cynical, it also is a way of getting doctors here and paying them less than a doctor's income so that the Ministry of Health can save taxpayer money too."

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Many More Border Stories

Here are some more thoughts for you on border crossing items


Hardly and we can thank the Ontario Auditor General for making us more and more like Michigan. He just issued a Report on Ontario Bridges and is it ever worrying.

Look at how poorly Windsor looked after the College bridge resulting in its closure. As Schwartz told Americans on the NBC Today Show but not us when he was ranting against the condition of the Ambassador Bridge:

  • "Vieira:
    …wondering, worrying that the bridge they might have to cross—to go to work, to go to the store, whatever—could possibly collapse. Do they have a, a legitimate worry?

    Well, they have a legitimate worry in the sense that their government officials should be taking care of these bridges. No government official should accept anything above one percent in terms of structurally-deficient.

    But we’re close to thirteen percent—seventy thousand bridges in this country. How did we reach that point?

    We reached that point because we neglected our infrastructure. We didn’t do the very basic things. A bridge is like a machine. It needs to be cleaned; it needs to be oiled; it needs to be lubricated in various parts. It moves with a load—it goes up and down; it slides with the changes in temperature. And we need to treat it properly. Ima, imagine driving your car without ever oiling it, greasing it and waiting until the engine seizes up. That’s what we’ve done with our bridges...

    The bridges built in the ‘50s and ‘60s and 7’0s were the sleekest. It was the beginning of the use of computers in bridges, and the result is we didn’t get bridges with redundancy...

    So, if you’re going over a bridge that was built prior to World War II, you’re probably in pretty good shape...

    If you pay a toll, by the way, on a bridge, your bridge is safe. They, they’re taking care of it; they’re doing the daily maintenance."

And we saw that with the inspection reports on the Ambassador Bridge.

Yes I know that the Feds are going to P3 the bridge but where will Ontario find the billions needed for the DRIC road given the need for money to repair the bridges that are in critical condition


If you thought things were bad in Ontario, they are so much worse in Michigan that MDOT could lose all federal road funds as a penalty:

  • "State Finds Bridge Inspection Concerns

    LANSING, Mich. -- The State Auditor General released an evaluation Friday on how well the Michigan Department of Transportation follows state and federal regulations on bridge inspections.

    The Auditor General’s Office found five areas of concern.

    The major problem: MDOT did not examine certain critical bridges or did not examine them as frequently as required by law.

    That has major implications, and not just for safety because not following the letter of the law means Michigan could loss some federal funding.

    “MDOT did not comply with critical safety provisions … and risked the withholding of federal aid,” cited audit the report."


Now that the Tunnel is in the hands of a private company, just like the airport, can we expect this in Windsor:

  • "Legal staff slammed

    Council frustrations with city lawyers boiled over at planning committee this afternoon. Councillors overwhelming rejected a report from the legal department that refused to release any portion of the annual audits of the company managing the airport.

    Brad Clark asked for the release of at least the majority of the secret reports eighteen months ago saying he thought this would help allay public concerns about the rent being paid by Tradeport International to the city under the airport lease agreement. A response from the legal department has been repeatedly delayed but apparently came during the in camera section of today’s meeting.

    When the committee reconvened in public, Clark explained that Tradeport and the city lawyers are saying “there’s a whole bunch of exemptions” under provincial privacy legislation and “that’s why the lease can’t be made public and that’s why the lease audit can’t be made public.” He described the continuing secrecy “completely unacceptable” and called the refusal to release the information “probably the most significant item in terms of public accountability that this council’s dealt with.”

    In contrast to the city lawyers’ position, he pointed to the Highway 407 lease agreement which became a fully public document when he was the provincial Minister of Transportation...

    “Brian McHattie and Terry Whitehead said they agreed with Clark’s concerns. The resolution to accept the staff report was subsequently defeated by a vote of six to one, with only committee chair Maria Pearson supporting the motion.

    He is urging the media or another third party to appeal the lawyers’ position to the Privacy Commissioner, noting that council can’t do that because the legal staff they would instruct to carry out the appeal would be arguing against it.

    “If council says we think this should go to the privacy commissioner, and that decision be made, well our legal staff agrees with the exemptions,” he pointed out in frustration. “So who’s going to be arguing at the commission?”


Oh I am not going after the Star again but the University of Windsor newspaper, The Lance.

I am tired of misinformation or incomplete information being spewed out by the media after all of this time. It just helps prolong the economic destruction of Windsor.

Accordingly, I am much more aggressive in going after the media to clarify the record. The Lance feature story "Ambassador Bridge keeps Windsor in limbo" was so one-sided that I sent off this note to them:

" I was troubled by your story on the Ambassador Bridge by your failure to set out the complete facts:

  • Re health concerns, even DRIC has said if trucks keep moving health problems are reduced. Moreover, significant pollution levels will be reduced by new diesel and engine technology
  • 9/11 has caused changes to the Bridge no doubt as it has to many aspects of our life. It would have been fair to note that it was the Bridge Company by opening new booths (and fighting the US Government to do so) that cleared the truck back-up problems on Huron Church
  • As far as safety is concerned, why did you NOT put the blame on the Canadian Government who is blocking the construction of their Enhancement Project bridge. That is what Governor Granholm stated publicly.
  • It is a shame that you did not mention that the DRIC bridge would result in the destruction of Delray, Michigan but no lands would be needed on either side of the border for the ABC project.
  • The ABC project would also provide $2B in US federal matching grants desperately needed by Michigan
  • The P3 concept for the DRIC bridge effectively puts it in private hands for up to 99 years (so much for public ownership!). It will be virtually impossible for a P3 investor to come in and pay billions for the project given the collapse of the P3 market world-wide and expect to make a profit.
  • I hardly believe that it is responsible journalism to quote only Brian Masse a known foe of the Bridge Company and not anyone else on the other side.
  • The so-called rejection of the ABC proposal was based on false information especially about traffic volumes that have dropped to 1999 levels and the false claim that land would be needed in Sandwich for processing trucks
  • Re the Indian Road homes, why was there no mention that the homes could not be torn down because of a City of Windsor by-law designed it is alleged to thwart the Bridge Company? Remember the City is the Bridge Company's border crossing competitor since it owns half of the Tunnel
  • And surely, your reporter could have mentioned a few lines about the outstanding lawsuits started.
  • One final note. Will the DRIC bridge ever be built---it was to be completed in 2013, then 2015, then late 2016 or perhaps later. Now I am seeing comments that it may not be started until after 2020.

There is a fascinating story about the border crossing that is worthy of a PH.D thesis since it involves much more than a mere border crossing but the relationship between Canada and the US. Too bad your writer missed it completely!"


I had tears in my eyes when I was reading Annie's Sandwich solution in her column.

Tears of laughter!

What is the point of writing stuff like that to get people all excited when it does not work. A "line in the sand" disappears when the wind blows.

  • "First, they drew their line in the sand.

    "We said this is it," said Dan Loacano of Bagley Housing Association, the non-profit organization that led the rebuilding of blighted streets being gobbled up by the bridge.

    They set clearly defined boundaries. East of St. Anne Street belonged to the neighbourhood. West of St. Anne belonged to the bridge."

Brian Masse who took credit for the passing of the International Bridges and Tunnels Act, although just about everything he tried to do was not allowed, should now take the blame for destroying the dream:

  • Expropriation

    12. If a person requires an interest in land, as defined in section 2 of the Expropriation Act, for the purposes of the construction or alteration of an international bridge or tunnel and has unsuccessfully attempted to purchase the interest in land, the person may request the Minister to have the Minister of Public Works and Government Services have the interest in land expropriated by the Crown and section 4.1 of that Act applies to that person, with any modifications that are necessary, as if the person were a railway company.

Annie, the Government can just walk all over that line and there is nothing that can be done about it.


What bothered me about Annie's 2-part series on Sandwich is her "Annie's knows best attitude" about it all.
  • "Should Sandwich be a neighbourhood or a transportation hub?"
Read Chris Schnurr's BLOG about what she forgot to point out

To be honest, I would have liked to have heard what the Sandwich residents who were denied the right to speak twice at Council had to say. I heard what they said at one of the meetings arranged in the Community with the Ambassador Bridge.

Council would never have been able to deny what they wanted if Windsorites had heard 90 minutes of the deplorable conditions that these people live under due to the City's anti-Demolition Bylaw!

Councillor Halberstadt can have fun with Eddie's silencer button:
  • "As a frequent victim of Windsor Mayor Eddie Francis’s “trap door” microphone technique, Coun. Alan Halberstadt says he would like to see it reviewed.

    Halberstadt and Francis had a tete-a-tete at Monday night’s council meeting over the issue of Francis’s ability to use a silencer to cut off councillors or presenters, an ability he has had for about a year."

It's too bad the Sandwich residents, and the City, had to suffer Council's silencer button.